February 11, 2009 archive

Chatting with a former blogger: Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist for the Vice President

Just a little while ago, http://www.flickr.com/photos/kcivey/923285816/the White House held a ‘progressive media and bloggers teleconference’ with Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist for the Vice President.  As a quick reminder, Jared is one of the bloggers that have become “former bloggers” by transitioning into the Obama Administration.

Not surprisingly, Bernstein’s call focused on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which has just passed through the Conference Committee as a $789 billion package, incorporating some of the good ideas from the White House and the House, and the bad ideas from the Senate.

NOTE:  The Bernstein photo is from a Drinking Liberally event …

From Another “Raving Loon”

Expose international institutions such as the Illuminati, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, the Federal Reserve and other central banks, big oil, big pharma, big agriculture, weapons manufacturers, and other groups representing existing elite monied interests. The current priorities of the U.S. federal government and of globalist New World Order organizations directly fly in the face of what we must do to survive the crisis of civilization. We need a clean-up like we’ve never seen before and some heads are likely to roll. So be it. The world can only be thankful for getting out from under this oppression.

Republiban Rep Attempts to Jump FDR Shark….Fails

Yes Virginia, the Republibans ARE idiots and liars.





Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH) attempted to join in the Republibans latest fetish, smearing, libeling and demeaning one of America’s greatest Presidents and political icons, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The man who saved America from the First Republican Great Depression. In order to justify their current obstructionism…and bring on the Second Republican Great Depression.

   “When (President Franklin) Roosevelt did this, he put our country into a Great Depression,” Austria said. “He tried to borrow and spend, he tried to use the Keynesian approach, and our country ended up in a Great Depression. That’s just history.”


The Columbus Dispatch then notes, “Most historians date the beginning of the Great Depression at or shortly after the stock-market crash of 1929; Roosevelt took office in 1933.” As Dean Baker has explained, “Roosevelt’s New Deal Agenda lowered the unemployment rate from 25 percent in 1933 to 10 percent in 1937.” The economy turned bad again when the “Blue Dogs of the Roosevelt era won sway and got Roosevelt to cut spending and raise taxes.”

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Independent reports ACLU lawsuit tests Obama openness policies.

    This week, the Obama administration will face its second significant courtroom test of the president’s pledges to end unwarranted secrecy about the workings of the federal government. At stake is a set of documents that could expose intentional lawbreaking by senior Bush officials.

    While concealing them would seem to contradict Obama’s much-heralded promise of a new era of open government, revealing them could make it virtually impossible for the new administration to refuse to investigate potential criminal conduct by the Bush administration, something the new administration has sought to avoid.

    The case, American Civil Liberties Union v. Department of Justice, has been going on for five years now, with the ACLU battling the Bush administration to turn over documents sought under the federal Freedom of Information Act that would reveal crucial information about the development of policies regarding treatment of detainees in the “war on terror” and could help determine whether Bush officials broke domestic and international law.

  2. The CS Monitor reports President Obama stalls Bush drilling plans. “President Obama is making good on campaign promises to move toward a comprehensive approach to US energy and to broaden environmental protections.”

    The LA Times has details on the Obama administration’s most recent move: Expanded offshore drilling is on hold. “Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced he will extend public comments for six months on a last-minute proposal by the Bush administration to open swaths of the California, Alaska, Atlantic and Gulf coasts for drilling.” He also promised to “speed development of offshore wind farms”.

    The Monitor adds “also last week, the Justice Department said it is withdrawing a US Supreme Court appeal filed by the Bush administration against a court ruling governing mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.”

Four at Four continues with attacks in Afghanistan, bombings in Iraq, and MORE MONEY FOR PAKISTAN!

Enslaved By Wall Street Dictators

The world is full of people paying for the economic fraud of unelected, rapacious and sociopathic dictators.

Latin America and Africa tend to be the hardest hit by this phenomena.

