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November 30, 2006

Don't Believe This

There is a lot of comment on this morning's story, Democrats Reject Key 9/11 Panel Suggestion - washingtonpost.com. My favorite part of the story is the "solemn" tone,

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, ...

Oh those Democrats, always lying about everything... Should have known better...

And WHO is saying that the Democrats are going to break this "solemn pledge?" "Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.)" and "aides on the House and Senate appropriations, armed services and intelligence committees." It doesn't even say which party they are in. (Later in the story they refer to "Democratic aides" but not here.) And it certainly doesn't say how they would know anything since things like this aren't decided yet.

In fact, I have it on good authoritah from two people who are definitely in positions to know what the House and Senate plan to do, that the story simply is not true and they will be introducing legislation in each house to "fully implement" the 0/11 Commission recommendations.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:06 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Terrorist - The All-Purpose Word

The latest big news, trumpeted at Drudge, etc.: ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: Iranian Weapons Arm Iraqi Militia,

U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories.

... This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market.

One problem with this, the Shiites (referred to here as "terrorists") are the people we invaded Iraq to put in power.

Oops.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 29, 2006

Tax Everyone - Give the Money To Corporations

Universal Music wants a tax on iPods, with the money going to them - because iPods can store music and some people might not have paid for that music. Universal Music may seek royalty deal with iPod,

Universal Music Group Chief Executive Doug Morris said on Tuesday he may try to fashion an iPod royalty fee with Apple Computer Inc. in the next round of negotiations in early 2007.
Next I suppose the big companies will want a general tax on everyone, with the money going to the big companies, because the people might not have bought enough stuff that year?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:07 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 28, 2006

Today's Dollar-Falling Post - New 20-Month Low

Dollar hits fresh 20-month euro low after mixed U.S. data,

The dollar tumbled to a fresh 20-month low against the euro Tuesday after a government report showed demand for U.S.-made durable goods declined much more than forecast last month.
But the U.S. currency edged slightly higher versus the yen after data showed an unexpected increase in sales of existing U.S. homes in October and a solid reading from the Richmond Fed's manufacturing index.
Analysts say sentiment toward the dollar remains negative.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Prices Tumble

Existing home prices tumble despite sales uptick,

Nationwide existing home sales rebounded last month but the median sales price took its biggest year-over-year decline in nearly four decades, according to real estate figures released today.

\... The modest rebound in sales may indicate that the nationwide housing slow down might be bottoming out — but any noticeable relief for sellers probably won't come until next year, according to some housing observers.

... But other economists say a turnaround is still far away, with many signs pointing to a buyer's market for some time to come. For example, the inventory of unsold homes, increased 1.9% in October to 3.85 million existing homes.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Fairness Doctrine

I submitted an op-ed to a major newspaper, advocating restoring the Fairness Doctrine. The editor wrote back saying he was rejecting it because he can't think of any examples of bias or unanswered attacks on broadcast media. Heh. I'll submit it to a different paper - maybe one with an editor that owns a radio.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:34 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Create A New Moderate Center

There is this idea that a "centrist" position is a good thing, that we should take policy positions that are something in between the "extremes." This is "moderation." The thinking is something like, if the left is mad at you, and the right is mad at you, you must be doing something right.

OK. So then doesn't it make sense for progressives to sponsor lots of far-far-far-out extremists? These extremists could call for things like actually eating the rich (maybe have recipe blogs), literally dividing up companies by having the police go in and take the desks and chairs and computers and hand them to the homeless, forcing Baptist ministers to have sex with their infant daughters, imposing the death penalty for driving, requiring LSD use in elementary schools -- all the things the conservatives already say liberals do... And maybe we could buy a TV network to put them on the air in front of the whole country like the Republicans did.

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This way the "moderate
center" becomes somewhere between eating the rich and whatever the right is advocating? Clearly that is why the Republicans sponsor Ann Coulter to write things about killing journalists, etc. Maybe we should try it.

But seriously, when are we all going to grow up, anyway? It's time to start actually thinking again.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 AM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 27, 2006

Today's Dollar-Falling Post -- 20-Month Low

Dollar hits 20-month low against the euro - MarketWatch,

The dollar extended its sharp losses against the euro Monday, touching a 20-month low, but steadied against the yen, as traders awaited U.S. economic data this week.
Stock markets are reacting, Stocks sharply lower on dollar, Wal-Mart and FTSE 100 ends down, hit by weak U.S. dollar,
The FTSE 100 index .FTSE of Britain's largest shares fell to its lowest close in seven weeks on Monday as the sliding dollar continued to weigh on stocks with U.S. exposure.
And metals, Gold, silver hit highs on dollar weakness,
Gold steadied on Monday after an earlier climb to its highest level in more than three months as a weaker dollar and firm oil prices prompted investors to buy the precious metal.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 26, 2006

Today's Dollar-Falling Post - Dollar 40% Too High?

Over at Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Fair and Balanced Almost Every Day: The Dollar Looks 40% too High, and Long Treasury Yields Look 200 Basis Points too Low,

...Menzie Chinn worries about the possibility of a dollar crash:
One of the enduring oddities of the international economy is the willingness of foreign investors -- both private, official, and quasi-state -- to hold dollar assets despite the very low returns on such assets, even when comparing in common currency terms. It is this anomaly that Krugman disucusses in an academic paper asessening the possibility of a dollar crisis.
Concerns about a dollar crisis can be divided into two questions: Will there be a plunge in the dollar? Will this plunge have nasty macroeconomic consequences?
The message appears to be that the dollar's value is out-of-whack--too high--because nobody expects it to decline by a lot in the near future, and that expectation means that demand for dollar-denominated securities is high because U.S. interest rates are higher than interest rates in Japan and Europe. One again, it looks like there may well be lots of money left on the table.
OK, that was a complicated series of quoting someone who is quoting someone who is quoting someone, so go sort it out at the original... the point being that the dollar is still WAYYYY too high, and that there is the possibility of a recession coming (see 'Housing Bubble' posts). He's quoting from, Econobrowser, Will the Dollar Plunge? Would that Be So Bad?

Angry Bear on all this,

In other words, we can avoid a recession even as we move to fiscal restraint if we allow currencies to float.
When the dollar falls, it means that everything from other countries costs much more. This supposedly is great for American manufacturers because our goods will cost much less to others, and we can start exporting (and hiring) again. Possibly even heading off a recesion. But my question is, how much has our manufacturing infrastructure eroded? CAN WE start manufacturing for domestic and export to pick up the opportunity of a plunging dollar?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 24, 2006

Today's Dollar-Falling Post

Yes, a new Seeing the Forest series: the falling dollar. We're likely to be hearing a lot of news along this front in coming months. So I'll be tracking it.

Dollar plunges to 19-month low against euro,

Growing pessimism over the dollar facilitated a sell-off Friday that plunged the greenback to a 19-month low versus the euro and a nearly two-year low against the U.K. pound.

[. . .] There is also mounting concerns that central banks around the globe might begin to aggressively diversify their foreign reserves into euros and away from dollars, the long-standing reserve currency of choice.

On Friday, China warned other countries that holding excessive dollar reserves may not be a good idea.

Wu Xiaoling, a senior People's Bank of China official, said Friday that continued weakness in the U.S. dollar poses a risk for East Asia's foreign-exchange reserves, Market News International reported.

U.S. Stocks Fall on Higher Oil, Weak Dollar; Retailers Decline,
U.S. stocks fell, snapping the Dow Jones Industrial Average's two-week winning streak, after higher oil prices and a weaker dollar sparked concerns that holiday sales and economic growth may falter.
The U.S. Dollar is the Week’s Biggest Turkey,

While Americans were busy digesting their Thanksgiving feasts, the rest of the world was barfing up dollars. As a result of our massive trade deficits, foreigners certainly have their bellies full of them. This week’s action in the Forex markets indicates that they may have finally eaten their fill. Unfortunately, the bad taste will likely linger as the dollar’s rout has only just begun.
And, U.S. stocks end down after dollar tumble

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:58 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Door-To-Door Athiests Bothering Mormons

Hooray! Go see Door To Door Atheists Bother Mormons

Australian filmmaker John Safran is so fed up with mormons ringing his doorbell early in the morning that he flies to Salt Lake City Utah and tries to convert Mormons to atheism. Needless to say, the locals were not pleased.
"Blessed is the man who goes around banging on epople's doors at all hours of the morning for he truly is Jesus's little friend."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:38 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Buy Nothing Day

It is Buy Nothing Day. Switch off from shopping for a day or two. Stop and think about all the ways your own lifestyle are harmful. hink about all the ways you use energy. Think about all the things you throw away, including plastic and paper wrappers.

This is not just silly stuff, it is important. It is time to realize the part we all play in this out-of-control economic system that is literally consuming the planet out from under us. Global warming is real. Deforestation is real. Depletion of the seas is real. There's an old saying, "If something is unsustainable, it can't be sustained."

From the Buy Nothing Day press release,

Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption.

Two recent, high-profile disaster warnings outline the sudden urgency of our dilemma. First, in October, a global warming report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern predicted that climate change will lead to the most massive and widest-ranging market failure the world has ever seen. Soon after, a major study published in the journal Science forecast the near-total collapse of global fisheries within 40 years.

[. . .] Buy Nothing Day isn't just about changing your habits for one day. It’s about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste. With six billion people on the planet, the onus if on the most affluent – the upper 20% that consumes 80% of the world’s resources – to begin setting the example.
More at Digby.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 22, 2006

How The Right Sells It

In MyDD :: Pelosi's 100 Hours, kid oakland writes,

"If the GOP had a 100 Hours program they'd be selling it like it was going out of style."
We hear this all the time, "the Republicans" are doing something and "the Democrats" are not. For example, here Republicans would be selling a "100 hours" plan, and Democrats aren't.

Yes, but... Let's examine the mechanism of that sell-job "the GOP" would be doing. First, it is not the Republican Party that does that sell-job. To me, this is a key point to understand if we're going to work on countering the conservatives and bringing the public back to understanding and accepting progressive values and ideas and candidates. It is not the Republican Party. And when you understand this point, you understand that it is not the Democratic Party that is falling down on selling progressive ideas.

It is not the Republican Party, it is the "conservative movement" infrastructure that does the selling. It is the Heritage Foundation and the (oh-so-many) other marketing/communications think tanks. It is the anti-tax and anti-government organizations. It is the Christian Right organizations. It is the corporate lobbying groups that would be selling it. It is the right-wing media that would be selling it. Rush Limbaugh and 100 other radio talk-show hosts would be selling it. Fox News would be selling it. The Drudge Report would have headlines about it. The think tanks would be dispatching 100 pundits to the TV news shows to be selling it. The Ann Coulters and the Cal Thomases and Jerry Falwells would be selling it. There would be professionally-crafted op-eds in every newspaper selling it. There would be an organized letter-to-the-editor campaign selling it. There would be e-mail chain letters selling it. There would be anonymous posts on internet sports forums selling it. There would be PR firm-produced-and-placed YouTube videos selling it. There would be strategically-placed MySpace friends selling it. They would ALL be selling it, in concert, using the same polled-and-focus-group-tested talking points, repeating the same message over and over and over... But they are not the Republican Party.

So don't blame the Democrats! That doesn't help you think about how progressives can counter this. When you think about how things like the first 100 hours (or the Contract for America) are sold and about how the public is persuaded to accept ideas and policies and candidates in general, stop blaming "the Democrats" for falling own on the job. Instead, look at how the conservatives do it and think about the infrastructure they have that progressive do not have. Conservatives have these marketing/communication organizations that reach out to the general public - progressive do not. They have the scores of media-trained pundits ready to go on TV or radio at a moment's notice - progressives do not. They have the op-ed writers and direct lines to the editors who accept them - progressives do not. They have an entire infrastructure designed around reaching the public and persuading them. And they fund it. THAT is how you persuade the public.

Progressives do not.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:00 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Cute - Tells Me Nothing

I'm reading this thing at HP about their DLP HDTVs. Take a look at this too-cute passage:

What is resolution-doubling technology?

Resolution-doubling technology is an HP resolution-enhancement innovation that doubles digital projection displays without increasing the cost of the projector or television. It's also called "wobulation."

What is wobulation?

Wobulation is an HP resolution-enhancement innovation that doubles digital projection displays without increasing the cost of the projector or television. It's also called "resolution-doubling technology."

Couldn't the writer have just said "I don't know" and gone and ASKED someone what it is?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:13 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 21, 2006

Why Iraq?

Richard Cohen writes why it was such a good thing to invade Iraq,

Saddam Hussein was a beast who had twice invaded his neighbors, had killed his own people with abandon and posed a threat -- and not just a theoretical one -- to Israel.
What does ANY of that have to do with America's national security? It's fine for him to think it's a good thing to go over and kill several hundred thousand Iraqis because Saddam was a bad person, but what about the people in AMERICA's military? Why should THEY be put at risk of death or injury for that reason? Is that what THEY signed up for?

This is one reason we need a draft -- because it returns the PUBLIC to the discussion.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 20, 2006

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Flipper Nation

Episode 1: The First Flip

At Flipper Nation

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:54 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Worst Burglar - Ever?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:39 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

It's come to this

When is this going to stop? Iran is in the Axis of Evil. Syria isn't quite, but they're plenty bad. This is what Bush's war has gained us: we're now begging Iran and Syria for help.

And that's the good plan, from the Baker Commission. The bad plan, from Bush, is an endless war against no enemy in particular.

People are always asking, "What better alternative do you offer?" But the first step is to admit that the war was wrong from the start, and Bush will never do that. Bush's war is his whole life. There can be no improvement until he's out of there.

For the sake of the country, his friends should ask him and Cheney to resign the way they asked Nixon to resign. Otherwise, they should both be impeached. (And shouldn't it be the hawks who are pushing for Bush's impeachment? From their point of view, if partnering with Syria and Iran isn't utter failure, what would be?)

The people in politics and the media who got us into this mess should all put paper bags over their heads and sit in the back of the room forever. They should never be allowed to live this down. (Really, they should be horsewhipped in the public square. Maybe the Patriot Act has a provision allowing that.)

Help, Iran! Help, Syria! We need you!

Posted by John Emerson at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

9/11 Coverup

There's evidence that toxic air at ground zero will lead to many deaths among those who worked on the cleanup. There were plans underway to use the autopsy process to monitor these deaths, but these plans have been squelched at the federal level (quite possibly because of pressure from NYC). In the aftermath of 9/11, both the DEQ and Mayor Giuliani assured us that there was no danger.

An effort to create standard autopsy guidelines that could document a link between toxic air at ground zero and deaths of 9/11 rescue workers has been abandoned by the federal government amid concerns the information collected could be misinterpreted.....Because autopsy results are often used in civil lawsuits, the results collected by the institute — while intended as a scientific study — could be used as a trial tool for lawyers and others with an "undeniable self-interest" in the cause of death, Prezant said. Link

H/T "Cosmic Fluke" in the comments.

Posted by John Emerson at 9:53 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

How bad can it get?

I think that even we anti-war folk sometimes forget how bad the worst could be. But here's mild-mannered, centrist Kevin Drum:

A year from now, we could end up in the middle of a full-blown civil war costing a thousand American lives a month. We could end up taking sides in a shooting war against Turkey, a NATO ally. We could end up fighting off an armed invasion from Iran. We could end up on the receiving of an oil embargo led by Saudi Arabia. Who knows?

There's a real down side to putting an ignorant, mean-minded, superstitious bully in charge of the most powerful military the world has ever seen. After the fall of the USSR, the US was in a position of extraordinary power and influence. Bush treated this pre-eminence the way a naughty boy treats a plate marked "unbreakable" -- he took it as a challenge. And sure enough, he succeeded in overplaying a very strong hand.

I still believe that there should be recriminations. When the shit hits the fan, all of the Republicans, media people, Christians, neocons, warbloggers, and operatives who gave us this disaster should be put on the spot, called to account, and sent off in disgrace.

But it's very unlikely that that will happen.

Posted by John Emerson at 5:09 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 19, 2006

Now I'm An "Edwards Flunkee"

Edwards Finds Another Flunkie | Redstate -- namely ME.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Just getting The Message

The way information spreads ... You and I follow the news, or you wouldn't be reading this. But most people get their information in different ways.

For example, many people are only now finding out that house prices have stopped rising, and are falling. Like this one:

Sagging sales, appreciation proof housing boom over,Over the summer, John Toole put his Woodland Hills home on the market for $1,695,000 and waited for a rush of prospective buyers.

And waited, and waited and waited.

So he offered a 15-day Hawaiian Islands cruise for two to the agent representing the buyer to stimulate some interest. And Toole waited some more.

He eventually slashed his asking price by $100,000. Nothing changed.

"It didn't bring anybody around. Nothing. The market is absolutely dead," Toole said. "I was amazed."

This story goes on to talk about the last price drop,
Starting in March 1992, the median price fell on an annual basis for 37 consecutive months. In November 1995, it dipped to $155,000, the low point in that down market, 36.7 percent below the old record high.

Bubbles are followed by crashes. Prices adjust. It always happens. The 1990 housing price drop adjusted back to the mean. It took time - three years of falling prices. But that's a "normal" real estate fluctuation. This is different. This is the biggest housing bubble in history. So economics would say that we have to see the biggest drop in history.

So the question is, how do we plan for where this must go? How does government help people out of it if we have a housing Katrina?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:23 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 18, 2006

Bird Flu Still A Threat

Luckily we made it through last year's flu season without bird flu mutating into a form that can spread easily among humans. This bought us a year to study the disease. But it's still out there and the season is beginning, and people are still catching it from direct contact with infected birds. More than half of the people who are reported with this disease are dying. So if it does mutate into a human-contagious it will be a disaster.

Indonesia reports two more human bird flu cases,

Indonesia has confirmed two new human cases of bird flu, with both victims alive and being treated in a Jakarta hospital, a health ministry official said on Monday.

Confirmation came from two tests, Dr. Muhammad Nadhirin, from the ministry's national bird flu centre, told Reuters.

"The position is 74 cases, 55 of whom have died," he said.

The boy died, Indonesia: Bird flu kills 2-year-old

There are vaccines in testing now. Let's hope they are effective.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:57 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 17, 2006

Eat the Baby to Save the Baby

And watch the TV pundits reaction as they strive to shape America's opinion.

It's modern America -- in The Propaganda Age.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Is Bush Drinking Again?

Rumors persist, and come from increasingly reliable outlets. James Wolcott's Blog: Big Hangover

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:18 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Plunge and Plummet

U.S. stocks lower after housing starts plunge

Housing woes worry Wall Street

Housing Construction Plummets in October - Forbes.com,

Housing construction plunged to the lowest level in more than six years in October as the nation's once-booming housing market slowed further.

The Commerce Department reported on Friday that construction of new single-family homes and apartments dropped to an annual rate of 1.486 million units last month, down a sharp 14.6 percent from the September level.

The decline, bigger than had been expected, was the largest percentage decline in 19 months and pushed total activity down to the lowest level since July 2000.

Dollar falls after talk of hedge fund trouble

Housing Construction Plunges in October
,

The report signaled that the months ahead could be equally bleak: The number of building permits that were issued fell for the ninth straight month, reaching its lowest level since 1997. Those figures, too, are seasonally adjusted.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:12 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Always Add the 'Because'

I frequently say, Always add the 'because.' What I mean is, drive the point home, don't make your listener guess. When you cite something bad that the conservatives do, add the "because" that ties it to core right-wing philosophy, and explain why it's the philosophy that's bad and led to the bad thing that is in the news. Make the deeper point -- not just a complaint about the current event. For example, Republicans screwed up Katrina BECAUSE conservatives don't believe in government, they believe in a "you're on your own, dog-eat-dog, everyone out for themselves" philosophy that is not good for regular people. But progressives believe we're all in this together and in watching out for and sticking up for each other.

This right-wing post makes my same point. They take a shocking incident, and then explain why you should TIE IT TO THE LARGER LESSON. This happened 'BECAUSE.' Cartoon Porn at Swarthmore College - The Right Angle @ HumanEvents.com,

...The mistake conservatives too often make in denouncing incidents like this is to focus on the superficial and ignore the underlying philosophy. This sort of thing is gross, perverse, juvenile, and offensive, to be sure, and we can (and do) score rhetorical points with the general public by saying so. But if that is all we do, we will lose, as evidenced by the steady coarsening of our culture.

... The leaders of American culture no longer see anything wrong with sleeping around before marriage, getting divorced, having an abortion, getting remarried, and finally reproducing via in vitro fertilization at the age of 38 -- making sure to screen the embryos for any potential problems before implantation. When that’s accepted, how can we possibly expect outrage over a few crude chalk cartoons? What there is can only arise from those who haven’t yet acquiesced to the implications of their beliefs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:19 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 16, 2006

Wal-Mart Engineers a Smear of Edwards

Wal-Mart has a smear out on John Edwards. What is striking about the smear is the way a corporation feels free to publicize something that a customer did, and to use it as a flat-out, blatant, organized smear campaign. It is starting to appear on all the usual right-wing outlets, and may soon be as widespread as the pre-election Kerry "insulted the troops" smear.

From the story, Edwards acknowledges staff asked Wal-Mart for Playstation 3,

"Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards acknowledged Thursday that amid his criticism of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a volunteer member of his staff asked the world's largest retailer for help obtaining a hot new Sony Playstation 3 for Edwards' family."
According to the article, a volunteer called a local Wal-Mart, on his own, and used Edwards' name. Wal-Mart takes this information and turns it into a national smear, right out of its corporate headquarters.
"While the rest of America's working families are waiting patiently in line, Sen. Edwards wants to cut to the front," the Wal-Mart statement said."
That is an official Wal-Mart statement! Have you ever heard anything like that from a company? Is this the business Wal-Mart is in? What right does a corporation have to issue a statement like that about any citizen?

