Monday, February 1, 2010

Last Call

Very cool story over at AmericaBlog:  the Roman Army Knife made centuries before the Swiss ever got around to it.
The world's first Swiss Army knife' has been revealed - made 1,800 years before its modern counterpart.

An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200AD, it is made from silver but has an iron blade.

It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and small tooth-pick.

Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract meat from snails.
Good ideas never go out of style.

This Looks Familiar

Everything old is new again with the GOP.

Privatize Social Security!  Cut benefits!  What could possibly go wrong with giving trillions to the banks and letting them take risks with America's money?

It's not like stock markets every go down or anything.  The GOP.  "Are you under 55?  Screw you.  We got ours."

The Question Time Bounce

Obama's rise in Rasmussen's ODI continues as his rating there is up to only -4. also shows him at -1.5, meaning the ODI is almost approaching parity...I repeat...ALMOST APPROACHING PARITY.

My my my.

Tweet O' The Day

Now that I'm on Teh Twitter, going to be looking over what comes in and passing it along.  Today's Tweet comes from Big Orange:
Just got back big poll of 2,000 Republicans. Gotta digest it, but 39% of them want Obama impeached.
There's a cheery thought, going back to yesterday's Bob Cesca/Balloon Juice piece on impeachment if Republicans get control of the House.  Steve M. expands on this:
Bob Cesca worries about impeachment efforts from a GOP House, but I find myself baffled by his notion of the best way to prevent such an occurrence: pass the health care bill. Look, I know I'm all alone in the left blogosphere in believing that the bill is so disliked that it can't possibly help Democrats at the polls in the short term (especially with so many provisions taking effect only gradually, and thus subject to ongoing right-wing misrepresentation), but sorry, I just can't buy a health care bill as impeachment insurance. I think it's just the opposite -- I think passing and signing the bill will set off calls for impeachment. Many right-wingers already think the bill is unconstitutional; if it's passed and signed by Obama, that's all the excuse they'll need. Some action to match Obama's recent populist talk is, I think, the best way to fight back against the Republicans; regain the public's trust (and tarnish the Republicans as much as possible), then try circling back to health care.
That's an entirely useful plan and Bob's right on that.  The Teabaggers' list of impeachable crimes Obama has already committed include the stimulus, the bailouts of AIG, the budget, being Kenyan, being born out of wedlock, being black, being a get the idea.

Frankly 39% seems rather low.  If health care reform does pass, I think it'll go over 50% easy.

They impeached Clinton on less.

[UPDATE 7:25 PM] More on the possibility of a GOP House impeaching Obama here from Bob Cesca and Steve Benen and more on Kos's Research 2000 poll results here from TPM:
• 63% think Obama is a socialist.
• Only 42% believe Obama was born in the United States.
• 21% think ACORN stole the 2008 election -- that is, that Obama didn't actually win it, and isn't legitimately the president, with 55% saying they are "not sure." This number is actually significantly lower than it was in a similar question from Public Policy Polling (D) back in November, which said that 52% of Republicans thought ACORN stole it. So does this mean Obama is gaining ground among Republicans? As it is, only just over 20% of Republicans will say that Obama actually won the election.
• 53% think Sarah Palin is more qualified than Obama to be president.
• 23% want to secede from the United States.
• 73% think gay people should not be allowed to teach in public schools. This position puts the GOP base well to the right of none other than Ronald Reagan, who helped defeat the Briggs Initiative, a 1978 referendum in California that would have forbidden gays or people who advocated gay rights from teaching in public schools.
• 31% want contraception to be outlawed.
These people are insane...insane enough to impeach Obama.  Don't think so?  Did the Republicans pay a price in 2000 after they tried to impeach Clinton?

