Saturday, January 31, 2009

14 is more than enough

At first the octuplet story was just one of those "gee whiz" good news sorts of things, a 12-hour wonder.

Then you find out the mother, Nadya Suleman, conceived those eight kids thru in vitro and kept all eight (which doctors recommend against, but her call). And that BEFORE the in vitro treatment, she already had SIX young children.

What kind of doctor would give fertility treatments to somebody who has had six children already?

Personally, if I were running a health insurance company I wouldn't authorize payment for fertility treatments for somebody who already has six young children. They are great for women that can't conceive and really want children (and are apparently unwilling to adopt). Suleman had more than her fair ration, I'd say.

Friday, January 30, 2009

time to move on health care

Paul Krugman puts it well - this is exactly the right time to move on providing health care now.

Unemployment is an economic AND a health crisis. It will NEVER be cheap. Doing it now will give something to the "regular" American, while we're bailing out bankers.

Don't wait, President Obama.

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that flushing sound you hear...

... Is the sound of the US and global economies going down the toilet. More lay-offs in the US. Even more stunning to me was the announcement out of Tokyo that Japan's factory production was down 9.6%. That is a massive drop - and as much as anything, reflects the weakness in Japan's top export market, the US.

More numbers here, none good.

And yet the Republicans still are calling for the tried and failed policy of tax cuts to stimulate the economy. It's beyond that. Tax cuts trickle in thru the year, so their complaint that government spending won't take effect immediately applies to their preferred policy too.

But that doesn't matter because it would help the Republican Party's base - the Wall Street fat cats that got $20 billion in bonuses. Same that they got in 2004, when business was good. So it isn't rewarding performance, is it? Of course, they will say - with straight faces - that they need to pay those bonuses to keep people from leaving.

Why try so hard to retain people that have collectively brought Wall Street to the brink of collapse? Maybe it's time they fired everybody and started over. There are lots of unemployed who'd be glad to give it a shot.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

zero republicans

The House Republican Party is sufficiently concerned about the economic situation bequeathed by former de facto President George W. Bush that they provided zero votes (0) to the stimulus.

So much for Obama's honeymoon.

This is the Republican Party showing its true stripes, and placing partisanship above the nation. Let's keep this in mind next time there is a Republican president.



Al Gore was before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, talking again about the dangers of climate change and urging caps on emissions. Even the Republicans were respectful; apparently global warming is no longer just for Democrats.

And Dana Milbank snarks his whole way thru the story. The gist? Al Gore aka "The Goracle" (Milbank's name, not mine) was on the Hill and it was all a major bummer dude, and who knew Al Gore had a sense of humor, and all The Goracle can do is scare people.

This is journalism? Milbank gets paid to write crap like this?

How do I get a job like that? If the Danasnarkacle can get paid to write such shallow tripe, I'm sure I could similarly rise to the challenge.

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that cia guy in algeria

The story about the allegations than Andrew Warren, apparently the top CIA dude in Algeria, raped two Algerian women (that we know of) after giving them knock-out drugs in drinks at his house, is pretty bad. Raping women in the country you are representing the US in is not very good form. Wonder what the Feds will do with him, if the allegations are true?

Oh, and another thing: apparently per ABC, "the women's accounts were backed up by videotapes that were found in the CIA officer's residence. The tapes, apparently secretly made, allegedly show the CIA officer engaged in sex acts with several women, including one of the alleged victims in the case who appears to be in a semiconscious state, the network reported."

I thought the CIA used videotape to record OTHER PEOPLE doing bad things that they could blackmail them over to make them give secrets to the US. Isn't taping YOURSELF doing something illegal kind of getting this backward?

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Iceland hasn't been in the news this much since Reagan and Gorbachev met there back in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the news is all bad. Banks sought out new horizons, encouraged by a a more liberal or laxer (the word depends on where your ideological sympathies lie) regulatory environment. The banks went "poof", the Icelandic krona collapsed, Icelanders are now worth approximately 432% less than they were one year ago, and now they are unhappy.

