Friday, October 31, 2008

"build,baby, build"

Forget "drill, baby, drill" as the chant of economic populism. What we need to do, says Paul Krugman, is "spend, baby, spend!" As Krugman, who I hear knows a thing or two about economics, notes it is difficult to boost consumer spending when interest rates are so low; the Fed's funds rate is already at 1%, can't godown much further.

So, we gotta spend. And the best way is simple: let the government spend. That way the fiscal stimulus intent isn't lost by people paying off their credit card bills instead of buying new lawnmowers.
And there is certainly no shortage of infrastructure that needs fixing...
So maybe it should be "build, baby, build".

sarah, hanging around?

Oh no! Eugene Robinson thinks that even if the Republican ticket loses on Tuesday, we will not have seen the last of Sarah Palin on the national political stage. Despite her increasing unpopularity...


Thursday, October 30, 2008

things that make me nervous

Being nervous about the election seems to be the theme. This makes me nervous - how voting will go in Ohio. At least the Republicans don't control the electoral process there, but I'm sure they will try some funny things again.

This makes me nervous - John McCain still pointing out Barack Obama's terrible associations with people. The latest is with this guy, "Rashid Khalidi, a leading Palestinian American scholar and friend of Obama's from Chicago." Naturally, Bill Ayers was at some dinner with them. A big one, but still there. (But an aside - calling Khalidi a "neo-Nazi"? McCain needs to understand something: being opposed to Israel doesn't equate to "neo-Nazi".)

This makes me nervous - some people in "real Virginia," aka Virginia outside of NoVa expressing their crappy attitudes about Obama.

These "real" Virginians say they fear an Obama presidency.

For Lois Green, it's that "the United States is going to lose its sovereignty." Angela Greene, a stay-at-home mother from Fredericksburg who sports a "Hot Chicks Vote Republican" button, worries that "we'll become friends with Iran." Nelson says "our taxes will go up and our military will be cut."

"The homosexuals will get their rights passed, and they'll probably do away with the death penalty," says Mitch Dickinson.

How can people be so ignorant?


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

end of racism

Courtland Milloy on Barack Obama, the election, and race.  Good stuff.

turning on ted

Poor Ted Stevens.  He accepts free work and furniture from various companies, a jury convicts him of being corrupt, and now people like John McCain are calling for him to resign, just a week before Ted faces Mark Begich for reelection.

Others called on Ted to quit, like Senator Mitch McConnell.

And in the cruelest cut, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin also asked Ted to quit.

See, if Ted had merely BORROWED all that stuff, like Palin is apparently borrowing $150,000 worth of fancy clothes, Ted would be okay...



Is it 1948?  That's the hope of the McCain campaign.

I am not a poll expert, but I take comfort that polls are consistently showing a lead for Obama.  I don't dare believe that Obama has things wrapped up, that McCain can't win.

But you've got to think McCain's people would rather be defending the lead...


Monday, October 27, 2008

another obamacon declares

Former South Dakota Republican Senator Larry Pressler has joined the long line of Republicans openly endorsing Barack Obama for President. Pressler not only cast his vote for Obama (already), he even put $500 into the Obama coffers.

Two things about this interested me. First, I didn't know that Pressler was the first Vietnam vet to enter the Senate, back in 1979. That of course represents a Vietnam vet voting against the uber-Vietnam vet, John McCain the Plumber I mean POW.

And I liked what Pressler said about today's Republican Party, complaining about its fiscal irresponsibility and foreign adventures.

Finally, what is striking is again, like Colin Powell and Ken Adelman and Arne Carleson and the other Republicans endorsing Obama, Pressler notes Obama's calm, collected personality - an increasingly explicit knock at mad-dog McCain - and specifically sees Obama as a better person to have in the Oval Office in these economically dangerous times.

Democrats, winning plaudits for fiscal responsibility and for being better suited to manage the economy. The times, they are a-changin'.


a twenty-six year low...

The credit crunch/financial crisis/impending global economic meltdown/whatever you call it is getting scarier.

Asian markets are diving. In Japan, the Nikkei dropped to a 26-year low. In other words, if you had invested a million yen to cover the Nikkei stock market in Japan in October 1982 and had let it ride for the past quarter century plus, you would now have one million yen. Zero progress. Actually, negative returns since inflation would eat into your million yen.

And that's depressing. Emotionally I mean. I hope not in the macroeconomic sense...


Sunday, October 26, 2008

a couple of things from that LONG new york times magazine article on mccain

Robert Draper's long piece, "John McCain - the Making (and Remaking) of the Candidate" was interesting in an inside-baseball kind of way. If McCain goes on to lose to Barack Obama, it should be interesting to see greater details on how decisions were made.