Is this a company that ought to have its right to operate examined, or what?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:35 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Capitalism 3.0 - A New Way To Think About What We Own

I’ve just finished a very interesting book, Capitalism 3.0, A Guide To Reclaiming The Commons, by Peter Barnes. The book talks about ways we can restructure our laws and rules of ownership to cover who should pay for polluting and other harmful things -- costs that our current system ignores and even encourages. The change is based on our realizing that we all own certain things in common.

Here’s a quick way to understand the ideas in this book:

Suppose you live next door to a sawmill operation. The owner makes lots of money, but aa waste product, sawdust, is building up on his lot. This big pile of sawdust is getting bigger and bigger, and it's getting to the point that he’s going to have to shut down his profitable operation if he can’t find some place to dump some sawdust. So one day he comes to you and asks if he can dump some sawdust in your back yard. You answer, “If you give me $25,000 a year, each year you can dump 5 truckloads, but no more, in my yard.” You are $25,000 richer, you limited the sawdust to a level you could tolerate, and the sawmill can continue to operate and make money.

This happened because you “own” that property and have the “right” to refuse to let others make money by dumping their waste in it – or to negotiate for some of the resulting profits. This sounds so basic – but there is a reason I put quotes around the words “own” and “right.” The concepts of ownership and rights only exist because they are granted to us by law, and laws are nothing more than creations of government. It didn’t used to be that way, that regular people could "own" things and have "property rights," but people thought it would be a good idea, and made it happen. And in America it is set up that we can do things like that because, guess what, WE're the government. (It says that in our Constitution.) More on this later.

Now, suppose that you live in a condo, and there are 25 units that share the property, and the condos have a condo association. So the sawmill owner comes to the condo association, and the same transaction occurs. Everyone benefits. Each condo owner gets $1,000 a year, and the sawmill keeps operating and making money.

Suppose the sawmill owner wanted to just dump that waste on that lot next door – the one you live on? That would be great for him if he could do that. He would save, or “externalize,” that $25,000 cost. It wouldn’t even show up on anyone’s books! And he could charge less for his product! But he can’t and the reason he can’t is because you understand that you own that property, which gives you the right to refuse or to ask for payment.

Here is what I am getting at: Oil and auto companies currently dump CO2 (and other stuff) into the air. This is an “externalized” cost. They don’t pay anyone and it doesn’t show up on anyone’s books. They make tremendous profits from this arrangement but the rest of us suffer the consequences.

But what would happen if we started to realize that this is OUR air? You know, “the people” and all that, like it says in our Constitution. Democracy and community. And what would happen if we decided to set up our laws so that we have “ownership” and “rights” to refuse to let them do that – or to charge them and limit how much they can dump?

Is this a far-fetched concept? Maybe not – it is already happening in some places. For example, did you know that everyone in Alaska receives a check because they – the people of Alaska – decided that the oil under the ground there belonged to them? So they passed a law that said they have the right to charge oil companies for that oil and that the money would go into a fund that would pay a dividend to all the citizens of Alaska, as well as put money into a fund that will continue to pay a dividend, forever, even after the oil is gone?

They decided to do that with their oil. They enacted laws to make it so. Now they all benefit. The oil companies benefit, and the people of Alaska benefit from now on. Because they realized that it was their oil, and did something about it.

It’s called the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. Here’s the story of how they made it happen.

Go look it up. And then start thinking about how much we should charge to let oil companies dump CO2 into OUR air.

This might help your thinking: this year Exxon was the most profitable company ever in the history of commerce, and we didn’t get a dime for letting them dump their wastes into and onto our common property. The way things are set up now, instead of collecting from Exxon and others for letting them pollute, the resuting global warming, health effects and other results of this mean we and our children will instead have to pay the price in coming years. We can decide to do it a better way.

Peter Barnes has a blog post about his ideas at the OnTheCommons.org site.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Internet Election and Youth with Power - Reasons to be Optimistic

During a Black Rock Desert sunrise, I asked a 60+, self-proclaimed former hippy what the progressive movement could learn from the experience of the 1960's. He contemplated and finally said, "I think maybe we were too angry." I wasn't quite sure what he meant or if I agreed with him, but, in-light of what I've seen in my three year immersion into national politics, maybe now I do.

It took years for the US public to stop the Vietnam War. The movement, as usual, was based in our county's youth. A popular motto of that time was "don't trust anyone over 30." It will take us less time to get out of Iraq. Again, the youth will lead, but this time, absent that motto, the rest of us will be with them.

You don't win people over with anger; a movement requires people. The 1960's anger was justified, but that didn't make it constructive. In our information age, youth are more technically savvy than older folks. They are less intimidated - perhaps even trusting, and, therefore, more inclusive than their hippy predecessors.

I have a great deal of hope right now. My hope lies in the unique bond between youth and information technology. Youth, with their ever-present ability to speak truth to power, information technology because: 1) youth are its masters, and 2) its anonymity breaks lines of class, race and even age.

Who Won this Election? Hint: What was New?

There is considerable discussion within political circles about who should take credit for the Democrats' landside. Everyone should take and give credit, but anyone who discounts the influence of the netroots and the blogging community is simply intimidated by it.

Many of the netroots most important players are quite young. A good example is Eli Pariser, the Executive Director of MoveOn, with 3.2 million members, who is 25. Tracy Russo who blogs for the DNC is 24. When I went to Vegas in June for the initial YearlyKos bloggers conference and found that competent writers Jonathan Singer and Matt Stoller, who blog for myDD were 22 and 28, I was floored. Markos Moulitsas, who founded the popular blog, DailyKos, for which the convention is named, is 35. Together, myDD and DailyKos get over 20 million visits per month. My 43 year-old (perhaps a little jealous) self got the same uncomfortable (perhaps a little jealous) feeling I had when I watched the self-important 20 something dot commers descend on San Francisco and make $80 K out of college in the early '00s. My feeling back then was that cleverness was king and self-reflection, self-doubt, and inclusiveness (or in other words - wisdom) were nearly absent. As I watched Markos buddy up to then potential 2008 Presidential candidate Mark Warner at the top of Las Vegas' Stratosphere Casino, I was worried that these young folks, sniffing power, would be swept up into the auction that is our political system and be neutered like the young dot com CEOs before them.

However, because many of the movers and shakers in the bloggosphere were young and respected, YearlyKos was perhaps the first truly cross-generational professional conference I've ever attended. (The large cadre of retired age online activists pushed the age spectrum both ways.) YearlyKos was also one of the first times that the bloggoshere physically appeared out of the ether. What appeared were folks of all different ages, genders, and varieties. (Not a lot of race diversity, but that's coming.) It was only after people stood up in sessions and announced what name they blogged under that you knew what they looked like or how old they were. As long as the blogger had a reputation for writing with good intention, good ethics, and good etiquette, it didn't matter who she was, how old she was, or what she looked like.

As I've started to get to know some of these young on-line politicos over the last several months, they are quick to point out that it's not about the bloggers, it's about the blogs. DailyKos is the world's leading political blog with 700,000 visits a day because Markos set it up to be a market place of ideas influenced only by its readers, not by advertisers, not by owner editors who have to worry about not pissing someone off or paying a mortgage.

As bloggers are primarily volunteers, the majority are young and these young folks started their blogs a few years ago because they were mad about a lot of things (as young people usually are) and for good reason (as there usually is). The two things that irked them most - 1) George Bush and 2) the invasion of Iraq.

So they wrote about it. They dug up stories that the mainstream media eventually picked up. They promoted Robert Greenwald films on Iraq, Walmart, and Iraq again. They made money talk. They supported candidates who came out and declared that they were STRONGLY opposed to the Iraq invasion (yes, I refuse to call it a war). The ripple effects of their tireless efforts were felt through out the country.

2006 Was All About Ned Lamont

In a unique special election in the summer of 2005, the netroots rallied support behind an Iraq veteran anti-invasion Congressional candidate in Ohio, Paul Hackett, who narrowly lost in a Republican strong-hold. The netroots then pushed hard and helped anti-invasion Howard Dean become head of the Democratic National Committee. Then it was support of anti-invasion candidate Francine Busby in special April 2006 election in San Diego. She didn't win, but the pressure forced the Republican Party to pour $5 million dollars into the election and start the bleeding of the big red machine. There are many other examples of important netroots actions, but the unprecedented Primary upset victory by anti-invasion Ned Lamont over the entrenched incumbent and former Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman was the most important of the 2006 election.

It doesn't matter that Lieberman went on to win as an independent in the general election. Joe sheepishly salvaged his Senate seat because the Republican Party told Connecticut Republicans to vote for him. If Republicans want to support moderate Democrats for awhile over their own right-wing candidates, that's fine with me. Lamont and his nation-wide netroots supporters put Iraq at the forefront of the political debate. The people of Connecticut, as well as the rest of the country, responded by saying they wanted us out of Iraq. Other Democrats, as well as the institutions like the DCCC and the DSCC who fund them (and eventually even Joe), were then pushed to publicly take a firm stand against the Iraq occupation. Lamont led that charge and vetted the concept which allowed others to follow.

I could give many other examples of how the internet and the netroots influenced this election, the George Allen "Macaca" statement captured on video and spread via YouTube, guerilla internet ads, MoveOn's Call for a Change program that organized seven million phone calls nation-wide. The point is, the powerful internet had an influence, and it gives me a great deal of hope for the progressive movement. The internet offers an important by-pass around corporate media channels - an extremely useful tool for a democratic society within a market economy on steroids.

What's Next? Even More Inclusion!

I was talking politics with a 23 year-old artist, he claimed, "Isn't it almost a gift how bad these guys are?" With their unbelievable arrogance, Bush and his colleagues have energized a movement. That is a gift. The UK's Lancet estimates that 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of our invasion. Add to those 3,000 US casualties on 9/11 and 2,900 US soldiers (1% of the Iraqi total). That's how much that gift has cost so far. What are progressives going to do with this gift?

I worry that the star bloggers and the "new left", as they gain fame, have kids and need to pay mortgages, will be gobbled up by the main stream political infrastructure. I worry that young college-educated mainly-white bloggers have spent little time talking to people in this country's disenfranchised communities or the good organizations, such as ACORN who work with them. I worry that, when at Take Back America Conference last June, author Barbara Ehrenreich gave a keynote speech about racism and classism, the crescendo of salad forks on lunch plates demonstrated the progressive audience's denial. I worry that our country might tolerate another generation of politicians who ask "God Bless America," and by default suggest "…over people in other countries."

But most of all, I worry that the internet will go the way of TV and radio and become little more than a tool to sell products. Luckily, I think young people are worried too, and they know more about the new technology than I do.

