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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What are the Chances Part II!


Pearlstein was right. Wall Street wins again.

Repugnant, Really?

The Judge finds waterboarding repugnant, but doesn’t know if it is torture. Well I guess he has drunk the kool-aid and needs to be rejected.

I find his nomination to be the U. S. Attorney General repugnant!

Confess or Else!

This may sound like one of the many Faux News Strawmen, but some people do say “that if you confess you must be guilty.” Those of us who are familiar with the Criminal “Justice” System know otherwise.

Here is a case in point:

October 31, 2007

About New York

Roots of False Confession: Spotlight Is Now on the F.B.I.


This month, Abdallah Higazy managed to crawl from the landslide of forgotten history on a slow-motion journey toward the truth.

Mr. Higazy, now 36, was briefly — and wrongly — known as a mysterious figure who fled a hotel room directly across Church Street from the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, leaving behind a Koran, an Egyptian passport and an aviation radio that might have allowed him to communicate with the hijacked airliners that flew into the towers. A security guard reported the discovery of these items.

After first adamantly denying any knowledge of the aviation radio, and then sitting in solitary confinement for 10 days, Mr. Higazy finally conceded. It was his radio, he confessed. He was charged with making false statements.

One month after Mr. Higazy was locked up, the story took a sharp turn.

An airline pilot walked into the hotel asking for the very same radio, saying that he had left it behind in his room on the morning of Sept. 11. The pilot, a United States citizen from the Midwest, knew nothing about Mr. Higazy. On further inquiry, the hotel security guard then admitted that he had lied about where he had found the radio. He later pleaded guilty to making false statements to the F.B.I.

And so it was discovered that Mr. Higazy, an engineering student at Brooklyn Polytech who was being put up at the hotel by the federal agency that was sponsoring him, had confessed to something he had not done, and to a crime that had not taken place.


Only now are some answers emerging from a civil rights lawsuit brought by Mr. Higazy that has been grinding through the federal courts. In a decision released two weeks ago that allows Mr. Higazy’s lawsuit to proceed, an appeals court said that if his claims are all true, then a jury could conclude that his confession was obtained by the force of threats.

So far, all parties agree on one thing: A fear of brutal handling and outright torture by Egyptian security forces loomed over the interrogation when Mr. Higazy made his false confession.

Mr. Higazy says that when he was questioned on Dec. 27, 2001, an F.B.I. agent raised the specter of Egyptian security forces’ tormenting his family to get him to drop his denials about the radio.

The government says that no such threat was made. While Egyptian security was discussed during the interrogation, Justice Department lawyers said, that was only because Mr. Higazy had raised the subject. Moreover, the government said, he could have stopped the questioning at any time to speak with his lawyer.

The decision released on Oct. 19 quoted from sealed testimony by Michael Templeton, the F.B.I. agent who questioned Mr. Higazy.

Mr. Templeton said he did not threaten Mr. Higazy. But, the ruling noted, Agent Templeton was aware of the fierce reputation of the Egyptian security forces.

“Templeton later admitted that he knew how the Egyptian security forces operated: ‘that they had a security service, that their laws are different than ours, that they are probably allowed to do things in that country where they don’t advise people of their rights, they don’t — yeah, probably about torture, sure,’ ” Judge Rosemary Pooler wrote.

Mr. Higazy said he felt utterly cornered during his questioning, according to the decision. The agent told him that if he did not cooperate, the authorities would “make sure that Egyptian security gives my family hell,” Mr. Higazy said. “I knew that I couldn’t prove my innocence, and I knew that my family was in danger.”

The agent, however, has given a different account, according to an internal Justice Department report. He was trying to administer a polygraph test that had been requested by Mr. Higazy and his lawyer. Agent Templeton “stated that he asked Higazy about the Egyptian security services in order to alleviate any concerns that might be a barrier to Higazy’s successful completion of the examination. The polygrapher stated that this was the only time during the examination that the Egyptian security services was mentioned.”

The F.B.I. does not tape its interviews and interrogations, so there is no known recording of the encounter between Agent Templeton and Mr. Higazy. The appeals court ruling may mean that a jury will ultimately decide who is telling the truth about the events of almost six years ago.

“We’re now going to get disclosure and a trial on whether or not his constitutional rights were violated,” said Jonathan Abady, a lawyer for Mr. Higazy.

As for Mr. Higazy, he went on to complete the engineering program at Brooklyn Polytech. He is now teaching computer engineering in Cairo, Mr. Abady said, and he had a simple reaction to the news that his case will go ahead: “relief.”

Thankfully the Second Circuit did the right thing in this instance (even if there was that little problem with the pulled opinion) and Mr. Higazy will get his day in court. Maybe then “we the people” and our duly elected officials can have an actually thoughtful discussion and meaningful resolution to the scourge of the “Justice” System: False Confessions!

Update: And as we all know “Waterboarding,” e.g.“Torture,” wasn’t even necessary to extract this false confession. Which, as we all know, is what “Torture” is all about!

Things that make you go “Hmmm!” Or Not!

What are the Chances?

Steven Pearlstein at the WAPO has some advice for Big Ben and Wall Street on the Wall Street debacle (debacle being the kindest word to attribute to this meltdown.)

