October 31, 2007
Here is someone who was held incommunicado in a cave through the entire Clinton presidency. (As were the people who left comments.)
Should have lost more than a job.
This is really a housing bubble consequences post, but really they all are... With a 3.9% GDP report, the dollar at a record low, oil pushing $95 and various "regular people" costs rising at double-digit rates our Fed cut interest rates today. They are trying to put off the inevitable reckoning.
The fuse is now lit. The structural imbalances worldwide have never been greater and the fuel at the end of the fuse is enormous. In addition, amount at risk increases every day.My wife is British, so we look at exchange rates. And we look at the price of oil. And food. We're losing a percent or so of our buying power each week.
The interesting thing is that no one knows how long the fuse is. For some inexplicable reason everyone acts as if they can get out before the stick ignites. It's simply not possible.
October 30, 2007
What happens when you let a few big corproations control all the media outlets?
Republican radio network Clear Channel, a monopoly in many cities and a dominant player in most of the rest, isn't interested. Is it because Springsteen has been an outspoken campaigner for Democrats and progressives? Clear Channel has taken a political stand with its programming in the past. Just think back to their boycott of the Dixie Chicks. Oh, no... not way back, just back to when they released their most recent album. Despite being one of the top 10 best-selling American albums of the year-- across all genres and demographics-- radio studiously ignored it. There were maybe half a dozen country stations that even played it at all. What Clear Channel did to the Dixie Chicks is a watertight case for the need to break the media companies up into a thousand pieces. (John Sununu disagrees; he's pro-censorship.) I spoke with an old friend who heads a record company and preferred to speak off the record.
"When you have artists like the Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen who have overtly spoken out against this Administration, they are taken to task in spite the clear and undeniable indications from the marketplace that people want to hear their music. What seems to be happening-- if sales are any kind of a barometer of what the marketplace is-- is that these politically-connected radio networks like Clear Channel are not looking to succeed as radio stations as much as pushing forward some political agenda.
The 13-month-long decline in home prices in 20 major U.S. cities accelerated in August, with prices dropping a record 0.7% in the month, according to the Case-Shiller price index released Tuesday by Standard & Poor's Corp.Key line: "Prices could fall much further."
Prices were down 4.4% in the past year, the fastest decline in the seven-year history of the 20-city index. In the original 10-city index, prices have fallen 5% in the past year, the biggest decline since 1991.
"The fall in home prices is showing no real signs of a slowdown or turnaround," said Robert Shiller, co-creator of the index and chief economist for MacroMarkets, in a release.
... Millions of homeowners who took out adjustable-rate loans in 2005 and 2006 face sharply higher mortgage payments this year and next, with foreclosures having already soared as the result of payment resets.
... Prices could fall much further. In a separate report, analysts at Goldman Sachs figured that prices in California are about 35% to 40% overvalued, compared with past relationships between home prices and income growth. The median sales price of a home in California was $589,000 in August, Goldman said, but should be around $375,000, they said.
October 29, 2007
A friend's elderly mother received a scam letter, and I started looking into it. The trail led to a discovery that the Romney campaign is receiving Moonie money.
The scam letter is from the American Federation of Senior Citizens (AFSC). Tracing them down, it turns out it is a scam run by the Moonies.
The head of AFSC is Gary Jarmin. Jarmin is a member of the secretive, right-wing Council for National Policy. He words (or worked) as Government Liason of the Washington Times, a Moonie outfit. He's also the guy who booked the room in the Senate Office Building which Moon was crowned Messiah, if you remember that event.
The address of ASFC, 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, according to Raw Story, is also the address of a number of other Moonie outfits,
Christian Voice 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 548-1421
Jar-Mon Consultants (Global Dominion Communications Inc.) 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 548-4904
US Cuba Foundation 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 548-4904
American Christian Cause 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 715-6523 (703) 548-1840
Pacific Asia Foundation 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 548-4906
AFSC uses a PR firm, Global Dominion Communications, also used by Christian Voice.
So I started looking into these groups a bit, and guess what I found?
A list of contributions to the Romney campaign shows Global Communications giving the max - $2300.
More research discovers that the Romney website proudly announces that Gary Jarmin is a "Romney For President National Faith And Values Steering Committee Vice-Chair". Jarmin is listed there as President of the American Service Council.
The Christian Voice website declares, "Christian Voice is a program of American Service Council, Inc." (208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314) and the ASC website lists:
Special Programs of ASC
* Americans for Faith and Freedom
* The Seniors Center
* Citizen's Voter Drive
* National Council of Survivors
* Christian Voice
Now, I don't have time to trace this further -- I haven't even traced the donations of these other Moonie fronts -- but the way the Moonie organization works I bet with just a little work we'd find many, many more connections between the Romney (and other Republican candidates) organization and the Moonies. If you are reading this and have some time, see what you find and let us know in the comments here. Is Romney taking more Moonie money? Is he working with other Moonie fronts? Are the other Republican candidates?
Here's why: The right wants to imply something sinister out of Hillary Clinton accepting donations from people with Asian names. Maybe they're just following the STF Rule.
(Obama supporters please read the last paragraph of this post.)
For decades the right has been trying to kill Social Security. They have spread the lie that it is a "ponzi scheme" that depends on workers paying in today to pay for current benefits. Barack Obama is running a new ad that reinforces that lie.
Here is the fact: For decades Social Security has been collecting MUCH MORE $$ than it has been paying out. This money is saved in a "trust fund." This trust fund is large enough to cover any "shortfall" that occurs when the baby boomers retire.
But starting with Reagan, and especially under Bush, this trust fund was used to pay for the Republican tax cuts for the rich. (This is what Gore was talking about when he said this money should go in a "lockbox.")
Now that the baby boomers are starting to retire Social Security will need to tap into this trust fund to pay their retirement. It's their money but the money is not there -- taken by the Republicans to pay for their tax cuts.
So what is fair? Cutting old people's benefits to cover they money that was taken by the Republicans to give to the rich? Taking more from working people's paychecks to ocver what the Republicans took? Or taxing the rich to cover the money that was given to the rich? Which is fair?
And, most of all, how is this Social Security's problem? How is it Social Security's problem that the conservatives owe Social Security all that money?
With that in mind, watch Obama's commercial, in which he is talking about Social Security's problem entirely in right-wing terms:
Obama is running ads reinforcing the right's bamboozlement that Social Security is running out of money! The language in this ad implies that Social Security's retirement payments are responsible for the shortfall, and does not say that the trust fund was taken to pay for Reagan and Bush's tax cuts.
This language in this ad, if seen and heard by millions of people, could make it so much harder to fight back the next time the right tries to kill off the program by claiming it is insolvent.
I know that Senator Obama's heart is in the right place and he has no intention of harming Social Security. But this ad is a mistake that could backfire. Please stop running this ad and please change the language. Instead of reinforcing the right's lie that Social Security has a problem, let people know that the conservatives took their money from Social Security and gave it out as tax cuts to the rich and THAT is the problem!
October 27, 2007
Democratic hopeful John Edwards ... in remarks at an event last weekend:WTF? Edwards using discredited right-wing language about a "looming Social Security crisis?"
"The American people need a president who will be straight with them — who will be honest about the greatest challenges our government faces. And one of the most important of those is the looming Social Security crisis. ...
The only, repeat, ONLY problem is that Reagan and now Bush have borrowed trillions from Social Security to give tax cuts to the rich and soon the government will have to find the money to start paying it back. That isn't Social Security's problem and old people shouldn't have to suffer because of huge tax cuts given to the rich.
So what is Edwards talking about? I had been thinking Edwards was closest to me politically, but I think Dodd has moved up to that honored position.
Checking further ...
Sadly, so does Dodd. "Tax relief will also be offered for the construction of new buildings and the refurbishment of older buildings upon initial relocation or start-up."
Several human rights organizations based in the United States and Europe have filed a complaint in a Paris court accusing former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of responsibility for torture.
The group, which includes the International Federation for Human Rights, the French League for Human Rights, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, made the complaint late Thursday and unsuccessfully sought to confront Mr. Rumsfeld as he left a breakfast meeting in central Paris on Friday.
Jeanne Sulzer, one of the lawyers working on the issue for the human rights groups, said the complaint had been filed with a state prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, saying he would have the power to pursue the case because of Mr. Rumsfeld’s presence in France.
