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Campaign for a fair settlement

Just got off a conference call with Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Brad Miller, Bob Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future and Justin Ruben, Executive Director of MoveOn.org.

All I could think was, “Talk about locking the barn door after the horse is out…”

They want any mortgage settlement deal to hold banks fully accountable for their actions and include a “full and thorough investigation” into problems tied to the residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market, and a guaranteed minimum amount of money set aside for reducing the mortgage principal of “underwater” homeowners in key states impacted by the foreclosure crisis.

Once again, the problem as I see it is that the same people leading the charge have also made it clear that they will support Democratic candidates no matter what. Now, you can argue whether we have any other realistic options, but telling the administration they will not actually risk losing support over sweeping criminal activities under the rug is not likely to make a difference.

As you may recall, back in October, the president announced that the bankers didn’t do anything illegal, they only used “loopholes” which have since been closed. It was a shameless statement, and I don’t remember hearing any of these too-respectful liberals call him out then (although certainly I might have missed it). But no one really rocked the boat, or I would have heard about it.

50-state mortgage settlement

David Dayen interviews former IMF director Simon Johnson on the administration’s work to tie up a 50-state agreement to settle mortgage fraud:

DD: I am reminded in seeing this settlement of your Atlantic article The Quiet Coup, where you talked about a financial oligarchy ruling in America. Does this really reinforce that?

SJ: You know, when I wrote that a couple years ago, people were skeptical of my characterization. Now I get more people coming up to me saying, “You know you had a point.” I mean, just look at how the new White House Chief of Staff is a former Citigroup executive, and he’s replacing a fomer JPMorgan Chase executive, and he replaced a former Fannie Mae executive. The dominance and power of the financial sector is just out of control. They are treated like no other sector in the country. And it has to stop.

I feel like the Administration is arrogant on these issues. We’ll see if it catches up with them in the election. A lot of these swing states have major housing issues. I think the Obama campaign should think about that.

China, my China

Steve Jobs was a great innovator who didn’t seem to give a shit about his own countrymen. But he was practically in love with totalitarian China, according to a Sunday NYT story. He followed the money, as they say.


Kind of makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

RUSSELLVILLE—On the heels of a weekend of positive news coverage for the campaign of Democratic Congressional candidate Ken Aden, Aden’s campaign manager returned home to find his family pet slaughtered, with the word “liberal” painted on the animal’s corpse.


Free people do bad things

An oldie but goodie from my friend Joe Bageant:

My redneck psychotherapist friend Brad Blanton tells me that militarization and open democratic societies do not work together at all and produce pathologies at both the individual and collective levels. Thus we get such conflicted bullshit as the U.S. soldiers being kind to that Iraqi boy wiggling around in his pus stained bed like a bandaged grub because an America bomb took off his arms and legs. “Attention private first class Leroy Rodriquez Jackson! Stand forward and give that dusky little torso with a head a chocolate bar and a Wal-Mart teddy bear. And grin for the camera, for Christ sake! Hey let’s airlift the kid to Germany, mount four metal claws on the stumps, and hang him on the playground monkey bars. Make a great PR shot! One thing for sure, that one won’t ever be driving any suicide car bombs into the compound, right private?” (Heh, heh,heh!)

But you have to feel sorry for Private Jackson. It is his ass that gets caught in the disconnect, as he tries to wrap his head around how to be “lethal and compassionate.” As in “Kill the motherfuckers, but be loving and kind to children as you blow their parents’ guts out onto the sidewalk.” People who kill other people are desensitized. Humans are hardened to the face of suffering; the killing becomes reality, compassion an abstraction. Private Jackson is totally screwed. When he does his soldierly duty of causing misery, death and maiming, he must do it compassionately, according to some hallucination generated in the Pentagon by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. The hallucination is transferred through the chain of command until it reaches where the rubber meets the road — then five privates go on trial for hurting an enemy they were specifically trained to kill. Anyone who has ever been in the armed forces understands the certain hypocrisy of the proposition.

For some reason though, civilians, smugly ensconced in their recliners and on barstools, cannot grasp why ignorant kid soldiers do horrible things during wars. I once defended Lynndie England in print and got hundreds of emails demonizing the poor Appalachian mutt girl, saying that she dishonored our “heroes” in Iraq. State generated garbage such as “Lethal and compassionate” works fine for these people, whose entire lives have been spent in the controlled environment of America’s industrial military state marketing messages. All these post-teens in desert camo, the ones making the “good kills”, as an appropriately conducted murder of an Iraqi is deemed military parlance, they are heroes on the TV news. Funny how you cannot see their Clearasil on TV. I have never seen as much acne medicine as when I was in the military during the Nam era, of which this war reminds me greatly.

As James Carroll brilliantly put it in “A Nation Lost” (Boston Globe, 4/22/03):

Photographic celebrations of our young warriors, glorifications of released American prisoners, heroic rituals of the war dead all take on the character of crass exploitation of the men and women in uniform. First they were forced into a dubious circumstance, and now they are themselves being mythologized as its main post-facto justification — as if the United States went to Iraq not to seize Saddam (disappeared), or to dispose of weapons of mass destruction (missing), or to save the Iraqi people (chaos), but ”to support the troops.” War thus becomes its own justification. Such confusion on this grave point, as on the others, signifies a nation lost.

Fun with fundraising

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t done a fund drive in a really long time. That’s because I’ve been able to hang on through what I earn at C&L, subsidized by what was left to me when my mother died.

Now I could really use your help. In addition to paying for the health insurance, I have a $5000 copay on the surgery and about $30,000 in assorted medical bills from when I was hospitalized previously. (See this woman’s story.) I don’t expect to pay all of that, but I will have to pay something.

Obviously, some of you are in the same leaky financial boat and the last thing I want is for my readers to donate to me when they’re in bad shape themselves. But for those of you who can spare a few bucks, and would like to support what I do, I’d really appreciate your help.

In addition to Paypal (see “donate” tab above), you can request my home address or use Wepay.com (widget just below this), which was recommended to me by people who hate Paypal.

Donate to Keep Susie healthy!


Got out of bed this morning without additional pain, which was nice. Maybe I’m getting better!

Pretty easy code to break

Candy Crowley asks Rep. James Clyburn if Newt Gingrich’s reference to Barack Obama as the “food stamps president” was a racial comment. Where did she get that crazy idea?


The officeholder who shouted obscenities at women hecklers and was caught being shuttled by helicopter to his son’s Little League game had harsh words yesterday for the South Carolina primary winner:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) says that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has “embarrassed” the Republican Party, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney never has.

Following Romney’s devastating loss to Gingrich in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, Christie told NBC’s David Gregory that the former speaker just didn’t have the experience needed to be president.

“I think Newt Gingrich has embarrassed the party over time,” Christie explained. “Whether he’ll do it again in the future, I don’t know. But Gov. Romney never has.”

“We all know the record,” the New Jersey governor continued. “He was run out of the speakership by his own party. He was fined $300,000 for ethic violations. This is a guy who’s had a very difficult political career at times and has been an embarrassment to the party.”

“But do you think a candidate, a nominee Gingrich, could also beat President [Barack] Obama?” Gregory asked.

“Sure,” Christie replied.

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