December 17, 2011 archive

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The Drop-Outs

I snuggled back into his body, the warmth of his skin battling the cold clean air of the morning.  Bright, crisp air. We hadn’t been fogged. That bode well, I thought as I pulled my head away from the now-familiar heartbeat and listened intently.  No one in camp was stirring yet, there were no sounds that didn’t belong to my woods. I curled back in, knowing I would not be able to regain sleep, but enjoying the feeling of safety of the moment.  Safer than I had felt in a very long time. My hand instinctively sought my gun in the darkness, laying beside us.  I had buried one person I loved already, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let them wrest my boys from me without a fight.

I sidled out of sleeping bag silently, and slipped on my jeans and sweatshirt. Early riser me, and the creator of all things coffee for the crew every day. Not a bad job description, I figured, chuckling to myself.  I have a minimum daily requirement level of solitude that gets sorely tested with the drop-outs, no matter how much I adored them.  And slipping away alone was seriously dangerous these days.  As was an encampment too large.  This one was starting to worry me, as tree bulletin board system had brought more than I had anticipated. But no is not in my vocabulary.  I’ll figure something out.  But these mornings were mine alone.



Senate Will Consider The NDAA Today: Up Dated

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Up Date: The Senate voted for final passage for the NDAA conference report (H.R. 1540). The vote was overwhelming: 86-to-13. It now goes to President Obama for his signature.

President Obama has not yet signed the NDAA. It is not to late to tell him to veto this bill which will have a devastating effect on civil liberties and give unprecedented powers to the military and the Executive Branch. Send Obama a strong message sign the petition and send a letter:

President Obama: Veto the National Defense Authorization Act!

VETO the National Defense Authorization Act

This House passed the revised National Defense Authorization Act 283 – 136 with 93 Democrats and 43 Republicans voting against the bill. The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill later today. It inevitably pass with an overwhelming majority and be sent to President Obama to sign. Since the White has stated that they are satisfied with the minor changes, Obama will sign the bill which, as Human Rights Watch said in a press release, “a historic tragedy for rights:

(Washington, DC, December 14, 2011) – US President Barack Obama’s apparent decision to not veto a defense spending bill that codifies indefinite detention without trial into US law and expands the military’s role in holding terrorism suspects does enormous damage to the rule of law both in the US and abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. The Obama administration had threatened to veto the bill, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), over detainee provisions, but on December 14, 2011, it issued a statement indicating the president would likely sign the legislation.

“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”

The far-reaching detainee provisions would codify indefinite detention without trial into US law for the first time since the McCarthy era when Congress in 1950 overrode the veto of then-President Harry Truman and passed the Internal Security Act. The bill would also bar the transfer of detainees currently held at Guantanamo into the US for any reason, including for trial. In addition, it would extend restrictions, imposed last year, on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to home or third countries – even those cleared for release by the administration.

(emphasis mine)

Glenn Greenwald at Salon wrote in his article this morning that there are “several persistent myths that circulating about this bill and President Obama’s position on it that need to be clarified once and for all:

  • First, while the powers this bill enshrines are indeed radical and dangerous, most of them already exist. That’s because first the Bush administration and now the Obama administration have aggressively argued that the original 2001 AUMF already empowers them to imprison people without charges, use force against even U.S. citizens without due process (Anwar Awlaki), and target not only members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban (as the law states) but also anyone who “substantially supports” those groups and/or “associated forces” (whatever those terms mean). [..]

    With a couple of exceptions, this bill just “clarifies” – and codifies – the powers President Obama has already claimed, seized and exercised. [..]

    This is the reason why civil libertarians have been so harshly critical of this President. It’s the reason civil liberties groups have been saying things like this even when saying them was so unpopular: it’s because Obama has, for three years now, been defending and entrenching exactly the detention powers this law vests, but doing it through radical legal theories, warped interprations (sic) of the 2001 AUMF, continuities with the Bush/Cheney template, and devotion to Endless War and the civil liberties assults (sic) it entails.