The Bush Administration has banned the Memorial Honor Detail flag-folding ceremony because the following section:
In the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.Details at Words spoken in funeral flag-folding draw flap - Military Times.
On this one I think the family's wishes should be honored.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is pushing $25 million in earmarked federal funds for a British defense contractor that is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and suspected by American diplomats of a "longstanding, widespread pattern of bribery allegations."What's to say? It still is a Republican culture of corruption. They don't even try to hide it. The fix is in at the Justice Department - all the prosecutors who were investigating Republican corruption were fired...
McConnell tucked money for three weapons projects for BAE Systems into the defense appropriations bill, which the Senate approved Oct. 3. The Defense Department failed to include the money in its own budget request, which required McConnell to intercede, said BAE spokeswoman Susan Lenover.
... McConnell has taken at least $53,000 in campaign donations from BAE's political action committees and employees since his 2002 re-election. United Defense Industries, which BAE purchased two years ago, pledged $500,000 to a political-science foundation the senator created, the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville.
October 25, 2007
There is a way for Bush to convince the world that there really is a terrible threat from Iran and that we must deal with it.
Stoller, in Open Left:: John McCain and the GOP: Trapped in the 1960s: "I wonder why Colbert is more popular than Republicans among youth voters."
Here's the Republican ad:
The idea seems to be that SOME Americans don't deserve full citizenship because they don't conform to the Republican ideal.
I was AT Woodstock, as a matter of fact.
New-home sales are report as up. But they are only up because last month's sales were revised way down. Sales are down from the previously-reported figure.
Sales of new homes rebounded in September from summer sales levels that were much weaker than previously reported, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.Got that? The previous three months were actually much worse than reported.
Sales increased 4.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 770,000 from a revised 735,000 in August. Previously, August's sales had been reported at a 795,000 pace.
September's sales were slightly higher than the 758,000 pace expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch.
The three previous months were revised sharply lower, which means the housing market was much weaker in the middle of the year than previous believed, and no one believed it was strong.
In case you haven't read it yet, Digby's The Art Of The Hissy Fit is fast becomming a blogosphere classic. People are even e-mailing it around.
So go read it.
October 24, 2007
Gov. Bill Richardson asks, Daily Kos: Where is the National Guard?,
Today, we all extend our sympathies and prayers to those devastated by the wildfires in California. Millions of Americans are impacted by this natural disaster.
... It is a sad irony that yesterday, the very day I sent fire crews to California, 300 more New Mexico National Guard members were sent to Iraq. Just when we need them most at home, more of our brave men and women, true public servants, are sent away to a war we cannot win.
[...] Today, as the fires rage, California has National Guard men, women, and critical equipment thousands of miles away in Iraq.
They need to come home. We need them here.
This has gone on long enough. When a national disaster hits, our states depend on the National Guard. Right now, President Bush is robbing Peter to pay Paul to continue his disastrous adventure in Iraq, and when tragedy hits us here at home, Americans are stuck with the bill. This cannot continue.
Bush won't end this war. Congress must. And they must end it now.
... Join my call at www.getourtroopsout.com to push Congress to begin ending this war now. Not in January, not next spring, not next year - now.
From Al Jazeera: Al Jazeera English - News - Palestinian 'Torture Widespread',
Amnesty International has accused Hamas and Fatah of widespread human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary detention and other ill treatment against each other.
The rights watchdog on Wednesday released a report criticising the Palestinian governments in both Gaza and the West Bank for harming civilians in their clashes.
... In the report, the group said: "Arbitrary detentions and torture or other ill treatment of detainees by Hamas forces are now widespread and the initial improvements in the security situation which followed Hamas' takeover [of Gaza] are fast being eroded."
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Donatella Rovera, author of the report, said Hamas forces were now conducting a clampdown on Fatah supporters and anyone else critical of them in the Gaza Strip.
However, she said: "What we're finding in the West Bank is pretty much a mirror image, even though it is much less reported.
... In the Gaza Strip, members of Hamas' military wing act as police and have detained and tortured Fatah activists and critics. Hamas police routinely beat protesters to break up demonstrations, and have roughed up journalists covering the events, Amnesty said.
In the West Bank, security forces detained about 1,000 Hamas sympathisers and members, forcing many to sign statements condemning the group and disavowing their loyalties to it.
Although most were held briefly, many reported being ill-treated or tortured, the Amnesty report said.
At the Dodd blog: Help Oppose Telecom Amnesty | Chris Dodd for President
I just saw an ad on TV encouraging people to "roll your IRA into California real estate"! They offer a free Saturday seminar.
See for yourself: Ace Capital Group - The Pioneers in Retirement through Real Estate
I wonder how successfully they're reeling in the suckers...
Here is an updating map of the San Diego fire area. Click it for more detail.
Sales of existing homes and condos fell 8% in September to the lowest level in at least eight years, further evidence that the credit squeeze in mortgage markets is hurting home sales, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.
Sales of existing homes and condos fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million, the lowest since 1999, when the real estate group began tracking combined single-family and condo sales. The 8% drop was the largest monthly percentage decline in that period.
Nationwide, sales of existing homes were down 19.1% in September compared with September 2006.
October 23, 2007
This piece originally appeared at the Speak Out California blog.
"Greed is good." That line from the 1987 film Wall Street shocked the country with its blatant articulation of the 1980s-era Reagan philosophy of greed. Twenty years ago it was still a shock to civilized people to hear such a vulgar statement promoting self-interest over community. From the movie,
The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right; greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge - has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words - will not only save Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.Greed used to be considered one of the "seven deadly sins." Religions warn against its harmful effects on people and the greater community. Buddhism warns that greed is one of the three poisons. W.Jay Wood wrote in Christianity Today,
Greed is an inappropriate attitude toward things of value, built on the mistaken judgment that my well-being is tied to the sum of my possessions....Greed alienates us from God, from our neighbor, and from our true self.But twenty years after being shocked by the promotion of a "Greed is good" philosophy much of the public instead buys into the consumer culture of greed and self-interest over public-interest. How has this change come about?
It had help. For example, John Stossel, co-anchor of ABC's 20/20 and host of ABC's John Stossel Specials reports for ABC radio, and ABCNews.com wrote a 2006 opinion piece titled Greed Is Good, which he posted at the far-right Townhall site (and many other far-right sites), Stossel writes,
If pursuing profit is greed, economist Walter Williams told me, then greed is good, because it drives us to do many good things. "Those areas where people are motivated the most by greed are the areas that we're the most satisfied with: supermarkets, computers, FedEx." By contrast, areas "where people say we're motivated by 'caring'" - public education, public housing etc. - "are the areas of disaster in our country.... How much would get done," Williams wondered, "if it all depended on human love and kindness?"This Stossel piece is derived from a 1999 20/20 episode of the same name, and for years was widely promoted and distributed as a "Greed" teaching kit for classrooms by the Palmer R. Chitester Fund, Inc.
The accompanying teachers guide (PDF document), included such "educational" tidbits as,
The video argues that "the more government tries to help, the worse things get" and uses the circumstances of the Lakota Sioux tribe in South Dakota as an example. Would the Lakota Sioux tribe be more prosperous without government support? What evidence would support or refute this argument?and,
Some say that decreasing tax rates stimulates the economy by enabling workers to keep more of the money they earn. As a result, they have added ability to put money back into the economy by spending, saving and investing. Others accept high tax burdens believing that the cost of government is justified based on all of its programs and agencies. The video shows an example of the typical two earner household- Bill and Mary Thurston of St. Louis, who both work from January until May to pay their share of annual taxes. Do you think American taxpayers are getting their money's worth? Which taxes do you think are/are not justifiable?and,
Have students research reports of government waste and report the most egregious cases they can find. Have them detail specific examples of what could happen to a private company that operated in the same manner.Anti-government propaganda like that is "educational?" Of course not. But there it is, with the credibility and celebrity of both ABC and Stossel backing up the pro-greed, ideological message.