It would have been better for everyone if the Wall Street herd hadn't tried to box in the Fed by creating these unrealistic expectations. It would have been better if the markets were focused instead on the unsolved problems in the financial sector, the falling dollar, rising oil prices and the continued deterioration of the housing market. But that's not the way it worked out.

So now, if the Bernanke Fed wants to retain its credibility and independence -- if it wants to have the flexibility to cushion the coming downturn without stoking inflation or creating a new set of bubbles -- then there is only one thing to do today:

Look Wall Street in the eye and just say no.

Now I say “What are the chances” because as the saying goes: you always leave with the one who brought you to the dance. And Wall Street helped bring Mr. Bernanke to this soiree!

The Jacobins Among Us!

Col. Lang, who I greatly admire, has been calling this Bush Administration’s ideologues Jacobins, and not as a term of endearment, for sometime now. This Op-Ed makes clear what he is talking about. As we have all heard over and over again, one man’s terrorist is another man’s revolutionary. Will we never learn?

Read the whole thing and you will get the historical and current picture. It is not pretty.

October 28, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

Bush’s Dangerous Liaisons



MUCH as George W. Bush’s presidency was ineluctably shaped by Sept. 11, 2001, so the outbreak of the French Revolution was symbolized by the events of one fateful day, July 14, 1789. And though 18th-century France may seem impossibly distant to contemporary Americans, future historians examining Mr. Bush’s presidency within the longer sweep of political and intellectual history may find the French Revolution useful in understanding his curious brand of 21st- century conservatism.

Soon after the storming of the Bastille, pro-Revolutionary elements came together to form an association that would become known as the Jacobin Club, an umbrella group of politicians, journalists and citizens dedicated to advancing the principles of the Revolution.

The Jacobins shared a defining ideological feature. They divided the world between pro- and anti-Revolutionaries — the defenders of liberty versus its enemies. The French Revolution, as they understood it, was the great event that would determine whether liberty was to prevail on the planet or whether the world would fall back into tyranny and despotism.

The stakes could not be higher, and on these matters there could be no nuance or hesitation. One was either for the Revolution or for tyranny.

By 1792, France was confronting the hostility of neighboring countries, debating how to react. The Jacobins were divided. On one side stood the journalist and political leader Jacques-Pierre Brissot de Warville, who argued for war.

Brissot understood the war as preventive — “une guerre offensive,” he called it — to defeat the despotic powers of Europe before they could organize their counter-Revolutionary strike. It would not be a war of conquest, as Brissot saw it, but a war “between liberty and tyranny.”

Pro-war Jacobins believed theirs was a mission not for a single nation or even for a single continent. It was, in Brissot’s words, “a crusade for universal liberty.”

Brissot’s opponents were skeptical. “No one likes armed missionaries,” declared Robespierre, with words as apt then as they remain today. Not long after the invasion of Austria, the military tide turned quickly against France.

The United States, France’s “sister republic,” refused to enter the war on France’s side. It was an infuriating show of ingratitude, as the French saw it, coming from a fledgling nation they had magnanimously saved from foreign occupation in a previous war.

Confronted by a monarchical Europe united in opposition to revolutionary France — old Europe, they might have called it — the Jacobins rooted out domestic political dissent. It was the beginning of the period that would become infamous as the Terror.

Among the Jacobins’ greatest triumphs was their ability to appropriate the rhetoric of patriotism — Le Patriote Français was the title of Brissot’s newspaper — and to promote their political program through a tightly coordinated network of newspapers, political hacks, pamphleteers and political clubs.

Even the Jacobins’ dress distinguished “true patriots”: those who wore badges of patriotism like the liberty cap on their heads, or the cocarde tricolore (a red, white and blue rosette) on their hats or even on their lapels.

Insisting that their partisan views were identical to the national will, believing that only they could save France from apocalyptic destruction, Jacobins could not conceive of legitimate dissent. Political opponents were treasonous, stabbing France and the Revolution in the back.

To defend the nation from its enemies, Jacobins expanded the government’s police powers at the expense of civil liberties, endowing the state with the power to detain, interrogate and imprison suspects without due process. Policies like the mass warrantless searches undertaken in 1792 — “domicilary visits,” they were called — were justified, according to Georges Danton, the Jacobin leader, “when the homeland is in danger.”

Robespierre — now firmly committed to the most militant brand of Jacobinism — condemned the “treacherous insinuations” cast by those who questioned “the excessive severity of measures prescribed by the public interest.” He warned his political opponents, “This severity is alarming only for the conspirators, only for the enemies of liberty.” Such measures, then as now, were undertaken to protect the nation — indeed, to protect liberty itself.

If the French Terror had a slogan, it was that attributed to the great orator Louis de Saint-Just: “No liberty for the enemies of liberty.” Saint-Just’s pithy phrase (like President Bush’s variant, “We must not let foreign enemies use the forums of liberty to destroy liberty itself”) could serve as the very antithesis of the Western liberal tradition.

On this principle, the Terror demonized its political opponents, imprisoned suspected enemies without trial and eventually sent thousands to the guillotine. All of these actions emerged from the Jacobin worldview that the enemies of liberty deserved no rights.

