Daily Archive: 09/12/2011

Sep 12 2011

And by that I mean totally… Peccable I guess.

An Impeccable Disaster

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: September 11, 2011

On Thursday Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank or E.C.B. – Europe’s equivalent to Ben Bernanke – lost his sang-froid. In response to a question about whether the E.C.B. is becoming a “bad bank” thanks to its purchases of troubled nations’ debt, Mr. Trichet, his voice rising, insisted that his institution has performed “impeccably, impeccably!” as a guardian of price stability.



(T)he problem is the E.C.B.’s obsession with maintaining its “impeccable” record on price stability: at a time when Europe desperately needs a strong recovery, and modest inflation would actually be helpful, the bank has instead been tightening money, trying to head off inflation risks that exist only in its imagination.

And now it’s all coming to a head. We’re not talking about a crisis that will unfold over a year or two; this thing could come apart in a matter of days. And if it does, the whole world will suffer.

So will the E.C.B. do what needs to be done – lend freely and cut rates? Or will European leaders remain too focused on punishing debtors to save themselves? The whole world is watching.

Understanding Trichet and Conpany: A Note

Brad Delong

September 12, 2011

What are Jean-Claude Trichet and company really thinking right now?

The most likely scenario is this: they bet on mean-reversion in unemployment, on the magic full-employment equilibrium-restoring properties of the market, on their role as prudent stewards of financial rectitude, and on a take-no-prisoners commitment to price stability in all circumstances as the driving force behind the great moderation.

They were wrong.

They now have a choice.

They can admit that they were wrong. Then they will probably have to resign, and then be snubbed worldwide. Nobody likes a loser.

Alternatively, they can double down. Their reputations right now are underwater. What do they have to lose reputationwise by saying more absurd nonsense? And there is a chance that tomorrow the confidence fairy will appear, wave her magic wand, and the V-shaped recovery will start.

That is my guess as to how to understand what Trichet and Company are now saying: they are reputationally-bankrupt zombies gambling for resurrection.

Sep 12 2011

Anal Rape And Stuff

Accessory After The Fact (Blackstone)-

(W)here a person, knowing a felony to have been committed, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon. Therefore, to make an accessory ex post facto, it is in the first place requisite that he knows of the felony committed.

In the next place, he must receive, relieve, comfort, or assist him. And, generally, any assistance whatever given to a felon, to hinder his being apprehended, tried, or suffering punishment, makes the assistor an accessory. As furnishing him with a horse to escape his pursuers, money or victuals to support him, a house or other shelter to conceal him, or open force and violence to rescue or protect him.

WikiLeaks Cable: Iraqi Interrogators Rape Juveniles to Get Confessions

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Monday September 12, 2011 10:52 am

A US State Embassy cable marked “confidential” and published by WikiLeaks reveals details on the detention of juveniles held in “Site 4” in a Iraqi Interior Ministry (MOI) detention complex. The juveniles allege sexual abuse by Iraqi interrogators, specifically that rapes were being used in the prison to induce confessions. The discovery of widespread abuse and torture, according to the diplomat who wrote the cable, is the worst since the infamous Jadriyah “Bunker” facility was discovered in 2005.



Impunity is typical. If one recalls how the US military coexisted with the Interior Ministry’s Wolf Brigade, a death squad known to have tortured Iraqis, especially Sunnis, the failure of multinational forces to do anything about those likely involved in torture isn’t surprising. A military order, Frago 242, uncovered in the Iraq War Logs published by WikiLeaks shows the military operated under an order not to fully investigate torture or abuse at the hands of Iraqi interrogators. In fact, the military would threaten detainees with the possibility that they might be transferred and subjected to torture by the Wolf Brigade if they didn’t cooperate or confess during interrogations. It is likely the US military has played off Iraqi fears by promising Iraqis they would be detained in US detention facilities instead of Iraqi detention facilities if they did what was asked of them.



The brutality of Iraqi police, which the US and coalition forces are in charge of training, has been clearly documented and the State Department and US military is fully aware of the appalling abuse and torture that is systemic in Iraqi detention facilities. Nothing happens.

The shock is ironic. The US operates Guantanamo, Bagram and various secret prison facilities where detainees are rendered to for interrogations that often involve abuse and torture. The US transformed the Abu Ghraib prison operated by Saddam Hussein into a facility that would become a symbol of US torture and abuse of detainees.

