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By the light of the moon… 6 March 2009

Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, WAR!.


Matt Davies cartoon, ripped off from Clusterstock, a Blodget column…

Maybe we can warm ourselves at the bank bonfires.  I happened to read the other day that Sen Conrad, a Democrat, thinks we are “not doing enough for the banks”.  I dunno.  I feel rather turnip-ish these days.

It’s mainstream media, Hirsh in Newsweek.. but it hardly matters:

As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end: Goldman Sachs will be there.

Back in the ’90s and through the mid-’00s, major figures from Goldman Sachs such as Robert Rubin, Gary Gensler and Hank Paulson stood fast against derivatives regulation (Rubin and Gensler) and lobbied successfully for higher leverage ratios so they could bet more of their capital on the market boom (Paulson). When those policies came to grief and Wall Street imploded, and the Feds scrambled to rescue stricken insurance giant AIG, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein was reportedly the only bank executive invited to an emergency meeting at the New York Federal Reserve (convened by then-Fed president Tim Geithner).

Now Treasury Secretary Geithner—a Rubin protégé, of course—has assigned two more ex-Goldman men to fix the vast mess their colleagues helped to create.

They are Steve Shafran, a former favorite of Paulson’s, and Bill Dudley, Goldman’s former chief economist and now the successor to Geithner as head of the New York Fed. Shafran and Dudley have been given the mind-bending task of resurrecting the market for securitized assets, a policy that is linked to an effort to lure the private market back in to bid on the toxic securitized assets that sit like dead weight on major banks’ balance sheets.

The key now is to bring in hedge funds and other hoards of private capital by giving them government guarantees limiting their potential losses. The pitfall is that if the American public, already riled to populist fury over Wall Street’s postcrash perks, finds out what a sweet deal these new investors are getting—without any limitations on executive compensation like those imposed on banks [and all of that has been reported to be weak, loaded with loopholes  -Mcat]—people might get more upset.  …

Hirsh goes on to say he does not want to speak ill of Safran or Dudley OR Geithner.  Why not?  I want to make a punching bag of all of these people.  Why should I not?

Going on to steal almost all of the Hirsh piece…

“Our government has been misappropriated by Goldman Sachs,” says Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics, a long-time critic of Geithner, whom Whalen likens to Chauncey Gardiner, the clueless hero of “Being There,” who is manipulated by everyone around him. And if Wall Street elites continue to make government policy, will the new regulatory controls we hear so much about—the ones that are supposed to prevent this from happening again—ever really be adopted?

This is the critical question. Despite continued public support for President Obama and early signs that Geithner’s various rescue plans—including the $75 billion mortgage bailout scheme announced this week—may be starting to reassure the markets, there is little sign as yet that the administration is engaged in the kind of fundamental rethinking of financial safety and soundness that we need. The problem is not just that Wall Street giants like Goldman, Citigroup and AIG ran wild over the past 20 years, it is that they exist in their current form at all. These institutions are too big and too systemic to be allowed to fail according to normal free-market rules, and if they remain that way we will inevitably find ourselves in a situation where taxpayers must rescue them once again.

We have been through this nightmare before, almost step by disastrous step. From 1932 to 1934 the Senate banking and currency committee held hearings on the 1929 crash and found that commercial banks had misrepresented to their depositors the quality of securities that their investment-banking sides were underwriting and promoting.

According to a history posted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on its Web site, among the culprits was First National City Bank (now Citigroup), which was found to have repackaged the bank’s Latin American loans and securitized them without disclosing its own confidential findings that the loans posed adverse risks. Sound familiar?

The response of the government in that era was decisive: the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial banking from investment banking. It is a supreme historical irony that 65 years later it was Citigroup, grown monstrous again, that pushed hardest for the destruction of the Glass-Steagall reforms. And it had a big assist from Goldman grads such as Bob Rubin, who was soon afterward hired as chairman of Citi’s executive committee.  …

hmm… Slap up against the Krugman column today.. one would think it might be sobering for the administration.  Hard to say.  I think on Monday we will be told that Bioethics will save us!

The president will sign an executive order repealing the Bush administration ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

But it is hard to imagine that a team composed largely of Wall Street’s former finest will, all by themselves, push for the breakup of the firms that nurtured and enriched them. And there is scant evidence that Geithner is now soliciting advice from others on the outside, including the new panel led by Paul Volcker—a diehard skeptic of Wall Street’s agenda—that Obama set up precisely for this purpose. Who is the Treasury secretary relying on? We don’t really know, but certainly one close adviser must be Mark Patterson, Geithner’s new chief of staff. Patterson is the former Washington lobbyist for Goldman Sachs.

Over a year ago I read a Brooks column (of all people) that closed with the warning [years late!  Mcat] that Goldman Sachs had its tentacles all thru the government.

And here we sit.



1. Madman in the Marketplace - 6 March 2009

How to stop the drug wars

Prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution

A HUNDRED years ago a group of foreign diplomats gathered in Shanghai for the first-ever international effort to ban trade in a narcotic drug. On February 26th 1909 they agreed to set up the International Opium Commission—just a few decades after Britain had fought a war with China to assert its right to peddle the stuff. Many other bans of mood-altering drugs have followed. In 1998 the UN General Assembly committed member countries to achieving a “drug-free world” and to “eliminating or significantly reducing” the production of opium, cocaine and cannabis by 2008.

That is the kind of promise politicians love to make. It assuages the sense of moral panic that has been the handmaiden of prohibition for a century. It is intended to reassure the parents of teenagers across the world. Yet it is a hugely irresponsible promise, because it cannot be fulfilled.

Next week ministers from around the world gather in Vienna to set international drug policy for the next decade. Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same. In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs.