Though it has been a topic of much attention in recent years, the origin of the term “terrorist” has gone largely unnoticed by politicians and pundits alike. The word was an invention of the French Revolution, and it referred not to those who hate freedom, nor to non-state actors, nor of course to “Islamofascism.”

A terroriste was, in its original meaning, a Jacobin leader who ruled France during la Terreur.

If lessons aren’t learned history does repeat itself and we are doomed to relive it!

It is so good to know that I am not the only one who is “Just Saying!”

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Paul Wellstone


1944 – 2002

The Country misses you!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Randall Forsberg


1943 - 2007

Michael Eric Dyson on Bill Maher

Here is Mr. Dyson of Georgetown University on Bill O’Reilly among other things. I know, an old story but I couldn’t resist.

It is Sylvia's for God's sake.

Nuff said!

Nuclear Industry Loan Guarantees?

Why should the U. S. taxpayer guarantee loans to the Nuclear Energy Industry to build power plants if they are so efficient, etc.? That’s a good question, and another good question is what would we get for our money?

Well, “No Nukes” is back and here is their latest video:

If you are so inclined please sign the petition.

h/t C&L

Jackson-Lee on Telecom Immunity on the Bill Maher Show.

The whole video is pretty good. Jackson-Lee talks at the beginning about the Telecom Immunity issue. The panel then goes into media coverage and electoral politics. I love watching Chris Matthews giggle while Ms. Jackson-Lee is serious as a heart-attack.

Among other things, as she says, if you aren’t doing anything wrong why would you need immunity? How obvious!

I was impressed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What if the Military had Disclaimers like Pharma Ads?

If only!

I guess the Military would have to lower its standards.Oh, yeah, that’s right they already have and its effects are not exactly positive. This is from my friend Janis who surfs the net with a great eye for irony! See it here.

What no “Hair Loss” or “Erections that last more than four hours?”

Thanks JS!

Update: I don’t get the problem here with the plugins but just go to the link which works.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Have a Heart!

Thank you Bonnie!

I just needed this!

It’s All in the Game!

Corruption is what the American Taxpayers and Iraqi citizens are paying for! So, surprise, even as we “try” to export “Democracy” to Iraq we have been very successful at exporting our “Corruption” to Iraq. The testimony and subsequent suicide of Charles D. Riechers did raise many a question on the liberal blogistan. The MSM, however, pretty much blew past the story.

Mr. Rich, however, is able to connect the dots, as he usually does:

October 21, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Suicide Is Not Painless


IT was one of those stories lost in the newspaper’s inside pages. Last week a man you’ve never heard of — Charles D. Riechers, 47, the second-highest-ranking procurement officer in the United States Air Force — killed himself by running his car’s engine in his suburban Virginia garage.

Mr. Riechers’s suicide occurred just two weeks after his appearance in a front-page exposé in The Washington Post. The Post reported that the Air Force had asked a defense contractor, Commonwealth Research Institute, to give him a job with no known duties while he waited for official clearance for his new Pentagon assignment. Mr. Riechers, a decorated Air Force officer earlier in his career, told The Post: “I really didn’t do anything for C.R.I. I got a paycheck from them.” The question, of course, was whether the contractor might expect favors in return once he arrived at the Pentagon last January.

Set against the epic corruption that has defined the war in Iraq, Mr. Riechers’s tragic tale is but a passing anecdote, his infraction at most a misdemeanor. The $26,788 he received for two months in a non-job doesn’t rise even to a rounding error in the Iraq-Afghanistan money pit. So far some $6 billion worth of contracts are being investigated for waste and fraud, however slowly, by the Pentagon and the Justice Department. That doesn’t include the unaccounted-for piles of cash, some $9 billion in Iraqi funds, that vanished during L. Paul Bremer’s short but disastrous reign in the Green Zone. Yet Mr. Riechers, not the first suicide connected to the war’s corruption scandals, is a window into the culture of the whole debacle.

Through his story you can see how America has routinely betrayed the very values of democratic governance that it hoped to export to Iraq. Look deeper and you can see how the wholesale corruption of government contracting sabotaged the crucial mission that might have enabled us to secure the country: the rebuilding of the Iraqi infrastructure, from electricity to hospitals. You can also see just why the heretofore press-shy Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater USA, staged a rapid-fire media blitz a week ago, sitting down with Charlie Rose, Lara Logan, Lisa Myers and Wolf Blitzer.

Mr. Prince wasn’t trying to save his employees from legal culpability in the deaths of 17 innocent Iraqis mowed down on Sept. 16 in Baghdad. He knows that the legal loopholes granted contractors by Mr. Bremer back in 2004 amount to a get-out-of-jail-free card. He knows that Americans will forget about another 17 Iraqi casualties as soon as Blackwater gets some wrist-slapping punishment.

Instead, Mr. Prince is moving on, salivating over the next payday. As he told The Wall Street Journal last week, Blackwater no longer cares much about its security business; it is expanding into a “full spectrum” defense contractor offering a “one-stop shop” for everything from remotely piloted blimps to armored trucks. The point of his P.R. offensive was to smooth his quest for more billions of Pentagon loot.

