Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cowardice Abounds

Updated: Tuesday, 10:30am

What astounds me about today, as the entirety of our political, financial and journalist community run around with their hair on fire screaming Armageddon, is the complete and total lack of either courage or leadership. What we have instead of leadership is a display of astonishing cowardice, with everyone screaming “We’re all going to die,” and not one single voice in the herd saying, “Now let’s all take a breath and consider how we can get through this together.”

It started when Paulson and Bernanke called a meeting with Congress to advise them of the coming disaster and not one single member of that august body questioned them. They came out of that meeting and dutifully told the American people the country was about to catch fire and burn to the ground, that only George W. Bush and his cronies could save it, and that Paulson was working on a plan to do so and would have it ready in a few days. They hoped Paulson’s plan would be ready in time to prevent disaster, because they certainly knew that they (Congress) had no plan and did not know where else to look to come up with any plan.

As a side note, Congress is charged by our constitution with the responsibility for managing the finances of this nation. They are not charged with sitting around idle waiting for King George to tell them what to do. That was England, this is America. They are supposed to have a plan, or at least a clue. They are supposed to pass their own bills, not the bills of King George, even with window dressing added.

Paulson presented his plan and Congress said “Oh, thank heaven, we will pass it immediately.” The American people read the plan and told Congress, “If you do we will vote you out of office in November.” Congress responded by putting some lipstick on the pig (sorry, I could not resist that), taking many days and trying several shades of lipstick, but the House rejected it because the American people still recognized the pig and were still rejecting it by large margins.

Congressional “leaders” began screaming about who was to blame, the corporate overlords and their minions in the media are once again screaming that we are all going to die, the traders have gone into a major snit and have driven down the stock market because their huge bonus was snatched away from them, and politicians, corporatists and media are all trying to scare the American people into line by telling them that without this bill their employers will not even be able to borrow enough money to pay them their wages.

Even when Kennedy announced that Russia had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, I do not recall an orgy of fear even close to this frenzy of terror that we are experiencing today.

The only group with a modicum of sense and courage is "the man/woman on the street" who seems still to be saying that, while things might get bad, we don't want our tax dollars used to reward the thieves who caused this and we don't want socialism.

Everyone else has completely lost their head. Not one single person that I have heard has publicly admitted that they do not know what might happen next; everyone knows exactly what will happen next right down to the “fact” that your ATM card will become inactive.

The terrorists aren’t in Pakistan; they’re in our newsrooms.

Update: Tuesday, 10:30am
Well, maybe there is one "still small voice crying in the wilderness." Only maybe it's not that small a voice. Go read this post at Bob Geiger to see what Barack Obama can do with a crowd of 25,000 in a driving rainstorm, and know hope.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout For Bush

Updated: Monday, 1:15pm

I have not read the agreed-upon bailout bill, and would not understand it if I did. I have read three summaries written by people who do understand the bill. One of them thought it should be approved while two of them thought it should be burned, the ashes plowed into the ground and the earth salted. I'm with the latter two, and I have repeated my earlier messages to my Representative and both Senators to that effect.

Forget the "phase in" of the amount; Paulson will get all $700 Billion. Forget the "oversight;" it is a farce, since it is after the fact and can be easily circumvented. Forget the ban on "golden parachutes" and such; the ban applies only to any new executive hires and the existing executives can be paid any amount the companies desire. Forget protecting homeowners; that was removed from the bill. What started as a three-page bill wound up as a 110-page bill, 107 pages of which are pure window dressing. It is still the original three-page bill.

There is no meltdown or disaster coming, there is a recession coming and this bill will delay that recession until the next administration. When it occurs it will do so with the national debt needlessly $1 Trillion higher. This bill has two purposes. The first is to engage in one last orgy of enrichment of the Bush coterie. The second is to change the Bush Recession to the next administration's recession. Bush doesn't care whose name is on the coming recession, so long as it isn't his.

Update: Monday, 1:15pm
I'm not saying that nothing needs to be done. I'm sure that something does. I'm suggesting that this does not smell like the right plan; that many economists have suggested that it is not the right plan and their words should be considered. They have not been listened to.

Note that the only financially knowledgeable persons engaged in the marathon sessions leading to the bill were Bush Administration officials Paulson, Bernanke and Cox. No other plan was ever considered, no other financial opinions sought, no other method of rescue put on the table. The Paulson plan was admitted to be unacceptable, but no option other than modifying it around the edges was ever considered.

Okay, 2-2, but...

