Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Took a Bath Today!

Now some people are shower folks and some are bath folks. I have always been a bath person. So after my accident I was relegated to having showers with help. I was most humiliated by having help with the basics, such as my inability to use the toilet and the shower without any assistance. Luckily I have a wonderful child who is totally willing to go beyond the level of humility that one might expect and do the right thing.

So, now today, I was actually able to take a bath, get in and get out of the tub, all by myself. Now for all of those folks out there who know the difference between being a bath taker and a shower taker, this is a big thing!


Hillary on Heath Care Attack!

As “Sicko” becomes Mainstream, and it is “Very” Mainstream, all things Healthcare are up for grabs. So Hillary, and Hillarycare, will be trashed and dragged out as an example of big government and socialized medicine by the Republicans. Though these characterizations are an inaccurate representation of the Democratic plan that she worked on, it makes no difference. She and her plan will be pilloried and for all the wrong reasons.

None-the-less the facts are that she has learned from the experience. Here is her response as presented by the WAPO:

Clinton Lashes Out At Health Care Critic

LAS VEGAS--After years of being criticized for the failed universal health care plan she crafted during her husband's first term in office, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) apparently has had enough.

During a forum at the National Association of Black Journalists convention Thursday, Clinton was asked why as a candidate for president she was "still insisting" on bringing "socialized medicine" to the United States, when people were "pulling away" from similar systems in Canada and Great Britain. Worse, the questioner argued, socialized medicine hurt rather than helped poor people.

"That was a string of misrepresentations about me and about the systems in other countries," Clinton began. "Number one, I have never advocated socialized medicine and I hope all the journalists here heard that loudly and clearly because that has been a right-wing attack on me for 15 years. "

Clinton's plan, which died in Congress in 1994,would have required employers to provide health care coverage to employees through health maintenance organizations. Insurance firms opposed the proposal, as did political conservatives who thought it removed health care -- a huge portion of the nation's economy -- out of the competitive marketplace. In the minds of some, the episode sealed Clinton's reputation as a big-government liberal.

"Do you think Medicare is socialized medicine? Clinton asked, turning the tables on her inquisitor, who did not identify himself.

"To a degree," he responded.

"Well, then you are in a small minority in America," Clinton said to applause, before explaining that Medicare allows patients to choose their doctors even though the federal government foots the bill with money deducted from workers' paychecks.

Clinton then asserted that "on balance" countries with uniform national systems of health care, including Japan, Australia and Canada, offer their citizens better health care than the U.S. The answer left her questioner shaking his head in disagreement.

"I can give you the statistics and you can shake your head," Clinton said sharply. "You come and introduce yourself to the staff. And we'll try to give you some information if you're interested in being educated instead of being rhetorical."

Good for her. She hasn’t gone far enough as far as I am concerned, but she has stood her ground and for a Democrat that is positive. The Healthcare and Hillarycare meme isn’t going to go away anytime soon. So, her ability to challenge her challengers counts!!

Medicare for everyone! Okay, so she isn’t going there yet! But, who is to say?

Democrats Agree With Bush that the Fourth Amendment is Irrelevant!

This post is a little late. But, I had to let my bile level lower before I could post it.

From the NYT's:

House Passes Changes in Eavesdropping Program


WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 — Under pressure from President Bush, the House gave final approval Saturday to changes in a terrorism surveillance program, despite serious objections from many Democrats about the scope of the executive branch’s new eavesdropping power.

Racing to complete a final rush of legislation before a scheduled monthlong break, the House voted 227 to 183 to endorse a measure the Bush administration said was needed to keep pace with communications technology in the effort to track terrorists overseas.

“The intelligence community is hampered in gathering essential information about terrorists,” said Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas.

The House Democratic leadership had severe reservations about the proposal and an overwhelming majority of Democrats opposed it. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the measure “does violence to the Constitution of the United States.”

But with the Senate already in recess, Democrats confronted the choice of allowing the administration’s bill to reach the floor and be approved mainly by Republicans or letting it die.

