September 2, 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. ProPublica’s Paul Kiel writes Your August bailout update: $393 billion outstanding.

    Recent reports have drawn attention to the billions in revenue that the Treasury Department has collected from companies early in returning their TARP investments. While those returns have been encouraging, there’s no question that the taxpayer remains deep in the red.

    In total, $392.6 billion remains outstanding to 641 recipients ($297 billion under the TARP and $95.6 billion that’s gone to Fannie and Freddie). That total excludes the 35 companies that have returned a total of $71.6 billion

    That said, money is flowing in as it’s flowing out. The TARP has two main sources of revenue: quarterly dividend or interest payments and warrant redemptions. Unlike returned money, which can be used again, the Treasury is obligated to use that revenue to pay down the national debt…

    Put all that together, and you get a total of $12.4 billion in revenue. Compared to the $392.6 billion in bailout funds still outstanding, it’s reason for cooling any thoughts, at least for now, of the taxpayer pulling a profit.

  2. The LA Times reports the U.S. to boost combat force in Afghanistan. “U.S. officials are planning to add as many as 14,000 combat troops to the American force in Afghanistan by sending home support units… The move would beef up the combat force in the country without increasing the overall number of U.S. troops, a contentious issue as public support for the war slips. But many of the noncombat jobs are likely be filled by private contractors”.

    Already Civilian contractors outnumber U.S. troops in Afghanistan, reports the NY Times.

    Civilian contractors working for the Pentagon in Afghanistan not only outnumber the uniformed troops, according to a report by a Congressional research group, but also form the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel recorded in any war in the history of the United States…

    As of March this year, contractors made up 57 percent of the Pentagon’s force in Afghanistan, and if the figure is averaged over the past two years, it is 65 percent, according to the report by the Congressional Research Service…

    The 68,197 contractors – many of them Afghans – handle a variety of jobs, including cooking for the troops, serving as interpreters and even providing security, the report says.

    The CS Monitor reports it is Bad timing for Obama on any troop buildup in Afghanistan. “The higher-profile casualties and a worry that US troops in Afghanistan are being asked to undertake an unclear or impossible task are feeding the nascent opposition to the war, some war analysts say.”

    According to a new McClatchy/Ipsos poll Most Americans oppose more troops for Afghanistan. “54 percent of Americans think the U.S. isn’t winning the war… At the same time, 56 percent oppose sending any more combat troops to Afghanistan, while 35 percent support sending more troops.”

    Meanwhile, the LA Times reports a Suicide bomber kills Afghan intelligence deputy at mosque. A suicide bomb attack in Mehtarlam “outside a mosque in Laghman province about 60 miles east of the capital, Kabul.” The attack killed Abdullah Laghmani, Afghanistan’s deputy intelligence chief and 22 other people.

    The NY Times adds the Taliban claims responsibility for the attack. “We were looking for him for a long time, but today we succeeded,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Four at Four continues with unlawful human experimentation, A.Q. Khan, and Justice Stevens retirement rumors.

Former CIA Station Chiefs Agree On Afghanistan



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.    

Posted at Daily Kos, Docudharma, MyDD, and OpenLeft.



It doesn’t matter whether you like or dislike the CIA.  (Personally, I view the professional gathering and analysis of information about military adversaries as a crucial, non-debatable function.)  But a person doesn’t become a CIA station chief by some kind of dumb accident.  You have to be smart, and very capable.

And here’s three former station chiefs who served in Afghanistan and Pakistan who explain why our large scale military occupation in Afghan is dead wrong.

What Republicans Want

We know what we want.

Economic justice and opportunity, full equality for all, fair markets, fair elections, good Health Care for all, good education for all, a fair and equal system of justice, Peace. And a habitable planet.

What do Republicans want? Which is to say, what do the Republicans who have power want….not the good people, the poor middle and lower class chumps they con into voting for them want. Those poor chumps want about the same thing we want. IF it doesn’t cost them anything to have Economic justice and opportunity, full equality for all, fair markets, fair elections, good Health Care for all, good education for all, a fair and equal system of justice, and peace, they are all for it!

But how about the powerful Republicans, and the Reactionary Republicans of the Lower and Middle Class? You know, the ones in unruly mobs trying to shout people down in places like Town Halls….and Congress.

What do they want?