“Least bad” does not mean good. Legalisation, though clearly better for producer countries, would bring (different) risks to consumer countries. As we outline below, many vulnerable drug-takers would suffer. But in our view, more would gain.

CSTAR - 6 March 2009

I never really understood the material reasons for drug laws in US and Europe. The consequences are real enough, aside from the violence generated, investment in productive infrastructure in producing countries is distorted by the economics of drug distribution (Colombia is a prime example and now Mexico is seeming to go in that direction). The standard marxist view that the drug laws and resulting wars is a mechanism of imperialist domination is just too weak.

Legalisation accompanied making available realistic information about drugs is the only sane approach.

2. Madman in the Marketplace - 6 March 2009

Bank of America Says Bonus Disclosure Will Harm It

March 5 (Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp. will suffer “grave and irreparable harm” if Merrill Lynch & Co. employees paid $3.6 billion in bonuses just before the firm’s acquisition by the bank are publicly identified, its lawyers said.

Bank of America today filed documents in state court in Manhattan to intervene in a case brought by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to compel former Merrill Chief Executive Officer John Thain to testify about the bonus recipients.

“Neither the individual names nor the job titles bear any reasonable or relevant relationship” to Cuomo’s investigation, the firms argued in the documents. “Nor is there a reasonable or relevant reason to disclose such information to the general public.”

The information Cuomo seeks would provide a “road map” revealing which business lines the banks believe to be most valuable and enable competitors to poach the bank’s top talent, Bank of America argued in the court filing. Disclosure of the information would also cause “internal dissension and consternation,” pose security risks for the exposed bankers and their families, and cause employees to leave, according to the filings.

3. marisacat - 6 March 2009

hmm i have been reading about this “cat”, but never had a report AND a pic together… said to be very ugly but they swear (and cat lives at a vet clinic) it IS a cat.

A cat called Ugly Bat Boy is seen at his home in a veterinary clinic in New Hampshire, USA. Staff at the veterinary hospital have been forced to put up fliers saying he’s perfectly normal, just unattractive

I don’t know. I think maybe some mix. Apparently (from what I read) there is a brother to the cat around.. hmm. Could we see the PARENTS please?


4. marisacat - 6 March 2009

hmmm How long ago was the election? (over 4 mos)

But Reid isn’t angry enough yet to spark the all-out war that would ensue should he try to forcibly seat Franken in the Senate, which would spark a GOP filibuster and potentially paralyze the Senate.

5. Madman in the Marketplace - 6 March 2009

Reid is fucking worthless.

6. marisacat - 6 March 2009

Don’t bust a gut laughing (health care is too expensive!)…

“In the Democratic Leader, Obama has a valuable ally”

But you have to read to page 2 for this so special tidbit:

[I]t was Reid who dreamed up the idea of nominating Republican Sen. Judd Gregg commerce secretary. The Senate leader sensed that the conservative Gregg was enamored of Obama. He thought Gregg’s background in budget matters could prove useful, and Gregg’s home state of New Hampshire has a Democratic governor. Assuming the contested Senate race in Minnesota is resolved in Al Franken’s favor, Reid reasoned, Gregg’s replacement could become the 60th Democratic vote.

The plan fizzled. Gov. John Lynch appointed a Republican, and Gregg withdrew his nomination because of ideological differences and returned to become a leading Senate critic of Obama’s new budget blueprint. “I think it was a good idea. I’m sorry it didn’t work out,” Reid said. …

Madman in the Marketplace - 7 March 2009

he is just awe-inspiringly dumb.

7. marisacat - 7 March 2009


Two Lucky Madoff Victims Get Their First Checks

I have a hard time seeing Madoff meekly surrender to prison. Even with a deal.

8. BooHooHooMan - 7 March 2009

Rubin / Goldman Sachs 25 years of pilllage and collusion there ……then , his last stop into Citi, so obvious …….to administer the coup de grâce.

The formal ties and affiliations meaning even less now…it’s a mafia.

At this point, with Rubin as “Boss of Bosses”,
he can pick up the phone, dial the White House switchboard, Introduce himself as “Bob Rubin, Destroyer of Worlds” and they’d patch him right through… Why go through the piker’s rigamerole of calling himself a “plumbing salesman” like the Sicilian’s do?

Geithner – the little shit – is little more than a low level bookie, answering the phones, fetching the coffee at the “sit downs”…

BooHooHooMan - 7 March 2009

(The conceit being Rubin doesn’t call directly)

9. BooHooHooMan - 7 March 2009

Palestinian Prime Minister to Resign

{ Abbas Teh Suck remains…}

Salam Fayad says he’s resigning.

Fayad announced Saturday he submitted his resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

He says the resignation will take effect after the formation of a Palestinian unity government but no later than the end of March.

The announcement comes just before the resumption of power-sharing talks between Abbas and his rivals from the militant group Hamas.

Fayad was appointed by Abbas after Hamas’ violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. His decision to resign can be seen as a conciliatory gesture toward the militant group: Hamas has repeatedly demanded that Fayad step down.

Surely Israel will bargain in good faith.

10. BooHooHooMan - 7 March 2009

Avigdor Lieberman in line for Israel foreign minister job

Avigdor Lieberman, the head of a provocative nationalist Israeli party, is on course to become the country’s next foreign minister in a move likely to damage hopes of a peace deal for the region.


Israeli is likely to come under fire for such an appointment, not just by its critics but also its friends.

An online petition by two prominent American Jewish professors calling for Mr Lieberman not to be included in the next government has received hundreds of signatures.

Some Laudable sentiments burbling up, but really, “WOULD Deligitimize?” That’s where Israel is NOW. Like Bebe or Tzipi are peacemakers? What scheisse underpinning the assumption….
Talk -Talk Motherfuckin TALK.

Dennis Gaitsgory, a Harvard math professor, and Josh Tenenbaum, a professor of cognitive science at MIT, issued a statement saying: “Granting Mr. Lieberman a senior ministerial post would endanger the foundations of Israel as a democratic state and delegitimize it in the eyes of the world.

“Such a government would be one that even Israel’s friends would find increasingly difficult – if not impossible – to identify with or support,” wrote

Daniel Kurzer, a former US ambassador to Israel recently told an audience that a government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish Israeli prime minister designate together with Mr Lieberman would be a “bad combination for American interests.”

Mr Netanyahu knows Mr Lieberman would not be a well-received choice for Israel’s chief emissary abroad, but may have little choice as he has failed to build a broader, more centrist coalition.


Always.Always. The Same shit.
‘little choice” leading to .. NO other choice..Bebe “failed to build” a Centrist Coalition How about somebody calling it the fuck like it is. There IS NO “Centrist Coalition”. No “Centrist” majority to coalesce

MORE BULLSHIT on Wacko and Ivantwar Liebshitter:

Unlike other likely partners in Mr Netanyahu’s coalition and for all of his tough talk, Mr Lieberman does support the creation of a future Palestinian state. And he has even suggested he would be willing to share Jerusalem in the scope of a peace deal.

But it is the way Lieberman envisions the creation of a possible Palestinian state that has raised suspicions. His plan calls for two states that are as homogenous as possible, calling for a redrawing of Israel’s borders so that areas with significant Arab populations might become part of a Palestinian state and large Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank would be incorporated into Israel.

marisacat - 7 March 2009

I think the Telegraph is being purposefully misleading about Avigdor and his stated beliefs.

PLUS think I read yesterday in one fo the UK papers that Israel has annexed more of East Jerusalem, just now..

11. marisacat - 7 March 2009


Meet the Press: Sens. Graham and Schumer. Roundtable with Erin Burnett, Mort Zuckerman, Newt Gingrich, Liaquat Ahamed.

This Week: Sens. Bayh, McCaskill, Shelby, Chamber of Commerce Pres. Donohue. Roundtable with David Brooks, E.J. Dionne, Cokie Roberts, George Will.

Face the Nation: Obama budget director Orszag, Rep. Boehner.

Fox News Sunday: Sen. McCain, DNC Chair Kaine, Rep. Aaron Schock.

State of the Union: Orszag, Rep. Cantor.

Madman in the Marketplace - 7 March 2009

what a horrible lineup, especially This Week.

marisacat - 7 March 2009

It is bad… relentlessly so.

12. marisacat - 7 March 2009

Dahlia Lithwick wonders why.

Obama, Bush Secret-Keeper

What’s the president’s rationale for keeping so many legal skeletons in the closet?

By Dahlia Lithwick Posted Friday, March 6, 2009, at 6:40 PM ET

13. marisacat - 7 March 2009

Couldn’t Golden Man have CANCELED Daylight Hoo Hoo Time?

I think it is utter cruelty in this economy to perforce LOSE an hour of sleep. I am serious.

14. marisacat - 7 March 2009

hmm graphics from the NYT… esp the one on the right comparing rate of job loses this go round to other recession. We are the black line, nearly in a straight downward plunge. Politico helpfully described it “as though the line jumped out a window”. I think some people in DC are enjoying the recession.

Politico claims there is a version of this graph up in Nancy’s office… and that it is making the rounds by email.

CLICK OF THE MONTH – In the Speaker’s office, where it’s been e-mailed around for some time with various updates, it’s known as ‘The Scary Chart.’

Be nice if they DID something about it. ”Saving” 25 police jobs in Ohio til the end of the year with all other police academy classes canceled, is nice hype… but not doing a thing. Sorry to be blunt.

15. marisacat - 7 March 2009

They’re working on it

In the entire banking sector – we spend every day, myself, Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Christina Romer, every single day, we will spend at least an hour of my time just talking through how we are approaching the financial markets.

But perhaps not working too hard, having come in with a clear agenda. I remember the day, before even being inaugurated, that he threatened a veto, but I had forgotten on what

* A threat, issued “right before he came into office,” to “veto any bill that Congress passed rejecting or limiting more bailout funds from going to Wall Street” (Sirota, speaking on the Public Broadcasting System’s “Bill Moyers’ Journal” on January 23, 2009).

From Paul Street at BAR… listing a long tick tock of markers from O

16. Madman in the Marketplace - 7 March 2009

Obama Seeks Dismissal of Case Against John Yoo, Author of ‘Torture Memo’

In a California federal court, President Obama’s Justice Department is defending former Bush official John Yoo, author of the so-called “torture memo.”

Yoo is being sued by Jose Padilla, currently serving 17 years in prison for conspiring to provide support to Islamist extremists. Padilla’s lawyers say that Yoo’s memos on interrogation policies led to his detention and torture.

The Obama Justice Department moved to dismiss the case before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White.

“This administration has made no secret of the fact that it disagrees with the previous administration’s approach to many legal issues in the national security arena,” Matthew Miller, spokesman for the Justice Department, said in a written statement. “Nevertheless, the Department of Justice generally defends employees and former employees in lawsuits that are filed in connection to their official duties.”

Justice Department attorney Mary Mason said something similar at the hearing, stating that “we’re not saying we condone torture.”

But she argued that recourse against a government lawyer such as Yoo — who worked for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — “is for the executive to decide, in the first instance, and for Congress to decide,” not the courts, she said.

Take that change and ram it right up your ass. Defending that war criminal IS condoning torture.


marisacat - 7 March 2009

I am horrified.. I just put the Politico version of the story into a post for tomorrow.. hunting aorund for a legal opinion on this move… but nto sure there will be one before Monday.

