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06 January 2009 20:41 EST

CNN's Sanjay Gupta Obama Choice for Surgeon General
Former Surgeon General Vice Admiral Richard Carmona, MD
Former Surgeon General Vice Admiral Richard Carmona, MD
Enemy of The State?

Well, who cares. Gupta seems eminently qualified and we wish him well.

But it led us to ask...Who is the current Surgeon General of the United States?

TRICK QUESTION! There is none.

TRICK ANSWER! Well, there is an ACTING Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson.

Rear Adm Galson was appointed Acting Surgeon General when the previous Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Richard Carmona, left office at the expiration of his term on July 31, 2006. Rear Adm. Galson took office October 2007. So for about 14 months the US didn't have any Surgeon General at all, and since October 2007 an Acting Surgeon General.

So why did Vice Adm. Richard Carmona leave office?

After leaving office Carmona was very critical of the Bush administration accusing it of suppressing scientific findings which conflicted with the Bush administration's ideological agenda.

Wow. What was that about?

Carmona released a Surgeon General's report asserting that the health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke were clear. "The debate is over. The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard."

The Bush administration pressured him not to testify in the tobacco industry's racketeering trials.

"Carmona accused the Bush Administration of preventing him from speaking out on certain public health issues such as embryonic stem cell research, global climate change,[7] emergency contraception, and abstinence-only education, where the Administration's political stance conflicted with scientific and medical opinion" according to his Wikipedia page, referencing this New York Times article.

More from that article:

He was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of every speech he gave, Dr. Carmona said. He was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings, at least one of which included Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser, he said.

And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization's longtime ties to the Kennedy family.

"I was specifically told by a senior person, `Why would you want to help those people?' " Dr. Carmona said...

After serving one full term as surgeon general, Dr. Carmona was not asked by the White House to serve another. Before becoming surgeon general, he was in the Army Special Forces, earned two purple hearts in the Vietnam War, was a trauma surgeon and a leader of the Pima County, Ariz., SWAT team.

Countdown to Obama Inauguration , as of this moment 13 days, 2 hours, 51 minutes, 58 seconds.

We can't hold our breath that long but we sure wish we could!

Article: 000177
05 January 2009 16:38 EST

Meg Whitman, Former Ebay CEO, Wants to be Governor of California
Meg Whitman and John McCain
Meg Whitman and John McCain

Term limits say that current Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar has to step down in 2010. Republican Meg Whitman has resigned her positions from several boards including Ebay, Dreamworks and Procter & Gamble and is indicating she is eyeing The Govinator's job.

Whitman was a big supporter of Mitt Romney when he ran for the republican presidential nomination often appearing on talking heads shows and serving on his "National Finance Team".

When McCain got the nod and Romney dropped out she campaigned for McCain and he said she would be his top pick for Treasury Secretary should he win which as we all know he didnt so she wasn't. Whitman became national co-chair for McCain's presidential campaign. She also spoke at the Republican National Committee meeting about the prospects of a McCain presidency.

Whitman asked fellow Mormon Romney to help arrange an audition for her for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but it never happened, or hasn't thus far. Apparently she has ambitions as a singer.

She has never held elected office but then again neither had Schwarzeneggar before becoming California governor.

It's difficult to forecast what the political landscape might look like in 2010 but right now the mood in California is probably not very favorable to republicans. Besides having just handed democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama a significant victory (60%/8.2M v. 36.5%/5M) for McCain California is currently going through an economic budget crisis, huge foreclosure rates, and other pains widel associated with the recent dominance of republicans in politics.

But 2010 is a long way off and gubernatorial elections often ride as much on who the candidates are as they do on issues.

Other potential republican candidates for 2010 include former Congressman Tom Cambell, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and 2002 gubernatorial candidate, businessman, and Rudy Giuliani supporter Bill Simon.

Some democratic names include former Governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown, State Controller John Chiang, Senator and former San Francisco Mayor Diane Feinstein, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newscom, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and businessman and former State Controller Steve Westly.

Those are crowded fields but the election is nearly two years away.

Article: 000176
04 January 2009 23:15 EST

Franken Wins! For Now.
Al Franken Reaching Out To Voters
Al Franken Reaching Out To Voters

Democrat Al Franken will be declared the winner of the Senate race against republican Norm Coleman by the Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, at 2:30PM CST tomorrow. After almost two months of vote counting and recounting Franken ended up with a 225 vote lead out of about 3 million votes cast.

Incumbent Norm Coleman has 7 days to file a challenge in court.

The fiercely republican Wall Street Journal thinks something funny is going on but can't quite put their finger on it. Oh well, they wrote an op-ed piece anyhow.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) says Franken should be seated immediately when the new Congress convenes on Tuesday or as soon as possible thereafter.

Meanwhile, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has vowed to block Franken's seating, by filibuster if necessary.

We say CONGRATULATIONS AL!.

And to the sore-loser republicans: Face it, your party's problem isn't procedural details in Minnesota or elsewhere, it's your failed policies and support for a disasterous presidency.

This country has serious problems for Congress and the new President to deal with. The economy is beyond precarious and may be in free-fall. Entire major industries are going bankrupt. We have two wars, one of which, in Iraq, seems to have long passed its expiration date. There is a violent crisis in Gaza which the United States can be very influential in settling. The new Obama administration needs Senate confirmations for several top-level cabinet positions so they can get to work and hit the ground running.

What the republicans need to understand is that their obstructionism is only doomed to further damage their party in the eyes of the nation. They need to stop acting like this is some sort of team sport and ask themselves only two questions: What does this country need? And how can they help?

Article: 000175
02 January 2009 12:45 EST



Why Isn't Madoff in Jail?
Happy New Year! Liberty Hotel Boston 2009
Happy New Year! Liberty Hotel Boston 2009

A lot of people are asking why Madoff isn't in jail. No one who really knows (e.g., the DA's office or SEC) is talking, which we suppose is understandable.

But lacking ANY FACTS WHATSOEVER we'll speculate because that's what we like to do.

We suspect Madoff isn't in jail because the prosecutors need to unwind this mess which seems to have swallowed $50 billion. To do that will take information. Madoff's records have already been reported as abysmal and contradictory, he kept several sets of books which documented financial transactions in conflicting ways.

So prosecutors who are probably more concerned with trying to get his victims as much of their money back as possible than immediately punishing Madoff probably made a deal: So long as Madoff cooperates with investigators he can remain under house arrest.

That's a tricky proposition because as soon as he does give prosecutors enough information for them to work without him they may as well lock him up.

But Madoff, and no doubt his attornies, seem to be shrewd cookies and can probably drag this state of affairs out for years. Add the claim that Madoff is in a very precarious psychological state which may well be a ploy to delay this investigative process (we can imagine his lawyer saying "Bernie's having a really bad day again, can we postpone the meeting until next week?") Then again, maybe he is nuts, it wouldn't shock us.

And then what? Who knows. Who cares. Madoff is 70 years old, he's worse than washed up, he's facing prison. We'd guess the biggest concern right now is suicide and then he takes useful information with him to the grave.

Of course what his lawyers must be shooting for is some sort of immunity or plea deal in exchange for Madoff's cooperation with prosecutors. Maybe get him confined to some sort of fancy hospital for the rest of his life.

That said, one ominous rumor which is circulating is that Madoff may've ripped off the "wrong" people in Russia. Wrong in that they're not the sort of people who look to the legal system for justice but prefer their own style of execution.

This tends to back up the first theory, that prosecutors still need lots of information from Madoff and they know if they put him into the prison population he'd be killed in a matter of days.

Article: 000174
30 December 2008 18:28 EST

Blago Appoints Obama Senate Seat Replacement
The Bush Legacy
Franken v. Coleman update
Roland Burris and Rod Blagojevich
Burris, Blagojevich, and the Devil Makes Three

Despite urgings not to appoint a replacement for President-Elect Obama's Illinois Senate seat a defiant Governor Blagojevich appointed former state Comptroller Roland Burris.

Blagojevich's announcement came less than an hour after the Senate Democratic leadership warned him that they would not seat anyone the Illinois Governor appoints. The Senate has the ultimate power to decide who to seat or not to seat.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (who happens to be black) said he would not certify Burris though that may be meaningless.

Everyone who knows Burris seems to be falling over each other to say he is a "good and decent man".

President-Elect Obama issued a statement shortly after the announcement of the Blagojevich appointment that Burris should not be seated.

Bush Legacy! Get Your Red Hot Bush Legacy!

The Bush administration has come up with a devilishly clever way to save the president's legacy: Tie it to Obama's coattails!

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been selling this angle in interviews lately. It goes like this: If things go well for the Obama administration some of the credit should go to the solid foundations laid by the Bush administration.

Which is kind of like a lousy baseball player taking credit for winning the game because he laid the foundation for the next at bat to hit one out of the park. Maybe he tired out the pitcher.

Really sort of pathetic if you ask us.

It's Official: Franken Leads Coleman

Ok, it's only by 50 votes but it's been accepted by Minnesota state Canvassing Board.

Now on to more disputed absentee ballots...

Also, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said over the weekend: "If the Canvassing Board declares a winner, that should be our senator. [The Senate] could seat a senator pending the litigation."

Article: 000173
29 December 2008 12:39 EST

Palestinians Should Greet the Israelis as Liberators!
Comic: Palestinian Authority Shooting self in head with gun
	      labelled 'Hamas'
Stop! Or I'll Shoot!

What an insane headline! Not only does it fly in the face of everything you're told about the Israeli/Palestinian situation but it even has the audacity to echo the Bush administration's shameless promotion of the US invasion of Iraq!

But is there any truth to the statement anyhow?

The Palestinian Authority (we'll call it "PA") consists of two disjoint pieces one in the West Bank and the other in the Gaza Strip.

The portion in the West Bank is run by Fatah, the late Yassir Arafat's party, and the Gaza strip portion run by Hamas, labelled a terrorist organization by the US and others.

Doing a little research we learn that when Hamas took over from Fatah in Gaza in 2007 they invited the German newspaper Der Spiegel to a tour of Fatah's torture chambers and backroom execution facilities . Lovely.

Hamas themselves were no slackers. To celebrate winning an election in Gaza they proceeded to throw Fatah rivals off high-rise Gaza buildings. . Here's a video of the execution if you feel that will help but we warn you it's stomach-churning.

Not to be outdone Fatah quickly began throwing Hamas leaders off of roofs to their death (see same stories.)

Hamas of course does not recognize Israel's right to exist while demanding Israel recognize Hamas' right to exist. Well, Israel certainly recognizes the Palestinian Authority's right to exist.

And then there are the near-daily rocket barrages from Hamas' Gaza over the past few years. Today they managed to kill an Israeli Arab (Bedouin) construction worker in a barrage of 60 rockets fired at Ashkelon, an Israeli town near Gaza.

The world mostly ignored the Taliban rule in Afghanistan in the late 1990s as they battered every imaginable human right from refusing women medical care (no female doctors allowed, and they decided it was indecent for a man to treat a woman) or no teaching girls to read (you could be executed in Taliban Afghanistan for that), and on and on, you've heard it all before about the horrors of life under the Taliban's sub-medieval Islamic rule.

And what did tolerating their way of doing things get us? It got us 9/11 and a war in Afghanistan which has raged for almost six years now. Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda operated out of Taliban Afghanistan.

So here we are again, the world's Arab-Muslim community in particular, tolerating and often encouraging the murderous lunatics running Gaza, and condemning Israel's attempts to contain these Hamas and Fatah thugs claiming they are the legitimate leaders of the Palestinians.

Has the world really gone that crazy?

And what about the Palestinians? Well, we could give you the litany of horrific conditions within the Palestinian Authority. Of heartbreaking rates of infant mortality, starvation, and other deprivations.

But it's so easy to blame all that on Israel somehow. Any factual basis for that blame is unnecessary, we just work backwards from the conclusion we wish to draw.

But even if it were somehow Israel's fault, they certainly have to contain these violent lunatics which no doubt impedes commerce in the PA, isn't Hamas and Fatah's violence, such as firing daily rocket barrages at Israeli towns, also culpable?

The solution is so simple it makes one crazy to think about it: Throw off these Hamas and Fatah terrorist thugs and just embrace Israel and work things out and ask for help and cooperation in feeding and housing and educating your children, etc.

How is life in Israel? Generally much like any Western European country. In fact, over 15% of Israeli citizens are Arabs and they live the same privileged life, own stores and factories, and some of the best restaurants and cafes in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Did you know Israel lets Muslims run a parallel system for civil legal issues such as marriages and divorces which has full authority? Christians in Israel also have a similar system which operates within the Israeli government.

Ok, this sounds overly rosy. It happens to be true, but compromise demands that we color the truth soas not to stretch the credulity of the reader.

Of course there are frictions between Jews and Arab Muslims within Israel, some quite contentious. But they sue each other or hold demonstrations or form political parties and get seats in the Israeli parliament. The United Arab List Ta'al has 4 seats currently. All the things people do in civilized societies.

How many seats do you think Jews have in the PA, or any Arab country's, parliament? Zero. When Israeli "settlers", people who worked (usually collective) farms in areas which had been given to the PA, offered to buy these farms from the Palestinians for the market price and in some cases above-market prices the PA refused absolutely.

Why?

Let's make it simple. Arab Muslims may make up 15% of the population of Israel, but Jews make up ZERO percent of the population of the PA. One thing has never changed: Islamic thugs can't stand the stink of a Jew in their country. A lot of what we see has evolved from the old Islamic prohibitions against Jews owning property.

Of course those trying hard to sympathize with the likes of Hamas and Fatah never consider these thugs' filthy, racist character. Only Israel is capable of evil in their eyes, Hamas and Fatah are merely freedom fighters to be cheered!

But what the Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens don't do is fire rockets at each other or walk into crowded pizza places on a Saturday night with a bomb strapped to their chests soas to kill as many teen-agers as possible. They don't throw each other off high buildings as a way to settle differences!

So why does this violence go on? Why are relations between Israel and the PA so violently contentious?

Because a lot of the foreign aid for the PA comes from individuals and countries who want to see Israel destroyed and for Jerusalem to be under Muslim rule again. They see it as their way into heaven. Really.

And he who pays the piper calls the tunes.

This just in: an article on Huffington Post which is very similar to ours in sentiment:

Hamas Is Largely to Blame for Israel's Gaza Offensive

Article: 000172
27 December 2008 14:01 EST

Israel and Gaza and Qassam Rockets
6 Qassam Rockets Ready to be Launched
Qassam Rockets

This is perhaps slightly off-topic but we are shocked at the comments we are seeing in various blogs and news sources on today's air raids by Israel in Gaza.

Apparently the popular media has done such a poor job of reporting on events in the area that many seem to think Hamas fired a single rocket into Israel, and Israel responded with a massive air attack.

What has actually been going on is almost daily rocket and mortar attacks, for months and years, coming from the Palestinians in Gaza fired at Israeli towns across the border, notably Sderot and Ashkelon.

Now, we could retreat into the litany of complaints each side has about each other but let's at least get these facts straight.

Imagine for a moment if Cuba was launching rockets at Miami on a daily basis for months and the United States' response. We think it's safe to say it wouldn't go on for months, Cuba would be occupied forthwith after the first attack. Imagine tolerating near-daily attacks for years!

But maybe you're not sure about this daily rocket barrage from the Palestinians because, as we noted, it's rarely mentioned in the mass media.

When something like this isn't mentioned in our usual news sources it's hard for us to accept that it exists, it sounds like some crazy exaggeration or fabrication after the fact.

So, we're going to show you how to easily prove to yourself that this daily rocket attack has been going on.

Open up news.google.com.

Type into the search box the single word qassam (you can try again later with kassam, an alternate spelling.) This is the type of rocket the Palestinians use in these daily attacks.

Below is some of what we got back from that search and searching UPI and The New York Times. There are many more daily, detailed reports from Israeli press sources such as Ynetnews and Ha'aretz but we wanted to minimize those soas not to raise any suspicions:

Dec 25, 2008, Associated Press: Israel set for Gaza invasion after rocket barrage
Dec 25, 2008, BBC News: Israel warns Hamas over rockets
Dec 24, 2008 Ynetnews, Israel: Qassam damages Sderot factory; 3 suffer from shock
Dec 19, 2008 ABC Online, Australia: Rockets fired in Gaza Strip after Hamas ends ceasefire Palestinian militants have fired two rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel...
Dec 18, 2008 All News Web: Israel: 40 rockets fired from Gaza in less than one week
Dec 17, 2008 Christian Broadcasting Network, Virginia: Rockets Pound Israel before Truce Ends
Dec 16, 2008 UPI: Kassam rockets fired on Israeli targets
Dec 13, 2008 Ynetnews, Israel: Rocket, mortars land in Negev
Nov 6, 2008 New York Times: MIDDLE EAST; Gaza: Rocket Fire and Israeli Strike Disrupt Cease-Fire Hamas fired dozens of rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday...
Nov 5, 2008 UPI: Palestinians launch Gaza rocket attack
Aug 9, 2008 UPI: Gaza rocket firings break cease-fire
Jan 9, 2008 New York Times: At Gaza's Edge, Israelis Fear Rockets' Whine "A little more than three weeks ago, on Dec. 13, Ms. Sasson's daughter Nofit, 21, was on the roof terrace hanging out laundry when she heard the red alert and then saw a Qassam whistling toward her. She ran screaming down the stairs; the rocket hit the house next door, exploding and then embedding itself in the wall between the houses, just next to canisters of bottled gas, shattering windows and cracking walls."

We strongly encourage you to do your own research.

This just in from Time Magazine:

The Gaza Air Strikes: Why Israel Attacked

"...Palestinian militants in Gaza have long launched Kassam and other rockets at Israeli towns across the border, and in the past six weeks the number of attacks has increased dramatically. After the attack, Israeli officials said the number of Palestinian rocket attacks could now spike to 200 a day. Hamas announced that it had sent a rocket toward Askelon; one man in the Israeli town of Netivot, east of the Gaza strip, was killed. Israel also expects Hamas to launch suicide attacks against Israel. A Hamas leader promised as much Saturday."

Imagine, 200 missile attacks a day, and some are shouting that Israel lacks restraint.

Article: 000171
26 December 2008 12:26 EST

3 out of 4: Good Riddance to W!
Bush in front of Mission Accomplished banner
Yeah, Right, Now Go Home

According to a CNN/Opinion Research poll 75% are glad Bush is done.

It's amazing how many different reasons there are to dislike Bush. Bad decisions, no decisions, suspicions of conflicts of interest and enriching himself and his via the office, support for torture, flawed political philosophy, flawed religious philosophy, flawed economic philosophy...

As Chris Rock said:

"Bush has fucked up so bad," ... "that he's made it hard for a white man to run for president. 'Gimme anything but another white man, please! Black man, white woman, giraffe, anything!' A white man's had that job for hundreds of years - and one guy fucked it up for all of ya!"

That might be something of an exaggeration, or perhaps an amusingly tasteless way to put it, but it has a ring of truth: Bush has polluted many of the institutions he has been associated with, especially the republican party and the word "conservative".

At this point what does "conservative" mean? What do republicans stand for? Their philosophy of lower taxes and "deficits don't matter" has gotten us into record debt and seems to have contributed greatly to destroying the US, and possibly the entire world's, economy.

The so-called conservative republicans now stand for endless war and an atmosphere where even talking about how we can win is made out to be treasonous nonsense.

When did winning wars become treasonous nonsense? Well, first under the republican president Nixon during the Vietnam war. That war dragged on for six years of his administration and escalated. Thousands of our boys died, a million or more of their people died at our hands, at an enormous cost. People who suggested that we should either accomplish our goals (after all, compare the US to little Vietnam!), whatever they were, or get out, were vilified. Such people were labeled treasonous weirdos, peaceniks, and other derogatory terms by Nixon and his republican cohorts.

And where are we now with Bush? Almost six years into a war. It's not even clear who we are at war with. Some faceless group of people called "terrorists" or "al Qaeda".

Is it really possible that an enemy which doesn't even have a country, a stable base of operations, has had the mighty US military pinned down for almost six years?

Or has Bush accomplished the perma-war of dystopic science fiction novels? Wars not fought for any particular objective other than to confront and kill some vaguely defined evil, war for war's sake, war as an activity of this society as much as manufacturing or retail or education.

Indeed we will be glad to see the back of this president!

Article: 000170
24 December 2008 12:47 EST

Coleman v Franken Minnesota Senate Race Update
Ancient Mosaic of Two Gladiators in Combat
A Fight to the Death!

The Minnesota state supreme court has extended the end of year recount deadline to January 2. They've ordered Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to count uncounted absentee ballots no later than January 4. At that point either or both candidates could challenge the results in court.

At this point it's highly unlikely that Minnesota will have this Senate seat filled when the new Senate is sworn in on January 6.

The Huffington Post has an article reporting that Coleman and Franken have reached a deal that would count a rejected absentee ballot only if both sides agree it was wrongly rejected. The deal is still subject to approval by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Although it seems fair on the surface the court's interest isn't that the two candidates are treated fairly but, rather, that the voters and the voting process are treated fairly.

The unofficial count has Franken ahead by 47 votes.

Article: 000169
21 December 2008 21:35 EST

Shoe Thrower is Democracy and Freedom? Nonsense.
Attorney Khalil al-Dulaimi's Previous Client

By now we've all seen the video of the journalist in Baghdad throwing his shoes at Iraq. It's even inspired a few online "throw the shoe at the president" games.

But look at this interchange between David Gregory and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on Meet The Press today (full transcript):

MR. GREGORY: Let, let's talk about Iraq. The president's final visit there as president happening just a week ago today, and what became, obviously, the most noticed image of that, that trip was this press conference with the prime minister and a member of the press throwing his shoes. As the president pointed out, as you've pointed out, certainly a sign of freedom in Iraq.

SEC'Y RICE: Yes.

This echoed Bush's remark: "Yeah, I think it's a reporter. At least that's what they told me on the way out, that it's a person who works in the Iraqi press, stands up and throws his shoe. And it was amusing...So this happens and it's a sign of a free society."

A free society? Forget that the reporter who threw the shoe was beaten for the moment, though that's not how we like to think we treat prisoners in a free society. It does happen, but in a country with Iraq's history it seems all the more predictable and odious.

But how was this a symbol of a free society? That the man stood up and took a chance to express his views?

As we remember this is a country which suffers nearly daily suicide bombings often killing dozens of civilians in a most gruesome way.

Are suicide bombers also a "symbol of a free society"?

What fluff! And shame on David Gregory for feeding this pap to Secretary of State Rice in his new role as Meet the Press anchor. Believe it or not that show's format used to be a few well known members of the press grilling some government official or similar and trying to get some beads of sweat on their brows.

Now instead we have David Gregory throwing softballs at the Secretary of State echoing the President's nonsensical happy talk?

