Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin Interview Here!

You want to be just like Katie Couric don't you? Well don't you?

OK , maybe not Katie, but surely you think you're better than David Gregory. Who doesn't?

And now you can land the interview that any big-time journo not surnamed Gibson or Couric has failed to get (sorry, Hannity does NOT qualify as a journalist): Sarah Palin.

For some reason bailing out the rich is unpopular

The trend, since the onset of Reaganomics (aka Voodoo economics, trickle-down economics) has been an increasing disparity between the relative wealth of the rich and virtually everyone else.

This gap held its own during the Clinton administration, only to reach new levels of disparity during the reign of King George.

Is it all surprising that an emergency financial package which seems aimed primarily at bailing out the very beneficiaries of the Reagan revolution are universally reviled by the vast majority of the people?

So, the next time a conservative asks what the problem with the rich getting richer, you ow have an answer.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Time to get to know our new masters

The other day Mrs. CaliBlogger, understandably concerned about the burgeoning financial brouhaha, asked me about the security of our primary bank, Union Bank of California.

I blithely told her that the main problems were with investment banks and that regardless, our minuscule deposits were FDIC insured.

She (darn her and her inconvenient facts) pointed out that WaMu and Wachovia were commercial banks. She also wasn't clear on what kind of rigmarole the FDIC would put us through if worse came to worse.

So, as always when faced with a troubled mind, I sought the wisdom of the Delphic Oracle known as the internets and soon found out something interesting indeed, my UBOC had just been bought out. Indeed the buyer (Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group) has been working on this for a while. And, if you think about it, such deals aren't particularly unusual.

Big companies buy out smaller companies all the time.

So that got me thinking, instead of holding auction where the US government buys out bad debt instruments, shouldn't we be working instead on selling off these badly run Wall Street behemoths to the highest bidder?

Central banks all over the world are sitting on mountains of dollars. If market liquidity is the problem why not encourage those governments to use those dollars to "buy American" if you will.

The way the market's crashing there have GOT to be some bargains out there.

And sure, it'll be a little weird that GM will be owned by the People's Republic of China, but I bet they'll give us great terms on that next Hummer.

Somebody call them a waaaambulance

The delicate flowers that make up today's GOP are saying they're willing the country's finances collapse because Nancy Pelosi said mean things about them.

[Republican House Minority Leader John] Boehner charged that the bill could have passed today "had it not been for the partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House."

Nice to see the "country first" party getting their priorities straight.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eye Contact

I'll never hire someone who doesn't have a firm handshake and look me in the eye while s/he's speaking.

I don't have an explanation for this, but it's something I've learned in over two decades of hiring and firing salespeople. If you can't look me in the eye while you're talking I don't trust you, and more importantly my customers won't trust you.

Barack Obama had no problem looking John McCain in the eye, McCain could not. Not once.

That tells me one thing. McCain isn't as confidant of the product he's selling as he claims to be.

And, though I'm obviously an Obama supporter, such things are not lost, however subliminally on most people.

And, to be frank,I suppose it's to McCain's credit as a human being, that he's unable to fake a sincerity he certainly doesn't feel.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fly in the ointment

I'm not thrilled by need for the proposed bailout, nor am I entirely convinced of the efficacy of the scant provisions that have been floated.

But I'm sure of one thing: the LAST thing the bailout negotiations needs right now is an injection of partisan campaign politicking into the mix.

John McCain, apparently disagrees:

But after the meeting broke up about an hour later, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), who strongly opposes the bailout, told reporters, "I don't believe we have an agreement." He said he voiced his concerns in the meeting, calling attention to a letter from leading economists that lays out objections to the plan. The bailout plan "will create more problems; we're rushing to judgment," he said in summarizing the economists' argument....

A visibly irritated Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, summarized the impasse in more pointed terms. He told CNN that the meeting was thrown off when Republicans brought up "some new core agreement" that supposedly had been floated by McCain and was being considered by the Treasury Department.

"What this looked like to me was a rescue plan for John McCain," Dodd fumed. "This is a sad day for the country." He said he still hopes that a deal can be struck but that the Republicans "need to get their act together and decide what they're for."

And so McCain's policy of government by gimmick continues.

