07/21/2010 archive

Does White House Economic Team Have a Woman Problem?

It is fairly evident by now that the White House and the Treasury have been pushed into a corner and will have to nominate, or possibly appoint, Elizabeth Warren, currently the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to investigate the U.S. banking bailout (TARP), to be the head of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While she is eminently qualified and was the inspiration for the creation of the new agency, what is their objection? The Treasury Department and the President’s Council of Economic Advisors is a an “Old Boys’ Club” headed by an out right sexist, misogynist, Larry Summers and a closet one, Timothy Geithner. While Geithner has not out right said he opposes Warren, his statement that she was qualified was not a “bell ringer”.

As pointed out by Amy Siskind at the Post this is not Geithner’s “first clash with women in power”

One of his first acts in the role of Treasury Secretary was to attempt to push out FDIC Chairwoman Shelia Bair. As Rep. Barney Frank observed: “I think part of the problem now, to be honest, is Sheila Bair has annoyed the ‘old boys’ club…we have several regulators up in the tree house with a ‘no girls allowed’ sign…”

Geithner’s inability to respectfully interact with women in positions of power was further in evidence when he was questioned in April by the Congressional Oversight Panel. Warren rightfully asked Geithner about AIG’s funneling billions of taxpayers’ dollars to Goldman Sachs: Do you know where the money went? Geithner could barely conceal his disdain: watch his angry, condescending response here.


On This Day in History: July 21

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

On this day in 1970, Aswan High Dam is completed. Construction for the dam began in 1960.

More than two miles long at its crest, the massive $1 billion dam ended the cycle of flood and drought in the Nile River region, and exploited a tremendous source of renewable energy, but had a controversial environmental impact.

A dam was completed at Aswan, 500 miles south of Cairo, in 1902. The first Aswan dam provided valuable irrigation during droughts but could not hold back the annual flood of the mighty Nile River.


The giant reservoir created by the dam–300 miles long and 10 miles wide–was named Lake Nasser (in honor of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser). The formation of Lake Nasser required the resettlement of 90,000 Egyptian peasants and Sudanese Nubian nomads, as well as the costly relocation of the ancient Egyptian temple complex of Abu Simbel, built in the 13th century B.C.

The Aswan High Dam brought the Nile’s devastating floods to an end, reclaimed more than 100,000 acres of desert land for cultivation, and made additional crops possible on some 800,000 other acres. The dam’s 12 giant Soviet-built turbines produce as much as 10 billion kilowatt-hours annually, providing a tremendous boost to the Egyptian economy and introducing 20th-century life into many villages. The water stored in Lake Nasser, several trillion cubic feet, is shared by Egypt and the Sudan and was crucial during the African drought years of 1984 to 1988.

Despite its successes, the Aswan High Dam has produced several negative side effects. Most costly is the gradual decrease in the fertility of agricultural lands in the Nile delta, which used to benefit from the millions of tons of silt deposited annually by the Nile floods. Another detriment to humans has been the spread of the disease schistosomiasis by snails that live in the irrigation system created by the dam. The reduction of waterborne nutrients flowing into the Mediterranean is suspected to be the cause of a decline in anchovy populations in the eastern Mediterranean. The end of flooding has sharply reduced the number of fish in the Nile, many of which were migratory. Lake Nasser, however, has been stocked with fish, and many species, including perch, thrive there.

Pres. Obama, Rehire Shirley Sherrod

What is the Obama administration doing? I can’t believe that Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, demanded a resignation from Shirley Sherrod, an Agriculture Department appointee in Georgia,  based on a video from a statement made 25 years ago that was edited by Andrew Breitbart’s cronies to look like Ms, Sherrod is a racist. Now, even though the whole affair has been exposed as phony, Vilsack is refusing to rehire her, at least, according to the White House, who is saying it is totally his call.

What digby says:

“Her decision ‘rightly or wrongly” will be called into question” because some right wing hitman put out an edited tape that makes her sound as if her point is the opposite of what it is, so she had to be fired.

They are telling wingnuts everywhere that all they have to do is gin up a phony controversy (especially about a black person, apparently) and the administration will fire them so as not to shake confidence that they are “fair service providers.”

This is sheer cowardice.

Even the NAACP has admitted they were “Snookered”:

With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA Official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias.

Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.


Next time we are confronted by a racial controversy broken by Fox News or their allies in the Tea Party like Mr. Breitbart, we will consider the source and be more deliberate in responding. The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed. This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition.

According to the USDA, Sherrod’s statements prompted her dismissal. While we understand why Secretary Vilsack believes this false controversy will impede her ability to function in the role, we urge him to reconsider.

Pres. Obama, tell Secretary Vilsak to immediately rehire Ms. Sherrod.


Prime Time

No Keith.  No Jon.  No Stephen.

Good night for a book.

Ghost Ship.  Didn’t like it the first two times and I see no reason it can expect a better opinion from me.  Fallen is not any better because it has Denzel and John in it.  Last week’s Futurama which I’ve somehow missed.  New Chopped at 10.

Last week’s and this week’s Warehouse 13 then WWE which is just one of many puzzling SciFi programming decisions.  Turner Classic scores a rare 0 for with Canyon Passage, Forbidden Passage, and Suez which even Yahoo TV calls ‘slow’.

Man v. Food.


Dave has Steve Carell, Selena Gomez, and Sheryl Crow.  Alton covers dried fruit.  The Venture Brothers are evidently running in order from yesterday’s pilot.  Tonight- Dia de los Dangerous!

Julian Assange On Why The World Needs WikiLeaks

Crossposted from Antemedius

He may by now be one of the most well known whistleblowers of all time. He generates fear and anger in many powerful people, and publicly makes enemies of those who probably would have no compunctions about ordering his assassination.

He leaks and threatens to leak classified and secret information unreported to and withheld from the American public about US Government and military conduct and actions but known quite well to the victims of those actions in other countries that now has the Pentagon and the US Government “gunning” for him.

His bio at TED.com describes him this way:

You could say Australian-born Julian Assange has swapped his long-time interest in network security flaws for the far-more-suspect flaws of even bigger targets: governments and corporations. Since his early 20s, he has been using network technology to prod and probe the vulnerable edges of administrative systems, but though he was a computing hobbyist first (in 1991 he was the target of hacking charges after he accessed the computers of an Australian telecom), he’s now taken off his “white hat” and launched a career as one of the world’s most visible human-rights activists.

He calls himself “editor in chief.” He travels the globe as its spokesperson. Yet Assange’s part in WikiLeaks is clearly dicier than that: he’s become the face of a creature that, simply, many powerful organizations would rather see the world rid of. His Wikipedia entry says he is “constantly on the move,” and some speculate  that his role in publishing decrypted US military video has put him in personal danger. A controversial figure, pundits debate whether his work is reckless and does more harm than good. Amnesty International recognized him with an International Media Award in 2009.

Assange studied physics and mathematics at the University of Melbourne. He wrote Strobe, the first free and open-source port scanner, and contributed to the book Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier.

“WikiLeaks has had more scoops in three years than the Washington Post has had in 30.”

— Clay Shirky

Assange recently talked with TED’s Chris Anderson during TEDGlobal 2010 about how the WikiLeaks site operates, about what it has accomplished, and about what drives him.

The interview includes graphic clips of the US airstrike in Baghdad, taken from the “Collateral Murder” video WikiLeaks released earlier this year of the murder of two Reuters journalists and about a dozen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad by a rogue US Military command structure that runs all the way to the Commander in Chief’s office in the White House and an Apache Helicopter gunship crew who have yet to face any justice or sanction for their crimes.

TED.com, July 2010

Full transcript follows…