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Thursday: Dear Julian

Bank of America's new headquarters?

Please pay attention, Julian.

For the last 4 days, the country’s newspapers have been in a tizzy over the leaked State Department cables full of juicy gossip and how nobody likes Iran and whether Hillary should resign because she authorized American ambassadors to snoop on their buds at the UN.  (Ummm, no, that’s not a resignable offence.) And all this time, you’ve been sitting on the real bombshell: leaked documents from the Bank of America.

Why the f%^& have you been wasting our time with this note passing crap from the State Department?

Dish, Julian!  We want to know what the bastards have been up to and what they’ve been saying about us while they’ve taken trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to make up for the other-people’s-money they gambled away.  Oh, sure, we already know they think they’re the smartest dudes on the planet and we’re all a bunch of stupid suckers. (See Money Never Weeps from This American Life.  Priceless.)  But we want to see some perp walks, Jules.  You know, dudes shedding their bespoke suits for some neon orange jumper.  And for Gawd’s sakes, do it before Interpol catches up with you and the world shuts down your servers.

The scope of the theft of taxpayer dollars is breathtaking.  Am I reading this right?  Citigroup alone helped itself to $2.2 trillion?  From the AP, Fed ID’s Companies That Used Crisis Aid Programs, we get this (very short) summary:

New documents show that the most loan and other aid for U.S. institutions over time went to Citigroup ($2.2 trillion), followed by Merrill Lynch ($2.1 trillion), Morgan Stanley ($2 trillion), Bear Stearns ($960 billion), Bank of America ($887 billion), Goldman Sachs ($615 billion), JPMorgan Chase ($178 billion) and Wells Fargo ($154 billion).

The New York Times has a more detailed article on the Fed Bailout in Fed Documents Breadth of Emergency Measures.  It’s a wonder we didn’t have another Great Depression.  Once again, the Yanks come to the world’s rescue and bails out foreign banks as well.  The bastards have soaked us for every penny in the past couple of years, raising interest rates on credit cards and foreclosing at the drop of the hat, and they brought several countries to ruin.  Ireland, Spain, Greece, Iceland and now Italy, have all been taken to the cleaners by the monumental greed and carelessness of these jerks.  They should have been taken over two years ago.  Instead, they’re still walking around free, rewarding themselves generously and sticking it to the rest of us.

Citibank, Jules, do you have anything on Citibank?  Merill-Lynch?  Get it out there, Julian.  Don’t waste a minute more of our time.

Speaking of Citigroup, Peter Orszag, Obama’s former budget director, is in negotiations to join their investment banking unit. Wait!  Isn’t there some kind of rule about joining the corporation you might have been protecting in your previous capacity as a public servant?  Don’t you have to wait a couple of years?   (Ah, yes, here is an article from Aug 2010 that refers to the waiting period for ex-legislators and regulators before they can lobby.) Or does that only apply to actual public servants, like the Clintons, who were forced to divest themselves before Hillary became Secretary of State so as to avoid even a hint of a conflict of interest?  I guess that level of scrutiny and ethics doesn’t apply when it is a guy who has left the Obama administration, even if it once applied to Congress and everyone else in government.

So, Orszag is going to join one of the criminal organizations that held up the country at gunpoint.  Yeah, that doesn’t look the least bit sleazy or unethical.  I’m sure they’re going to say, “But he’s not going to lobby.  He’s just going to join the investment banking unit.  That’s not a conflict.”  Uh-huh.  If the Obama administration doesn’t dissuade this deal and doesn’t immediately institute new rules about how long its former officials have to wait, then we can pretty much dispense with that whole notion that somehow Obama’s administration will be holier than any previous administration of either party.

And let us not forget that it was Peter Orszag who recently wrote that ridiculous opinion piece in the NYTimes about how we should turn Social Security into a welfare program.  Let’s recap: Peter Orszag, former acolyte of Robert Rubin, is present during the worst days of the banking crisis and has a hand in structuring that pathetic stimulus package after the banks crippled the economy and now, he’s going to work for the very same guys who fleeced us.  He now tries to persuade taxpayers who have been diligently paying for their retirements all of their working lives to take a haircut on Social Security because he and his new buddies don’t want to pay back their generous tax breaks.  Have I got that right?

As for Social Security and the “new and improved” Bowles-Simpson charade of a deficit reduction proposal, Paul Krugman says this in Destroying Retirement in Order to Save It:

Let’s think about that. Right now we have a retirement system that has the great virtue of not being intrusive: Social Security doesn’t demand that you prove you need it, doesn’t ask about your personal life, doesn’t make you feel like a beggar. And now we’re going to replace that with a system in which large numbers of Americans have to plead for special dispensation, on the grounds that they’re too feeble to work for a living. Freedom!

It’s worse than that, Paul.  It’s more like having to beg your ex for child support and having him plead to the court that if he gives you money, you’re just going to spend it.  Alan Simpson does not like the obligation to pay Social Security to the people who invested in it.  F^&* that $hit.  I’m not going to be made to feel like a spendthrift floozy for wanting my hard earned money back when I retire.  If I don’t get it back, it will be like paying extra taxes all my working life so that the wealthy don’t have to pay theirs for all the public services government provides them.  Social Security works and I’m sick to death and angry as all hell when people like Alan Simpson trash it.  And Obama better not think he can act like some kind of hero by saving it.  Politicians who play games with people’s retirements to score votes are in for a rude awakening.

I don’t know what must be done to punish the wicked and hit the reset switch to get rid of the virtual debt all of us responsible, hard working people are being forced to pay to the gambling addicts.  But politicians better get a move on it.  There are a lot more voters than bankers and these days, you don’t have to watch campaign ads on TV if you have a DVR.  People are paying attention.

Am I done ranting yet?  For the moment.

Onto some promising news in the area of education.  It appears that an alert superintendant and a principal in Texas have discovered what I have long suspected: teachers reward compliance over actual knowledge mastered and this is showing up in standardized tests.  (I can just see this thread being highjacked by opponents of standardized testing.  Get over it, guys.  In the rest of the world, standardized tests are, well, standard.  This is a losing battle.)  In A’s for Good Behavior, the students with the best grades in the class were not always the students with the best test scores in terms of mastery of material.  Conversely, some of the students who got poor grades in class and seemed turned off by school, scored better than their honor roll counterparts.

I’ve seen this in action with my own eyes.  For nine miserable years, Brooke floundered in school.  Her tests were always outstanding, putting her in the top 1-2% in the state and nationally.  But this kid never made the honor roll.  Her teachers were constantly on my case to force her to turn in signed test papers that never made it home, fill out reams of pointless worksheets covering material she already knew and write drafts of papers with corrected mistakes that she never made.  She was misdiagnosed as having ADHD, was sent to detention on multiple occasions for minor infractions and humiliated in front of the class by one of her teachers for not having a pencil.  Points were taken off for breathing too loud.  For nine long years, I struggled to get the kid out of bed in the morning because she didn’t want to go to school.  She wasn’t a troublemaker.  She was bored out of her mind and tired of spinning her wheels in class not learning new material.

