Monday, November 24, 2008

A Civics Test

Another sigh of what is wrong with our country, our leaders are fundelmentally clueless.

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

If you are curious, the test is here, and it isn't that hard.

You answered 32 out of 33 correctly — 96.97 %

Average score for this quiz during November: 78.0%
Average score: 78.0%

So you have to wonder how our leaders did so poorly.


Bailing Out CitiBank

Well it seems that we (as a nation) are bailing out another bank, this time to the tune of 325 billion dollars plus (in investment and loan guarantees). One of the justifications made for this huge outlay of taxpayer money is " they are to big to let fail".

It should now be crystal clear to all that mega corporations are a a huge risk to our nation. Once they gain a certain size they can no longer be held accountable to the rules of capitalism and put or economy at risk. We, as a nation should never allow companies to get to big to fail.

But, if this is the case, why did we (as in the US Government) approve the merger of Delta and NorthWest, and why does our government actively support the merger of Wells Fargo and Wachovia? Are we not creating other companies that are going to be to big to fail? And when they hit hard times will they not simply get in line for their taxpayer funded multi-billion dollar payout.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Some Friday Blog Links

Since I still have not found the time to write much

Band of Butters notes numbers don't lie.

When considering the bail-out of the auto companies, Badtux reminds us to consider the unemployment impact when making decisions.

Crooks and Liars teaches us an important lesson, if you want to get a standing ovation from the US Senate, all you have to do is get convicted of multiple felonies.

an early and incredibly stupid shot in the war on Christmas is dissected at No More Mr. Nice Blog.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Center Path

The early appointments in the Obama administration seem to come from the more from the center than the left.

I find this a bit confusing since, according to so many on the right, Obama is a socialist (if not a flat out communist) and is working to create a socialist America, why is he selecting people who are centrist for so many post, does this mean that the center is socialist?

Just a stray thought.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Good Friday Morning

Still here, still busy, I hope to have a real post up later today (work willing)


Monday, November 10, 2008

I Am Alive And Well

(well, at least as well as I ever am)

But overloaded at work, and catching my breath from the last 6-8 weeks. So this is about all I will get done here today.

Everyone have a great Monday.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Prediction Review

I said

Democrats Gain 8 in the Senate (with no losses)

Right now they are up 6 with three races still being counted or contested. I think I will have been off by 1 or 2 when all is said and done.

Democrats Gain 25 in the House (losing 3 seats)

Well we have gained 23 so far, but lost 4 (1 more than I expected). There are a number of races still in the mix, but I think I will be off by 3 or so when the dust settles.

Obama gets 52% of the popular vote and 364 electoral votes.

Dead on perfect.

Over all not a bad performance overall.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More Elections Stats (with Maps)

And these should scare the heck out of Republicans

First the map showing where Republican strength is Growing.

Now, where Democratic Parties strength is moving up.

The Republican party saw growth in the Appalachian Mountains through Tennessee, Arkansas and into Oklahoma. The rest of the US is very blue, including almost the whole of South Carolina.


Another Nice Stat About The Vote

America's youth are not real happy with Republicans.

Young voters diverged sharply from the population as a whole, preferring Obama/Biden over McCain/Palin by 66% to 32% in the NEP. This is by far the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age categories in 1976. In past elections from 1976 through 2004, young voters diverged by an average of only 1.8 percentage points from the popular vote as a whole. 2004 had set the previous record for an age gap

A 2 to 1 preference is astounding.


A Great Day

A Democrat in the White House, nice gains in the Senate and House and a fresh start for the country.

Obama has been left an absolute mess but this isn't all bad. When you are rebuilding something you also have the opportunity to make needed changes. Since Obama now is faced with rebuilding our economy, our military, our infrastructure our balance sheet and so much more, he will have the opportunity to make the needed changes to grow our country.

Two of the early keys that will indicate if the Obama administration will be a positive one are governance and accountability.

Obama need to run the country with an eye to running the country well. Bush viewed his administrations first job as getting more republicans elected and appointed and hired into government. He did not care if this was good or bad for the nation, only if it benefited his party. Obama can not allow this to happen on his watch. The second issue is, holding those who have misused their authority accountable for their actions. This will be an first step in righting past wrongs and will provide an example to those now holding power and those who will hold power in the future, that violations of the law will not be forgotten or forgiven once the administration changes.

God bless America and God bless Obama, we have a lot of work to do, and we will need all the help we can get.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Prediction Time

Democrats Gain 8 in the Senate (with no losses)
Democrats Gain 25 in the House (losing 3 seats)
Obama gets 52% of the popular vote and 364 electoral votes.

I hope I am right


South Carolina May Not Be A Competive State

But early this morning the turnout at a few of the precincts in my area was astounding. 3 or 4 time the normal amount of voters queued up at just after 7am.

So, join the in crowd and go out and vote today.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Absolutely Situationaly Unaware

This is a perfect example of one of the many problems with the modern Republican party. To many of their thinkers are as dump as posts. One of the standard questions in polling is the 'is the country moving in the right direction'. In the last month a number of polls have presented us with the response.

Wall St Journal - Wrong Direction 76%
Bloomberg - Wrong Direction 84%
Newsweek - Wrong Direction 86%
Pew - Wrong Direction 86%

AP, CBS, CNN and other have similar numbers. It is clear that the American public, by an overwhelming percentage, are very dissatisfied with the direction our nation is headed.

Now listen to what online editor of the National Review had to say.

We're One Day Away from Changing America

[Kathryn Jean Lopez]

Obama said that a few ago in Florida. Am I the only one who doesn't want to change America in any fundamental way? Does that make me crazy? And alone?

Crazy? well based on much of her work, maybe; Alone, not at all, about 15% of the population are happy with the direction of the country. So she is not alone, but seeing a statement like this from a person who is supposed to be intimately involved in the daily public discourse is astounding.

How stupid and detached from reality do you have to be to say this? Even the Republican candidate try to run on a platform based on change. Yet she apparently is totally unaware of the massive dissatisfaction of the people of Americia with our Republican leadership.

Someone buy this lady a subscription to some media outlet other than Faux News, she needs to be exposed to truth and not dogma based fantasy.


McCain's Camp, A Stray Thought

Has anyone running for President ever given people fewer reasons to vote for them than John McCain?

He has given us countless number of reasons to vote against Obama (at least a never ending stream of half truths, smears and attacks), but in the last one to two months I do not remember seeing his camp giving a single reason why he should be president.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Minute Moves

It appears that with only 4 days to go until the election that both campaigns are making late media purchases in new areas.

Obama is buying time in Georgia, North Dakota and believe it or not Arizona.

And McCain is adding a state to his media efforts, also Arizona.

You know it isn't going well for McCain when he is having to by add time in his home state with only 4 days to go.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

GOP Ticket's Appalling Contempt for Knowledge

Christopher Hitchens has a little to say about Sarah.

it didn't seem possible that things could go any lower or get any dumber. But they did last Friday, when, at a speech in Pittsburgh, Gov. Sarah Palin denounced wasteful expenditure on fruit-fly research, adding for good xenophobic and anti-elitist measure that some of this research took place "in Paris, France" and winding up with a folksy "I kid you not."

