Open Thread

I was really astonished to read that Sanjay Gupta is the Pres.-elect's pick for Surgeon General. Well now his credentials don't look that bad, Besides functioning as CNN's health expert, he apparently also practices at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, and  is also an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine. It's his CNN commentaries that gives me pause. That said I think Paul Krugman got it just right. After describing Gupta's OK formal credentials he writes:

I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.


Moore is an outsider, he’s uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right.  ,,, appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.

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Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Europe yesterday. The immediate cause is a dispute between the Ukrainians and Gazprom.  The Guardian gives a useful summary of the situation in which the Europeans are caught in the proverbial middle by the dispute. Actually they are at the end point of the pipes, which  pass through the Ukraine..

On top of worsening relations with its giant neighbour, Ukraine has also suffered from a collapse in its steel, chemical and construction sectors, a slump in its currency and mounting banking problems leading to a deepening recession.
Russian gas giant Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on New Year's Day in a row over alleged unpaid bills and pricing, affecting supplies to much of the European Union.

Initially the Russians did not stop the flow of natural gas to Europe when it cut off the spigot on the Ukraine; however they now say that Ukrainians have diverted that gas to their own use, sharply reducing the flow to Europe. While the immediate issue is money that the Russians say is owed to them, etc. the politic context is the threat of the Ukraine being allowed to join NATO.

I just listened to an interesting discussion of the situation by listening to  a panel discussion on the Diane Rehm show.

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I found these statistics on the Our Future newletter today.

The US private sector shed 693,000 jobs in December, according to a closely watched survey of business employment. The monthly ADP Employer Services survey, which tracks private non-farm payroll employment, was much worse than economists expected and a surprising increase from the 476,000 jobs lost in November. The decline was the worst in the history of the survey, which began reporting in 2001. If the results are matched by the official government labour report, due on Friday, it would be the biggest employment drop since the 1975 recession. The services sector was hit the hardest, shedding 473,000 jobs in December, followed by the goods-producing sector which lost 220,000 jobs and manufacturing which lost 120,000.

A number of liberal commentators are worrying that Obama may compromise too much with the Repbulican caucus in congress. Here's what Robert Borosage wrote today on Our Future:

President-elect Barack Obama is calling for "swift and bold" action on his "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" to stop the hemorrhaging of the economy. He also wants to change the way Washington does business, to "turn the page" on the petty partisanship of the last decades. He's said to want "substantial Republican votes" for the plan. Politico reports he's looking for as many as 80 votes in the Senate, requiring that more than twenty Republicans climb on board. He's not only invited congressional Republicans to offer their ideas, he is building tax breaks into his plan that Republicans say would make it easier to support. (For updated reporting on this debate over the recovery package, see our Economy For All news page.)

Now Obama has proven his political brilliance time and time again, so he has earned the benefit of any doubt. But, frankly, this strikes me as a really dubious idea—both in terms of policy and politics.

In policy terms, the economy needs exactly what Obama calls for—swift and bold action. But inviting Republicans into the discussions insures only one thing: delay. Their leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell and the perpetually tanned Rep. John Boehner, have already scorned the need for dispatch, with Boehner calling for "public hearings in the appropriate committees." Delay will simply embolden the lobbyists swarming to get their special interest built into the plan. Obama has a better chance getting a sound bill passed quickly than opening it up to the feeding frenzy that is the normal legislative process.


No votes yet


false facts on Moore, he did happen to trash several BushCo policies pretty thoroughly.

Those definitely help buff up the tarnished bits.

I think Obama wants to get the post-partisan badge of honor out of the way right away. Pass something first that everyone can agree on, and then see how much that good will helps later, when the more partisan wrangling for votes begins.

Strategically, this also gives Obama a chance to create a bloc of Republicans who are in a tight spot back home in the coming election, where going against a popular president could be political suicide...

We are living in an interminable succession of absurdities imposed by the myopic logic of short-term thinking.—Jacques-Yves Cousteau

I find it is calming to read about FDR's tacking and weaving but moving ahead!


Watch the PBS "Frontline" that was on at their site:

"The Old Man and the Storm"

Six months after Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, producer June Cross came across 82-year-old Herbert Gettridge working alone on his home in the lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood devastated when the levees broke in August 2005. Over the next two years, Cross would document the story of the extended Gettridge clan--an African-American family with deep roots in New Orleans--as they struggled to rebuild their homes and their lives. Their efforts would be deeply impacted by larger decisions about urban planning, public health, and the insurance industry, by the decisions of policymakers about federal funding for rebuilding the Gulf, and state and city plans for dispersing those monies. The moving personal story of Mr. Gettridge and his family reveals the human cost of this tragedy, the continued inadequacies of government’s response in the aftermath of Katrina, and how race, class, and politics have affected the attempts to rebuild this American city.

