Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's a wonderful bank

Here is a fantastic article on a sector of the banking community that is doing well:

Too Small to Fail


My own experience with a community bank mortgage wasn't so romantic. Before the ink had dried the mortgage was sold to another bank and the first letter I got in my new home informed me I was doing business with a national chain (now partly owned by the benevolent government of Singapore).

I signed up for the George Bailey experience but he sold me out to Mr. Potter.

My "local" bank was eventually bought.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Where's the beef?

As I watch Obama make appointments and make statements a recurring question comes to mind and it is this: "Is he going to represent the people that elected him, or only those that voted against him?"

It's all well and good to pretend that there is such a thing as bipartisanship in Washington D.C., but to act on such belief seems a bit daft to me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Catching up...

I have been without power for days and so I am currently playing catch-up.

The big news story is that an Iraqi journalist threw two shoes at the president Bush.

My first thought was of Mike Myers in the role of Austin Powers:



The Truth seems no longer stranger than fiction.

Friday, December 05, 2008

On Dreaming...

My dream is to see Barney Frank replace Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House. Nancy lacks pizzaz and therefore makes for a dull majority leader.

Barney, though, turns a phrase like this:

"[Obama's] going to have to be more assertive than he's been. At a time of great crisis with mortgage foreclosures and autos, he says we only have one president at a time. I'm afraid that overstates the number of presidents we have. He's got to remedy that situation."

Source

I think he's got the wit and flair to make a headline-grabbing majority leader, and when you can grab headlines you can steer the news coverage.

I think he would also bring out the very worst in Republicans for all Americans to see.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More job cuts announced

Santa to cut 12,000 jobs and slash spending

Thu Dec 4, 2008 10:13am EST

Santa Claus said he would eliminate 12,000 jobs, or about 4 percent of his workforce, a fresh wave of cuts to cope with an economic downturn that has exacerbated a decline in the irrational exuberance of children.

Santa said on Thursday he will cut the jobs over the remainder of 2008 and 2009, and take a charge of about $600 million in this year's fourth quarter for severance.

Santa attributed the job cuts to "economic pressures, a changing business mix and a more streamlined organizational structure."

Santa also plans to cut his 2009 capital spending from this year's levels, though actual spending plans have not yet been finalized. Santa said he would provide details on his capital spending in late January.

The cuts come as the Santa Claus struggles with declining demand, as many children switch their hopes to cheaper, Chinese-made plastic toys, and away from the traditional Elvin-crafted playthings.

The move follows Santa’s April announcement of cutting 4,600 jobs, mostly in management, as well as a three-year plan disclosed at the end of last year to cut 10,000 jobs.

Santa has been trying to maintain childhood irrational exuberance by investing in new, high-speed Internet and video services. But, children have yet to embrace the new wooden snowpod devices or elf-tunes music service. Said Christopher Robbins, a potential customer and Pooh-companion, “I checked out the music service, but who wants to listen to flutes and lutes?”

Nonetheless Santa has promised there will be no interruption of services this year, but if trends continue he may face some belt tightening and leaner days.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mumbai

Here is a photo collection by the Boston Globe concerning the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai:

Attack in Images

In this Daily Show episode from December 1st, John Oliver analyzes the Bombay attacks with profundity and profanity.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Casting Stones

One thing that bothers me about the Democratically-led Congress post 2006 is the go-along-to-get-along chumminess of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Their underlying assumption, if they are stupid as opposed to complicit, is that making nice with Republicans and with Joe Lieberman is like an investment that pays off down the road in a tit-for-tat warm gesture book-balancing accounting.

Does not the hand that feeds a lion look like a steak when the meat locker is empty?

The president Bush, for all his bungling of the national interests, has time and again received what he wanted without a fight. Yet, I have never witnessed a genuine cooperative gesture in his administration. He is still out there, in fact, bullying from his bully pulpit, a champion moron to the finish line.

I found a voice recently that does a rather good job of expressing my sentiments and her name is Ann Davidow:

She Writes...

I happen to think that ridicule is the most potent defense against a bully with a Messiah complex. I suppose it is because it is hard to be taken seriously when one isn't, and president Bush has been taken far too seriously for far too long.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

About face?

By announcing that Robert Gates will keep his job and by allegedly placing Hillary Clinton at Secretary of State and by smooching political favors to Joe Lieberman I'd say Barak Obama has no intention of getting us out of Iraq.

Why would he place sincere neocons and hawks in his own way if he intends to follow through on his campaign promises?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

That sucking sound

If George W. Bush were a traitor or a spy you'd have to admire his competence, especially in light of the current financial consequences of republican rule.

Citigroup seems destined to become the latest recipient of treasury secretay Henry Paulson's public-purse pick-pocketing, while Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid attend dutifully.

What we are seeing, in essence, is the robber baron class taking America's electoral hopes (which require public funds) and sending them down the cash-to-crony crapper.

Paul Krugman said this about the Citigroup "plan":

"a lousy deal for the taxpayers, no accountability for management, and just to make things perfect, quite possibly inadequate, so that Citi will be back for more."


Source

Is there a credible reason why Congress can't shut off the money press until Obama and his team are in charge?

Why is the American taxpayer bailing out United Arab Emirates Sovereign Wealth Fund and the Government Investment Corp. of Singapore (who own large stakes in Citibank)?

Shouldn't Nancy Pelosi, who allegedly has some type of Congressional "purse-string" authority, seek to attach strings to purse disbursements?

I think that to fail as much as George W. Bush unintentionally requires an implausible measure of bad fortune, but perhaps I fail to pay proper respect to ignorance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Looking on the bright side...

One of the inspirations for this blog was the Monty Python skit, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", from the movie Life of Brian. The other major influences were Charlie Chaplin's final speech in the Great Dictator, and the sad life and times of George W. Bush.

There is now a Monty Phython Channel on YouTube and that allows me to provide you with the following inspirational music video:



If you have a favorite Monty Python clip, you can likely find it here.

May you spend the rest of the day whistling.

My Holy Politics

It occurs to me this morning that conservative republicans want to privatize the public interest and take the private interest public. After having that thought it seemed right to state the obvious on a bumper-sticker.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cough. Cough.

What Alan Greenspan told us then:

"In today's context, where tax reduction appears required in any event over the next several years to assist in forestalling the accumulation of private assets, starting that process sooner rather than later likely would help smooth the transition to longer-term fiscal balance. And should current economic weakness spread beyond what now appears likely, having a tax cut in place may, in fact, do noticeable good."

Testimony of Alan Greenspan
Before the Committee on the Budget, U.S. Senate
January 25, 2001

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Aggressive coercion

How did we go from this?:

"Military necessity does not admit of cruelty"
Abraham Lincoln
1863


To this?:

"[Guantanamo Bay detainee] Al-Qahtani was interrogated for and I'm illustrating now, not the exact, something like 48 out of 52 days, often for stretches exceeding 12 to 14 or even 16 hours a day. He was kept in cold rooms such that he was shivering uncontrollably, his heart rate would drop; he was provided fluids intravenously without the opportunity to go to the bathroom. He was sexually humiliated by female US guards and other treatments of this sort."