Which brings us back to Mr. Riechers. As it happens, he was only about three degrees of separation from Blackwater. His Pentagon job, managing a $30 billion Air Force procurement budget, had been previously held by an officer named Darleen Druyun, who in 2004 was sentenced to nine months in prison for securing jobs for herself, her daughter and her son-in-law at Boeing while favoring the company with billions of dollars of contracts. Ms. Druyun’s Pentagon post remained vacant until Mr. Riechers was appointed. He was brought in to clean up the corruption.

Yet the full story of the corruption during Ms. Druyun’s tenure is even now still unknown. The Bush-appointed Pentagon inspector general delivered a report to Congress full of holes in 2005. Specifically, black holes: dozens of the report’s passages were redacted, as were the names of many White House officials in the report’s e-mail evidence on the Boeing machinations.

The inspector general also assured Congress that neither Donald Rumsfeld nor Paul Wolfowitz knew anything about the crimes. Senators on the Armed Services Committee were incredulous. John Warner, the Virginia Republican, could not believe that the Pentagon’s top two officials had no information about “the most significant defense procurement mismanagement in contemporary history.”

But the inspector general who vouched for their ignorance, Joseph Schmitz, was already heading for the exit when he delivered his redacted report. His new job would be as the chief operating officer of the Prince Group, Blackwater’s parent company.

Much has been made of Erik Prince and his family’s six-digit contributions to Republican candidates and lifelong connections to religious-right power brokers like James Dobson and Gary Bauer. Mr. Prince maintains that these contacts had nothing to do with Blackwater’s growth from tiny start-up to billion-dollar federal contractor in the Bush years. But far more revealing, though far less noticed, is the pedigree of the Washington players on his payroll.

Blackwater’s lobbyist and sometime spokesman, for instance, is Paul Behrends, who first represented the company as a partner in the now-defunct Alexander Strategy Group. That firm, founded by a former Tom DeLay chief of staff, proved ground zero in the Jack Abramoff scandals. Alexander may be no more, but since then, in addition to Blackwater, Mr. Behrends’s clients have includeda company called the First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting Company, the builder of the new American embassy in Iraq.

That Vatican-sized complex is the largest American embassy in the world. Now running some $144 million over its $592 million budget and months behind schedule, the project is notorious for its deficient, unsafe construction, some of which has come under criminal investigation. First Kuwaiti has also been accused of engaging in human trafficking to supply the labor force. But the current Bush-appointed State Department inspector general — guess what — has found no evidence of any wrongdoing.

Both that inspector general, Howard Krongard, and First Kuwaiti are now in the cross hairs of Henry Waxman’s House oversight committee. Some of Mr. Krongard’s deputies have accused him of repeatedly halting or impeding investigations in a variety of fraud cases.

Representative Waxman is also trying to overcome State Department stonewalling to investigate corruption in the Iraqi government. In perverse mimicry of his American patrons, Nuri al-Maliki’s office has repeatedly tried to limit the scope of inquiries conducted by Iraq’s own Commission on Public Integrity. The judge in charge of that commission, Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, has now sought asylum in America. Thirty-one of his staff members and a dozen of their relatives have been assassinated, sometimes after being tortured.

The Waxman investigations notwithstanding, the culture of corruption, Iraq war division, remains firmly entrenched. Though some American bribe-takers have been caught — including Gloria Davis, an Army major who committed suicide in Kuwait after admitting her crimes last year — we are asked to believe they are isolated incidents. The higher reaches of the chain of command have been spared, much as they were at Abu Ghraib.

Even a turnover in administrations doesn’t guarantee reform. J. Cofer Black, the longtime C.I.A. hand who is now Blackwater’s vice chairman, has signed on as a Mitt Romney adviser. Hillary Clinton’s Karl Rove, Mark Penn, doubles as the chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, the P.R. giant whose subsidiary helped prepare Mr. Prince for his Congressional testimony. Mr. Penn said the Blackwater association was “temporary.”

War profiteering happens even in “good” wars. Arthur Miller made his name in 1947 with “All My Sons,” which ends with the suicide of a corrupt World War II contractor whose defective airplane parts cost 21 pilots their lives. But in the case of Iraq, this corruption has been at the center of the entire mission, from war-waging to nation-building. As the investigative reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele observed in the October Vanity Fair, America has to date “spent twice as much in inflation-adjusted dollars to rebuild Iraq as it did to rebuild Japan — an industrialized country three times Iraq’s size, two of whose cities had been incinerated by atomic bombs.” (And still Iraq lacks reliable electric power.)

The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame. Its essence was summed up by Col. Ted Westhusing, an Army scholar of military ethics who was an innocent witness to corruption, not a participant, when he died at age 44 of a gunshot wound to the head while working for Gen. David Petraeus training Iraqi security forces in Baghdad in 2005. He was at the time the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

Colonel Westhusing’s death was ruled a suicide, though some believe he was murdered by contractors fearing a whistle-blower, according to T. Christian Miller, the Los Angeles Times reporter who documents the case in his book “Blood Money.” Either way, the angry four-page letter the officer left behind for General Petraeus and his other commander, Gen. Joseph Fil, is as much an epitaph for America’s engagement in Iraq as a suicide note.

“I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars,” Colonel Westhusing wrote, abbreviating the word mission. “I am sullied.”

The horror of this “War’s Mission” is so far beyond what most Americans can even imagine. And yet Washington allows it, the deaths, and the profiteering to proceed.

Yes, it is all in the “War Game” but do we want to continue to play? I remember seeing “All My Sons” and being horrified that any American could have engaged in such behavior. Little did I know!

What is a decent American to do?

Our Child-Care-Less Country!

I get so upset every time I hear from the “Family Values” crowd. I can’t understand why they are not exercised about the lack of support for quality childcare in this country? As this country’s economy has moved from one parent working to two parents working to support a family, and just keep up, it seems to me that the “Family Values” crowd would have kept up and become supporters of quality childcare.

As someone who was in childcare in the 50’s, and loved it, I can not imagine why we are not discussing this as a totally normal situation in the 2000’s. What is the matter with this country?

That leads me to Gail Collins’ column from last week. She is right and so right it makes my electoral gray hair stand on end.

Here she is:

October 18, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

None Dare Call It Child Care


Back during the last presidential candidate debate, Chris Matthews of MSNBC asked whether this country would ever get back to the days when a young guy could come out of high school, get an industrial job “and provide for a family with a middle-class income and his spouse wouldn’t have to work.”

Given the fact that more than two-thirds of American mothers have been working outside the home since the 1980s, Matthews could just as easily have demanded to know when we’ll get back to using manual typewriters and rotary phones.

Still, it might have been a great conversation-starter. While it’s becoming virtually impossible to support a middle-class American family on one parent’s salary, we never hear political discussion about the repercussions. In a two-hour debate that focused on job-related issues, the Republican presidential candidates managed to mention the Smoot-Hawley tariff and trade relations with Peru but not a word about child care for America’s working parents. John McCain, who was on the receiving end of Matthews’s question, chose instead to focus on the fact that “50,000 Americans now make their living off eBay,” that the tax code is “eminently unfair” and that Congress wastes too much money studying of the DNA of Montana bears.

We live in a country where quality child care is controversial. It was one of the very first issues to be swift-boated by social conservatives. In 1971, Congress actually passed a comprehensive child care bill that was vetoed by Richard Nixon. The next time the bill came up, members were flooded with mail accusing them of being anti-family communists who wanted to let kids sue their parents if they were forced to go to church. It scared the heck out of everybody.

Right now, the only parents who routinely get serious child-care assistance from the government are extremely poor mothers in welfare-to-work programs. Even for them, the waiting lists tend to be ridiculously long. In many states, once the woman actually gets a job, she loses the day care. Middle-class families get zip, even though a decent private child care program costs $12,000 a year in some parts of the country.

The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, or Naccrra, (this is an area replete with extraordinary people organized into groups with impossible names) says that in some states the average annual price of care was larger than the entire median income of a single parent with two children. For child care workers, the average wage is $8.78 an hour. It’s one of the worst-paying career tracks in the country. A preschool teacher with a postgraduate degree and years of experience can make $30,000 a year. You need certification in this country to be a butcher, a barber or a manicurist, but only 12 states require any training to take care of children. Only three require comprehensive background checks. In Iowa, there are 591 child care programs to every one inspector. California inspects child care centers once every five years.

“You have a work force that makes $8.78 an hour. They have no training. They have not been background checked, and we’ve put them in with children who don’t have the verbal skills to even tell somebody that they’re being treated badly,” said Linda Smith, the executive director of Naccrra. “What is wrong with a country that thinks that’s O.K.?”

We aren’t going to solve the problem during this presidential contest, but it is absolutely nuts that it isn’t a topic of discussion — or even election-year pandering. The Democratic candidates for president happily come together to tell organized labor about their unquenchable desire to have a union member as secretary of labor. The Republican candidates flock to assure the National Rifle Association about their dedication to Americans’ constitutional right to carry concealed weapons in churches. But you do not see anybody racing off to romance child care advocates.

The only candidate who talks about child care all the time is Chris Dodd of Connecticut. He has been the issue’s champion of the Senate forever. People who work in the field know he’s their guy, but it’s hard to see what good it does him out on the campaign trail. “They aren’t inclined to be the kind of people who engage in the political process,” he admitted. “They don’t have the money.”

This is Hillary Clinton’s Women’s Week. On Tuesday, she gave a major speech on working mothers in New Hampshire, with stories about her struggles when Chelsea was a baby, a grab-bag of Clintonian mini-ideas (encourage telecommuting, give awards to family-friendly businesses) and a middle-sized proposal to expand family leave. Yesterday, she was in the company of some adorable 2- and 3-year-olds, speaking out for a bill on child care workers that has little chance of passage and would make almost no difference even if it did. Clinton most certainly gets it, but she wasn’t prepared to get any closer to the problems of working parents than a plan to help them stay home from work.

At least she mentioned the subject.

This is one of the most important issues this nation has to face and it is completely missing from the national dialogue.

“Family Values,” indeed!

Krugman’s Blog

Read it! The Shrill one will not disappoint. The comments are also really interesting.

Chris Dodd, Show Him Some Love!

Senator Dodd is doing the right thing for the United States and its Citizens. He has actually read the U.S. Constitution and paid attention to the 2006 election. Kudos to him, as he really is a representative politician who takes his oath seriously.

