Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Latest Bailout Fiasco

Masters of the Universe, Do You Need a Dime?

The ruling class is more than a collection of ideologies and bank accounts. There is a cohesiveness to their rule that suggests a cultural and social interconnectivity that transcends mere political parties.

This has been made painfully clear in the collaboration between different political groupings to give billions of dollars away, with little or no control or oversight, to the Wall Street "masters of the universe" who have looted the economy of trillions of dollars with speculative schemes, and just out and out thievery. The latest egregious hit to the U.S. taxpayers for another financial bailout comes with the announcement of a mega-billion bailout to Citigroup.

As F. William Engdahl explains in an article at Global Research:

Citigroup and the government have identified a pool of about $306 billion in troubled assets. Citigroup will absorb the first $29 billion in losses. After that, remaining losses will be split between Citigroup and the government, with the bank absorbing 10% and the government absorbing 90%. The US Treasury Department will use its $700 billion TARP or Troubled Asset Recovery Program bailout fund, to assume up to $5 billion of losses. If necessary, the Government’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will bear the next $10 billion of losses. Beyond that, the Federal Reserve will guarantee any additional losses. The measures are without precedent in US financial history.

Yet, no one in the mainstream political discourse argues to hold these criminals to account. Instead, aim has been taken lately against unions, like the UAW, who conservatives argue have made companies like GM non-competitive in the global marketplace, with their demands for humane work rules, a decent, living wage, health care, etc. Even when the liberals criticize the CEOs of the Big Three automakers, and argue that the lack of nationalized health care puts the car companies behind the economic eight-ball, they barely raise a peep when it's argued that everyone, including the workers, will have to sacrifice to "save" Big Auto (which means tearing up the union contracts, fought for by workers over decades).

In the latest sign of complete moral, ethical, and political collapse, Bloomberg now reports the capitalists' bailout will top $7 trillion dollars -- "half the value of everything produced in the nation last year"!!! For once, the use of multiple exclamation points fails to describe the exaggerated circumstances.

But will this near-total failure of the economic system lead any respectable mainstream or blogging analyst to question the bankruptcy of the capitalist system as a whole? Not unless you're waiting for Barack Obama to lay the foundation stone for a new mammoth statue of Joseph Stalin on the D.C mall. (The rot of communism -- really Stalinism -- was declared by sober folk on both the U.S. left and right, based on far less economic failure.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mondays news and post-election analysis

It Still Felt Good the Morning After

Voter registration process is under scrutiny

Election reformers are pushing for a 'universal' approach, in which the government would ensure that all eligible citizens are registered to vote.
By David G. Savage

Gift card holders may be out of luck in retail bankruptcies

They could lose more than $75 million from store and restaurant closings in 2008, an analyst says.
By Jerry Hirsch

The Religious Vote Postmortem  on Street Prophets A Daily Kos Community

The Religious Vote Postmortem

Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:03:16 PM PDT

So how did Barack Obama do among the churchy types? The short answer is: He did great, but he did even better with the other folks. And that might turn out to be something of a problem in the long run.

Faith in Public Life points out that Obama made strong gains among religious voters, with his strongest improvements shown:

among voters who attend church more than once per week, narrowing a 29-point GOP advantage (64% - 35%) to a 12-point GOP advantage (55% - 43%). This represents an 8-point increase among a strongly Republican group.

According to the CNN exit pollJohn McCain won the Protestant vote. He won pretty handily at that: 54-45, rising to 65-34 among white Protestants and just shy of 75-25 with white Evangelicals, depending on how the question was asked. McCain even won the white born-once constituency by a slimmer 54-44 margin.

But McCain lost everybody else, 67-31. Obama's margins, in declining order, were with Jews (78-21), non-religious voters (75-23), other religions (73-22), and Catholics 54-45.

Washington Post

Hillary Denied Bid to Take Charge of Health Care?

Ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) apparently has rebuffed a bold bid by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) 

to take over health care policy in the Senate when the new Congress convenes in January.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama's speech

The Day after the Earth Stood Still

Can you say change has come to the Red, White and Blue? We better add brown to the list of all American colors now that for the first time in our history we have elected a black man President of the United States. Here in the United States of Texas the news is not good. We reelected the same knee jerk, backward and determindly ignorant Republican Senator John "Corndog" Cornyn. Locally, in another step backward, eighty five year old Ralph "I'd drill on my grandpa's grave" Hall was reelected in what can only be seen as a repudiation of reason and discourse. Ralph has survived into the 21st century with an iron grip on his 19th century view of America. He still peddles the nonsense idea that we can drill our way out out of the energy crisis despite the fact that rational people know better. He never met a social program he could love or a corporate welfare bill he didn't. Don't tell him Texas leads the nation in uninsured children, he doesn't care. He and Cornyn are two peas in a pod. They still think big bid'ness is the be all and end' all of what makes this country tick. And they will do any thing they can to keep the ill gotten gains of those folks on Wall Street from trickling down to the people they despise, the average American. 

