February 10, 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. McClatchy reports the ‘shocking’ news that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said: Financial system working against recovery. “Geithner said that federal bank regulators would be empowered to conduct “stress tests” on banks to determine their financial health. These tests could lead to moves to close banks before their problems worsen and compound the economic slowdown.”

    “Instead of catalyzing recovery, the financial system is working against recovery,” he said. “And at the same time, the recession is putting greater pressure on banks. This is a dangerous dynamic, and we need to arrest it. It is essential for every American to understand that the battle for economic recovery must be fought on two fronts. We have to both jump-start job creation and private investment, and we must get credit flowing again to businesses and families.”

    According to the Financial Times, Geithner’s “‘financial stability plan’ will create a new ‘bad bank’– style public-private partnership, which will bring in private money with the initial aim of buying $500bn-worth of distressed assets from banks.” If necessary, the bad bank would buy up to $1 trillion ‘worth’ of the black hole.

    Meanwhile, the NY Times reports Geithner said to have prevailed on the bailout.

    In the end, Mr. Geithner largely prevailed in opposing tougher conditions on financial institutions that were sought by presidential aides, including David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, according to administration and Congressional officials…

    He resisted those who wanted to dictate how banks would spend their rescue money. And he prevailed over top administration aides who wanted to replace bank executives and wipe out shareholders at institutions receiving aid.

    While last night, President Obama gave his first press conference. According to the LA Times, Obama paints picture of Republican adversaries.

    Again and again in his prime-time news conference Monday, Obama painted his GOP adversaries as well beyond the mainstream. Some, he said, do not see any role at all for government in helping avoid an economic meltdown.

    “In fact, there are several who have suggested that FDR was wrong to intervene back in the New Deal,” he said, referring to President Franklin Roosevelt, the hero of the Great Depression. “They’re fighting battles that I thought were resolved a pretty long time ago.”

    At another point, he implied that his opponents wanted to stand by idly and watch the nation decline: “Do you just want government to do nothing, or do you want it to do something?”

    Me? I want the government to do something smart and different. Ya know. Change? Geithner’s plan seems like warmed-over Bush.

Four at Four continues with Bush cronism outlast Obama’s 1st term, Iran seeks improving U.S. relations, and plenty of jobs with wind power.

The Revolt Begins?

Go Peasants, GO!

Via Raw Story

Monday, a group of 350 to 400 at-risk homeowners, organized by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, staged a series of protests outside the mansions of wealthy bankers in a moneyed Connecticut neighborhood.

“Called the ‘Predators Tour’ these actions were the start of NACA’s ‘accountability campaign,’ an aggressive, confrontational protest aimed at several top executives of companies that refuse to allow NACA to renegotiate the terms of loans on behalf of members, according to NACA CEO Bruce Marks,” reported the Stamford Times.

“Sporting bright yellow shirts that read, ‘Stop Loan Sharks,’ protesters demanded more accountability from the CEOs of the financial institutions responsible for the millions of unaffordable mortgages in the state and across America,” reported NBC New York in an article titled, “Grab Your Torch and Pitchfork.”

Info War: Obama Terrorized by CIA?

Here is where it starts to get scary. Or tinfoilly. Or just totally depressing.

Everyone here has some idea of just how bad the CIA has been over the decades since WW2. And none of us has any idea of how bad the CIA has been over the decades since WW2.

That is because everything the CIA does is secret, of course, but even more so because the CIA’s main mission is not covert ops or spying or information collecting. It is information distribution. Or more accurately disinformation distribution. Over 60 years a culture of secrecy, and layers and more layers of secrecy, a culture based on the control and analysis and marketing of information and disinformation has been established. Nominally this culture is about protecting the USA. But as anyone who has ever encountered a bureaucracy knows, a bureaucracies first job ALWAYS becomes preserving itself.

Besides their recent expedition into the land of state sponsored torture, the CIA has much to hide. (See below the fold) And…they get to hide it. From everyone. Including new presidents.

The CIA, an agency that controls a small army and nearly every shred of info on nearly everyone, that has overthrown governments, engaged in assassination and drug dealing, and blackmail, spied on Americans, and exceeded it’s charter in nearly every way possible, this same agency whose job it is to lie, disinform and coverup…has it’s ass on the line.

And this very same CIA…that in this case is in essence a defendant that might be tried and held accountable for it’s crimes during the past eight years where they were literally let off the leash by Bushco….

…..is the same agency that is giving the president briefings on what the CIA has done. This agency that literally has used massive government funding to seriously, with life and death urgency and ‘democracy preserving’ intensity, research, study and perfect lying and disinformation and make it into an art form….is the same agency whose is giving (dis)information on itself, torture, the state of the GWOT, and things like what should and should not be a state secret to Obama.

With it’s own ass on the line.