They are even protesting in the streets for the first time since the Icelandic vikings rioted in the 11th century over the lack of skulls to cleave.


So what is 55,000? The population of a mid-sized town in upstate New York? Money a teacher makes per year in Dallas, Texas.

Nope, it is the jobs lost in the US. In one day. Ranging from Caterpillar laying off 20,000 (!) because of dropping demand in places like China, to car companies like GM (2000) to communications outfits like Sprint (8000) and tech firms like Texas Instruments (3400).

So some government spending would be good right now, if Congress gets over the ideological complaints of the minority Republicans and gets a move on.

But one positive job development for Andy Pettitte, who signed with the New York Yankees. Sure, he took a pay cut (a mere $5.5 million, enough to buy a $100 grocery store gift certificate for everybody laid off yesterday) - but at least HE doesn't have to worry about finding a job now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

injustice, continued

Just because de facto President George W. Bush is gone back to Texas doesn't mean that Republican attacks on justice are over. This time, it's literal - they don't want to approve Eric Holder as Attorney-General unless Obama's Department of Justice promises not to prosecute anybody over national security abuses.

Funny. I thought the Bush and Republican Party line was that there WERE no crimes committed, and nobody was tortured, and no civil liberties were infringed, and no laws broken. So what are they worried about? The fact that they want such a guarantee is the very best reason for refusing to give one.

It's an unAmerican thing to do, to ask for assurances that essentially put these men above the law. UnAmerican, and Republican.

I don't know whether or not there is a good case, and a good reason, to prosecute. But as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said, "Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system -- especially those with experience as prosecutors or judges -- should know that a prosecutor should make no determination about who to prosecute before he or she has all the facts, and particularly not in response to legislative pressure."

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Friday, January 23, 2009

consistent republicans

So good to see the Republicans are remaining true to their ideals. For example, they oppose the planned stimulus package. SoDak Republican Senator John Thune worries it will make the big deficit even bigger, in keeping with the Republican policy that only Republican presidents and Republican Congresses may blow out the budget by spending on Republican priorities like tax cuts for the rich, and guns.

Charles Grassley of Iowa fears that giving money to the states for Medicaid is a bad idea. Grassley all of a sudden wants some sort of fiscal discipline on state governors; the fact that this would help the poor is in direct contravention to the GOP standard "help the rich, soak the poor" policy.

Meanwhile, in the real world, even MICROSOFT is laying off people for the first time ever.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

what got to me

I swore I wouldn't get all teary-eyed watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I have that habit, and I'm trying to break it. Kinda wussy, you know?

I was doing okay. But then the cameras panned to the group of old black gentlemen, wearing baseball caps that identified them as the Tuskegee Airmen. In a flash, the thought of the way these guys served the country that wouldn't let them be served in restaurants. And even as they flew and fought for the United States in World War II, they were segregated.

All that flashed thru my mind in an instant. And I was glad that some of them are still around to see Obama assume office.

And I kinda lost it there.

wishes, good and ill, for president barack hussein obama

President Barack Hussein Obama. Good to write that. Best wishes to him - he'll need it.

Of course, not everybody wishes him well.

Take, for example, good old Rush Limbaugh. In an interview, Limbaugh openly expressed his desire that Obama fail.

So, Limbaugh either fails to understand that a failed presidency would have serious consequences for the United States - especially NOW, following one grievously failed presidency, with the economy in a shambles, climate changing, and two wars going on. OR Limbaugh is such a partisan tool that he is willing to accept such consequences; in other words, he values partisanship and conservatism above the well-being of the United States of America and its people.

I vote for the latter.

On the other hand, it could be the oxycontin talking.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

four more hours

Okay, it's almost over. How much more damage can de facto President George W. Bush do in four hours? Especially with Dick Cheney in a wheelchair?

Of course, they have done enough damage. Best wishes Barack Obama, and good luck. You - and we - will need it.


pardon me?

If this is to be believed, Bush isn't pardoning anybody except a couple of border agents. Not Scooter Libby, Michael Milken, Ted Stevens. Nobody.

Very interesting. I loathe and despise Bush. But this, if true, would be a good thing. I was expecting pre-emptive pardons.


Monday, January 19, 2009

out of work

It just breaks my heart to read that many Republican lackeys are finding it difficult to find a job in these soon-to-be-post-Bush times. "All that experience"?

Experience only counts if it is remotely successful. Go back to Pocatello.

But how the hell did Condi Rice bamboozle Stanford into taking her back?

And why is John Yoo employed at ALL in the legal profession after his utterly cynical disregard for the law, blatantly putting what his bosses wanted to hear ahead of professional judgment and human dignity.


an obama surprise fact

Skimming all the press coverage about Tuesday's inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States, this little tidbit about Obama as a young man surprised me the most:

"he tried to curse like the late comedian Richard Pryor"

I don't know why, but that cracks me up! Obama's public face is so cool (in the "calm" sense) that it is difficult to imagine him dropping f-bombs and the rest like Richard Pryor.

But it does at least show very good taste in choosing a comedian to emulate.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

way, way, way too late for that, bushies

I was hoping that de facto President George W. Bush would fade away after Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Tuesday. Instead, we see that he wants to do more with his post-de-facto-presidency than just have a stupid "I love me", supporter-and-energy-company paid, presidential library.

Seems he wants to establish a "Freedom Institute." Said institute will, according to Bush's former counselor and permanent lackey Dan Bartlett, allegedly "become an incubator of ideas, discussion and debate about the issues that were front and center during his presidency, including the controversy. The idea here is to have a place where that debate can continue."

Somehow, I doubt that. Bush hardly tolerated dissent within his Administration, at least not on the topics he was actually paying attention to. I don't see him exactly opening up to Michael Moore or Paul Krugman, etc, to "debate" Bush's appalling record. It will be a center for hagiography centered on St George of Texas (the Younger). And you know what, I bet that "torture" and "Katrina" and "firing US attorneys for being insufficiently partisan" and "shredding our civil liberties" and "ignoring the warnings before 9/11" will be nowhere to be found.

And now for a real laugher. Mark Langdale, an old Bush Texas crony who got to be Ambassador to Costa Rica (clearly running a string of hotels is adequate training for the job of diplomacy in the Bush regime), is president of the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation.

And Langdale, apparently keeping a straight face, said this "policy" institute ("policy" being Bush-talk for self-serving asskissing suck-upism) will be "a place where you're trying to advance effective policy solutions above a partisan level. "

Well WHY the HELL did Bush wait till AFTER his misbegotten Presidency to try to advance effective policy solutions above a partisan level? I mean, isn't that just a little bit late? If Bush and his boss Dick Cheney and his senior minions Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales, and the rest had advanced effective policy solutions above a partisan level, Bush wouldn't have a sub-30% approval rating. If they had advanced effective policy solutions above a partisan level, Bush would be a revered beloved President who could look forward to his retirement.

Instead, this is one more step in trying to airbrush history. The best defense against being deemed a failure by history is to be effective. Bush had his chance. He failed.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

signs of the times

First sign: Circuit City is finito. All 567 stores are closing, and 34,000 employees will lose their jobs.

Second sign: foreclosures are rising. This story focuses on Southern California. One interesting tidbit that refutes the bullshit line some conservative Republicans are pushing about how this whole crisis was allegedly caused by banks being "forced" to give mortgages to people who weren't qualified is the fact that now, the Post believes, "the number of prime mortgages in delinquency exceeded the subprime loans in danger of default."

Wait till some of those adjustable rate mortgages start moving way up in 2010 and 2011. This could get much uglier.

Third sign: the New York Times writes about people Harvard bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren advising people to conduct "financial fire drills" in case you lose your job. Gist of the story: look for ways to cut spending (really do a married/no children couple need THREE cars?), consider borrowing, and make any investments you have more conservative.


Friday, January 16, 2009

obama's leased car

On one hand, it disturbs me to learn via Al Kamen that Barack Obama leased a Chrysler for three years. No, I'm okay with it being a Chrysler - it's just that about 99% of the time, leasing a car, any car, is a stupid thing to do financially. At the end of three years, you've paid all that money and you don't own a thing.

On the other hand, when Obama turned it in, the car was in immaculate condition. Now, he's inheriting a country that's not in such good shape - but hopefully he can take as good care of that as of his Chrysler.

just leave, already

I didn't watch de facto President George Bush's presumably last TV address. I didn't need to. I knew he'd be doing the full self-justification thing. And I knew watching him would only make me angry.

But it's good to see Bush, Condi Rice, Laura, and the rest all giving each other awards and plaudits. They better - ain't nobody else ready to give them anything but a one-way bus ticket to Dallas.

Oh, and they should be careful about their foreign travel plans. Attorney-General designate Eric Holder told the Senate he thought waterboarding was torture. And I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Holder's counterparts in other countries thought so, too. And a bunch of prosecutors. And you know, in international law, torture is one of those things anybody can grab and prosecute somebody for.

Remember ex-Chilean President Pinochet was arrested in Europe and was only let off from being tried because of his health...

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

check, check

A study to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that "Surgical teams that followed a basic cockpit-style checklist in the operating room, from confirming the patient's name to discussing expected blood loss, reduced the rate of deaths and complications by more than a third,"

That's pretty good. Simple, cost-effective, makes everybody happy.

If it's good enough for pilots and surgeons, we could perhaps consider it for other professions too. Just think if we had it in our government for example...

"Ok, sir, before we make this decision, let me go thru the checklist. Your name and position?"

"George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, and Texas."

"Good, sir. Next - form of government?"

"Decidership?" "Constitutional monarchy?" (thinks) "Oh yeah, yeah, right - a republic."

"Your role, sir?"

"Umm, make laws that I like and invade whoever the hell I want?"

"No sir, you said that yesterday too. Remember sir, the job description says you execute the laws of the country and you are commander in chief, but you have to share power with Congress."

"Dammit, that's not what Dick told me!"


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

bush official on torture

"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani." Who said that? Susan J. Crawford, life-long Republican and experienced judge, who is the convening authority of military commissions.

Crawford didn't lay it solely on the interrogators, either, saying the techniques were authorized.

She detailed the physical and mental abuse heaped on Qahtani (who, no doubt, would have been happy to fly a plane into the World Trade Center, as he had planned).

We already know torture is ineffective, that there are better techniques to get information, and that even the Israelis agree torture doesn't work.

But Crawford also made this point about the torture she has found in her investigation: "I was upset by it. I was embarrassed by it. If we tolerate this and allow it, then how can we object when our servicemen and women, or others in foreign service, are captured and subjected to the same techniques? How can we complain? Where is our moral authority to complain? Well, we may have lost it."

Well said. Even if torture WERE effective, we as a country should be above using it.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

remember social security privatization?

Allan Sloan does. And here he points out some of the real risks it would have involved. The essence: a couple that happened to retire in late 2007 could have ended up with Social Security payouts as much as 50% higher than a couple that retired in late 2008, even given that they had the exact same portfolio at the time the 2007 couple retired. Why? Bad luck on timing for the 2008 retirees, nothing more.

Timing the market is difficult and risky. Even RISKIER when your retirement relies on it.

Privatizing Social Security. A dumb idea. Let's not repeat it, OK Team Obama?

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Monday, January 12, 2009


I love it. De facto President George W. Bush on Fox says the Republican Party should be "compassionate." But they shouldn't change their philosophy, which includes tax cuts for the rich, service cuts for the rest of us, softening protections on the environment and refusing to take action on global warming, spying on us without warrants, and torture.

Some compassion.

Well we know the Bush-Cheney regime has been disastrous socially, politically, environmentally, scientifically. And numbers confirm what we all understand - it has sucked economically, too. To quote the Post: President Bush has presided over the weakest eight-year span for the U.S. economy in decades, according to an analysis of key data, and economists across the ideological spectrum increasingly view his two terms as a time of little progress on the nation's thorniest fiscal challenges.

