Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grift Continues (Too Many Tricks) Lots of Inside Jobs (As Drift Toward Infamy Gains Speed) Please Don't Assume Everything's Okay Now

Lifted gently from Tony at Afghan Central:

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 Obama And His Game Of Tricks Barack Obama wants it both ways. Like every United States president since Bill Clinton, who partially brokered the now-defunct Oslo Accords in 1993, he aspires to act as a trusted intermediary in the 63-year old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, while simultaneously pandering to America’s massive pro-Israel lobby. These clashing goals have spurred him to propose an array of conflicting claims and positions that, aside from being fundamentally incompatible, are often simply painful to observe.
Over the course of four short days in mid-May, he managed, in three separate addresses - at the US State Department, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House briefing room, and at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful flagship of the Israel lobby – to offer blatant discrepancies, of policy or omission, on nearly every aspect of the conflict. This jarring discord did nothing to bolster Washington’s role in the situation and, to careful listeners, reinforced its ultimate irrelevance to any genuine resolution of it. More Here from Reality Zone Blog.
Sandy Underpants at The Aristocrats (ironically enough) asks the question of the hour (and it's a natural for all the Presidents since Jimmy Carter):

Our Very Efficient Ex-Dem-Prez

Here's former Pres. Bill Clinton disagreeing with a presumed strawman he created in the previous sentence. This guy doesn't even need to use up any real strawmen. He's evolved:
"I'm afraid the Democrats will draw the conclusion that because Congressman Ryan's proposal is not the right one, that we shouldn't do anything. I completely disagree with that." - Bill Clinton
Note how he not so subtly doesn't include himself in "the Democrats". What the fuck is he then?
Seems obvious to me that he (and all of the rest of them) were "Aristocrats!" It's a terrific blog. Go read it sometime! Here's one more (it's too yummy to only eat one):

This time let's see a Republican nominee who's representative of them, enough of that weakass McCain crap

Fishing for a Republican Jesus. Hope they land the biggest dang conservative in the lake. No Taxes! Bigger bombs! Grind up the poor for cattle feed! Steal the world's oil! Bulldoze the Palestinians into the sea! Death to gays and abortionists! Fuck the unions! Fuck the middle class! Fuck Medicare!
If only. (See the entire movie, Inside Job here. It makes clear how the international con game was run (on us all). Lots here on the IMF too - and don't forget there were very good reasons why Dominique Strauss-Kahn was gotten rid of so quickly on such spurious evidence (and don't forget what Eliot Spitzer was tracking down too).) It's pretty easy to see (after the fact) how "deregulation" and the political-financial alliances of the entities that brought this concept to us have ruined our financial world. (And more is to come if more people don't awaken from the "bailout" slumber.) From Goldman Sachs 666 we learn the latest counter-ruses:
Justice? and Goldman Sachs We hope that Goldman Sachs's fate within the Justice System does, indeed, impact negatively on Lloyd Blankfein. However, when you consider how Mozilo, of Countrywide fame, merely paid a fine without having to admit any wrongdoing and walked away a millionaire with his fraudulently earned money, then how could Blankfein fare any worse? We surely need an Act of God in order to obtain a different outcome for Goldman Sachs. Maybe Justice Itself is sick. Goldman CEO Blankfein's Fate in Hands of DOJ If a probe by the DOJ into Goldman’s conduct ahead of the financial crisis is expedited and the focus turns to Blankfein’s actions, the thinking goes, Goldman’s board of directors will likely offer Blankfein up as a sacrifice in exchange for leniency. . . . The DOJ probe stems from a referral made by Senator Carl Levin's (D-Mich.) committee based on Blankfein’s testimony last spring on the firm’s role in the financial crisis.

In a hearing recalled largely for Levin’s repeated use of a four-letter word, Blankfein denied that Goldman had made huge bets shorting the mortgage market, which allowed the firm to fare better than its competitors during the housing crisis.

Blankfein insisted Goldman had simply hedged against a downturn.

Levin's committee has discovered e-mails which describe the position as "the big short."

The above headline and article is a first for this blog. It's from Fox Business. (The fix is in!) And speaking of the fix being "in." Have you counted lately the countries we are invading in the MidEast? Anyone want to lay odds on when the Iran invasion/bombing "awe" begins? (Not any real "shock" anymore, is it?)
May 24, 2011

James Risen’s Subpoena

Jane Mayer As soon as The New Yorker published the story of one aggressive leak prosecution by the Obama Justice Department, the news was topped by a second.