The Lesson Learned

The lesson the White House chooses to learn from the GOP is not "fight for every inch and then some" but "play the victim card whenever possible."
GIBBS: One party is not going to solve these — not going to solve all these problems. One party is not going to make –
QUESTION: Why not? Why is one party not capable –
GIBBS: Because of the –
QUESTION: — when one party controls the House, Senate and the White House?
GIBBS: No, no, no, no, no — welcome to Washington. One party is not going to get — one party is not going to be able to solve all these. The American people want both parties to work together to solve these.
Jesus wept. Have you tried telling the truth, man?  "We can't pass this legislation because the GOP is united in its opposition.  They shot down our committee on reducing the deficit.  They are shooting down our plan to prevent another bailout and get our taxpayer money back from the guys making $100 million bonuses.  These are being actively blocked by the Republican party.  Perhaps you should ask them why they are siding with the banks and not the American taxpayer, and why not one of them has the guts to do anything other than to serve special interests."

Problem solved.

If You're Not Winning, You're Losing

And the Dems are losing badly on the Wall Street front.  It should be a no brainer that the Dems want tougher financial reform on the banks.  But GOP operative Frank Luntz has shown his cards and is daring Obama to beat his hand.
In a 17-page memo titled, "The Language of Financial Reform," Luntz urged opponents of reform to frame the final product as filled with bank bailouts, lobbyist loopholes, and additional layers of complicated government bureaucracy.

"If there is one thing we can all agree on, it's that the bad decisions and harmful policies by Washington bureaucrats that in many ways led to the economic crash must never be repeated," Luntz wrote. "This is your critical advantage. Washington's incompetence is the common ground on which you can build support."

Luntz continued: "Ordinarily, calling for a new government program 'to protect consumers' would be extraordinary popular. But these are not ordinary times. The American people are not just saying 'no.' They are saying 'hell no' to more government agencies, more bureaucrats, and more legislation crafted by special interests."
There's a simple lie here at the heart of Luntz's plan:  the bailout and stimulus didn't save the economy, it caused the recession. Anything the government does is bad.  The only answer is deregulation and cutting taxes, which is what actually did cause the recession. Eight years of Bush has made it impossible for the country to trust government itself.

And the Dems are losing this battle.  They are losing it by reaching out to the Republicans who are killing them and treating them like rational actors.  The Republicans in turn block any effort to remedy the problem and then blame the Dems.  They will continue to blame Obama for time immemorial.

Unless Obama beats them at their own game.

The Count Of Charlie Crist, Oh! Part 10

The Hoffman Effect rolls on unabated.  Latest Rasmussen poll has Marco Rubio up by 12, margin of error is +/- 5%, 49-37%.
Rasmussen's analysis points directly to the likely cause of Crist's problems: "Crist's fortunes appear to be tied in part to national unhappiness over President Obama and his policies. Many conservatives began rebelling against Crist when he became one of the few Republican governors to embrace Obama's $787-billion economic stimulus plan last year. The national Republican party establishment endorsed Crist early on, but a number of prominent national party conservatives have since announced their support for Rubio."
Odds are good in other words that Rubio is over 50%.  Remember, at one point Crist has a forty-point lead.  but the more disturbing problem is that the stimulus is killing Crist in the polls.  There's not a GOP Governor or state legislature that successfully turned that money away.  Many Republicans went to ribbon-cutting ceremonies to trumpet stimulus projects. Without that money there would be two million more unemployed.  But Crist is getting mauled because of it.

Do the Teabaggers know what's coming?  Do they know guys like Rubio are going to gut services and say "See, government doesn't work, let's make more service cuts!"

But then again, we have eight years of Bush as empirical proof of that.

In Other Completely Expected News

Via Yggy, the Financial Times is reporting Senate Republicans will kill the Volcker Rules cold:
Senate Banking Committee ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL) said he opposes the so-called Volcker rule and the Obama administration’s call to levy a USD 90bn tax on banks. His comments come as House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) predicted the proposals outlined by President Obama could be law within six months.

Speaking to this news service on Thursday, Shelby said if Democrats push forward with the proposals they risk unravelling much of the bipartisan support already reached regarding the passage of financial regulatory reform in the Senate. Shelby said that the Obama administration risks losing Republican support for the bill if they begin to “politicise” the issue.

However, Shelby said he expects to hold a meeting with Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) regarding the way forward on regulatory reform in two weeks time. A Democratic banking committee staffer confirmed that the meeting between Dodd and Shelby will be critical as Dodd needs to determine the level of bipartisan agreement and the timing of bringing the bill through committee and on the Senate floor.

With the election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate, the Democrats no longer have the necessary 60 votes to force through a Regulatory Reform package, and any bill will need at least some Republican support to pass. A Dodd staffer said the senator is likely to quietly drop or modify many of the recommendations in the Volcker rule to ensure Republican support for regulatory reform.
And so it goes.  Hey Dems?  Scream bloody murder on this. They are obstructing it.  Make them pay.  This should be a high, fat fastball across Obama's plate.  Burn them on this.  Daily.

Half Of US State Unemployment Funds Are Broke

From Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge:
Zero Hedge recently highlighted the ever increasing Federal outlays on unemployment insurance, leading to questions on whether the true unemployment rate, as indicated by actual cash outlays, may be materially higher than indicated in increasingly dubious governmental reports. One proposed alternative has been that the Federal government is directly subsidizing standalone states' depleted unemployment insurance trust funds. Using data provided by ProPublica we have been able to confirm that indeed standalone states are for the most part now bankrupt and have no reserves left in their coffers when it comes to funding ever increasing insurance benefits. As ProPublica indicates, there are now 26 states which have depleted their trust funds, among these are the usual suspects including California, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which now rely exclusively on borrowings from the Federal government to prevent the cessation of insurance payments to recently unemployed workers. Currently all states collectively posses $10.7 billion in trust fund assets(with the bulk held by less impacted states such as Washington ($2.6 billion), Louisiana ($1.1 billion) and Oregon ($1.1 billion). On the other hand, 26 states currently rely exclusively on the Federal Government, and have borrowed a combined $30 billion through December to fund payments. ProPublica estimates that another 8 states will be insolvent within 6 months, as their trust funds also approach 0. 
So, basically by July two-thirds of state unemployment trust funds will be underwater and having to take Federal money to keep unemployment coming.  The Republican solution to this is easy:  cut off the states and people without unemployment benefits will "stop abusing the system" and magically get jobs...or more likely start to let their unhappiness become known:
At this point there is no question that the vast majority of the hardest hit states now subsist exclusively due to the generosity of the Federal Government, which in turn, courtesy of a 50%+ indirect take down of each and every Treasury auction (now that QE is over), is at the full mercy of foreign investors, yet as we pointed out, their custody holdings at the Fed have started declining. If the government is unable to finance its profligate ways, and today's budget announcement by Obama is just the icing on the cake, look for states to gradually reign in unemployment checks whether they like it or not, which would likely lead to some very interesting demonstrations of the broader population's lack of solidarity with Mr. Blankfein's $100 million, or whatever it may end up being, bonus number.
Let them eat cake, indeed. When states start cutting off those benefits in the second half of the year, things are going to start getting rather bad for us.  At best, absolute best, we're still looking at 10% unemployment a year from now.  Only we'll have had another year of decreased spending and falling housing prices to go along with it.  It's bad now folks.

It will get worse in 2010 and beyond.  Much worse.

Moose Lady Is Feeling Randy

The big Kentucky politics news of the day:  Sarah Palin is endorsing Rand Paul for the US Senate.
"Governor Palin is providing tremendous leadership as the Tea Party movement and constitutional conservatives strive to take our country back," Rand Paul said in a statement. "Sarah Palin is a giant in American politics. I am proud to receive her support."

Paul also acknowledged that he "has received a generous donation from Governor Palin's PAC."

Palin joins a growing list of Rand Paul endorsers, which includes Concerned Women for America, Gun Owners of America, Steve Forbes and Paul has also established himself as a darling of the Tea Party Movement and conservative groups such as Dick Armey's Freedom Works.
This just got real interesting for Trey Grayson, Paul's opponent in the GOP primary, as well as the Dems running: Jack Conway and Dan Mongiardo.  Rasmussen's January poll naturally has Paul ahead in both the GOP primary and against either Dem, but there are a lot of undecideds out there.

Goven the fact that this state put Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell in Washington, underestimating Rand Paul would be a pretty bad mistake for Bluegrass State Dems to make.

What's the plan for Paul, Mongiardo and Conway campaigns?  You know, besides pointing out the obvious racism and stupidity?  The Grayson camp has no problem playing the crazy card on Paul.

