March 5, 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. The Hill reports President Obama kicked off his summit on health reform today with a simple message: This time healthcare reform will be different.

    “We are here today to discuss one of the greatest threats not just to the well-being of our families and the prosperity of our businesses, but to the very foundation of our economy – and that is the exploding cost of healthcare in America today,” Obama said…

    “I want to be very clear at the outset that while everyone has a right to take part in this discussion, no one has the right to take it over. The status quo is the one option that is not on the table. And those who seek to block any reform at any cost will not prevail this time around,” Obama said.

  2. BBC News reports NATO woos Russia on Afghanistan. NATO will resume formal ties with Russia. “Russia welcomed the move, six months after Nato froze contacts over the conflict between Russia and Georgia.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “It’s time to explore a fresh start.”

    Clinton described Afghanistan as “NATO’s biggest military challenge.” The CS Monitor adds Clinton pushes NATO allies for united strategy on Afghanistan.

    Sources close to the State Department say the new strategy is likely to reenergize a broad Afghan-Pakistan regional approach, with a set of more tightly focused but downsized goals. The previous goal to “democratize” Afghanistan will probably shift toward “efficient” and “achievable” stabilization – avoiding an open-ended mission, but requiring more immediate “heavy lifting” by allies. The strategy will require more troops to achieve a balance of military and civilian help, but also to bring in India, Iran, Russia, and even China.

    The Washington Post reports the U.S. is also Pushing for a high-level Afghanistan meeting that would include Iran. “Clinton this week has mixed tough talk about Iranian behavior with a hope that areas of cooperation can be found.”

    “Iran borders Afghanistan,” Clinton [said]… “In the early days of the military efforts by the United States and our allies to go after the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Iran was consulting with our ambassador on a daily basis. Where it is appropriate and useful for the United States and others to see whether Iran can be constructive, that will be considered.”

Four at Four continues with another market bombing in Iraq, China fears a food crisis triggered by climate change, the German beekeeper versus Monsanto, and a big surprise for the Obama girls.

Tell Them Who We Are

You want the truth, Senator Leahy?

Here’s some truth for you:

abu ghraib statue of liberty Pictures, Images and Photos

Liberty itself has been assaulted, democracy itself has been ravaged, an entire nation has been brutalized by those treacherous BushCo criminals you want to spend some quality truth and reconciliation time with.  But there can be no reconciliation, there can be no forgiveness for what they’ve done, the damage they’ve inflicted is incalculable, the lives they’ve destroyed cannot be given back.  They are obscenities in suits, they are treasonous to the core, they hijacked the government of the greatest democracy on earth and turned it into a wasteland of lawlessness, betrayal, corruption, and deceit.  

Tell them what America stands for, Senator Leahy.  Tell them who we are, show them what justice looks like.  

News Flash: Obama to Re-sign International Criminal Court Treaty?

Via Think Progress

According to a senior White House official, President Obama “has launched a high-level, urgent review’ of U.S. policy toward Sudan that will consider whether the U.S. should re-examine joining the International Criminal Court, which the Bush administration had emphatically rejected.” The official said a decision will be ready “within weeks.”


Of course there are still obstacles to making The Hague the court of last resort for Bushco, as this excellent diary by Greek Goddess shows… Will Bush Stand Trial in The Hague? A Primer.

But this would be the first step.

Support for a Special Prosecutor

Let’s play….who said this!!!

Who said this?

“I would not mind looking backward if there’s reason to do so. If we have evidence of torture – go after it. If there’s reason to believe that these Justice Department officials have knowingly given the president cover for practices they know not to be right or sound – go after them. Some of the [OLC] opinions are more than startling, they’re shocking. If [OLC counsel] did that knowingly…it sounds to me that it may fall within criminal conduct.

“the subject matter areas, which such a commission would investigate – among them the interrogation and handling of captured enemy combatants and the gathering of electronic intelligence – are heavily regulated by comprehensive criminal statutes, and ensures that the commission’s activities would inevitably invade areas traditionally the responsibility of the Department of Justice.”

“In those countries they had to have commissions because they couldn’t have prosecutions. Peace was really in doubt in those countries … they had to trade off prosecutions for peace. We’re not in that situation. If people think we need to have prosecutions, we should have prosecutions.”


#1 Arlen “single bullet” Spectre [sic]

#2 David B. Rivkin, Jr.

#3 Jeremy Rabkin

All three “hostile witnesses” so to speak, at the exploratory hearing towards Leahy’s Truth Commission.

Or as Daphne Eviatar put it in the Wasington Independent, titled ‘Republicans Make a Case for Prosecuting Bush Officials’…

Proponents of the truth commission idea, meanwhile, while not ruling out the idea of prosecutions, saw a truth commission as serving a different, and broader, purpose. But it was surprising that, at a hearing cautiously called to discuss “a nonpartisan commission of inquiry,” we heard the strongest case yet  for the prosecution of former Bush administration officials – being made by Republicans.

Last night in Valtin’s diary over at Dkos (now proudly on our FP, as well) I was reaching for some Grand Unified Theory as to why Leahy would be pushing for a TC instead of a formal Senate Committee or just plain old prosecutions. My thought was that the scope of the Bushco subversion of the Constitution, Rule of Law and every moral code known to mankind was so vast that it needed to be put into some kind of context first, before prosecutions. Before prosecutions that would indeed increase the partisan combat and be grist for the RW inevitable ‘partisan witchhunt’ meme. Prosecutions that but for politics and Jingoism would convict practically the entire top echelon in a criminal conspiracy to torture perhaps hundreds of innocent people to death. As well as some form or other of treason (for what could be more treasonous) in tearing up the United States Constitution.

I think I was wrong. I think now, that Leahy IS just being timid. In the following (excellent) coverage by Rachel, Leahy says to the Republicans above…..”Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” That indicates to me that he was just playing a cautious game given the politics of our time. And since the politics of our time are rapidly changing as the Republican Party completely debases and destroys itself in Limbaugh Worship, maybe Leahy will change his mind as well. After all, yesterdays hearings WERE just exploratory.

I do however think we still need some kind of Uber Commission to truly put what Bushco did in context and in stark relief for Americans, the world, and history. And we are still faced with exactly how to go about getting Obama and Holder to prosecute. But as events and the political zeitgeist move (relatively) rapidly forward, I think we all, Obama, Holder, Leahy and us….are scrambling a bit as to how to tackle the incredibly grave and monumental fact… that the former President of The United States is indeed a War Criminal.

Enough rambling! On to Rachel’s excellent report!

History Has Already Bypassed Obama’s Plans For Iraq?

Crossposted from Antemedius

Yesterday we saw historian and US foreign and military policy analyst Gareth Porter talking with The Real News about Obama’s Plan For Not Leaving Iraq and the President’s announced intentions of leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq while trying to sell it as a withdrawal.

Today Porter, again talking with Paul Jay, talks about the geopolitical realities of the situation viv a vis Iraq, the entrenched vested interests of Petraeus and Odierno who both seem more interested in their own egos and legacies than anything resembling reality, and says that in spite of the U.S. efforts to create a U.S. – friendly regime, he concludes that history has already bypassed Obama’s plans for Iraq as much as five or six years ago and the undeniable geopolitical fact of Iraq is that the US will have to leave Iraq to a government that tilts more to Iran than to the US.

Real News – March 5, 2009 – 12 min 38 sec

The Geopolitical Fact Of Iraq

Porter: The US will have to leave Iraq to a government that tilts more to Iran than to the US

Changing the social imaginary

This is a diary about the social imaginary — those aspects of our everyday practice that depend upon our imagining the existence of social institutions.  As our social institutions are increasingly inappropriate to our physical survival on planet Earth, we should be in the business of imagining new institutions which will give us a fighting chance.  I will investigate the case of global warming to discuss why this is so, and end with a series of photographic reflections.

The concept of “social imaginary” was developed as a tool of social critique by Cornelius Castoriadis, a philosopher whose pessimistic assessment of the present-day “social imaginary” will be examined in detail here.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Feedbag Blues

Hello Docudharma!!!!

Some of you DFH’s might remember me. That is…if your memory synapses are still charging at this point. But for those of you who might have forgotten, and for the youngsters who haven’t been properly schooled in significant cultural history, here’s a little reminder.

Another Coffin Nail – Boss Limbaugh

As with so many of the Presidents tactical actions there is more than meets the eye with this whole Boss Limbaugh (one of Mr. Oblermann’s best name coining’s to date)  imbroglio. There are those on the left that  are still suffering from eight years of Republican induced PTSD that are worried that we are elevating Boss Limbaugh to levels that will cause us trouble. They say, “Don’t feed the troll! Ignoring him is the best way.” Or “We have more important things to focus on”. The problem with this view is that they are ignoring the political situation and the gains that the Democratic agenda can make through tacitly encouraging this to continue.  

A Country-Wide Scam aka Penny Mac-Attack

In 2007, mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp underwent a series of Class Action Lawsuits in a number of States. One, in Illinois, was settled in October of 2008 after Countrywide’s acquisition  by Bank of America, who chose to settle out of court.

Still, others pending as of February 27th, 2008, were not only suing over subprime loans and hidden balloons, but “reaping profits from “inflated, unverifiable or false” charges.”

According to the lawsuit, Countrywide frequently charges $300 to $500 for appraisals that are not done at all, or that are mere “drive-by” inspections by appraisers who don’t even stop their cars when passing mortgaged properties.

Countrywide has $300 to $500 “flat-fee” arrangements with law firms that handle foreclosures, the lawsuit says. Yet it hits homeowners with legal bills of $1,200 to $2,0000.

I have relatives directly involved in one such suit here in Michigan. After making two late payments (but each within 30 days) sudden inexplicable charges showed up in their mortgage. They were assessed an additional $400.00 a month for an “escrow” account on their loan. An escrow account with no discernible purpose. They paid both their taxes and their insurance independently of that loan.

They were told once they had one full house payment secured in that account, the charges would be dropped. After several months, the charges went up, not down. There were all kinds of “fees” attached, and they increased the interest rate on what was written as a fixed loan.

Rather than continue to argue with them monthly, they just stopped paying, and walked away from their home.

So what do you do when you are caught stealing billions of dollars?  Change your name and steal more.

Let me introduce you to the new Countrywide: Private National Mortgage Acceptance Company.

Penny Mac

VA: A Bureaucratic Mess

We’ve seen this before, especially us “Nam Vets as we returned, tens of thousands, and those needing and seeking the care from their service in a war became backlogged, or just plain denied. Many of us veterans were trying to be heard, over the rising drum beat of war, of what was coming especially if invading a country that did absolutely nothing to deserve that invasion and occupation. We were one of those groups politically labeled, by our hired administration, as a ‘focus group’ that they didn’t listen to. But it wasn’t only the administration not listening it was the greater majority of this country, they don’t mind spending billions upon billions upon billions……….. on the war machine and waging war with same, but when the soldiers start returning and the system gets overwhelmed the country doesn’t want to hear anything about that, or if they hear they most certainly don’t want to pay..

Docudharma Times Thursday March 5

Rush Limbaugh

Leader of The World

His Own Wrong Little World  

Thursday’s Headlines:

Hispanic enrollment in schools, colleges rising

Sudanese president Bashir charged with Darfur war crimes

The author and the coup he didn’t have to invent

Jewish resistance film sparks Polish anger

Matthew Norman: Turn us into the 51st state? Why not?

China ‘ready to talk’ to Taiwan

Is Pakistan becoming the next Somalia? India says yes

Jerusalem’s sidewalk display of solidarity with Gilad Shalit

Iranian Leaders Fault Obama, Warn Israel Again

At least 20 dead in Mexican prison riot

China Outlines Ambitious Plan for Stimulus


Published: March 4, 2009

BEIJING – Warning that China faces “unprecedented difficulties and challenges,” Prime Minister Wen Jiabao outlined a barrage of construction, increased subsidies and economic measures on Thursday aimed at continuing his nation’s modernization despite a world financial crisis.He also indicated that China’s leaders would seek to begin a fundamental shift in their economic strategy by encouraging citizens to spend and consume more goods, as in most Western economies. China’s startling growth has been driven so far by exports and abundant spending on roads, dams and other infrastructure projects, a trend that experts say cannot be sustained in the long term.

But in a long speech to the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, he did not explicitly announce any new spending to combat the financial crisis beyond the $585 billion China committed to spend in November.

After the attack, west’s nuclear ally fears implosion

Militant assault on cricket tourists puts sharp focus on fragile democracy at risk of disintegration and international isolation

Saeed Shah in Lahore

The Guardian, Thursday 5 March 2009

Whole provinces beyond the writ of the state, Islamist insurgents uniting for a broader fight, terror attacks conceived, plotted and exported: Pakistan was in serious danger of implosion before the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team on Tuesday brought the parlous security situation in the country to a wider international audience.

But security is not the only problem of a country which the United States now considers a greater threat than neighbouring Afghanistan. With the economy teetering, political tumult building and social conditions ripe for extremists, nuclear-armed Pakistan faces six critical threats to the rule of law and governance of the state.


The current violence started in summer 2007, when security forces routed armed militants at the Red Mosque in Islamabad. That event turned militant groups which were focused on India or Afghanistan inwards, to Pakistan itself.



U.S. Launches Wide-Ranging Plan to Steady Housing Market

$75 Billion Plan Would Help Borrowers Avoid Foreclosure

By Renae Merle and Dina ElBoghdady

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, March 5, 2009; Page A01

The Obama administration yesterday sketched in the details of its most ambitious attempt to reduce foreclosures and stabilize the beleaguered housing market at the root of the economic meltdown.

The program has two key elements: a refinancing program for borrowers with little equity in their homes but current on their loans, and a $75 billion program to help reduce mortgage payments for struggling borrowers.

Several large lenders praised the program, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo. There were also converts among those outside the industry. “I was skeptical at first, but I think these guidelines are helpful in a lot of ways,” said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit group that has been critical of industry efforts to modify mortgages.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Toward the Cusp

Needs and Reasons

Until you can understand

the need for the learning

the reason for the teaching

will remain obscure

But that won’t stop

can’t deflect

the teacher

from trying

to teach

One day

some day

in the future

probably more distant

than would be ideal

maybe the lesson

will be learned

and we can move on

to other things

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 20, 2009

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