Sunday, August 31, 2008

UL mention ...

The little blog here got a mention in the UL today in Tom Fahey's column: ["State House Dome"].
I was wondering why the site was getting so many Google hits. Thanks Tom!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thinking a little deeper about the Palin pick

While we understand that the Palin pick is pretty interesting overall, I'm not going to speculate whether this was the best or worst move right now. That remains to be seen. Gut reaction says it has both positives and negatives. Thinking about it in the deeper context though, there is a lot more to her than "Quayle in a pantsuit."

When she was first floated months ago, there were a bunch of stories about her background as a city councilor, mayor, and now governor. She seems to have short stints of things she has done, and then moved on - or up - to other things. There wasn't much written about her journalism background at the time but now they are talking about that too. There doesn't seem to be a lot of "breaking stories" to her background. She has a journalism degree, she was a sports reporter, etc. But I wonder if her journalism training is where she got her tenacity to fight corruption within her own party.

That fits in with McCain's background of going after - pounding into the ground, if you will - small points within the budget, within his party, etc. That all said, McCain really needed to do something dynamic with his pick. We all kinda realized that. Choosing just another white guy - Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Ridge, etc. - was not going to do it. Choosing this woman, at this time, was a pretty dynamic choice.

While the Democrats and the media are kinda pooh-poohing the gender thing, they need to be careful about this. I’m willing to bet that Palin puts a good chunk of Hillary 18 million voters - especially the middle-aged, white, WalMart women, the backbone of her base - in play. Despite what some may think, these women are not Kool-Aid Democrats or social liberals. They don't support gay marriage and they're iffy on abortion. Many of the women who voted for Hillary in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, etc., all places McCain needs to be competitive, fit this description. Palin is not going to be able to draw Hillary women who are the latte voters, small S socialists, and education fanatics. They will all swallow the gender issue with the Obama/Biden ticket and hope for the best. But the others? They’re in play.

Why Holding the Majority Matters

Guest Perspective by Lee Hamilton

When you see news stories over the next few months about which party is likely to emerge from the November elections with a majority in Congress, keep one thing in mind: the basement. You might think that congressional leaders care most about the ability that majority status gives them to set the agenda, and you’re probably right; but rest assured that they’re also thinking about the gloomy corridors underneath the various House office buildings on Capitol Hill.

This is where some members of the minority party in the House can get relegated when they want to host a gathering for constituents or visitors. Members of the majority might instead get the meeting rooms that showcase the grandeur of Congress — the elegant ones just off the House floor in the Capitol, with high ceilings, plush carpets, and rich wood paneling.

I tell you this because it helps to explain why members of Congress behave as they do when control of their chamber is at stake. Sure, being in the minority means losing the House or Senate leadership, committee chairmanships, and the opportunity to set and to advance a party’s agenda. But that’s just the start of it. The difference between being the majority party and the minority party is so great that in many ways you’re talking about two very different experiences of Congress for their respective members. This is one reason the intense partisanship we’ve seen on Capitol Hill for well over a decade now has such a sharp edge to it.

Party status affects pretty much everything. The majority not only gets nicer spaces and meeting rooms, it also gets to determine which members and staff will go on overseas fact-finding trips, and enjoys all sorts of little perks that make life on Capitol Hill more pleasant. And on congressional committees, the majority often takes two-thirds to three-fourths of the budget and will have three times the number of staff as the minority, so a shift in party control can be traumatic for those suddenly in the minority.

Then, of course, there are the substantive differences. In the House, for instance, the leadership of the majority party controls the legislative agenda entirely. It decides not only which issues will be taken up, but also how they can be debated, whether amendments will be allowed, and how the matter will be handled on the House floor. If it wished, it could — and on occasion does — prevent the minority party from offering even a single amendment to important bills brought up on the floor during the session.

The rules are somewhat less lopsided in the Senate, though the minority there often gets less of a chance to shape legislation — or even attach its members’ names to legislation — than it does simply to block a bill entirely.

The result of all this is two-fold: In a closely divided Congress, the stakes in each election are enormous, not simply in terms of which policies and philosophies will prevail, but what legislative life will be like afterward for members of each party; and this in turn feeds an atmosphere of partisanship and mistrust, and makes it harder to cooperate across the aisle, simply because neither party wants to give the other even the remotest advantage.

Americans may be tired of the partisanship they’ve seen on Capitol Hill, but it’s worth knowing that there are some basic institutional forces at work that make it difficult to overcome.

None of this is to say that lessening partisanship is impossible — just that it won’t happen without a concerted effort by the majority and minority in both houses of Congress to behave in ways that make the vast gulf in potential power and perquisites somewhat narrower.