The internet has changed society. November 7th was an example of how it's changing it for the better, by enabling us to have an inclusive discourse about what type of people we want to be. Throughout history, youth have had the luxury to lead that discussion, but the internet allows all of us to be a part of it.

I expressed some of my above worries to Matt Stoller in a bar in San Francisco in early October. To my delight he said something like, "When everyone is on-line, that's when it will get interesting." A little different than, "don't trust anyone over 30."

Inclusion, curiosity, equality, integrity, compassion, respect for all people, no matter where they were born or who bore them - that is what progressivism means to me. These were the values of the youth who lead the progressive movement in the late 60's. They are the values of many of the young progressives I see now, but unlike previous generations, their work is elevated by a tool that enhances self- critique and inclusion - a free internet.

History is a series of three steps forward and two steps back. We live in the initial Superpower of the Information Age. While this technology is still unfettered and in young hands, we all have the opportunity to make these next three steps the biggest the world has ever seen.

Posted by Chris at 3:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Did Bush really say "last big push"?

President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make "a last big push" to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration's internal deliberations. (Guardian).

This is a joke. 20,000 troops won't do anything. And if Bush really used the words "last big push", it means that he already knows this will fail -- because there's no way that even he can think that it's sure to succeed.

So he's decided to quit already, but to save face (and to buy time for political reasons) he'll do this dog-and-pony-show and get a few hundred more Americans killed. (And thousands of Iraqis too, but their civil war will continue whether we leave or not.)

The Guardian interviewee seems to have been Powell. He's talking about very serious stuff, but he doesn't dare let them use his name, even though he's been out of the administration and the military for quite awhile now.

Will the media go along with this "last big push" fraud? Yes. They're geniuses at pretending.

Posted by John Emerson at 6:47 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 15, 2006

Who Is Our Economy FOR?

It's the Seeing the Forest question. In Class Struggle Senator-elect Jim Webb writes,

America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.

... Trickle-down economics didn't happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth. At the same time, medical costs have risen 73% in the last six years alone. Half of that increase comes from wage-earners' pockets rather than from insurance, and 47 million Americans have no medical insurance at all.

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Many earned pension programs have collapsed in the wake of corporate "reorganization." And workers' ability to negotiate their futures has been eviscerated by the twin threats of modern corporate America: If they complain too loudly, their jobs might either be outsourced overseas or given to illegal immigrants.

... A troubling arrogance is in the air among the nation's most fortunate. Some shrug off large-scale economic and social dislocations as the inevitable byproducts of the "rough road of capitalism." Others claim that it's the fault of the worker or the public education system, that the average American is simply not up to the international challenge, that our education system fails us, or that our workers have become spoiled by old notions of corporate paternalism.

Still others have gone so far as to argue that these divisions are the natural results of a competitive society.... With this new Congress, and heading into an important presidential election in 2008, American workers have a chance to be heard in ways that have eluded them for more than a decade. ...

It is OUR economy. Does it work for US? Corporations are ENTIRELY a creation of OUR laws, so why do we let them operate the way they do? Of course the answer is because the very rich use the corporations to their own benefit and pay the legislators to keep it that way.

In Europe workers average six weeks paid vacation. They get health care. The get generous pensions. ...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:21 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - "Slide May Deepen"

Newsweek: The Worrying Housing Bust,

With fewer buyers, home construction, sales and prices have weakened. In August, housing starts were 20 percent lower than a year earlier. Last year, sales of new and existing homes totaled almost 8.4 million; next year the NAR expects 7.4 million. Construction workers, real estate agents and mortgage bankers will lose jobs. Consumer spending (computers, cars, vacations) will also suffer, as the borrowing and buying against rising real-estate values subsides. Indeed, the end of the cheap credit that fed the boom means that many borrowers will face higher monthly payments.
Housing slide may deepen - The Boston Globe,

The housing downturn in Massachusetts will last longer, and prices will fall further than first projected, according to an economic forecast released yesterday.

Housing prices will slide by as much as 10 percent from their 2005 peak before hitting bottom in early 2008, according to the forecast by the New England Economic Partnership. They should stay flat through 2009, before beginning to climb gradually.

A year ago the nonprofit research group forecast prices would decline less than 3 percent, bottom at the end of 2006, and regain their peaks in early 2008.

And others:

U.S. housing slump deepens, spreads,

First, Americans quit buying homes. Now, they may have stopped fixing and furnishing them too.

Home Depot Inc. reported a 3-per-cent drop in profit in the three months that ended in October, amid mounting evidence that the U.S. housing slump is getting worse.

“I don't think we've seen the bottom yet, and I don't see anything that says it's going to get significantly better in 2007,” said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's chairman and chief executive officer.

... Problems in the housing sector have also begun to affect how consumers spend their money. In October, U.S. retail sales fell at an annual rate of 0.2 per cent — the third consecutive monthly decline, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report Tuesday.

The decline was heavily influenced by lower gasoline prices, which resulted in less revenue for gas stations.

But there were also sharp declines in building materials (down 0.3 per cent), furniture (down 0.7 per cent) and department store sales (down 0.7 per cent). Over the past three months, sales of building materials have plunged at an annual rate of 10.6 per cent.

“The housing slowdown left its grimy fingerprints all over this report,” BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter said in a note to clients.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:09 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machines Story - Time To Act!

Daily Kos: Black Box activsts -- now's your time to put up,

Down in Florida, an epic battle is brewing over the electronic Diebold voting machines that ate 18,000 votes for Democrat Christine Jennings in FL-13 and cost her the election.

Not only is an expensive recount in the cards, but campaign and DCCC lawyers are flocking down, demanding the state freeze the machines for inspection.

These are the opening salvos in what will be the battle to end Diebold.

But only 36 people have given via our Blue Majority Act Blue page for the legal battles ahead.

To put it bluntly, to anyone who has ever complained about Diebold, this is your chance to put your money where your mouth is. No more talk needed. No more advocacy needed. This is a real-world, legal frontal assault on those electronic voting machines.

If we win this battle, you'll be able to kiss Diebold goodby.

Go help.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:02 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Oil Prices Climbing - How Surprised Are You?

Crude futures top $59 as U.S. oil-product supplies drop,

Crude-oil futures climbed above $59 a barrel Wednesday, ready to break a three-session losing streak after a U.S. government report showed that distillate supplies have dropped nearly 17 million barrels in six weeks and gasoline inventories are down more than 15 million in five weeks.
Heh.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:36 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 14, 2006

It's Time For Us All To Grow Up - A Rant

It’s time to grow up. We’ve got big problems -- really big problems. Experts tell us that we have only a few years to do something about global warming before it becomes irreversible. The housing bubble is popping, the debt bomb is ready to go off, the dollar is falling and Iraq is deteriorating into civil war. And those are just a few of the problems we face.

But we're worried about whether we'll look like hippies, or not fit in, or be laughed at, or called names or not be part of the group if we "protest" and make demands.

It’s time for us ALL to grow up and stop playing games, posturing, pretending we’re on some TV show, and start working together to solve our problems and fix our system. I mean the right for playing their games, and the rest of us for falling for them. For several years the right - with money from, for example, tobacco companies and Exxon - has been using psychological manipulation tactics, going after our deepest emotions and fears, using humiliation and derision to split us apart and make us afraid or ashamed, and make us feel like we’re not “in the group” or going to be laughed at if we don’t give them what we want. It has been remarkably effective. And the real-world problems just get worse.

But worrying about how something is going to look or what people will think about us is like getting ready for the high school prom. Look, we have less than ten years to SAVE THE PLANET from global warming and I don’t think we should worry about whether it’s going to look like we are “San Francisco Democrats” or “1960s hippies” if, for example, we propose actually paying our bills or implementing solar and wind energy programs. Reach inside yourselves and find a way to get past that stuff. We are talking about SAVING THE PLANET here, not who is going to laugh at us in homeroom. This is a post-traumatic reaction to the psychological tactic of using mockery and humiliation to manipulate people into supporting oil company positions. We need to grow up and get past that. There is work to do.

The President of the United States insulting half of America by using the phrase “Democrat” Party when the party’s name is “Democratic” Party is just a small example of what I am talking about. That is so childish it shouldn’t be part of serious discourse. But it is what we have been reduced to, and it has been done to us on purpose, as a tactic to distract us from tackling the real, serious issues. Because in almost every case, tackling those issues means confronting entrenched economic interests.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:04 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Now Home Depot

Home Depot warns over housing slowdown,

Home Depot on Tuesday warned that the US do-it-yourself market had entered a sharp slowdown because of weakening in the housing market and broader economy.
But wait, there's more!

Countrywide CEO says housing slump has a year to go
,

The slowdown of the U.S. housing market will last through 2007 as inventories are pared enough to prompt a change in consumer psychology, the chief executive officer of the nation's biggest mortgage lender said on Tuesday.

Mortgage lending has slowed as rising inventories in the housing market led to a "hard landing" for the industry after a decade of strong growth, Countrywide Financial Corp. CEO Angelo Mozilo said at a Merrill Lynch & Co. conference in New York.

"We have another year of adjustment, or transition" in the industry until consumers believe home prices won't decline, Mozilo said. "Various events will make the change take place and one of them is" a decline in available homes, he said.

And more: Dim housing market could prove pessimists right,
There is, of course, a reason for the gloominess and it can be summed up in one word: housing. The housing market has been severely battered. In October, housing prices were almost 10 percent lower on average than they were a year ago, the largest yearly decrease since 1970. The prices of new homes have taken the worst beating, plunging 33 percent just since April.
More people are having trouble meeting their mortgage payments. Foreclosures were up nationwide. The foreclosure rate was 43 percent higher than at this time last year. Building permits for new-home construction have tumbled about 30 percent. According to reports, a growing number of housing developments are completely empty. An economic report from a leading bank calls the housing problem "the biggest residential construction bust for fifty years."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:02 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Don't Let It Be Close Enought To Matter

THIS is why we said that the way to combat the problem with voting machines is to not let it get close enough to matter. There were problems across the country, and there were voter suppression tactics, etc. But THIS election was NOT close enough for it to matter. And now that the Democrats are in control they can work to stop the tricks and purges and miscounts and suppression tactics in the future. Update: In FL-13, Court Battle Begins As Counting Continues,

The fight will center around the district's Sarasota County, where the electronic machines did not register a vote in the Congressional race for 18,000 voters (13%) -- what's called an "undervote." That's compared to only 2.53% of voters who did not vote in the race via absentee ballots.

