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      The Ukrainian military clearly doesn’t care enough to actually fight: The day began inauspiciously for Ukrainian forces as they sought to establish an operating base in the city of Kramatorsk, moving in units from a nearby military air base. According to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and a witness who spoke by phone, a column of six [...]
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Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

Obviously the news is still mostly about the Arizona tragedy and all the political and social issues being talked about. Let’s take a look at a few articles on the subject to see what’s new there. First as was mentioned yesterday, those crazy Westboro Baptist Church religious nut cases plan to protest the little girls funeral. Just when you thought those people couldn’t be more sick and evil. But heartening is the reaction and the people that plan on protected the family and funeral:

Arizona lawmakers moved quickly Tuesday to try to block protesters from the funeral of 9-year-old shooting victim Christina Green, passing an emergency measure prohibiting protests within 300 feet of any funeral services.

[...]

The actions were prompted by the Westboro Baptist Church, a publicity-seeking Kansas congregation known for demonstrating at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, arguing that their deaths are retribution by God for America’s acceptance of homosexuality. The church announced it would protest Green’s funeral, scheduled for Thursday, because the family is Catholic.

The protest drew instant and unanimous condemnation from Arizonans.

“Protesting or picketing outside the funeral of an innocent victim is despicable,” said House Speaker Kirk Adams. “It’s time to bring Arizona in line with the many other states that protect the sensitivities of victims against groups that use fear and hate to denigrate the lives of Americans.”

Adams sponsored the emergency measure that prohibits people from picketing or protesting within 300 feet of any residence, cemetery, funeral home, church, synagogue or other establishment during or within one hour of a funeral service or burial service.

The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously Tuesday. Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure Tuesday evening.

If that’s the face of not accepting homosexuality in America, no wonder many in the GOP have been moving in the direction of repealing DADT and being open to gay marriage. Something to think about and understand when it comes to changing the tone and framing of a political/social topic.

Politico has a piece talking about three of the GOP potential campaign frontrunners for 2012 and how they’re fairing through this tragedy. I’ll save you the trouble, Pawlenty wins the day. That is, he comes out more moderate and unscathed. Palin of course is the target of many. And Newt seems to be playing the roll of Rush/Beck trying to drum up the base.

In an interesting op-ed at WaPo, Krauthammer (heads up, warning, winger alert) in addition to the some winger stuff (step carefully), has a few observations about language and symbols in politics:

Finally, the charge that the metaphors used by Palin and others were inciting violence is ridiculous. Everyone uses warlike metaphors in describing politics. When Barack Obama said at a 2008 fundraiser in Philadelphia, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” he was hardly inciting violence.

Why? Because fighting and warfare are the most routine of political metaphors. And for obvious reasons. Historically speaking, all democratic politics is a sublimation of the ancient route to power – military conquest. That’s why the language persists. That’s why we say without any self-consciousness such things as “battleground states” or “targeting” opponents. Indeed, the very word for an electoral contest – “campaign” – is an appropriation from warfare.

I think the best stab at the politics of this may be Jon Stewart’s clip posted in last nights post. Take a look again if you missed it.

Let’s look at a few other things going on. In news of the doublespeak delicately placed on a dungheap, it appears Obama and the Chamber of Commerce are getting cozy and mending all those faux rifts:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce signaled Tuesday that its rift with the administration is beginning to ease, just three months after bitterly sparring with the White House during midterm campaigns.

In a speech at the Chamber’s headquarters, directly across the street from the White House, Tom Donohue, the group’s president, said disagreements with the administration have “never been personal.”

He noted “a new tone” at the White House and praised President Obama’s selection of William Daley as his new chief of staff, calling him “a real pro.”

Donohue nonetheless struck a combative note as he vowed to fight for the Chamber’s policy goals this year, which include expanding trade, lowering the federal deficit and curbing regulations it thinks are excessive.

“We will not allow the business community to be intimidated, and we will use every tool at our disposal to challenge those who try to silence our voice,” said Donohue, referring to Democrats’ attempts to force the Chamber, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, to reveal its donors.

Such kabuki theater. Aren’t you so happy they’re getting along now? Yea.