It was in 1933 that Thomas Hunt Morgan won a Nobel Prize for showing that genes are passed on by way of chromosomes. The experimental creature that he employed in the making of this great discovery was the Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit fly. Scientists of various sorts continue to find it a very useful resource, since it can be easily and plentifully "cultured" in a laboratory, has a very short generation time, and displays a great variety of mutation. This makes it useful in studying disease, and since Gov. Palin was in Pittsburgh to talk about her signature "issue" of disability and special needs, she might even have had some researcher tell her that there is a Drosophila-based center for research into autism at the University of North Carolina. The fruit fly can also be a menace to American agriculture, so any financing of research into its habits and mutations is money well-spent. It's especially ridiculous and unfortunate that the governor chose to make such a fool of herself in Pittsburgh, a great city that remade itself after the decline of coal and steel into a center of high-tech medical research.


This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Palin Knifes McCain

I hope John can get a little help getting that knife out of his back.

I am not real sure, but I don't think that it is proper etiquette to announce your intent to run for an office in the next election cycle while you are still supposed to be helping your candidate get elected to that position this year.

But, that is what McCain's lipsticked pitbull just did.

However, based on her past behavior, this should surprise no one. She did this on every step of her rise to the Governor House.


An Important Fact, Expressed Well

Could it be that Americans are rejecting the far-right Culture War? Could it be that they see through the tactical misinformation and manipulation of the "Culture of Life" and recognize it instead as a Culture of Lies? Even with a McCain victory the trend lines are obvious, the Culture War issues no longer resonate, especially with younger voters.

Let's be clear. I don't know anyone who would take away the right for a person to believe what they choose, to follow their faith, however they interpret it. The Culture of Lies is not about what the far-right believes or their right to believe it. The lies are about how they distort facts trying to impose what they believe on everyone else, taking away other Americans' rights in the process.

If you want to believe dinosaurs and man walked the Earth together 6,000 years ago, when the Earth allegedly began, go right ahead -- but let's not teach that in public schools. If you hold, as a matter of faith, that pregnancy begins at an unknowable moment of conception, most people I know will fight for your right to believe that, but will oppose any effort to impose that ideology over basic medical facts in public policy. If you believe that teens really will remain abstinent and thus need no knowledge of prevention methods, that may work for you, but to continue wasting $1.5 billion dollars on programs that don't achieve that goal, and actually put teens at risk, seems odd to many taxpayers. You believe that gay people "choose" to live a "lifestyle" that subjects them to discrimination, fine. You believe that women should not be allowed to make their own personal life decisions -- that's your choice -- no one is forcing you to use contraception, plan your family, have an abortion, or work outside the home. And at death, should you suffer from a terminal illness and want every possible technology and treatment to keep you alive, no one -- other than your insurance company -- would deny you your belief that only God can end life, no matter how much science you use to keep yourself alive. The question on the table is whether your personal, individual beliefs should apply to everyone else, regardless of their personal, individual and deeply held beliefs.

For a generation, the far-right has promoted the biggest lie of all -- that they are the ones fighting for individual rights, the ones whose values are threatened.

I am not sure I agree that the culture war is being rejected, but the divers behind the war are getting old and dying and as the writer noted, the youth of America, for the most part, reject this silliness.

Overall this article ask for our society to return to using reason not dogma to craft out national policies.

An argument that is one I eagerly embrace.


A Republican Does Good

I have to spend a moment praising Florida Governor Charlie Crist for doing the right thing and extending the hours of operation of Florida's early voting. The demand has been so great it has been overwhelming the system, it is good to see him making sure those who want to vote have a reasonable time doing so


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Climate Change and Walden Pond

Henry David Thoreau was many things, including a fantastic naturalist. One of the treasures he has passed down to our generation is a collection of documents about the flora around Walden pond. By looking at his data and comparing it to what we can check with current field studies, it is clear that all is not well in Walden.

Comparing data meticulously gathered by Henry David Thoreau more than a century and a half ago with more recent observations, Harvard biologists report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that more than a quarter of Walden's plant species have already been lost. And an additional 36 percent are in imminent danger, including lilacs, roses and buttercups.

"It had been thought that climate change would result in uniform shifts across plant species, but our work shows that plant species do not respond to climate change uniformly or randomly," said co-author Charles Davis, a biologist at Harvard, in a release.

The Walden study shows that even small changes in temperature can have outsized impacts on plants that are evolutionarily adapted to fulfill ecological niches. Together with changes seen in other locations, like the unprecedented pine beetle damage in the West, the new work suggests that finely tuned biological systems are having a difficult time keeping up with the rapid pace of human-induced climate change.

Yet, Sarah Palin claims that this is either not happening or not very important. What an ignorant person she is.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Another Day Of Economic Instability

Globally the markets are still sliding and the futures in the US look very negative. There is talk of another emergency rate cut in an effort to slow the crash. With any luck we will get a respectable bounce for a little while to at least soften the blows.

In any event, it looks like we will get another week of enjoying the wonders of deregulation.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Reality has a Well-Known Liberal Bias."

This little quip or the Mythbuster, Adam Savage's, "I reject your reality and substitute my own" seem to sum up both McCain's run for president, and the right wing mentality that had gripped out nation for the last 8 years.

When confronted with data, if it didn't fit their world view, they rejected it. This was true from war planning, scientific funding, climate issues, tax policy, and about anything else.

Today on Meet the Press we see two very fine examples of this denial in action. First we hear McCain denounce Bush and his policies, again declaring that "I (McCain) am not Bush". This bold statement leaves one to ask; If he is not Bush, and if Bush's policies are so bad, why did he support them over 90% of the time. Why did the self declared 'Maverick' not fight against them, push back and work to block or change them? And more importantly, now that the election is upon us, if Bush's policies are so bad, why does McCain embrace and want to extend so many of them?

The Bush economy is a disaster, this is not questioned by anyone. The cornerstone of Buhs's economic policy are most clearly expressed by 2 key initiatives, tax cuts for the richest Americans funded by increasing our debt, and removal of corporate regulation.

These are also key points in McCain's plan. McCain wants to continue the Bush tax cuts for the hyper rich, and in the last 48 hours has called for a reduction in government regulation of industry (This worked so well on Wall Street, I can see what he liked the idea). My question to McCain is, if you are different from Bush, why are your policies so alike.

The second moment of McCain denying reality was when he was asked about the polling covering both the election overall and the various issues people are interested in. In every area Obama was favored, often by massive margins. When confronted by the facts of what the polls were saying, McCain did not try to modify his message, did not try to argue that despite these results, his ideas were unpopular but right, he tried to deny the validity of the polls, except for the single national election poll showing him just a few points down.

To fix any problem the first thing that you have to do is be able to understand it. If you refuse to accept reality and insist on trying to substitute your own, the problem will not get solved and very likely will simply get worse.

This has been the operational pattern we have seen the last 8 years, can we afford 4-8 more years of willful ignorance.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fraud, Voter, Voter Registration and Acorn

Of course while this is a regular lie told by the right and it is getting a lot of attention this cycle, even getting repeated by Palin and McCain, it is just one of the many lies and smears getting a lot of play.


Friday, October 24, 2008

The Gullibility of Blogs

There have been a couple of news stories in the last week or so that show just how gullible and how willing to believe any smear that some blogers are. This happens on both the right and left but it appears to me that the majority of the tin-foil hat conspiracy brigade are from the right. These recent event provide more evidence to this view.

Both of these stories originated in right wing press outlets (NY Post and Drunge), and quickly hit talk radio (Rush and others) and moved to the blog pages. This is the echo chamber that right is famous for.

The first story was a supposed receipt for a lavish dinner in NY that Mrs. Obama was said to have ordered. The meal included expensive caviar and other pricey items. Copies of this charge for were splashed across blogs, including at least one here in S.C. It fits into the naritive or elitism, so it must be true.

Unfortunatly for these folks, they were so eager for a story that they never bothered to check it there was any chance that Mrs. Obama was even in New York, she wasn't. The story was exposed for the lie it was.

Well today it happened again. Fox news pimped a story hard, and the Columbia Conservative and many other blogs latched onto the story of a poor little white girl who claimed she was mugged by a big scary black man, then assaulted for having a McCain bumper sticker on her car. Those who ran with this story said it confirmed their belief that Obama's followers where just waiting for the opportunity to attack. It is race baiting of the highest order, something the McCain camp has been doingfor weeks, but this time it was done so poorly that it has exposed something very ugly in the way so many of them think.

Such foolishness is disturbing to watch and I must admit that a number of right wing blogers refused to get sucked into this lie. Those were the wise ones. Mnay others embraced this story, including the McCain camp, with both candidates apparently calling the girl to commensurate with her.

But, the plain truth is she lied, and has been caught.

I wonder if the blogs who ran with this have the courage to publish corrections, rather than delete the post.


Your Friday Reading Selections

BadTux quickly debunks the right wing myth that the economic collapse is the fault of the poor.

Vote fraud and Acorn are looked at at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

From Informed Comment, a look at McCain Feingold and how Sarah Palin's $150,000 shopping spree broke that law.

And a look at the current economic situation and it's effect on education can be found in Millard Filmore's Bathtub.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Ax Will Soon Fall, Layoff Talk

There was a old joke about how to break bad news gently, and how badly this one person fails at doing it.

A fellow is going away for a vacation for a couple of weeks and he has his best friend look after his house. you know, water the plants feed the pets and all the rest of it. He’s gone for a couple of days and he gets a phone call from the fellow tending to the house.

He says, “I gotta tell you, I’ve got bad news – your cat’s dead.” The guy was traumatized.

So the next year when he was getting ready to go on vacation he says, “I’m going to be going again. I want you to watch the house, look after things. But if anything bad happens, you’ve go to give it to me in small bits, just a little at a time. Like with the cat – you call me up and you say, “Your cat’s dead!” Instead, say “Your cat went up on the roof.” Then, call me back later and said, “ the fire department came to rescue your cat.” a little later call back and “the cat fell off the roof.” the after telling me we are headed to the vets you can say “Your cat’s dead”. That way I could have prepared myself rather than being so shocked. The guy said, “Okay. I’ll do that I understand.”

So he goes on vacation for a couple of weeks but has only been away for a couple of days and he picks up the phone and it’s his friend who’s looking after the house, and the fella says,

“I’ve got news for you. Your mother’s on the roof.”

We had a department meeting this morning that was very much like that; Our people are our most valuable resource, you are all vital to our operations, but

We may have to consider 'Reduction in force', furloughs, early retirement and other measures.

I think I am on the roof.

PS, I did hear that Wall St. Executives will only get about 70,000,000,000.00 in bonus pay this year. I wonder if I they may be hiring.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More on Voter Fraud

Keith Olbermann looks at the issue, and reminds us that when it come to voter fraud, the Republicans are experts.


Putting Personal Gain First

Wow, if Mark Sanford had tried to pull the stunts that Sarah Palin has tried as the Governor of Alaska, he would have been drawn and quartered.

Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

Lets see, she charged the state for family travel, and then after the fact 'corrected' the paper work to cover her rear end. And, by the way, what kind of official state business can a 2nd grader do?

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. She also has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

While it appears that see may not have broken a single state law, it does bring me to question both her judgement and ethics. Why should the people of Alaska pay to have her kids go see her father race, or visit New York. There is nothing wrong with having her kids travel with her, but she, not the tax-payers would foot the bill.

Just another reason why the selection of Palin is damning to McCain's claim that she was a well thought out and completely reasonable selection as a running mate. For as bad as Palin's judgment appears to be, McCain's appears even worse.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Vote Fraud, A Guilty Plea

This might be a bigger issue than I once thought. We now have a whole organization (actually at least 3) that admits that they conspired to illegally manipulate the vote.

And the best part is, it's not Acorn, it's not one, not two, but at least three branches of the Republican party.

An agreement announced today by Obama for America, the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the Michigan Republican Party, the Michigan Democratic Party, the Macomb County Republican Party, the Macomb County Democratic Party, and plaintiffs Duane Maletski, Sharon Lopez, and Frances M. Zick protects the voting rights of foreclosure victims. The settlement acknowledges the existence of an illegal scheme by the Republicans to use mortgage foreclosure lists to deny foreclosure victims their right to vote. This settlement has the force of law behind it and ensures that Republicans cannot disenfranchise families facing foreclosure.

So the updated score those arrested or confessed to have committed election fraud (by party)

Republicans 2 (incidents, many more people)
Democrats 0

For those who actually fell for the Acorn hoo-haw and wonder about where it came from, I recommend you look into the term projection.


Voter Fraud Arrest In California

In light of the Acorn silliness, we have a real arrest for voter fraud.

State and local investigators allege that Mark Jacoby fraudulently registered himself to vote at a childhood California address where he no longer lives so he would appear to meet the legal requirement that all signature gatherers be eligible to vote in California. His firm, Young Political Majors, or YPM, collects petition signatures and registers voters in California and other states.

Now this is real voter fraud, trying to get a real person voting access in an area that they are not allowed to vote in. This is very very different that what Acorn is accused of doing. The funny thing is this guy was caught in this fraud in an effort to pull off a bigger fraud that is about as silly as what Acorn is being accused of.

He was accused of:

Jacoby's arrest by state investigators and the Ontario Police Department late Saturday came after dozens of voters said they were duped into registering as Republicans by people employed by YPM. The voters said YPM workers tricked them by saying they were signing a petition to toughen penalties against child molesters.

The firm was paid $7 to $12 for every Californian it registered as a member of the GOP

At it's base this is very like Acorn's work (person is paid per form filled out), except no one at Acorn has ever been arrested for Voter Fraud and there has yet to be any evidence of Acorn changed people party affiliation without their approval.

For our slightly slow folks on the right the only fraud that has been seen in the Acorn cases has been their employees trying to get paid when they have not done real work. This is fraud against Acorn, not fraud by Acorn. So, why does Acorn files these 'fake' forms? By law Acorn has no option but to submit the flawed forms even if they know they are fake (Mickey Mouse, Donald Trump, Al Coholic etc). They have even tried to work with the authorities by submitting suspect forms separately and looking at charging their staff members.

In addition, even if an bad employee some how gets Mickey Mouse registered to vote, Mickey still has to actually vote (or take other actions that having a voter registration is required for) for voter fraud to occur. Mickey being registered is not voter fraud. There is no evidence that this has or will be occurring.

It is a false flag, a lie, to distract from the real issues of the day.

But for those keeping score, the number of voter fraud cases this year, by political party:

Republicans 1
Democrats 0


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell and $150,000,000.00

Obama has had a very good weekend. Over 100,000 people showed up in St. Louis to hear him, and then 70,000 saw him in Kansas City.

People want to hear what he has to say.

Then we hear that Obama has raised $150,000,000.00 for his campaign in the last month. This is amazing, but what is more amazing is that he did this with an average donation of only $88.00. Over 600,000 new donors pitched in what they could afford to fund this effort. It is astounding and heartwarming. Overall we are looking at something like 3 million donors giving less that $100.00 each. This main street speaking with their pocket books.

And to top it off Powell, a favorite of the Republicans, not only announced that he endorsed Obama, but also endorsed his tax policy and condemned McCain's choice as a running mate (the not very bright Sarah Palin).

You could not script a weekend that was a favorable as this one was.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008


Columbia's own Drudge report.

Last night, on the late news, WLTX reported (with some energy and hopefulness in my opinion) the amazing fact that in a national poll, McCain had already closed to within 2 points.

Well since I do follow the polls, I knew the story was fact deficient, but it was only after lunch that I saw that Drudge was using the same biased and dishonest reporting tactic.

That nasty ol' liberal media is at it again.

PS with 2+ weeks in the race I do expect quite a bit of tightening in the national polls, but it was gross malpractice to select 1 of Gallops multiple polls and present it as definitive.


Something Borrowed, Turning Blue

Last week the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) took out a eight million dollar loan so they could keep pumping money into defending various congressional seats (including some here in South Carolina). Today the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) has countered and taken out a loan of fifteen million that they plan to use to turn a number of once red congressional districts blue (hopefully including a couple here is SC).


Just A Few Items

for your Friday reading.

Oliver Willis notes that the Republican habit of offensive behavior continues.

Ideology, Politics and pragmatism from BadTux

From Orcinus an in depth look at Alaska's Sarah Palin

And we get a New Definition of the Republican Party from Balloon Juice.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Lovely People These Republicans Are

Check out this charming little bit from a GOP newsletter.

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."

And listen to some of these folks.

Kinda disgusting aren't they.


Debate Review

McCain came out strong and aggressive. He seem to have a better command of the facts than he has has in the past, at least early on, and stayed on the attack. While he clearly lost his edge midway through, and his mannerisms became annoying, this was his best performance.

Despite this Obama 'won' easily. Snap polls taken over night and the focus groups sponsored by the networks all give the 4th debate, like the previous three, to the Democratic candidate.

2 1/2 weeks to go and Obama is clearly in the drivers seat. This means that the slime factory that is what John McCain's camp has become will kick up the nasty another couple of notches.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What He Said

This piece by Michael Bérubé is worth your time.

Open letter to conservatives

These are tough times for everyone, but I know these are especially tough times for you. From Iraq to Katrina to this global financial meltdown, you’ve made rather a mess of things, and now your party’s standardbearer is running a historically abysmal campaign made up of one part lies and two parts hate. His proposal for health care is somewhere between stupid and vicious, and his response to the financial crisis is, amazingly, even worse. Who’s his base now? Left Behind fans and people who can get hoppin’ mad at Barack Hussein Obama for spending three million dollars on an overhead projector thingy whatsis.


Face it, folks, there’s nothing left. You have a big bag of fail at this point. Just the lies and the hate, which is more than enough to generate a $20 million salary for Sean Hannity but not enough to keep ordinary people from understanding that racial minorities are not to blame for the subprime crisis, and that Bill Ayers is not responsible for the Dow’s collapse.


Folks, I don’t think you understand how we truly feel about you. We mock you and tease you, I know, and you hate us for it. But we don’t hate you back. Really, we don’t. We’re secular pluralists, after all, and we know we have to find ways of sharing this planet with people who can’t stand secular pluralists. We really just want you to leave us alone. Still, we have our limits. The way you’ve behaved over the past decade or two leads us to believe that you’ll do whatever it takes to make the next decade or two a living hell for everyone who’s sincerely trying to clean up all the messes you’ve made. And we just can’t be bothered with that nonsense right now. This is too important.

Very funny stuff, with a wonderful proposal a the end.


The Bush Administration - War Criminals

It really is that simple.

Torture is a war crime. We, as a nation, tried and convicted people after World War Two for these crimes. And the Bush Administration approved the use of torture in the middle east wars.

The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency's use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects -- documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.

Now some will try to hide behind the lie that we decided that these actions are not torture. That is just silly. I can decide to call a Bald Eagle a White Crested Super Pigeon but if I hunt one, if I shoot one, I am still breaking the law.

These 'harsh interrogation techniques' are more traditionally known as torture. This is against both international and domestic laws. These actions were approved as a war tactic by the leaders of the land.

Bush is, Cheney is, Rice is, Tenet is, Rumsfeld is and a great numbers of others are, quite simply, war criminals, and for the sake of history need to be treated as such.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Republicans Now In Full Retreat

Just look at this; GOP ditches recruits to save incumbents.

Darren White and Erik Paulsen were prized Republican recruits, House candidates poised to be the new face of the GOP on Capitol Hill.

But as the two head into the homestretch of their campaigns, GOP operatives say they’ll probably have to win — or lose — on their own. The money national Republicans earmarked for White in New Mexico and for Paulsen in Minnesota will likely go instead to protect GOP incumbents who once looked like locks for reelection.

GOP Reps. John B. Shadegg of Arizona, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Henry Brown Jr. of South Carolina and Dan Lungren of California are all fighting for their political lives

The RNC is stuck in a life boat and the food is gone. They are now having to eat each other in order for a few to survive.

On average, I just don't see this as a long term winning strategy.


Lying About Acorn

There have been a number of voices on the right lying about Acorn, voter fraud and other voter issues about the coming election.

Ed and Dispatches from the Culture Wars has some real information on the issue.

There are four really important facts here. First, that in the very few instances where actual fraud takes place (as opposed to duplicate voter registration applications or applications with portions that are illegible or have mistakes in them), ACORN is the victim of that fraud, not the perpetrator.

Second, that in almost every case where canvassers have turned in fraudulent applications, they were caught because ACORN turned in both the fraudulent card and the identity of the canvasser, and they do so separate from all the applications that they have no reason to believe are bad.

Third, that none of this has anything to do with anyone actually voting twice or anyone being registered to vote that is not a legal voter.


Fourth -- and this is very important -- the law requires ACORN to turn in every single registration card that they take, even if it's fraudulent. They cannot, by law, discard ANY voter registration application, they must turn them in to election officials. And bear in mind that they have little means of knowing if someone is turning in a duplicate application because they don't have access to the state's central voter file. If someone who is already registered fills out a card, either because they figure maybe their registration has lapsed and it won't hurt to make sure they're registered or because they feel sorry for a canvasser, by law those cards must be turned in to the county election officials.

So, when you hear the right whining and crying about this, it is based on a lie, a false issue that has nothing to do with actual votes case.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Democrat to Get Rid Of

The folks of West Palm Beach Florida have had a run of rotten representation. For years they had the near pedophile Mark Foley serving them in DC (when he was taking a break from trolling for pages who are about to turn 18). Folley was voted out and replaced with a Blue Dog and generally useless Democrat, Tim Mahoney, who has turned out to be a foul mouthed, verbally abusive, serial adulterer.

Lets hope that the Republican who replaces Mahoney is willing to spend at least as much time serving his constituents as they spend on benifiting themselves.


Liberal Media

I know this is still one of the most popular phrases coming from the conservative blogs, despite how silly it makes them sound.

This weekend we spotted more evidence of just how non-liberal the 'liberal media' is. Consider how the Washington post is listing the state of the presidential races of the various states in their current breakdown.

Battle Ground States

Pa. Obama +13.8%:
NH. Obama +10.4%:
NJ. Obama +10.0%:
IA. Obama +9.5%:
OR. Obama +9.0%:
MN. Obama +8.2%:
Mi. Obama +8.2%:
Wi. Obama +8.8%:
NM. Obama +7.3%:
Va. Obama +5.1%:
Co. Obama +4.0%:
Oh. Obama +3.5%:
Fl. Obama +3.1%:
Nv. Obama +3.0%:

Now How About the states that are close but not battle-grounds?

Indiana where McCain is +3.8% well its leaning Republican
Georgia where McCain +6.8%: it is also leaning Republican
W. Virginia Where McCain +2.2%: again leaning Republican

Anyone notice a trend?

States that Obama leads in, even when he leads by double digits, are still called battleground states, but states where McCain's lead is small, heck it may be within the MOE, well, they are simply leaning republican. Talk about overt and absurd framing.

Yet, the right wing still cries about the liberal media.

As so many others have said, the stupid, it burns.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Since I Don't Have Time To Write Today

Let me point you to a couple of very good thought provoking posts.

From BadTux, The toxic legacy of Reagan.

And what has happened in those twenty-eight years?

Well, a lot of things. Okay. Manufacturing employment: Down from 24% of the population to under 14% of the population. Ship construction: Down by 83% since 1980. There are now only six shipyards in the entire United States capable of building large vessels and all of them are naval shipyards. Personal debt: The size of the total consumer debt grew from $355 billion in 1980 to $2.6 trillion in 2008. Gross federal debt: In 1980, the federal debt was 33.3% of GDP. In 2007, the federal debt was 65.5% of GDP, or twice as much debt. Trade deficit: In 1980, the trade deficit was $19,407 and in 2007 $700,258. Debtor/creditor nation status: In 1980, the United States was a net creditor nation, owning 7% of the world GDP abroad. In 2007 the United States was a net debtor nation, with more than 21% of US GDP in hock to overseas.


From Jesus' General the toxic makeup of the Republican Party

Comparisons between Nazis and Republicans are sometimes appropriate and sometimes inappropriate, but in all cases it's only supposed to be on an abstracted level that compares polices or attitudes. The comparisons aren't supposed to be direct and immediate because Republicans aren't supposed to be actual Nazis or actual fascists, yet in their struggle to overcome all possibility of satirization, Republicans appear to be trying to become just that. In some cases, Republicans are accepting genuine neo-Nazi white supremacists in leadership roles in the Party.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Palin Report : She Is Guilty

and I am surprised.

No, not surprised that she is guilty (that was obvious) but surprised that the damning report ever saw the light of day.
Investigator Stephen Branchflower, in a report to a bipartisan panel that looked into the matter, found Palin in violation of a state ethics law that prohibits public officials from using their office for personal gain.

The committee that approved this reports release had 5 Republicans for every 2 Democrats and while a couple of the Republicans may have had political motivations for the release, some of those who voted to release this had to be motivated by simple integrity. That is refreshing and a bit surprising.

Of course, the Palin/McCain camp's first step was to declare the report (like the joke report the campaign released earlier) exonerated her.

Gov. Sarah Palin's communications director says investigator Steve Branchflower's report vindicates the governor with a finding that she "acted within her constitutional authority" to remove executive employees who serve at her pleasure.

Interesting argument, except that what not what she was charged with. Yes, she had authority to fire Monegan, but she did not have the authority to fire Wooten and her efforts at that are where the violations came from. It is very much like Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre, where the use of executive power was abused to achieve a goal not allowed.

The report is clear and Palin is the loser in this little political drama. The big loser however, is McCain. What does the selection of Palin as his running mate say about his executive capacity?

How can anyone with a straight face claim that Palin was properly vetted. Aside from her Nixonesque behavior toward personal enemies that should have struck her from consideration at once, Palin is a collection of baggage and bad ideas that should never have been considered viable for a national office.

To start off, simply put, she is ignorant. She is anti-intellectual. It is clear that she works at being uninformed. She is against sex education, arguing that it is the parents responsibility, then her 16 year old daughter turns up pregnant. What does that say about her following her own pronouncements? She has sat through sermons where a guest argued that the Jews were responsible for terrorism in Israel because they had not accepted Jesus. At another service, she goes forward to get a personal blessing from a witch hunter (both of these events happened this summer). She believes that the earth is only 6,000 years old and the Cain and Able lived among T-Rex and Triceratops. She is anti-science (I suspect because she can not understand it) and an end-timer.

How John McCain found any of this acceptable is unfathomable. It is a clear indicator that her selection was not well thought out and there was no real investigation of the person he selected to replace him in the case of emergency. This incredibly poor choice is a clear indicator of what a McCain presidency would be like.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Alliances and Friendships, Imagined and Real

Today the market opened down about 650 points. Markets around the world are all basically in a panic mode. In response, McCain's campaign is still focused on Professor Ayers, his crimes 4 decades ago and his acquaintance with Obama.

It is a silly story, debunked by all the real media (Fox news excluded) with is weak foundation based on distortions.

Obama was in 2nd or 3rd grade when Ayers committed his crimes, Obama has denounced his acts, and simply put Obama is not Ayers friend. They do live in the same part of Chicago, they both are politically active and they have both served on 2 of the same boards focused on improving education (not surprising since Ayers is an education professor and Obama was a community activists). That's it, the whole basis of this silliness.

Now, what is fun is who is being most aggressive in pushing this smear. It is the VP candidate, Mrs. lipsticked pit bull herself, Sarah Palin. But after you watch this video, one is left wondering who is associating with radicals and who isn't.

From Mudflats:

Now, we get to the interesting part, just before 6:00 on the video.

“Our current governor, we mentioned at the last conference, the one we were hoping would get elected, Sarah Palin, did get elected. There’s a joke, she’s a pretty good looking gal, there’s a joke goes around we’re the coldest state with the hottest governor. (laughter) And there was a lot of talk about her moving up. She was an AIP member before she got the job as a mayor of a small town — that was a non-partisan job. But to get along and go along — she eventually joined the Republican Party, where she had all kinds of problems with their ethics, and well, I won’t go into that. She also had about an 80% approval rating, and is pretty well sympathetic to her former membership.“

What Clark is saying here, is that Palin’s philosophical loyalties lie with the Alaska Independence Party, but in order to get elected, she had to distance herself from the AIP and pretend to be a Republican, because that was the only way for her to get elected. But not to worry, Clark reassures those in attendance, her heart is still with us at the AIP, and her sympathies are with our agenda, namely, Alaskan ndependence.

He goes on:

If there is ever a time that is right for change, this is it. [snip] The pitfalls of an organized political party - you don’t have any control over who joins that party. They put the X next to it on the registration form, and if they join the — go into the primary, and win that primary, they’re your candidate, like it or not. I think Ron Paul has kind of proven that. He’s a dyed -in-the-wool Libertarian. He came to Alaska and spoke as a Libertarian. And he put the Republican label on to get elected. That’s all there is to it. And any one of your organizations should be using that same tactic to infiltrate.

Palin claims to have been a member of the Republican Party since 1982. Clark is telling us that Palin ‘marked the Republican box”, but she isn’t one. He loves the fact that she got elected. He’s already dreaming about ripping one of those stars off the flag. And though Sarah Palin’s membership is not documented officially, there is no dispute that Todd Palin was a card-carrying member of the AIP as recently as 2002 when his wife was the mayor of Wasilla. After that, he decided to change his registration to “Unaffiliated.”


And finally, here’s the quote of the day from AIP founder Joe Vogler.

“The fires of Hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government, and I won’t be buried under their damn flag! I’ll be buried in Dawson, and when Alaska is an independent nation, they can bring my bones home.”

Reverend Wright suddenly sounds stunningly patriotic.

Sarah Palin, meanwhile, is saying that the fact that Barack Obama served on the same non-profit board as Bill Ayers a Weather Underground member 40 years ago, “is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.” She continued, “This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” Palin said.

This leaves me asking; So who is palling around with anti-American extremist and who isn't?


Some Friday Reading

For your enjoyment.

At Science, Shrimp and Grits a quick look at health care, is it a right or not.

We are reminded that McCain and SCs Senators are failing our vets, by Sneed, Live and Uncut (a Vet himself).

Anthony at the the Ninth Frame and a warning for McCain, Palin.

The penguins are busy preparing to meet our new Chinese overlords at BadTux

Firedoglake notes that the Palin/McCain election crew is releasing their own troopergate report, and notes not even Nixon would have tried that.

And last

Obama's radicalism and Batboy are the focus of Sadly, No!


Thursday, October 09, 2008

McCain is a Liar and a Coward

The McCain crew had been busy for for a couple of days trying to sell the absurd notion that Obama and Ayers are close friends and some how that then 8 year old Obama is in some way tied to Ayers actions during the Vietnamese War.

Then just prior to the debate McCain's people take this false flag distraction off of the table. They made it appear that they had decided that the didn't want to be quite that sleazy.

During the debate, McCain said nothing.

Now that Obama can not confront him directly, McCain starts up the lie again.

What a wimp, if he had any real conviction on this issue he would have brought it up during the debate face to face. No he waits till after the debate, and starts spreading his bull again.

A liar and a coward, not traits that many consider Presidential.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More Evidence; McCain Lies

Some recent history.

Just as we were seeing the initial public manifestation of our current economic meltdown John bravely declared that all is well. About 36-48 hours later he, in a obvious panic, declared he was suspending his campaign.

Only he never actually suspended anything.

Traditionally when a campaign is suspended the candidate stops making public appearance, call his surrogates in from media appearance, cancel interviews, and stop advertising. Well we have already seen that McCain continued to make public appearances, continued to do interviews, his talking heads were all over the news networks and we now have confirmation that his adds continued to be played.

On September 24, his campaign aired 2,447 ads and on Sept. 25, it aired 1,304 ads. From September 26-28, McCain aired 302, 670, and 852 ads respectively. On September 29, the campaign returned to previous advertising levels, airing 2,687 ads.

More evidence, if you actually needed any, that John is a liar of monumental scale.


A Message For Joe Wilson (R. SC)

And all of those unfortunate enough to have him as their represenitive.

Talk About Detached From Reality

You have bankrupted your business, the Federal government has to bail you out to the tune of $85,000,000,000.00 so what do you do?

Send your top executives to an exclusive spa for an all expenses paid vacation.

Less than a week after the federal government had to bail out American International Group Inc., the company sent executives on a $440,000 retreat to a posh California resort, lawmakers investigating the company's meltdown said Tuesday.

The tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees at the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government it needed to stave off bankruptcy.

Granted, it was arranged prior to the bailout, and in the big scheme of things it is not a huge cost, but you would think that all the bright minds at this firm might see how this trip might make the firm look a little less than responsible.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Economic Crash Is Really Easily Understood

A lot of people lost a lot of money.

Spending the day watching CNBC, it's really quite stunning that they're unable to grapple with the real problem underlying all of this instead of the consequences of that problem. There's been a tremendous evaporation of housing wealth as a consequence of the bursting of the housing bubble. Lots of banks made bad loans and that money isn't coming back. Dealing with home foreclosures is time consuming and expensive and a lot of houses are underwater. Other people lost money insuring mortgages. Still more people lost money buying up those mortgages. Still more people lost money lending to people to buy up more mortgages. Even more people lost money insuring those loans. Etc.

All of this babble about liquidity and short selling and blah blah blah just obfuscates all of this. A big reason that there is a liquidity problem is that... people lost a lot of money. All gone!

And the last two words are the key - ALL GONE -

When the housing bubble burst, it erased a lot of the assumed value that was backing these various types of paper, and that is all gone.


Where McCain's Champaign Is Taking Us

We had the chance to see how some of McCain's followers are responding to his rhetoric, it is less than appealing.

Well, it seems as McCain and Palin's lies and smears become more overt the reaction from his followers are becoming more racist and disgusting.

Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

And that is not all, we are also hearing threats of violence. The followers of McCain and Palin are beginning to look like out of control lynch mobs shouting for blood. In addition to the racial taunts at yesterdays events shouts of "kill him" and "terrorist" erupted when Obama is mentioned.

The reception had been better in Clearwater, where Palin, speaking to a sea of "Palin Power" and "Sarahcuda" T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. "One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," she said. ("Boooo!" said the crowd.) "And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she continued. ("Boooo!" the crowd repeated.)

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Palin also told those gathered that Obama doesn't like American soldiers. "He said that our troops in Afghanistan are just, quote, 'air-raiding villages and killing civilians,' " she said, drawing boos from a crowd that had not been told Obama was actually appealing for more troops in Afghanistan.

Palin's lies are assuring a degree of partisanship that has never before been seen in DC will exist there, no matter who wins.

But she is not the only one who is bringing the hate out. At a McCain event we got this:

after john McCain delivered the central question of his speech today -- "who is the real barack obama?" -- the first, and loudest, supporter seems to yell:


As I said before, what a vile batch of people the republican ticket attracts, Racist, Liars, and want to be murderers.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Wall Street - 1 Hour Down almost 500

I knew we were in for a early hit this morning (Japan and Europe were sharply down) but expected a quicker bounce back.

Now down 533, ouch!


McCain's Base Gets The Message

While the higher ups in his camp will use carefully crafted phrases and statements when they attack Obama, it's clear that his voting base understands.

Vile little people aren't they

Special thanks and tip of the hat to Sadly, No!


Sunday, October 05, 2008

McCain Surrenders To Obama

On the issues at least.

With his numbers in the polls tanking, his choice as VP making a fool of herself anytime she is not in uber-friendly enviroments and the Republican economic model now proven to be useless, the McCain camp has called it quits.

No, I am not talking about his retreat in Michigan,
"I don't know what McCain was thinking," fumed Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, a leading state Republican. "He's a general who left the battlefield in the middle of the fight.

"I'm disappointed in his behavior; he's thrown a lot of good Republican candidates under the bus."

but his champaigns decison to retreat from the issues and turn to lies smears and distortion for the rest of the election season: McCains camp has decided to go negitive and go negative hard.

The McCain campaign has now shifted virtually 100 percent of his national ad spending into negative ads attacking Obama, a detailed breakdown of his ad buys reveals.

By contrast, the Obama campaign is devoting less than half of its overall ad spending to ads attacking McCain. More than half of its spending is going to a spot that doesn't once mention his foe.

The plan involved more than just advertising. This attack by lie will involve everyone. Palin was in on this early with gross distortions of Obama's realtionship with Professor Bill Ayers of the University of Chicago.

the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers.”

This is silly on it's surface, but becomes absurd when you look into the background of who is attacking. Palin is attacking Obama for occasional contact with a person who was a radical 40+ years ago while she sleeps with a person untill a couple of years ago subscribed to viltrolic anti-American rherotic.

"The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government," Vogler said in the interview, in which he talked extensively about his desire for Alaskan secession, the key goal of the AIP.

"And I won't be buried under their damn flag,"

As you move further down the feeding chain of the McCain camp you see even all the way down to the county level they are ready willing and able to use the traditionl Republican tools of racism and lies to attack Obama.

A local newspaper columnist, in a spoof of Obama’s platform, wrote in one recent piece that the Democrat would hire the rapper Ludacris to paint the White House black (a reference to a pro-Obama song by Ludacris), and divert more foreign aid to Africa so "the Obama family there can skim enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream."

This lying Ass is treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party and a memner of McCain's Virginia leadership team. After this I suspect a promotion will be in the works.

Another typical Republican action; When the facts are working against you lie and attack about a false issue and with 4 weeks to go, we all know it is going to get much much uglier.


If you want to keep score of associates, well here is a great place to start


Friday, October 03, 2008

So, What Did Go Wrong On Wall St.

How did out economy end up so screwed up.

Some of the dimmer bulbs on the right have tried to argue that is was a mid 90s change in mortgage law to make home mortgages more accessible to the underclasses. After a little research it was clear that this was absurd. First off, a great number of loans in these programs are over ten years old, and most of the mortgage failures were 5 or less years old. Second of all, there was never enough money in this market for it to greatly impact the system.

While it makes a great attack point for the right, like so many attack points from the right it is based on prejudice, racism and lies.

My view it is a number of factors were involved, that, in the end, come back to a failure in over-sight and regulation.

And this article makes it clear that my instinct was dead on.

Many events in Washington, on Wall Street and elsewhere around the country have led to what has been called the most serious financial crisis since the 1930s. But decisions made at a brief meeting on April 28, 2004, explain why the problems could spin out of control.


On that bright spring afternoon, the five members of the Securities and Exchange Commission met in a basement hearing room to consider an urgent plea by the big investment banks.

They wanted an exemption for their brokerage units from an old regulation that limited the amount of debt they could take on.


The five investment banks led the charge, including Goldman Sachs, which was headed by Henry M. Paulson Jr. Two years later, he left to become Treasury secretary.

A lone dissenter — a software consultant and expert on risk management — weighed in from Indiana with a two-page letter to warn the commission that the move was a grave mistake. He never heard back from Washington.


Mr. Goldschmid, an authority on securities law from Columbia, was a behind-the-scenes adviser in 2002 to Senator Paul S. Sarbanes when he rewrote the nation’s corporate laws after a wave of accounting scandals. “Do we feel secure if there are these drops in capital we really will have investor protection?” Mr. Goldschmid asked. A senior staff member said the commission would hire the best minds, including people with strong quantitative skills to parse the banks’ balance sheets.


In loosening the capital rules, which are supposed to provide a buffer in turbulent times, the agency also decided to rely on the firms’ own computer models for determining the riskiness of investments, essentially outsourcing the job of monitoring risk to the banks themselves.

Over the following months and years, each of the firms would take advantage of the looser rules. At Bear Stearns, the leverage ratio — a measurement of how much the firm was borrowing compared to its total assets — rose sharply, to 33 to 1. In other words, for every dollar in equity, it had $33 of debt. The ratios at the other firms also rose significantly.


The supervisory program under Mr. Cox, who arrived at the agency a year later, was a low priority. The commission assigned seven people to examine the parent companies — which last year controlled financial empires with combined assets of more than $4 trillion. Since March 2007, the office has not had a director. And as of last month, the office had not completed a single inspection since it was reshuffled by Mr. Cox more than a year and a half ago.


Drive to Deregulate

The commission’s decision effectively to outsource its oversight to the firms themselves fit squarely in the broader Washington culture of the last eight years under President Bush.

A similar closeness to industry and laissez-faire philosophy has driven a push for deregulation throughout the government, from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to worker safety and transportation agencies


Christopher Cox had been a close ally of business groups in his 17 years as a House member from one of the most conservative districts in Southern California. Mr. Cox had led the effort to rewrite securities laws to make investor lawsuits harder to file. He also fought against accounting rules that would give less favorable treatment to executive stock options.


Mr. Cox dismantled a risk management office created by Mr. Donaldson that was assigned to watch for future problems. While other financial regulatory agencies criticized a blueprint by Mr. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, that proposed to reduce their stature — and that of the S.E.C. — Mr. Cox did not challenge the plan,

It was the removal of restrictions, the lack of over-sight that created this mess, and the only real way to fix it is to put regkations back in place at once and then get back on the job with enforcement.

We have had to learn a lesson that will cost us into the trillions of dollars, lets hope our leadership is smart enough to learn it.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Kathleen Parker, Pot or Kettle?

This is to darn Funny, from The State's Op-Ed page.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a dumpster, but since she didn’t, I should “off” myself.

Those are just a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails written in response to my column suggesting that Sarah Palin is out of her league and should step down.

Who says public discourse hasn’t deteriorated?

It seem that this right wing talking (writing) head had offended the base. She has looked at Palin and found her to be lacking, in about everything. She has gone on record asking her to resign from the ticket so that McCain could find a qualified candidate.

And she is shocked I tell you, shocked to her very soul by this outburst of hate, irrational anger and threats of violence.

the past few days have produced responses of a different order. Not just angry, but vicious and threatening.


The picture is this: Anyone who dares express an opinion that runs counter to the party line will be silenced. That doesn’t sound American to me, but Stalin would approve.

You have to wonder what has caused this type of outburst. How has our society fallen this low? Why are we unable to engage in civil discourse?

Well, how about we consider this, another Op_ed written Mrs. Parker about 5 years ago. This was about the Democrats running for President in 2003. So what did she talk about then (I have not tried to see if it was published by The State)?

Here's a note I got recently from a friend and former Delta Force member, who has been observing American politics from the trenches: "These bastards like Clark and Kerry and that incipient ass, Dean, and Gephardt and Kucinich and that absolute mental midget Sharpton, race baiter, should all be lined up and shot.

Yep, she is shocked when she is attacked, but fails to see how her own past actions, cheerleading partisan violence and promoting it to a national audience, is one of the key factors in the decline she now fears. She appears to think that this hate and vitriol is fine when aimed at others but when aimed at her, it's another matter.

The right wing talking heads have been working at this since the late 70s, creating a double standard for discussions. It has been very effective and about the only time that anyone on the right notices is when they are the target of the attack, and not the attacker.


Palin Train Wreck Continues

Palin is almost painful to watch. She is a talking point machine, she can say them but has no clue what they mean. When she has to provide real information all she can do it repeat the hollow talking points creating a word salad.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

McCain: Is It Dementia, or Something Else?

At first this was a little funny, McCain lost on stage

Another McCain Senior moment but nothing new, but then I saw the still of some rather disturbing facial ticks.

This man needs to fully open his medical records, at least those from that last 10-20 years. It looks to me like McCain may not be healthy enough to serve a full term.

A hat-tip to AmericaBlog


Wilfully Ignorant

More Palin Interviews

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name any of them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news

and I have been told by Palin supporters that she holds a Journalism degree.

She is not stupid, not dumb, but uninformed by choice.

She can only name one supreme court decision, she returns other questions with out of context talking points or blank stares.

Palin can be charming, witty and engaging, but you can't claim she is well informed or even interested in being well informed.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When Going On A Job Interview

taking a parent along is not considered a good idea. In fact, it is considered by most to be a sure path to continued unemployment.

You have to wonder if anyone in the McCain camp realized how awful it looked to have the person who they think should be the vice president having to be chaperoned by a protector.


Since We Are Taking A Second Swing

(or third) at getting an emergency bail out in place and we have a couple a days to consider our options, I would like to add my voice to the mix.

I am one of those who is disgusted by the thought of bailing out this industry but I think we have little choice but to take some action. As I told a friend; It is like having a advanced case of gangrene in your leg. You can end up with two very unpleasant options, cut off the leg or die.

So it looks like we have to find a way to cut off the leg, but it doesn't mean we should not try to save as much as we can. So what is the smart way to fix this mess, but save as much as we can?

My first thought is; Why are we giving $700,000,000,000.00 to the same people who screwed up in the first place? Maybe the new bill should address this in some manner. It is possible to let the bad firms fail, but protect the overall credit markets? Keeping bad businesses open and bad business-persons in place is not smart and prior to giving money away this has to be looked at.

My second thought is; Why are we expecting oversight from the same people who let this happen on their watch? Maybe a few new regulators would not be a bad idea. Lets start with the man who's initial thought was: Yall, just give me $700,000,000,000.00 and bugger off, while I decide what to do with it. Anyone who thinks this is a rational reaction to a situation that occurred on his watch is not thinking clearly. This is another example of the Republican style of regulation and oversight biting middle America on the ass, and can not be allowed to continue.

My third thought is; Why are we expecting a better outcome after the bail-out when we have not changed the way the rules of the game are written. How about some real regulation, starting with a return to the rules in place in the mid 90s. Otherwise I think the end result is throwing good money after bad. A business's job it to make money, in any way it can, no matter what. The only boundaries that exist for them are the ones that society forces on them by rules and then enforcing the rules. For the last 30 years we have been removing the rules and over the last 7 years the Bush administration have simply refused to enforce the few rules left in place. This has to change or our efforts will make no long term difference.

These are not detailed solutions, simply a starting place on issues to address prior to giving the folks who paid them self's billions of dollars a year for losing trillions of dollars a year, another $700,000,000,000.00 to play with.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Yet Another 'Senior' Moment For McCain

While making excuses for the failed bail out vote he had this to say:

"Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process. Now is not the time to affix the blame. It’s time to fix the problem. "

It's Obama's fault, but, no one is to blame?

Has his dementia gotten so bad that he can not remember what he just said?


To Big To Fail

When AIG was going down the drain the Fed had to step in and throw billions of dollars at them because if AIG failed it could have destroyed the economy in the process. In other words, AIG was to big to fail. The same was said of Fannie May and Freddie Mac. These bailouts have cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and more is coming.

I do not possess the in depth knowledge to fully understand these failures but the argument that they have to be saved is , in each of these cases, quite defensible. It makes sense that if the collapse of a company would cost the nation more that saving it would it is the wise choice to save it.

But at some point you need to learn the lesson and stop allowing firms get to big to fail.

I mention this in light of the latest forced marriage (No, not the Palin kid) of Citigroup and Wachovia. When you have the largest marrying the largest, do we not risk having a firm grow so large we can not let it fail?

How about just a little regulation and oversight this time around.


Wachovia Bites The Dust

For a friend of mine who worked in the home mortgage business this is the trifectia, Wachovia, WaMu and Indymac have now all failed.

I do wonder what that $700,000,000,000.00 is going to buy us.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

John McCain - A History of Fighting Regulation

And getting the American Taxpayer to pay for his mistakes

Maybe McCain Should Have Stayed In Hiding

This was the debate that John McCain needed to win, and win big. The theme was his turf, terror, war and international affairs, and he had worked hard to project himself as vastly more qualified that Obama.

But Obama was more that up for the challenge.

The top tier bloggers on the left saw it as a draw or maybe a slight win for Obama. It is also clear that they were adjusting their pronouncements in an effort to correct for their own bias. After looking at the post debate polls, viewer feedback and pundit assessments, it is clear that the those bloggers were dead on. The pundits agree: It was a tie or a small win for Obama.

The trouble for McCain is, he needed a home run.

What is even better for Obama is the people saw this as an big Obama win. McCain was grumpy, unlikable and refused to make eye contact. Obama was open, friendly and able to communicate his ideas.

In the end it was another bad day, in a long series of bad days for McCain.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Is McCain Going to Chicken Out?

The debate is less than 12 hours away, and it still isn't clear if he will be in Oxford or in hiding with Sarah.

At least Obama has the courage to face the American public in a time of crisis.


We have a debate, McCain blinked


Some Friday Reading

Local blogers edition:

A request to be Ambassador to Canada has been made by Walter Decker. He appears to have the background for it.

At Not Very Bright, a look at blogging, ethics, and who appears to lack them. NVB also has a clip of Sarah being, well, Sarah,

In a matter of minutes Science Shrimp and Grits was able to find, read and digest Paulson's Plan. Something McCain was not able to do for a week.

From while I read... I hope, a look at the (lack of) economic growth in South Carolina

Like many Americans, Tim at Cracked the Bell is fascinated by the train wreck that Sarah Palin's efforts at being vice presidential have become. Tim was able to sneak in a listen to some of Palin's debate prep, and that just confirmed what he already thought; That she is dumber that two jars of dirt. I think he may be underestimating the intelligence of the jars of dirt.

And something non political, but some of the best writing in the Blogs a reflection of early adulthood by Eric at The Great Elsewhere