July 30, 2008

Swinging Wildly

Has anyone noticed that the stock market is swinging wildly? Has anyone ever noticed that, when something is out of control it swings wildly... then, often times, crashes horribly.

Welcome to the self-correcting free market. Fasten your seat belts.


July 26, 2008

McCain and Paxson Communicaion

John "Keating Five" McCain is famous for being one of five Senators caught trying to intimidate federal commissioners responsible for enforcing the rules of the Savings and Loan industry. Charles Keating's S&L was in financial and legal trouble after making huge profits before the S&L crash in the 1980s. McCain tried to get regulators to look the other way in Keating's case.

A more recent case goes by the name Paxson Communication. In the Paxson case, there is written evidence that McCain clearly violated ex parte rules barring outside pressure on Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) decisions, like trying to influence a judge. What makes it even more improper is that McCain did this as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FCC, its chartering legislation and its budget. Being in government myself, when the Senator of the committee that approves your budget asks you to jump, you don't wait to ask "how high," you immediately jump as high as you can.

The Issue:

At issue in the Paxson case was Paxson's desire to gain commercial control over a public TV station in Pittsburg, PA. It was a small-time issue, which makes it even more suspicious that Chairman McCain would take a personal interest. The reason for his personal interest was that the now-famous Vicki Iseman was lobbying Chairman McCain on behalf of Paxson.

What McCain Did Wrong:

First, McCain took sides on an issue in favor of a private organization contrary to the public interest. Second, he did so by trying to pressure the "judges" in the case, members of the FCC. There was an issue of the clock running out on Vickie Iseman's client Paxson. McCain wrote letters directly to each FCC commissioner inquiring about their votes, and asking them to respond by a specific date. FCC Commissioner Tristani wrote McCain saying, in diplomatic terms to the man who controlled the FCC budget:

“In that letter, you requested that each commissioner advise you in writing by the close of business today whether we have acted upon these applications. Respectfully, I cannot comply with your request, in order to preserve the integrity of our processes. It is my practice not to publicly disclose whether I have voted or when I will be voting on items in restricted proceedings prior to their adoption by the full commission.”

It's not only Tristani's practice, it's the law. She knew that McCain's actions were illegal. According to Angela Campbell, director of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, McCain's actions were formally proven to be a violation:

... on December 20th, we actually filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission’s general counsel, alleging that he had violated the rules, and we asked for them to act on it right away. They did not. However, eventually, in August of 2000, they did rule that the senator had violated the rules.

So, McCain's claims of high integrity are probably no better than any other Senator. Given his fame in the Keating Five scandal, his record is probably worse than most.


John McCain's campaign has denied the Sentor met with Paxson Communications in 1999; however, Lowell Paxson has contradicted this statement. McCain's Paxson Problem.



July 24, 2008

Mukasey in Denial over the Maher Arar Rendition

Maher Arar, a Syrian-born software engineer, was taken into custody by U.S. officials during a 2002 stopover in New York while on his way home to Canada and then rendered without any due process to Syria. There he was imprisoned for a year and tortured.

Canada has found him innocent and paid $10 million in compensation. The United States, as represented by the Bush administration, remains in denial.

The latest form of denial comes from U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey who rejected a request from lawmakers that an outside special counsel investigate the case. I say, lets wait until Obama wins the election and nominates John Edwards to be U.S. Attorney General. Then we'll find out the details of the criminal acts committed by the Bush administration in this case.


1. Promotional Poster for the movie Rendition

2. Maher Arar and his children.

3. John Edwards, the next U.S. Attorney General.


Reuters, U.S. rejects outside probe of Canadian sent to Syria, by James Vicini, July 24, 2008.


July 23, 2008

Bush Prosecution in 30-Seconds

Famed prosecutor Victor Bugliosi sums up his closing arguments to prosecute George Bush for murder in thirty seconds.

The charges: Conspiracy to mislead the nation to war in Iraq. Murder of soldiers who Bush sent to war under false pretenses.


DemocracyNow! Citing Iraq War, Renowned Attorney Vincent Bugliosi Seeks “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder”, July 13, 2008.


July 21, 2008

Karadzic Arrested: Could Be Bush

Contemporary War Criminals:
Pinochet, Bashir, Bush, Fujimori, Karadzic

Bush is famous for saying, "You can run but you can't hide." Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic is experiencing this saying first hand.

The world is witnessing Karadzic being brought to Justice. It signals that even the highest official in the land cannot commit crimes with impunity. This helps maintain social stability; if the public loses confidence that justice will be enforced through official channels, they will be tempted to seek vigilante justice.

We've also seen justice brought to Sudanese president Omar Bashir through the International Criminal Court. Chilean President Agusto Pinochet also learned that "you can run but you can't hide" from justice. The same fate befell former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori.

These national leaders committed crimes, and despite some delay, have eventually faced justice. This signals the potential that George W. Bush could eventually face justice for waging an illegal war of aggression in Iraq.


Associated Press, Top war crimes suspect arrested in Serbia, DUSAN STOJANOVIC, July 22, 2008.


July 20, 2008

Butt Out Mullen

Another sign of our eroding democracy is evidenced by military leaders steering policy and public opinion. This may be due in part to politicians having become weak, beholden to money-power.

A civilian-based democracy should strongly discourage pronouncements of military officers. It is not the military's place to say, "we should do this." or "we should do that." Yet Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen is doing exactly that saying,

This right now doesn't speak to either time lines or timetables, based on my understanding of where we are.

Mullen, asked about the possibility of withdrawing all combat troops within two years, said,

I think the consequences could be very dangerous.... It [is] hard to say exactly what would happen. I'd worry about any kind of rapid movement out and creating instability where we have stability. We're engaged very much right now with the Iraqi people. The Iraqi leadership is starting to generate the kind of political progress that we need to make. The economy is starting to move in the right direction. So all those things are moving in the right direction...

There is a fine line between advising and voicing policy positions. The line should be that military leaders advise political representatives and their staff, but do not advise through the public mass media.


Associated Press, Troop withdrawal timeline concerns Pentagon chief, July 20, 2008.


July 19, 2008

Bashir and Bush

The World is witnessing the indictment of Sudanese President Omar Bashir for war crimes. A leader is being held responsible for his acts.

President Omar Bashir (Sudan) and President George Bush

With the impeachment of George W. Bush "off the table," people could turn to the next logical option to hold him responsible for his acts: criminal prosecution. Bush might wish, some day, that he had simply gotten away with impeachment rather than criminal prosecution and punishment.

Mark Levine, a University of California professor, is drawing a parallel between the indictment of Sudanese president Omar Bashir and George Bush's crimes. Levine observes that, with the change of a couple words in the Bashir indictment, it could be applied to Bush:

[Bush] was directly responsible. He is the president. He is the commander-in-chief. Those are not just formal words. He used the whole state apparatus. He used the army; he enrolled the [military]. They all report to him. They all obey him. His control is absolute.

Absolute control. Absolute responsibility. Absolute liability.


Al Jazeera, First al-Bashir, next ... Bush? by Mark Levine, July 16, 2008. http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2008/07/20087166397881715.html

Mark Levine is a professor of Middle East history at the University of California, Irvine and is the author of the newly released Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam.


July 17, 2008

FISA Obermann and Obama

Really. this is a "must watch" set of videos. Usually, I don't have patience for corporate media, but Obermann has done his homework on this. The "key" point is what he says about "criminal" prosecution of telecom companies, which apparently isn't closed by the FISA legislation. We can make change if we push on this issue collecitvely.

Part 1

Part 2

Keith Olbermann discusses Sen. Barack Obama's second chance to vote on the FISA bill & still show voters that he can stand on principle through the advantage of a loophole within the bill.


July 16, 2008

Winter Soldier 2008 Overview

Winter Soldier 2008
Unauthorized Trailer

In wars too dangerous for corporate news reporters, personal accounts are provided by US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, active service members and civilians. The reality these wars is captured for you in the March 2008 "Winter Soldier Hearings".

This short video features Iraq war veteran Kelly Daugherty being interviewed by Nation Radio Laura Flanders. Daugherty provides an overview of the weekend Winter Soldier Hearings with compelling video footage as a backdrop.

For full coverage of Winter Soldier 2008 see:


Audio: The Nation Radio with Laura Flanders.

Video: Various sources compiled by GDAEman Productions.