A study by the local paper, The Herald Tribune, found that one in three of Sarasota election officials "had general complaints from voters about having trouble getting votes to record" on the electronic machines for the Congressional race. Since 53% of voters in Sarasota County picked Jennings over the Republican Vern Buchanan, those missed votes would likely have put Jennings in front.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 13, 2006

Dumping Bad News Into the Next Two Years

I co-authored a post at Huffington Post with Michelle Kraus: The Blog | Michelle Kraus: Plan B: On Taking Down the Quarter... Democrats Take Notice, looking at the possibility that the Bush administration will start dumping all the saved-up bad news into the next two year, hoping Democrats get the blame. Corporations, knowing they're going to have a bad quarter anyway, often dump all the bad news they can find into that quarter...

Democrats Take Notice

Think long and hard about Bush and the announcements made the day of the Democratic victory Wednesday of last week. Rumsfeld's firing had the "take no prisoners" demeanor of a Titan of industry cutting the fat from his earnings loss. Could this action presage a continued corporate approach to handling the Democratic takeover of the House and Senate?

CEOs, knowing they are going to report a bad quarter, often throw all the "bad news" they can into that quarter. They write down all the losses they can dig up, and instead of reporting a bad quarter they report a really bad quarter and take it all in the shorts at the same time. This clears the books, and they can start fresh the next quarter to the applause of Wall Street.

Is this an analogy for what Bush is planning to do to the Democrats? There is a lot of "bad news" that has been saving up for the last six years ... massive deficits, a huge trade deficit year-after-year with its resulting highest-in-history current accounts imbalance, the housing bubble, the deteriorating Iraq war -- all individually damaging, but grouped together enough to drag the whole country down. And now the administration has the Democrats in both Houses to blame for the consequences of the (lack of) policies of this lame duck President and his band of buffoons.

Earlier this year Bush suspended oil purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which brought down the price of a barrel of oil for the elections. Now the price will begin to escalate again and the price of gas will top $3.00 again soon. The Chinese and other central banks are diversifying away from the dollar and the dollar is falling. The nation's savings rate has been negative for five quarters and the GDP last quarter was an anemic 1.6%. The stage is set.

Rumsfeld's firing and the Baker commission only address Iraq and "the market's" perception of that business unit. Undoubtedly, Iraq was the straw that broke this election and in business terms -- the market's rejection of the company's stock price. It is when one pulls back the curtain and the economic framework of the country is revealed in all its global fragility that the dirty little secrets of this administration will spin out of control. As we said, there is a LOT of bad news saved up for Bush to dump on the Democrats - and the country. The Democrats will need to have a coherent long term plan and powerful leadership to withstand these assaults.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:41 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The wit and wisdom of Chad Castagana

One Chad Castagana has been arrested for sending fake anthrax letters to Keith Olberman and several other liberals. According to the news story, "in some cases, the threatening letters included expressions such as "Death to Demagogues' and references to Alan Berg, a Jewish talk radio host murdered by white supremacists in Denver in 1984, the document said."

A Chad Castagana Google tells us that Chad is a slasher-movie, science-fiction-movie and electronics buff with an interest in Katherine Harris and Chandra Levy.

On Harris:

Congresswoman Katherine Harris is a remarkable lady !

She has perservered a lot to advance the Conservative Cause .

We Red-Bloooded Americans are obligated to support her, siritualy, not just politically !

On bacteriological disaster movies:

Yes , you nailed the point there - the failure of

logic you see in these 'Outbreak' and 'The Stand'

movies ,,

If a desease is so deadly and fast , then the

carrier is dead before he can travel around and

transmit the germ to others . .

His lengthiest work is on the plague of PC in science fiction movies:


With the passing away of Lexx ends an intriguing albeit smarmy experiment in sci-fantasy. One that breaks with conventions, or should I say, cliches of TV sci-fi of the '90s. The politically correct pabulum, the multicultural indoctrination, the Bladerunner motifs, and not the least—the steroid mutated superbabes that can punch the lights out of men, but never get punched back in return!?

How about creating a new sci-fi anthology with none of the puerile baggage of Rod Serling, Gene Roddenberry, Rockne O' Bannon, etc., etc. It is time to end their reign of Left-wing innuendo, their anti-American, anti-mankind cynicism and fatalism.

Let us create a future of infinite possibilities devoid of the agenda of the social engineers who work their corruption on us through the one-way world of television (kind of how the liberal-left have always worked). A world where anything is possible but not everything is possible. Anything can happen, but not all things can happen at once. That is what time is for, to keep all things from happening at the same moment. That shall be the only rule of our new fantasy world. That an event happens only once. What has been done, cannot be undone. There is no turning back the sands of time. You can review the past but you cannot change the past. That a vision of a possible future, to the present, must be taken in the context of the present. A cosmos not governed by compassion or tolerance or equality, but common sense and merit. A universe of strange and totally new lifeforms and not distorted reflections of human characters in our present world, just to make some social allegory—that is the insipid barren road of Political Correctness that sci-fi entertainment has been a slave to for so many years.

The future is not the current events of our world thrown into outer space. The future is not with the Liberals, not with the Multiculturalists (both hate America), and it is certainly not to be found in Canada! The future is not written, the future is unformed.

Castagana is innocent until proven guilty, of course, and it also remains possible that there are two Chad Castagana loons out there, only one of whom is a terrorist. And of course, it's hurtful and wrong to ridicule our mentally-defective Republican brothers and sisters. Mea maxima culpa.

More here

Posted by John Emerson at 7:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

It's About Money

NYTimes story this morning: Administration Opposes Democrats’ Plan for Negotiating Medicare Drug Prices,

The Bush administration said on Sunday that it would strenuously oppose one of the Democrats’ top priorities for the new Congress: legislation authorizing the government to negotiate with drug companies to secure lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.

In an interview, Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, said he saw no prospect of compromise on the issue.

This is entirely about money and corruption. The Democrats have the House and Senate, and are implementing new rules that make it very hard for money to influence the process. So there is a LOT of lobbyist money floating around looking for a place to land. This is Bush sending out the word that the Republicans are still able to influence legislation - for the right price. He is saying to the pharmaceutical industry - pay us and we can block this. If the Democrats change this policy it will cost the drug companies billions.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 12, 2006

A Comment On The Election

The Democrats took the House and Senate. But think about this: Everything we were worried that the Republicans would do - the "gerrymandering" where they rig Congressional districts so they can't be turned over to Democrats, every dirty trick like the phone calls saying you'll be arrested if you vote, every voter suppression tactic and every negative campaign ad - it all HAPPENED. People were purged from voter rolls, people were intentionally sent to the wrong polling places, people dressed in Latin American-style police uniforms stood outside polling places in the Southwest...

And with all that, the Democrats took the House and Senate.

So I have a question. Would ANY Republicans be in office without the lying, cheating, intimidation and theft?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:49 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 11, 2006

CO2 Emissions "Out Of Control"

Very bad news: Global growth in carbon emissions is 'out of control',

The growth in global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels over the past five years was four times greater than for the preceding 10 years, according to a study that exposes critical flaws in the attempts to avert damaging climate change.

Data on carbon dioxide emissions shows that the global growth rate was 3.2 per cent in the five years to 2005 compared with 0.8 per cent from 1990 to 1999, despite efforts to reduce carbon pollution through the Kyoto agreement.

Much of the increase is probably due to the expansion of the Chinese economy, which has relied heavily on burning coal and other fossil fuels for its energy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:54 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 10, 2006

The DC Democrats

I've felt for a long time that the DLC party pros absolutely believe in their policy proposals -- hawkishness, anti-populism, free trade, corporate-friendliness -- and just use the argument that "The voters won't accept anything too liberal" as a way to bully the majority of the Democratic Party into fake political realism.

What's toxic about this is that the worse Democrats do in elections, the more effective this argument is in intra-party debates, and the more secure the DLC control of the party is. I don't think that it's an accident that Democratic campaigns have been weak for at least the last 6 years.

A second problem with this approach is that when Democratic intra-party debates end up being framed this way, Democrats end up looking opportunistic. The DLC leaders themselves are as enthusiastic about dropping bombs on foreigners as any neocon, but most Democrats aren't, and candidates who've obviously been bullied into pretending to be tough for opportunistic reasons don't sound tough at all. This is about as counter-productive as you can get.

All this sounds paranoid, and I'm sure that very few of the party pros clearly conceptualize things exactly that way, but you will often hear people at The New Republic -- people not running for office, and not working for the Democratic Party -- let the cat out of the bag. "It's better to lose than do the wrong thing".

To them it's win-win: they keep their cushy jobs, and they get their Republican-lite policy proposals enacted. The only cost to them is that they often enough see high-octane Republican policy rammed through too, but to them that's not as bad as seeing liberals have any success.

Yes, I sometimes use hyperbole, but I really do believe exactly this. I hope that Dean and Kos are able to terminate about half of the Dem pros and consultants, the ones who have weakened the party, and I'm just sorry there's no way to prosecute them or to ruin their lives some other way.

(Note: this is me talking. My more moderate statements just now were for public consumption, but not this one. Let's keep this all a secret, OK?)

Posted by John Emerson at 4:28 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Let's sort it out

The Emmanuel vs. Dean fight for control of the Democratic party is in full swing. The DC establishment has awarded victory to Emmanuel (and Schumer), but they're usually wrong.

This is a can of worms, and I suggest that someone sit down and sort things out. They should just look over the last six months or so and see what actually happened. What did Dean propose, and what did Emmanuel and Schumer propose? What was actually done? What worked, and what didn't?

This is all being spun (presumably by the DC faction) as a sandbox spat over who should get credit. That's not what it is. It's about control of the party, and it's about future strategy. And this fight was started by such Emmanuel supporters as James Matalin-Cheney (née Carville). The Washington Establishment is doing what it can to freeze out Dean and the grassroots. They like their cushy jobs.

One thing I'd especially like to see is a comparison of the candidates advised by Emmanuel and the candidates not advised by Emmanuel. My hunch is that Emmanuel's advice was not very good. Duckworth did poorly, Wetterling did poorly, and I think that there were others. But Walz (also in Minnesota, like Wetterling) won without Emmanuel's help -- except for his invaluable ATM service.

Another would be a comparison of candidates supported by Emmanuel from the beginning, and those whom he supported late (who had the advantage a cash without much advice). And there should be a comparison of the strategy originally proposed by Emmanuel (supporting many fewer candidates) and the strategy actually followed.

Nobody is criticizing Emmanuel's fund-raising. The guy's an excellent ATM machine and perhaps that's what he should specialize in. My guess is that if the events are carefully studied, Emmanuel isn't going to look too good. But I really don't know.

For comic relief, here's Kos singing Kumbayah solo -- no one's heard from Emmanuel yet, unless he was speaking through Mr. Matalin. I think that most Democrats want to split the difference on this, but all the evidence is that that just isn't the way that Rahm works.


Posted by John Emerson at 3:13 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Centrists, Leftists, Etc.

There is a lot of talk about "the center" and "centrists." Lots of people say the blogs are on the left.

To put this in perspective, when and where is the last time you heard anyone talk about nationalizing the oil companies? That would be a "leftist" proposal.