Might want to get busy.  It's not workin' real well for Grayson at this point.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Via Atrios comes Helpful Advice From The Fed For Bank Directors.
While a director’s job is important and carries responsibility, it may not be as daunting as it first appears. In fact, you can effectively use your knowledge and experience gained from your own profession in your role as a director. It is likely you already possess many of the attributes of an effective director
  • basic management experience and skills,
  • an inquisitive attitude, and
  • a willingness to commit time and energy to bank matters.
The only thing that may be missing is a basic knowledge of banking and what to consider in overseeing a bank. The discussion that follows focuses on the basics of being a director. The legendary Green Bay Packers football coach, Vince Lombardi, recognized the importance of teaching basics to his players. Even after winning championships and being surrounded by future Hall-of-Fame players, Lombardi had a tradition of beginning every preseason training camp the same way. He stood before his players, football in hand, and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” He assumed his players were a blank slate at the beginning of each season. With that in mind, we begin with the basic discussion, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a bank.”
We are so very, very screwed.  Also from Duncan's place:
More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won't pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.

"I guess we're going to find out what the tolerance level is for people," said businessman Chuck Fowler, who is helping lead a private task force brainstorming for city budget fixes. "It's a new day."
Welcome to Dick Armey's Teabagger Utopia.  Coming soon to where you live, work, and play if the Teabaggers have their way in 2010 and beyond.  You thought our infrastructure and basic services problems were bad before?  You guys have no idea.  The best part will be the "turning to free market" follow-up where these parks and police and firefighter problems can be solved by subcontracting them to state or national companies with zero oversight.  Think "Blackwater running everything in your town" and you're getting close to the truth.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

I'm glad Sen. Judd Gregg thinks the budget is "insanity".  I'm sure he'll have a program of major entitlement and defense spending cuts to help balance it any time now.

Moon Shot (Down)

The most depressing thing about Obama's budget proposal is that he's killing NASA's Constellation program to return to the moon.
The space agency's budget would grow to $19 billion in 2011 under the proposed budget released on Monday, with an emphasis on science and less spent on space exploration.

It "adds $6 billion to NASA's budget over five years and draws upon American ingenuity to enable us to embark on an ambitious 21st Century program of human space exploration," the budget proposal reads.

But the plan ends the Constellation program "which was planning to use an approach similar to the Apollo program to return astronauts back to the Moon 50 years after that program's triumphs."

The budget notes that an independent panel found the moon program was years behind schedule.

"Instead, we are launching a bold new effort that invests in American ingenuity for developing more capable and innovative technologies for future space exploration," it reads.

The new budget, which is subject to change by Congress, also extends operations at the International Space Station past its planned retirement date of 2016, suggesting such potential additions as inflatable space habitats.

Obama's proposal hands over more space operations to the commercial sector, saying it will create thousands of new jobs and hold costs down.
Now, the new commercial spaceflight jobs are a bonus for sure, but there's just not a lot of direct quarterly profit in flying to the moon on your own dime.  Still, commercial space flight opportunities are gaining speed and investment.

We'll see how it goes.  Space flight is something China, Russia, and India are looking into as well.

The Post-Obama Era

The WSJ's Fouad Ajami declares the Obama presidency over and straps on the autopsy apron, past tense and all.
Mr. Obama's self-regard, and his reading of his mandate, overwhelmed all restraint. The age-old American balance between a relatively small government and a larger role for the agencies of civil society was suddenly turned on its head. Speed was of the essence to the Obama team and its allies, the powerful barons in Congress. Better ram down sweeping social programs—a big liberal agenda before the people stirred to life again.

Progressives pressed for a draconian attack on the workings of our health care, and on the broader balance between the state and the marketplace. The economic stimulus, ObamaCare, the large deficits, the bailout package for the automobile industry—these, and so much more, were nothing short of a fundamental assault on the givens of the American social compact.

And then there was the hubris of the man at the helm: He was everywhere, and pronounced on matters large and small. This was political death by the teleprompter.

Americans don't deify their leaders or hang on their utterances, but Mr. Obama succumbed to what the devotees said of him: He was the Awaited One. A measure of reticence could have served him. But the flight had been heady, and in the manner of Icarus, Mr. Obama flew too close to the sun.