A 2000 Salon.com article titled Prime-time propagandist, said,
"Stossel in the Classroom" is a series of study aids that includes Stossel's popular ABC News special reports, accompanied by study guides written by two conservative economics instructors at George Mason University. The study guides are emblazoned with a big blue ABC News logo and Stossel's face. ABC News and Stossel had almost nothing to do with the development of "Stossel in the Classroom," but the product is deceptively packaged to look like an ABC product.Who is the Palmer R. Chitester Fund that distributed these so-called study materials? Media Transparency describes The Palmer R. Chitester Fund as follows:
The Palmer R. Chitester Fund was created by the combative Bob Chitester, with startup money from the Bradley Foundation, to create right wing "popular" media, and lately has taken to selling educational materials based on the error-prone reporting of ABC TV's arch-conservative correspondent John Stossel. It's Idea Channel distributes "intellectual" videotapes on conversations between mostly members of the right wing movement on topics ranging from political science to economics to history.The Fund is now part of Chitester Creative Associates. It's President Bob Chitester proudly declares,
"Over 80% of U.S. secondary schools are now using at least one of our teaching units."The Fund receives grants from numerous sources to help it distribute similar teaching materials. (One source, for example, is the John Templeton Foundation. John Templeton, such a radical anti-government conservative that he renounced his US citizenship in 1968. Yet, in 2007, Templeton was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People (Time 100) under the category of "Power Givers.)
The Salon article mentions some of the other sources and participants,
One contributor to the "Stossel in the Classroom" series is the John M. Olin Foundation, an organization that popped up regularly in stories detailing Hillary Clinton's "vast right-wing conspiracy" during the investigation and impeachment of President Clinton. For three decades, the Olin Foundation has funded many of the most influential institutions and individuals on the right. Board member and conservative columnist Walter Williams' professorship at George Mason University is also underwritten by Olin.Yes, some of this is old news - to some of us. But it is worth rehashing because it helps tell the story of disturbing changes in our culture. In the time since the statement "greed is good" shocked us our society certainly has become more greedy and self-interested. And in that time society has become much more of an on-your-own, in-it-for-yourself society as contrasted with a "we're-all-in-this-together, take-care-of-each-other" society. Certainly the "free market"-oriented one-dollar-one-vote"value" has clearly come to dominate over the humanitarian and democratic value of one-person-one-vote.
Chitester Fund is a conservative foundation, sporting John Fund of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Williams among others on its boards. Text on the Chitester Fund Web site describes the organization's mission: "We are particularly interested in illuminating the prerequisites of a free society -- (with an) emphasis on projects that examine the role of government and explain the interrelationship of economic, personal and political freedom," code for a closeted conservative group. [emphasis added]
The "economics education" effort described in one example here is just the tip of an iceberg - of a huge effort to push America's public attitudes rightward. Some have estimated that spending on the conservative movement's "message machine" is over $300 million dollars per year.
What can we learn from this? One thing we can learn is that it is possible to move America's public attitudes and change our culture. The so-called conservatives were certainly able to accomplish this. We can even see and learn from how they did it. It wasn't easy and it wasn't inexpensive, but they proved that a systematic effort to educate the public certainly can succeed.
I think it is time that progressive-minded Americans begin to put resources of our own into an effort to educate the public about the benefits to them of values like democracy (one-person-one-vote vs one-dollar-one-vote) and community (taking care of each other rather than everyone on their own and out for themselves). We must do this to restore the country that our Founding Fathers envisioned.
If you are not brown it won't affect you in any way. There will be no calls for a draft, no calls for taxes to pay for the war, no calls for anyone having to do anything at all except hate Muslims.
Well, maybe you'll be asked to support a capital gains tax cut...
Go look at some of the silly victimization stuff...
October 22, 2007
Dozens of Turkish military vehicles loaded with soldiers and heavy weapons rumbled toward the Iraq border on Monday after an ambush by guerrilla Kurds that left eight soldiers missing and killed 12. Iraq's president said the rebels would announce a cease-fire later in the day.Let's hope this is not the beginning of a regional spread of the destabilization and misery Bush unleashed by invading Iraq.
October 21, 2007
San Mateo County Democratic Straw Poll vote count (see the Live Blogging the San Mateo Country Presidential Straw Poll post):
Gore (write in) 23
There are more details at the San Mateo County Democratic Straw Poll website.
I am at the San Mateo County Expo Center, where they are conducting a Presidential Straw Poll today.
This is a large room and it is packed. It looks lime at least a thousand people have turned out. (Later - just heard someone say 1600.)
Along one wall are tables set up by the local Democratic clubs and the campaigns. There are Hillary, Obama, Edwards and Kuchinich tables, and there is a strong Kucinich contingent here. I haven't seen a Dodd or Biden table or sign or supporters, but I have seen people with Richardson signs. And, of course Draft Gore signs.
The first speaker is now talking and the sound system is terrible. I'm way in the back at a press table, and there are a lot of talking people between me and the speakers. "...taking back our country ... San Mateo County ... and I thank you for being here... we WILL have a Democratic president in 2009 ..."
-- Pictures after the flip --
Now Congressman Tom Lantos is speaking. "We are here to begin the glorious process of electing the next President of the United States of America who will be a Democrat. ... Let me say a word about each of the candidates because any one of them will be a tremendous improvement..."
Now Dennis Kucinich is speaking. I can't hear well from where I am... "I stand before you with a political record that is a little bit different from the other candidates... non-for-profit, Medicare-for-all..." crowd all cheering ... "health care system..." I can't hear anymore... the crowd is chanting "bring them home, bring them home" ... "I'm telling you now it's time for all these candidates to say NO to war against Iran ...As President of the United States I'll lead America to a new era where we reject war as an instrument of policy... Constitution of the United States ... a President who will stand for diplomacy ... central mission of a Democratic President is to create jobs ... " ... "we used to make steel ... we used to make cars ... millions of jobs ... "
I took a picture with my cell-phone camera. I hope it can convey how many people are here...
(Also Mary has some good pics over at The Left Coaster.)
Now there are many more people here and I can't hear or see anything. I will head to the front try to report back as I can...
Former State Senator Jackie Speier just spoke for Hillary. Couldn't hear. She received a good receptopn
Now someone - didn't catch the name - is speaking for Obama. Huge cheer. Hurting my ears. Can't hear... "Republican party on the run... all-time record low..."
I think I wouldn't be able to hear the Obama speaker even if I was in front there is so much cheering. People now chanting "O-bam-a, O-bam-a"
Now on behalf of John Edwards is State Senator Leland Yee. Just as much cheering as for Obama. "There are in fact two Americas. John Edwards understands ..." crowd cheering... "and what he sees and what his vision is ONE America... nearly 47 million individuals who have no health care. And John Edwards wants one America that has health care for everyone. ... Everyone paying their fair share. He in fact wants one American, one country, one voice, universal health care for everyone in the United States." ... cheers ... "best of education, best of opportunity..."
I wonder if it means something that I can hear more of the Edwards speaker, or if he's just louder? OK, he finished and the cheering made my ears hurt, but not as much as the Obama speaker...
A speaker for Bill Richardson, David Buchanan, is coming up next.
I think organization says a lot about the campaigns, and even a small event like this one can be a significant momentum-builder in the public mind if it is reported widely. Richardson has a surprising showing here, with people walking around, and a representative who came over to the press area promoting his experience. There was an Edwards representative saying Edwards is electable, progressive and green. There were two Students for Obama representatives here. One Student for Obama representative contacted me before the event as well. ... Now another, more senior, is here.
Richardson spokesman - "The war in Iraq, in this issue there can be no eqivocation. We must have a leader who (something) to the lies. We need a President who will commit to having all our troops out by ...(can't hear and now the Obama rep is talking to the person next to me...)
The RIchardson person has finished and my ears survived...
The voting appears to be wrapping up. The vote counters have been called to a door, to go out and get trained. The master of ceremonies - Andrew Byrne, Chair of San Mateo County Democrats, is saying that the speeches are over, be sure to vote before it closes, come to our Democratic clubs, get involved, visit the tables at the side of the Expo Center room here...
Oh diety-on-a-stick there's a rock band on the stage getting ready to play. My ears... are bad because I used to be in a rock band on the stage...
There is a students-for-Obama group over at the side now all chanting and cheering.
Another cell-phone camera picture, this one of the tables along one of the walls:
counting ... counting ... counting ...
Commonweal Institute's Executive Director Barry Kendall just got an award for something to do with organizing this.
While we wait ... I think Obama and Kucinich might have organized the best turnouts. Not sure. Edwards had a strong showing as well. We'll see.
The vote count:
Gore (write in) 23
Frank Rich's column today, Suicide Is Not Painless, talks about the systematic corruption of defense contracting, especially where Iraq is involved.