  • Second, as I documented at length last week, Obama’s veto threat was never about substantive objections to the detention powers vested by this bill; put another way, he was never objecting to the bill on civil liberties grounds. Obama, as I documented last week and again below, is not an opponent of indefinite detention; he’s a vigorous proponent of it, as evidenced by his contiuous (sic), multi-faceted embrace of that policy.

    Obama’s objections to this bill had nothing to do with civil liberties, due process or the Constitution. It had everything to do with Executive power. The White House’s complaint was that Congress had no business tying the hands of the President when deciding who should go into military detention, who should be denied a trial, which agencies should interrogate suspects (the FBI or the CIA). Such decisions, insisted the White House (pdf), are for the President, not Congress, to make. In other words, his veto threat was not grounded in the premise that indefinite military detention is wrong; it was grounded in the premise that it should be the President who decides who goes into military detention and why, not Congress.

  • Third, the most persistent and propagandistic set of myths about President Obama on detention issues is that he tried to end indefinite detention by closing Guantanamo, but was blocked by Congress from doing so. It is true that Congress blocked the closing of Guantanamo, and again in this bill, Congress is imposing virtually insurmountable restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of that camp, including for detainees who have long ago been cleared for release (restrictions that Obama is now going to sign into law). But – and this is not a hard point to understand – while Obama intended to close Guantanamo, he always planned – long before Congress acted – to preserve Guantanamo’s core injustice: indefinite detention.

    I need to say that again: long before, and fully independent of, anything Congress did, President Obama made clear that he was going to preserve the indefinite detention system at Guantanamo even once he closed the camp. That’s what makes the apologias over Obama and GITMO so misleading: the controversy over Guantanamo was not that about its locale – that it was based in the Carribean (sic) Ocean – so that simply closing it and then  re-locating it to a different venue would address the problem. The controversy over Guantanamo was that it was a prison camp where people were put in cages indefinitely, for decades or life, without being charged with any crime. And that policy is one that President Obama whole-heartedly embraced from the start.

  • All the evidence is that debunks the myth that Obama is concerned about the Constitution are there in Glen’s article.

    Ironically today 220 years ago in 1791, Virginia became the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights. If the Senate passes this horrendous assault on our civil liberties, most of that historic document will be undermined. I don’t believe this that is what our Founding Fathers intended.


    This week’s episodes aired January 7, 2005.

    The Mark of Xero, Episode 11, Season 2

    As I’ve said before the episoding is kind of sketch with this series, especially when subjected to uploader editing.  Thrilling conclusion and Episode 12, I See Duck People tomorrow.

    On this Day In History December 17

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

    Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

    December 17 is the 351st day of the year (352nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 14 days remaining until the end of the year

    On this day on 1865, the first two movements of Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony”, Symphony No. 8 in B minor, is performed in Vienna, Austria.

    (The symphony) was started in 1822 but left with only two movements known to be complete, even though Schubert would live for another six years. A scherzo, nearly completed in piano score but with only two pages orchestrated, also survives. It has long been theorized that Schubert may have sketched a finale which instead became the big B minor entr’acte from his incidental music to Rosamunde, but all the evidence for this is circumstantial.[1] One possible reason for Schubert’s leaving the symphony incomplete is the predominance of the same meter (three-in-a-bar). The first movement is in 3/4, the second in 3/8 and the third (an incomplete scherzo) also in 3/4. Three consecutive movements in exactly the same meter rarely occur in the symphonies, sonatas or chamber works of the great Viennese composers (one notable exception being Haydn’s Farewell Symphony).

    Sanity Clause

    Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    You can’t a fool a me.  There ain’t no Sanity Clause.

    Barry Ritholtz made a not so bold prediction at the beginning of December that I highlighted on the 5th (Pepper Spray Saves Santa).  Even way back in the dim dark mists of History that those born yesterday don’t remember and I was working retail shipping and receiving we knew holiday sales reports were thin tissues of lies put together by buyers to save their asses from the piles of remainders we’d get stuck inventorying in February after marking it down to nothing.