And now for some good news! The reporter who threw the shoes has rejected Iraqi attorney Khalil al-Dulaimi's offer to defend him. Mr al-Dulaimi defended Saddam Hussein and we all know how that turned out!

Article: 000167
19 December 2008 14:19 EST

Franken Pulls Ahead in Minnesota
Al Franken and Norm Coleman
Franken v. Coleman

In the non-stop roller coaster of the Minnesota Senate recount between incumbent republican Norm Coleman and challenger democrat Al Franken we get another turnover.

According to this Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune article Franken has picked up "several hundred votes" putting him in the lead against Coleman.

There are still several hurdles ahead including wading through the rest of the challenged ballots which by our count seem to be now down to somewhat under 1,000 ballots. And no doubt we'll see further litigation by whoever ends up behind when this current phase of recount ends. It's highly likely we won't see an end to this election in 2008.

The Washington Post just posted an article by Chris Cillizza claiming Franken is ahead by 126 votes, but also noting that about 1,000 ballots still need to be sorted through.

Article: 000167
17 December 2008 19:30 EST

THE ELECTION THAT WOULDN'T END!
Children Playing Musical Chairs
All Around the Mulberry Bush...

Franken v. Coleman for Minnesota Senate Seat

Republican incumbent Norm Coleman argues in front of Minnesota Supreme Court to block improperly rejected absentee ballots. Coleman argues that each county has its own way of rejecting ballots and that should be honored. Franken argues that there are state-wide standards which must be followed. No ruling yet.

Coleman has picked up 237 more votes as the Canvassing Board disposes of challenges. Franken picked up 65. That puts Coleman ahead 360 votes but that lead is fragile as there are thousands of challenges yet to be reviewed. The state Canvassing Board is shooting for Friday to end this phase of the recount but litigation will continue.

Don't expect a replacement for Obama Illinois Senate seat soon

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was supposed to appoint a replacement for President-elect Obama's Senate seat but he's been arrested for allegedly trying to sell the seat, so that's on hold.

Today the Illinois Supreme Court rejected an emergency request from the state's Attorney-General Madigan to consider removing Blagojevich, and any temporary restraining order. Madigan basically argued that the severity and nature of the federal case against him rendered him unable to perform his duties.

Meanwhile Governor Blagojevich is fighting back against the corruption charges and has indicated he will be making public statements in his defense soon.

The defense of Blagojevich mainly rests on claims that although there was a lot of talk nothing actually happened. For example, no money or other profit was taken, no seat was sold, and mere talk is just that, talk, and not criminal. There's a fine line between conspiracy and horse-trading in politics.

What about Hillary Clinton's New York Senate seat?

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, has begun her campaign for Clinton's Senate seat. In Syracuse today she said "she would be honored be considered for the position of U.S. senator". Caroline's uncle, the late Robert F. Kennedy, was Senator from New York when he was assassinated in 1968.

Caroline Kennedy currently lives on Park Avenue in Manhattan with her husband Edwin Schlossberg and two daughters, Rose (after Caroline's grandmother) and Tatiana (after Edwin's grandmother), and son John aka "Jack" (after her great grandfather John Bouvier III.) Caroline Kennedy is an attorney, writer, and serves on the boards of several non-profits.

The appointment will be made New York Governor David Paterson. Other hopefuls include Andrew Cuomo, current Attorney-General and son of former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Nassau County District Executive Tom Suozzi, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Representative Steve Israel, Representative Carolyn Mahoney, Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, and Representative Brian Higgins.

And a replacement for Governor Bill Richardson?

Bill Richardson will be Obama's new Commerce Secretary. He was New Mexico's Governor so will need to be replaced. A likely replacement will be New Mexico Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish who would become New Mexico's first female governor (ed., this is probably a done deal now.) .

Janet Napolitano, Governor of Arizona, to be Secretary of Homeland Security

Governor Naplitano, by state law, will be replaced by Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer, a republican. This poses a particular problem for Arizona democrats because the legislature is republican-dominated and only Napolitano's veto stood in the way of their rubber-stamping their republican agenda. Pity poor Arizona!

And last but not least, what about Vice President-Elect Joe Biden's Delaware Senate seat?

This has already been decided. Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner will appoint long-time Biden Senate aide Ted Kaufman to fill the seat. There had been some speculation that Joe Biden's son Beau might get the nod but Beau took himself out of the running as he is currently serving as Attorney General of Delaware and a Captain in the Delaware National Guard, in the Judge Advocate General's Corps (he's a lawyer), currently in Iraq.

Article: 000166
16 December 2008 18:26 EST

Barack Obama Elected 44th President of the United States!
Barack Obama looking serious in sunglasses
Did Someone Order Change?

What? You already heard this? But it only happened yesterday, a few hours ago, at 3PM!

On December 15th after the general election the electoral college gets together and casts their votes. That's what actually elects a president, not any of this nonsense on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

And next, on January 6th, 2009 when the new congress convenes their first order of business will be to certify the results of yesterday's electoral college vote. Then onwards to the inauguration and swearing in and if all goes as planned Barack Hussein Obama will become the 44th President of the United States of America.

For the record the results were: Barack Hussein Obama: 365 votes, John Sidney McCain III: 173 votes. No faithless electors or other anomalies.

Article: ######
12 December 2008 19:14 EST

Nader A Spoiler — AGAIN!
Ralph Nader photo, deep in thought
No matter who you vote for the government wins

And nobody cares.

In Missouri Barack Obama received 1,441,911, John McCain 1,445,814, a difference of 3,903 votes more for the republican ticket.

Ralph Nader received 17,813 votes, way more than McCain beat Obama by in Missouri. It's reasonable to assume most if not all of Nader's votes would've gone to the democratic candidate if Nader wasn't on the ticket (granted some might not have voted at all.) In which case Obama would have won Missouri by almost 14,000 votes.

However, not so fast! Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr got 11,386 votes. Let's add those to the republican count.

And Constitution Party's Chuck Baldwin got 8,201 votes. They're basically another right-wing party. Pat Buchanan once threatened Bob Dole that he'd run as the Constitution Party's candidate if Dole didn't choose a VP candidate Pat liked. Need we say more? Add their votes to the republicans' count.

Finally, the Green Party was only represented by write-ins and received 75 votes for their candidate former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. We'll definitely give those votes to the democrats.

So where does that leave us? 1,459,799 for Obama and 1,465,401. Wow, John McCain still wins Missouri by 5,602, more than without the third-party candidates.

Oh well, so much for that stupid line of thinking.

Article: 000164
11 December 2008 17:01 EST

Barney Frank and Democrats Fought Republicans on Sub-Prime Lending
Congressman Barney Frank explains
Congressman Barney Frank Sets The Record Straight

Congressman Barney Frank in a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal disputing their characterization of the history of sub-prime lending, which the Wall Street Journal refused to publish (but the Huffington Post did) documents how he and fellow democrats actually fought the Bush administration on extension of sub-prime lending practices.

From Congressman Frank's letter:

As Mark Zandi notes in his recent excellent study of the financial crisis, when "the Bush administration put substantial pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase their funding of mortgage loans to lower-income groups," I and other Democrats stepped up our efforts to pass legislation that banned the inappropriate loans that have led to the current crisis. In Zandi's words, "Democrats in Congress worried about increasing evidence of predatory lending...and the Democrats wanted a federal (law) that would cover all lenders nationwide. The Bush administration and most Republicans in Congress were opposed, believing legislation would overly restrict lending and thus slow the march of homeownership...the last attempt to pass any predatory lending legislation occurred in 2005 but it was also stymied."

...when the Democrats achieved a majority in 2007, and I became Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, the first major piece of legislation the committee approved was a bill adopting the regulatory upgrade for Fannie and Freddie that had been strongly advocated by the Bush administration, but which it had been unable to get the Republican Congress to pass. Next, we moved on to anti-predatory lending legislation and succeeded later in 2007 in passing a bill that, had it been law earlier - when we were in the minority and unable to enact it - would have prevented most of the bad loans.

Article: 000163
10 December 2008 16:54 EST

Now Norm Coleman is Under Investigation?!
Norm Coleman young with very long hair
Norm Coleman in Hippier, er, Happier Times

The drama of the Minnesota senate race between republican incumbent Norm Coleman and challenger democrat Al Franken, which still hasn't been decided even after completion of a recount, continues.

To add to the twists and turns of missing ballots and ballot challenges how about the FBI investigating Norm Coleman?

Allegedly an associate of Coleman, Nasser Kazeminy, tried to illegally funnel $100,000 to Coleman and his wife via his wife's employer.

Some are already asking Coleman to resign immediately if he wins the recount.

More breaking news as it breaks!

Article: 000162
09 December 2008 16:52 EST

Craig, Blagojevich, Rezko, Franken v. Coleman
Rod Blagojevich On Facebook
Rod Blagojevich On Facebook
He may be getting fitted for a new number!

The Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected Senator Larry Craig's (ID-R) request to withdraw his guilty plea and be retried.

Craig argued that his toe-tapping and other movements in his bathroom stall in the Minnesota-Saint Paul airport in June 2007 were protected by his free speech rights.

Without agreeing that toe tapping is a protected form of speech the appeals court said the government has every right to make and enforce laws regarding offensive speech, particularly where the other party cannot easily escape that speech, and felt that sexually suggestive toe-tapping and other movements directed at someone in a bathroom stall easily fits that criteria.

Craig has spent over $200,000 in campaign funds on his legal defense in this case. He was up for re-election in November but chose not to run so will retire in January. Republican Jim Risch bettered Democrat Larry LaRocco so will be the new junior Senator from Idaho. Stay out of airport bathrooms Jimmy!

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, the 'j' is pronounced like a 'y', blag-o-YEV-itch, was just freed on $4,500 bail.

The notable accusation is that he allegedly tried to sell the appointment to Obama's senate seat, apparently for a lucrative position for his wife and other offers. The prosecutor's office claims he was caught wheeling-dealing on wiretap.

It's also alleged that he threatened the (Chicago) Tribune corporation, who has just entered chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with witholding money they'd been promised by the state if they didn't fire certain editors and, possibly, suppress this latest round of corruption reporting.

Republican George Homer Ryan, Blagojevich's predecessor in the Illinois governor's role, entered federal prison on November 7, 2007 to begin a six year sentence for all sorts of corruption charges. Ryan can currently be found in the satellite prison camp adjacent to the Federal Correction Institution at Terre Haute, Indiana.

Rezko

Tony Rezko is currently serving time for fraud and other charges. He's had a colorful career which included executive director of the Muhammed Ali Foundation and made a fortune in real estate mostly in the Chicago area. He's also currently under indictment for creating inflated assets soas to obtain millions of dollars in loans from GE Capital.

Rezko was a major contributor to Illinois Governor Blagojevich and has hired the governor's wife on various occasions to help with real estate matters.

Rezko did fundraising for Barack Obama's first senate run and made contributions himself directly or indirectly through his companies. Obama says he located $250,000 in contributions associated with Rezko and has donated them to non-profits. There's also a rather complicated relationship surrounding a home the Obamas purchased in 2005 whose details you can find here.

Needless to say the few remaining republican faithful are salivating over all this as a road to attack President-elect Obama, reminiscent of the Whitewater and other investigations into Clinton's dealings from the start of his term which produced, ultimately, nothing.

House GOP minority leader John Boehner has already thrown down the gauntlet on this strategy of running smear campaigns against any and all democrats as the GOP strategy to get back into favor with voters.

We wonder if, instead, the republicans will actually ever do anything constructive, like figuring out where they went so wrong over the past several years, rather than hoping to drag down the democrats down to their level or below by flinging mud.

As they say, never wrestle with a pig. You'll both get covered in shit, but the pig will enjoy it.

Franken v. Coleman

The hotly contested Senate race in Minnesota continues with Coleman withdrawing 475 ballot challenges today.

At this point no one knows who is ahead in this race, estimates are as close as Franken by four votes. .

Right now it's looking more and more like this senate race is headed for the Senate for resolution.

Article: 000161
06 December 2008 17:40 EST

Chambliss, Franken, and the Myth of 60
Joe Lieberman and George W Bush Kiss
Smooch Smooch!

As of this minute the status of the Minnesota senate election between Al Franken and Norm Coleman seems up in the air. Some articles claim Coleman is ahead around 75 votes, others that Franken is ahead some number under 100 votes.

They still have the fight over disputed ballots ahead, thousands of them split about equally between the two sides, and Minneapolis is frantically trying to locate 133 ballots which are just missing. At this point that's enough ballots to settle the election tho it's unlikely they will.

A possible result is that the Senate will settle the election. This would be the first time the Senate has done this since 1974 and even then it wasn't conclusive and ended up in a special election.

The Myth of 60

Much has been made of the magic 60 Senate vote threshold for the democrats, mostly because they definitely hold 58 seats and if they won both Georgia and Minnesota could have that magic 60. But they lost Georgia, so even if Franken wins they're only looking at 59 democrats.

This is of some importance because if the minority republicans choose to try to block legislation by fillibuster, exercising their right to endlessly debate a topic, it takes 60 votes to stop them and call for a vote by a motion known as cloture.

When republican Chambliss beat Martin in a run-off for the Georgia Senate seat last week the papers screamed about how the hopes for 60 democratic Senate seats had been dashed.

This is only technically true.

There are currently and indisputably 58 democratic seats in the Senate.

If Franken wins that will be 59 democratic seats.

There are 41 republican seats, and, similarly, this could become 42 republican seats if Coleman beats Franken.

But that leaves two seats missing. Those are held by two independents, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Bernie Sanders is a "self-described democratic socialist" and caucuses with the democratic party.

I think that's a pretty safe 59, 58 democrats plus Sanders.

Lieberman was the democratic candidate for Vice President in 2000, he ran with Al Gore. He was first elected democratic senator from Connecticut in 1988.

In 2006 at least in part owing to his support of the Iraq war Lieberman failed to win the Connecticut democratic party's nomination for the senate which instead went to Ned Lamont. Lieberman ran anyhow as a third-party independent candidate and won. Apparently the lack of support from democrats shook him and 2006-2008 he seemed to become more and more allied with republicans.

Lieberman even went so far as to speak at the 2008 Republican National Convention in support of John McCain and campaigned for McCain.

After McCain lost it was assumed Lieberman would lose his committee assignments, particularly Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. There was a much-publicized meeting between Liberman and democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid shortly after the election and it seemed some hatchets were buried and Lieberman was likely to keep his democratic committee assignments.

Lieberman subsequently appeared on "Meet the Press" and mostly dodged questions about his brief republican love affair and kept repeating how he only wished to look forward.

Clearly Senator Lieberman is an opportunist who will go with whomever he perceives as ahead and right now the democrats are ahead so Lieberman has declared his unwavering loyalty to the democratic party.

That makes 60.

The democrats never needed Martin (Georgia) or Franken (Minnesota) for 60 though Franken's vote could be useful in case Lieberman hits his head in the shower again.

Article: 000160
02 December 2008 18:37 EST

Chambliss versus Martin in Georgia
Franken versus Coleman in Minnesota
Saxby Chambliss with President Bush
Saxby Chambliss with President Bush
Separated At Birth?

Georgia Results (All times Eastern)
Georgia Screws Itself! Elects republican Chambliss! Gives up their one chance for access to democrat majority government!

03:41: Chambliss 1,220,854 (57%), Martin 905,637 (43%), 99% reporting.
23:05: Chambliss 1,196,278 (57%), Martin 888,475 (43%), 98% reporting.
21:40 Chambliss 1,009,730 (59%), Martin 697,075 (41%), 82% reporting. Chambliss widely projected to win.
20:16 Chambliss 335,990 (65%), Martin 181,605 (35%), 22% reporting.
20:07 Chambliss 253,095 (65%), Martin 136,888 (35%), 18% reporting.
19:55 Chambliss 102,271 (66%), Martin 52,464 (34%), 6% reporting.
19:43 Chambliss 48,655 (69%), Martin 22,006 (31%), 3% reporting.
19:37 Chambliss 32,892 (69%), Martin 15,062 (31%), 2% reporting.
19:23 Chambliss 15,744 (68%), Martin 7,312 (32%), 1% reporting.
19:17 Chambliss 5,616 (68%), Martin 2,683 (32%)
19:15 Chambliss 2,242 (61%), Martin 1,453 (39%)
19:13 With one precinct reporting it's Chambliss 331, Martin 106.

They're voting in Georgia! Voting is light in the runoff election between republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss and democratic challenger Jim Martin.

Polls close at 7PM, minutes from now. We will keep you posted here on results as they become available.

Franken vs Coleman

Meanwhile, in the Minnesota senate election recount, 171 ballots were found just hours ago giving republican incumbent Norm Coleman 54 more votes and democratic challenger Al Franken 91 more votes for a net gain of 37 for Franken (the remainder went to other candidates.)

Coleman was leading Franken by 215 votes, so that whittles Coleman's lead down to 178.

And there are still almost 6,000 ballots which have been challenged by the two candidates, roughly 3,000 each.

The possibility still exists for the US Senate to just pick a winner, that's within their power though this hasn't happened since 1974. But it does happen in disputed elections such as this one.

Since the democrats have a solid majority in the Senate this could bode well for Franken so it's probably in his interest to push events towards a Senatorial resolution.

Article: 000159
01 December 2008 14:36 EST

Showdown in Georgia!
Palin as Political Angel of Death?
The-Election.com Endorses Jim Martin!
Jim Martin – The Right Choice for Georgia
Jim Martin – The Right Choice for Georgia

Tomorrow is the day for the runoff election between republican incumbent Senator Saxby Chambliss and democratic challenger Jim Martin in Georgia. Georgia law requires that the winner get 50% plus one vote (or more) in November or else there's a runoff between the top two vote-getters.

Among those campaigning for Chambliss is Sarah Palin, you betcha!

This race is important because the democrats are two senate seats away from the magic 60 seats needed to procedurally stop filibusters which are a tool for the minority party, the republicans, to oppose legislation.

Jim Martin winning would give the senate democrats 59 of the needed 60 seats. There is another senate race in Minnesota whose outcome is yet to be determined, between republican incumbent Norm Coleman and democratic challenger Al Franken. In Minnesota the race was too close to call so they are now going through a recount which may take another two weeks, or more if there are court challenges, to settle.

If the democrats can take both the Georgia and Minnesota seats they have the magic 60. This, along with a democrat-dominated House of Representatives and White House basically means the democrats can pass legislation just about unchallenged.

There are still other checks and balances in our government such as getting legislation past committees and onto the floor for a vote as well as potential court challenges if legislation can be argued to be unfair or in violation of other laws including the Constitution. And, of course, mere appeals to reason as guileless as that sounds in this day and age.

Right now tomorrow's runoff election in Georgia is very hard to call partly because it will probably be very close but also because such runoff elections are relatively rare. One thing which is almost certain is that turnout will be much lower than in the November election; people tend to just not come out for runoff or other off-season elections.

And what about Sarah?

Another factor is Sarah Palin's highly publicized campaigning for fellow republican Chambliss. Palin appeals mostly to people who would have voted republican anyhow, and polarizes democrats negatively. She showed little appeal in the important political center where swing voters might be swayed.

But this election is a little different. Turnout will be very much key to the outcome, and if Palin can motivate the party loyal to come out and vote that would be a big plus for Chambliss.

The democratic base in Georgia counts many African-Americans among them, so Jim Martin has been putting his effort into appealing to that community to show up and vote.

If Chambliss loses, particularly if he loses decisively, it could be another nail in the cardboard coffin of Sarah Palin's national political career. Many republicans blame her for McCain's poor showing in November, and another loss might just label her as "box office poison" politically.

The-Election.com endorses Jim Martin for Senator

All that said we urge Georgians to vote for democrat Jim Martin tomorrow.

Our reasoning is simple and appeals to their own self-interest.

The White House and both Houses of Congress will, in either case, be heavily dominated by democrats. Currently both Senators from Georgia are republicans, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson who will be up for election again in 2010.

If Georgians elect Chambliss they will be shut out of the dominant political party in the senate. Georgia has already elected a majority republican (7-6) congressional delegation.

Let's be brutally honest: The democrats will control the purse strings for the next few years at least. Georgia is going into this election a republican state. That's not a good position to be in.

Voting for democrat Jim Martin will give Georgia the representation it needs in the Senate. Voting for Saxby Chambliss risks being shut out in the cold politically and economically for the next two years at least.

Regardless of personal feelings about party loyalty Georgians would do well to vote for democrat Jim Martin tomorrow.

Article: 000158
25 November 2008 16:05 EST

GOP RIP?
Not Dead, Only Sleeping!
Not Dead, Only Sleeping!

From 2001 to 2006 the republican party controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. They even had a very sympathetic US supreme court.

The republicans used this political dominance to enact their views on economics, politics, and a raft of social issues.

The result was that their economics views were a total disaster and have sunk the US (and world) economy into its worst downturn since the Great Depression, their social issues have mostly been rejected by the voters, and politically they're in full retreat and have now completely lost control of those same three institutions: The White House and both houses of Congress. The supreme court is probably still pretty sympathetic but the republicans don't really have anything to bring before them.

George W. Bush is wrapping up the most unpopular presidency in the history of this country. And that includes contenders like Richard Nixon who had to resign in disgrace and Herbert Hoover whose name is forever synonymous with the Great Depression. And those are just in recent memory, James Buchanan was a remarkably unpopular president but nobody remembers him. Suffice it to say Buchanan was Lincoln's immediate predecessor and is often credited with dragging the US into its Civil War. Bush is worse than all of them!

George W Bush isn't just the worst president of the United States, ever. He's the worst president of any kind, ever. That would include PTA presidents and company presidents and the president of your local high school class of 2010.

But the situation for republicans is much worse than just George W Bush's legacy. A failed individual could be written off. Richard Nixon was a failed individual but republicans pressed on and six years after Nixon's resignation, two of those years with republican president Gerald Ford in the White House, elected Ronald Reagan to two full terms.

So what's different this time?

What's different is that the republicans got what they wanted from 2001-2006, and with Bush still in the White House didn't see any major reversals of those policies since 2006. The presidential veto is, if nothing else, a great way to make sure nothing to the president's disliking happens. It takes 66 votes in the Senate to over-ride a presidential veto and the democrats were nowhere close to that 2006-2008.

The republicans got what they wanted, and it failed. It failed miserably. It failed indisputably and before their very eyes.

"Deficits don't matter" said vice-president Dick Cheney in 2002.

And so the republicans ran up the deficits by record amounts, over $3 trillion between 2001-2006. And to finance those deficits they had to go into the credit markets and sell treasury bills. And to make those t-bills attractive they had to keep cranking up interest rates which cranked up all interest rates and mortgages become unaffordable, businesses couldn't borrow at interest rates which let them remain profitable, adjustable mortgages adjusted sharply upwards putting millions of homeowners in danger of foreclosure, and the economy collapsed.

Deficits don't matter???

