12 December 2008

And in so parting for the night I present to you the wholesome, absolute reminder of what has been conceived, and what has been done?

I refer the skedaddling reader with all due haste and seriousness to the following conclusions from the SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO THE TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN US CUSTODY:

Senate Armed Services Committee Conclusions

1: On February 7, 2002, President George W. Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. Following the President's determination, techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions, used in SERE training to simulate tactics used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions, were authorized for use in interrogations of detainees in US custody.

2: Members of the President's Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed. National Security Council Principals reviewed the CIA's interrogation program during that period.

Conclusions on SERE Training Techniques and Interrogations

1: The use of techniques similar to those used in SERE resistance training – such as stripping students of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, and treating them like animals – was at odds with the commitment to humane treatment of detainees in US custody. Using those techniques for interrogating detainees was also inconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate intelligence information, as the purpose of SERE resistance training is to increase the ability of US personnel to resist abusive interrogations and the techniques used were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions.

2: The use of techniques in interrogations derived from SERE resistance training created a serious risk of physical and psychological harm to detainees. The SERE schools employ strict controls to reduce the risk of physical and psychological harm to students during training. Those controls include medical and psychological screening for students, interventions by trained psychologists during training, and code words to ensure that students can stop the application of a technique at any time should the need arise. Those same controls are not present in real world interrogations.

Conclusions on Senior Official Consideration of SERE Techniques for Interrogations

1: In July 2002, the Office of the Secretary of Defense General Counsel solicited information from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) on SERE techniques for use during interrogations. That solicitation, prompted by requests from Department of Defense General Counsel William J. Haynes II, reflected the view that abusive tactics similar to those used by our enemies should be considered for use against detainees in US custody.

2: The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) interrogation program included at least one SERE training technique, waterboarding. Senior Administration lawyers, including Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, were consulted on the development of legal analysis of CIA interrogation techniques. Legal opinions subsequently issued by the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) interpreted legal obligations under US anti-torture laws and determined the legality of CIA interrogation techniques. Those OLC opinions distorted the meaning and intent of anti-torture laws, rationalized the abuse of detainees in US custody and influenced Department of Defense determinations as to what interrogation techniques were legal for use during interrogations conducted by US military personnel.

Conclusions on JPRA Offensive Activities

1: Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) efforts in support of "offensive" interrogation operations went beyond the agency's knowledge and expertise. JPRA's support to US government interrogation efforts contributed to detainee abuse. JPRA's offensive support also influenced the development of policies that authorized abusive interrogation techniques for use against detainees in US custody.

2: Detainee abuse occurred during JPRA's support to Special Mission Unit (SMU) Task Force (TF) interrogation operations in Iraq in September 2003. JPRA Commander Colonel Randy Moulton's authorization of SERE instructors, who had no experience in detainee interrogations, to actively participate in Task Force interrogations using SERE resistance training techniques was a serious failure in judgment. The Special Mission Unit Task Force Commander's failure to order that SERE resistance training techniques not be used in detainee interrogations was a serious failure in leadership that led to the abuse of detainees in Task Force custody. Iraq is a Geneva Convention theater and techniques used in SERE school are inconsistent with the obligations of US personnel under the Geneva Conventions.

3: Combatant Command requests for JPRA "offensive" interrogation support and US Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) authorization of that support led to JPRA operating outside the agency's charter and beyond its expertise. Only when JFCOM's Staff Judge Advocate became aware of and raised concerns about JPRA's support to offensive interrogation operations in late September 2003 did JFCOM leadership begin to take steps to curtail JPRA's "offensive" activities. It was not until September 2004, however, that JFCOM issued a formal policy stating that support to offensive interrogation operations was outside JPRA's charter.

Conclusions on GTMO's Request for Aggressive Techniques

1: Interrogation techniques in Guantanamo Bay's (GTMO) October 11, 2002 request for authority submitted by Major General Michael Dunlavey were influenced by JPRA training for GTMO interrogation personnel and included techniques similar to those used in SERE training to teach US personnel to resist abusive enemy interrogations. GTMO Staff Judge Advocate Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver's legal review justifying the October 11, 2002 GTMO request was profoundly in error and legally insufficient. Leaders at GTMO, including Major General Dunlavey's successor, Major General Geoffrey Miller, ignored warnings from DoD's Criminal Investigative Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the techniques were potentially unlawful and that their use would strengthen detainee resistance.