They want all those things too….IF you take out the “for all” part.

They want to make sure that THEY have all those things for themselves. And they feel they have to deny them to others in order to have them.

Republicans want an economic system that benefits those who already have money, The Ruling Class, because for the most part they are the Ruling Class. They fear that if there IS true economic equality and opportunity….they will lose. Because they know the current system is built on advantages for them that allowed them to win in the first place. Every advance in economic equality levels the playing field, and most of them made their money off of having an uneven playing field. Where a lot of folks didn’t even get to play until recently.

Republicans want equality for the people they look like, because they feel they can trust those who they look like. They are afraid of people that don’t look or act like them. They are afraid of them because they have spent their lives on that unequal playing field and are worried that folks who aren’t like them might not only do better than they do on a level playing field….but deep down in their tiny little hearts they are afraid that the “Others” will catch on to the fact that they DID get what they have as a result of an unlevel playing field. And that they might decide to take it back.

Republicans want fair markets too, as long as those fair markets still benefit them….as they have always done. They are, when pressed, willing to admit that perhaps markets need to be regulated. They are, after a bit of a tussle, just fine with that….as long as they get to write the regulations.

And of course Republicans want fair elections! republicans are all for fair elections…..if they win them.

Don’t Take My Word on It (Updated)

In this madhouse called “the blogs”, it is actually the bloggers who are getting it right.

One of the most consistent voices is that of Glenn Greenwald who wrote about the very problem I cited (here in July 2008; that the Democratic Party gaining 60 seats in the Senate would change nothing.  But, Greenwald goes further and totally eviscerates President Obama, the Democrats, and their apologists:

Rahm Emanuel, Tom Delay, and the Bush/Cheney White House have left no doubt that where there’s a will to influence the actions of Senators and House members in one’s own party, there’s a way.  But the Obama White House has done nothing in the way of attempting to change the behavior of the supposedly obstructionist Blue Dogs and centrists whom Obama-defenders are eager to blame for the health care standstill.  In fact, they’ve done the opposite:  Emanuel has repeatedly leapt to their defense and attacked progressives who sought to influence or otherwise put pressure on them to change behavior.   White House threats that “you’ll never hear from us again” are issued to defiant progressives only.  Not only are such threats never issued to “centrists” and Blue Dogs who are supposedly impeding the President’s health care agenda, but the White House does everything it can to protect those ostensible obstructionists and further entrench them in power.  Isn’t all of this fairly strong evidence that the White House knew, accepted and likely even desired from the start that — despite the President’s public assurances to progressives — the “public option,” understandably despised by the insurance industry, would be dropped from bill?

Nobody suggests that the President could easily or single-handedly change the behavior of Kent Conrad or Mike Ross.  But there are certainly things — effective things — he could do to try, including making it more difficult for those politicians to stay in office, exactly as they threaten to do with defiant progressives.  But they don’t do that.  They do the opposite.  The reason that Blue Dogs and “centrists” exert such control in the Democratic Party and are able to ensure the Party remains beholden to corporate interests is because that’s how Party leaders want it.  That’s how the Democratic Party has been built and it’s how they continue to maintain their power.

Unexpected Optimism

September 1, 2009.

Bought a new unlimited MetroCard. $89 gets me all the subway and busrides I want for 30 days. Sweet. Expensive, but sweet.

Got me something else today too.

Look what’s on the flip.  

Progressive Commandments

Love thy neighbor as you love yourself.

And while you are at it, do a better job of loving yourself!

Do not kill your neighbor.

Do not torture your neighbor.

Do not steal from your neighbor (especially his oil!)

Do not invade your neighbor’s country to steal her oil.

Do not loot your neighbor’s 401k.

Do not charge your neighbor excessive interest rates on her credit card.

Do not deceive your neighbor into a mortgage you know they cannot afford.

Do not deny your neighbor Health Care.

Do not deny your neighbor’s equality, in fact work for it. Because it is your equality you are really working for.

Do not deny your neighbor an equal chance to thrive and prosper because of the color of his skin, her religion, or their sexual orientation.

Do not deny your neighbor’s children a good education.

Do not attempt to make your religious beliefs part of your neighbors education.

Corporations are not human beings.

Money is not speech.

He who has the gold is NOT a good way to determine who makes the rules.

