Wednesday, December 24, 2008

IMF's top economist warns of another Great Depression

John Aravosis over at Americablog has a really interesting post about a warning made by the IMF's top economist.


The IMF's top economist, Olivier Blanchard, maintained that governments around the world should boost domestic demand in order to avoid another Great Depression similar to the global downturn that shook the world in the 1930s."Consumer and business confidence indexes have never fallen so far since they began. The coming months will be very bad," Blanchard said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde."

It is imperative to stifle this loss of confidence, to restart household consumption, if we want to prevent this recession developing into a Great Depression," he added.

John Aravosis writes about this news, and there were some interesting points he makes about the original Le Monde article.

Actually, I found the article in Le Monde, and I think the economist was even more vehement than the AFP translation. I'm also not convinced that AFP totally explained what the economist was suggesting - he wasn't just saying that we need to restart consumer demand, he was saying that governments have to consider boosting their own spending to REPLACE consumer demand, if necessary, even if it leads to larger deficits.

Here is what Le Monde says:
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, le directeur général du FMI, pousse les gouvernements à multiplier les dépenses budgétaires pour soutenir la croissance. Or, le Fonds était un grand ennemi des déficits.

Pourquoi ce revirement?

Nous sommes en présence d'une crise d'une amplitude exceptionnelle, dont la principale composante est un effondrement de la demande. Les indices de confiance des consommateurs et des entreprises n'ont jamais autant chuté depuis qu'ils existent. Du jamais-vu !...Les mois qui viennent vont être très mauvais. Il est impératif de juguler cette perte de confiance, de relancer et, si nécessaire, de remplacer la demande privée, si l'on veut éviter que la récession ne se transforme en Grande Dépression. Bien sûr, en temps normal, nous aurions recommandé à l'Europe de diminuer ces déficits. Mais nous ne sommes pas en temps normal.

What the economist appears to be saying is that governments need to consider REPLACING the loss of consumer spending with GOVERNMENT spending, if necessary, regardless of whether it leads to deficits.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF, is pushing governments to increase their own spending in order to support growth. The IMF has always been a big enemy of deficits. Why the reversal?We are facing a crisis of an exceptional breadth, the basis of which is a collapse of demand. The consumer and business confidence numbers have never fallen this much since they've first been recorded. We've NEVER seen this!...

It is imperative to curb the this loss of confidence, to relaunch it and, if necessary, replace private demand, if we want to avoid a recession that turns into a Great Depression. Of course, in normal times, we would recommend that Europe reduce its budget deficits. But these are not normal times.

David Shuster Grills Senator Inhofe

David Shuster of MSNBC should have his own show. Yesterday he interviewed Senator James Inhofe (a total whack job Repuglican from Oklahoma) who recently released a report citing “more than 650 international scientists” who back up his claims that manmade global warming is a hoax. If you don't know Inhofe, he once said that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

This list of scientists was a revision of his original compilation last year of 400 names earlier in the year. Upon close examination though the list fell completely apart. When real experts looked at the report they pointed out that many of the people Inhofe was citing had no background in climate science, and some actually “demanded to be taken off the list, since they didn’t disagree with the scientific consensus on climate change at all.

Since Inhofe basically got away with it he decided to release the report again and this time he cites 650 “experts.” However Inhofe’s new report doesn’t seem to be much better. than the last one.

One scientist Anja Eichler, is cited by Inhofe as believing that half of the earth’s warming is caused by the sun. She has come out and said that her work is being “misinterpreted” by Inhofe. The truth is that she believes the “Earth’s temperature does not change randomly — it changes when it is driven to do so by an external forcing.”

TNR’s Bradford Plumer also found others on this list new who appear to support the theory of manmade global warming.

Yesterday David Shuster had Senator Inhofe on to discuss his report, and he brought up the case of Anja Eichler. He pointed out all the problems with Inhofe's report, and at one point actually asked, “Senator, if there is a hoax, isn’t it this report of yours?”

Home sales hit slowest pace in 18 years

And the bad news about the economy keeps rolling in. According to the National Association of Realtors, “Sales of existing homes plunged 8.6% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.49 million, from a revised 4.91 million rate in October. … It was the slowest pace in nearly 18 years.” This will be an economic downturn that will be talked about for generations.
The Commerce Department also reported that sales of new single-family homes also fell in November, to the weakest levels since 1991.”

Some rightwingers who are in wishful thinking mode are trying to claim that Bush had nothing to do with this economic downturn, and history will vindicate him. I don't see it happening.

Obama Transition Report Finds ‘No Indication Of Inappropriate Discussions’ With Blagojegivich

Of course this will do nothing to shut down the rightwing whakos like Sean Hannerty. He will continue to bloviate away. Some in the corporate media, especially AP, and the rightwing have been speculating whether President-elect Obama or chief of staff-designate Rahm Emanuel were hiding their involvement in Illisnois Govenor Blagojevich’s pay-to-play scandal, with scant attention paid to any actual facts.

Yesterday, White House Counsel nominee Greg Craig released the report, for the Obama transition team, on their involvement with Blagojevich. They had been holding this report for a week, the release had been delayed “at the request of” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, but that didn't stop bloviating pundits from bellowing that Obama should have released it last week.

The report states that there is no indication of inappropriate discussions with Governor Blagojevich or anyone from his office about a ‘deal’ or a quid pro quo arrangement.

Other highlights:

– Barack Obama: Had “no contact or communication” about the Senate seat with
Blagojevich or his office and did talk to Axelrod and Emanuel about “other
qualified candidates. Obama never heard “that the Governor expected a personal
benefit” for the seat.

– Rahm Emanuel: “Had one or two telephone calls with Governor Blagojevich” and “about four telephone conversations with John Harris,” Chief of Staff to Blagojevich about other candidates but never discussed “a cabinet position, 501c(4), a private sector position for the Governor or any other personal benefit for the Governor.”

– David Axelrod: Had “no conversations with anyone outside the President-Elect’s immediate circle” about the seat, and nothing came up in any conversation about any “quid pro quo.”

– Valerie Jarret: Had “no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich” or
anyone in his office about the seat.

You can read the full report here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Richard Cohen's Outstanding Editorial

I have not always agreed with Richard Cohen, but today he wrote a really excellent piece in today's Washington Post. I know the media is trying to brush this Warren off as a little gay issue, but I believe it could be more. It could potentially be very damaging for Obama. Cohen's column illustrates tha this isn't just about gays and lesbians. It's about their family members, who are also offended by someone comparing their brother, their sister, their child, to a pedophile.

"I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000-year definition of marriage," Warren told's Steve Waldman.

"I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."

Waldman asked, "Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?"

"Oh, I do," said Warren.

There you have the thinking of the man Obama has chosen above all other religious figures to represent him in this most solemn moment. He likens my sister's relationship -- three children, five grandchildren, so loving as to be envied and so conventional as to be boring -- to incest or polygamy....I can understand Obama's desire to embrace constituencies that have rejected him.

Evangelicals are in that category and Warren is an important evangelical leader with whom, Obama said, "we're not going to agree on every single issue." He went on to say, "We can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans." Sounds nice.