Today, William Welch II, the same federal prosecutor who is pressing espionage charges against Thomas Drake, sparked a new showdown against the press. In a surprise move in another case, Welch issued a subpoena aimed at forcing James Risen, a national-security correspondent in the Washington bureau of the Times, to testify against a former C.I.A. officer who is accused of leaking national-security secrets to him. The subpoena is expected to pit the freedom of the press to cover highly sensitive intelligence issues against the government’s authority to define what must remain secret in order to protect national security.

The case in question involves a book that Risen wrote, “State of War,” in which he described a failed effort by the C.I.A. to sabotage Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Jeffrey Sterling, a former C.I.A. officer, is facing trial on ten felony charges relating to the leak of the information. (He has pleaded not guilty.) Risen, along with Eric Lichtblau, another Times reporter, also wrote a 2005 news story exposing the Bush Administration’s warrantless domestic-surveillance program. Risen has been a target of federal leak prosecutions ever since.

Sterling’s lawyer, Edward MacMahon, described the subpoena of Risen as part of a campaign in which the Obama Administration has pursued leakers in much the same way the Bush Administration did:

“Eric Holder’s every bit as aggressive a prosecutor as John Ashcroft. He just has more friends in the media,” McMahon said. “If John Ashcroft had brought any of these cases, there would have been a whirlwind of ‘Shame on you!’”

Under current Department of Justice procedures, the attorney general himself must sign off on all subpoenas of news reporters — an indication of how serious the underlying issues are in such constitutional clashes. “In issuing subpoenas to members of the media, the Department seeks to strike the proper balance between the public’s interest in the free dissemination of information and effective law enforcement,” Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the D.O.J. told the Times. “We make every reasonable effort to attempt to obtain information from alternative sources before even considering a subpoena to a member of the press, and only seek information essential to directly establishing innocence or guilt.”

In a lengthy motion explaining the prosecution’s reasons for forcing a reporter to testify against a confidential source, Welch and the rest of the prosecution team described Risen as a “an eyewitness to the serious crimes” — the leak of national-security secrets. The testimony of Risen “is directly relevant to, and powerful evidence of, the factual issues that the jury must decide at trial,” the government argued. He is “commanded” to appear in the federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia, on September 12th, to testify in the case. Risen released a statement to the Times yesterday, saying that “I am going to fight this subpoena. I will always protect my sources, and I think this is a fight about the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

This is the government’s third effort at subpoenaing Risen in the case. He has been subpoenaed twice before, to appear before grand juries. He fought the first subpoena legally, and eventually it expired. The second time, the presiding judge, Leonie Brinkema, quashed the subpoena. Rather than accepting the judge’s position, the government has now subpoenaed Risen a third time, to testify in the trial itself.

One lawyer familiar with the case, who asked not to be identified, believes that the government is hoping to pressure the judge into making Risen testify, or else, if the judge refuses, hold her responsible should the case collapse. The lawyer also suggested that the government “just wants to put Risen in jail.”

So, we've got "bully" overreach everywhere? (Or are there much more devious reasons? $$$$$) Want to know what GOP overreach produces? (Democrat Hochul wins in Republican NY stronghold.) So people are starting to wake up a bit. Nicely done, Paul (Ryan) the Great! (Rethuglican)
Hochul had focused like a laser on the Republican plan to turn Medicare into vouchers that would funnel the money to private health insurers. Republicans didn't exactly take it lying down. The National Republican Congressional Committee poured over $400,000 into the race, and Karl Rove's American Crossroads provided Corwin an additional $700,000 of support. But the money didn't work. Even in this traditionally Republican district - represented in the past by such GOP notables as Jack Kemp and William Miller, both of whom would become vice presidential candidates - Hochul's message hit home.

Ryan calls it "demagoguery," accusing Hochul and her fellow Democrats of trying to "scare seniors into thinking that their current benefits are being affected."

Scare tactics? Seniors have every right to be scared. His plan would eviscerate Medicare by privatizing it with vouchers that would fall further and further behind the rising cost of health insurance. And Ryan and the Republicans offer no means of slowing rising health-care costs. To the contrary, they want to repeal every cost-containment measure enacted in last year's health-reform legislation.

The inevitable result: More and more seniors would be priced out of the market for health care.

Vermont has provided a way forward (in many areas). Take a look.
A rally in Vermont for single-payer healthcare, 05/05/10. (photo: Jobs with Justice/flickr) Single Payer Healthcare: Vermont's Gentle Revolution

Amy Goodman, Guardian UK

25 May 11

The green mountain state was the first to ban slavery, in 1777. Now, it's the first to pioneer a truly public healthcare system.
ermont is a land of proud firsts. This small New England state was the first to join the 13 colonies. Its Constitution was the first to ban slavery. It was the first to establish the right to free education for all - public education.

This week, Vermont will boast another first: the first state in the nation to offer single payer healthcare, which eliminates the costly insurance companies that many believe are the root cause of our spiralling healthcare costs. In a single payer system, both private and public healthcare providers are allowed to operate, as they always have. But instead of the patient or the patient's private health insurance company paying the bill, the state does. It's basically Medicare for all - just lower the age of eligibility to the day you're born. The state, buying these healthcare services for the entire population, can negotiate favourable rates, and can eliminate the massive overhead that the for-profit insurers impose.

Vermont hired Harvard economist William Hsiao to come up with three alternatives to the current system. The single payer system, Hsiao wrote, "will produce savings of 24.3% of total health expenditure between 2015 and 2024". An analysis by Don McCanne, MD, of Physicians for a National Health Programme pointed out that:

"[T]hese plans would cover everyone without any increase in spending since the single payer efficiencies would be enough to pay for those currently uninsured or underinsured. So this is the really good news - single payer works."

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin explained to me his intention to sign the bill into law:

"Here's our challenge. Our premiums go up 10, 15, 20% a year. This is true in the rest of the country as well. They are killing small business. They're killing middle-class Americans, who have been kicked in the teeth over the last several years. What our plan will do is create a single pool, get the insurance company profits, the pharmaceutical company profits, the other folks that are mining the system to make a lot of money on the backs of our illnesses, and ensure that we're using those dollars to make Vermonters healthy."

Speaking of healthy firsts, Vermont may become the first state to shutter a nuclear power plant. The Vermont legislature is the first to empower itself with the right to determine its nuclear future, to put environmental policy in the hands of the people.

Another Vermont first was the legalisation of same-sex civil unions. Then the state trumped itself and became the first legislature in the nation to legalise gay marriage. After being passed by the Vermont House and Senate, former Governor Jim Douglas vetoed the bill. The next day, 7 April 2009, the House and the Senate overrode the governor's veto, making the Vermont Freedom to Marry Act the law of the land.

Vermont has become an incubator for innovative public policy. Canada's single payer healthcare system started as an experiment in one province, Saskatchewan. It was pushed through in the early 1960s by Saskatchewan's premier, Tommy Douglas, considered by many to be the greatest Canadian. It was so successful, it was rapidly adopted by all of Canada. (Douglas is the grandfather of actor Kiefer Sutherland.) Perhaps Vermont's healthcare law will start a similar, national transformation.

And about Obama's latest Israeli/Palestinian tongue twisters? From our buddy at the TomDispatch:
Tuches aufn tish: Buttocks on the table. That's the colorful way my Yiddish-speaking ancestors said, "Let's cut the BS and talk about honest truth." It seems like a particularly apt expression after a week watching the shadow-boxing between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that brought no tangible progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace. The truth, like the table, is usually hard and uncomfortable. President Obama's carefully hedged public call for a two-state solution along Israel's 1967 borders may indeed represent a new step. Maybe it will even prove part of some long-range game plan that will eventually pay off. But here's the problem: as of now, Obama shows no inclination to back his words with the power the U.S. government could wield. Until he does, those words won't provoke any change in Israel's domination of the Palestinians. And there's a deeper issue. The influential Israeli columnist Sever Plocker pointed to the heart of the matter: the American president has "unequivocally adopted the essence of the Israeli-Zionist narrative." Plocker might have said the same about all top American political leaders and the U.S. media as well. The American conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dominated by the story that most Israelis tell. Ass-Backward Realities Tuches aufn tish. Let's be honest. The Israeli story doesn't merely distort the truth, it turns the truth ass-backwards. Eerily enough, its basic claims about the Palestinians more accurately describe the Israelis themselves.

