Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 29, 2009

Links March 29 09

Matt Taibbi AIG Exec Whines About Public Anger, and Now We're Supposed to Pity Him? Yeah, Right

Only a person with a habitually overinflated sense of self-worth could think he deserves a $700,000 retention bonus, even if it has to be paid by taxpayers, when in reality no one "deserves" that much money.

Financial crisis - NOT a black swan event

An argument against torture confirmed: It doesn't work.
Good, now lets proceed with this: Spanish judge accuses six top Bush officials of torture

U.S. Troops In Iraq Excited To Finally Return To Afghanistan

Sy Hersh gets emails from Syria's president Assad: Syria Calling - The Obama Administration’s chance to engage in a Middle East peace.

Another attack on NATO supplies in Peshawar

Please add your remarks and links of the day in the comments.

Posted by b on March 29, 2009 at 6:01 UTC | Permalink


this is satire surely

Posted by: outsider | Mar 29 2009 6:45 utc | 1

Michael Hudson: How The Scam Works.

Posted by: Colin | Mar 29 2009 7:04 utc | 2

Thanks, b, for the news on the Spainish judge. It seems that, following the arrest warrant for Pinochet, Spain emerges as the only principled Western democracy.

But besides Gonzales and Dr. "Strangelove" Feith I don´t know the others: "Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon's general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers".

A pity the main architects of a horrific U.S. foreign policy will not be held accountable: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Perle, Joseph Lieberman, .....

I mean, Goering and Himmler, not to mention Goebbels, didn´t actually directly torture anyone, so I wonder why the Nuernberg War Tribunal didn´t merely execute Rudolf Diels, Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Mueller while setting everyone else free?

Just the small fry? And not those who appointed them? Well, at least it´s a start ....

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 29 2009 9:25 utc | 3

I disagree with Ian Welsh completely on his not considering the financial crisis a Black Swan event. I´ve read Taleb´s book (it´s repetitive, but brilliant) and nowhere does he write that Black Swan events need to be unavoidable to qualify as Black Swans.

A Black Swan event might just as easily be the appearance of a genuine alien on the White House Lawn (unavoidable, unpredictable) as a once-in-a-lifetime financial crisis resulting from totally preventable human greed and negligence.

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 29 2009 9:59 utc | 4

US troops excited to return to Afghanistan. Translation: Fresh kills!

The land of Afghanistan has destroyed better armies than our mindless bunch. Let us see in a year or two if they are still "excited".

Posted by: heru-ur | Mar 29 2009 10:17 utc | 5

You wanna fight a war in Afghanistan, you fight a war. Playing hide and seek with the Taliban would make you just seek and seek.
The new Obama plan is clearly designed to maintain status quo in Afghanistan. This is not a plan to end the stalemate.
Throwing more money in FATA and Afghanistan would just add more players or warriors to share the booty.

The Republicans provided Jobs to their supporters and business opportunities to Republican allied business such as Halliburton and Blackwater in Iraq. When Obama says he is going to send more civilians to Afghanistan, he is opening some job opportunities for the Dem supporters and possibly some businesses allied with the democrats.

Posted by: Hoss | Mar 29 2009 14:42 utc | 6

more satire

sounds like the press release was out before checked

Posted by: outsider | Mar 29 2009 15:54 utc | 7

esteemed british playwright Caryl Churchill has written a really important 10 minute play . readings of the play are stirring much controversy in both NY and DC. here is a link to the (very short) script, i highly recommend.

Read Caryl Churchill's Seven Jewish Children

Please feel free to download the play. This play can be read or performed anywhere by any number of people. Should you wish to apply for rights, please contact [email protected], who will license the performances free of charge provided that no admission fee is charged and that a collection is taken at each performance for Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), 33a Islington Park Street, London N1 1 QB. Tel: 020-7226 4114. Website: Email: [email protected]"

here is the last scene


Tell her she cant watch the news

Tell her she can watch cartoons

Tell her she can stay up late and watch Friends.

Tell her they're attacking with rockets

Dont frighten her

Tell her only a few of us have been killed

Tell her the army has come to our defence

Dont tell her her cousin refused to serve in the army.