July 12, 2008

Fannie Freddie Melt Down will Get the Banks

Private sector capitalism is failing, and the public sector (tax payers) is propping it up. This is a golden opportunity for fundamental socio-economic change.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been in trouble for a long time, but now the crisis phase has begun. This was all predicted in great detail, documented in the February 2003 report entitled "Systemic Risk: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Role of OFHEO, [PDF]." The report was issued under the direction of Armando Falcon, Director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). He warned Congress that many large financial institutions were systemically linked to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If Fannie and Freddie, or real estate in general, tumbled, the rest of the economy could likely be pulled down as well. Falcon's reward for this honest insight and advice was to be fired by the Bush Administration.

This risk of the banks getting sucked down with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is summarized in the following, where "GSE" refers to government-sponsored entities, i.e., Fannie and Freddie:
[A]t year-end 2001 over 4,800 commercial banks—over sixty percent of the institutions in the banking industry—held GSE debt in excess of 50 percent of their equity capital. Nearly sixty percent of those banks have less than $100 million in assets; over ninety-seven percent have assets of less than $1 billion. Of banks with assets of more than $1 billion, 123 institutions —over 30 percent of banks of that size —owned GSE debt in excess of 50 percent of their equity capital.

In plain English, if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac default on their debt, many banks will go under, unless the tax-payer bails them out. If the latter, then we, the people, should demand future part-ownership, and profit-sharing, in the entities we bail out.

For further synopsis of the report, see OFHEO Warning of February 2003.


Gambling on Oil Prices

Today the Wall Street Journal reports a campaign has begun to challenge oil speculators in the financial industry:
Strapped by rising fuel prices, the airline industry, gasoline retailers and an array of transportation interests are enlisting thousands of travelers to pressure Congress to reign in oil markets speculation -- a campaign that has triggered a lobbying war with the financial-services industry.

The article continues that, "The airline industry email to frequent flyers urges them to learn more on a campaign website, www.stopoilspeculationnow.com." In part, the e-mail says:

"Twenty years ago, 21% of oil contracts were purchased by speculators who trade oil on paper with no intention of ever taking delivery. Today, oil speculators purchase 66%" of all oil futures contracts, the frequent flyer letter reads. "Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs."

The Bush administration, and Phil Gramm (photo with McCain above), are responsible, in part, due to their deregulation ideology, which promotes rampant speculation. See the July/Aug 2008 Issue of Mother Jones Magazine, on the Enron loophole: Forclosure Phil.

The financial industry counters the airline industry claims, saying, according to the Journal, that "speculation is less responsible for spiraling oil prices than is turmoil in supplier countries and the weakness of the dollar on world markets." If you believe the financial industry, we can also blame the Bush administration for the first factor, turmoil in supplier countries. Bush is also to blame for the second factor, a weak dollar, which is due in part to the US debt created by Bush.

Bottom Line: Bush administration policies have fed the increase in oil prices and gas prices at the pump. Call this a failure? No! Bush represents a small elite minority, not the vast unwashed masses. Unfortunately, the latter failed to figure this out soon enough, many voting for Bush, and against their own interests, in 2004 when the writing was on the wall.

Hopefully they won't make the same mistake in November 2008 by voting for John McCain, for whom Foreclosure Phil Gramm is a key economic adviser.


Wall Street Journal, Airline Oil Lobbying Alarms Financial Firms, Elizabeth Williams, July 12, 2008.

Photo Credit: Mother Jones Magazine, Foreclosure Phil, July/August 2008 Issue.


July 11, 2008

Predictable Consequence of Air Strikes

The phrase "I told you so" doesn't play well among anyone, and certainly isn't accepted by an elite pundit class that continues to blather via corporate media despite consistently getting it wrong. But I and and many others have predicted increased use of areal bombings and resultant civilian deaths. (See also: comparison of Vietnam and Iraq war time lines).

The fact is it doesn't take an expert to figure out that, as the US reduces troop strength it will increase the use of "air power." By its nature, despite false hopes of "smart bombs," bombs, missiles, cannons and heavy machine guns fired from the air are crude. The information on which such attacks are made is often crude. The potential for getting the information right, but actually shooting at the right target is farily high. The result is more civilian killings by the US, and that has been happening for some time now.

Today we hear another in a long series of such incidents.

A U.S. military airstrike this week killed 47 civilians traveling to a wedding, the head of an Afghan government commission investigating the incident said Friday.

The airstrike on Sunday in Deh Bala district of Nuristan province also wounded nine civilians, said Burhanullah Shinwari, the deputy chairman of the Senate, who led the delegation.

Will the commission findings change anything? Maybe, in the short term, the US will be a bit more careful. But any significant change in civilian deaths at US hands will only occur if US forces withdraw completely, which in Afghanistan is highly unlikely. You won't hear the pundit class saying this, because they can't. The rich and powerful won't let it happen. So the people's press will have to keep making this point until the rest of the people catch on.


Associated Press, 47 Afghan civilians killed by US bombs, group says, Amir Shah, July 11, 2008.


July 10, 2008

Peace Movement Plans

A National Assembly, that met June 2008 in Cleveland, OH, has laid out a plan of action. It includes protest assemblies at the Republican and Democrat conventions, an October event that coincides with Congressional Iraq authorization vote and more. See the link below for more details, including a link to the National Assembly report.

Link to Anti-war Action plan posted on the Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus.


July 8, 2008

Pentagon Cluster Bomb Hoax

I see a headline announcing the Pentagon is changing its policy on cluster bombs..., I'm cautiously hopeful that there's good news. Cluster bombs, as the name implies, consist of a lot of small "bomblets." The unexploded bomblets are spread over a wide area before they detonate... or not... a significant portion bomblets don't explode as intended, but remain live until jostled, then explode, often in the hands of a curious child or by a farmer tending a field.

My cynical side thought, "Oh, they're probably just going to require manufacturers to ensure that more of the bomblets explode," not wanting to believe my own cynicism. The article opened:
Faced with growing international pressure, the Pentagon is changing its policy on cluster bombs and plans to reduce the danger of unexploded munitions in the deadly explosives.

I read on...

The policy shift... would require that after 2018, more than 99 percent of the bomblets in a cluster bomb must detonate.

Pathetic. The reality is that the percentage of detonations depends on how they are used. Israel, for instance, showered an estimated 1 million bomblets into areas of southern Lebanon in the last couple of days of their 2006 assault. Doing so from too close a range resulted in more unexploded bomblets, time bombs waiting for unsuspecting victims. Read more on this case in Haaretz.


Associated Press, Pentagon aims for less deadly cluster bombs, July 7, 2008.


The Men and Women behind Mann

File this one under "How the World Really Works." Thanks to Ten Percent blog for his commentary on the latest regarding the Equatorial Guinea - Sir Mark Thatcher corruption case, including its implications for more prosecutions:

Suffice to say a lot of powerful people, corporations and institutions are implicated here as their way of doing business is exposed.

That's because Simon Mann is talking and pointing the finger, assuming this isn't part of a cover:

Mann told the court that he took Thatcher to the Chelsea home of Ely Calil, the Lebanese businessman who is alleged by the government of Equatorial Guinea to have been the main financier of the plot. He named the management board as Calil, himself, a London property developer, Thatcher and a Lebanese colleague of Calil who lives in Beirut.

But there's more....

Mann said the plotters had rushed to try to carry out the coup before March 14, 2004, the date of a general election in Spain which they feared would unseat the centre-right government.

“Everything was in … a big hurry, because we had this date of March 14, the Spanish election, which was coming closer and closer,” Mann said.

Mann said Calil had told him the coup plotters had been promised immediate diplomatic recognition by Aznar’s administration if they succeeded in replacing Obiang with Equatorial Guinea opposition figure Severo Moto. Spain had also promised to send a contingent of Civil Guards, according to Calil, Mann said.

And the US didn't know anything about it. Yea Right.

Read more from the Telegraph
, March, 2008.


The Guardian, Simon Mann gets 34 years in Equatorial Guinea jail
, David Pallister, James Sturcke, July 7, 2008.


July 7, 2008

Pop Obama's Trial Balloon

LibHom recently writes:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Saturday his plan to end the Iraq war was unchanged and he was puzzled by the sharp reaction to his statement this week that he might "refine" his timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat troops.

With the insight of many who have been deflated by the empty words of Democrat candidates, LibHom continues:

Of course, if you have followed past Democratic betrayals, you know that "refine" almost always means "capitulate" when it is uttered by most centrist and conservative Democrats.

Where does that leave us? With advice from LibHom:

Maybe Obama's prior comments were a trial balloon. If so, we need to fight like heck to pop it.

Contact Obama: Let him know there is a large constituency holding his feet to the fire Obama Comment Form Click Here.


July 6, 2008

Hammer Fox

It's easy to raise your voice against Faux News Corp.

Step 1: Watch the following to get your blood boiling. If you don't care about Michelle Obama, imagine the subject is you.

Faux News Propaganda on Michelle Obama

Step 2: Sign the petition a small, easy gesture... one you can be sure the right-wing ditto-heads are taking in the opposite direction (Push Back!).

Step 3: Contact Faux News and give them a piece of your mind.

Faux News Channel
1211 Ave. of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 301-3000
Fax: (212) 301-4229

List of Email addresses for all Fox News Channel programs

Special Report with Brit Hume: Special@foxnews.com
FOX Report with Shepard Smith: Foxreport@foxnews.com
The O'Reilly Factor: Oreilly@foxnews.com
Hannity & Colmes: Hannity@foxnews.com, Colmes@foxnews.com
On the Record with Greta: Ontherecord@foxnews.com

Step 4:
Tell your friends to beat the drum on Faux.

July 4, 2008

Howard Zinn: 4th of July Reality-Check

I'd like to think the founder's motives were noble and pure, but I suspect the Revolutionary War was another fight among the elite (white men on this side of the Atlantic wresting control from the same on the other side of the Atlantic).

A 4th of July reading
from Howard Zinn's "A people's History of the United States" tells a different story.

James Earl Jones Reads Frederick Douglas
4th of July Address


DemocracyNow!, July 4th Special: Readings From Howard Zinn’s “Voices of a People’s History of the United States,” July 4, 2008.


July 2, 2008

Economic Downturn: Deeper and Longer

The central bank of central banks has spoken. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) had the following to say in its annual report:

While difficult to predict, their interaction [credit crisis and inflation] does appear to point to a deeper and more protracted global downturn than the consensus view seems to expect. [1]

The BIS is not alone. One of President Nixon's chief political advisers has laid out the reasoning in a book. Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism. Phillips is saying the US is facing a crisis of historic proportions. He identifies seven contributing factors on which I've written in the recent past. When introducing these factors during interviews, Phillips says:

Normally when a country is—United States is—heading into a recession, there are one or two, sometimes three, factors that you worry about. But at this point in time... there are like six or seven [factors], and you don’t usually see anything like that number.

There is an eighth contributing factor to consider: stagflation. The primary control mechanism of the US Federal Reserve (Fed) is setting interest rates. The inconvenient truth is that we are facing dangerous inflation (controlled by increasing interest rates), while at the same time facing a stalling economy (controlled by cutting interest rates). First we saw evidence that the private sector lost control, as the Fed had to step in with tax-payer backing to support a buy-out of Bear Stearns. Now we see that the Fed itself doesn't really have control.

Update: The BIS perspective on the consensus view is corroborated by the June National Employment Report:

The number of private sector jobs fell by 79,000 in June, according to a payroll report released Wednesday, with the decline exceeding economists' forecasts. Economists polled by Briefing.com had expected jobs to decline by 20,000 in June.[2]


1. Associated Press, BIS: Global economy could face deeper downturn, George Frey, June 30, 2008.

2. CNNMoney.com, Payroll report: 79,000 private sector jobs lost in June, July 2, 2008.


July 1, 2008

Cal Fires Website an Arnold Schwarzenegger Promo Piece

While trying to locate the California fires I worked my way to the NASA web site. It led me to a federal government site with a link to the California main site. Upon reaching the CA web site I was struck by the numerous images of AWNODE. Then I noticed that, rather than links to help for people dealing with the fires, the content was just a bunch of statistics on the State's investment in fighting the fires.... a promo piece.

The federal link to the California web page describes it as California's fire page offers numerous resources, including disaster assistance information, a list of shelters, a current map of the affected areas, and more. That's not what I saw when I went to the site. So, I looked harder. In the "Related Content" links, every single link begins with "Governor Schwarzenegger...."

The Empire is crumbling.