That was ugly. What I have seen this season is a repeat of previous seasons; a team with players who are enormously talented, mentally lazy, totally undisciplined, and with egos that exceed our national politics. They approach every game having read too many of their own press releases and expecting that the opposing team will faint at the mere sight of them. If they spent as much time actually beating the opponent as they spent beating their own chests they would be 4-0 and outscoring the opponents 300-3.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Trade Mission Exposed

Okay, this Palin thing is getting pretty old by now. It’s kind of like going hunting and shooting, oh I don’t know, maybe dairy cows or something. Not very sporting. But this just cropped up and I could not let it go by.

In the interview with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin gave as her foreign policy experience with Russia that she had engaged in “trade missions back and forth.” Well, it turns out, to no one’s surprise, that she may have, um, enhanced the truth just a little bit.

Alex Koppelman of the Salon website pursued this question with the governor’s office, but they would not speak to him about it, and the reason is a real side-splitter.
Morgan said she could not legally discuss any trade missions with me because she's a state employee and I had first heard this claim through the Couric interview, which was part of Palin's campaign for the vice-presidency.

So the state employee can’t talk about matters that occurred in the state, acts that were performed by the governor of the state, events that occurred before the governor was a member of McCain’s election campaign, because the questioner is asking as a result of something he heard in connection with McCain’s campaign. Presumably, if the questioner had asked out of idle curiosity, having had a bolt of inspiration out of the clear blue sky, the state employee would have been able to answer the question.

I wonder if CBS and Katie Couric know that she is "part of Palin's campaign for the vice-presidency" and how they feel about that.

Paul Newman

imageThe world just became a smaller place. A poorer place. Paul Newman was a very special man. We always say that, but he really was. Learning to drive a race car at age 75 and driving in the Rolex 24-hour at Daytona at age 83 just because he loved life. A salad dressing company, salad dressing for God's sake, with all of the profits to charity. Movies that are unforgettable. And the man could charm a snake out of its skin.

All these things while making more movies than one can count, and never once a sense that he was in any kind of hurry. He radiated calmness. I won't just miss his movies, I'll miss knowing he was here. He made the world a better place.

The Unnoticed Lie

Toward the end of the debate, John McCain said the following, with the emphasis added my me,
Jim, when I came home from prison, I saw our veterans being very badly treated, and it made me sad. And I embarked on an effort to resolve the POW-MIA issue, which we did in a bipartisan fashion, and then I worked on normalization of relations between our two countries so that our veterans could come all the way home.

The first underlined part of that statement can be considered true only if you consider a vigorous and unrelenting effort to obstruct having them found as "resolving the issue."

As the families of the missing soldiers came to Washington to seek help in finding out what had happened to their loved ones, what had happened to their fathers and their sons, what they got from John McCain was not an "effort to resolve" the issue, what they got was open and angry hostility. McCain's attitude on the issue raised the ire of VietNam veterans groups to the degree that they began calling him the "Manchurian Senator."

As to the second underlined part, I think he's trying to sound noble with that, like allowing VietNam vets to finally be reach some sort of inner peace as the two nations reach national peace. The only problem is that VietNam veterans were pretty much united in their opposition to having this done, and when he espoused that cause they felt that McCain had betrayed them and that he was reopening old wounds. When vets confronted him he attacked them because they had not gone through as much hardship as he had, hadn't suffered like he had, which, of course, didn't make them like him any better.

The IAVA and The Disabled Vets of America will both disagree with his earlier statement,
I know the veterans. I know them well. And I know that they know that I'll take care of them. And I've been proud of their support and their recognition of my service to the veterans.And I love them. And I'll take care of them. And they know that I'll take care of them.

I'm not going to bother with his voting record in the Senate over the past twenty-six years; it's well known and unrelentingly hostile to veterans' care. But veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan should take some comfort,

They are not the first veterans to be betrayed by John Sidney McCain.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fine Line

From a comment on a post at Think Progress,
Palindromism = A sentence which read either backward or forward makes no sense at all.

More, maybe, on all of the freak show political scene later. Right now I am just disgusted beyond words, and embarassed for my nation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Deregulation

When an excess of deregulation creates a massive problem the answer is, get ready for it, more deregulation. A small excerpt from an editorial in today's New York Times,
One thing is certain. If taxpayers do not share in the potential profits from a bailout, someone else will. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve announced that it was relaxing rules that require investors who take large stakes in banks to submit to longstanding regulations on transparency and managerial control. Private equity firms have pushed for the changes because they would like to become big investors in beaten-down banks but do not want to be regulated.

The emphasis was added by me. If removing regulation causes too many problems, solve that by removing some more regulation. To quote Karl Rove, "We create our own reality."

So while Bernanke is on Capitol Hill blackmailing Congress, he is adding to the chaos with even more deregulation.

It should be noted that Tuesday was the same day that Warren Buffet's private equity firm announced that it would be investing $5 Billion in Goldman Sachs, which became a bank only this week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Voodoo Economics

I've said before that I have no degrees, but that doesn't mean that I'm stupid. The problem in our economy is not caused by "irresponsible home buyers" who took out loans they could not repay.

The reason Wall Street magnates were jumping out of windows in 1929 was not that the stock values had plummeted, it was that the stock that had plummeted was heavily leveraged. If the stock that they owned had been bought with their own money, then its drop to zero value would have left them broke, but not in debt. But the stock that they owned had been bought with borrowed money, so when it became valuless they were heavily in debt that they could not repay.

The government passed laws against buying stock with more than a small percentage of borrowed money, but in the past twenty years those laws have been removed, and once again it is perfectly to buy financial instruments with money that is not real.

The problem with the toxic mortgage debt is not that it is now without value, but that those subprime home loans were made with borrowed money and now those borrowers cannot pay those loans. Not the homeowners, the borrowers that borrowed the money to lend to the homeowners.

So the government is going to pay those bad loans off. Not for the homeowners, those loans will still be foreclosed. The debt that will be wiped out is the leveraged debt. So now, with a clean slate and still no laws against leveraging, the financial magnates who should be jumping out of their windows will be using their cash to create yet more leveraged debt.

Congress is honking about modifications as to corporate salaries and oversight and the like. Window dressing. Not one Congress person has mentioned limits on leverage.

Can anyone tell me I have misstated this? Paul Krugman?

This Must Not Pass

Congress will be deciding, presumably this week, on a “rescue plan” for the economy as presented by the Bush Administration. As did the horrendous Military Commissions Act, this one contains a clause which renders every portion of the government outside of the Presidential Enclave irrelevant,
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Once again, the Bush Administration lays low until a crisis erupts that is so bad that it can go to Congress with a gun in one hand and a prewritten piece of legislation in the other, lay the legislation on the desk, and force Congress to sign the legislation at the point of the gun. Of course, with recent Congresses, the gun is hardly necessary; it needn’t be loaded and seldom has been.

Regardless of the rest of the content of the bill, with the above clause in it that bill must not pass. Our constitution is structured on a basis of checks and balances, and to give that raw unchecked and unreviewable power to one man goes against our constitution in the most fundamental way. That clause need not be replaced with any specifics of reviewability, those are spelled out in our constitution and are inherent in the offices themselves. That clause merely needs to be removed.

As to the rest of the bill, any action that is taken in haste as the result of panic is highly likely to result in more rather than less chaos, and that is particularly true of legislation. The Bush Administration played this specifically to create panic in Congress with its Thursday night meeting to spell out the shape of the coming apocalypse. No opposing viewpoints as to the degree or nature of the coming storm have been permitted, and once the Bush plan has been outlined no alternative plans have been considered or even suggested. Time does not permit consideration of alternatives, we must act now to prevent Armageddon.

Democrats are demanding that they get some input, and even McCain is chiming in with “reform” additions to the plan. There must be no parachute payments to executives of firms receiving help. We’re talking about the Jamestown flood, here, and they’re worried about where an eyedropper full of water goes. They want homeowners to get their mortgages refinanced, which is fine but has little to do with the meltdown of the economy.

No one seems to be questioning the basic validity of the plan itself, except for economic experts who are not in government. Those experts say that removing the bad debt will still leave the actual problem, which is the shortage of liquidity. But Congress prefers the advice of the person it is giving the money to, rather than the experts outside the con game who are saying not to do it.

Nobody is questioning the haste of this activity. Nobody is saying, “Let’s draw a breath and consider what is the best thing to do here.”

Certainly Section 8, the unaccountability clause quoted earlier, must be removed, but is this the only possible plan? Is it the best plan? Is it even a good plan?

There are more than a few voices answering “No” and “Oh, hell no” to those questions, and nobody seems to be listening to them. Just like nobody listened to another question six years ago, on a plan brought to us by this same administration.

“Is it really a good idea to invade Iraq?”

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More College Prof Wingnuttery

“Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be…” college students in any of the "institutes of higher learning" in San Diego.

First we had the wingnut prof at SDSU who was horrified that the university authorities were cooperating with the DEA in busting up a major drug selling ring that was operating on campus. To her that meant that they would also turn in tax protesters to the IRS in violation of First Amendment rights. Then we had the USD nutcase that was aghast, simply aghast that he smelled pot being smoked at a rock concert and that there were no hordes of cops in pursuit of the offending pot smokers. Pot at a rock concert, forsooth. There was something about the length of the legs on chairs, too, but…

Now we have another editorial published by our local rag, the San Diego Union Tribune, who’s interest in the current economic crisis consists of this professor’s assertion that price gouging during times of emergency is actually a good thing, and that banning it is malfeasance by government.

Price gouging in a free market by Matt Zwolinski, Sept 18, 2008

All economic regulation is bad, including banning price gouging in the aftermath of a major hurricane. You can read it at the link above, but don’t do it while drinking a cup of coffee. He says of price gouging laws,
But these laws are a mistake. They are a mistake because price gougers, as morally repugnant as they we may find them, are doing something that provides real aid to people in desperate need.

Um, so does the Red Cross, but the Red Cross does it for free. And this,
This is why all state anti-gouging laws should be repealed. Instead, the law should allow prices to rise freely in the wake of a disaster. This may seem callous and cold, but there are two reasons why such a policy would dramatically improve the condition of disaster victims.

I'll let you go read the reasons, but you can probably imagine... And, yes, it does seem callous and cold because it is callous and cold, to the point of being inhumane.

One of the advantages of government that has been drowned in a bathtub, for professor Matt Zwolinski, is that with no FEMA or any other government agency to provide generators, blankets, tents and all of the other things that will keep people alive after a major disaster there is a vast opportunity for the “free market” to do so instead. At, of course, a huge profit to those who are selling and to the detriment of those in need.

That is, of course, what the free market is all about.

Once again I am trying to figure out which is more insane and stupid; that this idiot nutjob professor would write such drivel, or that our disgraceful rag of a newspaper would publish it.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Welcome to the United Socialist States of America.

The government now owns pretty much all of our financial institutions. In theory, that's you and me, but in reality that means the elite governing class that controls both the corporate and governing bodies of this nation. Now they are no longer merged only by that mechanism of lobbying and the actions of lobbyists, now they are literally one and the same. For many years government has been managed for the benefit of corporations, now corporations and government are one and the same.

Somebody please tell me how a $1 Trillion purchase of acknowledged bad debt does not lead to the end of oil being traded in Dollars, and how our economy manages when oil is traded in Euros.

Energy Expert

According to John McCain, Sarah Palin "knows more about energy than anyone else in the United States." I am not making that up. Six different colleges to get a four-year degree, and... Well, I have no degree at all, so I guess I'm not qualified to dispute his claim, but it seems just a bit hyperbolic to me.

This is her response to a question about how we can assure that the oil produced by the McCain/Palin "Drill Baby, Drill" policy will be kept in this country rather than shipped overseas,
“Oil and coal? Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first,” Palin said. “So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it’s Americans that get stuck to holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It’s got to flow into our domestic markets first.”

As stated earlier, I have no college degrees, so will someone with greater education than I have please post a comment telling me what the hell she said? I know what fungible means, but I'm having trouble with the flagging of molecules thing, and it seemed to sort of go downhill from there.

The Spanish Gaffe

The latest McCain gaffe has to do with him declining to meet with the Prime Minister of Spain and his campaign, in attempting to rescue him, saying that Spain is an adversary. Many are saying that his reference to Latin America while responding to a question about Mr. Zapatero, and doing so twice, reflects a lack of foreign policy expertise. I suspect that he simply wasn't listening to the question, and that he wasn't listening to the followup question either.

If you watch his body language at town halls you can see that John McCain, after hearing the first few words of any question, is no longer listening to the questioner but is already formulating his answer. He radiates impatience for the questioner to finish so that he can begin speaking. The main reason for that is that he never actually answers questions, he pulls out stump speeches in response to questions, so as soon as he has heard enough of the question to know which stump speech he needs he's done listening and is ready to go.

In the Spanish Gaffe case above he didn't listen long enough and pulled out the wrong stump speech and then, after not listening to the followup question, he merely repeated the initial stump speech.

The same thing happened when the lady asked the question which included her opinion that we needed to reinstate the draft. The film clip that I saw did not include the early part of her lengthy question, but when the clip started McCain was already clearly impatient for her to finish. Each time she paused to draw a breath he started to speak to cut her off, and he visibly was not listening to her. He had turned away from her and was bringing his microphone up to his mouth when she said the bit about the draft, and I have no doubt that he simply never heard it before he said that he agreed with everything that she had said.

I don't know about you, but to me answering questions which you did not bother to listen to is a terribly dangerous trait for our President.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Where's the Outrage?

Updated: Tuursday, 9:45pm

If you google the phrase "bailout total" you will find that the total of the bailouts to this point made by the Fed is an astounding $900 Billion. The sole authority for spending under our constitution is Congress, so how much of that $900 Billion did Congress authorize?


The Fed, an independent, unelected arm of our government, just spent $900 Billion of our money without the authorization of our elected representatives.

Where is the outrage? Why are the American people not concerned that a body of unelected elitists is spending huge sums of our money without controls? Why is Congress not concerned that its spending authority has been outrageously abrogated?

Where is the outrage over that amount? We scream at the top of our lungs that $800 Billion has been wasted on the debacle in Iraq over a five-year period, but we do not blink when an even greater amount is dumped into Wall Street in a matter of two weeks.

What could we do with the $900 Billion that was used to prevent millionaires from jumping out of their Wall Street windows? How many hungry people could we feed? How many of those 600,000 lost jobs could we recreate? How many uninsured people could be provided with the healthcare they need? How many Texas and Louisiana townships could be rebuilt?

Here's the outrage; right here at a keyboard in San Diego.

Update: Thursday evening
Now there is talk about committing even more money, "hundreds of billions" to buy all of the remaining toxic debt in an effort to rescue the remaining banks and financial institutions, hopefully selling it at some point and at some undetermined loss. This idea is as toxic as the debt it proposes to buy, and I sincerely hope that the legislators who represent me are voting against it. (Although I have no real reason to believe that they will.)

Levy a tax on the billionaires who profited from creating this mess. Levy a tax on the brokers who made the loans. Do not use the taxes that I pay to unwind this massive Ponzi scheme and allow the top level creators of this world class theft walk away with their ill gotten gains, written off with my tax dollars.

This is just more proof that our governing class is a toxic slime governing for their own benefit on the backs of the working class.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fine Lines

From Senator Obama today,
This morning instead of offering up concrete ideas to solve the problems Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book – you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem. But here’s the thing – this isn’t 9/11. We know how we got into this mess. What we need now is leadership that gets us out. I’ll provide it, John McCain won’t, and that’s the choice for Americans in this election.

Proud of America?

tirture chartThe only nations that rank with us in saying that torture is "generally acceptable" are Turkey, Nigeria, China, South Korea and India. No, that does not make me proud.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Chargers (players, coaches and fans) are out for Ed Hoculi's blood, but there are a few things that need to be remembered.

Last year against the Colts there was an equally bad call, having to do with a ball that bounced off a receiver's leg and not the ground, that went in the Chargers' favor. Nobody minded the ref blowing that call.

The call on our two-yard line was not some great defensive play that we were robbed of. Cutler dropped the ball. Had he merely thrown incomplete, the ball would have been placed at our two, not our ten. We didn't "deserve" anything here. Get over it.

Had the defense not missed a couple of dozen tackles, and left an equal number of Denver receivers uncovered, those two calls would not have mattered. The defense stunk. Don't blame the loss on the refs for two calls, neither of which were scoring plays. The defense gave up 39 points.

Financial Stench

There is a new financial product on the market that makes the “liar’s loan” bunch look absolutely saintly. It’s a deal whereby you are paid an amount of money to surrender a portion of any future increase of equity in your home. It’s adamantly claimed not to be a loan, as in you don’t pay until your home is sold, at which point what you pay is the agreed portion of the amount that your home has increased in value between the time you were paid the money and the time of the home sale.

It turns out, however that the money does get repaid, along with half of any appreciation realized by your home. That might be a good deal in today’s market, where home values are actually declining, but when they begin to recover that loan (which is what it actually is, even when they call it by another name), could get really expensive.

Suppose you bought your house for $500,000 and you take out one of these products for $50,000. If you then sell your house for $700,000 you must pay back the original $50,000 plus half of your gain on the house, for a total of $150,000. That’s a pretty good rate of return for the lender.

If you sell in less than five years, regardless of reason, you not only have to pay back the $50,000 but you can get hit with some astonishing penalties.

There also tend to be some restrictive clauses in the agreement about the “maximum indebtedness” you can incur and something about “deferred maintenance adjustment” costs. And because these are all very new, so new that no name seems even to have been invented for them yet, there is no government regulation of them at any level.

There is a distinct odor to these products; one that smells like things which can be sold by brokers and then packaged into financial instruments which are resold to investment houses and finally resold as derivatives. Bear in mind, they were invented and are being sold in in a market in which home values are declining with no real end in sight.

Haven’t we been subjected to this type of stench before?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Obama Logo

obamaEvery now and then some little thing comes out about Obama that impresses me even more about him and the way he does things. Little things actually do matter.

This is a nice logo and, as you might expect, was designed by a graphic arts firm. Chicago is, I think, second only to New York in having lots of huge and very famous graphic arts firms whose work you see in magazine and television ads every day. They are multi-million dollar firms with hundreds of highly skilled and proven artists who are the best that money can buy.

This logo, with its almost endless variations, was designed by an eight-person Chicago firm named Sender LLC. Eight people. Obama campaigns on a promise that he is going to "support the little guy" and not the major corporations.

And his campaign actually does it. What a concept.

Policy Advisors

There have been several times that pundits on the news shows have noted that Obama seems slow to respond to a new form of attack by the opposing campaign (first Clinton and now McCain), but that once he does respond the response is a measured and effective one. We’re in the midst of one of those cycles now. The McCain campaign has unleashed Palin along with a new blizzard of lies, Obama does not seem to be responding much, and Democrats are freaking out about the impending loss of the election.

First let me say that, to me, a deliberative process that creates a measured and effective response seems to be a pretty good way to run a country, and is therefor a very good reason to vote for Obama.

As to the time it takes him to arrive at a response? Well, this is only a political campaign; he has the luxury of being able to take his time, so he takes it. He takes the time to look at the wide view and makes what is called an “informed decision.”

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Kennedy spent many hours and, at times, days conferring with advisors and sometimes calling in additional advisors before making decisions as how to respond to Soviet moves. That crisis turned out okay, and it did so, in part, because Kennedy was deliberative in his manner and sought input from others before deciding how to deal with it.

McCain is an ex-fighter pilot, a man of action, a “see it now, kill it now” kind of man. His approach to leadership is that he knows all there is to know about everything. His response to a crisis is along the lines of, “Do something now, even if might be the wrong thing.”

He reinforces success, but he doesn’t learn from failure. In Iraq he is so buoyed by what he sees as the success of the six-month “surge” in reducing violence on a small scale, that he cannot see the abject failure of the five-year overall war in reducing violence and danger worldwide.

Obsidian Wings had a guest post yesterday who made this point at length and in a more scholarly way than I can. Here’s an excerpt, but you should really go read the whole thing for yourself.
On Talk of the Nation earlier this week, Ted Koppel asked Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s main foreign policy guy to explain how McCain’s foreign policy staff was set up. Koppel prefaced the question by explaining that Obama has a core team of five or six advisors and then a couple hundred other experts who can be called upon as needed. Scheunemann answered that McCain, doesn’t have the same needs as Obama because he has 40 years in the military and Senate and is already “intimately familiar” with foreign policy issues. He actually said that “John McCain needs foreign policy advisors like Tiger Woods needs a golf coach.”

Like that guest poster, the pick of Sarah Palin as running mate would have swung my choice to Obama if it had not already been there. I fully agree with the person who said that Palin “doesn’t even belong in Washington, let alone in the White House,” but that is not the point.

What the pick says about McCain is utterly frightening. The idea that one man will be making decisions on the level of missiles in Cuba, out of his own brain and without the advice of others, absolutely terrifies me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Counting Paperclips

McCain/Palin are on a righteous crusade against earmarks. They are going to correct the disaster that is our present economy by cutting taxes and eliminating earmarks. They talk about nothing else. That is their solution. Earmarks.

That's like the new CEO of General Motors saying that he is going to solve that company's problems by counting paperclips and eliminating the wasteful use of paperclips, along with arbitrary reduction of prices for the cars it sells, regardless of what it costs to build the cars.

Sell cars at a loss and count paperclips.

Earmarks constitute about one-half of one percent of our annual budget.

We spend as much in Afganistan and Iraq in barely over a month as we do on earmarks in the entire year, and McCain/Palin intend to continue that expenditure indefinitely. We spend more on the military overall in a few days than we spend all year on earmarks.

Some of the earmarks are entirely valid expenditures that would be in the base budget if they were not earmarked. Additional body armor for the troops in Iraq was an earmark. Up-armored humvees for Iraq was an earmark. Just who is "supporting the troops?"

Earmarks are a distraction. Pay attention to what matters.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Abject Demoralization

sadnessThis is what happens when you try to take a nap while your husband is in the living room watching San Diego State blowing an opportunity to put Notre Dame down by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Cat is disconsolate because this door is never ever going to be opened until the end of time. Husband is taking comfort in the thought that at least the Chargers will beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Cat and husband are both, of course, operating under invalid assumptions.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Football Dismals

Not a great weekend to be a football fan in San Diego.

The SDSU Aztecs, 21-pt underdogs, were within one yard of putting Notre Dame two touchdowns down in the fourth quarter. Carrying the ball in one hand, the runner fumbles it into the endzone and the Aztecs fold like a cheap suit, losing 21-13.

The Chargers, favored by 9+, lose to Carolina at home in Qualcomm. Can't really point to what went wrong, although the defensive front seven certainly was less than stellar and the wide receivers were invisible in the first half. We just played a good Carolina team, and got outplayed. Not something that should have happened, with all of the talent that we are supposed to have.

And, even though we don't like the Patriots, what happened to Tom Brady was awful.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Food & Football

The Chargers open their regular season tomorrow, an event that ranks right up there on the excitement meter with the Super Bowl. Along with some guacamole and chips, that calls for:

Green Chile Chicken Salad
This recipe is derived from a Jalapeno version in Cook’s Country magazine, but toned down to more civilized green chiles.

2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lime juice
3 cups cooked chicken, finely shredded
3 stalks celery, chopped very fine
1 small red onion, chopped very fine
7 oz can diced green chiles, rinsed and drained

Mix mayonnaise, lime juice and chiles in a small bowl until combined. Set aside.

Toss the chicken, celery and onion in a large bowl until well mixed. Add mayonnaise mixture and mix until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. It can be served at once, but it better if you make it ahead and refrigerate it overnight. Serve with your favorite crackers or chips.

A note on the chicken: be sure it is shredded, not chopped. I don’t know why it makes any difference, but it definitely does.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

McCain is speaking

and he just started on his "I was blessed with misfortune" and "served with heros" story about being a pow. I just threw up a little bit in my mouth. Did you know he was a pow? If you didn't know or haven't heard the story, I have it on tape and can send it to you. As I said, it makes me vomit, but...

Up until now I simply didn't know what the hell he was babbling about. Now that I know, I wish I didn't.

His speech was preceeded by a video of him being a pow, and that was preceeded by his wife telling the same freaking story, so that makes three times now in one night we have heard the pos pow story in its entirety in one night.

I think the audience has all died. Even when they are standing and cheering they look bored out of their gourds. Except Sarah Palin. I think she's about to have an orgasm. That would embarrass Cindy McCain, who is sitting right beside her and looks slightly less bored than the rest of the audience. Her smile is 4% more authentic than her husband's but significantly more frequent.

This live blogging is cool. I just turned the sound off; vast improvement. Oh, nope, he's still speaking. I just turned off the tv altogether. Much better, but so much for the live blogging. Good night.

Low information voter

This is what we are up against, this perception of Sarah Palin,
She also waves around the 2nd admendment and, certainly, guns are an important, powerful, unconcious symbol of self determination and self protection.

Certainly, pro-life, pro-gun folks will never achieve such a society but their motivations, I think, come from the right place.

What makes Palin mainstream and contemporary, in my mind, is that she uses her mind to secure the good life and, in this era of globalization, that psychology connects: we're in it together as long as I can perform!

Obama's narrative struggles since, in this post 9/11 chaotic world, it almost ludacris to envision a world organized around peace and social justice.

"Ludacris" indeed, to imagine such a world. Who would want to live in a world that was "organized around peace and social justice."

Good God Almighty, we are so screwed.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


From Rueters, Tue Sep 2, 2008 3:51pm EDT
"My understanding is that Gov. Palin's town, Wasilla, has I think 50 employees. We've got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million dollars a year -- we have a budget of about three times that just for the month," Obama had said.

McCain adviser Carly Fiorina said she was appalled and accused him of sexism...

Okay, Ms. Fiorina, so any words of criticism levelled at a woman, regardless of the nature of those words, are sexist. You just criticised Barack Obama...

Then you, madame, are a racist pig.

"Troopergate" & McCain

Let’s assume that the trooper is every bit the heinous beast that certain parties want to make him out to be, and that Sarah Palin’s motives are as pure as the driven snow. (Heh, apt enough.) I don’t for a moment assume either to be the case, but let’s assume them. That still leaves the fact that at the time John McCain selected her as his running mate there was a charge pending against Sarah Palin for abuse of the power of her office, and that the investigation had not yet been resolved.

John McCain was aware of that unresolved charge of abuse of the power of her office and he did not care.

Let’s go back now the “The Keating Five.” I lived in Arizona at the time. Everyone I knew was certain that McCain was as guilty as the other four and we were all astounded when he “got off.” He swore that he had “learned his lesson,” but there is plenty of evidence that the lesson he learned was to be sure that no mechanism for the investigation of Congressional breaches of ethics and abuse of power was ever allowed to become established. And to this day, none has.

McCain has pressured the FCC on behalf of campaign contributors repeatedly, and whenever the subject comes up he starts talking about his experience as a POW and the media immediately changes the subject.

So the charge of Sarah Palin’s abuse of the power of her office did not bother him in the least. To him, that is simply the normal way of doing government. It simply never crossed his mind to think that the charge might be a problem. As we say in the software industry, to him

Abuse of power is not a bug, it’s a feature.

Stormy Weather

hurricanesFour storms at once, a regular parade of them. But bear in mind that at this time in 2005 we were already at the letter K.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Split Personalities

You know all the times that McCain has said things like “I didn’t say that” and has been confronted with a YouTube clip of himself saying precisely what he just claimed he didn’t say? One suspects that his inability to use a computer has resulted in an inability to comprehend that YouTube exists.

It would seem that living in Alaska has a similar effect. Sarah Palin introduced herself to the nation on the day of her selection as McCain’s running mate with an easily refuted lie.
“I told Congress, ‘Thanks but no thanks’ on that Bridge to Nowhere.”

That was a lie. It was not an exaggeration, or any kind of shading of the truth, it was a flat out, unvarnished lie.

She did not “flip-flop” on that bridge, either, as might seem to be indicated by this statement, made during her campaign for governor in October, 2006,
“I do support the infrastructure projects that are on tap here in the State of Alaska that our Congressional delegations worked hard for.”

She is expressing her support for earmarks in general with that statement, more about that in a moment, but she is not expressing support for the “Bridge to Nowhere” because that bridge plan did not exist as far as Congress was concerned at the time she made that statement. The plan was cancelled in November 2005, and it was not cancelled by anyone in Alaska, it was cancelled by the U.S. Congress.

When the bridge plan was cancelled the money was left intact, so Alaska was free to spend it any way they wished.

Having taken office in December 2006, Sarah Palin was never within thirteen months of having anything whatever to do with the Bridge to Nowhere plan. She did spend the earmark money that was left when the bridge was cancelled by the federal government without her intervention. The bridge was still one of the options, but Congress was out of the picture and didn't need telling anything. She not only didn't cancel the bridge, she took the money.

You can read the details at the Daily Howler.

As Governor of Alaska she was a big champion of earmark spending by the federal government, and even made trips to Washington to help secure more earmarked dollars for her state. Now that she is running for federal office, she is suddenly against earmark spending.

Remember Kerry at the Dem convention, saying the Senator McCain should finish the debate with Candidate McCain?

Maybe Governor Palin should debate Candidate Palin.

Except we know that all four of them lie.

Tepid Support

It seems that John McCain needs to spend more time getting to know his present running mate, since he has a far different take on her knowledge and experience of matters regarding national security than she does herself. This is what he said on Fox news this Sunday, emphasis added by me,
"She knows that the surge worked and succeeded and she supported that," McCain continued. "Senator Obama still, still to this day, refuses to acknowledge that the surge has succeeded. She's been commander-in-chief of the Alaska Guard that has served back and back. In fact, as you know, she's got a son who's getting ready to go. But she's had the judgment on these issues that Senator Obama, he's had all the wrong judgments. Governor Palin understands these issues, and she understands the challenges that we face."

This is from an interview conducted at the time of the surge that McCain suggest she supported,
Alaska Business Monthly: We've lost a lot of Alaska's military members to the war in Iraq. How do you feel about sending more troops into battle, as President Bush is suggesting?

Palin: I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe. Every life lost is such a tragedy. I am very, very proud of the troops we have in Alaska, those fighting overseas for our freedoms, and the families here who are making so many sacrifices.

The only “support” in that quote is, “and while I support our president.” That is usually a preface to adding a disagreement or disclaimer of some sort, and so it is here, “I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe.”

That doesn’t sound very supportive to me.

Since that date and prior to her selection as his running mate, can anyone point me to a quote from her supporting the surge, acknowledging that the surge has been a success, claiming progress or success in Iraq? Anything? Anybody?

We have all of this testimony as to her judgement from McCain, after her selection. Not one word from him or anyone else prior to her selection. Not one single quote or article from prior to her selection documenting this judgement and knowledge on matters of grave national importance. Just John McCain's unsupported word. And, of course, hers.

If you have any such pre-selection quote, please add it in comments.