Saturday, June 28, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The turn out for the MoveOn bake sale was impressive. I did nothing, I organized nothing, I did not ask for help or volunteers. From noon to four a small crowd, in effect a rotating party, of people who want Obama to win hung out at the table and we talked. I guess either we are all fools for politicians or Bush and his cronies are now, at long last, finally seen for the crooks, despoilers and well armed imperial nincompoops they always were. The sense I got of these people was feelings both of resentment for what has been done to our country and hope but I wonder if the hope is well placed. Are they hoping for a progressive, as MoveOn members are assumed to do, or just hoping to avert a further lurch backwards?
Chris Bowers at Open Left was where I read it first, about a month or two ago: the good news is Obama is going to get elected. But the bad news from Bowers, later echoed by David Brooks' "Two Obamas" piece in the NY Times , and now summarized well at HuffPo by Sam Stein: Obama will take few or no progressive stances in order to accomplish this. When you find agreement from those two poles of the political spectrum, assume its damn near true or the world is about to end and "true" is even less relevant than usual.
I suppose being pragmatic pays...up to a point. Beyond that point, you are a conservative or a thief or both. If electability is your only good, what makes you any different than George Bush...how was he "better" than Kerry?
Meanwhile have you seen Kucinich and his impeachment articles? He has gone missing in the MSM. Dubya has refilled the latrine with fresh doings that ought to make a nice addition to Kucinich's charges and bring the list up to a nice round 20. Bush is trying to pretend his own administration has not been brought to heel by the courts, refusing to read that the EPA has called for reduction of green house gases.
The pique at the pump may be all it takes for the shallow American voters to dump the republicans. Thank god for personal financial pain. The pollsters tell us the economy strongly dominates the minds of voters and the truly gigantic geopolitical blunder and moral nightmare of Iraq is issue number one for less than on fifth of US voters. Good, lets not suffer any honest self examination! But I hope the gathering tide I sensed at the bake sale is not so simple as wanting a fix for a habit we should never have indulged. Neither McCain nor Obama propose adequate energy programs to avert runaway climate deterioration. Here, from a scientist who accurately predicted the general outline of our weather changes for the last twenty years, are some ideas that might save us. Hansen's article echoes my old "feedback"post...which echoed what he has written in Scientific American and elsewhere for decades. Science, you see, can be this trick that equips common sense to operate like great foresight. A pity this country looks down on scientists.
Speaking of down, I clearly am. It doesn't really make a difference whether the effective IQ of the most powerful nation on earth is about 45 or its just that I am crazy...we don't get along too well and don't like listening to one another just now. I have pretty much run out of things novel enough to be worth reading and will probably only type when screaming would be inappropriate. I think more and more seriously about packing up and going where I can feed and warm myself without causing any harm to barrels of oil or bank accounts and living that way with such company as can stand me until I die naturally without any artificial and bloody expensive preserving efforts.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I have mentioned here and commented at other peoples blogs that McCain's war service should not be translated into presumptions about his competence to command or lead the military.
Well, at Huffington Post, Mr. Klein has the facts to make my protests look downright muted. The
Lets see if more facts come to light, or maybe we will hear nothing more. It seems hard for news of this sort to make it into those TV news outlets that bent over and took pentagon talking points up the a**, passing them off as expert opinion. I was going to and I may yet post on all of the analysis of why the press fawns over McCain and pays little attention to his shortcomings as a potential president: McCain's free pass has been kicked around quite a bit on our side of the blogosphere and squelched elsewhere. But for now, just because its still fresh and very tart, I urge you to get a hold of Walcott's piece in this month's Vanity fair. Walcott links the same New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza that I have..but there is much more.
I have tried to see what ever good I could in McCain. Even if he is half bluster and bullshit, he really did suffer for his country. In the past, he has said the right things about campaign finance reform and lobbyist influence but just not done as he has said. Given the way this nation treats most of its Viet Nam vets, McCain is lucky not to be in a homeless shelter. But while I do not feel bad for the Republicans, who really deserve a phony conflicted order-taker for a candidate, I do feel a bit sorry of McCain. He wants to be president, he probably feels he deserves to be president. But it is becoming clear that, like Clinton, he wants it so bad he will say anything, and contradict anything he had said previously if it has a chance of getting him elected. It is a pathetic outcome of an ambition far ahead of the abilities. That overreaching shows. Maybe they nominated McCain because they needed someone who won't go to pieces when he has lost the fight and is being tortured by the poll numbers???