After all, the oil companies do not "own" the oil any more than anyone can own the air or the water. They are extracting OUR resource, under license from US to operate, and as corporations are granted limited liability by US. In exchange, they are supposed to be serving the public interest. A discussion about whether they are serving the public interest might involve questions about how much they are setting aside to cover the costs of putting carbon into the air, or to pay for research into transitioning away from fossil fuels a they start to run out, how much they pay their employees, and other ways that WE might benefit from allowing them to extract OUR resource. So obviously, they are not serving the public interest.

A broader discussion would ask whether we need to reform the corporate system into something that really does serve the public interest...

The fact is, "leftist" arguments are not even part of our national discussion. Without that perspective in the discussion, it can't really be said that there even is a "center," can there? And without ALL sides contributing to the marketplace of ideas, how can society arrive at solutions that incorporate the best ideas from all the different perspectives?

(Cross-posted at the Commonweal Institute Blog.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:23 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

OOPS

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:04 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Mr. Matalin wants to fire Howard Dean

I'm working on a piece on the Democratic establishment's attempts to hang on to their cushy positions, but let me just say right now that this is insane.

I liked Carville when he was Clinton's hatchet man, but that was more than ten years ago. The guy's been worthless for God knows how long.

I cannot understand why anyone in the Democratic Party should ever take Mr. Matalin seriously. He's probably the best way we have to send a private message to Dick Cheney, but I can't think of any other possible use for him.

Posted by John Emerson at 1:08 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 9, 2006

Restore The Fairness Doctrine!

It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!

How many of you have heard of the Fairness Doctrine? Public broadcasters are licensed to use OUR airwaves. It used to be that in order to be licensed they were required to serve the public interest. One part of that public interest was to present a balanced view of different political viewpoints and to cover controversial issues of public importance. This "Fairness Doctrine" requirement was intended to protect the public from the possibility of moneyed interests buying up all of the information sources, leaving the public hearing only their viewpoint.

There was also a personal attack rule, which required stations to notify people or groups who were attacked on their broadcasts and give them the opportunity to respond on the air. And, candidates were given the opportunity to respond to attacks or endorsements of opponents.

Ronald Reagan's FCC stopped enforcing and then got rid of the Fairness Doctrine. Congress restored it but Reagan vetoed that. Under President George HW Bush Congress again restored it but it was vetoed. Then, under President Clinton the House passed it but the Republicans in the Senate blocked it with a filibuster. In the last six years Republicans controlled the House, Senate and Presidency and were quite happy with broadcasters presenting only a narrow corporate viewpoint, and allowing personal attacks to go unanswered.

It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!

Restoring the Fairness Doctrine would open up America's "marketplace of ideas." It would help to restore civility to our public discourse. It would help restore our democracy.

If the Fairness Doctrine were restored we would begin to see a variety of issues covered by the broadcast media, from a variety of perspectives. Currently we only see subjects that the corporate world is interested in, covered from a pro-corporate perspective. Imagine the effect on the country if the public were exposed to a variety of viewpoints on issues like trade, consumer protection, sustainability, unions, health care, global warming and energy, religion, the environment, nutrition, and SO MANY other issues!

Imagine the effect on our civic discourse if stations had to give time for a response to everyone that Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter smeared on the air!

It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:25 PM | Comments (16) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

50-State Strategy Won The Senate

The Netroots/Dean strategy of running candidates in every district is why Democrats now control the Senate. Running a candidate in a Congressional district puts people on the streets, mailers in the mailboxes and ads on the air, building support for Democrats.

In Virginia and Montana Democrats won by a small margin. Running candidates in "losing" districts certainly accounts for that margin. The same factor aplies to other statewide offices and ballot initiatives.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:36 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Gates and bin Laden - Fight Fire With Fire?

Interesting. If this the STF Rule in action again? Bush brings in one of the guys who financed and trained bin Laden, and helped set up the Jihadist movement, to the job to catching bin Laden? Daily Kos: Robert Gates Promoted and Financed Osama Bin Laden

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:34 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 8, 2006

Conservative Looks Back At Last Two Years

THIS IS A MUST-SEE.

Right-wing blog Ace of Spades HQ has three videos up in a post titled, A Dramatic Interpretation Of The GOP's Past Two Years.

You will agree. Go watch all three.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Democrats Have Taken The Majority in the Senate

The Democrats have officially taken the majority in the Senate.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:05 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Another Scandal!

Prominent Male Hooker Forced To Step Down Amid Accusations Of Sex With Sleazy Evangelical Leader,

A prominent male hooker, Dirk Blackman, was forced to give up his position as the head of a large national prostitution ring when it was revealed that he had repeatedly had sex with sleazy evangelical leader Ted Haggard.

Members of the prostitution ring were shocked by the allegations. "There are some things that you don't even do for money," said one man...

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Call With Speaker-To-Be Pelosi

I just got off of a 40-minute call with a few bloggers and Speaker-To-Be Pelosi.

Here are some things can be and will be changed right now, as a matter of the rules the House sets for itself:

Earmarks - Any earmarks must be presented in public before the committee, be publicly justified and approved by the committee. NO tax earmarks at all. This ends the system of purchasing earmarks.

Lobbying crackdown - NO gifts, meals, trips, etc. from lobbyists, period. Plus other reforms.

Open government - the leadership will not restrict amendments to bills. This means that Republicans will be able to offer amendments to bills before the House - something they prevented Democrats from doing. This lets policy be set by the strength of ideas rather than corrupt deals and hidden agendas.

Some needed changes require legislation, which will be introduces ASAP, including:

- Public financing of elections to remove the entire campaign contribution corruption system.

- Requiring non-partisan redistricting of every state, decided by a non-partisan commission, which will occur only after each 10-year census. Political considerations will be removed from the drawing of district boundaries.

- Oil subsidies ended and the money used to fund alternative energy.

There was a discussion of Iraq. I'll wait for other bloggers from the call to post and link to that.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:39 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Slump Deepens

No good news: Housing slump deepens - The Boston Globe,

Home builders Toll Brothers Inc. and Beazer Homes USA Inc. said orders for new homes declined and customer cancellations rose as the US housing slump deepened.

Toll, the largest US luxury home builder, said fiscal fourth-quarter home-building revenue fell 10 percent and orders tumbled 58 percent. Beazer Homes, the seventh-largest home builder by revenue, said orders dropped 58 percent.

"We continue to look for signs that a recovery is imminent but can't say that one is in sight," Toll chief executive Robert Toll said yesterday on a conference call. Buyers have lost confidence in the home market and are delaying purchases, convinced that prices will continue to fall, he said.

Business week: How Deep Housing's Decline?
With 30-year mortgage rates down to 6.1% from a July high of 6.8%, unemployment benign, and lending rates stable, the luxury home builder's CEO, Bob Toll, expressed surprise Tuesday that he's seeing no sign of a bottom in the market.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:11 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Press Conference -- The Liar

In his press conference Bush just acknowledged lying to a group of conservative reporters last week, to their face, about Rumsfeld. Wow. He said something along the lines of, "I said that because I wanted you to think so-and-so" and that lying ""and it was the only way I could get you onto another topic." He made them look like fools and patsies in front of the press corps. I wonder if that will have repercussions?

Update - So another reporter asked him to clarify, and he is saying it (lying) was the right decision to make because injecting it (that there would be a change) into the media would harm the morale of the troops...

And he's talking about reporters trying to trick him and get him to say things... Wow.

Update - OK, the transcript,

You and Hunt and Keil came into the Oval Office and asked me to question one week before the campaign. Basically, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? The reason why is I did not want to make a major decision in the final days of the campaign. The only way to answer that question, and get it on to another question, was to give you that answer. The truth of the matter is as well, that is one reason I gave the answer. The other reason why is I had not had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet. I had not had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point. I had been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspectives. He likes to call it fresh eyes.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:13 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

NOT A Good Start

Bush opened his press conference talking about "The Democrat Party." He understands that is an insult.

Jerk.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:02 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Pelosi

I'm watching Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi's press conference. CNN cut it off. Fox cut it off to show Lieberman...

We have a LOT of work to do.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:17 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 7, 2006

The Democrats Have Taken The Majority in the House

The Democrats have officially taken the majority in the House of Representatives.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Clowns

I know it's election night, but look what these clowns did. The White House doctored the Mission Accomplished speech video so it doesn't show the Mission Accomplished sign anymore!

Clowns.

PS Here's the White House page. Click "View."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:15 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Looking Good - Really Good

Every early indicator is going the Dems way. Republican Senators DeWine, Santorum and Chaffee are defeated. In Indiana's 2nd Congressional District Rick Donnely has defeated Chris Chocola.

So if good news keeps coming in, perhaps we will see a Democratic House AND Senate, and there will finally be some oversight of the government and rolling back of the corruption and lawlessness!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:11 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Slow Internet

Aside from Seeing the Forest's web host reporting they are under a "Denial of Service" (DOS) attack, I am, entirely separately, experiencing an extremely slow connection. I'm in San Francisco at the LinkTV offices.

I see that InstaPundit is reporting that he has internet problems, too, wherever he is. Are any of you out there experiencing this, too? Leave a comment.

By the way, you can see my first ever report as a "news anchor" at The People Choose 2006 website.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:59 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Early Indicators

Swing State Project says there are are early indicators of record turnout.

• Connecticut: According to the New Times in Danbury, Connecticut's Secretary of State is claiming that 70% of eligible voters will turn out this year, topping 2004's Presidential-level turnout of 56%. Wowza. Is this the strength of Ned Lamont's ground game at work and his outsider appeal energizing disinterested voters? Or will Lieberman be able to make up the difference by his strength in traditional voting blocs? We'll see, but I suspect this one will be tighter than many of the polls have assumed.

• Virginia: Turnout may reach historic levels for a midterm election, perhaps with a turnout as high as 65%--which would be a figure double the size of 2002's turnout. Turnout looks high in both Fairfax county in Northern Virginia and in Southwestern Virigina, according to CNN. On balance, I would say that this favors Webb, but it definitely still looks like a nailbiter at this point.

Think Progress has early CNN exit polls.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Sorry

My server is under a Denial of Service attack so you probably aren't seeing this...

Hello,

We're currently experiencing an attack on our server. A denial of service (DDoS) attack floods a network with an overwhelming amount of traffic, slowing its response time for legitimate traffic or grinding it to a halt completely. Our server administrators are working on the problem.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Iggy?

I'm sorry, but did I just see a Cadillac commercial with music by Iggy Pop?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:58 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Organized Crime

Whiskey Bar: The Octopus

The modern GOP -- or, more specifically, the Axis of '70s Campus Republicans running it -- really is just a criminal enterprise disguised as a political party.

Dirty tricks, large and small, are a sorry fact of life in American politics, but what the Republicans have done over the past few weeks -- the surrealist attack ads, the forged endorsements, the midnight robo calls, the arrest threats, the voter misinformation (did you know your polling station has been moved?) -- is sui generis, at least at the national level.

