August 25, 2009 archive

War & Peace: A Prelude

cross-posted from

(and no, not about the book though I am thinking of rereading it.)

eve wall (2)Beginning in September, look for the launch of a new weekly column at Progressive Blue called “War & Peace.”

When I first thought about coming back with a regular column, I realized there are so many issues I care about, want to write about, that it was hard to narrow it down.  While my personal passions are human rights and civil rights, international development and education, these aren’t always what get me revved up.  So how to pull together all the many different topics I want to write about into a focused, coherent vein?  War and Peace.

Some things fit neatly into the War theme: they are destructive, negative, usually deliberate and always get my blood boiling.  Others fit into the Peace theme: positive, compassionate, progressive, and always get me to smile even in difficult subjects.

I’m still figuring out exactly which day of the week I’ll publish “War & Peace”, probably Tuesdays — do feel free to chime in.  And let me know what areas you’re interested in exploring: I have a list but it’s definitely not exhaustive so pile on.

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports President Obama nominates Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. “The announcement is a major victory for Mr. Bernanke, a Republican who was appointed by President George W. Bush almost four years ago and who had briefly served as chairman of Mr. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.”

    A “senior official said Mr. Obama did not offer the job to anyone else, even though a number of high-powered Democratic economists were considered potentially strong candidates to replace him.”

    Reuters reports Obama credits Bernanke as having saved the U.S. economy. Which overlooks it collapsed in the first place. Also, this leaves Republicans in charge of the nation’s defense and, at least in part, the economy. How is this different from Republican rule?

  2. The Los Angeles Times reports Supreme Court considers major shift in election law to allow corporate spending in campaigns. In 1904, “Congress passed a law to keep corporate money out of political races. Now, that century-old ban stands in danger of being overturned by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, on the basis of… free speech in politics.”

    Striking down corporate spending limits would be “a radical step” that would change the character of elections, said Fred Wertheimer, president of the nonprofit Democracy 21…

    “This could take us back to the era when people referred to the senator from Standard Oil,” said Washington lawyer Trevor Potter… “If you have hundreds of millions of corporate dollars flowing into these races, it could drown out the speech of ordinary voters.”

    A return to the bad, old days.

Four at Four continues with a look at Holder’s narrow CIA probe, swine flu, and coral reefs.

Hey, IOZ, shut your fucking trap!

When I want to be dazzled by human intellect, I read IOZ.  He delivers.  In a similar vein, I love Bernard Chazelle’s posts on music: they make me feel edified in the absence of my own personal knowledge on the topic.  Thus, despite my shortcomings, I feel lifted by them, each in their own way.

However, fuck the fuck off, IOZ, you bitchy fucking cunt.  Gratuitously attacking Glenn Greenwald based on John Caruso’s misplaced bitchiness?  Please, don’t be a spiritless bitch.

IOZ may dazzle, but Glenn Greenwald moves mountains.

The Real Story of Debt and Consumption in the US

An interesting piece by Rebecca Wilder I saw at the Angry Bear economy blog really jumped out at me.  The nutshell is this:

The goods share of total consumption has been falling quite dramatically, while the service component surged. Therefore, it is more likely that the debt fueled consumption was going predominantly into the service component (paying service bills).

In Q2 2009, 25% of service spending went to health care – outpatient services (physician, drugs, dentist) or hospital and nursing home services – and 29% of service spending went to housing and utilities – rent, water, electricity, and trash. As such, over 50% of service consumption is more likely to remain stable, even rise faster, with the Boomers out there.

The chart is here:

Sorry about the left and right vertical axes… to get it to post, I had to shrink it.  Full blown chart is here.

Note that consumption of goods has dropped from just over 60% to just over 30% in the past 60 years, while spending on services has steadily increased from just under 40% to nearly 70%.  The two dataplots connected to the right hand axis, rent/housing and healthcare, show that health care has tripled as a fraction of spending during that period while housing costs have edged up slightly as a fraction of spending.

How does this tie in to debt?  Well, you probably already know the answer to that one, but allow me to belabor the point.

It’s not just me, Senator Durbin.



This is a live blog from the front porch at Sen. Dick Durbin’s office in Springfield, Illinois. See the last paragraph for details about the location.

Cross-posted at DailyKos.…



It’s not just me.  Lots of people are questioning the premises for expending our troops’ lives, plus hundreds of billion of dollars, in Afghanistan.

The Washington Post and ABC News released results of a poll of Americans last week.  

To question #26,  All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting, or not?   51%  responded that it was not worth fighting.

NOW we can support…LOUDLY…a Truth Commission

Simulposted at Daily Kos

First of all, thanks to the 53163 people who signed The Petition for a Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes. Thanks to the crew at Docudharma and to Bob Fertik and his crew at who all worked hard to create it and promote it. And thanks to all those who worked hard on the other petitions that eventually delivered around 250,000 signatures in support of appointing a Special Prosecutor to investigate the highly organized and Presidentially approved Policy of Torture.

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Thanks to Eric Holder for doing the right thing, against great pressure and long odds. Bucking his own President to pursue justice….in a political environment where political expediency is FAR more valued than The Rule Of Law and justice.

(Shhhh! And special thanks to Holder for appointing an SP that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says WILL follow the evidence wherever it leads, even though we are pretending he is only out to produce the next batch of Lynndie Englands and let off the people who came up with The Bush Policy of Torture.)

And thanks to President Obama for appointing an Attorney General with the guts to defy his ‘policy’ (stated intention?) of ‘pragmatically’….allowing War Criminals to skate free.

Now that we have a Special Prosecutor to address the specific crimes committed, (and believe you me, we are going to have to apply some pressure/cover for the investigations to work up the food chain) it is now time to work on uncovering the Big Picture.

