Chris White's blog

Democratic Senate “Don’t Knows” Support Health Care Monopolies and Duopolies.

Howard Dean’s Healthcare website is tracking support for public health care within the Senate and the Congress. This link goes to the screening page. The lists produced show that 1 Democratic Senator is a confessed opponent of public health care, (Landrieu from Louisiana) and that 27 members of the body are “don’t knows”.

Among the “don’t knows” are those who oppose public health insurance as anti-competitive. The chart included below groups Dean’s “Don’t Know Democrats” by the states they represent with the market concentration ratio of health insurance companies in their states.

Deflation and Negative Interest Rates. Some Light Reading for a Holiday Weekend.

I thought it might be useful to share these few links. They are about a subject which has been revisited by a number of people on this site over the last couple of years, namely deflation. For the question had come up, more than once, about what deflation is and what can be done about it.

Three of the pieces are from Willem Buiter at the London School of Economics and who I think writes with a certain kind of flair, though his arguments might not be to the taste of the dialectically or critically minded, trenchant, even biting though he might be.

Politics and Discussion. Thinking About the Other.

I would like to share two articles which I came across this morning. One of them, published in the latest edition of the Nation by Roane Corey is about the efforts of a group of Israelis and Palestinians who have come together to try and find ways to overcome the bloody abyss which separates the two peoples and cultures. The article is called Cultivating Peace in Palestine, and can be found here at Commondreams.org.

May 8

May 8th. 1945 was the day Admiral Doenitz's successor government to Adolf Hitler surrendered to the Allies in Berlin. May 8th is VE Day, Victory in Europe day. It used to be a much bigger deal than it is now. More in proportion to the losses sustained defeating Hitler it seems. The Russians who had given up so many made it one of the days for their Red Square military parades. The Brits always preferred Armistice Day to commemorate those lost in World War I, I guess for the same reasons the Russians marched on May 8th. The French preferred July 14th.

Torture: VIPS Calls for Full, Truthful Public Fact-finding Process

Promoted. Originally posted 2009-04-30 15:52:59 -0500. -- GH

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have issued a memorandum to President Obama calling for a full, truthful, public fact-finding process, either in the form of an investigation by a panel of judges, or as a Congressional investigation modelled on the Church committee of the 1970's.

The "action" part of their Memorandum reads as follows:

We of VIPS call for a full, truthful, and public fact-finding process to begin without delay.  We ask that you give careful consideration to Senator Carl Levin's suggestion that the attorney general appoint retired judges with solid reputations for integrity to begin the process.  Another viable possibility would be the appointment of an independent "blue-ribbon commission," perhaps modeled on the Church Committee of the mid-Seventies, to assess any illegal or improper activities and make recommendations for reform in government operations against terrorism.

We commend the administration for releasing the Department of Justice memos attempting to legalize torture.  We believe the remaining relevant information must be released promptly so that the citizenry can make informed judgments about what was done in our name and, if warranted, an independent prosecutor can be appointed without unnecessary delay.  We believe strongly that any judgments regarding amnesty, forgiveness, or pardon can only be made on the basis of a fully developed, public record-and not used as some sort of political bargaining chip.  Finally, we firmly oppose the notion that anyone can arrogate a right to ignore the Nuremburg Tribunal's rejection of "only-following-orders" as an acceptable defense.

The memorandum includes a short statement about the orginis of the group and its activities under the Bush administration. A list of signers is appended, along with an appendix of "other experienced intelligence personnel" from diverse branches of the services, who have spoken out publically.

The full text with the appendix can be found here at commondreams.org.

Costs of Conflict in the Middle East

Since 1991 the cost of war to people living in the Middle East is estimated to have been $12 trillion.

Costs of Conflict in the Middle East is the title of a report released earlier this year by the Strategic Foresight Institute in Mumbai, India. The report was assembled out of a discussion process in which people from different countries and different professions came together for at least three conference sessions in different parts of the world to conceive and pull together the report.

Unlike Joseph Stiglitz's report on the costs of the Iraqi war to the US which showed that the direct and indirect costs of the war would easily be some 50 times more than the $60 billion Bush, Rumsfield and Wolfowitz told Congress and Americans it would be back in 2003, this report attempts to pull together the costs for the Iraqis, in the context of all the other conflicts wracking that part of the world. The Institute's total estimate of the cost of war and conflict damage since the starting point of 1991 they chose (First Gulf War) is $12 trillion, (about $40,000 per American) and can be compared with US GNP of a bit more than $13 trillion, or US per capita income in 2007 of around $37,000.

Albino Mooses

Here's one for the record books, passed on from www.nakedcapitalism.com. Albino mooses in Michigan, not one, but two, and then some shots of singles out with the regular kind. (Pictures below).

This is whatYves Smith had to say about it:

"My brother Roy thinks two white moose equal one black swan:

The odds of seeing an albino moose are astronomical and to see this in the upper peninsula of Michigan , near Wisconsin , is even greater than astronomical. To see two of them together is nearly impossible.

Update: Obama Opens Door to Investigations, Prosecution: What Will "Immunity" and "Good Faith" Come to Mean? REVISED

bumped by carol, originally posted 2009-04-19 12:43:02 -0500 Original title  on buzzflash: "Obama Releases Torture Memo's: What Will "Immunity and "Good Faith Come to Mean."

In remarks made this morning Obama has opened the door to Congressional investigations and prosecutions of former Bush adminstration officials for torturing people. His formulations are quite precise. Please check out the update links in the comments below. The transcript of what he had to say is provided in the link to raw story in the fourth comment. Please also compare what he said with what Senator Cardan (D-Md) said to MSNBC in the video report in the third comment. Thanks.

The ACLU, and the people who've worked with them over the last few years, deserve to be recognized and thanked profusely by everybody. They figured out what the paper trail which littered the path the Bush administration decided to adopt in pursuing what it called the "Global War on Terror" must be made up of, and how that all could be identified, and then brought out into the public. And they did it. Without their unremitting labor what happened last Thursday when Obama announced the release of the Bush torture memos, would not have happened, and surely not in the way it did. The ACLU legal cases provided the vehicle for  discovery and release, but to get to that outcome requires establishing the right to get to the evidence and a whole infrastructure chain of work from individuals and institutions, who we may never know, but who ought to know that there is a depth of appreciation for what they did and the way they did it.

This commentary is kind of a conjoint effort. Susie Dow thought the developments worthy of coverage and pulled together what she called the "bare bones links" through which the story is elaborated. But, unfortunately, she wasn't in a position to write it all up. She asked if any one wanted to help. Well, almost three years ago now, in June 2006 she picked up something I wrote which went on DailyKos, and cross-posted it here. It was the first posting I ever did on ePluribusMedia, and it was a report on a conference on torture held in a Maryland church that Spring Saturday, around a theme laid out by Ray McGovern. Ray told those there that torture isn't wrong because it is illegal, it is ilegal because it is wrong. I think the message of that conference is still one which applies, perhaps in more fundamental ways now than it did three years ago.  So I said "yes".

This is by way of introduction. I would like to discuss President Obama's statement from last Thursday in which he announced that the four documents which the ACLU had been demanding through the court system would be released. The documents can be found in the references at the end of this. I think it important to stress that the issue brought to the fore by what the President said does not involve the question of who will be punished under the law for what they did. The issue is the same as it was before. For there to be a rule of law there has to be an effective notion of the difference between right and wrong. The documents show how weasel words were developed to extricate the US as a country from the obligations of international treaties and its own statutes because one man wanted it to be that way. How can it be that one man, with his cronies, could over-ride everything this country has stood for for so long

Breaking Up The Banks

I got kind of tee'd off with all the nonsense floating around about t-parties for the last few days. Or was it PO'd, I don't know. But you do have to laugh, what goes around comes around. Didn't anyone tell them its all been done before?