"Little progress?" I'd say not. Remember when he came into office the question was what to do with the Bill Clinton budget SURPLUSES? And now we have massive deficits, achieved not in the cause of investing in infrastructure, research and development, healthcare, or schooling. No, it went to tax cuts for the rich, so they could buy additional ski lodges in Vail and summer homes in Tuscany and more Botox treatments.

The only worse Presidency since 1960 than Bush's in terms of economic growth was that of his proud Poppy, George H. W. Bush. Still want to see Jeb get a shot?

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

this isn't a monarchy

De facto President George W. Bush and ex-President George H. W. Bush took a ride out to the latest aircraft carrier in the US Navy - the USS George H. W. Bush. Note the initials - the Navy clearly wants to leave room for a USS George W. Bush, too.

This bugs me. No, not specifically that we are honoring Poppy Bush and, much worse, may well honor Bush Junior in this way.

More generally, I don't think the United States Navy should name ships, subs, bathrooms, or ANYTHING after living American politicians, active or retired. And to extend that further, I don't think the Federal government should name buildings, installations, or anything after LIVING politicians.

Why? First, it's like living in a monarchy. Naming aircraft carriers (or nuclear subs, in the case of Jimmy Carter, a former submariner) for you is the closest thing the United States has to a title of nobility. And it smacks of monarchy, which is fine for Britain and Canada and Thailand and all, but I think is inappropriate for our Republic.

Second, it is an invitation to bribery and corruption. How much crap in Alaska is named for Ted Stevens? I know that pork-barrel spending will exist without naming roads and bridges and schools after members of Congress. But anything that removes the ego-boost part of the incentive I think would be an improvement.

Believing in the separation of powers and all that, I am perfectly fine if the states or private organizations want to name things after living national or local politicians, soap-opera actresses, or characters from the Simpsons. For starters, we could let the airport located on the Potomac River jettison the "Reagan" name it was forced by the Republican Congress to swallow at pains of losing $$$$, and let it return to its former name honoring the Father of our Country - George Washington National Airport.


regrets, has she had a few?

Today Maureen Dowd notes how de facto President George W. Bush, de facto King Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the rest are quite happy with their performance at the highest ranks of the American government. Dowd writes, correctly, that "things keep spiraling while W. keeps fiddling. Just as when he was in the National Guard and didn’t bother to show up, now, as the scabrous consequences of his missteps shake the economy and the world, he doesn’t bother to show up. He’s checked out — spending his time on more than a dozen exit interviews that do nothing to change his image as a president who was over his head and under Cheney’s spell."


So Dowd, do you regret your role in the selection of Bush as President? Remember, all you media types, how you ripped Al Gore for (allegedly) saying he invented the Internet, for getting fashion advice from Naomi Wolf, for sighing, for being a stiff bore, for carping on about climate change and the environment?

In short, you and others in the so-called liberal media collectively committed character assassination on Gore to the point that Bush was able to eke out (helped by Poppy's Supreme Court) a dubious victory in the electoral college (but STILL losing the popular vote).

Any regrets there, Maureen?

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

holden nomination

The Republicans have obviously picked Eric Holden out as the nominee to get, Bill Richardson mercifully having excused us all from watching his affairs being opened to scrutiny.

The GOPsters are fixated on his role in the Marc Rich pardon, which was a mistake but ultimately was Bill Clinton's call to make, right or wrong (wrong).

Why? Says the Post, Holder supporters fear that grueling confirmation hearings dissecting his record could interfere with Obama's effort to restore confidence in the Justice Department.

That's part of it. I think many of the Republicans are worried about what a rejuvenated Justice Department might do. After all, there is I suspect much more about the secretive and criminal-minded de facto Bush Administration that has yet to come out.

Also, the Republicans want Holder to demonstrate his "independence" from Obama. Funny, they didn't seem to care that Alberto Gonzales' lips were puckered at the derriere of Bush-Cheney the entire time HE was pretending to be Attorney General. Given Obama's track record, I suspect Holden will be FAR more independent than Gonzales or John Ashcroft were.

Oh, and judge Royce Lamberth has shed a little light on the Bush regime, which wanted to keep its visitor logs secret. Wouldn't want to reveal those oil and timber lobbyists who spend so much time there, eh? Not to mention Jeff Guckert.


Friday, January 09, 2009

palin is almost right about something, and the media has done us wrong but that was eight years ago

Talking about presidential campaigns, Alaska Governor and sexy, winking-at-the-camera moose-killer Sarah Palin said in an interview "When did we start accepting as hard news sources bloggers...? It's a sad state of affairs in the world of the media today, mainstream media especially, that they're going to rely on bloggers... for their hard news information."

Hey, whaddaya know? Sarah Palin has hit it right on the head with a really good question. The mainstream media SHOULD know better than accepting Matt Drudge's ravings as real news. Remember Drudge's headlines in late October that McCain was on the verge of electoral victory? That was wishful thinking. More often though, Drudge and Malkin and their ilk are just playing their role as part of the right-wing noise machine, loyal little Republican drones.

Except of course, Palin wasn't talking about Drudge, she was reserving her ire for Andrew Sullivan and others who didn't treat her with kid gloves. She also told Katie Couric that she wasn't the center of the universe. Well, that's actually true - the center of the universe doesn't have an evening news anchor, but a black hole. She was also complaining about anonymous blogs (which I cut from the quote because it doesn't fit Drudge), but the big blogs that people pay attention to aren't anonymous; chalk that up to Palin's stupidity or a willingness to distort the truth, or my choice, BOTH.

This is in an interview to promote a "documentary" by right-wing noise machine member John Ziegler called "Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected." Seems poor Ziegler, who of course isn't remotely biased, thinks if the media had just given John McCain and Sarah Palin a fair shake, they would have won.

Ziegler is right. There has been media malpractice in presidential elections. Except that happened in 1999-2000 and its victim was primarily Al Gore (as you can re-learn if you go thru the archives at The Daily Howler).

Gore was the primary victim of the lies and innuendoes, and not just from Fox News but from allegedly liberal members of the media like Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich and the Washington Post, all of which delighted in criticizing Gore for taking fashion tips and for allegedly saying he invented the Internet (he never said that) and for sighing during a presidential debate and for not looking like a guy who would be fun to drink beer with, while giving his opponent a free ride on things like using his Poppye's influence to avoid being drafted to go to Vietnam (Gore went) and then going AWOL, and doing cocaine and other drugs until he was 40 years old, and being the beneficiary of sweetheart business deals that made him rich because of who his daddy was.

The secondary victims? The United States and the rest of the world that had to suffer through eight years of misrule by de facto George Bush and de facto king Dick Cheney.

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don't squib the stimulus

Congressional Democrats are complaining that President-elect Barack Obama's stimulus plan isn't bold enough. More importantly since he doesn't represent a district or state that might want money, Paul Krugman also believes this. Read his column here, but his key criticism is that "with both consumer spending and business investment plunging, a huge gap is opening up between what the American economy can produce and what it’s able to sell. And the Obama plan is nowhere near big enough to fill this 'output gap.'"

Obama recognizes the problem - as he said at George Mason University, "For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs. More families will lose their savings. More dreams will be deferred and denied. And our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse."

The numbers are bad and not getting better. Yes, this stimulus is a huge thing to contemplate, and yes it will suck to pay back the deficit. But unless the deficits run by former de facto President Bush and the Republican Congress, THIS deficit will in the cause of keeping people working and avoiding an economic meltdown, not designed to allow Bush's base - the elite - to renovate their vacation homes and buy new luxury yachts.

This isn't the time for being too cautious. Don't squib the stimulus.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

mortgage utility?

Soon to be former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in a speech proposed replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with something like a mortgage utility. Something heavily regulated, there to raise money from investors by bundling mortgages that would have formal US government backing. Unlike Fannie and Freddie, Paulson said such an entity would NOT hold investment portfolios.

It would be doing mundane, workaday sort of financial services, more for the benefit of the housing and mortgage sectors than in a quest for ever higher profits.

It doesn't sound like a bad idea.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

again, don't listen to the republicans on the economy

The editorialists at the Washington Post, allegedly a liberal newspaper, is again proving its Republican tendencies. Remember, this was the chief cheerleader for war with Iraq. Now it is cheering for a "cautious" economic stimulus package. The economically illiterate editorialists think it is just fine if the stimulus package is delayed because they're afraid it will make the deficit higher.

They are okay with that even though there are sirens going off all over the economy about its sharp downturn, the latest being declines in orders from US factories. Even though unemployment is going up - only 4.4% in the DC area because of the US government, but 6.7% nationally and heading higher. Even though the Federal Reserve sees a significant risk of a "prolonged contraction" - and the Fed, with interest rates near zero, is running low on actions it can take beyond quantitative easing. And tax cuts only help people with JOBS. Deficits can be dealt with later. But every month somebody is unemployed is a month he or she can't get back, and a month of damage to the economy AND to our ability to pay off the huge deficits that de facto President George W. Bush and the pander-to-the-rich Republican Congress has bequeathed us all.

It's like the Post editorialists don't read their own newspaper. And they want Obama to get significant buy-in from the Republican minority in Congress. Why? First of all, they are two-faced and economically stupid. Senator Mitch McConnell, who all of a sudden is a budget hawk - why not when Bush was still around, Mitch? - wants the Feds to loan states money. But the states can't afford to take on new debts. Harold Myerson points out this was tried in 1932 under that other brilliant Republican president, Herbert Hoover. And back then, the states also declined the offer, and the economic crisis grew worse.

And beyond their stupid and narrowly partisan ideas, why go out of the way for GOP support? Because you know damn well that if the economy is still in bad shape two or four years from now, they will campaign against Obama and the Democrats whether the Republicans vote for a stimulus package or not. Don't give them the chance to backstab you, Team Obama and Congressional Democrats. Work with the sane ones like Senators Snowe and Collins. Come up with a stimulus package that has some chance of working and is not overly focused on tax cuts. Dare the Republicans to vote against them. When they DO, make sure everybody knows that the Republicans supported bailouts for Wall Street bankers, but refused to extend unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and the like for regular Americans who have lost their job in large part because of the sheer stupidity of the financial crowd.

Don't cave in to the GOP because they will screw you over no matter what you do. Accept that, and move on to do what is best for the economy, rather than caving into the tax-cutting supply side orthodoxy of the modern Republican party.

And remember: YOU WON THE ELECTION. Act like it.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

be bold and don't listen to the god-damn republicans

President-elect Barack Obama is consulting with the Republicans about the stimulus package he wants Congress to pass. OK, I agree that it is wise to talk to the enemy. I have no problem with the upcoming Obama Administration talking to Iran. You often have to deal with people you find ideologically and morally disgusting. I guess the Obama Administration-elect can talk to the Republicans, too.

But that doesn't mean to kowtow to what the GOP Congressional types want. To paraphrase the missing de facto President George W. "14 more days" Bush (or was that Dick Cheney?), elections have consequences. Yes, they do. The Republicans lost in the House. The Republicans lost in the Senate. The Republicans lost the Presidential race. Sure, talk to them. But don't give them a veto, for pete's sake.

So Obama has come in with a stimulus proposal that is smaller and more based on tax cuts than what I would have hoped for. Personally, I think it's better to spend on projects, because people without jobs won't benefit from income tax cuts.

And of course, the Republicans want to do tax cuts THEIR way. Jon Kyl of Arizona wants to slash corporate and capital gains taxes - permanently. In other words, Jon Kyl of Arizona wants the Democratic Congress and the incoming Democratic President to pass REPUBLICAN tax cuts, tax cuts indistinguishable from those passed by Bush and the Lott/DeLay Congress back in Bush's first term. Because they worked oh so very well, right?