The way only a broad, ranging, and public Truth Commission can.

The heads of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, Patrick Leahy and John Conyers both issued statements yesterday…

“The conduct that is documented in this report illustrates the perils of the dark road of excusing torture down which the Bush administration took this nation,” he wrote in a statement. “I also believe it underscores why we need to move forward with a Commission of Inquiry, a nonpartisan review of exactly what happened in these areas, so that we can find out what happened and why. Who justified these policies? What was the role of the Bush White House? How can we make sure it never happens again? Information coming out in dribs and drabs will never paint the full picture.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.): “[M]uch more remains to be done. The gruesome acts described in today’s report did not happen in a vacuum. It would not be fair or just for frontline personnel to be held accountable while the policymakers and lawyers escape scrutiny after creating and approving conditions where such abuses were all but inevitable to occur.

“I have long believed that Department rules require a special counsel to review the entire interrogation program to determine if any crimes were committed. An independent and bipartisan commission should also be convened to evaluate the broader issues raised by the Bush Administration’s brutal torture program,” he added.

Though the DOJ, and rightly so, will have first crack at all witnesses and evidence, those proceedings will not be public until the release of the SP’s report. Aside from the usual leaks each side engages in to spin the proceedings, that is.

NOW we need a public inquiry. The key word being public.

What were they hiding?

Their arguments have always been, and continue to be especially from their propaganda machines, TV and Radio, that what they did was cleared by the administrative lawyers, as I heard one say this morning “Highly experienced Lawyers!”, and they were are then legal!

The George Washington University National Security Archives have posted up the reports, side by side, from the Bush administration, in May 2008, and the newly released same report from the Obama administration, August 24th 2009.

Is A.G. Holder truly impartial?

In over eight years past now, with all our screaming (rallying, calling, e-mailing, LTE’s, etc.), have we Americans ever gotten anything we’ve felt was the morally and legally correct thing to be done?  Even if anything at all was ever offered, it was but mere “crumbs” – a form of appeasement.  And, then, later, we most always learn there was an underlying reason for not wanting to really deal with the issue.  It seems that we may be in the same place, once again, as concerns investigations and prosecutions of Bush Administration officials, with Holder’s idea being the limited focus on some CIA incidents.

Unrelated?  Many of you are aware of the cases of Siegelman, Scrushy, Minor and Walker and Rove’s * involvement.  Yet, nothing seems to be going anywhere with these cases – status quo!  Some of you may even receive Don Siegelman’s appeal e-mail letters now and again.  Dana Jill Simpson, as many of you will recall, is the attorney that has acted as “whistleblower,” in the Siegelman case.  Her home was burnt down and while driving, she was run off the road after having spoken out the truth.  

Ms. Simpson recently received a tip and one that she followed up on.   Why is that important?  Just read!

Next up!

Morning Joe Defends Bush/Torture. The GOP is scared, and for good reason

Crossposted at Daily Kos

    Memo: Attach Bush to torture = make them defend both.

    Though Morning Joe doesn’t say Bush’s name, I think we should, and Democrats will use this to pursue justice and Destroy the GOP. I consider it a great instance of killing two birds with one stone.

    Republicans will say this will damage the President’s popularity in polls, they will justify and lie and say anything to avoid owning this issue, but the fact is that the law was broken, and I believe this is the beginning of a well timed plan to get the ball rolling now, and then use it against the GOP for maximum effect.

More below the fold, and a call to action . . .  

Docudharma Times Tuesday August 25

Shackles and blindfold for freed detainee on his way home

By Jonathan S. Landay, Hashim Shukoor and Carol Rosenberg | McClatchy Newspapers

KABUL, Afghanistan – A young Afghan held for six years at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, rejoined his family in southern Kabul late Monday, ending an odyssey that came to symbolize many of the problems of the Bush administration’s war on terror detention policies.

Mohammed Jawad, who may have been as young as 12 when he was arrested in 2002 for allegedly throwing a grenade that wounded two American soldiers, pronounced himself “very happy” but tired after a day in which he arrived in Afghanistan on a U.S. military flight – in shackles and blindfolded, according to his lawyer.<

Diving Deep for a Living Fossil…  

For 33 years, Peter A. Rona has pursued an ancient, elusive animal, repeatedly plunging down more than two miles to the muddy seabed of the North Atlantic to search out, and if possible, pry loose his quarry.Like Ahab, he has failed time and again. Despite access to the world’s best equipment for deep exploration, he has always come back empty-handed, the creature eluding his grip.

The animal is no white whale. And Dr. Rona is no unhinged Captain Ahab, but rather a distinguished oceanographer at Rutgers University. And he has now succeeded in making an intellectual splash with a new research report, written with a team of a dozen colleagues.

Do to work commitments  I will be unable to  provide my usual contribution from Wednesday August 26 until Saturday August 29. I regret any inconvenience this may cause.    

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

2009 Poems:  Dreamcatcher

Designs on a Better World



to a new spot

a new home

if it can be

means new neighbors

new trials



with always the thought

that dangers can lurk

that have been cast aside

for the past nine years

Fitting in

is not always easy

for those

of alternate shape

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–July 31, 2009

Military wants more troops, Feingold wants exit timeline

American military commanders have been steadily repeating the message that more U.S. troops may be needed in Afghanistan, while the support for the open-ended war is diminishing by the American people and some members of the U.S. Congress despite President Obama’s saying Afghanistan is a ‘war of necessity‘.

The New York Times reported, “American military commanders with the NATO mission in Afghanistan told Obama’s chief envoy to the region this weekend that they did not have enough troops to do their job, pushed past their limit by Taliban rebels who operate across borders.”

Then on Monday, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) told the Appleton Post-Crescent editorial board that now a timeline for a military pullout from Afghanistan is needed.

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