“The Answer’s Right In Front Of Us”

September 30, 2008

Yes it is; to do more, click here.

A Verse For The Worse?

September 29, 2008

This tells us that People for the American Way and The Nation are joining forces to sponsor “McPalin Haiku Hysteria” with some cool prizes included.

Here are my submissions:

Governor Hottie’s
Seven Hundred Billion Lies
To Katie Couric

Long Live John McBush
Cancelled campaign, “saved the day”
The rescue bill died

McCain treats Barack
With contempt, but Big John sinks
Further in the polls

Many can enter, but few can win, so have fun (and we need to laugh, considering this).

John W. McBush Tries To Roll A “Hard Eight”

September 29, 2008

Still making my way through this extensive New York Times story yesterday about our favorite maverick and his ties to the casino industry; truly eye-opening, my friends.

Time To “Welch” On The Economy

September 26, 2008

(I’ll let you come up with your own scatological caption for this one)

This Reuters story tells us that Jack Welch, that supposed genius of American capitalism over the last 20 or so years, believes that our economy is tanking (gosh, what brilliant insight)…

“I now believe we are in for one hell of a deep downturn,” Welch told the World Business Forum in New York on Wednesday, adding that the first quarter of 2009 will likely be “brutal.”

Until recently, Welch said, he had believed the U.S. economy could avoid recession, but he has changed his mind.

“I am now caving,” he said. “Get ready for real tough times. They’re coming. There is no credit available.”

It makes me laugh in a somewhat rueful way to see members of the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd like Welch tell us that times are going to be tough now; where the frack has he been for the last eight years? Shooting the “back nine” at the Nantucket Golf Club, I guess.

Welch said mortgage lenders, legislators, investment bankers and others are all to blame for the crisis, which stemmed from easy credit and investors’ appetite for yield.

“The problem was money didn’t cost anything,” Welch said. “People took swings.”

The problem was also the fact that robber baron CEOs such as our boy Jack ushered in the era where a company’s share price trumped product quality and loyalty to employees, to the point where Welch fought attempted corrections of excessive CEO perks and regulatory reforms such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

And even though Welch supported his successor Jeffrey Immelt in the Reuters story, this tells us that he would “get a gun out and shoot (Immelt)” if he missed GE’s projected goals again (Jack is such a compassionate guy, isn’t he?).

Also, as David Sirota notes here, it would be easier to dismiss Welch as an overhyped, well-to-do crank were it not for the fact that ciphers like President Clueless continue to give credence to Welch’s greedhead schemes (typified by Welch’s “barge mentality” which, as Sirota notes, means that any “captain of industry” should just be able to move a company anywhere he or she wants to when those pesky unions, fair wage laws and competitive employee benefits impinge too inconveniently on executive compensation).

But the macro-level issue in all of this, as Sirota notes, is that economies of nations (this one in particular) are melting as Welch and his pals continue to demand the world for their failed “leadership” at the expense of the labor of their employees (and speaking of melting, Welch is also “a global warming skeptic” according to Wikipedia, even as his former company takes some halting steps in the right direction on that urgent matter).

Don’t Mess With Dave

September 25, 2008

Probably no posting today – other stuff going on, but in the meantime, check out Dave’s takedown of John W. McBush for bailing on his show (and with K.O. also; hat tips to Atrios and Think Progress – so glad Dave didn’t belabor the point, aren’t you?)…

The Return Of The “Whited Sepulchers”

September 24, 2008

When it comes to plumbing the depths of wingnuttery, I have to hand it to the Murdoch Street Journal; they never disappoint.

As noted in this story (they’ve actually added some nice “bells and whistles” to their site, I have to admit)…

About 30 ministers across the U.S. plan to protest federal tax laws Sunday by endorsing a presidential candidate from their pulpits, in a move orchestrated by a conservative legal-advocacy group.

The Alliance Defense Fund, of Scottsdale, Ariz., hopes that at least one sermon will prod the Internal Revenue Service to take action, sparking a court fight over a law that bars nonprofits from partisan political activity. Alliance and several ministers taking part in the protest insist that the law is unconstitutional and believe they would prevail in a court battle.

“As a pastor, I have the right to speak biblical truth without being punished for it,” said the Rev. Jody Hice, pastor of Bethlehem First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, Ga., who says he will tell his congregation he backs Sen. John McCain for president. “The IRS does not have the role of censoring speech from the pulpit.”

There are a few different levels upon which these people disgust me, and I’ll try to outline them here.

To begin, there is nothing – nothing! – than can legally hinder or impair the right of a spiritual leader of one type or another to express whatever opinion they want from their pulpit, no matter how ludicrous it may be. For Reverend Hice to complain otherwise is breathtaking stupidity, rank hypocrisy, or quite possibly both.

If Hice is so inartful that he cannot come up with the proper code words or phrases to stimulate his followers into supposed convulsions of joy leading to the unquestioning support of a ReThuglican Party politician, then that is no one’s fault but his own (trust me, I get a weekly diet of that from my place of worship also, but God gave me a brain to make decisions on my own, thank you very much).

Also, does anyone imagine for a nanosecond that these people will actually support Barack Obama? Would they even rate a mention in the Journal if they did? And do they really think that John W. McBush has truly bought what they’re selling (I would say that the very existence of “Governor Hottie” on the Repug ticket answers that question).

Characters such as Reverend Hice (dutifully towing the line of Dobson, Bauer, Robertson, Falwell and the other characters you know as well as I do) were the “shock troops” who paved the way for the ruinous conservative ascendancy, the shattered shards of which we continue to pick up and dispose of each day in the hope of “a new birth of freedom,” if you will, wholly apart from right-wing intolerance of diversity, negotiation, achieving a common understanding among nations and practicing a respect for and honoring the legacy of constitutional government and the rule of law.

And as the story also tells us…

Church electioneering in 2006 drew IRS scrutiny. The agency said in the summer of 2007 that it was reviewing complaints against 44 churches in elections that year. Earlier this year, the IRS opened an investigation of the United Church of Christ after Sen. Barack Obama discussed aspects of his platform at a church convention. The probe was dropped when the IRS found the church didn’t step over the line.

It disgusts me almost beyond words that Hice and his brood pretend they don’t have the free speech that they’re entitled to while also claiming that they’re oppressed by a governmental agency that honors their tax exemption to the point where they’re rich enough to cry “woe is me” so loud that anyone else would actually care.

And to get a real look into the coal-black hearts of many of these charlatans, please consider this item in the story (the fact that “pastor” Booth can lobby for McBush is, as far as I’m concerned, an unconscionable fraud)…

The Rev. Gus Booth, pastor of Warroad Community Church in Warroad, Minn., is considering making “just a straight endorsement of John McCain” on Sunday. A Minnesota delegate to the Republican National Convention, Mr. Booth told his congregation in a sermon in May not to vote for Sen. Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton because of their stand on abortion. He then challenged a secularist group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to complain to the IRS about his partisan activity, which it did. Mr. Booth wouldn’t comment on whether he has been contacted by the IRS in that matter.

“Every election I say…’This is who I’m voting for. This is who I think you should vote for,’ ” said Mr. Booth, who preaches to about 150 people each Sunday. “As pastors, we tell people who you can have sex with — only your spouse. If we can tell people what to do in the bedroom, we can certainly tell them what to do in the voting booth.”

As Sinclair Lewis famously said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

I’m not sure that truer words were ever spoken.

Update 10/2/08: I thought this was a nice counterpoint.

More Like This, Indeed

September 24, 2008

Hat tip to Avedon Carol at Eschaton for this (consider me at this point a “groupie,” if you will, in the Marcy Kaptur Fan Club).

And “lockbox,” huh? When was the last time we heard about that anyway?

Oh, I remember now; it was from that supposedly duplicitous Al Gore (at least, that’s what our dear media cousins wanted us to believe in 2000, along with the fiction that Dubya was somehow “a regular guy,” remember?).

More On “Money Matters Tuesday”

September 23, 2008

Returning to the New York Times, this story in the business section tells us how Sweden managed to recover from their financial turmoil in the prior decade that bears a striking resemblance to what we currently face (that is, “after years of imprudent regulation, short-sighted economic policy and the end of its property boom… its banking system was, for all practical purposes, insolvent,” according to the story).

But in response…

Sweden did not just bail out its financial institutions by having the government take over the bad debts. It extracted pounds of flesh from bank shareholders before writing checks. Banks had to write down losses and issue warrants to the government.

That strategy held banks responsible and turned the government into an owner. When distressed assets were sold, the profits flowed to taxpayers, and the government was able to recoup more money later by selling its shares in the companies as well.

“If I go into a bank,” Bo Lundgren, who was Sweden’s finance minister at the time, told The Times, “I’d rather get equity so that there is some upside for the taxpayer.”

Sweden told its banks to write down their losses promptly before coming to the state for recapitalization. Facing its own problem later in the decade, Japan made the mistake of dragging this process out, delaying a solution for years.

Then came the imperative to bleed shareholders first. Mr. Lundgren recalls a conversation with Peter Wallenberg, at the time chairman of SEB, Sweden’s largest bank. Mr. Wallenberg, the scion of the country’s most famous family and steward of large chunks of its economy, heard that there would be no sacred cows.

The Wallenbergs turned around and arranged a recapitalization on their own, obviating the need for a bailout. SEB turned a profit the following year, 1993.

“For every krona we put into the bank, we wanted the same influence,” Mr. Lundgren told The Times. “That ensured that we did not have to go into certain banks at all.”

By the end of the crisis, the Swedish government had seized a vast portion of the banking sector, and the agency had mostly fulfilled its hard-nosed mandate to drain share capital before injecting cash. When markets stabilized, the Swedish state then reaped the benefits by taking the banks public again.

I hope at least some (or, dare I imagine – all?) of these ideas are being discussed within Congress, though, given the fact that moonbats such as this gentleman are given credence on this matter, I hope you’ll forgive me for my cynicism.

And in other indebtedness news, a full-page ad in the Times today reminded us that the U.S. currently owes the U.N. approximately $1.2 billion (actually, it’s closer to $1.3), though this Wikipedia article tells us that the so-called Helms-Biden legislation of 1999 (now there’s a combination!) was able to reduce our payments to the U.N. and related agencies based on negotiated reforms.

It should be noted that, of the $1.3 billion, according to the article, “$612 million is payable under Helms-Biden. The remaining $700 million result from various legislative and policy withholdings; at present, there are no plans to pay these amounts.”

Meanwhile, we canceled Iraq’s $4.1 billion debt here, even though, as noted here, that country now has a surplus of $79 billion.

O to be governed by adults again (118 days and counting, people).

(And by the way, what Bowers sez here – h/t Atrios.)

Update: In a related vein, here’s “some straight talk you can believe in, my friends”; ka-chiiing! (and please don’t try to argue that Obama’s $126K of contributions from the employees is somehow worse).

Keep Up The Attack

September 23, 2008

Words to remember from Bill Maher; Obama is doing some of this, but we need to keep doing it.

Update: I forgot to note that Maher will be at the Tower Theater in these parts on Saturday (Philly to be exact); no idea if tickets are still available.

Hacks Like Thee

September 22, 2008

I don’t know who else noticed besides your humble narrator, but Ron Fournier and Charles Babington of the AP took turns this weekend writing two stories on the same poll concerning the election.

I’ll give you Fournier first (here)…

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them “lazy,” “violent,” responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

And now Babington (here)…

(The poll) shows that a substantial portion of white Americans still harbor negative feelings toward blacks. It shows that blacks and whites disagree tremendously on how much racial prejudice exists, whose fault it is and how much influence blacks have in politics.

One result is that Barack Obama’s path to the presidency is steeper than it would be if he were white.

And in other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, the Pope is German, and Dubya’s job approval rating is now at 19 percent (here – doesn’t have anything to do with this post, really, but what would I be if I missed an opportunity to take a shot over that?).

Yes, race is an issue, but Fournier and Babington both throw around a lot of statistics from Stanford University (which I’ve never identified as a hotbed of progressive political thought anyway) that I’m not going to waste anyone’s time trying to analyze (I’m a blogger, not an insurance actuary). I put more stock in reporting on this matter like the type that Dave Davies of the Philadelphia Daily News provided here (not trying to impugn him in the post title, by the way).

And if I can “go meta” for a second on this, I just want to make the personal observation that, as a white male living in the Northeast, I no longer feel any implied sense of entitlement or superiority over anyone living in any other region of this country on the matter of race. It’s true that I should not have felt that way anyway, and I’m sorry about that. But after watching or hearing of the conduct of a great many people who I thought knew better than to disqualify Barack Obama merely because of the color of his skin over these last few months, I have to tell you that I have found myself truly sobered into recognizing this fact (and I have found that conduct to be utterly shocking – say what you want, but that’s the way it is, as that news guy used to say).

That being said, though, I would just like to remind us all of this Gallup poll from last February which, among other things, showed steeper numbers for Hillary Clinton in a matchup with John W. McBush when it came to white male voters (40 HRC- 55 McBush versus 45 Obama – 50 McBush) and showed better numbers among overall voters for Obama against McBush than HRC against the Repug nominee (with the exception of voters 65 and older).

And though Hillary Clinton fared better than Obama in a McBush matchup when it came to rating the two Dems on their experience, I personally think that’s a wash given the fact that our corporate media would have recycled every conceivable negative Clinton narrative to negate her edge had she won the nomination. I think it works to Obama’s advantage that he’s more of a “blank slate,” the nonstop Tony Rezko-Reverend Wright caterwauling by Fox Noise and right-wing attack radio notwithstanding (a lot harder for Broderella, for example, to go sniffing around in the Obama’s underwear drawer than the Clinton’s).

Also, please keep in mind here that I would have been happy with Hillary as the nominee (yes, really). She and Obama were both excellent candidates, but what decided it for me was the precision of Obama’s campaign, versus all of the pratfalls from the people who were supposed to be serving Hillary (and both she and her husband had their stumbles also – those contrasts told me how each of them would have governed). I’m not trying to use “analysis” from Fournier, Babington or anyone else to justify my selection (and either way, that selection would have been historic from the moment John Edwards left the campaign, which, we now know, was an act of providence).

I don’t know how much of an issue race is going to play in this election, and I have news for you: nobody else does either. And unless the AP is going to walk us step by step through exactly how this study was conducted (e.g., they note that photos of Caucasians versus African-Americans were shown to measure responses in the Stanford study; why can’t we see the photos?), they shouldn’t try acting like they do (at the very least, the Fournier and Babington pieces should have been labeled “analysis”; why was even that slight gesture too much trouble?).

Update: As soon as I pressed Enter on this, I realized I’d forgotten to point out that there are a bunch of nested links for both the Fournier and Babington pieces providing more information on the survey methodology, though it takes some digging to get to this information.

Update 9/23/08: This is a recording…

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