This is what happens:

Mr. Tin Pot Dictator runs up an incredible debt buying gold cadillacs and weapons with which to dominate and exploit the people of his country. The people suffer miserably, the Dictator lives a lavish lifestyle above the law until he is deposed in some manner, then the banks move in and enslave the people and control the sociopolitical landscape by leveraging that illegitimate debt against the progress of the population, innocent victims of authoritarian rule.

It seems to me that there’s been a quickening of this trend, and it’s taken place right here in America – naked right in the open. Bankers have muscled out the middle man, the Tin Pot Dictator, and have become the Dictators themselves.

Wherein a Dog Trainer Demolishes Deregulation

Humans are hardwired to punish, and punishment is very effective at stopping undesired behavior. Many people believe that you have to put punishment on dogs using coercion, fear or intimidation to train them. This is called Positive Punishment.

The only problem with positive punishment is that there are often unintended consequences that arise the the use of it, sometimes these unintended consequences create more problems than they solve.

Positive trainers believe that reward and repetition and removal of good things (negative punishment) is better at creating, modifying and maintaining behavior than fear and intimidation.

This is sometimes a hard sell to clients. Some people will simply never be able to process and internalize the concepts of positive training, and that’s OK. We just send them to someone who employs fear and intimidation to train dogs. No big deal.

Ironically, the people most likely to be unable to accept positive training are the very people who are likely to believe that positive reinforcement and voluntary regulation will work for controlling institutional, human behavior, and that punishing them for bad behavior is wrong.

I have no idea why this is the case, but my experience tells me it is.

Leahy To Maddow: Bush Officials Could Be Prosecuted

From RawStory this morning:

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said in an interview Tuesday evening that Bush Administration officials could be criminally prosecuted if they lied under oath as part of a proposed investigation into Bush-era abuses.

Leahy chose his words carefully, to be sure. But his words went slightly farther than that of other Congressional Democrats, who maintain that probing abuses of the Bush era is critical to preserving the integrity of law.

“You’re going to have people, some people will say, let’s go ahead and prosecute everybody,” Leahy told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow Tuesday. “That can take 10 or 15 years. Others want to ignore everything. I don’t agree with that.

But, he said, the Senate could set up a “truth commission” like that established by Sen. Frank Church in the 1970s, which was aimed at bringing out abuses of the President Richard Nixon era. Church’s commission resulted in an array of reforms that tightened civil liberties protections after Nixon’s infamous wiretapping and Watergate scandals.

“What if a truth commission did a thorough investigation of the type you’re describing and they found that in fact horrible crimes were committed?” Maddow asked. “If there wouldn’t be prosecution, how would say — how would we say now we know and they all legally got away with it, how would that stop these things from happening again?”

Leahy seemed to signal a slight shift — previously his focus seemed more on uncovering misdeeds than in prosecuting officials. While not saying that he was planning for prosecutions, he indicated that they could certainly result.

“I think because of the fact it’s very, very public and the way they find out about it, it makes it very clear to the next person, you try the same thing, you are going to be found out, you are going to be prosecuted,” Leahy said. “You are also going to have some people that will refuse to — perhaps refuse to testify, even though offered immunity. With the evidence from the others, they can be prosecuted. And, of course, anybody can be prosecuted for perjury.”

Where Did All the Money Go?


A funny thing happened on the way to peace and prosperity – we was robbed.

And by the way, where the hell is my pony?!?!?

The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens is in a hand-waving tizzy over the fact that Barack Obama has been president for three whole weeks and world peace hasn’t broken out, lions have not laid down with lambs, and a chorus of angels has not filled the air with joyous strains.  

Barack Obama has now been president for 21 days, following an inauguration that was supposed to have pressed the reset button on America’s relations with the wider world and ushered in a new period of global cooperation against common threats. Here’s what pressing reset has accomplished so far:

This douchebag rails on for hundreds of words that President Obama needs to strike fear in the hearts of the wicked, otherwise we are all gonna diiiieeeee!!!!!!!!