The US has rendered detainees to countries known to commit torture, such as Egypt, or transferred detainees into the custody of forces such as the Iraqi or Afghan police that are known to commit brutality and violence against detainees. The US has had other governments run secret prisons where US agents can come in and interrogate people but not have to take responsibility for the horrors going on in the facility (e.g. Somalia).

With that in mind, it is not shocking that prisons are able to operate where interrogators subject teenagers to anal rape to induce confessions or force juveniles to give them fellatio. The Interior Ministry will not punish the swine who commit such atrocities, therefore, the world can expect to read more accounts of horrific abuse of this nature.

Good Germans.

Sep 12 2011

Anal Rape And Stuff

Accessory After The Fact (Blackstone)-

(W)here a person, knowing a felony to have been committed, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon. Therefore, to make an accessory ex post facto, it is in the first place requisite that he knows of the felony committed.

In the next place, he must receive, relieve, comfort, or assist him. And, generally, any assistance whatever given to a felon, to hinder his being apprehended, tried, or suffering punishment, makes the assistor an accessory. As furnishing him with a horse to escape his pursuers, money or victuals to support him, a house or other shelter to conceal him, or open force and violence to rescue or protect him.

WikiLeaks Cable: Iraqi Interrogators Rape Juveniles to Get Confessions

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Monday September 12, 2011 10:52 am

Sep 12 2011

Anal Rape And Stuff

Accessory After The Fact (Blackstone)-

(W)here a person, knowing a felony to have been committed, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon. Therefore, to make an accessory ex post facto, it is in the first place requisite that he knows of the felony committed.

In the next place, he must receive, relieve, comfort, or assist him. And, generally, any assistance whatever given to a felon, to hinder his being apprehended, tried, or suffering punishment, makes the assistor an accessory. As furnishing him with a horse to escape his pursuers, money or victuals to support him, a house or other shelter to conceal him, or open force and violence to rescue or protect him.

Good Germans.

Sep 12 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Justin Elliot: The criminalization of speech since 9/11

Last week, a 24-year-old Virginia man named Jubair Ahmad was arrested and charged with providing “material support” to an officially designated terrorist organization, the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

But Ahmad is not accused of sending money or weapons to LeT, or scouting out targets for the group. What had Ahmad allegedly done? Uploaded a “propaganda video to YouTube on behalf of LeT” that showed “so-called jihadi martyrs and armored trucks exploding after having been hit by improvised explosive devices,” according to the Justice Department. Ahmad allegedly had spoken to the son of an LeT figure about making the video.

The case is an example of prosecutors’ aggressive use, in the decade after Sept. 11, of the preexisting law that bars providing “material support” to officially designated terrorist groups. In a landmark case last year, the Supreme Court endorsed the government’s broad interpretation of the material-support law in a way that critics say criminalizes speech.

Charles R. Morris: How the rich blew up the banks

Gold is a traditional inflation hedge. Yet it has been hovering near record real levels, even as the economy careens toward an inflation-killing double-dip recession. Treasury rates are resolutely stuck at near-zero as the U.S. financial position goes to hell in a hand-basket. Watch for the skies to start raining frogs.

An intriguing paper by Zoltan Pozsar, a senior International Monetary Fund researcher, sheds a new light on this phenomena. A massive buildup of free cash in the hands of companies, hedge funds and rich individuals may be turning many of the canons of conventional banking on their heads.

Robert Kuttner: Future Imperfect

Looking forward, what is the best and worst that we can expect in politics and economics?

Suppose President Obama’s jobs speech of last Thursday marks a turning point. He gets energized by being a little more partisan. He finds that putting Republicans on the defensive is good politics. His poll numbers improve. He wins some of his proposed jobs bill, and fights hard for the rest of it.

As unemployment remains persistently high going into an election year, he offers even stronger medicine. His base gets energized.

(Stay with me here, I know this is a bit wishful — it’s an exercise, a thought experiment, not a prediction — but the alternative is to just slit our wrists.)

As the election draws closer, voters take a closer look at what Republicans are actually offering and it isn’t very appetizing. Rick Perry, the likely GOP nominee, who has never faced tough media scrutiny, doesn’t wear well. He has trouble dancing away from the truly nutty stuff he has embraced in the recent past.