Here's the thing. You and I read the blogs, so we already know at least something about what is going on. You and I know about, for example, the truckloads of cash that were shipped to Iraq to be handed out in bricks. We know about the $9 billion that just disappeared. But most people in the country are not exposed to the information that blog readers take for granted, haven't heard about it, and would have a hard time believing that anything like this is going on. I'm serious. But remember, a huge chunk of the population still thinks that Iraq attacked us on 9/11 - or was at least involved - and there's a big chunk that believes that weapons of mass destruction were found.
There is something we can all do to help. Today's column about the corruption should be sent around by e-mail to people who don't usually read blogs.
Please help with this by e-mailing it to people. People need to know about the corruption and fraud that our huge "defense" budget is generating. If more people understood what is going on, there would be less vulnerability to Republican propaganda that says cutting military budgets - or even having hearings looking into the corruption - is unpatriotic. That kind of talk is nothing but a game to keep the corruption going, but it will keep working unless more people learn about what is going on and where their money is going.
The Abramoff corruption machine was modeled after the defense-contractor scheme, but was tiny and amateurish in comparison. (For example, the Abramoff operation didn't actually buy entire media companies as a way to help keep people from learning about the racket, as defense contractors have done.)
Please read Frank Rich's column today, and please, please send it to friends and relatives who might not otherwise see what is going on. And ask them to send it on to others!
Please read it, and e-mail it to others. Then, after you have done that, read Billions over Baghdad, another story about the massive corruption.
It’s all totally irresponsible. It’s just unbelievable. The president is sending over a new commander, he’s sending over troops, and the Democratic Congress, in a pseudo-binding way or non-binding way, is saying, ‘It won’t work. Forget it. You troops, you’re going over there in a pointless mission. Iraqis who might side with us, forget it, we’re going to pull the plug.’ It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months and say the president has made a decision, we’re not going to change that decision, we’re not going to cut off funds and insist on the troops coming back, so let’s give it a chance to work. You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that. I hate to say this about the Democrats. They’re people I know personally and I respect some of them. Do they want it to succeed or not?SO, OK, it's been nine months. Can we talk now?
October 20, 2007
For some time the US has been borrowing tremendous amounts of money. Not just the government with that massive Reagan and Bush debt from cutting taxes and borrowing instead, but also the huge, vast, massive trade imbalance - that trade deficit where we borrow the money to buy stuff from China.
And the public has been "withdrawing equity" for years - taking out second mortgages to buy nice cars and stuff.
All that borrowing has to lead somewhere. No?
What did you expect? "The borrower is slave to the lender," it says in the Bible. Welcome to captivity.
Another new Newsladder: Ourtroops.newsladder.net
Do you know anyone serving, or family & friends of anyone serving? Send them over.
October 19, 2007
I'm working with a project that will be launch in a few weeks, called California Newsladder. California Newsladder is a news aggregator for progressive California blogs and news sites.
It is running now, so go take a look. Here is what it is about: If you have signed up, you can add links to stories that you think are important or interesting. If you click a link you can read the entire story at the site where it came from.
You can also recommend links that you see there. As the stories are recommended they climb up the ladder. After Newsladder's launch, each day the top ten stories be sent to legislators and their aides, reporters and editors and TV and radio stations around the state. This will help expand the reach of progressive blogs and news sites like California Progress Report and Calitics.
California Newsladder is part of the system that also has Burma Newsladder and some new sites coming up.
Spineocrat - is it right for you?
In response to U.S. Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey's refusal to say
whether waterboarding is torture, the Governor this morning issued the following
statement:"Waterboarding is torture, and anyone who is unwilling to identify it as such is not qualified to be the chief legal officer of the United States of America. If I were in the U.S. Senate, I would vote against Mukasey unless he denounces such specific forms of torture.
"Torture does not work. Mistreatment backfires and destroys our international leadership, as we saw with Abu Ghraib. Torture also endangers our own troops. The standards we adopt may well be what our own troops are subjected to.
"Anytime one makes a person think he or she is being executed, the very nature of waterboarding, it obviously is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, international law, and basic human decency.
"ABC News has described waterboarding as follows: 'The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face, and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in, and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.'
"If another nation engaged in waterboarding against American citizens, we would denounce that country and call the practice barbaric, and rightly so.
"We must stand against torture without equivocation, without compromise, and without exception. Torture is a violation of everything we stand for as Americans and as human beings."
Go read the whole thing. The Dodd hold on Telecom immunity prompts Taylor to write Obamamania Hits a Ditch, ending with:
We need a fighter. Someone who won't back down and can not only take a punch but give one as good as he or she gets. Someone with a plan. It looks like some in the Obama crowd are starting to wake up and what they're sensing isn't exactly a heavyweight.
October 18, 2007
Housing crisis in California:
I was talking to someone yesterday about how it looks like the Bushies "got to" the Seigelman judge. She said, "So what? No one will do anything about it anyway."
She's right. All those US Attorneys who "played ball" are still in place, waiting to let Republicans off the hook and indict a bunch of Demcorats for things they didn't do - just in time for the next election.
It's one of the worst things about everything that is happening -- no accountability, and the Dems also won't hold anyone accountable. There are no consequences for the lawbreaking and corruption we see all around us.
A Bush admin. official was quoted saying Iraq hasn't made us "safer." Today - fired.
October 17, 2007
Rockridge Institute is launching a campaign, Don't Think of a Sick Child.
This is a prototype ad:
About the campaign:
The national debate over the future of health care security is complex and confusing to many Americans. There is little doubt that the country is in the midst of a health care crisis as more than 100 million Americans find themselves underinsured, uninsured and without adequate health care. Advocates on multiple sides of the debate inundate voters with various plans, statistics, prescriptions, and political sloganeering. Yet, the confusion remains.
In launching this campaign, the Rockridge Institute is contributing to progressives as they consider and focus their health care message. We have written a thoughtful white paper, as well as talking points, prototype television advertisements, blog posts, op-eds, and other material designed to bring some consistency and honest framing to the cause of health care security. To the many groups and individuals engaged in this cause, it is our hope we will be of some help to your heroic efforts.
I'm pretty busy today, so instead of posting something, I'll send you to go read this talk I gave earlier this year, about the Overton Window and the right's strategy to get rid of public schools: We're All In This Together (Commonweal Institute Blog)
If you are following the case of the selective prosecution of Alabama Governor Siegelman, this is of great interest.
Why did the judge go along with everything the Justice Department wanted in this sham trial? Maybe this answers the question: Daily Kos: DOJ Scandal Deepens, Siegelman Judge Exposed
Summary: Before the trial the judge was accused of pension fraud, misuse of his office, perjury, criminal conspiracy and obstruction of the FBI's background check for the Federal Judiciary. But the Justice Department didn't do anything about this - never responded at all. And then along comes the Seigelman prosecution.
The charges were submitted to the DOJ's public integrity section by a respected defense attorney who conducted a routine investigation prior to trying a major case. The charges were sufficiently credible to get judge Fuller removed from that case. However, he was allowed to preside over the Siegelman case. These charges of criminal activity were corroborated by signed documents by public officials involved in exposing the alleged pension fraud by Judge Fuller.From Harper's Magazine.
October 16, 2007
Starting up soon - California Newsladder. Take a look, open an account. If you open an account you can submit and recommend stories that are about California.
A Democrat does the right thing for a change! What are the odds these days?Who is Hans von Spakovsky, Bush's nominee to the Federal Elections Commission?
... Roll Call (subscription req'd) is reporting that Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic Leadership had shamefully "struck a deal" with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KS) to slide four FEC nominations, including the GOP "voter fraud" zealot, von Spakovsky, through the Senate on a voice vote, unless any Senators objected.
Obama did object today and succeeded in blocking the vote. Bravo! Don't back down, Senator!
Carpetbagger Report: Von Spakovsky and the FEC: Don’t let this fox near the henhouse,
Hans von Spakovsky, as a top political appointee in Bush’s Justice Department, was a leading player in what McClatchy straightforwardly calls the administration’s “vote-suppression agenda.”Slate:
Why is the nation's largest civil rights coalition urging that his confirmation be rejected? Because this man was one of the generals in a years-long campaign to use what we now know to be bogus claims of runaway "vote fraud" in America to suppress minority votes. Von Spakovsky was one of the people who helped melt down and then reshape the Justice Department into an instrument aimed at diminishing voter participation for partisan ends.
