Tuesday, September 30, 2008
but apparently one of Harper's staffers is offering himself up as the culprit here. All his fault, as he falls on his own sword (and goes back to some "analyst" job.)
Edit: It gets better. From (of all things) the National Post:
Mr. Rae said a number of the lines from Mr. Howard’s speech “were also duplicated in guest editorials that Mr. Harper submitted to the Toronto Star, National Post and Ottawa Citizen which were published under his byline on March 21, 2003, and in a guest editorial published on March 29, 2003, in the Wall Street Journal under the byline of Mr. Harper and then-foreign affairs critic Stockwell Day.”I missed that in my rush to post what I was reading. Plagiarism while delivering a speech is bad enough. Plagiarism while submitting editorials under your own byline is, if anything, even worse.
Unfit to lead.
(By the by, I'm quite happy that a google search for "stephen harper thief" sends people to this page.)
(If you want a source on the actual charge that isn't from Harper's obedient little press minions, try The Star. They aren't Dion minions, either: kind of Hebert minions I suppose. And if you want the video, hit the Liberals' web site.)
Monday, September 29, 2008
But how else do you explain none of the national papers deigning to point out that there was a terrorist attack on a Mosque in Dayton, and the only source being the local newspaper?
And this after a metric ton of anti-Islam hate videos were dropped in the laps of Americans by a McCain-aligned third-party group? (With, incredibly, the stamp of approval of the Department of Defense?)
With Kos and Huffpo both running this, and a growing digg collection, I hope that the big papers pay attention. As one Huffpo commentator noted, if this had happened at a school or church it'd be plastered all over the cable news channels.
But where are they now?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
None of that was really on display last night.He looked directly at both Mr. McCain and the camera—which is more than I can say for McCain, who was clearly coached never to acknowledge Obama's presence with a straight look—and brought the powerful gaze that makes his speeches so arresting to the debate. He minimized the verbal tics. He made a few excellent points. And while he lost some opportunities to score hits, he scored a number of other ones, including this excellent reminder:
"You like to pretend like the war started in 2007 — you talk about the surge. The war started in 2003," Mr. Obama said. "At the time, when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong. You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong."Nice work.
And most importantly, he looked conciliatory and gracious. The tendency to say "I agree with Senator McCain" was maddening to a partisan like me, but it makes sense: political debates are as much about building and reinforcing your image as scoring rhetorical points, and a truly combative, take-no-prisoners Obama is not what independents and many democrats are voting for.
Compare that to McCain, who gave a fine performance, but kept on saying "What my opponent doesn't understand is" when leading points and (more importantly) never looking Obama directly in the face. He was transparently coached for both; that's why I was so angry with Bennett, who was clearly also coached to respond on cue to McCain's own cues. But it made McCain look petty and dismissive: the kind of old man who is so set in his ways that he cannot believe that a younger one would have a better idea than his own. That is a fatal frame for Mr. McCain to put himself in. Experience is his strong suit, but the flip side of experience is stagnation and arrogance. That's what he displayed last night, "maverick" or no.
(By the way... never call yourself that, Senator. People who call themselves a mavericks are comedy relief, not leaders.)
So, yes, Obama won. Not handily, not completely, but he definitely won.
(Am I ever looking forward to Palin/Biden next week.)
Friday, September 26, 2008
The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.If anything proves that Americans need to relegate the Republican party to the dustbin of history (to quote their jowly pseudo-messiah), this is it. In a situation where the government is rescuing America from MARKET FAILURE, Republicans are trying to say "no, see, government should be slashed, so that the market can do its magic!"
“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.
It was an implosion that spilled out from behind closed doors into public view in a way rarely seen in Washington.
By 10:30 p.m., after another round of talks, Congressional negotiators gave up for the night and said they would try again on Friday. Left uncertain was the fate of the bailout, which the White House says is urgently needed to fix broken financial and credit markets, as well as whether the first presidential debate would go forward as planned Friday night in Mississippi.
When Congressional leaders and Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, the two major party presidential candidates, trooped to the White House on Thursday afternoon, most signs pointed toward a bipartisan agreement on a grand compromise that could be accepted by all sides and signed into law by the weekend. It was intended to pump billions of dollars into the financial system, restoring liquidity and keeping credit flowing to businesses and consumers.
“We’re in a serious economic crisis,” Mr. Bush told reporters as the meeting began shortly before 4 p.m. in the Cabinet Room, adding, “My hope is we can reach an agreement very shortly.”
But once the doors closed, the smooth-talking House Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, surprised many in the room by declaring that his caucus could not support the plan to allow the government to buy distressed mortgage assets from ailing financial companies.
Mr. Boehner pressed an alternative that involved a smaller role for the government, and Mr. McCain, whose support of the deal is critical if fellow Republicans are to sign on, declined to take a stand.
The talks broke up in angry recriminations, according to accounts provided by a participant and others who were briefed on the session, and were followed by dueling news conferences and interviews rife with partisan finger-pointing.
“I didn’t know I was going to be the referee for an internal G.O.P. ideological civil war,” Mr. Frank said, according to The A.P.Thursday, in the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.
“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”
Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”
Well, yes, Mr. Boehner. The market did do its magic. And now the horrible demon it conjured is threatening to gobble your country whole. Maybe a little less magic might be in order, huh?
But it isn't just about market fundamentalism, oh no indeed it isn't:
So it's also about trying to rescue your party, and letting the country go into collapse to do it. Isn't this the party that always blames Dems for trying to get America defeated abroad so that they can reap the electoral spoils at home? And now they're pulling this nonsense?
“I now expect we will indeed have a plan that can pass the House, pass the Senate, be signed by the president, and bring a sense of certainty to this crisis that is still roiling in the markets,” said Robert F. Bennett, Republican of Utah, a member of the banking committee.
He made a point of describing that meeting as free of political maneuvering. “It was one of the most productive sessions in that regard that I have participated in since I have been in the Senate,” Mr. Bennett said.
But a few blocks away, a senior House Republican lawmaker was at a luncheon with reporters, saying his caucus would never go along with the deal. This Republican said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the chief deputy whip, was circulating an alternative course that would rely on government-backed insurance, not taxpayer-financed purchase of mortgage assets.
He said the recalcitrant Republicans were calculating that Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, would not want to leave her caucus politically exposed in an election season by passing a bailout bill without rank-and-file Republican support.
“You can have all the meetings you want,” this Republican said, referring to the White House session with Mr. Bush, the presidential candidates and Congressional leaders, still hours away. “It comes to the floor and the votes aren’t there. It won’t pass.”
Out with them. Out with them all.
(By the way, Canada: this is where you're headed. Harper is, if anything, more of an ideological purist about "MARKETS!" than these jokers. I hope your "strong leader" is worth it.)
Scott Tribe writes:
If you’re wondering who Avaaz.org is, here’s their mission statement. And if you’re wondering what they’re going to be doing in the Canadian election campaign, they say a picture is worth a thousand words (or in this case, a screen shot):The key question for Canadians...
(Actual blog entry here)
So in brief, they’re going to start off running 3rd-party ads in 3 Conservative MP’s ridings - one being John Baird, one being Peter MacKay, and the 3rd being Randy Camp in BC - and urging “progressive voters” to vote for the candidate they feel has the best chance of ousting the Conservative MP. In MacKay’s case, AVAAZ is endorsing Green Party leader Elizabeth May. In John Baird’s case, they’re urging voters to vote for Liberal Stephen Pratt, and in Camp’s case, they’re asking voters to choose NDP’er Mike Bocking.