- US Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora -


Have you reflected on the level of planning that went into Mr. Mora's depiction? It is a strong argument against the "few bad apples" defense.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

La-la-la Lieberman

Lily Tomlin once said, and I paraphrase, "No matter how cynical I get, I find I can't keep up."

I am reminded of those time-tested words as I see Democratic legislators ready to give the dishonorable senator from Connecticut, Traitor Joe Lieberman, the cherished gift of chairmanship of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

I was repeatedly told that Barak Obama made the bulk of his money from small on-line contributors, and this was going to allow him to be less beholden to the corporate interests that routinely squelch the will of the majority (particularly the one that elected him). Well, nothing says "business interests first" like letting Holy Joe Lieberman keep his Power in the face of the election of 2008, which repudiated the ideas he championed throatfully.

This shouldn't be a surprise, since democrats usually find a quick way to turn hope into disgust when they win. Nancy Pelosi's Justice-crucifying pronouncements about tables did the trick in 2006. This loathsome Lieberman love-fest now taking place is likewise a let-down.

I grew up in Nixon's shadow and have never learned to trust politicians the way some people do, so I look for sincerity in deeds. It doesn't make any sense to be against "business as usual" and for Joe Lieberman. By your actions do you choose.

Let us give thanks

They say the best way to ridicule a fool is to hand them a microphone. Let's see what happens when we review the recent utterances of Sarah Palin:

"Sitting here in these chairs that I'm going to be proposing but in working with these governors who again on the front lines are forced to and it's our privileged obligation to find solutions to the challenges facing our own states every day being held accountable, not being just one of many just casting votes or voting present every once in a while, we don't get away with that. We have to balance budgets and we're dealing with multibillion dollar budgets and tens of thousands of employees in our organizations.

That executive experience that every governor has and must have being put to good use now as we work together as governors to help reach out to Barack Obama's administration, being able to help him make good decisions based on the solutions that we already seek. For me specifically of course, energy independence that is doable here in this country, we have the domestic solutions because we have the domestic supply."


I find that I am grateful all over again for Obama's victory.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Terrific article

If you want to read a well written article about the Financial mess Wall Street created for itself, you could do worse than to read this article:

The End

It is chock full of straight talk and interesting tidbits like this one:

In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.


and this one:

Eisman knew subprime lenders could be scumbags. What he underestimated was the total unabashed complicity of the upper class of American capitalism. For instance, he knew that the big Wall Street investment banks took huge piles of loans that in and of themselves might be rated BBB, threw them into a trust, carved the trust into tranches, and wound up with 60 percent of the new total being rated AAA.


I think it is behavior like this that has led Robert A.G. Monks to believe that credit reporting agencies are a salvation to the market, along with participation by owners (investors). Here is a recent post incorporating a suggestion for the new administration:

Third Way


I think that his suggestions are wise, but suspect they require regulatory muscle to implement. His life might even make my case. He, even paired with a Rockefeller, has had little success modifying the behavior of Exxon/Mobil. There is a thick layer of institutional arrogance that meets investors with stage-managed contempt.

Part of the problem is that shareholders don't want to rock the boat when the bubble is inflating, or even believe the Truth when that involves understanding a threat to their profits, and that makes it hard to organize enough resistance to avoid a catastrophe when it matters.

This is how a wise regulator can have a positive impact on the economy. Suppose the SEC head realized it is systemically risky to allow a CEO to serve as CFO, and then suppose he created and enforced a rule forbidding the practice? Or, alternatively, suppose he simply did his all-out best to use his bully pulpit to warn shareholders of the practice, thereby helping to organize them against such practices?

Wouldn't that safeguard some of Exxon/Mobil's extraordinary gains?

In the second case, the unregulated case, I expect the SEC head would need to be widely respected by investors (because of a successful track-record). Someone like Warren Buffet commands enough respect to be heard when the gravy train is rolling along. In the current crisis someone like Steve Eisman might be a great choice, but I don't know if he has the name recognition for the unregulated sage. Certainly he knows where our regulators are failing (i.e. converting BBB bonds to AAA bonds by spending unwarranted trust).

Many choices in life are false choices, especially those presented as mutually exclusive. I think we need a president that picks good financial people that puts marketplace stability first, working in conjunction with the shareholders and regulators to keep the market fundamentally sound, and by fundamentally sound I mean fundamentally honest.

Even a crook wants an honest man to count his money, and I think that forces which act to keep the market honest are beneficial whether corporate, shareholder, press, or governmental. It might even be better to have a multi-directional assault.

My disclaimer is this, I say this all as a checked-out investor. I don't find accounting exciting and can find little pleasure watching the contents of my egg basket. Perhaps I have some faith in regulation because I have little in myself?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crazy time in nutsville

Watching conservatives implode is one thing, but watching them endanger the life of president-elect Barak Obama is another.

According to Newsweek:

The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied.


So the narrative is that Sarah Palin attacks Obama's patriotism, then her followers begin to threaten him.

Now we have a Georgia Congressman publicly warning of an Obama dictatorship.

My first reaction is to laugh at crazy time in nutsville, but not without asking, "How much of this is acceptable from legislators?"

Obama hasn't spent one day in office and already he's managed to become a socialist dictator and Hitler imitator?

I wonder if a white man from Georgia says "socialist" when he feels he can't say "nigger"?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To be clear...

To argue that Lieberman should keep his chairs, particularly Homeland Security and Governmental Oversight, is to also argue that a member of the democratic party is unworthy of them.

I cannot think of why democrats wish to punish their own deserving members to placate the back-stabbing, media diva, and unpopular Senator from Connecticut. To keep him is to belittle his incompetence and will only embolden his intransigence.

Whether you are dealing with a wolf in sheep's clothing or a wolf naturally attired matters little at the jaws.


ADDENDUM: I just found out about a fun place on the web called Dickipedia. It is a Wikipedia-like encyclopedia of dicks. They have, of course, an entry for Joe Lieberman.

Sifting the Wreckage

The current economic crisis seems to teach the following:

The only thing worse than financial-market regulations is the absence of financial-market regulations.

When corporations are allowed to get so large that they "can't be allowed to fail", then they might have to be socialized at great public expense. A preventative measure is trust-busting.

When a political ideology like "ownership society" replaces the due diligence of creditors, then bankruptcy and default will be the natural response of debtors. On a small scale this cannot be avoided, but on a large scale it harms Main Street and Wall Street.

Bailout money dispensed without strings or compensation encourages waste. For example, a scant week after pocketing an $85-billion bailout from taxpayers on Sept. 16, AIG employees stayed at a West Coast resort and spent $440,000, including $23,380 at the spa. Most people would not call that belt tightening.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jumpin' Joe

I hate to fixate on Joe Lieberman because I know that is exactly the type of thing he would enjoy, but while the matter of his committee chairs hangs in the air like a cloud of stink, grievances should be aired.