Who has oversight on the CIA? The Intelligence Committees that have proven themselves SO untrustworthy and weak over the last eight years. And that’s about it…other than the other alphabet soup of Intelligence agencies, all driving their own bureaucratic agendas. Would the CIA…gasp…use the techniques it has learned over the last 60 years of covert culture to influence and color the information that the president and Intel Committees receive on it? While it’s ass is on the line?

Which all begs the question….is the CIA, an agency dedicated to lying and disinformation, telling the president the truth? If they are not….how would he know?



Yes, I am grasping at straws to find someway to explain Obama/Holder’s indefensible betrayal on the state secret case. And no, I don’t really believe it myself. But perhaps….just perhaps…he is facing the same learning curve on the perfidy of the “Intellgence” Community as he is on dealing with Congressional Republicans. Maybe he can overcome the VERY powerful and underestimated influence of people whose job it is to spread disinformation….especially when it comes to itself.

Manufacturing Tuesday for the week of 02.09.09

Welcome everyone to the latest edition in the Manufacturing series.  I do hope everyone is doing better than our economy.  The President was on television talking about jobs.  He had visited a town in Indiana where the unemployment rate had reached 18%.  The stimulus plan being laid before us, President Obama hopes, will eventually lead to several million jobs. But before we get to the latest on jobs and manufacturing, let’s look at this week’s Numbers.

“The Death Dealers took my life!”

Salon.com has a series running all this week called “Coming Home”, researched and written by Mark Benjamin and Michael de Yoanna.

The following is the description and lead in information on the series:

Congress members coming home next week; Talk to them

A reminder that change may have come to Washington, but it hasn’t made it to Iraq yet.

Iraq Moratorium #19 is only 10 days away, on Friday, Feb. 20.

Here’s one idea for action from United for Peace and Justice:  Schedule a meeting with your members of Congress, who will be home on a recess that week, and ask them to end the war and occupation of Iraq.

Of course you can always protest outside of their offices.  But why not ask for a face-to-face conversation and see what happens?  UFPJ says:

To make sure you can get appointments with your elected officials you need to call now. Go here to find out who your Representative or Senators are and their contact information.  We want members of Congress to know they are getting calls from UFPJ. We want legislators to know that we are connecting the issues of the war and the economy.

There are three messages we want to deliver to the members of Congress.

1) The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan must end! We believe that security will be forged internationally and diplomatically, not by the United States unilaterally occupying nations. Furthermore, the economic crisis has created and exposed tremendous human needs in our own country. Millions are without health care, stable housing, and living wage jobs. The priority of the national treasury must go from a war economy to a peace economy where the winners are all of us, rather than military contractors. A first step in this process must be to stop the funding for these wars! It is critically important that Congress knows the antiwar movement is as strong as ever.

2) It is time to fix our country’s health care system! We encourage you to support HR 676, the Single Payer Health Care bill. Passage of HR 676 would mean that health care is provided by a single source, rather than dozens of private insurance companies making profits. This would be a cheaper way to cover health care costs, as it is all over the world where governments guarantee health care. Health insurance being separated from employment would also help U.S. corporations who cannot compete with international corporations, who do not have to provide employee health care. For more information on this bill go here.

3) We support passage of the Employee Free Choice Act!  This bill allows workers to unionize when a majority of people demonstrates their support for a union representing them by signing union cards. Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would result in more workplaces being unionized. With unionization, workers get the benefit of collective bargaining, which results in higher wages. Higher wages means more spending power that boosts the economy; higher wages means families can be supported without every adult working multiple jobs, which leaves little time for families, children, and being an informed citizen. For more information on this bill go to

AFL-CIO site.

Support for both HR 676 and EFCA is a good place to start. UFPJ member groups such as Progressive Democrats of America and US Labor Against the War are already working on them.

Everyone doesn’t live in a town where there is a Congressional office, of course. But you can bring cell phones and contact numbers to your Moratorium event and place calls from there. Keep the heat on.

This idea also ties in with the Raise Hell for Molly Ivins Campaign, which has been urging contact with members of Congress, in their home offices, on the Third Friday of the month and has produced a video with Vietnam vet Ron Kovic to promote it.

But we’re not telling you what to do to mark the Iraq Moratorium.  That’s not our role.  It’s simply to encourage people to do something, individually or collectively, on the Third Friday of the month to end the war and occupation.

Whatever you’re planning, please list it and share your plans with others. Here’s the link.

To see what others are doing, read reports from last month, get some new ideas, read about the peace movement, donate to Iraq Moratorium, buy a T-shirt, or just surf, visit the website/

Obama Dishes Up A Cup Of Same Old Same Old

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

What a colossal disappointment.  Remember when Barack Obama was going to severely curtail the use of the “state secrets” doctrine, throw the windows open, and let the sun shine in, dispersing Bushco’s unnecessary secrecy?  Forget about it.  That was just eyewash.

Yesterday in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit the Obama Justice Department astonished the three judge panel by sticking with Bushco’s “state secrets” argument in the case of Binyam Mohamed.  

A Few Words About Avigdor Leiberman

Something very sad is happening today, and while this subject isn’t exactly welcome here, and I don’t have anything momentous to say about it, I wanted to say a few words.  The sad thing that is happening is the elections in Israel.

Bibi Netanyahu is probably about to become the next Prime Minister of Israel, which brings me no joy.  But the cause of the bulk of my sadness about this election, other than the fact that I will not be traveling to Israel to vote, is that if the polls are correct, Avigdor Leiberman’s Yisrael Beitanu party will gain the third-highest vote total, giving him a significant increase in power, and making the Labour party the fourth-largest party in Israel for the first time in Israeli history.

I’m not going to recap for anyone why Leiberman’s ascent is a cause for sadness; if you don’t already know, so much the better for you, honestly.  I’m not surprised in the least it makes me very sad.  The idea of an Israel where that is possible is an Israel which is almost unrecognizable to me.

But I’m quite surprised by how surprised I am.  After all, there is a rich legacy of politicians like Leiberman succeeding in parliamentary governments.  Jeffrey Goldberg today calls Leiberman “the German word for Le Pen” – others have compared him to Pim Fortuyn.  I suppose it is meant to comfort us to know that the Israelis are no more awful than the French, but of course that is no comfort at all.  

But it makes me think, about how last week I saw one of my oldest, dearest friends.  He and I went to Israel together over a decade ago; now, he is in seminary on his way to becoming a Rabbi.  And somehow, our conversation turned to how utterly disturbed both of us were by the tenor of everyone we know’s Facebook status messages during the recent violence in Gaza.  And from there, somehow, we ended up talking about how one of the great taboos is to talk about how the Shoah, and anti-Semitism in general, has traumatized all Jews everywhere.  Not in the childish way that some suggest that Israelis, having been abused by the Nazis, have become the abuser.  But in how this violation of Jews not that long ago remains a violation of Jews living today.  You can’t say that.  It sounds too much like there is something wrong with us, and you can’t say that.

But then today, as I sadly watch the returns from Israel, I think about how just in the last few weeks, there have been attacks on synagogues in Venezuela.  How a British diplomat had to be arrested after going on an anti-Semitic tirade at the gym.  How Israeli tourists are getting shot in malls in Denmark, and the reaction is for Danish schools to tell Jewish kids they shouldn’t enroll in school.  Shit like this just doesn’t happen to other people.  All over the world, there is a chance you might get killed any moment if someone knows you are a Jew.  Not a very big chance, but there aren’t a lot of Jews.  There are a dozen cities with more citizens than there are Jews in the world.

And I understand a bit better how so many people can say “Fuck y’all”, and vote for a Leiberman.  It doesn’t make me any less sad, or even less confused.  But I understand, more than I’d like to, how it happens.

Deja vu all over again

The public amnesia that passes for normality in our Matrix-like world of perfected broadcast propaganda has wiped away most memories of the S&L Crisis, but let us dip into the magical restorative well of Wikipedia to remember:

An indication of this scandal’s size, Martin Mayer wrote at the time, “The theft from the taxpayer by the community that fattened on the growth of the savings and loan (S&L) industry in the 1980s is the worst public scandal in American history. Teapot Dome in the Harding administration and the Credit Mobilier in the times of Ulysses S. Grant have been taken as the ultimate horror stories of capitalist democracy gone to seed. Measuring by money, [or] by the misallocation of national resources…the S&L outrage makes Teapot Dome and Credit Mobilier seem minor episodes.” [15]

John Kenneth Galbraith called it “the largest and costliest venture in public misfeasance, malfeasance and larceny of all time.”

The U.S. government ultimately appropriated 105 billion dollars to resolve the crisis. After banks repaid loans through various procedures, there was a net loss to taxpayers of approximately $124 billion dollars by the end of 1999.[16]

The concomitant slowdown in the finance industry and the real estate market may have been a contributing cause of the 1990-1991 economic recession. Between 1986 and 1991, the number of new homes constructed dropped from 1.8 to 1 million, the lowest rate since World War II. [2]

Some commentators believe that a taxpayer-funded government bailout related to mortgages during the savings and loan crisis may have created a moral hazard and acted as encouragement to lenders to make similar higher risk loans during the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.[17]

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S…

Look around at the characteristics of the current financial meltdown: unchecked greed in the financial sector; removal of regulatory restraints by corrupt legislators; taxpayers filling the pockets of predators to “preserve” the financial system. We have been here before. The only difference is the number of decimal places. This financial crisis is 20 times bigger than the last one.