Whether or not you agree with strategic voting or not, look at their donations, because that’s what really caught my eye; the donations they’ve already received to jumpstart this ad campaign. Note the donation line in pink under Harper’s leering picture. They were asking people for a fundraising goal of 50 000$, and at the time of this screen capture, they had already raised and had donated to them 38,295$ in the first 8 hours of their donation campaign! Incredible. (I think the Liberals need to look into hiring those fundraiser folks )
I hope to see them do some national campaign ads too. 3rd party election laws allow for a 150 000$ national campaign, so they’d have 100 000$ still to do some more, if they thought it would be a good investment.
If people are willing to donate this fast for some advertising in 3 ridings (note that all donations accepted are only from Canadian citizens) then I’d bet they’d do the same for a national advertisement in the national dailies or in commercials on the national TV networks (maybe not to urge strategic voting in general, because I don’t think that would be effective or accepted, but to urge the general ousting of this regressive Conservative government).
...other than "is Harper going to prove that they're just like Americans, except behind the curve"...
...is really "how do you deal with three left-leaning parties in a FPTP system"? You can't simply shift one of them to the right, as some Liberals seem to believe; they'll lose as many votes on the left as they'd gain on the right. Yet all three are being squeezed; the NDP faces as much of a threat from the Greens as the Liberals do from the NDP.
The only solution is strategic voting, but the problem with THAT is that you need motivated, high-information voters who want to defeat the opposition and are willing (and able) to vote for the local candidate that can do that. So far, that's never worked. But we live in an information-rich society, and the information about who to vote for is out there. It's just a question of finding those motivated voters and getting them the information they need.
I didn't think that that was going to happen, at least not this cycle. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Avaaz is right.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
One of the most annoying (but interesting) things about following the election in Canada is watching as the entire Republican rulebook is dumped on unsuspecting Canadians' heads, and all the preconceptions about American tactics that Canadians would be "too smart for" or "too moderate for" or "too self-effacing for" are tossed out the window. Almost every play that Harper has made has come directly from the Republican playbook, and an old one at that; but because the Liberals seem to not have the faintest clue how to deal with it, they're brought up for a loss.
Case in point: the crime announcement, where Harper made the promise that he'd lock up 14-year-olds for life for violent crimes. The response of the Liberals? "Criminologists all think that this terrible policy: it's nonsense that won't help crime at all."
It's not ABOUT what's good policy! Yes, of course it is terrible policy. Harper hasn't put forward a single sensible policy proposal since 2006, is this a surprise in some way? It's not about good policy. It's about playing upon the fears of the electorate and their own belief in the superiority of themselves and those they identify with. It's the pandering to the "heartland" that has been part-and-parcel of Republican campaigning for decades, saying "I'll call you moral and hardworking and unpretentious and strong, if you agree that I am as well". It's about saying "because you're all these things, you're better than all those others, they're dangerous and stupid and I'll fight them for you and with you".
That's the game.
A better response would have been "do you really want kids going to adult jail, and learning to be criminals from adult convicts?" Or play on empathy, saying "we believe that people can earn a second chance". Or, heck, play up the cost: "it'll cost billions of dollars to house all these people." There's lots of ways to respond, but appeals to authority aren't one of them.
But the best response might be to reinforce shared identity between "the elites" and "the people". The weakness of Harper's cynical politics of division is that people often hunger for a shared identity and shared belief. Obama's rise has proven that. Even if "we aren't red staters or blue staters, we're Americans" has kind of declined as time has moved on, the basic appeal of the message is sound.
And Canadians hunger for national distinctiveness, too: if the Liberals correctly identified Harper's tactics as right-wing Republican ones, they could ask Canadians "we think we're better than that, don't you"? And people would quite possibly say "yes", because they want to be better. A cheeky series of war-room compare-and-contrasts that places Harper announcements side-by-side with Republican announcements, for example, would get that into the minds of journos, and after that into the minds of the voters. The Liberals should be hammering away day after day after day at the Harper=Republican bit, that brand is POISON in Canada even more than it is in America, but haven't seen a thing.
(The door was already opened by the Puffin bit, but the Liberals never really stepped through it.)
As it is, though, the Liberals (and the NDP, and the Greens, and maybe even the Bloc) aren't really understanding what they're fighting. And that's their problem.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
More than a third of South Africa's cabinet stepped down on Tuesday after President Thabo Mbeki resigned, deepening the biggest political crisis since the end of apartheid.I was not the greatest fan of Mbeki; his AIDS denialism did neither him nor his country any favor. But global warming and a global economic downturn are going to hit Africa particularly hard, and South Africa is the closest thing Africa has to a solid, stable regional leader to lead them through these crises. If its own leadership is in turmoil...
The list of resignations included respected Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, immediately shaking markets, but they recovered when his office said he was ready to serve under a new president.
The resignation of 10 ministers and the deputy president out of a cabinet of 30 followed Mbeki's decision on Sunday to step down after his ruling African National Congress withdrew its support.
The demise of Mbeki was the climax of a long and bitter battle with Jacob Zuma -- who toppled him as ANC leader in December -- which has seriously split the formerly monolithic party.
Parliament is expected to appoint deputy ANC leader Kgalema Motlanthe as interim president on Thursday until a general election next year which Zuma is widely expected to win.
Mbeki's resignation followed accusations of meddling in a long running graft case against his rival.
Treasury spokeswoman Thoraya Pandy said Manuel had "resigned as a member of the cabinet and felt duty bound to do so as he served at the pleasure of the president, and President Mbeki had resigned.
"However, the minister has indicated a strong willingness to assist and to serve the new administration in whatever capacity they may ask of him."
The rand, which had tumbled on first news that Manuel was stepping down, regained its losses. The Top-40 index of blue-chip stocks also recovered most ground lost after the resignations were first announced.
(Then again, I'm not exactly pleased by his successor's Zuma's legal situation, either. )
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
She really is the wingnuts' creature, isn't she? I have to admit, when she was chosen, I wasn't really expecting something like THIS. Hard right, sure. But she's probably the most socially right-wing nominee the party has ever had.
I don't think we've discussed this one yet:
Soon after the book controversy, [Rev. Howard] Bess found himself again at odds with Palin and her fellow evangelicals. In 1996, evangelical churches mounted a vigorous campaign to take over the local hospital's community board and ban abortion from the valley. When they succeeded, Bess and Dr. Susan Lemagie, a Palmer OB-GYN, fought back, filing suit on behalf of a local woman who had been forced to travel to Seattle for an abortion. The case was finally decided by the Alaska Supreme Court, which ruled that the hospital must provide valley women with the abortion option.
At one point during the hospital battle, passions ran so hot that local antiabortion activists organized a boisterous picket line outside Dr. Lemagie's office, in an unassuming professional building across from Palmer's Little League field. According to Bess and another community activist, among the protesters trying to disrupt the physician's practice that day was Sarah Palin.
No, no doubt that the wingnut base will only celebrate this. No mystery there. But I'm curious how the undecideds will see this. That'd make an interesting viral e-mail, I would think.
Sarah Palin was a full-on, street protesting clinic blocker.
No wonder McCain's numbers are tanking.
China's chief quality supervisor was replaced as the number of children sickened by chemical-tainted milk reached almost 53,000 and countries from Asia to Africa curbed sales of dairy products from the nation.This is disastrous for Chinese agriculture, and perhaps even manufacturing. After all the crises stemming from dishonesty and corruption among profit-mad Chinese officials, who on earth is going to trust them any more than they have to? I can just see people nervously eyeing everything in their home that's made in China (which is quite a lot) and wondering what will be next.
Li Changjiang resigned after seven years as chief of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the official Xinhua News Agency said today. Premier Wen Jiabao has ordered an overhaul of the dairy industry after products of 22 companies were found to contain melamine.