The Israelis might as well be looking in the mirror and talking about themselves when they say things like "They are the aggressors; we're the victims just defending ourselves." That's part of an Israeli-generated myth of insecurity whose premise is that Israel bears all the risk in the conflict with the Palestinians. Obama fed into that myth in his recent "Arab Spring" speech when he called, in effect, for an even swap: the Palestinians would get a state and the Israelis would get security, as if the massively stronger Israelis are the main ones suffering from insecurity.

In the process, he repeated a familiar mantra, "Our commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable," and offered a vague warning that "technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself." Perhaps that was a coded way of hinting that someday some other Mideast nation might have a handful of nuclear weapons - as if any of them could threaten Israel, which already has as many as 200 nukes and can surely build more.

Obama did make one reference to what he called "the assumption of Palestinian security." That's how the Israelis typically phrase their long-standing hope that the Palestinian police will become what Netanyahu once called Israel's "sub-contractors," taking over from Israeli soldiers the job of quashing resistance to Israel and its policies. Again, the premise is that Israel bears all the risk.

Yet the Palestinians are far more insecure than the Israelis. Like any victims of colonial military occupation, they're constantly subject to the threat of death and destruction without notice, at the whim of the Israeli military, and increasingly from Israeli settlers as well. Over the last quarter-century, the conflict has killed roughly eleven Palestinians for every Israeli who died. And yet you'll never find this line in the speech of an American politician: "Our commitment to Palestine's security is unshakeable."

Obama did declare that "every state has the right to self-defense." In the next breath, however, he demanded that a new Palestinian state must have no army. Would any sovereign nation accept such a demand, especially if its closest neighbor had dominated and pummeled its people for years and possessed by far the most powerful military in the region? Yet the idea of a "demilitarized" Palestinian state is a given in the U.S. and Israel, as if the only conceivable future threat could come from those occupied, not from the former occupier.

The staggering power imbalance between occupier and occupied points to another looking-glass-style distortion that dominates America's conversation about the issue: the absurd idea that the two parties could negotiate as equals, that the weaker of the two, which has already given up approximately 78 percent of its territory, must be the one to make the major compromises, and then operate as a nation from a position of utter weakness.

Obama told a meeting of Jewish leaders in private that he knows the truth of the situation: "Israel is the stronger party here… And Israel needs to create the context for [peace] to happen." But as long as his public words reinforce the myth of Israel's insecurity, the Israelis can safely resist any demands for change.

You are cheating yourself if you don't watch Inside Job. It is a comment on everything that has and will happen. I promise you. _________________________

4 comments:

Tom Harper said...

All right, you go Vermont!

I hope a lot more states follow in their footsteps and establish a single payer system.

The Far Right will probably try to have Vermont's law overturned. "States' rights" is just a convenience slogan.

Suzan said...

So true, Tom.

So so so true.

As we noticed in Florida in 2000 as James Baker raced to the Supreme Court (when Gore had taken a clear lead), which had never before in its history of adjudicating "rights" interfered with a state counting its own ballots, and ordered the Florida election officials to stop the count!

Because, as the "woman" justice (first woman appointed, of course, by a Rethug (Raygun)) let slip a few years after, "if Bush lost Florida, the country (the rich) would be in peril."

If the "illegitimate" (somehow - check MSM for all the "facts") Gore won.

Ah.

States Rights!

Got your white hood at the ready?

Love ya,

S

Greg Bacon said...

Only recall Scott Walker?

You're being too kind.

I fell in love with WI partially because of the guts they showed turning out and fighting the Koch Brothers Scott Frankenstein's plan to stick it to the working class... sleazy SOB's want to turn teachers into 3rd class citizens.

And I also love WI because it has REAL Winters and I love Winter, so I'm presently fixing up my MO Ozarks farm so I can put it on the market, sell it and move to one of the few states left that cherishes freedom.

As we noticed in Florida in 2000 as James Baker raced to the Supreme Court

The main thesis of that lawsuit filed with SCOTUS was that letting the recount go forward would irreparably harm GW Bush.... Typical BS, fret and worry about some spoiled rich punk while the rest of us get tossed in the dumpster.

Suzan said...

Absolutely, Greg.

I was shortening the story too much.

But it was an inside deal, and ruined the reputation of the SC for all time.

My opinion also, of course.

Thanks for all you do!

S

The main thesis of that lawsuit filed with SCOTUS was that letting the recount go forward would irreparably harm GW Bush.... Typical BS, fret and worry about some spoiled rich punk while the rest of us get tossed in the dumpster.