How the majority treats the minority, and vice versa, is hugely important in terms of setting the atmosphere and tone on Capitol Hill. As things stand at the moment, each side tries to manipulate the process to set up votes with an eye toward gaining a partisan advantage to enable them to win another seat or two, rather than producing good legislation. This can only be changed by a wholesale shift in attitude on the part of both parties.

For the majority’s part, this means being aware that it sets the tone, and that consulting with members of the minority party — treating them fairly, as colleagues and not as enemies — should be a normal part of doing business. Equally important, the minority has a responsibility not to gum up the works by taking advantage of arcane rules of procedure or trying to turn every iota of legislative business to its political advantage.

The tone overall ought to be one of mutual respect and fairness, ruled by a constant awareness that Congress is there to serve the American people and to make the country work, not to offer an arena for conferring on one party or the other a political advantage. Only then can the people who serve in Congress free themselves from the institutional forces that, of late, have made it such an unpleasant place for many of them to serve.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Not to be crude ... but it's McCain and the MILF ...

John McCain picks a total hottie - hey, I'm 40-plus - to be his running mate. Wow!

So, the guys around the office are talking about John McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. I'm chewing on my lunch and one of the other editors says, So Tony, what's the headline? I finish my bite of turkey and lettuce and say, "McCain and the MILF," to a slew of laughs.
Well, I don't mean to be crude. I really don't. But that was my first reaction. I have to say, as a 40-plus year old man, that's what I was thinking ... she is really, really cute. And, she is a reformer. And, she took on her own party and stopped the bridge to nowhere, etc.

I am woman, see me fish ...

Rugged individualism while still giving birth to five kids?
So that's what it is. McCain and MILF. And, I have to say, I'm liking how interesting this race is going to be ...

Drudge suggests McCain/Palin ...

If this is true, McCain is taking a huge strategic risk ... which might yield some gains, especially with many, many Hillary Clinton supporters still bitter about her not winning the nomination and not being chosen for VP. Wow, this is going to be really, really interesting.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nader draws thousands at Denver rally

Well, this is quite interesting. Thousands and thousands of people for Nader. He received 12,000 votes there in 2004 and 97,000 votes in 2000. So, this shouldn't be a big surprise.
While this isn't a 10,000 person super rally like 2000, it is impressive.
A Google News search of "Nader, Denver," didn't yield much press about the event, just a couple of blog posts by Ruth Conniff of the Progressive, clearly not understanding how furious some people are, and a guy from the Hartford Courant who was actually much kinder. Asleep at the wheel again.

Politics of Avoidance

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader

The “politics of avoidance” is receiving a great deal of media attention during this period of national political conventions. Unfortunately, the newspapers and television programs do not use the phrase: “the politics of avoidance.” Together with John McCain and Barack Obama, members of the press have become used to living the “politics of avoidance” every day by not asking, talking or reporting about the essential core of what politics should be about—power!

Power! Who has it? Who doesn’t have it? Who should have less of it and who should have more of it? What does concentrated power do to the everyday life of the people as workers, patients, consumers, taxpayers, voters, shareholders and citizens?

Just use these and other power yardsticks and watch how thin and how superficial daily political reporting, even by the best of the press, can become.

In the August 25th edition of The New York Times, a long analysis by Michael Powell is titled “Tracing the Disparate Threads in Obama’s Political Philosophy.” There was no mention of corporate misbehavior—as in corporate crime, corporate corruption, corporate governance, corporate accountability, or cracking down on corporate abuses from the contractors in Iraq to the speculators on Wall Street.

Bear in mind, The New York Times and other newspapers often report about corporate crime and misdeeds. Sometimes reporters do such a good job that they win the Pulitzer and other prizes. Yet, strangely, these reporters do not carry over the reporting of their own paper to their questioning of the Presidential candidates.

Since there is no challenging of the candidates by the reporters about what the candidates would do about this continual corporate crime wave and the miniscule prosecution budgets, or the limited enforcement and regulatory efforts, the candidates can remain mum, very mum.

In Powell’s article, Obama’s economics are described as “a redistributionist liberalism but [he] is skeptical of too much government tinkering. His most influential advisors hail from the University of Chicago, a bastion of free-marketers.” This is Obama’s way of saying to corporations that he is a safe bet not to trouble them with his earlier experience as a community organizer in neighborhoods that were up against a variety of corporate predators, including redlining banks and insurance companies, supermarkets that dumped contaminated food products, landlords who rented apartments with asbestos and lead contaminations and established pay-day lending sharks.

