Birthdays


It’s my birthday. I realized it last night when The Daily Show announced the date.

If it wasn’t for money being short, I’d be obnoxiously satisfied with my life.  There aren’t many rules and most of them are fluid.

The ironies that made me laugh when I was young are barely different now. (The Three Stooges were a favorite only because Dad banned them from the house.)

Humans mouthing Corporate Speak as if their edges have blurred  and people ganging up on weaknessthose things still knock me sideways.

Bank of America reminded me Monday how near the edge I am — even during my birthday week.

When I asked the teller if I could put a sign on the bank’s outside doors to let people know our food banks were running low, her face settled like a key in a hole.  “Bank of America won’t let you hang up a sign,”  she said.

Things have been marginal in the village for a while. The hardware store closed a few years ago, followed by two restaurants, a couple of realtors and a fitness center. There’ve been others but recounting the disappeareds doesn’t help.

Besides, it’s no different in your neighborhood. The locally-owned supermarket is penned on all sides by box stores. Artists sit in empty shops and the man who owns the health food store has aged this year. Our cashiers are teens whose parents are unemployed. The young guy folding clothes at the laundromat stares self-consciously at his feet. Neither he nor the cashier got their  college loans for next semester.

In all that economic want, our village sports three banks. One. Two. Three. In a rural village that can’t support a hardware store, we have a cornucopia of banks. The biggest is Bank of America though its stock is falling.

I stared at the teller and the blinding plate glass windows behind me. All that empty, pristine space.  Scenes from The Matrix danced in my headshards splattering like a crystal xylophone.  In another birthday year, I might have thrown a rock. I might have picketed. I might have railed at the stunned number-cruncher behind her knee wall.

I’m not a dewy-eyed optimist, but I like my birthday. I like the tasks that come with aging. I like the flow of breasts sagging and butts drooping. When I was little, I wanted to be Jewish. “How lucky,” I thought, “to celebrate for eight endless days and nights.”

That early disappointment in Chanukkah’s shortcomings  was surpassed the day I turned ten.    “Eve’s Curse” clamped my life in an iron jaw. It was ghastly. I knew what it was but thought of it  like Death–something for others, never me.

Being a girl wasn’t in my cards. I still smelled like a mushroom-y kid, for pete’s sake. My bath water still turned gray after a day in the barn or on the baseball field or climbing in the trees.

The next day – the day before I turned ten — JC called me a “girl” and I spent my birthday in detention for bloodying his nose.

But the deepest cut of all was to come. As Mom’s German chocolate cake melted on my tongue, Grandma snorted. She’d heard my whispered birthday wish. “The Cleveland Indians aren’t gonna’ let a girl be a ballboy,” she said, cuffing my head.

Ten years later, as I popped a slip of chocolate mesc in New Orleans and jumped into The Gulf, The Paris Peace Accords were being signed. Though it skipped my bedraggled mind  that day, I haven’t forgotten it since.

This birthday is something else. Barack Obama’s first interview as our President was with Al Arabiya. Conyers subpoenaed Rove again. Children around the world are being born and  named Barack.  George  Mitchell is on his way to the Middle East. Pastor Warren’s narrowness will fall of its own strictures.

The world is shifting and when we aren’t holding our breath, we’re clasping our hands in glee. I’m so pleased to have made it this far.

Happy birthday to me — for the next eight days.

“Lightning” Rod Blagojevich


Mother Teresa,  Nelson Mandela,  Gandhi and   Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?   Governor Blagojevich makes it easy for his detractors to paint him as  a delusional, narcissistic clown.

He makes it easy for all of us to join in our shared sense of “We’re Okay and He’s a Piggy.”

What actual evidence caused U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to seek the Governor’s arrest?  What evidence  is fueling the feeding frenzy  amongst politicians, the media  and the public?

The Criminal Complaint

According to the Criminal Complaint (Docket #  1:08-CR-01010),  Governor Rod Blagoyevich’s malfeasance began around 2002 and the US Attorney  started gathering evidence against him in 2003.

By the time the Governor ran for re-election in 2006, the investigation was already three years old.

Interestingly, wiretapping wasn’t initiated until the investigation was more than five years advanced.  (October 22, 2008).

And what do we have to show for all those billable hours?   The Complaint alleges that Governor Blagojevich conspired to defraud, conspired to obtain money and property by fraud and corruptly solicited and demanded… (See  “Notes & Citations” below.)

The Complaint does not allege that any of the Governor’s hairbrained, adolescent-boy-in-a-treehouse schemes bore fruit.  Although one informant says he donated money to Blagojevich’s political campaign in exchange for a “lucrative post,”  I found no allegation in the Complaint that such a post (or lucrative contract) was awarded.

Stuart Levine is a witness central to the Government’s case against Blagojevich. In exchange for his testimony, the Government has agreed to drop some indictiments against Levine and recommend that he serve only 67 months in prison.  (Unrelated to anything involving the Governor, Levine admitted in his plea agreement to …crimes over the past  approximately 20 years... [and] further admitted to using illegal narcotic drugs …30 years…cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, ecstasy and ketamine.”

Much of the information in the Government’s Complaint was provided by Tony Rezko.  The Complaint implies Rezko was a confidante and agent of the Governor.

Unfortunately for the Government,  “Earlier this year [2008]  Mr. Rezko wrote a letter to the judge in his own criminal case … in which he complained that federal prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald   “are pressuring me to tell them the ‘wrong’ things I supposedly know about Governor Blagojevich and Senator Obama. Mr. Rezko added that he had never been involved in wrongdoing with either man.”

Rezko changed his tune in December 2008. The Government’s affidavit against Blagojevich states, “Rezko has proffered [information] … in hopes of receiving a recommendation from the Government for a reduced sentence. On Thursday, the federal judge in Mr. Rezko’s case abruptly suspended his sentencing proceedings.”  (Wall Street Journal)

Admittedly, the Governor is caught on tape musing about appointments to Obama’s cabinet. He also admits on tape that it was “unlikely that the President-elect would name him….”

The Governnor speculates about his wife being named to paid-corporate boards.

He wonders how best to be named to a not-for-profit.

He says, “…if…they’re not going to offer anything of any value [for Obama’s Senate seat] then I might just take [it]….[I] will make a decision…’in good faith…but it is not coming for free…It’s got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me.'”

He denies his own “involvement in anything illegal, including involvement in illegal activity with Rezko…”

Moreover, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and  representatives of the Obama team have stated unequivocally that they had no  pay-to-play,  quid pro quo, conversations with Blagojevich or any of his agents.

And in mid-December 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the Governor’s fitness to hold office.

We are now in a holding pattern.  US Attorney  Fitzgerald asked for and received a 90 day extension in which to  gather himself for an indictment.

If not in a Complaint that’s been five years in the making, then where’s the evidence  that Governor Blagojevich’s discussions rose  above the  “pay-to-play”  schemes commonly attributed to Halliburton, The Carlyle Group, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, General Electric, the insurance industry, oil companies establishing federal energy policy, Fannie and Freddie, Congress and professional sports teams bartering for public funds to build their new stadiums?

I’m not saying  Governor Blagojevich is innocent.  How can we know?  But I am asking why we’ve colluded in making him our lightning rod for government corruption when there are so many others  in the federal government and financial markets with  demonstrable blood on their hands?

Martha Stewart, anyone?

Notes & Citations

Court documents filed  in  USA v Blagojevich, et al .  You’ll have to scroll 2/3 down the page.(Docket #  1:08-CR-01010):

Allegations and statutes: “Rod R. Blagojevich and John Harris, were charged by way of a criminal complaint on December 9, 2008, with: (a) conspiring to defraud the  citizens of Illinois of their right to his honest services, as well as conspiring to obtain money and property by fraud, in violation of the mail and wire fraud statutes, 18 U.S.C. §§  13411343, 13461349; and (b) corruptly soliciting and demanding the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members who had been critical of Blagojevich, in exchange for the awarding of millions of dollars in financial assistance from the State of Illinois, 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B) and 2.

Is Obama Clearing the Way to Criminal Charges?


On January 21, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order that revoked George W. Bush’s  Executive Order 13233.  Bush had sought to severely limit  access to the records of former United States Presidents.    His previous and  more exclusive version was drafted by then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and issued by President George W. Bush on November 1, 2001.

In signing the Executive Order,  President Obama  returned to the law as it was signed  by Ronald Reagan in 1989.

Obama’s  revocation affected two substantive changes  in what happens when a former president is asked to release  his presidential records.

Obama’s new order  reduces from 90 to 30  days the length of time a former president has to review records being requested.  This is important to the issue of delay as practiced for eight years by the Bush Executive.

More substantively,  the old version  (Bush’s Ex. Order 13233)  would have given Bush de facto veto power over Obama  if  Obama believed  Bush’s claim of  Executive Privilege was bogus:

“… the Archivist shall not permit access to the records by a   requester  [b]ecause the former President independently retains the right to assert constitutionally based privileges… the Archivist shall not permit access to the records by a requester unless and until the incumbent President advises the Archivist that the former President and the incumbent President agree to authorize access to the records or until so ordered by a final and nonappealable court order.

According to Bush’s rule,  both the former and incumbent Presidents would have to agree to the document disclosure.

Obama’s new rule allows the current President   to overrule the  former President’s claim of Executive Privilege:

[Upon receipt of a claim of executive privilege by a living former President], the Archivist (b)  In making the determination referred to in subsection (a) of this section, the Archivist shall abide by any instructions given him by the incumbent President or his designee unless otherwise directed by a final court order.

Even under Obama’s Order,  the former President has theoretical recourse to  the Courts.

Is  Obama clearing debris  from the path  to criminal charges?  In part, that will depend on what happens to Cheney’s records and how President Obama treats  “Executive Privilege.”

Bush’s Executive Order 13233 mentions the Vice President’s records specifically.  Obama’s order does not — as if Obama believes  the Veep’s documents are  integral to the  Executive Branch.  That would be a new view. As you know,  Cheney believed his office existed in a misty venue somewhere between the Executive and Legislative branches.

1.   Wikipedia intro to Bush’s Executive Order 13233

2.   Obama revokes Bush’s  Presidential Records protections

Inauguration Jubilee: Pastor Warren’s Incoherence


“We will hold out our hand  if you are willing to unclench your fists.”

So said  President Obama in his Inaugural speech.

So said civil rights activists to Pastor Rick Warren.

They said it after he likened  controlling  one’s homosexuality to controlling one’s promiscuity.   Just say  “No,” is Warren’s breezy prescription for slicing and dicing one’s  own sexuality.    “I think that’s part of maturity. I think it’s part of delayed gratification. I think it’s part of character.” Only, it’s not “delayed gratification,” is it?  His prescription is for a lifelong self-rebuke.

“Ah hah!”  you say.  “‘Pastor Rick’ would support  gay marriage if he thought  ‘gayness’  was a birth defect rather than a noxious choice.”

You’d be wrong.  He’d still oppose it because he’s  “… opposed to the re-definition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage….  Historically, marriage is a man and a woman.”

Warren enlarged the thought,  “Opposition to same sex marriage is shared by a majority of Americans and by President-elect Obama — and is based on Biblical teachings.”

And,  according to a  Time article,  Warren e-mailed a statement to his 30,000 members urging them to “vote yes on Proposition 8 — to preserve the biblical definition of marriage.”

(I’m not sure how  Pastor Warren feels about    Abraham, the famous patriarch who fathered   three great religions with three different and concurrent wives.)

Coincidentally,   in the Curry interview,  Reverend Warren stated, “I don’t think gay marriage is any threat to marriage.  So that’s not why I’m voting the way I did. I think divorce is a bigger problem to marriage than anything else.”  (Curry-Warren interview transcript)

So?    “No harm,  no foul”  is  one of our earliest legal tenets.  Our courts  simply do not weigh the legal merits of   hypothetical cases.  They do not engage in judicial review.  They like  their plaintiffs  harmed and bleeding from some dastardly act.  If  hetero marriages aren’t  threatened by gay marriages and there’s no demonstrable harm to non-gays  and there’s no apparent legal basis for heterosexuals to oppose gay marriage,  why did Pastor Warren work so hard to eradicate gay marriages in California?    “Warren says he joined the fray out of a concern if Proposition 8 wasn’t passed, pastors would lose their right to preach about the Biblical definition of marriage. But many constitutional experts say that fear was totally unfounded and gay rights leaders saw Warren’s stance as an infringement on their civil rights.”   (Curry-Warren interview transcript)

According to Pastor Warren, then,  he’s afraid that if gay marriage is legalized, he’ll be arrested for preaching    the Biblical man-woman version.   As absurd as that sounds, it’s heartening to know he cares for someone’s civil rights.

In the  Baptist Press, Pastor Warren is quoted as saying,  “This [gay marriage]  is not a political issue, it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about.  There is no doubt where we should stand on this issue.”

And then,  he used his pulpit  to rouse  30,000 church members against the law of the land.

According to most commentators,  in  a follow up to his Ann Curry interview,    Pastor Warren equated  gay relationships with  pedophilia,  polygamy/bigamy and incest .  What he actually suggested was far more bizarre:   that legalizing homosexual marriages  might open the door to legalizing   incestuous, polygamous  and  pediophilic (sic)  marriages.  (YouTube)

That’s right:  legalize  gay marriage and the justice system will run amok.  All manner of sinners will want to marry.  If you doubt his logic, I refer you to the  film, Reefer Madness.  It’s an old docudrama about what happens to people who smoke marijuana.

It’s distressing  that President Obama would appoint an invoker who’s illogical and incoherent.  Just as distressing is  Pastor Warren’s use  of his  tax-deductible ministry and Biblical verses to change our civil laws.

Even when King Henry VIII of England was ex-communicated by the Pope, he refused to cede his civil supremacy to the  Catholic Church.  For sure, some of  Henry’s  stubbornness was due to a lack of healthy male heirs and his desire to divorce-at-will, but  in the end,  King Henry rejected  Papal dominion over  England. It was an act of defiance at a time when people  feared Hell and The Church at least as much as they did  Henry.  After all, the Pope could condemn the entire country to burn in Hell  for eternity.

Henry’s great battle with the Church was one reason our founders codified the independence of  our secular state.

By all means, President Obama should  invite Pastor Warren into the tent.   I’ll work with   anyone willing to feed the hungry or save the planet,  but our spokespeople must not  be the kind who deny civil rights to  our fellow-toilers.

And, in case it isn’t clear,  it stresses my good humor that while  our states and municipalities face  gross  revenue shortages,  Pastor Warren’s   endorsement of Proposition 8 was made publicly and from his pulpit. He used his position as a  minister of a charitable-tax-deductible organization  to support passage of a public law on Biblical grounds.

On the other hand, maybe  Rev.  Warren’s  Invocation  is  the sound of  a  politically savvy  fist unclenching.   He  asked God to forgive us    “When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve….”

Is Pastor Warren  unclenching his fist or is he positioning himself to better dictate  the degree of  “respect”  the rest of us deserve?

LATE NOTE:   Please check with your local food pantries and soup kitchens.  The ones in my village are running on empty.  According to Reuters,  Cash America sees lower Q4 profit, cuts 2009 view.  Cash America operates pawn shops and provides cash advances.  “…fourth-quarter earnings were also hit by higher loss rates for its online cash advance product and heavier discounting to clear inventory during the Christmas season.”  In other words,  people  couldn’t afford to  re-pay their loans, redeem their lost valuables or to buy Christmas presents at their local pawnshop.

1.   Text of  Pastor Rick Warren’s  Inaugural Invocation or search at Associated Press.

Inauguration Jubilee: Sunday


Pete Seeger, his voice  thinned by the years,  sings  old labor and unity anthems shoulder-to-shoulder with  The Boss.

Through the Vietnam War and the crushing of the labor unions, we sang with outrage, defiance and by the skin of our teeth.  Through the last thirty years, we’ve  sung to each other of Joe Hill,  Matewan, endless war  and  the Letter from the Birmingham Jail.    Even when we doubted, we pledged in small groups to join hands and overcome.  (Letter from the Birmingham Jail:   http://www.bu.edu/irsd/Ec326_2004/material_2004/Letter%20from%20Birmingham%20Jail.htm

In one moment during the Democratic Primary Debates,  Obama and Clinton showed us the fundamental difference between them.   The moment  received little subsequent coverage and  came in  response to a question from Kim Millman of  Burnsville, Minnesota:  “…there’s been no acknowledgement by any of the presidential candidates of the negative economic impact of immigration on the African-American community.  How do you propose to address the high unemployment rates and the declining wages in the African-American community that are related to the flood of immigrant labor?”

Obama replied with full understanding of how business and economic downturns have conspired to divide workers along racial, ethnic  and gender  lines  into weakened factions.  He encouraged workers to organize around their commonly-held kitchen table issues.  He reminded  us that all American workers are under siege and that we need each other.    His response educated workers for their own organizing good.

Clinton’s response acknowledged  that business scavenges  for low-cost workers and drives down compensation, but many of her words were vested in  the manufactured divide  between African Americans and “immigrant”  workers.   (The transcript of the debate is available here:  http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/01/31/dem.debate.transcript/index.html

This inauguration, we sing,  “This land is our land,”  with tears streaming.    We dare  to believe  we can re-create  a  “government  of the people, by the people and for the people.”

In  music and poetry we hear  a few of   the stories we didn’t learn  in school.  Queen Latifah takes  the  stage —  tall, certain and strong — to tell  us of  the day Marian Anderson and   Eleanor Roosevelt  faced down The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).   I give thanks to my mother and grandfather  for telling me the story  of  those two astonishing women.  There are so many clues in our history that show us how to avoid the mistakes that have separated us one from another.  (Here’s  the story of Marian and Eleanor.  It includes  The  First Lady’s letter of resignation from  the DAR: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/american_originals/eleanor.html

More than any other reason,  I thank the fates for Obama  this Inauguration weekend  because I remember how migrant farm workers were threatened with lynching in the town where I grew up.  I remember the faces of my schoolmates when we hid beneath our desks  in  fear of a  US-USSR nuclear war.    I am thankful,  while a ceasefire exists between Israel and Gaza,   that  our next  President  has an ingrained understanding  that we live or die together.

For years,  the picture of Eleanor climbing out of the coal mine hung over my bed.  (I was an atheist  who adored my spiritual icons.)  Her face was dirty and the miner’s lamp she wore hung low over her forehead and crushed her  hairdo.  She was looking up at the miners who were waiting to pull her out of the hole and into the light.  I haven’t located that particular photo but this  link  shows her entering the depths of  the Willow Grove Mine  in a mining car:  http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Ridge/4478/grove.htm

Today,  the media speaks in breathless tones about the gown Michelle will wear tomorrow.   CNN is all a-twitter speculating on the designer’s identity and how many pairs of shoes  The First Lady will need  to survive the Inaugural festivities.

We  need bread and circuses, I suppose; but we also need to see  honest images of cashiers, neighbors, truck drivers, friends  and  autoworkers as they wait  in line this winter day at  their local food pantries.

Inauguration Jubilee: Saturday


Wikipedia says,  “A Jubilee is a time of celebration or rejoicing. It is defined in Leviticus 25:9 as Yovel in Hebrew, as the sabbatical year after seven cycles of seven years.

  • Jubilee (Biblical), the Jubilee specified in Leviticus 25:9  that is the original concept behind most of the following Jubilees.
  • Jubilee (Christian), the year of Jubilee is a special year for the remission of sins and universal pardon where debts are forgiven, slaves and prisoners freed, and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest. In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is to occur every fifty years.”

1.   Holy moley.  Leviticus may be used to turn loving  folk into fire breathing dragons,  but one area of general agreement between scholars  is that the Jubilee  in Leviticus 25  signals a time of introspection,  atonement,  forgiveness and new beginnings.

2.   In Philadelphia, the woman who introduced Barack to the crowd spoke of  unemployment and breast cancer.   “But that’s  behind us now,” she bubbled,  touching  Michelle, Sasha and Malia  again and again —   the dream made flesh.

2.   In Philadelphia and Wilmington, the only people in the crowds  who didn’t beam and smile ear-to-ear  were the babies —  frozen like popsicles in adult arms —  and those amazing Secret  Service  agents with   their  dark shades and flat affects.

3.   According to multiple press accounts,   ten year old Malia Obama told her father, “First African American president….  [Your speech]  better be good.”

4.   Philadelphia:   the 100,000 in the crowd wouldn’t let Barack  begin his speech until the people had sung “Happy Birthday” to Michelle.   The Obamas are being taken into the American heart.  They are our First Family and they seem to care for the whole of us.

5.   People, people, people:  lining the railroad tracks as the inaugural train passes.

6.   If the people in my small town are any measure, there could  be an All-American-Flu-Out Tuesday.  In our stew of  job losses and foreclosures,  an Inauguration may seem  like a Royal Procession but even so, some increasingly  worried  workers in rural New York are still plotting to  skip out  Tuesday so they can watch their President  pledge to protect and defend their Constitution.

7.   In Washington, D.C.,  people are ecstatic that they’ll be made visible by a president who eats lunch in their neighborhoods.  The Right and Amazing Eleanor Holmes Norton is absolutely giddy.

8.   “Giddy”  pops to  mind too often.  I’ve tried to think of other words and phrases to describe the crowds along the railroad tracks  and the people in line behind me at the  store:  “beside themselves,”  “ecstatic,”  “overcome,”  “wistful,”  “childlike,”  “expectant,”  “bubbling,”  “burbling,”  “joyous,”  “exuberant,”  “ebullient…,” but “giddy” is the one I return to time and again.  Seasoned journalists are beside themselves,  overcome by their own stories, this historic  nexus and the celebratory crowds.

If there is a “mob mentality,”  this fervor is its obverse;  this laughing, hopeful feeling  is the humane side of the human animal.

It’s   why record numbers of us  will spend  this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service volunteering  in our communities. (Monday January 19th).   Here’s a familiar-looking  link  for finding  a community organization that needs your help:    http://www.usaservice.org/

Today in the grocery store, I was reminded  that some people in my small town have sworn to fly their flags at half-mast for the next four years.   All I can feel is regret for what they’re missing.

Obama Picks: Holder & Geithner


Attorney General Nominee  Eric Holder, Separation of Powers and  The Citizen’s Advocate. The United States Constitution establishes three independent branches of  government which balance and check each other’s power.  The Executive Branch (The President and his appointees) is charged with executing  and enforcing laws enacted  by Congress or   adjudicated  by  the  U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Attorney General (AG) is  “The People’s Attorney,”   a watchdog  charged with ensuring that  the Executive Branch functions  consistent with Federal law  and within the framework of  The U.S. Constitution.  In the past, when the  AG   abdicated this obligation, Writs of Mandamus or the  Administrative Procedures Act (APA) have been used to force the AG to  (1) investigate the Executive’s actions or inactions or, alternatively,  (2)  to appoint an independent investigator.  In  recent years,  as the “Imperial/Unitarian Presidency” grew, these tools  of citizen redress have  been more frequently denied by  courts and Administrative  Law Judges.  There’s an underlying assumption that it’s better to countenance questionable Executive actions than it is to risk overstepping  the Separation of Powers.

As demonstrated by  Bush’s   Presidency,   an independent AG and Justice Department are   essential reins on  a run-away Executive.  The AG is often The People’s last recourse for achieving  administrative and judicial intervention.  In that light,  citizens should welcome Senator  Arlen Specter’s questioning (R-Pa.)  of  Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder about his  involvement in the Marc Rich pardon scandal.  Was Holder so dependent on President Clinton’s good graces that he abdicated  due diligence and independence for personal ambition?  In our current situation (an extraordinarily popular President-Elect and  a Democratic-controlled Congress)  it is especially important that the People’s watchdogs are  motivated by law and ethics not by personal aggrandizement.  According to Holder,  “The duty of the AG is to defend statutes…  unless there are compelling reasons [not to].”

In today’s  hearing, Senator  Orrin Hatch asked Holder (who has expressed opposition to  rendition, torture and warrantless wiretapping)  if  Holder would pursue  prosecutions of officials who approved extraordinary rendition and warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.  In reply,  Holder stated,  “No one’s above the law  We will follow the evidence, the facts, the law and  let that take us where it  should.   We don’t want to criminalize policy differences…between the outgoing administration and the incoming Obama administration.  I want to know more about what lead to these decisions.”

In a loose citation of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952) Holder further stated, “[The President’s power is] weakest … where Congress has indicated something contrary to what  the President wants to do.”  In other words,  where Congress has expressed its will in legislation,  the President is obliged to act within the parameters established.  (Of course, Congress cannot usurp powers granted the Executive by The Constitution.)

It seems clear Holder understands his Constitutional obligations to uphold the law and to prosecute its corruption.  We should listen carefully to  Senator Specter’s questions and to  designee-Holder’s answers.  They may be the only additional clues we get to the stamina of  designee-Holder’s  ethics and independence.

Timothy Geithner, Citigroup & the global economic crisis. See  “Note 4”  below.  The Alternet-Politico article provides a good overview of Geithner’s involvement in the creation of our current global economic crisis and should be read in its entirety.

Several experts on finance,  mortgage-backed securities, hedge funds, bankruptcy, SEC regulations and lack of enforcement, arcane investment tools and the  TARP  have testified before Congress concerning our global economic crisis.  (See CSPAN archives.) Their grasp of the  factors affecting  an economic recovery was comprehensive.

As  the former president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Timothy Geithner reduced  regulations and consequent oversight of Citigroup, et al.

Is he   the best person to develop the architecture of  our economic recovery?  Has he demonstrated a capacity for  predicting the effect of government interventions/pullbacks on financial  markets?   What  unique expertise does he possess beyond having overseen the building and crashing of an economic  house of cards?  What was the nature of his relationship with Citigroup and Robert Rubin? (Rubin is a past-Treasury Secretary, Geithner’s former boss and  was a  “special consultant” to Citigroup during its implosion.  He is also one of  President-elect Obama’s economic advisors.)

NOTES  &  CITATIONS

1.    Administrative Procedures Act:    http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/bills/blapa.htm

2.    U.S. Supreme Court and Writs of Mandamus which I’m including because it’s a tool too few of us know about:   (Per Justice Ginsberg in 2004,  No. 03-475″…an applicant seeking a §1361 mandamus writ must show that “the [federal] defendant owes him a clear, nondiscretionary duty.” Heckler v. Ringer, 466 U.S. 602, 616 (1984) (emphasis added). No §1361 writ may issue, in other words, when federal law grants discretion to the federal officer, rather than imposing a duty on him. When federal law imposes an obligation, however, suit under §1361 is not precluded simply because facts must be developed to ascertain whether a federal command has been dishonored. Congress enacted §1361 to “mak[e] it more convenient for aggrieved persons to file actions in the nature of mandamus,” Stafford v. Briggs, 444 U.S. 527, 535 (1980), not to address the rare instance in which a federal defendant, upon whom the law unequivocally places an obligation, concedes his failure to measure up to that obligation. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/search/display.html?terms=mandamus%20attorney%20general&url=/supct/html/03-475.ZD.html

3.   Bloomberg has a good overview of  the concerns raised by Holder’s nomination:  http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=afLrs7qPiu2o&refer=us

4.   Alternet & Politico have this overview of Citigroup, Timothy Geithner, Robert Rubin  & the global economic  meltdown:  http://www.alternet.org/workplace/119871/how_citigroup_unraveled_under_geithner%27s_watch/?page=1

Gaza Ceasefire: Network of Spiritual Progressives

The nations and people of the Middle East are members of the human family.


All over the world, people are searching their hearts for solutions to the tragedies of the Middle East.

Instinctively, I think of the terrors inflicted by both sides as violence between beloved family members.  In that context, I can feel protective of all the feuding parties without ignoring  their concerns or their failings.  It’s a context that helps to deflect anger and knee-jerk reactions.  It’s a context for humane solutions that  avert the destruction of nations, cultures and  the larger world family.

No matter your point of view concerning the ongoing violence in Gaza and Israel, please visit the following link and read the advertisement which provides rational bases for a lasting ceasefire. (If you agree with its suggestions, you can add your signature and/or make a contribution to its publication.)  Please visit: Network of Spiritual Progressives

The solutions posited by the ad are thoughtful, humane, specific and  mandate the participation of  all  nations.  They  require an understanding of the pain  inflicted and suffered  by all sides and recognize the dire  threat posed to the world family  if we do not  join to  end this degradation. (Many thanks to B. Sterner for forwarding it  to one of her Peace & Justice Groups and her lifelong work.)

I would  like to hear your responses to the advertisement.  Please take a moment to leave a comment here after reading the full text of the ad.

Additionally, Rep. Dennis Kucinich is sponsoring the following  legislation  for an immediate ceasefire:

http://peaceblog.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/kucinich-resolution-calling-for-cease-fire-in-gaza