High school has been a blessing for Brooke.  She has skipped grades in several subjects and she’s now doing the work.  But it has been a constant struggle with the educational establishment and has been personally expensive as I have born the costs of additional testing, summer courses in math to keep her at her level and online courses to substitute for what the high school couldn’t or wouldn’t provide for her.

But Brooke is lucky in some ways.  I knew there was something wrong with the way she was being educated and took steps to correct it.  In my own extended family, I’ve seen what happens when a kid doesn’t have that kind of advocacy.  It’s not pretty. The study in Texas suggests that up to 10% of their students were being underserved because they failed to meet the teacher’s standards of compliance.  Meanwhile, a significant number of A students thought they were smarter than they actually were.

They’ll probably grow up to be bankers.

157 Responses

  1. What she said.

  2. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Obama or any of the current crop of Democrats to do right by Joe and Jane Sixpack. The era of FDR Democrats in over.
    The erosion started with Reagan Democrats and has continued in fits and starts since.
    If you want economic justice, single payer, a fully integrated military, full GLBT rights including marriage you are going to have to look elsewhere.
    So, say goodbye to Social Security because the generation of Senior Citizens that warned the politicians off touching it because they remembered the Depression has faded away.

    • Mebbe.
      But the generation who has lost a ton of money in their 401Ks due to the market crash of 2008 or persistent unemployment is now here.
      And it votes.

      • … and they just returned the party that led the way in deregulaing the financial industry to power.
        What does that tell you.

        • You have to use cat litter to get rid of the shit. The Repubs are in for a very short ride unless they start exposing the crooks. Will they? Probably not. But they are extremely pissed at Wall St for switching sides in 2008. Think cat litter.

          • Pissed at Wall Street?? More like collaborators to stick Democrats with the blame when the economy went south and the banks needed a bailout and so Republicans could sit back and do nothing but point fingers.
            Oh, yeah, both parties are suboptimal right now but don’t be fooled by Republicans. They play to win.

          • The Republicans are pissed that Wall St gave Dems money, not at what they did. In Republican land if you give money to Democrats you are disloyal. They do not give a hoot what Wall St does but they have to play by Republican rules.

          • I don’t think they care about wall street giving money to Dems.. Ive never seen any evidence that they care.

          • RD is right. Republicans are not “pissed”. They will do anything to get more campaign money from Wall Street, which they are doing, but pissed? No. They more like trying to prove they can kiss WS a** even better than the Dems. The majority of Americans are pissed at both parties for siding with the banksters, which is why the Repubs are in for a very short ride, as will the Dems be again until either another Party emerges or the Democrats stop crapping on their base.

            Great post, RD! You nailed it!

        • I mean, Russ Feingold i slooking for work.

          • The good people of WI expected more of him. He just kind of went along to get along and they got rid of him. He knew better so he walked.

          • The elected a republican, not Finegold’s primary challenger (if he had one).

        • To never give up.

          • in the face of them making one of the architects of this disaster House Minority Leader?
            I see it as rewarding failure.
            I know, I know … they used the excuse of it being a demonstration of stability in the face of adversity but to me it’s business as usual.

          • I Vote too and I am niot going to sit quietly while they ROB us. At a WOMAN RD, give ’em hell!

      • It votes, but the ballots are filled with candidates who are against the very fiber of our society.

        Is there a minimum voter turnout? In other words, would an election be nullified if only 1% of registered voters showed up to vote for the frauds the parties are giving us?

  3. Riverdaughter, be sure and carry the newspaper article around with you and have it laminated. As a resident of Texas I have known many educators in secondary education who already knew this. The most successful academic competition teams are made up of these super smart kids who seldom are on the honor roll (and their parents do not bring cinnamon rolls to the teachers!). And they win big.

    • I don’t know what it’s like in Texas but if you aren’t getting A’s here, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. You don’t get selected for honors classes. That’s what happened to Brooke. I ended up having to enroll her in an English course at Stanford’s EPGY because of it. There was no way in hell her teachers were going to select her. They even failed her on projects where she wrote perfect essays in her final drafts – because there were insufficient drafts showing she had corrected her mistakes.
      But high school is different. She just skipped 3 years of French and her teachers appreciate her much more this year. It’s just too bad that her first nine years were such disasters and cost us so much money. (you don’t even want to know what the school demanded and put us through in terms of ADHD diagnosis and coaching when the medication didn’t work- because she didn’t have ADHD)
      Awful, awful experience.

      • The American education system is geared towards producing conformists worker pods who consume for entertainment. Learning to stand in line quietly and obey/fear the teacher/boss authority and put up with a lot of boring, repetitious tasks is good preparation for the factory/cube/big-box afterlife. The goal is to get the biggest house one can qualify for based on future earnings and to fil it full of stuff. Work steadily for 30 years to pay it off. Methinks if the interest weren’t part of the societal package–this is how one can put it on layaway and rent from the bank/broker/sub-prime financial scheme of the moment and subsidized by all
        taxpayers that houses would cost significantly less.

        Before WWII Americans had difficulty saving, after credit cards, Americans have a hard time climbing out of even non-mortgage (French for death lock) debt. Seems that high schools would institute a few mandatory classes to help students thrive, such as basic financial protection when out in the world and basic nutrition. I was in the so-called Honors classes, which were mostly of value because of the smart students whose intellects exceeded that of most tteachers. I did figure out that truth and real knowledge were not on the agenda. The material was all scripted.

      • That is Terrible. I’m doing LD assessments now, and what Brooke could have used (beyond a system that wasn’t irretrievably broken) was a clinical psych who understood that advocacy is part of the testing process.

        Also, I once almost failed a course in COLLEGE for handing in insufficient drafts to show improvement even though the end product was totally up to par. I wanted to MURDER that professor. I was a terrible student all the way through school and now I get 4.0s in grad school. Frankly, I’m lucky I escaped thinking I was dumb. School is not designed for kids who don’t sit quietly at work at the teacher’s pace.

  4. Fantastic post, RD!

    I’m so sick of the boyz club using any excuse to undermine either Hillary or Sarah or any woman who may be a threat to their little frat party which has been going on in D.C. for decades.

    Social Security is NOT an entitlement. It’s my money. They took our money without asking and without paying it back. Those guys who keep calling Social Security an entitlement do think we have forgotten that SS is a govenrment mandated retirement plan for Americans and is anything but an entitlement.

    These guys think they are entitled to do with OUR money anything they damn well please and not be held accountable for robbing the American people.

    I wish we could vote them out of office, but I assure you, our elections are just as corrupt as our govenrment (the two go hand-in-hand) . You can’t get rid of corrupt politicians with corrupt elections, set up by corrupt politicians who wish to stay in power in perpetuity.