2: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers's decision to cut short the legal and policy review of the October 11, 2002 GTMO request initiated by his Legal Counsel, then-Captain Jane Dalton, undermined the military's review process. Subsequent conclusions reached by Chairman Myers and Captain Dalton regarding the legality of interrogation techniques in the request followed a grossly deficient review and were at odds with conclusions previously reached by the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Criminal Investigative Task Force.

3: Department of Defense General Counsel William J. Haynes II's effort to cut short the legal and policy review of the October 11, 2002 GTMO request initiated by then- Captain Jane Dalton, Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was inappropriate and undermined the military's review process. The General Counsel's subsequent review was grossly deficient. Mr. Haynes's one page recommendation to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld failed to address the serious legal concerns that had been previously raised by the military services about techniques in the GTMO request. Further, Mr. Haynes's reliance on a legal memo produced by GTMO's Staff Judge Advocate that senior military lawyers called "legally insufficient" and "woefully inadequate" is deeply troubling.

4: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there. Secretary Rumsfeld's December 2, 2002 approval of Mr. Haynes's recommendation that most of the techniques contained in GTMO's October 11, 2002 request be authorized, influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques, including military working dogs, forced nudity, and stress positions, in Afghanistan and Iraq.

5: Department of Defense General Counsel William J. Haynes II's direction to the Department of Defense's Detainee Working Group in early 2003 to consider a legal memo from John Yoo of the Department of Justice's OLC as authoritative, blocked the Working Group from conducting a fair and complete legal analysis and resulted in a report that, in the words of then- Department of the Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora contained "profound mistakes in its legal analysis." Reliance on the OLC memo resulted in a final Working Group report that recommended approval of several aggressive techniques, including removal of clothing, sleep deprivation, and slapping, similar to those used in SERE training to teach US personnel to resist abusive interrogations.

Conclusions on Interrogations in Iraq and Afghanistan

1: Special Mission Unit (SMU) Task Force (TF) interrogation policies were influenced by the Secretary of Defense's December 2, 2002 approval of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at GTMO. SMU TF interrogation policies in Iraq included the use of aggressive interrogation techniques such as military working dogs and stress positions. SMU TF policies were a direct cause of detainee abuse and influenced interrogation policies at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq.

2: During his assessment visit to Iraq in August and September 2003, GTMO Commander Major General Geoffrey Miller encouraged a view that interrogators should be more aggressive during detainee interrogations.

3: Interrogation policies approved by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, which included the use of military working dogs and stress positions, were a direct cause of detainee abuse in Iraq. Lieutenant General Sanchez's decision to issue his September 14, 2003 policy with the knowledge that there were ongoing discussions as to the legality of some techniques in it was a serious error in judgment. The September policy was superseded on October 12, 2003 as a result of legal concerns raised by US Central Command. That superseding policy, however, contained ambiguities and contributed to confusion about whether aggressive techniques, such as military working dogs, were authorized for use during interrogations.

4: US Central Command (CENTCOM) failed to conduct proper oversight of Special Mission Unit Task Force interrogation policies. Though aggressive interrogation techniques were removed from Combined Joint Task Force 7 interrogation policies after CENTCOM raised legal concerns about their inclusion in the September 14, 2003 policy issued by Lieutenant General Sanchez, SMU TF interrogation policies authorized some of those same techniques, including stress positions and military working dogs.

5: The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in US military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.

See full report at http://www.democrats.com/senate-armed-services-committee-report-on-torture.

See Senate Armed Services website at http://armed-services.senate.gov.

natalnorg disclaimer:
style, formatting, and minor editing compliments of the chef
84│the animosity in the past made it hard to predict1

12 December 2008

Welcome to Bladen County ladies and gentlemen—
Tar Heel Plaza to be exact: prosperous capital of sin and swine.
Direct your attention, if you will, if you please,

over thataways. That’s Smithfield, fine people—grisly Camp Smithfield,
home of the world's largest

hog processing plant,
the one that put the ever-loving swill and swish-chute

in your gummies,


and packers. [This is a lottery.]

Today: 4000 ballots cast like anglers for a cat.

I cannot say that anyone cheated.


