The drone attacks may not even be legal. If they are not, they may be war crimes. With all due respect to Jon Stewart, the alternative to calling war crimes “war crimes” is either finding pleasant sounding euphemisms or ignoring the issue entirely. Sure it’s an incendiary charge and a conversation stopper, but that’s because it describes something absolutely horrific. If speaking about it in plain terms causes people to get upset, maybe that’s because it is something that no civilized country should stand for and not because critics are being terribly provocative and shrill.
Last year, Obama accepted a proposal by U.S. military leaders to re-label all combat brigades in Iraq “advise and assist brigades” so he could claim that he was withdrawing all combat troops by Aug. 31, 2010. Six U.S. fully equipped combat brigades remain in Iraq today, contrary to the administration’s official position that only non-combat troops remain there.Obama loves to say how he inherited in a country in a deep hole. But at times he certainly seems devoted to energetically digging deeper.
Destroying the Web was on the plate for the lame duck Congress (while typing that I misspelled it “lame fuck,” which, well, never mind) Ron Wyden did you a big favor this week. But remember: Internet censorship always works the way politicians assure us.
US legal system works.
America’s intelligence community spies on everyone. Seems like the kind of thing that might have unintended consequences when done to allies.
Adam Serwer, always smart: “There’s no single easy answer to solving this problem, but we can start with the obvious: We need to incarcerate fewer people for less time, particularly for nonviolent drug offenses.” This too:
The question here is whether or not the government has the authority to kill an American citizen apart from any declared battlefield based on secret, internal deliberations that a judge will never be allowed to look at. But the fact that as principled a person as Sullivan on matters of executive power is swayed by the argument that al-Awlaki is simply a vile individual who deserves to die is a reminder of how isolated opponents of targeted killing actually are.
The original Twitterer:
It’s distressing watching our political system being absolutely unable to even come close to dealing with the problems we face.That’s 127 characters, for the record. The whole post is a bit longer, but he’s been making short, sharp observations for years before the platform even existed. (It seems like Twitter has vacuumed up a lot of what previously were “heh indeedy” bloggers, and it’s cleaned things up quite a bit in that respect. Viva Twitter!)
See the comments here too. Even when folks are critical of him they acknowledge how good he is now and has been for years.
This is almost too cynical to contemplate.
Nobody can explain liberalism as well as digby:
Democrats believe that taxes are a price you pay for a secure, upwardly mobile society and that the wealthy can easily afford to pay more for the privilege of of living in a stable country with a strong middle class. Republicans are hostile to social security, medicare and all government programs designed to help the less fortunate. They simply do not believe it’s an appropriate or moral thing to do because it makes people dependent and lazy. Democrats believe in egalitarianism, social justice and social welfare. However hypocritical these people are as individuals (and they most certainly are) they vote on the basis of competing worldviews that are not reconcilable by a bunch of accountants hashing out a compromise.For all the talk of how the internet is killing newspapers, the fact that digby is publishing quality analysis like this on a regular basis (for free!) is as good a reason as any for going to her place before any paper’s op-ed pages. It’s actually pretty subversive if you think about it.
Wednesday is the biggest travel day of the year in America, and it’s shaping up to be a memorable one. John Cole: “I wonder what has changed from 2001-2009 that now, all of a sudden, a bunch of wingers are focused like a laser on individual rights.”
Cole is the best headline writer in blogging. He pays attention to what’s going on in the world and connects dots using his titles. If you’re paying attention as well it’s very rewarding, and it’s a really effective shorthand.
Joe Klein is infuriating precisely because he gets it so right sometimes. If he was an ordinary Beltway hack it would be much easier to dismiss his bouts of Beltway sock puppetry.
Big science news that I wish I could properly appreciate.
The untimely demise of a key Iraq war skeptic continues to make news: “Drugs experts leading an inquiry into the death of Britain’s former weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kelly, say his death was ‘murder’ and not suicide.” I’d like to think we’ll eventually get some answers, but I suspect it’s destined to remain shrouded in mystery.
Banksters want to do away with property rights (consequences be damned), and they have good reason to be optimistic. That’s what they mean when they say they want a speedy resolution. For a bigger picture take see these leftover links from Barry Ritholtz and Yves Smith
In other business news, small investors are fleeing Wall Street. An entire generation of investors is in the process of being persuaded to stuff their money in their mattresses.
I linked to a Robert Reich post on Thursday, so here’s a dissenting take on the man if not the article: “When conservatives needed a stick to bash unions with, they reached for Reich, so thanks for that, Robert.”
Oh Warren Buffet, you are such a tool.
David Weigel: “On Friday, the Washington Post published the worst column of the year. It’s been a long year, and a stupid year, so this is no light accusation.” Well played, sir.
ECONNED EXCERPT from page 157:
Often, buyers were treated as stuffees. Highly complicated paper was being sold to people clearly incapable of evaluating it.
An example: a synthetic CDO blew up on five Wisconsin school districts, causing losses of $150 million. It was bad enough that they were told by the broker that the investments were extremely safe, that the CDS were on high quality corporations, and the default trigger was almost certain never to be reached: “There would have to be 15 Enrons before you would be impacted”; “On the investment side, we’re sticking to AA/AAA.” The schools repeatedly asked whether the CDOs were exposed to subprime debt and were told no. And had they understood the deal, there was not much additional return for taking on the extra exposure. The districts had $35 million to invest. Had they put this money into Treasuries, they would have made $1.5 million a year, while this deal, if everything worked out, would yield them $1.8 million a year. Oh, but we forget, a key difference was that this transaction also netted the brokerage firm $1.2 million in fees.
In fact, the CDO contained credit default swaps that were written on risky credits, including home equity loans, subprime mortgages, and credit card receivables. Even worse, the districts, based on the broker’s advice, borrowed $165 million on top of the $35 million that was their own money. When they took losses of $150 million on the $200 million they had invested, that meant they lost all of their own money and were faced with the prospect of paying $115 million to the lender.
Derivatives expert Satyajit Das sums up the pattern here:Dealers began seeking new ways to improve profitability and started marketing structured products directly to retail customers, the widows and orphans of legend….Structured product marketers set out into the suburbs and strip malls. The logic was compelling - you had less sophisticated clients, the margins would be higher. In short, you could rip them off blind.