Meanwhile in real leadership news, SoS Hillary Clinton is the first SoS to go to Yemen in over 20 years:

Hillary Clinton made the first trip by a U.S. Secretary of State to Yemen in 20 years on Tuesday to underline to the Sanaa government the urgency and importance of fighting al Qaeda at its grassroots.

Washington is anxious for Yemen, next door to the world’s top oil exporter, to step up its fight against an al Qaeda wing based in the Arabian peninsula state where militants have attempted ambitious attacks against U.S. and Western targets.

“It’s not enough to have military-to-military relations,” Clinton said before her plane touched down in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, where she was due for talks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“We need to try to broaden the dialogue. We need to have this dialogue with the government,” she added.

This is all part of the massive new workload Hillary has had to take on to repair the damages from the leaked State Department cables. At least we have Hillary doing this work and repairing those relations. I’d hate to think how this work would happen if Joe Biden had the position as he claimed he was offered.

In Illinois news, they are eliminating the death penalty:

After more than a decade of debate over whether the state’s system of capital punishment could ever be fair, state lawmakers voted on Tuesday to end the death penalty in Illinois.

The move, which came only hours before a new group of lawmakers takes office in Springfield on Wednesday, leaves the future of capital punishment to the Democratic governor, Patrick J. Quinn, who has not indicated whether he will sign the legislation. If Mr. Quinn agrees to the ban, Illinois will join 15 other states without capital punishment.

There’s some great news at least. We could use some.

In international monetary news, China is going to open the Yuan for US trade:

State-owned Bank of China Ltd has offered yuan trading to U.S. customers, a sign that Beijing this year may increasingly promote the use of the Chinese currency in major financial centers.

The change at Bank of China announced in a posting dated Dec. 2010 means that customers can trade in yuan in the United States for the first time rather than having to do so in Hong Kong.

The New York branch of China’s fourth-largest bank said it now lets companies and individuals buy and sell the yuan via accounts with its U.S. branches, although U.S. businesses and individuals can also trade the currency through Western banks.

“The authorities are promoting the use of the yuan in international trade and this is another step in that direction and this means we should see the growth of yuan trading in other regional centers across the world,” said Robert Minikin, senior currency strategist at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong.

The move is seen as another small step to redenominate trade in yuan after persuading mainland importers and exporters to reduce settling trade in the U.S. dollar and striking trade settlement agreements with Russia, Brazil and other countries.

Part of the reason behind this is China’s too high exchange reservers. Here’s more on what’s happening:

The thorniest problem in economic relations between the United States and China is getting worse, just as the world’s two biggest economies prepare for a summit next week in Washington.

At issue is the imbalance in their financial relationship. China’s central bank said Tuesday that Beijing’s holdings of foreign cash and securities amount to $2.85 trillion – a jump of 20 percent over the year before – despite Chinese promises to try to balance its trade and investment relations with the United States and other countries.

[...]

Foreign exchange holdings are a broad measure of a nation’s economic links with other countries, reflecting exports and imports, investment and the flow of speculative “hot money” into local markets. Some reserves are helpful, and Asian nations in particular, stung by their financial crises in the 1990s, seek to keep a war chest for times of trouble.

But with China’s foreign currency holdings far exceeding those of any other country, it has been urged by the United States, International Monetary Fund and others to import more, allow its exchange rate to rise in value, and use some of the reserves, for example, to boost the purchasing power of Chinese citizens. Although some recent statistics have shown a move in that direction – the country’s trade surplus has narrowed for the past two years, as China’s imports grew faster than exports – the surge in reserves is a pointed reminder of the difficult questions that still face Hu and Obama.

[...]

The renminbi, also known as the yuan, is considered by a wide range of economists to be undervalued in relation to the dollar, and China keeps tight control of the exchange rate, in part to protect its powerful export industries.

[...]

An administration official, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of discussions between the countries, said that it is an ideal time for China to let its currency float more freely. The lack of progress shows that the country’s export lobby still has the upper hand, the official said.

On the one hand we want China to let the value of the Yuan to float freely and find it’s proper value. On the other hand China wants to keep tight control and wants to start using that tightly controlled money it trade with others instead of the US Dollar. But China has to worry about its US holdings at the same time. And as long as they keep such tight control, it’s less usable as a trade currency. We’re in a strange dance together. But China plays rough. Let’s hope we and other parts of the world are up to the challenge.

In sad news, David Nelson of Ozzie and Harriet fame died. In other sad news, exactly one year ago today the Haiti 7.0 earthquake hit, and they’re still not much better off. But back with a bit of good news, mentioned yesterday, Tom DeLay got sentenced with 3 years of jail time.

That’s a bit of the news. Chime in with what you’re reading.

Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

It’s hump day, and there are many blue meanies about. Watch out for glovey-dovey especially as he will tend to “point, and having pointed, POUNCE!” And remember how the Obots, um, I mean blue meanies were commanded: “Go get thee hence, and destroy yon upstarts. SMASH THEM, SQUASH THEM, CRUSH THEM! O-BLUE-terate them!” Why all the blue references, well yesterday (no pun intended) Apple Corps decided to come into the modern age and put their catalog out for digital download. Apple Inc. is having a big event and have what is quite a nice concert available free online. It’s from their first US concert at the Washington Coliseum in 1964. Go listen, before the blue meanies stomp it out. Here’s an article pointing out how stupid it has been to wait this long:

The Beatles, their surviving heirs and their misguided management finally turned in their Flat Earth Society membership cards Tuesday, allowing the sale of their music as digital downloads on Apple’s iTunes Store. La-dee-freakin’-da.

I’m sorry, were you expecting congratulations here?

This absurdly overdue development happened shortly before 10 a.m. – slightly in advance of the vague prediction posted on Apple’s home page Monday.

I have to agree. There was no reason to wait this long, and the sales will be nothing what they would have been a few years ago. What have they been smoking in Pepperland?

And speaking of, the other tribe of blue meanies are getting nasty and are trying to squash the new arms treaty efforts with Russia:

One of President Obama’s top foreign-policy goals suffered a potentially ruinous setback Friday when the Senate’s second-ranking Republican said the U.S. nuclear treaty with Russia should not be considered until next year.

The statement by Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) stunned the White House and Democrats, who scrambled to save the pact. It came just days after Obama declared that ratifying the treaty was his top foreign-policy priority for the lame-duck session of Congress.

SoS Clinton is weighing in Continue reading

Peter Galbraith Tells His Side of the Afghan Election Story

Peter W. Galbraith

Peter W. Galbraith

A couple of days ago, I predicted we would be hearing more from Peter Galbraith on his recent firing from his post as deputy special representative of the United Nations in Afghanistan, by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Today Galbraith tells his side of the story in The Washington Post. Galbraith says he was ordered not to talk to the press, but since the UN chief didn’t honor their agreement on the public announcement of his firing, Galbraith no longer feels bound by that agreement.

Peter Galbraith is the son of economist John Kenneth Galbraith, and the author of two books on the war in Iraq: The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End (2007), and Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies (2009). In 1987, Galbraith discovered Saddam Hussein’s systematic genocide of the Kurds. In 1997, Bill Clinton appointed Galbraith U.S. Ambassador to Croatia. He worked for the UN in East Timor and has taught at the National War College. Galbraith tried to convince the Reagan administration to act by writing the “Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988″
, but the bill was never passed, and Colin Powell convinced Reagan and Bush to let the gassing of the Kurds slide.

Now Galbraith is making an impassioned plea for the U.S. to recognize the fraud that took place during the recent election in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s presidential election, held Aug. 20, should have been a milestone in the country’s transition from 30 years of war to stability and democracy. Instead, it was just the opposite. As many as 30 percent of Karzai’s votes were fraudulent, and lesser fraud was committed on behalf of other candidates. In several provinces, including Kandahar, four to 10 times as many votes were recorded as voters actually cast. The fraud has handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners. Continue reading

Common Sense and the sensus communis: anatomy of an American pressure cooker

romesenate1

Gay-Lussac

The pressure of a fixed mass and fixed volume of a gas is directly proportional to the gas’s temperature.

This relationship is known as the Gay-Lussac’s Law and a pressure cooker is an example of the law in practice. Cooking under pressure creates the possibility of cooking with high temperature liquids because the boiling point of a liquid increases as its pressure increases. High pressure and high heat can result in delectable dishes.

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Cooking under pressure can be also dangerous because as liquids change phase into gases their volume expands greatly. For example, at atmospheric pressure the volume of steam is about 1700 times greater than the volume of water. To prevent pressure cookers from becoming bombs, relief devices (pop safety valves) are employed that are capable of relieving all of the steam the vessel is capable of producing.

America the Beautiful Pressure Cooker

The political pressure cooker is beginning to heat up. The power brokers and institutions that drive the nation have arrived unannounced on the doorsteps of America like a gaggle of unwanted, high maintenance relatives that demand hospitality for an unforeseeable time and that won’t take no for answer. Furthermore, they’ve announced that more relatives are on the way. Whatever plans America’s householders had, they’ve just gone out the window, with their household budgie and the relatives’ cat in hot pursuit.

People are justifiably angry with this incursion. Their budgie might not have been much, but it was “their budgie”, nurtured from birth into what it had become. Justifiably angry householders are trying to work out why the relatives arrived on their doorsteps and why they brought their fucking cat. Continue reading

Thursday Morning News Links (with a little help from my friend Katiebird)

harvard.square

News from the Boston Area

Good morning, Conflucians! It’s another gray day in New England, but at least the Red Sox are still in first place.

Kansas City Royals play Red Sox this weekend.

José Guillen returned to the lineup — but as the designated hitter — and could spend time this weekend battling the Green Monster, the big left-field wall at Boston’s Fenway Park, in an effort to reduce strain on his aching legs.

Good luck with that, old man.

In other provincial news, legendary local gangster Whitey Bulger is still on the run, and his crimes are still being investigated and prosecuted.

Tall ships arrive in Boston (gorgeous photos!)

Mass. becomes the first state to challenge Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

“Our familes, our communities, and even our economy have seen the many important benefits that have come from recognizing equal marriage rights and, frankly, no downside,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said this afternoon at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. “However, we have also seen how many of our married residents and their families are being hurt by a discriminatory, unprecedented, and, we believe, unconstitutional law.”

Texting trolley driver indicted in crash

Governor’s Race Heats Up in Mass. (scroll down for story)

After years of consideration, republican Charlie Baker has decided to quit his lucrative job as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care so he can devote his full time to a 2010 Massachusetts gubernatorial bid.

News from Another Corrupt State

Ex-Blagojevich aide pleads guilty, will testify

A blow for Illinois’s Blagojevich in corruption case

Illinois political floodgates open after Madigan passes on governor, Senate bids.

News from Washington, DC

Democrats say CIA deceived Congress for years.

Obama threatens veto of intelligence bill.

Healthcare overhaul bill stalls in Congress

What’s So Scary About Offering People the Option of a Public Health Plan?

Howard Dean: This is ridiculous. We’re 60 Years Behind the Times” on Fixing Health Care

Your candidate won, Howie. So why are you whining?

Cities Lose Out on Road Funds From Federal Stimulus

For [Marion] Barry, a Familiar Script Takes an Unfamiliar Twist Continue reading

Immigration Reform: An Environmental Perspective

Glbal Biosphere on June 6 2009Immigration, as a policy issue, is politically explosive. It is politically explosive because it necessarily involves making choices between bad options, each of which has supporters and detractors with political power.

In advocating for their option, it is not uncommon for some supporters to engage in inaccurate and unjust accusations against their opponents, such as claiming the other is guilty of racism or traitorhood. The situation is further complicated by the small numbers of supporters on either side who are racist or traitorous.

It is unsurprising that the engagements between opponents are volatile. How could decisions about who belongs, and who does not, be otherwise? What is the best way to disentangle a complex web of family relations, personal convictions, and obligations that must be shared between citizens if they are to be a nation, all in the context of the question of how the franchise is to be extended to non-citizens, if at all? It is no wonder that the issue is avoided like the plague.

Plague-avoidance strategies that do not address the causes of the plague, or bolster the immune system against its effects, are doomed to failure, however, and the cost of failure in avoiding the plague is serious illness and death. In this sense, the lack of a workable resolution of the immigration issue endangers the health of the body politic.