But what we do not "hold in common" is the dehumanization of homosexuals. What we do not hold in common is the belief that gays are perverts who have chosen their sexual orientation on some sort of whim. What we do not hold in common is the
exaltation of ignorance that has led and will lead to discrimination and violence.

Finally, what we do not hold in common is the categorization of a civil rights issue -- the rights of gays to be treated equally -- as some sort of cranky cultural difference. For that we need moral leadership, which, on this occasion, Obama has failed to provide. For some people, that's nothing to celebrate.

The party's off.

That last full paragraph is the crux of the matter, and the reason the Rick Warren issue has touched off such indignation. Obama is essentially asking us to acknowledge that the humanity of Gays is negotiable. That Gays as full members of American society, as equal members of the human race, is somehow "just an opinion," no more and no less valid than those who compare them to pedophiles. Barack Obama wants us as a nation to acknowledge that there are two sides to every issue, even on our civil rights. He wants us to tolerate intolerance, as he is about to do from the highest office in the land.

My letter to Barack Obama's Transition Team

To the Transition Team for Barack Obama,

Really? Who thought it was a good idea to invite Pastor Warren to give the invocation at the Inauguration? Seriously, I am a liberal progressive who gave money to Obama, who volunteered for Obama, and voted for Obama, and what do I get as one of the first acts by Obama is a slap in the face. i understand that the President-elect is trying to reach out and change the tone of Washington, and I support that. But you can do that with an invitation to Rick Warren to visit the White House. You can have a very public debate where you invite Warren to give his thoughts, and someone of the Gay community to offer their counter-point. What you don't do is give Warren the invocation. You mean there is no liberal progressive man of faith you could have asked? Would it not have been nice for a change to show that there are people of faith who actually are liberal and progressive?

Why do we always defer to the evangelicals? Why does the invocation always get done by an evangelical? How about showing some inclusion of those who are always left on the outside instead of again pandering to the white evangelicals?

I understand that Rick Warren is supposed to be some lovable fat man with a big heart, but he is also a bigot; plain and simple. He dresses it up, and hides it in platitudes that are supposed to show he really cares, but in the end he is a bigot.

As proof I submit this video recorded yesterday by Pastor Warren:

In the new video, Warren accuses gays of "hate speech," of launching "hateful attacks" against him, and he then says that gay and lesbian Americans have "Christ-ophobia," a clear effort to mock the term "homophobia." He goes on to explain that gays are "afraid of any Christian," suggesting that gay and lesbian Americans - gay and lesbian Obama voters - are not Christians. He then goes on to call gays criticizing him "evil." All this from a man who compared gay marriage to incest and pedophilia, and who explicitly bans "unrepentant gays" from his church membership.

Really? This is the man who will step into the mantle of America's Pastor because you all decided to kick a large portion of your supporters in the groin.

Does Obama agree with Rick Warren that gay and lesbian Americans have been "evil" and "hateful" in this affair?

Does Obama agree with Rick Warren’s dehumanization of homosexuals?

Does Obama agree with Rick Warren’s characterization of homosexuality to incest and pedophilia?

Does Obama aprove of Rick Warren’s ban on "unrepentant gays" from his church membership?

Does Obama agree that gay Americans are not Christians?

Does Obama agree that gays have "Christ-ophobia"?

I would really like to know. For eight long years I have had to take the turd burgers that President Bush and Dick Cheney have forced upon the American public. Inauguration day was supposed to be a day of hope, a day of change. It was a day for liberals and progressives to take heart, but no, for cheap political points you decided to spit on many of your supporters.
There is only two forms of bigotry that are allowed today in America, bigotry against Muslims and Gays. This is not to say there is no other bigotry or racists, but those bigots have to do it on the sly or behind closed doors. The only bigotry that can be done in the open is to say hurtful and slanderous things about Muslims and Gays. This is why Rick Warren can say out loud that the marriage of Gays and Lesbians is the equivalent of incest, child rape and polygamy, and not suffer any consequence.

Would it be different if he said that the union of Obama's parents was the equivalent of incest, or that it was a sin versus God, or the equivalent of rape? These were all the same things said by men like Warren in the last 50 years. There were all the same arguments based on interpretations of the bible.

So is it okay to be a bigot as long as it's directed towards gays?

You know a lot of bigots came out against Obama during the election, are you going to invite one of their representatives to give a speech in the name of inclusiveness?

I am not completely against some of the things that Rick Warren has done, nor do I think that as President, Barack Obama should never speak with Pastor Warren, but this was not the time or the forum. You screwed up, and you were hurtful for no good purpose. It did not need to be done, and now cannot be rectified, but Obama should apologize. We have gone 8 years with a man who never once apologized for any of his mistakes, a real change would be to have a
President who actually steps up when he made a mistake.

Thank you

Monday, December 22, 2008

Most Inane Punditry of the 2008 presidential campaign

Media Matters had a vote about the most inane punditry of the 2008 presidential campaign, and the winner was...

ABC political commentator Cokie Roberts.

And it was not even close. By an overwhelming margin readers of Media Matters voted for her criticism of then-Senator Barack Obama for choosing Hawaii, where his ailing Grandmother (who would sadly die just before the election) and the state of his birth, to take his August family vacation. Readers chose Roberts' comments as the most popular entry in Media Matters for America's poll for Most Inane Punditry of the 2008 presidential campaign, in greater numbers than her two closest competitors combined.

If you don't remember Roberts' inane comments -- included her characterizing Hawaii, where Obama vacations regularly, as "foreign, exotic". Roberts stated:

"I know his grandmother lives in Hawaii and I know Hawaii is a state, but it has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place."

"He should be in Myrtle Beach, and, you know, if he's going to take a vacation at this time."

Now you might have thought that Robert's weird comments were some off-the-cuff remark, not well thought out, or just a mistake. But this was not the case, because Roberts repeated her criticism of Obama's vacation destination during the August 11 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, asserting that Obama's choice of Hawaii for his vacation "makes him seem a little bit more exotic."

She also characterized Hawaii as "a somewhat odd place to be doing it," despite acknowledging, "I know that he is from Hawaii, he grew up there, his grandmother lives there."

Vote totals in percentages*:

Cokie Roberts on Obama's Hawaii vacation: "I know his grandmother lives in Hawaii and I know Hawaii is a state," but it looks "foreign, exotic" 38.65 %

Scarborough on Obama's "dainty" bowling performance: "Americans want their president, if it's a man, to be a real man" 16.76%

Barnes: Obama not "strong on national security" because he opposed war "when the entire world believed" Saddam had WMD 16.71%

Brooks thinks Obama wouldn't seem to "fit[] in naturally" at an Applebee's salad bar -- maybe because Applebee's doesn't have them 5.95%

Defending Givhan's cleavage coverage, Harwood asserted "calculati[ng]" Clinton knew "what she was communicating by her dress" 5.79%

Fox News' Hill criticizes Clinton for leaving too large a tip, accuses her of "spending like a Learjet liberal" 5.59%

On Hardball, Matthews and Shuster critiqued Obama's "weird" beverage selection at Indiana diner 4.80%

Matthews on Obama shooting pool: "[I]t's not what most people play. People with money play pool these days" 2.48%

Matthews: "Who would win a street fight... Rudy Giuliani or President Ahmadinejad" 2.30%

Politico's Simon now on to a different part of Romney's anatomy: "shoulders you could land a 737 on" 0.97%

Franken Should Win by 50

It does not look like Al Franken will lose the lead he gained Friday in the Minnesota Senate recount. Franken's campaign recount attorney has consistantly used the same criteria for judging the ballots, and has been consistant in his message, where as Coleman's campaign has been all over the map, seizing on any bit of good news to create a positive narrative.

Currnetly Franken’s margin over Republican Norm Coleman stands at between 35 and 50 votes, and after the State Canvassing Board adds back thousands of withdrawn ballot challenges to its tally, it will likely remain the same.

The pronouncement that Franken will soon be Minnesota’s senator-elect is not just the campaign talking; it’s the campaign’s math talking. Franken’s figures always assumed that the challenged ballots would end up in the tally of the candidate for whom each one was originally called. Thus the internal count can predict the result of that work with certainty: a 35-50 vote lead for Franken.

What is the Possibility of Stagflation

It has been an interesting year for the world economy. Over the last three months central banks around the world have undertaken a number of measures to forestall deflation and lift the global economy out of economic slump and credit crisis. Aside from traditional monetary policy tools such as official interest rate cuts and relaxations in reserve requirements, central banks have resorted to alternative unconventional tools. There has been measurable easing of the credit crisis, U.S. and Europe, who may be joined by other central banks as they too head towards zero interest rates in leaps and bounds

With monetary policy transmission broken by the unwillingness of the private sector to lend or borrow, central banks have had to scurry for alternatives to rate cutting in order to restore markets. They set up an alphabet soup of liquidity facilities that lend funds or purchase assets, offered guarantees on deposits and loans, and established currency swap lines, in addition to a host of fiscal stimulus packages announced by governments.

So are the pieces now in place to prevent global stag-deflation?

It is too soon to tell. So far, money market and commercial paper markets have shown tentative signs of easing. But elsewhere in the private sector credit market, tensions remain as asset prices move shambolically and de-leveraging drags on among households, banks and businesses. Though money supply has grown, the velocity of money has slowed despite the flood of liquidity from central banks and official interest rates effectively at or near zero. In other words, we have fallen into a liquidity trap. Such a blow to consumer demand makes deflation in 2009 a real possibility.

Despite liquidity raining down on the financial system from the Fed and ECB, the financial fires have yet to be extinguished.

Yes, money market rates are off their peaks and the commercial paper market contraction has bottomed. But a lack of confidence among lenders in potential borrowers (and a lack of confidence among potential borrowers given the profit or income outlook) and falling asset valuations has stymied significant easing in market interest rates, such as for mortgages and car loans. Rate cuts and quantitative easing notwithstanding, it seems the threat of a liquidity trap is looming on the U.S.

In the U.S., private demand continues to fall sharply as does the string of awful economic and financial news. Job losses continue to keep mounting, and U.S. GDP is expected to shrink 4% or more in Q4 2008 and the contraction is expected to continue throughout 2009. Orthodox and unorthodox monetary policy measures are certainly needed but they have to be accompanied by a significant stimulus on the fiscal side to support aggregate demand. The great retrenchment of the private sector balance is already under way and the new U.S. administration is getting ready to make the largest investment in infrastructure of the last 50 years. The details of the size and content of the stimulus package are not available yet. However, there seems to be a general consensus that a package of $700-$800 billion dollars is the expectation. This may be enough, but it will be tight as recession sweeps up the entire world.

Contraction is not out of the question in 2009

Sunday, December 21, 2008

From The Daily Left - Condi Admits to 9/11 Failures

If the conservatives rule the airwaves then the Liberals rule the internet. If you have read this blog you know

Watch this post of the Daily Left:

LibertyAir Blog

TYT Week's Highlights - 12-19-2008

Here is this week's highlights from the best progressive show, the Young Turks Show.

Watch it here:

LibertyAir Blog

Rachel Maddow on Pastor Warren

Rachel Maddow spoke about Pastor Warren and what a terrible choice Barack Obama made when he asked him to give the invocation at the inauguration. She interviews David Corn of MotherJones magazine to ask if there is any chance that Obama will withdraw his invitation. Unfortunately I think Corn is right when he says that Obama will not take back this terrible mistake.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Media Matters' 2008 Misinformer of the Year

Media Matters has named it's 2008 Misinformer of the Year, and this year it is Sean Hannerty. Honestly I think this was a runaway this year. Sean Hannerty has been pushing a line of BS this year about Barack Obama, and his aquaintences that was head and shoulders above what anyone else has done this year.

Because of the unending stream of falsehoods and character attacks that fueled the "Stop Obama Express," and the countless other distortions he promoted throughout 2008, Sean Hannity is Media Matters for America's Misinformer of the Year.

Media Matters has demonstrated time and again Sean Hannity of Fox News has been a dominant and inexhaustible outlet for every type of rightwing, nutball, conservative propaganda. Never before has he so enthusiastically applied his talents for spreading lies, half truths, fabrications, and innuendo as he did to the 2008 presidential race, focusing his energies primarily on President-elect Barack Obama.

Relentlessly, Hannity devoted his Fox News shows and his three-hour ABC Radio Networks program to "demonizing" the Democratic presidential candidates.

He was pretty open about it to, as he explaining in August:
"That's my job. ... I led the 'Stop Hillary Express.' By the way, now it's the 'Stop Obama Express.' "

Hannity's "Stop Obama Express" promoted and overstated and inflated a vast array of misleading attacks and bogus claims about Barack Obama. He uncritically adopted and pushed countless Republican talking points and rightwing smears. He played host to numerous credibility-challenged smear artists who painted Obama as a dangerous radical. When he was not going after Obama, Hannity attacked members of Obama's family, as well as Senator Hillary Clinton and other progressives, and denied all the while that he had unfairly attacked anyone.

Hannity's attacks have at times influenced mainstream media coverage. ABC News' George Stephanopoulos appeared on Hannity's radio program on April 15, during which Hannity suggested to Stephanopoulos that he ask Obama at the Democratic presidential debate the following evening about his "association with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist from the Weather Underground." Stephanopoulos assured Hannity that he was "taking notes right now." Stephanopoulos then did ask Obama at the debate to "explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem," though he later denied that Hannity had exerted any influence on his questioning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cheney Takes Credit for Torture

Vice President Dick Cheney is a war monger and a criminal. On Monday he came out and said he was directly involved in approving torture methods used by the CIA. He also claimed that the prison at Guantanamo Bay is a good thing and should remain open indefinitely. The man is insane.

Cheney's comments also mark the first time that he has acknowledged playing a central role in clearing the CIA's use of an array of controversial interrogation tactics, including a simulated drowning method known as waterboarding. Cheney said in an interview with ABC News:
"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared."

In a follow-up question Cheney was asked whether he still believed it was appropriate to use the waterboarding method on terrorism suspects, Cheney's answer: "I do."

His comments come on the heels of disclosures by a Senate committee showing that high-level officials in the Bush administration were intimately involved in reviewing and approving interrogation methods that have since been explicitly outlawed and that have been condemned internationally as torture. Of course our media is completely overlooking this scandal.

Watch Dick's interview here:

LibertyAir Blog

Now the Fed is Trying to Give Away Cash

I honestly don't know what to think. A few years ago when Alan Greenspan dropped the key interest rate to 1 I thought it was a huge mistake. I did not think that the situation warrented it, and I was concerned about the flood of money into an economy based on perceived wealth. Now today the Federal Reserve has again cut its target for overnight interest rates, but this time they have dropped the rate from zero to 0.25%. I'm not even sure what that means, is it zero or is it 0.25%?

Whatever it is, its a pretty unconventional action. I know that the Fed and Bernanke are trying to do everything they can to lift the economy out of a year-long recession, but is this the right action? Cutting interest rates to 0.25% or 0% is not going to resolve any of the fundemental problems in the economy, other than to provid banks with very cheap money. I would not have done this unless there was a guarantee that the banks would drop their interest rates.

Paul Krugman writes in his blog today:


"That’s zero interest rate policy. And it has arrived. America has turned Japanese."

"This is the thing I’ve been afraid of ever since I realized that Japan really was in the dreaded, possibly mythical liquidity trap."

"Seriously, we are in very deep trouble. Getting out of this will require a lot of creativity, and maybe some luck too."

With the Fed's key rate now essentially zero, the central bank is moving into uncharted territory. Nonetheless, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has made it clear the Fed isn't running out of ammunition to fight the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. Except that it basically has.

Bernanke claims that the Fed is exploring using tools other than rate cuts to revive the economy. Trouble is he does not have the authority or clout to really do anything else. Bernanke and his colleagues wrap up a two-day meeting Tuesday, but no one is sure what will come out of it.
The Fed is trying to send a message that it is ready to do everything in its power to stop the economy's free fall, but they have pretty much used up all their power.

Minnesota Election Update

Today Minnesota’s state canvassing board will start inspecting as many as 1,500 disputed ballots one-by-one. The five-member state canvassing board now steps up to the plate to see if a winner can finally be decided in this race. Just so you know the Minnesota state canvassing board is made up of the Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, two state Supreme Court justices and two Ramsey County judges.

Both campaigns had pledged to abandon many of the challenges that they lodged during the recount, which means this phase of the recount should not take nearly as long as some had feared. The Coleman campaign said it would keep about 1,000 of its challenged votes, while the Franken campaign said it would retain about 500.

Even if the board meets the goal of finishing by Friday, it seems unlikely to amount to a final resolution of this election. There will still be a major dispute over the handling of absentee ballots that were improperly rejected on Election Day. Currently the number of estimated at around 1,600. The canvassing board earlier told counties to sort and count such ballots, but the Coleman campaign on Monday asked the state Supreme Court to block that. The high court scheduled a hearing on the matter Wednesday.

Currently Norm Coleman leads Al Franken by 188 votes at this time.

Where is the media?

Last week's bipartisan Senate report on the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere doesn't just lay out a clear line of responsibility starting with President Bush, it also exposes the administration's repeated explanation for what happened as a pack of lies.

The report notes that in early 2002, not long after the Defense Department legal counsel's office started exploring the application of the sorts of abhorrent practices later documented at Abu Ghraib, Bush signed a memo exempting war-on-terror detainees from the Geneva Conventions. "[T]he decision to replace well established military doctrine, i.e., legal compliance with the Geneva Conventions, with a policy subject to interpretation, impacted the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody," the report states. And the report concludes: "The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at [Guantanamo]. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely."

Yet where is the U.S. media? Where is our corporate media? Not covering this major scandal, that's for sure. No our TV pundit class has been consumed with righteous indignation over the titillating, sleazy, and in the end rather petty Governor Blagojevich and his Soprano-like scandal. Each talking head has seemed more intent on competing with one another over who could sound more righteous, and spew the most derision and scorn for this apalling figure. And while Blagojevich was brazen his crimes in the end were relatively inconsequential.

Bush lawbreaking and war crimes scandals gets no coverage, while a corrupt Illisnois governor gets 24/7 coverage. What is wrong with our media?

Yes Blagojevich was vulgar and reckless but the media fixation on this ultimately irrelevant scandal, when compared to their steadfast ignoring of the Senate report documenting systematic U.S. war crimes, is perfectly reflective of how our political establishment thinks.

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball dig into the supporting documents and write for Newsweek: "The Bush administration approved the use of 'waterboarding' on Al Qaeda detainees after receiving reports from government psychologists that it was '100 percent effective' in breaking the will of U.S. military personnel subjected to the technique during training, according to documents released today by a Senate Committee. . . .
"'Use of the watering board resulted in student capitulation and compliance 100 percent of the time,' wrote Jerald F. Ogrisseg, the Air Force's chief of psychology services, in a July 24, 2002 memo released as part of the Senate report. . . .
"Much of the report, including the role top White House officials played in approving such methods, is based on material made public in two previous hearings by Levin's panel and other government reports. But it also includes some recently declassified documents, as well as new evidence showing how critical the use of SERE methods was in persuading senior officials to adopt interrogation techniques the U.S. government previously found strongly objectionable."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Michael Hirsh of Newsweek on TYT

Every Monday Michael Hirsh of Newsweek comes on the Young Turks to give his take. This week Michael had an interesting take on Bush and his incompetense. He literally states the obvious that the Iraq war was not a rational act.

Watch it here:

Obama: Aides 'did nothing inappropriate'

President-elect Barack Obama said Monday a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and transition aides "did nothing inappropriate."

Obama said today he is prepared to make the review public, but decided to hold off because prosecutors asked for a delay and "I don't want to interfere with an ongoing investigation."
Controversy has swirled around the president-elect and his incoming White House chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, following Blagojevich's arrest last week on charges he schemed to trade Obama's Senate seat for personal gain.

Watch this NBC news clip:

Here is what Keith Olbermann said on his show today:

President Bush is an Idiot

I know this is not news, but man the jerk is trying to drive the fact home in these final weeks. Case in point yesterday President Bush sat down with ABC’s Martha Raddatz for an exit interview in Iraq.

When Raddatz asked Bush about his legacy, Bush first boasted about 52 months of uninterrupted job growth. Which is not actually accurate, for his claimed job growth did not keep up with the growth of the population and ignores the fact that at the begining and end of his administration the economy shed millions of jobs. In this year alone there have been 1.9 million jobs lost.

With the interview taking place in Iraq, it was inevitable that the interview would turn to the catastrophe that is Iraq. Bush of coures is completely clueless when it comes to Iraq. He justified the war in Iraq by suggesting it had been al Qaeda’s home base. When Raddatz corrected him, Bush dismissively replied, "So what?"

Watch it here:

Bush continues his refusal to take any responsibility for the consequences of his decisions, in fact Bush suggests that al Qaeda came to Iraq by chance, which is simply ridiculous. Bush actually says in the interview that Iraq “turn[ed] out to have been” the place where they “were going to take their stand.”

This is stupid on many levels, first al Qaeda’s existence in Iraq is 100 percent attributable to Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq. Al Qaeda never existed there before, and in fact, Saddam Hussein viewed Osama bin Laden as a threat and refused to support him. Second, I wish one person would point out that the reason Osama bin Laden has called Iraq the central front of the war on terror, and why he would wish to keep it there was that it was thousands of miles away from his base of operations.

Also lets not forget that throughout the run-up to war, Bush repeatedly cited supposed links between al Qaeda and Iraq to drum up support for the U.S. invasion. When those links proved to be utterly false — and perhaps even willingly fabricated — Bush began insisting that al Qaeda had chosen Iraq as the “central front in the war on terror,” and so the United States was forced to stay there and respond. In the meantime, more than 4,000 Americans have been killed, 30,000 maimed, and nearly 100,000 Iraqis killed.

Bush also continued to dismiss the incident when Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi threw his shoes at Bush and shouted, “This is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.”

Bush said that Zaidi’s actions were “bizarre” but had no larger significance:

Q Well, not to belabor the point too much, on this man, but I have a serious question about it. Obviously he’s expressing a vein of anger that exists in Iraq, and —

BUSH: How do you know? I mean, how do we know what he’s expressing? Who — […] I’ve heard all kinds of stories. I heard he was representing a Baathist TV station. I don’t know the facts, but let’s find out the facts. All I’m telling you, it was a bizarre moment. […] I don’t think you can take one guy throwing shoes and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq. You can try to do that if you want to. I don’t think it would be accurate. … That’s exactly what he wanted you to do. Like I answered on your question, what he wanted you to do was to pay attention to him. And sure enough, you did.

In the interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz yesterday, Bush laughed off Zaidi’s actions as “amusing.” “I don’t know what his beef is,” said Bush. “But whatever it is I’m sure somebody will hear it.”

Watch it here:

US Homes Decline Over $2 trillion in Value

Homes in the United States have lost trillions of dollars in value during 2008, with nearly 11.7 million American households now "underwater" or owing more on their mortgage than their homes are actually worth. U.S. homes are set to lose well over $2 trillion in value during 2008, according to an analysis of recent Zillow Real Estate Market Reports.

Home values have declined 8.4 percent year-over-year during the first three quarters of this year, compared to the same period in 2007, the reports showed.

U.S. home values lost $1.9 trillion from the first of the year through the end of the third quarter, and will probably fall further in the fourth quarter. One in seven of all homeowners, or 14.3 percent, are now considered "underwater", the report showed.

This year marked the acceleration of the market correction, and is likely to end with the eighth consecutive quarter of declines in home values.

Rove takes the lead on strategy for GOP Senators

Because the Republican leadership is still in denial, and do not want to learn from their mistakes. The short era of bipartisanship is over. Republican Senators, especially those from the south. are not going to go along with the new era of bipartisanship.

Last week, we learned that GOP Senators are setting up a first fight with the Obama administration over the Eric Holder nomination. Now, we find out, via Think Progress, that the Republican Senators have Karl Rove leading their strategy:

Young Turks Week in Review

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why is the Fed Refusing to Disclose Recipients of Bailout?

The Federal Reserve has refused requests by Bloomberg News to disclose who are the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayersl.

Bloomberg news filed suit on November 7th under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. They were requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs that were created by the Fed in response to the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed responded by saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. The institution confirmed that a records search found 231 pages of documents pertaining to some of the requests.

The Fed stepped into a rescue role that was the original purpose of the Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The central bank loans don’t have the oversight safeguards that Congress imposed upon the TARP. So far total Fed lending is reported to exceed $2 trillion. It rose by 138 percent, or $1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since September, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren’t rated AAA.

Congress is demanding more transparency from the Fed and Treasury. THe Fed however is arguing that the release of such information to the public would cause a loss in confidence in and between financial institutions.


The public can't know what the government is doing with our money?

That is ridiculous.

The Hoover Party

Rachel Maddow gives a brief history of Herbert Hoover, and accurately ties the modern Republican Party to him.

LibertyAir Blog

Rachel Maddow: Union-Bashing v. Facts

Rachel Maddow looked at union-bashing versus the real facts last night on MSNBC:

LibertyAir Blog

Obama talks housing in the weekly radio address

In the weekly radio address, the president-elect talked again about the housing crisis, another of the Bush disasters which will soon be on his plate, and named his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development:

LibertyAir Blog

A Really Bad Day for Coleman

On a day when Al Franken received all kinds of great news, Norm Coleman received more bad news. It has been revealed that Norm Coleman is under investigation by the FBI for his ties to businessman Nasser Kazeminy. Now a local Fox News station reports that Kazeminy allegedly funneled the Republican Senator money right when he needed money for a home renovation. Moreover, the interior designer in charge of the remodeling is a Coleman contributor and fundraiser as well.

Norm Coleman is in all kinds of trouble. Not only is he in trouble for this $75,000 in unreported payments from a prominent Republican businessman, there is other compelling evidence to suggest that Coleman was soliciting monetary favors from his GOP backers.

Around the same time that Coleman and his wife were allegedly receiving three $25,000 payments from businessman Nasser Kazeminy, the Senator was also getting cheaply discounted rent from a major Republican figure who served as his landlord in Washington D.C.

In July 2007 the Senator began paying $600 a month rent on his one-bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill, way below market value. His landlord is a well known Republican operative and communications guru named Jeff Larson. It was later revealed that Larson was also covering Coleman's utilities.

This D.C. arrangement raised eyebrows because Coleman had helped Larson secure millions in business related to the Republican Convention in St. Paul. There is also evidence that Norm Coleman's wife, Laurie Coleman , who is a model and actress, suddenly became an employee at an insurence company that paid her $75,000 despite the fact that she is not a licensed insurance agent, and does not live most of her time in Minnesota.

Coleman is a corrupt little man. I really hope Franken wins.

Franken Gets More Good News

On a day when Senate hopeful Al Franken had already received two bits of good news, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported on another piece of really great news:
"Franken received unexpected good news when Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann dropped a mini-bombshell [at the state canvassing board meeting], telling the board that in overwhelmingly Democratic Duluth — which has not officially tallied rejected absentees — about 40 percent of that city's 319 rejected absentee ballots were mistakenly rejected. Gelbmann said the city rejected the votes because either the voter or the witness did not date their signatures. He said he couldn't find any state law to support such a rejection."
It has not been a good 24 hours for Norm Coleman, and so his campaign is going to go to court to try and stop the count, but they face long odds because there already are standards set forth in Minnesota election law for rejecting a ballot and the Franken campaign is rightly arguing that these standards should be used and that the rejected ballots that do not meet those four standards should be counted.

Republicans May Have Lost On Auto Bailout

The White House is moving forward with a rescue plan for the automakers. Congressional Republicans are not happy about it. What was first declared a tactical victory for the GOP leadership by the likes of MSNBC's First Read, is now looking like a loss. Because Senate Republicans failed to reach a deal with Democrats and their union allies, it now looks like they will get none of the conditions they were pushing for. In a post from the New Republic, Jonathan Chait notes that the White House is poised to bailout the automakers anyway, suggesting that the "GOP maneuver will have been a total disaster" for the party. If the White House uses the TARP funds its doubtful that the carmakers will be required to accept all of the restructuring conditions the Republicans were pushing for Thursday. This is because if the White House does use TARP funds the Republicans will have lost most of their leverage. Right now they have 49 Senate, in January they will have at most 42 seats, maybe only 41, their ability to block a closure vote. When that happens the Democrats will cut a much better deal for themselves, for the union, and for the auto companies. There will be more protections for the workers and there will be tougher environmental standards. Thus Mitch McConnell who was pretty much being hailed as a genius as a leader of the opposition, will have won nothing.

Republicans had a chance to make this bill as appealing as possible, but they didn't want want to concede anything. They didn't want to concede anything on environmental standards. They didn't want to concede anything on worker rights. They wouldn't negotiate in good faith.

Friday, December 12, 2008

GOP's Strategy for Blocking Bailout Revealed

On today's Countdown guest host David Schuester revealed a new memo that explains the GOP's strategy for blocking a bridge loan to the auto industry:

Countdown has obtained a memo entitled "Action Alert - Auto Bailout," and sent Wednesday at 9:12am, to Senate Republicans. The names of the sender(s) and recipient(s) have been redacted in the copy Countdown obtained.

The Los Angeles Times reported that it was circulated among Senate Republicans. The brief memo outlines internal political strategy on the bailout, including the view that defeating the bailout represents a "first shot against organized labor." Senate Republicans blocked passage of the bailout late Thursday night, over its insistence on an immediate union pay cut.

From: Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:12 AM To: Subject: Action Alert -- Auto Bailout

Today at noon, Senators Ensign, Shelby, Coburn and DeMint will hold a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV Gallery. They would appreciate our support through messaging and attending the press conference, if possible. The message they want us to deliver is:

1. This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.

2. This rush to judgment is the same thing that happened with the TARP. Members did not have an opportunity to read or digest the legislation and therefore could not understand the consequences of it. We should not rush to pass this because Detroit says the sky is falling.

The sooner you can have press releases and documents like this in the hands of members and the press, the better. Please contact me if you need additional information. Again, the hardest thing for the democrats to do is get 60 votes. If we can hold the Republicans, we can beat this.

Watch David fill in for Keith Olbermann here:

The GOP is showing their true colors, and letting everyone know they will not work with the Obama administration to fix the problems of this nation. They killed the auto rescue plan Thursday night for purely partisan reasons. It never was about trying to help the automakers or the economy, but an effort to crush the working class and punish unions. There are many more people in line to suffer if the Big 3 go out of business, but Shelby and his band of brothers couldn't care less.

"Union Busting" is a high priority for these Conservatives fools that have allowed our country to be run into the ground. Can you name anything good that has come out of the eight years of Bush and Conservative dominance? So what is their solution? To take it out on the blue collars of America.

If anything this memo should be used as a reminder that the Employee Free Choice Act should be one of Obama's "high priorities" just after he takes office. Check out this video that explains a few things about it.

Update: Think Progress obtained the 20 senators who bailed out Wall Street but refused to rescue auto workers.»

Last night, the Senate failed to approve the auto rescue package, voting 52-35 in favor of the bill – just eight short of the 60 votes that were needed. Over on the Wonk Room, Dan Weiss takes a look at the 20 senators who voted for the Wall Street bailout but voted against the auto rescue last night (as well as the 10 others who skipped the vote last night, but voted for the financial bailout):
Yes to TARP, No to auto
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Kay Hutchison (R-TX)
Sen. John Isakson (R-GA)
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL)
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. John Thune (R-SD)

Yes to TARP, Absent for auto
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Sen.Ted Stevens (R-AK)
Sen. John Sununu (R-NH)

Senator Biden was tending to transition duties, while John Kerry was in Poznan, Poland, participating in U.N. climate change talks. Alexander was home recovering from surgery.

Why did these other Senators feel auto workers weren’t as deserving as Wall Street? We’d like to know.

New Rescue for Auto Industry?

With Republicans being assholes, the economy floundering, the Bush administration has declared that it will step in to prevent the "precipitous collapse" of the U.S. auto industry which would have been disastrous for the economy, with the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs that was sure to follow.

A day after the Republicans killed the rescue legislation in Congress, George W. Bush realized he was about to be George Herbert Hoover Bush, and so changed his mind about using money from the TARP bailout. The TARP is the $700 billion Troubled Assets Recovery Program, the financial industry bailout plan enacted in October. The White House warned of the severe impact on a weakened US economy if the auto makers collapsed. President Bush had originally refused to use the bailout fund to help the auto makers, insisting that aid come from Congress. But the White House said it must reconsider after the Senate failed to agree on a $14 billion rescue plan late Thursday night.

In a letter to Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged the president to demand "the same tough accountability" and taxpayer protections from the automakers as was contained in legislation that cleared the House at midweek.

President-elect Obama has also contacted President Bush and urged him to give the U.S. Auto industry the band aid that would get them trough the end of the year, so he and the Democrats can address the problem early next year. Obama, who will inherit the problem next month said,
"My hope is that the administration and the Congress will still find a way to give the industry the temporary assistance it needs while demanding the long-term restructuring that is absolutely required."
Here is video from earlier this morning:

LibertyAid Blog

Franken Campaign Gains Big Win

Today was a big day in Minnesota regarding the Franken-Coleman senate race. I have to admit that I had begun to fear that Coleman was going to pull this race out. That Minnesota was going to have a senator who in the next year would be facing Federal indictments for corruption. I have met Norm Coleman, and he is as oily as he appears. Minnesota really does not want this corrupt little man as a senator. That is why today's news is so good. Al Franken's chances of winning the Minnesota recount may have just gone up astronomically. The state canvassing board in Minnesota got together this morning to determine whether to count improperly rejected absentee ballots. For Al Franken, obviously, the goal was to have the ballots included.

The canvassing board members agreed, making the Democrat's chances of victory that much more likely. Eric Kleefeld explained that Franken's chances of winning "may have just gone up astronomically."

The state canvassing board just voted unanimously that absentee ballots that were initially rejected because of clerical errors -- and the current estimate from the hearing is that there could be nearly 1,600 of them, based on some extrapolation -- should be counted, probably the single biggest issue that the Franken campaign has been hammering ever since this recount began.

The board can't directly order the county officials to do the counting, only making a formal request to go back and count the votes and then submit amended totals. But many counties have already begun or finished the process of sorting the rejected absentees at the board's request, and board members did castigate any election officials who wouldn't do so, with some of them even leaving open the option of seeking a court order if necessary.

Because of all that, it seems very likely that the vast majority of these ballots will be counted before this is over -- and it could possibly seal the deal for Franken. Pre-election polling showed him winning the overall pool of absentee ballots by a solid margin, so it seems pretty reasonable to assume that the newly-counted votes will break for Al. If that proves to be correct, Franken will probably pull ahead of Norm Coleman and win the election.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has more on this morning's meeting. They report that the Coleman campaign is asking the state Supreme Court that the counting of rejected absentee ballots be halted until a standard procedure is established. It looks like 13 percent of the rejected absentee ballots were tossed improperly, which would mean that nearly 1,600 absentee ballots were wrongfully set aside. Consideing the margin between Coleman and Franken, that number could be huge. No wonder the Coleman campaign is working its ass off to keep these votes from being counted, even though they were tossed improperly.

At the same time the two campaigns are now challenging a combined total of 4,472 Election Day ballots that have been reviewed during the statewide recount.

Also the issue of the 133 mystery ballots was brought before the board. Minneapolis elections director Cindy Reichert, who reviewed the futile search for 133 missing ballots that disappeared from the Minneapolis voting office. Franken's campaign had lodged a protest over the 133 votes, while the Coleman campaign argued there was no proof the votes actually exsisted. Reichert reported to the board, "We determined definitively the ballots were missing." She said the idea that the ballots may have been fed in twice -- creating an inflated overall vote total -- is not a viable theory.

Reichert recommended that the board accept the number of votes in the precinct counted on Election Night: 2,028. Good news for the Franken campaign was that the board accepted Reichert's request. However, board member Magnuson, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, said the matter would "no doubt" be headed to court.
Now that last bit is a bit sobering. This race is nowhere near over, but after a week of bad news, Al Franken got some much needed good news today.

Colin Powell On The GOP and Rush Limbaugh

Years ago the Republican party embraced anger, hatred, and divisiveness, which is why I stopped supporting them. They turned to leaders like Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay. They hired men like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove who ran on scare tactics, and dividing the electorate. The Conservatives built a message machine with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Glenn Beck; people who preach anger, hatred, and divisiveness, which became the overall tone of conservative talk radio, and Faux News.

Now finally a prominent Republican is speaking out against this. Read about Powell's interview here.

The Republican party must stop "shouting at the world" and start listening to
minority groups if it is to win elections in the 21st century, former Secretary
of State Colin Powell said Thursday.

In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria for Sunday's "GPS" program, President Bush's former secretary of state said his party's attempt "to use polarization for political advantage" backfired last month....

"I think the party has to stop shouting at the world and at the country,"Powell said.

"I think that the party has to take a hard look at itself, and I've talked to a number of leaders in recent weeks and they understand that." Powell, who says he still considers himself a Republican, said his party should also stop listening to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

"Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?" Powell asked. "Is this really the kind of party that we want to be when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?"

Bush Administration At Fault For Torture

A bipartisan Senate report released today says that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials are directly responsible for abuses of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and charges that decisions by those officials led to serious offenses against prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere." Read more about it here.:

More on the Bailout

If you have been reading this blog, you know I have supported the idea of this bailout. Even though the management of the three companies has been bad, and I would have demanded change at the top, I would have supported this bailout. I also know that I would not have supported a bailout if these were normal times, but that's the thing these are not normal times. The dirty fact is that the three companies would not be in this much trouble if not for the financial crisis on Wall Street, and the credit crisis. This is why when that idiot Mitch McConnell comes on the air and says that the U.S. auto industry have only themselves to blame, her is either lying or an idiot. Actually they are not mutually exclusive.

Under the circumstances of today it is an extraordinarily irresponsible thing to do. The Senate Republicans were not, let me make this clear, WERE NOT trying to do things responsibly. They did not ever seem to consider extending the kind of financing that would allow GM and Chrysler to go through Chapter 11 bankruptcy rather than liquidation. That financing would have involved loans, not gifts. It would have allowed an orderly reorganization that they kept claiming they wanted. Instead Republicans are willing to let a million jobs to go down because they wanted to break the UAW.

We are in a recession. We already have millions losing their jobs. We already have an economy on the brink. We have a party of idiots in congress, what is worse the other party is one of weaklings.

In the middle of the worst downturn in half a century the idiots who make up the leadership of the Republican party decide to prove that they care about fiscal responsibility. This after years of being willing to spend money on whatever George W. Bush wanted. This after years of being willing to spend money on whatever lobbyists have written into laws for them. This after years of being willing to spend money like there was no tomorrow, putting this nation so far in debt we may never see it paid off.

The consequences to our economy sound delightful:

"With Congress failing to agree on a bailout for Detroit, the odds that General Motors and Chrysler will be insolvent by year's end are growing rapidly.

The companies have been warning that they would run out of money for some time, but crushing bills from their suppliers are coming due. It appeared unlikely that they could hold on until President-elect Barack Obama takes office next month, when he and a new Congress might be able to provide a lifeline, as a Congressional rescue this year looked increasingly unlikely. (...)

General Motors and Chrysler, for example, owe their suppliers a total of roughly $10
billion for parts that have been delivered. G.M. has held off paying them for weeks, and Chrysler is paying in small increments. But the cash shortages at G.M. and Chrysler are getting more severe, according to their top executives and other officials. (...)

Many of their suppliers are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy themselves, and do not have the luxury of extending credit much longer. (...)

When suppliers big and small start failing, the flow of parts to every automaker in the country will be disrupted because as suppliers typically sell their products to both American and foreign brands with plants in the United States."

"There's no question it will hit Toyota, Honda and Nissan too," said John Casesa, principal in the auto consulting firm Casesa Shapiro Group.

"Many of the small suppliers will simply liquidate because they don't have the resources to go reorganize in Chapter 11 bankruptcy," Mr. Casesa said.

"They'll just go away."

Here was what Rachel Maddow reported on this story before the Republicans fully sank the deal:

LibertyAir Blog

Krugman is terrified again

Paul Krugman is worried. This makes me worried..

Another day, another terrifying economic report, this time on unemployment claims.

So are we now losing jobs at the rate of 600,000 a month? 700,000? If fiscal expansion takes, say, 8 months to kick in (and that’s optimistic), where will that leave us?

Why Do I Think Republicans Are Idiots

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell joined other Republican lawmakers in opposition to the White House-backed rescue bill passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
He and other Republicans said wages and benefits for employees of Detroit's Big Three should be renegotiated to bring them in line with those paid by Japanese carmakers Toyota, Honda and Nissan in the United States.

This is a stupid argument, and dishonest. Hourly wages for UAW workers at GM factories are actually less than those paid by Toyota Motor Corp at its older U.S. factories. GM says the average union laborer makes $29.78 per hour, while Toyota says it pays about $30 per hour. But the unionized factories have far higher benefit costs. So the Republicans are asking UAW workers to take wage cuts that put them even further behind. Could this be because they want more workers to migrate south? There are plans for 18 more state subsidized factories to be built in the south, could they be trying to build their pool of workers?

GM says its total hourly labor costs are now $69, including wages, pensions and health care for active workers, plus the pension and health care costs of more than 432,000 retirees and spouses. Toyota says its total costs are around $48. The Japanese automaker has far fewer retirees and its pension and health care benefits are not as rich as those paid to UAW workers. In fact the only country that Toyota has to pay health care benefits is the United States, so they are working at great advantage over GM. Toyota's plants in the U.S. are so new they have few pensions to deal with.

So when you see those sanctimonious windbags of the right on the cable shows, know they are lying assholes who are threatening the economy of the country to break an ally of the Democratic party.

Here is what Katrina Vanden Heuvel of the Nation Magazine had to say about it on MSNBC's Morning Joe:

LibertyAir Blog

Get Ready

It is going to be a bad day on Wall Street. This is what we can expect now that the $14-billion emergency bailout for U.S. automakers collapsed in the Senate. The deal to help the auto industry fell a part last night as Republicans tried to break the UAW. Don't believe those lying Repuglicans, this had nothing to do with some principle, it is all about breaking the union. The collapse came after bipartisan talks broke down over union wage cuts, the Repugs wanted the union to basically handover the farm.

Markets oversea's are already falling hard on the news. U.S. Markets are expected to fall. Harry Reid has said he hopes Bush will tap the $700 billion Wall Street bailout fund for emergency aid to the automakers. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC have said they could be weeks from collapse. Ford Motor Co. says it does not need federal help now, but its survival is far from certain, and if GM and Chrysler fall it will need help.

The implosion followed an unprecedented marathon negotiations in Washington among labor, the auto industry and lawmakers who bargained into the night in efforts to salvage the auto bailout at a time of soaring job losses and widespread economic turmoil.

The group came close to agreement, but it stalled over the union's refusal to agree to wage cuts before their current contract expires in 2011. Republicans, in turn, balked at giving the automakers federal aid.

Leave it to the Repuglicans to put ideology above country.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama's Energy and Environment Team

The president-elect has unveiled his energy and environmental team, and it is good.

President-elect Barack Obama has selected his top energy and environmental advisers, including a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, presidential transition officials said Wednesday.

Collectively, they will have the task of carrying out Mr. Obama's stated intent to curb global warming emissions drastically while fashioning a more efficient national energy system. And they will be able to work with strong allies in Congress who are interested in developing climate-change legislation, despite fierce economic headwinds that will amplify objections from manufacturers and energy producers.

The officials said Mr. Obama would name Steven Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as his energy secretary, and Nancy Sutley, deputy mayor of Los Angeles for energy and environment, as head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Mr. Obama also appears ready to name Carol M. Browner, the E.P.A. administrator
under President Bill Clinton, as the top White House official on climate and energy policy and Lisa P. Jackson, New Jersey's commissioner of environmental protection, as the head of the E.P.A.

This is a good liberal/progressive team. And you would be hard pressed to find better prepared individuals for these jobs. Here's information on Chu; here's information on Sutley; and here's information on Jackson.

Obama Takes Questions on Blagojevich

In a press conference designed to focus on the appointment of Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Barack Obama was besieged almost entirely with questions about the role he and his staff played (or didn't play) in the Rod Blagojevich corruption scandal.

The President-elect gamely fielded three questions on the issue and addressed it in his opening remarks, saying (twice) that he was appalled and disappointed "by the revelations earlier this week." He declared that he "had no contact with the governor's office" and "did not speak to the governor" about the process of who should replace him as Senator. "That I know for certain," Obama said.

Pressed on several occasions to reveal the extent, if any, of his staff's contact with the Illinois Governor -- contact that likely took place, considering Obama's seat was under discussion -- the President-elect urged a bit of patience.
"I have asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor about his vacancy so that we can share them with you over the next few days. What I'm absolutely certain about is that our office had no involvement in any deal-making about my Senate seat ... That would be a violation of everything this campaign was about and that is not how we do business."
Watch it here:

LibertyAir Blog

Marriage, Bible-style

This week Jon Stewart had Mike Huckabee on his show this week. The two men devoted an entire segment of a two-part interview to a debate over gay marriage. Huckabee's key point during the debate was that people should have "the right to live any way they want to" but that marriage is about men and women, basically making babies. Huckabee argued:
"Anatomically, let's face it, the only way we can create the next generation is with male-female relationships."

I have never understood why straight couples are going to stop having babies if we allow Gay and Lesbians to enter a legally recognized relationship. You can watch the debate here:

Next time you hear somebody bring up the Marriage as defined by the bible I would like you to remember this. Huckabee tried to claim that 5000 years of marriage has been man and woman. Stewart points out that this is a crap argument.

Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos passes along a comment about what the law would say if we had traditional Biblical marriages like the Mormons and their buddies on the far-right are demanding:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he
refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)

This was a comment from an excellent post by jem6x on Newsweek's great cover story on the Bible and gay marriage. Go check it out.

Senate Republicans Threaten to Throw Nation into another Great Depression

Republicans are idiots.

Its that simple.

Only these idiots could think that this is a wise course for the nation. If I have to listen to one more sanctimonious windbag from the right come onto the radio or TV and say that the auto companies should just file for bankruptcy, I am going to scream. Do any of these idiots even know the laws that govern bankruptcy? To file for Chapter 11 you have to be able to get banks to offer lines of credit to back up the company. If these companies could get lines of credit, they would not be asking for the bailout.

Now the idiots in the Republican party are ready to force this nation to lose another 2 million jobs, while in the throes of a massive recession, so they can break the unions. And that's what this is about folks, this is a play to break the unions. Remeber these are the same Republican idiots who were happy to throw the stock market into a tail spin because they didn't want to bail out the banks, which lead to the credit crisis that is now bringing down the auto industry. Now they don't want to bail out the car industry.

Yesterday the House passed a bill to speed $14 billion in loans to Detroit's automakers. But it does not look like it will get past the Senate because Republican opposition could derail the emergency aid in the Senate. The Republicans still hold 49 seats, and it looks like they plan to use this number to challenging lame-duck President George W. Bush on the package. They are lamely arguing that any support for the domestic auto industry should carry significant concessions from autoworkers and creditors and reject tougher environmental rules imposed by House Democrats.

See this has nothing to do about the economy, or basic values, it's all about destroying the unions and the environment.

Newspapers & the Clusterf#@k to the Poor House

Jon Stewart dedicated his "Clusterf#@k to the Poor House" segment yesterday to newspapers.
He joked:

"What's black and white and completely over?"
"Give up? It's newspapers."
Stewart dramatically declared that major newspapers companies are in turmoil because of,


Specifically Craigslist which has brought about the industry's demise.
"Online ads are cheaper, they receive wider distribution, and, perhaps most importantly, many newspapers still stubbornly refuse to post classified ads like, '57 Year Old Man looking for No-Strings-Attached Shemale Scat Gang Bang."

LibertyAir Blog

It has been a bad year for newspapers in what has been a long line of bad years for the newspaper industry. Just recently the nation's leading newspaper publisher, Gannet, predicted its full-year sales would fall about 8 percent, but its forecast was largely in line with analyst expectations. At the same time the Tribune Co. Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Sun of Baltimore, along with other dailies has the distinction of being the first major newspaper publisher to seek bankruptcy protection.

Advertising revenue has been falling across the board. Losses from the shift of readers to the Internet were exacerbated this year as consumers and advertisers alike pulled back spending in a deepening recession. Although most papers have remained profitable, they have counted on generous cash flows to pay interest and principal on loans.

Though some large papers are missing their payments. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis skipped a $9 million quarterly debt payment in September to conserve cash. Around the same time, the investor group that owns The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News skipped an unspecified interest payment in an apparent bid to force lenders to renegotiate.

Other publishers have begun talks with lenders to win flexibility on required financial targets that are more difficult to meet as revenue shrinks, even if debt itself does not increase and a company continues to make basic payments.Those chains include Freedom Communications Inc., which owns The Orange County Register in Southern California, and Media General Inc., which publishes the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia. Failure to win new terms could prompt companies to miss required targets, leading to technical default.

The Tribune bankruptcy could have ripple effects in the industry, by making new financing more difficult or more expensive for the Times and other publishers. That's because default on loans is seen as more likely and creditors could get nothing as part of Tribune's reorganization.