If it had stalled, that would have left Democratic lawmakers, long anxious about appearing weak on national security issues, facing an August spent fending off charges from Republicans that they had left Americans exposed to threats.

Despite the political risks, many Democrats argued they should stand firm against the initiative, saying it granted the administration far too much latitude to initiate surveillance without judicial review.

They said the White House was using the specter of terrorism to weaken Americans’ privacy rights and give more power to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, an official Democrats say has proved himself untrustworthy.

“Legislation should not be passed in response to fear-mongering,” said Representative Rush D. Holt, Democrat of New Jersey.

The legislation makes changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA.

There was no indication that lawmakers were responding to new intelligence warnings. Rather, Democrats were responding to administration pleas that a recent secret court ruling had created a legal obstacle in monitoring foreign communications relayed over the Internet.

They also appeared worried about the political repercussions of being perceived as interfering with intelligence gathering. But the disputes were significant enough that they are likely to resurface before the end of the year.

Democrats have expressed concerns that the administration is reaching for powers that go well beyond solving what officials have depicted as narrow technical issues in the current law.

As I am sure you have already read the whole piece, you are suitably outraged at how some Democrats caved into the Republican Fear Mongering and were willing to subvert the U.S. Constitution and its protection of the citizenry.

My bile level is rising again.

The Devil is in the Music!

When I took Musicology 101 I was shocked to find out that many of my theories of music were right on. I hadn’t really thought of it very much, just intuited much of it from my Christian upbringing and my aversion to the Christian doctrine. Years earlier I had obtained an old poster of Stravinksy’s "Diabolus in Meusica" concert, the 15th of October 1830, in Barcelona, which I so love and had not a clue as to how important it would become to me spiritually (not to mention its miraculous survival of a hurricane in the 70’s). I purchased it based on my love of “The Firebird,” due to my “Good Christian Upbringing” and Stravinsky and the simple aesthetic of the ancient poster.

The basic theories surround Dissonance and Consonance. Simplistically it comes down to the scales. The dissonance scales had fewer notes and the Consonance scales had more notes. You know do, re, mi, fa, sol, etc. (C, D, E, F, G, etc.) Consonance allows for half notes and quarter notes, etc. The original dissonant scale and instruments didn’t allow for that so theoretically at least there was little chance of consonance and hence their primitive and pagan ideation. My understanding is that consonance lead to the emergence of the Romantics and Lord knows I love Tchaikovsky.

That said, I never understood the need to assign one type of music to Christianity and another type of music to Paganism. That dissonance in music was Pagan and that consonance was Christian frankly always bothered me.

Now because I am a “Pagan” at heart and have always embraced dissonance I guess when I purchased that poster from the 1830 concert I knew something that I didn’t really understand but truly knew.



Though I couldn’t find anything from "Diabolus in Meusica" the “Devil’s Dance” is a pretty good representation of the dissonance model.

This is a rather simplistic presentation but it does show that religion as politics as music is everywhere and has a very rich history!

Things that make you go HMMMM…! Credit to C+C Music Factory, speaking of consonance and dissonance.

Not Looking Good!

Via Bernhard:


Another rough day on the subprime front. AIG, the world's largest insurer and one of the biggest mortgage lenders, said residential mortgage delinquencies and defaults are becoming more common among borrowers in the category just above subprime.

France's biggest listed bank, BNP Paribas, froze $2.2 billion worth of funds, citing subprime woes. And the European Central Bank felt it had to inject $130.5 billion into euro-zone money markets to help calm jittery markets.
Mortgage defaults growing

Lets take a step back and look at the feed back lopes here.

A peak "resets" of the adjustable rate mortgages, after which the borrower has to pay more interest, is expected for this fall. After that mortgage delinquencies rates will move even higher as people will recognize that they can not pay the houses they bought.

The foreclosures will come and a glut of houses will hit the real estate markets at a time where risk premium on interests will increase and borrowing standards will be more stringent. There will be no buyers for these houses. House values will sink further and more people will default. A positive (self enforcing) feed back loop.

