Friday, November 28, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Open The Books Save The Economy

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader

It has never been more clear how much corporations depend on We, the People for their very existence. Corporations are given the right to exist through a public charter. For public corporations, shareholders are bestowed with limited liability, and they benefit from a public system of securities regulation that gives investors confidence to invest. In the best of times, corporations benefit both from public goods (public roads and infrastructure, public investment in R&D) and targeted benefits (tax subsidies, loan guarantees, and much more). In the worst of times, as we now see, the largest corporations can expect massive public support. Bloomberg reports that the United States has already committed an amazing $7.76 trillion -- more than half of U.S. GDP -- in funds for bailouts, guarantees, share purchases, insurance programs, swaps and more.

Don't We, the People have the right to expect something in return?

How about starting with public release of the income tax returns of all corporations above a certain size (say, $10 million in assets)?

In October, a former Bush administration head of the Internal Revenue Service, Mark Everson, proposed exactly that in the Washington Post.

Wrote Everson, "Federal tax returns include important information about corporations beyond that available in financial statements. Making corporate returns available for public inspection would provide a powerful tool to analysts who follow companies and industries, and it would help others better evaluate counterparties and risk. It would assist other federal and state regulators, who currently are prohibited from reviewing the details of federal returns. (The IRS itself is precluded from sharing returns with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department except in narrow circumstances.) Large corporations file their federal tax returns electronically, so the data can easily be shared. Information returns filed by not-for-profits are already available online."

Disclosure of corporate income tax returns would help offset the intentional obscurity and complexity surrounding corporate records that has so directly contributed to the current financial crisis.

It would also lead to much better tax policy. President-elect Obama has stated that he and his administration will carefully review every budget expenditure, in order to save taxpayer dollars and eliminate or curtail programs that have outlived their usefulness or never should have been started. This is a welcome commitment. Aside from cutting wasteful Pentagon spending, however, the really big ways to improve the government's balance sheet are in eliminating unfair, inefficient corporate tax loopholes, and escapes to tax havens abroad.

The complexity of the tax code -- itself the product of long-term, persistent and intensive lobbying -- invites esoteric gaming by large corporations, aided and abetted by lawyers and accountants.

Some tax provisions are included in the Code with almost no one other than the lobbyists who wrote them understanding what their implications will be.

And some tax provisions are muscled through by powerful interests, but impose public costs not fully understood at the time of enactment, while offering minimal public benefits.

If corporate tax returns were made public, citizen advocates and other monitors would be able to root out tax abuses, and rally to have them repealed. The government -- that is, the taxpayers -- would stand to recoup tens of billions of dollars, or more, to be more appropriately allocated.

Corporations, naturally, would object to mandatory disclosure of their tax returns. They would claim a right to privacy. But corporations are legal fictions, not people with legitimate privacy concerns. There should be no corporate right to privacy.

Corporations would also argue that disclosing tax returns would force them to reveal proprietary information. But that claim pales beside the broad public interest in gaining access to corporate returns, especially in this period of cascading mega bailouts. And, if corporations can identify some narrow and legitimate right to proprietary protection, let them do so. Then those specific areas can be excluded from disclosure.

Disclosure of corporate tax returns would be administratively simple. As Everson notes, the IRS already requires that corporations file their returns electronically. And there are precedents even from the pre-digital age. Wisconsin, for example, required corporate tax returns to be disclosed, before modifying its rules several decades ago.

In the first week of December, the auto industry CEOs will again appear before the Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees, to make the case for receiving billions in tax payer bailout monies. Hopefully, they will find a way to get to Washington other than by chartering their corporate jets. Chairman Chris Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank should instruct the CEOs that they should come with their corporate tax returns in hand, ready to share them with the American people. That will open the gates for a new standard of openness that should apply to all corporations.

Noise Top 30 radio chart for December

Noise Top 30 radio chart for December

1. Passion Pit – Chunk of Change EP
2. Pretty & Nice – Get Young
3. The Fatal Flaw – We Are What We Pretend To Be
4. Township – Township
5. The Lights Out – Heist EP
6. Peter Moore – One Ride
7. The Blizzard of 78 – Book of Lies
8. The Milling Gowns – Diving Bell Shallows
9. The Mystery Tramps – The Mystery Tramps EP
10. The Vital Might – Red Planet
11. Aloud – Fan the Fury
12. Axemunkee – Sidewalk Mary
13. Bang Camaro – Bang Camaro II
14. Campaign for Real-Time – “The Game”
15. Chop Chop – Screens
16. Christy Romanick – Christy Romanick
17. Dirt Mall – Got the Goat By the Horns
18. The Divorced – The Divorced
19. East Coast Avengers – Prison Planet
20. Fluttr Effect – EP
21. Midatlantic – The Longest Silence
22. Amanda Palmer – Who Killed Amanda Palmer
23. Pray for Polanski – The Ghost and Bones EP
24. Scarce – Tattoos and Parades EP
25. The Sneaks – In an Instant EP
26. The Sprained Ankles – You Love the Sprained Ankles EP
27. Winterpills – Central Chambers
28. Sgt. Maxwell’s Peace Chorus – The Military EP
29. Barnicle – Friends of B
30. The Serious Geniuses – You Can Steal the Riffs but You Can’t Steal the Talent

Monday, November 24, 2008

Renewables in New Hampshire

Here is a follow up story from the Concord Monitor about Amenico, a local company that is recycling restaurant cooking oil and creating new fuel from it: ["Energy startup buys tannery"]. This is what American ingenuity is all about! Congrats Tony!!

Hahahaha ... there is a deceptive headline here in Variety but the article is worth a quick read: ["Needed: Network bailout?"].
There is a whole lot wrong with the television industry right now. Like the music industry, it kinda deserves everything it gets, because of its bad management and shoddy products. Oh how the Internet has made everything crazy.
The other thing to realize here is the old adage I have tried to relay to readers and everyone I know: Economists need to learn how to subtract. Not everything goes up in this world. Things go down, as we are seeing now. But if you don't have a plan when things go down, you get caught offguard.
That is what is so puzzling about Citigroup. It is just too big to fail. I mean, when I saw the headlines about it being sold, I thought, who has enough money to buy it? And why should they get a bailout just because their stock is down 88 percent? Stock goes up; stock goes down. Let them lay off the workers and make a go of it before we bail them out. Same with the Big 3 automakers. Modify your business plan now and then we'll help you if we need to. But so long as your CEOs are getting big paychecks and flying on private jets, you don't get jack.
Look at the newspaper industry again. More than 100,000 jobs lost, about half in the last three years, the equivalent of what Citigroup is doing this month. No one is bailing out the newspapers, preserving those extremely important jobs. Not only important to those people working in them but what those service provides society. But, the newspaper busines model is changing and that industry has to adapt. No one is bailing the newspapers out. As well, new products are emerging from the ashes. There are non-profit startups, individually owned and operated entities, and even affluent investors buying and starting some of these institutions because they are interested in the important of the product. You can't say exactly the same for the automakers and the banks, but some of it might work.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh, say it ain't so Chuck ...