    Rithholtz followed up with this-

    Retail Sales Disappoint on False Black Friday Reports

    Author: Barry Ritholtz, EconoMonitor

    December 13th, 2011

    Today, we learn that many breathless forecasts from NRF to ShopperTrak were so much hot air and empty hype: Sales were flat to up only modestly. Total U.S. retail sales in November gained only 0.2%, following a 0.6% October. Even that month was revised downwards.

    Retailers themselves may pay the price for their massive discounting: Not only might their quarterly earnings be affected by the margin pressure, but they continually train investors shoppers to hunt for discounts. Retail therapy and sport shopping are being replaced by extreme couponing and sites like Living Social and Groupon.

    We are left to ponder what those folks who were lining up late at night at Wal-Mart and Best Buy for bargains were doing. No, it was not a sign of “shopping enthusiasm,” it was a sign of extreme economic distress. No one who can afford otherwise goes out Thanksgiving night to stand in the cold with a crowd, to fight the stampeding, pepper-spraying mob for a discounted X Box.

    Here is your simple formula:

    Thanksgiving Thursday night shopping + record food stamps = Bad Economy

    I almost pointed that out because I’m greedy for any affirmation of sanity, but today, like a Red Nosed Rudolph, we have The New York Times reporting-

    As Sales Lag, Stores Shuffle the Calendar

    By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD, The New York Times

    Published: December 15, 2011

    A sharp drop in shopping since Thanksgiving weekend has prompted worried retailers to slash prices, extend specials, stay open later – and rewrite the calendar.

    Usually one of the most heavily discounted shopping days of the year, the Saturday before Christmas – it falls on Dec. 24 this year – is too crucial to retailers’ holiday sales to be left in the hands of procrastinating Christmas Eve shoppers. Instead, many of the promotions pegged to “Super Saturday,” as the day is known in the retail industry, are now scheduled for this Saturday – a full eight days before Christmas.

    The dueling Saturdays might seem like a lot of consternation about nothing to consumers weary of faux shopping events: Black Friday, Sofa Sunday, Cyber Monday, Red Tuesday, Mobile Sunday, Green Monday and Free Shipping Day (Friday this year, for those keeping track).

    But the worries are real for retailers who are seeing the season slip away from them, and the potential effects on the economy are considerable.

    After a Thanksgiving weekend that set records in terms of sales, in-store shopping has dropped significantly in the two weeks that followed. The cumulative drop from Thanksgiving-week sales in those weeks, of 2.4 percent, was the biggest since 2000, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. The Commerce Department said this week that retail sales in November, including online sales, came in lower than analysts had expected, rising just 0.2 percent to $399.3 billion, the smallest increase in five months.

    “That suggests we may not get quite as much momentum in the holiday-sales season as people were expecting,” said Peter Buchanan, an economist at CIBC World Markets. Given that consumer spending makes up the majority of the gross domestic product, he said, “the chances of having a really decent recovery are rather limited if consumers continue to hold back.”Almost 40 percent of Americans said they were done with their holiday shopping as of last week, according to a survey from America’s Research Group and UBS, suggesting there may not be too much spending left to do.

    Merry eksmas suckers.

    He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.

    Late Night Karaoke

    General Wesley Clark – 7 Countries in 5 Years

    First the list which was first revealed to General Wesley Clark in 1991 by neo-con Paul Wolfowitz. The seven countries which were to be invaded and blessed with regime change were Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, and the big prize, Iran with its wealth of resources and potential market of over 70 million persons.

    This same plan was revealed again to General Clark during a visit to the Pentagon ten days after 9-11, the event that presented the neo-cons, and no doubt others behind the scenes, with their Pearl Harbor, their justification to proceed with the plan, somewhat conveniently.

    Video is below. In the last minute of the video General Clark said that it was necessary to elect democrats to keep this from happening. This was in 2006.

    I wonder what he is thinking now.…

    apologies – I cannot get the embed code for this video to display properly.

    Current status: Iraq – done; Libya – done; Lebanon – fail (2006); Syria – underway (more details in the video below); Somalia – underway; Sudan – planning stages??

    Back to Syria. Please watch the video below from Sibel Edmonds of the Boiling Frogs blog.

    It appears that Syria is in line for the next “humanitarian intervention” or whatever the policy elite choose to call it, having been planned and with military preparations having been underway for more than one year across the border in Turkey.

    As Sibel Edmonds says in the video linked below – unable to embed and display properly – the corporate media, for whatever reasons, choose not to report on it. As General Clark said in the above linked video “if they can keep us from knowing the truth they think they can win.”

    Link to Sibel’s video:…

    with a description of preparations now underway in bordering Turkey.

    Random Japan



    Railway fans flocked to Tokyo station to witness the initial runs of the new 300kph E5 Series Hayabusa bullet train. Someone even bid ¥385,000 for a ticket.

    A young woman received a kidney from her brain-dead mom, the first case of a family member being prioritized since Japan revised its organ transplant law last year.

    Peace-loving no more: lawmakers say they are rethinking Japan’s long-standing ban on the export of “weapons and related technologies.”

    Takuya Kagata has taken sumo wrestling to the beaches of Japan as executive director of the Nippon Beach Sumo Association.

    Fagiano Okayama defender Ryujiro Ueda scored what is thought to be a world-record 58.6-meter goal with a header during a J. League second division soccer match against Yokohama FC.

    It’s official-Guinness World Records has declared the 634m-tall Tokyo Sky Tree the world’s tallest tower, supplanting the 600m Guangzhou Tower in China.

    Slow, Steady Calls For Investigating Foreclosure Fraud

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Some encouraging news in the on going call for an investigation into foreclosure fraud, Sen Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the fraud before letting the bank off with a pitiful settlement $20 billion and a “get out of jail” card for criminal charges, She also demanded a full investigation into robo-signing scandal and ‘pump and dump’ mortgage bubble scheme:

    I am concerned that recently reported settlement proposals will effectively absolve these financial institutions of substantial civil and criminal liability in one of the largest alleged fraud schemes during the financial crisis. Specifically, I am concerned that the proposed settlement includes a release from liability that may be far too sweeping, does not adequately compensate victims, does not require enough of banks to reform the system that led to the crisis in the first place, and is being made before all the facts are known and without the backing of a full inquiry into the size and scope of the alleged fraud.

    Without a thorough investigation, it is impossible to truly estimate just how pervasive the defects in the foreclosure and securitization process are. Continued reports of wrongful foreclosures, forged documents, and an inability of servicers and banks to prove chain of title and the legal right to foreclosure, raises the very alarming possibility that these defects were endemic to the mortgage servicing industry across the country. The sheer magnitude of the potential fallout from these defects demands that we undertake a full investigation to uncover the true scope of wrongdoing before providing blanket immunity to the perpetrators.

    I am also concerned that reports of a settlement in the range of $20 billion, as recently reported, may not adequately compensate the victims of the foreclosure crisis. As a result of the pump-and-dump scheme perpetrated by the nation’s largest banks that inflated – and burst – the housing bubble, an estimated 14 million Americans are underwater, owing $700 billion more on their homes than those homes are worth. A $20 billion settlement is woefully inadequate to compensate the wrongfully evicted or homeowners struggling to stay in their homes. Much more should be required of banks to provide meaningful help underwater homeowners and compensate foreclosure fraud victims.

    And some good news for homeowners facing foreclosure in Florida:

    WEST PALM BEACH – Home­owners in foreclosure may have a better chance of getting a true trial, instead of a quickie judgment, following a 4th District Court of Appeal decision that requires banks to prove ownership of the note at the time they file for repossession.

    The ruling Wednesday in Palm Beach County was heralded by foreclosure defense attorneys who said it may even force banks to dismiss some cases and start over with new paperwork.[..]

    Wednesday’s ruling was on the case of Robert McLean vs. JPMorgan Chase, and involved a 2009 Broward County foreclosure.

    According to the decision, which reversed a lower court’s verdict in favor of the bank, Chase originally filed the foreclosure claiming the note – basically the IOU from the borrower – was “lost, stolen or destroyed.”

    The claim has been made thousands of times as lenders rushed without the proper documentation to take back homes tangled up in the real estate boom’s securitization frenzy.

    Although most notes are found before a final foreclosure judgment is entered, the 4th DCA said the note also must be correctly dated and endorsed to show ownership before the foreclosure was initially filed – something that Chase didn’t have, according to the ruling. The court also questioned a mortgage assignment made to Chase that was dated three days after the foreclosure was initially filed.

    If there is substantial doubt about the note, the bank should dismiss and refile the case or the home­owner should be entitled to an evidentiary hearing instead of a more hasty “summary judgment,” the ruling said.

    Popular Culture (Music) 20111216: A Brief History of The Who

    Hello, boys and girls!  Last week, until my ill advised outburst, we were finishing up 1968.  Actually, I think that some of their finest work was done then, but their commercial success was not as much as they would have liked, and Townshend in particular was in sort of a crisis of his ability to write and delivers songs that would chart well.

    There were other things going on as well.  Please remember the it was Daltrey who invited Townshend to join HIS band, and by the end of 1968 is was pretty clear that Daltrey was not the “owner” of the band any more, Townshend was.  Daltrey had always been pugnacious, but he recognized that under the leadership of Townshend The Who was much more successful than The Detours ever would have been.

    There were some other dynamics as well, as Kit Lambert began to spiral out of control with drink and narcotics, hard narcotics.  This was not full blown at the end of 1968, but the die had been cast and Townshend was well on his way to being the undisputed leader.

    This Week In The Dream Antilles:The Polar Express



    A gray December afternoon.  4:30 pm. Your Bloguero sits near the fire, and his eyes slowly close. The galaxy of bright dreams just under his eyelids begins to shimmer. He can hear his breathing deepen, his chest is rising and falling. Soon there will be bright lights, magical thinking. There will be dreams. Maybe it will be the Polar Express. But something’s wrong. He wonders what it could be. Something is not right. “Oh,” he thinks, “It’s Friday. You forgot the weekly digest, the one you’ve been writing for all these many months. This must be the one you don’t write.” This wakes your Bloguero up with a start. The dream journey is aborted. The Polar Express isn’t coming for him. Your Bloguero begins to ponder.

    There ensues a debate. “Nobody reads it anyway, nobody cares, you see, virtually no one comments or recommends. It won’t even be missed. Let the dreams begin. Forget that post.”  This negative, critical, disparaging thought is of course opposed. Your Bloguero is adept at having contentious debates with himself. Especially if the choices are dreams or writing, his own sloth or productivity. “It’s not so hard, and it’s good to have a weeky practice, and who knows what you’ll write, it’ll be fun. And if you do it before Friday is over, you will have completed this task and will be able to pick it up again next week, when, hopefully you’ll feel more like writing.”  This chatter seesaws back and forth for a while. Yadda yadda yadda. Habla bla bla bla bla. It disrupts the incipient nap. Your Bloguero finds himself at the keyboard instead of the dreamy pullman. He just wants to check in, insert a place mark on Friday, December 16, 2011.

    Chanukah is next week; Christmas, the week after. Solstice is next week; Kwanzaa, the week after. And Festivus is next week. ‘Tis the season. Your Bloguero dispenses with his usual remarks about the pernicious Festival of Capitalism and wishes each of you and your families and friends a very happy Holiday. May it be a day of comfort and joy. May you be happy and find delight.

    Your Bloguero would be remiss if he didn’t repeat, given the season and its expected shopping behavior, that his new novella, Tulum, is now available, and you can should buy it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and iUniverse.  This would make a perfect stocking or Kindle stuffer.  It would make a lovely gift. Your Bloguero thinks you would like to read it.  No stocking should be without one.  And lest he not admit it, it will profit your Bloguero.

    This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Usually, it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For the essays you have to visit The Dream Antilles


    cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

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