Taiwan banned all dairy products from mainland China today, while Marudai Food Co. in Japan and Nestle SA in Hong Kong announced product recalls. The scandal has claimed the lives of four infants and revived concern about the effectiveness of China's food safety controls after scares last year over contaminated seafood, toothpaste and pet food.
``That shows that they're serious,'' said Jim Rice, greater China country manager for Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods Inc., who has worked with China's food regulator. ``Now this means a new guy with new ideas and maybe a new quality assurance system. It could be a healthy shakeup.''
Wang Yong, former secretary-general of the State Council, China's cabinet, has replaced Li, Xinhua said. Li, 63, is the highest-ranking official to be brought down by the scandal, which has also led to the firing of six officials including the Communist Party chief, mayor and vice mayor of Shijiazhuang city in Hebei province, according to the agency.
The Chinese Communist Party today fired Wu Xianguo, the highest-ranking party representative in Shijiazhuang city, Xinhua said.
China's Ministry of Health said on Sept. 11 it found melamine in baby formula made by Shijiazhuang-based Sanlu Group Co., 43 percent owned by Auckland, New Zealand-based Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd.
The chemical, used to make plastics and tan leather, can disguise the fact that milk has been diluted by increasing the apparent protein content.
Melamine-tainted milk has been linked to the hospitalization of 12,892 infants and the sickening of another 39,965 babies.
Nestle, the world's largest food company, said today it would comply with a request from the Hong Kong Centre For Food Safety to recall 1 liter catering Dairy Farm UHT pure milk, which isn't sold directly to the public.
In Taiwan, closely held King Car Food Industrial Co. recalled its instant chicken-corn soup, milk tea and Mr. Brown coffee drinks after finding traces of melamine during voluntary tests of products using ingredients imported from mainland China, the island's health ministry said.
The monitor you're looking at right now, for example. Was it made in China? How? By who? Is it leaking toxic chemicals? Do you know? Can you trust those who tell you it's safe? Do THEY know?
Couple that with the decline of the U.S. consumer, and I'm very much concerned about the sustainability of China's growth.
This would be roughly comparable to electing Goldwater after all. Aso isn't exactly the most...progressive...of Japanese elites.
Japan's ruling party today elected the colourful rightwinger Taro Aso as its leader in a last-ditch attempt to boost its flagging popularity ahead of a general election that may be only weeks away.
Aso, 68, comfortably fought off four challengers for the Liberal Democratic party (LDP) presidency and is practically assured of being appointed prime minister by the LDP-dominated lower house on Wednesday.
"Standing here, I feel that this is Taro Aso's destiny," Aso, the grandson of the former prime minister Shigeru Yoshida, said in a brief acceptance speech.
"Who else but our party has the policies that address the public's concerns? I am committed to winning the election and taking a further step towards economic recovery and reform."
His widely expected victory comes as Japan teeters on the brink of recession and his party confronts one of its biggest electoral challenges in more than 50 years.
The LDP, which has governed Japan for all but 10 months since its formation in 1955, is floundering in the polls amid mounting public anger over health care reforms, millions of missing pensions premiums and the possibility of another economic downturn.
Aso has promised a return to fiscal pump priming in an attempt to steer Japan away from recession, breaking with the free-market reforms begun seven years ago by Junichiro Koizumi.
Aso, who advocates lower taxes for businesses, hinted that Japan may have to abandon its goal of balancing its budget by 2012.
He must also confront deep divisions in parliament that have enabled the main opposition party, the Democratic party of Japan (DPJ), to block key legislation in the upper house, including the extension of a vessel refuelling mission in support of US-led forces in Afghanistan.
Aso dismissed media reports that he would call an election for the end of next month before he has pushed an emergency economic stimulus package through parliament.
Though an election isn't due until next September, Aso is expected to go to the country soon in the hope of capitalising on an expected boost in his personal approval ratings following today's victory.
Senior opposition figures challenged Aso to call an immediate dissolution of parliament.
"If he wants to be prime minister, he should wait until voters decide who should lead the country in the general elections," said the DPJ's Naoto Kan.
Analysts speculated that even Aso, with his inimitable brand of conservative populism, would be unable to save his party from defeat.
"He has to face an election right away, and it will be hard for him to survive it," said Koichi Nakano, a professor at Sophia University in Tokyo. "I think there is a strong possibility that he won't."
But it seems like he's just trying to hold off Ichiro Ozawa's DPJ (the more progressive party) from absolutely steamrolling them in an upcoming election. Considering the Japanese people just seem sick of this bunch, and have already delivered the Upper House to them, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if Aso failed and Ozawa finally became PM, as he wanted to do ever since he himself was part of the LDP.
(If Aso does win, though, expect an awful lot more manga on store shelves. He's mad for the stuff.)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Some Liberals, still seeking the help of the Chrétien team, ask: Will it ever change, even after Stephen Harper wins the election (because I believe he will)? My answer: I am sorry, but I doubt it. By the time the next leadership race takes place (because, also, I do not believe Dion will retire, and will demand the same second chance John Turner got), almost a decade will have gone by. I do not see Bob Rae or Michael Ignatieff waiting that long, either. If the Liberal Party is ever to win back government, it will be with new people, in caucus and the backrooms. That, I think, is how it should be. It's needed.And now, a straight request.
In the meantime, the Conservatives will have had the country for nearly a decade. Does that concern me, as a Chrétien Liberal? Yes, it does. Of course it does.
But the opportunity to do something about it is gone, and I don't believe the opportunity will be coming back. That may not be a happy end to the story, but that's how politics is, sometimes. You don't always get the result you want.
If you are a television booker, particularly for Steve Paikin's show, can you make a point of not booking this guy as the token Liberal?
It's pretty clear that he neither expects the Liberals to succeed, not truly cares; that he'd rather see the Flanagan/Harper plan work and his party die rather than work with, or tolerate, the people that called his faction a "has been" or dared to point out his master's flaws. He is still not over events that happened six years ago, and calls himself a "Liberal in exile" when the exile is—from this vantage point, anyway—self imposed. He speaks of events ten years in the future, not acknowledging the obvious truth that, ten years from now, there will probably not be a party for him to return to.
And you know what? He can have these views if he chooses to. I believe in freedom of speech, even if he doesn't. (I also believe in the value of pseudonymity as a necessary component to that, even if he doesn't. I've learned that reflexive self-promoters rarely do.)
But he should not be allowed to represent Liberals or the Liberal Party of Canada, any more than Joe Lieberman should be allowed to represent the Democratic Party of the United States of America when he says similar things. Kos and the rest of the American netroots wouldn't tolerate it; any Liberal netroots shouldn't either.
He has made his choice.
Every time anybody ever tries to preach the wisdom of the unfettered market to you.
Every time anybody starts going on about the "dead hand of government."
Every time you feel a bit uncomfortable around someone displaying ostentatious wealth, and think "maybe if I had worked harder."
Every time someone says "if you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"
Every time you crack open a business page.
Every time Jim Kramer walks in public and doesn't get a pie in the face.
Every time you look at an "R" beside a name.
Every time you see a pledge for donations on TV, because the American government cried poverty.
Remember that the Federal Government is going to use seven hundred billion of YOUR dollars to rescue all those financial wizards, and not the people who got thrown out of their houses because they were hoodwinked by these guys and their agents.
And in case you aren't quite clear on what that number is, it's $700,000,000,000. And that's not a misprint.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
gallup poll daily tracking from wednesday through friday finds barack obama maintaining his lead over john mccain among registered voters, by a 50% to 44% margin…He might recover, but I'm not sure how; so far he hasn't revealed much that is especially attractive, and it looks like Palin's declining as an influence.
obama's current 50% rating matches his 50% record high reached just after the democratic national convention. (that came in gallup poll daily tracking from aug. 30-sept. 1.) however, his current six percentage point advantage is not as large as the nine-point lead he held in late july and an eight-point lead after the democratic national convention in late august. it is important to note that mccain recovered and moved ahead after each of these obama high points, suggesting that it is certainly possible that mccain could recover in this situation as well.
(Well, a positive influence.)
"One might also add that any business that markets itself as 'too big to fail' is also too big to be unregulated."
I'm starting to think that—to use the language of "class warfare"—America needs to "let a thousand AIGs bloom". All those banks that are rapidly scooping up other banks to become too big to fail in anticipation of big juicy bailouts? Either regulate the hell out of them, or straight-up deprivatize them.
"Invisible" or not, the hand of the market might need a bit of slapping down.
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday launched an aggressive assault against short-sellers, saying it would temporarily prevent investors from making bets on stock declines in an attempt to stem some of the worst stock-market slides in years.From Krugman.
The SEC, which had convened a late-night commission meeting Thursday to consider several items, said in a statement early Friday morning it is halting short selling on 799 financial stocks. The ban, which is effective immediately, is set to last for 10 days, but could be extended for up to 30 days.
No, I don't think this is necessarily a bad idea, but I worry about the presumptions it will create. One of the major forces against "irrational exurberence" is the knowledge that if you screw up, the short-sellers may eat your stock alive. It's possible that this intervention creates even more of an incentive for moral hazard than the bailouts did.
For Those Who Are Wondering if Fundraising Works, if Attack Ads Work, If Character Assassination Works
But after spending two days criss-crossing this riding, I found most voters – including most Liberal voters – echoing Sheridan. They can't exactly say why they don't like Dion. They just know that they don't.I've said it before, but I'll keep on saying it. All of this has nothing to do with Dion himself. He actually had quite the honeymoon back in 2007. The reason why this is happening is because the Conservatives lavishly spent on anti-Dion attack ads, and the reason why they could do that is because of fundraising.
"He just doesn't seem to know whether he's coming or going," says Sheridan after pondering the question. "He doesn't seem to know where he stands on issues."
In fact, Dion has taken controversial stands – and held to them. His plan to shift the tax load from income to carbon, while perhaps misguided politically, is unusually bold for an opposition leader trying to win power. As a minister in Jean Chrétien's government, he devised – and stuck with – a hardball plan to combat Quebec separatism. It was widely derided in his home province, but it worked.
Indeed, those close to the Liberal campaign say Dion's problem is not that he's too wishy-washy, but the reverse – that he refuses to take advice or change his mind.
But in this riding, none of this appears to register.
Rather, the Dion that many voters say they see is the one presented in Conservative radio and television ads – a ditherer, a figure of fun, a geek.
The Liberals problems have nothing to do with leadership. They have to do with fundraising. They have to do with a party that has to hug the center and, therefore, hasn't developed an activist core. Without those activists, you aren't going to get a Dem-style netroots... and without the netroots, 21st century progressive fundraising isn't going to happen.
Without the money to blunt the Conservatives' attacks, Rae will be a communist, Kennedy will be a bubblehead, Iggy will be another out-of-touch university professor, and I don't want to think what they'd do to Findlay. The person who won doesn't matter. It's like how Obama was going to be attacked no matter what, and so was Clinton. (And everybody else running for the Dem nomination)
Welcome to the Permanent Campaign Against the Republican Machine, Canada.
Here's the test. Can the Liberal war room and the Liberal blogosphere check this before it becomes an uncontested assumption by both the media and the Internet? There's no doubt it's a misinterpretation, and a terrible one at that. It should be rebutted, and there's a great case to be made that it MUST be rebutted, to keep the credibility of their campaign.
So far, I've seen three, with counter-effect of Whatzisname living up to the name by abdicating the responsibilities his real name carries as a Big Time Media Analyst.
Will there be more? Can they blitz?
I'm looking forward to finding out.
Friday, September 19, 2008
What you do, see, is read a whole bunch of barely-disguised conservative partisans desperately spinning a story about how Harper's conservatives are, essentially, a pack of complete assholes, and how that could completely change the election.
(Kind of like with Sarah Palin's rape kits.)
Then you figure out which talking points they were given to try to defuse the situation, and laugh as they fail. Over, and over, and over again. And then you figure out what it says about the spinners.
Case in point: one of 'em is that "this was just gallows humor, guys! It's funny! You just don't get the context!" Lots of variations on that. Now, any competent spin doctor or stand-up comedian would warn you away from this crap. They know that if you have to explain a joke it's not funny, and if you try to explain an offensive joke, it gets even worse.
But, you see, the people who put these talking points together, like the rest of the conservatives' war room (and, apparently, caucus) are giant jackasses. They think that inept mockery of suffering by the minister responsible is funny! They have no idea that the rest of us might disagree!
Thing is, gallows and off-color humor actually can be funny, but you have to be a) a damned good comedian to pull it off and b)NOT A MINISTER.
(There's lots more- I'll leave the rest to you folks.)
Don't get me wrong. Lots of people there understand that this is unacceptable; that there's a difference between a government minister and, say, a 4chan thread. But that just makes the spinners stand out that much more.
(Coming soon: figure out what McCain is actually talking about! For ages 10 and up.)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
There's a lot of nonsense about whether or not she's Israel's "Obama", but I think that misses the point. They don't need an Obama. They just need someone clean and moderate to take the helm and guide them through troubled waters. If Livni is that person, who cares if she's Obama or not?
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
It's good work, but I'm wondering how it'll play with distracted TV watchers. They'll probably be mostly surprised at the length, but I think that'll probably prompt them to pay attention, at least for a little while. And, well, it's Obama speaking. He'll probably keep that attention.
(Something for Britons to think about, I'd think. Maybe people sick of Labour should give the LibDems a look instead.)
Monday, September 15, 2008
Two days after Hurricane Ike battered Galveston and then roared into Houston 50 miles to the north, roads here were still buried in sand and debris even as floodwaters began to recede. Many streets were still blocked with debris and fallen trees. There was no electricity, running water, sewage or telephone service.People have been expecting something like this for a while now, but it's still terrible.
The air reeked of fuel and saltwater and was heavy with humidity and mosquitoes. Local officials worried about the possible spread of disease as thousands of residents who survived the storm tried to live in damaged homes without proper sanitary facilities.
All traffic was squeezed to one lane on most roads. Many roads were entirely or partially blocked by chunks of roofs, parts of sailboat hulls and heaps of sodden coastal grasses ripped out by their roots.
Sailboats and a shrimp boat lay in twisted heaps, scattered over the shoreline by Ike's 110-mph winds and 15-foot storm surge. Crushed house frames creaked in the morning breeze, which carried the high whine of mosquitoes.
At Seawolf Park, a maritime museum, one ship was thrown completely out of the water by the storm. It was listing on a massive pile of debris from a smashed pier. A U.S. Navy submarine was moved onto land, half of its body covered in mud.
At the U.S. Coast Guard field office here, a reduced crew of 22 rode out the hurricane at sea aboard the Coast Guard cutter Harry Claiborne. When they returned to the island, they found the base littered with the crushed remains of their family cars near their flooded homes. The vehicles were tossed along the side of a road -- bashed pickup trucks and SUVs twisted around chunks of concrete and lumber.
"One guy has a shrimp boat in his front yard," said Chief Petty Officer Chris Boss, who was aboard the cutter during the storm. "A lot of the guys who have been out on rescues, or are working elsewhere right now, don't know they're coming back to their car gone, their home flooded."
In the Gulf of Mexico off Galveston, a Coast Guard cutter worked to reopen the port here while also patrolling the channel to assess damage and search for buoys dragged up to eight miles out to sea. Coast Guard officials said 90% of the navigational aids used to guide ships through the channel had been destroyed or damaged.
The water is littered with debris -- car upholstery, toilet seats and cow carcasses. With many people on the island still unaccounted for, crew members kept a lookout for human remains.
Search and rescue teams are looking for survivors on the west end of Galveston Island, the area hit hardest by Ike. Roads leading into the west end are buried in sand and debris, and the protective sea wall that runs down most of the gulf side of the island collapsed at the far west end. But local officials said the collapse did not compromise the structural integrity of the rest of the 17-foot high sea wall.
Galveston officials have estimated that up to 40% of the island's population of 57,000 stayed to face the storm despite a mandatory evacuation order. About 2,000 accepted an offer Sunday to take buses to shelters in San Antonio and Austin.
In Houston, local and federal emergency authorities began opening distribution centers for food, water and ice. They said they hoped to open about 17 points of distribution by day's end.
Each resident was to be given two packages of ready-to-eat meals, two boxes of bottled water and a bag of ice. The bulk of greater Houston's population of about 4 million stayed in their homes during the storm. Many are still without power as they deal with flooded homes and piles of debris. The city's downtown had been largely cleaned today of the broken glass and debris strewn over city streets since Ike made landfall. Some shops and restaurants are open, though on limited hours because of the curfew.
That was Economist Stephen Gordon, referring to Darth Steve's plan to cut diesel taxes in half. Anybody who knows economics knows what would happen next: an immediate raise in the price of diesel to where it was already, since that was the market price, and an increase in carbon emissions. Which makes it a gift to oil companies that would hurt the environment.
(Dark Side is strong in that'un, huh?)
A year into the financial crisis, few dreamed that the situation would spiral down so far, so fast. Only a week ago, the Bush administration took control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies. Then, before anyone could sigh a breath of relief after that crisis, Lehman was on the brink.I remember when people were railing at the finance industry for being a license to print money. Thing is, it should have been. That this kind of collapse is happening is astonishing.
As details of Lehman’s plight began to trickle out on Sunday, the worries deepened that big financial companies might topple like dominoes. Bank of America began discussions to buy Merrill Lynch, the nation’s largest brokerage.
“I spent last weekend watching Fannie and Freddie die. This weekend it was Lehman,” said one longtime Wall Street executive.
By late Sunday, a consortium of banks, working with government officials, announced a $70 billion pool of funds to lend to troubled financial companies.
The rat-a-tat-tat of bad news has frayed nerves up and down Wall Street. “People are just weary,” said another executive. And even more ill tidings loom. Thousands of employees at Lehman are likely to be laid off, casting them into one of the worst Wall Street job markets in years. Other banks are cutting back, too.
Even employees who manage to hold on are likely to make a lot less money this year. Bonuses are not only going to decrease; for many, they will evaporate completely.
While people were stunned by the near collapse of Bear Stearns in March, they were flabbergasted that Lehman, a respected firm with a 158-year history, could be brought to its knees. Many were equally shocked by the downfall of Richard S. Fuld Jr., Lehman’s chairman and chief executive.
“Everyone thought Bear Stearns was a bunch of cowboys; it made sense what happened,” said another executive. “But this is the great Dick Fuld. This is not supposed to happen to Lehman Brothers.”
Many Wall Street executives struggled to draw parallels to the current crisis. The collapse of the junk bond powerhouse Drexel Burnham Lambert in 1991 seems small by comparison, as does the 1998 failure of the big hedge fund Long Term Capital Management.
On Sunday, as the heads of major Wall Street banks huddled for a third day of emergency meetings at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, many rank-and-file employees were at work in their offices.
“It’s all hands on deck,” said one senior banker.
At hedge funds, analysts worried that investors would rush to withdraw their money.
As a precaution, Wall Street banks have taken the extraordinary step of hiring advisers to assess the impact of the possible bankruptcies of other big financial institutions.
The mood could darken even further this week as several big Wall Street banks report what are expected to be grim quarterly results.
The problems the industry faces are myriad. Mortgage assets that both commercial and investment banks hold on their balance sheets continue to decline in value as potential buyers wait for prices to fall even further and sellers balk at prices being offered. At the same time, revenues from bread and butter Wall Street businesses like debt and equity underwriting and proprietary trading are sliding in a softening economy at home and abroad.
“I have not seen a quarter like this since 2001,” said Meredith Whitney, analyst at Oppenheimer. “And the expense bases at the banks are still built for 2006-style revenues. So the clash of these two things is going to produce the kind of quarter we have not seen in some time.”
And remember, kids: the guy who was arguably responsible for all this, Phil Gramm, is one of McCain's biggest economic advisors. This is what a McCain-Palin administration would look like.
(Also remember: this is what conservatives do to economies. Don't ever let yourself think that because many conservatives only care about personal enrichment, they actually know how to manage an economy. As they've proven over, and over, and over again, they actually haven't the faintest clue. "Fiscally conservative" is a bad thing.)
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Moreover, this party better reflects the Canada I love – and the riding I represent – than the party of Stephen Harper. The party of goons, anonymous bullies, threats and smears.And these people may well get a majority government.
Should you think I exaggerate, let me tell you what happened after I left with Mark’s precious paper in my hand.
• Driving to doorknock a poll in Milton, I passed miles of trashed election signs – arterials accordion-folded into uselessness, hanging off stubby broken stakes or tossed in the ditch. As I mentioned the other day, my campaign is the only one which has any signs up across the riding, the product of hard-working crews of volunteers. Now, garbage.
• Back in the campaign office a few hours later I went to update comments on this blog, and found it being assaulted with negative and taunting messages, all from the same IP address. Typical, “Taking away the right of criminals to vote would make it hard for Liberals to go to the polls,” and, “Muzzling those on this blog who do not agree with you has cost you my vote.”
Research showed them all coming from the headquarters of the Peel Regional Police. After a call, the cops were there within minutes, hugely concerned about a breach to their system or a rogue user. That took three hours.
• Tonight the local Con web site defames both my wife, and Esther. It calls me a pimp and says of Esther, “she has exactly 33 days of employment left. Then Garth won’t even return her calls. Pathetic and sad people all around.” As for Dorothy, it says she has “asked to be taken away from that excuse of a man.”
Also tonight, I have received an anonymous letter delivered to my MP’s office earlier today. In part, it reads, “Over the last few days, where have you been campaigning? Could you be afraid to go out door-knocking in your riding? How does it feel to be afraid of getting the door slammed in your face? Over the last few days we have been tailing you around the riding… you can’t hide forever in your condo, Mr. Turner…”
There’s more, but it’s actually too distressing to write about tonight. I never would have believed this additional action was possible in Canada, had I not just lived through it in the last eight hours. Some day, I will tell.
That old saw about "if the Dems lose, I'm moving to Canada?" Yeah, I'm starting to wonder if it'll be going the OTHER way. Obama's America may end up far more inviting than Harper's Canada.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
And here's the embed:
Not exactly a francophone, but you really don't need to be. Wow. It's like some kind of Tron/Matrix voyage into hell courtesy of Stephen Harper.
I hadn't really seen much of the advertising when Sarkozy took over. Are all french ads like this?
A fire broke out Thursday on a train shuttling trucks under the English Channel between England and France, injuring six people and suspending traffic in the undersea tunnel, officials said.Not much to add to this. Hopefully this is going to remain a historically isolated incident.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze after it broke out about seven miles from the French side, said a spokesman for Eurotunnel, the company that operates the tunnel.
The shuttle train was carrying 32 people when the fire broke out just before 4 p.m. (1400 GMT), the spokesman said. Most were truck drivers accompanying their vehicles, and all were evacuated safely, he said.
