Friday, October 31, 2008

Headlines - Friday

Happy Halloween!
Halloween horror

Nobel Prize Edition:
The long-feared capitulation of American consumers has arrived. According to Thursday's G.D.P. report, real consumer spending fell at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the third quarter; real spending on durable goods (stuff like cars and TVs) fell at an annual rate of 14 percent.

To appreciate the significance of these numbers, you need to know that American consumers almost never cut spending. Consumer demand kept rising right through the 2001 recession; the last time it fell even for a single quarter was in 1991, and there hasn't been a decline this steep since 1980, when the economy was suffering from a severe recession combined with double-digit inflation.
Looks like The Onion has some competition - h/t Biggi & Cheryl:

Seventy six American Nobel Prize winners endorsed Barack Obama in a strongly worded letter rebuking the Bush Administration's contempt for science.

h/t Dick
Colorado is one of several states facing a controversial ballot measure this fall that could have far-reaching impacts on abortion law. Amendment 48 would define "personhood" as beginning at the moment of conception, giving fertilized human eggs the same constitutional rights as a person.
What about all the frozen embryos thrown in the trash after In Vitro fertilization? Aren't their constitutional rights being violated?   
Heckuva job spreading the wealth, Hank

Makes you *wish* it was socialism, but it's turning into outright kleptocracy:

Banks to Continue Paying Dividends
Bailout Money Is for Lending, Critics Say

U.S. banks getting more than $163 billion from the Treasury Department for new lending are on pace to pay more than half of that sum to their shareholders, with government permission, over the next three years.

The government said it was giving banks more money so they could make more loans. Dollars paid to shareholders don't serve that purpose, but Treasury officials say that suspending quarterly dividend payments would have deterred banks from participating in the voluntary program.

As with Iraq reconstruction and Katrina, laissez-faire ideology trumps reality. With Bremer and Brown, the principals involved had little experience in handling the emergency they faced or the foresight to marshall government power to benefit the many. Paulson has been presented as this awesome and brilliant financier, whereas what he's demonstrating is total incompetence in handling this crisis, mixed with a singular ability to consider only the needs of his banking brethren.

In the British version of the bailout plan, the government put up taxpayer funds in return for receiving warrants (future shares in banks), suspended corporate dividends, and a requirement that the bailout money be paid out in loans. In other words, the goal was to help get the banks on their feet AND help the general economy moving again.

In the U.S. Treasury plan, the first version ("Let's buy all their toxic assets") was quickly discarded as unfathomably stupid. Plan B was to become part-owners in the banks ("Socialism!"), but apparently with no other safeguards to make sure the money isn't being used for anything other than doing the public good. So the banks are using it to purchase other banks, hoarding it to pad their balance sheets, giving out executive bonuses, and paying dividends to their own shareholders.

Anything, in other words, but what the bailout is supposed to achieve. The whole thing is turning into a direct siphoning of taxpayer funds into the pockets of bankers and corporate shareholders.

Ideological blindness mixed with incompetence got us Iraq and Katrina. We shouldn't be surprised if the bailout plan turns out the same way.

If you have a racist friend, now is the time for that friendship to end:
I am not at all disturbed by Barack Obama's alleged relationship with Rashidi Khalidi, nor am I disturbed by Khalidi himself.
I am, however, terribly disturbed by the McCain campaign's systematic assault on this man who not only has played no voluntary role in this campaign, but also owes what little prominence he does have at least in part to John McCain, who generously funded his organization in the 1990s.

Obviously, the reason this man is being targeted for his name and nothing more. I was watching a Palin rally yesterday in which she launched an attack on Khalidi, in the process so badly mangling his name that it was hardly recognizable, though it was clearly foreign-sounding.

Before she had finished mispronouncing it, however, the crowd was already booing. They had no idea who this man was. All they knew is that they didn't like the way his name sounded.

That's not the America we want to live in. That's McCarthyism. That's what McCain and Palin now represent, and on Tuesday, we bid them farewell.

It will be a good riddance.

Obama has not even won the election, yet here is a 67 page, 192 footnote pdf file titled "An Examination of Obama's Use of Hidden Hypnosis Techniques in His Speeches." Deep in the spittle, you can find insights such as the following:

Worse yet, his hypnosis probably has at least some effect on millions. Jews voting for the candidate endorsed by Iran, Hamas, Farakhan, and Khalidi should be a wake up signal that something is not Kosher.

The wingnuts may have actually stumbled onto something. While Obama clearly isn't doing hypnosis, his speeches and his 30 minute infomercial do something else entirely... they present a vision of America as a better nation, one where government works for the people rather than against them, where people don't have to struggle with health care costs and get a helping hand to build their businesses rather than a foot in the face, where folks are nice to each other again instead of all of this nastiness, etc. It's a compelling vision for people who are just sick and tired of the divisiveness, hatreds, selfishness, and petty small-mindedness that have characterized the Rethugs for the past eight years. And it's no wonder that a wingnut might confuse actually having a vision of the future with hypnosis, because the only vision of the future that wingnuts have is them on top, grinding their boot into the face of America forever. And they just can't seem to understand why the majority of Americans don't agree with their vision, so it must be hypnosis, right? Right?


"John McCain's ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven our economy toward a cliff, and now he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas. Obama, listing the facts like we want him to Link 



Most. Incompetent. GOP. Spokeman. Ever.


59% of the 16 million early votes have been cast for Obama:
In the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll, 59 percent of those who said they had already voted backed Obama, and 40 percent indicated that they supported John McCain. So far, the numbers are a near-mirror image of the past two elections.
The Washington Post Early Voters Breaking Records
$14.83 billion profit in one quarter.


Campaigning in Ohio yesterday, McCain said, "When I'm president, I'm not going to let Exxon reap record profits."

Except he's forgotten about his multi-billion-dollar corporate tax cut, which would give $4 billion in tax breaks to the five biggest oil companies — including more than $1.2 billion to ExxonMobil alone:





ABC News

U.S. Expects Bin Laden Message Near Election
As we race toward Election Day, sources say a number of intelligence analysts have concluded it is critical for al Qaeda's top leader to be seen or heard, if only for public relations purposes. Those analysts believe that if bin Laden is not heard from, he runs the risk of being considered irrelevant or impotent. The U.S. intelligence community has some indication that there is some confusion among Islamic radicals about their leadership.

According to sources, the full weight of the intelligence electronic eavesdropping and human sourcing is right now desperately looking for any hint of a bin Laden statement. So far there is only rumor, no hard evidence a message is coming, officials said.

Well, you know damn good and well that McCain is "desperately looking for any hint of a bin Laden statement". It may be the only 'Hail Mary' that will help him. Except that endorsement he got from al Qaeda was pretty sweet. 

Note to McCain: Call Bush. He can get his old family friend Osama to cough something up for you. The last time he did that was for himself, and it worked.

In 2004, bin Laden released a message in the days just before the election. Though some believe that the message affected the outcome in favor of President Bush, exit poll data do not support that notion. Among voters who called the tape "very important" in their vote, Kerry won, 53-47 percent. Among those who called it either very or somewhat important, the vote was 50-50. It was among those who called it unimportant that Bush won, by 56-43 percent.

It helped Bush and hurt Kerry. I'm not sure it would have the same effect on McCain and Obama this time. I hope we don't have to find out.



Garrison Keillor - The Angry Old Man of the Desert and Whoopee the Ice Queen


John McCain is an asshat. 

Reporter: Senator McCain's day began with a round of interviews on some of Miami's popular Spanish-language radio stations. One of the hosts, Enrique Santos, told McCain he was planning to cast his ballot the next day and remained undecided.

McCain: We have surveillance cameras, and we'll know how you vote, okay? [laughter] So, you, uh, I would suggest, if you vote the wrong way, you hire someone to start your car tomorrow morning. [laughter]

Reporter: That was a joke.

Of course it was. Because spying on American citizens and terrorism are freaking hilarious. Just like bombing Iran, murdering Jon Stewart, calling Hillary Clinton a bitch, domestic violence, and rape are freaking hilarious.

Quite an awesome sense of humor that guy's got.

Oh look. More bad behavior rewarded. This time it's the banks that send out pre-approved credit cards to everyone on the planet, and those that take advantage of them but can't pay them back....
Big banks have formed an unusual alliance with consumer advocates to urge the government to allow huge portions of credit card debt to be forgiven, a turnabout from recent years when the banking industry lobbied strenuously to make it harder for consumers to erase their credit card debts in bankruptcy.

The new pilot program — which the banks hope will become permanent — could involve as many as 50,000 people struggling with credit card debt. On an individual basis, the amount of debt to be forgiven would rise according to the severity of the borrower's financial situation, up to a maximum of 40 percent.
More job losses: AmEx has announced 7,000 jobs and Motorola 3,000.
Look at the smile on that child's face as he's held by a man who just might be our next president -- a man who looks like him. Look at the man, presumably the child's father, getting ready to take a photograph that both he and his son will treasure forever. Look at Barack Obama's face as he holds this child, fully aware of what he has come to mean to not just this child, not just this father, not just to black Americans, but to all of us who think that America has a responsibility to be better than the hate and fearmongering and narrow-mindedness and racism of the Republican party in this millennium.

I love this photo. I love this photo because in capturing three American black males at a critical point in our history, it also depicts a universality that Republicans want us to forget. I look at this photograph and I think of
another photo of a boy with a president; a photo capturing a moment that inspired that boy to a career in public service. And then I look at this child's beautiful, happy face and I wonder if someday we will see him too stand on the steps of a historic hall and announce his own candidacy for the presidency.
While I suppose it's important to hear from all sides, I can't help but be extremely disappointed that Obama says his cabinet will be bi-partisan. It's the Republicans that have destroyed this country, and it's been the Republicans that have been completely unwilling to work with the Democrats. I for one don't want anything to do with them. But that's just me.
According to the AP's Beth Fouhy, Sarah Palin's attempt at an energy policy speech in front of workers at a solar energy plant in Toledo, Ohio Wednesday didn't go over too well. Gee. Maybe she shouldn't have used her standard, "Drill, baby drill" routine. 
Obama pulls in crowds of up to 100,000 on a regular basis. McCain had a rally in Ohio yesterday. I wonder how he's measuring up?
As reported by MSNBC, he had to bus in 4,000 school kids from the surrounding area to reach 6,000. 
McCain seems to feel safe with kids who are too young to vote. Maybe he feels that seeing his former-POW self hurl insults like "socialist" at his political opponent while the crazy adults filling in the cracks in the audience scream "communist!" "terrorist!" and other choice epithets will ensure the kiddies are brainwashed enough to vote Republicon when they come of age. It hardly matters to McCain anyway: by the time these children are all grown up and voting straight Democratic tickets in hopes of purging the trauma from their minds, he'll be gone. 
Let us take note of the similarities between McCain's actions and the good old Soviet Communist Party:

  1. "Everything that comes out of their mouths is a lie." Check.
  2. "Want total control over the media." Check.
  3. "Compulsory shows of support by the masses for the beloved Party." Check.
  4. "Paranoid purges of suspected enemies, even when those 'enemies' are actually allies." Check.
  5. "Failed ideology forces them to manufacture and attack enemies to keep the people distracted from harsh reality." Oh, check.

Hmm. It appears the old Soviet Communists and the McCain campaign have much more in common than just the color red. Remember your Shakespeare, my darlings: the next time McCain blithers on about Obama's communist tendencies, we'd be right in thinking Grampa McCrankypants doth protest too much.
Here's the Global Electoral College Map, showing how the world would vote if it could.


Obama is currently crushing McCain 9,048 electoral votes to 324. The only indubitably red nation in the world is Iraq. Huh?
Baby on the tracks - Go read Fred Clark.
Plumber Joe's humiliating no show
Turns out that McCain got so flustered by Joe's no show that he flubbed an attack line on Obama, and instead of trying to correct himself, he simply said - in an irritated voice - "never mind."

These are the wheels coming off, my friends!


Introducing John McCain (allegedly tortured in Vietnam but voted no on the torture ban in this country) at an Ohio event yesterday, Sen. Lindsey ("I bought five rugs for five bucks") Graham warmed up the crowd with a few jokes, first saying McCain had obtained "the motherload" in marrying a beautiful woman who owned a beer company. He then criticized Sen. Barack Obama's half-hour campaign ad last night, comparing it to torture:

Anybody see the infomercial last night? Thank god for cable! If we had played that at a prison camp it'd have violated the Geneva Convention.

Another edition of: why can't these people just go away?
Chalabi rears his ugly head again - 
Bob Kerrey: "Obama understands that to succeed, he must make peace with John McCain just as he has done with Hillary Clinton. When this historic election concludes, I expect the two to sit down, without precondition, and negotiate an agenda of reform."

I'm not opposed to any such discussion that begins (and ends) with Obama saying "Here's my offer: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would sell one of your 13 houses to put up personally." Students who have watched Kerrey perfect the the all-too-active art of concern trolling will not be surprised to learn, however, that the "reforms" Kerrey seems to have in mind involve Obama agreeing to implement Republican fiscal policies using feeble Republican talking points.
A friendly homecoming for Ted

Morons, all of them (except Gary & Leanne):

There was undisguised hostility toward the federal government and the FBI at the Stevens event, with people wearing T-shirts that said "F*#@ the feds, vote for Ted."

"Anyone who thinks you can get a fair trial in the heart of liberalism, Washington, D.C., is smoking dope. He was railroaded," said Mark Kelliher, a retired engineer.

Determined to screw up every last thing before he leaves the house he's been squatting in for 8 years....
The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

1 comment:

Leanne Buck said...

The Steven's thing is giving me flashbacks to the 2002 (?) Wayne County Sheriff's Race. Stevens wants to keep HIS seat in the Senate, will probably be re-elected, THEN if he's kicked out of the Senate, AK gets to replace him with another repuklikan. And it also wouldn't surprise me to watch Palin appoint herself to the seat. It's only going to get wackier, folks. Only in Alaska. Peace out.... GO OBAMA!! Leanne