Joe's position seems this: "Let me keep my chairs, or else I'll not caucus with the democrats".

If that is his position then he offers blackmail and makes an empty threat while exhibiting an ambulance-chasers ethic. So, Lieberman should be left to lie in the bed he made.

Why shouldn't that nice new Senator from Virginia get some of that Power? Let's make Virginia nice and happy, nice and happy...

It is counterproductive to place an unrepentant hawk in a position to obstruct an Iraqi withdrawal with Clinton-like investigations and budget threats.

This is so transparently obvious I will interpret such a development as a signal to corporate elites that Barak is signed, sealed, delivered, and theirs.

I wants my change, me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Outflanking themselves

Joe Lieberman has been happily screwing democrats for 8 years, did a shitty job investigating the Bush administration (0 Senate-lead investigations), and is very unpopular with democrats nationwide (he grabbed about 1% of the vote in 2004).

So why is Bill Clinton stumping for him?

There are worthier candidates than Joe Lieberman to trust with Power.

Fool me once, right?


ADDENDUM: A spokesman for Bill Clinton sez it ain't so that Bill is stumping for Lieberman. Story here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Acceptance Speech

Part One:



Part Two:



Part Three:

Happy Days are Here Again

Last night Barak Obama won and won big. He won Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida. I got to go to be at a reasonable hour knowing even before results came in from California, Oregon, Washingon, or Hawaii that Obama sealed the deal.

The one question remaining is, just how many Senate seats will democrats wind up with?

Down in Georgia the question remains unanswered due to a slow job of counting early ballots. Here is a link with more details:

Details down in Georgia

While 60 seats, as opposed to 59 seats, would be nice I am not going to let a slow tally ruin a perfectly good day. The truth is, that as long as democratic leaders in the Senate are silly enough to let Liebermann hang onto his chairmanships, a veto-proof majority is a small potato point. The lesson of the past eight years is you don't trust the untrustworthy with Power.

I am curious to find out if Al Franken will win his race in Minnesota. I want him to win because, gosh darn it, I like him.

Perhaps Alaskan voters should have themselves examined? To pick Sarah Palin, Ted Stevens (a felon), and Don Young (a Constitution violator) to represent you takes a galling lack of respect for America.

I imagine that black Americans feel even stranger than I felt when the Red Sox won the World Series. When the unbelievable happens you realize nothing has changed but your perception of the world around you.

After barely squeaking into the whitehouse the first word out of George W. Bush's mouth was "mandate". I knew then it would be a long four years.

Colin Powell famously said about Iraq, "If we break it we bought it." Well, the truth is, George W. Bush broke Iraq alright and now he is slinking out of the store and leaving the mess for someone else to pick up. It is what he has done all of his life. The question now is, is he all done "shopping"?

Yes we can.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I agree

I like this piece by Rachel Maddow for pointing out the obvious in Katrina-like fashion. Those long lines of voters in places like Philadelphia in 2004 made me proud to be American, but they are disenfranchising voters in poor communities. She calls them a new form of poll tax, a time tax.




Most Americans are fair-minded and law-abiding and they deserve an election process that respects the inherent nobility of the vote. I certainly think we can do better than a 6 hour wait in Florida after having 4 years of preparation.

No political victory should be worth more than the life's blood of our democracy.

Nil magnum nisi bonum

I think the above saying ought to be president Bush's epitaph. It means, no greatness without goodness. Does anything sum up George W. Bush more succinctly or better than that?

As I think about the way Barak Obama has run his campaign and the way he has carried himself under pressure, I conclude that he will change more than the skin-color of the US president. I think he will restore dignity to the office in a way someone who chose Sarah Palin as their running mate cannot.

I hope today turns out to be an historic election and the closing of an ugly chapter in American history.

Monday, November 03, 2008

R.I.P. Studs Terkell

When someone like Studs Terkel dies I find myself missing him, although we never met. I read one of his recent works, "And They All Sang" not too long ago and really enjoyed it. Here was a man that knew how to listen, how to ask intelligent questions, and how to indulge his curiosity.

I also liked his cantankerous attitude, which was a challenging forthrightness as opposed to a prankster's delight at being a spoiler. Here is a recent interview he did, where the focus was on Barak Obama:

I wish he was more progressive

It struck me recently that just as Studs democratized historical accounts by recording the voices of outsiders, so has blogging to a degree. But, Studs would take all these stories and sew them together into a narrative and maybe that is what blogging could use.

Here is an interview with Studs in 2005 that you might like:

2005 Democracy Now

Friday, October 31, 2008

Palin Refugees?

Will Canada see a wave of American immigrants if the McCain/Palin ticket wins?

Here is a video found at Progressive Alaska, via the Oxdown Gazette that suggests the answer is yes:



Here is a response from the other side of the fence:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bill sez...

Bill Clinton was down in Florida campaigning for Barak Obama and introduced him with this rousing speech:

Let's get out of the ditch

If you don't have time to watch the speech, Bill's four important points about Barak were these:

1. Barak Obama has the right Philosophy, that America works from the ground up not the top down.
2. Barak Obama has the best policies, and policies matter because they affect peoples' lives.
3. Barak Obama has the ability to make good decisions, as his selection of Joe Biden and calm demeanor during the economic crisis showed.
4. Barak Obama has the ability to execute decisions and make positive changes in people's lives. His job will be Chief Executive and his campaign itself shows organization and execution and bottom-up thinking.

Bill's speech is a reminder of what a competent, articulate, passionate president looks like.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I like Biden

In this interview Joe Biden is asked a cascading series of ludicrous questions and he goes for the throat of the arguments and chokes the life out of them.



Questions like this are designed to make the absurd credible, and the best response discredits the question itself. I'd say Joe did a great job doing just that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Onion Juice

Jon Stewart is the king of media story-line satire, but the Onion is a brilliant competitor and shines with this clip.


Portrayal Of Obama As Elitist Hailed As Step Forward For African Americans

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sound familiar?



Sound familiar?

Thanks to The Young Turks for calling that one. I like it better without commentary, but here is how they did it:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sarah shops Saks

Sarah Palin's modus operandi has been to portray herself as a small-town "one-of-us" that wants to represent the "real America" in Washington D.C..

Well, the RNC dealt a discrediting, self-inflicted blow to that myth by tricking hockey ma out with $150,000 dollars worth of New York City fashion.

It seems like only yesterday that a $400 haircut was extravagant to republicans.

In the wake of this, I wonder if anyone has looked to see how much it costs to hunt wolves from helicopters. That might be interesting.

Cuff 'im and stuff 'im

A citizens' arrest is legally binding isn't it?



Nice to see George Mitchell out and about.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Colin's Choice

Colin Powell has decided to endorse Barak Obama and you can watch that endorsement here:



In summary, he thinks Barak Obama would be the type of president we need now, and John McCain would be too polarizing, especially since Sarah Palin represents an even harder track to the right.