On the lending side the mortgages have been packed into mortgage backed securities and repacked into collateralized debt obligations. These were certified by rating agencies as having a certain "risk class" and value. The rating agencies are payed by the issuer of such securities and use "mathematical" models to determine value and risk.

One can assume that some moral hazard was involved here and some double A or triple A rated papers are in reality of B-- quality.

Where all the misrated MBSs and CDOs of the last years ended up is unknown. But anything labeled "money market fund" or such can be suspected to have at least some of them.

I love Bernhard as he always brings up such a cornucopia of topics for discussion and he and his commentators usually are a pretty good representation of the European mind. The one thing that does bother me though is that his posts are so often filled with typos and misspellings. It really takes away from the genius of his posts. But maybe, it is all just in the translation. German to English that is!

None-the-less, he brings us a perspective that is very valuable and truly appreciated. You go b.

My question is why is this situation being treated as if it is surprising?

Financial Armageddon?

Carol Baker Reviews Michael Panzner’s latest book:

Michael Panzner is definitely not from the left end of the political spectrum, which makes the contents of Financial Armageddon all the more fascinating and momentous. I came away from the book with both remarkable reinforcement of my position that the United States has entered economic collapse, but also perplexed regarding the myriad blind spots that the author seemed to have regarding the causes of the current economic meltdown. I am not aware of how Panzner may have altered his views since the publication of his book earlier this year, but at the time of writing, Panzner did not mention or was not aware of a number of glaring realities regarding the gluttonous greed-fest that has characterized the United States since the end of World War II. I will address those inconsistencies first, then highlight the places where I think Financial Armageddon is absolutely on-target.

What is most disturbing to me about the book is what appears to be a total lack of perception regarding the role of fraud, theft, and malicious intent in the American and global financial train wreck which has been exacerbating over recent decades. Panzner seems to conclude that all of this is just one huge accident attributable to incompetence or the American consumer being lulled by creature comforts. The book begins with a chapter on debt-personal and governmental-a factor so pivotal in economic catastrophe, but little attention is given to the intentional engineering, for example, of consumer debt by centralized financial systems and how monstrously profitable it is.

Sub-prime Mortgage fraud by lenders anyone?

Read the whole review and let the blame game begin!

Nouriel Roubini!

He was right all a long. Why was he dismissed as a curmudgeon and not a predictor of the obvious? Well, probably because he wasn’t a Bush and Greenspan “Ownership” spin guy. He was just looking at fundamentals. Oh, wow, how stupid was that?


You know I get really, really, really, tired of who we rely on in the MSM as being the experts! This recent meltdown is just another example of the MSM listening to those with something to sell as to those who have some expertise to inform.


You Go Girl!

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee on the Bush version of the FISA legislation:

Thank you for being an actual Patriot!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Actually Supporting the Troops!

I watched what passed for a “grilling” in the Pat Tillman Hearing this past week and was so appalled by the “performance” of our former SecDef, etc. Apparently in the DOD and the Joint Chiefs it is quite alright to answer any question with “I don’t recall” and any number of versions of it’s not my job. That these people put our troops in harms way and take absolutely no responsibility for their actions and continue to stonewall while our troops are paying the ultimate sacrifice is beyond disgusting. And I have been thoroughly disgusted for quite some time now with being excoriated for not supporting the troops because I call out this fiasco in Mess-O-Potamia as what it is: a war in which there is no possibility of “Victory.” This Administration and its minions have long needed to be called out for “Not Supporting” our troops and during the Pat Tillman Hearing it became all too obvious just exactly how little they care about our men and women serving this country.

So, it comes as no surprise that Mr. Rich is connecting the dots (he quite often does that well). I am sharing his column with you from his perch at the Park Avenue of Punditry. I am sure that Mr. Rich wouldn’t mind!

From behind the Wall:

Patriots Who Love the Troops to Death


GERALD FORD spoke the truth when he called Watergate “our long national nightmare,” but even a nightmare can have its interludes of rib-splitting farce.

None were zanier than the antics of Baruch Korff, a small-town New England rabbi who became a full-time Richard Nixon sycophant as the walls closed in. Korff was ubiquitous in the press and on television, where he would lambaste Democrats and the media “lynch mob” for vilifying “the greatest president of the century.” Despite Nixon’s reflexive anti-Semitism, he returned the favor by granting the rabbi audiences and an interview that allowed the embattled president to soliloquize about how his own faith and serenity reinforced his conviction “deep inside” that everything he did was right.

Clearly we’ve reached our own Korffian moment in our latest long national nightmare. The Nixon interviewed by the rabbi sounded uncannily like the resolute leader chronicled by the conservative columnists and talk-show jocks President Bush has lately welcomed into his bunker. For his part, William Kristol even published a Korffian manifesto, “Why Bush Will Be a Winner,” in The Washington Post. It reassured us that the Bush presidency would “probably be a successful one” and that “we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome” in Iraq. A Bush flack let it be known that the president liked this piece so much that he recommended it to his White House staff.

Are you laughing yet? Maybe not. No one died in Watergate. This time around, the White House lying and cover-ups have been not just in the service of political thuggery but to gin up a gratuitous war without end.

There is another significant difference as well. Washington never drank the Nixon Kool-Aid. It kept a skeptical bipartisan eye on Tricky Dick throughout his political career, long before the Watergate complex had even been built. The charmed Mr. Bush, by contrast, got a free pass; both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and both liberals and conservatives in the news media were credulous enablers of the Iraq fiasco. Now a reckoning awaits, and the denouement is getting ugly.

The ranks of unreconstructed Iraq hawks are thinner than they used to be. Some politicians in both parties (John Edwards, Chris Dodd, Gordon Smith) and truculent pundits (Peter Beinart, Andrew Sullivan) who cheered on the war recanted (sooner in some cases than others), learned from their errors and moved on. One particularly eloquent mea culpa can be found in today’s New York Times Magazine, where the former war supporter Michael Ignatieff acknowledges that those who “truly showed good judgment on Iraq” might have had no more information than those who got it wrong, but did not make the mistake of confusing “wishes for reality.”

But those who remain dug in are having none of that. Some of them are busily lashing out Korff-style. Some are melting down. Some are rewriting history. Most seem more interested in saving their own reputations than the American troops they ritualistically invoke to bludgeon the wars’ critics and to parade their own self-congratulatory patriotism.

It was a rewriting of history that made the blogosphere (and others) go berserk last week over an Op-Ed article in The Times, “A War We Just Might Win,” by Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack. The two Brookings Institution scholars, after a government-guided tour, pointed selectively to successes on the ground in Iraq in arguing that the surge should be continued “at least into 2008.”

The hole in their argument was gaping. As Adm. Michael Mullen, the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said honorably and bluntly in his Congressional confirmation hearings, “No amount of troops in no amount of time will make much of a difference” in Iraq if there’s no functioning Iraqi government. Opting for wishes over reality, Mr. O’Hanlon and Mr. Pollack buried their pro forma acknowledgment of that huge hurdle near the end of their piece.

But even more galling was the authors’ effort to elevate their credibility by describing themselves as “analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq.” That’s disingenuous. For all their late-in-the-game criticisms of the administration’s incompetence, Mr. Pollack proselytized vociferously for the war before it started, including in an appearance with Oprah, and both men have helped prolong the quagmire with mistakenly optimistic sightings of progress since the days of “Mission Accomplished.”

You can find a compendium of their past wisdom in Glenn Greenwald’s Salon column. That think-tank pundits with this track record would try to pass themselves off as harsh war critics in 2007 shows how desperate they are to preserve their status as Beltway “experts” now that the political winds have shifted. Such blatant careerism would be less offensive if they didn’t do so on the backs of the additional American troops they ask to be sacrificed to the doomed mission of providing security for an Iraqi government that is both on vacation and on the verge of collapse.

At least the more rabid and Korff-like of the war’s last defenders have the intellectual honesty not to deny what they’ve been saying all along. But their invective has gone over the top, with even mild recent critics of the war like John Warner and Richard Lugar being branded defeatist “pre- 9/11 Republicans” by Mr. Kristol.

It’s also the tic of Mr. Kristol’s magazine, The Weekly Standard (and its Murdoch sibling The New York Post), to claim that the war’s critics hate the troops. When The New Republic ran a less-than-jingoistic essay by a pseudonymous American soldier in Iraq, The Weekly Standard even accused it of fabrication — only to have its bluff called when the author’s identity was revealed and his controversial anecdotes were verified by other sources.

A similar over-the-top tirade erupted on “Meet the Press” last month, when another war defender in meltdown, Senator Lindsey Graham, repeatedly cut off his fellow guest by saying that soldiers he met on official Congressional visits to Iraq endorsed his own enthusiasm for the surge. Unfortunately for Mr. Graham, his sparring partner was Jim Webb, the take-no-prisoners Virginia Democrat who is a Vietnam veteran and the father of a soldier serving in the war. Senator Webb reduced Mr. Graham to a stammering heap of Jell-O when he chastised him for trying to put his political views “into the mouths of soldiers.” As Mr. Webb noted, the last New York Times-CBS News poll on the subject found that most members of the military and their immediate families have turned against the war, like other Americans.

As is becoming clearer than ever in this Korffian endgame, hiding behind the troops is the last refuge of this war’s sponsors. This too is a rewrite of history. It has been the war’s champions who have more often dishonored the troops than the war’s opponents.

Mr. Bush created the template by doing everything possible to keep the sacrifice of American armed forces in Iraq off-camera, forbidding photos of coffins and skipping military funerals. That set the stage for the ensuing demonization of Ted Koppel, whose decision to salute the fallen by reading a list of their names in the spotlight of “Nightline” was branded unpatriotic by the right’s vigilantes.

The same playbook was followed by the war’s champions when a soldier confronted Donald Rumsfeld about the woeful shortage of armor during a town-hall meeting in Kuwait in December 2004. Rather than campaign for the armor the troops so desperately needed, the right attacked the questioner for what Rush Limbaugh called his “near insubordination.” When The Washington Post some two years later exposed the indignities visited upon the grievously injured troops at Walter Reed Medical Center, The Weekly Standard and the equally hawkish Wall Street Journal editorial page took three weeks to notice, with The Standard giving the story all of two sentences. Protecting the White House from scandal, not the troops from squalor, was the higher priority.

One person who has had enough of this hypocrisy is the war critic Andrew J. Bacevich, a Boston University professor of international relations who is also a Vietnam veteran, a product of the United States Military Academy and a former teacher at West Point. After his 27-year-old son was killed in May while serving in Iraq, he said that Americans should not believe Memorial Day orators who talk about how priceless the troops’ lives are.

“I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier’s life,” Professor Bacevich wrote in The Washington Post. “I’ve been handed the check.” The amount, he said, was “roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning.”

Anyone who questions this bleak perspective need only have watched last week’s sad and ultimately pointless Congressional hearings into the 2004 friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman. Seven investigations later, we still don’t know who rewrote the witness statements of Tillman’s cohort so that Pentagon propagandists could trumpet a fictionalized battle death to the public and his family.

But it was nonetheless illuminating to watch Mr. Rumsfeld and his top brass sit there under oath and repeatedly go mentally AWOL about crucial events in the case. Their convenient mass amnesia about their army’s most famous and lied-about casualty is as good a definition as any of just what “supporting the troops” means to those who even now beat the drums for this war.

Thank you Mr. Rich for connecting all those dots. And speaking as one of those “Dirty-Rotten Hippies” who got it all “wrong” and wasn't sufficiently “Patriotic” because I was against this Mess-O-Potamia from the get-go, all I can say is we, the "Dirty-Rotten Hippies," have always supported the troops and you all who craved this war never have and it appears never will. Because if you did support them you never would have put them in the situation they find themselves in.

I hate to say I told you so but, I read “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” at the age of thirteen. Didn’t anyone in this Administration, and their attendant sycophants, read it even as an adult?

Oh, and “Mistakes Were Made” is such a bullshit dodge!