BUT! Obama is said to be “rosier” on the economy, in his NYT interview (linked above) and in his Pretzel in a Box YouTube today. And I see Zandi of Moody’s just all over the place. Expounding. What a shame it all is.

Arcturus - 7 March 2009

iirc, Turley was pretty critical of this filing – don’t recall if Cohn or Ratner ever weighed in . . .

Madman in the Marketplace - 7 March 2009

Turley’s been pretty out in front of this since Ob took office. It’s increasingly clear that Ob wants to maintain the expanded executive powers.

Arcturus - 7 March 2009
17. Arcturus - 7 March 2009


China plans to spend $9 billion on mining and infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo and won’t bow to a demand from the International Monetary Fund to alter the accord, the Chinese ambassador to the country said.

China’s biggest single investment in Africa will give Congo roads, railways, hospitals and schools in return for metals worth $50 billion at current prices. The IMF said in December Congo won’t qualify for more than $6 billion of debt relief unless the agreement is changed so the country won’t be the guarantor of the deal and add to its debt.

. . .

Samir Jahjah, the IMF representative in Congo, didn’t return calls to his office in the capital, Kinshasa, seeking comment. No one was immediately available for comment at the IMF’s headquarters in Washington. Congo’s Communications Minister Lambert Mende didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment. Finance Minister Athanase Matenda, Deputy Finance Minister Cesar Lubamba and Infrastructure Minister Pierre Lumbi couldn’t be reached for comment.

Antoine Roger Lokongo:

The Financial Times reported on 9 February 2009 that China’s biggest investment deal in Africa is faltering [wishful thinking? -A] as Western donors create pressure to renegotiate a minerals-for-infrastructure contract in the DRC.[2] In public statements the IMF has ‘urged the [Congolese] authorities to take all actions to ensure that the final agreement [with China] is consistent with debt sustainability’, according to the report. In Kinshasa, the report said, the government is keen to listen to the concerns of Western donors but is, at the same time, eager to pursue the deal with the Chinese.

. . .

The focus of concern, according to Western diplomats in Kinshasa, is that the deal would give the Chinese consortium unprecedented state financial guarantees, including some that earmark government revenues and make China a privileged creditor.

. . . The Western world, the IMF and the World Bank bankrolled Mobutu’s kleptocratic regime for 32 years. They lent him a lot of money which he put in Swiss banks.

The DRC has inherited US$14 billion worth of debt incurred by the Mobutu regime and various transitional governments after President Laurent Kabila was gunned down. During his short 44 month-long tenure of office, Kabila left the country with no debt, not even a penny!

One of the reasons Kabila was killed is because he refused to reimburse all the debts that Mobutu had incurred, arguing that he did not see any works that that money had done in his country. ‘If you lend money to a thief, expect not to be repaid one day’, Kabila told the IMF and the World Bank.

. . .

Now the same IMF and World Bank are putting pressure on the DRC government to ditch the deal with China as a condition to get its debt forgiven. That is clearly blackmail. . . .

At this age of globalisation, if the DRC has no freedom to diversify its trading partners, it is still a Belgian colony, a ‘free trade zone’ as it was defined at the Berlin Conference under the trusteeship of King Leopold II.

If the DRC government tries to flex its muscles, it invites trouble. After asking, in vain, the IMF and the World Bank to forgive Congo’s US$14 billion debt inherited from Mobutu and various transitional governments, the DRC turned to China because Kinshasa was told it must abide by ‘the principle of the continuity of the state’ and pay its due. As a consequence, the government of Joseph Kabila is paying US$800 million a year just to service the debt. At the same time, the interim American government set up in Baghdad trampled the same principle and refused to respect the oil contracts Saddam Hussein had signed with France, China and Russia, let alone recognise the debts of the former Iraqi dictator!

. . .

How does one explain Rwanda’s cyclic wars in the eastern DRC? Simple. The Tutsi insurgents are encouraged by the ‘return of the white patronage’ over the mineral-rich central African country. We have Albrecht Conze, the former political chief of MONUC (Mission des Nations Unies en République Démocratique du Congo – the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC), and now the German ambassador to Zimbabwe’s words for it. In an interview given to the Spiegel Online on 17 August 2006, Conze predicted the return of the white patronage in a country that was a Belgian colony until 1960 in the following terms: ‘It is like the West being Congo’s foster parents’ he said, ‘but it won’t be easy.’ According to Conze’s theory, support will come from a black ‘council of advisors’, another idea hatched by Western governments. ‘The plan is for well-known African politicians such as Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique’s former president, [and] Nicephore Soglo, his colleague from Benin, to make policies crafted overseas more palatable to Congo’s citizens’, he said.

. . . the Financial Times reported on 31 October 2008 that the evangelical Christian Tutsi warlord Laurent Nkunda, alias Nkundabatware, who has grabbed all the headlines in credit-crunch hit Western countries, is very much against the agreement the DRC signed with China to provide US$9 billion worth of investment in rebuilding infrastructure in exchange for the country’s natural resources. This is a clear sign that Nkundabatware is being used. But who gives him the mandate to veto an agreement signed by a sovereign, legitimate and democratically-elected government with a partner of its free choice?

Nkundabatware is a proxy for Rwandan interests in the DRC, and the West is using the presidency of Paul Kagame of Rwanda to weaken the DRC completely.

At a recent meeting convened by the Royal Commonwealth Society to discuss whether Rwanda should be admitted or not as a member of the Commonwealth, one of the speakers, Andrew Mitchell, a Conservative MP and former shadow minister for international development, said that ‘he likes Kagame because he is a man of actions who has shown exceptional leadership and who is working with India to thwart China’s breakthrough in Africa.’ He meant to say the DRC, because Kagame has so far only invaded the DRC, which has signed the biggest minerals-for-infrastructure contract with China valued at US$9 billion (€6.9 billion, UK£6 billion).

The Chinese deal is an ‘infrastructure development resources-backed finance (IDRF)’ deal, a kind of barter trade which will not leave the DRC saddled with debts. It will have an impact on the infrastructure sector as well as on the agriculture sector. . . .

The mining contracts the DRC signed with Western partners were founded on the West keeping 75 per cent of the stakes. There is no single contract where the DRC gets more than 25 per cent. Is that acceptable? Take Freeport MacMoran, which wants to exploit the biggest reserve of copper and cobalt in the world situated in Tenke Fungurume, Katanga. It insists that the Congolese state should be content with a 5 per cent stake, as originally agreed, and should not revise it. Companies such as Banro hold private gold concessions – wholly owned – in South Kivu and Maniema,[4] and First Quantum wholly owns copper concessions in Lonshi and Frontier Project, formerly known as Lufua, Katanga.[5] ‘Où est le sérieux?’ as the French say.

18. marisacat - 7 March 2009

The Chinese deal is an ‘infrastructure development resources-backed finance (IDRF)’ deal, a kind of barter trade which will not leave the DRC saddled with debts. It will have an impact on the infrastructure sector as well as on the agriculture sector. . . .

The mining contracts the DRC signed with Western partners were founded on the West keeping 75 per cent of the stakes. There is no single contract where the DRC gets more than 25 per cent.

Seems pretty clear.

19. Arcturus - 7 March 2009

to the rescue! (quietly):

Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times has revealed plans for a US-led military mission into the island’s northern war zone in the guise of evacuating civilians trapped by intense fighting between the army and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

According to the newspaper, the task would be carried out by a Marine Expeditionary Brigade attached to the US Pacific Command (PACOM). The US Navy and Air Force would also be involved. The newspaper reported in its initial article on February 22 that a high-level PACOM team was in Colombo to pave the way for the operation.

No announcement has been made by the Obama administration or the US military, but Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, told the Sunday Times that he was aware of the intended US-led “coalition humanitarian task force”. . . .

No agreement has been reached between the government and the LTTE on any evacuation. Both sides are using the trapped civilians as political pawns. The army has been seeking to drive civilians out of the remaining LTTE-held territory, in order to allow for the area’s complete levelling. With its back to the wall, the LTTE has called for a ceasefire and talks before any civilians are allowed to leave—a step rejected by the government which is demanding a full, unconditional surrender.

The Sunday Times indicated that the US-led operation might proceed without LTTE agreement—a provocative move that has the potential to precipitate clashes between US Marines and the guerrillas. “[C]ontinued LTTE refusals, the Sunday Times learns, may force the government to allow the humanitarian exercise to get underway notwithstanding LTTE objections,” it stated.

The UN and International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) estimates that as many as 200,000, Tamil civilians are trapped inside LTTE-held territory, which has now shrunk to less than 50 square kilometres. Hundreds have been killed and injured by army shelling. The military has allowed in only limited supplies of food. Fleeing civilians have been shot at by LTTE fighters, and those who manage to cross the frontlines are being held in detention camps.

. . .

For years, the Pentagon has been seeking to establish a foothold on the island as a base of operations in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The deep water harbour of Trincomalee on the eastern coast, to the south of the current fighting, has long been regarded as a strategic prize—a point that was made by a US PACOM team that surveyed Sri Lanka in 2002. Following the devastating 2004 tsunami, the US military sent a battalion of marines to southern Sri Lanka, setting an important precedent for the present “humanitarian” plans.

The long-term geo-political significance of the Indian Ocean, and therefore of Sri Lanka, was underscored by an article entitled “Center Stage for the Twenty-first Century: Power Plays in the Indian Ocean” in the latest issue of the US magazine Foreign Affairs. Veteran journalist Robert Kaplan identified three related geo-political challenges facing the US in Asia: “the strategic nightmare of the greater Middle East, the struggle for influence over the southern tier of the former Soviet Union, and the growing presence of India and China in the Indian Ocean.”

The article emphasised the rising naval power of China and India in the Indian Ocean, the importance of the ocean’s trade routes, the strategic significance of the adjacent energy-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia, and the dangers of the relative decline of the US in the region. In relation to Sri Lanka, it noted: “Whereas the prospect of ethnic warfare has scared away US admirals from considering a base in Sri Lanka, which is strategically located at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, the Chinese are constructing a refuelling station for their warships there.”

The need for greater strategic focus on the Indian Ocean is undoubtedly a major motivation behind a US military intervention on the island. The last consideration of any US military operation in Sri Lanka will be the plight of Tamil civilians trapped in the North.

dress rehearsal?

20. marisacat - 7 March 2009

Sorry Arcturus… out of Moderation now…

21. diane - 7 March 2009

Just touchin bases hon……….listening to Oakland [cali, not pit’s berg] Interfaith Choir……and it eases me…………………………….I should find out what they are singing now ……after a twenty some year old man was shot in the back, on his stomach, with steel on his wrists…ahhhhhhhhh…wellllllllll…..


I mean really …so many CHRISTIANS PONTIFICATING….and so little talk of the fact that…the little folk keep things comfortable…nay,



the little folk,

..don’t pontificate………………………………….

they just live however they can..

and they pray

that they won’t die having had to do something really rotten

to save the ones they love

that is a fact

about the little folk

who don’t strive to be: all that,

on this earth.

Well…how to end this thought…….I don’t have a clue………though, I believe …that there are many names atrributed to goodness,,,,,,,,,,,and certainly…if I knew them all, I wouldn’t be living in the test that I am……………………..

