Archive for the ‘J’ Category
April 24, 2009 – Friday
Category: News and Politics
“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender”
“If you have lions and zebras, and the lions are eating too many zebras, you can’t tell the lions to stop eating too many zebras. You have to build a fence, the lions won’t build one themselves.”
A ditty I read somewhere that I can’t find
1. The practice of lending money and charging the borrower interest, especially at an exorbitant or illegally high rate.
2. An excessive or illegally high rate of interest charged on borrowed money.
3. Archaic. Interest charged or paid on a loan.
“What do Hammurabi, Plato, Charlemagne, Dante and Queens Mary and Elizabeth have in common? They all condemned, outlawed or regulated the charging of interest on loans. In fact, until the early 1900s interest rates in the United States were kept at or near 10%. And until 1979, loan laws provided some interest rate cap in every state.
Then everything changed. Governments and banks put profits before people. And now the lending industry is spiraling out of control.”
James M. Ackerman, Interest Rates and the Law: A History of Usury, 1981, Arizona St. L.J.61 (1981)
1978 – The US Supreme Court decides that national banks may export the state interest rate law of their home state into any state where they do business. In response, South Dakota eliminates its interest rate caps. Several credit card issuing banks move to South Dakota and operate nationally with no interest rate cap.
We have gone from two types of lending in our society, legal lending, and illegal loan sharking.
Now we have many kinds, but in general I like to break them down to these three:
1. Bank lending, mortgages, car loans, business loans …
2. Credit Cards
3. Payday loans (AKA Legal Loan Sharking)
Back to history:
1980 – South Dakota’s economy was a mess. So was Citibank (Hmmmm), and they called on South Dakota. The bank had lost more than $1 billion on its audacious foray into the credit card business, and the future looked even worse. The trouble, simply put, was that the rate of inflation exceeded the amount of interest Citibank was allowed to charge its credit card customers under New York usury laws.
But the bankers saw opportunity and salvation in the plains of South Dakota. Within days of those first phone calls, a team of top executives arrived from New York with a proposal for Mr. Janklow: If South Dakota would quickly pass legislation that would enable Citibank to move its credit card operations to the state, they would bring hundreds of high-paying white collar jobs to the state.
The unlikely alliance would clear the way for Citibank to turn a money-losing credit card operation into a vastly profitable business. “All of their senior people used to say it,” Mr. Janklow said. “That South Dakota saved Citibank. I believe it did. That South Dakota saved Citibank.”
What was once offered to only the best customers was being offered to everyone. The saying used to be, the loan must be paid, in 1980 it became, just keep paying on the loan. And since then, that’s what most of us do, every month, month in, and month out. Talk about a money maker.
I’m not sure if you realize this, or not, but the profit of lending money is so high, that we, Americans, have gone from being a country that investes in manufacturing to a country that invests in finances. If you think NAFTA killed manufacturing, it was already dead.
And with money, comes power, political power. Why haven’t loop holes in credit card lending been fixed? Lobbying! Money!
Today Obama met with credit card lenders, and laid down the line. Since the crash last year credit card companies have been jacking up rates. Why? They can. They can even jack it up on past due amounts. So, if you are charged one percent this month, next month they change what you owed last month.
Read that again, and tell me how that is legal. It is!
Here’s another one. Let’s say you have a $5,000 credit limit on your card. You’ve been trying to pay down your card, you’re unsure about you job, so you have your card down to $3,000. You get a letter in the mail telling you that your limit has just been dropped to $1,500, you owe $1,500 RIGTH NOW!
You don’t have it, you’ve been paying $300 a month, and think you can go a little higher, but not $1,500 RIGHT NOW.
From that day forward you will be charged a penalty on what you owe above your limit, and your interest rates will probably go up 36%. With penalties, more like 56%.
This is legal right now.
I am glad that Obama is getting involved. There is a bill that just passed the House, and the Senate has a bill ready as well.
What do you think? Should we be protected from usury? Has the finaincial industry destroyed manufacturing?
April 23, 2009 – Thursday
Befehl ist Befehl UPDATE: Final – Taxi to the Dark Side
Category: News and Politics
The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was “only following orders” (“Befehl ist Befehl”, literally “order is order”) and is therefore not responsible for his crimes. The defense was most famously employed during the Nuremberg Trials, after which it is named.
Before the end of World War II, the Allies suspected such a defense might be employed, and issued the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which specifically stated that this was not a valid defense against charges of war crimes.
Thus, under Nuremberg Principle IV, “defense of superior orders” is not a defense for war crimes, although it might influence a sentencing authority to lessen the penalty. Nuremberg Principle IV states:
“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
This defense is still used often, however, reasoning that an unlawful order presents a dilemma from which there is no legal escape. One who refuses an unlawful order will still probably be jailed for refusing orders, and one who accepts one will probably be jailed for committing unlawful acts, in a Catch-22 dilemma.
I have been watching all of the torture talk the last few days, it brings back all the talk over the Bush years. Cheney’s desire to “Go to the dark side”, Rumsfeld’s torture memo, a few bad apples, dripping water on people’s faces, Saddam and Al Qaeda enemies, but working together, …
In essence, this is what has come out thus far. After 911, people were scooped up in Afghanistan and else where, and they were interigated. Several died in custody.
Within weeks of 911 the CIA started using “enhanced techniques” that included, but was not limited to, waterboarding, electrodes on genitals, sleep deprivation for many days. A few months later, the “enhanced techniques” were run through lawyers in the Whitehouse, and the DOJ resulting in memos that were released days ago.
Essentially, these letters were used to justify what has been accepted through history, and through conventions which are signatories of. This was an attempt to legalize torture. It did not start at the bottom, the few bad apples, it started at the top.
Note, I wonder how badly Saddam wishes he had gotten a legal decision to approve gassing the Kurds. He might be in Miami today playing golf.
At least two Al Qaeda suspects were water boarded over a hundred times each in a month. I know what you are asking, if it works, why does it take hundreds of times, and after a few times, wouldn’t you think the suspect would say anything?
I don’t want to entertain what Cheney is trying to prove, and it seems most Republicans are also trying to prove, that the end justified the means. Or that the “enhanced techniques” provided evidence. The reason I don’t want to entertain it is that the end does not justify the means. Morals 101!
The most common example used is that one of KSM’s many supposed admitances (waterboarded 183 times in a single month, do you have brain cells left after being drowned 183 times in a month?) the planned attack in Los Angles. The problem with this is that the plot was broken up, if it ever really was a “GO” plot, a year before KSM was captured. But why be mindful of details, and why argue that torture is ever right.
Then perhaps the most outrageous part was what McClatchy reported:
“for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were…demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq…(former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi” and these techniques were seen as the quickest way to make the connection.
So, how many people were tortured, some to death, to prove what was not true, that Al Qaeda, and Iraq, two enemies who were actually working together.
Oh, and these techniques were perfected by the likes of Chinese Communist forces during the Korean War, and Pol Pot the de facto leader of Cambodia in mid-1975. One of Pol’s waterobarding devices is on display in the genocide museum.
Note, we should never forget about the Spanish Inquisition… or that some how this makes Obama a fascist?
I suggest that you all get on the right side of this issue. I know that when I was in the military, and went through military education, and throughout my career we were always taught that in part, if you are ever captured you give your name, number and rank. That is it. Sure, you’ll get a hard time, but in the end, you will be enprisoned until the end of the war, and treated humainly. That is what we signed up to do, and that is what we were supposed to do.
How can we ever be that shinning city on the hill, if we torture people?
The Junta Party
This analogy isn’t close to being complete. And it doesn’t match up at every point. But where it does connect, it’s so spot-on that I must share it with you.
In former Banana Republics, in their post-transition- to-democracy phases, you’ll often have a Junta Party. It’s an opposition party whose main goal isn’t to get elected so much as to maintain the legacy of the former junta regime, defend its record of service to the state and most of all keep its former leaders from being put on trial or shipped off to the Hague. Often the party will be headed up by the former Generals themselves. But if they’re dead or otherwise occupied in the slammer or abroad, maybe you’ll have their relatives or the one-time cronies and lickspittles of this or that el jefe of the old regime filling the leadership roles.
And today, as we watched the on-going parade of Cliff Mays on TV or Dan Burton praising waterboarding as essential to the American dream, Eric Kleefeld pointed out to me that that really is pretty much the role the GOP — at least for the moment — has taken in our present politics.
Yes, Republicans have tried to distance themselves from President Bush’s fiscal profligacy. But on the core value issues of militarism and human rights violations and keeping faith with the war criminals of the previous regime they really couldn’t be more unified or on message. If you were plopped down on earth today in front of a TV set in the United States, on the testimony of the party members themselves, you might easily get the idea that state-sanctioned torture was the main policy legacy of the outgoing administration. Sort of like Democrats looked back on late 90s budget surpluses with a proud defiance in the aftermath of the Clinton years.
I can’t be the only one who this resonates with. Who else has some examples?
April 7, 2009 – Tuesday
Sure, crazy people do crazy things.
Category: News and Politics
“And, of course, when you point out that certain individuals with all their talk about “revolution” and “armed insurrection” are inciting this kind of behavior in unstable people, you will get howls of protest about the 1st Amendment and what not. Sure, crazy people do crazy things. But that doesn’t make it responsible to encourage them, which is what a lot of really foolish people are doing right now for purely political reasons.”
This from the reports of the Saturday Shooting of 3 Pittsburgh Police Officers:
A man opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call Saturday morning, killing three of them, a police official said. Friends said he feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.
Three officers were killed, said a police official at the scene who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Police spokeswoman Diane Richard would only say that at least five officers were wounded, but wouldn’t give any other details.
One friend, Edward Perkovic, said the gunman feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.” Another longtime friend, Aaron Vire, said he feared that President Obama was going to take away his rights, though he said he “wasn’t violently against Obama.”
Perkovic, a 22-year-old who said he was the gunman’s best friend, said he got a call at work from him in which he said, “Eddie, I am going to die today. … Tell your family I love them and I love you.”
Perkovic said: “I heard gunshots and he hung up. … He sounded like he was in pain, like he got shot.”
Vire, 23, said the gunman once had an Internet talk show but that it wasn’t successful. Vire said his friend had an AK-47 rifle and several powerful handguns, including a .357 Magnum.
He feared an Obama gun grab? Gee, I wonder where he could have heard that.
Indeed, a story replete with NRA-style fearmongering about the looming “grab” — which has been fueling a run on guns at local shops — ran just three days ago in the Pittsburgh Tribune.
Over the last few weeks, as most of the country has fomented over AIG Bonuses, the rewarding of failure, the fring right has taken a swift turn to oppose the make believe assult on their guns.
A person sent me a video of a Fox reporter dispelling what Hillary Clinton said about Mexico’s weapons coming from America. She said that 90% of traceable weapons come from the United States, but the Fox reporter notes that only a percentage of the guns are traceable, so those that aren’t must be from somewhere else, like China.
First of all, who cares how many come from the US. The fact is you can’t legally buy weapons in Mexico like you can in America, so we should stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico. No matter if it is 90% or 10%, it’s still against the law.
We have moved to a state where no matter what the gun issue is, it can’t be true, and under all of it remember, Obama wants to take your guns.
Since Obama was elected guns sales have gone through the roof. How many more police killings will we see from this explosion of gun ownership? How many of the fring right will be incited to violence by the crazy ravings of loons like Glenn Beck, or Sean Hannity?
But as the populace movement of pitch fork welding Americans attempts to lynch those that were at the center of the economic crisis, the fring right is fomenting “President Obama’s eeeeevil plans for taking away Americans’ guns — no doubt just the first steps that will eventually lead to eradicating the Second Amendment, rounding up gun owners and placing them in FEMA camps, and installing a blue-helmeted United Nations dictatorship in America.”
Crazy you say, yep, but there are people that believe it. Heck, the guy that shot the police officers in Pittsburg once had an internet radio show. Hmmmm, maybe he was a myspacer too? I can think of a few that fit the profile.
As usual, it’s not the Obama administration that is talking about going after guns, it’s the fring right. Look at Obama’s agenda. See anything about guns? Nope!
I am retired military, and I can tell you, if you want to protect your country, don’t buy an assault weapon, don’t join a militia, join the United States Military.
A student paper in Buffalo manages to ask the pertinent question here:
“It’s all well and good to talk about the sanctity of constitutional rights, but when our constitutional right to possess AK-47s ends up arming a bloodthirsty criminal organization in a neighboring country thanks to the strength of the American business ethic, doesn’t that make us the bad guys?”
“Believe in something — even if it’s wrong. Believe in it!”
April 4, 2009 – Saturday
I’m the President, and you’re not.
Category: News and Politics
This came out from the Politco about the meeting last week between the President and the Bank CEOs. I don’t usually do this, but I am going to quote the whole article. It is a reason to love our President.
Inside Obama’s bank CEOs meeting:
The bankers struggled to make themselves clear to the president of the United States.
Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House state dining room last week, the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees — and, by extension, to themselves.
“These are complicated companies,” one CEO said. Offered another: “We’re competing for talent on an international market.”
But President Barack Obama wasn’t in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation and offered a blunt reminder of the public’s reaction to such explanations. “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.”
“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
The fresh details of the meeting — some never before revealed — come from an account provided to POLITICO by one of the participants. A second source inside the meeting confirmed the details, and two other sources familiar with the meeting offered additional information.
The accounts demonstrate that despite the public comments on both sides that the meeting was cordial, the tone in the room was in fact one of mutual wariness. The titans of finance — men used to being the most powerful man in almost any room — sized up a new president who made clear in ways big and small that he expected them to change their ways.
There were signs from the outset that this was a business event, not a social gathering. At each place around the table sat a single glass of water. No ice. For those who finished their glass, no refills were offered. There was no group photograph taken of the CEOs with the president, which typically happens at ceremonial White House gatherings but not at serious strategy sessions.
“The only way they could have sent a more Spartan message is if they had served bread along with the water,” says a person who attended the meeting. “The signal from Obama’s body language and demeanor was, ‘I’m the president, and you’re not.’”
According to the accounts of sources inside the room, President Obama told the CEOs exactly what he expects from them, and pushed back forcefully when they attempted to defend Wall Street’s legendarily high-paying ways.
March 19, 2009 – Thursday
Gambling with no money
Category: News and Politics
Insurance is a bit of a gamble. If I am an insurance company I am betting that what I insure against will never happen, and if it does, the risk will be spread out amongst other insurers.
So, if you insure homes in fire prone areas in California you had better not be the only insurer, and you had better have insured homes in other areas of the nation, as a nation wide fire or natural disaster is a risk you can accept.
AIG insured the financial markets, almost all of the markets, and they burned down.
If my name is Bernie Madoff, and you gave me all of your money, and I told you I was going to invest it, and pay you interest on your money based on the investments. However, I took the money and paid you interest on the money with the money the next person gave me, and spent the principle instead of investing it, I would be a criminal, and guilty of the largest Ponzi Scheme in history.
If my name is AIG, and I insured your financial transactions, and I told you I was putting money aside to pay for what I insured. However, I took the money you paid me for your insurance, and I gave it to my stock holders, and brilliant employees, not keeping any money to pay for the insured financial transactions, thinking they will never need to be paid, I would be too big to fail and bailed out.
In Bernie’s case, those that invested in him are out their money.
In AIG’s case, those that bought insurance for crappy investments (liar loans to name a huge number of them!!!) are having those insurance policies paid for as those crappy investments fall apart, starting with the Lehman Brothers’ investments. Going on to Goldman Sachs …
AIG entered the unregulated CDS market insuring anything that Wallstreet threw together. Put their AAA rating on those investments through insurance, and are now forced to pay out the losses in the markets.
Sure, the bonuses are wrong, and they should be clawed back, but what the hell was going on on Wallstreet? What was going on at AIG?
Most people would agree that when Lehman Brothers fell, September 15, 2008, the market crashed right along with them. I wonder how far the market would have crashed if AIG went bankrupt? When the true lose is known…
When Lehman Brothers went under the gambler was exposed. What was insured came due, and the gambler had no money. What happens to gamblers with no money? They usually get their legs broken…
I found this gem yesterday. I guess Glenn “Punch me in the face” Beck went on a tear filled gyration on air, ending in this:
“Believe in something — even if it’s wrong. Believe in it!”
Please, believe in something, but make sure it’s right, and stop believing the lies.
February 5, 2009 – Thursday
The Action Americans Need
Category: News and Politics
In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis — the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.
I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long. And because we have, our health-care costs still rise faster than inflation. Our dependence on foreign oil still threatens our economy and our security. Our children still study in schools that put them at a disadvantage. We’ve seen the tragic consequences when our bridges crumble and our levees fail.
Every day, our economy gets sicker — and the time for a remedy that puts Americans back to work, jump-starts our economy and invests in lasting growth is now.
The President of The United States
(Yea, he writes op-ed pieces too)
Barack Obama, yea that guy, wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post today, taking his message to the people. So, not only does our president apologize, he writes op-ed pieces to speak directly to us, the electorate.
He knows how critical this time is for our economy, and the future of our country. Two wars, infrastructure in the worst shape in decades, capital markets collapsed, job loses continue at record pace.
With all of this, the answer I keep hearing from the small loud obstructing party (GOP) is the same we have heard for the last 25 years. Tax cuts!
I actually had a Republican tell me (ok, he claimed to be a libertarian, whatever that one example of tax cuts that work was the Harding-Coolidge tax cuts of the 1920s. Never mind we found ourselves in the great depression within 5 years of passing the cuts. Look at the $1.3 Trillion dollar tax cuts of BushCo, and look where we are now. Look at the Reagan tax cuts, and the recessions we had both in his administration and in Bush I’s.
I watched Representative Barney Franks on Sunday remind us all that no tax break every fixed a bridge, never educated a student, never built a road, never paid a fire fighter, never brought new teachers to education.
Is the congress’ stimulus bill perfect? Hardly! But watch it when it comes out of the Senate. It will have a lot of things cut out, a lot more infrastructure spending, and will gain some support from Republicans. Those that don’t vote for it, well I hope they go home and tell their constituents that they fought hard to NOT bring jobs home, and did all they could to ensure that the rich get richer, and the public web that binds us together crumbles further.
I’m with Obama on this one. I did not like the whole tax mess with several of his appointments, but for the first time in 8 years, the president said “I screwed up”. Wow! There is change in the air, and if you can’t get behind it, get out of the way.
February 2, 2009 – Monday
If Jesus Had a Trillion Dollars
Category: News and Politics
“I think we need to exercise some discipline here and I think it may be time for the President to get a hold of these Democrats in the Senate and House who have rather significant majorities and shake them a little bit and say look, let’s do this the right way.”
“if you started the day Jesus Christ was born and you spent a million dollars every day since then you still would not have spent a trillion dollars.” adding that, “it is more than we have spent on all the wars since 9/11.”
Senator Mitch McConnell Republican Senate Minority Leader
If Jesus had a Trillion Dollars, what would he spend it on? I think that is what Senator McConnell was asking, right?
As I write this, the current cost, Budget Authority for the Iraq War is over $629 Billion dollars, not including interest. Senator McConnell was making a comparison to the stimulus program, which currently sits at $820 Billion. It is well accepted that Iraq alone will cost in real dollars a minimum of $100 Billion a year for at least the next 2 years.
So, if Jesus had a Trillion Dollars, do you think he would spend it on infrastructure, schools, health care, green energy, and tax breaks, at $1 million dollars a day for 2000 years, or would he spend the money invading a nation killing tens of thousands, and maiming hundreds of thousands, all in less than 6 years?
PS: Let’s not remind him that the Bush Tax Cuts which the Republicans rammed through cost over $1.3 Trillion, left us with the lowest job creation ever for a two term administration, and an over all 30% loss in wealth in the stock market, $700 Billion in bail out funds, $ Trillions $ in Fed money, and a real loss in earning of the middle and lower class…
January 26, 2009 – Monday
Category: News and Politics
At the end of last week, President Obama invited Democratic and Republican legislators to the White House to talk about the stimulus package. Hmmm, I don’t remember Bush doing to much inviting, or listening to the other side.
Let’s not put Obama on a pedestal, he did take a swipe at Republicans. In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the proposal he had for the stimulus (don’t tell, more tax breaks?), the president shot back: “I won,” according to aides briefed on the meeting.
A side note on Rep. Cantor’s wife. She works for a privately held bank which just before Bush left office received $267 Million dollars in TARP money. You’ll love this, the bank is called, New York Private Bank and Trust, and bills itself as a “haven for wealthy individuals and families.”
Maybe that’s why Cantor is so big on tax cuts for the rich, they are his constituents and his wife’s employer.
Obama also took a swipe at the hard right in general:
“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,”
Ok, I think I just felt that “tingle up my leg” that Hardball’s Chris Mathews was talking about. Yea, maybe he deserves to be on a pedestal.
I watched all the Sunday news shows. What an interesting round up. Let me share my views, and the views of Jason Linkins from the Huffington Post:
FOX NEWS SUNDAY had John McCain. John doesn’t like the stimulus package. He doesn’t notice that a huge part of it is given in tax cuts exactly the way Obama said he would, as well as tax cuts for small business, which John McCain was for in his run for the president.
No matter, John went on to say that Waterboarding is torture, good for him, but he also said that we should be forward looking. So, if you get pulled over for a traffic violation, and smoky walks up to your window, let him know, “Hey, let’s look forward, and not back. After all, while I’m sitting here on the side of the road I’m not speeding anymore …
Brit Hume believes that we’ll one day realize that “enhanced interrogation techniques” really did help America in the seven years after 9/11. I would like to say that I believe Hume will one day realize that NOT USING these techniques really did help America in the seven years after the first attack on the World Trade Center, and, past that, Presidents should take their Daily Security Briefing seriously. I’d like to believe that, but this is Brit Hume we’re talking about.
FACE THE NATION had VP Joe Biden on for the half hour. Biden was relatively gaff free, but he is so knowledgeable about everything foreign policy. I feel safer now that Dick is gone.
MEET THE PRESS had I believe the best show of the weekend. I really like David Gregory. He had Larry Summers, and John Boehner (Boner) on the show, but not at the same time. That would have been a real show.
Remember, Boehner (Boner) said last week, after the Obama meeting:
“You know, I’m concerned about the size of the package. And I’m concerned about some of the spending that’s in there, [about] … how you can spend hundreds of millions on contraceptives,”
“How does that stimulate the economy?”
So a guy named Boehner (Boner) is concerned about the package size, and wonders how contraceptives stimulate? Lol!
Back to the show, Summers really lays out what the Obama administration is going to try to do. The reason why all the money won’t be spent in 18 months is because the way the economy is going we will need stimulus for years beyond 2010.
Boehner (Boner) wants more tax breaks, you know because they have worked so well over the last 8 years, and questions giving so much of the money to the states. I’m not sure about this, but by states, aren’t they talking about the 50 states we, you and I, live in?
Summers wants the Bush Tax Cuts to go away, sooner rather than later. Why? We can’t afford it, and it hasn’t done anything for the economy. Remember, thus far Bush’s tax cuts have cost the treasury over $1.3 trillion dollars.
Gregory, points out says that Americans aren’t spending or borrowing, they are saving their money, and doesn’t that make the government the spender of last resort? Boehner says no: “If you give the taxpayer back more of what they’ll earn, they’ll either save it, spend it, or invest it, all of which are good for the economy.” THIS ELIDES OVER THE QUESTION GREGORY ASKED IN THE FIRST PLACE. Americans will ONLY SAVE THAT MONEY. And that is a good idea! For the individual American! But it doesn’t defibrillate the economy. Also, it just proves that individual Americans are not going to eschew their own self-interest to save the economy, either.
I’ll break it down in short hand. Boehner (Boner) wants tax breaks, put money back in peoples hands, but not poor or middle class people, though they will spend it quickly. Summers spelled out tax breaks for the middle/lower classes, and for small businesses. Summers also spelled out spending programs on infrastructure, green energy, and other investments in America.
ABC This Week had Nancy Pelosi on. I am happy to hear her put bipartisanship in context. She doesn’t seem to care too much about what the Republicans want. She has allowed them to put forward ideas to be voted on, but beyond that, ummm, they need to get real. There is a reason the Republicans are not in power any more. Their ideas have not changed, though the current conditions have.
The round table was most interesting. George had Carly Fiorina, Paul Krugman, George Will, Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson. I love to hear Krugman straighten out Carly and Will on economics, neither seemed to understand that the banks in America are grossly over leveraged.
Yes, we have put tons of cash in the banks, but they are still over leveraged, and until that changes they will not lend money, they will instead beef up their leverage. Plus, if we want to tell the banks what to do, we need to nationalize them not buy stock that has not vote.
Which leads to my theory on the economy, I believe even more strongly now than ever, that we should have taken the first $350 billion dollars should have been put in individual’s bank accounts for one year before the money could be removed. That way the banks get the leverage, and the tax payer gets to keep the money in the end.
That’s my round up, in addition to the great week our nation had, I am very hopeful that things have changed for the good, finally!!!
January 16, 2009 – Friday – 7:21 PM
Peace with whom?
As I watched W give his farewell address to the nation last night I was struck how through some form of weird twist W seemed to still hold on to his overriding theory that elections and democracy can transform a region. That a region that sorely lacks the institutions of democracy through the simple task of a vote will some how find tolerance, and peace with itself and it’s neighbors.
It has been this simpleton view of the world that has wrought destruction through the Middle East these last 8 years. In Iraq where Sadr’s Mahdi Army and Sadr’s political party share the same course, and can some how find legitimacy through votes counted at the point of a gun. In Lebanon, Hezbollah a militia, fully backed by Iran, with the stated goal of the destruction of Israel and death to the Jews, now is the reigning political party in Lebanon. Gaza, the West Bank, and the plight of the Palestinian people. Fatah, once known as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), took the early mantle for the Palestinian people. Fatah became known more for their zealous rejection of Israeli’s right to exist, and their corruption than actually doing anything for the Palestinian people.
Eventually Fatah negotiated land for peace, softening their anti-Israeli stand and accepted the two state solution.
Then in 2006, W continued his spread of democracy to the Palestinian people. With no working institutions of government, was it a surprise that Hamas would win the majority of seats? Well, maybe to Condi Rice, but to the rest of the world, the cry was in unison, “Don’t hold elections, not now!”
After Hamas won they cleansed Gaza of any remaining Fatah politicians (cleansed as in murdered), and started a concerted effort with Hezbollah to destroy Israel, and the Jewish people.
So, I know that by now you all think I lost my mind. That J, he really is a NEOCON, he’s a nut, he thinks that it’s ok to kill babies, that he can’t see that peace is the only way. I believe in peace, but not with Hamas. Why?
In addition to watching W’s speech, I also read an excellent article by Jeffrey Goldberg. I found his opinion piece in the NY Times to pound home my thoughts on W’s simpleton view of democracy and the world effects.
Goldberg has spent a lot of time talking to Hamas officials, and his reporting speaks volumes. During a conversation with a Hamas leader the following came out:
I asked him the question I always ask of Hamas leaders: Could you agree to anything more than a tactical cease-fire with Israel? I felt slightly ridiculous asking: A man who believes that God every now and again transforms Jews into pigs and apes might not be the most obvious candidate for peace talks at Camp David. Mr. Rayyan answered the question as I thought he would, saying that a long-term cease-fire would be unnecessary, because it will not take long for the forces of Islam to eradicate Israel.
My stand is that you can not negotiate with people like Hamas. They firmly believe their religious rhetoric. They are stoked in it. Though Israeli officials believe they can bomb Hamas into moderation, they can not do that either. They can perhaps deter them for a time, but in the end, Hamas cannot be cajoled into moderation. Neither position credits Hamas with sincerity, or seriousness.
No, Hamas does not want free trade across it’s borders in Gaza. It does not want a better life for the Palestinian people to live. Hamas wants one thing, and one thing only, to cleanse the region of Israel and the Jews.
So, where does peace begin? Not in Gaza, but rather in the West Bank. To quote Goldberg:
The only small chance for peace today is the same chance that existed before the Gaza invasion: The moderate Arab states, Europe, the United States and, mainly, Israel, must help Hamas’s enemy, Fatah, prepare the West Bank for real freedom, and then hope that the people of Gaza, vast numbers of whom are unsympathetic to Hamas, see the West Bank as an alternative to the squalid vision of Hassan Nasrallah and Nizar Rayyan.
I pray for the Palestinian people, and I also pray for the people of Israel. For years there was a concept that there could be peace for land. Israel withdraws to the pre 1967 borders and the state of Palestine will be rewarded for the peace that would ensue. However, the entrance of Hamas into the equation has made the opposite true. By withdrawing from Gaza Israel has become less safe, as Hamas from the time it won the 2006 elections has been dead set to destroy Israel, and with the new longer range rockets finding their way into Gaza, how long will it be before Hamas rains down rockets on Tel Aviv?
It appears that we are close to a peace treaty in Gaza, but what kind of peace will it be? Will it be a peace marked by the further martyrdom of the Gazan people? Will the US step up together with Egypt to help halt the flow of rockets into Gaza? Finally, will the Palestinian people finally find the representation they so urgently need?
I believe that a focus on a full withdrawal in the West Bank, open borders, and real freedom for the Palestinian people will entice the people of Gaza to fully reject the extremists and with enough monitors, and support by the US, Europe, and moderate Arabian nations, a real lasting peace can result.
Jan 6, 2009 9:56 PM
Change I Can Believe In
We used to be a country of laws, not of men. We used to dismiss those that claimed, if the president does it, it’s not illegal. Over the last 8 years all of that changed. Reversing that became the change we all looked for.
Underneath the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the handling of combatants taken off the battle field, the interrogation, rounding up, and holding of American citizens without due process, underneath all of this were decisions made by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). This is an office in the Department of Justice that by definition is supposed to tell the president what he can and can not do legally.
Over the last 8 years, BushCo found a friend in the OLC in John Yoo. He wrote the torture memo, which declared that the President’s power to torture detainees is virtually limitless. Backed by Cheney’s long time attorney and advisor, David Addington, as well as Gonzo, were all part of the team of lawlessness.
Well, yesterday President Elect Obama named a few people to his new administration that in and of itself show change I can believe in. He named Dawn Johnsen to head the OLC. Johnsen is a Professor of Law at Indiana University, a former OLC official in the Clinton administration (as well as a former ACLU counsel), and a graduate of Yale Law School. She’s become a true expert on executive power and, specifically, the role and obligation of the OLC in restricting presidential decisions to their lawful scope.
She was a vocal critic of BushCo, and the OLC in particular. Here are a few quotes from articles she published over the last few years:
I want to second Dahlia’s frustration with those who don’t see the newly released Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) torture memo as a big deal. Where is the outrage, the public outcry?! The shockingly flawed content of this memo, the deficient processes that led to its issuance, the horrific acts it encouraged, the fact that it was kept secret for years and that the Bush administration continues to withhold other memos like it–all demand our outrage.
Yes, we’ve seen much of it before. And yes, we are counting down the remaining months. But we must regain our ability to feel outrage whenever our government acts lawlessly and devises bogus constitutional arguments for outlandishly expansive presidential power. Otherwise, our own deep cynicism, about the possibility for a President and presidential lawyers to respect legal constraints, itself will threaten the rule of law–and not just for the remaining nine months of this administration, but for years and administrations to come.
OLC, the office entrusted with making sure the President obeys the law instead here told the President that in fighting the war on terror, he is not bound by the laws Congress has enacted. That Congress lacks the authority to regulate the interrogation and treatment of enemy combatants. . . .
John Yoo, the memo’s author, has the gall to continue to defend the legal reasoning in this memo, in the face even of Bush administration OLC head Jack Goldsmith’s harsh criticism–and withdrawal–of the memo. Not only that, Yoo attempts to spin the memo’s advice on presidential power as “near boilerplate” . . .
I know (many of us know) Yoo’s statement to be false. And not merely false, but irresponsibly and dangerously false in a way that impugns OLC’s integrity over time and threatens to undermine public faith in the possibility that any administration can be expected to adhere to the rule of law.
Far from “near boilerplate,” recall that the last President who took the view that “when the President does it that means that it is not illegal” was forced to resign in disgrace. . . .
Is it possible John Yoo alone merits our outrage, as some kind of rogue legal advisor? Of course not.
As Dahlia points out, Bush has not fired anyone responsible for devising the legal arguments that have allowed the Bush administration to act contrary to federal statutes with close to immunity–or for breaking the laws. In fact, the ones at Justice who didn’t last are the officials (like Goldsmith) who dared to say “no” to the President-which, by the way, is OLC’s core job description. . . .
The correct response to all this? Marty has several good suggestions to start. And outrage. Directed where it belongs: at President Bush, as well as his lawyers.
About the Bush administration’s violations of FISA she wrote:
I’m afraid we are growing immune to just how outrageous and destructive it is, in a democracy, for the President to violate federal statutes in secret. Remember that much of what we know about the Bush administration’s violations of statutes (and yes, I realize they claim not to be violating statutes) came first only because of leaks and news coverage. Incredibly, we still don’t know the full extent of our government’s illegal surveillance or illegal interrogations (and who knows what else)-despite Congress’s failed efforts to get to the bottom of it. Congress instead resorted to enacting new legislation on both issues largely in the dark.
About the serial lawbreaking she wrote:
I felt the sense of shame and responsibility for my government’s behavior especially acutely in the summer of 2004, with the leaking of the infamous and outrageous Bush administration Office of Legal Counsel Torture Memo. . . .
The same question, of what we are to do in the face of national dishonor, also occurred to me a few weeks ago, as I listened to President Bush describe his visit to a Rwandan memorial to the 1994 genocide there. . . .
But President Bush spoke there, too, of the power of the reminder the memorial provides and the need to protect against recurrences there, or elsewhere. That brought to mind that whenever any government or people act lawlessly, on whatever scale, questions of atonement and remedy and prevention must be confronted. And fundamental to any meaningful answer is transparency about the wrong committed. . . .
The question how we restore our nation’s honor takes on new urgency and promise as we approach the end of this administration. We must resist Bush administration efforts to hide evidence of its wrongdoing through demands for retroactive immunity, assertions of state privilege, and implausible claims that openness will empower terrorists. . . .
Here is a partial answer to my own question of how should we behave, directed especially to the next president and members of his or her administration but also to all of use who will be relieved by the change: We must avoid any temptation simply to move on. We must instead be honest with ourselves and the world as we condemn our nation’s past transgressions and reject Bush’s corruption of our American ideals. Our constitutional democracy cannot survive with a government shrouded in secrecy, nor can our nation’s honor be restored without full disclosure.
This appointment is different than most other appointments made by Obama. In the other appointment, like Secretary of State, or of Defense, those positions take the lead from the executive, or Obama is the change that they must follow. In the OLC though, once appointed, they read the law, and tell the executive what they can, and can not do. So, unless Obama pulls a Bush (or Cheney) and co-ops the OLC by finding one with low morals like Yoo, we will see the change we all hoped for in the new administration.
Is it January 20th yet?
December 18, 2008 – Thursday – 9:01 PM
The Gold Standard
‘With the right hand out begging for bailout money, the left is hiding it offshore.’
Texas Democrat Rep. Lloyd Doggett, of the House Ways and Means Committee
Goldman Sachs, the Gold Standard on Wall Street, announced it’s first quarterly lose in it’s history, but it’s yearly earnings still showed a $2.3 billion profit. It may look like a big number, but for Goldman $2.3 billion is a large drop in earnings.
Let’s not drop too many tears for Goldman. They have been taking care of themselves. Last year, they paid their employees $10.9 billion in compensation. Not bad.
At Goldman Sachs, employee compensation made up 71% of total operating expenses in 2007. In the auto industry, by contrast, autoworker compensation makes up less than 10% of the cost of manufacturing a car. Hundreds of billions were given to the financial-services industry with barely a question about compensation; the auto bailout, however, was sunk on this issue alone.
But let’s not knock Goldman they after all may be the smartest guys in the room. In 2007 Goldman paid a tax rate of 34.1% , or $6 billion. This year, with profits of $2.3 billion, Goldman paid a tax rate of 1%, $14 million.
Goldman attributed its lower tax rate to ‘more tax credits as a percentage of earnings’ and ‘changes in geographic earnings mix.’
What does that mean? They moved their money off shore. Ooops, sorry, they moved our money, $10 billion in bail out money, off shore, untaxed!
And who’s handing out the bail out money? Secretary Hank Paulson.
Paulson was CEO of Goldman Sachs until mid-2006, and earned $35 million at the firm in 2005. He drew a $16.4 million salary in 2006 — even though he served as chief executive for just half the year.
As Goldman employees take home huge salaries, and are getting ready for their holidays, the big three are closing factories, shutting down operations for extended periods, just in time for their holidays.
Dec 13, 2008 3:18 AM
The American Civil War (1861–1865), also known as the War Between the States and several other names, was a civil war in the United States of America. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the U.S. and formed the Confederate States of America (the Confederacy). Led by Jefferson Davis, they fought against the U.S. federal government (the “Union”), which was supported by all the free states and the five border slave states.
No, not that Union, this union:
The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, better known as the United Auto Workers (UAW), is a labor union which represents workers in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Founded in order to represent workers in the automobile manufacturing industry, UAW members in the 21st century work in industries as diverse as health care, casino gaming and higher education.
Why are these guys against the auto industry loan guarantees? The Union, the United Auto Workers (UAW).
Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, who has been particularly vocal in his opposition of financial assistance for the Big Three, said on “Meet the Press,” stated that:
We don’t need government — governmental subsidies for manufacturing in this country. It’s the French model, it’s the wrong road. We will pay for it. The average American taxpayer is going to pay dearly for this, if I’m not wrong.
Senator Richard Shelby is the senator from Alabama. The same Alabama that offered lucrative incentives (subsidies) to Mercedes Benz in the early 1990s to lure the German automobile manufacturer to the State.
Alabama offered a stunning $253 million incentive package to Mercedes. Additionally, the state also offered to train the workers, clear and improve the site, upgrade utilities, and buy 2,500 Mercedes Benz vehicles. All told, it is estimated that the incentive package totaled anywhere from $153,000 to $220,000 per created job. On top of all this, the state gave the foreign automaker a large parcel of land worth between $250 and $300 million, which was coincidentally how much the company expected to invest in building the plant.
Where was your outrage then Senator?
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker has crafted a separate, three-pronged plan:
It would require the two firms closest to bankruptcy, General Motors and Chrysler, to reduce their debt by two-thirds. Bondholders would have “plenty of incentive to make sure that the debt is reduced by two-thirds” or risk losing even more if the firms go into Chapter 11, where their bonds might be further discounted, Corker said. “We’re going to force them into bankruptcy if they don’t do this,” he said bluntly.
He also would require that the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association, the entity created by the car firms and the UAW to handle retiree health care benefits, accept stock in lieu of half the cash payments due. The carmakers had agreed to fund VEBA but can no longer afford to do so. “If a company goes bankrupt, these future payments are never going to happen anyway,” he said.
Finally, Corker’s bill would force the UAW to lower its members’ wages to the level of workers at the American “transplants,” the factories in Tennessee and other states owned by Toyota, Hyundai and other foreign car companies.
Notice he is going after the Union. Why?
Senator Corker, how’s that new Volkswagen plant going in Chattanooga? How about Nissan’s North American headquarters and Nissan plant in Tennessee?
Tennessee offered its richest incentive package — and perhaps the most government assistance and tax breaks ever for an American automobile plant — to lure Volkswagen to Chattanooga. How about $500 million in government assistance and tax breaks for VW alone?
Where was your outrage then Senator?
Then we have Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. I’m sure you know where this is going. McConnell said the bill would be more appealing if Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) could add amendments that would require the automakers to reduce two-thirds of their outstanding debt through an equity swap with bondholders as a condition for aid. Corker would also require the companies to reduce labor costs, and mandate that a portion of payments automakers make to labor unions consist of company stock.
Senator, how’s your Toyota plant, the largest plant outside of Japan? Senator McConnell claims Toyota is doing well, while their stock has fallen 50% since the beginning of the year.
Toyota makes hybrids in Kentucky, as well as other cars, yet Senator McConnell has led the charge to stop any legislation that would have pushed up CAFÉ standards, that would have driven the auto industry to higher MPG standards.
McConnell also voted FOR the $700B bailout of Wall Street.
Where was your outrage then Senator?
So, why are so many Southern Senators against loans for the (American) auto industry? Are they confused about the whole “Union” thing?
Elections Have Consequences
“Elections have consequences.”
George W. Bush
In 2006 Americans in large numbers threw out Republicans from the House of Representatives. Hoping for real change, but stymied by a 51-49 Senate, and an immovable president, the demands of the electorate were not met. With a 6% victory in the general election and a landslide victory in the Electoral College Barack Obama will enter the White House with a mandate from the American people, and the power to do what the electorate has asked him to do.
When it comes to energy, we demanded a change to the status quo. We have spoken and we want a clear path to energy independence. It may not be the way the Republicans wanted, but “Elections have consequences.”
With at least 2 appointments coming up in the Supreme Court, we demanded a change from the types of appointments of the last 8 years, Roberts and Alito. “Elections have consequences.”
The tax laws of the last 8 years have been criticized greatly over the course of the presidential campaign. We demanded a change to the tax code, one that would give breaks to the middle class while dismantling the Bush tax cutes. “Elections have consequences.”
The efforts to deregulate everything over the last three decades have left us with a run away financial market, industries allowed to regulate themselves, with miserable results. Obama enters office with the demand from the American people to fix this first! “Elections have consequences.”
Milton Friedman’s economics are out! “Elections have consequences.”
Pre-emptive war, aka the Bush (Cheney) doctrine, the one percent doctrine, has led to reckless actions around the globe. The American people have spoken. We voted in huge numbers for more direct negotiations with all nations. “Elections have consequences.”
The Neo-Cons will not be welcome in this administration. “Elections have consequences.”
While we will continue to support Israel in all ways, we will no longer turn our backs on the plight of the Palestinian people, or other less fortunate citizens of the world. “Elections have consequences.”
The bottom line is that we live in a society where the masses have a role in our government. We vote, and this time we voted in huge numbers. So, to my friends on the other side of the isle, “Elections have consequences.”
Get over it!
Oct 22, 2008 2:42 PM
Barack Hussein Obama
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Yoda
There! I said it, Barack Hussein Obama, and I’ll keep on saying it. Why?
I read Cynic’s blog yesterday, and I realized that I have been guilty of having a negative view of a lot of things. After all, what’s in a name?
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Yoda
I’ll tell you what’s in a name, especially in a name like Barack Hussein Obama. It sounds like a Muslim name, doesn’t it? Kind of like Mohammad. I wonder how many Mohammads there are in America, that are “Real Americans”? How many Americans, born and raised in America, in the United States Army are named Mohammad?
My point, and I better get to quickly, is that if we, Americans can elect a person named Barack Hussein Obama as president of the United States of America, then we will be telling the world that America is back.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Yoda
The rest of the world will know that we fear no one. That America is a melting pot, not just of White Conservative Christians, but of all people.
From the sonnet, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, as inscribed on the interior of the pedestal at the Statue of Liberty
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset hates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lighting, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I want the people of the world to continue to come to America, those that are “yearning to breathe free!”
I want America to solve the worlds problems, and I don’t care if they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Wicca. White, Brown, Yellow, Red, I don’t care. All I do care about is that we, Americans, continue to create new solutions to the growing problems our world faces. From power to climate, the only way America will continue to be relevant is to create the solutions the world needs.
So yea, I’m voting for Barack Hussein Obama for president of the United States of America, and I am damn proud of it because I am not afraid, I’m an American!
Had enough of the politics that would divide us?
October 2, 2008 – Thursday – 10:09 AM
Biden v Palin
Biden v Palin, no Governor, that’s not a supreme court decision, but I thought you would have at least remembered:
EXXON SHIPPING CO. ET AL. v. BAKER
Isn’t she the governor of Alaska? Isn’t she all about the oil industry?
Tonight we all get to see exactly how deep our vice presidential candidates are. Are they well versed in the world, do they know policies of their presidential candidate, how will they fair on the big stage without a teleprompter?
These are the questions I want to have answered, but I’m pretty sure all we will see is a preview to Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live.
Watch for content over zingers. Frankly I say we elect the smartest people, not the funniest or the “Joe Six Pack”. While I’m at it, how many of you want to see “Joe Six Pack” in the White House? Me neither.
For now, here are a few jokes to warm the crowd up, I’ll be here all day and night, so don’t forget to tip your servers… I’ll be updating through out the day and tonight as the debate unfurls.
Now for the jokes:
Sarah Palin’s been practicing for the big debate tonight in Arizona. Earlier today, we heard she shot a donkey.
Palin’s staff has tried to find a stand-in to pretend to be Joe Biden, but so far all they’ve come up with is a tree stump. Which actually sounds about right.
Even though she’s not expected to do well in the debate, she is favored heavily in Friday’s swimsuit competition.
Top Ten Things Overheard at Sarah Palin’s Debate Camp
10. Let’s practice your bewildered silence
9. Can you try saying ‘Yes’ instead of ‘You betcha’?
8. Hey, I can see Mexico from here!
7. Maybe we’ll get lucky and there won’t be any questions about Iraq, taxes, or healthcare
6. We’re screwed!
5. Can I just use that lipstick-pit bull thing again?
4. We have to wrap it up for the day — McCain eats dinner at 4:30
3. Can we get Congress to bail us out of this debate?
2. John Edwards wants to know if you’d like some private tutoring in his van
1. Any way we can just get Tina Fey to do it?
During the Sarah Plain interview with Katie Couric on CBS News, Sarah Palin could not remember the name of a newspaper or magazine that she reads. I was thinking, “Wow — possibly, a leader of the country who doesn’t read.” Then I thought, “Well hell, it’s worked pretty well for George Bush.”
A new poll shows only 1 out of 4 people approve of the job President Bush is doing. That means when he’s having dinner with his wife and two daughters, he’s the only one at the table who thinks he’s doing a good job.
Economists are now claiming that our nation’s leaders didn’t properly explain the bailout plan to the public. After hearing this, President Bush said, ‘While you’re at it, someone should explain it to me.”
It’s been reported that John McCain is taking an herbal supplement to improve his memory. Apparently, McCain is having trouble remembering why he picked Sarah Palin.
Last night during an interview on CBS, Sarah Palin said, ‘One of my best friends is a lesbian, and I love her dearly.’ After hearing this, Bill Clinton said, ‘Prove it.”
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg says he’s interested in running again, but there’s resistance because the law would have to be changed to allow for a third term. It’s not that people have a big problem with Mike Bloomberg, they just don’t want to give President Bush any ideas.
John McCain said he turns to Sarah Palin for foreign policy advice. And then he turns to his wife Cindy, to get her to cut his meat.
Scary day in Washington today — they found a hand grenade in a park. At first they thought the worst, but it turns out Cheney just went for walk, and it fell out of his pocket.
Have any good warm up funnies?
Need more, or had ENOUGH?
ptember 23, 2008 – Tuesday – 9:07 AM
You don’t introduce new products in August
”From a marketing point of view,” said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, ”you don’t introduce new products in August.”
It’s September, Card said this about the roll out of the Iraq War in 2002. Will this be the book end of the Bush Doctrine? Empty the treasury!
History repeats itself, the classic squeeze play. Closing in on the election, the White House rolls out the new fleecing of America, the mother of all financial meltdowns.
The Iraq war has taken upwards of one TRILLION dollars. How much does the Bush White House want, let’s start with $700 BILLION and see how that works.
As Treasury buys bad assets, how do we know that they won’t grossly over pay or those assets putting profits on the balance sheets of the very companies that have caused this mess?
Treasury also wants to do this with no oversight, and they plan to contract out the actual work. Give us the money and trust us to solve the problem we helped create.
Liberals will do almost anything to get something for society, including shoot themselves in the foot. I watched the Sunday morning news shows, and wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I knew something was up.
So, the liberals plan is to attach stimulus to the bill, for you and I, but are they just going to be putting lips stick on a pig of a bill?
As this works it’s way through the legislature, remember, this is being offered by the Bush White House. This is not an idea hatched by Congress. So, as Dems vote on this issue, will they be painted as the cause? Watch for the classic tactic of American rightwing propaganda:
Always accuse one’s opponent of doing the very thing that one is doing, especially if one has been caught or exposed while doing it.
That’s what they are doing today. Blaming the Dems for Gramm’s The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, the act that deregulated banking, insurance and investment, causing this problem.
Remember whose plan this is. Remember who the deregulator is, and who is for strong regulation. Remember who is who, and don’t fall for the scare tactic.
You Can’t Run Away From Who You Are!
How do you know you’re a Republican?
You voted along with your party, the REPUBLICAN Party, over 90% of the time. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You voted along with the other REPUBLICANS, for deregulation every time you had the chance to do it, and offered up legislation to deregulate whenever you could. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You still believe in trickle down economics. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You believe that enabling someone to buy a Ferrari for $240,000 is the same for the economy as enabling 12 people to buy 12 Chevys for $20,000 each. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You believe that giving someone that doesn’t have a tax liability of $5,000 a $5,000 tax credit to buy insurance is a health plan. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You believe that if someone’s house goes through foreclosure, you shouldn’t be allowed to vote. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You believe voting while black is a crime. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You believe anything you can do to DRIVE DOWN THE VOTE is a good thing. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You believe that an African American Man, raised by a single mother, on food stamps, went to college on scholarships and student loans, worked for $12,000 a year, for a church, after graduating, is an elitist. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You believe that profits made in the market should be private, and should be taxed at the lowest levels. You also believe that if the market goes to hell in a hand basket the tax payer should bail you out. You’re a REPUBLICAN!
You had a convention to nominate the REPUBLICAN candidate, but you never used the word REPUBLICAN. You’re still a REPUBLICAN!
You believe it is ok to scare the hell out of the nation to get elected. You’re a REPUBLICAN! By the way, if you believe in the scare tactics, you may think you’re a Republican, but you’re really a sheep!
I have been watching the news a lot lately. I have money in the market/bank/mother with money… so I have a vested interest. I am fucking amazed that there is not a single Republican in the world that will admit that they have run this economy into the ground.
You have held the White House for the last 8 years, the congress for 12 of the last 14 years, have a toss up Senate, turned a $281 B surplus into a $357 B deficit, a $5.7 T debt into a $9.7 T debt, yet you have zero responsibility in the melt down in the market. Man the Hell Up!!! You’re still a REPUBLICAN!
Please, offer your own if you like.
What more do you need?
I would refer you first, to today’s stock market performance. Next, I’d like to point you to the likely failure of AIG and WAMU. Our nation’s largest insurance company and largest S&L respectively. Wall street will break a few records this week. Last but not least, I would have you read the last two blogs by my guest contributors, Josh and J.
The ugliness has begun.
The American economy and therefore that of the world, is a mere sigh away from spectacular collapse not seen since the towers on 9/11. Repercussions not felt since the Great Depression.
Now, who are you voting for?
We got trouble, right here in River City.
Here’s a big ass truth for you. The war is no longer an issue of morality and justice, it’s all about the Benjamins. For years we haven’t been able to afford this reasonless war. It’s been waged on credit, while contactors stink atop piles of filthy lucre. Fom now on, everyday it’s allowed to continue, is a guarantee of a dark day to come for every citizen in this country from the upper middleclass on down.
Just today Doubtfire said the fundamentals of the American economy are sound. Boys and girls, this man is an idiot. He’s either in denial or lying. The fundamentals of our economy are imploding you jackass. The banks are failing you moron.
McCain has admitted not knowing much about the economy and his running mate lies about earmarks while overseeing a cash cow of a state. The most government money per capita of any state in the union. Doubtfire, along with Phil Gramm, is the king of deregulation. From the housing bust, to the debt and the buckling of historied financial institutions, deregulation is the catalyst. Merrill fucking Lynch disappeared today. Remember the Keating Five? The original Enron.
Shut up, I know he was exonerated but he was in past his elbows. He got slimed. Got some on his face, gave him face cancer.
By the time we next inaugurate a President, our faces will have become familiar with the canvas. The question has become not so much about the fittest to be Commander in Chief, but rather about which team is best able to get us back on our feet.
He will begin to slip in the polls. The Republican Rovenesque juggernaut didn’t anticipate this particular strain from the virus of fear they so carefully nurture. Clearly, these asshats did not position adequately for the advent of cleaning up their own mess BEFORE leaving office.
They were gonna just dump it on whoever. They got behind McCain because he’s more profitable and he mitigates the chances any of them will serve time. Either way, they’re cool. You can tell they don’t give a mad fuck. No worries.
They didn’t plan for the house to be on fire while they were in it though. They pass out marshmallows with a nervous grin, a sheen of sweat on their faces.
Boil and chop kids, boil and chop. Tell me you’re on the motherfucker.
Something wicked this way comes.
Drinks for my friends.
A Remarkable Day
“The fundamentals of this economy are strong”
John McCain September 15, 2008
I am a firm believer in looking at ones past to determine how they will do in the future. The last time America saw a huge housing bubble was in the 1980s, aka the Savings and Loan meltdown. I had just moved back from Japan, and was stationed in Phoenix AZ. When I arrived there were over 100 empty new homes within a 10 mile radius, and many subdivisions were half built, the remainder of the land held in court after Lincoln Savings went belly up.
McCain in the Keating Five scandal in the 1980s sought to undercut bank regulators and then refused to hold himself accountable for the ensuing bank failures.
Are we to believe that John McCain will be the man to bring change to Washington? Will we just see more empty rhetoric of change? McCain’s economist, Phil Graham, as a senator pushed through legislation that deregulated the financial and energy markets. This is what has allowed huge speculation in energy, and has brought together banks, traders, and insurance companies.
Speaking of which, this last weekend Merrill Lynch (Trader) sold themselves to Bank of America (Bank), Lehman Brothers (Investment Bank) went belly up, and AIG (Insurance Company) was seeking $50 B in loans.
Are you better off today than you were 8 years ago?
Inauguration Day 2001 Now
Unemployment Rate 4.2% 6.1%
Budget $281 B $357 B
Debt $5.7 T $9.7 T
Oh, and we just lost $500,000,000,000 today in the stock market.
John McCain is a Republican, he supports the same economics that BushCo have supported, laissez-faire economics, pre-depression style regulations. They don’t work!!!
Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free…
It’s been 7 years since the attacks of 911, to the minute. As I write this there is a replay of that fateful day running on the network news. As if any of us would forget the feelings we felt that day. As if we needed a real life reminder.
My life has changed in these last 7 years as much as a life can change in that period of time. My changes are my changes. Were they spurred by the events of 911? Perhaps.
After 911 I felt vulnerable at first, a little flag waving as well, but all of that settled into my desire to live the life I wanted to live, not the life that I thought was expected of me. I wanted to get right with my path.
I didn’t find religion, I didn’t find nationalism (as a retired Airman I think I found that when I was a teen), instead I found life.
I thought of what it meant to be an American. I thought of how we were different than the people that attacked us, our way of life, our sense of security. I thought that they were little people. Small in their understanding of the world, small in their understanding of right and wrong, small in their sense of self. They were extremists, fundamentalists; they had a closed view of the world, were not accepting of anything different, not accepting of the rights of others, anti everything the USA stood for.
Today, 9/11/2008 we are in the middle of one of the most divisive elections of our history. One side wants to instill hope not fear, the other wants to guarantee protection from religious fundamentalists. Both are now running on a “Change” platform, whatever that means anymore.
Clearly, we Americans are ready for change. Not just in the war policy, not just in the price of gas, but in the message we carry as Americans throughout the world. We can not protect everything that is important to us. We can not guard every bridge, every monument, every large building in every town and city. I’m sorry John McCain, we can not “defeat evil”, we can not win a “war on terror”, but we can find ourselves, again, and protect what it means to be an American.
Last week, as the RNC lit up with screams of “Drill Baby Drill”, and Oil Sheiks cheered, I thought, what would America, pre-911 do today? In 2000 McCain called the religious right “agents of intolerance.” Today he has put a Religious Fundamentalist on the ticket with him. Is that what Americans would do?
We would turn a deaf ear to the intolerance; we would accept everyone at our table, and work together to make the world a better place. We would not hunker down behind a false sense of security. We would work to open the world’s eyes to the wonders that come from real freedom. Freedom of thought, celebrating the differences we all have, proud of the fact that we are the melting pot of the world, where all are welcome.
As the Statue of Liberty looked on at the violent acts of 911, I wonder if she would even remember the country we were a mere 7 years ago. I wonder if she would still stand, telling the world, “Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free…”
I wonder, how can you measure victory in this war against extremism. Perhaps it can only be measured by how much it changes you, not how much you can change the world. We can not huddle behind false security, we can only save what makes us Americans.
I didn’t properly introduce you to J after posting his first contribution. I’ve been reading this guy for over a year and he is consistently accurate, truthful and possesses the rare ability see the forest instead of the trees individual. He’s a gifted writer and an honest analyst. I’m proud to post his work. You rock J.
What is the difference between McCain/Palin and a Lobbyist? Lipstick! UPDATE FINAL
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) write today in the Wall Street Journal that the “bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is another outrageous, but sadly necessary, step for these two institutions.” They pledge to end the use of “taxpayer backing to serve lobbyists, management, boards and shareholders” and call lobbyists “primary contributors” to the crisis:
We will make sure that they are permanently restructured and downsized, and no longer use taxpayer backing to serve lobbyists, management, boards and shareholders. […]
[The federal bailout] terminates future lobbying, which was one of the primary contributors to this great debacle.
The feigned outrage of McCain and Palin at the inaction of Congress and the influence of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lobbyists is ironic considering the fact that “at least 20 McCain fundraisers have lobbied on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” in recent years.
More troubling is the fact that McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, “served as president of an advocacy group led by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” that worked to cripple regulatory initiatives in Congress because the two institutions feared that “Congressional meddling would lower their healthy profits.” As the Politico reported in July:
Davis headed the Homeownership Alliance, a lobbying association that included Fannie, Freddie, nonprofit groups, real estate agents, homebuilders and consumer advocates. … [The group] worked to oppose congressional efforts to tighten controls on Fannie and Freddie.
In July 2003 for example, Davis “wrote to the American Banker, taking issue with an opinion piece…arguing that Fannie and Freddie should operate with greater transparency.” Such transparency and greater regulatory controls might have averted the current crisis.
Let me repeat that last paragraph for emphasis:
In July 2003 for example, Davis “wrote to the American Banker, taking issue with an opinion piece…arguing that Fannie and Freddie should operate with greater transparency.” Such transparency and greater regulatory controls might have averted the current crisis.
Now, for the J’s rules:
You can’t say you are against lobbyists when your campaign manager headed the group that lobbied to deregulate the very industry that just folded.
You can’t say “I told the Congress ‘thanks, but no thanks,’ on that Bridge to Nowhere.” When you campaigned for it, and kept the money anyway.
You can’t say “I put it on eBay.” implying the plane was sold on eBay, when you didn’t sell it on eBay and actually sold the plane to a campaign contributor for $300k less than the list price.
You can’t say you “fired the chef” when the chef is still a state employee and still cooks for your family.
You can’t say you took on big oil when you support more drilling and are opposed to investments in clean and renewable energy.
You can’t use windmills and solar panels in your commercials when you opposed legislation that would have supported wind and solar.
You can’t say you are a government reformer and are against government waste when you billed your state for 312 nights you stayed at your own home.
What is the difference between McCain/Palin and a Lobbyist? Lipstick!
UPDATE, More rules!
You can’t disparage Obama for putting in for “nearly $1 million for every working day” he spent in the Senate, when you actually out did him. Using the same formula as the McCain campaign, the calculation for Palin’s time in office is 447 days. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Palin’s administration has asked for a total of roughly $453 million. That’s not “nearly” that’s more than! I guess she wins!
Note, I guess Palin is one heck of a disparager, Judge Suddock, the judge in the divorce case of Palin’s sister repeatedly expressed concern about what he termed the Palin family’s “disparagement” of Wooten. “Disparaging will not be tolerated — it is a form of child abuse,” Suddock said at one hearing, adding, “Relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives.” Hosenball reports that Suddock even considered restricting Palin’s sister’s custody rights regarding her children because of this disparagement.
You can’t call for “reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs,” but never cite a single program to eliminate or reduce.
You can’t use 911 as a political ploy at your convention, when seven years later there is still a mammoth, gaping hole at Ground Zero.
You can’t claim your opponent did something wrong by turning down public financing when you broke the public finance rules and had your twin Bush replace the FEC chairman when he called you on it.
You can’t use Alan Keyes, Tucker Carlson, and Michelle Malkin for your attack adds on education, well, you just can’t do it!
You can’t claim that your opponent will raise taxes on the poor and middle class when both, your opponent won’t do that, and you will do nothing for them yourself.
A Video for your entertainment:
Sorry kids, I gotta figure out this link thing -admin.
Torie Clarke, a former McCain adviser, wrote a book called, “Lipstick on a Pig: Winning In the No-Spin Era by Someone Who Knows the Game. Hmmmm
September 6, 2008 – Saturday – 2:03 PM
Shockingly Bad, UPDATED II Let them Eat Cake, and go to the ER
“I found it shockingly bad” -Jeff Toobin CNN
But after the two conventions, it looks as if Obama and Biden are going to do their best to focus voters’ attention on issues — the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, energy, and the environment. And it looks as if McCain and Palin have decided to run on a platform of personal history. -Eugene Robinson
After the RNC song and dance, or as it became, “The Sarah Palin Show”, I was left with one question. Is the Republican Party running against the record of the Republican Party? They introduced no new POLICY, nothing to help home owners losing their homes to foreclosure, nothing at all for the middle class or the poor, just more of the same, the same as in the current Republican administration. Is that change?
Well, we did get to see another really sad 911 tribute. I must ask, is the Republican Party any more than a Noun, a Verb, and 911? I can see Rove behind the curtain yelling “Play the fear card!”
As an aside, a Republican Congressman let the cat out of the bag:
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a conservative Republican from Georgia, let slip today what critics have been saying is the subtext of many of the attacks on Barack Obama: He’s “uppity.”
According to The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, Westmoreland was discussing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech outside the House chamber today when he veered into his thoughts on Michelle and Barack Obama.
“Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mister Obama, Senator Obama, they’re a member of an elitist class individual that thinks that they’re uppity,” Westmoreland said.
Given the chance to take it back, or clarify, he didn’t.
Westmoreland briefly gained some national attention when he sponsored legislation to post the Ten Commandments in the House and Senate chambers. Asked by Stephen Colbert in 2006 to name all ten, Westmoreland stumbled. “Um, don’t murder, don’t lie, don’t steal,” he offered, before confessing, “I can’t name them.”
So, as the RNC held their convention, in front of a 99.9% white audience, we get to see what a Real Republican looks like. Seeking to be given privacy in the CHOICE Palin’s daughter made to keep her baby, the Republicans would ensure that no American has the same CHOICE. Since when did less government mean more government in your lives?
The Republicans decided to run against the current administration, Republicans running against Republicans. That should win it for them!
Lindsey Graham in his speech last night said: “American combat brigades, who made up the surge, have returned home in victory.”
This just in, Gen. David Petraeus has recommended against any significant reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq before the end of the year. What troops was Graham talking about?
Let them eat cake — and go to the emergency room
There’s been a lot of buzz today over the statement by John Goodman, the president of the National Center for Policy Analysis — which is, despite its anodyne name, a hard-right think tank — that nobody is uninsured in America, because you can go to the emergency room. Goodman has described himself, as recently as July 30 in the Wall Street Journal, as a McCain adviser. But now that there’s a stink, the campaign says that he hasn’t been advising them since “earlier this summer.” (How much earlier?) And the campaign says that it doesn’t agree with his views.
But what Goodman says is what a lot of Republicans, from W to Tom Delay, say.
Truly, these people have no idea how the other 99.9 percent lives.
This from another excellent writer who’s agreed to let me repost: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.Confirm&friendID=38827954