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The liberals set themselves the much more difficult task of laughing their enemies off the stage of history.
The former method only leads to discovering that killing enemies merely reveals more enemies. The term "last man standing" is akin to other objectives of social Darwinism and the conservative mindset. Were that conservative program taken to its ultimate extreme the planet would have a population of one, or perhaps literally a last man, having to kill off male children as they come into conflict with their daddy.
Co-operation is so much more difficult when it involves people who imagine freedom is free from responsibility. Its hard enough with groups who understand the need for mutual responsibility but interpret the need in differing ways. But nothing could be farther from nature, or god if you will, or from sustainability than a population of one.
Firedoglake , Daily Kos and others point us to a travesty in the making: The national press club intends to give a legitimizing microphone to one of the scummiest swift boaters who ever cast lies at Obama. You can sign a petition and let them know what you think of that idea.
I did and enjoyed unloading on these dupes:
Dear National Press Club:
I realize you guys are terrified of a serious and highly competent candidate like Obama because:
1. he won't be appointing FCC regulators who blindly support the business objectives of your MSM masters.
2. he won't close access to your new media and net roots competition
3. he won't be the high visibility laughing stock who is funny enough for Colbert but gladly stages photo ops for you.
BUT, as an occasional consumer of your increasingly shoddy product, I warn you that I will go after the sponsors of your news programming mercilessly if you insist on hatchet jobs like Larry Sinclair being given the implied approval of the podium at your confab. It is up to you not to cheapen yourself and reduce your influence on America's political conversation. It is ironic that your ridiculous excesses in attempting to steer political outcomes will lessen your power to do so. What if you board a swift boat against Obama and it goes to the bottom with you in it? I strongly urge you to dissociate your name and reputation from this sort of smear while you still have a reputation worth saving.
-[my real name never appears on this blog]
Person's confusing satire with lies and innuendo are a ready audience for Fox News and a very significant factor in the stupid outcomes such as the election of 2004.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
While McCain tries desperately to scare the selfish with wild ass claims and guess work about Obama, the Republican senators carry the water once again for their oil company masters....and leave you to make up any revenue shortfalls.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Or, I might starve to death being unable to grow my own food and unable to buy any. I don't see any reduction in emissions in my future even though I am about $400 a month away from carbon neutrality. The "cap and trade" hoax allows us to go on living in denial of how much we must each reduce our personal demand and our indirect demand on fossil fuels. And in the US, we can't even get it together to take that timid turn away from the abyss.
Today's NY Times has a useful analysis of the dismaying failure of the US Senate, and particularly the stubbornly backward Dubya, to enact any measure to redress our headlong rush to climate meltdown. Senator Boxer is faulted for her coordination of the legislation but at least she tried.
If you want a short recap of the teams that play this game where everyone loses, read the editorial.
The reason I find in this mess for such pessimism about near or long term corrections to the course of climate change is that the most progress my countrymen and their legislators claim they could support are half measures that steal the proposed taxes on dirty energy and use them to fund yet more energy consumption. How stupid is this:
One huge issue that was not even addressed in last week’s truncated discussion is what to do with the enormous sums of money likely to be raised by selling emission quotas to industry. Some senators would invest most of that money in clean technologies — wind, solar, even nuclear power — and in a new generation of coal-fired plants that could capture and store carbon emissions. Others would return a sizable share of the proceeds to consumers to help ease the pain of higher energy bills.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Nedra Pickler is one of AP's name brand writers. In reporting the little that has been learned about Obama's closely held deliberations over a VP choice, she says of the possibility of tapping a former military commander:
A running mate from the military ranks could help address concerns that Obama lacks foreign policy experience, having served just three years in the Senate. It could also provide a counterpoint to the military bonafides of the Republican ticket, which will be led by Vietnam war hero John McCain.
Can we assume the American voter who reads the news is just a bit deeper than that? Since when is military experience interchangeable with foreign policy experience? I am aware the Bush administration and neconservatives in general can't tell the difference, but that is why we are in our present geopolitical quagmire.
I took ROTC in high school. There is no form of military training that presumes less of the trainee than what I took in and even there, they started us out with von Clausewitz: War is the continuation by armed force of those objectives you have failed to achieve through diplomacy. I have paraphrased for clarity but that is the meaning the man intended. That is more or less still militarism 101 for officers trained in the US.
Last I checked, we still had a state department. It has become something of a war making machine in its own little way what with the retention of Blackwater's services and all but still, the basic idea is  make friends,  with those friends on your side make deals with those who won't be friends  when all else fails and that means when they start marching on your borders or those of your friends,THEN start bombing. So, NO, Nedra, foreign policy is only experienced by military leaders in its failure modes. Bush may not have been happy [and I know Powell wasn't] having a former military leader who just happened to have some good diplomatic chops driving the State Department's diplomacy machine but hey, that's republicans for you.
Seriously folks, Pickler is just feeding you back the sickness of our empire: might makes policy.
IF Obama does pick anyone from the military, such as Wes Clark, I still think he is playing it too safe, bending against what should be his better judgment to shore up what he correctly understands is a political weakness when viewed by the weak minds that like McCain. He is up 48 to 42% in the polls. If he is pulling the moral punches he could be landing on the chin of this administration's and McCain's war lust just because it will get him a few percent more votes than he really needs, I think it will haunt his presidency.
Another point of "conventional wisdom" that Pickler passes on without question is the equation of war hero and "military bonafides" to competent war commander. Captain Windsock has suffered greatly for his country and returned to the navy not only a hero but the son and grandson of admirals...yet he was passed over for higher command by the navy because he was not up to the job. He left the navy at rank of Captain to go into politics. His heroism does not make him any more effective as a leader than that of the soldier who throws himself on a grenade to protect others. It is admirable but it is not leadership that sustains us by wise directions. Wise leadership is what we desperately need.
UPDATED June 16...I added the link to a HuffPo story that backs up my summary of the way McCain's navy career fizzled.
UPDATED June 26...HuffPo got someone who does have military command bonafides to say a word or two about McCain's commander in chief potential: Wes Clark thinks McCain's a punk.
For that less than satisfactory exercise, a larger collection of lesser quality evidence will do as we set firmly into the record, should historians ever re-read the media of these times, the culpability and incompetence of this president and the crew of crooks he drew into the official and unofficial circles of power in Washington.
Today's exhibit I found on TPM: The white house claims the president
The previous exhibit was the belated Senate committee findings, without consequences, that Bush and co. lied to get us to go to war with Iraq. Doesn't it seem just a little ironic that Hillary Clinton has suffered more [by losing the progressives and anti-war voters who went for Obama] for her vote to invade Iraq than the god-damned liars that set up that vote? This particular travesty has the stamp of pure partisan ship on its timing and its lack of consequences.
In the coming weeks, we can add whatever Scotty sings to the record of deception.
I repeat news, and there is no end of such news to be repeated, because there is a need to flood every other venue with the sorry facts that will not get tried in the one place that would have saved some lives or dollars: congress. It may change a few minds disposed to vote again for the Bush party of grafters and jingoist fools. As long as we don't get another Republican administration, it seems that the default activity left to the successor administration will be summed up by that committee title: Oversight and G0vernment Reform.
How long before McCain starts saying, as Bush has said of Abramoff: "Bush? I never met the man. I hardly know who he is." How long before the ignorant and fearful over at clownhall.com cease to mention the tarnished name and just say all the problems he left us must be the fault of the 2006 election losses?
Monday, June 09, 2008
After his flops on torture, I knew he was a simple tool. His experience is not worth a thing to me.
His opinion piece in the Times today seems to conclude the only thing wrong with McCain is the style of those who plan his campaign while substance is not lacking. Kristol spins and sifts desperately through the wan Republican campaigning for anything he can claim sets McSame above Obama and finds it in the 2007 senate vote to approve the surge. In WK's world the surge is working. this twaddle sits comfortably in Kristol's selective vision.
Even if the surge did "work", it should be viewed for what it is: a temporary band aid on a symptom of a problem for which our own oil imperialism is a the the cause. Obama went for the cause and all Kristol can say is praise for the band aid.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
The fed chops interest rates...and that almost immediately chops the value of the dollar vs the euro. It was in part the cheap interest that lured the US to run its economy on borrowed money, consumers often borrowed more than they could repay and that helps push us into recession...the lead balloon that Greenspan gave the Bush administration just won't float. So now Bernanke is going to try the same thing and its going to work? Put another way, it strikes me as a race to the bottom. The response to the oncoming recession is to "put money in people's hands" to spend our way out of the impending period of slumping sales and any snowballing secondary effects of the slump. But if you put more dollars in our pockets in a way that devalues those dollars, are we really coming out ahead? The proposals to print 145 billion or free up a real 145 billion is considered an adequate sum to inject into the supply of available cash. And it will be available at 3.5% interest to the best borrowers but no so for you and little ol' me. The Chinese, unlike holders of Euros, have been unwilling to let they yuan float against the US dollar but how far down do they want ride our sinking container ship? If you increase our available cash [and ignore the fact that your children will have to repay whomever we took it from] by 145 billion but dilute the buying power of all purchases made with US dollars? There is a US agency that tracks that buying power with monthly updates. Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $32.9 billion, or 0.3 percent, in November, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Dividing that increase by the percentage it represents produces an estimate of 11 trillion [11 with 12 naughts!] as our DPI as of last November. 145 billion is about 1.3 percent of the DPI. Now to my mind, that means that if you do something that causes the value of the dollar to decline by more than 1.3 %, you had better buy strictly local because your 145 billion of extra spending power just vanished vis a vis all foreign purchases.
And how close to that 1.3% damage are we:
That chart is updated at this link. I read that chart as showing an 11% devaluation against the euro since September . And Bloomberg reports a 1.1% drop in a single day on the news of the fed going back on the "free money" path to recovery. This wild slewing of exchange rates is good for arbitragers but its killing me. By the time it gets so bad that I no longer have to worry about my job going to India, I will be living as well as a typical Indian. I certainly don't mind the Indian, or the Mexicans for that matter, getting rich. In fact that would have been a lot better than me getting poor...but that is not how economics works it would seem.
If one added up the price of all the timber and minerals on federal lands, all the bank accounts and the US stocks and property holdings of US citizens, (those that actually own more than they owe,) it would be a number representing what it would cost the Saudis to buy us out, to buy the land out from under our feet as it were. I have no idea what that number is but I am certain it is staggering figure and far larger than the DPI. That means our dollar-valued assets devalue by far more than the 145 billion that is to be handed out...unless you can raise your prices or get your holdings revalued in, say, euros and quit thinking or earning or spending in dollars altogether. Did I say "raise your prices"? Your gas, sure..oh you don't own the gas. Well then try raising the price of your house. How's that working for us?
That is my back-of-the envelope calculation. It may show better than any other means, just how little I understand of economics...or it may show how screwed we are, likely some of both. Why, oh why, as Brad DeLong would say, did we not impeach and impale this idiot administration back when all they had done was start an illegal war via a tissue of lies? Now they have gone and done real damage [that many saw coming] its too late.
Think that is just the ranting of a liberal blow hard? Consider what Martin Hutchinson, respected and cheerfully misanthropic conservative financial pundit thought of the Federal Reserve's predicament back on Dec. 17th of last year:
Overall, 2008 looks to be a good year for bears. The Fed has been walking a tightrope since August between the precipices of a collapsing financial system and resurgent inflation. With a 3.2% November Producer Price Index rise (7.2% over the previous year) announced on Thursday and a 0.8% Consumer Price Index rise (4.3% over the previous year) announced on Friday, it can now be officially confirmed that the tightrope has vanished into thin air. The United States over the next 12 months will experience both a collapse in its financial sector and a violent resurgence in inflation, and there's nothing whatever the Fed can do about it, no interest rate trajectory that will not worsen one problem more than it alleviates the other.
So gold is up 100% and more in the last few years. Would have been smart to buy it two years ago but now it is just a case in point about how our crafty statesmen and puppet masters have run us onto the financial rocks. Meantime stocks of huge investment banks are priced like ties and watches on a push cart in SoHo. The buying spree by foreign governments that some idiots actually welcome as a life line to our tapped out markets has not impressed Warren buffet. It is, in the opinion of Felix Rohatyn, a spree of politically motivated accessions to influence as much as an "investment". Who made the US so damn cheap? [I am not for sale, though I might wind up looking for a job...I went to all cash two years ago because the suckage was looming ]
"They have different objectives," Mr. Rohatyn said. It may be easy to herald these investments as gutsy, brilliant bets during a turbulent market or dismiss them as foolish — look at how far the value of China's stake in the Blackstone Group has fallen. But according to Mr. Rohatyn, who is now a special adviser at Lehman Brothers, that's the wrong way to look at them.So now its June, we have a choice, a real choice between whether we will go down the republican spiral of economic decline or whether we will possibly set a new course. We are in a bad place. We, and I mean all of the nation by WE, have been spending ourselves into this mess since Reagan napped in the oval office. Yes we had poor leadership that believed it could get away without making us pay for all the promises made. But we as a country wanted to believe these lies [generally labeled "supply side economics"] that we could get something for nothing...or at least for terms like you hear in furniture ads: "Get your Empire today! No money down, no interest until 2009!". The choice then is between a certainty that things will keep going to hell and a chance, a hope, that we can arrest the deterioration of our fortunes. I hope that Obama does not kid himself and I hope that enough of us have stopped watching Fox news that Obama won't have to try to kid us either: the repair to our economy is going to be hard work, hard negotiation with those who now sit on obscene piles of money made during the republican give-away-to-the-rich period and just generally no fun. We will have to cut back sharply in Offense spending [call it what it is, I say] and find some way to invest in more sustainable domestic sources of energy, more intellectual [colleges] and physical [roads, hospitals, housing, ports] infrastructure upon which to found employment. It will require a tax rate such as grown up countries levy on their citizens. I just hope we the people are grown up enough to say yes when called upon to make sacrifices...and I hope Obama is grown up enough to ask us.
"The big difference is the political element," he said. Mr. Buffett is seeking the best return when he invests; that's his only goal, Mr. Rohatyn said. For Dubai and China, whether the investment returns 10 percent or 20 percent — or perhaps much less — is almost beside the point, he suggests. What they really want is influence on the world stage, despite their insistence otherwise.
He's right. While government-controlled funds swear up and down that their investments are purely financially motivated, they just can't be.
If we don't step up to address our past irresponsible ways, then I suppose we will go on receiving a steady flow of bad tidings followed by worse tidings. That sort of reportage should not surprise and it is a bit late for it to alarm. I cannot call it news because it is too predictable. It is more like our nation's economic policies have been tried, found guilty of short sightedness and corruption and now at the end of the process, it is left to the reporters to read the sentence to the accused.
Tax payers and citizens, US, are the owners via our government, of the lands and resources in federal control. Is it fair to simply give, at no charge whatsoever, the minerals on those lands to one particular party or industry? It certainly is not. But that is certainly what the oil companies wanted and what they got. The value of the foregone royalties on gas and oil in the gulf and elsewhere MUST be returned to the people.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
...the inquiry found that the latest incident reflected “a pattern of poor performance” in securing sensitive military components...
But Politico blogger Jen DiMascio has a bigger picture of the affair, one which includes the Senator representing the state of
He stated that former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas sneaked the Enron loophole through a large piece of insignificant legislation years ago: the result was that regulations upon the futures industry were abandoned. This loophole eventually allowed the current CDO-subprime crisis, and the current energy market crisis because regulations, which once protected the market from manipulation, are no longer enforcable.
Your republican administrations put oil prices out of the hand of car owners and oil well owners. Yes the same Phill "supply side" Gramm that poisoned oil market regulation is now McCain's brains on economic policy. That means not just more-of-the-same Bush policy, it could mean worse-than-Bush policy. That very Gramm had a significant hand in running the economic security of the middle class into the ground over the last 20 years. He got Reagan out of the impossibility of supply side economics [cut taxes but spend more] by initiating the mechanism that encourages congress to raise the nation's debt cieling rather than be fiscally responsible and [god forbid] ask people to pay taxes for all those shinny guns and planes they need more than their jobs, hospitals and roads. You have heard Captain Windsock say he will cut taxes. Now you know where that brilliantly original malarkey is coming from.