And as part of their program to get government off our backs the republicans de-regulated and de-regulated. The free market will take care of regulating markets much better than any government bureaucrat can they kept telling us. They quoted Ronald Reagan on how the scariest words in the english language were "we're from the government and we're here to help you" to loud guffaws from their amen chorus.

Wall street figured out what this massive deregulation meant. It meant they could sell insurance against default on bonds and other securities knowing full well they couldn't actually make good on that insurance should it come to pass.

Why, they sold the insurance to people who didn't even own the bonds being insured. Imagine if your neighbor could buy fire insurance on your house? But that's just what was going on, it was just a big gambling parlor.

Of course that alone wouldn't have mattered much, let the idiots lose their money if they like. None of our concern, this is wall street after all, they're big boys and girls, they know what they're getting themselves into.

Unfortunately, they didn't know what they were getting themselves into, or ignored the potential dangers.

It wasn't just that they sold this bond insurance, they sold way more than they could ever make good on. Since a lot of these bonds were bundles of mortgages then when the republicans funding the republican deficits started to create pressure on the mortgage market these bonds came into question and the whole house of cards came tumbling down.

And they didn't just bring down the insurance underwriters. Often these were sold by big investment banks, brokerage houses, and sometimes even an insurance company. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of phony insurance. So when the scheme came crashing down to earth it took entire companies with names like Bear-Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, down with it. Ooops!

But ask any republican! Deficits don't matter! Regulation is bad, markets can and will regulate themselves!

Sadly, quite a few republicans still cling to their ideology in an unconditional love sort of way.

They believe that they must have been right so something else is to blame. For example, their tax reductions didn't go far enough, or their deregulation didn't deregulate enough and other delusional reasoning that somewhere way out there is this magic point where the effects reverse and lowering taxes actually raises tax revenues because it has caused such great stimulation of the economy. The Laffer Curve is an example of one of these theories, now completely discredited.

So what can republicans do?

Beats us. But something which won't work is just regrouping and trying to find a new way to sell their tried and disproven ideas. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig!

About all they have left at this point are those with some sort of strong nostalgic, emotional commitment to the word "republican" and their failed ideas, some number of people who have drunk the kool-aid and can now live on a blind hatred of democrats and (shudder!) liberals, and those who don't give a damn if anyone ever eats again they feel their "conservative" point of view is morally superior.

That latter group tend to make up the religious right though there are quite a few secular "libertarian" types mixed in. These folks just believe there is this order to the universe, either from the will of god and/or their personal notion of right and wrong and it says conservative is right, facts and observation be damned.

As the old expression goes, for these die-hard conservatives "are you gonna believe us? or your lyin' eyes?!" is the beginning, middle, and end of the argument.

I was just reading a screed by one of these self-described libertarian conservative liberal-hating types. The self-absorbed narcissism made me shudder with revulsion. There's nothing much more there to the red-hot anger directed against taxes or government regulation than "get your hands off my stuff!" You can get similar deep philosophy by entering your average 15 year old's bedroom uninvited and snooping around a little. Then again, the 15 year old may be right. But this angry bunch is just shallow and self-interested. The spoiled children of the right.

What most libertarian types seem to have in common is that they believe we can completely (or almost completely, these are called "minarchists") dismantle government and everything will pretty much stay the same or get better. Someone will fix the roads because, gosh darn it, we need the roads to be fixed! Someone will keep our food processing companies honest and clean because, gosh darn it, we need wholesome food! It's basically an ideology which says if you can imagine something is desirable then dagnabit the free market will provide. Forget little details like the free market for over 50 years didn't provide electricity to large segments of this country until the government instituted a rural electrification program. It would have come eventually because, gosh darn it, people wanted eletricity!

And you wonder why they attract the ultra-religious. All they offer is prayers that the free market, which may as well be a god in their religion, will deliver whatever is needed. You want health care? PRAY FOR IT! You want clean water? PRAY FOR IT! And on and on.

My best advice for those who really hate democrats and liberals so much is to gather your thoughts and try to make what you believe coherent in some way, try to find others who believe what you believe, and form new political parties.

Because the republican party is a hopeless amalgam of mostly overly-nostalgic liberal-haters and that sort of thing just won't be able to move forward. As they say, it's nearly impossible to drive while only looking in the rear-view mirror. Unfortunately, your windshield is all muddied up also. You have lost your way.

Oh, and one more thing as the republican party gets tossed into the dustbin of history: Demanding "fair" play (by your definition) and compromise doesn't work until you have something credible to offer. We wouldn't go half-way with nazis or communists, and doing the same with republicans whose ideas were also tried and failed would be similarly foolish.

Ouch? That stings? Then do something new!

Article: 000157
24 November 2008 19:43 EST

Recount Roundup! Ch-ch-ch-changes!
Delaware State Attorney General Captain Beau Biden
Delaware State Attorney General Captain Beau Biden

Franken V. Coleman

Now separated by less than 100 votes Al Franken and Norm Coleman are still going at it in the Minnesota Senate seat recount. The current issue is missing ballots. Some counties did not turn over as many ballots as they had reported as counted.

Virginia: Democrat Tom Perriello defeats Republican Virgil Goode by 745 votes in recount

Out of over 316,000 votes cast in the Virginia fifth district it looks like challenger Tom Perriello has won. This gives Virginia democrats a 6-5 majority in the house. The republicans went into the election with an 8-3 majority but have now lost 3 seats to democrats.

Al Gore Campaigns in Georgia Senate Runoff Race

Al Gore is down in Georgia campaigning for democratic challenger Jim Martin. Martin will be in a runoff election December 2nd against republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss. Former president Bill Clinton was stumping for Martin last week. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have shown up on behalf of Saxby Chambliss. Right now the race is thought to be a dead heat which isn't surprising since that's how they got into a runoff in the first place. A lot of money is being spent on this race and most likely it will come down to which candidate can get out the most voters since runoffs tend to attract a light turnout.

Biden aide Ted Kaufman Fills Biden's Senate Seat

There was some speculation that Vice President-elect Joe Biden's son Captain Beau Biden might be appointed to finish his father's term but Captain Biden has decided to continue with his military career and has now deployed to Iraq. Captain Biden is a prosecutor for the 261st Signal Brigade of the Delaware Army National Guard, and its subordinate units. He is also Delaware's Attorney General! Busy guy!

However, Ted Kaufman has indicated that he will not be a candidate in the 2010 special election for the Delaware senate seat leaving speculation that Captain Biden might run for the seat at that time.

No Decision Yet on Obama's Senate Seat

Illinois Governor hints that he'll make the appointment a Christmas gift for someone.

Article: 000156
20 November 2008 16:00 EST

Bush, Cheney and Paulson
Should Resign Now!


This is the world economy's "9/11"

World Leaders Won't Shake Bush's Hand!

The stock markets are again in free-fall. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down almost 500 points at the close to about 7500. Oil, now below $50 down $5 just today (10%!) is no longer a bargain, it's terrifying. The automakers are on the verge of bankruptcy and every hour brings more horrible news about our banks and economics.

Treasury secretary Paulson spoke this afternoon and had nothing to say, he just rambled on about recent history, why he believes he did the right thing in regards to Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy and similar. Who cares? What's the plan? Paulson had nothing to say on that.

At the administration's urging Congress gave Paulson and the Bush administration a "check" for $700 billion dollars. Paulson won't explain where the $250 billion he's spent so far has gone, or why he asked for it if it's doing no good. Almost an equal amount has been pumped into the financial system by other means, we're about $1.5 trillion dollars into this and Paulson the other day insisted that markets are stabilizing!

As the video above evidences the leaders at the ongoing G20 meeting all refused to shake George Bush's hand! Look at the video. This is both embarrassing and disheartening, they only invited the current president of the United States to the party because they had to. He's being shunned!

President George Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson should resign immediately.

This would make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi president of the United States until Barack Obama is inaugurated on January 20th. Pelosi can appoint a new vice-president and fill any slots such as treasury secretary presumably with Barack Obama's picks.

The current sitting congress probably doesn't have enough votes to remove Bush and Cheney. That would require a 2/3 vote of the Senate etc. and party politics are just too heated to expect so many republicans in congress to do the decent thing, and quickly, it's just too much to expect. Party loyalties on the part of republicans in congress trump everything right now, the country be damned.

Consequently we call on Bush, Cheney, and Paulson to resign. They have failed, their economic views and emergency actions have failed, they have lost all credibility with the world's leaders.

At this point Bush is holding onto his position only because we can't force him out. It's all pomp and circumstance and formality, exactly what this country is NOT supposed to be about. All he has left are some privileges of the office.

Is it worth taking the country down just to cling to power for another 60 days? Or can they just not admit failure?

George Bush, Dick Cheney, Henry Paulson: For once in your lives do the decent thing and resign now. You have all failed, and you are taking the United States of America down with you.

Article: 000155
20 November 2008 13:44 EST

The US Automakers Bailout
Auto Companies Family Tree
And...Who Owns Whom?

Should the government bail out the automakers, or not?

This is a tough question for a lot of reasons, we think we've made up our minds however.

First and foremost one has to try to form an opinion without reviewing the companies' balance sheets in detail, the details of their business plans going forward, etc. Congress can review many of these details but let's be honest, we the people don't have the time or inclination or in many cases even the ability to figure out what's wrong with these companies and whether or not a bailout would fix them. All we can really do is engage in over-simplified sound bites or grand moral principles we hope cover the situation at hand.

That said, we do believe there're a lot of questionable claims being made in support of a bailout.

For example, the claim that if the automakers are not bailed out, and are left to go bankrupt, about three million jobs will be lost.

This is wordplay on the word "bankrupt". There are three major forms of corporate bankruptcy, two of which apply here (the third is generally for individuals or very small companies.)

Those making the 3 million jobs lost claim are using the word "bankruptcy" to refer to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is also known as liquidation, where a company is, as the word implies, liquidated.

In a chapter 7 bankruptcy all the creditors and employees are told the bad news, it's over, there's nothing or almost nothing left, the company is washed up, done. A bankruptcy court takes over the wind-down, assets are sold, taxes, back wages, creditors are paid roughly in that order, often less than the total amount they claim.

But chapter 7 isn't likely for companies like GM, Ford, or Chrysler. GM, for example, still takes in around 180 billion dollars a year in revenue. The problem is that they spend more than 180 billion dollars. But it's not like a company which is scraping bottom. This is one major reason why people keep using the word "mismanagement" in speaking about these companies. How can they have $180B in revenue and not be able to break even?

So what is likely?

What is more likely is Chapter 11 bankruptcy which is also referred to as reorganization.

In a chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy first, through the bankruptcy court, all creditors are informed that any attempts to collect debts must be stopped. The company is protected from any further creditor actions. But the business continues operating as usual, more or less.

Warning! Too Much Detail on Chapter 11 Bankruptcy from here...
Worse! none of us are bankruptcy lawyers so take some of this with a grain of salt.

The reasoning goes like this: It's assumed the company has a chance of surviving but creditors' actions are making that impossible. In a typical scenario one or more creditors are making it impossible for the company to continue operating. For example, if the electric company shuts the electricity off many companies can no longer operate, even if that electric bill is not a large portion of money owed. So, the electric company's actions to collect their bill is threatening the company's ability to pay any of the other creditors.

In essence the electric company (and it could be any creditor, we're not picking on the electric company) has made themselves the most "senior creditor", the creditor who must be paid first before all other creditors, including employees' wages, taxes, etc., by threatening to shut off the electricity.

The law recognizes that this situation is not fair to anyone involved, it would just shut down the company and cease any revenues, so protects the company from any further collection action such as shutting off the electricity.

Then an executor is appointed by the court, someone the court trusts can help approve day to day decisions on bills while the company is under protection. Since chapter 11 can take a year or more, particularly for a big company, someone has to be paid if there's any revenue.

Next a plan is proposed to the court by the company's management which would resolve their problems. For example it might propose to break contracts such as a multi-year office rental agreement which the company can no longer afford due to business conditions and allow the company to move into cheaper space if that's practical.

Or some debts might be put onto a pay-off schedule which are less severe. Sometimes that even helps a creditor because now there's some assurance from the court that the company will pay off that debt and the creditor could for example bring that to a bank and borrow the money to be paid off by the protected company's payments.

There are many other approaches, such as offering past creditors less than the full amount of their debt. Many companies will take that once bankruptcy is on the table: A bird in hand is worth two in the bush as the old saying goes. Particularly if there is some cash on hand and a check can be written right away.

For completeness' sake the plan is sent to the creditors for approval. The creditors each get to vote on the plan roughly in proportion to the amount owed to them. If an agreement cannot be reached then the court can order the company into chapter 7 liquidation, it's over. This can, for example, happen if the company owns assets which could be sold to pay off debts but would close the company.

An easy example of a creditors' rejection might be a farmer. Assuming the land being farmed is owned outright and not mortgaged heavily creditors might opt to force the farmer to sell the land to pay debts versus taking less than the debts' full values or long-term pay outs being proposed. Of course selling the land puts the farmer out of business.

Or the creditors may just not believe the plan can work and would rather take what they can right now by liquidating the company. Long-term payouts take a lot of faith that the company can right itself. The courts can intervene to block what they see as an unreasonable creditor. Remember that some of this is about protecting the creditors from unreasonable creditors, but that's limited and we're getting into far too much detail.

The point is that the automakers are much more likely to go into this sort of chapter 11 reorganization. They continue operating and try to work out, with the help of a court, how they are going to go forward and get out of chapter 11 protection and operate like a normal business.

So what happens to employees in a chapter 11 bankruptcy?

It depends. But if the company is going to continue operating they're probably going to need most of the employees. What might happen is that contracts such as with unions might be cancelled, or just problematic details such as any parts of the agreement which require too many employees for the current business conditions, or make it very expensive to let go excess employees.

We should note that in a chapter 11 common stock at least is usually cancelled, made worthless, zero. And the company is generally protected from typical shareholder lawsuits though it's difficult to protect against all.

One important source of lawsuits is that you cannot go into bankruptcy to cover up fraudulent behavior. Some creditors, probably a group of large common shareholders who lost everything, are likely to pursue that path to prevent the company from working out problems under chapter 11, and if nothing else to punish the company's management by trying to argue that they acted in a criminal manner. What they're usually seeking is a payoff to drop their lawsuit.

...to here

Consequently, we don't think an outright bailout of the automakers is a good idea or nearly as necessary or urgent as various supporters of a bailout are describing. Someone has to explain why they can't just go into chapter 11 reorganization and try to restructure their company so they are profitable again.

Right this moment it looks like congress is taking a similar view as evidenced by remarks made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

To that we'd like to add that even if one or more automakers go out of business entirely people will still buy about the same numbers of cars. They'll just buy them from someone else. Some say the problem is that many of these will then be imports and imports don't create US jobs. There's some truth to that though it's not that simple. Companies like Toyota do a lot of manufacturing in the US, and their dealerships are here of necessity.

But the point is that we might end up with one less US car company, or even two less. It's unlikely all three major US car companies would go out of business. And whoever is remaining will pick up as much of that business as they deserve, based on the price and quality of their product. But the marketplace will be less diluted which will help those standing become profitable.

Finally, we would recommend that if congress decides to let things take their course with the automakers that an adequate amount of money be earmarked for the inevitable urgencies such as extending and expanding unemployment benefits (most likely some will lose their jobs), emergency assistance for health care and insurance, mortgage foreclosures, etc. Also monies for job re-training and re-location.

Article: 000154
19 November 2008 13:56 EST

Boehner Re-Elected House GOP Minority Leader

Minnesota Senate Recount Begins!

Congressman John Boehner
Boehner Gets It Because The Republicans Don't ``Get It''

Ohio congressman John Boehner has been re-elected as GOP minority leader. This is too bad for the republicans as Boehner is an iconic symbol of the "old bad republican party"; huge deficit spending, attack dog and dirty tricks politics, doctrinaire "my way or the highway" attitudes, immune to facts and reason, and a proponent of a financial vision which we now know does not work.

So we imagine the republicans' plan to dig the party out of its current hole is to put the same people in charge who dug them into that hole?

We recall an interchange between Wolf Blitzer and John Boehner on CNN a few months ago. Blitzer suggested that perhaps it was his party's enormous spending and deficits which had them in trouble in the then upcoming election?

Boehner replied angrily that there's a WAR going on, that's why there are deficits! Blitzer countered that the republicans in congress, when they were in the majority 2001-2006, ran up over 3 trillion dollars in new debt, but the war is only estimated to have cost about $600 billion by that time (less, actually, by 2006), what about the other $2.5 trillion?

Boehner got flustered and angry and changed the subject.

As we said, completely immune to facts or reason.

Well, the republicans can do what they like. Maybe they enjoy the dark, warm, security of the hole they're in and don't really want to lead. Look at what a mess they got the country into when they tried!

Minnesota Senate Recount Begins

The recount in the Minnesota Senate race between republican incumbent Norm Coleman and democratic challenger Al Franken has begun (link to New York Times article).

At the start of the recount Coleman is ahead of Franken by 215 votes. Minnesota law mandates a recount if the difference between two candidates is less than one half of one percent which would be about 14,000 votes, far less than the 215 separating the two candidates currently.

The recount is expected to take until at least December 5th which is when the Minnesota state board convenes to certify the state's election results (which aren't just this race.) It could go longer as the recount is done ballot by ballot by hand.

Yesterday it was announced though not yet officially confirmed that democrat challenger Mark Begich beat incumbent republican convicted felon Ted Stevens in Alaska. A challenge is possible though none has been announced.

Assuming the Begich election stands the democrats have 58 seats in the senate. If Franken wins that would be 59. On December 2nd Saxby Chambliss faces Jim Martin in a runoff for that Georgia Senate seat. Bill Clinton was seen down in Georgia today stumping for Martin. If Martin also wins that'd give the democrats the magic 60 they need to thwart most procedural maneuvers available to the minority republicans.

As we've noted before, to some extent even 60 may be symbolic. There are two independents in the senate: Joe Lieberman from Connecticut and Bernie Sanders, Vermont.

Lieberman was a democrat but had lost a bitter nomination battle in his state, ran as an independent anyhow, and won. Then Lieberman proceeded to campaign with republican John McCain and even spoke at the Republican National Convention (which is more than we can say for Bush or Cheney.)

But in the past few days Lieberman seems to have buried the hatchet with the democrats. For example, he has retained his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs even though many senate democrats wanted him out for his republican shenanigans. This makes it likely that Lieberman will tend to vote with the democrats, particularly on procedural matters.

Bernie Sanders, Vermont, ran for the senate as an independent but describes himself as a "democratic socialist". All tolled he is more likely to vote with the democrats on most matters than the republicans though exceptions exist.

Given that accounting the democrats may only have to win one of those three Senate races to lock up cloture ability (a procedure to stop debate and hence filibustering which requires 60 votes.) If the Begich victory holds the democrats may already be there for all intents and purposes. However, if they can take Minnesota and Georgia their 60 votes would be indisputable.

And that doesn't even begin to count senate defectors from the republican party, something which is common when one party so totally dominates the senate.

Article: 000153
THE-DATE THE-TIME EST

McCain, Cheney, Stevens!
President Bush and a Turkey being pardoned for Thanksgiving
Proof: Bush Pardons Turkeys!

John McCain Prepares for Senate Re-election run in 2010

According to this CNN article John McCain met with "top advisers" (would those be the same who gave him Sarah Palin?) about setting up a political action committee as a run up for a run for another term as senator for the run-down old guy.

Bush and Cheney up to Mischief?

According to this CNN article Vice President Dick "Dick" Cheney has been indicted by a grand jury in Texas, along with former Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to prisoner abuse in federal detention centers. This arises from Cheney's investments in companies in charge of these detention centers (many are privately operated under contract), and Gonzales halting an investigation into conflicts of interest while Attorney-General.

Why is this interesting? The CNN article even says the Attorney-General, Juan Angel Guerra, of the small county in southernmost Texas is a loose cannon.

If you notice there have been many informal accusations made against members of the Bush administration, often by members of Congress, but almost no indictments lately.

The reason is that Bush made it perfectly clear with his pardon of "Scooter" Libby that he'll use his presidential pardon powers to just exonerate any such charges.

So there's little point in charging anyone in the Bush administration right now, they all have George W Bush "Get Out of Jail Free!" cards.

So Congress may as well wait until the Bush presidency is over and he loses his pardon powers and then begin indictments. Bush can't pardon someone who hasn't been charged with any crime (though no doubt his legal team is pondering that problem also.)

What can Bush do?

Easy! Figure out the charges most likely to be brought against members of his administration successfully and use his considerable political influence (particularly in Texas) to get them indicted and convicted (not sure a conviction is necessary) now so he can pardon them before he leaves office on January 20th.

As Cheetah would say to Tarzan: It's a jungle out there!

And Begich beats Stevens in Alaska!

This just in! It looks like Ted Stevens, the incumbent republican senator from Alaska and convicted felon, has narrowly lost his re-election bid to democrat and Anchorage mayor Mark Begich. Begich leads Stevens by about 3,700 votes as absentee ballots etc. are counted to determine the winner.

In theory Stevens could pursue a recount, but given that he's a convicted felon (7 counts of lying about more than $250,000 in gifts) it puts him into an awkward position to challenge the result to say the least.

If this result stands then the democrats have 58 seats in the senate with two more still counting: In Minnesota Al Franken (D) vs Norm Cole (R) is headed to a recount, they're separated by a little over 200 votes right now. And in Georgia incumbent republican Saxby Chambliss versus democrat Jim Martin is headed to a run-off election on December 2nd. Early voting began on Monday in the Chambliss/Martin run-off.

If democrats pick up those two seats, and the likelihood is getting stronger, then they'll have the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture, a senate procedure to end a filibuster.

Article: 000152
17 November 2008 17:13 EST

Gulf War Illness: More Republican Fallout
George HW Bush and wife Barbara greeting troops
Thanks Suckers!

Republicans don't believe in federal funding for medical research. They see it as waste and reason that if there was a market for the cure for a disease then the pharmaceutical companies would invest their own money in the research.

Well, today we found out in a federal report from the "Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses" that Gulf War Illness is very real.

Worse, any treatment has been delayed for several years due to funding cuts in research into the disease beginning in 2001.

Ah yes, 2001, 2001...what happened in 2001? Oh right, George Bush was elected (sort of) president, both houses of congress were dominated by the republican party. It was a new republican age, morning in America and all that.

And, oops, guess there wasn't a gold rush to cure our Gulf War veterans!

So much for: The private sector and free markets will provide.

And once again the republicans have really screwed our returning veterans even as they bellow their super-patriotic, militaristic claptrap.

How many Gulf War vets have been affected? About one quarter of the 697,000 who served in the 1991 war, over 174,000 vets.

174,000 sick vets and the republicans cut their medical funding.

That really is sick, pun intended.

The report suggests (remember, the research has been crippled) the cause of the illness is exposure to toxic chemicals, including pesticides and a drug administered to protect against nerve gas.

Symptoms include memory and concentration problems, chronic headaches, widespread pain, gastrointestinal problems, etc. The illness may also lead to an increase in ALS, "Lou Gerhig's Disease", a crippling and always fatal disease.

Basically, the vets were poisoned in so many ways that parts of their body just couldn't recover fully. Depleted uranium and anthrax vaccines have been cleared, they're not the cause as some suggested.

These vets were exposed to these chemicals with reasonable intentions, to protect them from very deadly nerve gas and to clear out dangerous insects and parasites from where they had to live and work.

But the simple fact is that they were exposed serving us, so we owe it to them to make that as right as we can and not sacrifice them on some altar of republican "thriftiness" while at the same exact time Bush and the republicans ran up the largest deficits and increase in the size of the government in the history of the United States.

This one isn't even hard, as an American I am ashamed of the treatment of these veterans by our government and hope this can be improved as soon as possible by the incoming administration.

Article: 000151
13 November 2008 20:43 EST

Alaska Senate Race: Begich Pulls Ahead of Stevens
Mark Begich and Ted Stevens
Begich, left, Stevens, right

Democratic Anchorage mayor Mark Begich has pulled slightly ahead of incumbent and convicted felon senator Ted Stevens in Alaska's razor-thin senate race.

Begich is 814 votes ahead of Stevens out of 279,000 ballots counted thus far. Another 35,000 ballots remain to be counted.

If Begich takes this race that will give democrats 59 seats in the senate, one shy of the magic number to invoke cloture should republicans try to delay legislation via filibuster. Two other senate races remain undecided:

The Georgia senate race will be decided by a run-off election on December 2nd. The democratic challenger Jim Martin has a fair chance of unseating republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss.

In Minnesota, democratic challenger Al Franken holds on to a very slim lead over republican incumbent Norm Coleman in that senate race.

For the democrats to have 60 votes two of these three undecided elections would have to go for the democrats though there are two independent senators, Connecticut's Joe Lieberman and Vermont's Bernie Sanders, either or both of whom might decide to vote with democrats on a cloture motion.

Back to Alaska. If Stevens were to win and then resign or be removed due to his felony convictions (or any reason for that matter) that would leave the Alaska seat open. It's not entirely clear whether that would allow Governor Sarah Palin (remember her?) to appoint a replacement, or if there would be a special election to replace Stevens. Alaska law just isn't entirely clear on this matter according to the referenced article. Of course, if Begich does win then none of this becomes a problem.

Article: ######
12 November 2008 14:23 EST

``Headline: Catholic Bishops will fight Obama on abortion''
(presumably dead woman, naked, bloody, in corner of room)
She Had a Right to Life Also, no?

ABC News: Bishops Fire Warning Shot Across Bow of HHS Obama
Chicago Tribune: Catholic bishops plan to forcefully confront Obama
Boston Globe: Catholic bishops warn Obama they'll fight on abortion
New York Times: U.S. Bishops Urged to Challenge Obama

The bishops, and anyone else in this country, are certainly within their rights to express and even, within the law, act on their opinions.

But what is it they are "fighting" for? Presidents don't perform abortions.

What they are fighting for is two-fold:

First, they don't want the government to make access to abortions easier, such as by providing financial support for those who cannot afford an abortion. This is true, but not their primary bone of contion.

What the bishops want is for abortion to be made illegal. This is something Obama, and other politicians, can help them with directly.

So what they are asking for is that Obama, and his colleagues, make available law enforcement agents with guns and sticks to stop women from getting abortions.

That's the bottom line, using the force and power of government, violence if necessary, to stand between women and abortions.

Which is to say that the bishops have given up on providing moral authority. Since these women aren't (oh it probably does happen, but that's not their complaint) being forced to get abortions, and are just as free to listen to the arguments against abortion being put forth by the bishops et al as they are are to get abortions, we have to assume the bishops' expressed frustration derives from a failure to get women to follow their advice voluntarily.

Of course, these bishops also condemn any form of birth control (other than perhaps abstinance or "rhythm".) They oppose birth control for much the same reason as they oppose abortion. Yet we don't hear them railing at Obama or anyone else to make birth control illegal. We suppose they would like to, but it would only make them look foolish or distance them from their non-Catholic anti-abortion colleagues: Protestant fundamentalists don't generally have a problem with birth control.

Since we've now determined that women won't follow these clergies' advice we have to assume that women will continue to get abortions even if their wish is granted and big men with sticks and guns try to stop them, doctors are hauled off to jail, etc.

So it's not really abortions they want Barack Obama to stop. It's the legality of abortions they want stopped. They've already failed to stop abortions.

And what are illegal abortions?

You have to be somewhat over 40 years old to remember the era of illegal abortions but they were nasty affairs performed in motel rooms or kitchens and without any hospital backup. If, for example, a woman began bleeding severely, not uncommon, and the aborter (once illegal, few actual doctors were involved) couldn't deal with it then the woman was often dumped somewhere and left to bleed to death. One couldn't risk a hospital for a botched illegal procedure, they'd ask too many questions.

Many of the illegal abortions were performed by women on themselves, often on bad advice such as injecting various irritating household chemicals into their vagina hoping it would induce abortion. Or using various implements, coat hangers were indeed a common abortion tool.

This wasn't a big deal for older, wealthy women who could either pay for a reasonably safe illegal abortion, or fly to some country where abortion was legal and safe.

So who did the brunt of the death and suffering fall on? The poor, not even the poor, but the merely average. You had to be quite rich to afford a safe illegal abortion.

And the young, young women.

But didn't they bring this on themselves?

We hope you are not overweight and you're getting lots of strenuous exercise, and otherwise doing everything to avoid health problems. Because if not then maybe we should suggest that medical help for your future ailments be made illegal? And certainly don't ski or engage in any other risky behaviors, driving when not absolutely necessary by our standards.

No, the limit of polite conversation is perhaps to charge you slightly higher health insurance premiums, or perhaps make you pay for such self-induced health problems. But it's never suggested that we ban you from hospitals and medical care entirely and let you die clutching your chest or coughing up blood on some street corner because it was your own damned fault!

But, of course, that's exactly what these bishops are suggesting, making a medical procedure illegal and letting the woman bear the consequences.

But why can't they just love their child, let it be born and make the best of it? Life can be rough but things can work out.

It sounds reasonable, aren't these upbeat thoughts so easy when it's somebody else's life?!

But the bishops also oppose abortion in the case of incest, rape, and even where carrying the pregnancy to term might threaten the life of the mother. See our previous article on this topic and how McCain just doesn't believe women tell the truth about these things. Ok, McCain isn't a Roman Catholic bishop, he's not even a Roman Catholic. But we believe McCain is expressing the bishops' sentiments exactly.

So let's get this straight. You're a 15 year old girl. Your father, or your brother, uncle, etc., raped you. Now you're pregnant. But hey it's your fault, deal with it? Have the baby? Why? Because this world is filled with nothing but love and compassion which will swaddle your infant like a warm blanket?

Let's be bluntly honest. You can go through a city and find women with small children living in filth, homeless, hungry, cold. Mostly we will walk right by them perhaps shaking our heads at their bad luck, maybe we'll think of a charity which can help not really knowing why it isn't helping her.

But being hungry and cold and homeless is perfectly legal in this country, even if you're a small child, even if you're a newborn baby. The concern stops at the moment of birth. You can't call the police to report a hungry woman with child and expect them to respond. Face it, we don't really give a damn, except perhaps as convenient to us, throw a quarter in the bucket and hope it helps.

But abortion? Give these bishops their way and that's exactly what they will get, law enforcement, the police rushing past the cold, hungry, homeless woman with child, guns brandished, swinging into action to stop an illegal abortion!

As Barack Obama has said, and we wholeheartedly agree, no one is PRO-abortion. The difference is that some of us would like to see abortions avoided voluntarily rather than sending in big men with guns and sticks to stop them.

Interesting article from a gynecologist who worked in the days when abortion was illegal:

...However, not simply coat hangers were used.

Almost any implement you can imagine had been and was used to start an abortion - darning needles, crochet hooks, cut-glass salt shakers, soda bottles, sometimes intact, sometimes with the top broken off...

Article: 000149
11 November 2008 00:10 EST

Parallel Between McCain and Gore
Happy Veterans day, particularly to our nation's veterans! It's worthwhile reminding ourselves that veteran's day is on November 11th, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I in 1918. To much of the western world it is known as Armistice Day. In 1954 Congress amended an earlier act signed into law by President Eisenhower making November 11th a day to celebrate all veterans, and to change its official name to Veterans Day (no apostrophe!) We think it fitting that our veterans be honored on the day a war ended, when victory was achieved. Somehow it seems to have become quaint and old-fashioned to look forward to victory in war, but we still hold that idea dear, to the end of the conflict!
Veterans Day 2008 Poster
Veterans Day 2008


Something both John McCain and Al Gore have in common is that they each campaigned for president shunning the sitting president. And they both lost.

In Al Gore's case in 2000 it was President Bill Clinton being shunned. We don't know the exact reason but it was probably either that Gore and Clinton didn't get along, or that Gore wanted to distance himself and his campaign from the various accusations against Clinton, or both.

In 2008 Senator John McCain shunned sitting President George W. Bush. Again, we don't know the exact reason, but it was probably either that McCain and Bush didn't get along, or that McCain wanted to distance himself and his campaign from the widespread unpopularity of GW Bush and his administration, or both.

Let's assume in both cases it was to avoid association with the sitting presidents' problems.

It would be an interesting quandary for a candidate. Distancing oneself from a sitting president within the same party would seem to telegraph something out of balance to the voting public. President Bush wasn't even at the Republican National Convention (his speech was via satellite video.)

John Mccain presented himself to the electorate as a "maverick", but "outsider" may've been more accurate.

We think McCain's loss was a blessing for many reasons, but one reason is that he wouldn't have had much sway with the republicans in Congress. So we would have had the very strange situation of a sitting president at odds both with the members of the other party in Congress, and members of his own party also? I don't think we need to see where that leads right now with so many red-hot irons in the fire.

Article: 000148
10 November 2008 17:48 EST

Change.gov
Change.gov
Change.gov – Barack Obama's Transition Site
Click To Visit

Change.gov is President-Elect Barack Obama's official site to communicate what's happening with the entire planet. It's new, it's just shaping up, it's a welcome relief from the current president who seemed to be at war with everyone except his (very) small circle of friends.

An interesting feature on change.gov is the blog with a stream of items and videos about what is happening with the transition team.

The agenda area is currently brief and to the point, if we may quote:

The Obama Administration has a comprehensive and detailed agenda to carry out its policies. The principal priorities of the Obama Administration include: a plan to revive the economy, to fix our health care, education, and social security systems, to define a clear path to energy independence, to end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and to work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, among many other domestic and foreign policy objectives.

You are also invited to submit your stories and vision.

We think it's a very nice start.

Article: 000147
08 November 2008 14:00 EST

California's Proposition 8
Smiling Gay Family (two women, two young children)
The Threat! (?)

We were reading a book review of Bernard-Henri Levi's new book "Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism" in the New York Observer and the reviewer said (paraphrased) that people, and electorates, continually balance between tolerance of injustice and tolerance of disorder.

This made us think about California's proposition 8 which just passed on election day. The proposition's title sums it up: "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" .

Californians passed it 52.4% for, 47.6% against with about 11 million votes cast. The vote difference was about 500,000 and there remain about 2.7 million absentee and provisional ballots left to be counted though it's not thought likely they will change the outcome.

Passing it meant no more gay marriages in California, put simply. It intends to overturn the California Supreme Court ruling of May 15, 2008 which said gay marriage was legal under California's constitution and law.

So, back to injustice versus disorder.

We believe these forces factored into this result.

Tolerance of injustice is relatively easy when you're not the victim of that injustice. A clever political campaign might go one step further and convince the electorate they are indeed the victim of the injustice, just not in the obvious way the proposition seems to lay out.

The reasoning goes that tolerating gay marriage is an injustice to the institution of (non-gay) marriage, that it somehow defiles or dilutes the institution.

Mostly symbolic although perhaps there's some outside fear that next the rights which come with marriage such as inheritance or not being compelled to testify against a spouse in court will be the next target. After all, if anyone can get married then why should marriage confer any peculiar rights at all?

But that is getting fairly far-fetched and afield, the proposition promises no such shoring up of rights under marriage. It doesn't even attempt to list these rights.

Of course, what the proposition does do is pave a path to define those rights through this ballot process. That might be as great a concern to the supporters of proposition 8 as defining marriage. That is, if someone did want to remove a marriage right, say the right to not testify against a spouse, the path is now clear: Go out and get it on the ballot.

By challenging the court's ruling they also challenged the court's authority to protect the very rights they believed they were protecting.

We are not sure we'd like our rights, any rights, up for grabs in the circus and passions of an election versus the carefully considered context of a court room.

For gay supporters the issue is much more palpable. Those rights delineated for married couples, from visitation rights in a hospital to testifying in court or filing joint tax returns, are practical matters, not symbols. Either you can stay with a loved one who is gravely ill in a hospital overnight (often limited to a spouse or parent), or you cannot.

Supporters might say, alright, we can see that concern, even a good friend ought to be able sit by your bedside at your time of need if that is who you want there, marriage seems almost superfluous to the decision.

Of course, once we go down that road, aren't all marriage rights subject to extension to most anyone? We can will our property to anyone, but only a spouse gets certain tax benefits. Maybe we should extend the tax benefits to a "partner", just to be fair. And on and on. Until what marriage rights are left?

We argue that this so-called "defense of marriage" proposition is nothing of the sort. By denying marriage to some it opens the Pandora's box of a review of those rights currently given in marriage only.

So the injustice we mentioned earlier might well be to the tradition of marriage. Rather than honoring that tradition as something special and a conferring of rights it is now laid bare on the table to be picked apart and extended to non-married people. This is what terms like "civil union" invite, the extension of marriage rights to non-married people.

We think the people who voted for this proposition in the belief that they were defending marriage were fooled.

They were fooled into thinking that voting for this proposition avoids disorder, that is, preserves the order they see as marriage being only between a man and a woman. And, in trade, tolerates injustice, something preserving order often requires. The injustice is to gay couples who want to be part of this institution of marriage.

The supporters may have accomplished just the opposite of their expressed intent and severely weakened the institution of marriage and any special rights it extends. Worse, they took this conferring of rights away from the courts and moved it to the ballot box. As the old adage goes, can 51% of the electorate vote to kill the other 49%?

We sincerely hope this is not the end of this story, and that more considered thought prevails.

Article: 000146
07 November 2008 12:36 EST

Cliffhanger in Minnesota!
Al Franken v. Norm Coleman in MN
Al Franken v. Norm Coleman in MN

One of the senate seats in Minnesota (MN) hangs by a hair!

Al Franken challenged the incumbent Norm Coleman and as of this writing are separated by 239 votes, Franken (D): 1,211,540, Coleman (R): 1,211,301, and third-party candidate Dean Barkley 437,377. That's .008 percent, less than one hundredth of one percent.

And the recount hasn't even started! These numbers are already changing from the preliminary review of ballots in preparation for the coming recount.

If Franken ultimately wins it will push the democrats in the senate one more vote towards a filibuster-proof majority which would be 60.

Right now the democrats hold 57 seats, republicans 40, independents 2 (Lieberman CT and Sanders VT), with 2 seats yet to be decided: Franken and Coleman in Minnesota and Georgia where they'll have a run-off between republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss and democrat James Martin in December.

If the democrats take both of those seats then they'll have 59 seats, one short of the magic 60 number. But that would probably give it to the democrats, Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont, is more likely to vote with democrats for cloture which forces the end of filibusters , a tool the minority party (republican) can use to indefinitely delay a vote on a bill by extending debate endlessly generally offering to stop only when changes they want are made to the bill or the bill is abandoned entirely. This can be stopped by invoking the cloture rule which just ends the debate. But it takes 60 votes and the democrats are slightly short of that.

We think this 60-vote threshold is over-rated though it is interesting.

Ultimately, a senator has to represent his or her contituents. Hostile tactics such as filibusters by a few individual minority party senators can cost, politically, on other matters.

Some famous filibusters went day and night non-stop and included the reading of telephone books and every word of major newspapers including the ads insisting that it all be entered into the congressional record as debate on the matter at hand.

But those were typically small groups of senators fighting the entire senate and not particularly along party lines. For example, in the bad old days of segregation senators from the south would use filibusters to try to stop civil rights legislation.

Threats of filibuster are sometimes effective and have been used recently, typically to try to force some sort of compromise on a matter by the minority party.

The point is that with such a decisive democratic majority in both houses of congress, and the white house, the republicans have to choose their fights very carefully and with full consideration of their states' interests as opposed to displays of party loyalty.

Another spectre for the republicans is that of senators switching party affiliation. Senators can switch affiliation at any time. This has happened many times over the years, often a minority party senator moving to the majority party. Again, the consideration is often their state's interests versus party loyalty. Becoming a member of the majority party usually puts a senator in a better position to get their states' interests legislated (that is, pork!)

Finally, the number for cloture is not really 60 senators. It's three-fifths of the sitting senators which is 60 only if all 100 seats are filled. Seats can go empty due to death, illness, removal (rare, but consider convicted felon Ted Stevens, AK), or resignation. For example, republican Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has been hinting that she may resign her senate seat to run for governor of Texas.

This is a less likely path to cloture as senate vacancies tend to be filled in a matter of hours (usually a replacement is appointed by the state's governor.) But it could happen and leave small periods of time when the democrats could pass legislation without any chance of opposition by the republicans. It also doesn't take very much time to rush a bill to the floor and vote on it when the senate is in session.

Interesting times!

Article: 000145
06 November 2008 02:01 EST

So What Just Happened?

Boston, MA
Copley Square / Boston Public Library
11 November 2008 12:30AM
(requires recent flash player and javascript enabled)

What happened on election day 2008 was more cultural than political.

This election reminded us of the riots which ensued when the ballet The Rite of Spring premiered in Paris in 1913. People were scandalized, it symbolized a departure from one world to a new, unknown world. Except that this time the people who took to the streets seemed happy!

The video in this article was recorded on the streets of Boston the night of the election, around 12:30AM. Thousands of people took to the streets in various parts of the city. The police were everywhere in large groups. This particular video was shot in Copley Square, in front of the Boston Public Library. It's worthwhile viewing. We'll add more videos as we prepare them.

P.S. Sorry that the video is dark but we think it conveys the event. It was shot on an old Sony DSC-P100.

Article: 000144
04 November 2008 15:01 EST

The Electoral College
US Electoral College Map
US Electoral College Map (click for larger version)

We don't vote for the president and vice-president today. We vote for the apportionment of electors in the electoral college, and they vote for who is to be president and vice-president on December 15th.

So what is the electoral college and how might we write a little about it without putting you to sleep?

The US constitution actually calls for the president and vice-president to be elected by an indirect method via the electoral college. The term Electoral College was only first written into law in 1845 (that oughta settle some heated bar bets!)

There are 538 members (electors) of the electoral college, allocated to the states: One for each senator and one for each representative to congress, plus one for the District of Columbia (why do we always say Washington, D.C.? Is there any other place in D.C.?)

In order to be elected president or vice-president a candidate must get an absolute majority of the electors. For 2008 that would be 270 votes. It's possible that neither candidate gets the required 270 votes in which case other rules kick in.

In all states plus the District of Columbia it is a winner-takes-all, whichever candidate wins the popular vote gets all the electoral votes for that state.

The two exceptions are Maine and Nebraska. They break up the state into their congressional districts and assign electors based on the who wins the popular vote in each congressional district.

This means that for most states it's always the number of electors for the winning candidate and zero for the loser. In Maine and Nebraska it can (and usually is) split based on the above results.

Now it gets interesting. As far as the federal government is concerned there is no legal requirement that an elector actually vote according to the above formulas (winner take all or per district.)

An elector who does not vote according to the state's designated formula is known as a faithless elector.

24 states have laws which punish faithless electors, but the punishments aren't very severe and aren't likely to be enforced anyhow, it probably depends on perceived motivation. Besides, in all 24 of those states they may only be punished after the vote is cast so as far as the election itself goes any punishment is somewhat academic except as a threat beforehand.

In fact, no faithless elector has ever been punished, and any such punishment has never been decided on for its constitutionality in the supreme court of the United States. There have been 158 cases of faithless electors in all of US history, and 71 of those were because the candidate died between election day and December 15th when the electoral college actually votes.

In 1836, 23 Virginia electors changed their vote together, refusing to vote for Martin Van Buren's running mate Richard Mentor Johnson for various reasons, among them his open relationship with a mulatto woman whom he referred to as his common law wife and with whom he had two daughters. Johnson became vice-president anyhow. Failing to achieve a majority the twelfth amendment rules swung in and congress settled the matter. And that's more than enough on the 1836 election.

Where were we? Oh yes, if you add the 71 electors who changed their vote because the candidate died to the 23 in 1836 you get 94 faithless electors accounted for. So, out of a total of 158 there are 64 remaining faithless electors in US history. Not too many.

In 2004 one Minnesota elector cast his vote for president for John Edwards, apparently by accident. In 2000 the DC elector refused to vote at all in protest of DC's lack of statehood. In 1976 one elector voted for Ronald Reagan rather than the actual presidential candidate that year Gerald Ford. In 1972 a faithless elector voted for a libertarian party candidate. And on and on.

Faithless electors have never made a difference in the outcome of a presidential election though in 2000 it was close, George W. Bush won with 271 electors and the faithless elector who refused to vote was pledged to Al Gore.

So what effect does our indirect electoral college voting system have on our elections?

Several effects have been postulated but one interesting effect is that a presidential candidate can win an election by only winning the winner-take-all electors in eleven (11) states: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, New Jersey and South Carolina. The candidate could, in theory, ignore the other 39 states and DC and still become president.

It's not very likely that any candidate would feel certain enough of their winning exactly those 11 states so the effect is probably remote but it does illustrate that candidates would do well in concentrating on those states in their efforts. Some would say that makes for lopsided elections and election platorms.

Conversely, this system gives disproportionate (compared to their population) weight to low-population states such as Alaska. Alaska has three electoral votes for a population of about 680,000 or one electoral vote per 226,000. In contrast, Calfornia has 55 electors for a population of 36.5 million or one elector per 663,000 (we assume these proportions roughly reflect the voting population.) So each voter's vote in Alaska has over twice the clout as each Californian's.

Others have criticized the electoral college system because it discourages people from bothering to vote in states where the outcome is pretty well known before election day. For example, it's highly, highly, (did we say highly?) likely that the popular vote in Massachusetts will go for Barack Obama today. Since the electors are chosen winner-take-all it doesn't matter if Obama wins MA by one vote or one million votes, he gets the same number of electors from MA (12, for those keeping score at home.)

So, the reasoning goes, once you're fairly certain the vote in your state will go a particular way why bother to vote at all?

Well, as a public service, one good answer is that there will be other elections on your ballot which are voted by direct vote. For example, all congressmen/women/others are up for election this year, and there are probably some local elections in your district for dog catcher or something you wouldn't want to miss out on.

And, besides, the media is going to crow and crow about the popular result for each presidential candidate and how much of a mandate it seems to gives him. A president with a landslide in the popular election can feel more confident about the attractiveness of his policies to the voters than one who barely squeaked by (or, in the case of our current president, didn't win the national vote at all in 2000.)

So you should go out and vote anyhow...go ahead...we'll wait...

Conversely, if the president were instead chosen by popular vote then every vote would count because your vote for Obama in MA might nullify a vote for McCain in Nebraska. Under the electoral college system there is no such effect, MA can go for Obama and NE can go for McCain regardless of how you vote in MA.

Only three times in US history has the electoral college vote gone the opposite of the nation's popular vote as a whole.

In 1876 democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote by over 3% but lost the electoral college vote to Rutherford B Hayes by one vote in a very heated and historic contest. In 1888 the democrat, Grover Cleveland, beat republican Benjamin Harrison in the popular vote by about 1% but Harrison won with 233 electoral votes versus Cleveland's 168.

Finally, and probably fresh in a lot of your minds, in 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote by about a half percentage point (about 500,000 votes), but George Bush won the election, 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266.

One last question: Who are these electors, how are they chosen? (Ok, perhaps that was two questions.)

How they are chosen varies from state to state though not by much, it's basically party politics with a few exceptions where they're chosen in a primary election. The constitution only forbids them from being federal office holders or otherwise sworn an oath to the United States but later rebelled against the US (this came up during the Civil War.)

The names of the electors are made available shortly after the election, see this page for details. You can also find a link to the 2004 electors on that web page.

In practice it doesn't matter a lot who the actual electors are because their vote is pre-ordained by the state's (or congressional district's) popular vote. The only exception is if an election result hung on the decision of a faithless elector or other irregularity (e.g., a candidate dying) leaving the choice entirely up to the elector.

For even more gruesome details on the electoral college and its history:

Well, that was pretty boring, sorry, but at least we kept it reasonably short and to the point.

Article: 000142
04 November 2008 00:46 EST

Barack Obama Takes Dixville Notch, NH by a Landslide!
Dixville Notch, New Hampshire
Dixville Notch Votes!

The first results are in from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire and the results are decisive: 15 votes for Barack Obama, 6 for John McCain.

Ok, there are only 21 voters in Dixville Notch. But it's the first time since 1968 the town has gone for the democrat.

Article: 000141
03 November 2008 13:32 EST

Vote For Obama/Biden and Democrats Tomorrow
The-Election.com Endorses Obama/Biden
The-Election.com Endorses Obama/Biden

We support Obama/Biden for president. Obama presents the vision and leadership this country needs right now. And we urge you to vote for democrats to help smooth our new president's transition.

Obama's major opponent, John McCain, does not get our support. Here is why.

When Obama speaks of change he is promising a change in direction for this country, something which is so sorely needed.

When John McCain speaks of change, he is only referring to a change in direction for his republican party which has strayed so far from common sense and even their own dignity under George W. Bush.

We hope the republicans find their way and we wish them luck. The republican party has been dominated by neo-conservative ideologues who try to respond to every problem which comes their way by consulting magic decoder rings and producing predictable, formulaic answers. They have also pandered for votes from a right-wing fringe whose thought processes, to be frank, sometimes scares us.

In claiming to lead the so-called "Christian Right" the republicans have only put them at odds with much of the rest of the country and let fear present them as a freak show. We know there are a lot of decent, thoughtful, people who also happen to be very serious about their religion. They need to begin speaking with their own voices, not through the voices of republican spin doctors.

Throughout the Bush administration republicans increased spending and the size of government while cutting taxes. This led to the largest increase in government debt in US history and, ultimately, to our current financial crisis.

John McCain is correct, his party needs a change. We don't know if he's the man to do it, but at least he admits they have a big problem.

But that's not what we want in a president. We want a person who can lead our country out of the current crisis and into a brighter future, not a president who promises to use his office to improve the republican brand. The republicans can fight that fight among themselves without dragging the rest of the country through their pain.

John McCain likes to label himself a "maverick". To a great extent this is his way of distancing himself from the mainstream republican party and in particular George W. Bush.

But what we fear most from a John McCain presidency is that we will soon find out that he really has no influence within the republican party. Another way to look at the word "maverick" is "outsider".

A John McCain presidency would be deadlocked and ineffective, the last thing we need right now. McCain would almost certainly face a democratic majority in both houses of Congress putting himself and Congress in serious conflict.

McCain would also be unable to lead his congressional republican party members because they don't want to change, and they have never given John McCain any respect. That's why he's a "maverick": His fellow republicans have never listened to his oppositions to their overspending and other disasterous policies over the past several years. If they had, he'd be a leader, not a maverick.

Finally, as many have noted, McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate was reckless and cynical at best. McCain is elderly and in poor health, he's had several bouts with cancer in recent years. Sarah Palin has been described by her own republican advisers as a "whack job". She seems to have little or no grasp of the issues. Worse, she seems to have contempt for such "book learnin'". We have no way of knowing what she would base her decisions on if she were to become president but we fear the worst, a mind in darkness following not reason, but emotion. This world has never been kind to the willfully ignorant.

In contrast, Barack Obama is smart, energetic, and in lockstep with his party who will dominate Congress during his administration. Obama seems to us to truly want to try to work out the problems this nation faces and to do so by tapping into the best talent he can find.

In the United States a president is surrounded by literally thousands of people who are expert in the issues: Foreign policy experts in the State Department, military experts in the pentagon, economic experts in various branches of government, Treasury, GAO, etc.

Ours is not a kingdom or dictatorship, the president does not act alone on the isssues which affect America and the world. The president is the executive leader of a vast and complex machine we call government. Obama and Biden seem to understand and represent that reality. McCain and Palin do not, they seem to us uncomfortable with the actual job they are running for.

For these reasons we urge you to vote for Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and democrats tomorrow.

Article: 000140
2 November 2008 16:53 EST

McCain: Women Lie About Their Health To Get Abortions
Obama: ...Nobody's pro-abortion...
McCain: ..."health" of the mother?...that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement to mean almost anything...

What more can we add? Watch the video.

McCain's words drip with contempt for women, he accuses women of lying about their health to get abortions. Mere seconds after Obama says nobody, including himself, is pro-abortion McCain just throws back the pro-abortion label.

John McCain divorced his first wife, Carol, shortly after returning from Vietnam. His first wife had been in a near-deadly car accident and was still recovering.

John McCain proceeded to have an affair with beer heiress Cindy McCain, 18 years his junior, as his wife painfully learned to walk again.

John McCain filed for a divorce from still recovering first-wife Carol and one month later married current-wife Cindy.

And what does his first-wife Carol have to say about all this today?

My marriage ended because John McCain didn't want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that happens...it just does.
Carol (Shepp) McCain, John McCain's first wife
and mother of their daughter Sidney

First wife Carol, John McCain, daughter Sidney, and two sons

Article: 000139
30 October 2008 17:50 EDT

ARREST SENATOR ELIZABETH DOLE!!!
News Report with Full Dole Ad

Republican senator Elizabeth "Tobacco is Your Friend, Tobacco company subsidies are my friend!" Dole, up for re-election in North Carolina, CROSSED A LINE and should be arrested.

She's losing her re-election. Yay! That should be the LEAST that happens to her.

"Liddy" Dole ran a TV ad which FALSIFIED the voice of her opponent democrat Kay Hagen. Her campaign admits this.

What did she have an actress who faked Kay Hagen's voice say?

Fake Hagen: "There is no god"

This was in an ad which tried to tie Hagen to an atheist group which Hagen had no ties to, so Dole had to make it up and pay to have Hagen's voice faked.

News Report with Full Kay Hagen Response Ad

Hagen has now put out a TV ad in which she unequivocally condemns Dole, as a fellow Christian, for bearing false witness.

ARREST REPUBLICAN ELIZABETH  DOLE!

These are the sort of low-life scum who have taken over the republican party. It's time they saw the inside of jail cells! C'mon North Carolina, show some decency and stand up to this dirtbag, arrest her!

P.S. Liddy Dole is a good friend of George Bush and John McCain. Her elderly husband ran for president in 1996 and later starred in a bunch of viagra commercials alongside Britney Spears. What a class act (NOT!)

Article: 000138
30 October 2008 12:57 EDT

Sarah "Pallin'" Palin Accuses Obama of Pallin' Around With Satan!
Palin Wicked Witch of the West
We're MELTING!

Sarah Palin chose Halloween Eve to announce that she's had a vision that Barack Obama was once friendly with Satan himself!

"It must be true!" said the republican vice-presidential candidate, "why else would I say this unless god put these words in my mouth?"

[editor: Someone throw a bucket of water on her!]

Article: 000137
29 October 2008 14:03 EDT

The Republican Gas Price Holiday Continues...
McCain Bush Waving
Hello Suckers!

Today's quote: "She said at her church, Governor Palin, said she asked everyone to pray for a natural gas pipeline, which she said was God's will. And today, God said, 'Hey lady, I don't deal with oil companies. That's more Satan's area.'"

– Jay Leno

As we've noted before gasoline prices went down just before the 2006 election also.

Of course, the reasonable attitude is "who cares what the reason is? I'll take it!" And we agree 100%, take it!

But don't forget those $4/gallon gas prices when you go to the polls and a republican party dominated by oil men. Isn't it interesting that gas prices across Texas are under $2/gallon with prices as low as $1.75/gallon in Laredo?

Bush used to be governor of Texas, VP Dick Cheney quickly switched his residency from Texas to Wyoming (he used to be a congressman from Wyoming, elected 1978) so he could run for Vice-President. The constitution says the presidential and vice-presidential candidate can't be from the same state, but doesn't really specify what that means, what the minimum residency requirements are. So Dick Cheney, who was head of Bush's vice-presidential selection committee in 2000, suggested himself as the best candidate and promptly "switched" his state residency. But the oil connections and roots in Texas for both the president and vice-president are very, very deep.

It's no surprise that this republican gas price holiday should benefit Texas most.

But don't be fooled, you're being manipulated.

Those $4/gallon gas prices will be back shortly after the election. In fact, global oil prices are rising sharply today, up almost 10%. It takes a few weeks for global oil prices to affect prices at the pump. The oil men are already champing at the bit.

CBS News: "McCain credited the recent $10-a-barrel drop in the price of oil to President Bush..."

Article: 000136
28 October 2008 14:33 EDT

McCain Senior Economic Adviser: McCain Health Plan Won't Work!
(mccain impatiently listening to audience question)
Why Do They Ask So Many Questions!?

Today's quote: I don't want a president [McCain] with a bucket list!

– Chris Rock

Douglas Hotz-Eakin is John McCain's senior economic policy adviser.

He told CNN, basically, that McCain's health insurance plan won't work.

There's a very good summary of this on the Huffington Post but let us make it short and sweet.

First, McCain's plan would give you a $5,000 tax credit if you leave your employer's plan and buy your own health insurance on the open market.

Second, McCain's plan would tax employer health insurance for the first time in history.

Some have criticized that because younger, healthier people would be offered cheaper health insurance they'd be most likely to leave their employer health plans and use this $5,000 McCain health insurance tax credit.

Another criticism is that $5,000/year won't buy health insurance for very many people. Right now the national average is more like $12,000/year when you include employer contributions.

When asked about this McCain senior economic adviser Holtz-Eakins took these two facts and said the younger and healthier won't leave their employer plans anyhow because, as we said, the $5,000 tax credit won't even buy them health insurance.

Why is that so? Because the health insurance employers offer is based on a big pool of employees. This has two effects. First, it's a bigger sale, selling insurance for 1,000 employees in one contract is just way more efficient for the insurance company than selling contracts one person at a time.

For example, even modest-sized companies will handle many of the details through their own human resources departments. Selling the contracts one by one to individuals removes that support and now the insurance companies have to deal with all the details of renewals, benefits questions, plan change details and qualifications, etc. In brief, the insurance companies need more support people working for them with individual health insurance contracts, and they have to pay those people out of your premiums.

Second, even a supposedly young and healthy person can have an expensive illness. For example, a car accident or if they have family coverage a child's illness or problematic pregnancy. Younger, healthier people are also the ones who have young or new children.

Spreading that risk across hundreds, or thousands in a large company, of young people is certainly cheaper for the health insurance company than trying to guess whether or not this individual who just asked for health insurance might have a big health expense. One person might get into a serious car accident, but out of a 1,000 very few will, so the health insurance company gets to average the potential cost across the whole group when setting the premium, so can offer a lower premium to groups.

McCain's senior economic adviser not only admits this, but puts this reasoning forward as why younger, healthier people won't leave their employee plans for "free market" health insurance: In a nutshell, because it won't be cheaper.

But then why does McCain want to give a $5,000 tax credit so people can go get their own insurance when they know it won't make any sense to get their own health insurance?

Ideology, specifically, right-wing ideology, won out over reason and simple arithmetic. It's the Republican Party in a nutshell.

So what's left of the McCain health insurance plan? Nothing but a new tax on your health insurance.

Still believe McCain stands for lower taxes?

Article: 000135
27 October 2008 14:58 EDT

McCain Wants To Bring Back The Military Draft?
John McCain: Town Hall Meeting 20 August 2008

Audience member: "...if we don't re-enact the draft, I don't think we will have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell."

John McCain: "I don't disagree with anything you just said."

John McCain is currently the Republican Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee whose responsibilities include the Selective Service System ("the draft".)

As to the preamble by the audience member describing the sad condition of medical services for veterans we can only say that John McCain has been a member of the Senate since 1983, over 25 years, and has frequently advertised himself as a champion of veterans. Apparently, that hasn't helped them.

Palin buddy, Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, guilty on all counts

Alaskan Republican senator Ted Stevens, fighting to retain his seat, has just been found guilty on all felony corruption charges:

1. False statements: Scheme to conceal information – guilty.

2. False statements: 2001 financial disclosure form – guilty.

3. False statements: 2002 financial disclosure form – guilty.

4. False statements: 2003 financial disclosure form – guilty.

5. False statements: 2004 financial disclosure form – guilty.

6. False statements: 2005 financial disclosure form – guilty.

7. False statements: 2006 financial disclosure form – guilty.

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and republican vice-presidential nominee has been a close pal of Ted Stevens, serving as director of his 527 group. . In a joint conference with Stevens Palin recently said "she had not abandoned him politically".

Article: 000134
25 October 2008 19:27 EDT

And How About Some State Ballot Measures / Referenda?
(aerial photo of wonderland greyhound race track, Revere, MA)
The New Fenway Park?

  • Arizona
    • Proposition 102 – The "Marriage Protection Amendment", amends the Arizona state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Pro: stops those pesky judges like in California and Connecticut from doing it here. Con: Same referendum rejected in 2006, there are more important matters to address, government out of the bedroom.
  • Arkansas
    • Proposed Initiative Act No. 1 – "Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban", would make it illegal for any individual cohabiting outside of a valid marriage to adopt or provide foster care to minors. Primarily intended to prevent same-sex couples (who can't get married in Arkansas) from adopting though presumably would extend to differently-sexed couples. Pro: keeps children away from sinners. Con: based on experience children seem to do well raised by sinners.
  • California
    • Proposition 1A – $9.95B bond for a high-speed rail network. Pro: it will save the environment, reduce highway congestion, save commuters time and money, matching funds from federal government, it will be really cool to ride. Con: they'll never get it finished, special interests stand to make billions, why not expand existing transit systems instead, why ask people who are afraid to ride on trains to fund this?, it won't be cool to ride.
    • Proposition 2 – "Standards for Confining Farm Animals" would require that farm animals must be able to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and freely extend their limbs. Pro: Animal Cruelty concerns Con: Egg cost and industry fleeing to Mexico and elsewhere concerns, costs of compliance.
    • Proposition 4 – "Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification Initiative", also known as "Sarah's Law". Would prohibit abortion for unemancipated minors until 48 hours after physician notifies minor’s parent, legal guardian or, if parental abuse has been reported, an alternative adult family member. Pro: 34 states already have similar laws, could facilitate parental intervention where needed. Con: Experience with similar laws in other states shows they don't work, drives teens in unsupportive or abusive households to seek self-induced or otherwise unwise procedures including suicide, could criminalize good samaritan family members or others who are trying to help.
    • Proposition 8 – "California Marriage Protection Act", would ban same sex marriage (by constitutional amendment.) Pro: It's not anti-gay, it only seeks to restrict their rights, would protect people who are only practicing their religious convictions, will prevent mention of same-sex marriage in public schools. Con: Equal protection under the law, so-called domestic partnerships are not a sufficient alternative.
  • Colorado
    • Civil Rights Initiative – Would prohibit discrimination or preferential treatment by the State of Colorado in public employment, public education, and public contracting. Pro: Anti-Affirmative Action. Con: Pro-Affirmative Action.
    • Right to Work Initiative – would prohibit unions and employers from negotiating "union shop" contracts under which employees would be required to pay union membership or "agency" fees as a condition of continued employment. Pro: Anti-Union, paying workers less means more affordable products for everyone except maybe the workers being paid less. Con: Allows non-union worker to get all the benefits of the union without paying dues in union shops, it's anti-union, economic benefits not true, the opposite might be true (e.g., some companies with unionized labor might not be able to open workplaces in Colorado.)
    • Definition of Person Initiative – Would grant all rights of personhood at the moment of fertilization. Pro: It's a Baby! Con: It's a Fetus!
  • Connecticut
    • Voting Age Measure – Allow 17 year olds who will be 18 by the time of the general election to vote in primaries. Pro: It seems fair, several other states already have this. Con: None listed but we'll make one up: They're babies! They're fetuses! They're babies! They're fetuses!
  • Delaware
    • Delaware does not allow citizen initiatives, referenda, or recalls. So bugger off!
  • Florida
    • Amendment 2 – "The Marriage Protection Amendment", would define marriage as between one woman and one man (or vice-versa presumably.) Pro: Do it for the children! Stops a court from doing what they did in Massachusetts. Con: It's just bait to get conservatives to the polls for the presidential election (go read the link it really says that), it doesn't seem fair, would limit various benefits such as pension and health care for same-sex couples.
  • Massachusetts
    • Question 1 – "State Income Tax Repeal" would repeal the state income tax over two years, first lowering it by 50% then to zero. Pro: Referendum passed in 2000 to lower income taxes but was ignored by legislature, people would get to keep their money and build their own roads and bridges, state would still have $18 billion for their mischief. Con: They want your money, vote no or we'll shoot this cute little puppy dog, we'll just get your money some other way so why bother?
    • Question 2 "Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative" would replace criminal penalties with $100 fine for simple possession but no change for growing, trafficking, or being in traffic under the influence, increases penalties for minors. Pro: Would save the state $130 million a year, marijuana arrests would no longer stop people from getting jobs etc., half the population of MA has been arrested for marijuana at least once (well, 2.8M arrests for 6M citizens), the arrests do no good anyhow, boon to the munchies industry. Con: Sends the wrong message to kids (Do It For The Children!), if it's not criminal to possess it or use it then someone might sell it.
    • Question 3 – "Greyhound Protection Act" would prohibit greyhound dog racing which involves wagering. Pro: Inhumane for dogs involved, nobody goes to the greyhound races any more, the people who work at the track can go get jobs elsewhere, we can build a new Red Sox stadium in Revere. Con: The dogs are treated well, we (owners) would lose our tracks and people would lose their jobs, the state would lose tax revenues from the betting, and There Goes Swifty!

More later...

Article: 000133
23 October 2008 17:21 EDT

Sarah Palin Wearing a Vote Democrat Scarf???
Sarah Palin Scarf: Donkeys? Vote Democrat?
Sarah Palin Scarf: Donkeys? Vote Democrat?

First it gets strange, then it gets weird.
Article: 000132
23 October 2008 14:19 EDT

Obama, McCain Newspaper Endorsements
Newspaper Boy (1921) holding newspaper
Extra! Extra!

Two lists today, one a list of newspapers which endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 but have endorsed Obama, and the second a list of newspapers which endorsed John Kerry in 2004 but have endorsed John McCain:

1. Newspapers which endorsed George W Bush in 2004 but endorse Barack Obama in 2008 (28 newspapers):

  • CALIFORNIA
    • Daily Breeze (Torrance)
    • Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario)
    • Long Beach Press Telegram
    • Pasadena Star-News
    • San Gabriel Valley Tribune
    • The (Stockton) Record
    • San Bernardino Sun
    • Tri-Valley Herald
  • COLORADO
    • The Denver Post
  • CONNECTICUT
    • New Haven Register
  • FLORIDA
    • Naples Daily-News
  • ILLINOIS
    • Chicago Tribune
  • INDIANA
    • Palladium-Item
  • IOWA
    • Mason City Globe Gazette
  • NEW JERSEY
    • Asbury Park Press
  • NEW MEXICO
    • Las Cruces Sun-News
  • NEW YORK
    • Daily News
  • OHIO
    • Hamilton Journal-News
    • The Repository (Canton)
    • The Times-Reporter (New Philadelphia)
  • OREGON
    • Yamhill Valley News-Register (McMinnville)
  • PENNSYLVANIA
    • The Express-Times (Easton)
  • TEXAS
    • Austin American-Statesman
    • Houston Chronicle
  • UTAH
    • The Salt Lake Tribune
  • WASHINGTON
    • The Columbian
    • Yakima Herald-Republic
  • WISCONSIN
    • Wisconsin State Journal (Madison)

2. Newspapers which endorsed John Kerry in 2004 but endorse John McCain in 2008 (4 newspapers.)

  • FLORIDA
    • Bradenton Herald
  • TENNESSEE
    • The Jackson Sun
  • TEXAS
    • Corpus Christi Caller-Times
  • VIRGINIA
    • Daily Press (Newport News)
Source: Editor & Publisher, 23 October 2008.
Article: 000131
22 October 2008 13:37 EDT

Someone Gets It
Michelle Caruso-Cabrera Video
Michelle Caruso-Cabrera Video (click to view)

In the video segment linked to the picture at right John Harwood of NBC reports that the wealthy now favor Obama overwhelmingly, in some areas by as much as 20% over McCain.

CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera is generally a doctrinaire republican pouring out unconditional love for her favorite party and John McCain whenever the opportunity arises.

But what does she say in response to the seemingly (to some) counter-intuitive polling result that the wealthy are showing Obama a lot of love? It's near the end of the linked video:

John, they have been voting on the fact that the republicans haven't been republicans. They claim to be the party that doesn't spend so much money and what do they do? They spend like drunken sailors for eight years! There are no republicans to vote for!

Article: 000130
21 October 2008 12:28 EDT

Stock Market, Economy Prefer Democrats
(bar chart: stock chart returns by president)
Stock Market Returns by President

According to the articles linked below the stock market has done much better under a democratic presidency (Barack Obama) than a republican presidency (John McCain.)

And it's not just the stock market. GDP, gross domestic product, which measures the total output of the United States, has also fared better under democrats.

Article: 000129
20 October 2008 20:15 EDT

Republican Gas Price Holiday Marches On!
(Gas Price Sign: Regular: ARM Plus: LEG Premium: FIRST BORN
DON'T BE FOOLED AGAIN!

Don't be fooled again! Just like 2006 we're seeing gas prices drop just before the election as the republican administration and friends (in the oil industry) desperately try to get you to vote for them.

In a new survey Reuters reports that it's no longer pockets of the country where gas prices are under $3/gallon (see previous article): The US national gas price average has fallen to $2.91.

And like 2006 it'll probably be back where it was (over $4/gallon) shortly after the election. One ray of hope is that if the democrats win gasoline will probably go down sharply after they take office in January, for years, maybe forever, as alternative energy sources will finally be taken seriously.

Article: 000128
20 October 2008 14:18 EDT

Why We Love Carville and Begala...
(surreal fingers pointing out of painter's canvas)
It's not polite to...?

A very entertaining, and probably prophetic, article from James Carville and Paul Begala -- senior strategists for the 1992 Clinton campaign -- in the Huffington Post:

Let the Blame Game Begin

"First -- a couple of ground rules. You can't blame the press or minorities ... finger-pointing is only interesting when you point at someone on your team. Republicans need a civil war -- a steel cage death match -- to sort out what they stand for. Scapegoating outsiders won't purge the party of what's rotting it on the inside..."

Article: 000127
18 October 2008 16:21 EDT

And How About Some House of Representative Elections...Part 1
Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones September 10, 1949 - August 20, 2008
Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones
September 10, 1949 - August 20, 2008

The House of Representatives is currently composed of 235 democrats and 199 republicans. There's a good chance this year's election will tilt the balance more in the democrat's favor. Unlike the senate where terms are divided into three election cycles all representatives are up for re-election every two years.

There are 32 retirements, 6 democrat and 26 republican.

Perhaps the most interesting "retirement" is Vito Fossella, republican representative from New York's 13 congressional district which would be Staten Island and the westernmost chunk of Brooklyn. Rep Fossella was first elected in a special election in 1997 to replace retiring Susan Molinari.

On May 1, 2008 Fossella was arrested in Alexandria, VA for driving while intoxicated. Apparently he was driving home after being kicked out of Logan Tavern though in all fairness it sounds like any trouble was caused by a companion who kept passing out.

Fossella, married to Mary Patricia Rowan with three children, then admitted to having an extra-marital affair with Air Force Lt Colonel Laura Fey, and that he was the father of their three-year old child. All indications are that he has been leading a double-life with two families.

Fossella has subsequently announced that he will not seek re-election in 2008.

Ohio's 11th Congressional district, greater Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie, is vacant due to the recent death of democrat Stephanie Tubb Jones of an aneurysm on August 20, 2008. Warrensville Heights Mayor Marcia Fudge is all but certain to win that spot.

All of Alaska is just one congressional district represented by representative Don Young, a republican since 1973. At 75 years of age Young isn't so young but is running again for re-election. He's being challenged by democrat Ethan Berkowitz and Alaskan independence party Don Wright.

Young once called environmentalists "a self-centered bunch of waffle-stomping, Harvard-graduating, intellectual idiots" in an outburst in Congress. Young was closely associated with the "bridge to nowhere" pork spending project. The proposed bridge, budgeted at $225M, would have connected Ketchikan, Alaska to Gravina Island, population 50.

In July, 2007 the Wall Street Journal reported that Young was under federal investigation for money he received from the Alaska-based oil pipeline company VECO Corporation (no longer an independent company.)

At this point there is a good chance Young will lose to democrat challenger Berkowitz.

In California's 4th congressional district, the northeastern corner of the state on the border of Nevada and including Truckee and Placer (a suburb of Sacramento), former republican Deputy Whip John Doolittle is likely facing indictment in the Abramoff scandal and has announced his retirement from the house.

Democrat Charlie Brown, who narrowly lost to Doolittle in 2006, and Republican Tom McClintock are vying for Doolittle's seat. The race is currently very close.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco's 8th district is expected to win re-election against republican Dana Walsh. "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan has declared as an independent candidate in this race and will appear on the ballot.

Republican incumbent Brian Bilbay might be vulnerable to a challenge by democrat Nick Leibham in California's 50th district just northwest of San Diego proper on the coast.

In Colorado democrat Mark Udall has left his seat in the 2nd district (Boulder area) to run for senate. Democrat Jared Polis is expected to defeat republican and unity party candidate Bill Hammons.

Another interesting race in Colorado is for the slot vacated by Tom Tancredo in his unsuccessful bid for the republican presidential nomination. The 6th district just south of Denver (includes Littleton) is heavily republican and likely to remain republican and give the win to secretary of state Mike Coffman over democrat Hank Eng.

Connecticut's, and New England's, only republican congressman, Christopher Shays, is in a close race with former Goldman Sachs executive and democrat Jim Himes. The 4th district, which includes Stamford and Bridgeport, went solidly for John Kerry in 2004.

In the Connecticut 5th district which streches from Danvers up along the New York border to the Massachusetts border and east to Meridien and New Britain (near Hartford), democrat Chris Murphy seems to be fighting for his seat against state senator David Cappiello.

There's a fierce fight for Florida's 8th district which includes Orlando for republican incumbent Ric Keller's seat. Democratic challenger Alan Grayson is on the democrat's "Red to Blue" list which entitles him to additional campaign funds. Keller had pledged to serve only four terms but is running for his fifth in 2008. Right now Keller appears to have a significant lead in this district which went 55% for George Bush in 2004.

You might recall republican congressman Mark Foley who got himself embroiled in a scandal involving text messaging congressional pages. His seat was taken over by democrat Tim Mahoney. Florida's 16th district includes the fabulously tony Palm Beach and leans heavily republican. Mahoney is thought to have won in 2006 at least in part due to Foley's name remaining on the ballot despite his withdrawal from the race. The republican challenger is Tom Rooney. It's likely the republicans will take back this seat.

Florida's 21st district includes Hialeah and former Hialeah mayor Raul L. Martinez is challenging republican incumbent Lincoln Diaz-Balart. Normally this district would be expected to go for the republican but the former mayor may prove a formidable challenger.

Democrat John Barrow in Georgia's 12th district is facing a tough challenge from former republican representative Max Burns. The district runs along the Georgia coastline from Augusta to Savannah and west to Vidalia home of the onion.

Stay tuned for part 2...

Article: 000126
17 October 2008 17:30 EDT

Barack Obama's First Job as President
Barack Obama at Podium
...that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights

When Barack Obama takes office on January 20, 2009 he will no doubt have a long TODO list.

But President Obama's first task will be to humbly apologize. That is, to humbly apologize to the United States of America and the world on behalf of the US government:

  • To the people of New Orleans for having ignored their neediest in their worst time of need.
  • To our allies in Europe who were more often right than wrong when they criticized our foreign policies.
  • To those who shepherd our education system, millions of people who are only trying to help our society, yet were demonized.
  • To our heroic and loyal military whose blood and treasure were spilled in an ill-conceived and misguided mission in Iraq.
  • To millions of Americans who had to humiliate themselves in debt, poverty, and bankruptcy for the "error" of getting sick, or having a child or loved one get sick, and not being able to afford the cure.
  • To the thousands of Iraqis who were needlessly killed while we bungled our military and diplomatic strategy there.
  • And to Americans whose financial futures dimmed as the result of a misguided conservative ideology which promised prosperity from radical market deregulation, massive deficit spending, and a war without end which will "pay for itself".

Sure, it will be President Obama voicing an American people apologizing to itself and for itself. But it needs to be voiced.

As they say in personal recovery programs: First, you have to admit you have a problem.

Article: 000125
16 October 2008 20:02 EDT

How About Some Senate Races?
(yellow traffic sign: Caution Senator At Play)
Larry "Wide Stance" Craig is Retiring

35 Senate seats are up for election this year, 33 regular and two mid-term. The mid-terms are Wyoming, due to the death of Senator Craig L. Thomas, and Mississippi, due to the resignation of Senator Trent Lott.

Let's take a look at some of the more interesting:

Perhaps the most interesting is Joe Biden who is running both as the Vice-Presidential candidate with Barack Obama and is on the ballot in Delaware as the democratic candidate for senator. This is alllowed and should Biden win both elections he can resign from his senate seat and the governor, a democrat, can appoint a replacement. Biden's opponent is Christine O'Donnell, a "political commentator" she has never held elected office. You may have seen her on Fox news or Entertainment Tonight.

Democrat Dick Durbin, Illinois is interesting because he's the Senate Majority Whip but he's highly favored to win.

Mary Landrieu is the incumbent democrat in Louisiana. Louisiana has become much more republican recently and last year voted in Bobby Jindal as its republican governor. Nonetheless she is expected to win against state treasurer John N. Kennedy who switched parties from democrat to republican for this race.

John Kerry, democratic presidential candidate in 2004, is running essentially unchallenged in Massachusetts although the ballot will list republican Jeff Beatty, a relative unknown.

Carl Levin, democrat from Michigan and one of the most powerful people in Washington is expected to easily regain his seat. He is running against republican Jack Hoogendyk, libertarian Scotty Berman and Mike Nitikin from the US Taxpayers Party / Constitutional Party.

84 year old Frank Lautenberg, democrat from New Jersey, may be in a close race against former congressman Dick Zimmer.

85 year old Ted Stevens, republican senator from Alaska, is fighting a number of interesting battles. Besides being up for election he's also on the stand testifying about bribes and corruption from oil companies. Two executives from Veco Corp. have already plead guilty to bribing Stevens! Stevens is facing seven felony counts. His challenger is Mark Begich, mayor of Anchorage.

Saxby Chambliss was the guy in 2002 who won his Georgia senate seat by, among other things, painting his opponent incumbent Max Cleland, as a "friend of Osama bin Laden". This despite the fact that Cleland is a triple amputee from injuries he received serving in the Vietnam War. His democratic challenger this time around is Jim Martin, Georgia commissioner of Human Resources and former general assembly member. Martin is also a Vietnam veteran.

Mitch McConnell's bid to retain his seat in Kentucky is interesting because McConnel is republican senate minority leader. McConnell has been very supportive of President Bush which may hurt him. The democratic candidate is Bruce Lunsford, businessman and US Army Veteran.

Republican Norm Coleman is running against former Saturday Night Live writer, comedian, and talk show host Al Franken in Minnesota. Eighteen candidates are running for this seat! Seven from the Democratic Farmer-Labor party, two Republican Party, seven Independent Party, one Libertarian Party and one Constitution party. Former senator Dean Barkely is running as the Independence Party candidate. This one may be too strange to handicap. Eighteen candidates! Whoo-hoo.

In Mississippi, Roger Wicker has been serving out Trent Lott's senate term since Lott resigned last year. Wicker is the republican candidate for this seat. He's challenged by former governor Ronnie Musgrove.

In New Hampshire, republican incumbent John Sununu is being challenged by former governor Jeanne Shaheen. This has been a bitter, mud-slinging race and should be close with a slight preference given at this time to Shaheen unseating Sununu in November.

Elizabeth Dole, husband of 1996 republican presidential candidate Bob Dole (perhaps you remember his viagra commercials?) is being challenged in North Carolina by a relatively unknown state senator Kay Hagan. It looks like Hagen might beat Liddy Dole who has been closely associated with President Bush over the years.

In Oregon republican incumbent Gordon Smith is facing stiff opposition (no reference to Bob Dole's viagra ads) from democratic challenger Jeff Merkley. Merkely is Oregon house of representatives speaker.

We may see an upset for Texas republican senator John Cornyn by challenger Rick Noriega. It's a long shot for Noriega, but polls indicate the race may be close.

Both Wyoming senators are up for election due to the special election for Craig L Thomas' seat. Thomas died on June 4th. John Barrasso is the appointee and is running in the republican slot. The other Wyoming senator up for election is incumbent republican Michael Enzi. Both are very likely to be re-elected, there are no serious challengers.

There are five senators retiring, all republicans.

Wayne Allard, Colorado republican, so Bob Schaffer is running against democrat Mark Udall. The race is expected to be very close with a slight leaning towards democrat Udall at this point.

Butt of many jokes due to his arrest for soliciting sex in an airport bathroom (it's not "allegedly" when the perp signs a confession, right?), republican Larry Craig, is retiring from his seat in Idaho. The republican running to fill his seat (no pun intended) is Lieutenant Governor Jim Risch and the democrat is Larry La Rocco. Most likely Risch will win easily.

Republican Chuck Hegal retires from his Montana seat. The republican nominee is former governor Mike Johanns and Scott Kleeb is the on the democratic ticket. It seems likely at this point that Johanns will win easily in this reddest of red states.

Pete Domenici won't run for re-election for his seat as the republican representing New Mexico in the senate due to a degenerative brain disorder. Domenici is also under investigation for his involvement in the firing of US Attorney David Iglesias. So it's democrat Tom Udall (pop-quiz: how many Udalls in these races? And who was Mo Udall and is he related to any of them?) versus republican Steve Pearce. It looks like democrat Tom Udall might take this one, allegedly the national republican party has pulled back funding from Pearce.

John Warner, republican senator from Virginia, who was once married to Elizabeth Taylor!!!, has decided to retire. Running in the republican slot is former governor Jim Gilmore versus another former governor Mark (no relation) Warner running as the democrat. It looks like Mark (no relation) Warner will easily win over Gilmore.

Here's a great link to information about these races:

Article: 000124
14 October 2008 20:33 EDT

Republican Gas Price Holiday Backfires
(Gas pump nozzle tied into hangman's noose)
They will sell us the rope with which we will hang them – Lenin

It's no secret that the republican oil men in the White House can improve the republican party's chances in elections by temporarily lowering gasoline prices just before an election (and then the prices go right back up after that election.) We've written on this topic previously.

And guess what? Gas prices are coming down fast, just as we predicted:

USA Today, October 14, 2008: Gas prices fall 33 cents in largest weekly price drop ever

What's backfiring is that the drop in gas prices are being attributed to the republican collapse of the economy. Oops!

We appreciate lower gas prices, but not if it means skyrocketing unemployment and bank panics! And especially not if it's just a ploy to get us another four years of Bush "economic policies" from John McCain.

Article: 000123
13 October 2008 12:51 EDT

Levi Johnston Drops Out of High School
(McCain, Bristol Palin and Levi): Family Values?
John McCain, Bristol Palin, and Levi Johnston

Hi Levi! Go ahead, knock her up and drop out of high school. Only the unborn have any right to a future. That's Conservative Family Values!


Levi Johnston, father of Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol's baby, has dropped out of high school to become an electrician's apprentice.

It's unfortunate when a kid drops out of high school. Particularly a kid who should have all the advantages.

We know that many drop out of high school due to various reasons, many out of their control, family financial needs, bad advice and role models, whatever. Just the same it's always sad when this happens. Do we agree on that at least? That it's sad when a kid drops out of high school?

But Levi Johnston's mother-in-law-to-be is the Governor of Alaska, Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

What does Sarah Palin think about this? Does she think this is all going well? These aren't poor people, this is the governor of Alaska!

Sure, having a baby when you're both 18 is a tough start, both emotionally, time-wise, and financially. There's no doubt about that.

But where's the family values here? Where's the governor's support for her daughter? Has she actually disowned the two of them?

Or does Sarah Palin think this is an ok trade-off, that a high school diploma isn't important, let the boy drop out and work?

Sarah Palin is not poor. She's actually quite wealthy by most people's standards.

As governor she's paid $125,000 per year, her husband makes somewhat less, closer to $50,000 per year, so mom and dad take home $175,000/year in salary. That's hardly poor.

The Palins own a half-million dollar home on a lake, and a float plane, and two vacation homes.

With other sources of income included such as the state oil royalties and investment income their combined income for 2007 will be about $230,000.

I don't know about you, but if I were in that position, and maybe even about to become vice-president of the united states (salary: $208,100 but lots of financial opportunities such as paid speaking engagements) I wouldn't let my 18 year old son-in-law, the kid about to be my daughter's husband and father of her child, drop out of high school if I could possibly help it. I'd tell him to get whatever part-time job he can manage for now and I'd help cover expenses. If I owned a big home like the Palins I'd offer to let them live there until they can properly be on their own.

But, like many of these "conservative family values" they seem to end with the grandstanding and telling other people what to do. Why are Sarah Palin's daughter and future son-in-law being treated like hard-luck cases?

Oh let's make this simple: Does the Sarah Palin family have their heads up their asses? Or are they just swell with their future son-in-law dropping out of high school despite the fact that they could easily afford better?

They can paint it any color they like but this is a tragedy, plain and simple.

Article: 000122
11 October 2008 17:30 EDT

She's Making a List, Checkin' it Twice! You Betcha!
(Palin with Caribou Hunting Kill) NEXT!?
NEXT!?

After nearly getting away with "troopergate" Sarah Palin is emboldened.

What the committee report concluded is that she did what she's accused of, used her office as governor to try to get her former brother-in-law Mike Wooten fired from his state trooper job, and in frustration fired this guy Monegan who they were pressuring to fire Wooten when he wouldn't cooperate. It was apparently in retaliation (against Wooten) over a bitter divorce from Sarah Palin's sister, Molly:

Governor Sarah Palin abused her power as Governor in that her conduct violated AS 39.52.110(a) of the Ethics Act, which provides "The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust."

Well, Sarah Palin is crankin' up a list for when she's Vice-President you betcha! Here are some items we can expect:

  • That snippy kid who works at the 7-eleven down the block in Wassila? I'm thinkin' some health-code violations if I see her working there again.
  • The gray Prius who cut our limo off last week near Denver? We got your license plate, what do the words "tax audit" mean to you sir?
  • Levi Johnston? That drunken hockey player who knocked up my daughter Bristol? Yeah, I gotta grin and bear it now that I got this campaign to do. But when it's over I'm gonna make sure you take care of her and the kid in the manner to which they're accustomed or better! We got three jobs lined up for you, Levi, in the state government. Nothin' fancy, you're just a young punk, but if you work all three and hand the paychecks over to Bristol you'll do ok. You certainly won't have any time to plot some kind of divorce you weasel.
  • And if I get elected I just gotta find a way to get the FCC to scratch the eyes outta that bitch Katie Couric!
  • That Tina Fey who impersonates me on that saturday night live show I've never seen cuz I have to be up so early on Sundays? I'm on to you too woman! If I lose this thing I got a line into some favors up top at NBC who say I get your job! Turnaround is the best revenge, slut!

Article: 000121
10 October 2008 16:30 EDT

Dirty Tricks...
ballot showing Barack 'Osama': Ooops? Yeah, right.
Ooops? Yeah, right.

Absentee ballots in Renssellaer County, NY (upstate NY) had Barack Obama's name misspelled on absentee ballots as "Barack Osama".

Worse, if you in any way tamper with the ballot such as crossing off the "Osama" and pencilling in "Obama" your ballot would be invalid and not counted! Oh, gosh, votes for Barack Obama invalidated? I'm sure that would just break the hearts of republicans.

"This was a typo" was what Republican elections commissioner for the county Larry Bugbee said..."We have three different staff members who proof these things and somehow the typo got by us."

Arrest Larry Bugbee, and maybe those staff members, this is elections tampering. His explanation is so unlikely it defies reason.

Article: 000120
09 October 2008 19:16 EDT

Some Straight Talk on Bill Ayers
Professor William Ayers
Professor William Ayers, current entry at University of Illinois, Chicago

Professor Ayers teaches Urban School Change, Youth and the Modern Predicament, Teaching for Justice and Democracy, Interpretive Research, and the Cultural Contexts of Teaching. He has been at UIC for a number of years. He has written extensively about the importance of creating progressive educational opportunities in urban public schools. His book, To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, was named Book of the Year by Kappa Delta Pi and won the Written Award for Distinguished Work in Biography and Autobiography. His interests focus on the political and social contexts of schooling and the meaning and ethical purposes of teachers, students, and families.


John McCain is trying to paint Barack Obama as someone who associates with terrorists because of organizations Obama served in which Ayers was also a member. Whoop-dee-doo.

But let's go a little deeper...

First, McCain calls Ayers a "domestic terrorist" for his activities in the 1960s but Ayers has never been convicted of a single crime related to any of this.

So, if McCain felt so strongly about Ayers then maybe in his 26 years as a Senator he may've shown some interest in charging Ayers with some crime. Senators can make that sort of thing happen. Did McCain knowingly allow a "domestic terrorist" to roam freely in this country? Nonsense.

But even that's not the point.

Ayers was a member of the Weathermen or Weather Underground.

What was that organization? Just another of the many anti-Vietnam War groups filled with idealistic young people many of whom were facing a draft into that senseless meat-grinder of a war in which over 50,000 young men died. For what? For nothing.

So, guess what? Ayers and his friends were right! Vietnam was a stupid war, just like Iraq is a stupid war.

40 years from now are we going to be demonizing people who were members of anti-Iraq war groups today as somehow pro-terrorist or terrorist themselves?

Let's be honest, when McCain and his puppet, Sarah "Rabid Avon Lady" Palin say "terrorist" it's because "commie pinko bastard" just doesn't work anymore. That's what republicans called people who voiced opposition to the Vietnam War back in that era, "commie pinko bastards". Nice.

Today if you're from that witch-hunting republican looney fringe, as McCain and Palin are, you try to tie anyone who disagrees with you to "terrorism".

It's just like the red-baiting, commie-baiting of years past, trying to distract from (back then) the fact that we should've gotten out of Vietnam years before we did. Oh no, they'd say, that would just've made the commies happy you commie pinko bastards! Yeah, there's a good idea, let's get another 50,000 American boys killed because we wouldn't want to make some commie pinko bastards happy!

Basically the strategy is to distract from the real issue, like what the hell is our goal in Iraq?, to just painting anyone who disagrees with you as some sort of monster.

If John McCain actually had any judgement he would've denounced the Vietnam war as a mistake by now! Sure, we honor his service and his unimaginable experiences as a prisoner of war. But that doesn't make it impossible for someone with good judgment to admit that the whole Vietnam war was a terrible, terrible error.

So, imagine that, Bill Ayers is right! John McCain is wrong!

And I guess we're still commie pinko bastards. Hah!

Anyhow, this country has much more important issues than whether or not Barack Obama ever sat in the same room as Professor Ayers.

Article: 000119
09 October 2008 14:13 EDT

The Republican Gas Holiday
(Bush and Saudi Prince Kiss) Oil's Well That Ends Well!
Oil's Well That Ends Well!

Isn't it amazing how, with two oilmen (Bush and Cheney) in the White House, and the republicans in trouble in the election polls, that gasoline prices at the pump are dropping like a rock?

This happened in 2006 also. In August 2006 gasoline was over $3.00/gallon (historical price source: United States Department of Energy, EIA).

From there the price of gasoline dropped steadily, by November 6th, 2006, the day before the election, the average US gasoline pump price had dropped to $2.23/gallon.

Well, guess what? It's happening again. Amazing!

In late July 2008 gasoline peaked at just over $4.00/gallon.

Since this past July pump prices have been falling steadily week by week, $3.88, $3.81, $3.75, $3.70, a small upwards blip in September but $3.56 on this past October 6th.

And guess what:

But watch out. After the 2006 election gasoline prices went right back up, by spring they were well over $3.00/gallon which was high way back then, peaking at $3.23/gallon for the week of May 28, 2007.

If you're wondering how the US can possibly manipulate gasoline prices see our article on exactly that.

COINCIDENCE? YOU BE THE JUDGE...!

Article: 000118
08 October 2008 13:34 EDT

Republican Financial Disaster Goes Global
image of distraught dust bowl family (Joads) from Grapes of Wrath: Where Now?
Where Now?

The United States is about 3% of the world's population. We consume about 25% of the world's oil, and we produce about 20% of the world's GDP which actually isn't that bad a ratio for all the complaining about our oil consumption. Sure we consume a lot of oil, but we PRODUCE a lot with it! And a lot of what we produce goes to the rest of the world.

That said it's not surprising that when the US sneezes the world catches a cold.

This has been the case with this current financial crisis which indisputably started and deepened in the US and is only now spreading to Asia, Russia, and Europe.

A quick summary of the past several hours!.

  • The Japanese stock market was down over 9% last night, 1,000 points down.
  • Iceland is negotiating a $5 billion "bailout" with Russia. Apparently the US and Europe turned them down and now they're desparate.
  • Russia has had their stock markets closed by the government more than open in the past few days.
  • Indonesia closed their stock market last night when it fell 10%.
  • England is nationalizing their banks on an emergency basis.
  • The French foreign minister last night promised that no French bank will fail after a major bank locked its doors entirely and no one there could get to their money.
  • The US Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Canada, and Sweden's central bank (Riksbank), Switzerland's central bank, and China's central bank all cut their borrowing interest rates in the past few hours.
  • This world financial mess is the result of bad republican fiscal policies when they controlled the entire Congress and White House.
  • The republicans did vast deregulation of banks and other financials which allowed those institutions to create trillions of dollars in phony "credit default swaps" with no requirement that there was any ability for them to pay off on them, and they couldn't.



What Is A Credit Default Swap?
In a nutshell, a credit default swap is insurance that a bond won't default. If the bond defaults then the insurance policy holder is paid the insured amount, like any insurance.
But they were being written without any ability to pay off on the insurance.
It's just like if you started selling fire insurance on homes in your neighborhood but you didn't really have any money to pay off on those policies if a house burned down.
A lot of this insurance was written on bonds which backed mortgages. Then came the collapse of the housing bubble and time to pay off and they couldn't. On TRILLIONS of dollars of claims!
Worse, they sold these "insurance" policies to each other. So it was like you wrote those phony fire insurance policies, and so did someone else in your neighborhood.
So, as a safety net, you bought some of the other crook's fire insurance policies on the same homes figuring if any homes burned you'd just send everyone to the other crook, or try to collect from him yourself. Which also gives you some legal cover, ``I didn't fail to pay on those policies, that other guy swindled everyone, if he'd paid I'd've given the money to the policyholders, don't call ME a crook!''
This went on in chains. One sold insurance, and then bought insurance from the next guy, and so on. Whoever was at the end of the chain was known as the primary holder, he had no one else to put the blame on. And guess what? That's who went bankrupt! That's how AIG, Lehman, and others went bankrupt. The bucks stopped there.
OY!
Before it all fell apart there was a multi-trillion dollar market in buying and selling these phony mortgage insurance policies. And then it all collapsed, and here we are today.
How could this happen? Why doesn't this happen with all insurance?
Insurance is regulated. There are government rules and regulations that require them to routinely prove to the government that they actually have the money to pay off on the policies they are selling.
This is exactly what the republicans deregulated!
Suddenly anyone could sell credit insurance. And sell they did...TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS of phony credit insurance backed up by nothing, not even the mortgages or homes. They didn't own those mortgages any more than your home insurance company owns your home. It was just insurance.


Let's keep going...

Why did the housing market collapse? Because the republican congress and president ran up over THREE TRILLION dollars in new debt. To sell that debt, they had to sell it as treasury bonds, they kept increasing the interest rates. Mortgage rates are tied to those interest rates.

That soured the housing market and began pushing a lot of people, about a million, with adjustable rate mortgages into default, they couldn't keep up with the quickly rising monthly payments. And it also soured new home buyers, mortgages were costing more and more.

How did the republicans run up $3 trillion in new debt 2001-2006?

They increased spending while giving you tax cuts! That's ridiculous, and we now know where it leads.

Still like your Bush tax cut?

Because John McCain and the republican party are promising MORE OF THE SAME!

This is a complete failure of an ideology, a republican ideology, that cutting taxes, deregulating, and increasing spending will somehow bring prosperity.

How was it supposed to bring prosperity? That's not clear.

When republicans "sold" the idea all they'd say as they irresponsibly cut taxes is "it's YOUR money". When they deregulated the banks and Wall Street firms they'd say "let's get government out of the way!"

That's not a PLAN. That's an IDEOLOGY, a belief system, almost like a religion, faith before reason.

And now McCain, Palin, and other republican candidates are praying for a miracle.

They'd better get themselves to church!

Article: 000117
07 Ocotober 2008 20:55 EDT

Cindy McCain's Drug Addiction
Bush Kisses Cindy McCain as John McCain Looks On: Mmmm, Is That Hillbilly Heroin I Smell?
Mmmm, Is That Hillbilly Heroin I Smell?!

From the Cindy McCain Wikipedia entry:

Cindy McCain founded the American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT)...It was a non-profit organization that organized trips for doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel to provide MASH-like emergency medical care to disaster-struck or war-torn third-world areas...

In 1989, Cindy McCain became addicted to Percocet and Vicodin, opioid painkillers, which she initially took to alleviate pain... she resorted to having an AVMT physician write illegal prescriptions in the names of three AVMT employees without their knowledge...In 1992, her parents staged an intervention to force her to get help...she told her husband [ed. John MCain] about her problem, attended a drug treatment facility...

In January 1993, Tom Gosinski, an AVMT employee, who had discovered her illegal drug use, was terminated on budgetary grounds... Subsequently, he tipped off the Drug Enforcement Administration, and a federal investigation ensued... McCain's defense team, led by John McCain's Keating Five lawyer John Dowd, secured an agreement with the U.S. Attorney's office for McCain, a first-time offender, that avoided charges while requiring her to pay financial restitution...

Meanwhile, in early 1994 Gosinski filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against [ed. Cindy] McCain, which he told her he would settle for $250,000... In response, Dowd [ed. Cindy Mccain's lawyer] characterized this request as blackmail and requested that officials investigate Gosinski for extortion.

Knowing that the DEA prosecutors were about to publicly disclose her past addiction, [ed. Cindy] McCain preemptively revealed the story to reporters saying she was doing so willingly: "Although my conduct did not result in compromising any missions of AVMT, my actions were wrong, and I regret them."

AVMT concluded its activities in 1995 in the wake of the McCain narcotics prescriptions controversy...

I'll guess that any of you who may've gotten in serious trouble with the law, drug addiction and forging prescriptions for your drugs is serious trouble, would've liked to have been able to just flip a few bucks in the prosecutor's direction and walk!

Well, we'll guess only if you're rich and your husband is a senator that you can treat serious drug crimes like parking tickets.

We really don't need these Beverly Hillbilly's in the White House, we'd have to change its name to the White Trash House.

Article: 000116
02 October 2008 17:45 EDT

So Much Bullsh*t, So Little Time!
House of Cards?
House of Cards?

Think you understand the financial crisis? It's the bad mortgages, right? Wrong!

About 750,000 homes are currently in foreclosure [1].

Assume the average mortgage is $200,000. In a moment you'll see you can double or halve that if you like.

That means the total value of all mortgages in foreclosure is about 150 billion dollars. Double the average mortgage to $400,000 and you get 300 billion dollars, but it's not that high, let's call it 200 billion dollars for argument's sake.

So how come taxpayers are being asked for 750 billion dollars, and have already pumped about a trillion into the system, if the problem is only, at worst, about 200 billion dollars?

Put another way, the government could outright BUY every mortgage in foreclosure for less than one third of what's being asked for.

And it's worse, much worse. Even that $200 billion number assumes those mortgages are worth zero. But they're not worth zero, there are houses behind those mortgages. They're easily worth half. That is, buy a $200,000 mortgage on a home, sell the house, how many houses with $200,000 mortgages won't fetch even $100,000? Not many.

So the figure to buy out every mortgage in foreclosure isn't even $200B, it's probably half that, $100B. Say there's that many again in trouble and going into foreclosure over the next few months. Still only $200B. Why not just buy them or buy out the mortgages and work out whatever can be worked out with the family being foreclosed on.

Here's a typical workout in a bad situation: You pay what you CAN pay for the next 12 months and then we'll review it again. No moral hazard, the interest keeps piling on if you pay less than originally expected, but you don't get thrown out of the house, no ugly foreclosure or legal costs or homeless families or empty houses dragging down the rest of the neighborhood, and we (the government) get some payments as you try to get into better financial shape or maybe the housing market recovers enough for you to sell the house and close out the mortgage, whatever. Or maybe it never gets better, so what? Still A LOT less than $750 billion.

So what's the explanation? Let's start easy:

It's not the mortgages, It's Not The Mortgages, IT'S NOT THE MORTGAGES!



[1] Wikipedia entry on the Subprime Mortgage Crisis

Article: 000115
01 October 2008 17:55 EDT

First it Gets Strange, Then it Gets Weird
We'll Take Care of This! (three stooges photo)
We'll Take Care of This!

The bailout bill to be voted on tonight by the senate is basically a $700 billion earmark!

The $700B bailout vote in the senate is on an amendment attached to HR1424 which is the Mental Health Parity Bill, a bill which requires employers to provide health insurance which recognizes mental illness like any other illness.

Why is the senate doing this? Because spending bills must begin in the house of representatives, not the senate. Since the house of representatives failed to pass the bailout bill on Monday this is the senate's turn, and they're using what amounts to a loophole to get into the driver's seat.

There's something poetic about putting this $700 billion bailout on a mental illness bill.

Article: 000114
30 September 2008 22:17 EDT

What the Democrats Should Do Now
John Boehner
House Minority Leader John Boehner
It's Prounounced "Benner"...Honest!

The democrats in congress should acknowledge that the republicans are in total disarray and dysfunctional.

Republican president Bush, along with his treasury secretary Henry Paulson, pleaded for passage of the bail out bill.

John McCain who supposedly represents some sort of change in leadership of the republican party flew back to Washington, suspending his campaign, to lobby house republicans in favor of the bailout bill.

Representative John Boehner, republican house minority leader, urged the republican caucus he suppsedly leads to vote for the bill. Boehner even assured the cameras that they would vote for the bill.

Those house republicans voted no on the bill 2:1. Two thirds of house republicans voted against the bailout bill. Despite Bush's pleading. Despite Boehner's pleadings. Despite whatever it was that McCain did.

This doesn't preclude the possibility that maybe the bailout bill was bad and should have been voted against.

But at this point it's clear that what we have in the republican party is anarchy.

If 2/3 of the republican house representatives were opposed to this bill it should have never gone to the floor when it did. Why did both McCain and Boehner and to some extent Bush seem so confident this bill would pass, and then 2/3 of their own congressmen and women voted against them?

Put another way, what did those 2/3 want, exactly? Did they want nothing to be done? Did they want certain specific changes in the bill? Did they even have a common view of what they wanted?

The best an embarrassed Boehner could say for himself was that it was somehow Speaker Pelosi's fault, that she made a remark just before the voting which offended republican reps into presumably changing their votes to against the bailout bill.

That seems ridiculous and implausible. This was their president's bill, George Bush's bill, it was the democrats who were going along with it and trying to play in a non-partisan, what's good for the country, way.

What the democrats should do is use a parliamentary system approach and form a Coalition of the Sane made up of probably mostly democrats but as many republicans as shame and sanity can muster and just marginalize the rest. If they can pull together two-thirds sane people in the senate and house (slim chance, we know) they can even over-ride presidential vetos.

But maybe at this point, with the republicans in revolt against the lame duck Bush, perhaps Bush would see the light, face the music, smell the coffee....Nahhhhh.

Article: 000113
29 September 2008 19:10 EDT

The Republicans Are Revolting!
(worried Bush holding small us flag) Now What?
Now What?

In defiance of republican president Bush's pleas to congress to vote for the big $700B "bailout" bill, house republicans defeated the measure voting over 2:1 against!

Is anybody in charge here?

Why did this bailout bill go to the floor if the republicans couldn't even deliver more than 1/3 of their votes?

Then, as if to try to convert tragedy into dark humor, house republican leader John Boehner tried to blame their failure on some remarks Nancy Pelosi made just prior to the voting.

As representative Barney Frank immediately responded: So because they thought their feelings were hurt by one individual they decided to punish the entire country? Frank then offered to go to each of the republicans (apparently, 12) who felt this way and say very nice things to each of them if they would just promise to change their vote.

Interestingly, it was 12 republicans who got together to protest Speaker Pelosi's remarks, and the measure failed by 12 republican votes. Coincidence? You be the judge!

Note: The democrats could have passed the bill without those republicans' help but as was said by house leaders it was very important to them that both democrats and republicans pass the bill both to show bipartisan support and to prevent finger-pointing later, particularly in upcoming election campaigns.

Article: 000112
28 September 2008 19:13 EDT

Why Obama Won The Debate
Just a little itch, really!
Just a little itch, really!

Obama managed to keep McCain on the topic of the Iraq war for much of the debate time. Most Americans, about 3/4, hate the Iraq war yet McCain is deeply committed, psychologically, to this war.

People often speculate that McCain has tied his hopes for the Iraq war to his own personal frustration that the US pulled out of Vietnam "before finishing the job". He even said as much during the debate, that he won't oversee "another Vietnam" (pullout.)

Obama, therefore, hanged John McCain with his own rope.

Article: 000111
26 September 2008 14:25 EDT

Is Sarah Palin on DRUGS?
Hi America! I'm, uh, errr, Sarah, um, Sar...uh...Puh...

We are quite serious, is Sarah Palin on DRUGS??? Watch Palin talk to Katie Couric about the bailout on 9/24. Palin is completely incoherent, rambling...it's about health care reform???...somebody arrest Katie Couric for date rape!

Here's the URL of that video if you need to send it to your friends:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npUMUASwaec
Article: 000110
25 September 2008 20:17 EDT

A Repeat of 1996?
Choking?
Choking?

In 1996 Bill Clinton and Al Gore ran against Bob Dole and Jack Kemp.

In early October, with less than four weeks to go, Jack Kemp returned to his home town of Buffalo, NY and mostly just gave up on the campaign. This was shortly after his sound defeat to Vice President Al Gore in the October 9th, 1996 vice-presidential debate.

Kemp refused to comment but clearly was nowhere to be seen which proved an embarrasment for Dole. The press wasn't surprised because Dole/Kemp was trailing badly in the polls and ultimately lost the election in a landslide (379 to 159 electoral votes, 47M vs 39M popular votes.)

One story was that the Republican party, seeing how badly Dole/Kemp was doing in the polls, pulled as much budget as they could, why throw good money after bad?

Is this being repeated with McCain/Palin? Has the Republican Party decided that given the mood of the country and the reasonable anger of the voters at republicans that spending on the McCain/Palin is a waste and has re-shifted the money to focus on more winnable races in congress and gubernatorial contests?

That would explain John McCain's suspension of his campaign and rush back to Washington better than his stated reason that all his attention was needed to focus on the "economic crisis".

As Barack Obama has repeatedly pointed out if McCain were ever to become president he'd have to multi-task, why not just let Sarah Palin continue campaigning while he spent a few days in Washington? We still have about 40 days to go.

Article: 000109
24 September 2008 17:16 EDT

McCain Suspends Campaign! Wants Friday Debate “Delayed”!
HEEEEERE'S JOHNNY!

John McCain has “suspended” his presidential campaign "to focus on the economy".

Let's face it, we are witnessing the total collapse of the republican party and the republican ideology.

It had its opportunity. From 2001-2006 they controlled the entire congress, since 2001 they have controlled the white house, and by and large control the Supreme Court.

The republicans got free reign to implement their ideology and it has failed.

Now polls are reporting one after another that voters are voicing strongly anti-republican sentiments two to one, three to one, worse.

The American voters have figured it out: The Republican have failed by their own hand.

And now John McCain is at the receiving end of the voters' wrath.

It's no wonder that he's apparently conceding the election.

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb McCain...

Article: 000108
24 September 2008 15:23 EDT

The Minimum You Need To Know About the Financial Mess
Oops!
Oops!
Railroad accident 1895, Gare Montparnasse, Paris

The current mess is not about failing mortgages, at least not directly. That's an over-simplification.

What it's about are the "derivatives". Without getting too technical they're bets, wagering, in a Wall Street way. Sort of like insurance is a form of wagering, you bet the insurance company that your house won't (or will) burn down.

What these financial institutions were doing was taking batches of mortgages and buying and selling bets on whether they would be profitable.

These bets are not backed by those mortgages any more than if you bet on a horse you get the horse.

Think of gambling at the horse track. Let's say you own a horse in the next race. It cost you $100,000 to get that horse into the race and you would get a $250,000 purse if it wins. But what if it loses? Your $100,000 is gone.

So you bet on the second best horse, say it's paying 4 to 1, so you bet $25,000, you'd get $100,000 if it wins.

Now, if your horse wins you get $250,000, less the $100,000 entry fees, and less the $25,000 you bet on the other horse which lost. But that's ok, you'd still be ahead $125,000.

What if the other horse comes in? You would get $100,000 (4 to 1 on $25,000) which would pay your $100,000 entry fee, you'd break even, which is better than being out your $100,000 entry fee.

Let's keep it simple and imagine this is a two-horse race.

NOW PAY ATTENTION:

WHAT IF THE TRACK WENT BANKRUPT BEFORE YOU COLLECTED AND THEY REFUSED TO (COULDN'T) PAY YOU ANYTHING?

Then it wouldn't matter which horse won. You'd be out the $100,000 entry fee and the $25,000 bet on the other horse. Even if your horse won you wouldn't get the $250,000 purse, and if the other horse won you wouldn't get that $100,000 either.

In essence this is what happened. These financial institutions bet TRILLIONS of dollars that you would AND that you wouldn't pay your mortage. Perhaps more one way or the other depending on how good they thought your ability to pay was.

Want your head to spin? Then THEY SOLD THOSE BETS to others! There was not only a market in betting, there was a market in re-selling the bets! And betting on the bets. This is how it got to trillions.

So, the mortgages are down there somewhere, just like the horses would be somehow involved in the horse track scenario, but the problem is that the betting can be worth far more than the horses (or mortgages.)

And what does the government want to do? What do they want another $700 billion for?

Basically, to pay off the bad bets, to buy them out, and get the horse track open again, so everybody who lost on those bets can try to win their money back.

Will it work? NOBODY KNOWS!

What seems crazy is that we got into this mess because the republican president, along with the 2001-2006 republican congress borrowed too much, $3 TRILLION dollars in new debt.

And now they're trying to borrow their way out of the mess!

It's like trying to pay off one credit card with another credit card.

Worse! It's YOUR credit card!

Article: 000107
23 September 2008 12:21 EDT

The Paulson/Bernanke/Cox Senate Hearings
ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!
ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!

It's amazing. We elect two oil men (Bush and Cheney), oil triples in price and is in constant crisis. Before we know it we're in a war in the middle east and have invaded a major oil producing country (Iraq) at a cost of hundreds of billions to the US taxpayer and no clear explanation what it is we're trying to accomplish or when or how it will end.

Then Bush hires Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, the premier Wall Street firm, and suddenly we're running up the taxpayers' credit cards to put TRILLIONS into Wall Street.

Astounding coincidences.

As we type this treasury secretary Henry Paulson, fed chairman Ben Bernanke, and SEC Chair Christopher Cox are being grilled by the Senate Banking Committee.

One senator asks if this $700 billion bailout money is only intended to go to regulated banks etc.?

Paulson says yes, that is the intent.

So the senator then asks if they could put that wording into any senate approval for the $700 billion?

Paulson gets flustered and reaffirms that is the intent, that the money only go to federally regulated companies, but he doesn't think it should be in the wording (why not? He needs "maximum flexibility").

Senator Schumer then asks why do they need the $700B all at once? Why not approve $150B now and then reconvene January 15th for example, assess how it's going, and if merited approve some more money. Does Paulson really expect to spend the whole $700B before January 15th?

Paulson clearly doesn't like that...have to restore confidence in Wall Street...need maximum flexibility...time is of the essence...just the usual noises but never quite answers the question.

Hang onto your wallets. This $700B represents approximately $7,000 new federal debt for every family in America. The total $5 trillion in new debt under the Bush administration represents $50,000 per family. Still happy about that tax cut, the $600 they sent you back?

You don't think that's your problem? How's your home value doing? How do you like gas and energy and food prices? How do you think they got that way? The first $3 trillion in new debt the republican congress and president ran up 2001-2006 which has sharply devalued the US dollar.

Now the Bush administration is arguing that the way out of the mess is to run up another trillion or two in new debt.

The democratic senators are trying their best to figure out how to put some controls on this $700B before approving it. And Paulson is twisting and turning for every nickel, unfettered. I wonder why?

Article: 000106
22 September 2008 19:08 EDT

Two to One Margin: Republicans to Blame for Economic Mess
It's all our fault! (photo of homeless mother and children)
It's all our fault!

CNN reports that their poll shows voters overwhelmingly blame republicans for the current economic mess by a margin of two to one.

Republicans have been trying to place the blame for this current economic disaster on democrats. Their usual argument is that democrats pushed for affordable mortgages for working people and that somehow (how is not clear) pressured Fannie Mae and Fannie Mac into unwise lending practices.

Last year Lehman Brothers, a large Wall Street investment bank, handed out two and a half billion dollars in bonuses to their top staff. Last week Lehman declared bankruptcy and is a likely recipient of billions in government bailout funds.

But we're supposed to believe the problem lies with average working people who were trying to put a roof over their family's head? That's so...republican!

What caused the meltdown was the republican congress (2001-2006) and the republican president (Bush, 2001-now) added three trillion dollars in new debt onto the federal government.

Funding that debt (selling bonds) necessitated raising interest rates.

Quickly rising interest rates made the initially more affordable adjustable-rate mortgages unaffordable. Monthly mortgage payments doubled. Add to that rising gas prices and young working familes became strapped.