….by the light………………… of the silveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery moon…………….

22. diane - 7 March 2009

…to qualify….I can’t begin to say what life giving I got from oakland interfaith………for the most part,….an inclination towards kindness,…at least at its beginnings….I hope something insidious hasn’t overtaken it ..such as the SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION……(mussn’t talk bad about weaponry)

mussn’t we..

23. diane - 7 March 2009

…excuzemwah hon…but sumpin, got a hold ….on me,


buy your local newspaper in pulp print…just saying you won’t know what you are missing, till it’s gone…is it fucked up? indeed it may be, well then, buy it to note it’s omissions..jus keep it alive..otherwise ..YOU WILL HAVE NO LOCAL KNEWS IF THE ELECTRICITY GOES OUT AND ALL OF THE SATELLITES COLLIDE you will trully be in darkness where you live…..


24. diane - 7 March 2009

…..oopsie waz about those satellites and LAUNCHINGS..(is there SPERM involved?…..ohhhhhhhhh…….welll, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh) NASA?……red, blinky blushy, faced emoticon?….Kernal Klink?) …..and how much do they cost???????……..and why is it that it would appear no one on this earth is questioning the Googleplex/NASA hook up..askeared to dye are we?

primitively put why do we kepp/keep swallowing genious in garage stories, when our instincts…..tell us better…?……no need need to murder the fuckers..just put them out of commision…………………

25. marisacat - 8 March 2009

from Laura Rozen War and Piece:

Ha’aretz: “Avigdor Lieberman, who Thursday emerged as the most likely candidate to replace Tzipi Livni as Israel’s foreign minister, intends to demand that Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu grants him ‘full autonomy’ in the new post, Haaretz has learned.” Also interested in the job, Silvan Shalom.

26. marisacat - 8 March 2009



Pop Quiz [Cliff May]

Guess who said the following:

[T]the decision to release classified information “is committed to the discretion of the Executive Branch, and is not subject to judicial review. Moreover, the Court does not have independent power . . . to order the Government to grant counsel access to classified information when the Executive Branch has denied them such access.” … federal judges are “ill-equipped to second-guess the Executive Branch.”

Was it Dick Cheney? David Addington? John Yoo? Andy McCarthy?

Nope. It was the Obama Justice Department.

27. Intermittent Bystander - 8 March 2009

No need to worry about Da Holey Land – Ratzy’s gonna fix everything!

The pontiff will visit the sites of Jesus’ life in an 8-15 May trip taking in parts of Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.


Edited, apparently, and carefully labeled snark: Does Markos work for the CIA?

Accompanying poll results at present are:

Yes 127 votes
No 26 votes
Pie 110 votes

28. Intermittent Bystander - 8 March 2009

Meanwhile, Alice Walker is heading to Gaza with Code Pink and baskets of . . . shampoo?

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

I know you’re down with it IB,
the Mr. Bubble aspect of it invites notation …
Yet… the limited relief aside, the action has though to it:
And if they are refused entry?
For wanting to shuttle a little Subversive Soap?
How could the Israeli’s get all , eh, “Lathered up” about that?

That little squib – “… personal essentials including shampoo..”
It shouldn’t take being held in Jail to understand, but the basic ability to wash ???? –> for Women and children? <–

Part of so many simple courtesies…
that are ludicrous to deny Crush.
My opinion anyways- it continues to speak to something-
drawing attention to a people,
–> Women and children <–
being pounded quite literally into dirt.

Helluva thing ….when one is grateful they get through at all , left hoping they “get through” with only the usual expected hassle and efforts to logistically fuck with coverage..

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

Sorry, a “t” missing.
I think …the action has thought to it

Intermittent Bystander - 8 March 2009

Yeah, just irritating that the AP article makes it all sound like an Avon delegation. Gives the impression that even those radical Code Pink “attention whores” think that Gazan women’s biggest problem is insufficiently lustrous, shiny hair. (Apparently baskets include first aid supplies, vitamins, etc., as well.)

Here’s the action page at CP’s site: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2009

And here are blog entries from participants, who did indeed make it through. PINKtank.

Madman in the Marketplace - 8 March 2009

“gonna wash that slaughter right out of our hair …”

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

talk about the concentrate. Jeebus, well said.

29. marisacat - 8 March 2009

Gaza was just the end… and if anyone is left who cannot see that the US makes NO effort, nor has it ever really, to impove the lives of Palestinians, then they are fully delusional. The checkpoints and denials of any rights was enough, the blockades the settlements, the itinerant bombings the extra judicial killings, the wanton killing, the attacks on civilian population the Wall FFS… and now this.

So many Jews have no problem at all with the war on Gaza. None.

Just the end. So appropriate that Avigdor rises and is making demands… I cannot stand Tzipi .. she laughs openly about people dying… but very interesting to watch Bibi punch her in the face.

And America will meul and be some bizarre actor n the international scene. Hillary’s tour is looking like some badly planned joke. Or not planned.

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

It is what it is…The CP visit, Alice Walker… tho the US and Israel clearly use “tolerated dissent” to further the myth of “leading democracies”. Yeh, well, Bullshit on That.

I’m in for anything that draws negative attention to Israel and US policy, any and all.

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

Tzipi .. she laughs openly about people dying… but very interesting to watch Bibi punch her in the face.

Pro Wrestling.
Emphasis “sadists”

30. marisacat - 8 March 2009

Well i am all for taking to Gaza whatever can be gotten in.. those tunnels I read are for profit private enterprise, investments actually, so I doubt what goods do get thru are affordable.

But this from the Yahoo News piece:

“It’s very important that they understand what is happening, and that we hold our own administration accountable,” she said.

She won’t be doing any of that. At all.

