Saturday, February 28, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
While knocking the stimulus package during his response to the state of the union address Governor Jindal said, “Instead Of Monitoring Volcanoes, we should be monitoring the eruption of spending in Washington.” Wait a minute Governor no ideas; people here in the State of Washington may think, then we should also stop monitoring hurricanes. But, I think what we all are being forced to monitor is more like a Republican Party deathwatch.
I was having dinner with my thirty something daughter and my son in law the other night, and admiring their beautiful new baby girl. My daughter is typical of many of her generation of thirty somethings, somewhat tech nerdy and smart. well educated and results orientated. They are not so inclined to take sides, left or right, as quickly as we of the baby boom generation are.
Simply put they, like President Obama, just want to get things done. This is why most of them are now joining the growing base of the Democratic Party and support the new President’s forward thinking and modern solutions to the problems we face as a nation.
We were talking about the state of politics and I was waxing on with the usual left wing talking points thinking how obvious could it be. She simply countered with, “ it’s the way they think, it’s out of date, their thinking is really from another era. Yet they try and apply it to today’s problems”.
I thought that’s it, it's like the Republicans thinking is analog and the Democrats is digital.
One of the things that always bugged me the most about 8 years of George W. Bush was the overwhelming feeling of time being wasted. Things needed addressing here and now, yet Bush and the Republicans ignored the obvious, stuck in their tired ideology and rhetoric. Protecting corporate America and the rich oligarchy was more important than solving real problems in the end. People died, things regressed, crises when unaddressed.
Ignore the need to reduce our need for foreign oil or to produce energy from clean energy sources. Refuse to reform health care and provide a real national health insurance program. Instead we got more of the same old programs that only protected and enriched the rich, disguised as reform. We hate change; it’s every (rich) man and woman for themselves was their real mantra. Even the war in Iraq’s main justification was based on a desire and old idea that unlimited access to a source for more oil is what we need. Such were the distorted and misleading ideas of these Republicans.
Even after serious loses in the last two national elections Republicans continue to believe in their out of date stale and unworkable ideas. They waste every thinking person’s right to a brighter future.
The end maybe near for these out dated old white men and their obstructionist party.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Maybe it was because Cokie Roberts and David Brooks weren't there, but this is the most rational discussion of the overall economy I've seen on a MSM channel since the crisis began. Guest include Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman and Nouriel Roubini NYU professor who was one of the few economist to predict the crisis. Both Krugman and Roubini tend to take a more populist view of the situation and not get bogged down in politically based ideological arguments on who should get the blame.
His thinking mostly based on the continuing hero worship by the MSM and the right wing of former derivatives trader, and CNBC reporter, Rick Santelli based on his recent cable news rant about the supposedly lazy no good bums who wanted us to pay for their bad mortgages and 2nd bathrooms.
Gregory led off one discussion with, “I have read the plan from top to bottom and the reality is that Mr Santelli's criticism is shared by a lot of people who think it is fundamentally unfair to subsidies people. They misrepresented their incomes, gotten in over their heads and the owe what they owe” he said. Gregory repeatedly referred to the bad loans as "liar loans". Gregory by buying into this crap demonstrates his misguided willingness to carry Republican water aimed at undermining the Obama mortgage rescue plan that was announced last week.
The problem with Gregory's premise is that the mortgage sellers were the lairs not, as he infers, so much the borrowers. Just apply common sense, the borrowers didn't approve their own loans.
What Gregory and Santelli fail to point out is that these supposedly toxic mortgages had to be approved ultimately by a underwriter and bank or some mortgage company officials who’s job it was to check to see if the borrower had a realistic ability to pay the loan off. Gregory presents a false and misleading picture of a fast talking borrower with little income or documentation who repeatedly is able, somehow, to pull the wool over the eyes of his local mortgage lender or bank official.
It’s total bullshit.
The truth is that many of these home mortgage lenders, bankers and underwriters were more than willing to ignore basic accounting, documentation and home lending rules because they were more concerned about market share and profits in the inflated and exploding home mortgage and housing market then whether their customers could afford the loans, or repay them.
The mortgage lenders and banks personal greed has now come home to roost.
Borrowers were offered low interest adjustable rate mortgages, such as the now famous, pick a payment loan, that allowed homeowners to pay whatever amount they wished each month, actually increased the mortgage principle over time not lowering it. These lenders had to know these mortgages were ticking time bombs that were ready explode in the homeowner face down the road. But, they said nothing even late in the looming crisis and continued to package these same mortgages into toxic securities that they spread around the world.
