Monday, November 24, 2008

Headlines - Monday

As the number of people filing claims for unemployment benefits hits a 16-year high, states are imposing higher taxes on employers and reducing benefits to replenish dwindling accounts.
General Motors plans to invest $1 billion in Brazil to avoid the kind of problems the U.S. automaker is facing in its home market. And the money's gonna come from the bailout:
Further evidence perhaps that the collapse of the economy was planned and encouraged 

CNBC.COM: "All US Financials Will be Nationalized in a Year: Manager"
Shareholders should take nothing away if it is nationalized, because the taxpayer will be "paying this for a long, long time," he added.
US officials flunk test of Amerian history, economics, civics

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.
You can take the same test they failed here.
Is reality sinking in?
And it's a bit disappointing that he's already starting to send out signals that he would be unable to keep his most basic actual campaign promises, like rolling back a tax cut for multimillionaires and getting rid of discriminatory homophobic rules in the military.
Greenwald talks about complaints progressives have about Obama.
Frankly I find it amusing that people are surprised about any of this. Obama never portrayed himself as anything other than what he is: a moderate technocrat. Despite the foolish and completely deceptive shill claims from McCain and the far right that Obama was the "most liberal" member of the Senate, he was, in fact, the 46th most liberal (out of 50 Democrats), down at the bottom of the barrel snuggled between his mentor Joe Lieberman and religionist nutcase Mark Pryor. He was never even close, in terms of supporting a progressive agenda, to Hillary Clinton.
Free market socialism
Citigroup received $300+ billion last night. They had to agree to "certain executive compensation restrictions" to get the cash. 
They shouldn't get one dime of compensation if we have to bail them out.

The bankers and their allies in the Republican party rammed through changes to the bankruptcy laws three years ago. The changes, in a nutshell, made a lot of people ineligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (in which you keep your house and all debts would be settled) and forced them into Chapter 13 (you lose your house and enter into a payment plan for your other debts).

The banks made it harder for people who fell on hard times to get back on their feet.

I am keeping that in mind while all of these banks tramp down to Washington for their bailouts. Between salaries and bonuses, those guys are taking home 8-9 figure pay packages each year. It makes it hard for me to feel for those guys as they plead why their banks and companies need tens of billions of dollars to stay afloat.

I am not so spiteful to advocate being economic kamikazes, to completely shatter the economy in order to bring down the bankers. But I see no reason why we cannot attach conditions to the bailouts and one of those should be a hard cap on the top of compensation for the upper management of the banks receiving government money. If those folks were worth more, they'd have done a better job.

If we cap their pay, even if they are permitted to receive $500,000 a year, and they wind up losing their huge Manhattan apartments because they can't pay the mortgage on their eight-figure pad, well, don't expect me to shed any tears for them.
On Press the Meat yesterday, Leiberman said he regretted some of his statements attacking Barack Obama during the campaign but declined to offer an apology.

"I do regret as I said to the caucus and afterward publicly, there were some things I said in the heat of the campaign that I wish I had said more clearly. Other things, frankly, I wish I hadn't said at all," said Lieberman. "That happens to all of us in the heat of it campaign but nonetheless, I regret it and I want to move forward."

Brokaw pressed Lieberman for an apology. "I heard word 'regret' but not the word 'apology.'"

"You can take from the word regret what you will," answered Lieberman.

Random fact: While Holy Joe has been in charge of Homeland Security, Katrina kids are the sickest ever:
The country is already going to hell in a handbasket - Our preznit-elect ain't goin' to church!
President-elect Barack Obama has yet to attend church services since winning the White House earlier this month, a departure from the example of his two immediate predecessors.

On the three Sundays since his election, Obama has instead used his free time to get in workouts at a Chicago gym.

Asked about the president-elect's decision to not attend church, a transition aide noted that the Obamas valued their faith experience in Chicago but were concerned about the impact their large retinue may have on other parishioners.

"Because they have a great deal of respect for places of worship, they do not want to draw unwelcome or inappropriate attention to a church not used to the attention their attendance would draw," said the aide.

Both President-elect George W. Bush and President-elect Bill Clinton managed to attend church in the weeks after they were elected.
Perhaps George Bush found time to go to church because he inherited a prosperous country from Bill Clinton that wasn't at war with at least two other countries - one of which God told him to attack.
Heifer International is one of the most wonderful ways of giving a Christmas gift I can think of. Just in case you were wondering….
Since 2005, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), who is currently locked in a tough run-off election battle against Democrat Jim Martin, has been in charge of the Republican Majority Fund. The PAC, established in the 1970s, was set up to help fund GOP candidates. However, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today, Chambliss has instead used it as a personal fund to ingratiate himself to lobbyists, reward his political contributors, and fund his golfing habit:

Under Chambliss, however, 68 percent of the Majority Fund's spending – about $1 million – has gone for travel, golf events, meals and administrative costs, reports to the Federal Election Commission show. Political contributions comprised just 32 percent of the committee's spending, or $472,500.

In 2007 and 2008, the Majority Fund's political donations accounted for 26 percent of its spending, the second-lowest among the 25 largest leadership groups. […]

[O]f the top 10 recipients of the Majority Fund's money since 2007, only one was a political organization.

Five were golf resorts.

Chambliss is an avid golfer. Despite having a bum knee that kept him out of military service in Vietnam, Chambliss ranked as the #2 golfer in the Senate and the 33rd best golfer in Washington, DC, according to a 2005 feature by Golf Digest. That same year, while his colleagues were in a closed-door session discussing pre-Iraq war intelligence, Chambliss took the day off to golf with Tiger Woods.

Therefore, it's perhaps not surprising that two months after taking over the Republican Majority Fund, "Chambliss put on a golf outing at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla. — the first of 20 at top courses and resorts: Pebble Beach in California; The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla.; The Greenbrier in West Virginia, among others. Chambliss' companions on these trips were, with few exceptions, registered lobbyists and their clients." In the past two years, Chambliss has also used these official funds to golf with lobbyists for defense contractors, AIG, and Fannie Mae.

In 2007, Chambliss even spent more than $7,000 of the Republican Majority Fund's money on "golf supplies." He must feel right at home with his colleagues in Congress and the Bush administration.


4,204 soldiers and 1.2 million Iraqis killed in Iraq.

US President George W. Bush believes the Iraq war was a success and is "very pleased" with what is happening there, he said in a pre-recorded interview broadcast on a Japanese television network Sunday.

Halliburton, Blackwater, and the oil and defense companies are pleased too. 



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