Archive for June 14th, 2009
The situation there is bad. Andrew Sullivan’s blog is carrying a lot of messages from people there, who find a way to get information out of the country.
It’s against regulations, but of course that has never stopped the Army from doing anything. The story, reported by Matt Kennard in Salon:
On a muggy Florida evening in 2008, I meet Iraq War veteran Forrest Fogarty in the Winghouse, a little bar-restaurant on the outskirts of Tampa, his favorite hangout. He told me on the phone I would recognize him by his skinhead. Sure enough, when I spot a white guy at a table by the door with a shaved head, white tank top and bulging muscles, I know it can only be him.
Over a plate of chicken wings, he tells me about his path into the white-power movement. "I was 14 when I decided I wanted to be a Nazi," he says. At his first high school, near Los Angeles, he was bullied by black and Latino kids. That’s when he first heard Skrewdriver, a band he calls "the godfather of the white power movement." "I became obsessed," he says. He had an image from one of Skrewdriver’s album covers — a Viking carrying a staff, an icon among white nationalists — tattooed on his left forearm. Soon after he had another white power symbol, a Celtic cross, emblazoned on his stomach.
At 15, Fogarty moved with his dad to Tampa, where he started picking fights with groups of black kids at his new high school. "On the first day, this bunch of niggers, they thought I was a racist, so they asked, ‘Are you in the KKK?’" he tells me. "I said, ‘Yeah,’ and it was on." Soon enough, he was expelled.
For the next six years, Fogarty flitted from landscaping job to construction job, neither of which he’d ever wanted to do. "I was just drinking and fighting," he says. He started his own Nazi rock group, Attack, and made friends in the National Alliance, at the time the biggest neo-Nazi group in the country. It has called for a "a long-term eugenics program involving at least the entire populations of Europe and America."
But the military ran in Fogarty’s family. His grandfather had served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and his dad had been a Marine in Vietnam. At 22, Fogarty resolved to follow in their footsteps. "I wanted to serve my country," he says.
Army regulations prohibit soldiers from participating in racist groups, and recruiters are instructed to keep an eye out for suspicious tattoos. Before signing on the dotted line, enlistees are required to explain any tattoos. At a Tampa recruitment office, though, Fogarty sailed right through the signup process. "They just told me to write an explanation of each tattoo, and I made up some stuff, and that was that," he says. Soon he was posted to Fort Stewart in Georgia, where he became part of the 3rd Infantry Division.
Fogarty’s ex-girlfriend, intent on destroying his new military career, sent a dossier of photographs to Fort Stewart. The photos showed Fogarty attending white supremacist rallies and performing with his band, Attack. "They hauled me before some sort of committee and showed me the pictures," Fogarty says. "I just denied them and said my girlfriend was a spiteful bitch." He adds: "They knew what I was about. But they let it go because I’m a great soldier."
In 2003, Fogarty was sent to Iraq…
Take a look:
Joan Walsh writes about the encounter here. Well worth reading. O’Reilly seems to be on track for an aneurysm.
The Obama administration and House Democratic leadership can’t seem to muscle the votes they need to pass a $108 billion appropriation for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The stakes are high for both the administration and the world.
The battle is taking place primarily under the radar, with the major media mostly ignoring it, and avoiding the substantive issues in the few reports that have surfaced. The details are very interesting for what they reveal about politics in the United States.
The cast of characters: the U.S. Treasury Department, an opaque institution that is kind of a permanent government; the anti-war movement, which has more clout and representation in Congress than you would know from reading the newspapers; groups concerned about global justice and the IMF’s abuses; the Republican congressional leadership, which hopes to score some political points in opposing the IMF funding; and the various Members of Congress and their personal beliefs and constituencies.
The plot: the Obama administration is trying to get $108 billion for the (IMF) as part of a commitment that President Obama made at the G-20 meeting in April, led by the G-7 (high-income) countries, to raise $500 billion for the IMF from member countries.
But, from the beginning, the administration has faced tremendous obstacles to getting a majority members of the House of Representatives to vote for the money in an up-or-down vote. This is because many members of both parties are afraid that it would be seen as another taxpayer bailout for the financial industry – and foreign banks at that.
