June 19, 2009 archive

The Revolution That WAS Televised

Way back in the olden days – 1968 – there was a nasty big war going on in a godforsaken little country in southeast Asia called Vietnam. In those days there wasn’t an “All Volunteer Force” full of high school dropouts, petty criminals who bought off jail time by enlisting, way too many hopeless kids from the rust belt and impoverished heartland with no other options, etc.

In those days we Baby Boomers, the largest chunk of humans ever to gift the planet with our presence, were enjoying our youth and our freedom immensely with what our parents who fought World War II at home and abroad were able to buy us with their rewards for suffering through decades of economic depression and war. We were the best educated generation ever, a huge percentage of us went to college because our parents were hell bent on giving us all the opportunities they never had.

So in order to have an ample rotating pool of millions of young men to fight their war, they had a system called “Selective Service.” Conscription. Now, this system and the Last Great Opium War it supported were not very popular with the young Boomers who got to be cannon fodder whether they wanted to or not. As resistance and protest against the war grew among the young and disrupted college campuses all over the country, the huge ‘bubble’ of humans that comprised my generation began looking really dangerous to the Powers That Be who like to run things from some basement in or near Washington, D.C.

The situation looked pretty grim to me too, though I tended to have a lot more faith in my generation than the wigs in D.C. did. I figured it would eventually come down to revolution, but I also figured we’d win. Sheer force of numbers. I joined the local NAACP Youth Council, thinking we were going to need the boomers who weren’t WASPs, as much or more than we needed boomers who were. We also had some luck recruiting Native American kids, which I considered a very hopeful sign. Our revolution would need us all, so I actively went to work rounding up as many “all” as I could find. It being Oklahoma (Muskogee, in fact), they weren’t hard to find.

My sister who was a year older had joined the SDS while away for her first year of college in Kalamazoo. She wasn’t at all shy of trying to recruit me into the fold every time she came home on holiday. She too was convinced that a revolution by our generation was inevitable, and despite serious inborn intellect (she was Valedictorian in high school, eventually got a PhD in plant physiology), seemed totally under some kind of spell cast by some older people – pre-WW2-born Beatnik generation – who were trying really hard to manage the great desire for change and a better world for their own purposes. By manipulating us.

The Secret Sentry Declassified

The Secret Sentry: National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 278

The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency discloses that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was far from the first time when U.S. government officials, including senior military commanders and the White House, “cherry picked” intelligence information to fit preconceived notions or policies and ignored intelligence which ran contrary to their expectations. The Secret Sentry and the documents posted today show that widespread manipulation of intelligence also occurred during the Korean and Vietnam Wars for example, when Washington ignored intelligence on Chinese intervention in Korea, resulting in catastrophic consequences………………

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports a Judge questions Justice Department effort to keep secret Cheney’s remarks on Valarie Plame.

    U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan “sharply questioned an assertion by the Obama administration that former Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s statements to a special prosecutor about the Valerie Plame case must be kept secret, partly so they do not become fodder for Cheney’s political enemies or late-night commentary on ‘The Daily Show’.”

    The DoJ claims “Cheney’s voluntary statements to U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald were exempt from disclosure”, because “disclosure would make presidents and vice presidents reluctant to cooperate voluntarily with future criminal investigations” cover-ups.

  2. The CS Monitor reports The Pacific isn’t the only ocean collecting plastic trash. “A swirling ‘soup’ of tiny pieces of plastic has been found in the Atlantic Ocean, and something similar may be present in other ocean areas as well.”

    When Sylvia Earle began diving in 1952, the ocean was pristine. These days, things are different.
    “For the past 30 years I have never been on a dive anytime, anywhere, from the surface to 2-1/2 miles deep, without seeing a piece of trash,” says the renowned oceanographer and former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “There’s life from the surface to the greatest depths – and there’s also trash from the surface to the greatest depths.”

    Dr. Earle’s experience illustrates the rising tide of plastic accumulating in the world’s oceans.
    And while the Pacific Ocean has garnered much attention for what some call the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” – a vast expanse of floating plastic deposited in the middle of the ocean by circulating currents – the problem doesn’t stop there.

    New research shows that plastic has collected in a region of the Atlantic as well, held hostage by converging currents, called gyres, to form a swirling “plastic soup.” And those fragments of plastic could also be present at the other three large gyres in the world’s oceans, says Kara Lavender Law, a member of the oceanography faculty at the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Mass., which conducted the study.

