October 20, 2008 archive

Chomsky: Vote against McCain and for Obama – but without illusions

I know there are some who don’t like Chomsky.  I don’t agree with all he says, but he’s an anti-imperialist and is good on many labor/class issues.

Here, he endorses Obama, sort of.  🙂

Chomsky says while it’s true that the two parties are essentially like factions of one party – the party of business – the differences do matter to ordinary people. If you are living in a swing state, there is nothing wrong with picking the lesser of two evils.


I thought some folks here would both understand and appreciate this.  

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post wonders As fuel prices fall, will the push for alternatives lose steam? Of course. I think most Americans have a very short term memory. Energy alternatives were all about maintaining the status quo, rather than about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Bill Reinert, one of the Toyota Prius designers… cautioned that designing and ramping up production of a new car takes five years.

    “If oil goes down to $60 or $70 a barrel and gasoline gets back to $2.50 a gallon, and that very possibly could happen,” he said, “will that demand stay the same or will we shift back up?”

    As quickly as the price of oil per barrel has fallen it can rise just as quickly again.

    “Declining oil prices can give us an artificial and temporary sense that reducing oil consumption and energy consumption is an issue we can put off,” said Greg Kats, a managing director of Good Energies, a multibillion-dollar venture capital firm that invests in global clean energy.

    The NY Times reports that people are Challenging the car culture on campus with free bikes.

    “We’re seeing an explosion in bike activity,” said Julian Dautremont-Smith, associate director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a nonprofit association of colleges and universities. “It seems like every week we hear about a new bike sharing or bike rental program.”

    But I wonder, if such free bike programs will still be around next fall? Somehow, I doubt it.

Four at Four continues with the U.S. economy, stimulus, and national debt, campaign news, and NATO in Afghanistan.

Credit Where Credit is Due

I was happy to see this over at Huffington Post:

At a John McCain rally in Woodbridge, Virginia, three people handed out “Obama for Change” bumper stickers with the Communist sickle and hammer and the Islamic crescent, saying Obama was a socialist with ties to radical Islam. Several moderate McCain supporters, Muslim and Christian alike, struck back – relentlessly bombarding the group distributing the flyers until they left the premises.

I will never understand how these rational folks could want to vote for McCain, but I applaud their action.  This is beyond electoral politics, I think.  The kind of hate speech and activity we’ve been seeing crawl out of the woodwork since the McCain/Palin campaign has decided to go negative isn’t good for anyone, right or left.

Here’s the video:

The Politics of Fear

Ok I finally figured out why the McCain campaign has failed so badly. They have pandered to the lowest common denominator of America: Fear. Without realizing that Americans are no longer afraid of what they think they are afraid of.

2002 and 2004 proved that fear works, as if they didn’t know it already. The story of the McCain campaign has been one of casting about to find the right fear to exploit. They haven’t been able to find it. They haven’t been able to find it because they don’t realize that the fears of their base are no longer the fears of the majority of Americans. If they ever were.

They mistakenly thought that social fear, the fear of immigrants, the fear of gays, the fear of minorities, the fear of other was what won them those elections. They forgot 2006, when after NOT being attacked by terrorists. They forgot or ignored that the societal fear that fuels their base is NOT shared by most Americans. That the reason Americans joined their base was out of fear of attack from without, not attack from within. Without another terrorist attack in the intervening years, (no thanks to them btw, the fear had always been vastly overinflated) America is rejecting the fears of their base, the fears of the lowest common denominator. They have seen through the politics of hate, at least to the extent where it does not dominate their list of fears. The base is still there, the rest of America though, is not joining them this time. They have their solid 25% of Americans who fear and hate other Americans for their skin color or sexual orientation. But they have lost the rest of America.

Heck, it is even possible that after eight years Americans are just plain tired of living in fear!


(Unless the fear of Socialism, a Socialism that the Republicans (despite their bleating) are forcing on America, works.)

Manufacturing Monday: Week of 10.20.08

Happy Monday, folks, I do hope you all had a good weekend!  Welcome to another installment of Manufacturing Monday!  Now things are looking bad out there, as many of you probably already know.  We start out with more dire jobs news at GM. Turning to some good news, it seems economic forces that made us “costly” has now turned the tables of sorts, with ironically the biggest pusher of China, Wal-mart (or is it Walmart?  I’ve seen this store both ways.) forcing suppliers to look domestically.  Lastly, we got Honda moving more work to North America. But first, as is par for the course, we get to the latest economic info related to manufacturing.  So without further adieu…

Little Judy, Happy at Last

I’m sure most of you remember Judy Miller.  You know, the New York Times reporter who carried water for the Republicans in the lead-up to the Iraq War?  The good friend of the criminal Scooter Libby, who sent her cute little notes about aspens turning color in the fall?

Well now Judy has found a home that suits her to a “T”!  I’m so happy for her.

Judy is joining Fox News!

Miller will be an on-air analyst and will write for Fox’s Web site. “She has a very impressive resume,” says Senior Vice President John Moody. “We’ve all had stories that didn’t come out exactly as we had hoped. It’s certainly something she’s going to be associated with for all time, and there’s not much anyone can do about that, but we want to make use of the tremendous expertise she brings on a lot of other issues. . . . She has explained herself and she has nothing to apologize for.”

Yes, there have been so many reporters who have helped turn the country towards war with a sovereign nation that did not attack us.

Judy Miller and Fox News:  A Perfect Fit.

Idiots Made Me Rich

Via RawStory yesterday, one hedge fund manager’s story about the roots and causes of the current financial crisis, and his long term prescription for what it will take fix to the economy:

Retiring hedge fund manager: Idiots made me rich

Sunday October 19, 2008

“May meritocracy be part of a new form of government, which needs to be established,” wrote a multimillionaire retiring in his 30s in an open letter to those “stupid enough” to make him rich, which condemns the practices that did so and the system whose injustices he struggled with to get to where he is. Furthermore, he’s leaving the business, content to “sit on the sidelines” and wait to see how the markets play out through the crisis, noting that “sitting and waiting” helped the subprime crash prove profitable.

“Today,” Lahde Capital Management’s Andrew Lahde wrote on Friday, “I write not to gloat. Given the pain that nearly everyone is experiencing, that would be entirely inappropriate. Nor am I writing to make further predictions, as most of my forecasts in previous letters have unfolded or are in the process of unfolding. Instead, I am writing to say goodbye.”

“I was in this game for the money,” he continued. “The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government.

“All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”

When the chickens get privatized,

it’s vultures that come home to roost.

The subprime mortgage crisis isn’t over. Neither is the global credit freeze it sparked. The stock market crash that followed hasn’t hit bottom yet either. But the main thing to worry about now, and for a long time to come, is the depression we are rolling and tumbling into.

The media has started reporting on one increasingly visible aspect of the depression: the budget crunch facing states and municipalities, and the resulting cutbacks in public services. News stories have detailed the end of the shuttle program Phoenix, AZ ran to take seniors grocery shopping, Mayor Daley’s elimination of 2250 Chicago city jobs–900 by layoffs, warnings of unsalted roads in rural Wisconsin this winter, and on and on. And it’s early days yet.

The service cuts I want to highlight today are a little different. Let me direct your attention briefly to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which serves 1.5 million rail and bus passengers every day. Yep, even in auto-centric L.A., a lot of folks, especially poor folks, can’t make it without public transportation.


Terry Matsamuto, the MTA’s chief financial officer is predicting massive service cuts soon. It seems that like many local governments around the country, L.A. County went for the okey-doke. They sold much of their system to private investors in “lease-back” deals. Companies like Wells Fargo and Philip Morris bought the rail system, 1000 buses and parking and maintenance facilities. The Tranist Authority gets a one shot injection of needed cash, the financiers get a steady annual cash flow bled out of the system.

The rail cars and locomotives of the Metrolink commuter rail system were also sold, and guess who financed and insured these deals?

American International Group.

Yep, AIG. And when AIG started going into cardiac arrest, their credit ratings were revised downwards before the Fed even applied the paddles.

The lower credit ratings triggered a clause in the lease-back agreements that require the MTA to either find a new firm to guarantee the deals or reimburse investors for their down payments and lost tax benefits, a scenario that could cost the transit agency between $100 million and $300 million.

For one thing, forget about finding a replacement lender–credit is still frozen, static. Second, once other clauses in the deal kick in, the MTA could be on the hook for $1.8 billion this year, more than half its total annual budget.

All those investors have to be made good somehow. So the service cuts commence.

I can’t wait to see what L.A.’s Bus Riders Union does about this…

Cross-posted from Fire on The Mountain.

Open Thread


Be true to your thread.

Riots Break Out in 17 Cities

November 5th, 2008


Diane G, WWL National Newsgroup

Protests broke out last night and this morning after a surprising John McCain upset over frontrunner Barack Obama.

Amidst charges of dubious voter challenges, irregular counts and vote tampering, riots and demonstrations took place in several major cities including Detroit, Cleveland and Palm Beach last night and this morning.

Unconfirmed sources have reported widespread damage to property, injuries and 23 deaths.

Local Law Enforcement Agencies were supported by the deployment of National Guardsmen and the First Brigade of the Third Infantry Division. In Louisiana, where the demonstrations were more widespread in smaller Parishes, Blackwater agents were also deployed to prevent violence.

Docudharma Times Monday October 20

What Is Real America?

Its All Americans No Matter Who

Or What They Are    

Monday’s Headlines:

Yosemite glacier on thin ice

What started as the road to recovery has turned into a highway of terror in Afghanistan

David Davis: We are losing Taliban battle

Israel considers reviving Saudi peace plan to resolve conflict

US-Iraqi security pact still unsettled

Democracy on trial in Turkey as 86 face coup attempt charge

Banking crisis gives added capital to Karl Marx’s writings

Regional leaders discuss Zimbabwe

Turmoil in Southern Africa

Drug Killings Haunt Mexican Schoolchildren

Barack Obama has advantage of big bucks, a big name: Colin Powell

 News of the Republican’s endorsement and a record $150 million raised in a month propel the Democrat as he campaigns in GOP country.

By Mark Z. Barabak and Richard B. Schmitt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

October 20, 2008

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Barack Obama strongly boosted his presidential prospects on Sunday, winning the coveted endorsement of former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and ringing up a staggering $150 million in contributions in a single month of fundraising.

The endorsement from one of the country’s most respected statesman-soldiers enhances Obama’s credibility on national security issues, and his huge cash haul allows him to extend his crucial advantage on the television airwaves.

The Illinois senator’s showing came as he continued to drive deep into Republican territory, stumping in North Carolina, which has not backed a Democrat for president since 1976.

Republican John McCain campaigned Sunday in must-win Ohio, where polls show a close race, and spent part of the day defending running mate Sarah Palin’s qualifications on national television and in a call with Jewish leaders.

Call Centers Are Fodder For India’s Pop Culture

 Bollywood Movie Is Latest Manifestation

By Rama Lakshmi

Washington Post Foreign Service

Monday, October 20, 2008; Page A10


In a training session at a suburban call center, groups of fresh-faced Indian recruits jettison their Indian names and thick accents and practice speaking English just like the Americans do. They have hesitant conversations with imaginary American customers who complain angrily about their broken appliance or computer glitch.

The instructor writes “35 = 10” on the board, as though he is gifting the recruits with a magic mantra.

“A 35-year-old American’s brain and IQ is the same as a 10-year-old Indian’s,” he explains, and urges the agents to be patient with the callers.



As Fuel Prices Fall, Will Push For Alternatives Lose Steam?


 By Steven Mufson

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, October 20, 2008; Page A01

Just four months ago, a conference here on electric cars drew four times as many people as expected. District fire marshals ordered some of the crowd to leave, and the atmosphere was more like that of a rock concert than an energy conference. A brief film depicted an electric car owner driving off with a beautiful woman to the strains of “The Power of Love” while her original companion struggles to pay for gasoline. The audience cheered.

One discordant note in the series of enthusiastic speeches came from Bill Reinert, one of the Toyota Prius designers. He cautioned that designing and ramping up production of a new car takes five years.

Dutch POV: McCain “acts like angry neighbor”

I live in Leiden, one of the smaller big cities in The Netherland’s (NL) most heavily populated region, the Randstad. I am learning, or trying to learn/understand/speak/read the Dutch language. As it turns out, Dutch is considered by many as the second toughest language to learn… after Chinese! Holy moly.

However, I have learned one thing: politically, the Dutch are as tough as their language. It is a complex mix of parties that fosters ever-shifting coalitions among its liberal, conservative, socialist, green, and religious members.

Along that spectrum, there is, according to local papers here, a place for GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin: seems a small minority have adopted Gov. Palin as a role model for Dutch womanhood.  However, most of the Nederanders I know will be stunned if Senator Barack Obama loses to Senator John McCain on 4 November 2008.

cross-posted at dkos

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