At present, the lack of meaningful policy action is, in effect, backdoor advocacy for the situation as it currently stands, in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” sense. This abrogation of responsibility is dangerous beyond its obvious bad effects. It cultivates a sense of powerlessness among the citizenry, who perceive their elected governments as incapable of effecting meaningful change. History has enough examples of what happens when democratic and republican assemblies appear incapable of providing effective leadership in difficult times. This underscores why difficult challenges must be addressed to maintain the health of the body politic. If our leaders will not lead for us, they must be lead by us, if we are to avoid being lead by powered interests. This short, oversimplified post is intended to be a step in the direction of citizen leadership.

The framework that follows views immigration from an environmental perspective that takes into account citizenship within a nationalist framework. I think it practical because we are citizens in nationalist frameworks and because immigration is a normal environmental phenomenon. My intent is to propose a framework for immigration based upon the environmental concept of sustainability, which is also practical, because it is social suicide to adopt models that are not sustainable.

In this post, I shall not address anti-nationalist perspectives, despite their value, because the scope of the issues is already too daunting for a short post. Furthermore, I shall not address economic or ethical perspectives that disregard the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I consider it to be inarguable that the Earth has a more or less finite amount of non-renewable and renewable resources, in human terms, and that their availability is governed by the Law of Diminishing Returns and the Principle of Net Yield. For example, the only reason immigration is an issue is because there is competition for scarce resources. If there were plenty of everything that everyone needed and wanted, then there would be no grounds for disputes and no reason to have systems of justice, except to deal with the actions of the pathological.

The ideas that follow are predicated on the notion that there are limits to growth. The only dispute is about the extent of these limits. Living beyond these limits is not sustainable.

Continue reading

Obama on “Women’s Rights” in His Speech in Cairo, Egypt

Obama's concept of women's rights?

Obama's concept of women's rights?

Oh. My. God. Is this man really as clueless as he sounds? Obama on the rights of Muslim women in the U.S.:

…freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

On what he refers to as “women’s rights”:

I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now let me be clear: issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.

That is all Obama had to say about “women’s rights” yesterday in his speech to a Muslim audience. Continue reading

Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Morning Read

The war against Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Already
It all started with this excerpt from an article in The Politico:

The top candidate, on paper, is Sotomayor, 54, a Clinton appointee to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. She meets the empathy criteria, having grown up poor in the South Bronx, as well as Obama’s preference for sterling credentials, having graduated from Yale Law School.

Even before Souter’s retirement was formally announced, some in the GOP already say they’re gearing up for a fight with Obama over his nominee, particularly if he picks Sotomayor.

It didn’t take long for some to begin the GOP’s bidding.

Jeffrey Rosen started with a hatchet job in the “esteemed” TNR: The Case Against Sotomayor

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking to a range of people who have worked with her, nearly all of them former law clerks for other judges on the Second Circuit or former federal prosecutors in New York. (…) Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.

Wonkette had an excellent summary of the article:
Is Frontrunner Mexican Lady Judge A Dumb? Anonymous Sources Think So!

Matt Yglesias responded To Jeffrey Rosen after making a very intriguing catch in the piece:

I haven’t read enough of Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them, nor have I talked to enough of Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters, to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths.

Eric Boehlert has a simple question for Jeff:

Isn’t it probably a good idea, journalism-wise, to do that before publishing a take-down piece that’s filled with anonymous quotes and is headlined, “The Case Against Sotomayor”?

Glenn Greenwald has a thorough analysis of Rosen’s article:
Jeffrey Rosen, TNR and the anonymous smears against Sonia Sotomayor

Watch Rebecca Traister smack down Jeff
Her Honor: Domineering and dumb

Political headaches
Barack Obama hints at tougher line on Israel

Pakistani President Tries to Assure U.S. on Taliban

Barack Obama to meet Afghanistan and Pakistan presidents

US investigating Afghan reports of 70 civilians killed

US, Karzai seek to mend fraying relationship at summit

Washington has been increasingly critical of the Afghan president. But with Karzai likely to win reelection this year, both sides will want to dial back the recriminations.

Economic headaches
Ben Bernanke says things are not as bad as they could have been
Bernanke’s Outlook a Bit Brighter

The U.S. economy seems to be contracting at a slower rate than it was a few months ago, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told lawmakers yesterday, delivering a message of optimism that was tempered by his forecast that the economy could perform well below its potential for some time to come.

Didn’t we hear for days that it was $10,000,000,000?
BofA Faces $35 Billion Gap

Glenn Hubbard, Hal Scott and Luigi Zingales join Richardson and Roubini
Banks Need Fewer Carrots and More Sticks

This is really scary
Latest round of Microsoft layoffs may not be last

Our daily GOP Quo Vadis
Republicans on the Hunt for Messengers as Party Moves to Reconnect With Voters

Palin joins old pal McCain to rescue GOP from extinction

D.C. determined to ruin my heterosexual marriage
D.C. to Recognize Gay Marriages

Congratulations, House Dems
Matthew Shepard Act

Latest from “Torturegate”
Torture Memos: Inquiry Suggests No ProsecutionsAn internal

Justice Department inquiry has concluded that Bush administration lawyers committed serious lapses of judgment in writing secret memorandums authorizing brutal interrogations but that they should not be prosecuted

How to Handle the Guantanamo Detainees(By Lindsay Graham and John McCain) So now beyond preemptive war there is preventive detention?

Third, preventive detention will continue to have a place in the war on terror . Under the law of war, the idea that an enemy combatant has to be tried or released is a false choice. Rather, it is well-established that combatants can be held off the battlefield as long as they present a military threat.

John Bolton is a Bag of Douche
Obama’s Prosecutions by Proxy

Huh???
Chinese civil servants left fuming by order to smoke more

That wasn’t too long, was it?
After 1,000 years, women can see treasures of Mount Athos

For the first time in almost 1,000 years, many of the legendary Byzantine treasures of Mount Athos in Greece are on view to women

In today’s absolutely unnecessary gloating
Red Sox clearly better than Yanks
Let’s not even get in that painfully ridiculous New Yankee Stadium. We will have the next decades to laugh at it.


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Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence



  • Swine Flu Update
  • Ouch! Mega Ouch!
  • On “Torturegate”
    • Condoleezza Milhouse Nixon Rice simply won’t stop embarrassing herself, not even in front of the children
      4th-Grader Questions Rice on Waterboarding

      Days after telling students at Stanford University that waterboarding was legal “by definition if it was authorized by the president,” former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was pressed again on the subject yesterday by a fourth-grader at a Washington school.

    • Interrogation Debate Sharply Divided Bush White House
    • Torturing for America

      Barack Obama has released memos detailing torture methods approved by the Bush administration but has stopped short of punishing the perpetrators. His decision puts the US to the kind of test it has not seen since Vietnam or Watergate.

    • All the President’s Accomplices

      The use of torture on suspected terrorists after Sept. 11 has already earned a place in American history’s hall of shame, alongside the Alien and Sedition Acts, Japanese internment during World War II, and the excesses of the McCarthy era. Even liberal societies seem to experience these authoritarian spasms from time to time. It is the aftermath of such episodes—what happens when a country comes to its senses—that reveals the most about a nation’s character. How do we come to terms with having betrayed our ideals?

    • U.S. asks Germany to take Guantanamo inmates

      The United States has made a formal request to Germany to take in some prisoners held at its military prison in Guantanamo Bay, a spokesman for Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Sunday.

  • What’s up with the economy?
    • David Leonhardt has a lengthy interview with the POTUS about all things economy in The Sunday’s Time Magazine. It’s pretty good.
      After the Great Recession
    • We know, we know. Paul Krugman is shrill
      Falling Wage Syndrome

      President Obama and his economic advisers seem to have steered the economy away from the abyss. But the risk that America will turn into Japan — that we’ll face years of deflation and stagnation — seems, if anything, to be rising.

    • Inflation Nation
    • BofA and Citi in last push on stress tests
    • Fiat plans European car supergroup
    • For the reading pleasure of Riverdaughter. Or is it a nightmare?
      Pharma: The 10 Most Promising New Drugs

      The pharmaceutical industry continues to march toward the patent cliff in 2010-2012, when a record amount of drug sales will lose patent protection in the U.S. This means some of the best-selling drugs, including Pfizer’s (PFE) Lipitor, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMY) Plavix and Avapro, Eli Lilly’s (LLY) Zyprexa, Wyeth’s (WYE) Effexor, and Merck’s (MRK) Cozaar/Hyzaar and Singulair will be exposed to generic competition

  • Pakistan, the other headache
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  • Sunday: Israel/Palestine rears its ugly head again

    Palestine UN Partition Plan- 1947  How far back will we go?

    Palestine UN Partition Plan- 1947 This map?

    The issue that caused the “Great Schism” on The Confluence (or the excuse anyway) is back in the news.  Rahm Emanuel has signaled to the Israelis that there will be conditions on our support.  From Mid-East Peace Pulse:

    Rahm Emanuel told an (unnamed) Jewish leader; “In the next four years there is going to be a permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it doesn’t matter to us at all who is prime minister.”

    He also said that the United States will exert pressure to see that deal is put into place.”Any treatment of the Iranian nuclear problem will be contingent upon progress in the negotiations and an Israeli withdrawal from West Bank territory,” the paper reports Emanuel as saying.  In other words, US sympathy for Israel’s position vis a vis Iran depends on Israel’s willingness to live up to its commitment to get out of the West Bank and permit the establishment of a Palestinian state there, in Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

    Obama is also not going to be taking last minute invitations to have a talk over drinks with the Israeli Prime Minister next time he’s in DC for an AIPAC conference.  Our protection of Israel from the Persian meanies in Iran seems to be contingent on Netanyahu bargaining in good faith. (H/T Corrente)  Plus, Obama is easing up on restrictions of financial aid to the Palestinian Authority.  I’m not sure how far the pendulum should swing in this regard.  After all, Hamas has links to terrorism and Israeli’s do have a legitimate concern for their safety.

    Or this one?  Pick one quickly.  We havent got all day.

    Or this post 1967 one? Pick quickly. We haven't got all day.

    On the other hand, electing an right winger like Netanyahu sounds like an attempt by Israelis to move the Overton window as far hardline as possible in anticipation of a change in US policy.  Maybe they think they can reach some homeostasis by pushing ferociously back to where they started at the end of the Bushie administration.   But it looks like the US is saying the jig is up and we will be expecting compliance from Israel for a two state solution regardless of who is prime minister.  I have a feeling that recitations of past horrors inflicted on the Jewish people may be met with “Tell it to the chaplain”.  There may be an expiration date on emotionalism.  Israelis can still make legitimate claims about the threat of terrorism but inhumanity cuts both ways these days.

    Sounds like Hillary and George Mitchell have their work cut out for them.

    In other news:

    From the files of No $%@! Sherlock, it has come to the attention of some Washingtonians on the Democratic side that Obama is not a fighter:

    Mr. Obama has not conceded on any major priority. His advisers argue that the concessions to date — on budget items, for instance — are intended to help win the bigger policy fights ahead. But his early willingness to deal or fold has left commentators, and some loyal Democrats, wondering: where’s the fight?

    “The thing we still don’t know about him is what he is willing to fight for,” said Leonard Burman, an economist at the Urban Institute and a Treasury Department official in the Clinton administration. “The thing I worry about is that he likes giving good speeches, he likes the adulation and he likes to make people happy.”

    So far, he said, “It’s hard to think of a place where he’s taken a really hard position.”

    In some of his earliest skirmishes, Mr. Obama eventually chose pragmatism over fisticuffs.

    So funny that the left blogosphere worked so hard to push back the Republicans and elect Democrats who would finally act like Democrats and what did we end up with for a President?  A shmoozer who hijacked the Democratic party and has jettisoned all that Democratic stuff to ride out four years of the worst economic crisis we’ve seen since the Great Depression by catering to the Blue Dogs.  It sounds like some Democrats in the party who caved to the Obama faux juggernaut last year are starting to realize that he is going to seriously damage the party’s reputation.

    Obama has taken a pragmatic approach because he doesn’t want to get into a partisan fight- with his own party.  This man has been given every opportunity to turn around the hardass, mean-spirited policies of the Bushies and he chooses to sit on his hands and deal pragmatically.  Where is the big Change™ agent?

    Markos Moulitsas has a lot of explaining to do.

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