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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bush Throws Another Log Onto the Pyre of his "Legacy"

By Michael Linn Jones

Ever notice how a word or phrase starts to creep into the language? In listening to Rudy Giuliani endorse Sen. John McCain yesterday, I heard a phrase that has become disturbing. Even more disturbing, it passed by without comment.

Giuliani said that John McCain was the best-qualified candidate to be “the Commander-in-Chief of the United States.” Call me crazy, but I thought the Constitution specifies that the President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States.

I’ve argued for several years now that the semantic placing of the presidency with the word “commander” is a leap into the abyss of strongman rule. It is, in essence, no different than those dictatorships that exist around the world, where the people, like children, need a strong father (or mother) figure to take care of them.

So I come across this in the Boston Globe: Bush asserts authority to bypass defense act.

WASHINGTON - President Bush this week declared that he has the power to bypass four laws, including a prohibition against using federal funds to establish permanent US military bases in Iraq, that Congress passed as part of a new defense bill.

Bush made the assertion in a signing statement that he issued late Monday after signing the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008. In the signing statement, Bush asserted that four sections of the bill unconstitutionally infringe on his powers, and so the executive branch is not bound to obey them.

“Provisions of the act . . . purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the president’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as commander in chief,” Bush said. “The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.”


The Bush administration is negotiating a long-term agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The agreement is to include the basing of US troops in Iraq after 2008, as well as security guarantees and other economic and political ties between the United States and Iraq.

The negotiations have drawn fire in part because the administration has said it does not intend to designate the compact as a “treaty,” and so will not submit it to Congress for approval. Critics are also concerned Bush might lock the United States into a deal that would make it difficult for the next president to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

Obviously I am not an expert in Constitutional law, but it confuses me when someone swears an oath to “faithfully execute the laws of the United States” but then says he’s not going to execute a law of the United States because it would interfere with his ability to faithfully execute a law of the United States. Perhaps I need to further my education, and to borrow a phrase from President Bush, Citizens does learn.

Problem is, the learning curve is sharp and irreversible. This goes way beyond George W. Bush. I have argued with supporters of Bush that this is a constitutional issue, not a political one. Yet in today’s America, the two have become one.

I also was not aware that a president is empowered to declare laws to be unconstitutional. I thought that was what the courts were for. And, that if a president disagrees with a law passed by both chambers of Congress, he or she is granted a veto by the constitution.

This particular signing statement is bogus, and one doesn’t need a law degree to see why. In the statement President Bush says that he needs the latitude he demands in order to “protect national security.” There are laws in existence…been there for decades…that require a careful monitoring of who enters the United States. Yet in over seven years Bush has ignored those laws because they conflict with an agenda that he has never really spelled out.

What IS clear is that in less than one year a new president will be in office, inheriting all of the expansion of executive power vacuumed up by George W. Bush.

Is is said that we “are a nation of laws, not men.”

George W. Bush’s legacy will be proof that the opposite is true.

Originally posted at

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Republican Retirement or Abandon Ship?

With the new addition of Davis from Virginia dropping out or resigning from Congress the list of Republican’s fleeing public service is alarming. In some respects I’m glad that they are jumping ship but while they are jumping off, the seats they leave vacant may just be filled with Democrats. That leads me to the thought that this just might be the greatest political set up in history if you look at the economy.

Would it not be Karl Rove and W as a personal joke on America to chuck us all the bird one last time by scuttling the economy just to say screw you for not liking them more? When it comes to trust and Karl or George, they don’t deserve the courtesy of even the simplest of it.

When you really think about it and just for giggles assume that one of the Democrat’s takes the White House in 08, the Congress and Senate are all a majority of Democrat’s, and our nations economy tanks. Who will the people blame for the next eight years? Don’t place your bets on the gentleman jumping out of politics from the red and right side of the aisle accepting any blame. Regardless of the damage they have all done in the past to the nation, the blame will rest on who is in office when the crash comes.

Last week the Federal Reserve dropped rates by three quarters of a point and one week later (Today) they dropped it again. Our economy is in serious trouble and those that will serve in the next term in Congress will face the crisis of a century. Republican’s are jumping ship because our nations future will be that ugly. The well has run dry and the game is up. They fear the future and know damn well that they screwed it up big time. Where the Republican’s saw the protectionism of a free market was the undoing of our nations economy. Free markets without gentleman rules other than who can grab the most bucks the quickest does not work. AKA home lending crisis. Who can race a company to the bankruptcy courts first but take down hundred million dollar bonuses does not work.

Not to be too depressing, only the people that look out for all of the people can get our nation through a tough recession and it is not done by huge tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires amongst us. Our nation will get through the coming recession by legislation that looks more to the interest of where the majority of the people are in the middle and lower classes. That is not a favorite group for Republican’s in any political speech. That might just be why thet are bailing public service in droves. When the economic glass is not even half full we need leaders that think in terms of hope and not what is in it for me. The millionaires and billionaires will ride this storm out but you and I will face the full storm of what a real recession is. In eight years from now the speeches of your lot in life being better now or eight years ago will rise up from the dust and they will promise the world from the seats that never felt your pain. And just like the post Great Depression days the party of change is in the Democrat’s hand and they will need to prove their steel.

