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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Maybe too little too late

Obama dumped Rev. Wright today:

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Democrat Barack Obama said Tuesday he was outraged and appalled by the latest comments from his former pastor, who asserted that criticism of his fiery sermons is an attack on the black church and the U.S. government was responsible for the creation of the AIDS virus.

The presidential candidate is seeking to tamp down the growing fury over Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his incendiary remarks that threaten to undermine his campaign.

"I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday," Obama told reporters at a news conference.

But, I'm afraid it's too little too late. He's already badly damaged goods, and this is probably going to tip the scales to Hillary in Indiana and maybe even North Carolina, where the polls show Hillary closing in.

Unfortunately, Hillary is also damaged goods in my mind, particularly after adopting the McCain gas tax pander today. Meanwhile, the press continues to ignore all of McCain's idiocies, including his new proposal to stop states from mandating specific diseases be covered by health insurance plans in those states. "The market will fill the gap if there's demand for these types of policies," says McCain. Yeah, sure. And, my aunt Minnie is richer than Bill Gates, too.

Democracy's Downside: Rev. Wright's Candor Turns off Narrow Minded Voters

Here's AOL's recount of selected reactions to the continuing presence of Rev. Wright:

Well, the reviews of Wright's latest show are coming in from all quarters. Here's a sampling, beginning with the man who has the most to win or lose by Wright's continued presence in the spotlight.

From Barack Obama: "Some of the comments that Rev. Wright has made offended me, and I understand why they offend the American people. He does not speak for me. He does not speak for the campaign."

From Obama supporter, and Political Machine contributor Andrew Sullivan: But what he said today extemporaneously, the way in which he said it, the unrepentant manner in which he reiterated some of the most absurd and offensive views, his attempt to equate everything he believes with the black church as a whole, and his open public embrace of Farrakhan and hostility to Zionism, make any further defense of him impossible. This was a calculated, ugly, repulsive, vile display of arrogance, egotism, and self-regard... outright attack on the stated beliefs and policies and values of Barack Obama in a secular setting.

Bob Herbert in The New York Times, writes:
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him. Smiling, cracking corny jokes, mugging it up for the big-time news media--this reverend is never going away. He's found himself a national platform, and he's loving it......For Senator Obama, the re-emergence of Rev. Wright has been devastating. The senator has been trying desperately to bolster his standing with skeptical and even hostile white working-class voters. When the story line of the campaign shifts almost entirely to the race-in-your face antics of someone like Mr. Wright, Mr. Obama's chances can only suffer.

From The Washington Post comes Dana Milbank's assessment: Should it become necessary in the months from now to indentify the moment that doomed Obama's presidential aspirations, attention is likely to focus on the hour between nine and ten this morning at the National Press Club. It was then that Wright, Obama's longtime pastor, reignited a controversy about race from which Obama had only recently recovered--and added lighter fuel.

Turning to the Right, The National Review's Byron York chimes in with: Wright's performance not only left the Obama campaign scrambling to respond. It left some Democratic politicos, unattached to either the Obama or Clinton campaign, believing that Obama will have to abandon his vow, made last month in his Philadelphia speech on race, that "I can no more disown [Wright] than I can disown the black community."

The lead editorial in The Wall Street Journal similarly wants Obama to take a once-and-for-all stand on Wright: Early in this campaign, Senator Obama earned support from many voters with the notion that he wanted to transcend racial politics. Rev. Wright is exacerbating them in a way not seen in recent years. Barack Obama cannot remain on both sides of this. He has to make a decision. He is not running for national Mediator. He is running for President. In time, that job brings tough decisions. He's there now.There are an intrepid few, however, who feel that more Wright exposure might actually help Obama.

Slate's Christopher Beam: Needless to say, this isn't exactly the Obama campaign's dream. From their perspective, any attention on Wright is bad. Obama has been struggling to win over working-class white voters--the last thing he needs is a media-driven refresher on his greatest liability. And indeed, Wright's comeback may hurt Obama. But in the long run, it's likely to help the candidate more than hurt him.

The final point by Beam is telling. Obama is getting a chance to show how a leader manages controversy and keeps it in perspective for the vast majority of history challenged citizens.

Cheney to Congress: Butt out. I'm a law unto myself.

I suppose Cheney thinks of himself as one of the Lodges or Cabots (whichever) in the old saying, "The Lodges speak only to Cabots, and the Cabots speak only to God."

In what appears yet another effort to strengthen his position in the executive branch, the attorney for Vice President Dick Cheney said in a letter released by Congress Thursday that the Congress lacks "lacks the constitutional power" to conduct oversight over his job.


I see Hillary is trying to outdo McCain in the race to win the national award for panderer-in-chief:

WASHINGTON — As angry truckers encircled the Capitol in a horn-blaring caravan and consumers across the country agonized over $60 fill-ups, the issue of high fuel prices flared on the campaign trail on Monday, sharply dividing the two Democratic candidates.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton lined up with Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, in endorsing a plan to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for the summer travel season. But Senator Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic rival, spoke out firmly against the proposal, saying it would save consumers little and do nothing to curtail oil consumption and imports.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Law of Supply and Demand: We have the Supply so we can Demand whaterver we Want

Outlook for oil prices from Stephen Leeb, much of what he says also reflects views of Matthew Simmons, (Simmons & Company is the largest independent investment bank specializing in the entire spectrum of the energy industry).

Leeb's comments:

We hope we're wrong. But that's exactly our sentiment regarding our bullish long-term outlook for crude oil prices. Unfortunately, since writing our cover story for the April Income Performance Letter, several disturbing news reports have come out that reinforce our view.

First up, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah announced that he has ordered Aramco to leave some new oil finds in the ground so as to preserve the country's oil wealth for future generations. Quoting the king, "When there were some new finds, I told them, 'no, leave it in the ground, with grace from God, our children need it'."

There have been no reports of any new discoveries in the Kingdom. (Simmon's says the same thing) The only news we've come across has been more dry holes drilled in the Rub' al-Khali, or Empty Quarter, in southeastern Saudi Arabia. The vast dessert region has long been held out by the Saudis as a promising area for new oil and gas discoveries, although nothing has been found there in commercial quantities. In fact, French energy giant Total recently walked away from a joint venture there with Shell and Aramco after searching in vane for four years for natural gas in two separate parts of the region.

We therefore have to presume the king is referring to keeping future oil discoveries in the ground. Or--and this is more likely--it could be his way of saying "don't expect greater oil production from us."

Shortly thereafter came a more ominous report along the same lines. The Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, told industry newsletter Petroleum Argus that the country saw no need to increase its production capacity beyond its planned 2009 target of 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd). The Saudis' production capacity is believed to be around 11 million bpd now.

The world currently consumes around 86 million barrels per day of oil and associated liquids. Al-Naimi cited a greatly reduced demand forecast for oil as the reason the country wouldn't add to its production capacity. The minister believes that by 2030, instead of consumption of 130 million bpd, the world will only want 106 million bpd of oil. He blamed part of this reduction in demand on expected growth of biofuels.

But biofuels simply won't scale that high, nor has the growth in biofuel consumption ever matched forecasts. ( And it's contributing to food shortages and increased pollution. Corn ethanol requires more energy in than is gotten out) What's more, it's hard to envision oil demand rising by less than 1 percent a year going forward when Chinese and Indian auto sales are surging 15 and 10 percent annually to name just one stat.

Voting rights for the rich white folks

Forget the fact that Indiana has not had a single documented case of voter id fraud:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights, validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws

Indeed, forget the public all together. The only people who should be allowed to vote are rich, white,and can trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower. Let's see, shall we try going back to literacy tests and poll taxes?

The good news is that because I'm white, rich (by poor folks' standards, at least), and can trace my ancestry to the Mayflower, I get to vote.

. I forgot. I've got an "Injun in the woodpile" since I can also trace my ancestry back to the Powhatan tribe. I'm sure they'll find a way to disqualify me for misogyny or something.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rev. Wright Gets a Bad Rap

DC underground strikes again:

For those of you who think Reverend Wright is a off his rocker, read the following before condemning him on a couple of sound bites. He has given his life to the service of his fellow man.

Excerpts from Rev. Jeremiah Wright Interview with Bill Moyers which will air tomorrow night on PBS. This is the first major Wright interview since the Obama "controversy" broke last month.

REVEREND WRIGHT:The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand thecommunication perfectly. When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose andput constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public,that's not a failure to communicate. Those who are doing that arecommunicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as somesort of fanatic or as the learned journalist from the New York Timescalled me, a "wackadoodle." It's to paint me as something: "Something's wrong with me. There'snothing wrong with this country...for its policies. We're perfect. Our hands are free. Our hands have no blood on them." That's not a failure to communicate. The message that is being communicated by the soundbites is exactly what those pushing those sound bites want to communicate.

BILL MOYERS:What do you think they wanted to communicate?

REVEREND WRIGHT:I think they wanted to communicate that I am unpatriotic, that I amun-American, that I am filled with hate speech, that I have a cult atTrinity United Church of Christ. And by the way, guess who goes to hischurch, hint, hint, hint? That's what they wanted to communicate. They know nothing about the church. They know nothing about our prisonministry. They know nothing about our food ministry. They know nothingabout our senior citizens home. They know nothing about all we try todo as a church and have tried to do, and still continue to do as achurch that believes what Martin Marty said, that the two worlds have tobe together. And that the gospel of Jesus Christ has to speak to those worlds, not only in terms of the preached message on a Sunday morningbut in terms of the lived-out ministry throughout the week.

BILL MOYERS:What did you think when you began to see those very brief sound bitescirculating as they did?

REVEREND WRIGHT:I felt it was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. Ifelt for those who were doing that, were doing it for some very deviousreasons.

BILL MOYERS:Did you ever imagine that you would come to personify the black angerthat so many whites fear?

REVEREND WRIGHT:No. I did not. I've been preaching since I was ordained 41 years ago.I pointed out to some of the persons in Chicago who are in all of this,new to them that the stance I took in standing against apartheid alongwith our denomination back in the '70s, and putting a "Free SouthAfrica" sign in front of the church put me at odds with the government.Our denomination's defense of the Wilmington Ten and Ben Chavis put meat odds with the establishment. So, being at odds with policies isnothing new to me.
The blowup and the blowing up of sermons preached 15, seven, six yearsago and now becoming a media event, not the full sermon, but thesnippets from the sermon and sound bite having made me the target ofhatred, yes, that is something very new and something very, veryunsettling.

BILL MOYERS:Here is a man who came to see you 20 years ago. Wanted to know aboutthe neighborhood. Barack Obama was a skeptic when it came to religion.He sought you out because he knew you knew about the community. You ledhim to the faith. You performed his wedding ceremony. You baptized his two children. Youwere, for 20 years, his spiritual counsel. He has said that. And, yet,he, in that speech at Philadelphia, had to say some hard things aboutyou. How did those did it go down with you when you heard Barack Obama say those things?

REVEREND WRIGHT:It went down very simply. He's a politician, I'm a pastor. We speak totwo different audiences. And he says what he has to say as apolitician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they're twodifferent worlds. I do what I do. He does what politicians do. So that what happened inPhiladelphia where he had to respond to the sound bytes, he responded asa politician.

BILL MOYERS:In the 20 years that you've been his pastor, have you ever heard himrepeat any of your controversial statements as his opinion?

REVEREND WRIGHT:No. No. No. Absolutely not.
I don't talk to him about politics. And so he had a political event, hegoes out as a politician and says what he has to say as a politician. Icontinue to be a pastor who speaks to the people of God about the thingsof God.

Some observations

McSame was being criticized for his embrace of the Christian Right, especially wack jobs like Hagee, Parsley, and Robertson, his strong supporters who set up rallies for him regularly. The positions these guys espouse daily are not the positions of the Christ, e.g., assassinate Chevez, New Orleans deserved the hurricane let them rot, The Catholic Church is the anti-Christ, lets help Israel bring on the end of the world. To get these inconvenient little issues off the table the Rovian folks at McSame headquarters went over years of sermons and the teachings in church bulletins on social justice until they found a few lines they could use. They assume the American people have no judgment and a grain of sand will cancel out a boulder. Why not assume that, it did in 2004. The swift boat boys convinced us that a rich draft dodger was equal to a Viet Nam war hero.

