Why The President Is Probably Going To Lose

by lestro

Once again, President Obama is pulling a 180 on Candidate Obama’s promises. In this case, he promised that he would punish  those responsible for intentionally tanking the economy in 2008. Now, it seems, the president is doing everything he can to make sure everything works out in Wall Street’s favor while the good folks on Main Street who got totally and completely fucked will be left to pick up scraps and continue to slave away for our corporate overlords.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, all the banks, and, now, apparently, all the other state attorneys general.  [...]

This deal will also submarine efforts by both defrauded investors in MBS and unfairly foreclosed-upon homeowners and borrowers to obtain any kind of relief in the civil court system. The AGs initially talked about $20 billion as a settlement number, money that would “toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners,” as Gretchen Morgenson reported the other day.

The banks, however, apparently “balked” at paying that sum, and no doubt it will end up being a lesser amount when the deal is finally done.

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup , will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.

I love the line “the ultimate papal indulgence.”  That’s genius.

This is the essential problem facing Obama next year: the failure to even TRY to deliver on the promises he made as a candidate.

I’ve been wracking my brain; what part of his platform has he succeeded in passing?

Healthcare? nope.  He buckled and we got Hillary’s plan instead of the public option we voted for.

Closing Gitmo? nope.

Out of Iraq? not quite.

Afghanistan? still there, though we did get Bin Laden and Obama should be commended for that.

Certainly we haven’t seen the ‘change’ we were promised and frankly, I am yet to see him even try.  I expect the youth vote to stay home, once again convinced that their vote don’t mean shit, and when you remove those votes, shift the independents around and factor in a fired-up right wing, you get a mix that spells doom for the president in a race where turnout is going to be the key component…

Mark my words, this is turning into the theme song of the 2012 election:

“U.S. military leaders recognize that they need to make adjustments.”

by twit

why does it sound like we just got to Afghanistan?

The men of the 3rd Batallion, 8th Marine Regiment, based at Camp Lejeune, are discovering in their first two months in Afghanistan that the tactics they learned in nearly six years of combat in Iraq are of little value here — and may even inhibit their ability to fight their Taliban foes.

Their MRAP mine-resistant vehicles, which cost $1 million each, were specially developed to combat the terrible effects of roadside bombs, the single biggest killer of Americans in Iraq. But Iraq is a country of highways and paved roads, and the heavily armored vehicles are cumbersome on Afghanistan’s unpaved roads and rough terrain where roadside bombs are much less of a threat.

… to reach the populace, American forces must find unmapped caravan routes that run through treacherous terrain, routes not designed for their modern military vehicles.

American forces have been in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001 …  and the military is just beginning to notice that the terrain is different?

U.S. military leaders recognize that they need to make adjustments.

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Well no wonder they’re throwing shoes

by lestro

While the Great Shoe-Throwing Incident of 2008 will undoubtedly be the only thing anyone is talking about today (that and the uncanny ability of the Buffalo Bills to almost literally throw away a game in the final minutes), there is another big Iraq story today, one that might even help explain what drove an Iraqi journalist to risk EVERYTHING to take a pot-shot at the President of the United States.

Today the New York Times details a 500+ page draft report of the “official history” of the Iraq war and the picture is not a pretty one.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

According to the Times (and I’ll trust them – the actual report is here, if you want to read it, but at 500 pages, I don’t see myself getting through it today…), the last five years have been an unmitigated failure of leadership.

In the preface, Mr. Bowen gives a searing critique of what he calls the “blinkered and disjointed prewar planning for Iraq’s reconstruction” and the botched expansion of the program from a modest initiative to improve Iraqi services to a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Mr. Bowen also swipes at the endless revisions and reversals of the program, which at various times gyrated from a focus on giant construction projects led by large Western contractors to modest community-based initiatives carried out by local Iraqis. While Mr. Bowen concedes that deteriorating security had a hand in spoiling the program’s hopes, he suggests, as he has in the past, that the program did not need much outside help to do itself in.

Let’s be clear here: No one is slagging the military.

The military mission of defeating and overthrowing Saddam Hussein and occupying the capital was a magnificent success. The military, with a few notable exceptions, have acted honoarbly and done their very best to complete the undefined, politically-motivaed and completely nebulous mission(s) handed down by the civilian leadership.

This is NOT a failure or defeat for the US Military. They did their part.

This is a political and diplomatic failure. Yet another example of how everything the Bush Administration touches seems to turn to shit.

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Iraq comes full circle

by lestro

I remember very well the excitement of the first few weeks of the Iraq war.

It was a crazy time, with news reporters “embedded” and reporting live from the backs of Humvees and Bradleys charging toward the capitol, where the Butcher of Baghdad and his elite republican guard awaited, possibly with their chemical weapons and definitely spoiling for a fight.

I remember shock and I remember awe.

and I will never forget the triumphant images of the American soldiers helping Iraqis pull down the statues of Saddam Hussein. It was a big moment, a triumph and, really, a good day for humanity.  Whether you supported the war or not, there was no way around the joy and excitement that seemed to be pouring out of the Iraqi people actually did, for one day, treat us as liberators.

Of all the images, one of the things I remember specifically was the Iraqis beating the statue of Hussein with their shoes. Men ran up to the statue from all around Baghdad, hopping as they approached the fallen icon and taking off their sandals to beat the visage of Hussein with their shoes.

I remember the anchors and correspondents telling us that this was very significant because in Iraq, hitting something with your shoe was a terrible insult.  It meant you were the lowest of the low,  beneath even the soles of their feet and a tremendous sign of disrespect.

In Iraq, apparently, hitting someone with your shoe is like spitting on them while flipping them off AND calling their dead mother a whore.

It’s nasty stuff.

As you have undoubtedly seen, Baghdad has come full circle. Today, the man who “liberated” Baghdad (and who also plunged its residents into more than five years of terror, warfare and death) visited his catastrophic blunder of a legacy for the last time as Commander-in-Chief.

This morning at a press conference, an Iraqi threw both of his shoes at our president, who had no problem avoiding both shoes, after spending the last eight years dodging questions, prosecutions and the U.S. Constitution.

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Iraqi journalist hurls “a farewell kiss” at George W. Bush

by twit

and Bush manages to duck both of them:

via Breitbart:

An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes and an insult at George W. Bush, without hitting him, as the US president was shaking hands with the Iraqi premier at his Baghdad office on Sunday.

As the two leaders met in Nuri al-Maliki’s private office, a journalist sitting in the third row jumped up, shouting: “It is the farewell kiss, you dog,” and threw his shoes one after the other towards Bush.

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The fundamentalist difference

by lestro

What a lot of creationists don’t understand is that evolution is not a world view, but is instead simply an explanation, and one that changes when new evidence is discovered.

Unlike the world of creationists, in which an ideological world view is laid out and everything must conform to it.

For example, according to creationist reasoning, there is no special section in the Bible talking about dinosaurs, therefore dinosaurs and man must have existed at the same time, damn the fossil record, carbon dating and whatever other evidence that science might offer. Nevermind the obvious, that if they existed at the same time, you’d think it would be mentioned in the fucking Bible, as Bill Hicks said.

In a recent NYT article, this difference is again made clear as recent experiments have completely blown away a long-standing theory of what the beginnings of the planet looked like, forcing scientists to adapt their views based on the new evidence.

You’ll never see a fundie do that.

Analyses of crystals in rocks in Australia, left, have formed a new picture of the early Earth, depicted with young oceans in the painting at right. (Left, Bruce Watson; right, Don Dixon)

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Eight years later

by twit

From the NY Times blog The Caucus on October 24, 2008:

A twist on the old Budweiser “Wassup” commercials, using the same guys as the originals, and incorporating Iraq, the economic meltdown and the electrified change atmosphere of this election.

and the original “Wazzup” commercial:

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