Colin feels Barak is steady, made a good V.P. pick, has both style and substance, takes a broader approach that includes small towns and big towns, and shows vigor.

As endorsements go it is reflective and direct, like Powell himself. I don't know how much weight his opinions have with fellow Republicans, but anyone that wants to know his views has them in unambiguous form.

He's got a point...

"Bush is to the left of me now. Comrade Bush announced he will buy shares in private banks."

- Hugo Chavez -

Source: Bush turns left

When Hugo Chavez can fairly mock the president Bush as a socialist, then that ought to be sufficient repudiation of Conservative trickle-down dogma for any man.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Paul's subtle joke?

John McCain appeared on the Letterman show and apologized for snubbing him recently.

John and Dave

I expect that if John McCain had shown America more of this man above, and a lot less Karl Rove, then his campaign would be in far better shape.

I think that John McCain's trouble might be that he is not a convincing liar, but running a fundamentally dishonest campaign (which is about to sink even lower). I can clearly see that John McCain is lying when he tries to spin Sarah Palin's city council work as impressive experience because it shows in his whole body and it shows in his face. Only a man like W. or a woman like Sarah Palin (that is to say ignorant and untroubled by shame) can run a campaign this low without physical regret.

When you have to mention the PTA and snowmobiling in response to a question about your running mate, you should know you chose poorly. And, when Dave asked John if Sarah was his first choice I thought he was going to choke on his beverage.

It was discomforting watching McCain claim Sarah is "an inspiration to us", as if saying it over and over makes it true. She is as divisive as Bush, as dishonest as Bush, and slightly more attractive in lipstick and high heels. She was a poor choice, John knows it, and can't convincingly say otherwise.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Swing low...

It struck me this morning that there must be a roomful of serious-minded people somewhere inside the McCain campaign whose job is to find that game-changing piece of slime, that nasty little cesspool offering, that will make McCain look like an attractive alternative to Barak Obama.

The more Americans reject their methods, the more McCain redoubles their efforts. As their guiding strategy fails them, they seem to repeat their mistakes with increasing vigor.

They said Barak HUSSEIN Obama a million times and got no traction.

They insinuated Barak was a sexual pervert and got no traction.

They called Obama unpatriotic, and more recently a pal of terrorists, and got no traction.

And, make no mistake, they keep at it because McCain keeps them at it.

McCain is a drowning candidate and his advisers keep throwing him anchors.

When does his sense of decency preserve his dignity?

Is this how he wishes to face the curtain?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cutting to the chase

I had no idea who Rachel Maddow was, had never heard of her, until she became host of a program at MSNBC. People seem to like her and here is perhaps why:



I have noticed that people today say "human trafficking" instead of "slavery". This doesn't mean we live in a world without slavery.

I've had enough of Rovian double-speak, of overly-euphemistic jargon, and of neo-objectiveness in journalism. When a person makes statements that are demonstrably false without retraction upon confrontation, then that person is a liar telling lies.

I like Ms. Maddow for having the resolve to call a lie a lie. Perhaps she is one to watch?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Econological Predictions

Kevin Drum, in this article for the Washington Monthly, takes a look at the likely impacts on the economy if Obama wins and if McCain wins.

It seems to tie in well with yesterday's "Where Rhetoric meets the Road" post analyzing the impact of this election on your taxes.

Your Salary in 2016

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Where Rhetoric meets the Road

Do you want to know how the 2008 will affect your taxes?

Follow this link and find out:


Election Taxes


Mine go up under McCain's plan, how about yours?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Can't spin that one

Maybe if you keep turning up the music, nobody will notice the boos?



My favorite was the guy pressing himself against the glass with two thumbs pointing decidedly down.

Just because a crowd assembles does that mean it has to be a breeding ground for campaign stops?

Oh well, at least they held back the octopus'

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Words Without Meaning


These stories appeared 10-11-08 on the Google News feed. It is the clearest example I have seen of McCain's complete lack of sincerity.

It is odd that as McCain drops like a stone in the polls he keeps blasting away with the same tired old crap. I'll bet that if McCain ran on his perceived strengths, rather than as a lurching, lying, aged sack of negativity this would be a much closer race.

He seemed perfectly positioned as a straight talking, independent, heroic man of experience. Yet, for whatever reason, he threw that away to run with an idiot in one of the most embarrassing campaigns of my lifetime.

Friday, October 10, 2008

An interesting idea

How should the financial markets be recapitalized?

Here is an idea

Here is what I like about the proposal:

1. Public money is treated with the same terms as private money.

2. The chance of government fraud is reduced greatly, by virtue of the way investment is controlled by the private sector.

3. The chance of corporate fraud is reduced greatly, by virtue of having to attract private money.

4. I think this plan can appeal to conservatives, due to its market-based approach, and to liberals, due to its fiscal responsibility with regard to public money.

Here is what I don't like about the proposal:

Due to a bipartisan aversion to trust-busting, some corporations have been allowed to grow so large that their collapse would inflict a dangerous blow to our financial health. There may be some cases where a business cannot be allowed to fail, and yet is an unattractive investment.

What should be done then?

I say we follow Gordon Brown's lead in those cases and get an equity stake in such companies.

I am not an economist, but there are certain principles I can understand clearly. One is that public money should not be wasted, since it necessitates higher taxes. Another is that corporations are forbidden by law to be anything other than selfish, so let's use their selfishness on our own behalf.

I suppose another idea might be this:

Suppose the US government issued bonds to fund these bailouts, similar to the war bonds which funded WWII? Buying such a bond would be a voluntary act, and Wall Street could have a very small speculator-deterring tax on transactions similar to the UK, to pay for the interest.

Great Music

This great performance serves as a reminder that life holds beautiful moments too:

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Republican Spoiler?


Third-Party Candidate May Steal Support From McCain

Since people are taking Sarah Palin seriously I feel it is my duty to inform you that Mr. Cressbeckler is a fictional candidate.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Philadelphia Boss



I like "America Reclamation Project".

Circling the Drain

When you find yourself shouting murderous threats because Sarah Palin expects a vigorous response to venomous sputtering, you have taken partisanship too far:

Kill him!

To watch John McCain's campaign trolling lynch mobs for votes is to watch political desperation in action.

I think Americans liked McCain when they thought he would practice what he preached, but are rightfully turning away in disgust as they see him campaign.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Deep down

Deep down in the back of my brain, where I keep the old coffee-makers, bean-pots, and instincts that secretly drive my rationalizations, I came across this unexpected election shocker...

Sarah Palin looks exactly like the type of woman that Bill Clinton would hit on.

Tina bo beena, Biden fo fiden

Saturday Night Live has been having fun with politics for a long time. Here they have a little fun with the Biden/Palin debate:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bertrand Russell's advocacy of a Life of Reason

In his book, "New Hopes For a Changing World", Bertrand Russel wrote about finance:

"One of the most vexing things for the modern he-man is the complexity of our civilization, which makes it impossible to know what will be advantageous unless you are prepared to exert some modicum of intelligence. Intelligence, as every he-man knows, is a contemptible quality. The boys who display much at school are seldom good at games, and can usually be kicked without fear of retaliation, and yet there are many things of obvious importance which only people possessing a certain intelligence can understand. One of these is finance. That is why Anderw Jackson - a typical he-man - could not stand banks. He knew how to kill men in a duel, but he did not know how to get the better of a bank manager. So, in 1920, the he-men took control of American finance, and by 1932 they had brought America and the rest of the world to the brink of ruin. Nevertheless, they continued to resent the policy by which further ruin was averted [The New Deal], because it could only be understood by more intelligence than they could exert. Hatred of intelligence is one of the great dangers of the modern world, because with each new advance in technique intelligence becomes more necessary..."

And he then segued into this political observation:

"...Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them."

And offers this advice to correct the problem:

"If teachers and educational authorities had more understanding of the sort of person the modern world needs, they could within a generation produce an outlook that would transform the world. But their ideal of character is an old-fashioned one. They admire most the sort of character which would give a man leadership in a gang of pirates, and if you say that commerce is a different thing from piracy, they think you soft and hope you are mistaken. All this is due to the persistence of old martial ideas that have descended to us from earlier ages. These ideas, I repeat, were appropriate to an age of unavoidable scarcity, but are not applicable to our own times, when whatever scarcity still exists is due to human stupidity and to nothing else. Although this is the case, most of us still prefer passion to intelligence, we like to have our feelings roused, we like to cheer and boo, we like to admire and we like to hate, we like to see things in black and white. Our whole mental apparatus is that which is appropriate to sending us rushing into battle with hoarse war-cries."


From "New Hopes for a Changing World", by Bertrand Russell pp. 158-159, Simon and Schuster 1951.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

C'est vrai

If banks are getting so big that their collapse threatens America's financial stability, then maybe it is time to bring back Trust-busting.

As politicians have chipped away at the reforms Teddy Roosevelt introduced, the results have been a resurgence of old problems.

Strong performance

I like this campaign message from Barak Obama:



I thought Obama could have pointed out that a trickle down theory is as elitist in outlook as theories come.

I thought he could have mentioned that trickle-down theories are failing many of the well-to-do too. After all, what good is a capital gains tax-break when there are no capital gains? What good is more money when there are few stable places to make deposits?

Even so, I think he spoke confidently and clearly linked this crisis with strongly-held republican beliefs. Every American voter has seen republicans defending deregulation as if it were a holy duty. Nobody with any sense is going to believe John McCain's deathbed conversion to financial populist. That requires a level of gullibility that is possessed in great but still-insufficient supply.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sarah tells a joke...

I think Sarah Palin might want to keep her day job rather than trying to moonlight as a comic. In this clip she "tells a joke" about Joe Biden's "experience, not age":



If Mrs. Palin represents "new ideas" and "new energy", then I'd like to see her expend a little of that energy telling us about those new ideas. If it is laughter Sarah wants to generate, then a live press conference ought to provide a hurricane of it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Barney gets Frank

What you have in the following video are 3 republican leaders taking republican credit for scuttling legislation that a repulican president warns America needs, and doing so for the silliest reason I ever heard.

Afterwards, you will see one of the best put-downs likely to be found anywhere:



Republicans are starting to be incompetent at even politics. If the economy falters they just put a republican face on the problem, well three faces for good measure.

Be Careful What You Wish For?

In an earlier post I said, "Why should republicans favor a bailout? Don't they recognize a welfare corporation when they see one?"

I did not like Paulson's initial plan, which was a naked power grab and not much of a plan at all. I am still thankful Washington had enough sense to oppose the creation of a financial emperor.

However, Christopher Dodd then came forward with a plan that said, public money demands public scrutiny, and public money is not toilet paper for the irresponsible investor. It wasn't perfect, but it was an honest effort to fix the mess without ceding Congressional oversight. It was fast gaining bipartisan traction until John McCain arrived to "help", at which point it died a political death.

I also felt earlier that Congress should delay any bailout because Wall Street seemed like an addict that expected to publicly finance its' heroin addiction. Let them sweat a bit, I thought, then maybe they'll realize they could fail and will be less reckless going forward, and less demanding of their saviors. Maybe that is what is going on and explains Congress' upcoming holiday break?

I prefer doing as little as possible until a new administration arrives. The Bush administration is played out; they have no more credibility. Nobody wants to be their dance partner to the dance. But, historically accurate economists like Paul Krugman say we need to act soon.

I guess you must go to the financial market crisis with the leader you have and not the leader you want.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sam Harris on Sarah Palin

When I talk about Sarah Palin I prefer to keep it simple. "She's dumb as a post", I say, or else, "I hope she talks in tongues during the campaign".

Sam Harris reminds me that there are artistic heights to aspire to and that there is satisfaction to be had in a job well done. I must tip my hat to his artistic use of insult.

Bent over Sam's knee

It is nice to see someone defending competence. It has been much maligned recently.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Up next, Afghanistan?

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.

- Albert Einstein -


Patriarchal religions foster mental communism. By this I mean the view that a knowledge deficit can be brought into balance by religious devotion to some creed, or a "belief" devoid of understanding. When you see a religious authority railing against one of the planet's foremost experts on biology or climate science you are seeing this intellectual communism in action.

Scientific progress and democratic progress rely on the same mother of invention, and it is no surprise that democratic societies tend to be technologically superior societies. A scientist gains influence based upon the usefulness of his ideas and a democratic society gains influence in the same way.

The Taliban in Afghanistan is a society that I would refer to as mental communists. The word of the theocrats is law, and those who object can be bathed in acid or have various body-parts removed until they see the wise point of view. I know that president Obama wishes to turn more American attention onto Afghanistan and I can't think of two more incompatible ideas than democracy and theocracy.

So what will we do there?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Love it.

Jon Stewart is so good.

Like I said...

Here is more ammunition to buttress my argument that Sarah Palin is as dumb as a post:



I think it is irresponsible of candidate McCain to chose to place someone this stupid this close to so much power. What was he looking at when he leaped?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crashing and Burning

The McCain campaign just keeps getting worse.

After careless vetting he wound up with a running mate that is as dumb as a post, is ready to lie to American voters on day one, is mired in two republican-led Alaskan investigations, and has to be stage managed by handlers like a child celebrity.

Now, he is fumbling around with a silly stunt designed to make him look bold and leaderly on the economy. He is "suspending his campaign" to travel to Washington and "show leadership" on the "Cash for Trash" Bush proposal.

How much assistance is he likely to provide when he already admitted he doesn't know much about the economy?

The time for bold, wise leadership was when the horizon of this catastrophe was approaching. At that time Senator McCain thought it would be a great idea to slash regulations, and that would have made the current problem worse.