Said Fulcher, poor, poor Fulcher, Fulcher of the livestock section:

We are able to speak now

We will be treated fairly

Alas, another lesson and hoedown for the cafeteria netheryear and netherfolk:

A lot of people have not been treated fairly

But a victory and victory dance alike

cannot be scorned. Remember.

And so upon the Plaza steps the workers danced and danced and danced.

It went on and on like that, reeling.

And all throughout the evening the sun imagined and wanted desperately to say,

Fulcher again, voice cracking:

We have worked hard for this and we did it and we can continue to do it

All I want is for everybody to be together

As long as we do that we can make it

Not to all of a sudden spring

a full moon on you, but a full moon it is, and dark,

a full moon nonetheless, chasing me, now.

I mean to tell you a full moon, and a dark moon.

My man dread: There is a sense of relief that it will finally be over.


1 See http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=312956. A can of thanks to DMS, Fancy Corners, and e for the inspiration and impetus.

11 December 2008

Here the rain falls heavily and cold

art education 101 1965

As the world population grows to a peak of somewhere shy of maximum sustainable levels

See http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/energy-choice-nobelist-with-climate-passion/?em

If you've got 102 min to spare during this wondrous holiday season (and might I recommend SANTASTIC for all of you adventurers and rabble-rousers), then I beg of you, faithful readers, glorious sliders and beholders of the mighty atom, to please check out my man on the Helios spotworks, Dr. Chu, coming at you, Sir Energy Secretary forthcoming, a nice and sprawling lecture indeed, energy servants!

Hello again. It's me. How are you? Got to thinking: What would a McCain administration Energy Secretary have looked like? Good question. Let me present to you, yes ...

Voila! Indeed! The return! Sr. Joe:

20 November 2008

83│only one road


actually driving hurry

fast around one turn

needing to slow down

all of a sudden normal everyday


and the truck the other way

this moment of panic coming at me in all directions and weird descriptions

retaining wall instinctual habitual lots of ways not even conscious

knew where I was

and knew what my options were

because of where I was on the road

and everything and all

I can remember was this truck,

turning, coming at me,

massive vehicle, massive thing,

on a bend,

tons of vegetation,

vines, overhanging vines,


flat palms,

[bouganville], those,

tropical hardwoods, again,


remember seeing, turning, bigger forms,

bigger force,

larger object, very tip of car

behind truck, a flash,

what kind of car,

registering, quickly,

how many cars behind that car,

fear, more fear,

braking hard, instant reaction,

nothing one can do …

I am fucked,

I am completely fucked, I said,

whispering, screaming to myself,


aftershock, the heart,

back in the conscious realm,

looking around, a tonne of cars,

there was really a line of cars,

knowing the lack of regard to law,

up, up, get up, scared to get up, no pain,

not feeling any pain at all,

disbelief, all of a sudden alive again,

feeling OK, so unbelievable,

who knows what is going to happen,

still in danger, get out of this road, instinct,

jumping out of the road immediately,

a really bad decision as it turned out, if only

I would have crawled—

saving one of my ligaments; it could have helped in recovery,

frantic energy, get yourself out of this experience,

out of this spot, we just got hit here,

is there going to be in-patient care,

it is not so common here,

no lights, you don’t have to say that, no lights,


it is not supposed to bend like that,

13 November 2008

Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the government and form a new one


Helene Cooper
13 November 2008
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Russians want him to hold off on the installation of a missile defense shield in Poland. The Europeans want him to renounce the idea of “regime change” when it comes to Iran, while the Israelis want to be sure he does not give Iran a pass when it comes to nuclear weapons.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Taliban, which issued a statement this week urging him to “put an end to all the policies being followed by his Opposition Party, the Republicans, and pull out U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.”

There is a world of advice out there for President-Elect Obama. Within minutes of his election, the calls from foreign governments began, Obama aides said, and they have not stopped.

While the first telephone exchanges between Mr. Obama and foreign leaders were limited to pledges of future cooperation and invitations to visit, those leaders and their aides have also been contacting Obama’s advisers and their surrogates with suggestions on how an Obama administration should conduct, and change, American foreign policy.

There are also signs that some foreign governments are moving to alter the playing field even before Obama takes office. On Wednesday alone, North Korea said it would not allow international inspectors to take soil and nuclear waste samples from its main nuclear complex; Iran said it successfully tested a new long-range missile that it claimed was capable of reaching southeastern Europe; and Russia rejected an American proposal meant to assuage Russian fears over the planned missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The foreign efforts to sway the new team are normal during any presidential transition, but they are accelerated in this case, foreign policy experts say, because of the historic nature of Obama’s election and the significantly different course that world leaders expect him to pursue in American foreign policy.