It is simply ironic that John McCain has forgotten his roots and became more Liberal in politics in the original race against Bush but then became Bush for this election. Then again Hillary Clinton has become more right wing with her voting record and yet claims to be a Progressive Democrat. I don’t get where she and Bill call themselves the first Black President? Hillary isn’t Black and neither is Bill? Neither has lived or stepped in the footsteps of a black American person and saying you are black is just wrong.

Both front runners play the game but the end result is not about the people in either of their messages. It’s about the power of the Presidency for them alone. That is not what the Presidency is all about. We elect our President based on our opinions and life situation. We do not elect them on why they demand our vote.

In the days to come I believe Barack Obama is the only hope that we as a nation have in his Roosevelt and Kennedy like message of change. I find myself thinking that he is the only light in the path that we all will be forced to follow because of the past Republican sell out of America. He didn’t create the problems but he has the power to unite us all as a nation to get the American people through it.

One politician is not America but one President at the right place and time can make hope a possibility. One can not bind hope in any political message or advertisement but the only one that shines is Obama when it comes to hope. Hope is just what it means. It isn’t about fear of war, fear of terrorist attacks and it isn’t about who did what in the past in the civil rights movement. It is about our nations future. Hope is definitely not about a flag draped casket coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan. That was George W. Bush idea of hope. That isn’t working out so good these days is it?


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who is Caroline Kennedy to Endorse Anyone?

By Michael Linn Jones

Henry David Thoreau once said that the state of a man’s mind is dependent upon the state of his bowels. Nothing truer has ever been said…anyone with intestinal flu will argue the point. Visual impairment also has an effect upon one’s state of mind, but fortunately not as drastic as the digestive system. When everything is fuzzy you might assume that fuzzy thinking is to follow.

Perhaps that is true. But I”ve managed to follow most of what has been going on with the primaries. Today I read an opinion piece by Ruth Hochberger in the Huffington Post, Endorsed by Caroline: What Was the Times Thinking?

Much has been written about why someone who has never before evidenced any particular political proclivity felt the need to declare for a candidate in a primary in a state in which there doesn’t seem to be much doubt who is likely to win. Some theorize her recent political conversion may stem from a lifelong search to recapture the dad she never knew or from an antipathy toward the Clintons.


One would also expect that one standard would be that the author has demonstrated some prolonged interest and acquired expertise in the field of the commentary: for example, an academic, a published author, a former government official. To my knowledge, Caroline Kennedy had a brief career as a lawyer, then authored a couple of well-reviewed volumes on privacy and constitutional law, and a collection of her mother’s favorite poetry.

So, why does the Times elect to publish a column basically extolling hope for the future as the prescribed elixir for our children? Could it be (gasp!)… a desire for publicity? A certain knowledge that Caroline Kennedy’s name — just like Britney on the cover of US Weekly– will attract attention, hit the wires, and maybe sell more newspapers or get more eyeballs to the Web? When I looked this morning, her column was the most frequently e-mailed at the moment.

If that’s the case, the Times has declined a bit in my estimation. No better, really, than People magazine. I still believe (I know, I know, I’m too old to be this naïve) that the principal function of journalism — including the editorials and commentary — is to educate. While I have no beef with Caroline, nor with her electoral choices, I am suspicious of the motives of the Times in publishing her opinions. There are way more qualified “endorsers” and way more educated and involved kids of politicians (if that’s what they were after) available. Their last names just aren’t “Kennedy.”

The impression I get is that Ms. Hochberger does not consider Caroline Schlossberg as “qualified” to endorse a political candidate. It is fair to ask if this sentiment would have been expressed had the endorsement gone to Sen. Clinton instead. I don’t know if Obama is the right choice…don’t know if Clinton is, either. But Mrs. Schlossberger is a citizen and entitled to an opinion.

Ms. Hochberger seems to feel that one must be an elite to offer political commentary, yet even that is qualified by what KIND of elite. Blogging (ewww!) allows a whole slew of “unqualified” people to offer opinion on things political. Blogging is the closest thing to a national townhall meeting that modern Americans have ever experienced. It’s quite untidy and full of opinions that vary as greatly as the people who populate this nation. The great unwashed are capable, believe it or not, of common sense from time to time and dare I say…wisdom?

To compare printing the thoughts of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg to Britney Spears is a blind swing of the axe. I”m a few years older than Caroline, but my unrefined and unqualified memory brings me to make certain observations about Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg:

* Her father was publicly murdered when she was six years old. Each November of her life since 1963 she has to endure the possibility that someone will ask her about the Zapruder film, or something similarly insensitive.

* She was not quite 11 years old when her uncle Robert was gunned down.

* She is married and has 3 children. She has had the unique experience of burying her father, mother, and brother before she was 45 years of age. She has chosen to live a life of relative privacy both for herself and her family.

I probably shouldn’t mention that she is also an attorney, editor, and writer. Such activities are no indication that an individual has what it takes to express an opinion.
At least according to some.

But in my opinion, is Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg “qualified” to post an opinion in the New York Times?

You’re damned right she is. She’s earned it in a way very few could equal.
Originally posted at

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F.B.I. Investigating Home Lending

Don’t for a minute think that this post is about you the disenfranchised foreclosed on former first time home owner. Even though you were told by your lending professional, abandoned on the side of the road used car salesman, small appliance repair, and fortune teller that you could afford your recently foreclosed home, this story is not about you. Justice is never about you so this post is not about anyone at or below the middle class income level that lost their home to dubious lending practices.

One thing is a given in America, the only justice is for the millionaires that can afford to demand it. All of the bum loans that the mortgage lending and banking industry gave out like free cheese to the poor was not a big enough problem to look into. And yet when the millionaire investors start loosing their shirts it just might be a problem.

F.B.I. Opens Subprime Inquiry

Published: January 29, 2008

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (Reuters) — The F.B.I. has opened investigations into 14 corporations as part of a crackdown on improper subprime lending, agency officials said on Tuesday.

F.B.I. officials told reporters that the inquiry involved potential violations including accounting fraud and insider trading.

Separately, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley said government investigators were seeking information from them about their subprime mortgage activities. But it was not immediately clear if the disclosures by the three banks were linked to the F.B.I. probes.

F.B.I. officials did not identify the companies they were looking at, but said the investigation reached across the industry to include developers, subprime lenders, companies that securitized loans and investment banks that held them.

The cases could lead to potential civil or criminal charges, the officials said.
The F.B.I. said it was investigating the cases with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has opened about three dozen investigations into the subprime market collapse.

Targets of the S.E.C. probe include the investment banks Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, as well as the Swiss bank UBS and the bond insurer MBIA. It was not clear whether any of those companies were involved in the F.B.I. investigation.

The S.E.C., which has formed an internal subprime-mortgage task force, is looking at how financial firms priced mortgage-based securities and whether they should have told investors earlier about the declining value of those securities.
- New York Times

All of the businesses that sold the loans to you the former homeowner hardly ever hold on to those loans. They sell them to bigger banks and bigger banks bundle them all together and sell them as investment vehicles for the mega rich. Now that the loans are being defaulted on in larger than life numbers those investment vehicles are up on cinder blocks with tickets on them from the board of health as a public nuisance. AKA losing money for the mega rich people and businesses that invest in them.

What the F.B.I. is investigating at the banks is the fact that the SEC has some serious rules about selling bovine by product as any kind of investment product. Especially, when those products are purchased by the mega dough bucks people at the top of the income earners heap.

Now it’s officially a Subprime Lending crisis! Now let’s see who goes to minimum security, weekends off for god behavior prison? Maybe when these guys have to loose their golf handicap they might see what justice is really all about.

One more note, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have all dropped in shareholder value between $15 and $20 in the last three months. Things that make you go hmmmm or screw them too?


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Monday, January 28, 2008

Bush Pre-emptive State of the Union

Precedent Bush (misspelled on purpose) is going to the Congress with his State of the Union speech to tell us (Sheep) everything is okey dokey tonight and that we the people should follow the course he has lead us on as a nation. Some say that you can judge a political speech by the number of times a person blinks while giving it. More blinks is bad, less is good.

All of the crisis’s facing our nation we can beat as a people, provided he gets out of office in less than a year. I don’t think its even necessary that he fill out a change of address card with the post office simply because nobody is going to care where he ends up as long as it is not in our nations capitol. He is going to go on in his speech about issues that he and Darth Cheney can coast on out of office and leave the clean up for the next Oval Office occupant. Issues that he now cares about but worked against when he had a Republican Congress.

One of the issues that I look forward to him speaking on is Middle East peace. Bush and Middle East peace is definitely an oxymoron if ever I heard of one. This from a guy that has probably ingrained hatred of all American’s for generations to come from the people that actually live in any country in the Middle East. When he speaks of being in the region for one hundred years he isn’t kidding. Just as long as it is your children serving in our military and dying for his bravado. How can he speak of peace when he has our military troops stationed all over the area but concentrated in Iraq based on wag the dog theories? We could have hired one of those 1-900 psychic’s and had better intelligence to invade Iraq and force a policy of “Nation Building” on the Iraqi people.

