Tuesday, March 31, 2009

...by any other name... cont.

A reader writes via my Facebook page:

Reagan vs. W! LOL That's like Lakers v. Clippers. Reagan ended an expensive and unnecessary war while Bush started one. Reagan got us out of a decade's long economic morass and Bush got us into one. Reagan had leadership skills. Bush had Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Reagan had a sense of humor. Bush had alcoholism. Reagan turned his enemies into friends. Bush turned his friends into enemies. Reagan was respected around the world. Bush had a pair of shoes thrown at him. Game over.

Unfortunately, many people see Bush as a model conservative in the new mold. There will be efforts to canonize him, in the same way they did for Reagan (which unfortunately clouded this reader's eyes).

It's been said by many that a person's true value in life is measured by the quantity and quality of people who show up at his funeral. There will probably be a good measure of bodies at Mr. Bush's eventual funeral. I hardly think, however, that world leaders will come pay their respects the way they did for Reagan. There will be more t-shirt wearing Wal-Mart shoppers than anyone else.

...by any other name...

Sullivan sees the hypocrisy in our mainstream media.

I see this as a fundamental disconnect between the general perspective of the previous US administration as to our place in the world order, and actual reality. Perhaps this collective psychological defect isn't exclusive to America; I'm sure that the governments of other nations see themselves as trying to protect themselves against their enemies. Problem is, a lot of those nations have not signed onto the Geneva Conventions, as we have. As the Bush administration held up this country as a beacon of decency and fairness and justice (while at the same time winking to the press that we would have to go over "to the dark side" to get these terrorists), Obama's early actions to close Guantanamo, halt rendition programs, and force CIA compliance with the Army Field Manual as it pertains to the treatment of prisoners points us in the right direction to accepting reality again.

How we treated fellow humans during the last eight years will be remembered for generations. It is the single greatest American tragedy of the last 100 years, since it turned us into the same kind of people who attacked us on 9/11.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Roll Out The Spit -- We'll Have BBQ'd Palin!

Poll taken today by Public Policy suggests that Obama would beat Palin in a head to head contest in 2012 by 20 points. That would be the largest trouncing of a candidate since Nixon beat McGovern.

Of note: she would beat Obama among Republican voters by a smaller margin than McCain did in 2008.

For her sake, she'd better spend a lot of time working on her rhetorical skills (not to mention her grasp of economics, geopolitics, and American values, all of which she falls far short of what is needed in a president).

Plus, being grandma of a bastard child... that's gotta sting a little.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Quit -- Now Eat!

(h/t Andrew Sullivan)

An employee tenders his resignation on a full-sized sheet cake. If I ever decide to resign I'm doing this. What a fun way to go out!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Palin "Injured" by Blog

ABC News' Jake Tapper posted this blog item Friday, calling attention to the fact that Sarah Palin requested and received 31 earmarks totalling $197 million from the 2009.

Well, an "irate" Palin aide wrote to Tapper complaining that this year's earmark requests represent a reduction from 51 earmarks in FYE 2008 ($256 million), and that she'll request only eight earmarks in FYE 2010 ($69 million) all related to "national security."

Still, the Tapper story, according to the aide, makes Palin look like a hypocrite, injuring her "quite literally."

Since the aide considers Palin a fiscal conservative, Tapper thought he'd point out (my italics):
Gov. Palin as a vice presidential candidate claimed that she "championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending of Congress."

And yet, she has asked for and is still asking for -- and receiving -- tens of millions of dollars in earmarks -- pork barrel spending that does not go through the normal appropriations process.

Including, you might be interested to know, moneys for alcohol bootlegging interdiction and North Pacific fisheries programs.

Her former running mate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., requests no earmarks.

That's a fiscally conservative position.

We've never hesitated to point out political mixed messages, on earmarks or other subjects, whether they come from Democrats such as President Obama (read HERE or watch HERE) or Republicans such as Gov. Palin.

We will continue to do so.
One old friend labeled Jimmy Carter as the worst president ever and blames Clinton for this current economic mess because of Fannie/Freddie abuses. Blaming is so easy; having principles is hard.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Andrew Sullivan posted this YouTube video today. My jaw nearly hit my desk upon reaching the big reveal. Only Keanu gets this right: whoa...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Complete Waste of Time

Business Week economist Michael Mandel posits something a bit unpalatable about corporate profits in the past 10 years:

The question is—how much of corporate profit growth during this decade was driven by the financial sector? The answer is: Almost all of it...The bottom line on 97-2007: Very little or no real wage growth for most Americans, very little real profit growth for the domestic operations of nonfinancial corporations.
Click on the link and look at the graph. Profits from non-financial corporations rose only a nominal 6% over the 10 years starting in 1997. For financial corporations during the same period, however, rose much higher.

I'm certainly not going to complain too loudly about the highly profitable times enjoyed by the financial sector, as I benefited greatly during that time. Which is why I'm choosing my words carefully here. When Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, the Contract With America promised all sorts of bills that were supposed to create jobs. Most of the economic stimulus involved more tax cuts for businesses and less governmental regulation. If you look at the topo part of the graph, the line for non-financial corporations rises sharply in 2001, shortly after the Bush tax cuts took effect. The absence of federal regulation, a movement toward more pure capitalism without some protection against abuse, the worship of "free markets" and supply-side economics -- we all know that this doesn't work in practice.

The statistics don't lie. During the time shortly after the GOP dominated Congress and through much of the Bush Administration, the lack of federal regulation and massive tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations led to abuses that were unprecedented. The rich raped the financial landscape and left behind individuals with massive debt, all addicted to the idea that they could leverage their way into wealth, virtually without risk. In the last 18 months, millions of jobs have been lost as the insanity of what was done without the benefit of proper government oversight was discovered.

You'll notice that I haven't blamed the housing boom. Well, I'm not going to. Housing prices rise and fall in cycles. But with Wall Street buying mortgages written that had no sound risk analysis, and with greedy institutions and individuals all wanting a piece of the action and creating securities and insurance policies that were more complicated than almost anyone could comprehend, certainly inflated the up cycle and exacerbated the down cycle.

The days of easy mortgages are pretty much over. There are no investors for mortgages that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not purchase, so banks have to hold them in their portfolios. You can bet that those mortgages are both more expensive and substantially conservative with their risk management guidelines. As we plow through the inventory of foreclosed homes, prices will come back. There will be temptation to relax guidelines and ease up on federal regulations, but I truly hope that doesn't happen.