I know!  What was the point of electing him if things weren’t going to get better yesterday?  That’ll teach us to try a different tack, won’t it?

Iran hasn’t closed down Nattanz, North Korea is still posturing, Pakistan hasn’t wiped out all Islamist militants in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, Russia hasn’t unilaterally disarmed and worst of all, he failed to bring a time machine and prevent the war in Gaza.  

Clearly, the Obama administration is an epic fail and we are stuck with this loser for another four years!  O noes!  

What hath democracy wrought???

What did you do to end the war, Daddy?

When your child asks, in 10 years, “What did you do end the war in Iraq, Daddy? (Mommy?), what are you going to say?

“Well, we worked really hard at it for years.  We marched, and wrote letters, and held vigils, and called up Congress, and did a lot of other stuff — oh, and a lot of meetings, too.  

“So did you keep it up until you made them end the war?”

“Well, not exactly.  See, we worked to elect this guy who was running for president and said he would end the war if he got elected.  And he won.

“So he ended the war and then you could quit protesting?”

“Something like that.  More like we quit protesting and hoped he would end the war.”

“Did it end?”

“Yes, but not right away.  It took a few years.  Quite a few, actually.”

“Do you think maybe you quit too soon?”

“It’s getting pretty late.  How about a bedtime story?”

* * *

Friday, Feb. 20, is Iraq Moratorium #18.

It is not the time to opt out of the effort to end the war and occupation of Iraq.  It is a time to turn up the heat, or, at a minimum, to keep things simmering.  Do something, large or small, to show you want US troops home.  

And, whatever you’re planning, please list it here.

Members of Congress are going to be home next week for a recess.  It’s a great chance to tell them face-to-face that we want our troops home.  And talk to them about spending priorities, using the billions we are wasting in Iraq to do something constructive.

From United for Peace and Justice, the nation’s biggest antiwar coalition:

The time is now to mount a campaign to cut the military budget by ending the war and occupation of Iraq and redirect the spending of our national budget.This is also an opportunity for the antiwar movement to work with economic and social justice groups in organizing joint delegations.

Don’t go to their offices alone!  Join with labor and community groups to make the first recess of the new Congress the beginning of a surge to compel them to end the war, cut the military budget and fund human needs.

If your Congressional representatives refuse to meet, or opposes the need for urgent emergency government action to respond to the economic crisis or bringing all the troops home: picket or vigil outside their office and call the press!

The opening of the debates on priorities for the next Federal Budget will follow this Congressional  recess. We need to make our priorities clear! Ending the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan are the first steps to making larger cuts in the military budget and change the priorities of Federal spending.

That’s just one idea.  There are hundreds of things you can do to observe the Iraq Moratorium.  Need ideas?  Visit the website:   IraqMoratorium.com.

What are you and me gonna do to end the war, Daddy and Mommy?


Brain study reveals how exercise may help one quit smoking

Physical exercise triggers brain activity that may help reduce craving for cigarettes.

For the first time, researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to investigate how the brain processes images of cigarettes after exercise.

The study backs up previous studies, which have shown that just one short burst of moderate exercise can significantly reduce smokers’ nicotine cravings.

Kate Janse Van Rensburg, doctoral student at the University of Exeter, who co-authored the paper, said: “Our findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that exercise can help people give up smoking”.

NASA’s Swift satellite witnesses frequent blasts

New York (PTI): Astronomers using NASA’s Swift satellite and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have been witnessing frequent blasts from a stellar remnant 30,000 light-years away, the American space agency reported.

The high-energy fireworks arise from a rare type of neutron star known as a soft-gamma-ray repeater. Such objects unpredictably send out a series of X-ray and gamma-ray flares, NASA reported.

“At times, this remarkable object has erupted with more than a hundred flares in as little as 20 minutes,” said Loredana Vetere, who is coordinating the Swift observations at Pennsylvania State University.

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