William Rivers Pitt: The Children of Aftermath

All across America, there are classrooms filled with fifth graders who only know the World Trade Center from pictures. They have achieved the final perfection of George Orwell’s vision – we have always been at war with Eurasia – because they have never known a world where their country has not been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. As with the Towers, some of these children only know a parent from pictures, because that parent was killed in those wars. They know what anthrax is, what an IED is, what WMD stands for. They know about fear, for it was fed to them, literally, with mother’s milk. For them, it has always been this way.

These children have never known a country that was not in an economic recession, for their country’s economy has been tottering on its feet like a punch-drunk prizefighter for the last ten years. Theirs is a country that has always tapped phones in secret, always imprisoned people without trial or due process of law, always tortured, always lived in a cocoon of fear and hatred that serves to justify virtually any act, no matter how barbarous or criminal or wrong. Politicians, in their world, have always used threats of terrorism to frighten, to control, to change the subject, to win elections, and to make money for themselves and their friends. There are no consequences for such vicious acts. For these children, it has always been this way.

E. J. Dionne: How Much Has Obama Learned About Republicans?

Our political system is not accustomed to the kind of battle that is going on now. President Obama has been slow to adjust to it. The voters are understandably mystified and frustrated by it. In the meantime, the economy sits on the edge between stagnation and something worse.

The president’s speech to Congress and the Republican presidential debate last week should have taught us that we are no longer in the world of civics textbooks in which our political parties split their differences and arrive at imperfect but reasonably satisfactory solutions.

Leslie Savan: After Jobs Speech, We Ask-Yet Again-‘Where’s This Obama Been?’

After Obama’s populist-sounding jobs speech, it’s understandable that a lot of us are asking, “Where has this Obama been?” He exuded verve, not wonk; he pointed fingers at the GOP (though he still insists on running against “Congress,” making Dems seem as obstreperous as Repubs); and he hit the right angry-but-controlled tone. As Howard Fineman writes, “Friends and foes alike had to wonder watching him tonight: where has that Barack Obama been?”

Actually, that Barack Obama has been popping up from time to time all along-so fleetingly, though, that we keep asking the same question as if for the first time, in a sort of liberal’s version of 50 First Dates.

In July, when Obama talked tough at a press conference on the debt ceiling, TPM headlined a post “Where Has This Obama Been?”; a Huffpost commenter echoed, “Where has this Obama been all this time? Love it! I’m so damn in!”

William J. Astore: Education: Our True Homeland Security

Today’s students see education as a means to an end, the end being a respectable job with decent pay and benefits.

And who can blame them?  With the national unemployment rate at 9.1 percent (a percentage that doesn’t include part-timers seeking full-time employment and those unemployed who have simply given up looking for jobs), students are understandably worried about career prospects.

Many college students are also worried about paying back their student loans; operating under such financial pressure, a focus on salary and the possibility of pay raises and promotions is hardly surprising.

Sep 12 2011

On This Day In History September 12

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 12 is the 255th day of the year (256th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 110 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1940, Lascaux cave paintings discovered

Lascaux is the setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings. The original caves are located near the village of Montignac, in the Dordogne d├ępartement. They contain some of the best-known Upper Paleolithic  art. These paintings are estimated to be 17,000 years old. They primarily consist of primitive images of large animals, most of which are known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time. In 1979, Lascaux was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list along with other prehistoric sites in the Vezere valley.

The cave was discovered on September 12, 1940 by four teenagers, Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas, as well as Marcel’s dog, Robot. The cave complex was opened to the public in 1948. By 1955, the carbon dioxide  produced by 1,200 visitors per day had visibly damaged the paintings. The cave was closed to the public in 1963 in order to preserve the art. After the cave was closed, the paintings were restored to their original state, and were monitored on a daily basis. Rooms in the cave include The Great Hall of the Bulls, the Lateral Passage, the Shaft of the Dead Man, the Chamber of Engravings, the Painted Gallery, and the Chamber of Felines.

Lascaux II, a replica of two of the cave halls – the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery – was opened in 1983, 200 meters from the original. Reproductions of other Lascaux artwork can be seen at the Centre of Prehistoric Art at Le Thot, France.

Sep 12 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features

Featured Essays-

DocuDharma

Sep 12 2011

Pique the Geek 20110911: Cyclones, Typhoons, and Hurricanes: Oh, My!

Lots of pieces have been written about why Hurricane Irene did so much damage as a Category 1 storm as it skirted the Eastern seaboard.  The answer is deceptively simple, but does not fit in with what we have been taught about hurricanes.

Before we examine Irene specifically, let us look at what a hurricane really is.  A hurricane is a rather intense form of a tropical cyclone, and we shall use just the term cyclone in general for all of these kinds of storms.  There are other kinds of cyclones, but for this piece the unqualified term shall mean tropical cyclones, except at the beginning of the main text where the term cyclone itself is defined.

Before we get started, the only reference that I am going to make to the story of the day is the date in the title.  This has been covered ad naseum elsewhere, often with distortions to fit a particular political perspective.

Sep 12 2011

What Comes After Obama?

As one of my favorite (and long absent) Daily Kos commenters said recently:

 

can't even get people who agree with my points to focus on the long term big picture. None of this short term stuff matters. Its just infortainment. The real big picture is what comes after Obama? 

And, as usual, bruh1 is dead on. That's really the question, isn't it? WTF do we do after this guy gets done splintering the Democratic Party, destroying the middle class, and sending the poor even deeper into poverty?

It's a cinch that time spent figuring out “What's Wrong with Obama” will be time wasted. He's not going to change. Is he truly an elite corporatist neoliberal, a misguided centrist liberal, an actual weakling or fool? Who cares? It's People magazine profiles masquerading as political analysis. His deeds tell me everything I need to know. He spent close to a year carefully constructing a minimally progressive front and allowing desperate progressives to see him as their Savior (from Bush and the Republicans). He then promptly, even before the vote, sold us out on the FISA amendments he promised to filibuster. He then continued selling us out on everything, starting with the Public Option, accomplishing almost nothing actually progressive for two years, while doing his level best to undercut, repudiate or just plain anger every single Democratic core constituency, from unions to trial lawyers to GLBTs to civil libertarians to latinos. The only folks who've gotten something substantive out of their vote for Obama are gay soldiers, and then only because gays en masse threatened to turn off the GayTM. How African Americans can still support this guy out of anything but symbolism is beyond me; he's been the worst president for black people since Reagan.

Now that the 2012 campaign is in full swing, we can dismiss any new talk from him about supporting any of these core constituencies. Anything on that subject will just be the same “elect me, what other choice do you have?” stump bullshit we heard last time — you know, all that blather about ending the wars, closing Quantanamo, restoring the rule of law, and rescuing the society from the criminals currently extracting its wealth and exporting its jobs.

So what's the answer to bruh1's question, about “what comes after”? The first answer, clearly, is “More of the same, for quite some time.”  Even if he manages to fumble the re-election (which I doubt, although there are signs he could), Obama and the DLC power structure he represents will continue to be all-powerful within the national Democratic Party. They will be the strongest force opposing progressive change in this country, outside the Tea Party.

A Tea Party insurgency inside the Democratic Party could make the answer very different. But the Tea Party has millions in support from corporate donors, a weapons-grade PR machine and media echo chamber that funnel supporters to them, and a legion of lawyers and experts who fashion and coordinate legislation at the state and local level. That makes it seem pretty hopeless.

I don't think it is. I was around in 1964, when Barry Goldwater led the Republican Party to a withering defeat that might have crushed that party for all time. I had a right-wing acquaintance, Bob Consoli, who had been an active supporter of the Goldwater campaign. I made fun of the campaign's ineptness and extremism, and of Bob's faith in such a man. All Bob had to say was: “Laugh all you want. This isn't the end.” And it wasn't. In the intervening years, right wing elements within and outside the Republican Party came back from electoral defeat, organizing huge grassroots movements in support of their core issues. In less than a generation, they had us living in Ronny Raygun's Amerika. And we haven't managed to get out of it since.

I don't know what Obama's fortunes will be next year, and I mostly don't care. He has already demonstrated convincingly that his interests and mine are not connected. All I care about, and am hoping for, and will work for, is the same kind of resurgence on the left that we have seen from the right.

Sep 12 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Pentagon attacks inspired war of ‘vengeance’: US

By Dan De Luce, AFP

43 mins ago

US military and political leaders on Sunday paid solemn tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and to troops who have waged a war of “vengeance” in the decade since.

“Lives ended in this place. Dreams were shattered. Futures were instantly altered. Hopes were tragically dashed,” Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a ceremony marking the day a hijacked airliner slammed into the Pentagon ten years ago.

Mullen, joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, said the attack inspired a new generation to join the armed forces as the country sought retribution against Al-Qaeda militants.

And how has ‘vengeance’ worked out for you?