October 8, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. With “Ignoring Reality Has a Price“, the NY Times attempts to analyze how bad of a hole we’re in. “All told, the Federal Reserve has pumped $800 billion into the financial system” and that doesn’t include buying short-term debt, nor does it include “any of the money the Treasury Department is laying out, like the $700 billion bailout fund or the $200 billion” to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    After 14 months of crisis, the federal government – meaning you and me – has put serious money on the line. As a point of comparison, the entire annual federal budget is about $3 trillion.

    Just how are we going to pay for all this?

    The short answer is that the budget problems the country seemed to have a year ago are now even worse. Next year’s deficit (relative to the economy’s size) will probably be the biggest since 1992, and maybe since 1983. Taxes will have to rise or government spending will have to fall, if not both. Trying to contain the mess created by a bubble no doubt costs serious money.

    And it gets worse from there. I think we Americans are really going have to take a look at our defense spending on offensive war capacity and make serious cutbacks. Our failing economy no longer can support having the largest (by serveral factors) armed force in the world.

Four at Four continues with a federal judge ordering 17 men released from Guantanamo Bay, an update from Afghanistan, and news that we’ve stopped evolving and why that’s a good thing.

Social Security Aint Broke and, No, McCain Can’t Fix It

A two part answer to the question of how McCain can fix Social Security. First, Social Security is not broken and does not need fixing. Second, McCain can’t fix Social Security.

Social Security and Medicare are often lumped together as “entitlements”, and the threat of Social Security not paying off to the current working generation is used to try to grease the wheels of efforts to allow Wall Street to gain income from Security taxes.

Ezra Klein capably addresses the point that Social Security is not “in crisis” in Social Security as Signifier, so I’ll focus on why John McCain can’t fix it. But to get the basic … look at that gentle slope in Social Security … look at that massive explosion in Medicare … Medicare, that’s an entitlement crisis. Social Security, not.


Nothing is impossible; the world is possibility.

Some confuse reality with dreaming on their own.

The quiet voice of mystery

Is sublimated in the voices

Of definitions and of choices

And families on the screen.

I choose the things that I would do and lose my power over will.

But when my mind is finally still, I know that I can be

The nothing that’s impossible in realms of probability

And push perceived reality way past the safety zone.

Escaping Nixonland

And yet it only stood to reason that if you believed your opponent was neither sensible nor sober and would do anything to win, and his victory would destroy civilization, a certain insobriety was permissable to beat him.

Thus a more inclusive definition of Nixonland: it is the America where two separate and irreconcilable sets of apocalyptic fears coexist in the minds of two separate and irreconcilable groups of Americans.  The first groups, enemies of Richard Nixon, are the spiritual heirs of Stevenson and Galbraith.  They take it as an axiom that if Richard Nixon and the values associated with him triumph, America itself might end.  The second group are the people who wrote those telegrams begging Dwight D. Eisenhower to keep their hero on the 1952 Republican ticket.  They believe, as did Nixon, that if the enemies of Richard Nixon triumph = the Alger Hisses and Helen Gahagan Douglasses, the Herblocks and the hippies, the George McGoverns and all the rest – America might end.

~Rick Perlstein, Nixonland

“While you are 100 percent certain that your preferred candidate’s stance on issues such as foreign policy and the economy would appeal to any human being with half a brain, there is, in this very same country, an equally large voting bloc which believes that you and your candidate of choice are absolutely insane,” the report’s co-author Dr. Mark Grier said during a press conference. “Every single thing you love about your candidate’s personality, vice presidential pick, and family, 60 million other registered voters absolutely deplore.”

“What you consider to be this country’s ruin,” Grier added, “these other people actually consider to be this country’s savior.”

~The Onion, 60 Million People You’d Never Talk To Voting For Other Guy

With the second Presidential debate behind us, the outcome of the election is essentially clear: Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States.

The Class War Election

First of all, unless you are over the John McCain line of the Middle Class ….Five Million Dollars a Year, the Class War is NOT directed at you. The term Class War tends to make folks nervous if they are doing okay. The propaganda is that the poor want to wage war on the Middle Class. That is NOT true. Class War is the Middle Class and the Lower Class against the Ruling Class

So, relax! Well, come to think of it, you can only really relax if you are on the side that is winning The Class War. If you do happen to make less than $5Mil….you aren’t. If you make less than $5Mil….you are losing The Class War.

It was very nice of Dear John to delineate the dividing line of The Class War that is currently occurring so succinctly!

The Bush Administration came into office with one overriding, clear, and definite objective: Make the Rich richer. To insulate and inoculate the Ruling Class from the pesky yammering of the Middle and Lower Classes that vexed them under the tenure of Democrats. Yammering like…paying taxes… regulations that were inconveniently forcing them to be responsible stewards of the economy…and of course, yammering about egalitarianism in America. The idea that we are all equal, no matter how much we earn. The idea that our democratic system of government is for the benefit of ALL Americans, not just the Ruling Class.


But they have gone too far at exactly the wrong time and THEY have made this a Class War election. Us regular Americans who think that this is the America of our forefathers, the America of the patriotic myths we were brought up on, the America that exists to benefit ALL Americans….vs…Them. The ones who think that the only function of America and its government is to make them richer, and now to bail them out when they fail. It is OUR job to save THEM? I don’t think so.

THAT is why Obama is going to win this election, and quite possibly, win it in a landslide.

McCain DisDain: truthiness on the energy/global warming fronts

The ‘town hall’ debate actually merits a kudo, amid its problems: there were actually serious questions about energy and global warming, including a direction mention of green jobs.  

In the debate, Barack Obama consistently reiterated that energy is a top-tier issue, linking it to financial, environmental, and international security challenges.  Obama spoke of energy in holistic terms, speaking from individuals to nation/globe, about producing power and seeking energy efficiency, about … Obama sounded like he understood what he was talking about and that he has a plan for solving multiple problems at the same time when it comes to energy.

John McCain also emphasized energy, but his comments were filled with incomplete, disingenuous, and non-truthful elements continuing a sad tradition by both John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Pack Mentality, Debate Style

John McCain’s body language was so clenched, so tightly wound, I was waiting (ok, almost hoping) for him to explode into one of his famous tantrums.

His forced soft-speak, reminiscent of Bush’s almost whispery speech when he was trying to win people over seemed strained, not natural. The muscles in his clenched jaw visibly flexed and twitched with tension.

Then there is the arm thing. Has anyone else noticed his arms seem to stick out at a 45 degree unnatural angle, binding just below the shoulders in an obvious ill fit from all the padding? Even his body under the suit looked padded, to make him look bigger.


He looks like a robot, with his stiff hands and jerky movements.

Obama however looked comfortable, loose, natural, even graceful. Dominant.

Open Thread


Thread on the rocks.

Happy Birthday to the coolest of the cool…

…Dennis Kucinich!

If you are on MySpace head on over to Dennis’ page and wish him many happy returns! This man never quits when it comes to really representing our interests. Show the love, people!

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry XXV

Art Link


I Sing a Song

I sing a song of sadness

Of broken dreams and fear

I sing a song of pain

Of hopelessness and gloom

I sing a song of changes

Of remembrance and rebirth

I sing a song of life

Of exploration and growth

I sing a song of gladness

Of discovery and wonder

I sing a song of joy

Of acceptance and peace

I sing a song

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–October, 1994

Dow 6000

Well, entirely possible.

I had thought the market overpriced by 20% at 10,831.07 (DJI close one week ago, 10/1/08) but maybe I’m not gloomy enough.  Ian Welsh at Firedog Lake makes a convincing case that you should be looking for 7:1 p/e which he calculates as Dow 6000 and that may be where we are heading.

In Europe they are nationalizing banks and frankly it’s a more cost effective strategy than buying the 40 x leveraged paper.  The Brits just committed 250b pounds ($500b) and that’s a chunk of money.

Expect the US market to rise delusionally because this is all good for John McCain.

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 AIG execs’ retreat after bailout angers lawmakers

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer

1 minute ago

WASHINGTON – Less than a week after the federal government had to bail out American International Group Inc., the company sent executives on a $440,000 retreat to a posh California resort, lawmakers investigating the company’s meltdown said Tuesday.

The tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees at the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government it needed to stave off bankruptcy.

The retreat didn’t include anyone from the financial products division that nearly drove AIG under, but lawmakers were still enraged over thousands of dollars spent on catered banquets, golf outings and visits to the resort’s spa and salon for executives of AIG’s main U.S. life insurance subsidiary.

112 stories below.

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