The S&L Crisis did not happen in the distant past. The Resolution Trust Corporation began pumping taxpayer money into the failed S&Ls, many simply looted by their crooked proprietors, in 1989. That was 20 years ago, and now we are seeing a reprise of that disaster that is 20 times worse.

Just what are we preserving here? It appears that we are preserving a system of financial predation that generates crises resembling a series of increasingly severe Heroin overdoses, a series that will eventually kill us. The same mechanisms that undermined financial equilibrium under Reagan undermined financial equilibrium under Bush, and these mechanisms of corruption will do the same thing after the present crisis has passed. If we are lucky, our society will ride out the current financial disaster. But will we survive the next one?

Change or die is the fundamental dictum of evolution. America’s coin-operated system of politics ensures that wealthy financiers will repeatedly be able to remove or disable financial regulatory mechanisms. Thus, the next financial meltdown is inevitable unless we break the connection between concentrated wealth and political power in the United States. If we do not make radical changes in the control of financial markets, this pattern of increasingly severe economic disruptions is likely to destroy our society. Our next deja vu episode may be our last.

Welcome to Hooverville

Let me say it right up front: I’m getting sick and tired of the charlatan blowhards claiming that the New Deal “didn’t work”.  I was already mulling over a diary on this, when a Feb. 3 article by Charles McMillion (Blog for America’s Future) came to my attention:

The monthly data for industrial production show a near three-year collapse under President Hoover, ending when FDR came to office in March 1933. Production rocketed by 44 percent in the first three months of the New Deal and, by December 1936, had completely recovered to surpass its 1929 peak.

GDP, only available as annual averages, plunged 25.6 percent from 1929-1932, including by 13.0 percent in 1932. It stabilized in 1933, and then soared by 10.8 percent, 8.9 percent and 12.0 percent, respectively, in 1934, 1935 and 1936. Real GDP surpassed its 1929 peak in 1936 and never again fell below it. After-tax personal income, consumer spending, real private investment and jobs all reached or surpassed their 1929 peaks by late 1936.

It’s time to take a peek at President Hoover’s policies.

Cross posted at DailyKos

The Business of War

GRITtv with Laura Flanders

Docudharma Times Tuesday February 10

John Cornyn Stimulus Hater

Avoids  The Cloture Vote To:

Spend Time In New York Looking

For Money To Further His Political Fortunes      

Tuesday’s Headlines:

A Curious-Looking Hero Still Mesmerizes the Nation

Netanyahu’s lead shrinks as Israelis vote amid wide disillusionment

Heirs of the revolution battle to keep the faith

Italian coma woman’s death ends Berlusconi’s bid to keep her alive

Holocaust-denying Bishop sacked from seminary

Robert Mugabe binges on champagne and caviar as Zimbabwe starves

A Kenyan lawyer takes on a coldly familiar case

North Korea raises tensions ahead of Clinton visit

Pakistan Wants More Evidence to Prosecute in Mumbai Attacks

Obama Says Failing to Act Could Lead to a ‘Catastrophe’


Published: February 9, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Obama took his case for his $800 billion economic recovery package to the American people on Monday, as the Senate cleared the way for passage of the bill and the White House prepared for its next major hurdle: selling Congress and the public on a fresh plan to bail out the nation’s banks.

Warning that a failure to act “could turn a crisis into a catastrophe,” Mr. Obama used his presidential platform – a prime-time news conference, the first of his presidency, in the grand setting of the White House East Room – to address head on the concerns about his approach, which has by and large failed to win the Republican support he sought.

Australian bushfires: arsonists could face murder charges

Police close in on culprits of deadliest blazes in country’s history

Ellen Connolly in Sydney


Australian towns devastated in the country’s worst bushfires were declared crime scenes tonight as forensic investigators began combing the charred landscape for evidence of how the infernos started, and who may have ignited them.

Police indicated that they were closing in on arsonists believed to be responsible for lighting some of the 400 blazes that have killed at least 170 people, left 5,000 homeless and destroyed a 350,000 hectare area north of Melbourne in the past three days.

As firefighters continued to battle raging fires that threaten a further six towns north of Melbourne, the attorney general, Robert McClelland, told parliament that those responsible for lighting them could be charged with murder. Senior police confirmed they are preparing photofits of suspected firebugs.



Where’d all that money go? Bank execs testify Wednesday

By Lisa Zagaroli | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – The nation’s largest banks, battling an image of jet-setting executives with multimillion-dollar salaries, will face tough scrutiny Wednesday from lawmakers who are struggling to understand the financial health of the institutions and the impact of a $700 billion taxpayer bailout.

Eight chief executive officers, including Bank of America’s Ken Lewis and Wells Fargo & Co.’s John Stumpf, are scheduled to testify at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

Lawmakers are hoping for a comprehensive accounting of what the banking giants did with the money they got from the Troubled Asset Relief Program and whether it appears to be stabilizing the rocky financial services industry.

Load more