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner was captured on an FBI video recording allegedly receiving a $1,000 bribe. Picture courtesy of the FBI.
Oh Chuck. Say it ain't so ... I'm really surprised by this. I know Chuck. Shit, I gave the guy money when he first ran for office. I know him to be a good man. But sometimes, good men do bad things, as the picture alleges.
NECN, reporting from Worcester yesterday, had a defiant Turner speaking from the courthouse steps, saying he would not resign from his seat and would file a lawsuit if the council tried to keep him from serving.
The fact that he had supporters outside the courthouse claiming that this is some sort of "Counter Intelligence Program/COINTELPRO" conspiracy is not going to help his case at all. The Green-Rainbow Party, of which Chuck is a member, sent out a press release standing by him noting the Cointelpro issue. But, you know, that issue was dead in 1971. It's almost 2009. Folks have gotta move on. As well, as it turns out, this case wasn't brought on by the FBI - it was brought on by a constituent of Dianne Wilkerson and Turner who went to the Boston Police with his evidence who then kicked it upstairs to the feds.
Obviously, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but this does not look good.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader

While the liberal intelligentsia was swooning over Barack Obama during his presidential campaign, I counseled “prepare to be disappointed.” His record as a Illinois state and U.S. Senator, together with the many progressive and long overdue courses of action he opposed during his campaign, rendered such a prediction unfortunate but obvious.

Now this same intelligentsia is beginning to howl over Obama’s transition team and early choices to run his Administration. Having defeated Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries, he now is busily installing Bill Clinton’s old guard. Thirty one out of forty seven people that he has named so far for transition or appointments have ties to the Clinton Administration, according to Politico. One Clintonite is quoted in the Washington Post as saying – “This isn’t lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time.”

Obama’s “foreign policy team is now dominated by the Hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990,” writes Jeremy Scahill. Obama’s transition team reviewing intelligence agencies and recommending appointments is headed by John Brennan and Jami Miscik, who worked under George Tenet when the CIA was involved in politicizing intelligence for, among other officials, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s erroneous address before the United Nations calling for war against Iraq.

Mr. Brennan, as a government official, supported warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition to torturing countries. National Public Radio reported that Obama’s reversal when he voted for the revised FISA this year relied on John Brennan’s advise.

For more detail on these two advisers and others recruited by Obama from the dark old days, see Democracy Now, November 17, 2008 ( and Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet, Nov. 20, 2008 “This is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama’s White House.”

The top choice as White House chief of staff is Rahm Emanuel—the ultimate hard-nosed corporate Democrat, military-foreign policy hawk and Clinton White House promoter of corporate globalization, as in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization.

Now, recall Obama’s words during the bucolic “hope and change” campaign months: “The American people…understand the real gamble is having the same old folks doing things over and over and over again and somehow expecting a different result.” Thunderous applause followed these remarks.

“This is more ‘Groundhog Day’ then a fresh start,” asserted Peter Wehner, a former Bush adviser who is now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The signs are amassing that Barack Obama put a political con job over on the American people. He is now daily buying into the entrenched military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned Americans about in his farewell address.

With Robert Rubin on his side during his first photo opportunity after the election, he signaled to Wall Street that his vote for the $750 billion bailout of those speculators and crooks was no fluke (Rubin was Clinton’s financial deregulation architect in 1999 as Secretary of the Treasury before he became one of the hugely paid co-directors tanking Citigroup.)

Obama’s apologists say that his picks show he wants to get things done, so he wants people who know their way around Washington. Moreover, they say, the change comes only from the president who sets the priorities and the courses of action, not from his subordinates. This explanation assumes that a president’s appointments are not mirror images of the boss’s expected directions but only functionaries to carry out the Obama changes.

If you are inclined to believe this improbable scenario, perhaps you may wish to review Obama’s record compiled by Matt Gonzalez at Counterpunch (

Friday morning quick hits ...

Let's see if I can get through this in about 5 minutes 'cause that's all the time I have for this ...

First, local talker Arnie Arnesen loses another radio show: ["Plug pulled on Arnesen’s radio show"]. What is this, like six or seven? When is she going to save up the money to buy a station so she'll never get kicked off again? Prices are really, really low right now for radio stations. Seriously though, while I don't always agree with her and I don't like the fact that she won't let anyone else get a word in, Arnie is good radio. She brings up a lot of important points and should be on the air, especially in our state. Here's hoping she gets on the air again soon.

I posted this on the NNE board the other day: ["Second life for Jennifer Horn?"]. I was hoping someone from the New Hampshire radio scene would know what Horn was doing on the air at WTPL the other day. No bites yet though. For those of you that don't know, Horn was the Republican nominee for Congress for CD2 here in New Hampshire. She got spanked. Now she's on the radio again.

AP took the words right out of my mouth: ["President-elect promised change, picking insiders"]. Between this, and this, one has to wonder: [" and Cluen: A Case Study in Privacy"]. That's right, "change" we can believe in! Fools.

Click here to find out how NOT to vote on a paper ballot: ["Challenged ballots: You be the judge"]. You never know when there might be a recount or something and your vote might count. So, don't be an idiot, read the ballot instructions and fill in the oval accordingly. This makes me wonder about all those aptitude tests we took as kids and whether or not our scores were excessively low because we didn't fill in the ovals properly. Hah!

The future of the Republican Party? Charlie Cook has some ideas: ["Learn Or Languish"]. Interesting reading.

I meant to post this last week but didn't get around to it: ["Two signs that something is seriously wrong"]. I really like these amateur economist out there in cyberspace who are really starting to look at things from a deeper context.

Lastly, Howie Carr's book makes the bargain bin: ["Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century"]. In actuality, it's not a bad read and a bargain at $6.

Not bad, 13 minutes ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bye bye 8,000 ...

The DJIA falls below 8,000 for the first time in ages: ["Dow plunges nearly 430 to fall below 8,000 mark"]. I remember back in 1997 when folks were talking about the roaring stock market at 7,000. Oh how things change ...

And everyone has seen this one: ["Big 3 CEO's private flights"]. You can almost get a full-time newspaper reporter at a small weekly for $20K. You could probably pay for an administrative assistant for a good portion of a year at one of the Big 3 for what they spent on that private flight. It's this kinda stuff that just makes people nuts. Here they are, begging for our tax dollars, while blowing money on private jets ... money they could be using on employees. Obviously, they don't really give a shit about shareholders, their investments, or the taxpayer. Get on the friggin' Southwest jet and live with the rest of us!

Say it ain't so: ["Iconic Harvard Square newsstand to close"]. This is so, so sad. I loved that store. I used to work at J. August Co. in Harvard Square during the 1990s. I was there more than seven years and I would live my breaks at that place. It was so great, had so many cool newspapers and magazines, and was such a joy to visit.

Here is a cool site I stumbled upon while reading about Out of Town News closing, brought to you by the Newseum: ["Today's Front Pages"]. One of these days, I'm going to have to get down there.

Speaking of icons closing, another indie theatre is biting the dust: ["Exeter's historic Ioka theater to close"].

I am Master Chief ... Not!

Two screen shots from a recent Halo 3 game played on XBox Live online. Above, I'm ready for my [sniper] close up. Below, I get blown up by an opponent using a Needler, an orbed shaped gun that shoots pink spikes through the air that later explode inside the target.

For months now, I have been playing Halo 3 on Xbox live online. It happened quite by accident.
Before I even bought my Xbox 360, a friend of mine bought me a gift certificate from Microsoft to play my regular Xbox online. Instead of us old guy gamers trying to find a day when we could all get together, we could just hook up online and blow things up there. I never got around to using it but continued to play every once and a while with my buddies, on random Sundays when I could disappear from the family for a few hours. Then, I upgraded to the 360 and was told, emphatically, that I had to play online.
So I signed up and for about four months, I have been playing online. It is, in a word, amazing. The stress relief alone is worth the hour or two [or sometimes three] spent playing this game online with hundreds of thousands of other potential players [some nights, there are as many as 300,000 people online playing Halo 3 globally, a pretty scary thought when you think about it].
During the time I have been playing, I've met some interesting people online. In fact, I have only played with my buddies a few times. They are both state employees and have to get up very early whereas I get home late and can play into the evening [when it doesn't cut into family time. I, frankly, find it a heck of a lot more relaxing and compelling than sitting there watching pretty bad television].
I am surprised at how many adults are out there playing too. While I haven't met anyone physically, you can get a lot from people listening to their voices [gamers have headsets connected to the controls that allow you to have conversations during the game]. Sure, there are some jerks out there, just like there are trolls on Web sites. But for the most part, people seem to be having a good time blowing things up.
One of the more hilarious things about playing online is going up against some really good players who are kicking you butt and then, at the end of the game, hearing the squeaky voices of young teenagers say, "Good game, good game ..." It totally cracks me up. I'm getting my ass kicked by a prepubescent boy!
I usual play in Team Slayer mode, four on four. The game randomly puts you in with other players with similar rankings but it can be a hodge podge. If you find some good players, it is in your interest to team up after that game, so that you can get your ranking up [I'm at 13, Lt. Grade 3, although it says I'm a Major Grade 3. I have been as high as 14, with 663 total games played online].
Some people take the entire thing way too seriously. For example, it takes me a few games to get warmed up. So, I tend to score low when I first get on. This can tick some of the more serious players off because if you don't get your fair share of kills, it brings the entire team down. I don't know how to resolve this problem beyond continuing to do the best that I can. But some folks really lose their minds, yelling after they lose or saying you suck. Hey, I'm friggin' 43, playing at 10 p.m. at night after a busy day at work. Cut me some slack.
I also don't like to hop around the maps like some players do. They bounce around like frogs trying to not get hit. I like to hunker down with a sniper rifle and ping people off. through the scope. Some players are smart enough after a few kills to come get me because I can't see them in the scope until they are right in front of me. So, my position tends to be strategic rather than just randomly killing off opponents. That said, if I don't see a lot of action in the map, I will go out there and try to hunt opponents down too.
And the total geek effect really kicks in when I go to to check out my stats. It's all digital, they keep track of everything. So far, I have 73 "killing spree" medals, 155 "double kill" medals, 426 plasma [or sticky] grenade attacks, with 110 kills from the grave - meaning, my actions just before dying took out another player. I've also ended 162 of my opponent's killing sprees [called a Killjoy]. Twenty one percent of my kills have been via assault rifle, 14 percent plasma grenade, and 13 percent sniper. Personally, my favorite weapon beyond the sniper rifle is to drive into people with the Ghost, a jet ski like hovercraft that has laser guns. I can even save games online and go back and watch them from different angles or save screenshots, which you can see above, which are then downloadable from the Bungie site.
That all said, I'm beginning to sense that I am "wasting" a lot of time playing Halo 3 online. When my renewal came up, I spent a few minutes debating inside my own head whether I should spend $20 for the three month subscription or go all out and get the 1-year subscription for $50. I tend to buy in bulk in order to save money, especially on things I know I'm going to use. But, at the same time, I began to wonder if I really wanted to spend a ton of spare hours over the next year in Halo 3 land. There just isn't enough time in the day to do all the things you want to do outside of work. I ended up buying the three month subscription. For now, it's a very good time.

The new Boston Globe
I finally got a chance to really take a hard look at the new redesigned Boston Globe. I haven't been a regular reader of the Globe in a very long time. I have purposely chosen not to buy it. I have had run-ins with them over the years and don't think I have been treated fairly by its reporters or columnists [I have written about these issues previously. No need to go into them again]. I also don't agree with its editorial policy [even though I tend to be more liberal on issues than conservative].
Essentially, what they have done is what most newspapers in the world are doing: They have whacked a slew of pages and focused more on short, snappy stories. They have also put all their TV, movie listings, and some arts stuff in this new "G" section [When it first came out, all of us at work started jokingly referring to the mighty Globe with catching G-comments. I liked mine the best, "As thin as a G-string ..."].
But here is what is striking about the Tuesday edition: The A sections, two at a total of 32 pages, contained 13 - yup, 13 - full page Macy's ads ... 13!! So, basically, you paid 75 cents to have a front section that was more than a third Macy's ads.
Of course the bad news is that the Globe is losing millions of dollars per week. I mean, it's a disaster, not unlike a lot of newspapers, and there isn't a lot they can do about it beyond busting their union and using wire copy, something they aren't going to do ... yet.
It is a sad state of affairs when a newspaper as important as the Boston Globe because such a disaster. But, you know, maybe its just desserts when you consider the harm they have done to some people over the years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oh man!

I can't wait to see this documentary called "Media Malpractice" from John Zeigler.

I'm always intrigued by documentaries like this, "Outfoxed," and stuff by Michael Moore. And not because I agree or disagree with everything that is presented in the films. But because I enjoy films that analyze political issues.

Here is the Web site for more information: ["How Obama Got Elected"].

Here is the polling information, done by Zogby, showing some of the data: ["Zogby Poll: Almost No Obama Voters Ace Election Test"].

Infuriating ... and hopeful ...

Why am I not surprised by this?: ["Lieberman keeps Homeland Security post"]. Sometimes, the friggin' Democrats can be so pathetic. If anything, Lieberman should have been pulled off the Homeland Security chairmanship and kept on the environmental one. It will be interesting to see the reaction from all the netroots activists who think their party can do no wrong.

One of my coworkers sent me this link: ["Web Sites That Dig for News Rise as Watchdogs "]. I've been thinking for quite a while that the non-profit road is the way to go in this business. If you are constantly having to turn over 20 percent profits each quarter to satisfy the crooks on Wall Street, it just doesn't work. As well, this is not in the best interest of readers, news, journalism careers, or the public at-large. There has to be a better way and maybe this is it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Really, I was only kidding ...

An astute reader sent me a couple of links from articles mentioning a bailout for the newspaper industry. Here ["A Bailout Plan For U.S. Newspapers"] and here: ["Enough with those bailout lines"].
Of course, as Vennochi writes, it would - and should - never happen. The threat of potential control of the message of "news," by government, would defeat the entire purpose of having a free press. But, at the same time, it seems to work in Britain just fine, doesn't it? I mean, we currently get better news from the BBC than we do our own outlets, in some cases. Although, we already fund radio and television via our tax dollars with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is similar to the BBC. The flip of this is that, at least on the radio side, NPR and many of its affiliates are tightly controlled. In many ways, public broadcasting is completely out of touch with the average American.
I have always joked that the newspaper industry, especially the dailies, are getting what they deserve since virtually all of them backed the horrific "free trade" economic policies that put decent-waged low skill labor [you know, the folks who used to read the newspaper ...] in direct competition with pennies-on-the-dollar-waged low skill foreign labor. The truly smart people know how that all worked out. Look around you. It is amazing that so many will still support such a failed economic policy even though the evidence of failure is right in front of our eyes ...

No bailout for the big three
Speaking of bailouts, there has been a lot said about a proposed bailout of the big three "American" automobile manufacturers. I was struck by this piece in the WSJ on Saturday: ["Just Say No to Detroit"].
While David Yermack, a professor of finance at New York University's Stern School of Business, gets the premise of Michael Moore's film wrong [it was more about the destruction of community than any one individual], he has some interesting things to say here ... especially when looking at the capital the big three have blown through. As he says in the subhead, "Given the abysmal performance by Detroit's Big Three, it would be better to send each employee a check than to waste it on a bailout." Or, how about one better: Similar to the hybrid tax credit, which seems to be going by the wayside, which is one of the reasons I didn't buy one last year, the answer might be to give millions of Americans a tax credit for buying a 30-plus mpg vehicle. If you use the $25 billion figure and gave folks a one-time $2,500 tax credit [or $500 over five years], that would be 10 million people or, potentially, 10 million new cars sold. Of course, there is no way you could just award it to big three purchases. And what do you do for folks who bought cars in the last year or two and are paying for them but might need the tax credit?
While it is terrible to think that 250,000 jobs could be lost if the big three go under - along with potentially tens of thousands more connected to those jobs - they made their own bed. They made horrific corporate decisions which have affected all Americans. They shouldn't get a bailout. It really is that simple. They have wasted so much money ... so much ... I mean, on advertising alone.
It's the same reason the original bank bailout should not have been supported. And now, as we read, we're seeing some serious graft and corruption with that program now. As well, looking back at the media example, we have already sustained tens of thousands of lost jobs. According to a piece Eric Alterman wrote for the New Yorker earlier this year, since 1990, a quarter of all American newspaper jobs have disappeared [I don't know where he got this figure and I don't particularly like Alterman since I saw his over the top comments about Ralph Nader. However, let's pretend he can be trusted on this figure]. This doesn't account for radio, television, magazines, or book publishing layoffs either. Sure, they weren't lopped off all at once but this is as serious as the auto industry. These jobs are already gone but there was no bailout talk for those folks.

[Update: I found another figure from the "Reflections of a Newosaur" blog stating that 102,120 jobs have been eliminated in the newspaper industry since 1990. About half of those jobs were lost in the last three years. If this is fact, it is worse than we thought. Where's the newspaper bailout again?]

A broader discussion about the causes of the crisis
It has been interesting to watch, on many different Internet outlets, the us vs. them mentality when discussing what has become the global financial crisis. One side says, it's all Wall Street's fault; the other side says, Democrats' housing policies [i.e. giving housing loans to people who could never pay them] is to blame for everything ... As if gluttonous greed, scurrilous speculation, billions in unearned bonuses, outright scams, rumors and innuendo about the solvency of companies like BearStearns [which created the initial run], and complete deregulation and lack of oversight of the industry, had absolutely nothing to do with it at all? Right.
But, in fact, it seems to be the perfect storm of many different factors colliding all at once ... The problem is no longer national - it's global in nature and it is about globalism itself. So, you can't say that a few million people not being able to make balloon payments on their overpriced housing caused the world's problems. That's a very small piece but it really is beyond that now.
To start, the main culprits seem to be a combination of the worst elements of unchecked free market economics AND certain political interests on both sides of the aisle pushing large lenders to throw loans at anyone and everyone to make sure the housing continued buzzing along. In addition, the federal reserve bank, which brought on the entire calamity by jacking up interest rates from 1 percent in the middle of 2004 to 5.25 percent in the middle of 2006. This action alone brought on huge spikes in ARMs which sent people who were otherwise having no problems at all paying their mortgages into bankruptcy.
Then the oil speculation happened and that was the nail in the coffin - those folks who saw their car gas bill double had to make choices: mortgage, food, fill the tank? Yikes.
Very few people in the media said word one about all of this, unfortunately, with most people concentrating on the Iraq situation during this time period [Remember the 2006 midterm elections? The Democratically-controlled Congress still hasn't enacted any of its solutions to solve these problems]. But literally a five-fold increase in the cost of getting money created a crunch. It's kinda funny and sad now. If you went back to the time period and listened to any of the big conservative talk radio shows, they had no problem at all that this was going on. In fact, most were talking about how great the Bush Administration was for getting so many Americans into their own homes. They too were caught up in the buzz, assuming everything their friends and financial advisors were telling them was the truth. It turned out to be a total lie and now we're all trillions poorer than we were before.
This is just the American side of things. Attach globalization onto this problem and we can see how it became massive. The simple fact is that you can't raise wages in one part of the world without lowering wages in another part of the world. It just doesn't work that way. As wages in one part of the world are lowered, those citizens acquire more work and more debt to sustain the living standards [or the standards that they perceive they should have, via manipulative advertising. Can anyone say consumer debt?]. Remember the old Clinton line: I created 20 million jobs. Average citizen responded: Yeah, I have three of them.
Monetary policy in the world is a zero-sum game. That is, there is only so much money and wealth floating around. As wages have risen in places like India and China, the standard of living has been lowered in the United States and European Union. The only salvation to this is the creation of more wealth via manufacturing, mining, etc. You can take resources from the ground and turn it into a product which didn't exist before. But if there is no one interested in buying the product, you don't make any money. Places like Canada seemed to be sustaining themselves well - mostly due to being the United States' largest exporter of oil as well as having a national health care system where everyone is covered [of course, they also have value-added taxes or VATs to pay for their health care system]. Some of the more socialist countries in the EU seem to be holding these together well too. By saying that, I'm not advocating that position. I'm just noting that they seem to be doing OK because they have a large safety net for the consequences of globalization.
It wasn't that long ago that those forces arguing against socialism used to hold up examples of European countries with 50 percent tax rates stating, we don't want that in America. Has anyone looked at their tax bill lately? I mean, all of your taxes and fees - property taxes and sales taxes and gas taxes and phone taxes and income taxes and SSI/Medicare taxes. If folks did, they would realize that we are paying 50 percent our income in taxes but we aren't receiving all the benefits that European countries do.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sometimes, all it takes is a rubber duck ...

Interesting article here about how scientists are studying how water flows from Greenland ... using rubber ducks: ["The Sober Science of Migrating Rubber Duckies "].

Speaking of plastic things in the ocean, I happened to be skimming through the cable channels the other night and came across "The News Hour," a show I haven't watched in ages. There was this intriguing story about all the junk in the ocean: ["Plastic Ocean"].

A few quick points:
* It's interesting that the market for laptops is "shriveling" as the WSJ puts it. To counter that, PC makers are cutting prices. Well, good. If anything, there should be MORE computers in the world, not less. The more connected we get, the better things should be. The faster and cheaper computers get, the more productive we can be.
* The big three automakers have their cups out, looking for a handout. And at this rate, why not? The government is giving everyone but the average citizen a handout. And, I love how unions are getting blamed for the big three's mishaps. Ah, hello? Who has been making most of the financial decisions at GM, Ford, and Chrysler, management or labor? Who advocated and later sent tens of thousands of jobs to Mexico and China, management or labor? You can't force so many people - your market - out of work and expect things to be OK in your industry. And yet, Toyota and Honda flourish. Sure, pay scales are a part of that. But so is smart management, hard-working Americans, and products customers want.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican with whom I don't agree on much, made this striking statement yesterday:
"They should take every step possible, including cutting executive salaries and bonuses, and exhaust all alternatives before coming to the taxpayers for tens of billions of dollars in help"
Damn right. And none of those bankers should get one thin dime in bonuses for running their industry into the ground either. That's Treasurer Paulson's present on the way out the door - trillions in debt, billions in the pockets of crooks - while being aided and abetted by the Democrats in Congress. Lord help us all.
* Will it be long before the beleaguered media companies, the publishing and book industry, or maybe even Hollywood starts holding out a hand for help? We deliver important news and information to people and our market dynamic is such that we don't have enough people employed to do our jobs. Can we get a handout please? I mean, come on, when does this all stop?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Restoring the Constitution

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader

Barack Obama is receiving lots of advice from many people these days about the collapse of Wall Street, the sinking economy and the quagmire wars he will inherit from the Bush regime. However, there is one important matter that he alone can address with his legal training and the sworn oath he will take on January 20 to uphold the Constitution. That phenomenon is the systemic, chronic lawlessness and criminality of the Bush/Cheney regime which he must unravel and stop.

To handle this immense responsibility as President, he needs to bring together a volunteer task force of very knowledgeable persons plus wise, retired civil servants to inventory the outlaw workings of this rogue regime.

Much is already known and documented officially and by academic studies and media reporting. In the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, are (1) the criminal war—occupation of Iraq, (2) systemic torture as a White House policy, (3) arrests of thousands of Americans without charges or habeas corpus rights, (4) spying on large numbers of Americans without judicial warrants and (5) hundreds of signing statements by George W. Bush declaring that, he of the unitary presidency, will decide whether to obey the enacted bills or not.

To its everlasting credit, the conservative American Bar Association sent to President Bush three reports in 2005-2006 concluding that he has been engaged in continuing serious violations of the Constitution. This is no one-time Watergate obstruction of justice episode ala Nixon that led to his resignation just before his impeachment in the House of Representatives.

Nearly two years ago Senator Obama, contrary to what he knows and believes, vigorously came out against the House commencing impeachment proceedings. It would be too divisive, he said. As one of one hundred Senators who might have had to try the President and Vice President in the Senate were the House to impeach. He should have kept impartial and remained silent on the subject.

As President, he cannot remain silent and do nothing, otherwise he will inherit the war crimes of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney and become soon thereafter a war criminal himself. Inaction cannot be an option.

Violating the Constitution and federal laws is now routine. What is routine after awhile becomes institutionalized lawlessness by official outlaws.

Domestic Policy abuses are also rampant. Just what are the limits of the statutory authority of the U.S. Treasury Department or the government within a government funded by bank assessments known as the Federal Reserve?

Don’t read the $750 billion bailout law for any answers! The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and the Majority Leader of the Senate, Harry Reid just sent a letter to Bush asking whether the White House believes the bailout law could be interpreted to save not just the reckless banks, but also the grossly mismanaged Big Three auto companies in Michigan.

Didn’t Congress know what they were or were not authorizing? Or did the stampede started by the demanding Bush result in blanket, or panicked ambiguity by a cowardly Congress?

This week, the Washington Post front paged an article that the Treasury Department unilaterally gave the banks a tax break that was estimated to be worth a staggering $140 billion. Just like that! Fiat! The Post reported that impartial legal experts flatly declared such a decision to be without statutory authority which means the Bush regime usurped the constitutional authority of Congress in matters of taxation and basically took out a 22 year old law enacted by Congress. Not to be outdone, on the same day, the lead article in the New York Times reported a four-year-old Bush doctrine allowing Special Forces and other armed force to pursue terrorists in any country in the world. The Times specified incursions at will into Syria, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan and other countries.

Such violations of national sovereignty without formal declarations of war or through formal interventions by the United Nations are violations of international law. The Bush government answers this assertion by its open-ended, totally self-defined, right of “self-defense” under the UN Charter. The same self-determining argument can be made by covert terrorists or covert actions by adversarial governments. This is an example of make-up-your-own international law to suit your own covert operations.

As a country that has the most to lose from the shredding of international law and order, the United States under Bush is giving many IOUs to revenge-minded suicidal adversaries. They can simply to their mass audiences say, if the U.S. can do anything it wants, why shouldn’t they?

It has been widely reported that the Justice Department under Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Gonzalez epitomized contempt for compliance with the laws regarding civil liberties, due process and politically interfering with U.S. Attorneys.

Less publicized was its refusal to enforce the laws routinely transgressed by the corporate patrons of the White House—such as environmental crimes, consumer fraud, and anti-trust violations.

Obama has tools to restore law and order by the government itself. The Bully Pulpit. Ordering departmental directives. Issuing Executive Orders. Requesting legislation. Highlighting the integrity of the subdued and buffeted federal civil service which, with its oath of office, deserves far more effective whistleblowing protection laws.

The ACLU has just released: "Actions For Restoring America: How to Begin Repairing the Damage to Freedom in America After Bush." Mr. Obama would do well to use this important report as blueprint for restoring faith in the U.S. Government's commitment to the Constitution (see A second report titled: "Protecting Public Health and the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen by the Center for Progressive Reform suggests several Executive Orders that Mr. Obama could sign to advance important health, safety and the environment goals (see

Barack Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. Let’s have it operate out of the Obama White House. And the time to start laying the groundwork is now!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Scaraborough launches the F-bomb and Web hits go boom!

Yesterday, around lunchtime, I took a look at the Web hits while eating lunch, something I try to do at least once a day.
I noticed that the hits were around 160 - way above my usual 50 to 60 per day. I thought, What's this all about? So I looked and people were Googling "Scarborough, F-word" ... It turns out that he said a naughty word on TV Monday morning: ["'Morning Joe' Scarborough Drops F-Bomb On Air"].
Since I didn't hear it, because I have cheap cable and don't get MSNBC, I didn't know about it. But people were driven to Politizine because I thought he said it back in August: ["Joe Scarborough and the 'F' word ..."].
It seems that no one heard that one months ago. But whatever. Joe saying the F-word and people coming to the site to read about it yielded almost 300 visits. I think that is an all-time record in the time I have had SiteMeter but I'm not really sure. Isn't the Web is such a weird thing?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Palin strikes back ...

Some very interesting reading:

Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin [finally] lashed out at some of the McCain staffers: ["Palin denounces anonymous critics as 'cowardly'"]. I'll admit, again, that I kinda like the woman and I think she got a bad rap. And reading some of these quotes and watching her respond to the charges doesn't change my opinion of her. It is Obama's moment, not hers. She seems like a class act, for a "Wasilla hillbilly" ... hah!

The Washington Post ombudsman admits that the newspaper had lopsided coverage towards Obama ... and has the statistics to prove it: ["An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage"]. Two key quotes here. First, this:
"But Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got, especially of his undergraduate years, his start in Chicago and his relationship with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who was convicted this year of influence-peddling in Chicago. The Post did nothing on Obama's acknowledged drug use as a teenager."
And then, this:
"One gaping hole in coverage involved Joe Biden, Obama's running mate. When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission."
Would it have made a difference if McCain had been on the front page of the Post an equal amount of times? No. Would it have mattered if McCain had gotten the same number of color photos as Obama? Nope. Obama/Biden still would have won. But a more equal number of critical stories about Obama/Biden was called for. The stories would have been sent out to other newspapers and the coverage may have been more even.
The larger point is this though: An analysis of every single major newspaper in this country - say, circs over 50,000 - would show the same exact thing. And that's how they influenced the election and assisted the Obama campaign.
The article says nothing about the four other minor presidential candidates that were totally ignored and should not have been. And all media outlets should go through this kind of analysis after every election and then, make changes in coverage accordingly.

The authors of the Jerry Williams book have an oped in the Boston Globe about the effect - or lack thereof - that talk radio had on the election: ["The rising irrelevance of talk radio"]. Their conclusions are pretty spot-on, including the changes in technology and how messages and information are being delivered to the public. It really is becoming an echo chamber on talk radio much to the chagrin of fans like me. The amount of hours I listen to talk radio is down significantly over previous years.
On the Boston Radio Archives list, there has been a lot of discussion about reimplementation of the fairness doctrine and whether that will happen after Obama/Biden are sworn in. I will write about this in more detail in the coming weeks.

Two big Internet people are taking a break from the medium. Ron Gunzburger, who has been doing for more than 11 years now, is stepping away from his site for at least a few months: ["CHANGE IS COMING TO POLITICS1"].
Also taking a break from his Internet endeavor is Dr. Bill Siroty, who has been putting together for what seems like an eternity: ["More About Bill Siroty"]. Both have been go-to sources of information for me and both will be missed.

Interested in Obama's transition plans? Click here: ["Office of the President-elect"].

This Democrat thinks President Bush has been treated badly: ["The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace "]. Here's video of Nader being interviewed about what he expects to see - and not see - after Jan. 21: ["Ralph Nader Speaks On An Obama Presidency"]. Plus, here is an interesting view, from the right: ["John McCain Defeated John McCain"].

Comcast's CN8 will soon end broadcasting in New England: ["Comcast reorganizing CN8 operations, cutting jobs"]. On top of this, Comcast's rates are going up, again, they're moving channels around messing things up, and the basic system still has free shopping and Spanish and no C-Span channels! Arrgh!!

The financial crisis has led to some parents pulling their kids out of daycare: ["Parents pull their children from day care as money tightens"]. People, did you really have the kids to stick them in daycare? Like this story is a bad thing.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Funny write-in votes ...

I love it when cities and towns actually count the write-in votes for president or other offices.
In doing a post about the success of the tax cap in Rochester [and its failure in Somersworth], for ["Tax cap update ... debunking the Sununu turnout theory?"], I came across this PDF with the returns in Somersworth: ["Election results"] ... where they actually list the write-ins. Check out some of the write-ins on the presidential side in Somersworth:
13 for Hillary Clinton
5 for Charles Baldwin or Baldwin/Castle
4 for Ron Paul
2 for Mitt Romney
1 for Martin Sheen
1 for Bill Clinton/Hillary Clinton
1 for Hillary Clinton/Edwards
In the gubernatorial race, 12 people wrote-in Jeanne Shaheen. Three wrote-in Craig Benson. One wrote-in Robert Kennedy [eh, he doesn't even live in the state ... although that never stopped the Kennedys before ...].
In looking at these write-ins, I wonder how many other towns in New Hampshire counted all the write-ins and what the results were. I know that in Dixville Notch, two people wrote-in Paul. But what about everywhere else?

Daddy's new car?

The new 2010 Honda Insight ... hybrid ... cheaper than a Prius ... rumored 60 to 70 mpg ... oh, I'm liking this ... I better start saving my pennies:

Here's a video report from Road & Track: Honda Insight. Of course, you won't want to get one until the spring of 2011, after they get the kinks out of the first production line. Oh the future can be so cool sometimes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nader, campaign workers form new org

November 5. 2008 from Tarek Milleron on Vimeo.

Between Hope and Reality

Guest Perspective by Ralph Nader

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words "hope and change," "change and hope" have been your trademark declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers of power that want not "hope and change" but the continuation of the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why, apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget, for example) you have shown that you are their man?

To advance change and hope, the presidential persona requires character, courage, integrity-- not expediency, accommodation and short-range opportunism. Take, for example, your transformation from an articulate defender of Palestinian rights in Chicago before your run for the U.S. Senate to an acolyte, a dittoman for the hard-line AIPAC lobby, which bolsters the militaristic oppression, occupation, blockage, colonization and land-water seizures over the years of the Palestinian peoples and their shrunken territories in the West Bank and Gaza. Eric Alterman summarized numerous polls in a December 2007 issue of The Nation magazine showing that AIPAC policies are opposed by a majority of Jewish-Americans.

You know quite well that only when the U.S. Government supports the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements, that years ago worked out a detailed two-state solution (which is supported by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians), will there be a chance for a peaceful resolution of this 60-year plus conflict. Yet you align yourself with the hard-liners, so much so that in your infamous, demeaning speech to the AIPAC convention right after you gained the nomination of the Democratic Party, you supported an "undivided Jerusalem," and opposed negotiations with Hamas-- the elected government in Gaza. Once again, you ignored the will of the Israeli people who, in a March 1, 2008 poll by the respected newspaper Haaretz, showed that 64% of Israelis favored "direct negotiations with Hamas." Siding with the AIPAC hard-liners is what one of the many leading Palestinians advocating dialogue and peace with the Israeli people was describing when he wrote "Anti-semitism today is the persecution of Palestinian society by the Israeli state."

During your visit to Israel this summer, you scheduled a mere 45 minutes of your time for Palestinians with no news conference, and no visit to Palestinian refugee camps that would have focused the media on the brutalization of the Palestinians. Your trip supported the illegal, cruel blockade of Gaza in defiance of international law and the United Nations charter. You focused on southern Israeli casualties which during the past year have totaled one civilian casualty to every 400 Palestinian casualties on the Gaza side. Instead of a statesmanship that decried all violence and its replacement with acceptance of the Arab League's 2002 proposal to permit a viable Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in return for full economic and diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Israel, you played the role of a cheap politician, leaving the area and Palestinians with the feeling of much shock and little awe.

David Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, described your trip succinctly: "There was almost a willful display of indifference to the fact that there are two narratives here. This could serve him well as a candidate, but not as a President."

Palestinian American commentator, Ali Abunimah, noted that Obama did not utter a single criticism of Israel, "of its relentless settlement and wall construction, of the closures that make life unlivable for millions of Palestinians. ...Even the Bush administration recently criticized Israeli's use of cluster bombs against Lebanese civilians [see for elaboration]. But Obama defended Israeli's assault on Lebanon as an exercise of its 'legitimate right to defend itself.'"

In numerous columns Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, strongly criticized the Israeli government's assault on civilians in Gaza, including attacks on "the heart of a crowded refugee camp... with horrible bloodshed" in early 2008.

Israeli writer and peace advocate-- Uri Avnery-- described Obama's appearance before AIPAC as one that "broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning, adding that Obama "is prepared to sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses from Iraq to Morocco. Obama has harmed his image in the Muslim world and mortgaged his future-- if and when he is elected president.," he said, adding, "Of one thing I am certain: Obama's declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for the world and bad for the Palestinian people."

A further illustration of your deficiency of character is the way you turned your back on the Muslim-Americans in this country. You refused to send surrogates to speak to voters at their events. Having visited numerous churches and synagogues, you refused to visit a single Mosque in America. Even George W. Bush visited the Grand Mosque in Washington D.C. after 9/11 to express proper sentiments of tolerance before a frightened major religious group of innocents.

Although the New York Times published a major article on June 24, 2008 titled "Muslim Voters Detect a Snub from Obama" (by Andrea Elliott), citing examples of your aversion to these Americans who come from all walks of life, who serve in the armed forces and who work to live the American dream. Three days earlier the International Herald Tribune published an article by Roger Cohen titled "Why Obama Should Visit a Mosque." None of these comments and reports change your political bigotry against Muslim-Americans-- even though your father was a Muslim from Kenya.

Perhaps nothing illustrated your utter lack of political courage or even the mildest version of this trait than your surrendering to demands of the hard-liners to prohibit former president Jimmy Carter from speaking at the Democratic National Convention. This is a tradition for former presidents and one accorded in prime time to Bill Clinton this year.

Here was a President who negotiated peace between Israel and Egypt, but his recent book pressing the dominant Israeli superpower to avoid Apartheid of the Palestinians and make peace was all that it took to sideline him. Instead of an important address to the nation by Jimmy Carter on this critical international problem, he was relegated to a stroll across the stage to "tumultuous applause," following a showing of a film about the Carter Center's post-Katrina work. Shame on you, Barack Obama!

But then your shameful behavior has extended to many other areas of American life. (See the factual analysis by my running mate, Matt Gonzalez, on ). You have turned your back on the 100-million poor Americans composed of poor whites, African-Americans, and Latinos. You always mention helping the "middle class" but you omit, repeatedly, mention of the "poor" in America.

Should you be elected President, it must be more than an unprecedented upward career move following a brilliantly unprincipled campaign that spoke "change" yet demonstrated actual obeisance to the concentration power of the "corporate supremacists." It must be about shifting the power from the few to the many. It must be a White House presided over by a black man who does not turn his back on the downtrodden here and abroad but challenges the forces of greed, dictatorial control of labor, consumers and taxpayers, and the militarization of foreign policy. It must be a White House that is transforming of American politics-- opening it up to the public funding of elections (through voluntary approaches)-- and allowing smaller candidates to have a chance to be heard on debates and in the fullness of their now restricted civil liberties. Call it a competitive democracy.

Your presidential campaign again and again has demonstrated cowardly stands. "Hope" some say springs eternal." But not when "reality" consumes it daily.

Ralph Nader

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

N.H.'s first votes

Editor's Note: This post is a corrected version of an earlier one:
The Union Leader reported this morning that Obama won both Dixville Notch and Hart's Location. Obama beat McCain 15 to 6 in the Notch, 17 to 10 at Hart's. Ron Paul received two write-ins in Hart's. It was the first time in 40 years that Dixville Notch hasn't picked a Republican.

Soon, it will be over ...

The longest presidential campaign in American history is thankfully coming to an end. I have a slew of notes and stuff I have been meaning to put together before the end, but it all just got away from me. I will post some short things throughout the evening and then, a wrap-up piece later in the week.

Monday, November 3, 2008

On Singapore radio?

Yup, Tony goes global ... I'll be talking presidential politics on a segment on MediaCorp's Singapore radio station, 938LIVE: ["938LIVE"].
Broadcaster Efika Rosemarie did the interview tonight and she has asked me to be on the air tomorrow night too. I don't know when the segments will air but it's super cool to be invited.

Random things for election eve ...

When Obama wins the presidency, and it looks like he will, what will Greg Palast and RFK Jr. say then, since they have been predicting that the election will be stolen for six months?: ["Steal Back Your Vote"].

Will the third party candidates cause an imbalance in the result? Maybe, maybe not. This article doubts it: ["Third parties unlikely to spoil presidential race"].
Note to Mitch: Ralph Nader received more than 97,000 votes in Florida, not 32,000.

The Sarah Palin Playlist, a collection of her favorite songs, is listed 2,080th on ["The Sarah Palin Playlist"].
What, you thought it would be Top 10?

Here's my co-worker Bryan's take on the Sununu-Shaheen Senate fight here in New Hampshire: ["No one wants the Bush"].
BTW, he lives in Massachusetts.

Do I dare make an election prediction?
Sure, why not:
* Barack Obama will win it with 279 Electoral College votes to John McCain's 259. It will be a nail biter until about 1 a.m.
* Independents Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, and Ralph Nader will, combined, get about 5 or 6 percent of the vote and may "factor" into the results [Nader will get the most votes of the three]. There will be recounts in a number of states but the results will not change the outcome.
* In the New Hampshire gubernatorial race, incumbent John Lynch will win easily.
* Both Democratic incumbents in Congress, Paul Hodes and Carol Shea Porter, will also win. Hodes handily; Shea Porter by about 2,000 votes.
* But the U.S. Senate race between incumbent John Sununu and challenger Jeanne Shaheen will be a squeaker. Shaheen might pull it off but I have been surprised by the number of newspaper endorsements Sununu has received, considering that many of those newspapers also endorsed Obama. If I had to guess, I would say the winner will win by less than 1,000 votes.
* Sen. Judd Gregg will announce his intention to retire from the Senate sometime after the election, probably in January 2009. This will cause massive infighting between both political parties, with two distinct, bloody primaries seeking the open Senate seat, the first in two decades. Gov. Lynch considers running for the seat but instead, continues to serve as governor. I don't have any inside ball on this one. I'm just guessing.

Whatever the outcome, get out and vote tomorrow!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why the Obama/illegal alien half-aunt story is legitimate ...

There seems to be a lot of discussion out there on whether or not this is a legitimate story.

Here is why I think this is a legitimate story: You can't be a millionaire campaigning all around the nation lecturing everyone else about being your brother's keeper if your own family house isn't in order. If you are going to use that principle as a campaign tool, you need to live it. That means making sure that you don't have any half-aunts illegally living in the country, illegally donating to your campaign, and living in a public housing project, paid for by the taxpayers, which should be set aside for citizens who need the housing. You also shouldn't be letting your half-brother live in squalor in a shack somewhere, like we read about earlier this year.

The half-brother in the shack and the illegal alien half-aunt in American public housing are two family members of Obama's living in dire circumstances while he sits on millions from book sale royalties which featured at least one of them as subjects. He does nothing for them while lecturing the rest of the nation about what we do with our tax dollars, our neighborhoods and our families. The fact that it has taken so long to get the story and the fact that it was in a British newspaper and not an American one, is an embarrassment to our field [Oh, but it's all Murdoch's puppet-strings and since he loves Hillary, he wants Obama to lose ... oh yeah, what a stretch that is ... give me a break].

The fact that so many people seemed to be puzzled by this is surprising. Or you just don't understand the importance of living the Biblical principle if you are going to espouse it. I'm the son of a retired Reverend so I understand a little about these things. You're a hypocrite if you lecture from the podium while not living the principle. Liberals seem all too eager to attack conservative politicians and Christian pastors for being hypocrites but fail miserably at holding their own accountable for their actions. "Hey, they're pro-choice, it doesn't matter ..." Well, you know what? It does matter! [And this, coming from someone who considers himself a liberaltarian - i.e. a combination liberal and libertarian - on most issues]. Instead of attacking the press, Obama should have opened up his checkbook to help. "Gee, I didn't know my half-aunt lived in a project even though I saw her a couple of years ago ... she is no longer on the public dime, I'm assisting her with resettlement money, blah, blah, blah ..." That's being your brother's keeper.

If, however, Obama were not lecturing everyone about being their brother's keeper, then this would just be another embarrassing campaign story on top of other embarrassments that campaigns have had this cycle ... like McCain dumping his first wife and marrying up, like some of Palin's gaffes, etc. He isn't obligated to spend his money helping his family. No one is. But that is what being your brother's keeper is all about. You can't lecture others and not walk the walk. He's a hypocrite like most other politicians involved with the two major parties.

It is a legitimate story on the national level and should be thoroughly investigated on the local level. There are veterans and others walking the streets of Boston or in shelters. There are a ton of working folks who can barely make ends meet who could use those units. How the heck did she even get access to this unit in the first place? She's not a citizen! That's a scandal right there! Question: How many other illegal aliens are in public housing units while American citizens sleep on grates and work multiple jobs just to pay the rent and survive? Granted, the bigger story is on the local level. This has less to do with Obama and his campaign and everything to do with the BHA and the Menino Administration. Will there be a follow up? I sure hope so.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Obama said what?

A new "civilian national security force" that is "just as well-funded" as the military?

This sounds a lot like the brown shirts of Nazi Germany. And, who's going to pay for this? On top of the health care and tax credits for people who don't pay income taxes? Or maybe they will just be robots like in "Star Wars" ...

Is this the November surprise?

Obama's half-aunt - the one he talks about so fondly in his book - is an illegal alien who has been living in a Southie housing project [eh, those should be set aside for Americans] and she donated to his campaign [that's against the law]: ["Obama aunt leak raises questions, as does timing"].
Is this a November surprise? Or, finally, some digging by reporters? The British press actually got the story first. It wasn't the New York Times or Rush Limbaugh. How - or more appropriately, why - are the British press even looking into our presidential race? And what about that half-brother living in a shack somewhere? This, from the same guy lecturing the rest of us about being our brother's keeper?
This story, and the fact that Obama/Biden have been lying about their tax proposal, should be enough to make this a competitive race again. It is, however, probably too late for McCain/Palin.