“We have heard a lot of important ideas from our friends and allies,” said Denis McDonough, a foreign policy adviser to Obama. “We consider them closely in an effort to be a partner that listens, as the president-elect shapes his agenda to advance U.S. interests from his first day in office.”

But until Inauguration Day, Mr. McDonough said, the Obama team will be in a listen-only mode.

Even before the election, senior advisers to Mr. Obama — including Anthony Lake, the former national security adviser — had been meeting with European officials, including Pierre Vimont, the French ambassador to Washington, and Nigel Sheinwald, the British ambassador, European diplomats said. British and French officials are urging the Obama team to work on tone and mood before sitting down to talk with Iran, out of concern that Obama’s pledge to open talks with Iran without preconditions could lead to trouble.

The Bush administration has repeatedly denied that it is seeking a government change in Iran. But Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and other senior officials have also balked at giving Iran any direct assurance of that, and they have maintained publicly that all options remain on the table to confront Iran over its nuclear program.

Vice President-Elect Joseph Biden has said he thinks the Bush administration should explicitly assure the Iranian leadership that it would not seek a regime change, as one part of the incentives and sanctions that the United States and Europe have been offering in hopes of prying Iran away from its nuclear program.

Obama, for his part, has been a little less clear.

In an interview in September he said, “I think it is important for us to send a signal that we are not hell-bent on regime change just for the sake of regime change, but expect changes in behavior, and there are both carrots and there are sticks available to them for those changes in behavior.”

European officials said that the Obama advisers have played their cards close to the chest. “They come in, they listen and they say, ‘Thank you very much,’ ” said one official of a European embassy in Washington. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.

The French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said over breakfast with reporters in Washington this week that he thinks “the personality of Barack Obama can make a difference” when it comes to Iran. But Mr. Kouchner also urged that Mr. Obama exercise caution, using a speech at the Brookings Institution to warn against undermining the carefully plotted, but so far unsuccessful, transatlantic effort to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions (see http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/events/2008/1112_kouchner/20081112_kouchner.pdf).

Israel has been pushing, too.

A senior Israeli official said that the Israeli government is in touch with Obama’s close aides, in particular Dennis B. Ross, President Clinton’s former envoy to the Middle East. “For us, it’s Iran,” the official said, adding that Israel wants to make sure that Obama will tackle the Iran issue as soon as he takes office. “We can’t afford a vacuum.”

Russia, too, has already made a proposal, one that is close to Moscow’s heart. Last Friday, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr V. Grushko said that Russia would not deploy missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave that borders Poland, if Obama were to scrap the Bush administration’s planned missile defense shield. Obama has said that he supports a missile shield provided that the technology is workable and cost-efficient.

As for the Taliban, it seems unlikely that Obama will be acceding to its call for American troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan. He said during the campaign that, to the contrary, he would increase the number of American combat brigades deployed there.

Still, there could be room for compromise. Along with its usual invective against the Bush administration, the Taliban called in its statement for Obama to “respect the rights of the people to independence and observe the norms of human rights.”

“In short,” the Taliban statement said, “he should set out on a policy that will have a message of peace for the war-stricken world.”

06 November 2008

Introductions – Rahm Emanuel

"A New Deal for a New Economy"

14 January 2008

Chicago, IL


John, Thank you. As I said upstairs when a couple of us met, John is the Chair of a one-man-caucus, Republicans for Emanuel. So, the bylaws are simple. And after that introduction, John, with all your Republican friends, my recommendation is to go into the Witness Protection Plan.

Though I, actually, I’d want to know the date of when you speak, because I’d actually like to come back to that one. I think some of the people here would actually prefer you first and me second.

One thing John mentioned, the office, you should all know there is an office in the Capitol I have, I don’t have, I use. It was actually Dan Rostenkowski’s office, when he was the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. So it has, for a short Jewish kid from Chicago, a lot of history in it, in a great sense. It has a dead-on view of the Washington Monument. And there is nothing as beautiful and powerful in the morning, when I’m sitting there looking at the sunrise, and watching the Washington Monument.

I’m going to try to get through this speech and then we’ll do some questions-and-answers, or as Henry Kissinger used to say, “Does anybody have any questions for my answers?” He was serious, and I’m joking, obviously. And I want to thank John for those kind words. Its moments like that you wish your parents were here. Because you know your mother would be proud, and your father would be amazed at those words.

One side note before I speak, my brother’s in-laws are here. So if you could all just be respectful, some members of the family are here, when you’re asking questions. They’re just here to figure out what kind of family the got themselves involved in.

Let me start with a few things. We just went through an election, 2006, just a year ago, and we’re about to go into a Presidential election. Most significant election since 1952 in this sense; neither Party has a presumptive nominee. And that’s why I think the American people, as you can see to-date, and we’ll see tomorrow also in Michigan, are in record numbers, voting. They know this is a big election.

[The] 2006 election was a “change” election. Every decade the American people have a big election; ’46, ’58, ’74, ’82, ’94, ‘2006. Every decade the American people have a big election. What’s historical, and we talked about this a little upstairs, is that usually after the election there is a pull-back. And, in fact, it is a “change” election more now than in 2006.

In 2006, out of the 30 seats we won, 16 were in the suburbs. And I said after the election, and the good news is a year later I still believe what I said, is that it was a “new suburban populism” emerging in the country.

We won 16 seats, a little over half, in the suburbs from New York all the way to the West Coast. The ads we ran, and the debates we had on economic issues, you would have associated with what had been, in the 1980’s and parts of early 90’s, with more rural, industrial districts, than you would have with people populated from office parks.

Now look, in our Party, trade and globalization is the division inside our Party. In the Republican Party, its immigration. Both touching the same vein of insecurity. Both touching that vein.

Now, in the last twenty years, and I don’t have to say it in this room, but at least its sounds smart maybe when you listen in relation to the rest of the speech, so I’ll say it: the economy has doubled in size. The American economy has doubled in size, when there has been a massive integration in globalization. You, as business people would ask yourselves, if something is this successful, and the customer is that negative about it, why? And that’s what I’m going to try to pose today in this speech.

People are this negative about something that is done so well, you would ask, if your consumers and customers rejected it this much; if it’s that good, why do they reject it?

And so I think you have to take a step back. And my own view on this, is that, and I really fundamentally believe is that I we need a New Deal for the New Economy. And if you don’t put a human face on globalization, the American people are going to put a halt to it.

And I know that there is a lot of discussion in the Press and Washington, about a stimulus, and I’ll address that subject in the Q&A, but I want to take a slightly longer-term view about dealing with what I think the challenges are over the horizon. That regardless of who we elect for President, I think are going to be facing those, the next President, the next Congress, and the next Senate, and its dealing with what I call “The New Deal for the New Economy.”

Everybody knows that we have 47 million who go without insurance. In the last six years, health care costs have gone up 78 percent. But I want to take it, not from the health care perspective, but from the political perspective. Four Presidents have tried universal health care, four have failed: Truman, Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton. Three of them, Truman, Johnson, and Clinton, all had their own parties controlling Congress. And all three failed.

Now, I believe in universal health care. I believe it’s essential not just for the uninsured people, not just for the controlling of cost. I think most importantly, [the lack of insurance is] a threat to one of the most central parts of our economy, and that is the mobility of our workforce. People do not need jobs, because of fear of losing healthcare. Six years ago, 66% of the people got their health care through their employer. Today, it’s a 60%, and it’s continually dropping.

There are two roads to health care; reform and universal. One is to try “big,” which I think the next President will try. And as you can already see, I happen to see that the next President will be a Democrat. I happen to believe, they’ll go big. I believe, though, that if you look at the history of the politics of health care reform, we have failed at universal health care, but we have succeeded at universalizing health care for populations; Medicare, Medicaid, veterans, children’s health insurance.

The political system has failed to deal with the universal health care plan that has succeeded in universalizing health care for population segments. I think the next President should try “big,” but the next thing I would do is kids’ health care, complete that project, we’re not going to get that done, hopefully with this President, but I don’t think we will.

And the second is, bring Medicare down to early-retirees who are 58-64. It’s the fastest growing group of working uninsured in this country. Medicare delivers health care more efficiently and on a more cost effective basis than any other insurance company in the country. And you should not stop at 65. And I’ve had people who are 58-64 pay a higher premium based on market rates, etc. You could deal with chronic illnesses and other illnesses where it’d be cost effective. But Medicare should be brought down from 65 to 58 and allow people to buy in at a much higher premium.

It would deal with the uninsured basis; it would help stabilize Medicare’s cost for the long term. It would also take off costs from a lot of private employers. I mean, I’ll just give you one example. I talked to Ford executives, it’d save them 17 billion dollars a year if they didn’t have these early retirees’ health care costs on their bottom line. And the combination of dealing with children’s health care, dealing with early retirees, plus caring for chronic illnesses, heart disease, diabetes, etc., you could ring out close to 700 billions dollars in health care costs.

And there will be two roads open to the next President; go universal or have a back-up plan that takes a segment of the population and universalizes their health care. But we have got to get health care costs under control. And that is the way to do it.

Second, is savings. And I have a piece I handed out here, a piece I wrote in the Wall Street Journal about retirement. Seventy-five million workers in the United States have no employer-based retirement. None. Social Security is all they have. Which is why I always say, everybody, they’re crazy to say our big crisis is Social Security. No, our big crisis is savings.

We have a negative savings rate in this country for the first time since the Great Depression. In the last thirty-two years the Congress has put in place close to sixteen separate tax deductions or credits encouraging savings, and at every point, the savings rate has gone down. So whatever we’ve done, stop doing it. It’s not working.

I happen to believe, and what I propose, is targeted towards the 75 million people who don’t participate in any employer-based savings. I sponsored the automatic enrollment in 401(k)’s. That was my bill that passed. I believe that since you can’t force people to save, that at 1% above Social Security people should be automatically enrolled in a thrift-savings-like plan that Federal Employees have. They’d manage all the costs and all the fees. Fidelity and Vanguard competes for all the employees. They have five plans to pick from, if you don’t have a plan, you go into a life-cycle account. It’s all worked through for you. And one of the things we know from automatic enrollment is if you take the complexity out of it, enrollment and participation increases.

We will not, from a political system, solve Social Security if 75 million people get their only retirement security from Social Security. I represent a little over 30,000 flight attendants, and people who work in airlines. That’s why I have a great district by the way. I represent a lot of people in the airline industry. If I told them what I was going to do to their Social Security what has happened under a private plan, they’d run me out on a rail. I don’t care how Democratic that district is. You will not take the political system and fix Social Security if you’ve got 75 million workers without a retirement or some type of savings agenda. And we’ve got to get those 75 million participating in a savings plan.

Automatically enrolled, 1% above Social Security, if they choose not to be in it, that’s fine, managed by the thrift-savings plan that has the federal employees, and it would be open to all companies who don’t have an existing plan.

Just so you know, Martin Feldstein, after I wrote that piece, came to see me and said “the White House is very interested in doing this if you are interested.” And I said “I’m very interested in doing this.” And one of the things we are going to try to get done this Congress is, a savings plan, post what happened on Social Security, that targets this area.

My colleague Rich Neal from Boston, has an automatic enrollment IRA, I have an automatic enrollment, because I believe you have to make a 401(k) universal in the workplace.

The third area is energy, and energy independence. Now, I believe, new technologies, and John and I were just talking about this, but new technologies and energy can be for the economy what the internet, computer, and technology was for the last twenty years.

Now, it used to be that new technologies came through the economy, operated for about twenty five years, through the economy, worked their way through. Now the cycle is about 7 years. We need to make an investment as a country in the area of energy technology and energy conservation.

It is the next frontier from, not only a technological place, but an economic place. Now we’ve made a lot of progress. I read an article over the break, and some other pieces on this, but in 2005, without much effort, the United States economy saved more energy than the European Union used. There are entities like the Rocky Mountain Institute, using the technology that Boeing has used for the Dreamliner, created an SUV that gets 67 miles to the gallon.

All of this is doable and accessible, but if we don’t start investing in this type of technology, and start making this a national effort here, we’re going to miss an opportunity of historic importance.

And then lastly, education. The two most significant events, in my view, of the last hundred years, economically, have been the G.I. Bill, and High School Education. You could not have the Industrial Revolution without the High School Education. And the G.I. Bill was essential for the “American Century” to be known as the “American Century,” and for the growth we’ve had.

But we have not done anything differently as a country, on training our workforce, since the G.I. Bill, of significance. We know you earn what you learn, in today’s economy.

We know that in the next twenty years, three quarters of the jobs will require a minimum of two years of college education. And we know for a fact that only one out four workers is getting a post high school education. So, we have a natural mismatch between what the workplace requires and what the workforce is producing.

And I believe you have to make a one-year post high school education universal, and required, just like the high school education was required. I don’t care if you go become an apprentice at the IBEW. I don’t care if you go to the community college and do computer science. And I don’t care whether you go to a four-year institute. But you have to have a workforce that has the skills and capacity to compete and win.

And what you have to require people to do - we have too much invested as a country in you - is you have to go post your high school education to some other institution for one-year. I’d like to make it more.

Now if you give folks in this country a workforce with strength, a retirement plan, a healthcare security, and an stronger economy overall with investment in new energy and technology, you’ll be giving not only the American people, but the American economy, the ability compete and win in a globalized economy. And the security, where they see, in a global economy, that it has more opportunities associated with it, than costs associated it.

When we passed NAFTA in the White House in 1994, we passed it with about a thirty vote margin. When the President of the United States, with a Republican House and Senate passed CAFTA, which deals with Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala, no where the economic activity or value of NAFTA, it had a lot more political importance to the country than economic importance. And for those countries, it had a lot more economic importance than political importance. They passed CAFTA by a one vote margin in a Republican House.

President Clinton passed NAFTA with a thirty vote margin, and had a lot more economic activity. And then you tie that to what I just said about what happened in the 2006 elections. If you believe in the importance of globalization, and you believe in the importance of the further integration of the American economy, and the only way to get there is through the Doha Round and other trade deals. Unless, over the next twenty years, we put a human face on globalization, give people a sense that this is not a gun at their head, but an opportunity to advance themselves economically, unless you do that the American people are going to get a halt to globalization. Full stop. It will take political suicide to get a trade deal through the United States Congress and Senate.

And I’m not only advocating a universal post-high school education, a universal retirement, health care security at the place of employment, and a major investment in energy technology, just as a way for people to deal with their anxieties; I think you have to make that type of New Deal for a New Economy, because it’s the right thing to do to succeed in the same way the New Deal was the right as answer to what was going on, and the transformation that was going on, at the time of the Depression.

And it's not - don’t get me wrong - I do think it will address anxieties, but I am not proposing these things to address anxieties. I am proposing these things because I believe it’s the only way we can succeed.

The truth is, in the last thirty or forty years we got away because we were big, we were bad, and we could afford to. With China, India, Brazil, to name a few countries coming on, with that type of work force, with that type of skill training, our ability to get away with what we got away with in the last thirty years is over. That deal is done. And we need to have a new economic and political paradigm to deal with the changing world. And if we don’t do it, our economic position and leadership is going to alter fundamentally.

And so I believe, and I also think, as I’ve always said – that politics is not far from my mind - the first party that figures out to put a human face on globalization will have a political dominance in the same way that Roosevelt Coalition, and the Roosevelt Agenda, had a dominance in this country for about thirty or forty years. It has that much significance politically. And all the discussion you are going to hear in 2008, is going to be like the discussion you heard in 2006. It’s going to be dealing with people’s fears on the economic side.

And one closing comment, when you talk to people about trade. And I do. I’m kind of crazy, I still do my office hours at grocery stores. So whoever wants to come talk to me, can come talk to me. A lot of people don’t want to come talk to me, they want to go get their groceries and go on, which is usually my family members.

When people talk about trade, they are never talking about trade. They are never talking about trade. They are talking about their health care, their incomes, and their retirement security. You go to a John Deere plant, here in Illinois, everyone of these workers know that one out of three of their tractors are destined for an overseas market, so their job is tied to trade. Yet, it’s the most vehemently opposed workforce to globalization. Why?

If you talk to them, just listen. They are worried about losing their health care. They are worried about losing their good paying job. And they are worried about losing their retirement security. It’s not about trade, it’s about everything else that trade affects, that every trade discussion is about. And that’s why we have to come up - for those of us who believe that globalization has been a net positive -we have to come up with an agenda, that deals with and helps advance the ability of globalization to continue down the path of success.

Because in twenty years, the fact that we doubled the size of the economy, I think if we do what’s right, we can do that again. And we have the full potential to do it. And our greatest unmarked resources and capacity, and our greatest markets are right here at home. So we have to invest in the American people so they feel they have an opportunity to do as well in this globalized economy, as a number of people sitting in the room have done.

If we do that we have a great chance at a great decade again. If we don’t, the American people are going to have a full stop on what’s going on as it relates to the last twenty years.

So with that, I want to thank you…

31 October 2008

82│spirits to bring along magically and fair

31 October 2008

Once, in the beginning, a collection, fine—
a sad reminder of things to come. Sunshine, first,
then darkness, why

There was beckoning to be sure—

but who’d be doing the beckoning
and who’d be the one beckoned
remained in doubt.

[my shadows]

I speak to you freely. You are mine.

And, surprisingly:

I am a man and a mouse and a room and a sprout and an 8 ball and a falcon and a miser (and a miser).

Trust me when I reach over
and tap you on the shoulder.

We are one in the same I will say.
Hell if we are one in the same.

25 October 2008

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Let any one who doubts carefully contemplate that now
almost complete legal combination—

piece of
machinery so to speak—

compounded of the Nebraska doctrine
and the Dred Scott decision.

Let him consider not only what work the machinery is adapted to do,
and how well adapted,

but also let him study
the history of its construction, and trace,

if he can, or rather
fail, if he can,
to trace the evidence of design and concert of action,

among its chief architects,
from the beginning.

24 October 2008

And in connecting the landscape with the quiet of the sky

Middle Patuxent Environmental Protection Area – early October 2008. Title of post adapted from "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey," William Wordsworth (1798).

22 October 2008

something over which: one has rights

Feudalism, by its very nature, gives rise to a hierarchy of rank, to a predominantly static social structure in which every man knows his place, according to whom it is that he owes service. ... In order to preserve existing relationships in perpetuity, rights of succession ... are strictly controlled by various laws, or customs, of entail.


There are many reasons why you may want to work in the oil industry.

19 October 2008


Indeed, no one, we think, has until now doubted that the strength of the present-day movement lies in the awakening of the masses.

17 October 2008

My apologies for the absence, such a delay, but back again I am with a reminder

I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views. That's what the American people are concerned about. That’s why they want to know what his answers are. Two of [his] three mentors are Father Pfleger and Jeremiah Wright. Now, these are very strange, anti-American mentors. Barack Obama has been associating with anti-Americans, by and large─the people who are radical leftists. That's the real question about Barack Obama.

─ Michele Bachmann (R) ─ Minnesota


And thus, in context:


List of photos (from top to bottom, left to right):

- Katrina, 2005.
- Aftermath, Hiroshima, 1945.
- God bless America, my home sweet home, ca. 1960s.
- McCarthy to Truman, 1950.
- The sweet blossoming of napalm, 1972.
- Hello Baghdad, 2006.
- Ah, sweet land of liberty: Abu Ghraib, 2006.

27 September 2008

Turning for a very brief space to Van Winkle, and why we can clearly understand why some species, once lost, should never reappear

In members of the same class the average amount of change during long and equal periods of time, may, perhaps, be the same, but as the accumulation of the long-enduring formations depends upon great masses having been deposited on areas while subsiding, our formations have been almost necessarily accumulated at wide and irregularly intermittent intervals; consequently, the amount of change exhibited (embedded in consecutive formations) is not equal; each formation does not mark a new and complete act of creations but only an occasional scene, taken almost at hazard, in a slowly changing drama ...

25 September 2008

A message from Ms. Naomi Solomon

From Naomi Solomon

N38 rue des Martyrs Cocody

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire


I am the above-named person from Kuwait.

I am married to Mr. Anthony Solomon, who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004.

We were married for eleven years without a child.

He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.

Before his death we were both born-again Christian.

Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home, which the Bible is against.

When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2. 5 million (two million five hundred US dollars) in the bank here in Abidjan in suspense account.

Presently, the fund is still with the bank.

Recently, my doctor told me that I have serious sickness, which is cancer problem.

The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness.

Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein.

I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows, propagating the word of God, and to endeavour that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth.

I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my husband’s efforts to be used by unbelievers.

I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way.

This is why I am taking this decision.

I am not afraid of death—hence I know where I am going.

I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord.

Exodus says that the Lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.

I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health—hence the presence of my husband relatives is around me always I don’t want them to know about this development.

With God all things are possible.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank here in Abidjan.

I want you and the church to always pray for me because the Lord is my shepherd.

My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian.

Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth.