June 26, 2009 archive

This Is Fucked Up (Updated)

From the WaPo:

The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close Guantanamo, has drafted an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.

Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that bypassing Congress could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.

After months of internal debate over how to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, White House officials are growing increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may prove impossible. Several officials said there is concern in the White House that the administration may not be able to close the facility by the president’s January deadline.

So let me see if I have this right.

Writing an Executive Order to halt DADT, which would prevent people losing their jobs from … losing their jobs — Bad.

Writing an Executive Order fucking up our legal system even more due to politics — Good.

I always take WaPo analysis with a grain of salt, but no matter what, this is fucked up.

UPDATE (h/t to mcjoan).  From Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic, an administration denial (emphasis in original):

(Update: An administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, flatly denied the report to me. “There is no executive order. There just isn’t one.”)

This is the second time there’s been rumors of Obama signing an executive order like this, the first one about keeping the torture pics from being released, and that one has not been confirmed either.  If as mcjoan says, this is a trial balloon, the sooner shot down the better.

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports the White House says that a transportation system overhaul must wait. One area where reform must wait, according to the Obama administration, is “overhauling the nation’s aging, congested and carbon-emitting transportation system.”

    “The 18.4-cent federal gas tax has not been raised since 1993, and revenue from it falls increasingly short every year because of inflation and the shift to more fuel-efficient cars.” An increase in gas tax or changing it to a “miles driven” fee is off the table until after the 2010 elections.

    To do so, the administration will need “Congress to provide a $20 billion patch to continue funding at current levels, because the Highway Trust Fund, supported by the gas tax, is expected to run dry next month.”

  2. The NY Times reports a Derivatives tug of war takes shape. Banks are resisting attempts by Congress to create a new regulator system for derivatives.

    Instead of regulating them, some believe “there needs to be consideration as to whether some derivatives deserve to exist at all.”

    “Simply put,” said Richard Bookstaber, one of the pioneers of financial engineering on Wall Street, “derivatives are the weapon of choice for gaming the system.”

    The Obama administration’s outline favors regulation, but what the actual details of the regulations are will be critical.

    “Wall Street will try to keep as much of the market as possible from moving to exchanges, where prices would be transparent and those taking risks would have to put up collateral immediately when prices moved against them. Instead, the derivatives industry has already started a public relations campaign claiming that it is helping businesses”.

    Despite the clear evidence that Warren Buffett was right when he called derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction,” there has been little talk of giving regulators authority to ban some derivatives.

Four at Four continues with stoned wallabies and the world’s oldest musical instrument.

“Hope For American Indians Starts With Peltier’s Freedom:” Tribal Sovereignty In The Energy Crisis


Why might “Change and Hope for American Indians start with Peltier’s Freedom?”

“The great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”

Writing in the the current print issue of Rolling Stone, journalist Matt Taibbi exposes Goldman Sachs, the “world’s most powerful investment bank”, for the “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money” that it truly is.

In “The Great American Bubble Machine”, Taibbi outlines how Goldman Sachs has either influenced, shaped, or simply created five market bubbles since 1929 and how now, the bankers are planning to use the greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade scheme as their penultimate bubble.

While I do not agree with some of the conclusions he makes, there is enough in his 9,700 word essay that can make the blood boil.

“The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere,” he begins. But, “any attempt to construct a narrative around all the former Goldmanites in influential positions quickly becomes an absurd and pointless exercise, like trying to make a list of everything.”

First Amendment Friday 9 – Gertz v Richard Welch Inc

Happy Friday and welcome to the 9th 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

Dear Senators, you F$%@ with the bull, you get the horns

Simulposted on Daily Kos

    All of these Senators are Arlen Specter.

    Progressives should remember well the lessons we have learned through Arlen Specter in the last few months.

    That lesson seems to be.

    A. Politicians care about nothing more than staying in power and gaining power.

    B. A Politician that fears losing their seat will do anything to prevent it.

    C. If they don’t fear you, they will not respect you.

    D. Bi-Partisanship = Cow Pie

    Specter, the agile old lizard that he is, seems to only have one skill, which is judging the wind in Washington. Many other Senators do not have this skill. There careers will be much shorter than his because of it.

    These Senators do not realize, or do not care, that average Americans are fucking dying out there do to lack of health care coverage, whether it is preventative or emergency.

    And now they are compromising with “NO!”

    Well, good Senator, there is a phrase I would like to reacquaint you with.

   “If you fuck with the bull, you get the horns.”

    Now, on to the show.

Burn through

Trying to make sense of the gloomy and chaotic world political scene requires evaluating the likely outcome of the massive conflict between the entrenched forces of organized irresponsibility and the growing forces of an emergent global networked intelligence. To my mind, the best metaphor for what appears to be happening is the electronic warfare phenomenon of “burn through.”

In electronic warfare, radar is a primary sensing system for determining target location and movement. To deny the adversary this information, electronic jamming is used to interfere with accurate radar returns. However, as the power of the search radar increases relative to the jammer, the false signal created by the jammer is overwhelmed and accurate radar information is obtained.

Consider Iran. Ten years ago, the authoritarian regime could easily have suppressed reporting from the streets showing massive protests. But the advent of ubiquitous image-gathering cell phones and wireless Internet access have made censorship in Iran nearly impossible. The power of the Internet has “burned through” the jamming of a sovereign state’s propaganda apparatus.

In America, a similar phenomenon is occurring with regard to reporting of economic conditions. Dozens of independent bloggers are posting grim statistics and analysis indicating that economic conditions are bad and worsening, while the corrupt commercial press and our Wall Street-owned government keeps talking about the end of the recession and “green shoots.” Again, the Internet is burning through the propaganda jamming.

This trend will continue until propaganda and disinformation tactics are thoroughly discredited and a new paradigm for institutional leadership is established. Honesty will become not only the best policy, but the only available option. The force driving history now is the steady, irresistible assault of the collectively gathered truth on the ancient tactics of deceit that have been the basis of concentrated power since the first political lie was told.

Iran: Fill The Sky With Green Balloons



The protest for Friday, as reported by The New York Times:

7:52 p.m. Now that it is early Friday morning in Iran, an Iranian blogger writes on Twitter of a new way of registering protest opposition supporters say they plan for this afternoon:


at one PM people all over Iran will be airing green balloons and make the sky GREEN!

Let’s not waste energy on trying to launch balloons simultaneously with those in Iran (Iran is 3.5 hours ahead of GMT, 8.5 hours ahead of ET).  Let’s just blow up those balloons in solidarity.  Let’s see some green balloons on your car, at your home, at your work, on the street.  It’s easy.  It’s solidarity.

This “defiance” is particularly appropriate today.  Reuters is reporting that Ahmad Khatami has called for the execution of “rioters”:

A hardline Iranian cleric on Friday called for the execution of “rioters” in the latest sign of the authorities’ determination to stamp out opposition to the June 12 presidential election. …snip

“I want the judiciary to … punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson,” Ahmad Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University….snip

Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts, said the judiciary should charge the leading “rioters” as being “mohareb” or one who wages war against God.

“They should be punished ruthlessly and savagely,” he said. Under Iran’s Islamic law, punishment for people convicted as mohareb is execution.

Last time I checked flying a green balloon was not being a “leading rioter.”  But definitions in Iran are extremely flexible.

cross posted from The Dream Antilles



“The Hurt Locker”

Soldiers on a Live Wire Between Peril and Protocol

If “The Hurt Locker” is not the best action movie of the summer, I’ll blow up my car. The movie is a viscerally exciting, adrenaline-soaked tour de force of suspense and surprise, full of explosions and hectic scenes of combat, but it blows a hole in the condescending assumption that such effects are just empty spectacle or mindless noise……..

Docudharma Times Friday June 26

Bad day for Gen X

‘These people were on our lunchboxes,’

said fan Gary Giovannetti

Friday’s Headlines:

Governor Mark Sanford under pressure to quit over affair

Children forced to mine Zimbabwe diamonds

U.S. sending arms aid to Somalia

‘Bribes and bombs’ scandal returns to haunt Sarkozy

Cleared men face retrial over murder of Anna Politkovskaya

China ‘to block’ Hummer takeover

Pakistani Taliban claim Kashmir attack

Iranians mourn slain woman as power struggle continues

At Least 9 Die as Bombing Wave Continues in Iraq

For Haitians deported from the US, an unlikely welcome-home committee

Object of Acclaim, Curiosity, The ‘King of Pop’ Dies in L.A.


By Hank Stuever and Matt Schudel

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson, 50, died yesterday in Los Angeles as sensationally as he lived, as famous as a human being can get. He was a child Motown phenomenon who grew into a moonwalking megastar, the self-anointed King of Pop who sold 750 million records over his career and enjoyed worldwide adoration.

But with that came the world’s relentless curiosity, and Mr. Jackson was eventually regarded as one of show business’s legendary oddities, hopping from one public relations crisis to another.

In the end there were two sides to the record: The tabloid caricature and the provocative, genre-changing musical genius that his fans will always treasure. There were those whose devotion knew no bounds, who visited the gates of his private ranch north of Santa Barbara, Calif., arriving at Neverland on pilgrimages from Europe and Asia, and who were among the first to flock to UCLA Medical Center as news of his death spread yesterday afternoon. Those were the same kind of fans who camped out at the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse, to show their support during his 2005 trial. They released doves and wept when he was acquitted.

Miscalculations abound in Iran

By Shahir Shahidsaless

Twenty-eight years ago, on June 20, 1981, after almost two years of friction between the Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO) – a militant revolutionary group – and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – the Iranian leader of the 1979 revolution – the dispute escalated into armed conflict. The ayatollah attacked the MKO leaders and followers as non-believers and “monafeq” (hypocrites hidden inside Islamic society). He encouraged people to confront the movement. The MKO was driven underground, but the fierce campaign, which cost the lives of hundreds of the MKO’s followers, crushed and rooted the organization out of the country.

Now, history is repeating its terrible self. However, misleadingly, while the two events look similar on the surface, there are fundamental differences.

Threatened by supporters of the defeated presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as part of the ruling elite, delivered an unambiguous message during last Friday’s prayer sermon.


Senate panel OKs funds for jailing illegal immigrants

Compensation for state and local governments may be continued, despite Obama’s call to end such payments. California could receive less money than last year.

By Richard Simon

10:41 PM PDT, June 25, 2009

Reporting from Washington — Congress appeared poised Thursday to continue compensating state and local governments for incarcerating illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, ignoring President Obama’s call to eliminate such payments.

That would spare strapped California from another hit on its budget.The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to provide $228 million nationwide next year, acting a week after the House voted to allocate $400 million, the same as this year.

Once the full Senate acts, negotiators from both chambers will meet to reconcile their differences.

California, which receives about 40% of the money, still could end up with less than it received this year.

“That’s better than nothing,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The funds are included in the annual bill funding the Justice and Commerce departments and science programs.

On Death And Justice, Or, What If The Death Penalty Could Be Fair?

Those who support Progressive causes are in an odd position these days: we’re often in the majority on issues that matter; and we’re seriously talking about how to turn what, just a few years ago, was a wish list…into a “reality list”.

Staying in the majority, however, requires the assistance of centrist voters–and that means, from time to time, finding philosophical compromise with voters we’d like to keep “in the fold”.

In years past, the issue of the death penalty has created a considerable chasm between Progressives and centrists; with the one side concerned about the misapplication of capital punishment, and the other convinced that, for the most heinous of crimes, the only way to achieve a truly just outcome is for the guilty party to face the most severe of punishments.

What if we could bridge that gap?

In today’s discussion we propose to do exactly that: to create a death penalty process that only executes those who are truly guilty and excludes those who might not deserve to be put to death…in fact, those who might not be guilty of any crime at all.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

if in day to day life you lead a good life,

honestly, with love, with compassion, with less selfishness,

then automatically it will lead to nirvana.

–Tenzin Gyatso (the fourteenth Dalai Lama),

from Religious Values and Human Society

Phenomena XXX: ephemeron

Searching for Fertile Ground

Leaving Nothing but Footsteps

I tread


though life

Soft footsteps

shaped like words


like apple seeds

along the years

Applying color

like a butterfly’s wings

to attract the prey

Don’t be concerned

I will not harm you

I need only what allows

the next moment

and the hope that ideas


after I have passed

I have tread lightly

through life

and intend

to leave it lightly

as well

And maybe just

a little better

for my having

been here

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–April 11, 2008

Load more