Mortgage providers and their sales people speculated that home prices would never fall and would in fact only increase in a ever expanding frenzy of home buying and selling, speculation, flipping and orgy of quick buck making in the millions and billion of dollars for these ethically challenged lenders.
Gregory and Santelli reflect the worst type of sensationalizing and polarizing by subtly misrepresenting the basic facts and continuing to paint anyone who has a troubled mortgage as some sort of racial stereotypical lowlife who took advantage of the unsuspecting mortgage company or bank when they applied for the mortgage. We all know it was the other way around. So mismanaged and greedy were these mortgage providers that their unscrupulous behavior has in the end pulled the house down on their own heads.
So called reporters like Santelli and Gregory should at the very least make an effort to base their nitwit premises on something close to the facts before they start shooting off their mouths.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Labor unions have long argued that even when a union can prove it represents a majority of employee by producing cards that the employees have signed indicating they want a union employers more often then not will immediately engage in frivolous legal action, intimidation and dismissal of employees they suspect are union sympathizers. Starbucks have now become the dubious stereotypical example when it comes to using these age old union busting tactics when their employees have decided to form a union.
“As the Seattle Times reports today, Schultz's company, already thumped by the National Labor Relations Board last month for unfair labor practices, including the firing and punishing of pro-union baristas at several New York cafes, has now settled a separate NLRB dispute this week in Michigan. And on Wednesday, Starbucks is set to begin proceedings there in a third case in which it allegedly fired a barista because of his union activities.” EFCA poster boy: Starbucks CEO Howard SchultzThe EFCA, also known as card check, would limit the employer’s ability to intimidate and fire employees who want a union by removing the time consuming requirement that an election be conducted at a business to determine whether the employees want the union. Under the new law if the union has cards signed by over 50% of the employees, verified by an independent third party, the union would then represent the employees. The employer would then be required to begin good faith negotiations with the union on a contract to cover the employee’s wages, hours and working conditions.
Employers traditionally have used the lengthy period after the cards have been signed and before the election is held to engages in paternalism, firing and intimidate employees and union ringleaders in order to bust the union and or effect the outcome of the election. Starbucks has on several occasions been found guilty of engaging in anti union practices that personify the type of activity that support labor's arguments for card check.
I'm definitely buying my coffee elsewhere until Starbucks recognize that their employees have the right to organize a union free from intimidation.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I think that he should at the very least remain open minded about the possibility of having to nationalize given the nature and severity of the deepening crisis. In any case, if government were to take over failing banks it should be done as a temporary measure lasting only as long as necessary to fix the problems and get rid of deadwood bosses and managers before the banks are returned to private sector operation again.
A recent article by economist Nouriel Roubini has rejuvenated the debate about whether the government should take over troubled banks. On ABC This Week today two Republicans, Senator Lindsay Graham and Representative Peter King even admitted that given the severity of the problem it should be an option that the President could use. The statement by the two Republicans almost gave Representative Maxine Waters, also a guest on the show, a heart attack since it was coming from Republicans. It seems like just a few days ago that these same Republicans were ranting on about the evils of Socialism and government interference in the private sector. So go figure.
Maybe this is why Obama has been hesitant to use this option, namely because of the ideological and political opposition problems he thinks it would create trying to sell it to the Republicans and the extreme right wing. The bottom line is that there are more good reasons to do it then to end up with a bunch of half measures that may not get the job done. The President may not get a do over if his strategy is not bold given the catastrophic he is facing.
Chief among these problems is the fact that many of the same Wall Street CEO’s that brought about the crisis in the first place remain in power and why would you give billions in bailout funds to them now since they have demonstrated they apparently don’t know what they are doing. Nationalization should eliminate these compromised individuals from the situation and would also represent a clean and transparent start for the banks with new people running the show.
Last week we had the rather theatrical display of bankers being parade before Congress to be brow beaten for paying themselves inflated bonuses and mismanagement. As a friend of mine pointed out, the same thing was done in Scotland with their bankers except that all of them had already been fired from their jobs as heads of the banks by the time they appeared before a government commission. So entrenched are the CEO's here that they can't be fired even when it's obvious that they are incompetent or able to keep their bank solvent.
