Monday, March 31, 2008

Texas 2008 Round-up #13

It's Monday and that means it is time for another Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up. The weekly round up is compiled from submissions submitted by member bloggers.

Saturday, TXsharon of Bluedaze attended the Barnett Shale Expo and the lies told by John Tinterra, Texas Railroad Commission, in front of citizens who pay his salary and in front of his boss, Victor Carrillo, reminded TXS of a quote from Cold Mountain: "That man is so full of manure we could plant him and grow another one!".

McBlogger's never been a big fan of tax abatements to lure new companies to Austin. He's even less thrilled with them when they are being used to entice developers, especially developers who can't seem to make their finances work without the abatements.

Off the Kuff takes one last look at primary voting in Harris County, this time examining Democratic turnout by State Rep district.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson previews the GOP runoff in HD-52, The Same Only Different.

Over a thousand Harris County voters took "vote twice" too seriously, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Hal at Half Empty will vote in the Democratic primary runoff, to be sure, despite the fact that only one race will appear on his ballot. The tables are turned and the Republicans in CD 22 have a much more juicy decision to make. Oh, to be a Republican.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News turned it over to his brother Jim for a few odd links as he was getting ready to be tired out at the third step of the Texas Two-Step. Earlier in the week Gary got his dander riled at racist media conservatives.

nytexan at BlueBloggin tells us that keeping 378 delegates and 275 alternates under control is like herding cats in It’s Great To Be A Democrat In Texas at the Senatorial District 18, Bastrop County Convention.

Tags: liberal news progressives bloggers Texas

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Local Democratic Conventions

I am bumping this back to the top.


Senate District 4 Convention
SD4 (Harris) gets 351 delegates and 351 alternates
Date: Saturday March 29, 2008
Time: 9:00 am
Type: Other (Public)
Location: San Jacinto College North, 5800 Uvalde Rd., Houston, TX 77049
We are meeting in the Fine Arts Theater in the Fine Arts Building. This is building 15 on the Interactive Map at
The Fine Arts Building is more easily accessed form the Wallisville entrance.When you enter the parking lot from Wallisville you will literally drive straight in the front doors of the Fine Arts Building. For more information contact Amy Brandon at 281 732 4484 or 281 459 6058.

Senate District 6 Convention
SD6 gets 1770 delegates and 1770 alternates
Date: Saturday March 29, 2008
Time: 8:00 am
Type: Appointment (Public)
Location: George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall B
Senate District 6 will hold its Senate District Convention Saturday, March 29th, 8:00 a.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall B, downtown Houston, Texas. For more information, please visit
Janie Reyes, SD6 Chair - 713-862-6121

Senate District 7 Convention
SD7 gets 2344 delegates and 2344 alternates
Date: Saturday March 29, 2008
Time: 8:00 am
Type: Other (Public)
Location: Sam Houston Race Park Pavilion, 7575 N Sam Houston Pkwy W. Houston, TX 77064
Check-in starts at 8:00 a.m.
For information contact: SD07 Chair Steve Gross 411 West Gaywood Houston 77079 713-465-7907

Senate District 11 Convention
SD11(Harris) gets 1069 delegates and 1069 alternates
Date: Saturday March 29, 2008
Time: 8:30 am
Type: Other (Public)
Location: IBEW Hall - 4345 Allen Genoa - Pasadena
Attend SD 11 post convention party immediately after the convention. For more information call 281-782-2721. Doug Peterson, SD11 Chair at

Senate District 13 Convention
SD13 (Harris) gets 3896 delegates and 3896 alternates
Date: Saturday March 29, 2008
Time: 8:00 am
Type: Appointment (Public)
Location: Texas Southern University, Health & Physical Education Building, 3100 Cleburne
For information contact Nat West, SD13 Chair at 713-523-1476,

Senate District 15 Convention
SD15 gets 2633 delegates and 2633 alternates
Date: Saturday March 29, 2008
Time: 7:30 am
Type: Other (Public)
Location: Delmar Stadium Field House - 2020 Mangum Rd
Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the convention will be called to order at 10:00 a.m. Contact Gabrielle Hadnot at 281-787-0338 for further details. Hon Ken Yarbrough, SD15 Chair

Senate District 17 Convention
SD17 (Harris) gets delegates and alternates
Date: Saturday March 29, 2008
Time: 9:00 am
Type: Meeting (Public)
Location: Alief Elsik - Dairy Ashford at High Star
Registration begins at 7:30 AM with convention beginning at 9:00 AM. Additional information at SD 17 chair Bert Anson is available for questions or more information at 713-667-5250 or (cell) 281-682-8698.


Please check to see what provisions are available for food and drink. Some locations will not allow either to be brought into facility. Leave an ice chest in your car. Prepare for an 8-12 hour experience.

GREAT ADVICE: Veteran delegates recommend that everyone arrive early and bring their patience, comfortable shoes and a good book. Volunteer so you are not just sitting on uncomfortable chairs while speakers drone on. Meet people, network, set up a local club.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary's Minister Problem

Moving on up the media food chain. I bet it doesn't get too far.

From Brother Jim

Krugman - we are living in the age of anti-Cassandras.
What set me off was the matter of Alan Greenspan; as Dean Baker like to remind us, news analyses of the housing and financial crisis almost always draw exclusively on “experts” who first insisted that there wasn’t a housing bubble, then insisted that the financial consequences of the bubble’s bursting would remain “contained.”

It’s even worse, of course, on the matter of Iraq: just about every one of the panels convened to discuss the lessons of five disastrous years consisted solely of men and women who cheered the idiocy on.

Now, none of this is entirely new. Consider what Keynes said in 1931:
A sound banker, alas, is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him.
Still, it seems especially extreme now. And think of the incentive effects. What’s the point of taking the risk of challenging conventional wisdom if, even after you’re proved right, only the guys who were wrong get invited to opine on Charlie Rose?
WTF??? What industrialized nation decides to downgrade its roads? This is being proposed for Michigan as they are considering converting some roads back to gravel to save on maintenance costs.

Opening a can of survival.

That's all from Jim for today. I myself am house sitting and have too much Texas Democratic election stuff going on, and I also had a work meeting degenerate into a few people yelling at each other. The problem was two hot-heads in the room and someone there for 18 years who doesn't respect the supervisor. I should have kept my mouth shut as a new person but I pointed out there was a lot of unprofessionalism on display, particularly by the guy yelling about it. I am off to a Harris County SD-11 pre-convention meeting and tomorrow after work I've got the precinct challenges meeting.

Southern Dem warns party it is flirting with disaster

Uncommitted super-delegate says the fight between Barack and Hillary is damaging to the party and to the November chances of winning the presidency. He is promoting an early super-delegate convention to wrap this up early. He also joins Speaker Pelosi in saying the super-delegates should abide by the majority of delegates chosen by primaries and caucuses.
If Obama were denied the nomination by Democratic insiders after winning the party’s popular vote, [Tennessee Governor] Bredesen said, “There would be hell to pay in the party for a long time to come.”

Bredesen is doing something about his concerns. He was in Washington this week to promote his idea for holding a “superdelegate primary” in June, in which the 795 party bigwigs would gather to hear one last time from Clinton and Obama before casting a final vote.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Civil War Heats Up in Iraq

Bloody clashes between the Mahdi Army and Iraqi government forces paralyzed the southern port of Basra Tuesday as the Iraqi government swore they would cleanse the city of militia influences.
Surge "success" unraveling. McClatchy took over the Knight-Ridder newspapers and their Washington staff which had been the most accurate on the Iraq war and occupation. They continue to lead in real Washington and foreign policy stories.

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More Washington Post Social Security Lies

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research:
So under current law, Social Security has full access to these bonds and can meet all projected payments through the year 2041 according to President Bush's Social Security trustees, and through the year 2046 according to the projections of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. (Btw, Medicare is currently being funded in part by the same sort of IOUs held by the Social Security trust fund. This has not even been raised as an issue.)

Of course, if there were enough people like Mr. Sloan, Congress could vote to change the law and effectively default on the bonds held by the trust fund. (This doesn't seem likely, since the percentage of voters who are receiving Social Security will soar in the next decade.) Since the bonds are supposed to be repaid out of general revenue, which comes overwhelmingly from progressive individual and corporate income taxes, this default would amount to a massive upward redistribution of wealth. It would transfer more than $1 trillion from the bottom 80 percent of the population to the richest 5 percent, with the bulk of this money going to the richest 1 percent.
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Thought for the day

Perhaps at the end of this someone can explain to me why we would insist on paying Aetna 12 bucks so Aetna can pay Medco 10 bucks, so Medco can pay CVS 7 bucks, so CVS can collect a 5 dollar copay per patient, for a drug that the patient could have gone to Costco and paid 4 dollars for. I’m not sure how that is good for society. I understand it’s how we’ve been financing this. But that's different. - Dr. Mark Smith
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Religious Hate Speech - Rev. Moon

Here we go again.
"Reverend" Sun-myung Moon, AKA "Father," leader of the Unification Church, convicted felon, self proclaimed messiah, sits atop a massive fortune built on alms gathered by an army of dazed converts, many recruited from teenagers on the run and lonely, vulnerable young adults. He has bought power and influence wherever he can find it. But today the vast majority of his support flows openly to and from the Republican Party and the traditional socially conservative base. Rev. Moon:
But look at America. It is rotten, top to bottom. There is nothing to be proud of, not their way of walking or talking or thinking.
It's really a measure of the stunning chutzpah of conservative Republicans that they expect to sail along without being called out on working with a notorious '70s cult leader ... and a deeply cynical Washington media doesn't think it's worth telling the public about. People literally have no idea that Moon is jetting around with George H.W. Bush; it's the ultimate proof of how cynical the GOP is, when they're working with a group that has hurt so many families. -- John Gorenfeld
Can we go back to where the religious leaders that support various parties and candidates are not the primary political topic? I would match up the Democratic religious leaders with the nasty Republican religious leaders, who have much more influence and power, any time, any day.

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Clinton - "the audacity of hopelessness"

David Brooks - NYT:
For three more months, Clinton is likely to hurt Obama even more against McCain, without hurting him against herself. And all this is happening so she can preserve that 5 percent chance.

When you step back and think about it, she is amazing. She possesses the audacity of hopelessness.

Why does she go on like this? Does Clinton privately believe that Obama is so incompetent that only she can deliver the policies they both support? Is she simply selfish, and willing to put her party through agony for the sake of her slender chance? Are leading Democrats so narcissistic that they would create bitter stagnation even if they were granted one-party rule?
Briefly Noted - 2008 November Turnout could break all records.

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I had blogged about this before but now the media found video. "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife...oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'"

What else?

Garrison Keillor - Holy Week is a good time to ask: Do we really believe or do we just like to hang out with nice people and listen to organ music?

Clinton is doing better electorally now than Obama against McCain, but it is a different pattern. She is also really ahead only because of New Jersey and Florida. Are these trial heats exposing some latent racism in border states? Does it argue for a Clinton-Obama ticket, or is it Obama-Clinton?

I still like Obama-Napolitano. Some sort of unity must be developed at the convention, this probably means the loser getting something and other people coming aboard as a cabinet in waiting.

Electoral-Vote also has an interesting scenario: if McCain wins and the governor of Arizona Napolitano picks herself as his replacement. This throws a decision to the Senate and the Supreme Court to choose either the U.S. Constitution or Arizona law.

Doesn't McCain-Lieberman look more likely each day? Doesn't it seem like a campaign that will get all the east coast So-Called-Liberal-Media excited before going down to flaming defeat?

James Wolcott: Flying Mane, Crouching Beaver

Since the too early Feb. 5 primaries, 62 superdelegates have endorsed Obama while only two have opted for Clinton.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Religious Creationists Hijack Museum Evolution Tour

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CNN had a supporter of slavery attack Rev. Wright

Michael Medved - Slavery not so bad.

More righty media stars chip in.

Fellow radio righty Hugh Hewitt uses his program for a new attack - Obama is too profane to be president. I asked Texas Guv MoFo for a comment but he replied "Adios B#$%^&(, get the f#$^@!* BS (*&*&^ #$%%^ out of here."

During his show on Friday, Rush Limbaugh insisted that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) “disowned his white half” by standing by his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Limbaugh has a long history of attacking Obama’s race. He said Obama should “renounce” his race and “become white.” Limbaugh has also referred to Obama as “Osama,” and airs a song on his program called “Barack the Magic Negro.”

TV conservative Pat Buchanan "America has been the best country on earth for black folks. "

Isolationist CNN host Lou Dobbs asked if Obama is "pandering to ethnocentric special interests again" by accepting Richardson's endorsement.

Not Done Yet: Fox News Now Goes After the New Pastor of Barack Obama's Church.

Neo Nazi/White Supremacist Hal Turner Confirms Friendship With Sean Hannity. "It seems to me that a big difference between Sean and me is that I am willing to say publicly what I think about savage Black criminals, diseased, uneducated illegal aliens and the grotesque cultural destruction wrought by satanic Jews while Sean and many others keep quiet to protect their paychecks."

And the big American corporations like having their commercials next to racist conservative media filth?

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Kevin - If McCain's foreign policy is like Bush, but even crazier, so is his economic policy. Kevin adds a chart showing the regressiveness of McCain's economic plans.

Josh points out that McCain's economic advisers include former Texas senator and massive financial deregulater Phil Gramm and also Kevin Hassett, the author of DOW 36,000.

Kevin: The fact that McCain has any "cred" shows the lack of it in the media.
Remind me again: where does all this cred come from? And what window do Democrats go to to get the same treatment the press gives McCain?
The London Financial Times: The World should fear a McCain presidency.
It may seem incredible to say this, given past experience, but a few years from now Europe and the world could be looking back at the Bush administration with nostalgia.
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Bush attack on Iran getting closer

McCain and Lieberman will be for it. Hillary will have to be for it, with equivocating and triangulation, because she voted to declare part of the Iranian Army terrorists. Obama is against it.

Pretty much all you need to know except that Gen David Petraeus seems to be playing the war card. Is that a betrayal? Who bets those Iranian trained crews, Iranian missiles really are from Iran?

Gary Cohen with a couple of my additions:
2007, N.I.E. shows Iran's nuclear program inactive since 2003.
2007, Bush changes rhetoric to "We can't allow Iran to have the "KNOWLEDGE" to build nuclear weapons.
2007 - McCain sings "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb; Bomb, Bomb Iran." - el
January 2008-U.S. military claims many I.E.Ds come from Iran. (later found to be false)
January 2008-U.S. military reports Iranian boats in the Strait of Hormuz threaten to "blow up" intruding Navy destroyer. (quickly found to be false)
February 2008-Iran opens oil bourse
January-March 2008-Both Bush and Cheney make frequent visits to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah.
March 2008-Financial crisis, dollar plummets, recession
March 2008-McCain slips Iran/Al qaeda into national dialogue
March 2008 - Bush false states that Iran has stated a desire to obtain nuclear weapons -el.
ADDED - Cheney visited Saudi Arabia last week. On Saturday, it was revealed that the Saudi Shura Council -- the elite group that implements the decisions of the autocratic inner circle -- is preparing "national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts' warnings of possible attacks on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors."

Are you sensing a pattern here?

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Clintonistas - follow the rules

But fundamentally, who cares? The system is based on pledged delegates and super-delegates. Period. There's a set of rules everyone agreed on. The wisdom of those rules is irrelevant at this point. The Clinton campaign is entitled to do whatever it wants to get superdelegates to come over to her side to even out the pledged delegate deficit. My take is that whatever the arguments, the superdelegates aren't going to go against a clear pledged delegate leader. And I think they'd be extremely ill-advised to do so. But the superdelegates do have this power under the rules. But these constant efforts to say the rules aren't fair are just silly, and truth be told I think they're more undermining of the Clinton campaign than they realize.
There's no need to make this more complicated than it is. The Democratic Party has two candidates with almost eerily similar levels of support, and that support is deep and strong for both of them.
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Odessa Texas School Board Agrees to Stop Teaching Unconstitutional Bible Class

Public school boards in Texas may offer Bible classes, but only if they are objective and unbiased. The Bible course offered up in Odessa offended Catholics, Jews, the non-religious, other religions, and even many Protestants. Link above is to the victorious People for the American Way(PFAW) and ACLU's joint press release.
Douglas C. Hildebrand, an ordained elder and deacon at a local Presbyterian Church and one of the longtime Odessa residents who was a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said it is inappropriate for one set of religious beliefs to be promoted over others.

“Religion is an essential component of my life and the life of my family, but this course did nothing more than advocate certain religious views that are not shared by everyone,” Hildebrand said. “It seems as though a church had invaded the public school system — and it wasn’t my church.”
Those damn heathen Presbyterians spoiling the fundies fun.

Other links: NYT:
The complaint said that the district empanelled a committee to research a suitable instructional model, and that the panel overwhelmingly endorsed the Bible Literacy Project curriculum, whose approach is secular and widely used in other districts.

But the school board chose materials from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. The suit asserted that the council did not teach the Bible in an objective way. The council says on its Web site that its materials are taught in 430 school districts in 37 states.

When the Ector County district approved the council’s curriculum, the suit said, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction, Shannon Baker, celebrated the decision in an e-mail message, which read in part, “Take that, you dang heathens!”
Midland Reporter-Telegram points out opposing lawyers disagree fundamentally over what the settlement says:
Liberty Legal Institute Director of Litigation Hiram Sasser, representing ECISD, and Judith E. Schaeffer, legal director for People for the American Way in Washington, D.C., are pleased with the settlement.

"It's a great victory for ECISD because they're going to get to continue having a Bible course. They're going to develop their own curriculum the way they want to do it without anybody getting in their business. They're going to have the Bible as the primary textbook. That's the most important thing. It's the thing the community wanted," Sasser said.

"ECISD is free to use whatever curriculum materials they want in the development of their course. Their new curriculum can use National Council materials that they had used before. They are free from outside pressure so they can develop the course as they see fit and with the Bible as the primary textbook."

Schaeffer said the agreement does not mean the district can use whatever curriculum it wants.

"The settlement, which the board overwhelmingly adopted, prohibits the (district) from teaching Bible course using the National Council curriculum," she said. "The goal of the lawsuit was achieved in this settlement. This is the relief plaintiffs were asking for in the litigation."

"We will all be monitoring this," Schaeffer said.
North County Gazette, NY
A favorite cause of some conservative Christian advocacy groups, the National Council claims that its materials are being taught in 430 school districts in 37 states. That’s an unverifiable statistic because the council won’t tell you where the schools are located.
Right now there are seven lucky educatorss trying to decide what their own local "objective" course next year will include. Will it still rely on every word in the Bible, even the changed and added ones, being literally true? Hard to say based on the agreement(pdf). It only requires that they use more than one Bible translation. The right is also crowing over this victory over the ACLU, not understanding the ACLU has also defended religious speech on campuses and various right-wing conservatives and it's only mission is defending the constitution.

Mildly related - Amy Sullivan says get ready for the religious left.

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Barack Obama - His Early Years of Voter Registration

This is a good video link - 6 minutes 31 seconds.

"I am asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington... I'm asking you to believe in yours."

Here is an embedded one of 3 minutes on a currently relevant topic

Texas 2008 Round-up #12

It's Monday, and that means it is time for the Texas Progressive Alliance weekly blog round-up. The round-up is compiled every week based upon voluntary submissions by TPA member bloggers. I did not post it last week, here is a link.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the primary vote for Democratic candidates in Harris County by State Rep district.

Dwayne Bohac: A Study in Rovian Politics takes a look at an incumbent Republican Rove clone and his basic hypocracy. It uses his public utterances on "clean air" to host him on his own corporate petard.

The Texas Cloverleaf notes that TxDOT is handing out the awards, this time to Denton County Judge Mary Horn, for her "hard work" on building roads. But why do they note the projects that have never been completed?

CouldBeTrue notes that the Texas State Board of Education has 'better' things to do than represent Hispanic children.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News tells people Happy Easter! now suck it up. If that rant about economics goes more into hedonics than you ever wanted to know he also offers a link to explaining the credit crisis for kindergarteners.

Doing My Part For The Left takes a look at the bigotry of homophobic Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma and wipes tears from his eyes as he reads a letter to Rep Sally Kern from a young man who knows what it is to lose a loved one.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson after reading through the headlines asks Should Texas Be Worried About The Economy?

Hal at Half Empty has a bone to pick with Bush's Presidential Library committee. As planned on the SMU campus, not only will it cause the distruction of student housing and a strip mall, but the obliteration of a La Madeleine cafe boutique. Hal has an alternative suggestion.

For the Democratic primary runoff election (scheduled for April 8, with early voting commencing March 31) PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reiterates his endorsement of Dale Henry for Texas Railroad Commission and Larry Weiman for 80th Ciivl District Court of Harris County.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that the federal government has asked the state to postpone the roll-out of the state's new troubled food stamp eligibility screening computer program.

McBlogger at McBlogger take a look at the collapse of Bear Stearns and see that JP Morgan Chase may have created the deal of the century.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin reminds us that our war hungry vice president Dick Cheney is on the war path again; Cheney Stalks Middle East One More Time but the Saudi King is playing a different drum.

WhosPlayin talks about what it was like to work at the polls on Primary Election day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rev. Wright Sets the Paper of Record Straight

Reverend Wright was interviewed by The New York Times.

They then distorted what he had to say and used it in their smear campaign against Obama.

Reverend Wright send a letter in protest to The New York Times.

They have not printed it.

This was from an earlier controversy a year ago and they didn't correct it then and they won't correct new articles now.

The Wright 2007 letter follows at Daily Kos.

I don't usually blog at Daily Kos but I wanted this widely read. It hit the recommended list on their front page.

BTW, "despite condemnations from the Speaker of the House, the chairman of the DNC, Catholic groups on the left, Catholic groups on the right, and Jewish groups, none of the major dailies ran a single article about the Republican presidential nominee cozying up to a bigoted megachurch preacher or the outrage it caused in some circles."

UPDATE - the present conservative Republican and former constitutional legal counsel to two Republican presidents endorsed Obama today.

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Partying Like It Was 1929

Continuing with my economics theme here is Paul Krugman:
The financial crisis currently under way is basically an updated version of the wave of bank runs that swept the nation three generations ago. People aren’t pulling cash out of banks to put it in their mattresses — but they’re doing the modern equivalent, pulling their money out of the shadow banking system and putting it into Treasury bills. And the result, now as then, is a vicious circle of financial contraction.

Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues at the Fed are doing all they can to end that vicious circle. We can only hope that they succeed. Otherwise, the next few years will be very unpleasant — not another Great Depression, hopefully, but surely the worst slump we’ve seen in decades.

Even if Mr. Bernanke pulls it off, however, this is no way to run an economy. It’s time to relearn the lessons of the 1930s, and get the financial system back under control.
Also at the NYT - The Upside of a bad economy - even megastores are willing to haggle over prices.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Knitting for peace

I liked this philosophy at quickly unraveling.
I really wish I had time to do more charity knitting and I'm going to see what I can do to make time for it this year. She is very passionate about using knitting for spreading good will and I agree with her position. Call it corney, but I do think that when you give someone a hand knit item a part of you goes with that item. Your thoughts, your well wishes, sometimes your sweat and tears.

She shared a story about a woman who was the Denver contact for an organization that creates security blankets for children who brought a stack of security blankets to a church where students were being sent just after the shootings at Columbine. The secretary at the church scoffed and said "you know these are teenagers, they are not going to want a security blanket". She left them "just in case they were needed". 10 minutes after the teenagers arrived she got a call to see if she could bring more. Sometimes a wordless gesture or an object that signals safety and warmth is what people need in a time of grief or shock, when their world is upside down. How amazing to be part of something that could have that effect on someone. It was a powerful message.

Credit Crisis for Kindergarteners

Alice, Bob, and Sue have ten marbles between them. Whenever one kid wants another kid to take over a chore, she promises a marble in exchange. Alice doesn't like setting the table, so she promises Bob a marble if he will do it for her. Bob hates mowing the lawn, but Sue will do it for a marble. Sue doesn't like broccoli, but if she says pretty please and promises a marble, Bob will eat it off her plate when Mom isn't looking.

One day, the kids get together to brag about all the marbles they soon will have. It turns out that, between them, they are promised 40 marbles! Now that is pretty exciting. They've each promised to give away some marbles too, but they don't think about that, they can keep their promises later, after they've had time to play with what's coming. For now, each is eager to hold all the marbles they've been promised in their own hands, and to show off their collections to friends.

But then Alice, who is smart and foolish all at the same time, points out a curious fact. There are only 10 marbles! Sue says, "That cannot be. I have earned 20 marbles, and I have only promised to give away three! There must be 17 just for me."

But there are still only 10 marbles.

Suddenly, when Bob doesn't want to mow the lawn, no one will do it for him, even if he promises two marbles for the job. No one will eat Sue's broccoli for her, even though everyone knows she is promised the most marbles of anyone, because no one believes she will ever see those 17 marbles she is always going on about. In fact, dinnertime is mayhem. Spoons are placed where forks should be, and saucers used for dinner plates, because Alice really is hopeless in the kitchen. Mom is cross. Dad is cross. Everyone is cross. "But you promised," is heard over and over among the children, amidst lots of stomping and fighting. Until recently, theirs was such a happy home, but now the lawn is overgrown, broccoli rots on mismatched saucers, and no one trusts anyone at all. It's all a bit mysterious to Dad, who points out that nothing has changed, really, so why on Earth is everything falling apart?
This is an easy example - click the link at top for the full version. My longer rant economics lesson for grown-ups is the post below.

Happy Easter! Now suck it up

I have been writing, and here, about the under-reported inflation from the Bush administration. This twisting of government statistics has been going on for years with significant changes in the CPI, for example, being made in 1983 (replacing "rental equivalence measure" inflation for homeowner costs) and 1999 (instituting "hedonic regression-based quality adjustments." - say that three times fast) Now the Washington Post looks at inflation and finds that yes, inflation is increasing and that it is twice as high for the middle-class than the standard measures reported. I would also ask you to note that they did not even look at inflation for retirees and the working poor, who are hurt even harder than the middle-income families.
An analysis of government data by The Washington Post found that prices have risen 9.2 percent since 2006 for the groceries, gasoline, health care and other basics that a middle-income American family has little choice but to consume. That would cost such a family, which made $45,000 on average in 2006, an extra $972 per year, assuming it did not buy less of such items because of higher prices. For a broad range of goods on which it is easier to scrimp -- such as restaurant meals, alcoholic beverages, new cars, furniture, and clothing -- prices have risen 2.4 percent.

Wages for typical workers, meanwhile, have been rising slowly. In that same time span, average* earnings for a non-managerial worker rose about 5 percent [this overstates the increase by using average instead of median - el.] This contradiction -- high inflation for staples, low inflation for luxuries and in wages -- helps explain why American workers felt squeezed even before the recent economic distress began.
The other under-reported story, besides inflation hitting workers harder than the wealthy and the shady, twisted, hedonic government statistics, is the decline in incomes. During the Bush administration the income for the typical worker has gone down after inflation. This is the first time that has happened since Herbert Hoover.

People are noticing and they are finally starting to blame Bush and the Iraq Occupation. More than 7 out of 10 Americans think government spending on Iraq is partly responsible for our economic troubles. And from The Middle-Class Squeeze:
Real incomes for middle-class families have declined. For the median family, real annual incomes have declined from $47,599 in 2000 to $46,326 in 2005, a drop of 2.7%. For working-age families - those headed by adults younger than 65 - the decline has been even steeper. For these families, median annual incomes have declined from $55,284 in 2000 to $52,287 in 2006, a drop of 5.4%

Prices for health insurance, energy, and education have risen rapidly. Three key expenses for middle-class families are the costs of health insurance, energy, and college education. In all three areas, price increases have outstripped inflation. In real terms, the cost of health insurance has increased 48%, the cost of gasoline has increased 57%, and the cost of college education has increased 39% since 2000.

The middle class is being squeezed. The combination of declining real incomes and increasing expenses reduces the standard of living for the middle class. In real terms, health insurance costs have increased by nearly $900, gasoline and other energy costs have increased by over $2,300, and college education costs have increased by over $1,500 since 2000. The median U.S. family facing these three expenses would have seen its real income drop by almost $1,300 since 2000, while its real expenses would have increased by almost $5,000.
Many people don't know about hedonics so here is a little explanation from a columnist at MSN Money:
For those of you who don't know, hedonics is the way the government transforms price declines into quality improvements. To wit, you buy a PC with twice as much power, so the government concludes that you really paid only half as much money for it. Hedonics is also the government's way of taking quality improvements and converting them into price declines when calculating the CPI. Sure, that brand-new Chevy you just bought cost 40% more than it used to, but it's a 40%-better car for a variety of reasons. So, the government says, the price didn't really go up. (I have oversimplified these examples, but you get the point.)

The idea behind the first case at least makes some sense, though the government carries it too far by acting as though improvements can be precisely measured. The problem with the second case is that those quality improvements are not voluntary. Since you have to pay the new price, it's sheer silliness to say that the price really didn't go up.

There are other ramifications as well. It turns out that the computer-spending component has materially warped GDP calculations in many of the last eight quarters. To put the numbers into perspective, from the second quarter of 2000 through the fourth quarter of 2003, the government estimated that real tech spending rose from $446 billion to $557 billion, when nominal spending only increased to $488 billion. That extra $72 billion represents the value the government imagines the improvement in computer quality is worth.
I am not just some wide-eyed liberal ranting that the government is lying to you about inflation, it seems more than half the economists don't believe in the hedonic theories, at least as it is applied in legal cases [from a casebook for lawyers offline], and the United States is the only country in the world that gooses its statistics through hedonic indexing.

Workers are also being ripped off by banks, mortgage companies, and credit card companies through excessive fees, too short of grace and notification periods and too high rates of interest. Again, not just my bleeding liberal heart sensibilities but some other radical at MSN - Money who is calling for Congress to lead a credit card revolution.

Adam Hamilton writing what he may have thought was hyperbolically:
Real inflation, by any measure, is much higher than official Labor Department statistics indicate. Sooner or later, general price levels will rise high enough so everyone will be able to see through the statistical smoke and mirrors the BLS has deployed. When that day comes, international faith in the US dollar will plummet like a meteor, and hundreds of billions of dollars will be dumped in the international currency markets in nanoseconds.
We are at that day where dollars are the hot potatoes that no one wants to hold for long and the Fed is dumping billions every chance it gets to keep the system afloat.

BTW, I was very busy this week but work was on Spring Break so I could keep using their connections and had little to do.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Late Night Political Humor

"Barack is qualified. Personally, I wanna know what qualifies Hillary Clinton to be the next president. Is it because she was married to the president? If that were the case then Robin Givens would be the heavyweight champion of the world."
---Tracy Morgan on SNL
"Are you getting a little more excited about the presidential race now? ... Remember when it was 140 people running for president and you didn't know who they were? Now we're down to three. And the latest is Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain. They've all been arguing, claiming that they're the most qualified person to answer the White House phone at 3am. McCain said, 'I'm the most qualified, because I'm usually up at that hour peeing anyway.'"
---Conan O'Brien
"This week, on the liberal website Daily Kos, a civil war has broken out. Clinton bloggers are...protesting what they feel is an abusively pro-Obama environment. Apparently, they were getting the crap hoped out of them. I read all 1,258 angry comments. Folks, I love when Democrats spend all their time in anonymous Internet feuds. Anything to keep them off the 'Casual Encounters' section on Craigslist."
---Stephen Colbert

"Interesting fact came out today on the new $5 bill. It turns out it used to be the old $10 bill." --- Jay Leno

"So, let's see, Jim McGreevey was having three-ways. Eliot Spitzer was having sex with prostitutes. The new governor, David Paterson, was having an affair. You realize the only politician in New York not getting any sex -- Hillary Clinton." --Jay Leno

"I don't know if you folks from out of town are aware of this, but here lately we've had trouble with our governor. And now are reports that former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey and his wife were having wild, crazy, three-way sexual activities with his assistant. I can't even get my assistant to make coffee." --David Letterman
Compiled by Daniel Kurtzman

The Case for Partisanship - Matthew Yglesias

A nicely reasoned argument that we are better off with parties with clear aligned views on most issues.

Obama won Houston area precinct caucuses

On to the senate district conventions this coming week.
Of the 114,648 caucus-goers in Harris County, 69% (79,113 people) indicated a preference for Senator Barack Obama for president, while 30.6% (35,123 people) signed in with a presidential preference for Senator Hillary Clinton. Another 412 attendees (0.4%) signed in as uncommitted or preferring some other presidential candidate. It is estimated that the 24 outstanding precincts account for approximately 5,000 more convention attendees.

Based on results from the 850 reporting precincts, Senator Obama would be entitled to 8,657 delegates (65.8%) to the Senate district conventions, Senator Clinton would be entitled to 4,469 delegates (34%) and 25 delegates (0.2% of the county total) would be uncommitted. There are approximately 385 delegate positions available in the 24 outstanding precincts.
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Richardson endorses Obama - Update

The two appeared together at a rally Friday in Portland, Oregon. Richardson said that after eight years of President Bush, the country "desperately" needs the kind of leader like Obama.
This will help in the Texas conventions. CNN Political Ticker -
"I resent the fact that the Clinton people are now saying that my endorsement is too late because I only can help with Texans — with Texas and Hispanics, implying that that's my only value," the New Mexico governor told CNN's John King.

"That's typical of some of his[her] advisers that kind of turned me off."
The Wright controversy is receding.

Since when has what church a candidate belonged to mattered in a presidential race? Only this one. The chattering nabobs on TV and radio have constantly said that candidates were not religious enough or too religious or belonged to the wrong religion or that their supporters and friends have the wrong beliefs.

Shut up and devote more than the 2% you have used of your airtime so far to covering the issues.

Even Fox News had a host tell off another show for spending two hours on Obama and Wright bashing and another host walked off.

The Clinton Health Care Lies Keep Getting Exposed

A few days ago I wrote about her gross exaggerations on the SCHIP bill. Now her campaign's false claims that she was involved in the "Family and Medical Leave Act" come undone.
Hillary Clinton never even "held or attended any meetings on the Family Medical Leave Act."

To state that Hillary Clinton helped pass the FMLA during her first 16 days as First Lady is just plain preposterous.
From Tapped:
Having just written a piece about the FMLA for the upcoming print issue of the Prospect, I can tell you that anyone familiar with the law should have already realized Hillary's very limited involvement. The non-profit organization the National Partnership for Women and Families originally drafted the bill, which was then championed in the House by former Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder and in the Senate by Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy. These three were at work trying to pass the FMLA from the late-1980s on, while the Clintons were in Arkansas and running a national campaign. So while Hillary did indeed have a history of involvement with work-family issues, she couldn't have possibly been a big player in the original Beltway push to pass the FMLA.
--Dana Goldstein
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Anti-evolutionists throw a biologist out of film showing

The heavy-handed creationist propaganda film Expelled expelled a pro-evolutionist from a showing of the film. They then lied about it. Par for the course. But they didn't recognize an even more famous evolutionist who was tricked into being in the film in the audience. Links and photos. Christianity Today - except the people that supposedly crashed the screenings had internet invitations.

Re: propaganda? How even-handed is the film? From a supporter of the film posted on the film's website - "Nazi Germany is the thread that ties everything in the movie together. Evolution leads to atheism leads to eugenics leads to Holocaust and Nazi Germany."

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Finally the media reports on "The Clinton Myth"

This is not a close race. Even her closest advisors admit she has less than a 10% chance of pulling the nomination off. Independent observers give even lower odds.

I have been saying this for a while now. I was also worried what the news media would do to make stuff up to fill air time until Pennsylvania. Others were even earlier concluding that Hillary was unable to win back in February. All that and similar comments did was to make the Hillary feminists announce a blogging boycott at Daily Kos. From Politico:
....The media are also enamored of the almost mystical ability of the Clintons to work their way out of tight jams, as they have done for 16 years at the national level. That explains why some reporters are inclined to believe the Clinton campaign when it talks about how she’s going to win on the third ballot at the Democratic National Convention in August.

That’s certainly possible — and, to be clear, we’d love to see the race last that long — but it’s folly to write about this as if it is likely.

It’s also hard to overstate the role the talented Clinton camp plays in shaping the campaign narrative, first by subtly lowering the bar for the performance necessary to remain in the race, and then by keeping the focus on Obama’s relationships with a political fixer and a controversial pastor in Illinois.

But even some of Clinton’s own advisers now concede that she cannot win unless Obama is hit by a political meteor. Something that merely undermines him won't be enough. It would have to be some development that essentially disqualifies him.
Ben Smith adds the obvious - Can Clinton win popular vote, superdelegates?

More here.

Underscoring all this - the Clinton campaign is out of money, again.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008


Larry Weiman for 80th Civil District Court, Harris County. I'll echo Perry. Larry Weiman spoke at the Area Five Democrats meeting and reminded us he ran last year when most were afraid to and is the only candidate who hasn't recently been a Republican.

Texas Railroad Commission - Dale Henry, he's actually qualified. His website.

In JP Precinct 8, Place 1, between Dee Wright and Jeff Heintschel, Jeff is more qualified.

What's going on

For my Senate District convention, my precinct had three people mark themselves down for delegate and alternate positions who were not elected. One alternate who was elected is registered in another precinct. These will have to be informed "no you can't" but you can challenge that. Good luck. One delegate managed to not sign in. That is OK, he's in, but how did that happen with all the tussles over the 44-44 Obama, Clinton split? One sheet of paper used as a sign-in for an initially uncommitted person was lost in the tussles. Did he get transferred to another sheet? I doubt it. I will just inform everyone who is going and who isn't and tell alternates they will surely be able to leave very early.

What else is going on.

Rabid radio talk show person mashes up an anti-Obama video with the most inflammatory language of Jeremiah Wright and images of Malcolm X, the U.S. Olympians who raised their hand in the black power salute and the song "Fight the Power" to play the race card. Hate and fear and the race card - what else do conservatives have to run on?

I've been told all the anti-campaign, no political speech, anti-candidate signs regulations, all these anti-first amendment, anti-free-speech regulations passed by the Pasadena city council are all part of Mayor Isbell's political campaign to get elected next year with no dissent. Sounds about right.

I got polled by the Pew Research Institute for a national poll on my unlisted number. It was really about Obama's speech and the state of the race. I did not think it was good timing and they were trying to make most questions yes or no and avoid the nuances of the campaigns and the speech. It will turn up here.

Sheila Jackson-Lee voted against the strong ethics bill with outside investigators, contrary to nearly all Democrats. Hasn't Sheila been in office too long? Many people were pleasantly surprised with Nancy Pelosi's leadership on this.

Glenn Greenwald tells us what he really thinks:
The reality is that John McCain's understanding of foreign policy and his approach to national security has proven to be simplistic, destructive and idiotic. Nobody spewed more pre-invasion falsehoods and confused and misleading claims about Iraq than John McCain did. And he's been the Prime Cheerleader for one of the most destructive wars in U.S. history. The notion that he has expertise in foreign policy or sound judgment is a total myth, yet it's one that his press fans accept and enforce as orthodoxy.
McCain's simple-minded militarism, his ignorance about national security, and his moronic view that the U.S. should run the world through endless wars ought to be one of the most intensely debated issues in the campaign. But it won't be because -- as Marcus said -- the media has already decided that McCain is a Serious Expert in these matters and that national security is his strength, and evidence to the contrary won't be reported. - The GOP attack plan on Obama. Also five years of lies on Iraq.

William Arkin, Iraq's civil war continues. This will continue rather Americans are there or not.

Clinton desperately trying to get Michigan revote. Her donors offer to fund it.

Associated Press president Tom Curley says the US is rounding up journalists in an attempt to control information.

Boston Globe: Many voting for Clinton to boost GOP chances. TIME: Can GOP Voters Spoil the Dem Race?

Harris County moving very slowly on Joe Horn case. To refresh your memory - Horn called 911 and said he had heard two men climb through a window into his next-door neighbor's home. A 911 operator cautioned Horn, 61, to stay in his house. He said I will shoot them and went outside, and shot the two in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Fed in boldest moves since Great Depression is protecting banks at the expense of tax-payers. $200 Billion corporate welfare, more here.
NOMI PRINS: The CDO market is a $2 trillion market. The write-downs that have related to subprime loans underlying some of those securities have only amounted to about $120 billion. So when you look at the differentiation between what’s valued and what’s out there, you’re talking about a lot of potential catastrophe to come. And again, no discussion of what happened at the source to deregulate the market such that these things could be created. So there is a lot of downside. And the fact is, the banking system itself, through its own steps and with a lack of regulation, has leveraged itself beyond its capacity to take that risk.
Scooter Libby disbarred.

If Obama has been criticized for his religious ties, should Hillary's ties to religious conservative fundamentalists who supported Hitler be probed? You can start here.

Is the Supreme Court on the way to banning lawsuits against fraudulent and dangerous medical devices and drugs?

David Corn: McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam.

Fewer Voters Identify as Republicans. Red States remain evenly divided.

Our weather has been very nice but windy. Spring break on Galveston.

OMG. Memo gets a Linux Pink notebook computer - the EEEEEEE! Leon Hale tells a story about a bet on a hitchhiker.

Bonus - Pictures of fail - humor.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Last of Big 3 SF Writers Dies

Arthur C. Clarke, a writer whose seamless blend of scientific expertise and poetic imagination helped usher in the space age, died early Wednesday in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he had lived since 1956. He was 90.

Rohan de Silva, an aide, confirmed the death and said Mr. Clarke had been experiencing breathing problems, The Associated Press reported. He had suffered from post-polio syndrome for the last two decades.

The author of almost 100 books, Mr. Clarke was an ardent promoter of the idea that humanity’s destiny lay beyond the confines of Earth. It was a vision served most vividly by “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the classic 1968 science-fiction film he created with the director Stanley Kubrick and the novel of the same title that he wrote as part of the project.
The New York Times account obscures Clarke's homosexuality. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, Clarke was considered one of the three Titans of the Golden Age of science fiction.

A discussion of romance in Clarke's work and in science fiction. The slander against Clarke.

Fed Repercussions

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar's value is dropping so fast against the euro that small currency outlets in Amsterdam are turning away tourists seeking to sell their dollars for local money while on vacation in the Netherlands.

"Our dollar is worth maybe zero over here," said Mary Kelly, an American tourist from Indianapolis, Indiana, in front of the Anne Frank house. "It's hard to find a place to exchange. We have to go downtown, to the central station or post office."

That's because the smaller currency exchanges -- despite buy/sell spreads that make it easier for them to make money by exchanging small amounts of currency -- don't want to be caught holding dollars that could be worth less by the time they can sell them.

The dollar hovered near record lows on Monday, with one euro worth around $1.58 versus $1.47 a month ago.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Back Story - Ahmed Chalabi and Scott Ritter

Scott Ritter tells of his dinner with Chalabi and the neocons five years ago.

Liberals Taking Back Their Swagger

Carrie Budoff Brown at Politico through Common Dreams:
After years of cajoling and pulling and booing their leaders, progressives will head into the general election with a Democrat who has adopted their agenda on energy, trade, health care and the Iraq war, Borosage said.

"They didn’t start with that agenda, but they ended up there," he said. "Part of it is because of the leadership of John Edwards, part of it because of the mobilization of progressives in this room, and part of it because of the needs of the country."

Progressives may be feeling good — even cocky — these days, but speaker after speaker also reminded those gathered for the three-day conference of a lesson learned from the 2006 election. The sharpest criticism was directed at the Democratic-controlled Congress for failing to follow the left-leaning agenda Democratic liberals believe helped remove Republicans from control of Capitol Hill.

"We have to be willing to challenge legislators, no matter what party they are from and no matter who holds the majority," Borosage said.

They must move forward "as an independent progressive movement, not as an arm of the Democratic Party," he said, demanding that the next president do what is promised during the campaign.

As part of the effort to hold candidates accountable, the Campaign for America’s Future will announce a major initiative Tuesday in which several groups, including the AFL-CIO, will spend more than $350 million this year to register and mobilize progressives.

On Obama's Speech

Some comments, video and links.

The media reaction and constant replays of Obama's pastor is the Dean scream and the Swift Boat Liars all over again.

Burka is right, Obama should have handled the Wright problem a year ago.

PoliMom says watch it.

If you're busy, here's a video highlight from the speech.
"There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

"And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

"She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

"She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

"Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

"Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, 'I am here because of Ashley.'

"'I'm here because of Ashley.' By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

"But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins."

I'm very busy

Lots of stuff going on but I don't have time to post.

The Fed did manage to prevent a market and financial institution meltdown Monday at a cost of an even more rapidly falling dollar and higher inflation later this year and next year. These are not good economic times.

Monday, March 17, 2008

JPMorgan Buys Bear Stearns at 93% Discount on Friday's Close

Friday shareholders were over-valuing Bear Stearns by about 14 times.
This a continued bail-out of Wall Street institutions but this is the
first one to really hurt the shareholders. Losing 93% over the weekend - ouch! How many other financial institutions are similarly overvalued? That is less than the book value of their real property. JPMorgan Chase only paid that much after the Fed provided a $30 billion guarantee for Bear Stearns mortgages.

Fed Sets Currency Printing Presses at Full Blast • February M3 Growth at Record 16.8% was reported last week. Was anyone paying attention? Will shareholders of other financial institutions pay attention now?

UPDATE - As expected, other markets are reacting and Wall Street is bracing for the worst.

Asian Bond Risk Soars on Concern Financial Collapses Imminent

Oil, Gold Gain to Records as Dollar Tumbles. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slumped more than 3 percent.

Fed Lowers Discount Rate at Emergency Sunday Meeting, Expands Lending to Bond Traders to Prevent Meltdown

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hillary Clinton Lying About Child-Care Bill

One of Hillary's strongest stump speeches is that she rebounded from her universal health-care fiasco and got a child health care bill passed.

Oops. Doesn't look like it. The White House and Bill Clinton opposed Ted Kennedy's S-Chip plan and Hillary was nowhere to be seen. Kennedy forged a bi-partisan majority for the bill over White House objections.

Robert Perry - Consortium News:
According to people familiar with the history of the S-CHIP program, Clinton’s account is essentially false or – at least – a gross exaggeration.

In her memoir, Living History, the S-CHIP law merited only a brief reference at the end of a long paragraph in which she asserts, “I worked behind the scenes with Senator [Ted] Kennedy to help create the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

However, according to a Boston Globe examination of the program’s history, Clinton “had little to do with crafting the landmark legislation or ushering it through Congress.” The Globe article by Susan Milligan quoted key participants in the law’s passage as having little or no recollection of any legislative role by the then-First Lady.

“The [Clinton] White House wasn’t for it,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who worked with Sen. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, to write the law and to win passage. “We really had to rough them [President Bill Clinton and his advisers] up. … She may have done some advocacy [privately] over at the White House. But I’m not aware of it.”

...Asked by the Globe about Hillary Clinton’s role, Hatch responded: “Does she deserve credit for S-CHIP? No, Teddy does, but she doesn’t.”

...In Clinton’s narrative, she picked herself up from her failed health-care plan, learned some lessons, and then pushed through a slimmed-down measure (S-CHIP) that has produced important results for millions of American families.

If that story is essentially false, then she is misleading voters not only on her credentials as a bipartisan crafter of legislation but on her notion that she can bring about change through her burn-the-midnight-oil tenacity.

Barack Obama has offered a competing vision, that his ability to rally public enthusiasm for change – and his distance from the bitter partisanship of the Clinton Years – will let him transcend Washington’s divisions and achieve real progress on domestic priorities.

Though there may be merit to both approaches, neither Democratic candidate has articulated what may be the most important element in overcoming Republican resistance – winning a landslide that carries in large Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.
More Hillary lies are on display here.

Iraq Winter Soldier 1

Penny Coleman, AlterNet:
One after another, veterans told conflicted stories, some with tears, some with rigid control, some with visible shakes, but all with hard-won moral courage and deep sorrow. John Michael Turner began his testimony by telling the audience that as far as he was concerned, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" was history. For him it is now "Eat the apple and f@ck the corps." Then he tossed his dog tags into the audience saying, "F@ck you, I don't work for you no more." Turner's first confirmed kill was on April 18, 2006. He shot an Iraqi boy in front of his father. It took a second shot to kill him. He had a photograph of the boy's open skull. Turner was personally congratulated by his commanding officer, who proceeded to offer a four day pass to anyone who got a kill by stabbing one of the enemy. Turner ended with, "I am sorry for the hate and destruction that I have inflicted on innocent people. I am sorry for the things I did. I am no longer the monster that I once was."

Hart Viges told of having an insurgent, armed with a rocket-propelled grenade, in his sights during a firefight and not being able to pull the trigger. He was frozen by awareness that the fear and confusion he saw on the Iraqi kid's face was exactly what he imagined was on his own.

Adam Kokesh enlisted in the Marines not because he agreed with the war, but because he "wanted to help clean up the mess." Instead of the schools and water facilities his President had promised he would be helping to build, he found himself policing a wanton project of human and social destruction. He manned "snap" check points where Marines in camouflage at dusk shot unsuspecting drivers who had failed to see them. He described feeling "funny" when he had to decide whether or not to pose with the trophy remains. "I wasn't the one who killed this guy." Kokesh was ordered to shoot at Iraqi police and firemen who were out after curfew putting out a fire that had been started by American rounds. That one he managed to stop with his "little bit of Arabic," but Kokesh wasn't optimistic about our prospects in Iraq. "We care so the American people don't have to. As soon as you choose looking good over doing right, you lose."

Jason Hurt, a medic from East Tennessee, said, "I am a peaceful person, and I drew down on an 80 year old woman. I hate guns. They should all be melted down into jewelry." And he added, if this were happening where he lives, if some foreign occupying force came into his part of the world, "every self-respecting citizen would come out of the hills with a shotgun to defend their country."

Which is more of a scandal?

McGreevey aide says he had sexual three-ways with ex-governor, wife. In the book and interviews by Mrs. McGreevey she repeatedly claims to be shocked by the ex-New Jersey governor's bi-sexuality.

One year later, the market where McCain strolled wearing a bullet-proof vest and protected by 100 US soldiers and five helicopters is controlled by radical cleric Moqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi army and is deemed too unsafe for Americans, no matter how well protected. McCain one year ago proclaimed how safe Baghdad was. He now claims "the surge" has made Baghdad safer.

OK, which is more of a scandal?

What a load of BS!

The New York Times asks "nine experts on military and foreign affairs," all of them repeatedly wrong at the start and repeatedly over the next five years, to write essays on what has gone wrong in Iraq over the last five years.

Not a single Iraqi, not a single person who has been right about this SNAFU, was deemed worthy of an essay. That is the So-Called-Liberal-Media for you.

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