The same day—August 25, 2008, the Wall Street Journal had an entire special section devoted to “Debating the Issues” described as ‘Health Care,’ ‘Energy & the Environment,’ ‘The Economy’ and ‘Trade.’ The Health Care headline is sub-titled: “How Involved Should the Government Be?

Once again the same paradox. The Journal prints some of the best exposes of corporate greed and power in all of mainstream journalism. Yet one strains to detect any of this power analysis when it comes to the paper’s political coverage or campaign features.

Conventional political journalism is all about palliative descriptions, the question of governmental involvement primarily as an issuer of dollars to the recipients in presumed need. It is about symptoms, rarely about causes, and even less often about the need to curb or displace corporate control.

About 75 percent of the American people believe corporations have too much control over their lives. Yet reducing such control or holding it accountable is not part of electoral or political discourse.

A majority of the American people, and fifty-nine percent of physicians in an April poll, favor single payer or full government health insurance (as in full Medicare for all) with free choice of hospital and doctor, private delivery of care, and far less administrative costs and billing fraud. The health insurance companies would be displaced.

John McCain and Barack Obama have never had to debate this majoritarian preference along with their piecemeal, concessionary heathcare plans that please these same insurance companies.

The pollsters also reflect, embody and are saturated with this politics of avoidance. They do not poll the various impacts of concentrated corporate power on the various roles people play in the workplace, marketplace, and their communities.

The New York Times/CBS News Poll of delegates to the Democratic Convention asked about the condition of the economy, health care, going into Iraq, energy, abortion and gay marriage.

Not one question was asked about the most dominant power over government, elections, politics, the federal operating budget, and our political economy.

Whoever asks the questions, whoever controls the yardsticks controls the agenda of public dialogue. The politics of avoidance is designed to avoid the politics of corporate power.

Presidents Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and leading Supreme Court Justices, Louis Brandeis and William Douglas understood and warned about the menace of unbridled corporate domination.

Today multinational corporations are more powerful then ever, especially over workers and the government. And politics is more about avoiding this central topic than ever before. Discussions about corporate power are off the table.

So much for the Preamble to our Constitution which reads, “We the People…”

NBC censors Pickens Plan ...

What's really wrong with this ad?:

Report the news, get arrested!

Check this out: ["ABC Reporter Arrested in Denver Taking Pictures of Senators, Big Donors"].

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pumpkin Hillary ... 'I love you forever' ...

You know, clothing makes the man and the woman. Who ... I mean, who chose the orange pantsuit that Hillary is wearing right now?! Oh my word. She looks like a huge pumpkin at the Keene pumpkin fest!
I hate to be a critic of Hillary's wardrobe ... especially when there are so many other things to be critical of when you think of the woman ... but this is too much. This was just the worst outfit she could have put on. Pumpkin orange. Arrgh!
Bubba is such a phony. Gosh, after all these years, I still can't stand the man. He just makes me ill. There he is, on the verge of tears, whispering, almost perfectly timed with the cameras ... "I love you ... I love you forever and ever ..." Yeah cameraman, we saw it. How much did Bubba pay you to catch that line?
Cough ... cough ... "Blowjob!" ... cough ... cough ... "Eat me!"
Hillary says she is a proud mother ... proud Senator ... proud Democrat ... proud supporter of Barack Obama ... but not a proud wife? Interesting.
OK, we make it through three or four minutes of Hillary and my wife, who is a Democrat, says, "I'm shutting the b*tch off ..."
Sure sweetie, that's fine with me.

The McCain campaign unloads the barrels ....

Obama negatives in Massachusetts ... of all places

SurveyUSA is a roundup of voter perceptions about Barack Obama and John McCain and some of the numbers are, well, surprising:

* On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very unfavorable and 10 being favorable, 13 percent of Mass. Dems gave Obama a 1 with 44 percent rating 1 to 5, the halfway mark.

* 21 percent of Mass. Dems say McCain would do a better job handling the economy while 14 percent of Mass. Republicans say Obama would do a better job.

* 29 percent of Mass. Dems say McCain would do a better job handling the situation in Iraq while 15 percent of Mass. Republicans say Obama would do a better job.

* 38 percent of Mass. Dems say McCain would do a better job handling terrorism compared to 10 percent of Mass. Republicans saying Obama would do a better job.

It would be interesting to see how many Mass. Dems are going to crossover and vote for McCain as well as juxtaposing those numbers with the Republicans who will be voting for Obama. Granted, there aren't a lot of Republicans in Massachusetts so who knows. But these three core issues could easily make someone wonder about where the election is headed.

Unfortunately, SurveyUSA doesn't have any New Hampshire numbers. :-(

Clintonistas continue their attacks ...

Read Carville and Begala, the heart of the Clintonista clan, complaining about the convention: ["Clinton faces new GOP attacks ahead of her speech"].
I would bet everything I own that if Clinton had won the nomination, they would be kissing her backside and lauding the entire convention as a lovefest of unity - even if it weren't. But because their former employers are out of power, they attack the entire thing. And, as we know, they are just reflecting the sentiment of others. And the Dems say they are unified? Hah.

37 states ...

Ralph Nader is currently on the ballot in 37 states according to a press release sent out by the campaign today. That is, frankly, amazing, and it happened so fast.
When I original started reading about Nader running as an indie instead of running for the Green Party line [He won the Green primaries and would have instantly been on 20-plus lines], I thought the campaign would be a disaster. Well, I thought wrong. Thirty-seven states in just a few months is a pretty good stint considering.

Michele Obama's speech
I watched most of Michele Obama's speech tonight. I found it to be quite good, natural feeling, and even a little inspiring. But not that inspiring. Their children are quite cute. My wife and I joked about some of the things our kids would say if I were on a remote access video and she were addressing thousands at a convention.
And I also liked the sense that she talked about their roots as if they came from normal families. I mean, we don't know that for sure, but it is probably true. You can tell it if someone has really had a normal family or not. Bubba Clinton was a total phony about this. Michele Obama seemed real.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hillary delegate for McCain?

Yup, it's the truth. Despite New Hampshire Democrats saying that Hillary folks aren't abandoning the ticket, they are. Here's just one of them, touted in a new McCain ad:

There are others too. I'm hearing them on talk radio shows like "Eagan & Braude" and "Nightside" last week, two shows which are not rightwing talk shows!

Update: Oh my, look at this: ["Tensions boil between Obama-Clinton camps"]. Oh my, oh my ...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh my gosh ... Kos agrees with me!

We don't see eye to eye at all but he pretty much says what I'm saying ... granted, with less venom: ["Filled a gap, rather than reinforced"].

Something to celebrate on Labor Day

Guest Perspective by State Rep. Marjorie Smith

On Sept. 1, the minimum wage in New Hampshire rises to $7.25 an hour. It is fitting that this increase from $6.50 goes into effect on Labor Day. Approximately 17,500 workers will see an increase in their hourly pay and that is good news for everyone as we struggle toward the goal of financial security for all New Hampshire citizens. As prime sponsor of the bill to increase the minimum wage, I am proud that the New Hampshire legislature passed and the governor signed into law the bill making this increase possible. But we still have a long way to go.
The New Hampshire Women’s Policy Institute (NHWPI) initiated a study by UNH economist Ross Gittell. Gittell reported that of those working at or near the minimum wage in 1999 (from $5.15 TO $6.65) “most were adults with a high school education or better. Of those working full-time, 60 percent were women, 40 percent had children, and nearly one third were older than 45. These figures are based on the most recent large survey available. Subsequent surveys based on smaller samples indicate little change. Roughly 2 percent of full-time working men and 4 percent of full-time working women made minimum wage in 2005. New Hampshire ranks near the bottom nationally in terms of women’s earnings relative to men’s.
An increase in the minimum wage is an essential step, but it is only a step. In 2005 women made up 40 percent of the full-time workforce but 57 percent of full-time workers earning less than $25,000. Working 2,000 hours a year at $7.25 per hour equals a gross income of $14,500. The question is: Can a family live on that income?
Based on the U.S. Census 2005 American Community Survey and findings in a recent study, “New Hampshire’s Basic Needs and Livable Wage, 2006” published by the UNH Office of Economic Initiatives and North Country Council Inc., the NHWPI analyzed what a livable wage, as compared with a minimum wage, would be in New Hampshire. A livable wage is the annual amount needed to cover a family’s basic needs, including rent, food, clothing, medical care and child care if necessary, with other household expenses.
A living wage for a single person is estimated to be $21,683 while a single parent with two children is estimated to need $40,589. Because men dominate high-wage jobs, male single parents with two children with earnings below the livable wage comprise 39 percent of that group, while female single parents with two children with earnings below the livable wage comprise 63pe rcent.
Another way to look at this is that of New Hampshire full-time workers earning enough to support a single-parent family 72 percent are men and 28 percent are women. What we see here is income disparity and gender disparity.
What can we conclude? There is reason to celebrate an increase in the minimum wage, but more must be done. We must find a way to help women and men develop skills and make use of essential supports so as to become financially independent. And we cannot expect businesses to bear this responsibility without state support.
Under Democratic leadership, the New Hampshire legislature took significant steps to help businesses and their employees by re-establishing a job training fund for businesses, establishing a research and development credit against business profits and business enterprise taxes, created economic revitalization zone tax credits, and authorized the commissioner of the Department of Employment Security to adjust the discount rate for unemployment insurance tax.
We made part-time employees eligible for unemployment benefits, helped to encourage the development of work-force housing, and created adjustments to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs to provide the Department of Health and Human Services more flexibility when meeting the federal work participation requirements.
Combined with the minimum wage increase, we have much to be proud of. We can take pleasure in our accomplishments while acknowledging how much more we have to travel.

State Rep. Marjorie Smith is Chairwoman of the House Finance Committee. She is a Democrat and represents Durham.

So it's Biden ...

... a guy who was just a few days ago saying "I'm not the guy ..." So, is he a liar or did he just not know? Or, are you not a liar when you do it to reporters?

This is a guy who has assisted the Bush and Clinton administrations in bringing our nation to the economic crisis and complete cultural wasteland that we are in today.

Let's look at the details: He voted for NAFTA, GATT, WTO, PMFN trade status to China, essentially gutting our manufacturing infrastructure. Due to globalism and free trade, America is a debtor nation and not the economic and manufacturing powerhouse it once was.

He voted for the Iraqi invasion when everyone else in the world knew the invasion was a sham, that there were no weapons of mass destruction, and that Saddam Hussein was no threat to America. Again, he's a foreign policy expert? He's a foreign policy expert and voted for this and yet all of us out here in the real world knew it was sham.

He voted for the Patriot Act and Clinton's anti-terrorism bill before it, gutting our Bill of Rights and assisting in limiting the freedoms of Americans.

He voted for the Telecom Bill of 1996, which put television and radio stations into the hands of a few corporations, so now we have fewer live DJs, synchronized playlists with the same 50 songs, no diversity of choice in formats, limited local news, or no real news at all, along with pablum puke television executives now call "entertainment" and a dummying down of the nation and body politic.

He voted for the bankruptcy bill in 2005 so the millions of folks who are getting hammered right now will always be hammered because they will have to pay and pay. As well, Biden has been one of the largest beneficiaries of banking industry campaign contributions meaning that at a time when our nation needs serious banking and investment house regulation, he's going to be in the pocket of the banks.

This list goes on and on ... Clearly, "change we can believe in ..." gasp ... sigh ... not.

So he's pro-choice. So he voted against FISA. Big deal.

Biden is a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. His presidential campaign was a joke. He received, what, 1 percent of the Iowa Caucuses? He puts no states in play and comes from a safe state, Delaware. At a time when we are worrying about the economy, a supposed foreign policy wonk is chosen. What can Obama be thinking? The Democrats are thinking that they can win things and maybe make some small, minor changes for us ordinary folks. They'll definitely take over things and hand out cushy jobs to their friends, just like Clinton did, at a time when we need a major overhaul of everything.

At least with this choice, Obama has picked someone who will be interesting and colorful on the campaign trail. I will give Biden that. He will be quotable and he'll beat Mitt Romney or whoever in a VP debate. But big deal. Obama could have made a revolutionary choice to go along with an impressive campaign and he picked the king of the cocktail party crowd in D.C. Ugh.

I don't think the Hillary folks are going to be happy and you can call this swing voter not happy with this choice at all ... someone who was really hoping he could vote, with heart, for a Democrat instead of voting for Ralph Nader, who believes in 90 percent of what I want done.

So, now we wait to see what McCain does.

Is there a Hillary coup coming?

Friday, August 22, 2008

MSNBC: It's not Bayh!

MSNBC is reporting that both Bayh and Kaine have been called and won't be on the ticket: ["Bayh, Kaine out of Obama veep race"].
With Biden telling folks that he isn't "the guy," that leaves Clinton, Sebelius, and two other potential candidates, Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, N.M. Gov. Bill Richardson, or some other wildcard. I'm beginning to wonder that he might pick Clinton after all.

On the radio tomorrow

I'll be on Samantha Clemen's radio show via phone for about 30 minutes or so talking politics around 10 a.m. Here are the details:

Saturday, August 23th, The Samantha Clemens Show is live on the air for two hours beginning at 9 AM (US eastern) on WMFO 91.5 FM Medford, and streaming live on-line:

Guests this week:

  • Dedrick Muhammed, an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1992, and a participant in the 2004 convention as an assistant to Rev. Al Sharpton where he met Senator Obama and heard his national debut live. What is it like to attend a convention? What was his reaction to the Obama debut? What is going on with the Clinton delegates? What do people in his circles think about it? Who's the veep? ? And, who's gonna win?
  • Tony Schinella, award-winning journalist and publisher of joins us to give us his two cents worth on Prez politics - a former Edwards supporter and 'unfan' of Clinton - what does he think about the Clinton catharsis - what, is he threatening to vote... Nader????

What else?!

  • Did that Florida school official really 'out' the student to her parents and everyone else when she asked for a little protection from school bullies??
  • What's rich? what's middle class? what's poor? How about this for starters? If you don't know how many houses you own? If you have to get your staff to answer the question? You're rich! Four fireplaces and a wine cellar still counts as doing really well. But, not knowing?? Wow.


War News Radio - beginning at 8:30 am (30 minute pre-recorded report) - War News Radio fills the gaps in the media's coverage of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan by providing balanced and in-depth reporting, historical perspective, and personal stories.

Media Minutes - 9:55 (5 minute pre-recorded report) - the longest-running syndicated radio program of its kind focused on media policy and reform. Media Minutes tracks the latest industry developments, keeps an eye on Washington policy-makers, and talks to the experts and activists dedicated to changing our media environment for the better.

Huge burst in Obama-Nelson search traffic

I've been looking at my Sitemeter visits from today and there seems to be a burst of activity from people contemplating an Obama/Bill Nelson ticket. From Massachusetts to California, readers are checking out Rich Rubino's Guest Perspective from March: ["Obama-Nelson"].

Is it Obama/Bayh?

That's what Drudge says:
OBAMA DRAMA: Prepares to name mate...
FLASH: Fri Aug 22 2008 17:52:03 ET /// KMBC's Micheal Mahoney reports a company in Kansas City, which specializes in political literature, has been printing Obama-Bayh material... MORE... Gill Studios, would not confirm information about the material. They would not deny it either. At least three sources close to the plant's operations reported the Obama-Bayh material was being produced...

Huge news? Hillary gets stiffed ...

Should we believe this or has he picked her by default: ["Hillary gets stiffed"].
Granted, it is an unnamed Democratic source. It could be the friggin' copy boy for all we know. I was on WBZ 1030 last night as a caller complaining about all the Hillary women who are threatening to bolt the Democrats if Obama doesn't pick Hillary.
I stated that I hoped other Democrats would tell them to "sit down and shut up," similar to what Nader folks have heard from Dems in 2000 and 2004. I mean, remember all that? How we were destroying the country and everything else and we should shut up and vote for Gore or Kerry? Yeah, I remember that.
But, if they aren't happy with their nominee and his choice, they can vote "None of the above" or for McCain? Give me a break! Again, like so much of life, one rule for them, one rule for us.
I also said that there is at least one woman on the short list, Gov. Sebelius, and I also touted my own favorite female candidate, Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur, as possibles.
Frankly, had the Dems picked Bill Bradley in 2000, I probably wouldn't have voted for Nader. Had the Dems picked Jerry Brown in 1992, I wouldn't have voted for Perot. Admittedly, I did vote for that dingbat Kerry but that was only after my wife hounded me for weeks about it. It felt terrible not voting for Nader, the best candidate.
But, you know, I kinda feel for the Hillary supporters a bit and understand their frustration if they decide to send the nation into turmoil because they didn't get their way. Like everyone else, is looking forward to the person Obama plans to name to the ticket. And if the Hillary folks aren't happy, Nader and Cynthia McKinney will be happy to receive their votes and money.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Banking on Congress

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader

This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) officials are pushing various agencies charged with regulating banks, such as the Treasury’s Office of Thrift Supervision to more aggressively give problem banks lower ratings than they may now be receiving from regulators. Regulators give banks a rank between 1 and 5. Well-managed banks get a 1, problem banks receive a 4 or 5. The FDIC wants to see more banks getting 4s or 5s.

In late July, I wrote to U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass. to suggest that they jointly hold hearings on the FDIC’s ability to deal with potential bank failures in the next several years. In the letter, I noted that in a March 10, 2008 memorandum on insurance assessment rates, Arthur J. Murton, Director of the Division of Insurance and Research for the FDIC stated:

While 99 percent of insured institutions meet the “well capitalized” criteria, the possibility remains that the fund could suffer insurance losses that are significantly higher than anticipated. The U.S. economy and the banking sector currently face a significant amount of uncertainty from ongoing housing sector problems, financial market turbulence and potentially weak prospects for consumer spending. These problems could lead to significantly higher loan losses and weaker earnings for insured institutions.

FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair, however, has been singing a more upbeat tune. She recently said, "The banking system in this country remains on a solid footing through the guarantees provided by FDIC insurance. The overwhelming majority of banks in this country are safe and sound and the chances that your own bank could fail are remote. However, if that does happen, the FDIC will be there - as always - to protect your insured deposits."

Despite these reassuring words, the recent failure of IndyMac highlights the need for tough Congressional oversight. Banking experts have indicated that the cost of the collapse of IndyMac alone will be between $4 billion and $8 billion. The FDIC has approximately $53 billion on hand to deal with bank failures. This amount may not be adequate, given the cost of IndyMac and given the approximately $4 trillion in deposits the FDIC insures.

Congressional oversight of the financial services industry and its regulators should be a topic priority for Congress. I even suggested several questions that should be put to FDIC officials such as:

1. Was IndyMac on the list of “Problem Institutions” before it failed?

2. Were the other banks that failed this year on the FDIC list of “Problem Institutions”?

3. What is the anticipated cost of dealing with the failures of the other four banks that failed this year?

4. As of March 31, 2008 the FDIC reported 90 “Problem Institutions” with assets of $26 billion. What is the current number of “Problem Institutions” and what are the assets of these “Problem Institutions”?

5. How many banks are likely to fail in 2008 and 2009 respectively?

6. What is the estimated range of costs of dealing with the projected failures?

7. What will the effect of higher losses than those projected be on the FDIC’s estimate of the proper reserve ratio?

8. What are the FDIC’s projections for reserves needed and potential bank failures beyond 2009?

9. Is the FDIC resisting raising the current rates of assessments on FDIC insured banks so that the cost of any significant bailouts will have to be shifted to the taxpayers?

10. Does the Government Accountability Office (GAO) believe that the existing rate schedule for banks to pay into the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) is set at the proper level?

It would also make sense for Congress to revisit the FDIC’s current approach to setting reserve ratios for banks.

The FDIC is not likely to address its own inability to clearly assess the current risks posed to depositors and taxpayers by the high-rolling, bailout-prone banking industry.

When Congress reconvenes after Labor Day it would be prudent for Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank to focus on the FDIC and our nation’s troubled banks through some tough no-holds-barred hearings. These two lawmakers are going to have to hear from the people back home soon.

Neither Senator Dodd nor Congressman Frank have responded to my letter of July 23, 2008.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oh no ... please no ... Nader says it will be Clinton ...

Read it and weep: ["Nader predicts Obama to pick Clinton"].
One of the big positive things about Obama winning the nomination over Hillary is the many of us thought, thankfully, that the Clinton era was over. In some ways, picking a Bayh, Biden, Dodd, or some other DLC, corporate whore Democrat, just continues things to their way of thinking. The policy is the same; the name different.
But having Hillary on the ticket? Oh my gosh, please Lord, no-no-no! Please Lord, I beg of you ... no-no-no. Some of us Naderites are out here praying for Obama to pick someone new, someone with an open mind, so we don't have to vote for Nader. So we can support Obama and his choice. Hillary on the ticket isn't going to do that. It might unify the Democrats but it will make the rest of us undecideds puke. If Obama wants to kiss my vote - and others - goodbye, he should pick Hillary or some other corporate whore Democrat. If he wants my vote - and millions of others - he will pick a true fair trade populist who is going to think about Main Street and not Wall Street. It really is that simple.

Pray for Yaz!

He and "Spaceman" Bill Lee, two of my fave Sox: ["Yaz hospitalized in Boston"].

Pot, meet the kettle ...

I want one, I want one, I want one ...

This is so, so cool: ["Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"].
The company Web site is here: ["Terrafugia"].
Essentially, I could cut my commute time down by about 30 minutes each way, by FLYING to small airports right outside my home and office. Amazing!! Now, I just have to come up with the $190k in order to get one.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It’s Time for “The Next New Deal”

Guest Perspective by Robert Sprague of the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance

In 1932, at the rock bottom of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt swept into office with the promise of bold reforms to jump-start the American economy. Although conservative critics of the day cast his ideas as too radical, policies implemented in The New Deal stabilized the banking system within one month, cut skyrocketing unemployment in half and increased our gross domestic product by 50 percent.

Over the past three decades, the pendulum has swung from this New Deal ideology to conservatism. Tax cuts for the rich were supposed to “trickle down” to the masses, spurring job creation and an economic boom. The current economic crisis we are experiencing has shown us that conservatism – tax cuts for the rich and bailing out big businesses – has failed. Tax cuts for the rich have only made the rich richer, the poor poorer… and the middle class isn’t doing all that well either. Instead of the promised job creation, we find more and more of our jobs being shipped overseas while unemployment has skyrocketed to the highest level in a decade.

The recession is here and it’s real. Many are losing their jobs, homes and health care. Others are maxing out their credit cards just to keep their heads above water. While some politicians call for piecemeal solutions and others declare that our problems are all in our heads, more and more Americans believe that things are only getting worse. As the bad news continues to pour in, people are looking to the government for leadership and answers. Polling over the last few months shows that 69 to 82 percent of voters now favor government intervention to save our struggling economy.

Our forefathers’ original intent, as stated in the Constitution, was for government to “provide for the general welfare” of its citizens. Of the people, by the people and for the people has been corrupted into of the elites, by the lobbyists and for the very rich. It is time for every day Americans to take back our country from special interests. We need our political leaders to stand up to the right-wing political spin machine and do what is best for all Americans. Today, we need “The Next New Deal” to get our economy back on the right track.

Recently, more than a dozen members of Congress gathered to voice their support for Invest in America’s Future, a plan that would make public investments in our economy and usher in a new era of economic security, opportunity and prosperity. The plan would invest in 21st century jobs, guarantee quality, affordable health care for all, strengthen our educational system and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.

We applaud the visionary members of Congress – from Maryland to California – who have chosen to step up to the plate before it was politically expedient. America is in crisis and the time to act is now. People are hurting and demanding change. We urge you to visit our Web site where you can show your support for the plan, contact your representatives and tell them we need to invest in our economy right here at home.

The New Hampshire Citizens Alliance Web site is

Joe Biden: The insider's choice

It is clear from the rumor mill that Delaware Sen. Joe Biden is the insider's choice to be Barack Obama's VP. And what do I mean by that?
Well, if you've been listening to the talking head pundits during the past few weeks, Biden has emerged as the acceptable candidate of the Beltway media insiders. On "Meet the Press" this week, to a fault, all the roundtable guests said the blow up in the Georgia/Russia conflict put Biden in the front passenger seat.
But, you know, the majority of ordinary Americans don't care about foreign policy. The media likes to tell them to think about it. But they don't. They don't care about the Georgia/Russia conflict, or missiles fired by Iran, or protecting Israel from annihilation. No, ho-hum. The majority of ordinary Americans don't care about any of those things. They care about the economy, health care, and how they are going to make ends meet and make their children's lives better than their own, while many of them are already living pretty well.
So, why would the mainstream punditry be pushing someone like Biden? Well, they like him. They feel comfortable with him. He talks to them and is ingratiating. He is the consummate cocktail party crowd guy. And that's what they want.
If John McCain picks Mitt Romney, he at least is looking for someone who can attempt to bring hope on the economic side. Sure, the reality is that Romney made is hundreds of millions putting slews of people out of work and making money for Wall Street, not Main Street.
But most folks won't hear that. They'll hear "prosperity" and "freedom" and "opportunity" and they'll get glassy-eyed with delight, almost as if they were John Kerry at a Nantucket drinking party with a bunch of cute college hotties.
When the flags start waving, we all start to feel a little lump in our throats. But one will have to wonder if that will be enough for the Republicans this time.
What Obama needs is someone who can bring economic populism to the ticket. He truly needs someone who has fought for workers and will fight again. Someone who will end the days when the Democrats give the middle class folks the raw deal. It's terrible what is going on overseas. But we have people who are starving and dying right here at home.
Dick Gephardt would be such a candidate who could bring that to the Democratic ticket. Rep. Marcy Kaptur would be too. John Edwards would have brought that to the ticket and could have in 2004 had he not been handcuffed by Kerry's clueless campaign manipulators.
Imagine for a second, Kaptur or Gephardt campaigning at every closed factory across Ohio and Michigan, talking about jobs, jobs, jobs ... talking about how the future is to combat globalism with new technologies and investments and Main Street not Wall Street. None of the people on the short list - Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Kaine, etc. - can bring that spunk of Americanism to the Democrats.

Update: Here are poll results from Daily Kos:


Who is your VP pick?

2%307 votes
13%1581 votes
4%511 votes
8%1038 votes
1%234 votes
5%703 votes
4%575 votes
2%279 votes
15%1833 votes
40%4876 votes

Here they are from Drudge:



12% 4,939

24% 10,305

10% 4,231

6% 2,708

7% 2,921

3% 1,467
A Wildcard

38% 16,215

Total Votes: 42,786