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

….“It’s very important that they understand what is happening, and that we hold our own administration accountable,” she said.

She won’t be doing any of that. At all.

Well. Besides.
Markos and Jane Hamster have THAT under control… LOL. 😉

Obama: ‘I rarely read blogs’

marisacat - 8 March 2009

Well. Besides.
Markos and Jane Hamster have THAT under control

Markos and The Hamster. They sure do. Hamster is available via the NYT, on vid .. she is now a pixie cut blonde.

They just take positions to cage the audience. IMO.

Poor Obrama.. he was so desperate to say he is all aobut Nettieries and moh-dern-ity. Technology AND Technologists Will Save Us, as the Savior marshalls the Techie Troops!!!!!

And now wants to have nothing to do iwth it. Too scared that reading econo blogs or biz blogs is SOCIALIST. Pink tinted afternoons.

Sales of limited edition mugs must be down online.

Perhaps he is on the way to “bitter” and “clinging”.

Intermittent Bystander - 8 March 2009

Ha! That reminds me. Ran across 2 Firedoglake JOB ads on the mediabistro boards the other day – Deputy Managing Editor and DC Political Reporter. Paying more than a pittance, too.

Intro to both:

Join the high profile, high-influence flagship of a dynamic network of progressive political blogs with a track record of success in pushing breaking news stories onto the national radar. Work with a select group of writers and editors in a flexible, work-from-home position that channels your passion to move the country in a progressive direction.

::Steps away from the straight line slowly, carefully . . . .:

marisacat - 8 March 2009

I wonder who is funding FDL… except to catch the NYT spot and that BAR (of all sites) gave FDL a warm call out over SS/Obama… I don’t go there, so I don’t really know what games they are up to…

It just seems to me all of the blogs, to one degree or another, are diversion, or candidate hype or they play protection games.. raise issues of no real import… massive misdirection.

Appearance of some opposition, but then it seems to me all too willing to steer the herd back into line.

I mean FEINGOLD gave MyDD 2K from his Progressive Patriots Pac (forget what he called it, that is close enough) so……………………….. there could be a LOT of that going on, for all I know.

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

Oh fuck. Cahmonnow. We gotta figure a way to alias Mcat up and persuade her to apply to FDL for the Ed position.
Holee Fuckin Hell In BlogLandia…LMAO.

I can see the fuckin Times lede now…

Mystery Woman Demolishes “Leftischer” Establishment.

31. marisacat - 8 March 2009

Every time i hear a specific stock quote or a ‘this year last year’ comparison, it just stops me cold. I heard yesterday that Citadel, which owns radio stations, traded at ONE CENT. It did rise to 3 c.


Stocks have lost $11 trillion in market value since the October 2007 peak, based on the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index, which includes nearly every U.S.-listed stock. Losses since the start of 2009 are $2.6 trillion.

Nearly half of all stocks in the index are now trading at less than $5, and 37% are under $3.

32. Intermittent Bystander - 8 March 2009

St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the Maryville church shooting this morning.

No ID or motive on the gunman, so far. Did not appear to be a regular member, though article notes congregation has grown rapidly of late.

33. Madman in the Marketplace - 8 March 2009

Wiesel Lost “Everything” to Madoff

Nobody knows depravity like Elie Wiesel knows depravity.

And does he ever see it in Bernie Madoff.

Wiesel, whose charitable foundation was wiped out by Madoff, has until now mostly kept quiet about the alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. But today, the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient spoke passionately about his betrayal by Madoff, whom he referred to variously as “a crook, a thief, a scoundrel,” as well as a “swindler” and “evil.”

Wiesel acknowledged that in addition to having lost his foundation’s assets, he lost his personal wealth to Madoff. “All of a sudden, everything we have done in 40 years—literally, my books, my lectures, my university salary, everything—was gone,” he said during a panel discussion hosted by Condé Nast Portfolio.

His foundation, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, lost substantially all of its $15.2 million in assets to Madoff; including his personal investments, total losses may be as high as $37 million. “We gave him everything, we thought he was God, we trusted everything in his hands,” Wiesel said.


marisacat - 8 March 2009

To be honest I find the whole Elie Wiesel story a bit much. I don’t quite buy it.. not that he is so smart or anything. We have been on his blood soaked collection plate itinerary for years. I don’t see anything to admire, frankly. I don’t quite buy Mort Zuckerman’s story either.

I read that EW thinks that the best punishment for Madoof would be to be locked up with pics of his victims. A flat out lie. Madoff would be disinterested and unmoved. That silly fake bathos alone made me think EW is playing a game.

But who knows.

One tidbit I read … the wife, who now wants to retain the penthouse, the FL manse AND 62 mil, USED (and I am sure they were happy to help) her own parents to reel in old people who frequented the same Catskills resort.

Geesh … bottom feeders. A shekel from anyone at all, despite all that hype of exclusivility… who Madoff would “allow” to invest and who he would not.

Be nice if the TRUTH ever came out.

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

Hitchens, Chomsky, Norman Finklestein
..all critical of Weisel…

[Citations on Wiki are footnoted.]

34. Intermittent Bystander - 8 March 2009

Snicker snicker. BHHM at 52 –

We gotta figure a way to alias Mcat up and persuade her to apply to FDL for the Ed position.
Holee Fuckin Hell In BlogLandia…LMAO.

I can see the fuckin Times lede now…

Mystery Woman Demolishes “Leftischer” Establishment.

Whaddya say, MCat? IIRC, there’s $2,400/mo in it for ya, for as long as the alias holds!

marisacat - 8 March 2009

LOL I doubt I would fit in… 😉

Tho a few years ago, when The Hamster would appear on Olberman… some one here made a joke.. that as she finished saying something or other about Blahgosphere, the cartoon image I use of “La Louche” the sunglasses, smoking alley cat would pop up and say… No! this is how it is, let me tell ya……

Too funny!

