Friday, December 24, 2010

Streams Of Consciousness, Christmas Eve Edition: Korea, Belarus, Jim Messina, et al.


Despite a disastrous meeting between White House political hack Jim Messina-- a kind of dense and clueless Rahm Emanuel sleazebag-- and the Democracy Alliance, a group of top progressive heavy donors (many vowing to never give another dime after hearing the White House's tone-deaf look forward, which apparently didn't include anything about job creation and didn't even mention the word "jobs"), the White House did lay out what many will consider a Christmas present for the nation yesterday, even before a major staff reshuffle. Not as likely to generate headlines as the success they had in repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, getting a reasonable healthcare package passed for the 9-11 first responders, and getting the START Treaty ratified-- none of which impinged on the core demands of government by the Conservative Consensus ruling elite-- the White House reversed Bush's anti-environmental wilderness policy, restoring federal land managers' powers to curb development on vast tracts of America's back country, undoing what conservation groups called a "no more wilderness" policy put in place under Bush.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on Thursday that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will again have the authority to set aside large areas of federally owned territory in the West that it deems as deserving of wilderness protection.

It would still be up to Congress to decide whether to grant those areas formal wilderness status, thus putting them off-limits to energy development and other commercial uses on a permanent basis.

An official wilderness designation by law prohibits the building of roads or other structures, or any human activities that would alter the natural landscape, such as farming, logging, mining, or oil and gas drilling.

Hard to imagine either house of Congress getting behind this, though, financially controlled as each is by the extraction and development industries. It'll give us something to write about going forward, though. Already one of the worst special-interest whores in this area, Utah Republican crook-Senator Orrin Hatch denounced the policy shift as a "brazen" attempt by the Obama to usurp congressionalcontrol of wilderness designations. Hard to imagine Salazar fighting hard enough for the change to see it through to the end.

Bye-bye, Lynn Woolsey?

Lynn Woolsey has done more to retard the effective development of the Congressional Progressive Caucus than anyone else in Congress. As the caucus's co-chair, she sowed the kind of dissension and discord that have marked her entire political career. Long before she made herself famous by undermining the efforts of Raúl Grijalva to forge the CPC into an effective fighting force and long before she backed backed Blue Dog and warmonger Jane Harman against progressive acivist Marcy Winograd-- and long before becoming addled by her addiction to painkillers-- Woolsey had become such a divisive figure in Sonoma County politics that the Petaluma City Council did everything it could to "kick her upstairs" into an open congressional seat and get her out of their hair. It looks like she may actually retire now and get out of the way of real progressive change at a time it is most needed. It won't happen fast enough! (Imagine Norman Solomon replacing her!)

Plenty of Crime On Wall Street... And Punishment?

You're more likely to find a reasonable look at that by reading Rolling Stone than the Wall Street Journal, and Matt Taibbi reports on some real movement in bringing the evildoers to justice.
It took more than two years, but there might finally be some capital sentences handed out for crimes committed during the financial crisis. That’s metaphorically speaking, of course. Like the accounting firm Arthur Anderson, whose head was sacrificed during the Enron debacle, the once-proud financial auditing firm Ernst and Young now looks poised to take a spin down the toilet of history thanks to its role in the Lehman Brothers debacle.

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is about to file civil fraud charges against E&Y for the work it did helping Lehman cook its books during 2007 and 2008.

Taibbi speculates that this suit is curtains for Ernst and Young and "may be the beginning of a series of investigations that ultimately take down the auditors and ratings agencies that made the financial crisis possible. Without accountants and raters signing off on all the bogus derivative math and bad bookkeeping, a lot of this mess would never have happened."

Belarus, A Nazi Hellhole That Never Dealt With Its Dark Past, In The News Again

I'm guessing most Americans couldn't tell you what or where Belarus is if their lives depended on it. The Republicans made the same bet right after World War II when they sponsored the illegal immigration of hundreds of Belarus Nazis to America, most of whom had been involved in extermination of that country's entire Jewish population. They moved to South River, New Jersey, and, contrary to federal law barring Nazis from immigrating, became citizens and staunch Republicans. Their resettlement was a pilot project for the GOP takeover of Florida with fascist Cuban refugees.

Former U.S. government prosecutor and Army intelligence officer John Loftus has a new book exposing the entire project, America's Nazi Secret. Right-wing elements in the State Department, led by the Dulles brothers, with powerful financial and ideological ties to the Nazis were able to subvert President Truman's policies and, once Eisenhower became president, move into high gear in bringing thousands of genocidal war criminals and Nazis from Belarus and Ukraine to America.

Today, never having dealt effectively with its past, Belarus is one of the world's worst authoritarian hellholes, and today the U.S. human rights organization Freedom House called on the European Union and our own country to renew full sanctions against Belarus.
More than 600 people were detained [including five presidential candidates] in the Belarusian capital [Minsk] during a police crackdown on demonstrators after the presidential vote that the opposition said had been rigged.

"The current situation is much worse than that in 2006, when the EU and U.S. together imposed sanctions against the regime," [Freedom House director David] Kramer added.

Western nations, including the United States, called the 2006 presidential elections in Belarus fraudulent and introduced sanctions against the country and travel bans on some Belarusian officials.

[Alexander] Lukashenko, 56, who has ruled Belarus with an iron rod since 1994 and has been dubbed by the United States "Europe's last dictator" for a clampdown on opposition and dissent, won 79.67% of the vote on Sunday. International monitors said the election was "flawed."

The United States and the European Union have called on Belarusian authorities to immediately release opposition activists who were arrested during the protests.

Wiping North Korea Off The Map Would Probably Guarantee Obama A Second Term-- A Popular Idea In Certain Circles

The U.S. won't be distracted by Belarus's fascism when it's busy provoking North Korea into a suicidal attack on South Korea so it can end the Communist regime there once and for all. Watch the video below explaining what's really happening in Korea and then read the U.S. propaganda version in the Washington Post, which is pushing a right-wing American line that South Korea's puppet-president, Lee Myung-bak, "looks weak" by not acting after all his bellicose statements attacking the North and his election promises to reunite the two countries.

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