Senator Chuck Schumer, who also appeared on the show, not surprisingly was the only panelist who came out against the idea. “I don't think government is good at making these decisions”. Schumer the New York Senator certainly is representing by this statement the interest more of the bankers he represents on Wall Street, than what may be good for the country. Which is at the root of the political problem when it comes to opposition to nationalizing the banks. Most members of Congress, on both sides of the isle, as well as many presidential advisers, are beholden to the Banks and Financial institutions because of the political contributions they have received, or their long term personal working relationship with Wall Street. The Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is a prime example of someone who represents the latter.
So is Obama getting good advise? Maybe not. My hope is that he is not so insulated by the political culture in Washington that the idea of nationalizing the banks is completely off the table. Because in the end it may be the best strategy and exactly what’s needed to really fix the crisis.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Johnson questions Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner motives, resolve and conflicts of interest when it comes to dealing with these powerful people. On Friday's Bill Moyers Journal the economist warned that the bankers will play Obama and the taxpayers for chumps if we do not take steps to control them or have them relinquish their power.
Johnson went so far as to says that Obama may have to demand that CEO's and other major players step down in order to change the culture that brought us the crisis. Many of the same individuals at fault for the crisis are still running the same institutions they lead into insolvency. Pretty scary given that the taxpayers are about to give these people billions or dollars more to save their companies from complete collapse.
Under questioning from Moyer, Johnson indicated that the United States in its present economic state is more akin to a 2nd or 3rd world nation than the premier world financial power it had been for so long. Such is the depth of the crisis.
Professor Johnson also has an informative blog baselinescenario.com that provides a in depth look at the economic crisis. I just hope the president is reading it.
Friday, February 13, 2009
If You Think Stimulus Opposition Was Bad Wait For The Medical Industry BS Machine With Health Care Reform
Why We Should Stop Screwing Around And Build The Tunnel To Replace The Viaduct Plus Stimulate The Economy
Meanwhile locally no one pays attention or draws a parallel apparently. So involved are we in the local art form of ideological bullshitting and head banging known to all as the "Seattle process" you can't even jaywalk in this city without making it a federal case.
Politicians like Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata, and the House Speaker Frank Chopp in Olympia personified this trait and are the perennial champions whenever it comes to “milking the mouse” no matter what the issue or project.
Concerned citizens, stakeholders and bloggers who have caught this disease will seek out every opportunity to mini-manage, talk and pontificating about the finer points of any local civic projects ad nauseam. The desire to repeat and enjoy the experience of complete political constipation has become so much a part of community's digestive system that we are unable to pass any plan for replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct or, for that matter, any other local improvement project of any magnitude, no matter what number of jobs are created in the local economy.
But then eureka! A breakthrough, the Governor, Mayor of Seattle and County Executive, after many costly studies, boatloads of consutants and expert opinions, starts, stops and advisory ballot measures, seem to have come to an agreement to dig a tunnel to replace the crumbling and dangerous viaduct. The only obstacle remaining being the Legislature giving its approval of certain tax funding sources and potentially over coming yet another nuance ballot vote that may be generated by some misguided Magnolia and Ballard residents. Because it's really not about the money, except if your a wingnut like KIRO's Radio's Dori Monson.
All is forgivien and maybe government works after all.
But hold your horses people! They’re certain concerned citizens and politicos who think that not enough hairs have been split or lanes added or environmental concerns over global warming met or talked about yet and I need a group fucking hug here please people!
Even thought the tunnel option would keep the traffic flowing by leaving the viaduct open during construction, one of the major concerns of many citizens. Eventually remove the eye sore waterfront blocking evil and crumbling roadway. Open the waterfront to development of public spaces, promenades, bike paths, surface transit and yes, even businesses; still it is apparently not enough to satisfy the obstructionist, environmental eggheads and delayers. The environmental concerns about your personal carbon score while you drive through the proposed tunnel being raised by the likes of the do no wrong Sierra Club can certainly be addressed and be mitigated while the project is allowed to move forward. It should not be grounds to stop the project, at this point.
These people are bent on their pet visions, elitist ideas of the perfect solution or interested in maintaining political power by not getting things done. They cut off their nose to spite their face. Nothing gets done, time passes, things end up costing even more. Well the reasons for building a tunnel outweigh most objections to not building it, which I wrote about at length two years ago. Now many of the experts agree it seems.
Given the state of our economy, the money and jobs stimulated by the project, that also should be a prime consideration. These are union jobs folks. Estimates are that the ten year long tunnel related projects would begin in 2011 with the tunnel, which would be completed by 2015, followed by surface transit, the Spokane and Mercer Street projects. All in all the estimates are that together this activity would produce 10,000 jobs during the period of construction. That's a lot of sack lunches boys.