I don't know about you but I feel an immense sense of relief now that the election is almost over. I say almost because there are still important Senate races where all of the votes have yet to be tabulated. Two important ones are Franken vs Coleman in Minnesota and Jeff Merkley in Oregon. 

Al Gore wrote an editorial in today's Wall Street Journal on Sustainable Capitalism,
That would be the opposite of the kind we have now. And just to give you a flavor of what is to come in the Journal now that Ruport Murdoch owns it there is an editorial on the Shameful Way Bush has been Treated. ??

Arriana Huffington's post today is on Why All Americans have a Reason to Celebrate.

So much for UNsustainable capitalism.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The secret is out. There is a Marxist in the Presidential race. She's just not on the Democratic ticket. The real Marxist is in the McCain camp, the Neiman Marxist adorned in that fetching $150,000 wardrobe.

Contrast that with say, Geri the nurse who can be outfitted in scrubs for just $10 for a hospital shift. The same $150,000 would outfit 15,000 RNs.

At the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee we've created our own fashion statement -- a new website that let's you imagine other ways the Republican Party, Sarah Palin and John McCain could have spent that $150,000.

In addition to the 15,000 scrubs, the same $150,000 would buy 15,000 chef coats, 5,769 painter's bibs, 5,000 police shirts, 4,687 auto mechanics' coveralls, 3,750 pilot uniforms, or 3,571 housekeeper uniforms. You know, all those working people McCain and Palin pretend to stand for.

Not bad for one month of threads. That's an annual clothing budget of $1.8 million, right up there in Richistan territory. That's the world described in the 2007 book by Wall Street Journal Wealth Report columnist Robert Frank, the land of people who buy 450-foot yachts or 60,000-square foot homes with built-in bowling alleys and 2,000-gallon aquariums.

Somehow Palin's shtick about being the "hockey mom" and the voice of "Joe Six Pack" rings a little hollow when you're strutting around in your $500 Cole Haan Boots swaddled in a $2,600 Valentino Jacket with your $865 Louis Vuitton handbag on your arm.

Dressing up Palin in her Neiman Marxist line doesn't quite square with the faux populism the McCain camp has been running out as the champion of Joe the Plumber. Indeed, the $10,000 devoted to two weeks of hair styling is more than the average Joe the plumber earns in two months.

Palin and McCain want us to believe they suddenly feel the pain of families crushed by un-payable bills. It's a harder sell when you're festooned in a jacket that would pay the entire winter heating bill for two Midwest families, or adorned with makeup that would pay for 224 mammograms, 651 flu shots, or provide 14 years worth of the cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor for one patient.

Then again, maybe Palin is just aspiring to reach the lofty standards set by Cindy McCain, she of the 9 houses and 13 cars.

Cindy McCain, of course, earned her own Richistan spurs when she sashayed across the stage of the Republican convention last month in her own wardrobe estimated to ring up the cash registers at some $313,000. That includes her three-carat diamond earrings, four-strand pearl necklace, Chanel J12 White Ceramic watch, designer shoes, and her $3,000 Oscar de la Renta dress.

John McCain, in his effort to show empathy with the plight of those so long discarded and disdained in the Bush-McCain years, now says he wants to help families facing the foreclosure of their homes. Maybe he could start by auctioning off Cindy's GOP duds.

The Cindy McCain outfit by itself exceeds the median price of a house in Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Atlanta, New Orleans, and St. Louis.

Or if they really want to impress those battleground states, they could use the price tag for Cindy McCain's outfit to buy two homes in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Columbia, Mo., Columbus, Oh., or Ocala, Fl.

Oh, go ahead. Splurge. For the same cash you could buy three houses, and really impress the voters, in Saginaw, Mi., South Bend or Ft. Wayne, In., Erie, Pa., or Akron, Toledo, or Youngstown, Oh.

You remember those towns. The same ones devastated by the tax breaks McCain and George Bush gave to corporations to ship the towns' jobs overseas, back before McCain suddenly converted to the people's hero.

Richistan is not a real place, it's a state of mind and wealth. Neiman Marxist isn't a store. Neiman Marcus is a store. And when you're wearing their $150,000 line, it's hard to pretend you're someone else.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

If you think Ralph Hall still has his wits about him, you have to watch this video. Glenn Melancon is a great democrat and a smart, caring man. We need to dump Ralph Hall for STILL being a fan of all things Bush and Cheney.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How We Lost Our National Treasure

The Republican religion of "free" market capitalism, deregulation and a government dedicated to serving the interests of ruthless giant corporations, the greedy speculators and the super wealthy has failed. This year the Republican party put on numerous celebrations of Ronald Reagan's legacy. This week we taxpayers started getting the bills for that legacy. Now we are left with a bankrupt economy littered with failed banks, insurance companies and brokerage houses. In the Savings and Loan failures of the 1980's the bill was in the billions and it kept this country in a recession that lasted for at least two years.

The truth of that not to distant reality has been drowned out since then by the Republican lie machine. They told us it was essential that we deregulate Wall Street and let the free market solve all of our problems. Their candidates have preached to us like the converted that the free market was the only way to fix health care, Social Security, unemployment, inflation and even our failing environment. Because of the tenants of their free market religion over the past decade social programs have been cut to the bone, the minimum wage was not raised for ten years, even as the real value of those wages went down.

Privatization of countless federal agency services was an unfortunate result of this belief in the free market. One stark example of the wisdom of this approach is the case of Walter Reid Hospital's outpatient rehabilitation services for wounded veterans. The "Walter Reed Scandal" was nothing of the kind. Instead it was the private company (a Halliburton subsidiary) in charge of outpatient rehabilitation that failed our troops. Privatization of government services was a pillar of the Bush administration's management agenda that was declared in 2002. Given the ubiquity of this policy and the hundreds of government agencies involved we can safely assume that lucrative contracts have been channeled to Bush and Cheney cronies and that they have not been held accountable.

No matter how the details play out through the insider deals that are being made now without our consent, each of us will pay more in taxes and receive less in government services for many years to come. Deregulation always was an excuse to let insiders who payed off politicians get away with theft of our tax money. The Bailout was initially defeated for good reason. It's focus was in turning over the keys to the Treasury to Wall Street with little attention paid to the millions who struggle every day to stay in their homes. But it is unavoidable that we the taxpayers will have to pay in the end. Even with the bailout our economy is going to need the equivalent of the New Deal to have half a chance to recover.

The Republicans like Tom Delay took power through wedge issues, then converted lobbyists into ATM's for the cash that kept them in power so long. Because maintaining power became their singular goal they abandoned their legislative oversight responsibilities and focused on giving control of legislation to the lobbyists. In Reaganism terms this was completely reasonable. His acolytes, like John McCain, Phil Gramm, Tom Delay, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush turned deregulation into a science and a religion. Unfortunately, now that they have allowed Wall Street to plunder our economy through legal (deregulated) and illegal means we are broke and in monstrous debt.

And Reaganism won't die because of these results because the Republican marketing geniuses are already re-framing the issues as to cast blame on everyone else. Their propaganda machine (the mainstream media) is extremely efficient in manipulating the opinions of the general public. Our only hope is the application of knowledge gained through the alternative media in serious debate and militant advocacy of the truth. And I have no illusions that the Democratic Party is capable or willing to perform either task. We are the change we have been waiting for. It is up to each of us in our own ways to remember the crimes perpetrated by this regime and demand that truth overcome the fictions of the Republicans Party and it's Reagan religion.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Financial Fat Cats Paid for the Yes Votes on Bailout

Finance Sector Gave 51 Percent More to House Bailout Backers



Monday, September 29, 2008

The Bailout: King Paulson gets to control every aspect of the bailout and reward the wildest speculators

New York Times- Treasury Would Emerge With Vast New Powers
- Sold to US taxpayers for $700B: banks' bad assets
LA Times-
Banks love bailout, hate credit card curbs
Bloomberg -
Asian Stocks Fall on Concern U.S. Rescue Won't Bolster Growth

New York Times- House Rejects Bailout Package, 228-205; Stocks Plunge

McCain takes credit for bill before it loses - Pentagon Bailout Fraud

Specific Details of The Bailout

The term ‘‘financial institution’’ means any institution, including,
but not limited to, any bank, savings association,
credit union, security broker or dealer, or insurance

TROUBLED ASSETS.—The term ‘‘troubled assets’’ means—
(A) residential or commercial mortgages
and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such
mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before March 14, 2008
, the
purchase of which the Secretary determines promotes financial market stability; and
(B) any other financial instrument that the Secretary, after consultation with the Chairman
of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, determines the purchase of which
is necessary to promote financial market stability, but only upon transmittal of such determination,
in writing, to the appropriate committees of Congress.

AUTHORITY.—The Secretary is authorized
to establish a troubled asset relief program (or ‘‘TARP’’) to
purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase,
troubled assets from any financial institution, on such terms
and conditions as are determined by the Secretary
, and in
accordance with this Act and the policies and procedures
developed and published by the Secretary.

(c) NECESSARY ACTIONS.—The Secretary is authorized to
take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary
to carry out the authorities in this Act
, including, without
, the following
(1) The Secretary shall have direct hiring authority with
respect to the appointment of employees to administer this Act.
(2) Entering into contracts, including contracts
for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5,
United States Code.
(3) Designating financial institutions as financial agents
of the Federal Government, and such institutions shall
perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act
as financial agents of the Federal Government as may
be required.
(4) In order to provide the Secretary with the
flexibility to manage troubled assets in a manner designed
to minimize cost to the taxpayers, establishing vehicles
that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary,
to purchase, hold, and sell troubled assets and issue obligations.

(5) Issuing such regulations and other guidance
as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms
or carry out the authorities or purposes of this Act.

Secretary shall publish program guidelines, including the
(1) Mechanisms for purchasing troubled assets.
(2) Methods for pricing and valuing troubled
(3) Procedures for selecting asset managers.
(4) Criteria for identifying troubled assets for

purchases under the authority of this Act, the Secretary
shall take such steps as may be necessary to prevent unjust
enrichment of financial institutions participating in
a program established under this section, including by preventing
the sale of a troubled asset to the Secretary at
a higher price than what the seller paid to purchase the
asset. This subsection does not apply to troubled assets
acquired in a merger or acquisition, or a purchase of assets
from a financial institution in conservatorship or receivership,
or that has initiated bankruptcy proceedings
under title 11, United States Code.

(2) GUARANTEES.—In establishing any pro- gram under this subsection, the Secretary may develop guarantees of troubled assets and the associated premiums for such guarantees. Such guarantees and premiums may be determined by category class of the troubled assets to be guaranteed. (3) EXTENT OF GUARANTEE.—Upon request of financial institution, the Secretary may guarantee timely payment of principal of, and interest on, troubled assets in amounts not to exceed 100 per- of such payments. Such guarantee may be on terms and conditions as are determined by the Secretary, provided that such terms and conditions consistent with the purposes of this Act.

(b) MANAGEMENT OF TROUBLED ASSETS.—The Secretary shall have authority
to manage troubled assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio

risks therefrom.

may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at a
price determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities
loans, repurchase transactions, or other financial
transactions in regard to, any troubled asset purchased
under this Act.

(c) CONSENT TO REASONABLE LOAN MODIFICATION REQUESTS.—Upon any request arising under existing investment contracts, the Secretary shall consent, where appropriate, and considering net present value to the taxpayer, to reasonable requests for loss mitigation measures, including term extensions, rate reductions, principal write downs, increases in the proportion of loans within a trust other structure allowed to be modified, or removal of other limitation on modifications.

(1) IN GENERAL.—To the extent that the Federal property manager holds, owns, or controls mortgages, mortgage backed securities, and other assets secured by residential real estate, including multifamily housing, the Federal property manager shall implement a plan that seeks to maximize assistance homeowners and use its authority to encourage servicers of the underlying mortgages, and con- sidering net present value to the taxpayer, to take advantage of the HOPE for Homeowners Program under section 257 of the National Housing Act or other available programs to minimize foreclosures. (2) MODIFICATIONS.—In the case of a residential mortgage loan, modifications made under paragraph (1) may include— (A) reduction in interest rates; (B) reduction of loan principal; and (C) other similar modifications. (3) TENANT PROTECTIONS.—In the case of mortgages on residential rental properties, modifications made under paragraph (1) shall ensure— (A) the continuation of any existing Federal, State, and local rental subsidies and protections; and

Monday, September 22, 2008

Melancon Responds to Financial Crisis (unlike RalphHall)

Melancon: “Never Surrender to Financial Terrorism”

“The wizards of Wall Street are threatening the survival of our republic and the free market,” said Glenn Melancon, Democratic Candidate for US Congress in Texas’ Fourth Congressional District. “They want Congress to surrender budgetary authority to the President just like it surrendered War Powers during the debate over Iraq. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. We must have democracy, accountability and transparency.”

The Constitution is clear—Congress, not the President nor the Federal Reserve—is the “decider.” Congress decides how much to spend and what to spend it on. George Bush’s request for a blank check to bail out Wall Street strikes at the very heart of our Constitution.

“George Bush’s irresponsible plan to save Wall Street throws back the curtain on corporate hypocrisy and control,” said Melancon. “Every time average Americans demand a fair chance to compete in the global market place, large corporations spend billions of dollars to fight them. They’ve said “no” to affordable health care, clean energy, smaller class sizes, and fair trade.”

“We must never surrender to financial terrorism,” said Melancon. “Congress should demand a fair price, real security, transparency and accountability in exchange for check.”

Corporate Transparency and Accountability

1) Punishment for corporate executives: Any out-going executive asking for a government handout must agree to surrender all stock options, bonuses, and “golden parachutes.” Failed executives shouldn’t be rewarded with tax-payer dollars.

2) Require performance-based compensation packages: Stock holders must be the ultimate beneficiaries of a company. Executive pay must be directly tied to long-term stock performance.

3) Restore Independence of Directors: Corporate boards must be composed of individuals who are free of conflicts of interest. Large stock-holders shouldn’t sit on their own boards.

Marketplace Transparency and Accountability

1) Expose derivatives to public scrutiny: Secret derivatives are insecurities, not securities. Publicly traded companies must disclose all mathematical formulas used to calculate profits and risks.

2) Restore the firewalls between commercial and financial banks: In today’s market financial fires spread faster, not slower. Firewalls are essential to containing the disaster.

3) Require increased capital reserves: Banks and other financial institutions can’t function without real assets to back up their loans. Banks must have sufficient capital reserves to cover their losses.

“There are two basic requirements for representative government and free market capitalism—transparency and accountability,” said Melancon. “Neither can survive if secret deals allow a handful of people rig the system. We must have real changes to protect our hard-earned money.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Daily Show

McCain, Palin and repubs in congress demand drilling based on research by the Dept of the Interior, the same group charged with sharing drugs and sex with oil company lobbyists.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sarah Palin the Alaska Disasta'

W o w!
Look at these pictures of a great bunch of people, carrying home-made signs…
Enjoy….pass it on!

[The] Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage . Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It's probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally "a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots," and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received some nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

I felt a bit apprehensive. I'd been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it's a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren't sent by Eddie Burke, we'll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing "socialist baby-killing maggot" haters.

It's a good thing I wasn't tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody's trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn't honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn't happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn't be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you've been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin's rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska , who know her best, have things to say.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's Official: The "War on Terrorism" is Stupid and Doesn't Work

John McCain continues to pound his chest about what a great commander-in-chief he would make. Like his war loving Siamese twin brothers Bush and Cheney his only tool is the hammer of the military and every problem looks like the nail of a war. Now one of the hawks favorite institutional friends the Rand Corporation (the folks who brought you the brilliant strategy of Vietnam) are saying that the "War on Terror" is a stupid concept because it doesn't

In a study released July 29th entitled
How Terrorism Ends: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida Seth Jones,Ph.D. and Martin C. Libicki make the case that the "War on Terror" has failed to curb the world wide terrorist activities of al Qa'ida. They examined 648 terrorist groups that existed between 1968 and 2006 looking for how they eventually ended their activities. What
their, dare I say it, scientific, study revealed is that the concept of
a military solution to the problem of terrorist activity has never worked. Instead,

most terrorist groups end either because they join the political process, or because local police and intelligence efforts arrest or kill key members."

Not that most of the readers of this site didn't already know it but they also found that the terrorist activities of al Qa'ida have only increased since 9-11 and that they also have expanded into Europe, Asia, Africa and of course the Middle East. So what did stop terrorist groups activities?
They found that the most common way (43%) that terrorist groups ended their activities was through the political (diplomatic) process. That is to say through negotiations, another forbidden term in the Bush/Cheney lexicon. Policing was the second most effective approach because police are permanently present in the area of terrorist activities and therefore are privy to better intelligence than the military. You may recall that in the run up to the 2004 election Sen. John Kerry was ridiculed for saying that terrorism was "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world — the very thing this [Bush] administration is worst at."

Military action was only successful 7% of the time out of all of the groups they studied over 38 years but the terrorists won 10% of the time. Even within their own study the authors claim that military action should be used against large, well armed groups who form an insurgency. Sounds like they covered their asses on the Surge. But a closer look at the surge actually supports the authors major findings.

General Petraeus' work in Iraq has reduced violence but he did not use only military might to do it. What he actually did was to become the hard nosed diplomat in the country that Connie Rice refused to be. He negotiated with the Sunni terrorists that were killing so many of our troops and found that they too were angry at the foreign fighters that al Qa'ida had brought in to their country. With the help of generous donations of cash they agreed to help Petraeus and his troops root out and kill al Qa'ida fighters. Then he used the extra troops of the surge to police the streets and establish permanent placements within each neighborhood, which sounds like well fortified police stations to me. So let's get this straight. John McSame and King George would have us believe it was our military "winning" a "war" on the terrorists in Iraq that substantially slowed down attacks there. In fact, it was the diplomatic and policing efforts of a well educated General who focused on negotiations with local (terrorist) leaders that brought about the reduction in violence.

The difference between the way McCain and the neocons describe it and the reality of what Gen. Petraeus accomplished is not just semantic, but the semantics are important. In framing our efforts to end terrorism as a war we feed the war profiteers of the military-industrial complex, create new enemies, break our own laws and lose our standing in the world. By framing terrorism as a matter of diplomacy and using policing as a method of keeping the streets people live on safe, we engender friends, cooperation, progress and we enhance our standing in the world.

But don't expect any Democratic leaders to point
out these obvious facts because they suck at framing issues. They haven't even tried on Iraq, they seem to have just surrendered that issue to the Repubs. George Lakoff could write a thousand books and they still wouldn't get it. In the meantime you can bet that McCain will be touting the winning "military" strategy of the surge as though he thought it up.

For more information:

The General's Dilemma by Steve Coll NewYorker Sept.7th 2008

How Terrorist Groups End Rand Corporation

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Barbara Boxer KO's McCain's acceptance speech

From Meteor Blades at Daily Kos,

Last night at the Republican National Convention, John McCain used the word "fight" more than 40 times in his speech.

In the 16 years that we have served together in the Senate, I have seen John McCain fight.

I have seen him fight against raising the federal minimum wage 14 times.

I have seen him fight against making sure that women earn equal pay for equal work.

I have seen him fight against a woman's right to choose so consistently that he received a zero percent vote rating from pro-choice organizations.

I have seen him fight against helping families gain access to birth control.

I have seen him fight against Social Security, even going so far as to call its current funding system "an absolute disgrace."

And I saw him fight against the new GI Bill of Rights until it became politically untenable for him to do so.

John McCain voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time in 2007 and 100 percent of the time in 2008 -- that's no maverick.

We do have two real fighters for change in this election -- their names are Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

A Sarah Palin reminder

"Mrs. Palin needs to be reminded that Jesus was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor”

Monday, September 1, 2008

It's Not about Experience It's About Honesty

Michael Kinsley wrote an excellent column in today's Washington Post. In describing the contradictions of the Republican's framing of the debate about who would best govern he says:

"That's why the important point about Palin's lack of experience isn't about Palin. It's about McCain. And the question is not how his choice of Palin might complicate his ability to use the "experience" issue or whether he will have to drop experience as an issue. It's not about the proper role of experience as an issue. It's not about experience at all. It's about honesty. The question should be whether McCain -- and all the other Republicans who have been going on for months about Obama's dangerous lack of foreign policy experience -- ever meant a word of it. And the answer is apparently not. Many conservative pundits woke up this morning fully prepared to harp on Obama's alleged lack of experience for months more. Now they face the choice of either executing a Communist-style U-turn ("Experience? Feh! Who needs it?") or trying to keep a straight face while touting the importance of having been mayor of a town of 9,000 if you later find yourself president of a nation of 300 million.

We all know that modern political campaigns choose their issues from the cafeteria line, after market-testing them and then having them professionally framed. Rarely, though, are we offered such a clear and unarguable example. How could anyone truly believe that Barack Obama's background and job history are inadequate experience for a president and simultaneously believe that Sarah Palin's background and job history are adequate? It's possible to believe one or the other. But both? Simply not possible. John McCain has been -- what's the word? -- lying. And so have all the pundits who rushed to defend McCain's choice.

This is especially damning to McCain because his case for himself (besides not being Obama, a standard under which many of us might qualify) has rested on his honor and integrity. The North Vietnamese couldn't break him, and neither could the Brahmins of his own party in the Senate. He was a maverick who always told it straight.

So much for that.

The writer is a columnist for Time magazine and a contributor to The Post. Read more from Michael Kinsley at's new opinion blog, PostPartisan.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bad News and Bad News coverage of Sarah Palin

There is the image of Palin as the oh-so-cute, mother of five, political reformer and maverick. Then when you turn over that shiny rock there is the raw political truth staring up at you. The MSM (mainstream media) is doing it's diligent best to polish the rock, instead of their job, which used to involve real investigative reporting.

Fake consultant takes a look under beneath the image with some real reporting which isn't oh-so-cute but is oh-so-truthful.Here is his closing paragraph:

"So that’s the story for today...Vice Cheney Nominee Palin, the fresh face with executive experience that McCain has brought to the table, is giving away half a billion dollars in taxpayer money to the Big Gas/Big Oil (for openers), has overseen the end of a “dairy industry subsidy” she couldn’t save, pulled the blinds down on “open and transparent government”, kind of “hired” her husband to be an unofficial “Personnel Director”, has apparently decided that the mantra of “anti-spending” is much more important than public safety—even while her State is the recipient of more than $11,000 in Federal spending per Alaska citizen--and she’s going after her sister’s ex-husband, and of course, there’s also that bipartisan “abuse of power” investigation she’s now dealing with...

Not bad for two years in office, eh? "

Media Matters notes how Bob Shieffer at C-BS gushed about her as a reformer even though she supported 31 Federal Earmarks for Alaska in 2008 and vocally supported "the bridge to nowhere" when she ran for office in 2006. They also dispute David Brook's sunny assertions that she "talks about global warming quite a lot" and is pretty progressive on gay and lesbian issues". In point of fact she has said "A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made." She also vetoed a bill that would have granted same sex partners of state employees spousal benefits and ignored a ruling and an order by the state Supreme Court to give them benefits.

Remember, if you are still watching the "news channels" you are only getting corporate propaganda put out by paid talking heads. As we say in Texas,"you can tell they are lying because their lips are moving". Blogs are were real journalism takes place now days.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin pales in her own back yard

from SusanG at Daily Kos

Even Locals Are Blasting Palin Pick
by SusanG
Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 11:00:18 AM PDT

An editorial in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

She has never publicly demonstrated the kind of interest, much less expertise, in federal issues and foreign affairs that should mark a candidate for the second-highest office in the land. Republicans rightfully have criticized the Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, for his lack of experience, but Palin is a neophyte in comparison; how will Republicans reconcile the criticism of Obama with the obligatory cheering for Palin?...Most people would acknowledge that, regardless of her charm and good intentions, Palin is not ready for the top job. McCain seems to have put his political interests ahead of the nation's when he created the possibility that she might fill it. It's clear that McCain picked Palin for reasons of image, not substance.

The Anchorage Daily News samples some state politician reaction:

"She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president? said [State Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla]. "Look at what she's done to this state. What would she do to the nation?"

And the News-Miner again, in round-up local reaction story:

Lately her reputation within the state has been bit by allegations of mixing political and family business, and by mistreating one of the state's premier marine mammals. Palin's catch-phrase of "openness and transparency" has been tarnished by revelations that staff members tried to have Palin's former brother-in-law fired from his job as an Alaska state trooper. Also, the governor of the only state with polar bears has adamantly opposed listing the animals as a threatened species, despite strong evidence that global warming has devastated their sea ice environment off Alaska's coast. Dermot Cole, a longtime columnist for Alaska's second largest newspaper, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, called McCain's choice of Palin "reckless" and questioned her credentials. "Sarah Palin's chief qualification for being elected governor was that she was not Frank Murkowski," Cole said of her enormously unpopular predecessor, who lost favor with Alaskans in part because of unpopular budget cuts. "She was not elected because she was a conservative. She was not elected because of her grasp of issues or because of her track record as the mayor of Wasilla."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday News Roundup

Frank Rich has a great column today in the New York Times. He suggests a significant change in Barack's strategy.

Wikipedia has an excellent rundown of Joe Biden's career and influence on the Senate.

Newsweek has an article on the corruption connection between Dick Cheney and Sen. Ted Stevens.

Brains and Eggs has a several posts worth reading and a great collection of political cartoons.

The Alliance for Retired Americans has a terrific rundown of John McCain's planned attacks on Social Security and Medicare.

The intense conservative bias of the MSM (mainstream media) is described in detail and vigorously attacked by Daily Kos creator Markos Moulitsas on the Politico blog today.

LTR (Liberal Talk Radio) has a post about the popular Air America host Rachel Maddow getting her own show on MSNBC.

Maybe you have noticed that our economy is crashing. McCain's response is to strengthen and make permanent the Bush tax breaks for the rich. He says Obama's plan to raise taxes on the very rich will kill jobs. Dean Baker and economist for the Center for Economic Policy Research dissects the absurdity of McCain's position

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More of the Callous Indifference of Sen. Cornydog

From Rick Noriega's campaign:

This week, John Cornyn told the Greater Houston Pachyderm Club that Texas is a national model for improving access to health care, revealing just how out of touch our senator is with Texas families.

But here are the facts:

TEXAS FACT: Analysis of Census Data Shows That 45.7% of Texans Don't Have Health Insurance For All Or Part Of The Year. According to analysis of Census data by Families USA, more than 9 million Texans go without health insurance for all or part of the year. It's more than 45% of Texans, and it's usually longer than a month. [Families USA 09/07]

TEXAS FACT: Texas Had Highest Number of Uninsured Children In the
A 2007 report estimated that Texas had 1,410,000 uninsured children.
[Families USA, 9/07]

And Cornyn Was One Of Only 18 Senators To Block Efforts to Provide Health
Insurance to Children. As reported in the Houston Chronicle, "Last year, Cornyn was among 18 members of the 100-member Senate who opposed a huge expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program." [Houston Chronicle, 08/13/08]

In fact, Cornyn Voted SIX TIMES AGAINST Health Insurance For Texas Kids.
[Vote 307, 8/2/07; Vote 352, 9/27/07; Vote 353, 9/27/07; Vote 401, 10/31/07; Vote 402, 11/1/07; Vote 403, 11/1/07; Financial, 8/2/07; DPC, 7/31/07]

Wonder why? Cornyn Accepted $75,500 from Health Services/HMO Industry.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Cornyn has accepted $75,500 from the Health Services/HMO industry throughout his career. [Center for Responsive Politics, 8/12/08]

We need your help in letting Texans know that not only has Cornyn blocked health insurance for Texas families, but it's because he thinks that there's no health care crisis in Texas.

Lisa Falkenberg wrote in today's Houston Chronicle something that I think we're
all very familiar with, "If Texas is a model, the crisis in this country is deeper than any of us realize."

It's time to take John Cornyn to task for his failures at the expense of Texas families.

Jerry Falwell a Moony?

From Forbes:


Facing financial ruin from $90 million of debt coming due, Jerry Falwell saved his fundamentalist Baptist organization with secret funding from the doctrinally different church of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, a new book says. Falwell Inc., by FORBES senior reporter Dirk Smillie, says Moon's Unification Church--which holds that Jesus met a youthful Moon in Korea on Easter Day 1935--gave Falwell $5.5 million in 1992 and 1993 that allowed him to buy up $29 million of debt at a big discount and gain needed breathing room. Moral Majority founder Falwell, who died last year, credited others for the largesse in what the book calls "probably the biggest whopper Falwell ever told." --W.P.B.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jingoism vs Journalism Rockwall Style

Have you seen the "new, upgraded" Rockwall County News? If not, you should pick one up because it is one of the finest examples of a far right-wing rag as I have ever seen. Just take a look at the editorial page. Before, they actually printed letters to the editor, even ones that were hostile to the status quo in Rockwall. But, now that it is time to get on the bandwagon to get Ralph Hall re-elected, they can't have any rational debate on important issues or disagreement with his umbilical attachment to anything King George wanted to do. And you won't read about Jodie Laubenberg and Bob Deuell's subservience to Tom Craddick's agenda. That agenda would be a carbon copy of the one pushed by governor Rick "Big-hair" Perry. You know, the kind of things like taking away from poor kids by cutting CHIP and leaving a million dollars in federal money on the table or giving the saved money to rich peoples kids as school vouchers, or best of all, giving our highways away to a company in Spain.

Debate or commentary on such vital issues to Rockwall citizens has been replaced by commentaries from three wing-nuts: Bill O'Reilly specializing in hate speech, Walter Williams spouting race-baiting nonsense and Congressman Ron Paul off in the ozone of no laws. But of course this is balanced, not Frank Rich, no, not Paul Krugman, in fact you are not even close. Instead the page is filled with four right wing reactionary political cartoons. Keep leafing through and you come to page 6 where the top article is a column in large letters entitled "On Gods Word". Keep going and all you get to read about is Rockwall kids, more Rockwall kids and Rockwall kids and sports.

I do not object to Born-again Christian theology, the right of right-wing commentators to spout nonsense or Rockwall's great kids. What I do object to is a lack of fairness or anything remotely resembling objectivity. In other words if you want to see a pitiful rehashing of the worst of the mainstream media mixed with support of Rockwall's kids, it is great. However, if you want to see a discussion of why Ralph Hall voted against sCHIP, or Veteran's or restraining domestic spying you won't find it in the Rockwall County News? You won't find any questions asking when the county commissioners knew Ray Sumrow was stealing county funds.

You won't find any debate about why the county commissioners couldn't convince voters to back the bonds for the fancy new courthouse located on the area's most expensive real estate either. I could go on, but we all know what is going on in this town and county and it isn't pretty. Too bad we have no local published news sources to defend us. I guess we will just have to do it ourselves person to person and on the internet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Now Corny Wants to Take Credit for The New GI Bill

From today's Center for American Progress Briefing:
After voting against Sen. Jim Webb's (D-VA) GI Bill, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) now "has the gall to try and take credit for its passage." Brandon Friedman of writes, "It is an admirable attempt at spin, however. Either way, the troops know Cornyn is a flip-flopper who supports them when it's politically expedient."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Horror in Iraq Continues Despite McCain's Claims

John McClaim's continuing statements that we are achieving "victory" in Iraq defy rationality and the truth on the ground. Can you tell he was an advocate for Vietnam? One would have thought that he had learned his lesson there. But, no, he simply has to appeal to his misinformed and belligerent base that can't bother with the facts. The real danger is that McClaim continues to have a residue of respect for once fighting the administration's lackeys on Iraq and other issues. Unfortunately, that man is buried underneath at least 6 feet of dirty lies, misinformation and his own denial of his former embodiment as a man who at least had a little integrity. May that former soul rest in peace.

The Facts:
Juan Cole details the fundamental failure of the "surge" in today's Informed Comment here is an excerpt:

"The law revising treatment of former Baathists, which Bush and McCain had hailed as meeting a "benchmark" for political progress in Iraq, has never been implemented. The law is so ambiguous that how it is put into effect would determine if it could actually reduce the resentments of Sunni ex-Baathists. It was denounced when it was passed this winter by ex-Baathists such as Iyad Allawi and Salih Mutlak in the Iraqi parliament, which I thought a bad sign.

Although this important Reuters story is itself a refutation of the whole Kagan-Bush-McCain victory narrative of the "surge" or troop escalation, it will not even be mentioned on American television. The troop escalation had been intended to lead to political reconciliation, not just to temporarily tamp down violence in some neighborhoods. In fact, it led to a massive ethnic cleansing of Baghdad's Sunnis. There is no evidence that most of the Sunni Awakening Councils, who take money from the US to fight the Salafi Jihadis, are eager to reconcile with al-Maliki's government, by the way."

For a taste of what is really still happening in Iraq take a look at this interview with Laura Logan from last night's Daily Show.