The Aeration Zone: A liberal breath of fresh air

Contributors (otherwise known as "The Aerheads"):

Walldon in New Jersey ---- Marketingace in Pennsylvania ---- Simoneyezd in Ontario
ChiTom in Illinois -- KISSweb in Illinois -- HoundDog in Kansas City -- The Binger in Ohio

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Denial is not progress

Consistent with Chi-Tom and Kissweb's recent posts, it is time to end the let's pretend that America is the bastion of equal opportunity. Starting with the long shadow of slavery that will forever hover over our nation, denial of the truth spoken by Rev. Wright, and, revisionist interpretation of it as sedition does nothing to begin the healing among American ethnic groups.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wright was wronged

[Apologies for a long absence-- needed to break the blog-spell.]

My wife forwarded an essay by Tim Wise, author of White Like Me, defending (for the most part) the statements and sentiments of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Here is an excerpt from the essay, "Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama and the Unacceptability of Truth; Of National Lies and Racial America":
Whites are easily shocked by what we see and hear from Pastor Wright and Trinity Church, because what we see and hear so thoroughly challenges our understanding of who we are as a nation. But black people have never, for the most part, believed in the imagery of the "shining city on a hill," for they have never had the option of looking at their nation and ignoring the mountain-sized warts still dotting its face when it comes to race. Black people do not, in the main, get misty eyed at the sight of the flag the way white people do--and this is true even for millions of black veterans--for they understand that the nation for whom that flag waves is still not fully committed to their own equality. They have a harder time singing those tunes that white people seem so eager to belt out, like "God Bless America," for they know that whites sang those words loudly and proudly even as they were enforcing Jim Crow segregation, rioting against blacks who dared move into previously white neighborhoods, throwing rocks at Dr. King and then cheering, as so many did, when they heard the news that he had been assassinated.
For the most part, sadly, I have to take Wise's (and Wright's) side. In any case, Wise's contextualization of Wright's infamous comments is helpful to read.

Trying not to be self-righteous in my rejection of [white] American self-righteousness ( life is full of challenge, eh?). . . .

Happy Spring, from ChiTom

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clinton's minister supports Wright

Sanity is starting to return

To evaluate his dynamic ministry on the basis of two or three sound bites does a grave injustice to Dr. Wright, the members of his congregation, and the
African-American church which has been the spiritual refuge of a
people that has suffered from discrimination, disadvantage, and

Out of town

Out of town for about a week. Blogging will depend on availability of wireless service and my whims! See ya.

Did you know U.S. soldiers in Iraq are being electrocuted by "friendlies"?

Has this been front-page news that I just missed somehow? 12 soldiers in Iraq electrocuted in during showers in their own barracks due to faulty wiring? Faulty wiring that was identified several years ago that apparently was put on low priority? With family members earlier being told that the victim had taken a small electrical appliance into the shower? With the possibility that it’s the former subsidiary of Cheney’s old company that is responsible for this?

Under normal circumstances, this would be major-headline front-page news. Anybody who has followed American news over the years knows it’s a sensational story just by the nature of it: “Soldiers being executed in showers in Iraq. Faulty wiring blamed.” Arguably, it would not, in theory, deserve to be a sensational story any more than the now-ignored soldiers who get cut down by IEDs or snipers. But the fact is, in our culture of journalism, a substantial number of American soldiers being electrocuted in their own showers due to a contractor’s incompetence or negligence would be treated as a sensational front page story. As far as I can tell, though, the Washington Post did not even pick it up, period, and it appears that the New York Times buried it inside in its “Mideast” section. I see two hard-copy newspapers most days, and get a lot of news online. I watch the news every night. I missed it except for a reference I picked up (but was unable to follow) on Air America one afternoon.

Who is making the distinctly partisan, political decision not to treat it with the prominence it would normally get? Make no mistake about it, a decision to downplay a story of that dramatic magnitude is nothing but a dishonest, partisan editorial decision. It is what the American press has come to.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chaos returning to Iraq

McCain says we're winning the Iraq war, but today it looks as though the tense standoff that's been going on for months now has fallen apart and al Sadr's forces are going to cause the country to fall back into total chaos:

BAGHDAD — Heavy fighting broke out Tuesday in Basra and Baghdad, after Iraqi ground forces and helicopters mounted a major operation in Basra against Shiite militias, including the Mahdi Army, whose months-long cease-fire is credited with reducing the level of violence during the troop surge. There were also serious clashes in the southern cities of Kut and Hilla.

... Mr. Rikabi and other Iraqi officials said they did not know whether or how the unrest in Baghdad was related to the crackdown in Basra. Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who commands the Mahdi Army and initially called for a suspension of his militia’s activities in August, called on Monday called for a nationwide civil disobedience campaign, beginning in Baghdad, in response to what his followers say is an unwarranted crackdown.

Strange bedfellows

Strange irony! The one time that the Bush-packed Supreme Court goes against Bush, I happen to be on the same side as Bush.

President Bush overstepped his authority when he ordered a Texas court to reopen the case of a Mexican on death row for rape and murder, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

In a case that mixes presidential power, international relations and the death penalty, the court sided with Texas and rebuked Bush by a 6-3 vote.

The president was in the unusual position of siding with death row prisoner Jose Ernesto Medellin, a Mexican citizen whom police prevented from consulting with Mexican diplomats, as provided by international treaty.

An international court ruled in 2004 that the convictions of Medellin and 50 other Mexicans on death row around the United States violated the 1963 Vienna Convention, which provides that people arrested abroad should have access to their home country's consular officials. The International Court of Justice, also known as the world court, said the Mexican prisoners should have new court hearings to determine whether the violation affected their cases.

If you don't have something good to say ...

Readers of this blog may have noticed that I haven't had much to say about the Clinton/Obama race recently. The reason is that I've decided to keep my trap shut unless I have something nice to say about them. After all, I'm going to end up voting for one or the other this fall -- and not only am I going to vote for them, but I'm going to want them to win. So, I've decided not to rip into one or the other of them when they get down and dirty, as I would dearly love to do. I'm having a particularly hard time keeping my trap shut today, but I'm going to resist the urge.

It ain't gonna happen

Jerome Armstrong over at MyDD suggests that the super delegates may opt for someone other than Clinton or Obama. He seems to think a Gore-Clinton or Gore-Obama ticket is in the works. I have a very murky crystal ball, but frankly I don't see this happening, and, if it did happen, I see it as a disaster for the Democrats. First, I can't see either Clinton or Obama being willing to be a VP under Gore. In Clinton's case, the reasons are pretty obvious. Look, the Clintons were the bosses when Gore was VP. There's no way she's going to accept him as her boss now. In Obama's case, I can't see him getting this far only to capitulate to Gore.

As to what happens if it comes to pass... I think most of us little guys would hold our noses at the stench of a third person who hadn't run being brought in over the heads of the two candidates who have spent over a year campaigning for this. I like Gore as much as the next guy, but not under these circumstances. It stinks.

So, my prognostication... it ain't gonna happen.

Can a Liberal be a Unifier?

Today's NY Times has a front page headline: "Obama's Test: Can a Liberal be a Unifier?" The meme of the article is that liberals are so far out of the mainstream that they can't possibly be unifiers. Of course, nice comfortable conservatives like George W. Bush were welcomed as unifiers by the Times back in 2000. Isn't the "liberal bias" in our main stream media wonderful?

And, of course, then there's McCain. The press is always dumping on him, aren't they? Dumping heaps of praise, that is.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Democrats, do the visual on McCain’s ignorance

Where is the picture of Lieberman whispering into McCain’s ear – that Shiite Iran is not training Sunni al Qaeda extremists, as McCain had just claimed for national TV the third or fourth time? Damn it, Democrats, give it a visual and send it all over the Internet. Sure, the clip should be on YouTube and should be circulated, but that picture should be in newspaper ads over and over and over all over the country: showing Americans visually that McCain is not only not a foreign policy expert, he is even woefully uninformed about foreign affairs. Don’t you get it, progressives? Don’t just sit there and rail against the media for showing the Wright clip about Obama on a continuous loop – as justified as that complaint is – until you have done everything possible, especially with visual reinforcement, to make it impossible for the media to keep avoiding the truth about McCain.

That picture of Lieberman whispering factual information to correct another McCain blunder should dog McCain for the rest of the year. The importance of visuals or other was to capture a specific message in a dramatic way is understood by the Republicans. The party of big business is, inevitably, the party of the most prominent advertising agencies, and they know how to do stuff like this. It's their stock-in-trade. When will Democrats learn how to think this way?

Haste makes waste

Several interesting revelations came out in today's NY Times story on JP Morgan's effort to increase the price it is paying for Bear Stearns shares from $2.00 a share to $10.00 a share. One might wonder why the buyer would try to increase the price it was paying. Part of the reason, of course, is to preserve the deal, since it has become clear there is a real possibility that the shareholders would reject the $2.00 deal (if they wouldn't have rejected before this article, they're sure to now). But, as it turns out, there's a very compelling reason why JP Morgan doesn't want the deal to fail -- they inadvertently guaranteed Bear's obligations regardless of whether the deal goes through or not.

JPMorgan and Bear were prompted to renegotiate after shareholders began threatening to block the deal and it emerged that several “mistakes” were included in the original, hastily written contract, according to people involved in the talks.

One sentence was “inadvertently included,” according to a person briefed on the talks, which requires JPMorgan to guarantee Bear’s trades even if shareholders voted down the deal. That provision could allow Bear’s shareholders to seek a higher bid while still forcing JPMorgan to honor its guarantee, these people said.

When the error was discovered, James Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, who was described by one participant as “apoplectic,” began calling his lawyers at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to seek a way to have the sentence modified, these people said. Finger pointing over the mistakes in the contracts began as bankers blamed the lawyers and vice versa.

It's hard to believe anyone would sign onto such a deal -- accepting the liabilities without getting the assets to support them. It's hard to imagine how such language ever got into the drafts of the deal. Was this the Fed at work? Apparently the Fed is trying to block the price increase in order to preserve the appearance that they didn't bail out the shareholders. But, it is rather troubling that the Fed seems to think it can intervene in this way to punish the shareholders (many of whom had nothing to do with the company's failure) by robbing them of assets that might rightfully be theirs in a bankruptcy proceeding. We're treading into very murky water in this, and everyone should be uncomfortable.

Update: Mrs. Walldon just made an interesting observation after hearing this tale of PJMorgan. Maybe we could put our house on the market, get JPMorgan to assume responsibility for our mortgage, skip out of the deal to sell them the house while leaving them with the mortgage liability. And, with any luck, maybe we could also get them to guarantee the mortgage loan for our new house as well!

Not helpful

Today's NY Times has a story highlighting the two times John McCain almost became a Democrat, and the liberal blogosphere is eating it up as if this was the greatest thing since swiss cheese. I say, "Not so fast!" Emphasizing this news doesn't do us any good in the general election. It just reinforces the presses meme that McCain is a maverick who looks out for the good of his country, even at the expense of his party. That's all a bunch of rot. McCain votes with the thuglicans 85 percent of the time, just about the average for most thuglicans and far above the average for most Dems. This kind of talk only encourages independents and conservative Democrats to vote for McCain. Yes, it may cost him something among his base, but who of that crowd would vote Democratic anyway? We need to bring out what a total whacko McCain is (see Paul Krugman today).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Clinton endorsing McCain, again

Yesterday, Bill Clinton came just one step shy of endorsing McCain for President, saying he was clearly superbly qualified and stood on the same side as Hillary on many important issues. He concluded:

Clinton said today in Charlotte, North Carolina, that it would be great if the general election were between his wife, Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona. The vote would involve ``two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country,'' Bill Clinton said.

``People could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics,'' he said.

Intended or not, this leaves the nasty inference that Obama doesn't love his country and is not devoted to its interests. Frankly, I think it was intentional, and I'm getting pretty disgusted with these Clinton tactics. It appears she's willing to let the whole Democratic challenge go up in flames if she can't get the nomination. Yglesias thinks it may be because if Obama loses to McCain, the Clintons will still be running the Party.

Friday, March 21, 2008


So, if the State Department officials were looking to dig up dirt by snooping in Obama's passport files, what would they have been looking for? Obama's last trip to a Madrassa?

And, what about Hillary and McCain? Who knows?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Who lost the wisdom of the ages?

Everyone, especially everyone who did not see what Barack Obama (and many other wise people) saw, should be required to do daily ablutions pondering this wonderful passage from what is supposed to be the Bible of modern conservatism. I think I’ve seen it before, but this time it’s courtesy of Glenn Greenwald. Says Greenwald:

There really is no more toxic combination than the ability to urge war and simultaneously be shielded from all costs and consequences. Adam Smith put it perfectly in his 1776 An Inquiry into the Nature And Causes of the Wealth of Nations:

In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies. To them this amusement compensates the small difference between the taxes which they pay on account of the war, and those which they had been accustomed to pay in time of peace. They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war.

Or, put another way, we must not withdraw from Iraq ever, sayeth the Washington establishment.

Vincent Foster, back in the news

Can you please tell me why this is news. The Wall Street Journal has to revisit Hillary Clinton and Vincent Foster even if it's only to say that she hadn't met with him for several weeks before his death. Please, who cares? I thought the rumors of Hillary as Foster's murderer were put to rest years ago. Do we have to resurrect them now?

War with Iran?

William Polk, over at Juan Cole's blog, tells us that U.S. News and World Report thinks Bush is preparing to attack Iran.

Earlier discussions of air attacks on Iran seemed to suggest that March and April were the optimal months for such attacks (I've forgotten why if I ever knew), so we may not have long to wait.

Question: How would this affect the presidential race? I suspect Bush & Co. would think it would help McCain, but who knows? I suspect it would be very, very unpopular with a very, very large segment of the population. But, once at war, Americans tend to rally round the flag.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The bottom line: Roveism at work

“I didn’t say that, and I don’t agree with what he said. It is my church, and I don’t pick out a church like a supermarket. If you want to know what I believe, listen to me, not someone else. That’s all there is to say. Accept it or don’t.”

Indeed, that's all there is to say. Accept it or don't. How far down is the barrel being scraped when you have to attack someone based on something someone else said. It's classic Karl Rove, though: Kerry's strength with independents -- he was a war hero. Swiftboat him. Gore, an Eagle Scout of a public servant with impeccable honesty. Make him a serial fibber. Obama's strength: he transcends racial barriers. Make him a Black Panther (and an Israel-hating black for a two-fer).

Of course, the mainstream media either falls for it or deliberately channels it, either from shared ideology or fear of right-wing attacks. The Democrat is put on the hot seat, McCain's active embrace of someone who uses hate-filled rhetoric is given a complete pass. Start making the attacks from our side. Get to management, board members, the advertisers. Demand journalism instead of pro-Republican propaganda.

Demand, too, that the candidates and all other prominent Democrats bring Roveism like this into the national consciousness. This is how our elections are being decided. How long are we going to acquiesce in letting this happen? Jesus got angry at the money changers. These guys are even worse, not just avaricious but deliberately evil.

Good news for the Thuglicans

Not good news for the rest of us:

The (Zogby) poll showed Arizona Sen. McCain, who has clinched the Republican presidential nomination, is benefiting from the lengthy campaign battle between Obama and Clinton, who are now battling to win Pennsylvania on April 22.

McCain leads 46 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical matchup against Obama in the November presidential election, according to the poll.

That is a sharp turnaround from the Reuters/Zogby poll from last month, which showed in a head-to-head matchup that Obama would beat McCain 47 percent to 40 percent.

... Matched up against Clinton, McCain leads 48 percent to 40 percent, narrower than his 50 to 38 percent advantage over her in February.

I continue to believe that it is hard to underestimate the intelligence of the American people.

The president speaks for the people of Israel

Clinton surrogate Ann Lewis at a gathering of the United Jewish Communities yesterday:

The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel. It is not up to us to pick and choose from among the political parties.

I'm so glad that we will have a president who speaks for all the people of Israel. Of course, one wonders who speaks for the people of the United States.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

New York's newly minted governor says he had affairs with several women, including a state employee.

The admission comes a day after Gov. David Paterson was inaugurated and disclosed at least one extramarital affair to reporters.

Somehow, I doubt we'll have to wait long.

Another C student

It looks like we're well on our way to electing another C student to the White House. I only recently learned that McCain graduated at or near the bottom of his class at the US Naval Academy. True, he may have accomplished this on his own, unlike Dubya, whose Dad almost certainly bought him his passing grades at Yale, but still. Do we want another C student? He proved his mediocrity once again today by claiming al Qaeda in Iraq was being trained by Iran until Holy Joe Lieberman corrected him. I guess he'd be fun to have a beer with -- although I hear it was vodka that Hillary drank him under the table with on a trip to Russia a year or so ago.

It's pile-on time

Talk about a misleading headline, this one from Bloomberg News:

Obama's Bid Doesn't Have Support of Most Black Corporate Elite

Now see the facts reported in the article:

Less than one-third of the 191 black members of the boards of the largest 250 U.S. companies have contributed to the Illinois senator's campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records. . . .

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who is backing Obama, said the relative lack of support reflects a systemic problem: black corporate leaders haven't yet developed the habit of opening their wallets for candidates. . . .

Many others, though, are sitting out the race. Of the corporate board members on the list, 62 contributed to Obama and 30 to his rival, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York.

Right to Arm Bears

The Supreme Court will be debating the right to arm bears today and will almost certainly decide that bears do not have to be part of a militia.

A more perfect union

Obama just gave a really great speech that said things no one says from the campaign trail. Unfortunately, he gave it to a rather staid, uninvolved audience that responded politely but quietly. I hope this will put this whole Rev. Wright business behind us, but I'm not sure it will. Ass holes on CNN are already saying he should have left the church even as Obama explained exactly why he didn't.

In any event, I found the speech uplifting -- I just hope it wasn't an uplifting swan song.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Liquidity trap?

A liquidity trap occurs when interest rates get so low that actions by the Fed to lower interest rates and stimulate the economy have no effect.

Paul Krugman thinks we're close. As he points out:

As of 10:38 this morning, the one-month Treasury rate was 0.57; the three-month rate was 0.825.

Is it a done deal?

The more I think about the Bear Stearns deal, the more I wonder if it will fall apart. After all, this is a merger proposal, and stockholders for both sides have to approve the deal. And, even with approval of the majority, minority shareholders of Bear Stearns can file an action if they believe they are being forced out at less than "fair value." It's clear that as recently as the close of business last Friday (after it was well known that Bear Stearns had a massive liquidity problem), the "market" thought Bear's shares were worth over $30.00 each. Now, of course, information may have come out in the review of Bear's books over the weekend that showed the market to be wrong, but it seems unlikely that, short of massive fraud, the market could have been wrong by a factor of more than 15 fold. Absent a massive fraud, the prevailing market price is ordinarily taken as the best starting point for assessing fair value. My guess is that Bear's shareholders could make a pretty persuasive case that the company is worth more than JP Morgan Chase is paying for it.

If that's the case, the shareholders might well vote against the merger and kill the deal. Where does that leave things? Frankly, I don't know. There aren't many drawing boards left to go back to.

Successful endeavor

Said Cheney from Iraq today,

If you look back on those five years it has been a difficult, challenging but nonetheless successful endeavor ... and it has been well worth the effort," Cheney told a news conference in Baghdad after meeting Iraqi leaders.

Said Mrs. Walldon, "He's talking about the bottom line at Halliburton, KBR, and Cheney & Co,"


Even for Bush, this news from Talking Points Memo is truly unbelievable:

You'll be happy to know that the Los Angeles US Attorney's office, where the (endlessly) on-going investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) is being handled, has decided to shut down its public corruption unit.

Will they condescend to use English when they ask where the train station is?

Apropos of Walldon’s post earlier about the dollar and the Swiss franc: with the dollar fast descending towards third world status at half a Euro, it won’t be long before European tourists start flooding this country. We, of course, will be lucky if we can spare a dime for a few days in the mountains, the beach – that’s the Catskills and the Jersey shore, not St. Moritz or Cancun, mind you – or the north woods. I can see pine paneling coming back big time. With two-star hotel rooms in Paris soon going for $500 or more per night, the Grand Tour for Americans will be left strictly to college kids willing to backpack, do their big city splurges in hostels, and subsist on baguettes, cheese and screw-cap wine.

So will the middle and lower middle class Europeans who can see America for next to nothing deign to make an effort at least to say "Hello," "Have a nice day!!!" and "Do you speak (fill in the blank)?" in our language? Or will they stand there and start shouting louder in Catalan or Finnish when we don’t get what they’re asking? OK, so turnabout certainly would be fair play, but at least a few of us tried back in the day. And they actually know it anyway. We were a great power once, and we are very proud of our language. Making the effort is something I, for one, would appreciate. You know, like answer with a smile and stuff.

Was it George Bush the Elder who talked about the “New World Order”? He was right, but I doubt if this is what he imagined, or who would be the most instrumental in making it happen.

Third rate economy

As of a few minutes ago, the dollar was worth slightly less than one Swiss Franc. I believe this is the first time in history that the Swiss franc is worth more than the dollar. The last time I was in Geneva, the franc was worth about 60 US cents.

The global crisis spreads

From CNBC:

The Bank of England's emergency offer of 5 billion pounds of 3-day loans was nearly five times oversubscribed on Monday as financial institutions scrambled for cash in the face of a global credit crunch.

The central bank's "exceptional" offer was a direct result of much tighter money market conditions and was aimed at bringing overnight interest rates down after a spike higher in the wake of the firesale of U.S. investment bank Bear Stearns.

"It was very heavily bid which is not surprising given the overnight bank rate," said Russell Silberston at Investec Asset Management.

"It underlines how determined central banks are to keep some sort of order in the short-dated cash markets."

Overnight sterling lending rates in the interbank market shot above 5.5 percent early on Monday, considerably higher than the Bank's base rate of 5.25 percent.

I've got that sinking feeling

I'm sure Atrios will have a big "Wheeeeeeeee" post on the bottom falling out of the markets despite the bailout/demise of Bear Stearns. But, this is getting really scary. Don't get me wrong. The demise of Bear Stearns, by itself, doesn't bother me in the least. They almost certainly deserve everything they're getting. But, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and the Fed knows this or it wouldn't have waded into the quicksand full steam ahead like this. (Can you wade into quicksand full steam ahead? I guess that's a mixed metaphor). It strikes me that much of what the Fed is doing right now is outside the scope of its powers, but I doubt too many people will complain. After all, it's the viability of the world financial system that's at stake. If it crumbles in ruins, I doubt anyone has any idea how to rebuild it.

Somehow, this is beginning to make Jared Diamond's book Collapse look more and more prescient. There, he attributes one of the factors that brings on societal collapse is interdependencies between and among cultures that fail. The early settlers on Pitcairn Island, for instance, were dependent on trade with nearby islands. When those trade links were broken, the Pitcairners died out through starvation.

If you think of how the world economy is almost totally dependent on the world financial system, the collapse of that system has the potential to wipe out much of the world economy, and perhaps civilization (whatever that is) with it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The foundations are crumbling

If a deal for Bear Stearns doesn't come down tomorrow, the company may be kaput:

Department heads at Bear Stearns met with officials at J.C. Flowers and JPMorgan Chase Saturday afternoon to give an overview of their business divisions, including headcount and profit and loss positions, CNBC has learned.

The discussions indicate that potential bidders for Bear have been narrowed to those two firms, although other last minute contenders could still weigh in, according to one source aware of the talks.

While Bear would certainly like more bidders, time has become a major issue for the investment bank.

On Friday Bear Stearns, the fifth largest U.S. investment bank, said a cash crunch forced it to turn to the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan for emergency funds, intensifying fears of a widening global credit crisis and driving its shares down as much as 50 percent. It also stepped up efforts to find a buyer.

On the same day S&P lowered its long-term counterparty credit rating on Bear to "BBB" from "A," and it placed long-and short term ratings on credit watch with negative implications.

Because of that S&P downgrade, bankers have now come to the conclusion that a deal must be done by Monday morning because no one on the street will trade or lend to Bear Stearns, which is rated a notch above junk bond levels. If the downgrade hadn't happened, Bear management would have had more time to work the Street for a deal, sources said.

Look out below!

Chicago Trib exonerates Obama

From the Trib:

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama waited 16 months to attempt the exorcism. But when he finally sat down with the Tribune editorial board Friday, Obama offered a lengthy and, to us, plausible explanation for the presence of now-indicted businessman Tony Rezko in his personal and political lives.
The most remarkable facet of Obama's 92-minute discussion was that, at the outset, he pledged to answer every question the three dozen Tribune journalists crammed into the room would put to him. And he did.

Along the way he confronted the starkest innuendo that has dogged him and his campaign for the presidency: the suggestion that the purchase of an adjacent lot by Rezko's wife subtly subsidized the Obamas' purchase of their home on Chicago's South Side. "This notion that somehow I got a discount and Rezko overpaid is simply not true ... simply, factually, incorrect," Obama said Friday, adding that he didn't need any intervention from Rezko to grease the purchase of the house.

Hanging chads?

When you can't win the regular way, Bush has taught us how to try to win by challenging the system, and Clinton, following in his hoof prints has learned too:

As final results from the Texas Democratic caucus remain unknown, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign wants signatures from the March 4 contest verified before party conventions are held around the state later this month.

In a letter sent to the state Democratic Party late Friday, the Clinton campaign requests the March 29 count and state Senate district conventions be postponed until the eligibility of an estimated 1 million caucus-goers are double checked.

The Clinton campaign wrote they received more than 2,000 complaints of violations following the historic Texas turnout, which was perhaps the nation's largest caucus ever.

The automa ... delegates

Via Josh Marshall, I learn that Clinton is trying to push the press to stop calling the Super delegates super delegates and to call them automatic delegates instead -- she thinks it sounds less like she's stealing the nomination if the automatic delegates do it automatically. I suppose the real term she's hoping for is the automaton delegates, controlled entirely by husband Bill at the DLC.

Second best

Via Juan Cole:

I can still remember, as a child, the other children on the playground boasting that the US was the greatest country in the world, and the pride we all took from that. Predictably, George H. W. Bush's cokehead son has managed to reduce the US to the second largest economy after the eurozone. Bush was second best all his life, and has managed to make America second best.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fiddle while Rome burns


WASHINGTON - President Bush on Saturday said the government must guard against going too far in trying to fix the troubled economy, cautioning that "one of the worst things you can do is overcorrect." Democrats said Bush was relying on inaction to solve the problem.

Actually, one of the worst things you can do is fiddle while Rome burns.

By the way, Beware the Ides of March!

Bailing out the big boys

Over at AmericaBlog, Chris in Paris says this:

The banking system that is tumbling was designed and built together with the GOP. They can sit silent but they own this. McCain and his friends own this. This is what they wanted and there is no reason why US taxpayers ought to keep funding their mistakes. Shouldn't we treat Wall Street the way Wall Street and the GOP treat America's poor? Let them pick themselves up with their own bootstraps. Let them dig themselves out of the hole they dug form themselves. We can't afford a war plus a tanking economy plus a bailout for Wall Street. If that means the market will decided (as they always prefer) then so be it. Don't come crying and asking for cash now that the system they wanted is failing. Tough luck.

While I sympathize with his distaste for bailing out the banking system, I also think we have no choice but to bail it out. It's too important to all of us to let it collapse. As I've mentioned before, if the system crashes, we would have no way to get money or to pay for anything. The whole economy would come crashing down on us. Banks would be closed, ATMs wouldn't work, credit cards would be worthless, stocks and bonds would be worthless. Try to imagine living in a barter economy. With nobody to buy their goods, companies would shut their doors and send their employees home without pay. It's a nightmare scenario, and we're very close to falling into it. So, let's hope and pray that the Fed is able to prevent a domino effect of bank closings.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Illegal stuff just fine in Bush's world

Illegal intelligence activities can't be criticized anymore according to Bush:

WASHINGTON - Almost 32 years to the day after President Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority.

The White House did not say why it was necessary to change the rules governing the board when it issued Bush's order late last month. But critics say Bush's order is consistent with a pattern of steps by the administration that have systematically scaled back Watergate-era intelligence reforms.

Before Bush's change, the Board was required to refer apparently illegal activities to the Justice Department for prosecution. Now, they are not allowed to make such referrals. Of course, this may not make much practical difference, since Bush has ordered the Justice Department not to prosecute anything (except Democrats) anyway.

Three cheers

All I can say is three cheers to the House Democrats for passing the FISA bill without telecom immunity. Now, it goes directly back to the Senate, where who knows what the Senate Dems will do? Jay Rockefeller says he wants total immunity. In the meantime, Bush, who claims that every minute we are without a bill we risk total destruction, says he will veto it if it doesn't have immunity for the telecoms. Obviously, the telecoms are more important than the Americans.

The bank failures begin

The other day I painted a pretty bleak picture of the dangers facing our financial system, including the possibility of a failure of one or more of the major Wall Street houses. It seems that has just about come to pass:

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve invoked a rarely used Depression-era procedure Friday to bolster troubled Bear Stearns Cos. and said it will provide even more help to combat a serious credit crisis.

In a move that reminds one of the robber baron days, J.P. Morgan was part of the bailout plan for Bear Stearns. This plan works for only a month, so one wonders what happens when the month comes to an end.


If this thing over what the minister of his church said ruins Obama’s candidacy, that effectively means no African-American, by reason of having associated with others who are angry about the racism in America, can ever run for President. Nobody but nobody has ever made a stronger effort at genuine racial reconciliation than Obama. Meanwhile, nobody seriously tries to force McCain out over the hateful speech of Rev. Hagee, whom McCain actually embraced in the course of his campaign. All Democrats, including Hillary supporters, indeed, all decent Americans, need to circle the wagons on this one. It is ridiculous.

Erasing the last eight years

From the Washington Post:

The Environmental Protection Agency weakened one part of its new limits on smog-forming ozone after an unusual last-minute intervention by President Bush, according to documents released by the EPA.

On reading this, Mrs. Walldon said that the first thing the new (hopefully) Democratic President should do upon taking office is to reverse by executive decree every policy that was put in place by Bush during the preceding eight years. None of this one at a time, pick and chose crap. Just reverse it all, instantly and move forward from there.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

On the economic front

From the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. has finally slid into recession, according to the majority of economists in the latest Wall Street Journal economic-forecasting survey, a view that was reinforced by new data showing a sharp drop in retail sales last month.

"The evidence is now beyond a reasonable doubt," said Scott Anderson of Wells Fargo & Co., who was among the 71% of 51 respondents to say that the economy is now in a recession.

Mark Penn

Why she keeps this man on her staff is beyond me:

Though the campaign later argued that he hadn't said it, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief campaign strategist [Mark Penn] told reporters this morning that Sen. Barack Obama "can't win the general election."

… Later, a reporter asks what he meant. Clinton campaign communications chief Howard Wolfson jumps in to say that "Mark did not say that."

Then Penn says that if Obama doesn't win the Pennsylvania primary, it "raises serious questions" about whether he can win the general election.

Cooking the books

We all knew that the Guantanamo Military tribunals were kangaroo courts, so it's no great surprise that the government is simply making up evidence to crucify the detainees:

A U.S. military commander altered a report on a firefight in Afghanistan to cast blame for the death of a Delta Force commando on a Canadian youth who was captured after the shooting stopped, a defense attorney said Thursday.

The attorney, Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, made the allegation at a pretrial hearing as he argued for access to the officer, identified only as "Col. W," as well as details about interrogations that he said might help clear his client of war-crimes charges.

The U.S. military has charged Omar Khadr with murder for throwing a grenade that killed Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer during a U.S. military raid on July 27, 2002, on an al-Qaida compound in eastern Afghanistan. Khadr's case is on track to be the first to go to trial under a military tribunal system at this U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Just keep on cheating us, we love to be cheated

The Bush administration just loves it when Haliburton and it's friends and relations cheat us blind:

The White House has indicated it will not remove a loophole quietly inserted into a budget rule which allows contractors abroad to keep silent if they observe fraud or abuse on US government contracts.

The proposed rule, put forth by the White House Office of Management and Budget last year, exempts all companies who do work overseas from a new regulation requiring US contractors to report waste, fraud or abuse they encounter while doing work for the government.

Somehow, I picture a long hose running from the cheating contractors' directly into Dick Cheney's pocket. Of course, there's a large laundry somewhere along the way, but all the hoses come in from the Haliburton, KBR, Blackwater types and there's only one hose coming out of the laundry, direct to Cheney's pocket.

Obama's former pastor

I've watched this film of an anti-white rant by Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor, and I'm not sure what I think. On the whole, I find I agree with almost everything he says. Yet, the tone of it and the sound of it are likely to come across as very racist to many whites who might otherwise entertain the idea of voting for Obama. On the whole, I think this is very, very bad for Obama's campaign -- particularly with Pennsylvania -- a state with a redneck underbelly -- coming up as a major factor.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

That sinking feeling

The Dollar vs. the Euro:

A brief comment on the economy

Most of the press is acting as if the real danger we face in the economy is the danger of a recession. I think this misses the real risk we are facing right now. If the various actions taken by the Fed don't work (and there's real doubt they will) and if massive further actions aren't adopted, there is a real risk that one or two major Wall Street banks might actually fail -- say, for instance, Citibank and Merrill Lynch. If that should happen, the FDIC and SIPC would be overwhelmed, and there would probably be a collapse of the entire banking system. You wouldn't be able to withdraw funds from your bank; you wouldn't be able to cash checks; you wouldn't be able to sell stocks and bonds; your credit cards would be worthless -- the entire system would be frozen, not unlike the bank holiday in 1933. That's the real danger we face right now, and I don't have a great deal of confidence that the Bush Administration will take any positive steps to prevent it. Their ideology tells them to keep government from messing with the market, even when the market fails.

This probably won't happen, but I think this is far more on the minds of the Fed than preventing a recession. Recession would be an minor problem compared to this scenario.

Just a personal note: I haven't decided to cash out all my stock and bond holdings and my bank accounts, buy gold, and store it under the mattress yet, but I have thought about it.

Leadership is needed

Victor Hugo, then a representative of the French National Assembly, speaking to other legislators in hiding on the occasion of the coup d'etat by Louis-Napolean Bonaparte in 1851:

I painted the picture ... : the Constitution thrown into the gutter; the Assembly driven to prison with the butt-end of a musket, the Council of State dispersed; the High Court expelled by a galley-sergeant, a manifest beginning of victory for Louis Bonaparte, Paris ensnared in the army as though in a net; bewilderment everywhere, all authority overthrown; all compacts annulled; two things only remained standing, the _coup d'etat_ and ourselves.

"Ourselves! and who are we?"

"We are," said I, "we are Truth and Justice! We are the supreme and sovereign power, the People incarnate--Right!"

I continued,--

"Louis Bonaparte at every minute which elapses advances a step further in his crime. For him nothing is inviolable, nothing is sacred; this morning he violated the Palace of the Representatives of the Nation, a few hours later he laid violent hands on their persons; to-morrow, perhaps in a few moments, he will shed their blood. Well then! he marches upon us, let us march upon him. The danger grows greater, let us grow greater with the danger."

A movement of assent passed through the Assembly. I continued,--

"I repeat and insist. Let us show no mercy to this wretched Bonaparte for any of the enormities which his outrage contains. As he has drawn the wine--I should say the blood--he must drink it up. We are not individuals, we are the Nation. Each of us walks forth clothed with the Sovereignty of the people. He cannot strike our persons without rending that. Let us compel his volleys to pierce our sashes as well as our breasts. This man is on a road where logic grasps him and leads him to parricide. What he is killing in this moment is the country! Well, then! when the ball of Executive Power pierces the sash of Legislative Power, it is visible parricide! It is this that must be understood!"

"We are quite ready!" they cried out. "What measures would you advise us to

"No half measures," answered I; "a deed of grandeur! To-morrow--if we leave here this night--let us all meet in the Faubourg St. Antoine."

They interposed, "Why the Faubourg St. Antoine?"

"Yes," resumed I, "the Faubourg St. Antoine! I cannot believe that the heart of the People has ceased to beat there. Let us all meet to-morrow in the Faubourg St. Antoine. Opposite the Lenoir Market there is a hall which was used by a club in 1848."

They cried out to me, "The Salle Roysin."

"That is it," said I, "The Salle Roysin. We who remain free number a hundred and twenty Republican Representatives. Let us install ourselves in this hall. Let us install ourselves in the fulness and majesty of the Legislative Power. Henceforward we are the Assembly, the whole of the Assembly! Let us sit there, deliberate there, in our official sashes, in the midst of the People. Let us summon the Faubourg St. Antoine to its duty, let us shelter there the National Representation, let us shelter there the popular sovereignty. Let us intrust the People to the keeping of the People. Let us adjure them to protect themselves. If necessary, let us order them!"

... in the midst of the dauntless throng of workmen of that great district of Paris, enclosed in the Faubourg as in a fortress, being both Legislators and Generals, multiplying and inventing means of defence and of attack, launching Proclamations and unearthing the pavements, employing the women in writing out placards while the men are fighting, we will issue a warrant against Louis Bonaparte, we will issue warrants against his accomplices, we will declare the military chiefs traitors, we will outlaw in a body all the crime and all the criminals, we will summon the
citizens to arms, we will recall the army to duty, we will rise up before Louis Bonaparte, terrible as the living Republic, we will fight on the one hand with the power of the Law, and on the other with the power of the People, we will overwhelm this miserable rebel, and will rise up above his head both as a great Lawful Power and a great Revolutionary Power!"

While speaking I became intoxicated with my own ideas. My enthusiasm communicated itself to the meeting. They cheered me. I saw that I was becoming somewhat too hopeful, that I allowed myself to be carried away, and that I carried them away, that I presented to them success as possible, as even easy, at a moment when it was important that no one should entertain an illusion. The truth was gloomy, and it was my duty to tell it. I let silence be re-established, and I signed with my hand that I had a last word to say. I then resumed, lowering my voice,--

"Listen, calculate carefully what you are doing. On one side a hundred thousand men, seventeen harnessed batteries, six thousand cannon-mouths in the forts, magazines, arsenals, ammunition sufficient to carry out a Russian campaign; on the other a hundred and twenty Representatives, a thousand or twelve hundred patriots, six hundred muskets, two cartridges per man, not a drum to beat to arms, not a bell to sound the tocsin, not a printing office to print a Proclamation; barely here and there a lithographic press, and a cellar where a hand-bill can be hurriedly and furtively printed with the brush; the penalty of death against any one who unearths a paving stone, penalty of death against any one who would enlist in our ranks, penalty of death against any one who is found in a secret meeting, penalty of death against any one who shall post up an appeal to arms; if you are taken during the combat, death; if you are taken after the combat, transportation or exile; on the one side an army and a Crime; on the other a handful of men and Right. Such is this struggle. Do you accept it?"

A unanimous shout answered me, "Yes! yes!"

Would that our own representatives would show similar fortitude in the face of similar threats. Of course, it didn't do them any good. Louis became emperor of France and remained so for many years.

They should be thanking us for letting them sit at the back of the bus

Geraldine Ferraro:

"The spin on the words has been that somehow I was addressing the his qualifications. I was not," Ferraro said Wednesday on ABC's Good Morning America. "I was celebrating the fact that the black community in this country came out with a pride in a historic candidacy, and has shown itself at the polls. You'd think he'd say, 'Yeah thank you for doing that. ... we want to say thank you to the community.' Instead I'm charged with being a racist."

She just gets worse and worse, and I'm certain this is all being orchestrated at Hillary Central. We all know that Pennsylvania is likely to buy this "he's the candidate of the black community" crap hook, line, and sinker.

Don't mess with U.S.

Hmmmmm. I'm sure this was just an unfortunate accident (wink, wink):

A city police chief who led an investigation into charges that Britain cooperated with secret CIA flights to transport terrorism suspects without formal proceedings has been found dead, his deputy said Tuesday.

Manchester Chief Constable Michael Todd, 50, was found dead in Snowdonia, about 240 miles northwest of London, Deputy Chief Constable Dave Whatton said. He had been missing since going out for a walk Monday during his day off.

Whatton said the body, which was found Tuesday afternoon, had not yet been formally identified but he believed it was Todd.

Move right along. Nothing to see here.

Feeling my age

I just read this quip from one of Andrew Tobias' readers, and it reminded me how old I'm getting:

“I had a conversation just last week with two college students who wanted to know what the ‘cc:’ in their email program stood for. I explained that it stood for ‘carbon copy,’ and then had to explain what carbons were and how you used them in a typewriter. I had just started describing the smell of freshly mimeographed, still-damp handouts in grade school when I decide to shut up. Some things just don’t translate well to the 21st Century.”

Spitzer resigns

It's a terrible shame it had to come to this, but it had to come to this. Spitzer's a Democrat.

Of course, when Republicans like David Vitter do the same thing, nobody cares. They have a "get out of jail free" card.

Give a favor to my friend or we'll have the government screw you

From the Washington Post:

After Philadelphia's housing director refused a demand by President Bush's housing secretary to transfer a piece of city property to a business friend, two top political appointees at the department exchanged e-mails discussing the pain they could cause the Philadelphia director.

"Would you like me to make his life less happy? If so, how?" Orlando J. Cabrera, then-assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wrote about Philadelphia housing director Carl R. Greene.

"Take away all of his Federal dollars?" responded Kim Kendrick, an assistant secretary who oversaw accessible housing. She typed symbols for a smiley-face, ":-D," at the end of her January 2007 note.

Cabrera wrote back a few minutes later: "Let me look into that possibility."

The e-mails, obtained by The Washington Post, came to light as a result of a lawsuit provoked by HUD's decision last September to strip the Philadelphia Housing Authority of as much as $50 million in federal funds. In December, it declared the agency in violation of rules that underpin its ability to decide precisely how it will spend federal housing funds. Kendrick was the official who formally notified the authority that she had found it in violation.

HUD has argued publicly that this decision was not related to the demands by HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson that Greene turn over a $2 million vacant city lot to Kenny Gamble, a friend of Jackson's. HUD officials have said that Greene was not punished for his defiance.

No, of course they weren't related. Nor was the fact that we prosecuted Governor Siegleman for nothing and got him thrown in jail related in any way to the fact that he was a Democrat. Nor were any of the US Attorney firings related in any way to the fact that they wouldn't harass Democrats or fail to harass Republicans on command.

Let's all pray that we become black men

I guess that's the message Hillary wants to communicate.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Theory of Interstellar Trade

For those of you who are both economists and science geeks like me, you may find this gem worth reading. It's a paper Paul Krugman wrote (as a kind of diversion) way back when he was a lowly Assistant Professor at Yale. It's entitled "The theory of Interstellar Trade," and it addresses, among other things, the problem of determining discount rates for investment analysis of the investment in inventory during the long periods of transit between stars, particularly given the fact that, under the special theory of relativity, the length of the trip at nearly light speeds differs markedly depending on your frame of reference (i.e, standing here on earth or riding in the starship).

Telecom immunity?

I'm confused. About half the liberal blogs I read are saying that the Democrats in the House are holding firm on telecom immunity. The other half say the House Democrats have set things up so that telecom immunity is guaranteed to pass. From past behavior, I suspect the latter group are correct, but I don't really know. I'll keep my ear to the ground and wait.

The Commander-in-chief Test

The latest from the Obama campaign:

When your entire campaign is based upon a claim of experience, it is important that you have evidence to support that claim. Hillary Clinton’s argument that she has passed “the Commander- in-Chief test” is simply not supported by her record.

"There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton played an important domestic policy role when she was first lady," Craig continues. "It is well known, for example, that she led the failed effort to pass universal health insurance. There is no reason to believe, however, that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis. As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue -- not at 3 AM or at any other time of day."

Only loyal Bushies, please

It appears that Admiral William Fallon has been fired:

Admiral William Fallon is out as CENTCOM commander.

Fallon has resigned, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a press conference at the Pentagon.

We obviously have to clean the house of all the military who haven't sworn their fealty to Bush in order to clear the way for a clean coup d'etat after the Democrats win in November.

Update: Of course, there will be a war with Iran in the meantime.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Something in the air

So, is it something in the air here in the Northeast? First we lose McGreevey here in New Jersey, and now New York is going to lose Spitzer. I guess we'll have to blame it on all that pollution coming from the Ohio power plants.

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones

But somehow, they always do:

NEW YORK - Gov. Eliot Spitzer apologized to his family and the public on Monday, but did not not elaborate on a bombshell report that he has been involved in a prostitution ring.

"I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family ... my sense of right and wrong," he said at a news conference at his Manhattan office. "I must now dedicate some time to rededicate my trust to my family."

Spitzer's wife stood at his side, her hands behind her back and her eyes cast downward, as he made the statement.

The New York Times reported that a person with knowledge of the governor's role believes the governor is identified as a client in court papers. Four people allegedly connected to a high-end prostitution ring called Emperors Club VIP were arrested last week.

The rumor mill says he's going to resign, which sounds plausible.

You really wonder why a person would seek out the limelight when he has skeletons like this in his closet.

Jay Rock stinks

TPM Muckraker tells us that Jay Rockefeller is prepared to torpedo a House-Senate compromise proposal on the FISA bill that would drop telecom immunity from the bill. Don't you just love how our Democrats are patsies for the telecoms?

Don't look now, but they're still spying on you

No matter that the "Protect America" Act has expired and we are now operating under the old FISA law - the NSA and Bush continue to break the law more and more:

"The central role the NSA has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed," The Wall Street Journal reports on Monday page ones. "But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people's communications, travel and finances in the U.S. than the domestic surveillance programs brought to light since the 2001 terrorist attacks."

Blogging from jail

Or, actually from the jury pool room in Newark, NJ. Much the same thing.

Am I sufficiently prejudiced against every group in the world to keep me off of every jury? Hopefully.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


By the way, if you haven't done it yet, set your clocks ahead one hour. We're now on daylight savings time, courtesy of your friendly idiots inside the beltway.

Pinpoint accuracy

Three cows and a calf:

A US missile strike in Somalia, aimed at a man described by the Pentagon as a "known al-Qa'ida terrorist", succeeded only in hurting six civilians and killing three cows and a calf, the IoS has learned.

I wonder how much those missiles cost us taxpayers.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Negative interest rates

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis tells us that real interest rates have turned negative.

Things are really getting screwed up.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Midas Touch

This story about King Midas and his Midas touch is rather interesting:

After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.

Speak with forked tongue

Somehow, I don't think this is going to go over well with Obama supporters. Perhaps it's just as well that Samantha Powers is gone:

For all the chatter about Obama adviser Samantha Power's calling Clinton a "monster," another set of remarks made on her book tour in the United Kingdom may be equally threatening to the Obama campaign: Comments in a BBC interview that express a lack of confidence that Obama will be able to carry through his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq within 16 months.

"He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator," she said at one point in the interview.

Power downplayed Obama's commitment to quick withdrawal from Iraq on Hard Talk, a program that often exceeds any of the U.S. talk shows in the rigor of its grillings. She was challenged on Obama's Iraq plan, as it appears on his website, which says that Obama "will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months."

"What he’s actually said, after meting with the generals and meeting with intelligence professionals, is that you – at best case scenario – will be able to withdraw one to two combat brigades each month. That’s what they’re telling him. He will revisit it when he becomes president," Power says.

Look out below, VI or good news, bad news

Here's the good news:

... the unemployment improved to 4.8% from the 4.9% reading in January.

Here's the bad news:

NEW YORK ( -- Employers made their deepest cut in staffing in in almost five years in February, according to a closely watched government report Friday that showed the labor market far weaker than expected, fueling already building recession fears.

There was a net loss of 63,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department, which is the biggest decline since March 2003 and weaker than the revised 22,000 job loss reported for January. Economists surveyed by had forecast a gain of 25,000 jobs in the most recent reading.

Economists had been forecasting job growth of 25,000 jobs and a rise in the unemployment rate to 5.0%.

The world is very, very strange in the Bush Universe. In that universe, unemployment drops when people lose their jobs and rises when they get their jobs back. Of course, the US doesn't use torture either.

Chelsea for President in 2016

I was peering into my crystal ball last night while deep in sleep and saw a vision of things to come. Once her mother finishes her second term, Chelsea will be 36 years old and, hence, qualified to run for president.

Of course, by that time, there will be plenty of Bushlets available too.

As Louis Armstrong said, "Oh, what a wonderful world."

Clinton endorses McCain

I can certainly understand why Hillary wants to paint herself as qualified and Obama as unqualified, but why in God's name is she supporting McCain by saying he's qualified too? It makes no sense. It makes it harder for her to win against McCain if she's the candidate, and it makes it almost impossible for Obama to win if he's the candidate.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hero worship

For those who think Brian Williams and the rest of the NBC news crowd are fair and balanced.

And this doesn't even tap the recent stuff The Daily Howler has done on these appointees hand picked for NBC by right-wing Republican Robert Welch.

It's going to be a tough row to hoe.

I don't get it

One big question I have about last night. Since when has Clinton become the anti-NAFTA candidate? After all, it was her husband who went to the mat to push it through Congress, and both he and Hillary supported it and similar agreements throughout Bill's presidency.

Yes, I understand there was this recent flap about Obama and the Canadians, but it seems to me that the Canadians have said there was nothing to that. Of course, the US press doesn't seem to want to hear that -- they want the Hillary-Obama fight to continue. It's gets attention. But, was that big enough and did enough people hear about it to really make the difference? I just don't get it.

Read and weep

If you aren't worried yet about the total collapse of the world financial system, read this and weep.

Ah yes, I guess I also have to admit that something happened last night. My biggest question is why Ohio is so strange. And even now, they run out of ballots. I was born and raised there, but I don't get it.