Think BIG bold and decisively like people in a REAL city should and let 's build the damn tunnel please!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
TV Networks Spend Week Painting Octoplet Mother As Welfare Cheat Then Fain Surprise When She Gets Death Threats From The Wingnuts
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Put Down The Torches And Pitchforks And Let Nature Take It’s Course When It Comes To Bush Administration Prosecutions
Liberals need to reel it in and dial back the mob with torches mentality when it comes to making George W. pay for his criminal behavior. It’s uncomely, unrealistic and makes their actions akin to the tactics they hated so much when the shoe was on the other foot.
Barack Obama has been President for about 3 weeks and as we all know has a completely full plate of problems to deal with, some unprecedented in their complexity. Yet, several elements of the liberal left have got their panties all in a knot because Obama has not made the prosecution of the former President Bush or other Bush administration officials a top priority.
Listening to the likes of Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley of Georgetown University, who I have great respect for, speaking on MSNBC Countdown, “we will all become accessories” and Rachel Maddow on her show, “is Senator Leahy trying to help out the Obama administration”, by calling for a truth commission type investigation rather than regular criminal prosecutions. You’d think the world was coming to an end unless immediate action is not taken to prosecute, convict and jail Bush and all members of his administration who committed war or other crimes.
These hyperbolic statements I think are not helpful and tend to paint Obama as someone who is unwilling to prosecute crimes because it would be somehow politically unpopular or counterproductive. It also shows in Maddow's case a lack of an understanding of criminal prosecutions and how they normally evolve.
Obama stated during his press conference on Monday in response to a question of the subject from a reporter with the Huffington Post, “nobody is above the law, and if there is clear incidents of wrong doing they should be prosecuted just like any other ordinary citizen".
What the left has to realize is that this just isn’t going to be a top priority and shouldn’t be, given the unprecedented state of disarray the country has found itself in follow 8 years of George W. Bush. Need I outline the laundry list? Frankly, I think reasonable people would say that things like the economy, the housing crisis and two wars are a bit higher on the priority list right now. I believe that Obama sees this as something that frankly has to be on the back burner for now also.
I would even go as far as to say, this is a matter better suited for late in Obama's first term or even his second term because the evidence is more likely to be there with the passage of time, investigations, whistle blowers coming forward and books written that expose the wrong doings and criminal acts. The Statute of Limitations for federal crimes range from one year to twenty years depending on the type of offense and should be a consideration for prosecutors. But in spite of the Statute of Limitations the reasoning remains that this is not the time to make these prosecutions a top priority.
Eric Holder the new Attorney General I’m sure if given the time to investigate and dig around in the Justice department closet will probably find the evidence needed to prosecute whomever needs to be prosecuted. But people like Maddow, Olbermann, Turley and the the likes of the ACLU need to take a deep breath and realize that there are other matters, as strange as it may seem to them, that will have to take precedence over jailing Bush, Cheney and others right now.
Congress is another thing. They are an independent body and if Patrick Leahy’s Judiciary Committee in the Senate or John Conyers in the House want to investigate or set up a truth commission let them go ahead and do that. Oversight is what they were supposed to be doing all along. Why it would need President Obama’s approval to do that is not really a fair question if there is enough political pressure or evidence to go ahead.
It is my educated guess that Bush and his cronies will be brought to justice in the end. But only when matters are allowed to run their natural course with the normal prudent investigations, indictments and subsequent trials. In other words it going to take time people.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Where's Al Franken we need his vote now.
• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)
• $75 million from Smithsonian (original bill $150 million)
• $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)
• $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (original bill $427 million)
• $100 million from law enforcement wireless (original bill $200 million)
• $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles (original bill $600 million)
• $100 million from FBI construction (original bill $400 million)
• $55 million for historic preservation
• $122 million for new Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters
• $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization
• $50 million for CSERES research
• $65 million for watershed rehabilitation
• $30 million for SD salaries
• $100 million for distance learning
• $98 million for school nutrition
• $50 million for aquaculture
• $2 billion for broadband
• $100 million for NIST
• $50 million for detention trustee
• $25 million for Marshalls Construction
• $300 million for federal prisons
• $300 million for BYRNE Formula
• $140 million for BYRNE Competitive
• $10 million state and local law enforcement
• $50 million for NASA
• $50 million for aeronautics
• $50 million for exploration
• $50 million for Cross Agency Support
• $200 million for National Science Foundation
• $100 million for science
• $1 billion for Energy Loan Guarantees
• $4.5 billion for GSA
• $89 million GSA operations
• $50 million from DHS
• $200 million TSA
• $122 million for Coast Guard Cutters, modifies use
• $25 million for Fish and Wildlife
• $55 million for historic preservation
• $20 million for working capital fund
• $165 million for Forest Service capital improvement
• $90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management
• $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start
• $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity
• $2 billion for HIT Grants
• $600 million for Title I (NCLB)
• $16 billion for school construction
• $3.5 billion for higher education construction
• $1.25 billion for project based rental
• $2.25 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization
• $1.2 billion for retrofitting Project 8 housing
• $40 billion for state fiscal stabilization (includes $7.5 billion of state incentive grants)
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Listening to McCain's and the Republican's tired old rhetoric is like finding out your smoking ragweed when your thought you bought BC bud. You smoke it and nothing happens and the dealer is long gone with your cash.
Let's face it McCain built his reputation and hero status more through family connections then distinguished service. My daddy the admiral. It's the worst kind of hero worship. Had it not been for Admiral daddy and granddaddy, naval officer McCain would not have made it through or even gained admittance to the Naval Academy in the first place. Born on third base with a silver spoon in his mouth while most of the rest of us have to earn our way through life.
I'm sick of the contrived hero worship of this weasel. McCain record as an all American shill who tried to remove the buy American provision from the stimulus bill the other day and works tirelessly to obstruct progress when his real objective is to be seen as the head obstructionist for his stupid hillbilly ideas party. In other words he'd steal food from the mouths of babies if it meant he could score political points. There he stands on the Senate floor spouting more Republican outdated bullshit.
John you lost so don't stand in the doorway and bloc up the hall and just try for once to have a original thought based on what's actually going on in the twenty-first century.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
And here's the President:
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Monday, February 02, 2009
Pelosi and Reid have been criticized for allowing millions of dollars of non stimulus items into the package by Republicans. Things like millions for providing family planning which would provide such things as condoms, replacing the lawn on the national mall, providing STD education and public sponsored smoking succession campaigns.
I tend to strongly agree.
I realize that many of these programs have validity or are being overstated by the Republicans but, let’s face it they are difficult to politically nuance in the forum of public opinion. Pelosi and Reid should of known better and kept the massive bill focused on job creation, infrastructure, transportation, school reconstruction, computerizing health records, broadband, renewable energy, mass transit, funding State shortfalls due to the downturn, the housing market related crisis, safety net issues like unemployment compensation, food stamps, tax relief for middle income the elderly and small business and just kept it simple focusing on things that fucking relate directly to INFRASTRUCTURE repair AND JOB CREATION.
Not on their pet projects and politically correct borderline catch as catch can partisan oldies but goodies. The time for such items should come later in bills specifically focused on those areas. Pelosi and Reid are pitching public relations softballs for the Republicans to knock out of the park. There is a time to reap and a time to sow and Pelosi and Reid have never been very good at reading the mood of the country's tea leaves. Both take two steps forward and one step back based on sticking their finger in the air to read what they determine is the direction and course of least resistance prevailing political head wind.
They're the worst kind of cliche of the political hack. Unfortunately we must, for some reason that continues to escape me, depend on their leadership in these difficult times. Is there no Democrats more qualified in the House or Senate to replace these tools.
They've once again demonstrated their lack of perspective as Democratic leaders by allowed the bill to be loaded up with a number of marginal items that, a reasonable man could argued, are not directly related to job creation or the emergency needs of the large number of newly unemployed or tax code changing stimulus.
In this first major test of leadership the Republicans are using these politically unpopular items in the stimulus to discredit the entire package and the President ability to get things done.
This is further proof that Reid and Pelosi are not the type of bold qualify leaders that we need in the Congress now that the Democrats have gained enough power to do good and reverse years of bungling. It seems everything they touch turns immediately to shit because of their tendency towards predictable behavior as the political hacks they are, who lack vision, insight, boldness or credibility.
The President even went so far as to have many of the items that Pelosi and Reid allowed into the legislation removed to appease Republicans in hopes of moving the legislation closer to passage. The President apparently realizes that the bill is supposed to be aimed at job creation, and not Nancy and Harry's pet project stimulation.
Pelosi still doesn’t get it, and looking like a deer in the head lights when interviewed on TV continues to try and make political points with the far left by defending much of the original proposal and the need for more condoms, instead of seeing the situation as it really is and working to get a bill passed that create jobs and stimulates the economy.