Thursday, October 23, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

The title of this post was penned by Michael Stipe of REM and I have always wondered if it was in reference to the end of the Soviet Empire. Today we could be watching the dissolution of the American Empire and I find the possibility of it's demise raises my spirits.

This article by Aziz Huq at TomDispatch makes many good points about how the military disasters of Iraq & Afghanistan combined with the current financial melt down may spell if the end of the American Empire if the next President does not handle the situation correctly.

We must chose how we will retreat from our hegemonic military position around the globe. And the consequences of our choice will be drastic. Will we do it on our terms in a gradual orderly way and thereby retain some influence in the world, or will our international creditors pull the plug on our financial system thereby making our nation's debt servitude plain to all? Unless our economy, and it's manufacturing capability rebound soon, the choice of maintaining our current hegemony is not a possibility.

Aziz points to the Suez canal and it's effect on Britain's role as the leader of the free world.

As was true in the Britain of those years, so today, even as the U.S. position in the world undergoes a radical diminishment, the extent to which this is being grasped by a policy making establishment in Washington unused to dealing with uncertainty remains unclear.

In foreign policy terms, the overextended nature of British imperial power only struck home in 1956, nine years after the world war ended. That was the moment when British Prime Minister Anthony Eden fundamentally miscalculated British power in response to Egyptian President Abdul Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal Company. With the French and Israelis at his back, Eden reckoned that Nasser was overreaching and saw an opportunity to undermine the Egyptian regime in an area where British power had long been dominant.

Eden reckoned, however, without a newly dominant United States. American President Dwight D. Eisenhower, angry at being cut out of Middle Eastern affairs, threatened Eden. He would, he indicated, "pull the plug" on the British pound by withdrawing American fiscal support for the recovering British economy. The country's monetary weakness led directly to its military collapse in the crisis. The Suez fiasco not only destroyed Eden's prime ministership, it also marked the end of British imperial ambitions.

I believe we have reached the same position. Without the world's financial credit we cannot maintain our imperial military. As much as I would like to live out my days in material comfort. I have to say, the internationalist in me believes that for the sake of the world, the end of the American Empire cannot come soon enough.

Indeed it may be the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bush Socialism

Krugman cheers the new Bush Socialism, and tips his hat to Chris Dodd and Gordon Brown.

I'm bettin' Krugman's got a "WTF" sequel comin' -- BushCo has never ever done anything right.

Moreover, I am pretty sure they are set on loading up all the silver and gold (that is left after 8 years) on their wagon train as they de-camp Washington.

Probably a little Italian influence...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Should our banks be nationalized?

This article by a conservative editor (Wolfgang Munchau) of a conservative European newspaper (Financial Times) is worth a quick read.

Some excepts from the article:

The US administration’s TARP proposal is a case in point. It has lambasted by almost every economist, including those who normally disagree with each other on most things. Buying up toxic securities at above market prices is simultaneously the most expensive and unfairest way to recapitalize the banking system. It is very difficult to believe that the US treasury secretary can possibly be driven by a motive other than a wish to benefit the investment banks he once chaired, and which stands gain handsomely from such a package, and which would never dream of accepting any government capital infusions. The only alternative explanation for his behavior is immense stupidity – and I know that he is not a stupid man.

We have learned from those mistakes, but are committing new and possibly bigger ones. Government is our one and only safety net. It could, if it wanted to, provide basic financial services, that could easily fulfill three economic functions that are attributed to finance: to provide liquidity, to share risk, and to allow agents in the economy to make inter-temporal choices. .... The way to go is to shrink the financial system and nationalize the systemically important financial institutions. I have heard there are about 45-50 in the euro area though this is not a precise guess, and subject to change over time. After the financial sector is stabilized, it is time to rebuilt the system, to allow the government later re-privatize its assets, ideally subject to different incentive structures than those that have led to this crisis. In theory, governments could even make money on it. I doubt it. But at the very least, governments can minimize losses.

But if you squander valuable resources on second-rate institutions such as Hypo Real Estate, for the wrong reasons, your freedom of maneuver will be constrained at the moment you need it the most, ...

These three quotes highlight what is wrong with our government's response to date and propose what a better solution would look like. The first points out the TARP program can only be pursued for personal greed and not to address the problem. The second states that nationalizing the financial system is possible and could address the problem. And the third points out that if we waste all our resources buying worthless paper, whether they are toxic assets from banks or unsecured commercial paper, we will lack the resources to effectively deal with a full scale collapse of our economy. For instance, the FDIC protects our deposits by assisting large banks in buying failing smaller banks. What do they do if our largest bank, Bank of America, begins to fail?

Nationalizing the banks while we still can may be our best option. But I have not heard any of our politicians talking about this. We need to make them aware that this is an option and they need to consider it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I found the summary on Pete Defazio's web site. I assume language of the bill is being drafted and does not exist in a fleshed out form at this point.

The first three points are technical rules about trading which I do not understand the implications of. But the meat of the Bill is in the 4th point which proposes a paper shuffle to infuse assets into the banks balance sheets without actually giving them any cash. This is the way it is worded in Defazio's summary,

For those entities that qualify, the FDIC should purchase net worth certificates in these institutions. In exchange, these institutions issue promissory notes to repay the FDIC, counting the amount “borrowed” as capital on their balance sheets. This exchange provides short term capital, with not cash outlay. Interest rates on the certificates and the FDIC notes should be identical so no subsidy is necessary.
This is the option that Paul Krugman favored before reluctantly signing on to the Paulson Plan.

Krugman uses the example of Wachovia buy-out to explain how this works.

First, a real-world example, the rescue of Wachovia. The FDIC got Citi to take over Wachovia’s assets and liabilities with a deal under which the feds limit the losses — they will cover any losses on mortgage paper over $42 billion — in return, basically, for receiving a share of ownership, in the form of warrants and preferred stock. No actual money changed hands, which illustrates a fundamental principle: recapitalization doesn’t mean laying out real money, at least initially — it just means having taxpayers take on some of the risk.

A large-scale recapitalization would probably take the form of a giant swap of debt for equity: the Treasury would issue several hundred billion dollars’ worth of bonds, and give them to financial firms in return for preferred stock. The bonds wouldn’t have to be sold to outside buyers — they would simply be credited to firms’ balance sheets.

The effect would be that if the financial firms did well, taxpayers would share in their good fortune via those stock holdings; if firms did badly, they could meet their obligations by selling some of those bonds, which would cut into the value of all their stock, including the stuff Uncle Sam owns. So as in the case of Wachovia, what’s really happening is that the taxpayers are taking on some of the risk.
I don't pretend to understand all of this. But, if the banks can be recapitalized without the government borrowing 700 billion dollars and handing over the cash to a bunch of greedy and corrupt sons of bitches then it has to be a better alternative.

The idea that we might borrow, or print, 700 billion dollars out of thin air scares the hell out of me. I am truly worried about what this will do to the value of our dollar. Hyper inflation is a real phenomenon, just ask South Americans, and it is not pretty for anybody.

We must defeat this bailout and the only way we do it is by proposing something better. What are you all reading out there?

Anybody in finance that cares to jump into the conversation and shed some light on these options your input would be welcome.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cry babies

Take a look at this clips.

The first is a clip of Nancy Pelosi's closing speech. The second is the Republican Party press conference after the vote where the blame Pelosi's speech for causing the vote for the bailout to fail. What a bunch of wimps. The majority of their members voted against the bill. The should take credit for killing the bill, instead once again they don't want to assume responsibility for their own actions.

I am glad the bill failed. I have been very unhappy with Pelosi pushing, what I consider to be a disastrous bill, on the American people. But I have to say that her speech today was spot on. The disaster we face now is the direct result of the disastrous economic policies, or lack of policies, of the last eight years. If the Republican's don't want to hear that, too fucking bad, they can just eat shit as far as I am concerned. I hope that Mrs. Pelosi follows through with that speech and forces through the next Congress the kind of bills we need to reign in the cowboy capitalism that is running rampant today. And, I hope we have the votes to pass them without a single Republican vote. The sound of Republicans crying the blues then will be sweet music indeed.

Listen to both clips. It is simply astounding to listen to these wounded puppies complain that Pelosi's partisanship insulted their virgin ears. They were not voting on her speech. If they supported the bill, they should have voted yes. If they did not support the bill they should own up to the fact that they defeated the bill.