Which it appears to be, actually. This unprecedented increase in the Fund’s resources, with a goal of $1 trillion, is vastly higher than anything the institution has ever seen. It happens to coincide with huge expected losses by Western European banks in Eastern Europe, where these banks have at least $1.4 trillion in exposure. To make the issue even more delicate, some of these banks, like France’s Societe Generale, have already received U.S. taxpayer dollars through AIG under the TARP program.
Some of these taxpayer handouts to domestic and foreign financial institutions have been difficult to justify, not least the billions that have ended up as dividends for shareholders or bonuses for executives who helped crash the economy. So it is easy to see why the Administration wanted to avoid an up or down House vote on the IMF money.
This was done by attaching the IMF money to a supplemental war spending bill in the Senate. The House had already passed its war spending bill without the IMF money. But the normal procedure is for the two chambers to reconcile their differences and present a bill – which would presumably include the IMF money – to both Houses, with the idea that "funding for the troops" must be passed.
Enter the anti-war movement: Fifty-one House Democrats had already voted against the war spending when it passed the House. Should they now vote in favor of it in order to give the IMF money? The Democratic leadership says yes, but anti-war Dems are saying no…
The ACLU is trying to make those responsible for torture to be held accountable. Check out the website.
Just how tough are the Obama administration’s new executive compensation limits for bailed out firms? Well, as a hint, Wall Street sees them as no threat at all. Indeed, The Washington Post today gets a few telling quotes from bankers who are giddy that these are the only standards they’ll be held to.
“Our people kind of thought it was a non-event,” one executive of a large bank said. “There’s nothing in there that’s radical. It’s not like the horrible and unethical action from Congress where they were putting artificial caps on pay or trying to steal back bonuses . . . I don’t think there are worries about it on Wall Street.”
From another source:
“The focus was really on a light touch approach,” [another] person added, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions are ongoing. “Nobody said the government needs to regulate with a heavy hand, like caps or micromanagement, but that investors needed more tools to increase disclosure and director accountability.”
Indeed, while the new compensation plan targets the top executives and highest-paid employees at the seven companies receiving the most bailout cash, executives at the hundreds of other bailed-out companies will go largely untouched. Example: While the plan places limits on bonuses (as mandated by an amendment passed by Congress earlier in the year), it limits the definition of “bonus” to exclude the commissions that send the pay for many traders soaring.
The Obama plan also scraps the $500,000 salary cap the administration had proposed in February for executives of bailed out firms. President Obama unveiled that cap with the statement that Americans were outraged with “executives being rewarded for failure.” Could it be that just four months later the White House no longer sees a problem with rewarding the same failure?
This is what happens when Wall Street runs the Treasury.
Andrew Sullivan prints an excerpt from a reader’s letter:
A reader writes:
Last January, at the age of 41, I conceived my first child, a child I have wanted all my life. At 22 weeks into the pregnancy, my partner and I went for a routine ultrasound at a clinic in Overland Park, Kansas, near our home in Lawrence. We and all the expectant grandparents were eager to find out the baby’s gender. Before the appointment, my mother wrote a quick email: “What time is your ultrasound? I’m excited!! Let me know what gender my "Grand" is! Love, Mum. xoxoxoxo”
Our appointment began jovially. The perinatologist and nurse joked about names, and at one point, the doctor called the baby a “little rascal.” As the ultrasound continued, the room grew quiet. The perinatologist scanned the baby’s head again and again. He finally announced, in a solemn voice, “I’m seeing some things in the baby’s brain that concern me.” Time stopped, and everything in the universe shifted. Holding my partner’s hand, I struggled to listen despite the thick blanket of grief that settled over the room.
The doctor continued, “The baby has holoprosencephaly. It’s a brain malformation in which the forebrain fails to divide. Most of these babies die before term. Those that are born have severe disabilities.” He finally took a deep sigh and started to deliver the especially delicate part: “I don’t know what your beliefs are but some people would terminate a pregnancy of this nature. Since you are 22 weeks along, you would have to go to Wichita for the procedure.” Everyone in the room knew this was shorthand for, “You would have to see George Tiller, the infamous late-term abortion doctor. No one else will help you at this point.” Numb, I asked to know the baby’s gender. He placed the ultrasound wand back on my stomach and read the grainy image: “It’s a girl.” We walked out of the clinic with blank stares and wept in the car.