You may have been hearing that a British court ruled that there are "nine scientific errors in Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth"
Nope. Of course not. Just more of the usual right-wing propaganda.
A UK High Court judge has rejected a lawsuit by political activist Stuart Dimmock to ban the showing of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth in British schools. Justice Burton agreed thatGO read the rest.
"Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate."
There were nine points where Burton decided that AIT differed from the IPCC and that this should be addressed in the Guidance Notes for teachers to be sent out with the movie.
October 15, 2007
Brown County GOP Chairman Donald Fleischman has resigned his post, says a spokesperson, after being accused of enticement and fondling of an underage boy, reports the Green Bay Press-Gazette Saturday.
October 14, 2007
Read about how Republicans take care of national security: The man who knew too much. CIA agent discovers a country working to get nukes that could threaten us, Republicans kill his career and cover everything up as "state secrets."
Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks.
The implications of this need some time to sink in. Bush started the wiretapping before 9/11. Bush took office on January 20, 2001, and by February 27 the NSA was putting the screws on the phone companies to let them listen in on our calls and e-mails. That means the plan was developed during the transition and immediately upon taking office they started implementing it. It was one of the first things they did - setting up a system to collect information about our calls and e-mails. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.
Like I said, the implications of this need some time to sink in.
October 13, 2007
Take The Right Brain vs Left Brain test and come back and tell us which way the dancer is spinning.
I saw it going mostly one way at first, but later it would switch back and forth. How about you?
Republicans are circulating a new smear, saying that Democratic Congressional staffers advised aides to get vaccinations before visiting NASCAR events. It is, of course, just a lie designed to drive the "elite limousine liberal" and "Democrats hate regular people" narratives.
In fact the aides were visiting "health care centers, detention facilities and other operations where they could be exposed to communicable diseases" and the immunizations are routine.
The Drudge Report has been headlining the smear for a several days. Of course Republican talk-radio has been running with it. Here are just a few examples of the spread of the smear:
Going to a NASCAR race? Better get your shots.
That's the message Rep. Robin Hayes seems to think is being sent as a handful of congressional aides were told to get immunized before a fact-finding trip for a House Homeland Security Committee.
The group was immunized for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and influenza before attending last weekend's NASCAR race in Talladega and this weekend's race in Concord, N.C.
Atlanta: GOP outraged over NASCAR-immunizations advisory
And days after the lie was refuted, the lie continues to spread:
Atlanta TV: Congressman Insults NASCAR Fans
Indianapolis: NASCAR races danger to government workers?
One way the Republican machine spreads this stuff is posting to forums. And here is an example of a "regular person" posting a comment in a sports forum:
It is offensive that the Democrats choose to be vaccinated from Nascar fans. I thought they claimed to be inclusive of everyone and they blame Republicans for having stereotypes. If they went to a football, baseball, or basketball game would they have been vaccinated? NO. It's when they go to a Nascar event that they are vaccinated. Obviously they consider Nascar fans to be a group of rednecks, southerners and Christians that are apparently disease ridden.
Here is another sports forum example.
October 12, 2007
Statement of former President Bill Clinton on Al Gore Winning the Nobel Prize:
"Al Gore has been warning and educating us about the dangers of climate change for decades. He saw this coming before others in public life and never stopped pushing for action to save our planet, even in the face of public indifference and attacks from those determined to defend the indefensible. His tireless advocacy and his Academy Award-winning film have inspired countless people around the world to join the fight against climate change. I am thrilled by this well-deserved recognition and am grateful to the Nobel Committee for awarding the Peace Prize to him and to those doing ground-breaking work at the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."
Cosmetics are not regulated. The big cosmetic corporations can do whatever they want. So they choose profits over people.
One-third of the lipsticks tested contained an amount of lead that exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy -- a standard established to protect children from ingesting lead, the group said. Thirty-nine percent of the lipsticks tested had no discernible lead, it said.When are people going to wake up and understand that WE are in charge here, not the corporations? They should be serving us, not the other way around.
[. . .] "Lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels. The latest studies show there is no safe level of lead exposure," said Dr. Mark Mitchell, president of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.
Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change jointly won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for fighting it.From the Nobel committee:
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.
Indications of changes in the earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.
Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.
Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians. He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.
By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control.
Oslo, 12 October 2007
October 11, 2007
It gets worse and worse. Foreclosure filings nearly double,
Foreclosure filings across the U.S. nearly doubled last month compared with September 2006, as financially strapped homeowners already behind on mortgage payments defaulted on their loans or came closer to losing their homes to foreclosure, a real estate information company said Thursday.And remember, the real wave of ARM resets is yet to come. (ARM resets are adjustable rate mortgages resetting out of their initial, low "teaser" rates to the real interest rate. When this happens mortgage payments can as much as double.) Figure maybe five months after an ARM reset until the homeowner is in such trouble that a foreclosure occurs.
So this is just the beginning of the beginning. And as more and more foreclosed properties come up for auction, prices WILL fall, and fall... until houses are again selling for what they are worth.
If Al Gore Is awarded the Nobel Prize he WILL be smeared. There is no question about it.
On May 15, 2007, we wrote a post titled, We Guarantee Al Gore Will Be Attacked Next Week, We Absolutely Guarantee It. We wrote,
Al Gore has a new book coming out next week, titled, The Assault On Reason.
Because he is standing up, telling the truth and because he simply is a Democrat and progressive leader, Al Gore will be smeared mercilessly by the right-wing smear machine. He will be ridiculed, made fun of and mocked. They will tease and make fun of him.
They will rush to say that he is bitter about 2000, crazy, insane, pontificating and out of touch.
They will bring up his utility bills and the boards he is a member of.
They will talk about his kiss with Tipper, her crusade against vulgar rap lyrics.
They will bring up his weight and the beard. And say it's all about 2008.
Now there is a possibility that Al Gore is going to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his outstanding work warning about and fighting climate change caused by greenhouse gases released into our air.
You would think this was a good thing. But there is a multi-million-dollar "global warming denial industry" operating. It is funded by the big oil and coal companies. Because they have a stranglehold on our economy - and our thinking - these are the most profitable corporations in the history of the world. And they want to keep it that way. So they dish out millions to front-groups to fog over the science that tells us the planet is in danger -- and to smear good people like Al Gore who want us to be more efficient in our energy use, and find alternatives to fuels that pollute.
So if Al Gore is awarded a Nobel Prize, expect the worst -- from the worst.the Speak Out California blog.
Have you ever heard the song that goes, "This land is your land, this land is my land, this land was made for you and me"? The lyrics to this song make the point that the United States belongs to you, and that you are the government.
The Constitution of the United States and of the State of California begin with the words, "We, the People..." because here the people are the government. And it is time we all realized it.
Last week I wrote about the way we think about our government.
Ronald Reagan liked to say "Government is the problem, not the solution" and, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' " ... [But] the Constitutions of the United States of America and of the state of California both begin with the words, "We the people." So "we, the people" are the government. ...When you think about it this way, it makes the things Ronald Reagan said sound contradictory. How can we, the people be the problem? How can it be scary that we, the people are here to help each other?
Our government is US working together to take care of each other. This is a monumental shift in the way many of us have come to think about our relationship with our government. Government is not some "them" out there, like the conservatives want you to think - government is you, and me, and all of us in this together, for each other. The process of changing our "frame" of thinking about the relationship between us and our government changes the way we understand lots of related ideas. So, expressing this change by talking about "our" government instead of "the" government is a beginning toward helping yourself and others understand the implications of this monumental shift in thinking.
One implication of this shift in thinking is that, beyond the idea that we are the government, this land is also our land. Literally. WE own this state, and WE own this country. This means we own the oil and minerals under government land - and the government land. It means we own the trees in the national forests - and the national forests. (This means that the companies that are pumping that oil and mining those minerals and cutting those trees should be paying us a fair price - better check on that. ... Uh Oh.)
Here is a revelation: this also means that companies that pollute your air and water should at the very least be paying us for the right to do so. And because we are the government, it also means that we decide the rules - all the rules - and we are supposed to tell the corporations what to do, and not the other way around.
Wow. When the implications of all that sinks in, things are gonna change. Big time.
Here is just one example of how we can start to change the way things are done, once we realize that we are the ones who are supposed to be in charge of this state and this country.