Their talk of Partisanship is just too much to bear. These same bastards wrote bills, where they did not even let a single Democrat participate in the drafting of the bills, and then passed them using the most openly corrupt manner possible. Bribing members on the floor of the house, or threatening to fund opposition primary candidates on the floor of the house, to coerce their own members to vote yes. They did all this so that they could pass bills with little or no support from the Democrats. Now they want preach partisanship and lecture Pelosi about leadership, Please!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Deep (Escatological) Thought

The McCain campaign is so inept, so corrupt, so cynical, it makes Bush/Cheney look like a Mother Teresa outfit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ben Bernanke can kiss my ass

In his testimony today in the Senate he said "This (the 700 billion dollar blank check proposed by Paulson) is a precondition for a good, healthy recovery of our economy". We are not asking the banks to do us a favor. They are asking for us to bail them out, if the crisis is real. They cannot put conditions on what they will accept, we can put conditions on what we will do. Somebody needs to explain this to Bernanke. His threats of a recession are hollow. Does he not think that this massive bailout will not severely weaken the dollar and cause massive, possible run away inflation. Is not inflation the supposed boogie man the Fed, which Bernanke heads, constantly tries to minimize? The Fed has caused recessions in this country to keep down inflation. Now the chair of the Fed raises the specter of recession to pursue a very inflationary policy? What gives?

If he thinks he can scare us into giving him and his pals 700 billion dollars with no oversight, and no possible challenge, legal or otherwise, for how the money is used, he can kiss my ass.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Newt wants to implement more "free market" reforms to fix the problems caused by past "free market" reforms

Naomi Klein has a post today on Huffington Post which worth a quick read. It points out that the "right" uses the failure of their policies to push for the enactment of more of their policies.

Don't believe her? Take a look at what Newt suggest we do now to "solve" the current crisis.

We can stop this only be calling bullshit on these sons of bitches and start publicly pinning the causes of this crisis on their policies. To continue implementing their policies after so many failures would be like telling a person that is slowly dying of Arsenic poisoning that the cure for his illness is more Arsenic.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The Democratic leadership in their effort to prove to the business elite in this country that they can also be trusted to serve the elites' interests are now pushing a bill which would pre-empt state insurance related (health care insurance is exempted from the bill) consumer protection law if it conflicted with an international treaty. Here is the summary of the bill (from the Congressional Research Service):

Insurance Information Act of 2008 - Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to advise the President and Congress on domestic and international policy issues regarding all lines of insurance except health insurance.
Establishes within the Department of the Treasury the Office of Insurance Information, headed by a Deputy Assistant Secretary, to: (1) collect, analyze, and disseminate information and issue reports regarding all lines of insurance except health insurance; (2) establish federal policy on international insurance matters and ensure that state insurance laws are consistent with agreements between the United States and a foreign government or regulatory entity; and (3) advise the Secretary on major domestic and international insurance policy issues.
Extends the authority of the Office to all lines of insurance except health insurance.
Preempts inconsistent state law.
Requires the head of the Office to report to specified congressional committees on the financial state and meaningful trends of the insurance industry.
Establishes the Advisory Group to the Office of Insurance Information.

For those of you who do not know why many people object to the WTO and the so called "Free Trade" treaties. People object because many of the provisions of these treaties are designed to overturn local or state regulations that international corporations see as an impediment to trade, and the WTO has the authority to punish (levy fines, which are enforced by the US federal government) local and state entities that continue to enforce their regulations. These bothersome regulations include such things as zoning, environmental, consumer protection and labor laws.

Because of the massive resistance to NAFTA and similar trade agreements Democrats have publically stated they oppose "free trade" bills, although many of these so called opponents of free trade continue to support and vote "yes" to every free trade bill which comes up.

This bill HR 5840 introduced by Democrat Paul Kanjorski in April (with Brad Miller as a co-sponsor) of this year will allow similar attacks on insurance related consumer protection laws. This bill has not moved much, yesterday it was still in committee. However, with the current failure of one of our largest insurance companies the Democratic leadership in the House wants to bring this bill to the floor.

According to a letter to Congress from Public Citizen this bill has been placed on the suspension calendar. I am no expert on the intricacies of Congress but I understand this operates kind of like a consent agenda, it allows a bill to pass quietly with little or no publicity. The letter is worth reading, it give a much more in-depth description of the problems with the bill, but this excerpt from the letter summarizes the issues well.
Never before has the U.S. government allowed a federal agency to interpret or enter into international agreements on subject matter under the authority of the legislative branch, and then preempt states through rule-making on the basis that state policies are in contradiction to those agreements. HR 5840 would allow the Treasury to "coordinate federal efforts and establish federal policy
on international insurance matters" and then preempt state law via administrative action upon its own determination that the state law is "inconsistent with such policy.".