When you get right down to it the state of the union is not sound and has not been for seven years. From the minute the planes crashed into the World Trade Center buildings our nation has been in chaos and in that new found chaos the ability to sell fear became an immediate commodity to Bush and company. What should terrify you most is that he actually believes his own lies and misdirection. While he and the Congress of both political parties diverted the people into a corner of fear and patriotism they left the business of America at home behind. With us or against us became a catch phrase of strength and yet it shadowed and covered our own ignorance of what has been going on unchecked here at home. That same mantra is used as a weapon by people of ordinary means to pit Republican against Democrat, Liberal against Conservative. Hundreds of billions of dollars have gone out of this nation to prop up an Iraq government that behind the scenes wants our troops off of their sovereign soil. Meanwhile our bridges are collapsing, our schools are falling behind, our healthcare system is broken, our homes are being lost in record numbers and our borders are wide open if you want to come in. Just don’t try getting out if you are an actual legal American citizen.

Then again Bush has the remaining Republican candidates for his job convinced that his mission is right and we should stay the course. McCain has bought into it so much that he too will keep our troops in Iraq for one hundred years if need be. McCain can use the argument that we still have troops in Germany, Japan and Korea decades after the conflicts and war and that is true but diplomacy made that possible. There was not one iota of “My way or the highway” in the diplomacy that made that possible.

Our State of the Union is not a pep rally by any means this year. It is going to be more of who Precedent Bush wishes he could have been. What he should have done. With this being his last speech to the entire Congress I expect compassion for the poor and the sick, for the children and education, support for our military is a given. Of course he will end his speech with God bless America but in reality he is only wishing that God actually bless the top two percent of income earners. He’s compassionate that way but Joe and Joanne Six-pack do not donate huge dollars to a Presidential Library do they?

One thing I am sure of at this time in the state of our union is that Precedent Bush has destroyed the Republican Party and any candidate dreaming of the White House. God works in wonderful ways like that. Reap what you sow and stuff like that. Thank you God and President Bush!


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama Tromps Hillary In South Carolina

Dirty politics aside Barack Obama took South Carolina with the higher road. Together we can sells better than I used to be or I once was. Bill Clinton has proved that his popularity in history is not for sale at any disount price.

Nice video from the Washington Post...


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Papamoka Blog’s and more reads…

One more Republican steps down with minimal controversy over his child using her shoes in protest of her arrest. - Washington Post

Bring IT ON! has this on Bush Lied.

When we got to Baqubah and once found fifty IEDs on a stretch of road less than a mile long, we figured it might be a good idea to walk even more often. - Army of Dude

Zogby Poll on South Carolina from The Moderate Voice.

Florida 8th Congressional Race on Crooks and Liars with Alan Grayson… Must SEE VIDEO!

Suffer the Children from I See My Dreams on Bush being just an idiot. Who’d of thunk?

Michael Linn Jones on Huckabee and his arsenal of theocracy.

One more on Alan Grayson from Down With Tryranny.

Gun Toting Liberal has this on Hillary the Hypocrite calling Obama a slum lord buddy.

That’s a wrap up…


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Energy Saving Cargo Ships

With the cost of diesel fuel running so high the cost of shipping products of any kind is effecting many of the things you and I buy every single day. Those big tankers and container ships do not get the kind of mileage your Chevrolet does and any cost savings to the company is a direct savings to the manufacturers which can then be passed on to the consumer. In the nutshell, if Sony can ship a product from Japan to the United States and the bill to do so is 10% or 35% lower then that savings can be passed on to you the consumer.

Originally, I found this on the Boston Globe but they didn’t do the piece any justice. Picture a tanker or container ship with a couple of huge parachutes pulling ahead of them. This is new technology but then again it isn’t. We used to call them clipper ships but the sails were attached to the ship itself and not on a tow line. This technology has tweaked that and improved it to save energy. Testing is still going on now as I type to see how much savings.

SkySails: Energy Saving Ideas For Sea Travel
by Amanda Gore in Ethical Consumerism, Transport & Travel, Environmental

Inspired by the most traditional of water-travel methods, SkySails aims to get cargo ships using wind power once again. With oil prices rising considerably, and industry increasingly interested in searching out cheaper alternatives, SkySails’ ‘wind propulsion system’ claims to be attracting a considerable amount of interest and it’s no great surprise why.

Essentially the system is two giant kites that act as sails that are connected through a towing rope rather than on a mast directly attached to the ship, plus a wind-optimised routeing system to get the best puff possible. According to the company, using the system average annual fuel costs can be lowered between 10-35% depending on the wind conditions, and up to 50% under optimal wind conditions. They estimate that at the current price of oil that could equate to a saving of 1/3 of a ship’s diesel costs. This has yet to be proved, though the company aims to do just that through it’s first commercial pilot, which launched on Tuesday.

You can check out the video here… SkySails

When it comes to any energy savings device then I am all for it. From time to time I find these interesting little morsels of new technology and post them on Papamoka. Apparently, so are the Germans that created this new idea for the shipping industry. One thing is certain, OPEC is going to be in trouble if ideas like this one spread and somebody builds a better mouse trap.

I’m sure that there was thousands of ours engineering this idea and I heartily congratulate the people that are moving this forward. Any ideas that can make a dent in our worlds reliance on oil is a good thing. Sometimes it’s great being an infadel.

Check back here soon for the next tid bit of new thoughts on how to screw over big oil special interests. I have to tell you that this one blew me away and no pun intended.