Only one example of the Long List for the bush 'legacy project'!!

Hope they purchase the DVD's and place them prominently at the library, it will prove the only truth there!!

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Vets sue CIA, Defense over military experiments

Six veterans who claim they were unwittingly exposed to dangerous chemicals and germs during government-sponsored Cold War experiments have sued the CIA, Department of Defense and other agencies.

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

The public has spoken, and we've listened. In response to demand for information about our country's financial challenges, CNN/U.S. will air the broadcast premiere of the acclaimed documentary I.O.U.S.A. on on Saturday, January 10 at 2:00 p.m. EST and on Sunday, January 11 at 3:00 p.m. EST. Accompanying the documentary will be an unscripted panel discussion with policy leaders about various economic solutions currently under consideration.


"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Colombia’s "False Positives" Scandal, Declassified

Documents Describe History of Abuses by Colombian Army

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 266

Posted - January 7, 2009

Washington, D.C., January 7, 2009 - The CIA and senior U.S. diplomats were aware as early as 1994 that U.S.-backed Colombian security forces engaged in "death squad tactics," cooperated with drug-running paramilitary groups, and encouraged a "body count syndrome," according to declassified documents published on the Web today by the National Security Archive. These records shed light on a policy—recently examined in a still-undisclosed Colombian Army report—that influenced the behavior of Colombian military officers for years, leading to extrajudicial executions and collaboration with paramilitary drug traffickers. The secret report has led to the dismissal of 30 Army officers and the resignation of Gen. Mario Montoya Uribe, the Colombian Army Commander who had long promoted the idea of using body counts to measure progress against guerrillas.

Archive Colombia analyst, Michael Evans, whose article on the matter was published today in Spanish on the Web site of Colombia’s Semana magazine, said that, “These documents and the recent scandal over the still-secret Colombian Army report raise important questions about the historical and legal responsibilities the Army has to come clean about what appears to be a longstanding, institutional incentive to commit murder.”

Highlights from today's posting include:

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Fresh Air from WHYY, January 7, 2009 · Although the Bush administration has stated that the interrogations techniques used at Guantanamo Bay came from the bottom up, British lawyer Philippe Sands disagrees.

In his 2008 book, Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, Sands argues that the harsh interrogation policy that emerged after Sept. 11 came from high-ranking government officials and top military figures.
Sands warned in a June 2008 Fresh Air interview that the impact of the Bush administration's conduct would be felt internationally:

Read Rest Here

Listen To Todays Show With This Link

The June 2008 Discussion

You Can Listen To That One With This Link

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

House overturns Bush order on papers secrecy

Brushing aside a veto threat, the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to overturn a 2001 order by President George W. Bush that lets former presidents keep their papers secret indefinitely.

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

 It seems a little late in the game...unless a bunch of pardons are already signed and in the pipeline for January 19.

Army sorry for 'John Doe' letters to relatives of war dead

The U.S. Army is apologizing to thousands of Army families who received letters beginning "Dear John Doe" after losing a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. is sending a personal letter to the families who received the letter.

Only Under A Totally Incompetent CiC and Other Leadership, Military and Civilian, Could And Would This Happen!!!!!!!!!!

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

 I just spent 6 months patiently waiting for information from the DoD Mortuary Affairs office. Here's the really sad the midst of two wars, the public affairs office is only assigned one person.

"Why does that Not Surprise me!!"

Oh, DeJa-Vu all Over Again!!

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Marisa Taylor of McClatchy's D.C. bureau reports:

Former Justice Department attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee are known for their memos on torture, but little was known about their role in the lead-up to war with Iraq. Until now.

Memo Use of Military Force PDF

UN Security Council Resolution PDF

Further Material Breach PDF

Protected Persons PDF

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Not too long ago, Barack Obama would have found when he moved his family to Washington that his daughters couldn't attend the same schools that white children could. They couldn't try on clothes or shoes at most local department stores or eat at downtown lunch counters. They couldn't see a play at the National Theatre or a movie just a block or two from the White House.

If a family pet died, it would have to be buried at a blacks-only cemetery.

"The owner stated that he assumed the dogs would not object, but he was afraid his white customers would," said a 1948 report on "Segregation in Washington."

Washington was largely a segregated city until the mid-1950s, a place where new students at Howard University were "briefed on what we could and couldn't do," recalled Russell Adams, who's now a professor emeritus of Afro-American studies.

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."