    The only way we can truly hold these guys accountable and take back our government is to take back our elections, just like the Germans did, by banning e-voting and returning to public hand counts. It’s the only way we can put these guys in orange jumpsuits and believe me, they know it.

    • In Europe they always paid more attention to what their governments were doing than we do here in the Big PX.
      Unfortunately for us the print and broadcast media is either owned by special interest groups or depends on them for advertising dollars. I don’t know how many times I hear spots for one of the local HMO franchises on the rock station that’s on at work.
      The cure for that was supposed to be NPR but we all know how that worked.
      But even if they were well informed the O-bots would have still over ran the caucuses and the results would be the same.

      • Look at France, the government tried raising the retirement age to 60 (!!!) and they were buring cars and breaking windows, here we just drop trou and bend over.

      • Soros just gave NPR money to hire 100 new journalists…presumably Soros and MoveOn friendly journalists. Or more simply put, Soros just relocated 100 activists from MoveOn to NPR. Was in the news yesterday. Compared to the money these Wall Street guys make and work with everyday, the cost of buying politicians and the media is pocket change. But here’s the caveat point which not everyone will agree with…the reason these “player” financiers and corporate execs and consultants buy politicians and the media is not primarily to make themselves wealthier…they can do that on their own for the most part. The bigger reason they buy into politics is to make a “difference” – because they know what’s best for the country…their inflated egos like their inflated wallets tell them so. It’s just another kind of power trip, and it can be based just as much on Democratic Establishment “principles” as Republican Establishment ones. Obama has no principles because the plays are always called in from the sidelines, and a Republican coach has just taken over the main play calling duties. Obama understands this is how the game is played. Hillary would have been the QB capable of calling plays in the huddle.

        • NPR has the only non-country, non-top40 programs in my area, so it’s usually on my car radio until the news breaks.

          Yesterday, when the news came on and before I could hit the next station button, I heard an NPR “journalist” refer to the controversy about the Catfood Commissions recommendations as “doing away with some popular middle-class tax breaks.”

          That was it. No mention at all of Social Security, I did keep it on until they went on to another topic.

      • So-ros and/or Move-On in moderation. 🙂

  5. Its perfectly clear that Obama has to go in 2012 along with any congressperson who jumps on the deficit reduction bandwagon with Obama’s handpicked crew of right-wing losers.
    We have a political cartoonist in our local paper, Chan Lowe. He was relentless in his adoration of all things Obama and a Hillary-hater. He was very effective, even after Hillary whipped Obama’s butt in the primary that didn’t count down here in Florida.
    Yesterday, Chan Lowe published a editorial along with his cartoon. Please go read it . I wish I knew how to publish a quote from it. Here’s some:
    “it has become more apparent than ever that simple, cold competency was and is the foremost quality needed in our leader in these tough times. The jury’s still out on Barack Obama in that regard, but Hillary has left no doubt that she possesses it in abundance.”
    http://blogs.trb.com/news/opinion/chanlowe/blog/

    • Thank for nuthin’, chan.

    • The jury is still out? Please. The jury delivered its verdict the day Barack Obama argued for a tax heavy, non-jobs focused stimulus.

    • The slow but sure turnaround in “Oh, how we adore The One” is very prevalent. I predicted we would see a day when no one would admit voting for Obama. It’s coming; I can feel it.

      Last night I read a quite amazing thread at DU. There have been rumblings but this thread was filled with disgust over the Obama Administration, most voices finally admitting that the man is less Dem than Republican [who would have thunk it after Obama named Saint Ronnie as his shining star].

      And then, I took a spin to Cheeto-land, where a diary poster had the audacity to suggest: We should have elected Hillary because she’s got game and spine.

      I didn’t stick around to catch the response. The poster might have been stoned for all I know. But the resistance has begun. Finally.

      The real test will be if it lasts, if the remnants of the Democratic Party can muster enough energy and brass to challenge the Great Destroyer in 2012. I’d like to be hopeful in this regard. But I’m not, based on the “go along to get along’ mentality of so many Democratic legislators, who are wa-a-y more concerned about their own creature comforts than the welfare of the American public.

      Yesterday I listened to Bernie Sanders stand up in the Senate and give an impassioned, blood-stirring speech about the war on the middle-class. Why is this the exception? Why aren’t we hearing one loud, Democratic voice demanding restitution for the middle-class, the working-class, the down and out? This Republic will not survive with a two-tiered structure. And that’s where we’re headed: The mega rich and the rest of us. Banana Republic is a-coming.

      Why? Oh, that’s right. Because the Party sold its soul, joined the Republicans as handmaidens to the banks and corporate honchos. Instead, the media gives air to Alan Simpson’s snide, sniveling presentation, where he addressed Congress and said “I feel your pain” with a smirk and an audience chuckle. At the American public’s expense.

      They’re going to push this too far, press everyone’s back to the edge of the abyss. I’m beginning to wonder if that wasn’t the plan all along.

      I swing between absolute astonishment and great sadness. And then, the anger sets in.

      Dangerous times we’re living in.

      • By the way, the resistance began right here, when RD formed The Confluence and a bunch of us who were immune to the koolaid decided to speak up alongside her.

  6. You have my support Riverdaughter, with the kid there. I love public education, but it’s a bloody nightmare if you have a kid that needs to be challenged. I’ve been really lucky, we have some great alternatives here within our public school, but I am now on child number four and it’s still a real challenge.

    I have really bright kids, but it’s not just that. Our schools have become so boring and the standards are so low. I help with the middle schoolers once a week and most of them are still doing 4th grade math. Why?? No wonder these kids are bored to tears, if I’d been stuck in the same math level for four years, I’d hate it too.

    • Hate to say it, but that may be because the teachers haven’t yet advanced in math beyond the 4th grade level. I once taught a GED program where another part-time instructor refused “to support math”. Huh???

  7. I believe it’s only Bank of America he has dirt on. And once he messes with the real masters, then he’ll be in danger!
    My Morning Sneeze: Dean tells Obama to reclaim his progressive base
    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/the-morning-sneezedean-tells-obama-to-reclaim-progressive-base/

    • As of late, I get the Dean e-mails and hit the can button. I have more respect for Jesse Jackson Sr., as he is taking on this Social Security issue as a War on Poverty, something Obama’s base, Wall Street Greedos know nothing about.

      If Obama is successful, many working folks will be in poverty asking for what they contributed to for their retirement and made to feel like smut.

      We have to keep saying over and over, until these ROBBERS get it, Social Security/Medicare is paid with OUR MONEY, the employees paid into it and the employers matched it, it is NOT WELFARE!

      Obama’s Cat Food Commission wants to TAKE OUR MONEY! Where is Pelosi? Where is Dean? Will Jesse Jackson Sr., be the only Democrat to challenge this ROBBERY!

    • OMG! My son and I were talking about the leaks this morning and I said to him, the current set of leaks has pissed off people in gov’t, but he is threatening to mess with the ones who are really in charge – banks – now he will really be in trouble.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy ended up gone before anything gets released about banks.