GOP Lie Machine cranking up

From the DC underground:

Another GOP lie: the myth that either Clinton or Obama will do away with the Bush tax cuts for all and raise taxes. During the ABC PA debate both were asked this question and both said clearly that they would only do away with the Bush tax cuts for those making over $200,000 (Obama) and $250,000( Clinton). Those under these incomes would not be effected. But the lies keep spreading.

Another GOP lie: The was queried on whether Nancy Pelosi ever proposed a Windfall Tax on Retirement Income. It's FALSE. Snopes said that "someone reworked the piece to insert the false claim that Pelosi's non-existent windfall tax proposal would include retirement income". So it's a double lie. Check it out on

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Food shortage

I read the other day that the U.S. was running out of rye and wheat. Rye inventories were down to about 2 weeks supply and were expected to run out by June. Wheat was only slightly better. Now Digby is talking about a run on rice at Wal-mart and Costco:

Food-related protests have been occurring worldwide, and in the U.S. now major discounters are seeing runs on products, particularly rice, as both Sam’s Club, the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. operated discounter, and Costco Wholesale Corp. have seen shelves cleaned out of rice as consumers worry about higher prices.

Ahhhh, the great advantages of corn ethanol.

McCain opposes equal pay for women

Try this one on for size:

NEW ORLEANS — Republican Sen. John McCain, campaigning through poverty-stricken cities and towns, said Wednesday he opposed a Senate bill that sought equal pay for women because it would lead to more lawsuits.

The bill was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 56-42.

Hmmm. The ultimate objective is no more lawsuits, I guess. Well then, let's do away with all anti-discrimination legislation. Oh, I forgot, the Supreme Court is already well on it's way to doing that. Women can't file suit for sex discrimination unless they catch it within six months of it's first occurrence. Right now, the Supremes are considering whether the aged should bear the burden of proof in age discrimination suits (you can figure out where the Bush court will take that one). I suppose we could just go back to the days of caveat emptor ("buyer beware") where the seller has no responsibility for anything. That would get rid of a few suits.

Oh my, I forgot. We'd have to do away with divorce too. Now, where would that leave John McCain?

Quiet time

Yeah, I know. I've been kind of quiet recently. It's partly because I promised not to say anything negative about the Democratic candidates for president until the primary season is over. That speaks for itself. As for Bush, I'm sick of talking about dead men walking. Do we really still have nine more months of this stuff. That's long enough to start several wars, not to mention a baby.

Where is Pat Paulson when we need him?

Elect a Madman and Get Madness per Sen. Harkin

The White House recently submitted an emergency supplemental bill totaling more than $100 billion to pay for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But while the Republican President continues to push for spending billions more of your tax dollars overseas, there are urgent needs here at home that we can no longer ignore. We're now burning through an incredible $2.5 billion a week in Iraq, over $250,000 per minute. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., bridges are collapsing, school buildings are crumbling, and infrastructure projects are being cut back or canceled for lack of funding. Another sad irony is that, as we go deeper into debt to pay for this ruinous war, the Iraqi government is racking up tens of billions of dollars in budget surpluses - including some $30 billion deposited in U.S banks. Iraq will earn an estimated $100 billion in oil revenue this year and next, building those surpluses even higher. The Bush Administration wants to spend another $100 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of more than a half-trillion dollars already spent in Iraq alone. I believe we can and must use that bill to stimulate our economy - to create jobs and address needs here at home. What I hear from taxpayers in Iowa is they want better roads, they want safer bridges, they need their schools repaired, they need clean water, they need waste water treatment. In fact, there is a $2 billion in backlog for rural water and wastewater projects. But what we hear from the administration is that government spending for reconstruction is fine in Iraq but somehow it's onerous here in America. It seems to me that the time and the place for it is when the need is here and the need is here right now. Congress must support initiatives that will create jobs, and protect and rebuild communities in the U.S.

Carter says US Secretary Rice "not telling truth" would not be the first time

Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:34pm EDTBy Matthew Bigg
ATLANTA, April 23 (Reuters) -
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of not telling the truth about warnings she said her department gave Carter not to speak to Hamas before a Middle East trip.The State Department has said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, issued the warning before Carter, a veteran of Middle East diplomacy, went on his trip last week.Rice said in Kuwait on Tuesday: "We counseled President Carter against going to the region and particularly against having contact with Hamas.""President Carter has the greatest respect for ... Rice and believes her to be a truthful person. However, perhaps inadvertently, she is continuing to make a statement that is not true," a statement issued by the Carter center in Atlanta said on Wednesday."No one in the State Department or any other department of the U.S. government ever asked him (Carter) to refrain from his recent visit to the Middle East or even suggested that he not meet with Syrian President (Bashar) Assad or leaders of Hamas," it said.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

We Seen the Enemy and It is Us.

April 10, 2008
by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Benjamin Armbruster
A 'Hollow Announcement'

While much attention was focused on the Iraq hearings with Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker earlier this month, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) also held an important, less-publicized hearing about the current strain on the military forces. "That marathon has become an enduring relay and our soldiers continue to run -- and at the double time," Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody said, referring in part to the consequences of the administration's decision last year to extend tours of duty in Iraq to 15 months to supply troops for the surge. In response to "intense pressure from service commanders," President Bush will announce this morning that he is cutting Army combat tours in Iraq from 15 months to 12 months. Despite previously stating he is "keenly aware" of the stress on the forces, Petraeus claimed yesterday that "after several years of a generalization of morale as going down, morale actually went up." This assessment, however, glosses over the harsh reality facing our troops.BACK TO LAST WINTER: The administration's plan does not appear to go far enough, as it "will not apply to any soldiers now serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other war zones" and therefore only affect troops sent to Iraq as of Aug. 1. This move means that those already deployed must complete 15-month tours. Bobby Muller of Veterans for America said that nearly "half of the Army's active-duty frontline units are currently deployed for 15 months, and that Bush's decision leaves them out." "In short, this is a hollow announcement; it has no immediate effect," he said. "[I]t only resets us to where we were last winter," added Skelton. "This pace will still wear our troops out." The administration's plan will also give troops equal rest time at home as deployed. But the White House had this option on the table in 2007, and has stubbornly opposed it. It went on a full-scale assault against Sen. Jim Webb's (D-VA) "dwell time" bill last year, pressuring Sen. John Warner (R-VA), who introduced a toothless "sense of the Senate" resolution to effectively kill Webb's "will of the Senate" legislation. In fact, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates even recommended that Bush veto Webb's "dwell time" proposal, should it ever pass Congress.MILITARY UPRISING: Bush's decision to cut tour lengths comes after months and months of warnings from his top military advisers. "The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply," Army Chief of Staff George Casey said back in September. This week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen noted he was "very public for many months that we need to get off 15 month deployments as fast as we can." In a recent meeting in the Pentagon, top military leaders "told President Bush they are worried about the Iraq war's mounting strain on troops and their families." While a step forward in the right direction, Bush's announcement today is more likely forced due to necessity, Ilan Goldenberg of the National Security Network observed. "The military is so strained, the president really didn't have a choice," he said. As Colin Powell presciently observed in July 2007, "[T]hey probably can't keep this up at this level past the middle of next year, I would guess. This is a tremendous burden on our troops."STRAIN BY THE NUMBERS: As a result of the administration's delay in coming off "the longest Army combat tours since World War II," soldiers now are more strained than ever. "Among combat troops sent to Iraq for the third or fourth time, more than one in four show signs of anxiety, depression or acute stress," according to an Army survey of mental health. Twenty-seven percent of noncommissioned officers on their third or fourth tour exhibit post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The study noted that "soldiers on multiple deployments report low morale, more mental health problems and more stress-related work problems." Today, one in five troops returns from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, there were 121 Army suicides in 2007, up more than 20 percent over 2006. An estimated 2,100 troops tried to commit suicide or injure themselves last year -- up from 350 in 2002. Family life is also affected by the war, as 20 percent of married troops in Iraq say they are planning a divorce.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It couldn't happen to a more deserving person

WASHINGTON — President Bush has set a record he'd presumably prefer to avoid: the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll.
As Atrios would say, "Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Out on a limb with a prediction

I'm going to make a prediction about tomorrow's primary in PA. You have to remember that my predictions are almost always wrong, so I'm hoping by making this prediction it, too, will turn out to be wrong. Nevertheless, here is my prediction: Hillary by 16 points.

Why? My apologies in advance to my many friends (well, I don't have "many" friends, so to my few friends) in Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania has a higher percentage of gun toting, redneck types than even most states in the deep south. So, I think there's going to be something like New Hampshire in PA. A lot of people who say they are undecided in the polls are going to come out of the woodwork to vote against a "liberal" black man. Meanwhile, Hillary has gone sufficiently to the right to sound like a Bush clone, at least when she's talking about Obama. So I think she'll capture that vote. Furthermore, Obama needs a big turnout in the Philly area. But, every time he's needed a big turnout in the cities, he's failed to get it (the exception of Illinois proves the rule). Remember New Jersey? He needed Newark in big numbers, and Newark stayed home. In California, he needed LA in big numbers, and LA stayed home. So, I doubt he will get the big numbers in Philly either. I have a feeling the inner city crowd are so disenchanted with politics that they've just tuned out and turned off.

We only have one more day to wait.

Mutual funds vs. the market

Everybody knows mutual funds don’t do any better than the markets themselves. Well, economist Dean Baker has a take on this. Since mutual funds control half of the market, they are naturally going to have a hard time beating the market. It’s akin to criticizing teachers in general because half the students are below average.

Mutual funds control close to $10 trillion in assets. The market value of corporate equities in the United States is less than $20 trillion. In other words, mutual funds control close to half of all outstanding shares of stock.
If mutual funds control half of all stock, how can they, on average, beat the market? This would be possible if the folks who controlled the other half agreed to be very stupid, but otherwise I doubt that they would consent to accept below average returns.
The basic point is very simple, if mutual funds control half the market, then their return will on average be equal to the market return. An investor may get very lucky and find a fund managed by a Warren Buffet type, but most investors cannot possibly be so lucky. If you can assume that your fund will get the same return on its holdings as the market as a whole, then the best way to maximize returns is to find a fund with low administrative expenses.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Iacco Revisited

From the DC underground:

We all know Iacco is talking about Bush, the most incompetent President and administration ever. Just ponder this:

1. when Iacco received a $ 2 billion dollar bailout of Chrysler in the early 1980s it was as a loan and was repaid completely with the U.S. Government and taxpayers earning some $400 million in interest. When Bush, his Treasury secretary Paulson and the FED rescued Bear Sterns just this month it was with a $28 billion bailout that obligates the taxpayer to all the losses that will occur as a result of these subprime loans many of which are or will be in default. No interest will be collected for taxpayers like in Chrysler's case.

2. Bear Stearn's got into the mortgage business late in 2001 when former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, John McCain chief economic advisor today, proposed a bill deregulating the banking industry and repealing the Glass Steagel Act. This act allowed investment bankers who sell stocks, do IPOs and run hedge funds to enter the mortgage business that was the domain of conservative traditional banks. Bush and we all know that regulations particularly of the investment banking industry and its hedge fund cowboys is a bad thing, don't we.

3. It was reported today after tax day that the top five hedge fund managers earned from $1.5 to $3.7 billion last year . that's right it's billion not millions. They don't pay taxes like you or I but pay at capital gains tax rates of 15% and Republicans have refused to change how hedge fund managers are taxed. It's only fair .. they are the deserving rich. A consultant to the the industry Daniel Strachman commented that people will say" Oh my God . Look how much money these guys are making while people are losing their homes and complaining about the cost of sugar and eggs. But so What? " Just like Dicko.

It was also reported today Treasury Secretary Paulson rejects further regulations on these cowboy investors that are driving up the prices of all commodities including gasoline and food. Regulation is bad.

4. Meanwhile John McCain unveils his economic plan ( Washington Post 4/16/08, p.A7) which could be labeled as McSame, as a rehash of Bush's economic policies with tax cuts at its centerpiece mostly for corporations and wealthy individuals. McSame favors: a. the corporate tax rate would be lowered from 35% to 25%

b. the alternative minimum tax AMT would be eliminated. Of the 4 million taxpayers who pay AMT 93% earn between $200,000 and $1 million. Full repeal of the AMT will cost the Treasury $1.6 trillion over 10 years

c. the Bush tax cuts which are due to expire would be made permanent. This includes the lowering of the taxes to the top 38.5% bracket by 3.5 points to 35% while other brackets only got half that reduction of 2 points. It's only fair that the deserving rich get more. These tax reductions and war spending resulted in a ballooning of the federal deficit which had been reduced to zero under Clinton to record highs. In essence Bush broke into Al Gore's 'Social Security Lock box'. You remember that expression that Gore used.

d. taxes on dividends and capital gains would stay at 15%. Most middle class investors have their stock and bond holdings in IRAs which are taxed at regular income rates on withdrawal. Last year those with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 and having stock transactions received an average tax cut of $43 from the 15% tax rate. Those with incomes over $1 million saved $38,000 thanks to the Bush 15% rate.

To amplify on Iacco's remarks, let's remember some specifics

1. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff we can't even clean up after a hurricane ... Heck of a job Brownie said Bush
2. much less build a hybrid car.

GM in 1994 received $140 million from the Dept. of Energy to build a hybrid car. What did they do with the taxpayer's money? Why does the CEO of Gm, Rick Wagner make $10 million a year while Toyota's CEO makes $900K and produces fuel efficient hybrids today that can get 46 miles/gallon? Don't believe the GM inspired hype that hybrids cost $7000 more than conventional cars. Toyota is making a profit on them.

Why does Bush put off to 2020 changes in mileage standards that could help to reduce the U.S. dependence on foreign oil now when the technology is here today.

3. The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs.
Do you remember Kennie Boy Lay, W's good friend and chief financial contributor. As president of Enron he presided over Enron's bankruptcy, the biggest in U.S. history when it was filed in December 2001, cost 20,000 employees their jobs and many of them their life savings. Investors lost billions. In addition to being one of the single largest financial backers of George W. Bush's political career, Ken Lay can count himself among the president's closest friends. Letters written while Bush was governor of Texas reveal that the Enron Corp. chairman regularly wrote Bush and called upon the governor for favors. You can see W 's letters to Kennie Boy by googling Ken Lay Bush

4. Iacco says that We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving We'rerunning the biggest deficit in the history of the country. Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America , not the damned "Titanic" Petraeus refused to answer the question as to what is victory in Iraq and McSame is planning for a 100 year occupation. The cost of this war is ruining this country economically with costs estimated at $1 to 3 trillion. Meanwhile Al Qaeda and Osama Ben Ladin are free and growing in Afghanistan.

I agree with Iacco that "Let's tell 'em all we've had "enough."For much of the last 8 years we have had a Republican president who answers only to God and a Republican Congress. It's time, as Iacco says to "throw these bums out".

Concealed carry: what a concept!

Information I hadn’t seen before from the Econospeak blog on the anniversary of Virginia Tech:

The five highest states in gun ownership are Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Idaho. The highest states in suicide rates are Montana, Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The five lowest states in gun ownership are D.C., New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. The five lowest states in suicide rates are D.C., New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

OK, so this is the downside. The upside of concealed carry, especially on the campuses, is the circular firing-squad shoot-out of student vigilantes bringing down the bad guys -- and maybe just a few of the other innocent students as unfortunate collateral damage.

Obama withdraws from race after crushing defeat in Philadelphia debate

That's the headline I expected to see after reading the coverage in the morning papers. I personally didn't watch the debate. I'm really getting tired of these endless exercises in gotchyamanship by the idiots in the media and, frankly, I'm finding listening to Hillary's voice almost as objectionable as listening to Bush. It's the holier than thou tone that both of them have that really grates on my nerves just like fingernails on a blackboard (for those of you under 50, blackboards were those things we used to write on with chalk in all the schools).

Frankly, I'm getting really bummed out about the entire presidential race. It's beginning to look like the Democrats will pull defeat from the jaws of victory and America will do it again. My prediction -- McCain won't live to see the end of his first term, and I'm not talking about assassination, and his running mate, Joe Lieberman, will take over and invade Iran if McCain (or Bush) hasn't done it first.

One thing we can do now, however, is put one more network, ABC, on the "do not watch" list along with Faux News. I gather the questions came straight from John Hannity & Co.

I may return if I can get out of the foul mood this has put me in this morning.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another idiotic idea

On the same day the front page of the NY Times tells us that the use of bio-fuels is causing worldwide starvation, McCain decides to give us a holiday from gas taxes:

PITTSBURGH - John McCain wants the federal government to free people from paying gasoline taxes this summer and ensure that college students can secure loans this fall, a pair of proposals aimed at stemming pain from the country's troubled economy.
Meanwhile a few more bridges will fall down because they weren't repaired on a timely basis, and a hundred thousand automobiles will be sent to the graveyard because they rattled themselves to death on the pot holes that gas tax revenues might have repaired.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Buffet, Gates, Newman: we need you for more than your money

Glenn Greenwald discusses what he saw on TV this week while traveling and seeing more of it than usual:

There was virtually no discussion, at least on any of the news shows to which I was exposed, of the obviously consequential revelations of the President's direct involvement in the creation of America's torture regime. Instead, the vast bulk of attention was paid to depicting Barack Obama as an effete, elitist, deceptive enemy of the Regular Guy -- exactly the way that every national Democratic politician in recent memory has inevitably been depicted (including Hillary Clinton, particularly when the media and the Right thought last year that she would be the nominee).

Our elections are dominated by the same tired personality script, trotted out over and over and over. Democrats and liberals -- no matter how poor their upbringing, no matter how self-made they are, no matter how egalitarian their policies -- are the freakish, out-of-touch elitists who despise the values of the Regular Americans. Right-wing leaders -- no matter how extravagantly rich they are by virtue of other people's money, no matter how insulated their lives are, no matter how indifferent their policies are to the vast rich/poor gap -- are the normal, salt-of-the-earth Regular Folk. These petty, cliched storylines drown out every meaningful consideration and dictate our election outcomes, and they are deployed automatically.

It doesn't matter what the candidates actually say or do. The establishment press just waits for the right episode and then reflexively and eagerly fills in the gaps in the shallow script -- the script with which they are intimately familiar and which serves as their only framework for talking about and understanding political disputes.

Isn’t there a way using Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Paul Newman and other Democrats with strong public images to remind Americans that John Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were all wealthy; that they did a heck of a lot more for ordinary Americans than any Republican ever has; that unfortunately, the way campaigns must be conducted these days a candidate for the Presidency almost has to be wealthy to be able to run; that the Republicans are all wealthy, too, and usually more wealthy than their Democratic opponents, and that their solutions to everything is to cut taxes mostly for the wealthy; but that some wealthy people become Democrats because they believe the whole society benefits, including business, when participation by the middle class and even the poorest in the economy is at its strongest, when jobs are plentiful and wages are good – and therefore, to remind Americans not to fall for the Republican trick of identifying Democrats as some kind of elitists who have no connection with ordinary Americans, while also painting multi-millionaire Republicans, like George Bush and John McCain, as some kind of down-home folks you could share a beer with. It’s a game that’s gone on way too long. Advertising in substantial chunks of time, for, yes, substantial chunks of money that is really chump change to Buffet and Gates, is the only way to get it out there in sufficient presence to gain enough traction to paralyze the big media from continuing to buy into this anti-American game. And yes, it is “anti-American” if it’s against most Americans, which it is.

Some opinion polls seem to suggest that excessive advertising in Pennsylvania by Obama's campaign may be turning off voters. That's what happened in part to Tammy Duckworth in that 2006 Illinois race for a House of Representatives seat, as it became obvious her campaign and the Democratic House Campaign Committee had more money than it knew how to spend productively. There is a massive educational campaign that ought to be mounted now to inoculate the Democratic candidate from the horse-crap we all know the Republicans are going to throw against the wall. Let's re-direct some of that money there, instead of beating people over the heads with the same message day after day after day. As usual, though, Democratic campaign consultants don't know what the hell they are doing when it comes to media matters.

Ah, the benefits of a packed supreme court

From Zimbabwe:

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's High Court rejected an opposition demand Monday for the immediate release of long-delayed election results, prolonging a political crisis that has paralyzed this southern African nation for more than two weeks.

When you lose an election you get to just throw away the votes.

Taking a page from the Bush book

As most of us in the blogosphere know even though no one else seems to be aware of it, John McCain is violating the federal election laws by continuing to spend money on his campaign. He had agreed to rely on federal funding for the primary campaign and actually borrowed money based ability to repay from federal funds. Later, when his fund raising efforts became more successful he renounced the federal funds, but it was too late, since he'd already used the promise of those funds to back the loan. Thus, he is now in violation of the law (potentially a felony offense). The DNC is now filing suit to force and investigation. Of course, McCain has taken a page from Bush. He claims his lawyers told him it was okay to go on spending, so, even if it is illegal, it's not his fault and he shouldn't be punished. His lawyers told him it was okay -- so it is okay.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saint John

Glenn Greenwald on John McCain:

Like most right-wing leaders, the life of John McCain is chock full of dishonorable, ugly behavior. Huge numbers of female voters would be disgusted by the details of how and why he dumped his first wife, after she was in a disfiguring car accident that caused her to gain much weight and lose several inches of height, in order to marry his much younger, prettier and extremely rich mistress with whom he had been committing adultery while his first wife raised his three children. His public life is filled with corruption, deceit, lobbyist dependency, and a complete lack of principle. He holds himself out as a principled torture opponent but is, in fact, the single greatest enabler of legalizing torture in this country, from his 2005 bill which exempted the CIA from torture prohibitions to his 2006 leadership in enacting the Military Commissions Act to his opposition this year to the waterboard ban.

Betty better bought a bunch of bitter batter

I gather that the Hillary campaign has printed up a bunch of bumper stickers saying, "We're not bitter," to mock Obama on his bitter comments.

Mrs. Walldon suggests that Obama hire a bunch of kids armed with magic markers to change the "I" to an "E" on all the bumper stickers :-)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Big Brother or peeping Tom?

The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation's most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea's legal authority.

I'm told that the new technology can look right through the roofs of houses into your bedroom.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Isn't it nice the the Republican Party is so mature?

Message to the next jury: You'd better convict or else.

You may have heard of the Federal public corruption trial of former Allegheny County coroner Cyril H. Wecht. This was widely believed to be a politically motivated trial to get the Democrats. It ended a day or so ago in a hung jury. The prosecution says it will re-try the case. Now the FBI is out their intimidating the jury.

Two jurors said Thursday they were unnerved by FBI requests for home visits to explain why they deadlocked in the federal public corruption trial of former Allegheny County coroner Cyril H. Wecht.

Experts said the practice of using FBI agents to contact and interview jurors in their homes after mistrials was unusual, but the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh characterized it as "commonplace."

"I thought it was kind of intimidating," the jury foreman said about the FBI phone call.

Said another juror, "I found it kind of unusual."

To my Republican friends


By John Gray

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised. All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girlie-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor. Joe begins his work day .He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.

Joe's employer pays the same standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below- market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big- government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine- drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys through out his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

[h/t Andrew Tobias]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wounded soldiers not allowed to register to vote

I guess there's just to high a risk that a wounded soldier might be pissed off at the Thuglicans that sent him to war:

A new report Thursday reveals that Secretary of Veterans affairs James Peake told two Democratic senators his department will not help injured veterans register to vote before the 2008 election.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Right wing Republicanism in action, Part 2017

Is this great or what? Couresy of Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly:

QUOTE OF THE DAY....From Jon Stewart, on recent reports that the FAA has allowed airlines to ignore required inspection routines:

With this administration, if a passenger blows up a plane, it's a failure in the war on terror. But if the plane just blows up on its own — eh, it's the market self-regulating.

To the tune of Auld Lang Syne: “We stay because we stay because we stay because we stay. . We stay because we stay because we stay because we stay"

I didn’t see a transcript, but did anyone in the great meeting yesterday ask this question: Bush, McCain, Crocker and company keep saying we need to stay “until” the Iraqi government is “ready” to take responsibility for its own security. But how can what we call the government be accepted as a government that can induce all insurgents to lay down their arms when it is itself being protected by a foreign government? As long as we are protecting it from its own people, it is not, by definition, a government. Does it occur to them that, inherently, we can never ourselves make this government ready because it’s not and never can be a real government until we are gone? No, because admitting we can’t do something that’s literally impossible is surrender.

We’ve been “training” Iraqi security forces for 5 years now, and yet they supposedly still cannot establish control anywhere. Why not? It’s surely not because Iraqis are incapable of doing it. I’ve always wondered where the hell we get off telling Iraqis they need our training anyway. The Mahdi army and the Sunni insurgents don’t seem to need any training to fight hard. Or could it possibly be that the security forces have no motivation beyond earning an income to keep their families alive, and have no desire whatsoever to protect the status quo as long as it includes a foreign army? Are we training them in tanks and fighter jets? Of course not, but how can they provide security without the instruments of security necessary when there’s no social compact – i.e., before the Swiss model takes hold? Obviously, you need tanks, and armored personnel carriers and artillery and jet fighters to maintain security in Iraq and protect the borders. Why aren’t they getting those things so they can stand up so we can stand down? Because maybe half of them would defect to the insurgents and unfriendly militias, and turn them on American soldiers? (At which point the other half would join them or go home?) If that’s the case, why the hell are we there?

It seems to me, too, that Iraqis who are willing to be freedom fighters against a foreign invader should be the very core of building national strength. The only possible solution is for the leaders of the Shia, Sunni and Kurds to get together and figure out how to solve the dilemmas we created. Maybe some of the people and structures of government we created will be retained, but the leaderships of those groups will themselves have to figure out a modus vivendi. They will have to decide all that. They don’t like each other much, we are told, but that’s the only way it can happen. We can’t do it ourselves, and we can’t even broker it – at least under this Presidency -- because except in the case of the Kurds, it would seem likely that nobody who involves themselves with the United States will be accepted as leaders. We might have a chance to broker the brokers, which I assume will have to be Syria and Saudi Arabia supporting the Sunnis and Iran supporting the Shia. Maybe we should be at the table, if they will let us, to support the Kurds, but it seems like it would be preferable for somebody else, almost anybody else, to take on that role.

Iran can get back into the game easily: Ahmajinedad simply has to apologize for his obnoxious statements about the Holocaust – just say he’s learned a lot, and learned he was wrong – and that his words about Israel being “wiped off the face of the map” was a mistranslation of figurative language. Yes, he has much sympathy for the struggles of the Palestine people, and will always support them in their struggle, but he will also support their efforts to obtain a just and lasting peace with Israel. Would that be so hard to do? Probably would be harder to get it published in U.S. newspapers than to actually say it. (How could Iran be a convenient enemy if we heard him he say that stuff?)

So here’s where we are now: by Senator McCain’s “100-year” formulation, we have to stay until we have forced all the Iraqis to be happy with our staying, at which point, assuming we reach that point within 10 years, we can stay for another 90-something years because nobody’s shooting at us. Although ostensibly neutral polling inside Iraq has seemed to indicate a huge majority of Iraqis already want us out of there as soon as possible, and although we have to bomb out a few neighborhoods once in a while with some unfortunate civilian collateral damage to kill some of those who are not happy with our staying, we can make the Iraqis as a whole happy to have us because … well, because we’re the United States of America, I guess. For sure, we cannot leave until all the Iraqis are happy to have us there, because it would be surrender to succumb to the wishes of the majority of the Iraqis.

Anybody who doesn’t get that as high geopolitical strategy that serves the critical national interests of the United States of America is either a traitor or a coward. Anyone who thinks we are twisted into a logical monstrosity, and who doesn’t think the same people who did not have a clue what they were talking about and put us into the mess, will have the right answers for getting us out of it can just shut up – and we’re not going to listen to them anyway. Only those who think we should stay until we force the Iraqis to be happy with our staying will be given a microphone.

AP Reporter held by US for 2 years cleared of crimes but still held

Forget about any sense of due process or simple fairness. If the President doesn't like you, you'll rot in hell forever:

An Iraqi judicial committee has dismissed terrorism-related allegations against Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein and ordered him released nearly two years after he was detained by the U.S. military.

Hussein, 36, remained in custody at Camp Cropper, a U.S. detention facility near Baghdad's airport.
A decision by a four-judge panel said Hussein's case falls under a new amnesty law. It ordered Iraqi courts to "cease legal proceedings" and ruled that Hussein should be "immediately" released unless other accusations are pending.

The ruling is dated Monday but AP's lawyers were not able to thoroughly review it until Wednesday. It was unclear, however, whether Hussein would still face further obstacles to release.

U.S. military authorities have said a U.N. Security Council mandate allows them to retain custody of a detainee they believe is a security risk even if an Iraqi judicial body has ordered that prisoner freed. The U.N. mandate is due to expire at the end of this year.

Bush Justice in the Department of Just Us

It seems that it's okay now for large corporations to commit criminal acts -- indeed, it may even be patriotic for them to do so. You see, if they're caught, the Justice Department lets them off the hook as long as they'll hire one of Bush's friends and relations to be a "monitor."

WASHINGTON — In 2005, federal authorities concluded that a Monsanto consultant had visited the home of an Indonesian official and, with the approval of a senior company executive, handed over an envelope stuffed with hundred-dollar bills. The money was meant as a bribe to win looser environmental regulations for Monsanto’s cotton crops, according to a court document. Monsanto was also caught concealing the bribe with fake invoices.

A few years earlier, in the age of Enron, these kinds of charges would probably have resulted in a criminal indictment. Instead, Monsanto was allowed to pay $1 million and avoid criminal prosecution by entering into a monitoring agreement with the Justice Department.

In a major shift of policy, the Justice Department, once known for taking down giant corporations, including the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, has put off prosecuting more than 50 companies suspected of wrongdoing over the last three years.

Instead, many companies, from boutique outfits to immense corporations like American Express, have avoided the cost and stigma of defending themselves against criminal charges with a so-called deferred prosecution agreement, which allows the government to collect fines and appoint an outside monitor to impose internal reforms without going through a trial. In many cases, the name of the monitor and the details of the agreement are kept secret.

Dumb as a post

As everyone except the vast unwashed electorate (and the press who keep them unwashed) knows by now, St. John McCain confused Sunnis and Shi'as once again yesterday in the Petraeus-Crocker hearings. Mrs. Walldon reports that she heard a physician caller to Air America yesterday saying that failing to remember where you left your car keys is not necessarily a sing of dementia. What is a sign of dementia, the caller added, is when you're holding the keys in your hand and you forget what they're for. John McCain, the caller noted, is holding the keys in his hand and doesn't know what they're for.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sign of the times

A self-replicating printer

Based in the Waitakeres, in West Auckland, software developer and artist Vik Olliver is part of a team developing an open-source, self-copying 3D printer. The RepRap (Replicating Rapid-prototyper) printer can replicate and update itself. It can print its own parts, including updates, says Olliver, who is one of the core members of the RepRap team.

Soon, we'll be able to download and print our food. All you teenagers who are delivering pizzas for Dominoes, beware.

[h/t Matthew Yglesias]

Absolute Power

We knew Bush had absolute power, but Chertoff?

Securing the nation’s borders is so important, Congress says, that Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, must have the power to ignore any laws that stand in the way of building a border fence. Any laws at all.

Last week, Mr. Chertoff issued waivers suspending more than 30 laws he said could interfere with “the expeditious construction of barriers” in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The list included laws protecting the environment, endangered species, migratory birds, the bald eagle, antiquities, farms, deserts, forests, Native American graves and religious freedom.

The secretary of homeland security was granted the power in 2005 to void any federal law that might interfere with fence building on the border. For good measure, Congress forbade the courts to second-guess the secretary’s determinations. So long as Mr. Chertoff is willing to say it is necessary to void a given law, his word is final.

Hmmm. Let's see what we could construe to be necessary for building a wall. Censoring dissent, certainly (so much for the First Amendment). Yeah, I'm sure we could find reasons to do away with all 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights. Shall we continue?

Bush administration bribes native American tribes to stay out of environmental suits

The print edition of today's NY Times has a story by William Yardley entitiled "Deal Gives Money to Tribes" which describes how the Bush administration has struck a deal to give four native American tribes almost one billion of your money to stay out of any environmentalists lawsuits trying to protect fish in the Columbia River system. I've searched for this article unsuccessfully in the on-line edition where it seems not to have been published. Hence no link.

For a billion dollars, I might agree not to sue as well.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Obama trails McCain in key states's piece on the presidential candidates today includes a Huffington poll showing McCain getting 30-35% of the vote for President vs. 25-30% for Obamain the large key states (FL, TX, CA, PA) The DNC needs to identify those responsible for the "5% gap" and turn them around or it's the mean old man and bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Lee Iacocca on the state of the nation

Remember Lee Iacocca, the man who rescued Chrysler Corporation from it's death throes? He has a new book, and here are some excerpts:

"Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car.But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course"

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America , not the damned "Titanic". I'll give you a sound bite: "Throw all the bums out!"

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up I hardly recognize this country anymore.

The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq , the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving 'pom -poms' instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of the " America " my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for.I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.The Biggest "C" is Crisis !

Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It's easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else's kids off to war when you've never seen a battlefield yourself. It's another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A Hell of a Mess So here's where we stand. We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We're losing the manufacturing edge to Asia , while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way These are times that cry out for leadership.

But when you look around, you've got to ask:"Where have all the leaders gone?" Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.

Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm.

Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again. Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when "The Big Three" referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the national debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem.The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.

I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity.What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break.Why don't you guys show some spine for a change?

Had Enough?Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope I believe in America . In my lifetime I've had the privilege of living through some of America's greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst crises: the "Great Depression", "World War II", the "Korean War", the "Kennedy Assassination", the "Vietnam War", the 1970s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I've learned one thing, it's this:"You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action.Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a call to "Action" for people who, like me, believe in America . It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the crap a nd go to work. Let's tell 'em all we've had "enough."

Make a "real contribution" by sending this to everyone you know and care about......our future is at stake

It's all the Democrats' fault

Nickel version of today's Frank Rich column in the NY Times: John McCain's an idiot, but it's all the Democrats' fault.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Dr. King remembered

40 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and this nation lost one of the greatest leaders for peace and justice. His words remind us that no act of violence can silence an idea whose time has come.

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

"The time is always right to do what is right."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Polls turn south. Is American finally getting it re. GOP policy stupidity?

Condensed from NYT 4/4/08

-In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002.
-national consensus that the country faces significant problems.
A majority of nearly every demographic and political group —United States is headed in the wrong direction.
-Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was better off.
-The dissatisfaction is especially striking because public opinion usually hits its low point only in the months and years after an economic downturn, not at the beginning of one..
-Only 21 percent of respondents said the overall economy was in good condition, the lowest such number since late 1992,
-two in three people said they believed the economy was in recession today.
-The unhappiness presents clear risks for Republicans in this year’s elections, given the continued unpopularity of President Bush.
-Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they approved of the job he was doing,.
The poll found that Americans blame government officials for the crisis more than banks or home buyers and other borrowers. Forty percent of respondents said regulators were mostly to blame, while 28 percent named lenders and 14 percent named borrowers.
In assessing responses to the mortgage crisis, Americans favor help for individuals but not for financial institutions. A clear majority said they did not want the government to lend a hand to banks, even if the measures would help limit the depth of a recession.
-Respondents were considerably more open to government help for home owners at risk of foreclosure. Fifty-three percent said they believed the government should help those whose interest rates were rising, while 41 percent said they opposed such a move.
-Almost 30 percent of people in a December poll said that Iraq war was the country’s most pressing problem. About half as many named the economy or jobs.
-issues have switched places in just a few months’ time. In the latest poll, 17 percent named terrorism or the war, while 37 percent named the economy or the job market.
-looking at the current state of their own finances, more than 70 percent said their financial situation was fairly good or very good, a number that has dropped only modestly since 2006.
-many say they are merely managing to stay in place, rather than get ahead, consistent with the income statistics of the past five years, which suggest that median household income has still not returned to the inflation-adjusted peak it hit in 1999.
-Since the 1960s, there has never been an extended economic expansion that ended without setting a new record for household income.
-Fewer than half of parents — 46 percent — said they expected their children to enjoy a better standard of living than they themselves do, down from 56 percent in 2005 with only a third saying they would live better than people do today.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

McCain’s confusion

Strategy in Iraq: here's a good explanation by Matthew Yglesius. Keep repeating that last sentence. Put it on bumper stickers. It's the current Republican strategy and via McCain, the future Republican strategy

. . . . [T]he policymakers in Washington some time ago shifted to a crazy equilibrium where continuing the war became the war's own rationale. Initially, we invaded to depose Saddam and destroy his WMD programs. So when at first the programs weren't there, we had to keep some troops in the country to look for them. . . . But then, contrary to what the Bush administration had expected, an insurgency started against our presence. The insurgents were killing our troops. Then beating the insurgents became the goal. Our troops had to stay in Iraq and risk their lives in order to kill the people who were trying to kill them to force them out of Iraq -- we couldn't leave until all the people who wanted us to leave were dead.

"We can't leave until everyone who wants us to leave is dead."