This is the same kind of bullshit we have grown to expect from the Bush Administration. The use of some emergency to quickly pass an unpopular law which will actually make the crisis worse. We simply cannot afford to let the Democrats think they can get away with this shit.

The meltdown of our financial system was brought about by the deregulation of the 80's and 90's followed by the rampant corruption of the 2000's. What is needed now is more regulation, not less. Self regulation did not work. It is time for the Federal Government to reign in the cowboy financiers and prosecute the crooks which have stolen our treasury. It is not the time to further deregulate any aspect of the financial industry, including the insurance companies.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Zunes' article on Georgia highlights key aspects of US foriegn policy

The Huffington Post has an interesting article that provides a good outline of the current Foreign Policy of the US Government. This should not be mistaken as a purely Bush Administration policy because the following principals of US foreign policy have broad bipartisan support and should be a concern of anybody is truly concerned with freedom and democracy.

The Washington principals which are evident in the Zunes article are as follows:

1. To Washington prodemocratic governments mean pro Washington. A government can be as autocratic as it pleases, close opposition newspapers, suppress non-violent demonstrations, nullify election results etc.. as long as it does not oppose US economic interests in it's territory it is by Washington's standards "Democratic".

2, Take advantage of any truly "Pro Democracy" revolts by the people of any given country any where in the world to push for radical "free market" ideological reforms. It should be noted that these reforms are not what the people of the country were demanding when they revolted and that subsequent revolts against the "free market" reforms are violently suppressed by the Washington supported democratic governments. The difficulty in clarifying these events is partly because the both the Movements in the various countries, and Washington, claim to be demanding democratic reforms. We must start realizing that people of the world are fighting for democracy not the "free market". Washington is fighting for the "free market" with or without the trappings of democracy. Democracy and the "free market" are not the same thing. Your work place is part of the "free market" but when was the last time you had a vote on any policy your company pursued.

3. Push all governments that rise out of a popular revolts to invest heavily in US military equipment. (Military equipment is heavily subsidized at first, but later completely paid for by loans from the US or by the World Bank) This makes the new government, which may if left to it's own devices pursue policies the US does not like, dependent on US support for it's survival and quickly creates additional massive debts which further diminishes the policy options of the new government and creates the need for future support from the US.

4. This particular conflict also highlights the dangers of the NATO expansion being pushed into the former USSR satellite states. This policy has strong support form Washington Democrats and Republicans alike. Imaging what would be happening now, if Georgia was a full NATO member. The saber rattling is reaching a fevered pitch on US media outlets even without full membership. The policy of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe if continued has the high likelihood of resulting in a direct military conflict between the world's two largest nuclear powers. No sane person would pursue such a policy and yet most of Washington does.
We who oppose the Militarization of our country must oppose our country's foreign policy. We should support the "pro democracy" movements around the world. But, once the movements have been successful in taking power in their countries, we should respect their right to self determination and allow them to pursue their own objectives.

The world as a whole faces large challenges in the future. But, the biggest challenge we face is defeating the idea that the US has all the answers. We don't, and as the last several years have shown our government will obstruct solutions if Washington believes that the proposed solutions will harm their short term economic interests.

The above statement goes sharply against American Exceptionalism which is beaten into all of us from birth to grave and will be met with strong Pro Nationalist resistance. But, we must face up to our responsibility for the state of our world. The US has been the strongest force in the world for the past fifty years and our foreign policy has effected every country at some point in the past fifty years. I am not suggesting that we are responsible for every thing that is wrong with the world. But, I am stating plainly that our governments' blind pursuit of the very narrow interest of a very small but powerful elite is doing more harm than good. (At one time, the elite Washington served was made up of US nationals, but that does not appear to be a requirement any longer.)

This is important because respecting another countries right to self determination is impossible for us in the US, given the core belief in American Exceptionalism held by most US citizens. We cannot have a more sensible foreign policy until we decide it is OK to let countries go their own way. As long as we believe that the world has no interests which are not the same as our interests, we will continue to fight wars to enforce our ideas on the rest of the world. That is, until it escalates to nuclear conflict, then it is all over.

I dream of the day when the US realizes that it is OK to live in a world of equal Nations and Peoples and that it does not have to dominate the world to continue to prosper. When that day comes, peace will be a possibility, our standard of living will most likely suffer, but the fulfillment of the desire of every person throughout the world (including here in the US) to live in peace will be well worth our sacrifice.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

John McCain is a Dickwad #3,689

"71-year-old McCain says in Kansas City, Missouri Thursday that he’s receiving Social Security checks, but the system needs to be fixed if future generations are to enjoy the same benefits." (per mark halperin @ time mag)

And per Katha Pollitt at The Nation, he's a Viagra-votin' anti-birth control dickwad, too.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

George Bush Full of Shit -- and that's why i love san francisco

From the London Independent:

In November, alongside casting their ballot for the next president, the people of San Francisco will also vote on a measure to rename one of the city’s largest sewage works the George W Bush Sewage Plant, to provide a “fitting monument” to the outgoing commander-in-chief’s achievements.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ironic that the DLC big state strategy loses in the primary instead of the general election

For decades, since Mondale lost in 1984, we have watched the DLC easily nominate their preferred choice for the President and then lose the General Election. Bill Clinton, obviously was the exception, his political skills were unmatched by his peers so he was able to overcome the DLC's failed strategy. Their strategy consisted of two main points. First, back away from liberal issues as if you were ashamed of being a Democrat. Second, concentrate all your efforts in only the large states you could win. If you could win all the big states they would offset all those losses in the many small states.

This has been a major failure in the 88, 2000 & 2004. We might not have lost 2000 & 2004 but giving up on the small states made both those elections, which should not have been close, close enough for the Republicans to steal.

Since 2005, the DNC led by Howard Dean has been pushing a 50 state strategy. Dean has argued that even if we cant win in all the States we must force the RNC to defend it's stronghold so that they cannot concentrate on making inroads into former Democratic strongholds. This policy has been adamantly opposed by the DLC. In 2006, DLC operatives inside the congressional campaign organizations refused to fund many long shot candidates in Red states who campaigned against the war in Iraq. Instead they choose to back more establishment candidates who did not speak out against the war.

The results of the 2006 election should have put an end to that thinking. The more the candidates spoke out against the war the better their chances of winning. Meanwhile most of those establishment candidates, that were not incumbents, lost. The DLC was not deterred, instead they declared their hard work had paid off and took credit for the major gains the Democrats made in the both the house and senate.

Now, it's 2008 and once again the DLC put forward it's establishment candidate and concentrated on the big states in the primary. The first plank of their strategy, that of running away from liberal ideas, was quickly jettisoned by the Clinton campaign. It was clear that the electorate was hungry for positive solutions to our many challenges and Hillary decided not run away from liberal ideas. However, she was still stuck in the thinking that all she needed was the big blue states. It is truly ironic that this inability to think outside that box cost her the nomination. Because while she was ignoring those small red states, Obama was busy organizing. His campaign took advantage of those activist recruited by Dean's 50 state strategy and put them to work on his campaign. By the time Clinton realized she was losing because she had ignored the red states it was too late for her to catch up.

As a result, Obama is a truly historic candidate for two reasons the media is not talking about. He is not a member of the DLC and he embraces the 50 state strategy. Both of these factors give progressive's an opening to increase their influence in the DNC. It is time we remove the DLC, and it's centrist philosophy, from the helm of the national Democratic Party and return the Party to it's truly liberal soul.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

a serious strategic blunder

Scott McClelland: "...a serious strategic blunder."

that's what the asshole says Iraq was.

A. Serious. Strategic. Blunder.

Shows me how far from humane these fuckers really are... even the ones like little scottie who are having a little difficulty sneaking up on the mirror.

well, scottie, it seems to me that you are still scooping a little shallow when you attribute these things to strategic blunders -- and not the huge criminal conspiracy that it has been for 8 years of murder, robbery, treason and crimes against humanity. further, iraq is just the most blatant, most obvious, most exposed-to-the-light-of-day horror that you and your friends have perpetrated on the world.

we are poised here over a void, and have been now for some time. the big crimes of george w bush & co have been laid on a foundation of complete disregard and neglect -- not to mention theft and exploitation -- of all the many societal and global ills we are suffering.

we are heading into some long dark time and i just hope we can find our way out the other side of it.

iraq is the speeded-up version, a microcosmic simulation.
so was katrina,
so is the food crisis.
the credit crisis.
the oil crisis.

if you listen to the teevee, the election, all the serious people... you dont really hear much that makes sense of all these crises and how they keep growing and growing. not much that can be said in front of such a void, in the midst of such a chaos, in such nihilistic times.

and besides, the "medium" just isnt right for such a discourse. harumph, koff koff.

i think most people are getting nervous, and can feel somewhere "deep inside," see something happening "in their peripheral vision," and have some ominous thoughts about the future "in the back of their minds" that things are starting to get really, really bad. (the other side of those feelings and visions and flickering thoughts is that shameful understanding that we are now less human than we were eight years ago. we are certainly less caring and less compassionate, and as a people, more full of fear anger and hate. we have devolved.)

i think the opposition points to an Obama cult because they sense that there are a lot of people who are clinging to our man Barack for hope in desperate times. i sometimes wonder if he really has any idea -- more than me -- what he is trying to get himself into...

certainly mccain and clinton dont, i dont think. mccain is very very insane. hillary is too confidently brilliant.

whether it is a full-blown dramatic crashing depression, or just the ongoing and consuming death by the thousand cuts of greed and greed's wars, the earth and the people and the life and beauty of the planet are suffering and will continue to suffer for a long time, a whole bunch of these "serious strategic blunders."

Saturday, May 3, 2008

god damn fred hiatt's scummy shit-filled soul to hell

a k a
"what Glenn sez" -- viz...

"... It's hard to recall a more incoherent argument than this. Self-evidently, every problem that Hiatt argues is created by "mere" air strikes against other countries is magnified by many magnitudes by the types of invasions and long-term occupations which Hiatt cheers on for Iraq. Unlike the handful of civilians killed by the Somalian air strike, Hiatt's Glorious War in Iraq has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians (though the exact number is debated because we don't really bother to count).

While 700,000 people are displaced in Somalia due to internal strife, Hiatt's Glorious Invasion and Occupation of Iraq has resulted in the displacement of 4 million Iraqis. While continuous U.S. bombing of countries in the Middle East and North Africa obviously inflames anti-American sentiment around the world, thus aiding Al Qaeda's recruitment, Hiatt's desired endless occupation of Iraq does more for that cause than any other policy. Citing the harms from air strikes on Somalia as a reason to continue to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq is the height of incoherent self-justification from a desperate and disgraced war cheerleader."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Heath Shuler and Telecom Immunity

Heath Shuler is the one Bush Dog in North Carolina that has signed a letter calling for Telecom Immunity and threatening to vote against a Protect America Act extension if it does not contain Telecom Immunity.

Now, I am against extending the Protect America Act because I believe it gives unconstitutional power to law enforcement agencies to spy on American citizen's without a warrant. But, if it is going to be extended it damn well better not include Telecom Immunity. Currently, law suits brought against the Telecom companies are the only active means we have to find out who the Bush Administration has been spying on, what information has been collected, and how has it been used. Congress is doing nothing and the Justice Department will not investigate, so that leaves the law suits brought by citizen's rights groups against the Telecoms. If Telecoms are granted immunity then the fact finding parts of these law suits will be shut down and we will never know what has been done under this illegal program.

But back to Heath Shuler. Mr. Shuler, as most Bush dogs, claims that because he is from a conservative district they must vote with the Republicans on National Security issues. I believe the 2006 election and the primaries this year offer many examples of where standing strong against the war in Iraq and the Bush Administration overreach for executive power has helped Democrats in conservative as well as liberal districts.

The latest example is the special election for IL-14 which was held yesterday, March 8th. IL-14 is Denny Hassert’s old district and has been a firmly republican district for many years. But, yesterday Bill Foster (D) won that seat. He did it not by running away from Democratic ideals and trying to be tougher on National Security Issues, but by proudly stating he was a Democrat, we should pull out of Iraq ASAP, and he ran against telecom immunity. Consider this statement by Bill Foster

"The President and his allies in Congress are playing politics with national security, and that's wrong. Nobody is above the law and telecom companies who engaged in illegal surveillance should be held accountable, not given retroactive immunity. I flatly oppose giving these companies an out for cooperating with Alberto Gonzalez on short-circuiting the FISA courts and the rule of law" (quote copied from Open Left)

People who live in Mr. Shuler's district need to confront him on his stand on Telecom Immunity and ask to him follow the example Mr. Bill Foster. He needs to know that defending the constitution is more important to the voters than protecting the Telephone Companies. I have read that Mr. Shuler has a very good voting record on the environment and having him in the Congress is certainly better than having his predecessor. I tend to think that his political calculus is wrong on this issue. If he studies the way voters respond to strong Democrats standing up to the abuses of the Bush Administration he may be swayed from his unwavering support for Bush's National Security policy.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Outsourced DHS contracts are just plan theft

First there was Iraq, then aid to Katrina reconstruction contractors (Note: I did not say residents, or former residents, of New Orleans because they did not received much aid from DHS) and now we have the border fence along our southern border.