The fire erupted on a single truck carried by the train, and traffic in the 30-mile tunnel will remain suspended until Friday, France's rail operator SNCF said. The cause of the fire had not been determined.
Eurostar said none of its trains were in the tunnel and its services had been canceled for the rest of Thursday.
The regional administration office in Calais, which is overseeing the response to the fire, said six people were injured in the fire.
Several people were sent to nearby hospitals for treatment, an office spokesman said, but he couldn't say whether they had suffered from smoke inhalation or other problems. Their conditions were not immediately available.
(I never would have thought that McCain's boys would be showing more competence than the minions of a long-vowelled Victor Von Doom.)
I suspect their response to it was always about exploiting it to exalt their movement, not to prevent it happening again. That may be unfair, but other interpretations become less plausible by the day. They didn't cause it, and didn't expect it, but damned if they weren't going to use it.
They went to war with the wrong country in the name of it. They send soldiers to die in the wrong country with poor equipment in the name of it. They cowed their opposition in the name of it. They called their critics traitors in the name of it. They enriched the corporations they owned in the name of it. They still try to cow you in the name of it.
Today is September 11, 2008. Seven years ago Osama Bin Laden destroyed the World Trade Center, seriously damaged the Pentagon, and in all likelihood was planning to destroy either the White House or the Capitol building. He did it on the Republicans' watch.
He's still free. And they still don't care.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
It seems the attempts by the Conservatives to circumvent all their scandals until after the election has been railroaded by one scorned woman. Julie Couillard's supposed tell-all book realease date has been moved up to October 6 - eight days ahead of its original date. That means snippets of it will be released sometime around the debates I would imagine.This should make that Canadian election a bit saucier.
I've said this several times, this story will continue to have legs...no pun intended. This won't play well for the Conservatives in the Quebec City area they are so heavily relying on.
Monday, September 08, 2008
We still don’t know a lot about Palin except that she’s better at delivering a speech than McCain and that she defends her own pregnant daughter’s right to privacy even as she would have the government intrude to police the reproductive choices of all other women. Most of the rest of the biography supplied by her and the McCain camp is fiction.This is all in the context of McCain's decisionmaking, and the open secret that he wanted Lieberman, couldn't have him, and chose Palin in a fit of angry pique. The Republicans have done what they can to salvage it, turning her into a standard-bearer for the base, handing her pre-written speeches, and using the revelations of her scandal and hypocrisy as a club to beat the media with. But she's still a terrible choice, and would make a terrible Vice-President, and this whole kabuki dance doesn't change that.
She didn’t say “no thanks” to the “Bridge to Nowhere” until after Congress had already abandoned it but given Alaska a blank check for $223 million in taxpayers’ money anyway. Far from rejecting federal pork, she hired lobbyists to secure her town a disproportionate share of earmarks ($1,000 per resident in 2002, 20 times the per capita average in other states). Though McCain claimed “she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities,” she has never issued a single command as head of the Alaska National Guard. As for her “executive experience” as mayor, she told her hometown paper in Wasilla, Alaska, in 1996, the year of her election: “It’s not rocket science. It’s $6 million and 53 employees.” Her much-advertised crusade against officials abusing their office is now compromised by a bipartisan ethics investigation into charges that she did the same.
How long before we learn she never shot a moose?
And the truly sad thing, at least for them, is that their own ref-workin' abilities are looking shabbier and shabbier:
As The New York Times reported last Tuesday, Palin was sloppily vetted, at best. McCain operatives and some of their press surrogates responded to this revelation by trying to discredit The Times article. After all, The Washington Post had cited McCain aides (including his campaign manager, Rick Davis) last weekend to assure us that Palin had a “full vetting process.” She had been subjected to “an F.B.I. background check,” we were told, and “the McCain camp had reviewed everything it could find on her.”Their attacks on the Times were rebutted; now it's more likely that people are going to ignore them in the future. And they cannot afford that. Without their ability to cow the media, and with the progressive netroots meeting the Republican base charge-for-charge online, they'll lose control over America's political discourse.
The Times had it right. The McCain campaign’s claims of a “full vetting process” for Palin were as much a lie as the biographical details they’ve invented for her. There was no F.B.I. background check. The Times found no evidence that a McCain representative spoke to anyone in the State Legislature or business community. Nor did anyone talk to the fired state public safety commissioner at the center of the Palin ethics investigation. No McCain researcher even bothered to consult the relevant back issues of the Wasilla paper. Apparently when McCain said in June that his vice presidential vetting process was basically “a Google,” he wasn’t joking.
Without that control, what's left? A slowly-marginalizing base? Their record of governance? Heck, no. They need a compliant media corps. And McCain, in his fit of pique, is threatening all of that.
Frank wonders what else he'll threaten:
We’ve already seen where such visceral decision-making by McCain can lead. In October 2001, he speculated that Saddam Hussein might have been behind the anthrax attacks in America. That same month he out-Cheneyed Cheney in his repeated public insistence that Iraq had a role in 9/11 — even after both American and foreign intelligence services found that unlikely. He was similarly rash in his reading of the supposed evidence of Saddam’s W.M.D. and in his estimate of the number of troops needed to occupy Iraq. (McCain told MSNBC in late 2001 that we could do with fewer than 100,000.) It wasn’t until months after “Mission Accomplished” that he called for more American forces to be tossed into the bloodbath. The whole fiasco might have been prevented had he listened to those like Gen. Eric Shinseki who faulted the Rumsfeld war plan from the start.Not much to add here.
In other words, McCain’s hasty vetting of Palin was all too reminiscent of his grave dereliction of due diligence on the war. He has been no less hasty in implying that we might somehow ride to the military rescue of Georgia (“Today, we are all Georgians”) or in reaffirming as late as December 2007 that the crumbling anti-democratic regime of Pervez Musharraf deserved “the benefit of the doubt” even as it was enabling the resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. McCain’s blanket endorsement of Bush administration policy in Pakistan could have consequences for years to come.
There's lots more; go read it.
The McCain of 2000 would have knocked that bad boy out of the park. As it is, this McCain just barely made it on base.
Now the real game begins.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
And it thinks its found something! Let's have a look:
The Liberal Party is leasing a 30-year-old 737 as Stephane Dion's campaign plane. It is, by far, the dirtiest aircraft used by the major parties.Aw, ain't it cute? It thinks that the novelty of a plane somehow makes a substantial difference as to how much carbon it emits! Now, Steve here got a little sad, because people were making fun of it for not knowing that Dion—unlike its favoritist person ever, the OTHER Steve—was making sure that he invested in reducing carbon emissions to make up for the plane! Some naughty young people apparently even made an investment on the other Steve's behalf!
But apparently any criticism is misguided. See, the Liberal Party is buying carbon offsets.
Well then, that fixes the problem, doesn't it.
As I noted yesterday, my post on the old dirty plane the Liberals are trying to lease has gotten a great deal more exposure than I expected.
But wait! Steve thinks its found something, remember?
Now, Steve's not very good at HTML. It makes some really ugly HTML. So trying to quote it wouldn't work too well. But I can tell you that Steve thinks that its found out that the company that the Liberals are buying the offsets from, Carbonzero, doesn't have any projects that are still going on! Steve says that CZ just has a wind farm that's already been built or something! Steve found a page and everything! Oh no!
That page was quite a find, Steve!
Oh, but wait. Steve missed this page:
TORONTO, Sept. 7 /CNW/ - Carbonzero announced today that it will be offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the Liberal Party of Canada's Leader's Tour for the federal election.Oh no! Poor Steve. It's done its best, but all that Steve found was that CZ has been a little lax in updating one of their webpages. They've got quite a handsome project going for Mr. Dion. And in Quebec, no less, the province that Mr. Dion is from! Looks like Mr. Dion's going to be offsetting that carbon after all!
"Carbonzero is pleased to be working with the Liberal Party, in quantifying and neutralizing the greenhouse gas emissions that will be emitted from the upcoming Leader's Tour," said Carbonzero spokesperson Steven Rieck.
"It's encouraging to see politicians are taking responsibility for their emissions and we hope that it will translate to strong action on climate change after the November election."
The offsets purchased by the Liberal Party of Canada will be directed by Carbonzero to a Quebec project which replaces inefficient gas boilers in heating systems with new units employing heating controls and new energy efficient piping systems.
Additionally, the project includes new solar heating collectors and retrofits the buildings to allow heat recovery from domestic wastewater, and switches heat generation systems from natural gas to electricity.
Still, let's give a big hand for Steve! Yes, Steve. It's just like a real blogger!
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Yep. That's what Mrs. Veep said. At least according to Alaskans that are not terribly pleased with their governor, speaking to Charley James (reprinted in the LA Progressive):
“So Sambo beat the bitch!”Bolding mine. So, she's racist as hell. Well, at least according to "sources". Why not attributed sources? Because you don't want to get on the Republicans' bad side:
This is how Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin described Barack Obama’s win over Hillary Clinton to political colleagues in a restaurant a few days after Obama locked up the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
According to Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat’s primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively.
“It was kind of disgusting,” Lucille, who is part Aboriginal, said in a phone interview after admitting that she is frightened of being discovered telling folks in the “lower 48” about life near the North Pole.
Then, almost with a sigh, she added, “But that’s just Alaska.”
Racial and ethnic slurs may be “just Alaska” and, clearly, they are common, everyday chatter for Palin.
Besides insulting Obama with a Step-N’-Fetch-It, “darkie musical” swipe, people who know her say she refers regularly to Alaska’s Aboriginal people as “Arctic Arabs” – how efficient, lumping two apparently undesirable groups into one ugly description – as well as the more colourful “mukluks” along with the totally unimaginative “f**king Eskimo’s,” according to a number of Alaskans and Wasillians interviewed for this article.
But being openly racist is only the tip of the Palin iceberg. According to Alaskans interviewed for this article, she is also vindictive and mean. We’re talking Rove mean and Nixon vindictive.
t’s not easy getting people in the 49th state to speak critically about Palin – especially people in Wasilla, where she was mayor. For one thing, with every journalist in the world calling, phone lines into Alaska have been mostly jammed since Friday; as often as not, a recording told me that “all circuits are busy” or numbers just wouldn’t ring. I should think a state that’s been made richer than God by oil could afford telephone lines and cell towers for everyone.I've seen the vindictive anger of small-minded wingers thwarted before; and we've seen just how small-minded she is, haven't we?
On a more practical level, many people in Alaska, and particularly Wasilla, are reluctant to speak or be quoted by name because they’re afraid of her as well as the state Republican Party machine. Apparently, the power elite are as mean as the winters.
“The GOP is kind of like organized crime up here,” an insurance agent in Anchorage who knows the Palin family, explained. “It’s corrupt and arrogant. They’re all rich because they do private sweetheart deals with the oil companies, and they can destroy anyone. And they will, if they have to.”
“Once Palin became mayor,” he continued, “She became part of that inner circle.”
Like most other people interviewed, he didn’t want his name used out of fear of retribution. Maybe it’s the long winter nights where you don’t see the sun for months that makes people feel as if they’re under constant danger from “the authorities.” As I interviewed residents it began sounding as if living in Alaska controlled by the state Republican Party is like living in the old Soviet Union: See nothing that’s happening, say nothing offensive, and the political commissars leave you alone. But speak out and you get disappeared into a gulag north of the Arctic Circle for who-knows-how-long.
Alright, that’s an exaggeration brought on by my getting too little sleep and building too much anger as I worked this article. But there’s ample evidence of Palin’s vindictive willingness to destroy people she sees as opponents. Just ask the Wasilla town administrator she hired before firing him because he rebelled against the way Palin demanded he do his job, or the town librarian who refused to hold the book burning Walpurgisnach Mayor Palin demanded.
And that "executive experience" of being mayor? Well, turns out she was really, really bad at it:
Funny how that latter bit managed to annoy me the most. But in any case, that's Palin's record as mayor: a truly terrible mayor, spending her ass off on meaningless trifles while ignoring important infrastructure like, ahem, sewage treatment.
According to Kilkenny and others in Wasilla as well as Juneau, Palin reduced progressive property taxes for businesses while mayor and increased a regressive sales tax which even hits necessities such as food. The tax cuts she promoted in her St. Paul speech actually benefited large corporate property owners far more than they benefited residents. Indeed, Kilkenny insists that many Wasilla home owners actually saw their tax bill skyrocket to make up for the shortfall. Two other Wasillian’s with whom I spoke said property taxes on their modest, three bedroom homes rose during the Palin regime.
To an outsider, it would seem hard to do, but an oil-rich town with zero debt on the day she was inaugurated mayor was left saddled with $22 million of debt by the time she moved away to become governor – especially since nothing was spent on things such as improving the city’s infrastructure or building a much-needed sewage treatment plant. So what did Mayor Palin spend the taxpayer’s money on, if not fixing streets and scrubbing sewage?
For starters, she remodelled her office. Several times over, as a matter of fact.
Then Palin spent $1 million on an unnecessary, new park that no one other than the contractors and Palin seemed to want. Next, Sarah doled out more than $15 million of taxpayer money for a sports complex that she shoved through even though the city did not own clear title to the land; now, seven years later, the matter is still in litigation and lawyer fees are said to be close to at least half of the original estimated price of the facility.
She also worked hard to get voters approval of a $5.5 million bond proposal for roads that could have been built without borrowing. Anchorage may not be the center of the financial universe but, like good Republicans everywhere, Sarah Palin knows how to please Alaskan bankers and bond dealers.
For good measure, she turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots.
(A $15 million sports complex? Hoo boy, why not just call a tournament while the peasants wallow in their own feces, Queen Palin?)
And how did she become Governor? As a whistleblower, right? Well...
En route to the governor’s igloo, Palin managed to land what Anne Kilkenny says is the plumb political appointment in the state: Chair of Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC), a $122,400 per year patronage slot with no real authority to do anything other than hold meetings. She took the job despite having no background in energy issues and, as it turned out, not liking the work.Hah! So being a whistleblower was a stunt to ditch the job. That's...novel. I'll give her that.
“She hated the job,” an OGCC staff member who is not authorized to speak with the news media told me. “She hated the hours and she hated what little work there was to do. But she couldn’t figure out a way to get out of the thing without offending Gov. Murkowski” and the state Republican Party regulars, some of whom were pissed off they didn’t get appointed.
But ever the opportunist, Palin quickly concocted a way. First, she waged a campaign with the local news media claiming that the position was overpaid and should be abolished – despite the fact that she lobbied Murkowski hard to get it. Then, mounting what she saw as a white horse, Palin raised a cloud of dust by resigning from the OGCC and riding away with an undeserved reputation as a “reformer.”
But when a local reporter dared to suggest that the reformer Empress has no clothes, Palin tried to get her fired.See, now that last bit, I have a problem with. She certainly said "yes" to that sports complex! Perhaps a bit hastily, lawyers are apparently still wrangling over it, but that's a "yes!"
“She came at me like I was trying to steal her kids,” said the targeted reporter, who now works for an oil company in Anchorage. “I heard she had a wild temper and vicious mean streak but it’s nothing like you can imagine until she turns it on you.”
Not surprising since some of her high school classmates still openly call her “Sarah Barracuda,” Kilkenny insists.
Still, as a Republican Party hack Palin managed to get herself elected running under the false flag of a “reformer.”
And what did she bring to the job? No legislative experience other than a city council of a village of 5,000 people, which is smaller than some high schools in Chicago. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; after all, she needed to hire a city administrator to run Wasilla. No executive experience, except for almost being recalled as mayor. A philosophy of setting public policy based on one word: No.
It goes on like this, but you get the idea. And, I think, now you get Sarah: she's a terrible, small-minded, vindictive person of poor judgement and short patience who rode cultural issues and her own opportunism all the way to the governor's mansion. Where her greatest achievement was selling a jet, and flip-flopping on a bridge. Whose opponents are afraid to speak out on the record because she will "come at you like you were trying to steal her kids."
And she might be the Leader of the Free World.
Edit: Yes, there's a caveat. Charley might well be full of it. But if he is, well, just think of it as payback for the "RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: OBAMA IS A SECRET MUSLIM" stuff. And Lucille sure rings true to me.
If I were an Alaskan waitress, I wouldn't want to go on record, using my full name, calling Gov. Palin a racist. Anybody who thinks otherwise is lying or nuts.
Friday, September 05, 2008
3. McCain is actually more extreme right-wing about Iraq than Bush/Cheney: The Bush/Cheney administration has come around and accepted the Obama vision of a schedule for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Better late than never, I suppose. Yet McCain's last definitive statement on the topic was that we could be there for fifty or one hundred years.to:
That Sarah Palin sure is an extremist. She doesn't like moderates, and apparently they don't like her. Did you know she spoke a few months ago to a radical separatist group whose founder said he hated the American flag and American institutions? That her husband was a longtime member? And that the party's founder died in an illegal deal gone bad -- to buy plastic explosives?Now THAT'S the kind of progressive blogging I like.
I especially liked "retread of Republican ideas." Yep, sounds about right.
So, that's where the Reps are in 2008, huh? Palin attacks using old-style Republican contempt for "do-gooders" like community organizers, and McCain hauls out the same-old, same-old platitudes about Washington, as if he were somehow outside of the party he now leads.
Kinda sad, really.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
It's been five days now and John McCain has not allowed his vice-presidential pick to be interviewed by the press even once.This was about exposure. McCain's people knew they had a tricky job on their hands: they had to introduce a complete unknown to both the press and the public, and had to do it very, very quickly. The speech was the logical way to do that: it was mostly pre-written boilerplate anti-Obama stuff, and it was delivered to the friendliest of crowds, thus ensuring that everybody sees her in a positive light.
If the McCain-Palin ticket is about "tranparency" and "reform," why are they so afraid about letting Sarah Palin talk to the press?
Oh, that's right. Because as a result of John McCain's two-minute "vetting" process (Rush Limbaugh loves her, so it's a go), reporters (and bloggers, for matter) have undertaken the real vetting process. And if John McCain is so intent on keeping his vice-presidential pick away from questions, well, what does that have to say about how she might answer?
Even when it's over, the memory of it is going to color perceptions during the inevitable grilling in the months ahead. She needed it, she's a weak candidate, but it'll help slightly.
Here's a thought, though. If the Republicans had actually done the proper vetting and ensured that the issues weren't, this would have been incredibly, incredibly effective. As it is, it's probably going to fade away in the face of the various problems and scandals over the next few weeks. McCain's people must be furious that this all got out before the speech.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Yes, Sarah Palin sat in a church where this message was given. Two weeks ago. The karma in all this is just amazing:He'll parrot increasingly-ridiculous talking points, naturally.
Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.
"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it."
Palin was in church that day, Kroon said, though he cautioned against attributing Brickner’s views to her.
How does Hannity deal with this? After what he said about Jeremiah Wright?
So, apparently the Jews had it coming. According to her Pastor's honored guest, anyway.
Wonder how Lieberman missed that little factoid.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
That's just one case; there are lots of others.
Armed groups of police in the Twin Cities have raided more than a half-a-dozen locations since Friday night in a series of preemptive raids before the Republican convention. The coordinated searches were led by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher but conducted in coordination with federal agencies.
Five Minnesotan activists are still detained on probable cause holds, which means they can be held for thirty-six hours without charge, excluding weekends and public holidays. According to this timeline, they won’t be released before Wednesday. The sheriff called them "criminal anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention.”
The raids and detentions have targeted activists planning to protest the Republican National Convention, as well as journalists and videographers documenting police actions at protests. Groups directly affected by the raids include Food Not Bombs, the RNC Welcoming Committee, I-Witness Video and Communities United Against Police Brutality.
Democracy Now! spoke to Michelle Gross from Communities United Against Police Brutality on Sunday. She was at the activist convergence space Friday night when it was raided.
AMY GOODMAN: Gross was held for forty-five minutes, then released. But when she returned home, she found her home and car had been broken into and all her documents thoroughly searched.
MICHELLE GROSS: I was sitting there waiting for a meeting to happen with other legal people. We were working with a kind of a collective of legal people, and we were waiting to have a meeting. And I was literally just sitting there drinking some water and relaxing, when, you know, these Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department people came blazing in, screaming “Get on the floor! Get on the floor!” and waving guns at everybody in their faces.
And they basically—at the time, I quickly thought and opened up my video camera and hit my record button and started recording the scene. Then, because they were, you know, waving guns in my face, of course, I had to hit the floor, but I kept my camera recording the whole time.
Oh, and there are reports floating around that they're using concussion grenades on protestors. That's right: they're tossing flashbangs at kids.
Whoever is responsible for the rules of engagement here needs to be publicly investigated and fired. At the very least.
First: No! Bad blogger!
Now that it has been confirmed that McCain's VP was once a member of the controversial Alaskan Independence Party (AIP), a group that seeks, among other things, a vote on whether Alaska should secede from the Union, many questions remain unanswered (see background here, here, here and here). While she is now and has been a member of the Republican Party for over a decade, when she was a member of the AIP, did she agree with their platform? What drew her to a group who's motto is "Alaska first, Alaska always"? And how does her history with such a group affect her governing philosophy now that she is a national candidate?
This isn't about whether Sarah Palin "loves America" and certainly nobody is raising any questions about her patriotism. Rather, this may raise questions about her priorities.When she was a member of the AIP in the 1990s, its motto was "Alaska First, Alaska Always." As her campaign slogan in 2006 for governor, Palin chose "Alaska First."
NEVER preemptively give up something as powerful as "Sarah Palin Hates America" so easily!
They aren't going to stop calling YOUR guy a traitor, and this whole story is about her being less-than-patriotic. They are not going to play by the rules you unilaterally set up, and the public will be too dazzled by the charges to care when you say "hey, that's no fair!"
(No voter has ever been impressed by a liberal or Democrat saying something's not fair. Ever. Sorry. No reporters, either.)
If both sides agree on something, then fine, stick by it. But this just became a war for women's reproductive rights, science in schools, and keeping another global warming denialist out of the VP's office. Even if she's petty, inexperienced, and inclined towards endangering her children, Sarah Palin is dangerous, that's why the theocons love her so much.
Anyway, the good bit:
When she was a member of the AIP in the 1990s, its motto was "Alaska First, Alaska Always." As her campaign slogan in 2006 for governor, Palin chose "Alaska First."This may be a coincidence. But you know what? It sure as hell doesn't look like a coincidence. It doesn't sound like a coincidence. And if she's as "sharp" as her apologists claim, she'd know about the coincidence.
So my bet is that it isn't a coincidence. Whether or not Sarah Palin Hates America, she sure as hell is currying the votes of those that do. Maybe it was just a cynical ploy for votes, maybe not. Does it really matter?