Candidate McCain is looking increasingly panicked and I think the American People are going to notice. They might vote for an incompetent, deceitful idiot twice, but they won't vote for someone that looks weak the way McCain does now.

Unhappy Letterman

John McCain canceled an appearance on Letterman so he could race back to Washington and save the US economy.

Only, what he really did was go see Katie Couric for an interview instead.

And Letterman found out about it.

And he had time to fill.

And this is the result:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ron Paul, John McCain, and the Beach Boys

When asked to endorse John McCain Ron Paul wouldn't in this interview. Listening to what he said might give democratic strategists a clue as to what really troubles a deep conservative like Mr. Paul about candidate McCain:



ADDENDUM: George Will has written an extraordinary criticism of candidate McCain which you can read here.

I hope Barak's campaign looks closely at these two instances of conservative dissatisfaction for the keys that will swing their votes. Conservatives of the type that are guided by moral principal should be respected as sincere.

Perhaps a message supporting foreign policy realism, pay as you go, and abusing Rovian Republicans will do the trick?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sour on Sarah

Reporters keep repeating that Americans like Sarah Palin and I am mystified by this. Here's why:

1. She is as dumb as a post.

2. She tries to hide this with arrogance, personal attacks, and high falutin' talk (clumsy sophistry).

3. One that wants to hurry Armageddon expecting to fly in the sky with Jesus is not responsibly trusted with power. I believe Sarah is not opportunistically (politically) committed to her cult. I think she is really a Pentecostal.

4. She has already lied a multitude of times to the American people and appears untroubled by this. I am troubled by this.

5. Sarah's children are named Bristol, Piper, Willow, Track, and Trig. I don't want to face a nation of copy-cats naming their children like circus horses.

I've given you my reasons for being unimpressed with Sarah Palin, but Bill Clinton would say that I am analyzing rationally a decision that isn't rationally made. People vote for all kinds of reasons, including gender association and litmus-test issues. In fact, here he is discussing how people vote on The View.

All I know is I don't like the woman one bit and I've given you my reasons.

A simple question...

How stupid would Congress have to be to hand over a large pile of money to the people on Wall Street when they've just shown how irresponsible they are with it?

When a drowning man needs a life-jacket he shouldn't complain if there is a lifeline attached to it. Why not let the drowning see that there are sharks in the water that are very near?

In other words, why do anything until investors worry that irresponsibly run companies might actually go bankrupt in a free market? At that point if the government wants to toss a life-jacket overboard I believe there will be a fight for it, strings be dammed.

When it is your average Joe that can't make his mortgage payments because his kid got sick, Wall Street will talk about the character building experience of personal responsibility.

Why aren't republicans willing to "let the market work" when it builds corporate responsibility?

Why should republicans favor a bailout? Don't they recognize a welfare corporation when they see one?

ADDENDUM: Here is how Paul Krugman analyzes the situation, and he doesn't delve into metaphor the way I like to: Railroad Bill

ADDENDUM TOO: Josh Marshall analyzes the situation, but he does delve into metaphor the way I like to do. His metaphor? A man holding onto a cliff face by his fingertips

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Smiling Joe Biden

By exercising the "soft bigotry of low expectations", the McCain campaign is placing Sarah Palin into a debate kitchen. She will, presumably, be allowed to wear shoes when she debates Joe Biden in a format contrived to favor her lack of debating skills, inability to improvise, or poor knowledge of the issues:

Details here

That, my friends, is either sexism on display or an inappropriate choice of running-mate.

I hope Joe Biden ignores the likely forthcoming calls for less tenacity. I hope he knocks her block off with a smile. If he treats her as anything less than an opportunistic, arrogant, world-endangering, Rovian puppet I will be disappointed by his sexism. I want to see Sarah exposed as Dan Quale with lipstick for the American voters.

Republicans attacked Chelsea Clinton and I think Joe ought to remember that.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sarah Barracuda Brain

Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are stupid, then to open your mouth and let them know that you are:



Using fancy talk like "fungible" and "molecule" ain't enough to make ignorance sound like wisdom. Why, that there's like puttin' lipstick on a pig.

John the Reregulator

John McCain has spent most of his career as an earnest deregulator. I would describe his dependable career-long fight against regulation as a man acting with the faith of an ideologue.

For instance:

In November of 1993 he took to the Senate floor and complained about "the tremendous regulatory burden imposed on financial institutions".

In July of 2003 he told CNN, "I am a deregulator. I believe in deregulation".

This spring John McCain told the Wall Street Journal, "“I am fundamentally a deregulator. I’d like to see a lot of the unnecessary government regulations eliminated, not just a moratorium."

So it is with a skeptical eyebrow raised that I now listen to the earnest reregulator candidate McCain.

Barak Obama has an eyebrow or two to raise too in this speech:



I like to judge People by their actions. John McCain has spent a career attacking the very safeguards that brought us both the S&L crisis and the current sub-prime loan crisis.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parallel lines

"The fundamental business of the country, that is the production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis."

Herbert Hoover
Oct. 25, 1929
Shortly before Black Thursday


"The fundamentals of our economy are strong"

John McCain in Jacksonville Florida
September 17, 2008
Shortly after 3 of the top 5 investment banks in America collapsed, and on the heels of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac socialization.

Read more here

Read even more here

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I approve of this message...

On drilling

Rather than view off-shore drilling as a solution to America's energy problems, I like to think of it as an action which increases our dependence on oil if successful, and which diverts our focus from energy independence if unsuccesful. It is the same type of thinking that brought us to Iraq when we should have been pursuing Osama bin Laden.

Environmentalists must no longer squabble for their favorite projects but instead unite against our common enemy (carbon-emitting energy sources).

Global warming is real and the evidence is in our polar ice caps, in the strength of storms, in the tenacity of our wildfires, and in the science of chemistry. The technologies which will abate it exist in windmills, in solar panels, in carbon-free nuclear power, in geothermal power, in micro-hydro power, in tidal power.

To embrace petro-dictators in the face of what we now know is to embrace defeat for America. If not for us, then for our children or grand-children. It is to invite more foreign wars of occupation. It is to invite increasingly more polluted skies. It is to invite ecological catastrophe.

The flaw in societies that decay is to fail to see the promise which comes through change, and to cling in desperation to a way of life that has become self-destructive.

Think what it means for America if we can power our vehicles with electricity generated from non-polluting and renewable sources. Think what it means for the quality of our air. Think what it means for our economy. Think what it means to our foreign policy.

Why not envision American greatness? Why have our dreams become so small?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Sirota

Earlier I mention that I thought it would be a good idea for Barak Obama to seek out the advice of David Sirota. Mr. Sirota made that a whole lot easier by going on CNN and saying exactly what he thought Obama had to do to take back the lead:

NAFTA and Iraq

Ask and the internet giveth.

The Joe factor

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Realpolitik or Playground Populism?

Do you suppose all of the lying and dishonorable accusations flooding out of the McCain campaign are a tactic?