In his book Capitalism 3.0, Peter Barnes writes about how the people of Alaska set up and benefit from the Alaska Permanent Fund, and how these ideas could be used to help fight pollution and global warming. Here's how it works. The PEOPLE of Alaska are PAID by oil and mining companies to allow them to pump their oil or mine their minerals. Everyone gets a check. But, on top of that, these companies also have to pay into a permanent fund, so even after the oil is gone everyone in Alaska STILL gets a check because of the way they decided to manage that resource, the oil under their state, and everyone in Alaska will continue to get a check, forever.
Barnes suggests extending this idea to cover air and water pollution. WE own the air we breathe and the water, but right now corporations just dump CO2 and other stuff into that air, and pollutants into the water. Once again, WE, the people own the air and water - so we should be charging these companies for the right to pollute, up to a certain limit. Then we can raise the price they have to pay, every year. We can use that money to undo the effects of the pollution, build wind and solar generators, etc. And because they finally have to pay instead of just dumping stuff into our air and water, they will have an incentive to find ways to stop polluting.
The more we start understanding and asserting that we, the people own and govern our country, the more we will start to get things back under control.
October 10, 2007
Monday, one of the most prominent conservative pundits said the following on a TV show:
[Interviewer] "If you had your way ... and your dreams, which are genuine, came true ... what would this country look like?"Will this prominent conservative be condemned by the Congress, as MoveOn was? Of course not.
[Prominent conservative] responded, "It would look like New York City during the  Republican National Convention. In fact, that's what I think heaven is going to look like." She described the convention as follows: "People were happy. They're Christian. They're tolerant. They defend America."
[Interviewer] then asked, "It would be better if we were all Christian?" to which [Prominent conservative] responded, "Yes."
Later in the discussion, [Interviewer] said to her: "[Y]ou said we should throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians," and [Prominent conservative] again replied, "Yes."
Every one of us should be writing to our newspapers, calling radio shows and showing up at local offices or public "townhall" meetings of Republican politicians, reading these comments out loud, and demanding that they condemn them - or associate themselves with them. We should be doing this every time another prominent conservative says something like this, until the public understands that the core of this conservative movement is about hate.
Politics is a nonlinear dynamic system, not a traditional closed system. Nonlinearity means that change doesn't happen in a steady fashion, but comes in violent clumps. Much of our political leadership doesn't think this way. Steny Hoyer thinks that Democrats will be in control of the House, and then that Republicans will be in control of the House, that there is a balanced oscillation. Choice, labor rights, environment - these are the 'issues' upon which one must take the correct 'positions' according to polling data. And yet, the assumptions here is that the electorate doesn't change its mind very quickly, that new problems won't arise, that pollsters tell the truth, and that priorities or intensity of feelings don't change. We'll push back and forth over certain bills, and compromise will be the result. The political system's contours are considered static, and linear.
[. . .] Conservatives see politics as a nonlinear dynamic system, not as a two party system. They take advantage of crisis moments, as Naomi Klein points out in the Shock Doctrine, or even foment them, to create positive feedback loops for conservative ideas. Media consolidation under such institutions as GE and the gutting of antitrust create a dishonest media system that allows the country to go to war. War allows companies like GE to make money from selling weapons. Tax breaks for churches that become an arm of the GOP, creating corruption in government as a way to attack the concept of government, etc. These are all positive feedback loops for conservatives.
Also, read the second comment, from Texas Dem.,
One visual is arm-wrestling. Dems think that our government is a nice two-party contest within rules and boundaries and common understandings (that used to really exist). The Democrats engage in a nice arm wrestling match to see who wins various fights of prescribed consequence; meanwhile the Republicans offer one hand for the arm wrestling match, act like they accept its rules and are playing normally, and once the match is at a critical moment, they'll reach out with the other hand and slap the Democrats on the head. Obviously that's completely unacceptable and unsporting if you believe in the value of an armwrestling match, but the GOP doesn't. They don't believe in the value of the existing system at all, they strictly believe in victory, which means, ... , money and power. Nothing more or less.
...So Democrats are trying to play within a system that they believe in strongly and that they want to conserve; meanwhile the Republicans are actively trying to tear the Dems and the system down. It's a very difficult dynamic. Being the preserver and facing down the destroyer is not easy, because you are constrained in many ways your opponent is not.
October 9, 2007
Go read the whole story: "Friend of Falwell" minister dies during bizarre sex play,
An Alabama minister who died in June of "accidental mechanical asphyxia" was found hogtied and wearing two complete wet suits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, according to an autopsy report.Really, what can I say? What's the deal with right-wingers and deviant sex, anyway? Rubber suits really, really turn some people on. I don't understand it, but there it is. And the asphyxiation-while-masturbating thing...
(while apparently in the midst of some autoerotic undertaking)...
... Gary Aldridge graduated from Liberty University and later worked for the late Jerry Falwell.
TWO wetsuits? Did the check for gerbils? Never mind...
Here is an interesting post: The Triumph of Conservative Philanthropy: <em>Powerlineblog</em> and conservative philanthropy,
Every now and then you get a glimpse of where the true power is over at Powerlineblog. Today Scott Johnson has a post up titled "Coming attractions," that publicizes two upcoming conservative movement events.The post looks at how right-wing think tanks, celebrities and money work together, the whole while supporting their bloggers and getting their message out to their blogosphere.
In their own way the conservatives have setup an institutional supply-side structure for getting their message out. First they create and subsidize hundreds of institutions like Claremont and CAE; next they find reliable Republicans to staff them. These institutions then create content for media dissemination, which is taken care of by blogs like Powerline and columnists like Kersten.But on OUR "side" the House and Senate just voted to condemn MoveOn, with many so-called "Democrats" voting to do that. And there is no progressive infrastructure ecosystem to support our activists, thinkers, writers and organizers.
October 8, 2007
A homebuilder is marking homes down from $630,000 to $285,000. The front-page story includes a large graphic: "$630,000 - current residents -- $285,000 prospective residents"
A San Francisco Bay Area homebuilder can't sell all the houses it built in a development in Manteca. Current residents paid up to $630,000 for a 3-hour round-trip commute. But now they're auctioning the remaining homes, starting at a more realistic price of $285,000.
This headline is going to have a huge impact because it means every homeowner in the SF Bay Area who thinks they have a $630,000 property now will begin to realize that in the end, if they want - or need - to sell that house, they are going to be competing with $285,000 prices.
Let that sink in a while...
October 7, 2007
What if the military had to run disclaimers in its ads, like the drug companies do?
October 6, 2007
This isn't my usual subject, but I encourage all the techies out there to take a look at the Haiku Operating System, and tell techies that you know to take a look.
Haiku is an open source operating system currently in development designed from the ground up for desktop computing. Inspired by the Be Operating System, Haiku aims to provide users of all levels with a personal computing experience that is simple yet powerful, and void of any unnecessary complexities.Also take a look at BeBits.
Cameras will be installed in the company's vehicles and radio traffic will be recorded, the wire service says.And the first video is now available:
Update - No, this is not really a video from Blackwater. This is a video that circulated around the blogosphere some time back, called the "Trophy Video." It came from a British mercenary company, similar to Blackwater, and was taken by mercenaries as they shot at cars (of course killing the drivers) while they drove around Baghdad. Apologies for my use of blog-insiderism, thinking everyone would get the point.
October 5, 2007
This one takes some explaining. The big homebuilders borrowed money and bought up a lot of land. Now they are in trouble, running out of cash to run their businesses and pay down the debt - and the only way they can hope to surive is to build MORE houses to sell at a steep discount, because this brings in at least SOME cash.
Of course, the effect on the rest of the economy will be terrible: MORE houses dumped on an already-saturated market, at even lower prices. This will force prices to drop further, and more people to be in trouble.
We could make fun of the analysts that claimed the homebuilders would have strong cash flow during a downturn (due to less investment in land and improvements) and that the homebuilders were "land banks". Those investment ideas were Dumb and Dumber!
But the more important point is that the homebuilders struggle to survive shows why the builders are still overbuilding. Building homes, and selling at a deep discount, is the only way they can liquidate land to raise cash and pay down their debts in the current environment. This is why housing starts are still too high and will likely fall further over the next few quarters.
Bird flu is still out there, still mutating. It still could learn how to easily infext humans and become the feared pandemic.
This is not the worst news, but it is bad news: Bird flu virus mutating into human-unfriendly form
The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said on Thursday.How deadly is bird flu when it infects humans?