Seriously, is this REALLY what you want for the next four years? To live in a state of constant anxiety about what the man with the red button (and I'm not talking about this clown's nose) will do?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

John McCain: Crisis manager

As you no doubt have heard, Republican John McCain Is "suspending" his presidential campaign in order to "assist" in resolving the current financial crisis.

Why does this sound to much akin to the resignation of a disgraced bureaucrat who's going home "to spend more time with his family"?

Regardless this strikes me as a cagey political move from master stuntmeister McCain.

Given the ineptitude with which he's handled the crisis so far, campaign silence from McCain will probably work better for him than letting him speak.

Plus he should be good at this since the financial "meltdown" seems to following the classic Republican model: let a problem fester for years without addressing it, then arm-twist panicked Democrats into giving Republicans the extraordinary powers required to deal with the crisis the Republicans themselves created.

As the man in the Guinness ad says: "brilliant"!

Free Sarah Palin!

Well, it's about time. Even members of the dread MSM are sick and tired of the sexism being aimed at McCain veep selection Sarah Palin:

Frankly I have had it, and I know a lot of other women out there who are with me on this. I have had enough of the sexist treatment of Sarah Palin. It has to end.

She was in New York on Tuesday meeting with world leaders at the U.N. And what did the McCain campaign do?

They tried to ban reporters from covering those meetings. And they did ban reporters from asking Gov. Palin any questions.

I call upon the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower who will wilt at any moment.

Like I said, it's about time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McCain too risky?

Sure I believe that John McCain 2008 has shown himself to be unsuitable for the office of president.

But don't just ask me, ask conservative columnist George Will:

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

And sure, progressive that I am, I believe Sarah Palin's nomination to be nothing more than a clever campaign gimmick which reflects poorly on McCain's judgment. But don't take my word for it, ask conservative columnist David Brooks what he thinks of Palin:

Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared.

Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.

Please read both columns (especially Will, who I always enjoy even when I'm grumbling at him through the computer screen).

Monday, September 22, 2008

John McCain's Healthcare Plans

John McCain writing in Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries (pdf):

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation. [Emphasis mine - CK]

You read it here. John McCain is promising to do for healthcare what he (and his fellow Republicans) have done for finance.

Obama's response:

Game. Set. Match.

[H/t Steve Benen]

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Government by crisis

Where have we heard this before?

A national crisis occurs.

The costs of responding will be limited.

But we must act now, now, now or face impending doom, a figurative, if not literal mushroom cloud.

Now I'm not saying some drastic measures won't be needed to shore up an economy teetering on the brink of collapse, but still that doesn't mean we should allow ourselves to be railroaded into just any old deal because BushCorp™ says it's urgent.

Any benefit of the doubt was lost to this crew a looong time ago.

For a far better and more thorough analysis of the similarities on how the Bushies are selling their bailout like they did the invasion of Iraq I suggest Glen Greenwald.

My main point is this, because we need to do _something_ does not mean we should do just anything.

Meet the new lackies, same as the old lackies

Anyone reading this blog probably knows already that McCain = Bush's 3rd term, but it's still nice for the MSM to confirm it.

From the Washington Post:

The clutch of Bush veterans helping to coach Palin reflects a larger reality about Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign: Far from being a group of outsiders to the Republican Party power structure, it is now run largely by skilled operatives who learned their crafts in successive Bush campaigns and various jobs across the Bush government over the past eight years.

The team has been assembled and led by Steve Schmidt, a sharp-witted, low-key strategist who has emerged as the campaign's day-to-day operations chief after the ouster of a group of loyal but sometimes undisciplined McCain loyalists. Schmidt's operation is tightly run and hard-nosed -- made up of policy advisers, communications experts, advance people and lower-level aides, many of them old friends who have worked together for the last eight years, and whose presence lends a familiar vibe to the Palin operation.

Republicans have been heartened by the effectiveness of the new McCain organization, which has helped put McCain back in serious contention for the White House, causing restlessness among Democrats who believed the race was Sen. Barack Obama's to lose. Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, expressed pride at what her former colleagues have been able to accomplish.

"We had a great team -- they're the best in the business, and I'm sure the campaign feels fortunate to have them," Perino said.

I love that last quote, "the best in the business". Indeed.

Though if your business is stone-walling, spreading lies, innuendo, and irrelevant bamboozlement, I'm not sure pride is really appropriate.

