April 14, 2009 archive

Easter (Eostre) Is A Pagan Goddess (or maybe not)

Apologies for the tardiness of this diary. A couple weeks ago, as my husband and I were driving, a huge deer jumped right in front of our car. We were absolutely fine, aside from a little shock and damage to the car itself. So I’ve been taking care of all that fun bureaucratic stuff that goes along with filing a claim.

I was lamenting to my mother how this was impeding the progress of my Ostara diary when she pointed out that hitting that deer has everything to do with Wicca. And she’s right. The stag, or horned god, is a major figure in Wicca. He courts and mates with the Goddess in spring, is sacrificed in the fall, and reborn in the winter.

“Yes, but the stag is supposed to be sacrificed in fall, not spring!” I told her. ”  And not even at Ostara, at Beltaine!”

“Well, this stag was just a little confused,” she said.



Gitmo Attys Advise Panetta: Preserve Torture Evidence

My ex-wife has been representing a Guantanamo detainee for a few years now.  She took a case she couldn’t afford and has devoted a significant portion of her resources the last few years to seeking justice for a foreign stranger accused of committing terrorist acts.  The struggle has been difficult, because her opponent has been the richest, most powerful country in the world–the government of the United States of America.  Her inability to sleep well while someone tortured in her name is the reason I fell in love with her forty years ago.  We scarcely communicate, now that our wonderful children are grown, but we did exchange emails today.  The impersonal letter she forwarded to me, the subject of this diary, brought me to tears.  This diary is to share one small development in a long, difficult struggle being carried forward by a few Americans who stand up for human rights.

Four at Four

  1. The LA Times reports President Obama touts economic progress but says ‘hard times’ still ahead. Obama “sought to temper recent optimism about an economic recovery, warning that the ‘hard times’ will not end this year and there will be ‘more job loss, more foreclosures and more pain’ before the recession ends.”

    “The market will continue to rise and fall. Credit is still not flowing nearly as easily as it should. The process for restructuring AIG and the auto companies will involve difficult and sometimes unpopular choices,” Obama said…

    “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock,” Obama said. “We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity — a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.”

    The CS Monitor reports on 10 ways the new economy will look different. In a nutshell, expect a more sober standard of living. Here’s a few points from the article. Everyone “will be looking to get the most they can for their dollars.” “The sale of used goods may increase as secondary markets surge in importance.”

    “About one-third of US residents feel at immediate risk of downward mobility… Job insecurity has been rising for years, and that’s a trend that may become more pronounced even as prosperity returns.”

    Meanwhile, it looks like Neel Kashkari may be out. The Washington Post reports the Department of Treasury plans to tap Fannie Mae chief to run the bailout. Herb Allison has “led Fannie Mae since the government seized the firm in September” and now is likely to be asked “to run the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the $700 billion federal initiative to stabilize banks, keep struggling borrowers in their homes and spur lending.”

    Allison, 30 years senior to Kashkari, “has been close to Geithner for years. Allison served on an advisory committee to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, of which Geithner was president. Allison formerly was vice chairman of Merrill Lynch and chief executive of TIAA-CREF.”

Four at Four continues with a possible tactical change in the West with negotiating with Iran, Somali pirates vow vengeance on France and the U.S., and the Thai anti-government protesters give up.

Pressuring The Press

We in the blogosphere know our Press is broken, it is one of the reasons we are here. Due to the blogosphere, people have gained access to a far wider world of information than was previously fed to them by the very limited abilities of the Traditional News Media. Those limitations are offset by one huge advantage….access.

Access to the halls of power and the players in them by the Trad Med has been both a blessing and a curse. They DO get to ask the policymakers and politicians questions. That is good. But. To get and keep that access they were TOLD during the Bush Administration that too many pointed questions…to many real questions, too many uncomfortable questions….would result in losing that access.

As in so many things, the Bushies took a bad situation, a questionable Press Corp, and made it much worse. They knew that if there was a truly Free Press, thier many secrets and bad policies would be exposed. So not only did they muzzle the Press, they also corrupted it as they corrupted everything else in pursuit of their corrupt goals. Two Words, Judy Miller. Two more! The Plame Outting.

President Obama on the other hand genuinely seems to welcome good questions from the Press. A good question is a springboard for him to launch into explanations and descriptions of what he is doing and trying to do.

Obama’s capitulation statement

We must give Obama credit for brazenly stating that the Federal Government cannot manage the banking system and must, instead, be managed by the banks. Here are his own words from a speech delivered today:

we believe that preemptive government takeovers are likely to end up costing taxpayers even more in the end, and because it is more likely to undermine than to create confidence. Governments should practice the same principle as doctors: first do no harm. So rest assured – we will do whatever is necessary to get credit flowing again, but we will do so in ways that minimize risks to taxpayers and to the broader economy. To that end, in addition to the program to provide capital to the banks, we have launched a plan that will pair government resources with private investment in order to clear away the old loans and securities – the so-called toxic assets – that are also preventing our banks from lending money.

Geithner and Summers told Obama that the fraudsters and grifters running the banks inspire “confidence” in the markets, and that nationalizing these institutions and firing their managers would create “risks to taxpayers.” Got that? Keeping the managers who wrecked our financial system in power is low-risk!

The Hippocratic oath reference (First do no harm) applies directly to the CEOs of the banks, because Obama is insisting on protecting their jobs and bonuses. It certainly does not apply to ordinary American citizens who are being foreclosed, fined, feed, and otherwise squeezed by bankers desperate to avoid collapse of their insolvent institutions.

This is the unadulterated bull$hit that passes for economic policy in the Obama administration, a government so completely dominated by Wall Street cronies that it can’t even INVESTIGATE the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression. Obama’s economic team has persuaded him that his administration can’t run the top five US banks better than the clowns who rendered them insolvent. This is a deliberate decision to reinforce failure, and it stinks of legalized corruption through a network of influence.

Capitulation complete; surrender accomplished. The banks are running America, and Obama is now their top PR man.

Wolves, hunting, and “The Big Howl”


Just wanted to pass along this email I got from the NRDC, so anyone who didn’t know about Obama’s Interior Secretary Salazar’s plan to allow wolf hunting to commence in May can take action.


In just a few weeks, the mass killing of wolves could begin in

Idaho and Montana — and not even newborn wolf pups and their

nursing mothers will be spared.

Please don’t miss this opportunity to speak out before this slaughter unfolds. On May 4, the wolf’s federal protection will be lifted, and hunters and government agents will be free to open fire. After that, the states will launch

public hunts, targeting wolves.

Time is critical, so please take a moment to act now to call off what may become a disaster to the survival prospects of wolves living in and around Yellowstone National Park and the Norther Rockies.

Weekly Torture Action Letter 6: Time Is Running Out To Investigate

Welcome to the sixth of the Dog’s letter writing campaign series. The Dog usually posts these on Monday’s but his Step Dad was having major heart surgery and the Dog could not focus very well yesterday (he is fine BTW). The basic premise here is to, on a weekly basis; write a letter to the President, the Attorney General, the nine Justices of the Supreme Court, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, urging them to investigate the apparent State Sponsored Torture program of the Bush Administration. In order to get their attention, every week the Dog writes from a different perspective about the issue, so that on the off chance that they read more than one of these letters it is clear that it is not the same thing over and over. This series also offers the reader the chance to write their own letter or cut and paste the Dog’s letter and send it in. The more people that we have sending weekly letters the higher chance that we will be heard on this issue, so if you could take the time to send this along it would be greatly appreciated.

Docudharma Times Tuesday April 14

 Tea Party

Protest Against?

Bush’s Tax Policies

These People Are

Incredibly Stupid


Tuesday’s Headlines:

On-location film and TV shoots in L.A. hit lowest levels on record

North Korea to boycott nuclear weapons talks after UN condemns rocket launch

Tamil Tigers call for ceasefire talks

Italy earthquake focus shifts to saving Abruzzo’s heritage

Rama Yade: The political star who’s eclipsing Sarko

Pirates promise to take their revenge against US

Will pirates join forces with Islamist militias in Somalia?

US universities expand in the Middle East

Journalist goes on trial in Iran

Thai protest leaders call halt after deadly clash


The Associated Press

Tuesday, April 14, 2009; 2:35 AM

BANGKOK — Leaders of demonstrations that plunged the Thai capital into chaos said Tuesday that they were calling off their protests following rioting and clashes that left two dead and more than 120 injured across Bangkok.

About 2,000 die-hard protesters began to abandon their encampment around the seat of government, as combat troops ringed the demonstrators’ last stronghold making preparations for a crackdown.

“We have decided to call off the rally today because many brothers and sisters have been hurt and killed.

Allied Militants Threaten Pakistan’s Populous Heart

This article was reported by Sabrina Tavernise, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Eric Schmitt and written by Ms. Tavernise.


Published: April 13, 2009

DERA GHAZI KHAN, Pakistan – Taliban insurgents are teaming up with local militant groups to make inroads in Punjab, the province that is home to more than half of Pakistanis, reinvigorating an alliance that Pakistani and American authorities say poses a serious risk to the stability of the country.

The deadly assault in March in Lahore, Punjab’s capital, against the Sri Lankan cricket team, and the bombing last fall of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, the national capital, were only the most spectacular examples of the joint campaign, they said.


America’s hidden unemployment crisis

Temp workers easily cast aside but have little safety net


Over the past decade, U.S. businesses increasingly have relied on contract workers as a way to keep a lid on health care and retirement benefit costs and to give them more flexibility to adjust payrolls as conditions change. Now, with the American economy flashing code red, companies from Wall Street to Silicon Valley are casting off temporary workers and freelancers left and right, typically without any severance pay.

While the ability to shed contingent workers helps protect corporate profits, economists say it’s a net negative for the economy. That’s because while companies may save on labor costs, they aren’t likely to use those savings to boost investment with the economy so weak, preferring instead to rebuild their balance sheets.

Cuba: Smells Like Opposition Funding

(and a chance to grab that swing Florida vote!)

I had wondered about Obama’s saying, back in December, whether Obama was considering normalizing relationships or not with Cuba. I even had hope that by closing Gitmo (which has not yet been done, remember) it would aid in that effort.

‘I will maintain the embargo,’ Obama told a gathering in Miami. ‘It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice.’

Obama came under heavy criticism from the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, who accused the leading Democratic candidate of taking a soft position toward the regime dominated by the Castro brothers.

But Obama stuck by his pledge to hold unconditional talks with Cuban leader Raul Castro, but only after ‘careful preparation’ and a ‘a clear agenda’ that would help ensure discussion would produce real reforms in Cuba.

‘As president I would be willing to lead the diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing,’ Obama said, accusing McCain of distorting his position.

Consider this little demographic factoid: (my bold)


The proportion of Hispanic-origin people who are of Mexican background. Another approximately 10 percent are of Puerto Rican background, with about 3 percent each of Cuban, Salvadoran and Dominican origins. The remainder are of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic or Latino origins.

Roughly half of the nation’s Dominicans live in New York City, with about half of the nation’s Cubans residing in Miami-Dade County, Fla.

Dario Moreno, Director, Metropolitan Center, Associate Professor, Political Science at Florida International University offered an in-depth report of the disproportionate Political Power of Exiled Cubans.

This group handed Florida to Reagan and both Bushes, with 80% coming out strongly for Republicans in this swing State.

In a move that would elate both Liberals (who see it as a step toward Normalcy) and Neo-Cons (who want that Wealthy-Capitalist influence back in Cuba) Obama has made it possible for funding and travel from ONLY this Republican demographic to interact with Cuba.

Brilliant, but not in a good way.

Can you say “duped”???

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind XV

Art Link

4 by 4

           Four Freedoms

    Franklin proclaimed them

      to us in 1941

    Norman drew them

      for us in 1943

    We have lived our lives

      in search of them

    They are our most deeply

      held convictions

    Four are the freedoms

    and the freedoms are for

    all humans everywhere

    They are the goal

    Freedom of Speech

      Free to talk
        and hear
      Free to write
        and read
      Free to teach
        and learn
      Free to create
        and experience

    Freedom to Worship

      whomever or no one
        whatever or nothing
      whenever or never
        wherever or nowhere
      however or not at all
        why ever or for no reason
      the religion, philosophy, or ethos
        the faith or belief we choose

    Freedom from Fear

      of oppression and brutality
        by tyrants or despots
        by bullies or demagogues
      of killing and slaughter
        because of nationality or religion
        because of race or culture
      of disease and corruption
        of bodies or minds
        of institutions or leaders
      of rape and torture
        of people or nature
        of wallets or souls

    Freedom from Want

      of food
        and drink
      of lodging
        and warmth
      of work
        and self-worth
      of respect
        and value

    These are our values

      or so I was taught

    So what the fuck

      is happening to us now





    It is

      time for
          to go

    Help me

      take back
        this land
          from them

        –Robyn Elaine Serven
         –December 23, 2005

Late Night Karaoke

One More Time

Torture News Roundup: Panetta’s Move-On Torture Plan

Scott Horton’s article, Licensed to Kill, discusses Panetta’s memo for subordinates and Congress of his move-on plan, which includes generalized “immunity” that may cover executive-level officials, including some now advising Panetta. The plan includes shutting down the CIA black sites, which is good, but as the CIA has already destroyed evidence of torture, will any evidence at these sites be preserved?

Other torture news includes:  Prisoners can not judicially enforce Geneva rights due to MCA; torture lawyer Bybee admits DOJ work shoddy; a court reinstated a Guantánamo defense lawyer fired by the Pentagon; Obama opposes habeas rights for Bagram prisoners because it may interfere with Afghanistan war, and a judge blasted Bush DOJ for hiding evidence that key witness used to build case against prisoners is mentally ill.

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