January 23, 2008 archive

Four at Four

Well I really tried to keep the start of Great Depression II out of Four at Four, but…

  1. George Soros writing in the Financial Times states this is The worst market crisis in 60 years.

    Globalisation allowed the US to suck up the savings of the rest of the world and consume more than it produced. The US current account deficit reached 6.2 per cent of gross national product in 2006. The financial markets encouraged consumers to borrow by introducing ever more sophisticated instruments and more generous terms. The authorities aided and abetted the process by intervening whenever the global financial system was at risk. Since 1980, regulations have been progressively relaxed until they have practically disappeared.

    The super-boom got out of hand when the new products became so complicated that the authorities could no longer calculate the risks and started relying on the risk management methods of the banks themselves. Similarly, the rating agencies relied on the information provided by the originators of synthetic products. It was a shocking abdication of responsibility

    Although a recession in the developed world is now more or less inevitable, China, India and some of the oil-producing countries are in a very strong countertrend. So, the current financial crisis is less likely to cause a global recession than a radical realignment of the global economy, with a relative decline of the US and the rise of China and other countries in the developing world.

    The danger is that the resulting political tensions, including US protectionism, may disrupt the global economy and plunge the world into recession or worse.

    Worse could be depression or war… nuclear war.

  2. The New York TimesWorries That the Good Times Were Mostly a Mirage.

    The recent financial turmoil has many causes, but they are tied to a basic fear that some of the economic successes of the last generation may yet turn out to be a mirage. That helps explain why problems in the American subprime mortgage market could have spread so quickly through the world’s financial system. On Tuesday, Mr. Bernanke, who is now the Fed chairman, presided over the steepest one-day interest rate cut in the central bank’s history.

    The great moderation now seems to have depended – in part – on a huge speculative bubble, first in stocks and then real estate, that hid the economy’s rough edges. Everyone from first-time home buyers to Wall Street chief executives made bets they did not fully understand, and then spent money as if those bets couldn’t go bad. For the past 16 years, American consumers have increased their overall spending every single quarter, which is almost twice as long as any previous streak.

    So if the past 16 years were a mirage, then Clintonomics were a lie too… Right Hillary?

  3. And what will our glorious, clueless leaders in Washington do? Well the Washington Post reports Bush and lawmakers are close to deal on stimulus package. “Officials said they were close to the framework of a roughly $145 billion plan. About two-thirds of the money would go for tax breaks for individuals, plus extended unemployment and food stamp benefits, while the other third would be for business tax breaks. Individuals would get rebates of as much as $800, and married couples as much as $1,600… After a year of antagonism over issues including the Iraq war and children’s health care, the collaboration between Bush and the two Democratic leaders was intended to signal to a nervous country that Washington can put aside partisan bickering to bolster the economy.”

    We need investment in America, not more damned tax cuts. In my opinion, this is close to the worst possible thing they could do.

Finally for a change of pace, an interesting story about an ancient skull is below the fold…

Down the Rabbit Hole: HIV, Guantanamo, “Dirty Bombers” as U.S. Becomes Torture State

“Whither I fly is Hell…”

Candace Gorman is reporting that her client, Guantanamo prisoner Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi, contracted AIDS at Guantanamo’s Camp Delta. He believes he was infected during a “routine blood test.”

Last October I wrote about Mr. al-Ghizzawi’s dire medical state, and the Amnesty International campaign to save him. At that time, all we knew is that he was seriously ill with hepatitis B and tuberculosis. While Guantanamo authorities deny it, he claims he is not receiving adequate medical care. Eyewitness accounts from the U.S. prison confirm his charges.

His attorney wrote the following at The Guantanamo Blog last Sunday:

What Loretta Sanchez said about impeachment

As part of my campaign duties, I attended a public meeting last weekend where (the fairly liberal but not as liberal as her sister Rep. Linda) Rep. Loretta Sanchez spoke and answered questions.  One question was about post-election impeachment of Bush and Cheney, which the questioner suggested ought to be the price of a willingness to support Hillary if it came to that.  I want to recount, from faulty memory and without much commentary, at least up front, what she said.  Then I’ll give my reactions.

The Growing Stench: Surging through to 2008

The neo-Bushit continues.

As Recruiting Number Dwindle, Podhoretz Bangs His Drum

And even the Pentagon has been saying that the Surge failed, and the relative “quiet” right now had nothing to do with it:

From the Pentagon: The Surge didn’t work.

That’s one reason you keep hearing them talk about their legacy, while others try desperately to spin it — they are attempting to pre-fabricate a success out of the worst Presidency in history, and to ideally obscure the complicit role played by the Congressional Republicans and their associated pundits.

The Democrats aren’t playing smart, either, and by pushing their luck that the public will hate the Republicans more as election time approaches, they endanger themselves and the nation further by failing to act ~now~, before the summer campaign season and before BushCo can initiate (directly or indirectly) a nuclear conflict in Iran.

And things need not be this way.

Open Letter To Nancy Pelosi: IMPEACH!