Even Dick Nixon never tried anything like this on such a grand scale -- although, of course, he also didn't have the technology. The only thing we haven't seen yet is a break in at DNC headquarters. And if the Rovians thought they could get anything out of it that would be useful in this election (nobody else has) we'd probably be reading about that, too.

It's always possible to point to Democratic/liberal offenses, but at this point the comparisons look pretty silly: some downed yard signs here, a few crooked and/or stoned ACORN canvassers there. Not even in the same universe, much less the same ball park.

Couple the GOP's rat-fucking campaign with all the other stuff we already know about -- the collectivized bribery of the K Street Project, the Abramoff casino extortion ring, the Defense and CIA appropriation scams, the Iraq War contracting scams, the Pacific Island sex trade protection racket, the church pulpits doubling as ward halls, the illegal wiretapping, the lies, perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame case (I really could go on like this all day) -- and it's clear that what we need most isn't a new Congress but a new RICO prosecution, with lots of defendents and unindicted co-conspirators.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Turnout

I was thinking that the robocalls would suppress the vote. But I am hearing on TV that turnout is high. High turnout = more Democrats elected.

So maybe, just maybe...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

OK, I'll Say It: VOTE!

OK, I'll say it. VOTE!

Like you haven't. Right. Duh.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:19 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Big Dawg Speaks

"They won't implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Every time we try to implement them our friends in the Republican Party say, 'well, we've got a big defict.' A big deficit. Go figure. Like they didn't create it, right?"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Voter Suppression and Intimidation

There are SEVERAL reports of calls like this one:


Will it work? Or will people show up and vote?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Humor Column

Remember the Seeing the Forest Rule - when Republicans accuse, it usually means it's something they are doing.

Townhall.com::The new voter fraud

There is no real question that Democrats are more skilled at politics than the Republicans are. Democrats are more articulate, not to say glib, and they know how to stick together.

You don't see individual Democrats in the Senate going off to do their own thing in concert with the opposition and against the interest of their own party, as Senator John McCain has done with so-called "campaign finance reform" co-sponsored with ultra-liberal Senator Russ Feingold, and as he attempted to do on immigration with liberal icon Ted Kennedy.

[. . .] Democrats have learned to avoid admitting to being liberals and this year are running a number of moderate candidates.

If these new moderate candidates are elected and give the Democrats control of Congress, that control will be exercised by senior Democrats who will hold leadership positions -- and all of them are liberal extremists, whether people like Nancy Pelosi in the House or Ted Kennedy and John Kerry in the Senate.

Getting people to vote for moderates, in order to put extremists in power, may be the newest and biggest voter fraud.

What can I add to that?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:42 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

No October Surprise!

Color me surprised. Maybe the military staged a sit-down strike and refused to bomb Iran. Whatever the reason, I'm delighted to be wrong. My prediction now is that the Democrats will take the House but not the Senate -- that's not really a prediction, it's just the minimum I could stand to live with.

If the Republicans keep both Houses, Bush will run wild and it will be the end of America as we know it. But if the Democrats take the House, they should be able to stall (and effectively put an end to) Bush-Rove confrontational extremism. Bush and Rove have been tremendously successful, and if Democrats end up winning it all in 2008, they will inherit a transformed and wrecked nation.

The Democrats have to hit the ground running, use their subpoena power aggressively (it's all they'll really gain this year), and start systematically degrading the Republican graft machine. They should also give a few hundred DLC loser consultants an hour each to clean out their desks while security looks on, but prosecuting the DLC people would be an extreme step and I absolutely oppose that idea.

Congress should also pass a lot of popular bills, forcing Republicans to vote against them and forcing Bush to veto them. I only say this because many timid, reasonable Democrats are sure to ask "What's the point of passing bills that you know will be vetoed?" (Study Gingrich, one of the great transformational wreckers of our time. He staged a series of losing votes and ended up controlling the national political agenda, and Congress too.)

Hopefully the game can be played so that it's the vulnerable Republicans in Congress who feel the pressure and cave in. If the ones crossing party lines are the Democrats, winning this election will have been meaningless.

Posted by John Emerson at 4:46 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 6, 2006

Calls: It Gets The Job Done

This one at DailyKos, you just have to appreciate these guys. It's simple, it's basic and it gets the job done:

Tim Daly from Clarendon got a call saying that if he votes Tuesday, he will be arrested. A recording of his voicemail can be found online at: www.webbforsenate.com/media/phone_message.wav

The transcript from his voicemail reads:

"This message is for Timothy Daly. This is the Virginia Elections Commission. We've determined you are registered in New York to vote. Therefore, you will not be allowed to cast your vote on Tuesday. If you do show up, you will be charged criminally."

Daly has been registered to vote in Virginia since 1998, and he has voted for the last several cycles with no problem. He has filed a criminal complaint with the Commonwealth's attorney in Arlington.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:53 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Roundup On The Calls

Republicans are using computers to call voters in several districts. The calls purport to be from Democrats. If you hang up, they call, and call, and call, even into the night and early morning hours. If you DO listen, you hear a smear message about the Democrat. This is widespread and massive, and there is simply no time to respond. So it might work.

You and I are informed voters. The fact that you are reading this shows that you seek out information. So you are likely to see through - or find out about - this tactic. But consider the situation with most people. They work hard (not that you don't) and don't have a lot of free time. Maybe they have kids they have to get to school or soccer games (or the mall.) For one reason or another they are NOT as well-informed as we are, so they are susceptible to schemes like this one, which is obviously designed to get them angry at the Democratic candidate, possibly enough to keep them from voting at all.

I've been writing about the Republican calling operation here and here. Taylor Marsh is also looking at it. Talking Points Memo is also on this.

There are articles on the robocall operation here, here, here, here, here, here.

At Patriot Project we have also been looking at the earlier push-polling operation.

Update - According to the Republican Party website,

72-HOUR PROGRAM IS WORKING.

The GOP’s 72-hour program has reached 27 million volunteer contacts through Saturday, hitting 3 million voters this Saturday alone. By and large, this effort will have its impact on Election Day and will not show up in most public opinion polls.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:14 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Calls

The Stakeholder:: DCCC on Robocalls has the most recent list of districts where calls are reported. If you know of calls in other districts please let me know.

Dirty Tricks 2006: GOP Spends $600k on Late Night Attack Phone Calls

Republicans Caught Making Calls to Democratic Voters in the Dead of Night to Anger and Turn Them Off to Voting and Dampen Turnout

... Last week alone, the NRCC spent the following money on attack phone calls on the following Democratic candidates. One news report estimated each call costs only 5 cents each.

* AZ-05: Harry Mitchell: $8210.76
* CA-04: Charlie Brown: $16,617.24
* CA-11: Jerry McNerney: $4120.28
* CA-50: Francine Busby: $2641.68
* CO-04: Angie Paccione: $10,456.32
* CT-02: Joe Courtney: $12,844.56
* CT-04: Diane Farrell: $44,964.56

Click through for the rest of the most recent list.

* CT-05: Chris Murphy: $17,494.08
* FL-13: Christine Jennings: $24,638.82
* FL-16: Tim Mahoney: $16,428.72
* FL-22: Ron Klein: $3813.36
* GA-08: Jim Marshall: $10,546.68
* GA-12: John Barrow: $16,087.86
* IA-01: Bruce Braley: $8386.26
* IA-03: Leonard Boswell: $13,812.12
* ID-01: Larry Grant: $23,752.26
* IL-06: Tammy Duckworth: $11,474.31
* IL-08: Melissa Bean: $14,134.38
* IN-03: Tom Hayhurst: $13,746.88
* IN-09: Baron Hill: $12,852.36
* KS-02: Nancy Boyda: $4,093.74
* KY-02: Mike Weaver: $1,510.74
* KY-04: Ken Lucas: $15,242.10
* MN-06: Patty Wetterling: $21,053.90
* NC-11: Heath Shuler: $11,843.70
* NE-03: Scott Kleeb: $3,492.66
* NH-02: Paul Hodes: $19,321.98
* NM-01: Patricia Madrid: $6,702.42
* NV-02: Jill Derby: $10,934.16
* NV-03: Tessa Hafen: $12,197.70
* NY-19: John Hall: $16,123.62
* NY-20: Kirsten Gillibrand: $11,143.38
* NY-24: Mike Arcuri: $6,824.82
* NY-25: Dan Maffei: $17,183. 46
* NY-29: Eric Massa: $10,855.26
* OH-01: John Cranley: $9,236.64
* OH-02: Victoria Wulsin: $7,953.84
* OH-15: Mary Jo Kilroy: $11,826.84
* PA-04: Jason Altmire: $23,111.61
* PA-06: Lois Murphy: $14,253.66
* PA-08: Patrick Murphy: $18,969.36
* PA-10: Chris Carney: $3,942.00
* TX-22: Nick Lampson: $2,258.61
* VA-02: Phil Kellam: $14,345.58
* WA-08: Darcy Burner: $14,992.80
* WI-08: Steve Kagen: $20,794.68

Republicans Caught Making Calls to Democratic Voters in the Dead of Night to Anger and Turn Them Off to Voting and Dampen Turnout

NRCC Has Spent $2.1 Million on Calls, Nearly $600,000 on Attack Calls in the Last Week Alone.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Wanna Be A Republican Leader?

Then watch this:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:54 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 5, 2006

The Calls

It appears that voters in districts around the country are receiving election calls at all hours.

IN ADDITION to the push polls, Republicans are receiving pleasant calls during the day encouraging them to show up and vote, and the calls are very finely targeted to the things that voter is likely to care about, based on information about the voter that is collected through "data mining." (This is called "microtargeting.")

Independent voters and Democrats are receiving calls that SAY they are from the Democratic candidate, but really are not. "Hi I am so-and-so, the Democratic candidate for Congress." Then there is a pause. If the voter does not hang up the voter hears a smear message about the Democrat. If the voter DOES hang up, they are called again and again, late into the night, even at 5 or 6 in the morning, and the voice says, "Hi I am so-and-so, the Democratic candidate for Congress." The idea is to make voters angry at the Democratic candidate, thinking the candidate was calling them over and over at all hours.

I suspect that almost NO ONE is those key districts is going to show up to vote for that Democratic candidate.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:36 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

If You Are Receiving Calls

If you are receiving "robocalls" or push poll calls:

1 888 DEM VOTE is the DNC's voter protection hotline, and the testimonials received will be the foundation for any legal action, as well as a reliable central repository for follow-up contact information.

This number operates 24/7 in English and Spanish and provides callers with information about their poll locations, enables them to report complaints they have before or on Election Day, connects them to a designated DNC or State Democratic Party Election Protection operation if needed, and provides general information regarding voting rights issues.