But a few little things that interested me. Draper writes,

The new narrative — the Team of Mavericks coming to lay waste the Beltway power alleys — now depended on a fairly inexperienced Alaska politician. The following night, after McCain’s speech brought the convention to a close, one of the campaign’s senior advisers stayed up late at the Hilton bar savoring the triumphant narrative arc. I asked him a rather basic question: “Leaving aside her actual experience, do you know how informed Governor Palin is about the issues of the day?”

The senior adviser thought for a moment. Then he looked up from his beer. “No,” he said quietly. “I don’t know.”

Earlier Draper made it clear that McCain's key advisers - and McCain himself - never really considered that. They were impressed based on a 2007 interview with Charlie Rose that Palin was able to deflect questions back to her preferred areas. Apparently, it never occurred to them to wonder whether that was a strength - or a sign that she was incapable of discussing anything else. Katie Couric seems to have demonstrated it was the latter...

Another snippet:

The flipside to John McCain’s metanarrative of personal valor has always been palpable self-righteousness. In this campaign, his sense of integrity has been doubly offended. First, an adviser said, “He just really thinks the media is completely in the tank for Obama and doesn’t feel like he’s getting a fair shake at all.” And second, another said, “I don’t think John likes people who try to do jobs they’re not qualified for” — referring, in this case, to Barack Obama.

I think this is probably true about McCain. But it never stopped McCain from accepting jobs - even lobbying for jobs - that he himself was not qualified for. Read this devastating Rolling Stone story about McCain. Remember, McCain got into the US Naval Academy because his father and grandfather were admirals - they had to take him. He graduated 884 out of 889, but still got a choice assignment as a Navy pilot. He crashed not one, not two, but THREE Navy airplanes, including at least one instance where it was due to showing off - hotdogging, thrillseeking, in McCain's words, daredevil clowning. His father protected him from the punishment a less-well connected Navy pilot would have received.

After his stint as a POW, McCain got his wings back even though (not his fault) he couldn't qualify physically. He got to study at the National War College despite lacking the qualifications, but McCain appealed to the Secretary of the Navy - a friend of his father's - and he got in, bumping out another more-qualified candidate for the slot. He was then made commander for an air squadron and even McCain now admits that he "was not qualified."

Yep, seeing people get jobs for which they are not qualified (and I dispute that Obama falls into that category, though Sarah Palin clearly does) really bothers John McCain. Except when it is him.


flip-flopping republicans

The Republican Party is warning voters against the perils of one-party rule - urging votes for GOP candidates for Senate and the House. I guess they think John McCain might lose to Barack Obama.

And David Frum, making his case that McCain's candidacy is dead and the GOP should concentrate on retaining as large a minority in the Senate as possible, writes that the "angry new wing of the Democratic Party will seek to stifle opposition by changing the rules of the political game. Some will want to silence conservative talk radio by tightening regulation of the airwaves via the misleadingly named "fairness doctrine"; others may seek to police the activities of right-leaning think tanks by a stricter interpretation of what is tax-deductible and what is not."

On the first point, one-party rule. The real threat isn't one-party rule. It is one-party REPUBLICAN rule. Witness the fine mess the Republicans made 2001-07 (with a brief period when the Senate was Democratic). The problem wasn't so much one-party rule (misrule), it was rule by a party that was determined to misgovern. I doubt Obama (if elected) and the Democrats (who will almost certainly retain control of Congress) can make quite as big a mess as the de facto Bush administration and the Republican Congress of Denny Hastert, Tom DeLay, Trent Lott, and Bill Frist.

On the second point, Frum again assumes that what the REPUBLICANS do with unfettered power will be how the DEMOCRATS would respond. For example, DeLay's infamous K Street Project sought to guarantee Republican predominance among the permanent lobbying class by punishing companies for not hiring DeLay and Republican acolytes. It was DeLay's Congress that increasingly quashed the right of the Democratic minority to do anything in Congress, that changed the rules of Congress to fit their tactical concerns, and to run a maximalist Republican policy of passing the most extreme legislation that could garner a narrow majority vote. A divide, not unite, policy.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

white house takes another run at vote suppression

You begin to get nostalgic at the end of a two-term administration, remembering all the fun and nifty things they have done. Even so for a de facto administration like that of George W. Bush. You know, the torture, the lies, the invasions without cause, the smug contempt and self-assuredness, the disregard for Americans who are not part of Bush's base (the elite).

And the vote suppression, the biggest part of the Great US Attorney Massacre. Now, at the request of Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, Bush has asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to look into those 200,000 new voter registrations in Ohio. Boehner, like the McCain campaign, alleges they are some sort of fraudulent thing. And they aren't going to let a little thing like the dismissal of the Ohio Republican Party's case by the U.S. Supreme Court stand in their way of suppressing Democratic votes.

Because the GOP can't actually WIN votes. They can only win by subtraction. And they aren't shy about it.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 24, 2008

the greenspan bubble bursts, or comparing greenspan to bill buckner is grossly unfair - to bill buckner

Finally Congress has burst the Alan Greenspan bubble. No longer do they assume that the pronouncements from his wizened little head are necessarily wise. Greenspan opposed regulating derivatives. Greenspan "helped" us get over the bursting tech bubble by starting out a new bubble, in real estate. Greenspan, a true acolyte of the nutty Ayn Rand, said markets would regulate themselves efficiently and governments shouldn't interfere.

And now Greenspan has been proven comprehensively wrong. At least he is alive to see it, and to say, about the bursting of his ideological bubble, "You know, that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well."

That's true if you ignore the fact that people like Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman and many others were warning YEARS ago of the foolhardiness of the Greenspan approach. But like other ideologues, Greenspan found it easy to ignore the evidence until Wall Street crashed with a sufficiently thunderous roar to penetrate even his stuffed-with-pages-from-"Atlas Shrugged" ears.

But I'll have to disagree a little with Congressman John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat, who called Greenspan "Bill Buckner." Yarmuth was referring of course to the gimpy-kneed Boston Red Sox first baseman who let a ground ball go thru his legs in the 1986 World Series, losing the game, and allowing the New York Mets to go on to win the championship.

Buckner wasn't blinded to the evidence of where the ball was by clinging to an ideology. Buckner didn't assume that the ball would automatically bounce into his glove. Buckner fully understood the ramifications of his mistake. Buckner was once a good defensive player whose bad knees made it difficult for him by October 1986. Buckner was unlucky, and given his limitations should have been removed for defensive purposes by that point, as he had been 100 times that season.

Comparing Bucker to Greenspan is really unfair - to Bill Buckner. Buckner did his best and made an honest error. Greenspan was self-delusional and chose to serve his indefensible God, the invisible hand (talk about a misunderstood concept), despite evidence that his God was a false God, and we're all paying now.

Labels: ,

obama, a socialist? i don't think so. palin is hot? mccain thinks so.

It cracks me up to hear John McCain and the rest of his scurrilous crew calling Barack Obama a "socialist". First, it is simply silly. I haven't heard Obama calling for the nationalization of oh say, the BANKING SECTOR like the de facto Bush administration has been doing. But even more, as Josh Marshall writes,

But does 'socialism', as a cudgel in the context of a national political campaign, not simply sound archaic?

Yep. Of course, this comes from an archaic candidate, one who has spoken in this campaign about remembering the attack on Pearl Harbor. Against a candidate who couldn't even remember that next big touchstone in American history, where he was when JFK was assassinated - because Obama was an infant.

Something else that cracks me up is Kathleen Parker's theory that McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate because she is hot. Actually, I think Parker may have something there - but it's amusing that McCain could allow his judgment to be so easily clouded. Of course, he has shown big lapses of judgment over his entire life, whether crashing airplanes onto aircraft carriers, chasing a hot young woman around and becoming engaged to her while still married, the whole Keating thing, choosing to hitch his wagon to Bush starting in 2005...

It is pretty appalling to hear the anecdote, coming up in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine (already available on-line), that journalist Robert Draper asked McCain's advisers if they knew whether or not Sarah Palin was informed about "the issues of the day" - and the answer was "I dunno." As so many conservatives have said, that alone is enough to disqualify McCain from being allowed to exercise his judgment in the White House.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

john mccain is easily amazed and has a short memory

John McCain is "amazed" that people are criticizing his choice of running mate, Sarah Palin the Moose-Hunting Snow-Mobile-Riding Speech-Giving-While-Water-Is-Breaking Mama. Sayeth the Maverick McCain, "I think she's most qualified of any that has run recently for vice president, tell you the truth."

This ... stunning ... statement gives the reader two options. One option is you can think that John McCain has completely and clearly lost it. More qualified than Joe Biden in 2008? More qualified than Al Gore in 1992? Even Dan Quayle in 1988 was more qualified than Sarah Palin.

And more to the point, Sarah Palin is more qualified than McCain's main object of man-love, Joe Lieberman, who ran in 2000? How quickly John forgets. Joe must be simply crushed. Although Palin, with her $150,000 wardrobe, is certainly better dressed and easier on the eyes.

The other way to read this of course is that McCain is lying out of his ass, and has no regard for anybody seeing the interview. He makes Richard Nixon and George W. Bush look sincere.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

a vote for john mccain is a vote for al qaeda

Al Qaeda are a bunch of nasty maggots who really don't understand things American as well as they think.  They do understand, correctly, that John McCain would be better for their cause than Barack Obama, because McCain is impulsive and trigger-happy, likely to follow in de facto President George W. Bush's footsteps and damaging further the American image and wasting American money - and the lives of American servicemen.

So I'd be surprised NOT to see some sort of "I am Osama Bin Laden and I like Barack Obama" kind of videotape come out between now and November 4 - with the goal of course of driving voters to McCain.  I just hope we as a nation are now smart enough to realize when we are being played for fools (we've had 8 years practice) and don't fall for it.  And early voting, underway now in 29 states, can't hurt.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the whole insurance thing is breaking down

An interesting article - the first of three - from the Los Angeles Times about how the American employer-based health insurance system is eroding.  From the article:

On Wall Street, they showcase their efforts to hold down expenses and maximize shareholder returns by excluding customers likely to need expensive care, including those with chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes. The companies lobby governments to take over responsibility for their sickest customers so they can reserve the healthiest (and most profitable) for themselves.

And we all know how hard it is to get private health care insurance if you can't get it thru your employer.  John McCain's $5000 tax credit won't help much - if you have a pre-existing condition that won't make even a dent in annual premiums, if you can even find somebody willing to insure you.  The big insurance companies primary activity is finding reasons to deny insurance to those who need it, and trying not to pay for procedures and medicines for those they deign to insure.

The system, always a jury-rigged thing that is an artifact of World War II wage caps, isn't working - if you define "working" as providing Americans with reasonable access to health care.  It works just fine for the big insurance companies' bottom lines.


Monday, October 20, 2008

the nasty (presidential) race

It is inconvenient for me that I never remember how to spell "hypocrisy" without looking it up, because it is a word that is so very very useful in describing the Republican Party in general and the campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin in particular. The former Party of Lincoln is running an increasingly racist campaign against Barack Obama.

You know it and so do I. So does Josh Marshall, who describes it well in his post warning Obama supporters not to assume victory. The McCain campaign is still hoping there is enough racism around to turn the campaign around - and by associating Obama with terrorists and Islam all the "non-real" America and being the dark (word chosen on purpose) and scary unknown "that one," they are helpfully reminding latent racists that surprise, Barack Obama is indeed black. From Marshall:

Stripped down to its components McCain's message to voters is this: "Don't forget. He's definitely black. And he may be a terrorist." That's the message. The nuts and bolts is a concerted effort to keep Democrats from voting -- through intimidation, by striking new voters from the rolls, which is going to happen to lots of them, clogging polling stations to create delays that keep late day (predominantly) Obama voters from voting altogether. Smears in the air and voter suppression on the ground.

And ironically the endorsement (for all the right reasons) by Colin Powell of Obama could play into this. Asked about it, McCain said it "doesn't come as a surprise". Now maybe my ear is straining to hear racist comments, but when I read that I assumed the subtext was "Powell is black, so is Obama, and you know those blacks all stick together". (Except Clarence Thomas and Alan Keyes, I guess.)

Oh and while talking of Republican hyprocisy (hey, got it right that time), I enjoyed this little NY Times piece about Republican men being particularly hot for Palin, comprising 2/3 of the audience at her pep rallies I mean Nuremberg/Klan rallies I mean campaign rallies.

One segment caught my eye:

"Katie Couric and Tina Fey are going to do their thing, but it doesn’t bother me at all,” said Rob McLain, an insurance agent from Avon, Ind., who attended a packed Palin rally at an amphitheatre in Indiana on Friday night. Mr. McLain wore a “Proud to be voting for a hot chick” button and was joined by his wife, Shannan (“Read my lipstick” button on lapel), and his 6-week-old son, Jaxon (“Nobama” button on beanie).
“The criticism is part of the process,” Mr. McLain said, adding of Ms. Palin, “Who can’t trust a mother?”
First, Katie Couric was merely committing journalism. Rob McLain, not a plumber and undoubtedly a Fox News watcher, simply doesn't recognize it since his preferred source of "news" doesn't actually commit journalism. The questions Couric asked of Palin weren't that hard - for a moderately prepared, remotely intelligent politician with national aspirations. It wasn't that hard. Dan Quayle did it all the time, and he came across like Einstein compared to Palin.

Second, somehow I doubt that Mr McLain would extend the trust for a mother to Hillary Clinton if she had won the nomination, or to Nancy Pelosi or Madeleine Albright or any other Democratic woman. Typical hypocracy I mean hypocrisy, although I wonder whether McLain and his ilk even have the self-knowledge to recognize that as a possible description of his statement. Rob just likes Palin because she is the typical right-wing male's fantasy: a woman who looks good in a short skirt who likes guns and hunting and hockey and spouts right-wing claptrap.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

sense about acorn

The Republicans and Fox News - pardon the redundancy - are all squawking about ACORN as if this would steal the election for Obama. It's absurd, of course, and purely a scare tactic. These are registrations, not votes, and ACORN is doing what it is required to do when it turns the registrations in, including ones for Mickey Mouse.

Hendrik Hertzberg explains here.



Presidential historian Robert Dallek calls on Barack Obama and John McCain to fully disclose their medical histories. Sure, it's an invasion of privacy - but that's the price of running for President.

Dallek's right. One three-hour examination of papers without allowing notes, copies, or a doctor in the room (McCain), or a single-page health history (Obama) isn't sufficient. Let alone questions about Joe Biden's heart, or Sarah Palin's (alleged) trip from Texas to Alaska after her water broke in order to give birth in Wasilla.


Saturday, October 18, 2008


So, 15%. Those are the odds that somebody like John McCain would die in the next 5 years. It goes to 34% over 10 years.

Care to take that big a chance on Sarah Palin becoming President?


Friday, October 17, 2008

mahoney baloney

So that Democratic Congressman down in Florida, Tim Mahoney, has confessed to multiple affairs, including the one with a woman he subsequently hired, Patricia Allen.

Infidelity in itself doesn't disqualify you from public office. But it ain't a good look. And HIRING somebody you are cheating on your spouse with is far, far worse. I think hiring somebody you're boffing is pretty bad. Bad enough to be grounds for removal from office, I'd say. Because that's an example of corruption, I think.

For what it's worth (not much), Mahoney is right when he says his situation is different from that of former Congressman Mark Foley, who's former seat Mahoney for now holds. Mahoney is having sex with consenting adults; Foley was soliciting underage people (the fact that they were the same sex as Foley isn't a factor).

But I can't bring myself to support whatever Republican Mahoney is running against, on the assumption he is a typical one. Still, looks like a seat the Democrats will lose. Good thing this won't be a 218-217 Congress.

Labels: ,

complaining about being called racist

Charles Krauthammer slams the Obama campaign and the media for all the attention they are paying to "a couple of agitated yahoos in a rally of thousands (who) yell something offensive and incendiary". He complains that not enough attention is being paid to Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers and ACORN (yes, Krauthammer knows how to use his RNC/Fox News talking points). He complains that if you raise these issues, the Democrats all shout "racist" and point the finger.

I see. Well, let's forget the fact (as Krauthammer did) that some of these people are shouting things like "kill him" and are carrying huge monkey dolls with "Obama" on them. And that it is happening quite often. And let's also forget that some Republican organizations like the one in California are engaged in overt racist propaganda, depicting Obama on food stamps with watermelons and fried chicken. And let's forget things like GOP Congressman Lynn Westmoreland calling Obama "uppity" (a word frequently followed in the South by the n-word), or all those idiots introducing McCain and Palin and being sure to use Obama's full name, Barack Hussein Obama.

So laying aside all of that, what do you call it, "evidence" of racism, I wonder how Krauthammer would react if say John McCain were Jewish (or DINO Joe Lieberman were on the McCain ticket) and "a couple of agitated yahoos" in Obama or Biden crowds made offensive remarks about Jews or denied the Holocaust?

I think we know. He would be appalled, as we ALL should be. But actually the important thing in this to ensure Krauthammer's disapproval isn't that the mythical McCain be Jewish. It's that he be Republican. That would earn him Krauthammer's no-doubt impassioned condemnation of racism or anti-semitism or whatever.

And of course Krauthammer skips over the entire issue of the candidates' inflammatory rhetoric, particularly Palin's but McCain too with his nasty little lines about not really knowing who Barack Obama is. As if he expects the Obama from that infamous New Yorker magazine cover to reveal himself and start going around burning flags and letting terrorists come to America.

Labels: ,

ohio, again

Let's just hope whatever happens on Election Day that it doesn't come down to a close vote count in Ohio... Because it is already getting ugly there (again) with Republicans suing to stop various things they don't like, to force Ohio to compare new voter registrations with other state records to look for "inconsistencies" to invalidate them.

You know, inconsistencies like being identified as "Sarah Palin" on your driver's license, but being "Sarah L. Palin" on your voter registration, clearly showing intent to defraud the Republican Party I mean American Democracy, and being further proof that the fraudulent voter in question probably pals around with terrorists, kills babies, is an elitist, and wants to speak with enemies without preconditions. Just the sort of little thing that the Republicans will seize on in their ongoing voter suppression effort.

At least this year there is a Democrat as the Secretary of State and chief election official for Ohio instead of that overtly partisan hack Kenneth Blackwell, who was so very helpful in 2004. I don't envy Jennifer Brunner. She should fight this every step of the way.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

one positive thing i can say about mccain

I like it that John McCain doesn't wear a flag pin in his lapel at the debates. Barack Obama does, after George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson accused him of being a communist for not wearing one earlier this year.

The flag pin, as an "issue," is plain stupid. Like McCain or not - and I don't - I don't doubt his patriotism just because he doesn't wear this dumb little politico fashion accessory.


a victim of the global economic mess

Looks like another victim of the ongoing financial/economic meltdown. The European Union is considering whether or not to delay its plan to reduce emissions to fight climate change.

The Stern Report and others have pointed out that we could slash emissions dramatically at the net cost of fractions of a percent of GDP. But we are so short-sighted and fixated on the here and now that we can't even recognize the real problem. Since unmitigated climate change will make a 700-loss day on the Dow Jones look like a picnic.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

three examples of republican america

Three otherwise unrelated bits today redolent of modern day Republicanism. First, the report that one in four working families are low-wage, according to Working Poor Families Project, based on Census Bureau data. And people are working long hours for low wages - "an average of 2,552 hours per year in 2006, the equivalent of almost one and a quarter full-time workers per family." Indicative of the family-unfriendly Republican slant against workers in favor of investors and employers...

Second, when asked what John McCain could do to turn his campaign around, former Speaker of the House and bomb-thrower in chief Newt Gingrich said
McCain has to focus on the Reid-Pelosi-Obama machine and the threats they pose to most Americans: Nancy Pelosi's call for "harsh measures"; the Democrats' proposal Monday to abolish 401(k) plans; the plan to strip Americans of the right to vote in a secret-ballot election before being coerced into joining a union; the tax increase on the investors who are needed to regrow the stock market and retirement plans, and their likely flight from American investments; the use of tax money to pay the liberal group ACORN, which is engaged in massive voter fraud in its registration drives in multiple states; the close ties Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, and Barney Frank have to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and the trillion-dollar spending increase in the Obama campaign promises. If McCain can make these facts stick, he can get back into the race.
The problem with Newt's "facts" is that they are all lies. Nobody is going to force people to join unions. ACORN collects voter registrations - some of which are inacccurate, but that is NOT "voter fraud" (voter fraud is what the Republicans do). Obama's ties to Fannie Mae are grotesquely exaggerated - and in any case Republicans are equally closely tied to the two. As for the tax increase on "the investors who are needed to regrow the stock market and retirement plans", would those be the same god-damn geniuses who got Wall Street and now Main Street into the mess it is in now? This is 21st Century Republicanism, of which Newt Gingrich is one of the fathers - lies and innuendos rather than addressing real problems because partisanship and winning power trumps all else.

And finally, this little story about how the CIA finally got in writing permission from the de facto Bush White House to torture people. They are torturing people in the name of the United States of America, the bright light, the beacon, the land of the free and home of the brave. And it is the fault of Republicans.

The above, and many more reasons, are why we should all vote for Barack Obama in November. Even if you don't like anything about him (although personally I find a great deal about him that I do like), he has the tremendous advantage of being None of the Above. We can't take more of this.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Isn't nationalizing things fun? I don't generally recommend it - I do believe in the free market and all. But in this instance it is probably wise to inject capital and I hope more importantly confidence into the financial system, lest its shakiness further undermine the real economy.
Even many of the saner variety of Republicans think this is an instance when government action is needed. This would have never happened if George W. Bush were still President.

Still, the banks are an ungrateful bunch, says Steven Pearlstein. He's right - positively Bushian in their refusal to admit fault.


Monday, October 13, 2008


In a poll, 88% of Americans are concerned about the direction the US economy is taking.

What are the other 12% thinking????

facts about "acorn"

Lately the McCain campaign has been bleating about something called ACORN, alleging that it is out there stealing votes and registering people in Chicago graveyards as Democrats. And of course, alleging that evil community organizers - hey, wasn't Barack Obama a community organizer? - are behind this.

A good article by Tom Matzzie at HuffPo describes what ACORN really does, and why the Republicans are crying about it - without justification. Matzzie doesn't, however, note that this is another example of dog-whistle racism, since the unspoken word is that these people being registered are all minorities. You know, not real Americans like Sarah I-got-a-free-house-and-tried-to-fire-my-no-good-brother-in-law-and-my-daughter's-knocked-up Palin. Or like John I-got-everything-in-the-Navy-because-my-daddy-and-granddaddy-were-admirals-even-though-I-wrecked-a-bunch-of-planes-and-serially-cheated-on-my-wife McCain.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

do all alaskan politicians get free houses?

I don't know whether this will be a Big Story, but indispensable Alaskan politics blogger Mudflats has uncovered word that a bunch of Alaskan contractors chipped in to build a house for their buddies Sarah and Todd Palin just because that's the kind of people they are. Not because the town of Wasilla - one Sarah Palin, Mayor - had just given a huge contract to those contractors for the biggest project in Wasilla's history.

There is a lot of that going around in Alaska, it seems.


the mortgage crisis is NOT because of the end of redlining

There have been nasty little comments and whispers by some - Republicans, naturally, so much for the Party of Lincoln - about how the whole financial crisis was caused by the Government telling banks they had to loan money to minorities.

That is a vicious rumor. And it is false. Michelle Singletary has a good column about the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which "seeks to ensure the provision of credit to all parts of a community, regardless of the relative wealth or poverty of a neighborhood."

The CRA didn't require lenders to give money to disqualified people - but it meant that just because Joe Blow lived in Neighborhood X you couldn't automatically refuse to lend him money. You had to look at Joe Blow's finances and credit history instead. And you had to give him terms the same as somebody else with his financial qualifications.

The CRA and other acts made it harder to be simply racist in refusing to lend to certain neighborhoods or people with certain kinds of names.

It did NOT, as a letter writer to Singletary mistakenly believes, "legalized the idea that lending institutions could not make loan decisions based solely on criteria such as income and ability to pay the loan back".

Singletary: No sir, it wasn't lending under CRA rules that took down the mortgage industry. It was greedy, reckless banking executives, lending officers and mortgage brokers who were supposed to properly screen borrowers and apply prudent loan underwriting standards. It was lax and inadequate federal and state regulation that allowed exotic and predatory mortgages to be sold to borrowers.

Further, a new study by the Bank for International Settlements, a very boring and sober group of people in Switzerland who are important to the global financial system, found that "the vast majority of the toxic loans stinking up mortgage-backed securities had nothing to do with CRA compliance."

So don't blame the bogus idea that banks were forced to make loans to unqualified minorities for the banking crisis.

Update: Another good article by Daniel Gross at Slate about the right's false demonization of the poor and minorities for what is a financial crisis provoked by the greed and recklessness of the rich.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

look to japan

Remember back in the 1980s people were predicting America's decline and saying Japan would be the superpower of the future? Back in the 1980s we looked to Japan to learn how Japanese companies did what they did, and what we could learn from Japan's system of government and corporate governance.

Not much as it turned out - the Japanese bubble didn't last.

And now, suggests Anthony Faiola, we can look to Japan again to see whether its Lost Decade is something we might be heading towards. Faiola said it wasn't so bad for Japan, the Lost Decade. True, in the sense that even with its economic problems, Japan's economy is one most countries could only dream of having.

But it's not a very inspiring image for us to look to now, unfortunately.


republican contradictions, october 11 edition

It's fun watching Republicans spout nonsense and contradict themselves and each other!

For example, John McCain actually told a woman not to call Barack Obama an Arab - conceding that Obama is a decent, if completely wrong about everything McCain believes in, American. But that tiny flash of decency continues to be contradicted by the absurd, spurious allegations of Obama being anti-American because he happened to live in a neighborhood and serve on charity boards, etc, with ex-Weatherman William Ayers. And further contradicted by other Republicans who want McCain to resurrect Obama's "associations" with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Why? Because Republicans are dirty fighters, as Harold Ford reminds us. Not just dirty - dangerous and reckless about the consequences to our society.

Meanwhile, Colin Powell says that Senator Ted Stevens was somebody whose "word you could rely on." Isn't Powell's value as a character witness ruined by the people he associated with? You know, people like de facto President George Bush and King Dick Cheney? Not to mention others in the sleazy wing of the Republican Party. Hell, Powell must be at least as much associated with Jack Abramoff and other disgraced Republicans as Obama is with Ayers.

In the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field I mean Anchorage, a bunch of Alaskan legislators - Republicans and Democrats - unanimously found that Governor Sarah Palin had abused her power in firing Walter Monegan as part of Sarah & Todd's personal campaign against their brother in law Michael Wooten. (Mudflats as usual is all over this.) But gosh, this contradicts the report released just a day earlier saying that the Palins had done nothing wrong. You know, the Palin on Palin report. Abusing power? Maybe Palin WAS a more appropriate Vice Presidential nominee than I'd realized.


Friday, October 10, 2008

ooops, sorry

You might have noticed the world's financial system unraveling out there. Not just in the US. Check out Iceland, with all of its three big banks going belly-up.

And Korea is hurting too, its stocks down 36% this year. So what does Korea's Finance Minister Kang Man-Soo have to say about this fine mess as he goes to Washington for routine-turned-emergency World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings?

"The United States almost forced the rest of the world to open up their financial sectors. It has been telling the world that its derivatives are an advanced technique created by some genius."

Hmm, I guess we DID do that, didn't we?



Thursday, October 09, 2008

reviewing afghanistan policy NOW?

The de facto Bush Administration (I won't have to write that phrase soon) is urgently reviewing its Afghanistan policy because you know, it ain't going so good there.

They are reviewing it NOW? Seven years after starting out so well there?

Yes, largely because, as Barack Obama keeps reminding John McCain, we started withdrawing troops from Afghanistan before Bin Laden was captured and the Taliban eradicated to start on the George Bush and Dick Cheney neocon project to remake the Middle East in their image, starting with Iraq.

Recently a senior British official said Afghanistan is unwinnable. But we can't afford to leave the Taliban in place. Verily a conundrum. Pity the Bush regime took the eye off the ball.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

un-american alaskans

Sarah Palin continues to slam Barack Obama for being involved in some organizations that former '60s radical William Ayers is part of. Says Obama is supporting terrorists.

Of course, we all know Obama was 9 years old when Ayers was doing his Weatherman thing.

But Sarah Palin has a much closer association with anti-American organizations that espouse violence against the American state. In fact, she is sleeping with such a person. Remember, "First Dude" Todd Palin belonged for years to the Alaska Independence Party. And David Talbot at Salon writes about the lunatic ideas of the AIP here.


republican america in action in maryland

More details are coming out in testimony before the State Senate about Maryland's 2005-06 domestic surveillance program, which was apparently bigger than we thought.

They were watching such dangerous types as opponents of the death penalty and anti-war protesters. And 53 nonviolent people were classified as terrorists and entered into various state and federal computer programs for tracking terrorists. Even state senators.

Pretty over the top. But the ex-head of the state police, one Thomas E. Hutchins, still defends it: "Hutchins said the program was a bulwark against potential violence and called the activists 'fringe people.'"

"Fringe people"? Yeah, they probably are, to most of us. Many of these lefty protest types are unusual people. But since when does being a fringe person mean you are a potential terrorist?

Needless to say, Hutchins and governor Robert Ehrlich didn't manage to find any right-wing groups to suspect of terrorism during the program's life. Even though right-wing groups like neo-Nazis, survivalists, "militia" types, anti-abortion groups, etc are far more likely to be armed and to inflict harm than a bunch of aging hippies protesting the death penalty. Ask the people of Oklahoma City, who still remember the name of Tim McVeigh. Or the families and friends of doctors assassinated for providing abortions.

This is a very Republican kind of operation - demonize people on the left to scare the rest of us into going along with whatever kind of civil-liberty-infringing police state type tactic they care to inflict. A very Bush, a very McCain, a very Palin kind of vision. One we should all reject.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

never mind the financial crisis, did you know that barack obama once murdered a priest in church?

I don't think the McCain campaign has resorted to that particular lie yet, but it's how they're running their campaign. Palin continues to parrot nasty lies about Obama associating with "domestic terrorists" (hey thanks for the "domestic" word there, McCain campaign - at least we know it ain't Bin Laden or the IRA or something). McCain drops hints and allegations about not knowing the "real" Barack Obama, as if that infamous New Yorker magazine cover from a few months ago were possibly true and Barack and Michelle will be fist-bumping and flag-burning in the Oval Office if we all are dumb enough to fall for Obama's dusky charms.

Meanwhile, markets are on the verge of collapse - not just in the US, land of the free and home of the Republican-deregulated financial system, but also in countries like Ireland and Germany and Britain and France where various huge banks and other financial things are creaking alarmingly and threatening to fall down around their depositors' ears.

And as Richard Cohen and Eugene Robinson both point out, the mainstream press is falling for McCain/Palin's antics. They are fixating on various character assassinations and Sarah Palin's cutesy flirtatious winks at the cameras (sending a thrilling shudder thru the groin of countless male media types) in a desparate attempt to keep The Topic Of The Day - the economy - away from the headlines, or at least not associated with the Presidential race. Because the McCain campaign can read the polls and realize that a very large majority of the American electorate agree with Obama's approaches to economic problems - and frankly other issues, too.

If we fall for this and elect McCain, we'll deserve what we get. Erratic leadership from an ill-tempered, self-centered, narcissistic fly-boy and his cutesy but intolerant hottie veep who will be one ageing geezer's heartbeat from the reins of power. Oh, and we'll get more nifty Supreme Court picks like Roberts and Scalia and Alito and Thomas, too.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 05, 2008

terrorists and mean girls

The McCain campaign know they can't win based on the issues or based on the merits of their candidates - so they're going all dirty, all the time. And Sarah Palin leads the charge, talking about Barack Obama "palling around with terrorists" based on that slim connection of his to 1960s radical William Ayers. Oh but in a nice bit of dog-whistle racist politics the McCain campaign's talking points for Palin fail to mention Ayers, letting the uninformed imagine that it is Obama and Osama or something like that.

And speaking of Palin, I wonder what the reaction of punditry would have been if a good looking but otherwise unqualified male presidential (or vice-presidential) candidate had been winking at the camera and doing the male version of flirting during a televised debate? Anyway, a female reader at Andrew Sullivan's blog , who calls Palin the archetypal "mean girl" who polarizes women, makes a nice point:

You could almost hear a collective embarrassed groan from educated, non-neoconservative women all over the world who have worked their asses off to be taken seriously only to have this bimbo blatantly and on camera attempt to reduce the role of women to their ability to flirt.