The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans," said Kawaoka, who led the study.
The H5N1 avian flu virus, which mostly infects birds, has since 2003 infected 329 people in 12 countries, killing 201 of them.We urgently need to get competent people in charge of our government. The conservatives we have now, if bird flu becomes pandemic, will most likely propose tax breaks for private jet buyers hoping to fly away from the problem.
The AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, MoveOn.org, Americans United for Change, USAction, and True Majority are going to spend millions of dollars running an ad against targeted Republicans urging them to override President Bush's veto of SCHIP, the child health coverage bill. The ad says the candidates are targeted because they support “Billions of Dollars for Iraq War, But Veto for Children’s Health Care”
My problem with the ad is that it does not teach a larger lesson. This is "a teachable moment." People are upset that President Bush is vetoing this bill, but they do not understand the deeper ideological principals behind what is happening to them. This is an opportunity to teach people that conservatives believe in a you-are-on-your-own, dog-eat-dog philosophy and progressives believe we are all in this together for each other.
The ad says "George Bush and his backers would rather send half a trillion to Iraq than spend a fraction of that here to keep our kids healthy." Even by changing "and his backers" to "and the conservatives" they could have let people know that it isn't just Bush and it isn't about particular politicians, it's the conservative ideology that is hurting them. This issue is about differences in philosophy between conservatives and progressives.
But instead of teaching the public a lesson about what is happening to us all, this coalition will spend millions running this ad against individual politicians, and in the end the money will literally just go up in the air(waves) and nothing will remain behind.
Rick Perlstein in Reporters: man your engines,
Rev. Sun Myung Moon is claiming a "letter of support" from Hillary Clinton. I sure hope he's lying.Does anyone know more about this?
Go read Rick's piece.
October 4, 2007
Conservatives are actually talking about taking away women's right to vote. I'm not kidding. If you think this is settled don't forget that blocking the Equal Rights for Women Amendment was a major conservative cause - and they won.
Here's the top-ranked conservative columnist promoting it, starting with the column's title: Reconsidering the 19th Amendment,
According to a recent poll of women voters ... the top concerns of half or more of the respondents are these: the "insufficient effort to cure breast cancer," gun control, medical benefits, childcare, the rising cost of a college education, the connection between pollution and health risks, violence against women, and equal pay.
Nearly three-fourths believe it is more important for the government to shore up the Social Security Ponzi scheme than to bother with those silly tax cuts.
These could only be the poll results of people who have nothing to do with the creation of wealth. They sit home waiting for their husbands to bring home the money, or toil away at little jobs dreamed up to assuage the egos of bourgeois women living in the suburbs.
I have a post up over at the Speak Out California blog: Do Taxes 'Hurt'? Is Government Bad?
A quick question. I'm trying to remember if any Clinton administration officials were convicted of a crime committed while in office? I remember early in the administration a guy had to resign after he was caught taking a helicopter ride to a golf game. Webster Hubble was convicted of overbilling clients before taking office. But was there anyone caught with a hand in the cookie jar? Even one?
Thoughts, an elephant with a "wide stance" in Minneapolis? Star-eyed -- Limbaugh's drugs?
And that big red thing poking out ... is that supposed to be its ...?
Today the bloggers are promoting awareness of the events in Burma. Take a look at Burma.newsladder.net for headlines.
You can participate in Burma Newsladder. Join up, submit stories that you see, vote on the ranking of stories, and tell others.
You can go to the page to submit stories, but there is aneasier way. At the bottom of the page click "Tools" and get the "LadderUp" tool that makes it very easy to submit a story you are currently reading on any web page.
October 3, 2007
I'm actually in this. At 2:02 you see my back, in the press room. I'm the one in the whitish shirt.
I've probably put this up before... it's time again.
Who killed Ciara Durkin? Found on an Army base in Afghanistan with a bullet in her head.
Her sister later reveals that during that home leave, Ciara Durkin expressed concern that she had "seen things that she didn’t like and she had raised concerns that had annoyed some people."
A very simple solution:
The House and Senate - with significant Democratic support - recently voted to condemn MoveOn. This "brands" MoveOn as a radical, extremist, unpatriotic, unAmerican organization. And it does the same to MoveOn's members. So from now on any Democrat receiving an endorsement, money, volunteers or other support from MoveOn or any other segment of the Democratic base is open to attack.
Here are examples - just from today - of what any Democratic politician should expect from now on. This will turn into a drumbeat.
Baltimore Sun: MoveOn dust-up hits Bean race,
In an ongoing attempt to bludgeon Democrats with MoveOn.org's controversial "General Betray US" ad in the New York Times, Republicans seized on a Politico.com report today that pegged 44 congressional Democrats -- including Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) -- as having voted to condemn the MoveOn ad even though they accepted the group's campaign cash.
Bean voted for a House resolution condemning the ad, which accused the American commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, of "cooking the books for the White House" on the war. One of Bean's prospective GOP opponents, businessman Steve Greenberg, called the vote "blatant hypocrisy" in a press release today, because Bean has taken more than $80,000 from MoveOn and its members over her congressional career.
SF Bay Area ABC: Should Politicians Say No To Controversial MoveOn.org Cash?,
Presidential campaign cash is the focus of a new republican attack plan. First they went after a controversial ad from MoveOn.org and now, they are calling on democrats to refuse political contributions from that organization.
...The GOP is targeting those democrats who voted to condemn the ad. In the Bay Area there is only one; 11th district Democrat Jerry McNerney from Pleasanton.
... Jerry McNerney did vote to condemn the MoveOn ad and he has taken more than $50,000 dollars in contributions from MoveOn and will continue to take their money.
Denver Post: MoveOn.org critics accept its donations,
Forty-four congressional Democrats who voted to condemn MoveOn.org for its ad branding Army Gen. David Petraeus "General Betray Us" have accepted more than $3.9 million in contributions from the anti-war group and its members since 2002, reports Politico.com. In Colorado, it's Sen. Ken Salazar, right, ($318,700), Rep. John Salazar ($102,900), and Rep. Ed Perlmutter ($5,000). In Montana, Sen. John Tester ($350,200).
Wingnutopia: Townhall.com::Hillary Clinton (D.-MoveOn.org) Is A Radical
She is a radical, and one far outside the mainstream of American politics. In the growing recognition of the true nature of her political ideology is the obvious strategy for whoever the GOP nominee is: Throw the light on what she believes and proposes and keep it there.MoveOn.org Bullies Crack Down on Critics,
First, Hillary refused to denounce the MoveOn.org assault on General Petraeus' patriotism...
... Hillary is not mainstream. She's not even on the far left bank of the mainstream.
She is way, way out there --a genuine '60s girl, and the ideas and staff she would bring to the White House would represent a sharp break with all that has gone before in American politics.
MoveOn.org, the left-wing extremists who bashed the commander of American forces in Iraq as a traitor, should get out of the political kitchen.Note that they're talking about accepting contributions and other help from MoveOn or its members.
... Acceptable speech to MoveOn.org: Likening President Bush to Adolf Hitler, as they did in 2004.
The Democrats who voted to condemn MoveOn -- their own base -- have seriously, seriously damaged their own efforts and the efforts of every other Democrat.
President George W. Bush on Wednesday vetoed a measure to expand a popular children's health care program, launching the first in a series of major battles with Democrats over domestic spending.
... Democrats have vowed to lobby Republicans who voted against the bill to try to get them to switch their votes. The party plans a series of television ads attacking Republicans over the children's health issue, including one featuring a mom with a chronically ill child.
Bush, with 16 months left in his presidency and waging an unpopular war in Iraq, has also threatened to veto a series of annual funding bills to keep domestic spending within his proposed limit of $933 billion.
On January 22, 2007, as Senator Clinton went viral with her announcement that she was, essentially, running for The White House, we noted that her first challenge was to shatter the prism of the right. We wrote,
[T]his simply is a fact of modern politics in America. For the past three decades, the right wing has employed a powerful strategy of "$ell and $mear." They insist on being the gatekeepers to public opinion and have developed a powerful machine that tells us who to like - and who to hate.
... They $mear Democratic and Progressive heroes, reducing American success stories such as George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis into humiliated historical footnotes. They destroy our leaders. They destroy those that might become our leaders. There is no Democratic or Progressive leader of any note of the last twenty years that has not been attacked.