McCain says U.S. troops could spend "maybe 100" years in Iraq. [And one presumes the DoD budget for that is no joke.]
So, tell me, how is the ill tempered Captain Winsock one bit different than Bush?
He is a lot older and he once served his country. That's about it.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
He made that remark, pretty much in those words, in the context of Rose questioning whether the role of conservatives in US affairs might now shrink back to something nearer its cranky minority status from which W. F. Buckley supposedly saved it. I turned the TV off with Will still swinging by that knot of faith and illogic.
Meanwhile over at NY Times David Brooks steps around the end result of conservative thought having grabbed leadership of the US government as gingerly as Gene Kelly might have skirtted a pile of dog poop:
More fundamentally, McCain’s problem is that his party is unfit to govern. As research from the Republican pollster David Winston has shown, any policy becomes less popular when people learn that Republicans are supporting it. If the G.O.P. sponsored the sunrise, voters would prefer gloom. Many Republicans are under the illusion that they are in trouble because they’ve betrayed their core principles. The sad truth is that if they’d been more conservative, they’d be even further behind.
I’ve spent the past few years trying to find conservative experts to provide remedies for middle-class economic anxiety. Let me tell you, the state of free-market thinking on this subject is pathetic. There are a few creative thinkers (most of them under 30), but for the most part, McCain is forced to run in an intellectual void.
In my little menagerie of political freaks, hereby replace George Will with David Brooks in the role of Honorary Ambassador from the Dark Side.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Senator Edward M. Kennedy is undergoing surgery for his malignant brain tumor at Duke University this morning, his office announced today.
Kennedy, in a brief but upbeat statement, signaled that he would wait until all treatments were concluded before returning to Washington and the floor of the Senate. That return won't likely take place until September, after the Senate returns from its summer recess.
When I first moved to the Boston area thirty odd years ago, I reflexively bristled at each proposal Ted Kennedy brought to congress. I was raised to hate taxes as unnecessary and a redistribution of power out of the hands of those who had earned it. I cannot point to a particular year, or campaign issue or person that made me recognize the injustice of these attitudes and positions I was brought up with. But in all the years that I was growing into the modest political engagement I now exercise, Senator Kennedy was there in the background, rock steady in his efforts and eloquent in his ardor to shape a country where a fair chance at a decent living remained within the reach of most people. I do not say I agreed with every priority he pursued but differences shrivel in the shade of the many ways he transcended his patrician circumstances and his party boundaries for the sake of bettering common lives.
The odds are not good but I fervently hope against all odds that the Senator pulls through OK. He is a vital ally in many of the good legislative causes that still need all the help they can get.
UPDATES: The surgery was deemed "successful" but there is a long road of chemo and maybe radiation ahead.
Also ailing, dear old Senator Byrd, sticking by his guns even when ill. I still admire the moral force and clarity with which he has stood up to bums like Rumsfeld in recent years.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
The coalition of the willing now consists almost entirely of its bully ringleader. It was a measure of the influence and sympathy the US commanded that so many countries with legitimate doubts could none the less be yoked with the label "willing". The abandonment of the US in its Iraq adventure is a measure of how the Bush administration has squandered the trust and good will of even close allies by lying and then by mismanaging the lie. My congratulations to Mr. Rudd for paying attention to the good voters of Australia. How I wish the US were so blessed.
...to see that better tools for killing never made anyone safer or even won any wars.
The US is not alone in clinging to cluster bombs the way NRA members clutch their guns: We are in a special league of morally stunted nations. China, Russia, Israel, India and Pakistan join us in tolerating the death of civilians long after the "hostilities" have ceased. 111 other countries hope to shame us into repudiating the use of sloppy weapons that assure collateral damage. Will these sanctions against use of cluster bombs work as well as the Geneva conventions regarding torture? I find it ominous that this gang of countries blind to their own barbarity happens to be a large subset of the nuclear-armed nations.