March 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. The LA Times reports the EPA proposes cuts in air pollution from foreign ships. In a submission to International Maritime Organization (IMO), a U.N. agency, the EPA proposed creating a 230-mile Emissions Control Area along the coastal waters and ports of the United States and Canada.

    Foreign ships “account for 95% of all calls to port nationwide” and are “largely beyond the jurisdictional reach of state and federal air pollution regulations. This plan would regulate the emissions of foreign vessels under the auspices of the U.N. agency.”

    The Washington Post notes IMO approved the concept of emission control areas last October. If this proposal is adopted, “ships must use fuel with no more than 1,000 parts per million of sulfur beginning in 2015, and as of 2016, new ships must use advanced pollution controls.”

    The tighter standards would impose new costs on shipping, but industry, public health and environmental groups said the policy change is justified. “It will be costly, but it’s doable,” said Christopher L. Koch, president of the World Shipping Council. “We know this issue of vessel emissions needed an effective international response.”

  2. The NY Times reports $296 billion in overruns in U.S. weapons programs.

    Nearly 70 percent of the Pentagon’s 96 largest weapons programs were over budget last year, for a combined total of $296 billion more than the original estimates, a Congressional auditing agency reported Monday.

    The findings, compiled by the Government Accountability Office, seemed likely to add to the pressure on officials to make sizable cuts in the most troubled programs as they work out the details of a proposed $664 billion defense budget for fiscal 2010.

Four at Four continues with U.S.-Iran diplomacy and Karzai’s pro-rape law in Afghanistan and the Pakistani Talibans plans attacks on Washington, D.C.

Sympathy for the Devil: Torture Remix, Part One

How can you not feel sorry for George?

Poor guy wasn’t very bright, as presidents go, and he had failed at everything he tried. But of course being a rich white (belatedly) Christian male from a fine upstanding family of Nazi Collaborators, Bankers and Oil Men…..he failed upwards.

Well he failed upwards after he took his old buddy Turdblossom’s advice and found Jesus and pretended to quit drinking and improved his drawl. Then he got to be governor! And execute 152 people. The taste of power was sweet. Plus he got to give a bunch of his white Christian male failure buddies jobs, so they all loved him. As did the the Religious Right, which of course, was the only reason he ever got elected to anything, ever.

And love was important to George. He craved love and approval since his dad knew he was a failure, and his mom was well….his mom.


Yes, George was in politics for the love. And who is more loved than the President? George’s path was clear, even if his mind never really was. But that was all solved when George found the Father Figure he had always longed for.


And of course thanks to his dad’s connections, he had the entire Republican Dirty Trick and Ratfucking Machine behind him, as well as all those other rich white Christian males in the Party of Business, bankers, finance sector guys, oil and coal companies, defense contractors, the Abramoff machine….and of course the CIA (another legacy of Poppy Bush) to load up his campaign coffers with plenty of loot and political influence. Sure, they wanted to loot the economy, have their taxes cut, have business regulations repealed, get big new contracts, blatantly (Enron) game energy policy and markets for profit, invade Iraq at the earliest opportunity to get their oil, stop any pesky Climate Change mitigaton efforts and further serve every little interest of the Ruling Class…

….but it was all good with George because, well, he was part of The Ruling Class too! If you can’t help your friends out (at the expense of the rest of the world) by using your Unitary Executive Powers to corrupt the whole government for the interests of your own class, why be President at all?

That is what government is FOR right? Political and legal advantage and of course….profit? Heh heh, too bad he couldn’t buy stock in all of those companies like Halliburton and Exxon, but he was assured he would get his cut on the back end.

Between Karl and Dick, George now had some good people around him who would do the hard work, he could relax, play some golf, clear some brush, work on his public speaking skills. He knew from being a failed executive and a bad governor that most of this government crap took care of itself. If it wasn’t for those pesky Presidential Daily Briefs and the CIA and guys like Richard Clarke bugging him about terrorist attacks, this would be the cushiest gig he had ever had!

All he had to do was stick it out for four years while his buddies looted everything in sight and then the chumps voters could elect some stupid Democrat (he still giggled whenever he thought about the look on the face of that poor schmuck Al Gore when the strings got pulled to stop the recount and send the election to the SCOTUS. That was sweeeet!) to clean up the mess and get everything running smoothly and profitably again until America was ripe for the next Repub President to start the looting process all over again. It was a damn good system he had failed up into. Life was good.

Then it all, literally, came crashing down.


America was attacked, there was a chance that their would be more attacks, lives were on the line, the country was at risk……and George Bush was in charge.



America was attacked. All of the paranoid fears of the Right Wing had been realized, all of the existential angst of the decades of the Cold War against the Godless Commies who were trying to destroy America had finally come to be. America was under attack, Americans had been killed on American Soil. All of  the Right Wings concerns that had led them to a frenzy of fascism personified by Joe McCarthy, as well as the witch hunts of the HUAC and the Gestapo tactics of COINTELPRO had finally been justified.

By 19 guys with box cutters.

The Right Wing had been prepared for this sort of thing for a long time. This was the chance to make America into what those weak pinko liberals would call a Police State. A chance to implement the plans of all of those Think Tanks had been working on for years….a chance to implement draconian measures to show how tough they really were…to protect the Homeland. And to punish the evil-doers. To make them suffer.

Who ever the evil-doers turned out to be. And of course, Iraq.

As soon as the president got back from fleeing Florida in panic on Air Force One.


Part Two tomorrow.


Quote for Discussion: Holy Shit Edition

There’s a hard — this is a hard question, because, you know what? I’m sort of leaning — I’ve been so pro-death penalty my whole life — but the Innocence Project, you know, by Barry Scheck, has kind of made me question, as a pro-life guy, that maybe that’s not a good idea. We’ve made too many mistakes.

That is none other than Sean Hannity.  

Support The Innocence Project.

Campaigning 101- Finding Your Win Number

Welcome to the Dog’s on going series about campaigning from the point of view of the Candidate. If you have been following this series or if you are a candidate or thinking of being one, you might have noticed that we have not talked too much about how you are going to actually win. As everyone knows you need to get more votes than your opponent, but that is not enough to actually design a plan to get those votes. The place that you need to start is the Win Number.  

French workers seize HQ, hold company execs hostage

Every time the French get a little irked, they shout “To The Barricades!” and do stuff like this, while we get whipped and snivel “Oh please sir, might I have just a bit more gruel?” And that, my friend, is why the frenchies have a 38-hour work week and get to spend the whole month of August lying on the Med beaches, while we have whatever the heck it is we have ….…

Hundreds of French workers, angry about proposed layoffs at a Caterpillar office, were holding executives of the company hostage Tuesday, a spokesman for the workers said.

Quote for discussion: George Washington

I hope Jay won’t mind me stealing his format. But I found this quote to be rather profound when I recently ran across it.

From George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

A Tale of Two CEOs, SEIU calls for firing BoA’s Lewis (Updated)

(Updated with quotes from Andy Stern, head of the SEIU)

From the SEIU blog.  Please sign the petition and spread the word.

I have a story for you.

Two CEOs lead two large public companies that start sinking, putting thousands out of work and toppling the American economy. Both CEOs accepted billions in taxpayer dollars to sustain their companies, but both failed to stop their companies’ downward spirals.

One CEO — GM’s Rick Wagoner — got his pink slip from President Obama this morning. The other — Bank of America’s Ken Lewis — accepted bailout funds while continuing to fleece consumers and taxpayers.

It’s time for the Obama Administration to show the door to CEO Ken Lewis in order for real reform to take hold at Bank of America.

Sign our petition to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner calling for Ken Lewis to be replaced as Bank of America CEO. Click here to take action:……

The blog post goes on to list the reasons why:

Why should Ken Lewis be fired? Let’s count the reasons.

$45 billion bailout for more of the same. Ken Lewis’ Bank of America has yet to change its core business practices that ran our economy into the ground in the first place.

$5 billion in bonuses met with blind eye. CEO Ken Lewis turned a blind eye when one of his new acquisitions gave out an estimated $5 billion in bonuses right before the company got a $10 billion bailout.

$120 million in CEO pay. Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis took home more than $120 million dollars in the last several years, more than 4,000 times what his average employee makes. The era of excess is over.

247,000 forgotten employees. Ken Lewis’ Bank of America is actively fighting the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing for its employees. In some states, Bank of America employees take up large portions of public health care because they don’t earn enough money.

Sign the Petition.

Will the circle jerk be unbroken

Red light cameras don’t work.

They make mistakes. They ARE a mistake – a costly one – to any community that puts them in.

This is known to the industry, and it’s known to the populace in places where they have already been installed such as Cleveland and California.

As I write this, the Nassau County Legislature is having a last-minute emergency meeting to decide whether these cameras will be installed. The meeting comes at the repeated urging of Tom Suozzi, Nassau County Executive. He has been repeatedly told that the cameras don’t work, and he is repeatedly ignoring what he has been told.

This is yet more overblown emphasis on law enforcement which ultimately benefits corporations and government at the expense of the end taxpayer. When (not if) the cameras malfunction, causing the prosecution of innocent people, those people fight the tickets in court. This makes the legislative machinery spin and ensures that every little lawyer and judge and jurist and clerk in the system continue to have a reason to spin their hamster wheels and get paid for it.

But the County loses, because the tickets are proven to have been issued in error. The expensive machines don’t work and are a waste of money. In the end, the taxpayer loses quite literally coming and going.

One hour before the meeting which has at the time of this writing been in session for 40 minutes, I sent a fax to Diane Yatouro, my district Legislative Representative, explaining this. One hour isn’t a lot of time but I used it in a manner I consider wise. I followed up with a phone call.

That’s it for now from here. I now return you to your own respective contemplations of comparative masterpieces.

Oh, by the way, here’s Chlorosilane again. I really like this screen cap of her, so you’re stuck with it. You’re still stuck with the real deal if you live near Photocircuits, too.

UPDATE: The red light cameras were voted in unanimously by the County Legislature. Now this issue goes to Albany. If you live in Nassau County, contact your State Senators and Governor Paterson and ask them NOT to have these cameras installed. They cause more problems than they solve, and create more cost than any revenue they generate.

Thx for the FP, EKH.

We Cannot Continue To Excuse Poor Decisions

Hat tip to Armando this morning…

Eugene Robinson writes in an op-ed piece at WAPO today:

Both the credit crunch and the reluctance of consumers to spend what money they have left are the direct result of Wall Street’s atrocious misbehavior. Yet the administration’s plan for rescuing the banking sector involves generous inducements, big subsidies and the opportunity for wealthy investors to become much wealthier while assuming very little risk. There are reasons for structuring the bank bailout this way, and there are reasons to take a get-tough attitude with the auto companies. But the juxtaposition is galling — and, for many autoworkers, potentially devastating.

“We cannot continue to excuse poor decisions,” President Obama said yesterday as he laid down the law to Detroit. But it’s hard to reconcile that declaration with policies that seem to excuse, if not reward, unspeakably poor decisions made on Wall Street.

I can’t argue with the administration’s decision to force GM chief executive Rick Wagoner to resign. It was encouraging, even, to see the White House employ that kind of muscle, given the fact that the president now has to oversee so much of the economy. But shouldn’t the first public flogging have involved one of the bankers who got us into this predicament? On Friday, the day when Wagoner got his walking papers, the biggest cheeses on Wall Street went to the White House for a cordial meeting. All still had their jobs when they left.


Our tough-love message to the banks: Would you mind, possibly, lending some of that money we gave you? If it’s not too much trouble, that is. And would you like another pillow?

“Education” and an old Chris Hedges column

This is a diary about Chris Hedges’ column of 3/23, America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout.  Hedges’ column is mostly about universities, which are what concerns me here.  Hedges obliges one to ask as to whether universities have been completely swallowed up by capitalist discipline, and us with them.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

The Visitor


I put down the crack pipe and pick up the remote control. I turn off the TV. Was there ever a time when Wheel of Fortune wasn’t on the air? If fortune is a wheel then this particular spin of the wheel called “my life” is decidedly unsuccessful.

I sit in the darkness in the quiet, a trace of burning base filling the air. Then, suddenly, out of the blue, because of chronic short-term memory failure, I remembered why I put down the crack pipe and picked up the remote control in the first place.

Someone had entered the room.

Docudharma Times Tuesday March 31

 It’s Time To Stop

Making Workers Pay

For The Mistakes Of

Company CEO’s


Tuesday’s Headlines:

Life in Mendota, Calif., where the jobless rate is 41 percent

Alexander Lebedev to sue Forbes for detailing losses

After 650 years, the wisdom of the Alhambra is revealed

Khmer Rouge leader in dock as Cambodia genocide trial begins

‘Mastermind’ of Lahore massacre captured alive

300 migrants feared drowned as ships sink in Mediterranean

UK troops begin Iraqi withdrawal

Netanyahu Push for ‘Economic Peace’ Hits Roadblocks

For U.S. and Carmakers, a Path Strewn With Pitfalls



Published: March 30, 2009

As an assertion of government control over a huge swath of the industrial landscape, President Obama’s decision to reshape the automobile industry has few precedents.

In essentially taking command of General Motors and telling Chrysler to merge with a foreign competitor or cease to exist, Mr. Obama was saying that economic conditions were sufficiently dire to justify a new level of government involvement in the management of corporate America.

His message amounted to an inversion of the relationship that had helped define the rise of American manufacturing might in the 20th century; now, Mr. Obama seemed to be saying, what is good for America will have to be good enough for General Motors.

Sarkozy and Merkel Try to Shape European Unity



Published: March 30, 2009

PARIS – They are an extremely odd couple – he is short and hyperactive, she is dour and shy. He believes in the power of the state and big interventions; she believes in a softer role for the state, guiding and prodding the market. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel don’t even get along very well, aides to both leaders say. He has made fun of her accent in private meetings, the aides say, and she says he is self-centered and impetuous.

But the French president and the German chancellor find themselves in a forced marriage in these days of economic crisis. Responsible for the two largest economies among nations that use the euro, known as the euro zone, they are trying to shape European unity in the days before the Group of 20 economic summit meeting this week.

They also are bearing the brunt of criticism, especially from the left and from Washington, that they are not responding forcefully enough to the recession and the collapse of world trade.


For This Health System, Less Is More

Program That Guarantees Doing Things Right the First Time, for Flat Fee, Pays Off

By Ceci Connolly

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 31, 2009; Page A01

In an industry that makes its money by selling more — more tests, more surgeries, more drugs — Geisinger Health System officials gambled three years ago that they could succeed by doing less, but doing it better.

Mimicking the appliance company that advertised its products’ reliability, the health system devised a 90-day warranty on elective heart surgery, promising to get it right the first time, for a flat fee. If complications arise or the patient returns to the hospital, Geisinger bears the additional cost.

The venture has paid off. Heart patients have fared measurably better, and the health system has cut its bypass surgery costs by 15 percent.

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