We have had stylish presidents, none more so than JFK. But Kennedy was an ironist and never fell for his own mystique. Mr. Obama's self-regard comes without irony—he himself now owns up to the "remoteness and detachment" of his governing style. We don't have in this republic the technocratic model of the European states, where a bureaucratic elite disposes of public policy with scant regard for the popular will. Mr. Obama was smitten with his own specialness. 
It's an impressive piece of work in its sheer mendacity.  In the space of a few paragraphs here, Ajami manages to hit all the GOP talking points:  Obama's "arrogance", his "misread mandate" despite being an overwhelming majority in Congress, the "failure" of his first year in office despite the truly productive passage of legislation, his "overexposure" as the "Awaited One" and all the hubristic messiah complex bullshit that goes with it, how a "liberal agenda" was rammed down America's throat against its wishes, etc.

Ajami hits all the boxes on the Obama Derangement Syndrome checklist, and adds a few new ones, particularly referring to Obama in the past tense, like the President's remaining three years are irrelevant and only the GOP matters now.  Obama has already been written off in Ajami's view as an unfortunate blip in the 30-year reign of the GOP, an aberration that must only be recognized for the depth of its apparent and total collapse.

Thus the piece demonstrates pretty much everything wrong with the Village media today, substituting and even expanding on GOP talking points repeated wholesale in the opinion columns of papers like the WSJ.  The piece doesn't even make sense either, it ignores basic fact and spins wholesale a mirror universe where Obama and the Democrats won in 2008 but never should have been able to even try their agenda, whereas Bush's approval numbers were far lower than Obama's are now and he was allowed to rule by fiat as a President should.

It's maddening stuff, really.  But it's par for the course. Talking about the President as if he is a ghost of the distant past instead of in office for another three years is not just disingenuous, it's outright disrespectful.

The Hoffman Effect Rolls On

This time in Illinois.  In the GOP primary to decide the Republican candidate for Governor, the lesson that's coming forth is that nobody's safe...not even Republicans. Steve M.:
Not sure what to make of this, but Lech Walesa -- yes that Lech Walesa -- has endorsed Adam Andrzejewski, a tea party favorite, in the Illinois governor's race. (Andrzejewski has been praised as "politically numinous" and "a Rubio" by Erick Erickson of RedState; he's also loved in Breitbart Land.)

Walesa spoke on Andrzejewski's behalf at a tea party event in Chicago on Friday; the event was sparsely attended ... but Andrzejewski is allegedly surging in the race for the GOP nomination, according to some conservative organization or other's internal poll.
Indeed, Andrzejewski is the new Teabagger darling.  What does he want to do with a state facing billions in budget holes?  Guess.
Andrzejewski, who lives in Hinsdale, would launch his administration with two far-reaching executive orders.

First, he would use the Internet to open the state's books "down to the subcontractor level, where the checks are cut and the corruption exists."

Second, Andrzejewski would do a top-to-bottom forensic audit of spending. He argues Illinois could save $3 billion to $5 billion a year.

"Dollars in Illinois need to start following people in need, people without political power," he said.

Despite calling for transparency, Andrzejewski did not provide his net worth, saying he is a multimillionaire in the "low eight figures."
Yep, massive spending cuts made by the guy with the eight-figure net worth.  Guess what government programs he considers to be wasteful?  Local Illinois governments:
Hinsdale businessman Adam Andrzejewski said if elected governor he would reduce or eliminate "revenue sharing to local municipalities," which could include the state withholding local government's portion of the state's income tax. The state currently shares one-tenth of income tax revenue with local governments, which totaled nearly $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2009.

"If you look at it and peel back the layers on it, that would be the single largest property tax increase in the state's history. You're going to push the state's problems on municipalities and local taxpayers," said Mark Fowler, executive director Northwest Municipal Conference, which represents area governments. "This isn't money that creates a slush fund for municipalities."
Force city and county governments to slash spending by simply refusing to give them the money to spend.  That'll help people in need.  Looks like the "dollars flowing to people in need" will be flowing to this guy's administration, and not the people of Illinois. Hit the people least likely to be able to afford it to save your own skin:  that's the Teabagger way.  I got mine, screw the rest of you assholes.

The Kroog Versus Canadian-Style Boring Banking

This morning Paul Krugman argues if we had a banking system like our practical and erstwhile northern neighbor Canada, our economy would be in much better shape.
Canada’s experience also seems to refute the view, forcefully pushed by Paul Volcker, the formidable former Fed chairman, that the roots of our crisis lay in the scale and scope of our financial institutions — in the existence of banks that were “too big to fail.” For in Canada essentially all the banks are too big to fail: just five banking groups dominate the financial scene.

On the other hand, Canada’s experience does seem to support the views of people like Elizabeth Warren, the head of the Congressional panel overseeing the bank bailout, who place much of the blame for the crisis on failure to protect consumers from deceptive lending. Canada has an independent Financial Consumer Agency, and it has sharply restricted subprime-type lending.

Above all, Canada’s experience seems to support those who say that the way to keep banking safe is to keep it boring — that is, to limit the extent to which banks can take on risk. The United States used to have a boring banking system, but Reagan-era deregulation made things dangerously interesting. Canada, by contrast, has maintained a happy tedium.

More specifically, Canada has been much stricter about limiting banks’ leverage, the extent to which they can rely on borrowed funds. It has also limited the process of securitization, in which banks package and resell claims on their loans outstanding — a process that was supposed to help banks reduce their risk by spreading it, but has turned out in practice to be a way for banks to make ever-bigger wagers with other people’s money.

There’s no question that in recent years these restrictions meant fewer opportunities for bankers to come up with clever ideas than would have been available if Canada had emulated America’s deregulatory zeal. But that, it turns out, was all to the good.
Limiting risk that banks can take and educating consumers against subprime scams with an agency designed to protect consumers:  two things Republicans refuse to have any part of.  The House bill by Democrats does include both of these items, but Republicans in the Senate vow to block the bill.

My question is actually pretty simple for the Teabaggers out there: why are your Republican buddies defending the banks that cost us trillions of taxpayer dollars and refusing to take any action to stop another bailout from happening again?

Which party is for the American people, again?

Blackwater Runs Still, Runs Deep Part 2

While the argument still rages over whether or not to go after Blackwater on the Nisour square massacre in Iraq, the Justice Department is now looking into if the company bribed Iraqi officials to be allowed to stay in the aftermath of the shootings.
The investigation, which was confirmed by three current and former officials speaking on condition of anonymity, follows a report in The New York Times in November that top executives at Blackwater had authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials to buy their support after the shooting. The newspaper account said it could not determine whether any bribes were actually paid or identify Iraqi officials who might have received the money.

The Justice Department has obtained two documents from the State Department, which had security contracts with the company, that have raised questions about Blackwater’s efforts to influence Iraqi government officials after the Nisour Square shootings, according to two American officials familiar with the inquiry.

One document, a handwritten note, shows that a Blackwater representative told a senior official at the American Embassy in Baghdad that the company had hired a prominent Iraqi lawyer to help the firm make compensation payments to Iraqi victims of the shootings, a practice encouraged by the State Department.

According to the document, as described by the two government officials, the Blackwater official said the firm had hired the lawyer hoping that the lawyer’s close ties to top Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, would help Blackwater obtain a license to continue operating in Iraq.

Several officials identified the Iraqi lawyer as Jaafar al-Mousawi, who had earlier served as the chief prosecutor in the trial of Saddam Hussein.

The second document is a response from a senior Embassy official, an e-mail message warning Blackwater officials not to bribe the Iraqi government, the officials said. In an interview in Baghdad on Friday, Mr. Mousawi said that in February 2008 he worked with top Blackwater officials to spend up to $1 million to compensate the families of the Nisour Square victims. He said he consulted with Mr. Maliki about the payments. 
Blackwater certainly knew who to contact to get the ear of Iraq's top officials, and who to pay the money to in order to get this case to go away.  The criminal case may have gone away for the shootings, but as a result Blackwater may have dug their own hole on the bribery charges.  We'll see if the Holder DoJ has any guts to follow through on this one.

My guess is no.


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