Dont tell her how many of them have been killed

Tell her the Hamas fighters have been killed

Tell her they're terrorists

Tell her they're filth


Dont tell her about the family of dead girls

Tell her you cant believe what you see on television

Tell her we killed the babies by mistake

Dont tell her anything about the army

Tell her, tell her about the army, tell her to be proud of the army. Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her their names why not, tell her the whole world knows why shouldnt she know? tell her there's dead babies, did she see babies? tell her she's got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make people sorry for them, tell her I'm not sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them, tell her we're the ones to be sorry for, tell her they cant talk suffering to us. Tell her we're the iron fist now, tell her it's the fog of war, tell her we wont stop killing them till we're safe, tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policemen, tell her they're animals living in rubble now, tell her I wouldnt care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I dont care if the world hates us, tell her we're better haters, tell her we're chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it's not her.

Dont tell her that.

Tell her we love her.

Posted by: annie | Mar 29 2009 16:11 utc | 8

more satire
btw I thought they controlled press releases of the army?

Posted by: outsider | Mar 29 2009 17:01 utc | 9

Hoss 6) Operation David's Sling has 41 opportunities for Infrastructure Development,
and $5.9B combined budget:
All the openings for Afghanistan close soon, better get your OP-615 turned in quick!
The April hire dates are so you become expat income tax free by April 15, 2010, and
with 35% duty station bump + 35% hazard pay, you're sucking down $150,000 tax free!

By August's national election, any reporter worth their salt will be covering Kabul,
US stock markets will be wildly chossing under a relentless Fed Open Window policy,
and then in December, a US Carbon Cap & Trade national sales & service tax kicks in!
Think how tranquil AF would be:
There will never be an income making opportunity like Afghanistan in your life time.

Posted by: | Mar 29 2009 17:03 utc | 10

Sorry for not posting today - a flue is blocking my brain. Hope I'll be back tomorrow.

Posted by: b | Mar 29 2009 18:30 utc | 11

relax and get well b

Posted by: annie | Mar 29 2009 18:47 utc | 12

chicken soup and hug to you.

Posted by: annie | Mar 29 2009 18:48 utc | 13

John Rawls: On My Religion

When John Rawls died in 2002, there was found among his files a short statement entitled “On My Religion”, apparently written in the 1990s. In this text Rawls describes the history of his religious beliefs and attitudes towards religion. He refers to a period during his last two years as an undergraduate at Princeton (1941–2) when he “became deeply concerned with theology and its doctrines”, and considered attending a seminary to study for the Episcopal priesthood. But he decided to enlist in the army instead, “as so many of my friends and classmates were doing”. By June of 1945, he had abandoned his orthodox Christian beliefs. With characteristic tentativeness and a disclaimer of self-knowledge, Rawls speculates that his beliefs changed because of his experiences in the war and his reflections on the moral significance of the Holocaust. When he returned to Princeton in 1946, it was to pursue a doctorate in philosophy.

Friends of Rawls knew that before the war he had considered the priesthood, but they did not know of any surviving writings that expressed his religious views from that period, and “On My Religion” does not mention any. Not long after Rawls’s death, however, Professor Eric Gregory of the Princeton religion department made the startling discovery that just such a document was on deposit in the Princeton library. “A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: An interpretation based on the concept of community” is Rawls’s senior thesis, submitted to the philosophy department in December 1942, just before the accelerated completion of his bachelor’s degree. The thesis is an extraordinary work for a twenty-one-year-old. The intellectual force and moral and spiritual motivation that made Rawls who he is are already there.

Those who have studied Rawls’s work, and even more, those who knew him personally, are aware of a deeply religious temperament that informed his life and writings, whatever may have been his beliefs. He says, for example, that political philosophy aims at a defence of reasonable faith, in particular reasonable faith in the possibility of a just constitutional democracy; he says that the recognition of this possibility shapes our attitude “toward the world as a whole”; he suggests that if a reasonably just society is not possible, one might appropriately wonder whether “it is worthwhile for human beings to live on earth”; and he concludes A Theory of Justice with powerfully moving remarks about how the original position enables us to see the social world and our place in it sub specie aeternitatis. Religion and religious conviction are also important as themes within Rawls’s political philosophy. For example, his case for the first principle of justice – that of equal basic liberties – aims to “generalize the principle of religious toleration”. More broadly, his theory of justice is in part a response to the problem of how political legitimacy can be achieved despite religious conflict, and how, among citizens holding distinct religious views, political justification can proceed without reference to religious conviction.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 29 2009 18:58 utc | 14

You know, by the time you get to the end of Theory of Justice, you realize Rawls is a defender of consumer capitalism and the reification of the american bourgeoisie.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 29 2009 19:05 utc | 15

Apologias such as this one on Israel's atrocities in the Occupied Territories have become futile in light of what is really happening on the ground, which the massacre and destruction of property in Gaza have laid bare for all to witness. No longer can anyone say: I didn't know.

  • Exhibit A
  • Exhibit B
  • Exhibit C
  • Exhibit D
  • Exhibit E-1
  • Exhibit E-2.

    Posted by: ptw | Mar 29 2009 19:07 utc | 16

  • Overused expression of the year: Black Swan Event.

    Posted by: Peter | Mar 29 2009 20:04 utc | 17


    the flu is about the only thing i don't suffer from - i am vaccinated every year now

    i'm not so keen on either lou or john rawls

    Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 29 2009 20:08 utc | 18

    It would be nice if your plucky Bolivians can have a revolution without much in the way of a terror. So far it's all in good fun but the staples of the poor are bouncing all around in price (don't take my word for it.) Wouldn't take much in the way of instability to get them set up with some nunraping death squads, Greystone is hungry.

    Posted by: ...---... | Mar 29 2009 20:27 utc | 19

    Seminal thesis

    Posted by: ptw | Mar 29 2009 22:19 utc | 20

    Is there a star chamber for these thugs?

    Posted by: Intelvet | Mar 29 2009 23:56 utc | 21

    "the sovereignty of individual nations is curtailed by the power of a transnational ruling class which exercises that power through national and international structures of governance and economic institutions and activities"

    Not seminal, but correct.

    Posted by: slothrop | Mar 30 2009 0:17 utc | 22

    --- 18) Obama has already signaled G20 that US grain exports at below production price will be on the table as a pre-condition for continue foreign trade,and with it the wholesale destruction of indigent farming wherever BigAgraPharm can find a market to dump in. American farmers are on the edge of their seats, watching.

    Between the drop in consumption of E85 corn-gasohol, the stunning revelation that HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) contains six times the allowable dose of mercury and is tied to autism, and a late, wet spring across the MidWest blocking planting at a time when fertilizer is high, there'll be a lot of US farmers on the auction block next fall, joining the ballooned-and-out US commercial property developers.

    Couldn't happen soon enough if Obama would just use his brain, and open the door to Brazilian cane sugar, lower the price of a case of soda pop by $1, lower the price of E85 by $1, and those $1's saved, times 350,000,000 American consumers, generates a bubble up of $500M every week directly into the US economy at the street level, just by eliminating that single agricultural subsidy on US sugar, and let FDA do its job, and eliminate HFCS as a threat to US health, because the AMA sure won't!

    You can gauge whether Obama has any power, or is a puppet to the capitalist elite, by whether he can protect American consumers from autism and diabetes from HFCS in every form of food we eat, even Thanksgiving turkey is injected with mercury now, and if he can cut the US sugar subsidy and open the door to Brazilian cane gasohol to drop the price of E85 and stimulate more new cars, business trips and road taxes.

    JHC, it's almost enough to make you wish for a military coup. Oh, wait, we had one!

    Posted by: Gerald McBoingboing | Mar 30 2009 1:37 utc | 23

    i'd love to share this with the community.. or better saying, the author of this fabulous songs wants to share them with you:

    Posted by: rudolf | Mar 30 2009 4:42 utc | 24

    b, hope you´ve recovered by now. Take some advice from a Muslim: My remedy for every illness is to drink a half bottle of brandy, get under the blankets, sweat it out and stay there till my head´s cleared!

