May 6, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. The Los Angeles Times reports Chinese firms are bargain hunting in U.S.

    Liu Keli… is investing $10 million in the Palmetto State, building a printing-plate factory that will open this fall and hire 120 workers. His main aim is to tap the large American market, but when his finance staff penciled out the costs, he was stunned to learn how they compared with those in China.

    Liu spent about $500,000 for seven acres in Spartanburg — less than one-fourth what it would cost to buy the same amount of land in Dongguan, a city in southeast China where he runs three plants. U.S. electricity rates are about 75% lower, and in South Carolina, Liu doesn’t have to put up with frequent blackouts.

    About the only major thing that’s more expensive in Spartanburg is labor. Liu is looking to offer $12 to $13 an hour there, versus about $2 an hour in Dongguan, not including room and board. But Liu expects to offset some of the higher labor costs with a payroll tax credit of $1,500 per employee from South Carolina.

    The jobs are low-paying and the state will not get tax revenue – instead that money will stay in China. In just under two decades, the United States has been successfully transformed into a third world nation – unable to respond to natural disasters, collapsing bridges and deteriorating infrastructure, no health insurance, and corrupt elections and public officials. More environmental laws will be rolled back next. It never used to be like this in the U.S.

    For years, investment between the U.S. and China flowed one way, with American firms spending billions in the Asian nation. But the Beijing government’s $5-billion stake in Morgan Stanley and $3-billion investment in the private equity firm Blackstone Group brought China’s overall investments in U.S. firms to $9.8 billion in 2007, up from $36 million the year before, according to Thomson Financial.

    By comparison, U.S. investment in China was $2.6 billion last year, down from $3 billion in 2006, said China’s Ministry of Commerce.

    China out-invested the U.S. last year by $7.2 billion. Or as Mei Xinyu, an economist at China’s Ministry of Commerce, reasoned of the depressed asset prices in a sluggish American economy: “They don’t want to miss this opportunity to bottom-fish in the U.S..” America – land of the bottom feeders.

Four at Four continues below the fold with DoJ v OSC, Guantánamo Briton, and why do they hate us?

Lie to me and tell me everything is all right

Lie to me and tell me everything is all right

Lie to me and tell me that you’ll stay here tonight

Tell me that you’ll never leave,

oh and I’ll just try to make believe

that everything, everything you’re telling me is true

Lie to me.

-Johnny Lang

The Lie That Launched the 21st Century

Today we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation’s promise through civility, courage, compassion and character.

-George W. Bush’s 2001 Inaugural Address


One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

-Carl Sagan

Bamboozled, Bamboozled, Bamboozled, Bam  Boo Zel Duh.  A strange and funny sounding word, almost innocent sounding actually. Kinda knocks the stink off of the word “lie”.

Come on Baby lie to me….

tell me everything is alright.


OR-Secretary of State: Meet Vicki Walker

We tend to pay less attention to down-ballot state races, as if their only real importance lies in the creation of strong political benches, a sort of stockpiling of talent for the future. Even so, just reading the names Katherine Harris and Kenneth Blackwell reveals that we do actually understand that Secretary of State is among the most important political jobs in the country. From the opposite end of the spectrum, Californians proved it, yet again, when Debra Bowen was elected, last year. Now, it’s Oregon’s turn.

A few years ago, it came to the attention of some Portland activists that Portland General Electric (or PGE- and not to be confused with California’s PG & E- Pacific Gas & Electric) had been charging rate-payers for its federal and state tax liabilities, even though it wasn’t actually paying the taxes. The Public Utilities Commission had given PGE a waiver. So, PGE was using false pretenses to over-bill its customers. In the amount of $150,000,000 a year! The total came to over $1,000,000,000! These activists thought it might be a good thing to stop this outrageous practice; so, they approached a prominent state legislator with the idea of passing a law that would forbid it, and that would require utilities to refund to ratepayers the money they were charged for taxes that the utilities did not pay- plus interest. The legislator didn’t want to do it. PGE is enormously wealthy and politically powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it had never suffered a legislative defeat! The activists approached a second legislator. A third. A fourth. A fifth. None had the political courage. The sixth legislator they approached was Vicki Walker, a state senator from a mostly rural Willamette Valley district that also includes Oregon’s second largest city, the university town of Eugene. Walker said she’d do it.

Oregon’s Democratic Governor, Ted Kulongoski, refused to take a stand on Walker’s effort. Even he lacked the guts to confront PGE. But Walker ushered the legislation through both the Senate and the House, and Kulongoski signed it into law. It was one of those extremely rare examples of a government standing up to a powerful special interest, on behalf of the people. And it was the first time PGE had ever been defeated in Oregon’s legislature! And Vicki Walker was singularly responsible for making it happen. And Oregon’s utilities tried to make her pay for it. Eugene’s popular mayor ran against her, in the next election. Eugene’s mayoral candidates need not declare party affiliation, so until this mayor challenged Walker, many of his constituents probably didn’t even know he was a Republican. So, he could run as a liberal Republican, a species with which Oregon actually has a long, and often happy, history. And needless to say, he was very well-funded. He was actually favored to win. And then they had their debate, and Walker was so much smarter, and so much better versed on the issues, that all the local media agreed she had soundly defeated him. And that turned the election, and led to her victory. Now, Oregon has the opportunity to bring her intelligence, integrity, and courage to state office.

Saving the World in Ten Easy Steps

1) eliminate fear

2) eliminate greed

3) come to senses

4) form planetary government body based on UN model, preserving all national and cultural identities. 4a) form oversight agency for planetary government 4b) form oversight agency to oversee oversight agency 4c) repeat

5) form Council of Strict But Fair Grandmas to cut through the BS of above agencies 5a) see 4a

6) reallocate all worldwide military resources to producing planetary rescue technologies and development of alternative energy

7) establish world resources council to review, reform and reinvent farming practices and technologies and allocation of food, water rights and technologies and allocation of water

8)employ all planetary citizens (billions) making less than two dollars a day to clean, polish and replant planet

8) crash course teaching program to teach people to be teachers

9) teach people to be doctors, engineers and research scientists

10) rest, knowing that world is saved

Bonus! 11) teach Barack to bowl

Fight For Your Right…. To Orgasm

I caught this little ditty over at the Broadsheet section at Salon.

An Ecuadorian politician recently set off a monsoon of machismo by reportedly attempting to write a woman’s right to sexual satisfaction into the state’s constitution. Maria Soledad Vela’s pro-pleasure argument was called “ridiculous” and an attempt to “decree orgasm by law” by male lawmakers. A local newspaper spoke with a man who actually likened the legislation to “life in prison.” (Surely, he’s a bunch of fun in bed.) But, all she’s asking for is required public health education that acknowledges women aren’t unfeeling breeding machines. (¡Qué horrible!) Soledad Vela says she isn’t demanding the right to an orgasm, but, as the BBC puts it, “merely the right to enjoy sex in a free, fair and more open society” — and if that means greater orgasms, which it probably does, then so be it.

In conservative Ecuador, that’s a dangerous political platform; and that’s why, even though I realize it’s only Monday, I’m nominating Maria Soledad Vela as Broadsheet’s woman of the week

My question: why don’t American politicians ever have the innovative ideas any more?

I double dog dare a leading politician here in the land of the free to propose that kind of amendment.

Meanwhile…. Joan Walsh gives an eye rolling summary of a soon to appear Michael Wolff piece in Vanity Fair. You can read it here.

Pony Party, Beauty and the Beak

Please follow the link to the Yahoo!News story about the bald eagle whose beak was shot off, and the efforts of those attempting to make a prosthetic to enable her to eat.  There are some pictures of the bird, named ‘Beauty’ (hence the cheesy title of this pony party).

Part of Beauty’s beak was shot off several years ago, leaving her with a stump that is useless for hunting food. A team of volunteers is working to attach an artificial beak to the disfigured bird, in an effort to keep her alive.

Updated – China Talks While Suppressing Speech

First, please take a moment to reflect on the cyclone in Burma, which the AP estimates has killed over 14,000 people. The military junta in Burma has been roundly criticized for failing to enact an early warning system that could have saved lives:

The government had apparently taken few efforts to prepare for the storm, which came bearing down on the country from the Bay of Bengal late Friday. Weather warnings broadcast on television would have been largely useless for the worst-hit rural areas where electricity supply is spotty and television a rarity.

“The government misled people,” said Thin Thin, a grocery story owner in Yangon. “They could have warned us about the severity of the coming cyclone so we could be better prepared.”


Some in Yangon complained that the 400,000-strong military was only clearing streets where the ruling elite resided but leaving residents, including Buddhist monks, to cope on their own in most other areas.


The AP reports that the UN and aid organizations are mobilizing supplies, and that the EU has committed $3 million in humanitarian aid, the Chinese government stands ready with $1 million in cash and supplies, and the US is giving an intial $250,000 in aid with more to come if a disaster team is allowed inside the country.

UPDATE  The BBC is now reporting that the death toll has reached 22,000:

The death toll from Burma’s devastating cyclone has now risen to more than 22,000, state media say.

Some 41,000 people were also missing, three days after Cyclone Nargis hit the country on Saturday, state radio said.


My Vote: Neither one of them (D).

So…I woke up early, made some coffee, and got dressed and walked down to my polling place.  I live in Indiana.  


Liar Liar

Arianna has a fine rant-

Huffington Post

What John McCain Told Me, and What it Says About How Far He’s Fallen

Arianna Huffington

Posted May 5, 2008 | 04:43 PM (EST)

Update: Through a spokesperson with the colorful name Tucker Bounds, McCain has denied telling me he didn’t vote for Bush in 2000. “It’s not true,” Bounds told the Washington Post, “and I ask you to consider the source.”

My sentiments exactly — because John McCain has a long history of issuing heartfelt denials of things that were actually true.

He denied ever talking with John Kerry about his leaving the GOP to be Kerry’s ’04 running mate — then later admitted he had, insisting: “Everybody knows that I had a conversation.”

He denied admitting that he didn’t know much about economics, even though he’d said exactly that to the Wall Street Journal. And the Boston Globe. And the Baltimore Sun.

He denied ever having asked for a budget earmark for Arizona, even though he had. On the record.

He denied that he’d ever had a meeting with comely lobbyist Vicki Iseman and her client Lowell Paxon, even though he had. And had admitted it in a legal deposition.

And those are just the outright denials. He’s also repeatedly tried to spin away statements he regretted making (see: 100-year war, Iraq was a war for oil, etc.).

So, yes, by all means, “consider the source.

Docudharma Times Tuesday May 6

Let me take you far away

Youd like a holiday

Let me take you far away

Youd like a holiday

Tuesday’s Headlines: Who’s More Red, White and Blue-Collar?: 2 soldiers’ deaths in Iraq raise doubts about MRAP vehicle: China’s Hu in historic Japan trip: Gallows broadcast shocks Japan into debating the death penalty: Egypt raises taxes, fuel prices after government wage hike: Le Monde journalists in third strike: A Woman, a Village and a War on Plastic Bags: Tens of thousands riot in Mogadishu in eruption of anger over food prices: The unspoken truths about Aids:

Death toll rises to 15,000 as Burma seeks international aid

The Burmese regime today said that at least 15,000 people were killed and another 30,000 are missing as a result of the catastrophic cyclone that has battered the country.

In one town alone, Bogalay in the Irrawaddy delta, foreign minister Nyan Win said that 10,000 people had died after it was flattened by the storm surge whipped up by the 120mph winds.

The dramatically escalating toll of dead and missing four days after Cyclone Nagris slammed into the south and centre of the country reflects the degree of devastation and remoteness of the worst-affected areas along the coast.

Muse in the Morning


What if?

What if rainbows

came in textures

and kaleidoscopes

played with sound

What if feelings

were for wearing

and thoughts weighed

each a pound

Would hope appear upward

and love feel cerise?

What would be the taste of freedom?

What would be the scent of peace?

Could I pay my rent

in moonbeams

when the future

becomes our toy?

When hate and greed

are left behind

could I measure wealth

in joy?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 26, 2008

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

A Katrina-level hurricane may ravage Indiana today

A Katrina-level hurricane may ravage Indiana today; we have to be ready to report on its path of destruction through the state.  We have to make the real imaginable to those who are not there, just as we did in 2005.  This hurricane will pound at the pillars of democracy, blowing countless voters out of their polling places — because they do not have the proper state-sanctioned photo identification.

Low-income voters, the elderly, and young students would be affected the most.  They are the ones who may not have needed to get proper identification in the past, or who may not have maintained it as current into the present.  The first two groups are those least able to take time away to work their way through the bureaucratic requirements needed for them to be able to exercise their most basic democratic right: an equal opportunity to vote on who will lead their nation.

A terrible lesson in voter suppression may be taught today.  We need to collect individual stories and make sure that people see it for what it is: the political equivalent of Katrina, in which the legitimate demand of the less privileged for protection is intentionally ignored, to widespread shock and outrage.

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