This also caught mortgage lenders off-guard, money had been loaned out at low interest rates but when those rates began to rise rapidly they didn't have time to adjust to the new situation. To make matters worse the rising interest rates needed to fund all that republican debt caused a business slowdown putting further pressure on businesses.

In turn, the business slowdown has resulted in a sharp increase in unemployment. Naturally when unemployment rises there are going to be more mortgage defaults. When there are too many, more than banks anticipated, banks begin to suffer, not to mention the unemployed. This is particularly true when the pool of mortgages they wrote were for much lower interest rates than now available.

So once again the republicans try to blame the famine on the starving.

It's unbelievable, and apparently the American voters agree!

Article: 000105
22 September 12:05 EDT

The Financial Mess
US Treasury Secretary Hammerin' Hank Paulson
US Treasury Secretary Hammerin' Hank Paulson

Finding the roots of this financial mess is pretty easy:

The republican congress (2001-2006) and republican president (Bush, 2001-present) ran up an historic amount of debt, over 3 trillion dollars.

To finance that debt they had to sell bonds. To sell that many bonds they had to creep up interest rates to make them more attractive. Besides raising interest rates they competed with business for credit, slowing down the economy. Why loan a billion to some risky business when you can loan it to the government who has never failed to pay back loans?

Cranking up interest rates to sell US government bonds to finance this massive amount of new debt which the republicans created sank the housing market, and that, along with the slowing economy, began a domino effect taking down credit institutions who were holding too much of this now worthless debt, or now almost worthless freddie mac and fannie mae paper, etc. This led to a panic, no big institution thought the other creditworthy, business deals and financing ground to a halt, and now the government is stepping in.

It's true that the democrats have been in the majority in congress since January 2007 but their majority is very slim, certainly not enough to challenge or override the president, and if it's true that this mess has been caused by the 3 trillion dollars in debt run up by the president and republican congress there really hasn't been time to dig out as the consequences came to fruition only months after capturing that slim margin.

What we have now is a stalemated congress trying to undo and repair in a few months the damage caused over several years by a united congress and presidency.

So now the proposal is, after spending nearly half a trillion dollars they don't have so far this year, the government, specifically president Bush and secretary of treasury Hank Paulson, are urging congress to make available (to the department of treasury to dispense as it sees fit) another $700 billion. Paulson has now advised congress that the situation is not only urgent, it is dire, the entire economy can collapse "in a matter of days" if his proposal isn't approved.

There's an old saying in managment: If you want a FAST answer that's easy: NO!

Assuming this plan goes through we're now up to about 1.5 trillion dollars in new debt just this year, maybe closer to 2 trillion dollars, we're rapidly speeding towards doubling the amount of debt which got us into this mess.

But if it was deficit spending which got us into this mess then isn't it reasonable to be worried about using deficit spending to try to get us out? For example, if injecting all this borrowed money into the system causes runaway inflation that will sink the value of outstanding mortgages and consumer debt (car loans, credit cards, etc.) causing more pressure on the very banks we're trying to save.

Isn't it worrisome that the history of this era might be that the republicans got the economy into trouble borrowing too much money, and like idiots tried to get out of trouble by just borrowing more?

Article: 000104
19 September 2008 00:00 EDT

Vote Pirate...or Else!
Arrrr! September 19 it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day
Prepare To Be Boarded!

Avast Ye Maties! Ol' Jolly Roger here to clue ya swabs and lubbers on the Pirate Party ticket.

Now ya listen up ya scalliwags! The Pirate Party don't have no platform a'cause we don't likes the word. When one of ours stands on a platform it's usually got a trap door and there's a rope around his neck. Shivers me timbers to think about it. The only planks we got are the ones ya gonna walk if you don't vote Pirate!

Now, we offers ya two sets of candidates because the body count tryin' to settle on one was gettin' too high even for our tastes. Arrgh! The contest coulda made a dead man's rotting flesh crawl!

First off there's Black Bart from the middle seas and far eastern shores. He talks smooth as pearls fallin' out of a silken purse and can stick a knife in ya back and ye'll thank him for it! Now listen up! He's makin' a plan for this country which'll take the gold from them what's has it so the rest of ya lubbers can party like it's 1999! And free grog for all sez Black Bart, a gentleman like none other.

Black Bart's runnin' mate is Smilin' Joe, an older fella known to many as The Terror of Rehoboth! Them what's alive to tell the tale anyhow. Some of you are still spittin' bilge water cuz Black Bart scorned Sister Pantslegs for Smilin' Joe. Well, eats yer bone soup and shuts yer bung hole, what's done is done and Black Bart sez naysayers can just kiss his shiny cutlass!

The boss of the other ticket is tough Papa Johnny, and a tougher old salt ye'll never meet. Ya don't mess with Old Papa Johnny, others have tried. They tied him down and broke his bones and he laughed in their faces for five years until his mates broke him out. Now he's back with just a few marbles shook loose that he keeps in his pocket for good luck. Now pay attention, his plan is to settle some scores...old, new, and some he hasn't even dreamt up yet. Keep yer weather eye peeled for this buccaneer or sorry ye'll be! Johnny has one sure way to do in his enemies...he outlives 'em! AH-HAHHAH-HAR-HAR!

Papa Johnny's been goin' 'round with the Ice Queen, one scary wench if ever there was one. One winter she birth'd herself a baby then gutted a moose to keep the tad warm inside its bloody entrails. And watch out for her lipstick, it can dazzle a roomful of hardened journalists 'til they all starts talkin' gibberish at once! A humblin' sight. The Ice Queen don't come into town often so when she does ya'd do best to hide yer airs and say yer prayers!

Whichever ways ye vote something ye can be sure about, my hearties. Yer gonna get robbed, yer gonna get plundered, and yer gonna shout "Aye Aye!" and smile when we do it!

Cuz there's only one reason to Vote Pirate and that's our health plan for ya, if ya gets my driftwood.

Article: 000103
18 September 2008 13:53 EDT

Meet Chris Cox!
President Bush Appoints Chris Cox SEC Chairman
President Bush Appoints Chris Cox SEC Chairman

Christopher Cox is the chairman of the SEC, the US government's sheriff on Wall Street.

Cox's office eliminated the uptick rule on July 6th, 2007.

This rule had been in effect since 1938 and was a reaction to stock market abuses during the Great Depression.

It's a little subtle, but in a nutshell this rule required that someone closing out a short position, a bet that a company's stock will go down, must close it out with stock which is rising, not falling, to prevent professional short-traders from driving a stock down into free fall.

Cox thought this was an annoying and petty regulation so removed it. Since that day the markets have fallen over 20% and are in turmoil.

Of course, this current turmoil may be totally unrelated to the elimination of the uptick rule, no one is certain. Right now more attention is being paid to naked short-selling. But there is a growing sentiment that whatever Chris Cox is doing it must be wrong; the lunatics are running the asylum.

So who is Christopher Cox? What qualified him for this powerful job as head of regulating the US stock markets?

Cox's predecessor as SEC chair, Bill Donaldson, spent a lifetime in executive management on Wall Street. Bill Donaldson's name was well known by his peers because, among other things, his investment bank, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities, was highly respected.

Chris Cox was a republican congressman from Orange County, California, where Disneyland is located. He spent most of his 17 years in congress as Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. He resigned his seat in August, 2005 to become chairman of the SEC, a Bush appointment.

Cox also once won $5,000 on the TV game show "Password Plus!" back in the 1980s.

But you might remember Chris Cox from the Clinton administration when he headed a committee along with congressman Dan Burton which investigated allegations that Bill Clinton traded sensitive military hardware with China in exchange for campaign contributions.

It was all part of the Clinton impeachment show trial, the republicans cooked up allegation after allegation ranging from claims Clinton had a role in his white house attorney Vince Foster's suicide to bits and pieces like this Cox-Burton "Chinagate" investigative committee.

Nothing ever came of any of it. All the republican wolf pack was ever able to charge Bill Clinton with was lying about a consensual blow job, and even that silly charge didn't stick.

So, what were Chris Cox's qualifications to be SEC chairman?

He was a loyal, loyal, republican. A real team player.

Now John McCain has called for Chris Cox to be fired.

But White House spokesperson Dana Perino was asked this morning if Chris Cox still had Bush's backing and she replied "Yes".

You're doing a great job Chrissie!, echoing Bush's support of Mike Brown, Bush's appointed head of FEMA, during the Katrina hurricane disaster.

Mike Brown was also well-qualified for that disaster-response management job president Bush appointed him to, he used to breed Arabian horses (DOH!)

Yer doin' a great job, Georgie!

Article: 000102
17 September 2008 12:45 EDT

Congressman Barney Frank: Genius, Great American
Congressman Barney Frank
Congressman Barney Frank

Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was just on CNBC talking about the current financial sector mess:



"The [Bush administration] has now set a pattern of ad hoc responses to [these financial crises]."

Doesn't that sum it up? Bear-Stearns, Lehman, AIG, each is treated like a total surprise, much like the planes smashing into the World Trade Towers or hurricane Katrina.

But these can't be total surprises. These are publicly traded companies. That means they are required by law to report their finances routinely, every 90 days at least, transparently and understandably.

Something is amiss. Keep listening to Congressman Frank, he'll get to the bottom of this.

"one of the smartest men in congress...a social liberal with a market orientation"
Floyd Stoner, director for congressional relations at the American Bankers Association"

Your state is extremely well presented in the United States Senate, and your congressional district has the smartest, funniest, most effective member of Congress I know of anywhere in the United States — Barney Frank.
Vice President Al Gore

"Barney Frank: He's the smartest guy in Congress.
Bill Maher

"Always the answer to ``Who's the smartest guy in congress?'' That's my answer, Barney Frank"
Bill Maher

"Barney, I think, is in many ways unique in that he really grasps" the forces behind the housing crisis and its reverberations in global markets, Paulson said. "I thought it was remarkable when I came down here to find someone who had not been in the private sector and the capital markets who understood the capital markets as well as Barney Frank did."
Comments of Secretary Paulson, May 5, 2008 Washington Post, "On Economy, Unlikely Allies Forge Winning Strategy,"
Article: 000101
16 September 2008 14:39 EDT

How The US Government Manipulates Oil Prices
Oil plotted in US dollars, Euros, and Gold
Oil plotted in US dollars, Euros, and Gold

Frequently you hear that the US government, Bush in particular, can't manipulate oil prices, it's just too big a market, what mechanism would Bush control that could move the oil market?

We talk about oil prices in united states dollars, not british pounds or euros or yen. Why? Because international trading of oil is done in united states dollars.

But dollars also happen to be what we in America like to think in. If I told you that a few weeks ago a liter of gasoline in Paris was 1.53 euros you'd need a few minutes to work out what that means. If I told you that's about $8.46 per gallon (at the euro/dollar rate in June) it'd save you a lot of time unless you do those conversions frequently.

Now, what happens if the dollar goes down in value?

Oil, and other products we buy at international prices, would go up in price. If the dollar is less valuable a dollar buys less oil, so oil appears more expensive, and gas made from that oil goes up in price also.

If the dollar goes up in value? Oil will go down in price.

Very simple. Dollar up, oil down, dollar down, oil up.

But if oil changes price how can we tell if it's the oil going up in value, perhaps due to more demand or less supply, or the dollar's value changing?

You can convert the oil price to other currencies, or whatever you like, plot it against the price of rice in China as the expression goes.

But what makes sense? Euros, since the euro has been much more stable than the dollar in the past few years, and gold, because gold has inherent value, so much so that if gold prices go up or down it's generally assumed that's a measure of the strength of the dollar (or whatever currency) rather than some sudden spike in demand or supply of gold (though it does happen.)

That's what the chart at the top of the article shows: Oil priced in US dollars, euros, and gold from 2000 to recently.

And what do we see? We see that oil prices rise much more slowly in euros, and rises hardly at all if priced in gold.

If the dollar tracked the euro more closely oil would be about 60% what it is now, so rather than $100/barrel it would be $60/barrel. Gasoline would be $2.40/gallon not $4/gallon.

If the dollar tracked gold more closely then oil would be about $35/barrel and gasoline about $1.40/gallon!

This is not entirely hypothetical. If you had bought a bunch of gold in 2002 and you were now selling it a little at a time to pay for gasoline you would be paying, in effect, $1.40/gallon, less a little for whatever interest the money might have paid in a bank and taxes on your gold "profits" (not really profits except relative to the weak dollar.)

So, this tells us that if the dollar weakens then oil prices go up for that reason alone, and that's largely what's happened since 2000. The chart goes back to 2000 but this trend starts in 2002.

Why would the dollar weaken so much? About 30% or so since 2002?

There are a lot of reasons, but the primary reasons are falling interest rates, changes in the money supply (print money and it gets cheaper!), the federal deficit, etc.

And who controls those factors?

The Bush administration, and to some extent cooperation by congress, in particular the republican congress we had from 2001-2006.

Class dismissed.

Article: 000100
15 September 2008 15:11 EDT

Save Them From Themselves!
Wall Street!
Wall Street!

SIX years of a republican congress.

EIGHT years of a republican white house.

AND what have we got to show for it?

THREE trillion dollars in new federal debt and rising fast.

The housing market in a depression.

Some of the biggest brokerage houses and investment banks on Wall Street being liquidated and requiring bail outs.

Lehman Brothers: Chapter 11 bankruptcy (we wonder if the new bankruptcy law they and other banks lobbied for applies to them?) Bear-Stearns: Liquidated, assets given to JP Morgan ($10/share, recent high for Bear-Stearns? $113/share.) Merrill-Lynch: Desparate sell-off to Bank of America. Merrill CEO John Thain and BofA CEO Ken Lewis both asserted Monday that takeover talks only began Saturday morning, the deal was done Sunday night. General Motors: CEO Rick Wagoner is pleading with congress for a $25 billion dollar bailout. AIG: stock is down 70% since Friday open (it's only Monday!), to $5.34. 52-week high for AIG? $70.

Economic stimulus packages (send everyone back $600 of their own tax money.) Hundreds of billions in "liquidity" (that means free cash, folks) injected into the banking system to keep it afloat.

A sharp rise in bank failures being taken over by the FDIC.

Oil reaching $140/barrel, gasoline over $4.

NEED I GO ON OR CAN YOU KEEP UP WITH THE NEWS YOURSELF?

And the argument is:

REPUBLICANS ARE GOOD FOR BUSINESS???

Yeah, kind of like:

CRACK IS GOOD FOR CRACK ADDICTS!

Run this dangerously rogue republican party out of town, they were taken over by idiots, lunatics, criminals, rabid jackals, and the purely greedy years ago.

Don't be fooled again!

Article: 000099
12 September 2008 20:43 EDT

Sarah Palin Thinks You're An Idiot
Palin Shows Her True Colors (Black & Blue?)

In this video ABC's Charlie Gibson asks Sarah Palin what she thinks of the "Bush Doctrine".

Palin tries to, put simply, bullshit her way past the fact that she hasn't a clue what the "Bush Doctrine" is.

The Bush Doctrine is a specific statement of policy Bush made in September 2002 that the United States has the right to strike pre-emptively against countries if it believes it has reliable intelligence that they are going to attack us.

Now, Sarah Palin not coming up with that wouldn't be a fatal flaw. She could have even said something like "Help me here Charlie, I'm drawing a blank, a little nervous I guess, remind what the ``Bush Doctrine'' is?"

But, no, she charges right in and tries to fabricate an answer, just begins making it all up out of whole cloth babbling on about Islamic extremists and other buzzwords until Gibson finally interrupts her and tells her what he's referring to. She still doesn't seem to recognize the term which is kind of surprising.

It's not that she doesn't know what it is that's the problem.

It's that she descends into lying like a teen-ager in the principal's office that's a problem.

Sarah Palin is an embarrassment.

Article: 000098
11 September 2008 00:00 EDT




9/11/2001 Lower Manhattan Burning, Statue of Liberty in
	Foreground




Article: 000097
10 September 2008 17:29 EDT

Ok, We'll Say It!
Governor Palin and The Old Fish
Governor Palin and The Old Fish

Sarah Palin Is A Pig!

There! Can we move on now???

How about this:

You can not be a "feminist", you can not claim to be on the side of women's rights, if you oppose abortion choice.

Period. End of argument. So just cut it out you right-wing poseurs, grow some cajones and just say it: Women are our property and they'll do what we tell them!

It's like claiming you're religious (in a judeo-christian-islamic sense) while denying the existence of god. You have every right to not believe in god, but to then call yourself religious, to then demand that others see you as a religious person, is just dishonest and a ploy.

Every right a person can claim has to start with a right over their own body! If you don't have a fundamental right over your own body which supercedes the whims of lawmakers then all other rights become meaningless and empty.

Imagine freedom of speech, but the law could remove your tongue. What good would the freedom be? It sounds silly, but isn't that exactly what someone like a Sarah Palin is arguing?

Ok, how about a world without habeas corpus? Where they can hold you in jail as long as they want without charging you with any crime. Hey, what's your beef? You're not accused of anything, you're just in jail, but innocent until proven guilty! Don't you like being innocent? Oh, right, wait a minute, that's the world we already live in.

She certainly has every right not to have an abortion, every right, that's the whole point of choice! But she and John McCain et al want to make it illegal to have an abortion. They want to send in uniformed officers with guns and sticks and the full power of force the state grants to stop women from having abortions, deadly force if necessary.

And that's exactly what will happen if Palin's wishes are granted. Women will seek abortions anyhow, illegally if necessary. So they'll have to use guns and handcuffs and jails and prisons to stop them and to punish them.

Now, what kind of feminism is that? It's Orwellian double-speak. Suddenly a woman can be a "feminist" just because she's feisty and will go into the public square demanding lower pay for women, legalization of wife beating, and removing women's property rights?

Does that sound like ridiculous hyperbole? Aha! Maybe now you're beginning to "get it" why the notion of an anti-abortion choice "feminist" is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.

Article: 000096
10 September 2008 12:04 EDT

Of Lipstick And Pigs
If the name fits...
If the name fits...

In this October 11th, 2007 New York Times article we found the following John McCain quote:
"But when asked about Mrs. Clinton his speech [sic], he said her proposal was ``eerily'' similar to the plan she came up with in 1993, when she headed a health care reorganization effort during her husband's administration. ``I think they put some lipstick on a pig,'' he said, ``but it's still a pig'' [emphasis added]
Article: 000095
06 September 2008 12:58 EDT

The-Election.com Refuses
Sarah Palin Guest Column!

George W. Bush and Oprah Winfrey Get Friendly
George W. Bush and Oprah Winfrey Get Friendly!

Like Oprah The-Election.com refuses to publish any guest column written for us by Sarah Palin.

Alright, it's true that Oprah denies any such decision and has claimed that Matt Drudge made it all up or something like that.

But that won't stop us from exploiting that twinge of outrage caused by the headline above!

Coming up: The-Election.com refuses guest columns from Queen Elizabeth II, Osama bin Laden, and Bigfoot!




Article: 000094
03 September 2008 20:30 EDT

Wake up America!

Republican fiscal irresponsibility brought you high gas prices, the housing and mortgage crises, and the credit crisis.

US Federal Deficit — Bush, Clinton, Bush
US Federal Deficit — Bush, Clinton, Bush

Between 2001 and 2006 the republicans controlled the White House and both houses of congress. This meant they were completely in control of the federal budget.

The federal deficit is the amount the government spends beyond its income which comes mostly as taxes.

When the republicans took office in January 2001 there was no federal deficit, there was about a $200 billion surplus, we were ahead of the game for the first time in decades!

Here is how it went from there under republican control:

Fiscal Year Deficit
2001 $144.6 billion
2002 $409.3 billion
2003 $589.0 billion
2004 $605.0 billion
2005 $523.2 billion
2006 $536.5 billion

Bush and the republicans cut taxes while sharply increasing government spending. Everybody likes lower taxes, but cutting taxes, the government's income, and then increasing spending leads to the picture above, increasing debt.

Under the republicans the government was competing in the credit markets with business selling that debt. The government finances those huge deficits by selling bonds.

Much of that debt was bought by foreign countries because it pays interest to them. The US govt pays around $250 billion a year in interest on those bonds.

This led to the credit crunch and rising interest rates, the government had to keep raising interest rates paid on that debt to keep it attractive to investors and foreign governments.

That led to the housing and mortgage crisis and the US dollar falling over 1/3 in value over that period.

The falling dollar value accounts for most of the rise in oil and gasoline prices during that period.

So, if you like high gasoline prices, if you like the value of your home dropping by tens of thousands of dollars per year, then you must love republicans in control of the federal budget.

Don't be fooled by republican talk of lower taxes. They gave us lower taxes when they were in control from 2001 to 2006 and the money just came out of your pockets at the gas pump, and from the value of your home.

For many people their home is a large part of their life savings. So the republicans lowered your taxes while raiding your life savings, your home's value!

In defense some will say this was a result of 9/11.

John Boehner, republican house minority leader, loves to say this when confronted with the above facts. He'll say it wasn't the republicans' fault, it was Osama bin Laden's fault (sounds good, no?)

But the republicans added 3 TRILLION dollars in new debt while they were in control.

Even the worst estimates of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan claim we've spent about $650 billion on these wars. Where's the other $2.3 trillion?

It went to republican pork. Plain and simple. When the republicans were in control they spent your money like drunken sailors on shore leave. It had nothing to do with the costs of the war or 9/11.

Even that wouldn't've been quite so painful if they hadn't also cut taxes while increasing spending!

That's like you saying you're going to part-time at work and you've decided to increase your budget so you can enjoy your new free time. You'll make up the difference with your credit cards.

That wouldn't work out too well, financially, and it didn't when the republicans controlled the government.

The republicans cut taxes, vastly increased spending, and the result was the debt went through the roof!

And the result of that was higher gas prices and the housing crisis.

How much of those mortgage defaults, people losing their homes, are caused by people who didn't anticipate gasoline nearly doubling in price, heating and electricity going through the roof, and before you know it they're choosing between paying the mortgage or driving to work!

What made it worse was when the housing market collapsed many people found that a home they had a $250,000 mortgage for was now worth only $200,000, they owed more on the mortgage than the house was worth, much more!

So if homeowners fell even a little bit behind on the mortage the banks panicked, they wanted them out and those houses sold before they went down further in price. The banks' mortgages weren't covered by the value of the house, so the banks panicked.

This bank panic pushed up the rate of defaults which further pushed down housing values, no one wanted to write new mortgages so people couldn't buy homes, prices had to be lowered to try to find buyers. And a vicious spiral ensued.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government's prime source of money for mortgages, almost went bankrupt. Their stock prices fell over 85% in value on the market because investors were sure the whole financial system was about to collapse.

So the government was forced to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial system to keep it from collapsing.

That was your money they were handing out as welfare to banks!

So before you believe that the republicans will "lower taxes" and bring fiscal responsibility to Washington could you do us a little favor?

Give us a ring, we have this great bridge in Brooklyn we need to unload...great terms! Honest!

Article: 000093
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