Cross posted at and Bring IT ON!

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cargo ships, container ships, oil tankers, lpg tankers, cruise ships, shipping, diesel fuel, gallons per hour, energy saving, shipping news, cruise lines, wind surfing, wind power, green ships, world markets, world commerce, Europe, china, japan, Sky Sails, SkySails

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Alan Grayson in Florida’s 8th

One of the things that ticks me off about the one sided war in Iraq is the non-stop “No Bid” contract awards. With those awarded contracts comes a lot of corruption and waste. The waste is called double billing, triple billing or just plain outright billing without doing a damn thing. The money that pays for all of this abuse and neglect is our tax dollars. Wouldn’t you think that all of them pesky Conservative Republican’s would want to clean this mess up right away? That isn’t even close to the facts of the matter. Looking the other way is the mantra of the Bush 2 dynasty.

What it takes to clean this mess up and prosecute the bastards stealing all of our children’s future is to put people in the Congress that will aggressively go after anyone that steals from the American people. One of the most feared terms of any company that does business with any state or federal agency is called Disbarment. If any company is found guilty of thievery then they face disbarment. Over at Down With Tyranny they have this great piece on Alan Grayson that will go after war profiteers in the next Congress.

There's probably no one who knows more about war profiteers in Iraq-- outside of Cheney and the folks at Halliburton and KBR-- than Alan Grayson, an attorney prosecuting numerous war profiteering cases. We came across him because he is running for Congress against corrupt Republican rubber stamp Ric Keller in central Florida's 8th CD (Orlando area). Next weekend Alan will be our guest at Blue America sessions at Firedoglake and Crooks and Liars. But I called him today and asked him this tough question-- the one about Republican voters. Do these Americans actually support this kind of behavior?

Before we take a look at what Alan told me take a look at this CBS News clip I found on his website:

"I think that the Republicans, from top to bottom, are genuinely trying to change America into Amerika with a 'k.' They want America to be a place where ordinary workers cannot organize, where everybody tries to undercut everybody else in the labor market, and where the people in charge are the people who can best tap into war profiteering profits... These people want to change America and change it to make it something that Eisenhower warned us about half a century ago. They want everything in America to be under the control-- and in the teeth-- of the military-industrial complex.

"When I talk to Republicans in general these days, they're very unhappy about the war. The problem is, they're unhappy about the war because they don't like to lose-- and that's just the wrong way of looking at it. They have become willing participants in a war that at this point is approaching imperialism. If they read in newspapers everyday that we were winning the war, they would be just as happy with the war as the characters in Orwell's 1984 are happy with their endless war against some unnamed enemy that they can never clearly understand the purpose of. Republican voters have, in effect, collaborated in this effort despite their misgivings about the war and the primary reason why they're not happy right now isn't because the war is wrong or unjustifiable but because we're not not winning."
- Down With Tyranny

Over the last two terms of President Bush we have witnessed our nation being hijacked by so called leaders of the people that were stuffing their friends pockets with millions of dollars. Washington has become the city to steal money from our nations treasury and that is simply wrong. One Congressional seat in Florida may not seem big news but it is.

Alan Grayson isn’t running to bring the bacon home and fatten his own wallet. His progressive liberal thoughts are what conservatives used to be in the Barry Goldwater days. Changing our government and the practices of corruption, bribes and outright lies to the people can change from one voice on Capitol Hill and it just might start with Alan Grayson. One squeaky wheel just might get the oil special interest out of politics.

Good luck to you Mr. Grayson on your up and coming election.

Interesting reads on what Alan Grayson is all about…

Vanity Fair

Rolling Stone

CBS News

And of course Alan Grayson Campaign site

You be the judge and the voter and decide if this guy deserves to go to Washington and kick some ass! If you care to contribute to the campaign by all means do so. Click on Act Blue to vote with your wallet.

On Friday 1/25 Crooks and Liars will have an exclusive interview with Alan Grayson so feel free to check that out when it comes on the site.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Somebody Wake FDR From the Dead!

When the banks start listing billions of losses in one quarter then it is time to say for a fact that we are in a recession. President Bush is waiting for a milk carton to actually tell him that his economy is missing. I’m going onto the Wall Street Journal and buying the White House a prescription for the next year. Maybe if the President is lining the bird cage that is his advisor on the economy lives in he might absorb through osmosis the fact that our economy is past broken.

Articles and facts like this one on Bank of America writing off $5.26 Billion is not a good sign for our economy. Higher ATM fees will not cover this kind of short fall at BOA. Maybe if they raise the fee for a bounced check to $250,000 it might help. Don’t even think about stealing one of those pens chained to the deposit slip counter. That will cost you a billion in fines and the price of your printed checks go up to $100,000 for 200 of them.

Over at the New York Times they have this on the mismanagement of Bank of America and the latest loss statement…

Profit Off 95% at Bank of America

Published: January 22, 2008

Bank of America said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit tumbled 95 percent because of huge write-downs of mortgage-related securities and higher provisions for future losses in credit card and home equity loans.

Net income was $268 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with $5.26 billion, or $1.16 a share, in the period a year earlier.

Like other banking giants around the world, which have written down billions of dollars worth of mortgage-related securities as prices for those assets have plunged in recent months, Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C., wrote down $5.28 billion worth of mortgage-related securities in the quarter.
- NY Times

Maybe the CEO, Kenneth D. Lewis can help his bank out and take a cut in pay. Then again maybe he could go back to school and learn what banking is really all about. Share holders of Bank of America should be screaming for his resignation! Common sense is in the banks favor when you ask for a loan and apparently that was tossed to the wind at Bank of America and the full responsibility of the record loss rests solely at the CEO’s desk. Then again let’s see what kind of bonus check or stock options he gets to cash this quarter.

This will not be the first or the last large bank to write off billions and the next quarter is just three months away. Who will be stepping up to the table next to declare the bank stock crap? Meanwhile the boys in the executive lounge are selling their stock options off by the millions of shares. No guts, no faith, no glory. Shame and larger than life checking accounts not in Bank of America will be their guilt. In the end they walk away clean and the stock holders pay for it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a banker to know when to get out from under a house on fire with tons of explosives in the basement.

Ken Lewis can retire a rich man or he could pop up somewhere else where all of the bankers move over one chair. I’d prefer that he be prosecuted for negligence but the current White House and the Congress have no teeth. From the banking industry will come the largest OOOPS since the savings and loan crisis. Past mistakes of Kenny Lewis will be forgotten and the opportunity of screwing the customer that more provocative somewhere else will open up. One thing is certain, there is no bank in America that can just write off these kind of losses without paying it forward to the consumer.

Bank of America will survive simply because they are so huge but all the small town banks that invested in home loan bundles will have a vast difference of outcome. Huge difference!

This all comes down to a free market without rules and regulations that are adhered too. If the money was there to be raped and pillaged then guys like Ken Lewis did it and his reward for doing it is much the same as many businesses across our nation. Huge pay checks for screwing the nation over was good for him and bad for you. Long term repercussions just didn’t figure into the bonus checks. Check cashed, where is the opportunity to get the next big check is all that they looked at.

Tar and feathering should make a come back and we should start with the sell out of America on Wall Street! The street lined with gold if you can afford the entrance fee. Middle class and poor need not apply you disgusting infidels of America.

Common sense is not dead, it just has no place in the board room of corporate America.


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Monday, January 21, 2008

Moments of Clarity and Clinton

While on a recent road trip Hillary Clinton is talking about the economy and now is the time to talk about the economy and how we all got into this horrible mess. The near future is not as positive as some people would like to think and a clear path through it is needed. With the latest reports coming in from all of the world stock exchanges, the “Maybe Recession” is a world wide concern when you are talking about the United States of America. World economics is the key to saving not only our own economy but the worlds.

One of the key factors to the U.S. economy is the middle class and the shear numbers of them with disposable income. The facts are simple and the middle class in America has been downsized and locked out of the “Bush” economy from benefits too salary increases. In that same time period the cost of living in America has gone through the roof. One large contributor to that lockout was the executive release of responsibility in corporate America. In the world of business it should be called a signing statement, similar to the thoughts of our current President and the Constitution. Downsizing and outsourcing of entire manufacturing plants out of the country not to be competitive but to ensure the yearly top executives bonuses are protected and of course adjusted for inflation.

In some circles it could be argued that NAFTA and every other acronym for free trade helped to boost the economy in America but they never really stipulated if it was South America or North of the border of America? In reality, free trade literally meant a migration of American middle class jobs out of America and that is yet just one more source of the downfall of our economy. When our government supports the rights of other nations citizens for good jobs at good wages you better look at your last days of employment because that is the first tax break for corporate America to send your job over the border. Key phrases for shutting a factory or manufacturing plant here in the states is “Stock Holder Value”. Largest benefactors to stock holder value are CEO’s and top executives with stock options.

Senator Clinton in her race for the White House spoke about where she thinks we as a nation need to be and it is hard to argue with her thoughts when you look at the numbers realistically. Over at the New York Times they have this interview with Senator Clinton…

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said that if she became president, the federal government would take a more active role in the economy to address what she called the excesses of the market and of the Bush administration.

In one of her most extensive interviews about how she would approach the economy, Mrs. Clinton laid out a view of economic policy that differed in some ways from that of her husband, Bill Clinton. Mr. Clinton campaigned on his centrist views, and as president, he championed deficit reduction and trade agreements.

Reflecting what her aides said were very different conditions today, Mrs. Clinton put her emphasis on issues like inequality and the role of institutions like government, rather than market forces, in addressing them.

She said that economic excesses — including executive-pay packages she characterized as often “offensive” and “wrong” and a tax code that had become “so far out of whack” in favoring the wealthy — were holding down middle-class living standards.

Interviewed between campaign appearances in Los Angeles on Thursday, she said those problems were also keeping the United States economy from growing as quickly as it could.

“If you go back and look at our history, we were most successful when we had that balance between an effective, vigorous government and a dynamic, appropriately regulated market,” Mrs. Clinton said. “And we have systematically diminished the role and the responsibility of our government, and we have watched our market become imbalanced.”

She added: “I want to get back to the appropriate balance of power between government and the market.”
- New York Times

Senator Clinton is obviously correct in stating that the markets from housing to Wall Street’s power brokers are out of control and need government oversight more now than ever. If our nation is to survive the current recession then restraints and intervention needs to come from our government. If it does not then the Robber Barron’s of days long gone will run the economy and the nation into the ground and ride out the destruction on the billions earned prior. And you can bet your last Rockefeller shiny new dime that they will pull their investments out of the stock market long before it crashes and outsource it to safer shores.

Salaries of record for one year to think about from Too Much…

$118.9 million for Leslie Blodgett, CEO of Bare Escentuals, who cashed out over 5 million option shares in her cosmetics company for a $117.6 million personal profit.

$415.5 million for Occidental Petroleum CEO Ray Irani. To reach this total, the Times added to Irani's $52.1 million in pay, as calculated by Equilar, the $270.1 million Irani cleared from cashing out stock options and the $93.3 million he withdrew from his deferred stock plan. Irani still holds another $124 million in deferred pay.

$647 million for Apple CEO Steve Jobs

$127 million for UnitedHealth CEO William McGuire

$32.6 million for Todd Nelson, CEO of the Apollo Group, a profit-making collection of higher education institutions

$131 million for Robert Nardelli, the Home Depot CEO forced out in January

$97 million for Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

$1.5 billion for James Simons, Renaissance Technologies

$39.1 million for Ford CEO Alan Mulally, a sum that includes an $18.5-million bonus for leaving Boeing to join Ford. Ford had six executives in the industry's top 15, despite record 2006 losses of $12.6 billion.

Some people would say that each one of these people earned their pay and in some cases I might not argue with you. In most cases though it is a race to the top of the heap and they never look back at all the folks they stepped on to get those annual salaries and mega stock options. That is not part of the horizon they are looking at when they cash out, sell out or move on to another corporate position to repeat the process all over again. Once there they never forget the politics that kept them there either with donations that max out. Atilla the Hun would have been very comfortable in corporate America but he would have owned it all.

Hillary Clinton is talking the talk and I would not be surprised if she became President that she would look at corporate politics with an evil eye but she will not hesitate to cash those campaign checks coming in till that day comes. She isn’t alone in the cashing of those check and that my friends scares me.

If your interested in seeing whom is giving political donations to whom and how much then I highly recommend NewsMeat. It’s a great search engine for political thoughts and seeing who is maxing out to their favorite candidates.


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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Obama Really Wins Nevada

Popular vote aside, Obama won Nevada by one delegate to the Democrat convention. Popular vote aside, the message of Obama and hope lives on in Nevada. Hillary will get all the headlines but the truth of the matter is that the real decision of the voters is based on the delegates to the convention so Hillary Clinton’s win is not really a win. Somebody call Bill Clinton and tell him that he is about to get slapped upside the head again by the wife.

The Tsunami wave of Obama is coming to fruition all across America and it can not be stopped. His message is clear and his points are not about looking at the past but at the future of America and the outlying folks in Nevada voted for a new future in our nation. That future is full of hope and of brighter days to come that are not filled with isolationist ideology and war mongering. Out in suburbs of the big cities of Nevada they saw the difference and voted for change. Out in the suburbs is the key words there. Regular people, not millionaires, not people even making a hundred thousand dollars a year. Obama has the heart beat of the people at the bottom of the economy that always look to hope and that is someone running for President that believes that we can be saved from the plight that is corporate America’s intolerance of us. Nevada voted for hope and in that message Obama won Nevada at the convention with more delegates than Hillary Clinton.

Over at the Washington Post they have this breakdown of the Nevada election results…

Clinton and Romney Win in Nevada
By Chris Cillizza staff writer

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton beat Sen. Barack Obama in the popular vote in the Nevada Democratic caucuses today, while former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney prevailed earlier in the Nevada Republican caucuses.

With 97 percent of the vote counted, Clinton led with 51 percent to 45 percent for Obama (Ill.). Former senator John Edwards trailed far behind with four percent. However, although Clinton captured the popular vote, Obama edged her out for delegates at stake, taking 13 to her 12, according to an Associated Presss analysis.

"I guess this is how the West was won," Clinton told cheering supporters in Las Vegas. The popular victory was her second straight, coming after an upset win in the New Hampshire primary.

The disparity between the raw vote total and the delegate apportionment is centered on the fact that Obama beat Clinton in the state's sparsely-populated northern reaches and more rural areas -- a statewide showing that left him with a narrow delegate victory if not a popular majority.