Cross-posted from DailyKos

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

We have asked, implored, pleaded, written, called and protested for the Impeachment of Vice President Richard Cheney and President George W. Bush for more than four years.  When you took office as the first woman Speaker of the House, you gave us women, and many men as well, hope that finally justice would be served to those whom have lied to us, taken our country to war under false pretenses, stolen our credibility and destroyed our national security.  Oh, that’s not to mention the trillions upon trillions of dollars of tax payers money to pay for a war based and CONTINUED on lies.  LIES.


Talkin’ Toxic Trash: Hillary, Jackson Stephens & WTI

It only seems fair that if Hillary wants to dig through Obama’s trash that her early years should come under scrutiny as well.

It’s well know that she was involved with WalMart.  How many people know about the Clinton connections to another Arkansas corporatist that is far dirtier than WalMart?

Let’s take a look at Waste Technologies Incorporated (WTI), Jackson Stephens and Hillary/Bill Clinton.

Here we go AGAIN….parts 1 and 2

Part one:

House Democrats will postpone votes on criminal contempt citations against White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, while congressional leaders work with President Bush on a bipartisan stimulus package to fend off an economic downturn, according to party leaders and leadership aides.

Senior Democrats have decided that holding a controversial vote on the contempt citations, which have already been approved by the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, would “step on their message” of bipartisan unity in the midst of the stimulus package talks.


“When we have the votes, we’ll go ahead with this. Right now, the votes are just not there,” said one top House Democratic insider, speaking on the condition of anonymity.


Pony Party: Top 10 Buzzwords 2007

Top 10 Buzzwords according to TIME

a la Letterman, starting with #10

10. Freegan

A combination of the words “free” and “vegan,” the term describes an anti-consumer who shuns mainstream materialism and only makes purchases as a last resort. The most sensational and often discussed practice of freeganism involves Dumpster-diving for food, clothing or other essentials, which freegans refer to as “waste reclamation.”

9. Vajayjay

Slang for “vagina.”  The term, popularized in 2006 by Grey’s Anatomy and more recently by Oprah Winfrey, is fairly indicative of where we are linguistically as a nation.

8. Bacn

Similar to Internet spam, this term covers news alerts and other email that individuals signed up to receive but may never get around to actually reading. Much like the pork product it is named after, bacn is something we desire even though it clogs our (electronic) arteries. And like many techy terms, it is willfully misspelled.

7. Locavore

The New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year, this term refers to the trend of eating fresh, locally grown ingredients.

6. Grass Station

As Webster New World Dictionary’s Word of the Year, the term does not describe an outpost for smoking marijuana, but rather a theoretical alternative to today’s fossil fuel-based gas station.

5. Colbert Bump

Similar to the Oprah effect on book sales, the boost in popularity ratings a political candidate gets after appearing on The Colbert Report.

4. Popcorn Lung

A rare, life-threatening lung disease that can be caused by inhaling diacetyl, a chemical used in butter flavoring. It’s normally not a problem if a) you don’t work in a microwave-popcorn factory or b)you’re not Colorado resident Wayne Watson, who ate approximately two bags of microwave popcorn a day for 10 years and became the first-known consumer to develop the disease.

3. Previvor

A person who does not have cancer, but has precancerous cells or a genetic mutation known to increase the risk of developing it: a pre-survivor.

2. Surge

President Bush’s call for additional troops, which was announced in January, incited more heated discourse this year than almost any other issue save immigration.

and the #1 Buzzword of 2007…

Bleeding Heart

I don’t write diaries because I’d rather counter punch than initiate.  Also, I fear my true self will be exposed, and it ain’t pretty.  I am a proud bleeding heart liberal, as are most of the people at this site, but I’m also a reluctant militant.  Peaceful means just don’t work in America, never have.

Recently, around MLK Day, King was praised for his great successes, and I disagreed.  Kids in the slums are worse off today than they were 40 years ago.  Their schools are still underfunded and poorly staffed, their healthcare is Bushian–the ER at the local hospital.  They stand a better chance of being incarcerated, of being poorly represented in court.  I really wish all Americans were forced to watch the Wire on HBO–it tells it exactly the way I saw it in NYC–and it’s ugly.  The only time ghettos saw an effort by government was in the 1960s–riots released federal hush money.

Politics looks better today because of Obama–and he’s a powerful symbol of Black advancement in America–except, I should add, that the advancement is only for super African Americans–you know, the Harvard educated guy.  Those old enough can be reminded of Sidney Poitier coming to dinner.  In the neighborhoods I worked in, successful men were drug dealers and pimps–and the kids wanted to be like Mike–the sports fantasy out of poverty.  On second thought, there were very few men around Bed/Stuy, many were “away”–euphemism for in jail.

Unions seem less discriminatory lately–many teacher unions are lead by people not white.  Maybe that’s because unions have been so weakened that it doesn’t matter anymore. Corporations have learned how to defend themselves–with governmental assistance–and very few strikes seem to take place, even less succeed.  MLK would have been mighty surprised by this turn of events because he was killed before St Ronnie’s paradigm of trickle down bullshit.

Before ending this rant, I want to include a counter punch I wrote today about party politics and healthcare, so here’s a quote from melvynny–my Dkos moniker–

Some of the money donated to the Dem party should be used to set up health insurance consultation offices and phone bank/web sites.  As Parade states, everyone with insurance eventually gets a claim rejected. If we had experts fighting for those claims we would accomplish 2 great things.  Everyone would be grateful to the Dem Party, and more people would get their claims processed correctly and promptly.

My  idea is to emulate Hamas’ tactic of giving social service and getting political allegiance in return.

Edwards: Better, But Disappointing

John Edwards’ remark Monday night about having opened his campaign in the Lower 9th and saying he thought Americans were surprised at how much devastation still remains in New Orleans came just in time. Because after having heard nothing on the topic from him for several weeks, I’d been wondering if he’d fallen silent on the issue. However, he needs not only to say more, but also to assume leadership on New Orleans and Katrina. Unfortunately, Edwards’ website’s issues page just like Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s, makes no mention of New Orleans or Katrina above the fold. So even Edwards is falling very short of being the sort of candidate New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Region need.

No Saints in a Foxhole

My soldier is home now, on the heels of a gunnery conference that begins today at Fort Rucker.  I really haven’t a clue what a gunnery conference is and I don’t feel much like caring today.  The bullshit in my life couldn’t have been made any more obvious than it became last night.  We were together last night and we were all together as well in the summer of 2001 in South Korea.

I lost my first grandmother in February of 2001.  That spring my mother’s sisters came to my home and gave me an envelope, in it was a modest sum that my grandmother had left to me.  My husband was in the middle of serving a year tour in Korea.  It was a tough year because our son was born disabled and wasn’t even a year old when he left so I took my gift from my grandmother and hauled the kids down for passport photos and we flew to Korea for the summer.

It was a wonderful summer too.  The housing on the post that my husband was sent to was all condemned so all the soldiers and families lived in the Ville as they call it with the citizens of South Korea.  We all ate Korean cuisine and our teenagers all got on a bus together and went to Lotte World and my husband took me to the world pottery expo there because I am a potter and potters love nothing more than looking at and buying other people’s pots.  I bought a whole set of dishes from a Korean potter.  They are beautiful.

I got to know my husband’s best friend a lot better that summer.  He does command sponsored tours to Korea as often as possible because he is there for two years plus at a time and his family goes with him.  His wife is Korean and they have two sons who have spent as much time with their Korean grandparents as they have with their American grandparents.

I also met Mel and Amanda that summer who lived a block from us and they had two sons then too but have three now.  Amanda was a fitness instructor.  Mel had been a Ranger before becoming an Apache pilot.  He is one of the few that in 1993 went into Mogadishu on a mission that didn’t go so well and survived.  In Korea he didn’t seem to be that comfortable being a soldier anymore and he was getting out.  I was sure that he had long ago moved on in life and was sitting on some beach some place sipping umbrella drinks until he showed up last night.  When a U.S. soldier “gets out” he is still in the reserves for awhile and Mel got to go to Iraq as a reservist and fly the hand me down airframes that the reserves get and got paid the no bonuses pay that the reservists get paid and that won’t happen to him again.  The guy who I met that summer is gone now.  The guy who survived Mogadishu and felt inspired to do something finer and more life affirming with his life than soldier has left us and in his place sits a grim faced father discussing last night with my husband and my husband’s best friend where the best bonuses are.  He’s signing up for active duty again so at least his wife can get decent wages for his combat time and he doesn’t have to fly crap in a war.

Learn How to Ski

1. Wear tight fitting jeans and a free Jacket from Marlboro Country.

2. Stand in middle of parking lot and take pictures of the mountains.

3. Get pissy with the Ticket Agent for not honoring your photocopied coupon.

4. Walk into Rental Shop and say every pair of boots hurts your feet.

5. Drag rental skis and poles across parking lot.

6. Lessons are for wimps…head immediately for the double black diamond slopes.

7. Leave all the buckles on your boots nice and loose.

8. Bend over at the hip, stick your poles through your arm pits, lean back and ask for a push from another skier.

9. If you see a tree or boulder aim for it, gravity is tricky, anything you aim for you’ll probably miss.

10. Big Air, you’ll probably catch some big air on the way down so now is a good time to try all of those tricks you’ve seen on the X Games.

11. Ignore all Ski Patrol signs, they are just the man tryin’ to keep you down.

12. Lift Line Etiquette – most people who have been standing in line for 20 minutes just love having you and your friends cut ahead of them by scooting under the rope.

13. Never look up the hill when traversing across a slope, it’s more fun to live dangerously.

14. Lodge Etiquette – take over two or three tables by covering them with crumpled napkins and spraying ketchup (preferably Heinz) all over.

15. At the end of the day it is considered good form to cry and throw your skis at the rental person.

16. On your way home be sure to stop at the local gas station and brag about the things you did.


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