Four at Four continues with an update from Afghanistan and Peru revokes Amazon development law.

Obama Administration Continues to Cover Up Cheney’s Crimes

From the Washington Post :

federal judge yesterday sharply questioned an assertion by the Obama administration that former Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s statements to a special prosecutor about the Valerie Plame case must be kept secret, partly so they do not become fodder for Cheney’s political enemies or late-night commentary on “The Daily Show.”

Ugh.  But it gets even better.  

But career civil division lawyer Jeffrey M. Smith, responding to Sullivan’s questions, said Bradbury’s arguments against the disclosure were supported by the department’s current leadership. He told the judge that if Cheney’s remarks were published, then a future vice president asked to provide candid information during a criminal probe might refuse to do so out of concern “that it’s going to get on ‘The Daily Show’ ” or somehow be used as a political weapon.


Fitzgerald, in a 2008 letter to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) cited by CREW, drew a distinction between interviews that he conducted under standard investigative secrecy rules and the meetings he held with Bush and Cheney. Fitzgerald said “there were no ‘agreements, conditions, and understandings between the Office of Special Counsel or the Federal Bureau of Investigation’ and either the President or Vice President ‘regarding the conduct and use of the interview or interviews.’ ”

So the Change You Can Believe In administration is arguing, with an apparent straight face that this isn’t a cover up of treason by Richard Bruce Cheney, that’s a 1st amendment issue.  Let me calm down and try to suss this out.  

The claim made originally by war criminal Bradbury, that the Vice President may not participate in a criminal probe in which he is himself the prime suspect, because Jon Stewart might make fun of him.  Not because he may incriminate himself.  And we can’t know about this, not because it might provide proof that Cheney is a criminal, but because in the future, when a Vice President breaks the law, he may, out of a fear of embarrassment, not cooperate with criminal investigations against him.  

A death foretold: the strange case of satellite radio

Many years ago, in the mid 90s, I was peripherally involved with the analysis of the two startup satellite radio companies, XM and Sirius. It was apparent to me then that the advent of mobile Internet access would kill these companies. The superior versatility, unlimited programming choices, and precision advertising capability of the mobile Internet platform would do to satellite radio what talkies did to silent films.

The only question in 1994 what when (not if) Internet audio programming could be streamed to cars and hand-held devices. It might be argued that this competitive uncertainty was so great as to provide ample justification for the lavish investments required to orbit radio broadcasting satellites and the corresponding programming and marketing infrastructure, but was this really so?

Unlike earlier eras of technological progress, the microelectronic revolution has been a forecaster’s dream. Because of Moore’s law, which describes the exponential increase of microcircuit density, it has been possible to predict the price/performance and the feature/performance characteristics of future consumer electronic devices with considerable precision. Moore’s Law was well understood at the time that the radio satellites were launched.

In retrospect, it is difficult to avoid concluding that the backers of satellite radio, their contractors, and their consultants fully understood the high probability that mobile Internet technology would wipe out their business model. Why did they proceed? I believe that the ventures were funded because of what C. Wright Mills calls “organized irresponsibility.” The people behind the schemes had front-loaded rewards, in the form of commissions, contracts, bonuses, and IPO proceeds that provided ample inducements to launch a doomed venture. Many of these players privately reasoned that they would make a lot of money – no matter what happened to satellite radio.

Does this pattern sound familiar? It is the same thing that happened in the financial sector and resulted in the near-meltdown of the world economy. People deliberately made deals that they knew were tainted or ill-fated because their short-term gains would outweigh any long-term losses – especially if the losses would be borne by others.

The bad news is that almost any industry in America over the last 20 years shows evidence of organized irresponsibility misdirecting investments with ruinous results: automobiles, aerospace, telecommunications, banking – you name it. Our business culture has contracted a disease of predatory bad-faith dealing, and until it is cured we will continue on the road to national ruin.

Had enough yet?

If you’re still thinking that Obama is your friend, if you’re still thinking that somehow he offers up something other than “hope”, well here’s one of those little stories that could be the proverbial straw-that-breaks-the-camel’s-back.

I wish I was making this up.  I wish this was actually from The Onion.  But it isn’t.

Judge rejects argument Cheney needs to be shielded from Daily Show

“Justice Department lawyers told the judge that future presidents and vice presidents may not cooperate with criminal investigations if they know what they say could become available to their political opponents and late-night comics who would ridicule them.”

This is the Obama administration, folks.  This is not the Bush/Cheney administration.  This is Obama’s Justice Department doing this.

Upon reading this, my first instinct was to just turn away from the computer and not come back for a good long time.  

But I thought I’d share it here first.

“If we become a fact-finder for political enemies, they aren’t going to cooperate,” Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Smith said. “I don’t want a future vice president to say, `I’m not going to cooperate with you because I don’t want to be fodder for ‘The Daily Show.'”

This is a sad time for America.  Very sad indeed.

We need a new party.  This one is exactly like the other one.

First Amendment Friday 8 – Butts V Curtis

Happy Friday and welcome to the 8th in the Dog’s First Amendment Friday series. This series is following the syllabus for the class called The First Amendment and taught at Yale Law School by Professor Jack M. Balkin. As with the Friday Constitutional series this is a layman’s look at the Law, specifically the Supreme Court opinions which have shaped the boundaries of our 1st Amendment Protections. If you are interested in the previous installments you can find them at the links below:

Originally posted at Squarestate.net

Where’s Their Votes?

We in America tend to see everything in terms of potential fallout for our own interests or in terms of the very real incidence of our own interference in the political manipulations of other Governments.

Lest we forget, these are not the faces of CIA operatives, nor Israeli plants, as Ahmadinejad would have you believe. This is a young population, with World access at their fingertips via technology.

One need only look at Iran’s long tradition of revolution to try and achieve Democracy, juxtaposed against a young and increasingly supportive of women’s right populace in the face of a government that has reinstated a detested “Guidance Patrol,” a law enforcement division that stops women for wearing, say, capri pants, flower-print head scarves or too much lipstick.

2/3 of enrolled University Students are women.

The campaign Change for Equality is working toward their One Million Signatures to get Parliament to review 10 laws against women.

Iran: Threats From The Supreme Leader As Demonstrations Continue


Bad news from the Iranian government.  No concessions will be made to the demonstrators.

The New York Times reports that in his Friday speech, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, offered no concessions at all to the demonstrators and threatened leaders of the pro-democracy demonstrations with reprisals if the demonstrations do not stop:

In his first public response to days of protests, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sternly warned opponents Friday to stay off the streets and denied opposition claims that last week’s disputed election was rigged, praising the ballot as an “epic moment that became a historic moment.”

In a somber and lengthy sermon at Friday prayers in Tehran, he called directly for an end to the protests by hundreds of thousands of Iranians demanding a new election.

“Street challenge is not acceptable,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “This is challenging democracy after the elections.” He said opposition leaders would be “held responsible for chaos” if they did not end the protests.

As to the claims of the protestors and numerous analysts that the election was rigged, Khamenei absolutely denies any irregularities:

…he endorsed the president’s policies and insisted that the margin of victory – 11 million votes – accorded to Mr. Ahmadinejad in the official tally was so big that it could not have been falsified. “How can 11 million votes be replaced or changed?” he said.

He went on: “The Islamic republic state would not cheat and would not betray the vote of the people.”

Oh no.  Not cheating.  Some kinds of cheating are so huge that they’re impossible.  Not.   According to the ever cautious Times, “The ayatollah’s remarks seemed to show that the authorities were growing impatient with the street protests.  ‘It would be wrong to think that turning out on the street would force officials to accept their demands,’ he said.”

And, of course, the entire speech couldn’t be complete without this:

He blamed “media belonging to Zionists, evil media” for seeking to show divisions between those who supported the Iranian state and those who did not, while, in fact, the election had shown Iranians to be united in their commitment to the Islamic revolutionary state.

“There are 40 million votes for the revolution, not just 24 million for the chosen president,” he said, referring to the official tally that gave Mr. Ahmadinejad more than 60 percent of the vote.

Ayatollah Khamenei said the election ” was a competition among people who believe in the state.”

The speech explicitly threatens a wave of repression.

This morning’s Twitter at #iranelection says that more large demonstrations will be held tomorrow.


Israeli police beat CodePink activist at Gaza protest

During a protest outside Bar-Ilan University, two other CodePink activists, Medea Benjamin and Rae Abileah, were forced to shield Tighe Barry with their bodies as Israeli police targeted him for a beating. The incident triggered an asthma attack and Israeli police at first refused to call an ambulance.

Col.(Ret) Ann Wright, who you can also see in the video, has the rest of the story at HuffPo.

Why you are unemployed.

In Michigan, we have an internet job/resume bank.   As one of the qualifying conditions for unemployment compensation, laid-off people are required to post their resume in the system.  We currently have 1 million resumes on file and 20,000 jobs.

US fast-tracks hi-tech trade with India; GE India first beneficiary

WASHINGTON: The United States has announced a new programme to fast-track high-technology trade with India from which General Electric’s India division will be the first Indian company to benefit.

“This is an important step in enabling a more rapid and efficient flow of sensitive technology between India and the United States,” US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced at the US-India Business Council’s 34th Anniversary “Synergies Summit” Wednesday.  –snip–  

We’re looking forward to reciprocal actions from our partner,” Locke said encouraging other Indian firms also to take advantage of the programme. –snip–

The only countries eligible for the programme to date are India and China, which was approved in late April.

Last year, US companies exported $18 billion worth of goods to India, and India shipped the United States $25 billion worth of goods, Locke said.  –snip–

With Democrats like Obama, corporations don’t need the Republicans in the White House.

hat tip

Docudharma Times Friday June 19

now is dawn – we must go – location not safe –

thank u for supporting Sea of Green

– #Iranelection – people of Iran needs your help

Friday’s Headlines:

East wonders, ‘Who’ll stop the rain?’

History suggests the coup will fail

Gaza mud houses are answer to a prayer for the homeless

Ireland set to seek approval for Lisbon treaty if it wins legal guarantees

Zimbabwe police take batons to women protesters 50m from Amnesty chief

Nigeria ‘wrong’ to seize weapons

Protests marking Suu Kyi birthday

In Afghanistan, halting civilian deaths in strikes is a tough mission

Images reveal full horror of ‘Amazon’s Tiananmen’

Lawmakers Balk As Administration Tries to Redefine Central Bank’s Role

By Neil Irwin and Binyamin Appelbaum

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Federal Reserve, which has been at the center of the government rescue of the financial system, is now on the hot seat, with a debate on Capitol Hill emerging over its responsibility for the crisis and its proper role in preventing such events in the future.

Lawmakers are simultaneously annoyed that the Fed did not do more to rein in the bad lending and other financial excesses that led to the financial crisis and recession, and wary of the Fed’s aggressive steps over the past two years to combat them. The criticism of the Fed is increasingly loud, bipartisan and from both chambers of Congress.

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it wants to give the central bank more power to oversee risks to the U.S. economy even as it strips the Fed of power to protect consumers and limits its authority to make emergency loans. But the expansion of its role is already proving to be the most controversial element of the president’s plan to revamp financial regulation.

Iran protests: live

A week after the disputed poll, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will lead Friday prayers today in an attempt to quell continuing anger at the reelection of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Follow live updates

The orignal page will be updated every minute


Al-Jazeera is showing live pictures of Khamenei at the start of Friday prayers. It quotes him calling for peace.

“I advise you to follow Allah and follow the pious way,” he says according to the translation. “Apply the fear of God,” he adds.

He goes on to cite verses from the Qu’ran about enemies surrounding Mecca. “Psychologically Muslims need a quiet and tranquil heart,” al-Jazeera’s translator quotes Khamenei as saying.

“When we gain stress and worries it will be difficult to find our way. When we are quiet it is easier to find solutions. This is the blessing of Allah. Believers need to find calm and strength.”


Democrats Scramble to Cut Costs From Health Plan


Published: June 18, 2009

WASHINGTON – The high cost of securing health insurance for all Americans, the top domestic priority of President Obama, has Congressional Democrats scrambling to scale back their proposals or find ways to trim tens of billions of dollars a year from existing health programs.

According to slides presented at a closed-door meeting this week, members of the Senate Finance Committee are debating several new ideas, including “an automatic mechanism” to reduce the growth of Medicare under an expedited procedure like the one used to close military bases.

The documents displayed in the slides show that the committee is also considering a proposal that would require some employers to contribute to the cost of Medicaid or private health insurance for low-wage workers. One purpose is to discourage employers from foisting the cost of employee health benefits onto the federal government, a maneuver that would push up the cost of revamping the health system.

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