"We came from over 25 points behind to win more national convention delegates than Hillary Clinton because we performed well all across the state, including rural areas where Democrats have traditionally struggled," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
-Washington Post

Some people wonder if America is ready for an African American President and I wonder if we are ready for another eight years of another Clinton disgrace series of real legislation subdued by controversy from the first Clinton Presidency revisited. When the Clinton’s claim in deceptive words to be the first African American President I shudder at the disgrace that they propose on African Amrican’s. As a white man I can not see through the eyes of any African American and I can not say that racism is dead in America because it is not. Racism is born out of misunderstanding and hate passed down from generation to generation. Even in New England where the bluest of blue states are it is ignorance rather than knowledge that prevails. If you were blind and listened to the messages of all of the candidates not knowing if one is Black or the other is a Woman you would see the true difference.

A good friend of mine is slowly going blind, my heart felt prayers are with him and his family every single night. I beg God above that he would have his vision back because he is not of the opinion that America should be divided racially but united simply as Americans. And yet in his heart and soul I know him as a friend that would give his vision and life if he could erase the ignorance that is race relations between all people that are the melting pot of America. His heart is genuine and his soul pure of thought.

I would give my own life to find hope in America and I am not living the life of any African American, and I am not going blind.

Vision is sometimes found in the heart and not your eyes. Hope is never in the form of a question, it is a matter of belief. That is the question you need to ask when you cast your vote in the primaries.


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Friday, January 18, 2008

Huckabee wants U.S. To Be "Arsenal of Theocracy"

From The Firesign Theater’s “Don’t Crush That Dwarf; Hand Me The Pliers”:

The Hymn For the Church Of The Presumptive Assumption Of The Blinding Light:

“Oh blinding light,Oh light that blinds,I cannot see,Look out for me!”

Prior to the involvement of the United States in World War II, President Roosevelt made the claim that the U.S. could be “the arsenal of democracy.” This was said at a time when isolationism was quite strong in America; there was opposition to Americans fighting in foreign wars, but no one could really argue against producing the armaments needed to keep the nation safe.

Almost exactly 70 years later we have a candidate for the presidency going right off the rails in his well-intentioned fervor. By stating that the Constitution be amended to bring it more in line with his God, Huckabee proposes fighting Islamic fascism with a Christian-based government.
Next thing you know, we’re going to have young knights, scribes, and pages storming the gates of Jerusalem. Or maybe not; those doing the assailing will be, as is custom now, members of the peasantry utilizing M-16’s, Abrams tanks, F-16’s, F-18’s, and Humvees.

Recently I wrote politely (for me, anyway) about Huckabee’s use of his particular faith in his quest for the presidency. This may be a little more blunt. Pandering to certain fears and suspicions is normal fare in some elections, but what is going on in South Carolina is a bit much.
We are still in the month of January, named after the Roman god Janus. Janus had two faces; one looking forward and one looking backwards. It’s an appropriate way to start the year, but not a presidential primary season.

I say this in light of Huckabee’s recent comments about the Confederate flag, and where the pole should be stuck if any “outsiders” want to tell South Carolinians where to put it. Like Janus, South Carolina can look either forwards or backwards, and it is sad to see someone pandering to the past. The argument about the Confederate flag can go on forever, but what cannot be disputed is that such a contraversy is NOT going to solve or address housing, healthcare, wars, economics, or anything else.

It is possible for a southern white male to see the point of view that the Confederate flag represents the best of southern ‘heritage’ without being inclusive of rascism. That same southern white male can look upon Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King with equal admiration. Lee was a military genius who made the decision to help re-unite his nation rather than tear it apart with endliess guerilla warfare. King was a gift to America, a rare true philosopher who delivered a message that we still, nationwide, don’t pay much attention to.

However, such a perspective took years of experience and thought. What anyone proudly waving the Confederate flag must acknowledge is that Dr. King is as much a part of southern heritage as any confederate. On the other hand, waving that flag as a token of resistance to non-whites being recognized as equal citizens appeals to some.

But not all, and to ignore those who choose to look forward is an insult to a region and a state. I am not a great admirer of Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. He’s too conservative for me in many ways, but recently he made an observation that underscores the insult of Huckabee’s remarks.

Sanford made the point that while he would never vote for Barack Obama (as a Republican and a conservative he could not endorse his policies), he said that South Carolinians had a unique opportunity to welcome Obama’s candidacy. This is so because for the first time in history, the cradle of the Confederacy may, in its Democratic primary, select a black American as its candidate.

Sanford deserves credit for stating something that needed to be said. A generation ago he would have ended his career by saying such things. Time marches on….forward always…and so has South Carolina. Gov. Sanford is a fine example of that, no matter how misguided his views on economic policy are, and I say that with respect.

But Gov. Huckabee? No. He has lost all credibility. His appeal for a new Crusade and his veiled pitch to the Klan are not in step with an America aching for a positive change.

You’re offering us a sweet-smelling crap sandwich, Mr. Huckabee. How about something with a little beef?

Originally posted at Michael Linn

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