People can also download flyers to print and distribute:
http://www.democrats.org/a/2006/09/every_voter_cou.php

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:19 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 4, 2006

Blog Title Of The Week

I just discovered this: Preemptive Karma: Dave Johnson is Full of Pig Shit

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:46 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Another Great Video

At The Reaction, “Take these lies and make them true somehow” - a nominee for the new George W. Bush song.

I always thought that "With these thoughts that I've been thinking I could be another Lincoln, if I only had a brain" was the definitive George W Bush song...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:54 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Last Week's Kerry 'Fiasco' Was Very Good For Dems

I think last week’s media explosion over Kerry's botched joke was a good thing for the Democrats.

In case you were on the moon last week, let me go over what happened. Kerry was making a joke about Bush not having studied hard in school and ending up getting us stuck in Iraq, and left out the word "us." Republicans decided to try to trick people into thinking that Kerry - a war hero who had volunteered to serve in combat after graduating from Yale - was "insulting our troops." They sent instructions out to their echo chamber to pretend to be outraged. They cranked up the phony outrage across the internet, got the story onto The Drudge Report, got Rush Limbaugh to "run with it," and then the TV networks started non-stop coverage and commentary. It was an instant, manufactured media frenzy. And then it went away. Just like that.

So here is why I think in the end this was a very good thing for the Democrats.

1) It distracted the Republican machine. Kerry isn’t running for anything but the entire conservative outrage machine spent 2 days attacking him instead of talking about anything relevant to the election and to the concerns of voters. Who CARES what John Kerry said? This is not to run down Kerry, but for voters to care it has to be about SOMEONE OR SOMETHING THAT MATTERS TODAY. In this election what John Kerry said just doesn't matter because he isn't running for anything.

But the Republican noise machine IS capable of influencing the public and doing real damage. That was two days in which they could have been causing trouble and instead they were entirely focused on something that just does not matter.

2) Crying 'wolf' too many times reduces the effect of crying "wolf." (That's why they call it "crying wolf.") The Republicans cranked up their machine to absolute full volume over something that wasn't true and just didn't matter, and everybody had to listen to it. So the realization that these people cry "wolf" is sinking in.

John Kerry DIDN'T SAY WHAT THEY SAID HE SAID, and everyone knew it. And it JUST DIDN'T MATTER and everyone knew it. They were crying "wolf" AND EVERYONE KNEW IT!

3) It allowed us a peek behind the curtain. We’re becoming more and more aware of how the Republicans do it, how the sound machine works and how the phony outrage and smear machine operates. We're learning about their techniques. So we’re watching and learning, and this week was like a lab experiment for studying conservative outrage and smears. We are learning how to react, how to keep from getting sucked into the defensiveness game, and how to fight back. Two years ago the swiftboating of Kerry cost him the election. This year Kerry - and all of us by extension - understood more about what was happening and responded effectively.

So yes, I think last week's media frenzy was, on balance, very good for the Democrats.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:38 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

New DNC Video - Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Three GREAT Videos

And funny! Forward to everyone you know!

Red Guy / Blue Guy
(strong language warning)

The 2006 Elections:
Brought to you by Diebold!

(strong disbelief warning)

Help the donkey f**k the elephant
(strong political-activity-encouragement warning- old DMTV video, with different name)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:23 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 3, 2006

Corruption - A $6 Million Gift To Oil Company

In years past this alone would have been a major story and the corruption involved would not be tolerated. But this year it's just one more thing - a relatively small thing. We all know what is behing it - payments from lobbyists. The people involved will be leaving the government soon to "work" at the oil companies for unusually high pay. Gov't drops demand for Chevron royalty,

The department's Minerals Management Service had maintained that Chevron owed an additional $6 million for gas it took under federal leases in the Gulf between 1996 and 2002 and sold to Dynegy Inc., a company Chevron partially owns.

Essentially, the government argued that Chevron undervalued the gas it sold to Dynegy. Chevron paid royalties based on a price that didn't represent fair market value, the government auditors said.

But last summer, the government quietly rescinded its demand for the additional royalties. That decision was reported Tuesday by the New York Times, based on documents the newspaper obtained through a freedom of information request.

The story comes on the same day as a larger story about the Republican Congress getting rid of the only agency conducting ANY oversight of Iraq spending. This is just two stories about corruption today. There will be two more tomorrow and the day after...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:25 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Why Haven't You Heard About The Plan?

BobGeiger.com: Proof That Bush Lies Every Day About Dems Lack Of Security Plan

It was just two months ago that Democrats rolled out the Real Security Act of 2006, a plan whose legislative description left no doubt that Democrats had a plan, saying that it was designed "to provide real national security, restore United States leadership, and implement tough and smart policies to win the war on terror."

"The Real Security Act of 2006 marks a major change from status quo Bush Republican policies that have left America less safe than it must be," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in introducing the plan. "Unveiled against the backdrop of a new White House media offensive, the legislation spells out the tough and smart path to make America more secure and to deal more effectively with threats that confront America at home and abroad."

These days, you would never know that such a plan exists for two reasons. The first it that it was killed by the Senate GOP leadership on September 13, 2006 on a roll-call vote that went almost straight down party lines. The same Republicans who killed the Democratic plan now walk around saying the Democrats have no plan.

The second reason that the Democratic strategy is so hard to find is that the corporate media continues to let the no-plan nonsense go unchallenged because, I suppose, it would be too much like real work to read the 528-page piece of security legislation that the Democrats tried to pass.

Go read the whole thing!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:34 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Can You Do It In One Breath?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:13 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 2, 2006

Phony Mailers From Tobacco and Oil Companies

In California two of the several propositions are to tax oil companies to fund research into alternative energy and to tax cigarettes to pay for health care.

So the tobacco and oil companies have paid for a flier that has been mailed to registered Democrats telling them that the Democratic Party opposes those propositions. AP Wire | Democrats angry over flier suggesting they oppose oil tax measure.

Leading Democrats joined supporters of Proposition 87, an initiative seeking to fund alternative fuel research by taxing instate oil production, to publicly distance the party from the flier, which was mailed to 4.2 million households.

The so-called Voter Information Guide for Democrats endorses Democratic candidates running for statewide offices. But it also urges voters to defeat the oil tax measure and another initiative seeking to boost taxes on cigarettes to fund health programs. Both initiatives are supported by the California Democratic Party.

I'll bet that things like this are happening all across the country. It is time to put corporate executives in jail for things like this. And it is time to get corporations OUT of our politics.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:51 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

I Predict Trouble Next Week Because Of Paperles Machines

There's trouble coming next week. Regardless of which candidates and parties are said to win next week, there is a problem coming. This is because there is no way to prove to people whether or not the electronic voting machines reported the votes correctly. And this raises the possibility that large numbers of people will not accept the reported election results.

In this highly partisan atmosphere with such high stakes this is a recipe for civil disorder.

If you vote absentee or use a paper ballot, or use a machine that prints your vote on paper and lets you see that it was correctly recorded, you can feel like your vote was correctly counted. But if you vote on a machine that just asks you to trust that it records your vote correctly, and YOUR candidate loses, you're going to feel like you MIGHT have been cheated. That is human nature.

And even if you know that YOUR vote was correctly recorded, if these machines are in use in your local election, then you are going to feel uneasy about the results.

AND even if your entire district uses safe methods, you are going to feel uneasy about the results from OTHER districts.

So no matter which party is in said to be in the majority after Tuesday, there is no reason for the losers to accept that. (Or the winners, for that matter.)

I don't see any way around trouble coming out of this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:35 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machines Story

There has been quite a bit of publicity now, exposing the new electronic voting machines as hackable. And it occurred to me that Tuesday's election could turn into a different kind of fiasco than the one that many people fear.

The fear is that there could be subtle, undetectable changes in voting totals designed to swing elections. (Such hacking is undetectable because there is no paper backup system that allows voters to verify that the machine is recording their vote accurately.)

I'm wondering if, rather than this scenario, if we might instead see every junior hacker in the country showing up with their own viruses and worms and other assorted hacks, and precincts electing everyone from Superman to Malcolm X, with more votes than voter in the precinct, etc.

It would be funny if that happened. But not surprising. It CAN happen.

Just a thought...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:10 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Go See Olbermann

Anyone who hasn't yet seen Keith Olbermann's special comment yesterday should absolutely, absolutely see it.

Crooks & Liars has it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:16 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 1, 2006

Maybe, Just Maybe

Matt Stoller has picked up on something very interesting. Go read MyDD :: Rove Throwing in the Towel?

Greg Sargent is noticing a weird phenomenon - Karl Rove spinning a loss to the press as resulting from a failure of candidates to effectively execute on his strategy.
Associates say Rove is privately frustrated that individual candidates have not been more aggressive in drawing contrasts with Democrats on national security.
Perhaps this explains why the President, who is under Rove's direct control, is sounding more and ore shrill when he is out campaiging, saying things like, in effect, that voting for Democrats is the same as voting for terrorists...

I am starting to think that Democrats just MIGHT take a majority in the House. Maybe. Just maybe.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:47 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Toll On Economy

A number of stories just out:

Housing slump to take toll on economy,

The U.S. housing market's slump is taking a toll on the U.S. economy and should continue to slow economic growth well into 2007.

U.S. construction spending fell an 0.3 percent in September, with private residential building dropping for a sixth straight month, the U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

"We expect the housing market correction has a ways to go, and should continue to detract from economic growth all the way through the end of next year," said Gina Martin, financial economist at Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte, North Carolina.

U.S. Economy Wrecks Housing,

Weakness in the U.S. housing market could be turning the hoped-for soft landing for the economy into something a bit harder to deal with. Data released on Wednesday showed conditions in the housing market deteriorated in September, extending a slide that began early this year.

... The U.S. Commerce Department said housing starts fell for the sixth month in a row in September, and spending on all types of construction declined 0.3% following a flat August. Private home construction dropped 1.1% in September after falling 1.6% in August.

Can the economy survive the housing bust?,

Why is Sonders worried now? Just look at the chart. Over the past year, the NAHB housing index plummeted 54 percent. Were stocks to follow suit, the S&P - 1400 in late October - would be trading below 700 this time next year.
Sixth decline in housing pushes overall U.S. construction down,
U.S. manufacturing expanded at the slowest pace in more than three years, and construction spending declined as housing continued to suffer through its longest stretch of weakness since 1995.

Two reports released Wednesday depicted an economy beginning to feel the impact of the sharp slump in the once-booming housing sector.

Denver: Housing market remains in a slump,
A sluggish market led to a dip in Denver metro-area housing starts during the third quarter of 2006, according to a report by Metrostudy's Denver division.

Denver area third-quarter housing starts fell 22 percent from the same period last year, from 4,889 new homes to 3,830. The year-to-date rate through the third quarter declined 3 percent, from 19,568 in 2005 to 18,908 in 2006.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:33 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machines Story - A Good Ad

This is an ad for California Secretary of State candidate Debra Bowen

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:47 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Because Of Iraq

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:17 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack