March 16, 2009 archive

Dead Cats Bouncing

One of the best and most refreshing changes established by the Obama Administration has been its reliance on intellectuals, scientists, and experts rather than lobbyists and ideologues. Across a broad swath of federal departments, pragmatism seems once again to be valued. Unfortunately, with the world economy imploding, Obama continues to rely on the advice of corporatist insiders, and their advice is predictably corporatist. There also seems to be a bit of myopia going on.

On Saturday, Joan Walsh warned Obama supporters not to be taking credit for the previous week’s slight market rally:

As someone who has repeatedly defended Obama from GOP efforts to blame him for the current crisis and to deride the “Obama economy” only 55 days into his presidency, I think the administration could be playing a dangerous game. Live by the week’s economic news, die by it as well. If the Dow dives next week, or retail spending dips again, does that mean the stimulus failed?

Right on cue, Vice President Biden then weighed in:

“Consumer confidence is slightly up. The market is slightly up,” Biden said. “It’ll go down again, but the people are beginning to figure out that the president’s got a plan and he believes we can work our way through this.”


Nouriel Roubini has been warning that there may be “dead cat bounces,” or “bear market suckers rallies,” and there’s no reason to think the latest is anything else. Which means that Biden should maybe be a little more circumspect about taking a day trader’s view of a one week market rally.

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, last week:

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports Suicide attacks kill 11 people in Afghanistan. A suicide bomber on foot attacked a police convoy in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, leaving 11 people dead and 28 wounded. “Most of the casualties were members of a counternarcotics squad” that “were about to head out on a poppy-eradication mission in what is the world’s largest heroin-producing region.”

    The Washington Post adds Troops face new tests in Afghanistan. “The southern part of the country is now regarded by U.S. and NATO commanders as the central front in the Afghan war.” The Taliban has “a significant degree of popular support”. Despite U.S.-led coalition “efforts to pry information about the Taliban from the local population — by conducting foot patrols, doling out money for mosques to buy new prayer rugs and offering agricultural assistance to subsistence farmers — have been met with indifference, if not downright hostility.”

  2. While President Obama has ordered Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to ‘try’ to try to block A.I.G. bonuses, according to the NY Times, I find it doubtful anything substantial will be done. While Obama asked of the $165 million in A.I.G. bonuses — “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” — I think it’d be better if he asked himself that question.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Barney Frank criticizes A.I.G. “It does appear to me we’re rewarding incompetence,” Frank said. “These bonuses are going to people who screwed this thing up enormously, who made terrible decisions.” A.I.G. has defended these ‘retention’ bonuses as neccesary for keeping ‘top’ talent in place. It seems like a lot of people are lining up for their jobs.

    McClatchy reports MBA programs grow as economy shrinks. 246,957 “aspiring MBA candidates”, a record-high number, took the GMAT exam last year. This year, the number of test-takers is set to break that record. “About 77 percent of full-time MBA programs across the country say applicants were up last year.”

  3. The CS Monitor reports Job losses hit black men hardest. “No group has been hit harder by the downturn. Employment among black men has fallen 7.8 percent since November of 2007, according to a report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.”

  4. The NY Times reports a Reform candidate withdraws in Iran. “Reversing a decision made five weeks ago, Mohammad Khatami, the reformist former president, has decided to withdraw from the June presidential race to support a political ally, close aides said Monday.” According to a close aid, Khatami does not want to run against Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Curious flightless birds stranded by global meltdown

“We will impose our reality on them.”

       — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,

          in a meeting with CIA

          and State Department analysts

          before the invasion of Iraq

Can Holder Ignore the Red Cross Report? Can Obama? Updated

From the Wasington Post

The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush administration’s treatment of al-Qaeda captives “constituted torture,” a finding that strongly implied that CIA interrogation methods violated international law, according to newly published excerpts from the long-concealed 2007 document.

Well first, isn’t that a bit paradoxical, WaPo? Torture DOES violate international law. Period. So since (no longer if after this report) The Bush Torture Program did torture, the report doesn’t “imply” that international laws against torture were broken……it says so.

For more information on the report, see Valtin’s article Leaked! International Red Cross Report on CIA Torture, and the original article US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites By Mark Danner/

But here is the crux of the issue, as far as justice for those in the Bush Administration who ordered the torture….and for those who are currently responsible under the law to pursue that legal justice.

“It could not be more important that the ICRC explicitly uses the words ‘torture’ and ‘cruel and degrading,’ ” Danner said in a telephone interview. “The ICRC is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, and when it uses those words, they have the force of law.”

He discounted the possibility that the detainees fabricated or embellished their stories, noting that the accounts overlap “in minute detail,” even though the detainees were kept in isolation at different locations.

Let us repeat that.

“The ICRC is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, and when it uses those words, they have the force of law.”

Update* The ICRC the most authoritative of the international agencies that inspect and determine whether abuses of the Conventions have occurred. That is why governments allow them to monitor it. They are required by the Conventions, which are legally binding to the signatories, to allow them to monitor and determine whether torture or other abuses have occurred.

It has determined torture has occurred.

Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.

That would be Attorney General Holder. He is obliged, under the Geneva Convention to bring torturers before the courts

The ICRC is the entity that determines if torture has occurred.

Now, the ICRC has determined that torture has occurred.

The ICRC has alleged in this report, according to their role, that torture has occurred.

Which means that the The Bush Torture Program did officially violated international laws against torture and has officially violated the Geneva Convention.

Let’s pound that nail home for Attorney General Holder. The United States Government officially tortured, according to the agency that officially determines whether torture has or has not occurred. Torture is officially illegal, officially a crime, officially a Geneva Convention violation, which we are officially obligated to uphold by the Constitution. The Attorney General of the United States is officially obligated to investigate and prosecute crimes.

Can the Attorney General then ignore this official report?

Can the President allow the Attorney General to do so?

And then the final question. At what point does ignoring an official report of torture become being an accessory to torture by “covering it up” through not investigating and prosecuting based on an official report?

* The evidence and reports continue to mount. So far the DOJ, to all appearances, has ignored these reports and evidence. Now there is an allegation of torture by the very agency that is tasked with that function. Will this too be ignored?

At what point does legal inaction ….become illegal complicity?

Mr. Holder?

Torture Weekly Action – Rule of Law Letter

Welcome the second of the Dog’s weekly letter writing series about torture. The idea behind this series is to get as many people as possible sending a weekly notice that we as a people have not forgotten nor will forget about the Bush Administration’s torture program, nor our responsibility as nation of laws to investigate, indict and prosecute these most heinous of crimes.  

Ending MTR Mining With Change That Works

Mountaintop removal mining dumps tons of waste into streams and eco systems that are literally killed by suffocation. Mining companies claim their euphemistic “valley fills” are an industry necessity because it would be too expensive to pay for waste disposal. If Congress outlaws “valley fills,” it would help stop MTR mining, which causes massive environmental disasters and violates human rights.

A clear definition of “fill material,” which affects what can be discharged into our waters, can be used to stop “valley fills”. The government admitted that the Corps’ definition prohibited valley fills. The EPA later adopted a definition to allow valley fills. The inconsistency and confusion between these two rules was seized as cover to issue permits for valley fills. After environmental groups obtained injunctive relief against MTR mining based on the Corps’ definition, Bush changed the law. Bush’s definition of fill material is based on the EPA rule. The problem with HR 1310 is that it is based on the same rule used by the EPA and Bush. Instead of clarity, we have muddy waters ripe for more years of litigation delaying the end of MTR.

Goldman Sachs: public enemy

What is the main difference between the destructive potential of Al Qaeda and Goldman Sachs? Answer: the former investment bank has inflicted far more damage on the American taxpayer and the world economy. Bin Laden has killed more people outright, but he never succeeded in thoroughly corrupting the American government and transforming it into a looting operation for the benefit of a few hundred Wall Street gangsters.

Consider the spectacular successes in Goldman’s attack on America:

1. Placement of Goldman “alumni” in the most critical positions of power, including Bush’s White House chief of staff and the secretary of the Treasury.

2. Escaping unharmed from a massive financial meltdown that it helped to engineer. Goldman traders actually placed bets on the default of the same shoddy securities they sold to the market.

3. Continuing to secure massive payments through the US treasury. Several of the current Treasury secretary’s closest advisers are ex-Goldman Sachs personnel. Goldman’s influence has secured billions of taxpayer funds funneled through AIG to make good rotten investments.

4. Preserving, in the face of deep involvement in every destructive aspect of the current economic collapse, the reputation of an ethical and reputable business.

Look at the surreal events surrounding Goldman Sachs. As financial titans crumble all around it, Goldman is unmolested, receiving billions in taxpayer handouts without any interference in its management or policies. Effectively, Goldman Sachs is running the bailout operations of the US Treasury as a subsidiary. They no longer need to fear the US Government losing confidence in Goldman Sachs; we need to fear Goldman losing confidence in the US government.

Is this squalid humiliation of the US Government at the hands of a gang of Wall Street hustlers the picture of the American Republic the Founders imagined over 200 years ago? Is this really what our nation has become – a helpless victim of corporate predators?

Goldman Sachs believes in one thing and one thing only: maximizing the financial returns of its top executives. This company should be de-chartered, disbanded, and publicly denounced as an example of destructive greed to stand forever in American history. We have seen the ugly face of rampant greed in the American financial industry, and its name is Goldman Sachs.

We the Bubble


“In the past few years, we’ve seen too much greed and too little fear; too much spending and not enough saving; too much borrowing and not enough worrying,” Summers said Friday in a speech to the Brookings Institution. “Today, however, our problem is exactly the opposite.”

Larry Summers – Idiot

Oh, the twists and turns of elite logic make for so much fun. Fun, that is, if there weren’t tent-cities rising like wild mushrooms along the decayed American landscape. If the fruits of the “ownership society” weren’t un-payable usurious debt, debauched currency and foreclosed houses full of slave-labor crap; the envy of first-worlders everywhere – never to mention the literally billions of human beings who live on less than a devalued dollar a day.

Open Thread


All the thread that’s fit to blog.  

What Part of De-populated Nature Preserve do you not Understand?

KBDI a Denver Colorado PBS station is taking lot’s of flack over truth telling.

The station it seems ran a piece about Arron Russo’s Freedom to Fascism plus other “conspiracy” theorists.  Arron however is only one of the more prominent activists in the growing 188 million memmber New World Order watchers.  His/this piece is only tip of the deception iceberg.…


They Are Not People, According To Obama’s DOJ

From RawStory Sunday morning…

Obama administration: Guantanamo detainees have ‘no constitutional rights’

Joe Byrne, Published: Sunday March 15, 2009

Court documents filed Friday reveal that Obama’s lawyers are arguing that Ex-Guantanamo detainees have no constitutional rights.

The Center for Constitutional Rights(CCR), a non-profit legal advocacy group, is supporting four British citizens – Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Jamal al Harith – in their suit alleging religious mistreatment and torture at Guantanamo Bay. Defendants in the case include Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, the retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The four men say that they were “beaten, shackled in painful stress positions, threatened by dogs and subjected to extreme medical care,” according to the Miami Herald. In addition, they reported being forced to shave their beards, being banned from prayer, being denied prayer mats, and watching a copy of the Koran get tossed in the toilet.

Last year, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in D.C. voted unanimously against the 4 ex-detainees. The Appeals Court claimed that the men did not fit the definition of ‘person’ in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because they were foreigners being held outside the United States. Months later, the Supreme Court instructed the Appeals Court to reconsider their decision, based on a Supreme Court ruling that Guantanamo detainees have some rights under the constitution. On Friday, the CCR re-filed their brief in the D.C. Court of Appeal.

Obama’s justice department is using an old strategy employed by the Bush administration. Their primary argument is that Ex-Guantanamo detainees don’t have any constitutional rights.

Veterans Begin 250 mile walk to San Antonio & “Two Wars”

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