Essentially, what we meant was:
Imagine if your worse enemies were the ones describing you and creating the world's impression of you. And imagine they did that for close to fifteen years, how would people who hadn't ever met you feel about you? Exactly.
There are far too many people who have never met Hillary who have a fully-formed impression of her, usually quite negative. Not defendably negative mind you, but more of a "I just don't like her" kind of impression.
The prism of the right.
This is Senator Clinton's primary challenge. Because since this strategy has been deployed, no one, not one single politician has been in the eye of the machine longer than Senator Clinton. For almost fifteen years, Americans have been bombarded with smears and negative commentary about her. Virtually every aspect of her life, personal and political, from her hairstyle to private decisions she made within her marriage, has been criticized.That's the reality that Senator Clinton, her supporters and her staff have had to deal with every single day and to their great credit, they didn't either ignore it, as John Kerry's campaign did in 2004 on many levels, nor did they whine and complain about it.
What Hillary did was what she did in New York State.
She and her staff rolled up their sleeves and went to work. One voter at a time, one appearance at a time, one county, one district, one state. And what happened in New York State was a pretty good precursor to what is happening nationally. Today, she is at the top of the list of home state own-party favorability ratings. Her 81% favorability rating among Democrats in New York State is right up there at the very top, tied with Ted Kennedy's rating among Democrats in Massachusetts. And Kennedy in Massachusettes is probably the golden standard for being liked by your party in your own state.
Grudgingly, we hear from senior people in other campaigns that they are impressed at how hard she works, how good her team is, how they keep working all day, every day.
They're right. She's top in the polls and in the fundraising race not because of some unforeseeable chain of events, she's there because she understood the reality of her situation and she has outworked everyone else.
If she is our nominee, it will because of two core factors.
She didn't attempt to smash the negative perception as much as she shattered it softly and slowly - one person at a time.
She, and her team, have worked hard, and smart.
Kudos to all of them.
October 2, 2007
LIMBAUGH is the victim of the Democrats! Wow. There is a brilliance to this.
I bow to them. I am shocked AND awed.
And then there is the difference between Republicans and Democrats on this:
More than 40 Democratic senators signed a letter sent Tuesday to the company that syndicates the radio show, asking that Mr. Limbaugh’s remarks be repudiated.There is a time to know when you are just outmatched.
But no Republican senators signed the letter, highlighting a significant difference between the responses to the MoveOn advertisement and the Limbaugh comments. The Republican-backed plan to condemn the Petraeus advertisement drew substantial Democratic backing in the House and Senate, while Democrats have been unable to splinter Republicans on Mr. Limbaugh.
In fact, Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, has prepared a resolution praising Mr. Limbaugh should Democrats proceed with what he said was an unwarranted attack on a private citizen. “He is a talk show host,” Mr. Kingston said. “He has a right to speak out and say what he thinks.”
October 1, 2007
The situation in Burma is tragic and the result of decades of horrific military rule that has reduced one of the most beautiful places on earth to a tragic ruin where monks in robes flee from soldiers with Chinese-made automatic weapons.
One of the tragedies of the situation is despite the efforts of groups who have been trying to expose the situation on the ground in Burma. Groups like WITNESS and US Campaign For Burma have been fighting against the apathy that is our current corporate media culture.
If Britney was driving a young monk without a seatbelt, there would be a chance to get some coverage but sadly, young monks are smarter than that.
If Anna Nicole Smith's baby's father was one of the generals, well, they would be building permanent tv stations.
NewsLadder is something that I have been working on for the better part of the year. Actually, longer. In my experience with the Huffington Post, and watching the progressive movement grow and change how we communicate and advocate, I am very convinced of not only the need, but the power of, the concept of aggregation online.
Here, with the Burma NewsLadder, and as you will see, this is the first of many community / state ladders we will be launching, all the news, from all around the world will be aggregated on the ladder.
Links / Posts / Video will all be voted up or down, by both a broader public - all visitors can sign in - but also by a group of editors - you can see news as ranked by editors, by all visitors, by what's new, however you like.
NewsLadder will work for the bloggers because it will drive traffic to their sites. You can't read the posts on NewsLadder, you can just see the links and the comments and the rankings of the posts. All bloggers can post links to their sites, and other people's sites too. The circle of traffic creates energy, and more traffic. It also puts a blog post on equal basis with a NYTimes newspaper article. All news is created equal on NewsLadder. The good moves up, the bad news go down, regardless of source.
NewsLadder should also be helpful to bloggers as a resource because it lets them stay on top of an issue that any given NewsLadder is dedicated to: in this case, we will have, hopefully, hundreds of people posting and linking to and looking for the best stories on the situation in Burma.
Ironically, we will then have "democracy" in action because everyone can vote stories up or down, so the best stories, the best writing, the best video, the best articles, the best blog posts move up the ladder.
Anyone can post a link. Anyone can vote something up or down.
I also believe that NewsLadder will work for readers because there is a single site with the best thinking and writing of a community, sorted not only by editors, but also by their votes and comments. Close to 40% of all folks voting Democratic last fall still don't go to blogs. A lot of time, it's because they don't know where to go. NewsLadder will help with that.
It will work for the corporate media because they can take a short cut and go to one site and see what's up. Or someone running for office, they can take the pulse of the community by stopping by.
But it will only work if people like you go post, add comments and bring attention to
So why Burma?
Well, the tragedy is that, perhaps, with more interest and more focus. Perhaps with a place for everyone interested in Burma to gather. Perhaps with a site like the Burma.Newsladder, we would have been able to draw more attention to the situation earlier, rather than later.
So please, take a moment and swing by www.burma.newsladder.net.
It still is in development, still a few bugs here and there. (email me anything you run into if you can at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sign up, sign in, add your comments and post / link to anything you wish. Editor's Choice is ranked by Editor Recommends (There will be more editors added to Burma NewsLadder over the coming days, if you know anyone, send them my way.)
What's Up is ranked according to comments, reads and a complicated formula that Trei understands. What's New, that's easy, that's the latest stuff added. You can search by tags, by Editors and more.
Finally, everything aggregates up into the primary NewsLadder. My goal is make this the ranking system of the community online. I have done what I can over the past 24 months to help elevate and integrate the community; I hope this helps.
And yes, there will be advertising and in the future, hopefully profits, 10% of the profits from each ladder will be donated back into the community the ladder serves. More if I can afford it.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for visiting. Thanks for the help. And there's one more reason, why Burma?
My father was in the State Department in Burma in the 1950s after he graduated from the Fletcher School. He got kicked out by the Communists and wasn't allowed back in the country until 1984. While he made it back to his beloved Burma, he never made it home from Boston from that trip. So I am trying to do what I can to help the country and a people he loved so much.
I appreciate comments and suggestions and if there is a NewsLadder you would like to edit or help with, please email me. California is in soft launch right now, while Texas, Veterans, Iraq, Green, Massachusetts and Virginia are all in development, but we could use more help.
(Hat tips for their help to: Nate Wilcox, Lowell Feld, Dave Johnson of this great site who has been my partner on the side of good in many battles already, Trei, Pablo, Jerome, Seth, Owen, Ned, Joe, Julie, Arianna, and many more....)
Home-builder stocks rose Monday after a Citigroup analyst raised his stock ratings on several of the sector's largest companies on signs the worst may be behind the embattled industry.Worst may be OVER?
Let's see, highest housing inventory ever, difficult to get credit, mortgage rates rising in response to Fed bailout attempt, prices far, far, far above what an average person can afford, a huge wave of ARM resets coming next year... and some probably-23-year-old analyst sees a price bottom?
Oh yes, go buy stocks based on a bottom - suckers.
In today's paper - San Jose Mercury News - Cigarette tax would hurt poor. This is an AP story. It begins,
Congressional Democrats have chosen an unlikely source to pay for the bulk of their proposed $35 billion increase in children's health coverage: people with relatively little money and education.This is what is considered "news" in corporate America.
... The program expansion passed by the House and Senate last week would be financed with a 156 percent increase in the federal cigarette tax, taking it to $1 per pack from the current 39 cents. Low-income people smoke more heavily than wealthier people in the United States, making cigarette taxes a regressive form of revenue.
Democrats, who wrote the legislation and provided most of its votes, generally portray themselves as champions of the poor.
I'll have more on the idea that taxes "hurt" peoplelater...