He is putting a hold on reprehensible legislation and threatening a filibuster if necessary. A very basic question is why in any God’s name would we want to immunize criminals from criminal behavior? Senator Dodd is showing that he is a person of principle and spine. This is something that other Democrats should emulate.

Please sign his petition.

Economic Rosy Picture, I Think Not!

I have been a fan of Nouriel Roubini for some time now. He seems to me to be consistently right about the economic situation in the U.S. He was raising the alarm about cheap money and the housing bubble back in the day and was dismissed as a hysterical pundit and totally unserious. Well, maybe not so much by today’s news.

Following Roubini is part of my theory that it is important to follow those who have been right, though not lauded by the MSM. It would never occur to me to believe anything that William Kristol says and what he thinks on policy, other than as a cautionary tale, just because the MSM thinks he is a very “Serious” pundit. Kristol and his ilk are too often wrong, and very “Seriously” wrong to our Nation’s detriment. None-the-less our MSM continues to promote their agenda in print and through the electronic media. I, on the other hand, prefer those who have been right on the issues that effect our Nation and Nouriel Roubini is one of those who have been right.

Now it seems that some are starting to get the picture and it isn’t very pretty:

October 20, 2007

Analysis: Finance Chiefs Have Full Plate


Filed at 7:51 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Faced with soaring oil prices, a falling dollar and the worst credit crisis in nearly a decade, the masters of global finance have a simple message for jittery markets: Be calm, we are keeping an eye on things.

It probably didn't help, however, that the new assurances came exactly 20 years from the date of the worst market meltdown in U.S. history.

The meeting of finance leaders from the Group of Seven industrial countries coincided with the anniversary of ''Black Monday,'' Oct. 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones industrial average plunged by 22.6 percent, its biggest one-day percentage loss ever.

While Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and their G-7 counterparts did not dwell on those long-ago eventsq during their discussions Friday, the anniversary served as an eerie reminder that the global economy does not always perform as its handlers wish that it would.

It didn't help that while the policymakers were holding their discussions in Treasury's ornate Cash Room, the Dow Jones industrial average was plunging by 366.94 points, or 2.64 percent. It was the third-biggest point drop this year and reflected in part oil prices that momentarily climbed to a new record, above $90 per barrel.

The problems this year came to a boil when credit markets essentially froze on Aug. 9 as fear overwhelmed many investors.

Troubles that began in the market for subprime mortgages have spread to many other kinds of debt. The credit crunch has been similar in intensity to the crisis that hit the global economy in August 1998 after Russia devalued the ruble.

Paulson, speaking to reporters after Friday's meeting, said the G-7 officials are watching market developments closely.

However, in their joint statement of goals, the officials essentially rehashed previous bland assurances about cooperation in such areas as limiting volatility in currency markets. Absent were any examples of where big differences in approach had been resolved.

European finance ministers had hoped the Bush administration would agree to more forceful actions to limit the sharp fall in the value of the dollar, which has hit record lows against the euro. That has helped American manufacturers by making their goods cheaper in European markets but is pinching European companies.

Paulson said he told the other G-7 officials that a strong dollar is in the best interests of the United States, an oft-repeated view that the Europeans complain is not being backed up with any action to halt the dollar's slide.

''I heard my colleague Hank Paulson say a strong dollar is good for the American economy. I hope the market will hear him. That's not the case today,'' complained French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

There also was no meeting of minds on the issue of whether all the credit market turmoil pointed to a need for tighter regulations, especially of hedge funds, the giant pools of cash that are largely unregulated.

The United States wants to keep them that way, declaring that government interference will slow market innovations, while France and Germany have been pressing for increased oversight.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said he was pleased to see progress was being made in coming up with proposals for ''best practices'' for hedge funds although the United States is insisting those practices be voluntary.

Paulson said the G-7 officials, who will continue talks through the weekend as part of the fall meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, believe the global economy is on the mend.

''The consensus was that markets are better than in August,'' he told reporters. ''It has been slowly improving, but it is going to take awhile.''

But in its new forecast, the IMF trimmed its estimate of U.S. growth next year by almost a full percentage point and warned that the prospects for the global economy are ''firmly on the downside, centered around the concern that financial market strains could deepen and trigger a more pronounced global slowdown.''

If things do get worse, it is entirely possible that the G-7 countries will find the political will to take more forceful actions. But the problem is they may be out of practice because the world economy had been doing relatively well until this year.

''You have oil prices surging to record levels and a global credit crisis and currency volatility,'' said David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors, a Denver-consulting firm. ''It has been a long time since the G-7 has faced this many financial threats.''

So, hold on to your wallets folks. It appears that times maybe getting just a little more difficult than you had been led to believe by those in charge and promoted by the MSM.

Catherine Roraback


1920 – 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mario Speaks and He is Not Exactly My Hero!

This is from awhile ago but it seems so today as the tom toms beat for war with Iran. It also means, much as I hate to admit it, that every so often Mario does say and do the right thing:

October 7, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

How Congress Forgot Its Own Strength


SENATORS Jim Webb of Virginia and Hillary Clinton of New York are right to demand that the president go before Congress to ask for a “declaration of war” before proceeding with an attack against Iran or any other nation. But there is no need for this demand to be put into law, as the two Democrats and their colleagues are seeking to do, any more than there is need for legislation to guarantee our right of free speech or anything else protected by the Constitution.

Article I, Section 8 already provides that only Congress has the power to declare war. Perhaps the founders’ greatest concern in writing the Constitution was that they might unintentionally create a president who was too much like the British monarch, whom they despised. They expressed that concern in part by assuring that the president would not have the power to declare war.

Because the Constitution cannot be amended by persistent evasion, this mandate was neither erased nor modified by the actions or inactions of timid Congresses that allowed overeager presidents to start wars in Vietnam and elsewhere without making a declaration.

Indeed, asking for more legislation now would imply that the Constitution doesn’t mean what it already says.

It would repeat the mistake made by Congress in 2002 when it tried to delegate to President Bush the non-delegable power that the founders chose to give to the legislative branch. Congress’s eagerness to shed the burden making the decision by passing resolutions that purportedly “authorized” the president to decide whether to start a war denied the nation the careful Congressional inquiry intended by the Constitution.

That deliberation might have revealed Iraq’s lack of complicity with Al Qaeda and the nonexistence of the country’s alleged cache of nuclear weapons. The members of Congress would have had to vote specifically on going to war (instead of on allowing the president to make that decision), which would have assured closer scrutiny than they actually gave the question.

Proceeding with the proposed legislation would also create the likelihood of still another failed Democratic legislative effort, because it would probably not get enough votes from Republicans to override a veto. Such a failure might have some political value as another reminder of the Republicans’ eagerness for war, but it would also remind voters that the Democrats have not been as effective as they promised in 2006 they would be.

Congress’s refusal to comply with Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution has led to a catastrophic aftermath. Such a tragedy should never be allowed to happen again. Rather than enact new legislation that would create constitutional ambiguity, the Democratic leadership in Congress should assert its strength by simply announcing it will allow no “resolutions” or “authorizations” purporting to delegate to the president Congress’s constitutional power to declare war against any other nation. Nor will there be any new war without Congress’s solemn deliberation and declaration of war.

The Democrats should go still further and announce that no money will be appropriated for any military action against another nation without a proper declaration of war. And this should be the position of the Democratic presidential candidates as well. How else can they make the case that they are less likely than President Bush to wage dangerous, improvident wars?

So, Mario is also wondering where exactly is the Opposition Party?

Who are these weak-kneed Nellies who call themselves the Democratic Party? And has anyone in Congress even read the Constitution?

Just asking!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Judge James L. Oakes


1924 – 2007

JLO was my favorite Judge at the Circuit, and not just because he loved Saratoga and the ponies.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

These Folks Don’t Know From Irony!

I think that they just blow air out of you know where when it suits their needs. They think that they can say anything and no one will pay attention to the facts because they don’t pay any attention to facts.

By Steve Benen

I genuinely believe Condoleezza Rice has no idea why so many of us would find this ironic.

The Russian government under Vladimir Putin has amassed so much central authority that the power-grab may undermine Moscow's commitment to democracy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday.

"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.

"I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament.

According to the AP report, Rice also told the human-rights activists that democratic institutions are the keys to combating arbitrary power from the state.

On a more serious point, McClatchy's Jonathan Landay has a report on how the Bush administration's policy towards Russia has been ineffective and based on faulty assumptions from the outset.

The piece quotes Michael McFaul of Stanford University's Hoover Institution, hardly a progressive outlet, explaining that Bush and his foreign policy team "grossly misjudged Putin," considering him "a good guy and one of us."

Steve, you are right, that is the irony and McFaul doesn’t get it! They didn’t “grossly” misjudge Putin, he is one of them!

As for incongruity and irony see: Operation Iraqi Freedom or as they say, “Mess-o-Potamia!”

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Clarence Thomas: Two MoreTakes

As you all know I have a personal thing going about Clarence Thomas who I believe is an unprincipled opportunist. You know the type, whichever way the political winds are blowing, they are going. So that said, here are two different, though similar takes, on our Junior Justice’s recent spin on his past.

First up is Frank Rich, which is very reasonable and not the least in my opinion snarky, just the facts ma’am, just the facts.

He opens his comments with this:

WHAT'S the difference between a low-tech lynching and a high-tech lynching? A high-tech lynching brings a tenured job on the Supreme Court and a $1.5 million book deal. A low-tech lynching, not so much.

Mr. Rich is so polite. And he lays out his argument beautifully. So read the rest.

Then of course we have the ever so snarky Maureen Dowd who it appears sees her mission in life to throw as much snark at the wall as possible and see what sticks. Well in this instance it is so easy that I think all the snark sticks and for once I am not going to object to her column.

Ms. Dowd does not hold back. She ends with this comment, as if written by the Junior Justice himself, which sums up the whole Thomas revisionist diatribe in which he has shown that he doesn’t display anything which could be qualified as a “Judicial Temperament”:

Al Gore’s true claims didn’t matter in that standoff any more than Anita Hill’s true claims did during my confirmation. That’s the beautiful thing about being a conservative. We don’t push for the truth. We push to win, praise the Lord.

It’s a relief to finally admit it: I’m proud to have hastened Al’s premature political death, hanging by hanging chads. It was, you might say, a low-tech lynching.

So, when we compare Bush 41’s judgment and legacy to Bush 43’s judgment and legacy I think that it is important to keep our Junior SCOTUS Justice in mind. It appears that both 41 and 43 lacked even a modicum of judgment or care to their sworn duty to uphold and defend the U. S. Constitution.

That our Junior Justice sees his confirmation hearing as any kind of lynching was reason alone to reject his confirmation to the highest court in the country. That he was obviously lacking in an understanding of what an actual lynching entailed should have derailed his appointment then. And let’s not even go into his lies (and alleged perjury) about Stare Decisis.

Both Rich and Dowd are MSM and are doing a shout out as opinion writers, but the MSM’s supposedly “objective” Journalists don’t appear to be taking this revisionist history seriously and engaging in the journalistic job of fact checking. Why is that?

Why isn’t he being shamed by the Mainstream Media. Surely they have Google and a memory about his history?

Update: Did I fail to bring up the Bush Legacy and how many gentleman’s C’s at our Elite Universities there are that end up as the “Rulers of the Universe.” Our Junior SCOTUS Justice can complain all he wants but he was recruited as a Third Year by one Senator Danforth, not exactly a lowly position.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Justice Thomas and the Yale Curve!

As anyone who has engaged in legal hiring knows Yale has a rather, shall we say, skewed curve. Like cohorts from Harvard that graduate in the middle of their class, Yalies who graduate in the middle of their class are not exactly sought out. Nor are they thought of as the best and the brightest. The best that many recruiters think is that they merely showed up. So for our Junior Justice at SCOTUS to be upset that he wasn’t inundated with offers just because he went to Yale is a tad disingenuous.

Thomas resents the fact that he couldn't get a job despite graduating in the middle of his class. Maybe prospective employers thought his white classmates were smarter, or maybe they just didn't want to hire a black man.

The question remains “Why didn’t he excel at Yale?” If he was so qualified to be there that is? Maybe his worst fears about “Affirmative Action” were right in his case and if he indeed was just a “brown body” as he insists then I guess he was right about the perception based on his personal experience that is: he wasn’t qualified and the worst excesses of “Affirmative Action” were exercised in his case. And his record at Yale proved them right as some examples of “Affirmative Action” are failures. And some of those failures who suck up to the right folks at the right time end up proving the Peter Principle.

Not to mention getting a life time appointment to the highest court in the land.

As always I thank Mr. Eugene Robinson of the WAPO for his thoughts on the subject.


Say It Isn’t So!

A dark road indeed!

Thank you Annie!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I have always believed that we all come here to this world and existence for a reason. Crazy talk, I know, but none the less it is what I believe. What really cemented this for me was the birth of my son. It was clear that he had been here before and was an old soul with a distinct persona. He came with a GIFT, he was an artist!

I felt that it was my obligation to help him develop and become who he was supposed to be. Destiny, as it were! So, at the age of two I set him up with an easel and paints and gave him free reign. And he just exploded. When we got a computer he exploded even further into the digital and pixel world. And this was before we figured out that he was opthalmologically challenged. He couldn’t really see and he was still a brilliant artist. It is just like my Cousin Ivan who was blind and a brilliant artist. But my son was and is a brilliant artist and that was who and what he was going to be. I could not and wouldn't stand in his way.

So, say it is true, as I posit, that we come here with gifts, what are we to do about that? How do we discover what our gift is and then what do we do? And then what if we squander our time here and our gift?

I am still trying to figure out my gift. When I was an undergraduate I wanted to be a Philosopher Queen. I had a real talent for rhetoric and the ability to take a crowd and raise a minor rebellion. Unfortunately there are not many job listings for that particular skill. I have, however, been able to align my need to make a living with decent and public jobs which, though not exactly, align my philosophy with my economic needs.

This brings me to another person who has a gift and I am sure came here to share it with us mere mortals: Whitney Huston. As many of you know I first saw her with her mother, Cissy, at a small club on the Upper-Westside of Manhattan when Whitney was just a teenager. Like her mother, she was gifted. However, I thought she was exceptional and couldn’t get over how unbelievably exceptional she was.

Here is a piece she did that makes the point:

So what happened? She is brilliant, gifted and had the world stage.

Here she is singing one of my favorite songs and I am still heartbroken at this brilliant and yet really sad performance.

Whatever our gifts, we need to wonder what is our obligation to develop them, and share them. And perhaps we need to wonder as to where those gifts came from!

I am not so sure it is just DNA!

What Tristero Says:


by tristero

It's a weird experience reading Hersh's article on the plans for war in Iran. They couldn't sell the idea of the nuclear threat. So now they're gonna sell the war with a different reason. The mind boggles.

Let's go over that again. One excuse doesn't work, so they come up with another. And if that one doesn't fly, you can bet your bippy they'll find a third. The important thing is: sell the war.

Got it? That means there is no real reason to go to war with Iran. If there was, they wouldn't be switching reasons when they don't poll well. Bush and Cheney just want to do it. That's all. They just want to.

I can't believe this is happening. And I have no idea how this can be stopped. This is sheer madness, not only on Bush's part. A press that isn't howling loudly about this, a political class that isn't speaking up as one to prevent this, and finally, a public that can't be troubled to protest warmaking on a whim - the country is as insane as it was in the fall of '02.

And that is really fucking scary.

And that is also the truth.