Intermittent Bystander - 8 March 2009

I don’t follow FDL either – was always leery of its pre-fab, insta-success and heavy pimping by the BBBs, plus it’s hard on the browser, IIRC – but here’s some more snippage, for your collective amusement:

Experience writing news, political commentary, analysis for blogs and/or print publicationsSupervisory experienceReliable Internet accessStrong awareness of and interest in current events and US politics
Available to monitor news, blogs, and FDL backstage 4:30 PM – 1:30 AM Eastern Time, five days a week

:snip, blawg:

Use your outstanding communication and people skills to manage and mentor a highly talented and diverse team of part-time volunteer writers, and work with them to improve elements of their writing, in a fast-paced, success-oriented, stimulating environment. Employ your nose for news, your passion for progressive politics, and your extensive knowledge of major media, political figures, and progressive blogs under the leadership of a groundbreaking social entrepreneur.

marisacat - 8 March 2009

Available to monitor news, blogs, and FDL backstage 4:30 PM – 1:30 AM Eastern Time, five days a week

ummm isn’t that an 8 hour day (x 5) of thread monitoring? Aside from being the No 2 caped savior in the nation, I mean… 🙄

I don’t know what they do at FDL NOW but it used to be when they had a guest or author, no criticism or harsh inquiry was allowed.

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

Like here, She’d do it on principle, not to mention the laughs..

35. marisacat - 8 March 2009

Alan Abelson always cheers me up…. 😆 Loved the dish on that old horror, Casey of the CIA…

Some old Street hand obviously tutored him on the art of stock-market forecasting because he immediately qualified the recommendation by stressing it was being rendered strictly for the long term. And like the most seasoned strategist, he sedulously neglected to define “long term.”

If he meant 10 years, we can’t quarrel too much, provided that anybody acting on the advice makes sure to have an ample stash of painkillers to see him through until 2019. It could be that President Obama, a scholarly soul, was eager to emulate one of his predecessors, Ronald Reagan, who early in his administration — when the market was more or less supine after a nasty fall — declared it was time to turn the bull loose.

Of course, Mr. Reagan offered his cheerful exhortation on a visit to the New York Stock Exchange, and it’s conceivable that, gregarious to a fault, he was merely trying to buck up the assembled traders, brokers and assorted and sordid hangers-on. It could be, too, that Bill Casey, then head of the Central Intelligence Agency, who was a notorious and compulsive speculator (it got so that folks began to think that CIA stood for “Casey’s Investing Again”), had prevailed upon his chief to give the market a thumbs-up.

To be sure, Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, was in the investment business. Exactly what he did is hard to say, but, to be fair, he must have done something, or why in the world would anyone pay him $18 million for his two-year stint? In any case, he worked (or whatever) for a hedge fund, so he couldn’t have been much help in prepping his current boss on even the bare rudiments of investing. …

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

LOL from that piece..

The competition among prominent investment pros to snare the honor of No. 1 bottom-caller, as you might expect, is hot and heavy. (We feel obligated to report with some sorrow that the ranks of the contestants have been steadily thinned, as those foolish enough to act on their own perception have been carried out.)

Kinda like me and political forecasting,
Senator Caroline Kennedy and all..LOL.

Anyways, I’m out after such a splendid afternoon in the cafe…
Thanks for all the pearls and laughs…

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

…laughs being the last defense against tears…

marisacat - 8 March 2009

ugh. page 2 of Alan A in Barron’s is very depressing.

BooHooHooMan - 8 March 2009

Sorry I should have replied here…the laughs being the last defense to tears…

I’m taking my daughter to make her way back to school…she is clued in, though only so…..I haven’t the heart to push it with her….she’ll see it come into clear view soon enough…

Anyways, bye for now…

36. Intermittent Bystander - 8 March 2009
marisacat - 8 March 2009

Thanks IB… I got fresh hot tea… ice water… and am ready to watch… 😉

marisacat - 8 March 2009

To be perfectly frank, I would b very relieved if the FDIC took over BofA. I don’t want to move, if it were ever necessary I can get to my bank branch on my own… and for some reason that is reassurance (not just now, for a long time) it is just a block over and one down on FIllmore St… but BofA is clearly in trouble…

Intermittent Bystander - 9 March 2009

My bank has changed ownership 3 times in the last 20 years, but thankfully, the buyers have always been other regional banks (never one of the Really Big Players) and the transitions have all been quite smooth. But I’ve seen other bank mergers and takeovers where incoming management has purposefully acted to shed ordinary “consumer” checking and savings customers in favor of commercial business, which has meant non-stop service hassles for regular customers until they finally gave up and took their money elsewhere.

Fingers crossed that access to your local branch is uninterrupted, whatever happens next!

37. marisacat - 8 March 2009

The small print, two days later.

Not that I care, I lost interest in embryonic stem cell research and the whole related field some time ago. We voted on embryonic stem cell research in CA in the 2004 GE… and I read over the bill. A mess! A messy giveaway to business. I was relieved that it was so sure to pass I could pass on it and not waste my time sending a “message”, one that nobody cares about anywy! 🙄

WASHINGTON — While lifting the Bush administration’s restrictions on federally financed human embryonic stem cell research, President Obama intends to avoid the thorniest question in the debate: whether taxpayer dollars should be used to experiment on embryos themselves, two senior administration officials said Sunday.

The officials, who provided details of the announcement Mr. Obama will make Monday at the White House, said the president would leave it to Congress to determine whether the long-standing legislative ban on federal financing for human embryo experiments should also be overturned. …

38. marisacat - 9 March 2009

neue post..


……………… 😯 …………..

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