4 more years!
4 more years!
4 more years!

The Conversation: Bartlett and Obama

The other day I killed an afternoon watching a West Wing marathon on one of those stations that does that sort of thing.

I, like, I suspect, many another progressive spent many a Thursday evening wishing that I would wake the next morning to find that my president was Jed Bartlett, and that the whole GWB thing was a black comedy out of Aaron Sorkin's wild imagination.

That being the case I was pleased that Maureen Dowd ceded some of her very valuable column inches to Mr. Sorkin for an imagined conversation between Barack Obama and Jed Bartlett.

The result was significantly more entertaining than anything Dowd usually writes (though to be fair, her mean-spritedness doesn't keep me from reading her so I guess she's doing something right).

The conversation should be read in full, especially by WW fans who always wished that Sorkin would've gone back into politics instead of wandering into TV land for his next series.

But here's a tiny taste:

OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA Why not?

BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.


BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Meyerson: "what good was Lehman Brothers, anyway?"

I've been an admirer of Harold Meyerson's writing for several years now, ever since he took the time to personally respond to an email inquiry I'd sent him.

I don't now recall the topic, but I do recall his graciousness in responding.

And, in addition to being a gentleman, he is also a reliably progressive and sane commenter on the national stage.

His column in today's Washington Post may, if read and understood by the right people, may be the most important he's ever written.

Someone needs to invest in the United States of America. For the past decade and, in a broader sense, for the entire duration of the Reagan era, both government and Wall Street have opted not to. Should Barack Obama win, the era of neglectful government will probably come to an end. No matter who wins, Wall Street is vanishing before our eyes. And by the measure of their contribution to America's economic strength and well being, both Reagan-age government and Wall Street's investment banks plainly deserve to die.
I give his conclusion here, but his arguments and historical analysis are important for a more thorough understanding of our problems as well as an understanding of why Barack Obama (barring a believable McCain renunciation of Reaganomics, yeah, right) must be elected if we are to overcome and avoid further exacerbating and repeating the mistakes leading to the recent financial let down.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Aristocrats for McCain

You can't make up stuff like this.

"A prominent Hillary Clinton supporter who is a member of the Democratic National Committee's Platform Committee will endorse John McCain at a press conference at the Capitol Hill Club today, September 17," the advisory said.

As a headline, the announcement played great -- even landing a prominent spot on the Drudge Report. But McCain supporters who read further might not have found the payoff quite as satisfying.

Turns out, the prominent Clinton supporter who crossed the partisan aisle to support McCain was none other than Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, wife of British banking scion Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. And the Lady Forester, as she is sometimes known, may not be the ideal spokesperson for McCain in the present environment of economic uncertainty.

When not engaged in politics, de Rothschild -- whom the Wall Street Journal dubbed a "New York socialite" and Portfolio has described as "the flashiest hostess in London" -- has the run of a sprawling estate in Buckinghamshire, north of London, known as Ascott House. In the U.S., she summers on Martha's Vineyard. And she has not been shy with her feelings about Obama prior to today, telling CNN weeks ago -- and without any hint of irony -- that, "frankly, I don't like him. I feel like he is an elitist." [Emphasis mine - CK]

I could kiss Matthew Mosk for that last line.

AIG Bailout

If you owe the bank $10,000 that's your problem (so goes the joke), but if you owe the bank $10,000,000 it's the bank's problem.

And if you ad a few more zeros it becomes the government's problem.

And make no mistake, this bailout was necessary, given the current circumstances.

And yet one wonders, need it have been?

Or, could it be, that the AIG bailout is yet another example of the GOP's favorite crisis management technique, management by crisis. I.e: ignore a problem until it reaches catastrophic levels, then scramble like mad to find enough duct tape to keep the thing from falling apart?

And, before I get into a round of Bush-bashing, let me make clear, I don't think this problem is Bush's per se, and I don't think Democrats are immune from procrastination, but the GOP's governing philosophy (if it can be called such) seems to lend itself to such disasters.

Best enunciated by St. Ronald Reagan: "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."

And, since government is the problem, why not staff it with incompetent, corrupt cronies? (Katrina)

Why not use it to enrich your friends? (Iraq)

Why not ignore your rival's warnings about the world's dangers? (9/11)

Why not deregulate and let the free market's invisible hand rule and let the chips fall where they may?

But of course, when push comes to shove Republicans only want the chips to fall where they may when they fall on someone else.

I'd post more examples of the results of the GOP's "government is the problem" philosophy, but my head hurts.

[x-posted at Daily Kos]

Hope she likes gitmo

One day after admitting the obvious point that neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin would be fit ti fill her shoes as head of a major corporation, the McCain campaign has "disappeared" Carly Fiorina.

A more generous person would say she'll be missed.

A Bush Doctrine Palin Knows

She may be clueless about Bush's radical views on proactive war, but McCain's choice for second most powerful person in the world has clearly absorbed Bush's doctrine when dealing with investigations into its own malfeasance.

Not only is Palin refusing to co-operate in the investigation into troopergate that she had so recently promised to co-operate with, her agents are now blocking co-operation by her lackies.


And recall she was John (country before party (TM) ) McCain's first "presidential" decision.

Note to BO, these guys really aren't as bad as Bush.

They're worse.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dilbert, the economy, the election and you

For those of you not familiar, Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, the widely read comic strip about the absurdities of life inside and outside the cubicalized modern world.

He also blogs regularly.

Lately, in his largely fruitless attempts to make sense of the current political situation (I'm not implying blame her, I just recognize that finding a rational response to the absurd may well be a hopeless endeavor) Mr. Adams decided to finance a survey of economists. His goal: to see which presidential candidate's economic plans make the most sense (at least to economists).

Says Adams, “I found myself wishing someone would give voters useful and unbiased information about which candidate has the best plans for the economy. Then I realized that I am someone, which is both inconvenient and expensive.”

At considerable personal expense, Adams commissioned a survey of over 500 economists, drawn from a subset of the members of the American Economic Association, a non-political group, some of whose members had agreed in advance to be surveyed on economic questions.

Obama supporters will be pleased to find that their candidate gets the nod, though McCainiacs will protest that the results are skewed because, as it happens, most economists are Democrats.

Most important (if this can be called important) is that those all important independents also generally favor Obama's economics.

As to what this all means, Mr. Adams:

“If an economist uses a complicated model to predict just about anything, you can ignore it. By analogy, a doctor can’t tell you the exact date of your death in 50 years. But if a doctor tells you to eat less and exercise more, that’s good advice even if you later get hit by a bus. Along those same lines, economists can give useful general advice on the economy, even if you know there will be surprises. Still, be skeptical.”

Detailed survey data here.

CNN article here.

Today's McCain Lie

Another day, another lie.

In case you hadn't heard Senator John McCain, acknowledged computer illiterate, now claims to have invented the ubiquitous Blackberry PDA!

At a gathering in Washington today, McCain domestic policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin was asked about his candidate's grasp of high-tech matters. Holtz-Eakin held up his BlackBerry and, in a nod toward McCain's onetime tenure as head of the Senate Commerce Committee, said, "He did this."

And unlike Al Gore who a) never claimed that he invented the internet, and b) was none the less an early supporter, McCain's claim is just an out and out fabrication.

Ah yes, the narrative takes hold.

(BTW, for those playing along at home, the DNC has created a helpful wiki page to track the McCain/Palin lying bastards Express)

Monday, September 15, 2008

John McCain: Unserious or Delusional?

As a recovering sufferer of Palin addiction, I'd like to expand (a little bit) on the thoughts of my previous post.

In truth Sarah Palin is only symptomatic of the problems I have with the McCain candidacy.

Though a longtime liberal, I once admired John McCain's apparent honor and integrity, though never someone I'd vote for, certainly he seemed someone I could work with. But for reasons best known to himself he has decided to abandon the persona grown through years of public service and succumbed to the blandishments of the worst elements of the GOP attack machine.

By choosing Governor Palin as his Veep John McCain has demonstrated that he is either unserious about the job of being president, or, he is delusional.

A serious John McCain would have recognized that as a 72 year old man with a history of melanoma, his VP would need to be someone who, in cold-blooded fact, needs to be someone who is as ready to assume the presidency as anyone can be on "day 1".

Sarah Palin is a virtual antithesis of such a person.

The other possibility is that John McCain is delusional: he simply doesn't believe he's going to die.

Either way, he's unfit to serve and so, as I said, Sarah Palin is only a symptom, John McCain is the disease.

Happy Monday

Just a quick thought on McCain/Palin.

While I continue to astounded/offended by the nomination of someone so obviously unqualified to be Veep, little less, and God forbid POTUS, still I think it's important to keep in mind that Palin is merely a symptom of what's wrong with McCain's candidacy.

McCain is the underlying disease.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Energy expert Palin doesn't know how much energy her state produces

Sarah Palin's biggest claim to national security experience is her supposed knowledge of the energy industry.

I guess it would be problematic then if she, for example, couldn't get her figures straight on, say Alaskan oil production, wouldn't it?

In today's published report of Sarah Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson she is quoted as saying this:

Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that's with the energy independence that I've been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States.

Golly 20% of US domestic energy!? That's sure a lot.

It's also a lie.

According to US government statistics Alaska produces (in 2005) 3.5% of total US domestic energy production.

Alaska does produce nearly 20% of US domestic oil supply (actually it was 18.5% in 2006).

Oh, you say, so she just got them mixed up?

Perhaps, but strangely enough (or not) John McCain made the exact same mistake in his most recent interview:

She knows more about energy than probably anybody else in the Unites States. She is governor of a state [pause] that 20 percent of America's energy supply comes from there.

Now I realize that people's eyes glaze over regarding statistics, but still, the McPalin campaign is using her energy "expertise" as the main facet of her security resume.

That she doesn't know what her state produces, or (more likely to my mind, and consistent with the McPalin MO to date) is simply lying about it, is something that we should (helpfully) point out to anyone and every one we can.

One more talking point in the growing "McPalin is lying to you" narrative.

[x-posted at Daily Kos]

Mayberry was never like this

The common wisdom is that the Obama campaign should be focusing on issues and not letting the McPalin campaign distract them with sideshows like the great porcine lipstick controversy.

I agree.

However since your humble blogger doesn't work for Campaign Obama I feel free to reveal the latest bit of nastiness from the GOP's goddess.

The USA Today headline says it all:

"Palin's town used to bill victims for rape kits"

But the Anchorage Daily News (which I highly recommend for all things Palinesque) has the more complete story:

Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill -- signed into law by Knowles -- that banned the practice statewide.

"There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla," Knowles said

A May 23, 2000, article in Wasilla's newspaper, The Frontiersman, noted that Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies regularly pay for such exams, which cost between $300 and $1,200 apiece.

"(But) the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests," the newspaper reported.

Presumably they were trying to encourage competition between rape kit companies by encouraging rape victims to shop around.

As the O-man said, with Republicans, you're on your own.

And one rape, apparently, deserves another.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NEWSFLASH: McCain Seeks Pedophile Support

I assume that's his goal. Why else run an ad criticizing Barack Obama for supporting legislation designed to warn children away from such predators?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sarah Palin and Petty Larceny

According to the Washington Post, McCain's choice to become a single 72 year old heartbeat from the presidency billed the state of Alaska for days she spent at home:

ANCHORAGE, Sept. 8 -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.

She also billed for various expenses for the first dude as well as her kids.

And though the expense claims may or may not be technically legal, this is an excellent example of the petty larceny typical of politics as usual.

I hope my fellow citizens will not give her an opportunity to commit greater thefts on a vastly grander scale.

That would indeed be more of the same.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Newsflash: Republican Commits Truth

We know it's what a lot of GOPers think, it's just nice to hear them come right out and say it:

Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term "uppity" to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Thursday.

Westmoreland was discussing vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech with reporters outside the House chamber and was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.

"Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity," Westmoreland said.

Asked to clarify that he used the word “uppity,” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”

Wow, refreshing honesty from a Republican, I never thought I'd see the day. Though such honesty may not win Ms. Westmoreland a lot of admirers.

[H/t Andrew Sullivan]

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

No mere trophy Veep

If you, like me, are having trouble conceiving why Sarah Palin represents a potentially formidable obstacle (barring any truly ghastly skeletons in her as yet unexplored closets) I recommend Lance Mannion's always entertaing analysis here and here.

She's there to be average in order to appeal to "average" Americans.

I wonder whether average Americans understand that what we need as a leader is far beyond average.

I hope so.