      • Wikileaks is more than Julian Assange. This is a network involving hundreds upon hundreds of people, amatuer and professional journalists alike [or so it’s reported] from around the globe. Even though there’s full-fledged assault on the group, they’re still managing to download material.

        But I agree, take on the Money Men and the hounds of Hell will be unleashed. Bank of America is in their sites now, but all the TBTF’s are vulnerable. And I’m sure they know it.

        Transparency is a very dangerous word right now.

  8. In addition to compliance with teacher demands for turning in asinine “worksheet” assignments (many purchased from the “ed publishers”) throw in the asininity of ed thinking that promotes “one size fits all”. Resources for “gifted” student programs has been gutted and provisions for high performance classes have pretty much disappeared. High school is probably less guilty than the lower grades because at the high school level teachers tend to be more subject matter oriented and you really can’t fake it through lack of fundamental knowledge in the maths and sciences that reach beyond introductory levels. Glad to hear that Brooke is breaking through the sloth. May she find happiness in AP and/or IB classes.

  9. Meanwhile, a significant number of A students thought they were smarter than they actually were.
    They’ll probably grow up to be bankers.

    This made me laugh inordinately because they are being educated along the “banking model.” The teacher deposits knowledge into the empty little heads and the teacher withdraws the knowledge during tests. And after the tests the kids are free to forget everything they memorized. Ridiculous form of pedagogy.

    • And 80% of the tests are multiple guess format put together by the textbook companies. Where in life do you have multiple guess formats with one right answer?

    • If I read the article correctly, the “A” students were getting credit for turning in homework and remembering to bring boxes of kleenex to class. They were getting top grades for being teacher-pleasing and following the arbitrary “rules”.

      Not that there is anything wrong with that – except if you actually thought that “A” in math had anything to do with math performance or college readiness.

      I thought it was interesting that the parents of students benefitting from getting “A’s” for compliance were protesting having grades based on subject mastery.

      • Oh, I might add that I have a (GT) boy who got low compliance grades all through school and had to listen to plenty of teachers complain about tapping pencils or sleeping through class… Never mind test scores or results since that is not what teacher interpreted as their mission.

        Raising a kid who attentively doesn’t tap a pencil on the side of the desk (or hold it under his nose with his upper lip and make it wiggle when other kids look.) and turns in tidy worksheets on time… Now that would be the highly desired “product” of 12 years of “study”!

  10. I am with your plea to Dear Julian. The info that governments spy on each other even when they are supposed to be friends is no big surprise. But getting info on what the big corps are up to and doing to us—now that is info worth having and it is not going to fall out of the sky.

    • It is tied into what the WAR mongers are up to, and benefiting from while Obama’s Cat Commission is busy trying to take our MONEY to pay for their continuation of the WARS and possibly another one on the way.

      If they want WARS then put forth a WAR TAX, our Social Security/Medicare FUND is not a WAR FUND!

      Also, where are the missing BILLIONS from the Pentagon??? GOT HOPE???

    • Me too. I really want to see the dirt on the banskters.

      • I want to see that dirt too, but it won’t mean that I trust Assange or Wikileaks or that I’ll forgive them for releasing a huge pile of pseudo-shocking State Dept docs just to stir up shit.

  11. Hehehe…The Bots over at the place which must not be named are freaking out because Matt Bai is reporting Obama privately describes himself as “essentially a blue dog”. Well, duh.

  12. democracynow Democracy Now!
    by skdadl
    #JulianAssange’s lawyer: Calls for his assassination are outrageous & illegal. Watch interview: http://ow.ly/3iK0s #wikileaks

    • I was thinking this guy was kind of complacent about his rights and naive. I mean, he didn’t just embarrass the US, he offended other countries that don’t always believe in due process.

      • I don’t believe he is or was naive at all. I believe that it has less to do with naivete’ and more to do with idealism. I truly think he believes the only way to fix things is to bring everything to light. I think it’s a principle thing for him.

        • I am beginning to believe that indeed someone up high leaked because of the concern over a NEW ARMS RACE with RUSSIA and the possibility (looking for confirmation) that Iran has missiles via North Korea.

          So, it almost seems as if Putin is welcoming the Leaks and is only offended by the snarky comments, but over all seems to be on a media tour.

          Also, it would make sense as to why Julian Assange is in London, as the NEW ARMS RACE would put Britain in the path of the Nukes from both sides.

          This spy thing is too fast moving and it is hard to keep up with all the leaks and what they all mean…ah, too busy of a read this morning…

      • His new PR Lawyer is doing a good job:

        democracynow Democracy Now!
        by WomanVote
        Attorney for #JulianAssange responds to @SarahPalin’s attack on #Wikileaks. Watch Interview: http://ow.ly/3iTik

  13. Democrats who call Social Security an Entitlement Program have fallen into a Republican trap. Change SS benefits to be based on a “needs test” and it becomes welfare.

    We have long been told that SS is supplemental retirement income. Those who have saved and invested so that SS will not be their only source of income should not now be penalized. Needs based SS benefits are a disincentive to personal responsibility. Whoopee, just go ahead and spend your money now – you’ll get more SS later!

    Is this the “change” people hoped for when they voted for Obama?

    • You’ll have to forgive me because as soon as anyone says “disincentive” in a discussion about economic policy I tend to immediately start grinding my teeth into powder.

      But where exactly do we close the gap? I love the idea of Social Security as it was designed. But it is nowhere near enough to live off of. What do we do for the elderly poor who didn’t have the “personal responsibility” (or good fortune, or whatever) to save up? I don’t care how old people are living to these days, their brains and bodies are not keeping up. You can’t do minimum wage labor (usually involving a great deal of standing or physical labor) forever, and even if you could, you can’t live off of minimum wage, much less SAVE part of it. Short of shipping them out to sea on an ice floe, or shoveling welfare at them (which appears not to be your ideal solution), what do we DO?

      Personally, I think raising the minimum wage to cover the actual cost of living would be a start, as would universal single-payer healthcare, as would preserving SS as it stands today (except raising the rates and thus the pay-outs). I also think we should keep the retirement age EXACTLY where it is (with options to retire earlier for health reasons), if not lower it. Life is for more than just working a job until your body falls apart.

      • “or shoveling welfare at them (which appears not to be your ideal solution)”

        Sorry about your teeth grinding. My comment wasn’t meant to address the separate issue of those that don’t have income other than SS. I do believe that welfare and medicaid should be used for those who can’t live off their SS benefit and don’t have other means of support. However I strongly believe that welfare should not be funded out of SS taxes. Public support for SS taxes will likely erode if it becomes viewed as funding welfare.

        I agree with what Krugman said, “Let’s think about that. Right now we have a retirement system that has the great virtue of not being intrusive: Social Security doesn’t demand that you prove you need it, doesn’t ask about your personal life, doesn’t make you feel like a beggar. And now we’re going to replace that with a system in which large numbers of Americans have to plead for special dispensation, on the grounds that they’re too feeble to work for a living. Freedom!”

    • The GOP is doing to the words entitlement program what they did to liberal. In government the word entitlement isn’t an awful thing. It actually means a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or legislation. For example, the VA system is an entitlement program. Legislation set parameters on who can collect benefits for veterans.

      • Actually technically in the federal government the words “entitlement program” are not used in connection with the budget. The federal budget is composed of “discretionary” and “non-discretionary or mandatory” spending programs. Social Security and Veterans benefits are non-discretionary budget items. Congress must fund them.

        My source for this information is my daughter who used to be responsible for preparing the annual budget for several programs administered by Health & Human Services. She has a Masters in Public Administration and also is an attorney. She also gave me a long winded explanation about why from a legal standpoint the government does not call these programs entitlements.

        I think Social Security advocates should be careful about using language that is often given with pejorative connotation (e.g. a “sense of entitlement”).

    • The commission says austerity or depression, take your pick. Meanwhile the capital markets are responding very well to all the talk of fiscal discipline. The private sector should be responsible for settling at least two thirds of the 6 trillion debt that the Treasury and Fed have run up since the crisis started. They should leave Social Security alone. Healthcare will be the tougher challenge.

      • I love some economists to tiny pieces, but I have to say, what the HELL is wrong with economists? It’s been more than 80 years since the initial publication of the tenets of Keynesian economics. We know the theory and we know it works! Why the HELL is the entire debate still framed in terms of supply-side economics when it’s been OBVIOUSLY FAILING for 40 years?

    • I have no problem with the word “entitlement”

      Democrats who call Social Security an Entitlement Program have fallen into a Republican trap

      Entitled:
      1 give (someone) a legal right or a just claim to receive or do something : employees are normally entitled to severance pay | [ trans. ] the landlord is entitled to require references.

  14. Alexander Cockburn: How the US press have colluded with government in their fury at the WikiLeaks founder
    By Alexander Cockburn
    LAST UPDATED 7:51 AM, DECEMBER 2, 2010

    The American airwaves quiver with the screams of parlour assassins howling for Julian Assange’s head. Jonah Goldberg, contributor to the National Review, asks in his syndicated column, “Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?” Sarah Palin wants him hunted down and brought to justice, saying: “He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands.”

    Assange can survive these theatrical blusters. A tougher question is how he will fare at the hands of the US government, which is hopping mad. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, announced on Monday that the Justice Department and Pentagon are conducting “an active, ongoing criminal investigation” into the latest Assange-facilitated leak under Washington’s Espionage Act.

    Asked how the US could prosecute Assange, a non-US citizen, Holder said, “Let me be clear. This is not sabre-rattling,” and vowed “to swiftly close the gaps in current US legislation…”

    In other words the espionage statute is being rewritten to target Assange, and in short order, if not already, President Obama – who as a candidate pledged “transparency” in government – will sign an order okaying the seizing of Assange and his transport into the US jurisdiction. Render first, fight the habeas corpus lawsuits later.

    Interpol, the investigative arm of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, has issued a fugitive notice for Assange. He’s wanted in Sweden for questioning in two alleged sexual assaults, one of which seems to boil down to a charge of unsafe sex and failure to phone his date the following day.

    This prime accuser, Anna Ardin has, according to the journalist Israel Shamir, writing on the CounterPunch site, “ties to the US-financed anti-Castro and anti-communist groups. She published her anti-Castro diatribes in the Swedish-language publication Revista de Asignaturas Cubanas put out by Misceláneas de Cuba…Note that Ardin was deported from Cuba for subversive activities.”

    It’s certainly not conspiracism to suspect that the CIA has been at work in fomenting these Swedish accusations. As Shamir reports, “The moment Julian sought the protection of Swedish media law, the CIA immediately threatened to discontinue intelligence sharing with SEPO, the Swedish Secret Service.”

    http://tiny.cc/x7czs

  15. Spies, WikiLeaks & 2012: Putin Live on Larry King

    • Russian PM Vladimir Putin with Larry King (longer clip of interview)

    • Putin’s problem with wikileaks, and saying it’s all a hoax, might have something to do with this:

      The widow of Alexander Litvinenko said that leaked US diplomatic cables vindicated her long-standing claim that Vladimir Putin had authorised her husband’s murder.

      In secret conversations with the French, the top US diplomat Daniel Fried said it was unlikely Putin was not aware of the operation to poison Litvinenko with polonium, “given Putin’s attention to detail”.

      Fried also dismissed the idea that rogue criminal elements were to blame. The Russians were behaving with “increasing self-confidence to the point of arrogance”, he added, in a classified cable revealed yesterday.

      In a statement to the Guardian today, Marina Litvinenko said the cable – written two weeks after her husband’s death in November 2006 – confirmed her assertion this was a Kremlin-authorised operation.

      She said: “There is some satisfaction in seeing what we have all known to be true documented so officially, and I would add brutally by being so matter of fact in its description. It brings me a little closer to achieving truth and justice for my late husband.

      “For years we have been trying to get the authorities in the west to view my husband’s murder as a state-sponsored crime. Now it appears they knew it all along.”

      • So now if a diplomat suppositions something is valid it becomes the “truth.” I feel for this widow but someone saying that it is likely is not the same thing as saying I have proof that he did it.

        • And THAT is the problem with the wikileaks shit. Fucking Anarchy, because most of the world has not the time, inclination, or skill to sort through this shit and will just come along for the media/propaganda ride which will be used to take out whoever the powers want gone.

  16. I’ve seen this in action with my own eyes. For nine miserable years, Brooke floundered in school.
    *******
    Sounds familiar except for me it was 12 miserable years. The “C” student who was usually assigned a seat at the back of the class. Standardized tests saved my a**. When I scored >98 percentile on the PSAT, it f*cked with their minds and my grades started improving, independent of my efforts.

    Things will be much better for Brooke after High School; she will do well in College and Grad school.

  17. Great post. I think Julian has been a complete idiot. How could he not know that military secrets and even state department secrets would be nothing compared to corporate secrets. Now that he’s threatening the people that actually own those governments, he’s getting in real trouble. I’m not sure that information will make it out, and I’m not sure he’ll live that long. He should have just released the corporate stuff without the warning ahead of time.

    • If we all go KABOOM, it won’t much matter how much money…blah, blah… NUKES kill, and a NEW ARMS RACE is a serious concern.

      Where is Beyond War when you need them…

  18. The wikileaks guy is now complaining that his First Amendment rights have been violated because Amazon shut down his server. He’s an Australian, living in Britain, participating in espionage against the US! Not to mention, a private company is not required to support your free speech rights by hosting your website just because you demand it.

    There’s an odd sense of entitlement here. How can you run around demanding your First amendment rights under the US Constitution when you aren’t even in this country and you’re engaged in an attack against us?

    • He certainly isn’t attacking me. I see his position as quite valid. As a citizen I believe I have a right to know what the government is doing on my behalf. They work for me, not the other way around.

      • I agree and the matter of 15,000 + deaths is startling and more so, since their really hasn’t been any inquiries or questions as to how this will work out for us in the long range. When the wars started my nephews were in grade school, right now they are draft age and the WARS don’t seem to have an end and NOW they plan on funding the WARS with Social Security/Medicare Funds, which is wrong.

        Who is getting rich from all these WARS?

        Also, who approved the negotiations with the Taliban impostor? They gave that impostor ‘classified information’ and he isn’t wanted by the US. Also, what happened to Osama Bin Laden and is Sarah Palin doing any tweets about capturing and hunting him down?

        • I need some coffee…

        • It bothers me that the DoD would sweep the deaths of innocent civilians under the rug as if the lives of others were less valuable then our own. It bothers me that my country could be complicit in upending a democracy for it’s own benefit. It bothers me that we seem to repeatedly trust the wrong people and operate with little regard to future consequences.

          The petty he said she said and the intelligence gathering doesn’t bother me as much as the decisions being made behind closed doors on who rates favored status and who should be assassinated/deposed etc,etc. These type of decisions have long term consequences and when they come to light affect our standing in the international theater and our relations.

          • I totally agree with you about the enormity of that particular problem. I just don’t think wikileaks is going about addressing it very well this time.

    • He isn’t spying, that hasn’t been proven, he was sent the information, just as newspapers in the past have. Also, someone must feel that Bush II going without inquiry by Nancy Pelosi and everyone else, was leading us down a slippery slope. When does someone say NO, if we continue to start WARS without congress declaring WAR?

      Also, why are there no hearings on all these matters and as one analyst said, why are US TOP secrets OK, when it is for books, when the information is being release by BUSH II and Obama?

      Also, are you ready for Jeb Bush?

    • Agreed across the board. Also, I’m a Canadian living in the States and I still don’t have all of the protections that US Citizens do.

  19. hoping all is well with our R.D. and any one else in the area..it,s bad out there 😦

  20. wow – your rant is right on here! Yes, it’s bad out there – bout as bad as it can get …. I think.

    School? Brooke’s story sounds a bit like my daughter’s story. We finally pulled her out in 10th grade (long story how we managed it) and she took a couple of classes at local h.s. when we moved. She was misdiagnosed as well …. ADD, Bipolar; all the fancy new dx’s. She has received two degrees from community college now and is going on to get a B.A. in veterinary major. She’s very bright. Glad Brooke is thriving.

  21. RD, you can’t have it both ways. If you want standardized testing (for which you seem to advocate in this post) with all the pressure it brings, then you better be ready for standardized education. Teachers don’t have time, energy, or resources for those kids who color outside the lines. I am not saying by any means that I believe in this philosophy–I don’t–but this is the truth from someone in the trenches, not sitting in an ivory tower passing judgment.

    • I think part of the issue discussed here is not with teaching material vs. teaching to the tests, but with doing neither. I think the issue in this case is that teachers are not measuring understanding of material but instead are measuring how much a student conforms or how much they like the student. Sadly teaching to the tests and only measuring those would be an improvement in this case.

      • LJSN also has a valid point though.

        RD’s complaint is that her daughter’s teachers had standard requirements. Her daughter was required to turn in drafts even if she got it perfect the first go round. She was expected to do homework like OTHER students and was penalized when standard requirements were not met.

        If you want standardization then you can’t expect to not have to take the bad along with the good. The argument against standardization has always been that it does not allow the teacher’s to see each student as an individual and deal with them as individuals. Ironically enough, that seems to be RD’s complaint regarding the system meeting Brooke’s needs.

        • I have a daughter in grade school and her report card is now separated to measure against standards for her grade and social skills, work habits and compliance. she is awarded scores for progress toward specific competency goals for end of year using this scoring method:
          1 – significantly below standard
          2 – on target to meet the standard
          3 – met standard
          4 – exceeds standard

          Then there is a different section that scores personality/compliance using consistent/inconsistent as the measure.

          This is way more helpful for me than the old “effort” grades that didn’t tell me if my son’s “low effort” was sufficient to achieve mastery of standards – which was clear only by test scores.

          With evaluations based on standards, I now know my daughter has met or exceeded most of the standards for her grade (and still has 7 months of instruction).

          • Standardization is a mixed bag. On the upside, it sets the criteria essential for advancement. You have a floor. On the downside there isn’t a whole lot of room for recognizing that different individuals may be strong in one area while weak in another or individuality. Teachers are expected to teach towards the floor rather than the proverbial ceiling. RD’s perspective is as a parent with 1 child and getting that child to reach her full potential. The teacher’s perspective is likely going to be different on the basis of her responsibility is to get 30 children to meet the minimum requirements. Her priority is going to be towards getting the ones having difficulty so they can advance. If a child has already met the standards then there is a good possibility she’s going to be bored while waiting for her peers to catch up. With standardization the teacher’s primary responsibility is getting each and every child to floor level, moreso then cultivating one child’s natural talents.

            I sympathize with both sides. Class size becomes a real issue with standardization IMO. As a parent there is nothing worse than watching your child’s abilities being stymied and seeing your child unhappy with something you were hoping would be fun. On the other hand though, teachers certainly must be frustrated to be told that every child must meet X criteria by Y date in each and every subject for advancement. In large classes the pressure of getting every child to X by Y date must be tremendous.

          • Actually having specific standards helps. As a parent, I can see exactly what the goals of the grade level are and I can see where my child might need help. These are super specific goals and they are segmented with skill areas for that goal. I can see if one skill area is hard for my child and I can work with the teacher to help.

            The old “effort” based grades were horrible and the next alternative of having one score/grade for Math doesn’t give any idea of where the extra help might make a difference. Combine that with compliance being mixed into the competence, as a parent, I had no idea what to do to help my son improve his grades. Was it the pencil tapping or did he have a problem with long division?

        • Um, Brooke took the SAT at the end if 8th grade and got a 730 on the writing portion. IMHO, she was ready for high school English 2 years ago. Her teachers tried to hold her back in a regular English class for her Freshman year. Do you see any purpose for that? Because I sure as hell don’t.
          She’s now in the correct placement for her abilities and working her ass off. As I always knew she would. Holding her back because she didn’t prove she made any mistakes was pretty fricking pointless.

          • I don’t know enough about Brooke, her teacher or the dynamics of the situation.

            That being said, while a child may see certain steps as pointless and mundane, a teacher may see them as a way to establish behavioral patterns and as teaching good habits. As adults we are sometimes required to do things that are mundane. Our bosses may not always feel it is essential to explain the point of doing something. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to do these things because we don’t like them. Part of growing up is accepting that you may have to do the mundane and seemingly pointless sometimes. Hopefully Brooke recognizes that. Otherwise I hope you save enough that she can innovate her own company and not have to deal with that aspect of things.

          • cwaltz, show me the four intermediate drafts of that comment, with errors crossed out in red with appropriate corrections. I need to see your work. I need to see how that comment evolved. I know it’s mundane, but we need to see all that intermediate work that got you to your final draft. If there was no intermediate work, you fail. Period.

            I think that fits the example cited.

          • DT

            Let me know when I’m getting paid to comment and I’ll be more than happy to footnote, cite and I’ll be sure to use word to correct my errors.

            I do this for recreation. School is essentially a child’s JOB.

          • LOL. OK, point taken. But I think the issue here is that what if a student wrote something well the first time and fails because they didn’t need intermediate drafts. What if the assignment were 1 + 1 = ?. You say 2 and the teacher says you need to show me the intermediate steps showing all your errors and your work. If there just aren’t any intermediate steps for a student, why should they get punished? I don’t have a problem with the mundane work and showing it. But what if there isn’t any.

          • CWaltz, if that was the goal, they should have accelerated her two grades years ago so the homework would be worth doing.
            BTW, when did it become the school’s business to teach children to accept boredom and pointless tedium? Why not just stick to English?

          • The sad fact is one of the purposes of public education has always been to teach children to accept boredom and pointless tedium–in order to make them good wage slaves in the corporate machine. This is part of the “hidden curriculum”.

            Perhaps one reason our masters, the Malefactors Of Great Wealth, lack interest in funding public education these days is that they have realized they can get cheaper wage slaves in other countries.

          • But yes, what is being done to Brooke and others like her is evil. The MOGW don’t want a lot of smart, well-educated people, because such people are more likely to make trouble.

            Better, for the MOGW’s purposes, to import smart people from overseas, who can be deported if they speak up.

          • Also, by Sturgeon’s Law, 90% of what Corporate Amerika sells is crap, and it’s harder to sell crap to smart, well-educated people. This is another reason the Masters don’t want a lot of smart, well-educated people. 😉

            IIRC, Einstein said, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” Maybe Brooke can draw some comfort from that. 😛

          • Why in the world would a teacher accelerate a child that wasn’t meeting the requirements in a regular class? Acceleration would mean more work and higher standards. How exactly was this teacher going to know that a child that wasn’t doing the work in her regular class would all of a sudden decide to do the work in an environment that was more challenging?

            It is a school’s job to prepare children for the future. That future often includes doing things we don’t want to do. Their job encompasses looking at traits like jjm noted above of work habits and compliance.

            Furthermore, it’s absurd to characterize kids that have gotten A’s in these classes as not mastering the skills particularly when you are arguing for standardization. That A is a standard. It means the student excelled beyond average. And it also means they likely did the work that was expected in the regular track. Standardizing means treating each child by the same standards. It means that you don’t tell a child it’s okay for her to skip her homework but you’re going to require it of others.

            Anyway, I don’t know Brooke or her teacher well enough to comment beyond my position that I understand where LJSN is coming from. A teacher’s perspective is likely to be different then yours because her/ his position and responsibilities are different than those of a parent of one child.

            I’m glad Brooke is doing well and enjoying her classes. Here’s to hoping that she enjoys the rest of her teachers and classes.

            And with that I think I’ve exhausted my knowledge on the subject.

      • DT has it. Teachers may be undermining themselves by rewarding compliance rather than material. Eventually, the truth comes out. Plus, it’s better to get the brighter kids to the next level of complexity so resources can be freed up to help everyone else. That’s not what’s happening. Instead, kids who get As but haven’t mastered the material are sent to the honors classes while the bright kids are left behind because they won’t comply. That dilutes the strength of the honors classes which should cover more difficult material at a faster pace and it makes the bright kids left behind tune out.
        Meanwhile, the standardized test scores for the teacher’s class suffer and the teacher fails to see a correlation, resulting in blaming the tests instead of re-evaluating the grading policy.
        BTW, I dont think anyone should have to teach to the test. The administration, board of Ed and state set the curriculum standards and material to be covered. If your students master that material throughout the year there shouldn’t have to be weeks of cram sessions as the test draws near. Teachers are making this harder than it needs to be.
        Standardized testing is the norm all around the world. If you want to compete on a global level, you have to take tests.
        American kids aren’t as fragile as we make them out to be. They’ll adapt.

        • Agreed. I think part of the answer IS to have gifted classes and special attention for kids who have difficulties in different areas, and to recognize that not only can a kid be gifted in one area and struggle in another, but that those categories are fluid. Move someone up or down as they prove they need the extra help. Don’t just average it out and let them flounder.

        • I don’t understand the teaching for the tests. Does it really help? My GF’s niece scored in the >1st percentile on the PSATs and now goes to weekly Sat. SAT cramming courses. It’s nuts!!

          I was telling her father last week that, “back in the day”, we we told the date of the test and to show up with two #2 pencils. That was it. It is my understanding that 1962 was the high point of SAT scores and since the the “curves” have had to be “normalized”, at least twice, so that the SAT scores of today are comparable to 1962.

          • Why is she taking preparation courses with PSAT scores that high? Brooke took the SAT cold. Never even looked at a question. Just went over some vocabulary. She still scored pretty bloody well for an 8th grader.

          • Why is she taking preparation courses with PSAT scores that high?
            **********
            OCD??? That was my question to her father. In her “prep” class she is the only non-East or South-West Asian student.

          • Lol! Been there. Brooke took algebra in a five week course at a local prep school one summer. I could always spot her right away when class let out. She was the only Caucasian. I’ve since found out that some Asian kids take their fall class in the previous summer. Better chance of succeeding and scoring well. Brooke just boos in and does it cold. It drives at least one kid crazy enough to push her math boom off her desk.

    • sitting in an ivory tower passing judgment
      This is a mother relaying the experiences of dealing with the education her child. A real life experience worth discussing. The fact that you would use that old meme is unfortunate.

    • There’s a really simple solution to that though: More money for education. I don’t think RD has failed to realize that, and I don’t think you have either. And I don’t think anyone forfeits the right to complain about a massive problem just because they can’t solve it themselves.

      • I agree that real salaries would provide the needed resources and attract great teachers and keep great teachers.

        • Also, you know, MORE teachers, smaller class sizes, more schools, more resources for special needs kids and gifted kids, more IB programs, more tutoring available (ideally provided such that it doesn’t pull kids out of class to provide the extra help), etc.

          • Absolutely. That would make all the difference in the world. Almost no matter who the teachers, smaller class sizes would have a dramatic effect since that’s more time per student.

          • Yes, but all of that would create more well-educated kids.

            In other words, more future troublemakers for the Masters.

            We educated slaves are more likely to get “uppity”, you know. 😈

    • Globe standards comes to my mind.

  22. NASA is going to have a news conference at 2pm et on a new astrobiology finding that will change how we search for life outside of this planet. It looks like what they will talk about is a new arsenic based life found at mono lake:

    At their conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe Simon will announce that they have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

    But not this one. This one is completely different. Discovered in the poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible. While she and other scientists theorized that this could be possible, this is the first discovery. The implications of this discovery are enormous to our understanding of life itself and the possibility of finding beings in other planets that don’t have to be like planet Earth.

    • Requisite Simpson’s reference: I for one welcome our new arsenic based life overlords.

    • Wow — I missed that. It’s VERY interesting!

    • So awesome. Plus, did you see that apparently Mono Lake has only been as it is for 50 years? Not bloody long.

      • PZ says it’s not really a big deal. mostly just “lookey here! it’s a new life form” publicity generation from $ starved NASA types. i don’t actually blame them, not in this media age.

        • It may not be just another life form. It may turn out to be a whole new “kingdom”. So no, it may seriously be a big thing. But the jury is still out. It may be just a very exceptional weird thing that isn’t sustainable here. More research needed.

          • Still, I’ve gotta say, the idea of an aresnic-based lifeform whether this is simple adaptation/speciation or not, is pretty damn cool.

          • Agree. And certainly adds to the list of known (vs. wild guesses) things to look for outside of earth. And it may have some interesting uses here.

    • The’s also new research that says the universe is populated with some 300 sextillion stars. Even if Earth is one in a trillion for having life, that would mean there are billions of planets with life. It would be virtually impossible fot there not to be other intelligent life in the universe somewhere.

  23. Just a plug for a book that pulls all the financial mess into a manageable perspective — “All the Devils are Here,” by Bethany McLean (one of the authors of “The Smartest Guys in the Room”) and Joe Nocera, NYT business writer. For anyone who has wondered who is telling the truth about the cause of the meltdown, this book is a must. I’ve read most of books on the crisis and this is the best by far.

  24. I doubt Assange cares as much about holding the banks accountable as he does about bringing down Hillary. If he did the bank documents would be out by now.

    • I don’t know what the ‘resign’ issue is about?

    • WikiLeaks cables: CIA drew up UN spying wishlist for diplomats

      • Agency identified priorities for information on UN leaders
      • Cables reveal further evidence of intelligence gathering

      * News
      * World news
      * The US embassy cables

      The US embassy cables
      WikiLeaks cables: CIA drew up UN spying wishlist for diplomats

      • Agency identified priorities for information on UN leaders
      • Cables reveal further evidence of intelligence gathering

      * Ewen MacAskill and Robert Booth
      * guardian.co.uk, Thursday 2 December 2010 19.44 GMT
      * Article history

      Central Intelligence Agency HQ in Langley, Virginia. WikiLeaks cables show the Central Intelligence drew up information wishlist. Photograph: Getty Images

      The US state department’s wishlist of information about the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and other senior members of his organisation was drawn up by the CIA, the Guardian has learned.

      The disclosure comes as new information emerged about Washington’s intelligence gathering on foreign diplomats, including surveillance of the telephone and internet use of Iranian and Chinese diplomats.

      One of the most embarrassing revelations to emerge from US diplomatic cables obtained by the whistleblowers’ website WikiLeaks has been that US diplomats were asked to gather intelligence on Ban, other senior UN staff, security council members and other foreign diplomats – a possible violation of international law.

      US state department spokesman PJ Crowley, in interviews since the release, has tried to deflect criticism by repeatedly hinting that although the cables were signed by secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, they originated with another agency. But he refused to identify it.

      The Guardian has learned that the intelligence shopping list is drawn up annually by the manager of Humint (human intelligence), a post created by the Bush administration in 2005 in a push to better co-ordinate intelligence after 9/11.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/02/wikileaks-cables-cia-united-nations

      OK, so it’s OfficialHillary R. Clinton is NOT a PLUMBER!

      http://theweek.com/article/slideshow/209897

    • Actually, Assange’s actual comments got rather twisted by the media, who really DOES want this to ruin Clinton. He said he didn’t “think it would make much of a difference either way” but she “should resign, if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering” the whole spying thing. But the headlines blasted everywhere almost all read as “Assange Calls On Hillary Clinton To Resign”, as if it’s all he’s doing all day, and not spending his time trying to evade Interpol and various would-be assassins.

      Marc Ambinder explains what was really going on: the CIA sends out directives telling lots of government employees, mostly in the “intelligence communities” but also at State and Dept of Commerce, that they have to collect all kinds of data on foreigners/foreign diplomats. When the directive gets sent to a whole dept (like State), the memo goes out under the Secretary’s name. It’s like a communication protocol. It was never ‘her’ order the way the media is trying to make it sound.(although lots of State Dept employees do engage in activities we’d consider spying, everyone knows that, and all the foreign services do it). So the whole thing is a big non-issue,

  25. Love the picture and its caption by the way.

  26. Nigeria to charge Dick Cheney in $180 million bribery case, issue Interpol arrest warrant
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/nigeria-issue-arrest-warrant-dick-cheney-bribery-case/

    At first I thought it was a joke, but it appears to be true…still picking myself off the floor from the shock!

  27. Adm. Mike Mullen (head of joint chiefs) just tweeted:

    Gave my professional opinion to SASC today: repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will make us a stronger military.

    Thanks Mike. Now if we can get crazy pants McCain to loosen up, we might get somewhere.

    • Cindy and Megan had better chat him up, unless it’s more about not giving Obama a win, just as with the Dream Act (not that Obama seemed all that eager before McCain took the no movement on).

  28. yeah..that Mac.is sure missing the boat on this one 😦

  29. On World AIDS Day, Larry Kramer, who first warned of epidemic, rips ‘Do-nothing’ Obama

    On World AIDS Day, the man who first sounded the alarm about the AIDS epidemic and shamed the government into action for a decade, had some choice words for President Obama.

    In an interview with the New York Daily News about growing older with HIV, Kramer, now 75 and writing a novel about America and AIDS, offered up his views on the current president.

    “Mr. Do-Nothing Obama will say today ‘Lets think of all the poor dead people’- or ‘let’s honor all the dead’ instead of fighting for the living.

    “He has been really useless in terms of both HIV and gay issues. An exceedingly large disappointment to me, how useless he has been.

    “He is simply not a leader. He may be president, but he is not a leader.”

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2010/12/01/2010-12-01_on_world_aids_day_larry_kramer_who_first_warned_of_epidemic_rips_donothing_obama.html#ixzz16zlxmQe3

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2010/12/01/2010-12-01_on_world_aids_day_larry_kramer_who_first_warned_of_epidemic_rips_donothing_obama.html

    • Sad that this guy and others didn’t listen to Obama or notice who he surrounded himself with before now. There should be absolutely no surprise or disappointment with what Obama had done (or not done).

  30. Some math (sort of) humor for you:
    Q: Why couldn’t Pythagoras get a car loan?
    A: He couldn’t find anyone to cosine.

  31. Righteous rant, RD! Too bad Assange didn’t unload the BofA docs first.

  32. This thread is getting a bit full. New open thread post up.

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