“If you can’t take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and vote against ’em anyway, you don’t belong in the Legislature”

Since very few humans CAN take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and vote against ’em anyway, the Public should finance elections, so they can’t give politicians their money, whiskey and sexual favors in order to buy our government.

Greed is NOT good.

There are no luggage racks on hearses.

He who dies with the most toys… dead.

The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.

We are not a bunch of different races and tribes who need to kill each other to survive. We are  a bunch of different tribes and races who need to become THE Human Race to survive.

The survival of the Human Race is more important than your Hummer.

Might does NOT make right.

War is bad for children and other living things.

You are a child of the Universe, you have a right to be here.

God, Goddess, the FSM or Charles Darwin ….love YOU.

Every human life is important.

Every human is entitled to a modicum of dignity.

Dignity includes a warm place to sleep, something to eat, water to drink and bathe in, clothes on your back and a way to EARN those things. And not having to fear capricious government or law enforcement…and yes…Health Care.

So You Want To Take Over The Democratic Party? Okay! Come With Me.

Last week the Dog wrote a post about laying out the difficulties of starting a new political party to the Left of the Democratic Party. If you want to read it you can find it here. The challenges are extensive to say the least. Since the Dog thinks that is a bad idea he urged those who might be thinking of this path to stay and work within the Democratic Party. While not everyone agreed (we are all Liberals after all) there were a couple who pointed out while the Dog was showing a problem, he did not really offer the means to a solution. This is a fair observation and so the follow is some practical advice for those who want to take over the Democratic Party and move it more to the Left.

Originally posted at

“Trying to get the President KILLED” Dan Savage NAILS it all, from “the Birchers to the Birthers”

Crossposted at Daily Kos

This might be the most thorough assesment of the Republican party, the media, The Religious Right, Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck, you name it, Dan Savage nails it. In an interview with Keith Olbermann, Dan Savage lays the truth down, hashes it up for all to see and then serves it with a bag of chips and a cup of STFU for the GOP.

Dan Savage:     I really do think the Michelle Bachmanns of the world and the Glenn Becks of the world are actively and, consciously or subconsciously, trying to get, I’m just gonna say it, trying to get the President killed.

    Full transcript and my own take on the issues below the fold.

Military Health Research Forum


Promising Research on Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Gulf War Illness, Substance Abuse and More is Presented at Key Scientific Meeting


Research to address these needs is underway, and the work of hundreds of investigators engaged in the effort is being showcased September 1-3 at the Military Health Research Forum in Kansas City………………..

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry VI

Art Link



It was fear of the faces

that kept me at bay

recoiling in shock, alarm, disgust

shuddering with contempt, derision, revulsion

hardening into loathing, hatred, and fear

Four decades was a long time

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–January 11, 2006

Tool use in Wingnuts (Wingnut dingbattus)

According to the eminent phrenologist Ayn Rand, phylogeny is best represented as a ladder, not as a tree or bush, as some have understood it.  Standing athwart geological time at the top of the “ladder of life” is “Mankind,” in particular, white capitalists.  Rand’s objective reality indicates that in the “clades as rungs” variation of phylogeny, there are grades within clades, or more aptly, rungs between rungs, due to more or less successful versions of Mankind’s singular adaptive advantage:  volitional consciousness.  To be fair, at the time of her writing, it was not then known that some percentage of squirrel monkeys would also volitionally drink themselves into a stupor if liquor were freely provided, and that these same monkeys would also learn instrumental behaviors to earn drinks, thus becoming classic functional drunks.  Nevertheless, the a priori assumptions that Man is an infinitely rational tabula rasa operating solely on a pleasure/pain continuum, is obviously indisputable.

“We are not getting a Bush-like commitment to this war”

“I think they (the Obama administration) thought this would be more popular and easier,” a senior Pentagon official said. “We are not getting a Bush-like commitment to this war.

I’m going to interpret this remark as a glimmer of independence in the White House regarding the future direction of the ongoing war in Afghanistan. The quote comes from a McClatchy article yesterday, the Pentagon is worried about Obama’s commitment to Afghanistan.

The concern among members of the military leadership is that while U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recently submitted his assessment of the “deteriorating situation” in Afghanistan did not request additional troops, such a request could come from the Pentagon within weeks. Or, as the New York Times reported the Groundwork is laid for new troops in Afghanistan.

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