This article in the Texas Observer is primarily about the rather selective methods that the contractors working out of the SBInet office of the DHS are using to determine where to put the fence. It seems the ideal locations for the fence have more to do with the net worth, and political connections, of the land owner than any other possible rationale.

But the article also states that all of the money allocated to build the fence, is being handled by a DHS office called SBInet. SBInet is described in the article as
a consortium of private contractors led by Boeing Co
which includes the following private contractors
DRS Technologies Inc., Kollsman Inc., L-3 Communications Inc., Perot Systems Corp., and a unit of Unisys Corp.
That sure is a funny way to described a government office, a consortium of private contractors.

Henry Waxman, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has this to say about the SBInet project.
"As of December, the Department of Homeland Security had hired a staff of 98 to oversee the new SBInet contract. This may seem like progress until you ask who these overseers are. More than half are private contractors. Some of these private contractors even work for companies that are business partners of Boeing, the company they are supposed to be overseeing. And from what we are now learning from the department, this may be just the tip of the iceberg."
"virtually every detail is being outsourced from the government to private contractors. The government is relying on private contractors to design the programs, build them, and even conduct oversight over them.”
This is government the Republican way. ( I should note that many Congressional Democrats are also firmly in support of the privatization of our Government) It provides very little in the way of services to it's citizens, protects the interests of the rich, and is a spigot that can be turned on to let our treasury be drained into the hands of campaign contributors.

If you question whether these programs don't deliver the services they are set up to provide. This project is being funded by the Secure Fence Act which passed in 2006. The bill
mandated that 700 miles of double-fencing be built along the southern border from California to Texas.

On August 10, 2007, Chertoff announced his agency would scale back the initial 700 miles of fencing to 370 miles, to be built in segments across the southern border. Chertoff cited budget shortages and technological difficulties as justifications for not complying with the bill.

Now that is efficient. Chertoff is not talking about spending less money. DHS will use all of the money appropriated by the bill they will just deliver half the product. If you define efficiency as siphoning off public money to private individuals and corporations with the least amount of effort, than DHS is the most efficient branch of government we have. Congrats to Chertoff on his perfect implementation of the Bush Administrations goals.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More proof that McCain is Bush all over again

John McCain is trying to opt out the spending restrictions that he agreed to when he opted into the Federal public financing system last fall. TPM has a complete run down of the details.

The problem is that the head of the FEC has ruled that since he used the public financing as collateral for a loan he is bound by his spending commitments until the general election. The general election starts for Mr. McCain after he is officially nominated as the Republican candidate at the Republican convention.

Mr. McCain's response is one that you would expect from our current President. He does not like the verdict so McCain claims he is not bound by the decision since it is just one man's opinion. We can call this the McCain principal, it will extend the Bush principal of Presidential prerogative to Presidential candidates as well. According to the Bush principal, the President, and any member of his executive branch, can legally do any thing it wants as long as a member of the Justice Department writes a legal opinion stating that the said activity is legal. I'm sure that McCain has some member of his legal team writing an opinion right now that states that McCain can tell the FEC to take a flying fuck. So McCain, as a Presidential candidate with a legal opinion in hand is free to break the law with impunity.

Odds are that if McCain becomes President, the lawyer writing this opinion will be our next Attorney General.

It is truly ironic that the law he wants to break is one that his maverick alter ego passed. But, that was only supposed to apply to others, not this exalted "straight shooter".

I truly hope that the FEC runs his sorry ass through the ringer. But, more importantly I hope the American electorate sees him for the fraud he is, and does not elect him President. I do not much faith that a Democratic President will repeal and/or rollback many of the executive excesses of the current President once they have the power to use them. But, this incident shows that McCain will have no compunction against using these new powers to the fullest, and will expand them where possible.

If our laws are to have any meaning at all, this shit has got to stop.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Deep Peets Coffee Thought of the Early Mourning, er, morning

Hillary has become the John the Baptist figure played out ironically even as the Black Jesus dons the crown of thorns -- awaiting persecution and crucifixion by the Repuglicans and racist amurika.

Hillary -- the Sign, the First Apprehension -- lays groundwork for the Woman Messiah to triumph in the future. And who will the goddesses send? Donna Edwards? There's a day's worth of poetic thought...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Olbermann speaks the truth, again

Olbermann hit another one out of the park with last nights Special Comment.

He not only rightly called President Bush a fascist, he called on us not to fear Bush or his idle threats. He pointed out that Bush threatened to, and in effect did, veto a Protect America Act extension because it did not include immunity for the telecoms. As Bush was vetoing the House bill he claimed that to not extend the law and to let it expire would put countless American's lives in danger. So, if Bush is to be taken at his word, then he, Bush and Bush alone, is perfectly willing to put American lives at risk to protect the telecoms.

What does that tell you about the man which claims to be the leader of the "free" world.

Thank you Keith, it's good to know that there is at least one person on television who is willing to tell it like it is.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

You guys wouldn't've been carrying a nuke with you by any chance?

"Two employees of Pakistan's atomic energy agency have been abducted in the country's restive north-western region abutting the Afghan border, police say."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Defeat of Cloture Vote is a Victory for the Bill of Rights

Today the senate cloture vote on the FISA reauthorization failed. That means the FISA bill which contained immunity for the Telecoms did not pass, at least not today. This is a victory for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

However, it seems the Republicans are going to try and use the expiration of the Protect America Act on February 1st as an example of how the Democrats are weak on Terror. To remind you the primary purpose of the Protect America Act, which was passed with no deliberation or public notice last August, was to legalize the spying on American citizens telecommunications without a court order, or warrant. In my opinion it is a bill which is completely unconstitutional and never of should have been passed in the first place.

So letting this misbegotten bill expire is the best thing that can happen for people who still believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Please contact your Congress persons and tell them it is time they stopped playing political football with the Constitution. Furthermore, it would be better if they actually lived up to their oath to defend the Constitution and therefore made it their goal to defeat the extension of the Protect America Act with or without immunity for the Telecoms.

They should make the case that it is their obligation as patriotic Americans to defend the Constitution, and that is why they want to defeat this unconstitutional bill. The American people have a very deep and profound allegiance to the Constitution and I believe they would support Congress persons who stood up proudly in it's defense.

If they do not try to sell their actions as defense of the Constitution it is only a matter of time before the capitulate and give the Bush Administration exactly what it wants and look weak in the process. To date, far too few Democrats have even tried to frame this issue in this way. Perhaps if they hear from enough of us on this matter they will see that the defense of the Constitution message might resonate with the electorate and will give it a shot.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tax Cut Inflation

In 2001 President Bush wanted to cut marginal income tax rates for the top income brackets. He also wanted to eliminate the estate tax and reduce the capital gains tax. To help push this through he offered a tax "rebate" of $300 for singles and $600 for couples.

Now, in 2008 President Bush wants to make those tax cuts permanent. To do this he is offering a tax "rebate" of $800 for singles and $1600 for couples. Now that is either a indication of just how much inflation their has been in the last seven years, or it is an indication of just how weak the case for permanent tax cuts, and Republican hopes this fall, are.

I know that the Administration has said that making the tax cuts permanent is a high priority this year, but they have insisted that the "rebate" is a separate issue. They claim that the "rebate" is strictly a stimulus package aimed at holding off the oncoming recession. How much do you want to bet, that before this stimulus package is passed this spring, permanent tax cuts is the concession that the hapless Democrats give up to get some one time cut in the social security payroll taxes.

Another interesting point related to this stimulus package. It appears that politics have finally returned to the pre 9-11 world. The economy is in a crunch, Republican's want another tax cut and a tax "rebate" to buy some voters this fall. All of this has little to do with 9-11. It is of course related to the totally wasted Billions of dollars that have been poured into Iraq, but that will not be talked about this spring. Further tax cuts, which will be touted as temporary but will end up being permanent, will further weaken our fiscal health which is the root cause of our current economic malaise.

So, while this plan might offer some temporary relief, and will surely improve the publics image of the Republicans, it will not help us in the long run. What we need is a increasing manufacturing base, increasing wages and investments into our public infrastructure. Tax cuts will not give us these things. Enjoy your $800 or $1600 it may be the only raise you get for some time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

WWELD? (what would elmore leonard do?)

--thx TPM; but esp thanks to the great orange satan

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chris Matthews has a little tiny pecker...