    Posted by: Parviz | Mar 30 2009 7:25 utc | 25

    On Ian Walsh. I read only the first half of Taleb’s book. Parviz’s comment made me think.

    I think Walsh is right, the present mess is not a Black Swan event (though I disagree with some of the other things Walsh says and the opposing position has some arguments going for it. Taleb’s own definition is not terribly clear.)

    The financial ‘crisis’ represents rather a predictable endpoint; a kind of semi-collapse. It was predicted by many, inculding ppl on this board. Those who predicted it were treated like nasties, doomsters, fools, or obstructionists whose voice should be ignored or eliminated. Walsh makes this point.

    Second, it is not new. While all black swans (real swans or events called such) are not identical, differ here and there, etc. and it is hard to stipulate when the added differences create a new entity, something that is black swannish, exceptional, singular, novel, etc. For financial meltdowns, crises, etc. one can argue that the present one is but one of a long series. Bigger in scope, perhaps, but not essentially different in nature.

    Third, it is not random. It is the outcome of a slow and long process, of a functional system. The causes are often seen as conjoined or combined, as ppl concentrate on one or the other aspects, or several at once: inequality, greed, de-regulation, capitalism, loss of probity and honor, *derivatives*, corruption, poor Gvmt, inevitable melt down because of energy constraints, etc. (non-ordered incomplete list.)

    Fourth, given all the above, the ‘wow’ factor is missing! Nobody is really surprised, astonished, etc. Either ppl ignore it or they accept it and explain it in some way. For a true ‘black swan’ everybody would go ooooh and ahhhh - like a live black swan, or a nutty author finally published who becomes popular...

    If the Democrats are really making that comparison (and that was interesting to hear) they must be comparing the present and soon to be full blown Great Depression Number Two to an Act of God or other mysterious forces...not part of Taleb’s scheme...

    derivative dangers by Partnoy, see link for details>link

    Posted by: Tangerine | Mar 30 2009 16:08 utc | 26

    On "Not a black swan" see this part of the exactingly planned heist.

    Posted by: Dr. Doom | Mar 30 2009 17:51 utc | 27

    Tangerine, you´re right, Taleb doesn´t actually define his concept very precisely, but I personally concluded that there are two main criteria for an event to be defined as a Black Swan event:

    1. It has to be totally unexpected:
    The very event that gave Taleb his inspiration for the name of his book, namely, the discovery of black swans in Australia, was socially/economically/politically insignificant: What was significant was the discrediting of millenia of popular assumption (everywhere except obviously in Australia!).

    2. The discovery must be devastating in its suddenness and unexpectedness and far-reaching in its effect:
    Now, this may seem to contradict 1. above, but in fact it complements the first criterion.

    The collapse of the USSR in just 72 hours was definitely a Black Swan event, wholely unexpected (1. above) and a game-changer that left one sole superpower (2. above).

    Now, some brilliant minds (like Brzezinski) forecasted the collapse of the USSR, just like some brilliant economists forecasted (and profited from) Great Depression II. What is important is that, no matter how long the economic tsunami had been building up, and no matter how many sages predicted Armageddon, when it finally came its depth and strength took almost ever banker and politician and corporate chief by surprise. Overnight a ´ billion´ suddenly became a ´trillion´, which is in and of itself a mind-boggling event. Overnight the entire concept of ´Capitalism´ was thrown into doubt, and with it the concept of U.S. economic supremacy.

    There are people who not only predict the existence of Martians in outer space but even claim to have met them already. Now, if Martians do start picknicking on the White House lawn it will still be a Black Swan event even in spite of the claims and/or predictions of some who said they had predicted this all along!

    There are more obvious Black Swan events that might occur, like a mile-wide meteor hitting Earth that would disrupt life as we know it, but what Taleb is actually focussing on are matters closer to home, past events on which we base future theories, things like the Bell-Curve which he disparages every other page, and the concept that recessions will always be followed by economic booms and that "economists have everything under control".

    I found the book fascinating.

    Posted by: Parviz | Mar 30 2009 18:49 utc | 28

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