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader John Boehner said "I remain concerned about wasteful spending that might be attached to the tax relief. Simply put, we should not bury future generations under mountains of debt."

I can't believe that ... that ... that smug little prick (I'm restraining myself here) can say that with a straight face. What the hell does he think the Bush/Republican tax cuts and spending increases have done? Well, Boehner was close: the Republicans have already buried future generations under mountains of debt. While giving the Republican base, aka the elite, big wads of money to spend on Bernie Madow pyramid schemes, fourth summer homes, and yachts the size of aircraft carriers.

Obama said that there is no monopoly on good ideas. Well, if the Obama team is selective about it and puts their bullshit meter on maximum strength, they can see some decent Republican ideas mixed in with all the stupid ideological tax-cutting crap. For example the two Republican senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, appear to be sane. Collins wants to emphasize "transportation construction projects, energy-efficiency investments and a temporary increase in Medicaid assistance to states." Sounds good. And Snowe "has urged the inclusion of unemployment assistance, mortgage relief for strapped homeowners and programs to ease the credit crunch facing small businesses."

But don't listen to the Repubs too much. Remember, this is the modern Republican Party, the part of "Barack the Magic Negro" and Bush-Cheney, of climate change denial and support for torture. A party whose six contenders for the leadership position voted 6-0 that Ronald Reagan was a greater Republican president than ABRAHAM LINCOLN (admittedly cued by that supreme Reaganite leche-cul, Grover Norquist). This is a Republican Party that would REJECT Abraham Lincoln and his political attitudes if Honest Abe were around today as some sort of pinko RINO (Republican in name only).

Which reminds me, it is touching that another former Republican President, George H. W. Bush, whose biggest crime was begatting George W. Bush, now hopes his other son Jeb Bush can be President. Says Poppie, he wants Jeb to be able to serve our great country. I think we've had all the help from Bushes we can stand, thank you very much. If Jeb wants to serve, tell him to join the Army.


Sunday, January 04, 2009


When is a logging road no longer a logging road?

When it is paved with concrete. Then, it isn't just for hauling trees out of the woods and off to markets - it is paving the way to build big fancy expensive houses in the forests in Montana. The benefits would flow to Plum Creek Timber, which is into real estate as well as chopping down trees.

The decision to allow these roads to be paved was made by the head of the Forest Service, a guy charged with managing our national forests for the benefits of the American people, NOT solely for timber companies and real estate developers. The head of the de facto Bush Administration's Forest Service? A guy called Mark Rey. His job before entering public service? He was a lobbyist for the timber industry.

And this is the sort of sweetheart deal you get when you allow foxes to oversee the chicken coop on behalf of other foxes.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

this is news?

Some cutting edge political journalism appearing in the Washington Post today, I tell you what. For example, it is simply stunning to imagine that two senior staffers in the de facto Bush White House that have stuck out all eight years of Bush's time in office say NICE THINGS about Bush. Wow! Who'da thunk it? They say Bush makes good decisions, and say that Dick Cheney really wasn't running things.

Well we will all just have to completely revise our opinions of this Presidency, won't we? Not likely, but that's the reason for Steve Hadley and Josh Bolten giving this interview - another part of the last campaign of the Bush camp, the campaign to make sure history doesn't give him the same F-minus grade that the rest of us do.

In other political news, right wingers Roger Clegg think some of Barack Obama's nominees are too damn liberal. Wow! I'm stunned. This is really compelling stuff. This is like reporting that a native of Tahiti might think Nome, Alaska is too cold in winter.

Of COURSE they think so. They're right wingers. They think John frickin' McCain is suspiciously moderate, and Arlen Specter is just way on the liberal side.

And they're (mostly) leaving in less than the weeks, for at least four years. Good riddance.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

a new year's brain teaser

A fun news quiz in the New York Times. And it ain't easy. So once you're fully awake, have had some coffee or hair of the dog that bit you, take a try at it.

I of course got all 118 questions right. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.