One hardly knew that Grandpa Jones and Daisy Duke were running until all the coverage of their insulting, playground populism started up.

Is McCain counting on Americans not to bother seeking out the Truth of his charges even though doing so would be easy-peasy?

Is everyone yelling at Obama to "fight back hard" adding pressure in the wrong direction? Won't uninformed Americans tune this out as, "I am rubber you are glue..."?

Maybe Obama just needs to be a little less wonky and call McCain out on his Rovian campaign. Better yet, let Joe Biden do it, since Joe Biden stood up for McCain when George Bush insinuated he fathered a black child in South Carolina and called his patriotism into question.

Here is what George Lakoff thinks Obama should do:

Make your own frames

Obama has to find a way to be in the news, without simply repeating McCain's charges because that will make them stick. Policy positions aren't going to do it, since people won't interrupt their dinners for that.

This is what on playgrounds might be known as the new experience, for instance making loud flatulent noises using only one's left hand and right underarm. Suddenly the kid pickin' at his nose and chewin' it, chewin' it, is old hat.

Well, that's what he needs to do metaphorically anyway.

Keep it simple Mr. Obama. Ask Bill Clinton to come up with something, since nobody can out-flank the master. Try to enjoy it too. It might be dumb, it might be ugly, it might detract from important conversations that you want to have, but you can talk all you want when you're president.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A prayer for Sarah

I will pray fervently that sweet Jesus protects us all from a confluence of real power with such ignorance.



Sarah Palin should not be suffered gladly.

She couldn't handle soft-ball questions.

What kind of extra-strength, non-prescription drugs are available to make her look like a good choice and just how big was John McCain's dose?

Sweet Jesus I pray that my fellow American voters aren't that stupid again.

Florida

Barak Obama is behind in Florida and I think that he ought to travel there and ask people how much they like the idea of off-shore drilling. It seems likely that Florida's tourist industry doesn't want environmental threats to their beautiful white-sand beaches.

I know that Florida's democratic strategists have already polluted the political waters with their idiotic squabbles with New Hampshire, but perhaps Floridians care more about waters of the oceanic kind?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The answer, my friends...

As Barak Obama begins to lose traction in the polls (CBS Poll), everyone is chiming in to offer their opinion as to why. I figure that I might as well join the chorus and add my two cents worth.

Because I have supported mostly democratic presidential candidates I can say I have seen a lot of stupid things in my lifetime. Perhaps, insane is more apt. It is, as Einstein once said, the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

What is it that democratic presidential candidates do over and over again that causes them to lose traction in the general election?

They listen to D.C. professional election losers just as soon as they capture the nomination, they ass-kiss the democratic aristocrats, and abandon the dance partner that brung them (i.e. their base).

Obama's campaign had momentum until he came out and backed Telecom immunity. The pros will tell him it was a wise centrist thing to do, but it disheartened a lot of supporters and made him look weak. Bill Clinton put it this way, "It is better to be strong and wrong".

Remember what happened to poor Al Gore when he listened to these idiots? He shunned Bill Clinton, put on a beard, and started talking about Alpha Male-dom.

The thing for Barak to do is look at recent democratic success stories and realize they are progressive candidates standing up for liberal values. He should then seek out people like David Sirota (who helped get Brian Schweitzer elected governor of Montana). You know people with more sense than strategy.

A good way to put out a fire is by making a fire-break. This is a place in the path of the fire where all of the potential fuel for continuing the fire is burned. That is the metaphorical role Al Frum plays in a democratic presidential bid.

I can't believe another candidate is being blown by warm winds into this dead end again.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More of the same

The Wall Street Journal documents in this story that Sarah Palin is full of beans when she calls herself a reformer that said, "thanks but no thanks", when it came to building the bridge to nowhere.

The short story is that she championed the bridge to nowhere and when it became a national scandal she reformed her position, then diverted federal money into Alaska's coffers.

As Josh Marshall points out, "On the web we call it lying".

My guess as to the eventual Republican response is:

1. The Wall Street Journal is part of the vast liberal media conspiracy that is unfairly tarnishing the reputation of John McCain's running mate. Perhaps they are even doing this abominable hatchet job out of purely sexist motives.

2. Did we mention that John McCain is a POW?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Change or more of the same?

When the president Bush was running for president in 2004, a silver star and multiple purple heart citations were something to be derided and mocked.

Now that John McCain is running, it is apparently community service that is being derided and mocked by Republicans at the Republican National Convention.

Was Palin a secessionist?

Sarah Palin gave a welcome speech to the Alaska Independence Party in March of 2008. Her husband was a member for roughly 7 years. Eye witnesses say she attended the groups 1994 annual convention.

Here are some quotes of founder Joe Vogler:
  • "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government"
  • "I won't be buried under their damn flag"

Source: Talking Points Memo

If John McCain looked before he leaped, what do you suppose he was looking for?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Too much

Once again the best efforts of satirists seem unimaginative in the face of real-world republican conduct.

For years Senator McCain has been publishing "Pork Lists" that chastised politicians for their porky ways, and especially for their immoral uses of earmarks.

It turns out that John McCain's new "soul mate", Sarah Palin, was on those lists three times in recent years.

Source: LA Times

No wonder I am cynical.

A point of fact

Last night Joe Lieberman said something which could mistakenly imply that he is a member of the democratic party. He said this:

"If John McCain is just another partisan Republican, then I'm Michael Moore's favorite Democrat. And
I'm not. And I think you know that I'm not."

Joe Lieberman
RNC Convention 2008


Joe Lieberman might like to think of himself as a democratic senator, but the people of Connecticut chose Ned Lamont as their democratic party representative. Mr. Lieberman represents Connecticut as an independent.

He can grovel pathetically and lick McCain's boot in public all he wants, but he should not attempt to do so as a democratic senator. That is something I find as insulting as it is false.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Where were you when the levee broke?




You might want to spend some time with that image, and while you do, here's a little music from Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe:

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's McCain/Palin vs Obama/Biden

John McCain has chosen a running mate that wants to drill for oil in ANWR, is a conservative Christian, and opposes abortion.

Details here

With this pick John McCain is embracing fully the ideology that brought us to this moment.

With this pick John McCain is demonstrating that he thinks America is headed in the right direction and needs to stay the course.

With this pick John McCain is saying that he thinks government ought to make your personal decisions.

With this pick John McCain is saying global warming is not a primary concern.

With your vote, what will you say to that?

Denver calling

When Barak Obama finished speaking at the Democratic convention in Denver last night I had two reactions.

1. It is clear to me that Barak Obama understands that the failures of the Bush administration are moral failures. Katrina was a moral failure, a failure of compassion. Iraq is a moral failure, a failure to tell the truth. Guantanamo is a moral failure, a failure to respect human dignity. Enron was a moral failure, a failure of duty and of trust.

2. Americans know what is missing. They feel it deep down in their bones. That is what 2004 was all about (except to the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid). Americans are better than the last 8 years, yes, but it must be remembered that a culture of deceit made it possible.

The change Obama wants to bring, summed up as "I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper", is change I truly believe in. I have seen what moral weakness and insincerity can do. I have also seen what sincere people working together can do. I prefer the latter.

I'll even hope for it.

Here is the speech, if you haven't seen it:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Estate Taxes

The underlying rationale for estate taxes goes something like this...

Privilege leads to arrogance.
Arrogance leads to injustice.
Injustice leads to decay.

An unlikely defender of the estate tax is Warren Buffett, who attributes great inherited wealth with membership in "the lucky sperm club".

It strikes me that the presidency of George W. Bush validates arguments made in favor of the estate tax.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's the economy, stupid!

Economies slough off their value when they become unjust. This is due to a simple fact which I express mathematically as:

Economy = Trust

What is money but faith?

If I take a dollar bill to the butcher in exchange for meat,
he trusts that he can take that same dollar bill to the baker for bread,
who trusts that he can take it to the candlestick maker.

An economy is at it's core a trust relationship, and this explains why honesty is crucial to maintaining an economy. Even a crook can understand that an honest man is the best choice for counting his cash.

What does it mean to have a president whose sworn word is no good, and whose administration is embroiled in corruption, in a position of economic stewardship?

Aren't our current banking troubles caused by dishonesty in accounting practices?
Wasn't the collapse of Enron dishonesty induced?

Here are messages, however incongruous they may appear, that may help our economy:

Part One (Hopi):



Part Two (from tree communities to corporate governance):



Part Three (pulling your horse):



It is difficult to hear and believe wise teachings. It is much more difficult to incorporate them. You might say, metaphorically, that it is as difficult as passing through the eye of a needle.

Those adorned with power seem to believe that if you say something enough it will become true. So maybe the trick is to listen enough to that which is beneficial?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

By rote

Recently a Republican came to my door campaigning for votes. I won't tell you who it was, but I will say this person was coming out of retirement to run and seemed like a decent person. I asked him why he was leaving retirement to take up politics, and I was struck by the mechanical nature of his answer. He complained about taxes and a lack of common sense in government. I fed him Lilly Tomlin's line that common sense isn't all that common and asked him where his common sense would be applied first. "Businesses are being taxed to much", he said.

He was a good republican soldier saying what republicans say no matter what problem is at hand. One could easily picture him shedding genuine tears for besieged aristocrats.

I was tempted to trick him but I instead thanked him for sharing his common sense and sent him on his way. My trick was going to be to ask him this, "Is it patriotic to gripe about taxes in a time of war?"

Today's republicans like to equate disagreement with insufficient patriotism, so I was genuinely tempted to practice the politics of Karl Rove which McCain seems to have embraced like so much Bush-flesh.

But, I know that people are looking for answers in this confusing and complicated world and when they find them they cling like barnacles to a boat, or fanatics to dogma. People are always afraid of the questions that make life more interesting. I don't know why that is, but I could see fear in his eyes of the hunted. He was visibly relieved at not being challenged and left secure of his common sense.

Republicans are scared enough right now, I decided, no sense kicking a man when he's down and out.

As the front door closed while he went on his way I felt the power of metaphor stir my thoughts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Idea exchange

This is a bit of a rambling talk, but if you stick with it you will see an amazing design for a city and hear a great engineering joke about a tree:




The fact that this city of the future is being built in China, not America, tells me that America has abandoned greatness in the Bush years.

I hate to see a dream deficit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Intense ad

This is the best political ad I've seen in 2008:



I think it speaks truthfully and without the usual tools of deception (cringe-music, smug voice, and palette tricks), which in this case are totally unnecessary.

When you can tell a simple truth you are in an enviable position. Reagan understood this much.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reflections on Obama

The campaign of Barak Obama is often portrayed, within and without, as a movement. I usually bristle at this description because it is missing rather important elements.

Think of Martin Luther King and the American racial equality movement and ask yourself whether I speak truly when I say that a movement has three parts:

1. A leader.
2. A population which recognizes its chains
3. A population which perceives a hope of escape from them

It is not enough for a leader to speak vaguely of Hope without identifying the chains and pointing to the exit. It is not enough for a leader to speak dully of audacity without championing an action.

So far the Obama movement is just a rudderless hope floating on buoyant nostalgia. Tides take such "movements" out to sea where they become indistinguishable from the turmoil of the brine.

There is one dark chain that binds us all, just as there is a new dawn to face. A movement must use moral persuasion to draw attention to the new dawning, rather than despair over the chains. This the the moral of the Statue of Liberty story.

There is more to Love than life.
There is more to Hope than audacity.
There is more to change than rhetoric.

If this is to be a true movement, rather than a "cult of personality", then it must embrace steps two and three. A movement goes nowhere with only "the One", at least nowhere worthwhile.

I am decidedly not the person I have been waiting for.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Who is Barry Soetoro?

Is Barak Obama illegally on the presidential ballot?

Eligibility challenge part 1

Eligibility challenge part 2

They seem to have gone off the deep end over at No Quarter, but the Associated Press seems to have confirmed a piece of evidence in their story.

I sez it is better to know the truth of the matter before the convention rather than after it. I also sez it smells like a Republican fraud, but one should not ignore evidence no matter how unappreciated.

A new group forms

In response to Cindy Sheehan's challenge of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's seat, a new group of concerned Republicans has crossed the aisle to endorse Ms. Pelosi in the race.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Traitor Joe

When Lieberman betrayed Connecticut democrats to further his personal agenda, Harry Reid peed on Connecticut democratic voters wishes, and I have been regretting his weakness ever since.

Recently, for instance, Joe Lieberman has seeking the spotlight by bashing candidate Obama with McCain talking points (see here).

When is too much enough?

If Harry Reid publicly called Joe out, then going forward his ungrateful backstabbing would carry less weight because it could be cast as petty revenge. If, however, no vile deed goes unpunished, Harry will add credibility to his mounting party betrayals.

Why not hand Joe's Senate committee assignments to someone up for reelection, or promise them publicly to someone like Tom Allen of Maine?

Is Reid going to allow this ticking bomb to tick through the whole election?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ou est le anti-Christ

You know politics and/or religion are getting out of hand in the US when people are looking for the anti-Christ in the opposition.

Robert Dreyfuss says that McCain could be the anti-Christ:

Exhibit A

John McCain's campaign, in an ad called "The One", hints that Obama is the anti-Christ:

Exhibit B

Who is the real anti-Christ and who is the imposter?

Maybe to be safe everyone should vote for Ralph Nader?

But what if he's the anti-Christ and this is all part of his cunning plan to deceive everyone?

Drat that tricky devil!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Biting the Hilton that feeds you

This is Jon Stewart at his best, taking a look at campaign messages and the politics of leafy, bitter greens:



ADDENDUM:

Paris Hilton decided to respond to the McCain add which portrayed she and Obama as celebrities:

See more funny videos at Funny or Die


I guess that's what you get when you bash the daughter of a large campaign donor.

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin