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.
Seventy six American Nobel Prize winners endorsed Barack Obama in a strongly worded letter rebuking the Bush Administration's contempt for science.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
- "Everything that comes out of their mouths is a lie." Check.
- "Want total control over the media." Check.
- "Compulsory shows of support by the masses for the beloved Party." Check.
- "Paranoid purges of suspected enemies, even when those 'enemies' are actually allies." Check.
- "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.
Obama is currently crushing McCain 9,048 electoral votes to 324. The only indubitably red nation in the world is Iraq. Huh?
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.
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.
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.
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.