They just got the wrong darn Tea Party. That should larn'em books are to be read, not burnt.

Shock... Surprise...Stunning... We Were All So Cynical...It was a privilege. Cam-Scam? Lip Synch or Blow Out? What Do You Think?

Here's a clip of Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables. Boyle was appearing on the sister show of "America's Got Talent". The show is called "Britain's Got Talent." Judging from the emblems this version was probably filmed somewhere in Scotland. The clip doesn't embed, so please follow the link, and make up your own mind about this one.

Hat tip Huffington Post.

The Balance Sheet Account

This is intended to provide some links, mainly from today, which I think contribute to the ongoing discussion about the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, the bank bail out, and the rest of the world.

It is not intended to be comprehensive, but just an informational type view of an ongoing discussion.

A New Way Forward. Join April 11th Protests Against the Banks In A City Near You

A New Way Forward, a grass roots type organizing committee identified in the attached is calling on people to join protest actions and demonstrations against the Bank Takeover. Events are being organized for April 11th around the Country.

Link to the "A New Way Forward" site. It is full of information, and helpful stuff.

The Group is circulating a petition in the form of a "Pledge To Break Up The Banks". It is included with the attached link. Please sign if you feel this is something you can support. When you take the Pledgeyou wllbe redirected to the rest of the site where you will find information on who put this together and how, and contributions on how to get out of the present mess from peoplelike Krugman, Johnson and others. Read On.

The list of people involved includes:

 

Honorary Co-Chairman

-Mike Lux, Obama Transition Team and President of Progressive Strategies

Sponsors and Elder Counselors

-David Sirota, Syndicated Columnist, Author
-Joe Trippi, Change Congress, co-founder
-Zephyr Teachout, Visiting Assistant Professor of Duke University, Dean Campaign
-Joe Costello, Energy, Communications, and Political Economy
-William Greider, "Come Home, America", National Correspondent, The Nation

-Yves Smith, Economist, Naked Capitalism

Support

-Jerome Armstrong, MyDD, founder: "The corporate bailouts have become a complete political disaster."
-Alternet
-Rural Votes
-New Paltz Women in Black
-Economic Justice Committee of New Paltz and Vicinity for Obama
-David Dayen, D-Day, founder and Hullabaloo*, blogger
-David Swanson, After Downing Street
-Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee
-Cleveland Committee on Corporations, Law & Democracy
-Progressive Democrats of America
-Democrats.com
-Grassroots Change
-Public Accountability Initiative
-Liberty Tree
-The Voters
-Wake County Young Democrats
-New Haven Peace Council
-Consumers for Peace
-Billionaires for Bush
-BuzzFlash
-CODEPINK
-San Francisco Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign
-Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
-FedUpUSA.org
-Common Security Club
-David Donnelly, Public Campaign Action Fund*: "New Way Forward is visionary, simple, and important."

Please Spread The Word and Take the Pledge

Bernanke Fed Bail Out Restructures World Finance Credit.

The Federal Reserve announced a $290 billion expansion of swap lines with foreign central banks today, adding facilities to acquire foreign currency in transactions with the British, European, Swiss and Japanese central banks. The move adds to the swap line of $300 billion created last fall to provide dollars to the same foreign central banks, and brings the total of such swaps run through the Federal Reserve to about $690 billion. I think there are some serious political questions related to these issues, but first I'd like to briefly discuss the recent developments and their context.

The move is another in the series since the spring and summer of 2007 when Bernanke began to use the Federal Reserve's capital accounts as a supplement to interest rate reduction in loosening credit. In the process Bernanke seems to be transforming the Federal Reserve system away from being a supplier of credit to the system and toward becoming the preferential supplier to a part of the system. This has been addressed byJames Hamilton, among others: