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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hamas The Destroyer


Even under sustained attack, the Hamas still put the 'death of Isreal' ahead of the life of ordinary Palestinians.

Certainly, John "Bomb Bomb" McCain is missing his chance to "nightmare" Hamas - should we get him on a plane?
This is the real casus belli, not the strange war-ethics being repeated about Obama's daughters.

The rejectionism and childish militancy of the Hamas leadership have forfeited their leadership of any peoples, by any rational standards.

  • They have failed to provide adequately for the population, their chief ward, by negotiation and reasonable compromise. Never have so few rejected so much help from so many, eh?
  • They have used the time of truce to fortify an army (no surprise, there, but...), forfeiting their responsibilities toward peace.
  • They have spat on mediated talks, by firing rockets (or failing to control those who would) in the face of progress.
  • They have destroyed the civic infrastructure of Gaza, by provoking the Israelis into an air-war (just how much are European taxpayers supposed to take, supposed to keep them on 'death support', as it were?)

To stop the rockets, the Israelis (and others?) might need to press on, although the goal of surgically removing Hamas leadership may be too wide (who knows, for sure?). Certainly, John "Bomb Bomb" McCain is missing his chance to "nightmare" Hamas - should we get him on a plane?

Whatever the case, the Israelis ought not to worry about backing down, either. It's hard to see how sympathy would accrue to the Hamas, in the aftermath or how it might become 'resurgent', in the way that Hezbollah have done.

Put another way, the causis belli against Hamas is far more profound than the simple ditty, repeated in the Knesset yesterday, even, that Obama 'would do it', if his daughters were being shelled at random. Still, as a matter of counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency, a broad ranging attack driven by a fear of losing face among Isreali politicians vying for election, is not an obviously compelling strategic option, is it?

The Fierce Urgency of Now

Whatever Obama's 'urgency of now' meant to voters, including long-suffering gay voters, the economic crisis has doubled it. Or, tripled it.

FDR had years of crisis to enact a truly broad ranging legislative agenda. Today, by contrast, there is a sense that this crisis is moving along faster than in the aftermath of the 1929 "crash", although no one knows the eventual depths of it.

Paul Krugman's recent assessment (and follow-on) caught my eye, because it is similar to what people are saying about new financial regulation:

That’s for later. The priority right now ...

One advantage that FDR had is that he did not have Keynes. The General Theory wasn't published until 1936. What I mean is that he was free to conceive of his changes as a realignment of social-economic priorities, as a "New Deal". Today, instead, we have a "bold stimulus package", promised formally by a functionary, Larry Summers (alongside others).

Do you see the difference? FDR pushed through structural changes, as a priority with a political conception at their core, as much as anything, a re-prioritization of social-economic life in America (at a time when the U.S. was hardly the world financial and military power it would become, in a pre Bretton-Woods world, to boot).

Today, we risk kicking that can down the road, partly because of our belief in "economics".

Instead, is it not possible to do two things at once, during crisis, even with a Democratic Congress?

Who knows, but the sense that so much needs to be done, the fierce urgency of it, in the near-term, seems to have passed along with the banking panic of 2008. In short, we still believe we are invincible, economically, right?

S&P500 @ 897
2-10 spread at 135, 3-month LIBOR greater than 2/10, at 1.425% ...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Re-Occupation of Gaza - Not an Answer for Israel

While the hoped for international pressure campaign on the Hamas appears to have not produced results under Bush, the chance for a new administration to give it a try has been scuttled by Israel.

I don't know what they think they will achieve.

Re-occupation is no answer.

Fatah back "in charge"? Is that our next, best hope? Else, "crush Hamas"? Is that even 'doable', except in Netanyahu's fiendishly military fantasy-world?

Anyway, re-occupation of Gaza does represent the worst of Bush-Rice lack of vision, even if they are only partly responsible. The right-wing ideology of an inexperienced leader is not enough either to solve problems or rightly exercise U.S. power, is it?

Meanwhile, Tony Blair has (naturally?) misread the destabilizing impact that progress has on the Israeli public. What else could explain the sudden actions? The political interregnum in the U.S.? The upcoming election ... uh, Israeli election?

From December 3, 2008, even, from Tony Blair:

The Annapolis process and the limited but, nonetheless, real change on the West Bank during the past year - for which the President and Secretary Rice deserve much credit - have yielded a genuine platform for the future.

Still, because of the far-ranging, strategic steps taken by Sharon to dis-engage, it is near impossible to find any sympathy for Hamas, outside of the menace Nasrallah:

"Palestinian officials who do not want peace and seek empty heroism did not take Egypt's warnings seriously," says the article. "The day of the Israeli foreign minister's visit to Egypt, the militants sabotaged mediation efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement by firing 60 rockets at Israel."

"Militants"? So, we haven't gotten farther than ... terrorists with 'veto power', yet?

more...the historical importance of 'ground reality' to creating peace - or conditions for it - is probably hotly disputed, even if it seems logical:

Fourth, we need a new strategy for Gaza. The tadiya or calm was the right thing to do. It should be maintained. But it isn’t an answer. The people of Gaza continue to suffer grievously. The people of Sderot continue to live in fear. The smuggling through the tunnels - as I heard last week from Gazan businesses - puts the legitimate economy at risk. The military grip of Hamas tightens. We have to show to the people of Gaza how another choice can exist, so they can re-join some state of normality, and that we will work to bring such a situation about, so that the suffering can end. I have little doubt that people would take such a choice, especially if on the West Bank they saw tangible change and improvement.

But one thing is for sure: we cannot maintain the status quo there another year. It won’t work. The terms of Palestinian unity should also be set, by the international community and by the Arab world - terms that are fair to the Palestinian people but are consistent with the two State solution. There can only be one Palestinian state. It will combine Gaza and the West Bank. However much we are tempted to set Gaza to one side - because of the chaos it causes to Palestinian cohesion - it cannot be. But neither is its predicament inevitable. It can and must be reversed.

In all these areas, there is no need - indeed it would be an error - to start from square one.

What is required, rather, is an enhanced order of dedication to build the reality on the ground which, according to the thesis I have outlined today, is the necessary condition for a successful political negotiation, ensuring the two dimensions are intertwined, each as important as the other, each on its own much less than the sum of both together.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Justice Sieve

Fresh off one of the 'under-prosecutions of the century', Fitzgerald has been on the radar screen, since his blustering about on camera seemed to come quite a bit too early, given the events following the unfolding of his "case" against Gov. Blago...

Now, some of the backstory, in a moment of relative calm:

We might see the idea suggested by the Times op-eds—that Fitzgerald compromised his own prosecution to sound an alarm—as the path not taken by the hordes of local reporters much less interested in legal nuance than political drama. But Cam Simpson, a former Tribune reporter working for the Wall Street Journal, followed the path to an intriguing conclusion. In a piece the paper published on Monday, he wrote that the case against Blagojevich was compromised not by Fitzgerald but by the Tribune, with its December 5 front-page story “Trib exclusive: Feds taped Blagojevich.” This was “according to people close to the investigation and a careful reading of the FBI’s affidavit in the case.”

There is more, including his wife as Lady McBeth ...

Yellow...very yellow.

Republicans Move Swiftly to Re-Brand Themselves


Fresh on the heels of the efforts of Senator Corker of Nissan, the intercepted e-mail among GOP Senators that outlined a Gringrich-style 'slaying' of the auto industry using Senate tactics, we now have ... a revisitation of "Barack the Magic Negro".


Molach has devoured the party. For a long, long time. As one commentator observed:

This is not the Party of Lincoln anymore, it is the now the Party of Limbaugh

The One Ring to Rule Them All

Microsoft ... helping cable companies to move to pay-for-use, with patent on pay-for-use?


Another unregulated industry ... software.

Sounds like a punchline to a joke:

"What did one unregulated monopoly say to another?"

A Wise Concession or a Patsy?

You know, you live "looking in" long enough you realize how thin are the political "memes" that form the basic crutch for so much political 'thought'.

You'd think that would be cynical, but it is actually liberating, at least intellectually.

Anyway, Frank Rich is still swooning for Obama-Biden, even though there are red flags on the play (no pun intended).

Symbols and substance are both important.

Like many, I'll give up "fighting" over symbols when "I" have my substance.
Even so, that's not a choice that was ever presented. It was ... doled out, in a way that seemed divorced from any clear understanding of what was going on in the gay community, of facts-on-the-ground (you know, like, people-in-the-streets angry, not champagne-maker angry...). As such, it's indicative of decision-making trouble, possibly, within the Obama camp, even making wide allowances for everything else going on.

In fact, the "choice" that was given was, (a), 'trust us on substance, character' and, (b), 'give up this symbol, as a show of goodwill toward civility'.

Like many, I'll give up "fighting" over symbols when "I" have my substance. Since Warren has his substance, he's the one who should be giving up his symbols (without being asked, one might say, as well). If he has some role to play in the greater, inner evangelical struggle, there are other, better ways to facilitate that, I believe. In other words, he can play his role and the rest do not have to 'choose'.


And for all those calculating, 'secret deal', die-hard liberals who think that gays and gay rights "issues" should take a pass (on symbols and criticism and not being "calm" enough), the answer is that they probably will, anyway.

Obama has so much on his plate right now, he'd be a fool to put gay rights on the 'first-100-days' calendar, right? If I were him, I wouldn't bring it up in the 111th, would you? If Secretary Gates publicly opposes repeal of DADT, that could risk an early breakdown of the cherished 'Team of Rivals' concept. I'm guessing that Obama-Biden, who have pinned their hearts to A Lincoln Portrait, would consider that ... baaaad.

[Besides, the HRC probably hasn't met and 'educated' all the new members of Congress, similar to those who we were told (cough, cough) were holding up real ENDA, last go round.]

Of course, by the 112th, his early decisions will be undoubtedly in the 'highly questioned' category (as they always are, in the short-term, while results are not in yet). Of course, then it will not be a good time, probably because he won't have the votes for a 'distinctly liberal' agenda, on the heels of everything else he will have tried. Bush has already pushed him to choose on the social dividing line issues, to some extent, by approving religious exceptions rules, as a kinda Rovian parting dagger. Obama's team will have an eye on the mid-term elections...

There will be no Ted Kennedy in the Senate (at least not at full strength). I cannot think of anyone, offhand, who will fill his shoes. Hillary is off on her (dead-end?) Secretary of State job, which may well end donations to her husband's good work.

So, .... substance? Tempus fugit ...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Winners

Third Prize: "Kingdom in the Clouds" Kimberly Walker, Evansville, Indiana

During a trip to Bhutan, Kimberly Walker visited Tiger's Nest, or Taktshang Goemba, a Buddhist monastery and pilgrimage site. The excursion entailed a two-hour hike in fog and rain. "Halfway up the hill, the trail winds to a ridge at eye level with Tiger's Nest," says Walker. "There I waited for the clouds to part, then captured this fleeting moment, which exemplified the image in my mind of Bhutan as a kingdom in the clouds."

Pope Turns Tinny Ear to Hymn of Creation


He says his view of of things (nature) is not anchored in the past, but few today believe that homosexuality is a choice of the kind he posits, one that impels individuals against their nature or on to ruin.

If anything, his comments make sense for people who are heterosexual, who "experiment" with homosexuality or otherwise, who make sexual choices or errands against the Church's apprehended order of nature and right living.

And, in fact, that interpretation isn't too far from a plain reading of some of the key passages of scripture, often taken to be about homosexuals, but which may, in fact, be written for heterosexuals. Homosexuals qua homosexuals aren't really acting against their nature, are they, at least not in the way that heterosexuals would be if they started 'having boys/girls on the side' or for recreation, one way or the other. (I'm just suggesting that's one sound interpretation of how the text is written, not anything more broad.)

The chief irony may be, however, the Church's own encyclical on homosexuality doesn't quite explain things exactly in the Christmas-message's understandably short terms. For the small category of people who they recognize truly feel their orientation to be homosexual, the Church's analysis is very close to saying that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, so that the few must ... remain out of sight (celibate), rather than expect 'the Order'/Magisterium to acknowledge publicly their true nature.

Why the Church elders feel so ardently that they cannot use natural law to teach that homosexuality is right for homosexuals and heterosexuality is right for heterosexuals, without an abridgment of the "message of creation", is beyond me. It hardly seems that the rest of what they would like to follow from their binary worldview would be unsupportable, because some assumption was violated. If anything, they would have a deeper and richer philosophy, overall.

I suspect that centuries of easy prejudice have created an inability to form anything more than the bluntest of theological distinctions for pedagogical reasons, perhaps, which is hardly a service to rescuing the "Scripture of Tradition" from defacement or forestalling a sin, possibly, against the Holy Spirit.

Contrariwise for the sake of it


Fisking Kirchick,

Hell hath no fury like a homosexual seemingly scorned.
Always start with a stereotype ... in this case, analogizing from women's temperament (or lack of it). Great.

the anti-gay forces of reaction in this country are gasping their last breath
Let's go state-by-state with your prognosis and hear you put your "20 years" estimate to greater scrutiny, eh?

We will hasten the day of gay equality by engaging respectfully ...
yeah...how far did Bayard Rustin get with his "engaging respectfully" tact, say?

...with them and winning over the persuadable ones (many of whom, I bet, are followers of Warren), rather than calling them names.
Did they even want to be 'engaged'? Some of them even subtly tear down the people who are/were doing that, using innuendo and stuff, right?

In that vein, gays would do well to store their gunpowder for the truly significant legislative battles ...
Gays have gunpowder saved somewhere? Where is that, Jamie?

How are the "true" battles really that much different? Doesn't it all boil down to a matter of political say-so?

perhaps he'd feel a political debt to us when these truly significant issues come up for debate
Is this like the bargaining stage of grief or something?

This is the problem with the entire Washington-based set of Kirchick-like politicos. They think there is some amount of backdoor handwashing, lobbying and favor-trading that will bring about legislative action on civil rights.

While it may happen, that is no way to build or think about building an agenda for change, right? (At least, not any longer ...).

Attacking the President-Elect who campaigned as the most pro-gay candidate in American history...
Uh, two words: Dennis Kucinich. Sheesh. If you are going to attack the Left allatime, kneejerk-like for a pressline, then at least keep up with lefty politics...

No More Uniform Exclusion

Could it happen? Maybe ...

So what are you up to next week on December 31-Jan 2? How about helping to shatter a glass ceiling? Equal Rep is putting on its second campaign to urge President-elect Obama to appoint William White the next Secretary of the Navy.

How the GOP Help Ruin the South


Chris Crain writes:

I've spent a lot of time this year back in Memphis, where I grew up, and I'm struck how over holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, the city's gay establishments swell with locals like me who got the hell outta Dodge after graduating high school or college.

Which brings me to why Rick Warren's publicity romp through West Hollywood made me gag.

Gays and lesbians cannot similarly romp through the heart of America's great, GOP-leaning, evangelical "forest", can they? If they did, they'd often need to get over the fear of physical harm.

Heck, some people think that Trent Lott opposed the collection of hate-crimes statistics going way back, because it was gonna make his state look purdy bad ...

Christmas Came Beautiful

It was a good one. I hope readers had a delicious time.

Here are the cannoli on my great-aunt's china:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas


p-dog and I made it safely through the black-ice, over the river and through the woods.

Peace and peace out.

Cheney Hathos Nominee - Wrong on the Facts, Wrong on the Law


When Andrew Sullivan notices "this astonishing denial of fact", it hardly covers the whole of it.

Cheney has been wrong on the facts, whether or not he is in denial about it, right? From Saddam's WMD to torture to Scotter-Libby Justice to free trade to just about any topic you take - Abu Ghra'ib, Gitmo, Executive Power, 'greeted as liberators', troop level requirements-, he's been contravened by the facts or the law.

What is utterly astonishing is that people are interested in his judgement at all. Maybe it is all the money he has?

America's collective delusions about National Security brought him a second term, but that hardly makes him 'consequential', any more than Madoff is 'consequential', right?

And when he is not wrong, he's covering up the facts. Everyone recall his Christmas picture of his new grandson, Samuel, which bizarrely didn't show his lesbian daughter, the child's mother?

Obama-Biden Plan not "Bold" Enough

It's coming, from behind closed doors (just like Hillary's tablets on healthcare?).

They shouldn't be doing it this way. They should be dropping hints about provisions and 'working it', right?

Anyway, you might be appalled that I could call a thing I haven't seen 'not bold enough', right?

But it stands to reason.

Remember, Obama's idea of "bold" for healthcare was ... insurance buying cooperatives.

He's surrounded himself with people who are ... well, no one seems to jump off the page as a risk-taker - not Summers, Geithner, Romer, or Goolsbee, to me. And, on these issues, it's doubtful he'd recognize "bold" himself.

Big is not "bold". Big is just necessary. Bold is something else.


Here's a "bold" proposition that no one one the Obama team would put up for debate, out of fear of being called a socialist-commie-pinko-faggot.

What the economy needs right now, in a meaningful scale, is wealth transfer.

First, from lenders to borrowers, in an accelerated way, to avoid a prolonged "debt deflation", related to the glutted housing and consumer markets, largely. Lenders need to be consolidated, forcibly if necessary, and borrowers need to be wiped as clean as practicable.

Second, to combat hoarding propensities (flows to stocks) and the public's unfunded liabilities shift resources from stocks to flows and from private wealth to public wealth. For instance, they might do well to consider that proposal for lifting the cap on the social security tax, for a time. With valuations low and investment not the issue, now is a good time to raise taxes on gains. With CEOs willing to take multi-million dollar pay-days even while their companies are on the public dole, now is a good time to consider a new top marginal rate (50%?). The list goes on.

A redistribution of wealth and income can be a powerful force in a market economy, if done properly. You may not hear much about it from mainstream economists or from Obama-Biden, though.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FOX News caught making up stuff, again

Nate has the dope, but read the comments for the laughs.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eyes Open and On the Prize

Matthew 10: 16 says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”


Reality check: the National Association of Evangelicals just fired - summarily fired? - its very, very eloquent and accomplished guy in Washington, Richard Cizik. He made some remarks on NPR. Why?

Some big guy puts his arm around you and assures you that God loves you and so does he.

Then, just as you are parting with a warm afterglow, says, "of course, you are in "error" and "intrinsically disordered", so you ought to repent or go to hell. Have a blessed day!!!"
Because he said he was for 'gay marriage'? No. Because he said he thought that 'civil unions' might be something to consider (you know, something quite with the times, something 'very Obamaesque').

Cizik repented, reportedly. The Board did not forgive.

Have you noticed this before? Well, reading the tea-leaves, look up ... Rudy Giuliani. Now, Rudy is fairly knowledgeable about gay relationships. He doesn't "fear us". Yet, once the national, GOP Priesthood got a hold of him, early in his campaign, he ditched civil unions.


When Rick Warren asks that his 'mis-statements' be forgiven, that's more forgiveness than his own federation will do.

The "purpose driven" Warren and crew are organizationally committed to vacating the very voices on the Right, the aggressive middle, that one would like to see in a civil society, even from a progressive point of view. What's more, they are highly effective at neutralizing them (even at GREAT moral cost).

[Cynically, one can say that Warren's rush to reassure Jews and Muslims was an effort to further isolate gays, as "an issue" among issues. I don't know if it was on his calendar before the flap, so I cannot say with clarity...].


Now, Melissa has just met with "Pastor" Rick (and she told two friends, and she told two friends, etc.). He proverbially put his big bear arm around her like Santa Claus, promised that he mis-spoke, and said he loved and wanted "equality" (no details, naturally - remember, "equality" could mean everyone with an opportunity to go to heaven).

It sounds like the Angel of the Lord shown all around and she was all amazed. (Andrew Sullivan even throws in a Christmastide to round it out.)

What strikes me (and I'm just one person) is how false it all seems. How blatantly staged and manipulative it appears.

Some big guy proverbially puts his arm around you and assures you that God loves you and so does he. Then, just as you are parting with a warm afterglow, says, "of course, you are in 'error' and 'intrinsically disordered', so you ought to repent or go to hell. Have a blessed day!!!"

Apologies for mixing theological viewpoints, but the detail would bring the same result.

And, on the topic of apologies, apologies for Warren's mis-statements are not accepted (by me, at least - how to you apologize to a whole 'people' anyway?). He's not committed to overturning the legislative results of his wrongful speech, his ill-gotten gains. His apology is just a little too ... costless and convenient. Of course, he could withdraw himself from the inaugural. That could do the trick, if he said the right thing, alongside it.


Now, supposing, like me, you aren't swayed by a charm offensive. What do you do?

Well, what I want from Rick Warren, apart from his humble recognition that he is not the right guy to offer an invocation, is his statement on what public relationship recognition, civil and religious, he wants for gays. I'm not talking about what he will "put up with". I'm asking about what he is sincerely willing to fight for, on behalf of those he says he loves so much.

Now, he may not know what he wants. Who knows how many gay couples he's known or met or how many Andrew Sullivan's or Evan Wolfson's or Rauch's have brought the message to his doorstep - and Soul Force and many, many more besides!

But, the fact is, that it is 2009, and he has a Christian responsibility. It's NOT JUST THE RESPONSIBILITY OF GAYS to be "calm" and to 'stop marching long enough to say something'. The messages and messengers are out there. Rick Warren and crew are the ones who need to pause and take testimony, to 'calm down'.

The Episcopalian leadership was right, in other words, when they called for a period of discernment. I'm sad to say, from all I've seen, Evangelicals, including Warren, are not reaching out in that way.

Courting the "Evangelical" Vote?

Never say never, but while Howard Dean is getting no respect for his vision, have a look at the fact that Obama didn't win the evangelical vote in any state, including his home state.

You could say he has a lot to win.

On the other hand, you could say he's got nothing to lose by not trying ... some of these figures break down 90/10 against, with McCain -John Sidney McCain, III - as the GOP candidate, for pity's sake, running on the heels of a torture-President.

(courtesy Christianity Today, using CCN exits - click on a state to get the breakdown)

Democrats "All In" on Obama - Risky Business


Well, he's dissed the gays with his Rick Warren choice. It wouldn't be so bad, except that he was unrepentant about it, doesn't seem to grasp the depth of the feeling he's nudged the wrong way. Obama-Biden have yet to offer up promptly some other kind of assurances to redress the problem (he created).

He's ready to diss the black community. Ask Jesse Jackson.

Soon, Israel will test him and we'll see.

All of the Washington Democratic establishment have lined-up behind Obama-Biden, who have untested judgment. (Just wait 'till you see what Larry Summers is cooking up for you.)

That's a risky bet. They may find themselves in a big mess just as quickly as with some new 'governing coalition'.

How retarded is "Morning Joe"?

Morning wind-up: Joe, Mika, Buchanan, and Tucker arguing alongside a video clip of Barney Frank over 'gay marriage', all lamenting that no one should 'shut out' part of the dialog (like Rick Warren?). Uh, where were your marriage supporters on the 'panel' (trust me, Tucker doesn't rate)?

As for the mis-use of "bigotry", would you prefer "coherent disregard" for gay relationships?

Seriously, so far as I know, not one of the people on 'Morning Joe' have said exactly and at length what type of relationship recognition gay and lesbian citizens should not only get but be entitled to, civil or religious.

Talk about freakishly one-sided ... sheesh!

[note to Tucker: happy to see Rick Warren at an ecumenical, inter-faith prayer breakfast (except when Rick is cheerleading boycotters of intellectual and spiritual gatherings, like the Lambeth conference...). But, for now, he should do the right thing and quietly decline his inaugural appearance, for the sake of unity in the country. He'll have other opportunities to thank Obama for being awesome.]

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Fight/Bully that You Think You Can Avoid

Here's another person who buys into the reasoning that gay marriage is ... too much, for lack of a any way to summarize.

Bob appears not to have listened to the people who are fighting 'gay marriage' the most ardently. Newsflash: they don't want any public relationship recognition, many of them, for gays and lesbians. None. Not "civil unions", not "marriages".

To them, it's the same fight, so ... it's not really a fight that you can duck. The notion that there is a 'choice' about which fight to pick is to a very large extent false (except maybe on a tactical basis - or in oddball beliefnet discussions).

Which brings us to this:

The fact is most of us won't marry even if we have the right to.

This smacks of outright first-person bias, not necessarily of the good kind. "We" may not marry, sure. We've all come of age in a different world. But young, gay kids should have the same opportunities as their non-gay peers. What the future holds for them, who knows. We can say, though, with confidence, that it will NOT look anything like the 70s, 80s, or 90s.

If gays and non-gays decide that marriage is a 'failed institution', then so be it. A kind of formal equality will have been satisfied.

Until then, the notion that committed gay and lesbian couples cannot have their relationships blessed, by both the State and the Church, is, in fact, an issue of equality and liberation.

To opine that 'gays know better' about relationships, based on 'sexual liberation', seems to be irrelevant, a side discussion (and nearly as universally proscriptive as those who wish the reverse for everyone...). The truth is, in an advanced and truly tolerant society, both can co-exist, right?

In Iowa, "Support has been overwhelming."

Stop the Spiritual Violence

Rick Warren, happy with his celebrity status, is throwing out comments to "the media".

He's told "us" that he loves gays.


He shouldn't have any problem giving up his invitation to the inaugural, out of love.

What's the bet that his ego won't let him? He wants the stage - and Obama-Biden have handed him a great, big one (gee, thanks, guys). ["Gays" would also like the stage, but they'd be happy without it, too, so long as Warren isn't the chosen one.]

Whatever the case, Warren's ministry ought to stop the spiritual violence.

No more Prayers for Bobby.

Lou Dobbs doesn't care, for one. He thinks it's all about getting along with this kind of ... 'viewpoint'. (Tonight, he gets his commentators to say it for him, though).

If that posture wasn't sad enough a commentary on America, he's not alone and it's 2009, in just a few weeks - 40 years after Stonewall, when the minority decided that the majority was no longer going to use its 'police' force to terrorize them.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Can Obama-Biden Be "Great" Without "the Gays"?

Think it over.

My opinion is "no".

History will haunt them.

And if not history, perhaps even grass roots politics. Suggesting that gays line-up in a list of issues, somewhere rank-ordered with "poverty" (a coalition "issue"?) isn't going to "work".

Separately, Andrew Sullivan writes:

"we are called to be healers and bridge builders"

Perhaps, some of us are called to show our righteous anger. And the more "strategists" say, "oh, just 'shhhush' and get along", the more visceral it becomes.

What's more, with everyday that goes by, the ability to excuse ignorance seems (to me) less and less. This is 2008, not 1978. We don't need to hear or suffer hearing the same things from "the opposition". We have a fairly well-founded right to expect a higher level of understanding and dialog.

Meanwhile, nearby, there is this disheartening post title (despite its excellent content):

"Understanding The Politics: Why Rick Warren Matters To Gays"


"Understanding The Politics: Why Rick Warren Matters"

Do you see why? Poorly handled, can't inclusionism feel very much like marginalization, like 'being handled', like ... isolation, all over again?

And it is not just California. The U.S. is making an appalling display of itself at the U.N., failing to call for the decriminalization of gays and lesbians worldwide. Are gays suppose to stand in a line of "issues" with "oil interests", this time? Maybe, but don't bet on it, exclusively. Truth is, gays are supposed to fall in line behind "fighting terrorism" (just check-in with Dinesh, if your jaw just hit the floor because you can't believe that's true, for some ...).

"Detroit" Can Deliver - Strange GOP Proclivities

Do you think that Bush's liberation of Iraq will repay Americans ten fold? Yet, the GOP debt-spent how much money, without asking a penny from their base, the "have mores" as Bush once described them in jest?

Now the GOP regulars are all nervous about spending money on Detroit. So much so that they cannot even do it right - I think Paulson should have used his "Troubled Asset Relief Program" to, well, buy "troubled assets", namely the debt of GM at 20-cents on the dollar.

Soon, we will embark on "unsecured" spending to create jobs, perhaps the biggest since the Great Depression, given ... great worry that the economy is stalled in a way that monetary policy is ineffectual.

Now, amidst all that spending, you'd think that the GOP would be happy to have secured loans. No one has talked about grants to the auto companies, right?

Still, they are unhappy, as are many liberals. To figure out the political-social reason(s) why these loans are so begrudged is a tough nut, but it really contrasts (poorly) with how so many other developed nations have quickly put resources where they are needed.

Progressives Lacking "Advance" Proposals on Stimulus

If a conservative administration were about to propose one of the largest spending programs for any government at any time, you'd could bet that the AEI would be out with an "advance" proposal.

Some voracious overseer, like Danielle Pletka, would be convening a panel to dream up ways to make it all seem conceptually clever. Spiro Agnew's ghost, Dick Cheney, would be giving a provocative speech, to drum up the hackles of the "liberal media"...er, free thinking citizens, to get all kinds of free press for the ideas.

So, where is the liberal-progressive "advance" copy, in detail, of what a far-ranging stimulus ought to include and why?

Dunno, but this is all that seems to make its way into the popular press. That's not called 'controlling the news cycle', is it? Anyway, there is still time.

The Case for a Precipitous Withdrawal from Iraq

I suspect that historians will show that it is about 50/50 that an "installed" government, even a loosely democratic one, will long endure, once the installer has moved on.

Therefore, since the British are already pulling out shortly, we should do the same, with the realization that we are likely going to have to re-engage, with a 50/50 likelihood, whether we wait for "assurances" that only 'more time' will be presumed to bring or press the issue(s), now.

We have no metrics for benign political sinews that may be strengthening, in Iraq. Accordingly, the military's progress indicators are probably a statistical fool's errand.

It might be best to stress the system, to see if it can stand on its own, rather than continuing to pay for training wheels and running alongside ... either that, or finally get someone else to start paying in full for continuation (like the neighboring states).

Rick Warren, Man of God?

What Rick Warren might have said on day two:

in brief:

"The Gospel that we preach teaches that we should walk in love with our fellow Americans, with all men. Our Bible also teaches us to be warriors for Christ.

My fellow evangelists and Baptists, there is a time for war and a time for peace.

The invitation from President-elect Obama to offer words of thanksgiving and wisdom at his inaugural is gracious, but it cannot advance the good deeds of the Gospel, even moreso as we are called to proceed in great humility following our triumphs in California to protect marriage.

Accordingly, I will meet with the President on other occasions, to bear witness."

What Rick Warren said (notice the abject political references):

"I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat [from the devil?] by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue [it's just another issue, eh? civil rights are like global warming?], to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.

Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America. [When you are appealing to civility in this way, isn't something wrong?]

The Bible admonishes us [the ambiguous connotation is working, eh?] to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history."

No, No, No, No, No, NO, No.

Andrew Sullivan ... has a big heart. This time, it's getting in his way.

The American inaugural is a distinctly political event, not a religious gathering. It's not coronation day.

Accordingly, this is a political choice and that choice should be responded to with the political mind. (Warren himself is a political force, by his choice, not just a pulpit preacher).

This is not an outreach event. It is not a prayer breakfast. It is not a Townhall. It is not a reconciliation commission or even the beginnings of what I hope will be the Presidential Commission on Gay Rights, under Obama (such a 'commission' is much needed - one that could help to better organize the efforts of disparate gay organizations).

Is the symbolic manipulation of Warren a betrayal (a "hostile act", as Chris Matthews asked)? Yes. On two counts.

To be realistic, who is expecting "victories" in the 111th Congress? God knows, if they happen it will be as much in spite of the Democratic party as because of it - I think that sentiment, today, is widely shared.

For a lot of reasons, most of what we have are symbolic 'victories', especially in the wake of a loss in every contested rights issue in November, so to be denied even small ... assurances as a minority, is ... hostile.

Second, Obama does not have a record. He has words, but not deeds enough to support the context he wants others to have a faith in, a context that includes Rick Warren in a place of honor. It's too much trust to ask, at this point, at a minimum. Given the generous support Obama-Biden have had so far, that's a kind of betrayal, to ask for so much more, so quickly, with so little other than good intentions.

It's fraught with difficulties to analogize, but I wouldn't reckon that antisemitism atrophied in this country because people found the capacity to pray with them. Put another way, I wouldn't worry too much about being a rainmaker, politically. "Centrism" has failed .. and the hope for it does not rise anew, frankly (at least in my heart). If the 'gay agenda' is pushed by Congress, not because they think it is right but because they can accommodate a 'special rights' agenda for a group that pleasures them with lobby money, what good is that? No matter how effective that "calculation" may be, what is that to pin a hope on, a cynic's political sorcery? Pshaw!

Last, the inaugural committee had choices. Warren is arguably not the best way to articulate even a message of dialogue. There are people who have lived in his world and who have come to a different understanding, either radically or in nuance. One of those people would have been a far better choice, in my opinion.

In summary, this choice is very wrong politically. Does that mean that I'm missing an "Obama moment" to break bread with Rick Warren? I don't think so. Many would be happy to dialogue with Rick Warren in another setting - the problem is largely that he's not open to it, having hardened his heart, mostly. It speaks volumes that Warren himself hasn't offered Obama an "out", was quick-as-a-fox on the wires to say he would not quietly find something else to do that day if asked, but is himself seeking to turn the event into a confrontation.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekend Reflections: It was not an 'Act of God'

Out of concern that the complexity of the financial crisis gets swept by some into a non-analytical jack-in-the-box, I've penned two initial and short bits on the financial crisis.

It Was Not an 'Act of God', Part I
"Serious people" knew about and studied the credit risks and the case of falling home prices (how widely they were known is something Congress should investigate further, IMHO). "Failure" was not inevitable. Choices were made.

It Was Not an 'Act of God', Part II
If you thought that a "sub-prime" crisis was something new, you'd be wrong. Not just wrong on a technicality, but missed-the-whole-show wrong.

This piece outlines the case of Green Tree Financial, and asks how it was that ratings agencies, who knew of a bankruptcy, didn't notice that history was repeating itself.

Oh, yeah: the Green Tree "case" isn't something I dug up from 1950s case law or something. It started in the 1990s and came to a head with a fairly high-profile bankruptcy (of Conseco) in ... wait for it ... 2002.

Bush Legacy Watch

A lost decade leading up to ... another lost decade.

A "Mankiw Moment"

uh, oh, step aside Minsky:

While the leading good-government group [in Louisiana], citing [oil] addiction, warned last May against the Legislature’s plan for a $360 million income tax cut, Mr. Jindal called the tax break “terrific news” and happily signed it into law as legislators cheered. Admonitions on fiscal prudence went unheeded, as they have so often here, and the bill is now due. Earlier this year there was an $865 million surplus; now Louisiana has a $341 million shortfall in its current-year budget, and next year the projected deficit is $2 billion.

also via Sullivan

That's a little unfair, but I'm obviously not in a good mood and it's Friday ....

A lightening rod in Washington gets struck

Oh, snap, someone is going to Zap! Rick Warren's ex-gay ministry, one day.

More from Sullivan:

Of course, being "pro-family" for Perkins and Warren definitionally excludes gay family members.

Yeah, and, if you watch the news, it means temple-sex with under-age girls at a polygamy cult is just fine with him and others.

...is not a function of an alienated base, it seems to me, so much as salt on the wound of Proposition 8

I think it is related to the fundamental unjustness of Proposition 8, not necessarily related to differences of opinion about its content.

What I mean is that all the deliberative bodies of civil society weighed in, including the highest court and the legislature. Eventually, the executive body (Schwarzenegger) acquiesced to the change. After that, the Mullahs moved in to exercise public-prejudice veto over it all, via a constitutional change, at a mere 50% of the vote.

There is something inherently unjust about muscling a minority, that way; and that's before we look at the kinds of disinformation and fears that they used to press their "Yes on 8" campaign.

The same goes for what happened in Arizona, which is arguably even worse. There, the Mullahs moved in advance of change, as the courts had already ruled in a way that indicated that they would not follow the California court.

A New Mission for the HRC

In a phrase: neutralize the blue-dogs.

The attempt to "lobby Congress" has to morph.

I'd suggest, for discussion, a change to actually target and move the electorate, in state and local races. Despite the failure in California, I suspect the data will show that the visible "No on 8" campaign had a positive effect (it's just that it was scuttled by ugly, but clever counter-measures).

Moving opinion requires a long-term perspective, local sourcing, and plenty of resources (a strategic ad campaign is very expensive and requires serious patience, but it's indispensible). If the Obama campaign has shown anything, it is that there are resources, if the targeting is refined and the goal clear.

There are plenty of ideas about how this should be structured. If they can accept the humility, one "role" for the HRC is to offer seed money, to facilitate the functioning of other groups in a national-local partnership that is far more robust.

The old methods of scoring the Congress and informing and educating can continue, but there ought to be a "red line", not just percentages. Passing out "lobby money" is a waste and is against the spirit of the times.

The netroots has already had success in opposing "business as usual" Democrats. The HRC ought to consider adopting that attitude, alongside a pressure campaign to pull in "Alan Simpson Republicans". Any red-line will cause problems, no doubt, maybe even serious problems; but change is needed, and, with skills, can be managed.

In exchange for the privledged positions they hold, the leadership ought to be expected to take some serious risks. Trying to move opinion is no easy task. But, trying to hide failures or paper over serious efforts to measure and show accountability is no substitute either.

Last, there has to be a new, assertive leadership role for non-gays. Frankly, the general organization of the gay groups, a result of many factors, is so bad that outside leadership is almost a requirement, if one wants to have hope.

Senator Corker's Christmas

Well, his salary is secure, whether he gets anything "done" or not.

Looks like he'll be going home to ... no worries about whether a giant corporate bankruptcy is going to destroy his community or any risk of foreclosure.

The family's permanent residence is at the Anne Haven mansion built by Coca-Cola Bottling Company heirs Anne Lupton and Frank Harrison. - Wikipedia

I'm not saying ..., I'm just saying, if you start asking other people to sacrifice, it better be rooted in something a little more secure than what he's been dishing out.

The GOP, Iraq, and Auto Workers

As the GOP leave office, they have yet to articulate a "sustainable", "viable" future Iraq. Even going by facts-on-the-ground, the situation is "fragile and reversible".

Yet, we've spent over $1 trillion in total and $10 billion this month alone, to keep them from political 'failure' at home.

Come the auto companies, with 2-million workers at risk and perhaps other risks, besides.

The GOP cannot even come up with $10 billion, unfettered, to get to January/February, when the grown-ups will have arrived.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Original Sourcing


Corker is out on television, pretending that his experience running a construction company will help him to define a path to competitiveness for the big three or something. Go figure.

Here's some math to help him. $60 billion in GM debt at 20-cents/dollar, where is was trading just a few weeks ago, is $12 billion. In other words, "a bankruptcy" could be purchased by the TARP for circa $12 billion. This action would facilitate a sensible, tripartite restructuring outside of an imaginary creature called a "Car Czar". (It's fairly easy to see how this money could eventually be re-couped).


It's a little shocking to me how many pundits seem to be unaware of the entirety of the press conference from December 13th.

Here is it, in three parts (and I'm not die-hard union guy, either, but you've got to have facts, not Kudlow) - be sure to see the Q&A!:




Lou Dobbs - Why are the gays so uppity?

He used his show tonight to ask why gays weren't more centrist, suggesting that the 'gay response' to Warren as been out of proportion.

Oh, those uppity gays. They'll be agitating to sit in the front of the bus, even though the whole bus gets to its destination at the same time for everyone! Gosh and golly.

Let me see if I can convey just how America's "Evangelical" Mullahs sit with the uppity gay aristocracy mafia and beyond:

"Fuck you, Lou Dobbs!"

Do you "get it", now?

Stimulus Plan - So Far, All Quiet

After having complained that Hillary, et. al., didn't consult enough on healthcare in the early 1990s, it looks like camp Obama are going to bring forward a massive stimulus that hasn't been vetted, either.

They ought to make known the structure of their plans, even if they do not know the dollar figures yet.


Well, no reason to believe that camp Obama are going to bring change, yet. And, frankly, there is little reason to believe his economic team members will propose anything bold ("big" doesn't equal "bold").

For instance, some tax cuts for all and some construction money for Governors to spend in their budgets isn't going to inspire anyone ... well, anyone on the Left, let's say.

Obama appoints major broker-hugger to chief investor protector spot

Mary Shapiro?

Homophobic Freak to Deface Obama Inaugural

Thank God we didn't spend any money to go to Washington for what is now something that isn't even worth watching. I suppose we could just symbolically throw our Obama-Biden pins - they can have 'em back.

The appeal to dialogue is a canard.

When Obama invites anti-Israel speakers on the platform with him, in a place of honor on his special day, we'll "talk" about inclusionism, okay? Otherwise, spare us the platitudes, please.
This is the second time, by my reckoning, that the Obama gang have totally misjudged the prevailing sentiments of the gay community.

They don't seem to understand that, right now, sore from losses on every contested rights issue in the past election, watching Warren in a place of honor on stage is akin to watching a Klansman offer up an inaugural "invocation" for Obama.

The appeal to dialogue is a canard. When Obama invites anti-Israel speakers on the platform with him, in a place of honor on his special day, we'll "talk" about inclusionism, okay? Otherwise, spare us the platitudes, please.

If Obama wanted truly to do something with the limited time he has in office, his team might have seized the day to ask Cizik* to do it. Now THAT would have been bold, a provocative message of dialogue and respect. How about the "noisy" Reverend Wright? I guess there a limits to outreach, even for Barack, eh?

As it is, however, the Obama team and the inaugural committee had choices and they chose poorly.

[*Cizik resigned Dec. 10 as the NAE's vice president for governmental affairs after saying in a radio interview his view on gay marriage was shifting and he now supports civil unions for same-sex couples.]

In America, today, Fiscal Policy is the Sound of One Hand Clapping

As the world ponders the terra nova of zero interest rates for an indefinite period in the U.S., all one can think is how avoidable this situation is and how the Fed's actions appear like one-hand clapping, under the Bush Administration.


Imagine a world in which we didn't have right-wing ideology, but a positive, healthy, rapidly-adapting posture toward regulation.

The Bush Administration, arguably, has done nothing fiscally for the U.S. economy since they tried to quell a bank-panic using a 3-page liquidity plan, except sign up for additional unemployment benefits.
Then, imagine a world in which the Federal Reserve, recognizing that regulation had not adapted quickly enough, monetized the entire sub-prime mess. We would never have had a banking panic. At best, we would have had a double-whammy from inflation (oil-supply shock and monetary growth), but we know how to fight inflation a lot better than we know how to deal with a liquidity trap.


The Bush Administration, arguably, has done nothing fiscally for the U.S. economy since they tried to quell a bank-panic using a 3-page liquidity plan, except sign up for additional unemployment benefits. Their debt-spend war-policy doesn't count.

Since then, the hand of fiscal policy has been unmoved, right?

In fact, fiscal policy, cast in terms of expectations, has been arguably restrictive. Even assuming the massive tax-cut that the rightwing wrongly thinks is appropriate, what industry is going to employ 2-million workers that will get dropped if the U.S. Auto industry goes under?

A fiscal response to the foreclosure problem has been put on the deathbed of further study, by Little Hoover's administration.

Everyone, but Bush-Paulson, are noticing how fast this crisis is progressing. Those two think that there is enough time to kick the can down the road.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Paulson's Forked Tongue


Paulson's on television talking a good game, telling people that he's concerned about autos.

Last time he was gravely concerned, he was up on the Hill within days with a 3-page plan that required action 'before the markets open in Asia'.

Now, we are faced with him continuing to bury his obligation to bring meaningful loan modification relief in ongoing "study" as well as stalling on auto relief spending.


Yesterday, the Fed promised it was ready to monetize, like, the entire economy. How's that for a sense of urgency?

Meanwhile, by contrast, Bush and Paulson maybe want to wait to see if GM makes it to year end, so they can score points or something. Who knows what's really holding them up, other than providing the Congress one day to vote on their proposal, before Christmas...

More Rightwing Lunacy on Autos

Forcing us to save GM, Ford and Chrysler is to force us to buy what we have already decided we do not want. That's about as un-American as you can get. - Online WSJ, featured commenter

First, it is completely untrue that Americans do not want cars from GM, F, and Chrysler. U.S. manufacturers may have lost share, but Americans still buy cars from them. (At least, until Corker-Shelby made an ideological decision that's trashing the brands in the worst way).


Yesterday, on the way home from the post office, I followed a police car. They are built by Ford.

I wonder how the GOP feel about having our townships buy police vehicles built in Japan, etc.?

That's right, tax money going to support the industrial base of Korea, our good friends, who already get a huge national defense subsidy from American taxpayers, right?

I believe it is GM who builds vehicles for higher level security forces. The list goes on, no doubt.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Punishers: Credit Card Companies


CNBC's On the Money says there is ad hoc evidence that card companies are close to "red lining" people, implying that the downturn will increase the divide between rich and poor.

They even tell of card companies canceling cards for "inactivity".

Last, and really quite eye-popping, they suggest that some people may be targeted for credit card attention if they live in a zip code with a lot of foreclosures.

No doubt the GOP response is that we need less regulation...

Divdends must be paid!

The Goldman Board, recipients of $10 billion in bailout money from the government, will pay their "normal" dividend this quarter, $0.46.

If anyone talks to you about the 'banking crisis' in America, be sure to laugh out loud at them.

We ought to stop the FDIC guarantee for bank bond issuance, until they stop this nonsense, don't you think?

CEO Blankfein will probably "earn" about $3 million on dividends alone, taxed, of course, at 15%.

Dems lose momentum on stimulative spending for autos, midwest


This is the best that we can do, institutionally? Find a greek hero guy?

“I expect that the terms would be similar to the ones that were in the House bill,” Levin said. “The power rests in the hands of either the czar or the Secretary of the Treasury to force bankruptcy by March 31.”

If GM isn't profitable at the end of the recession and cannot pay back its loans, then the GOP can pull the plug.

Meanwhile, setting up a hero to save the day is a no-solution solution.

The Dems ought to change their proposal, to put pressure on the Administration. Among the ideas,
  • a scaled-back bill designed to tide things over until there is a new Congress.
  • a scaled up bill that requires that Paulson buy GM's current debt at 20-cents on the dollar, say, in order to facilitate a tri-partite negotiation between management, labor and bonded creditors
  • a timeframe for a national healthcare proposal that takes the VEBA stuff off the critical path
  • an excise tax on cars produced in non-union states, in order to create a level playing field inside the U.S.
  • a timeframe for non U.S. producers to create greater than 80% of their U.S. sales inside the United States territorial borders.

Meanwhile, all the uncertainty that the GOP has thrown up with it's Gingrich-like showmanship and 'principles' is no doubt seriously denting all the American brands.

If the GOP continues, even another week, consumers will assume that the companies are forfeit, guaranteeing the outcome that Senators Shelby and Corker are quite willing to risk in pursuit of their self-important nonsense.

What is to be done about our torture President?

Andrew Sullivan is on a tear over at The Dish on torture.

The impetus is the just released Congressional "inquiry" into Abu Grahaib. 18 months to get at the truth (get the big picture from that alone, if you will).

There will be no truth and reconciliation commission. Will all this be gone as soon as it is presented? There was no impeachment (by agreement?). There will be no ... prosecution. King George "The Decider" is effectively pardoned, right?

Heck, we can't even get Karl Rove to testify about his role in subverting justice at Justice, even after he admits that no Executive privileged attached, because he didn't talk about anything with the President!

What does it tell you about how "managed" the Press corps is that no one has yet asked Laura Bush how she feels about it. Afterall, some people call her husband a war criminal. Would Hillary Clinton have gotten away with that? The situations aren't the same, but Laura has dipped her toe across the line, just a little bit, so she's close to being in fair play ...

Last, let's not forget that almost one in two Americans voted for the party of torture, including Georgia, for Saxby Chambliss!


The Right And Abu Ghraib II

The Right And Abu Ghraib I

The Torture Presidency

The Methods Of Communist Totalitarians

The Lies He Told

The Architect Of Abu Ghraib

Orwellianism Watch

Monday, December 15, 2008

How 'No New Regulations', like 'No New Taxes', Is Ruining the Republic

Once again, as with Lehman, the named Europeans are shocked (and really, really pissed) at how loosely regulated the U.S. market is.

To be fair, Madoff's advisory was clearly and obviously not formed as a regulated entity. To be shocked now is more than a bit oddball. To cry "foul" based on a 2006 registration that didn't get pulled back (like many others did) is crazed.*

Notwithstanding the basis for ill-formed sentiments, foreign capital flows are the mother's milk of the U.S. Economy, no matter what Larry Kudlow is peddling today.

*Update: from all we know, even if the SEC had done a direct review, it appears that the outcome would have been the same: no assets, all air.

Got Milk?

If you wanted a film about you, it doesn't get much better than Milk, right?

The flim is not aspiring to be epic, like Ghandi. Its story is told from the private to the public, one might argue, a saving grace.

The composition and balance of the piece is extraordinary and only helps to lift the great acting, rather than strand it.

The inside-baseball message of the movie is verbally clear, but visibly contradicted at points. Tosca ... well, you have to play the crowd - and it worked (for me).

The 1970s seemed ... romanticized. How much is the viewpoint, the viewpoint of this film, the product of our times, now some 30 years later? A lot, I'd say.

Anyway, despite not smashing the box office this weekend, it managed to pack our little local with dozens of the ... well, not what you'd expect at all, with the generation prior to the 70s!

The New Economic Interventionists


It's amazing to find the libertarians and the conservatives so much in the economic interventionist camp.

Against all credulity, they purportedly *want* to make GM 'sustainably profitable'.

If the GOP want to turn the country (or the South) into a giant Guangzhou, then they should be upfront about it, rather than hiding behind obviously false sentiments about American workers at GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
Against their own philosophy of who knows best, they are willing to support "Big Government" schemes that actually prescribe how 'competitiveness' is going to be restored (not in general, but to specific companies and industries, like autos).

Turns out it is 'wages' and not 'national healthcare' at issue, on their scorecard - how ... expectedly trite.


I think it is just cute, all these hands-off people who are suddenly experts on how GM is going to 'survive'.

I'll tell you what, there is no magic wand to wave to "save GM" in North America. The issues go way beyond Senator Corker-come-lately's up-down grasp. Senator Shelby's "Look, I'm a bank loan officer" routine is just as slack.

Anyway, we ought to be talking about jobs, lots of jobs right now.

If the GOP want to turn the country (or the South) into a giant Guangzhou, then they should be upfront about it, rather than hiding behind obviously false sentiments about American workers at GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

If the GOP want to insist on a competitive auto industry, they can bring up a bill later on. Right now, let's try to keep Americans ... off the bread lines.

Credit Card Companies Bashing Consumers

I'd like to see a proper tally of how much credit cared companies have slashed credit already.

-The Naked Capitalist

[Do read the rest, including the comments. It's pretty eye-popping and dovetails with some stories I've heard]


Well, out $350 billion dollars in TARP money sure isn't creating 'confidence' at the card companies, who are passing on their misdeeds in the form of ripping up lines and raising rates, further busting-up consumer confidence, no doubt, even for their best customers, reportedly.

Meredith was right, apparently...and again.


We can't have banks panicking the credit outlook, abetting a great "paradox of thrift" and compounding wealth declines with "an end to credit". They will create a steeper downturn that will, in turn, make things even worse for themselves.

In the longer-term, consider that consumer credit card companies need to be put into separately capitalized subsidiaries.

The implication that losses in the capital markets (on poorly made investments) should or would translate promptly into restrictive consumer credit is ... unwanted.

The fact that the Treasury is backstopping 'AAA' securitized card receivables, the Fed is providing cut-rate financing, the FDIC is providing debt-guarantees, and monetary policy has short-term rates near zero, suggests that rates on consumer credit should be plummeting.


The card companies are going to take a serious hit to their brand image. It's started already. On an ad-hoc basis, I've heard few people say things like, "my card companies are standing by me."

The question is, will that translate into deposit losses. Are consumers from Bank of America, etc., going to pull their checking and savings accounts, due to anger and frustration, moving them to local banks?

We'll see. There is a titanic struggle between fewer card companies (increased market power) and upset card holders ...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Senator Shelby of the Japan Handout Prefecture


Boy, that went by the wayside, faster than "compassionate conservationism", eh?

The captured e-mail, read by Gettlefinger and outlining internal GOP stonewalling worthy of Newt Gingrich, was eye-popping enough; but the fact is these guys are a bunch of hypocrites, too.

We give so much to the South (at the Federal level), we get so little in return, especially in terms of Country-first Senators:

Alabama lured automakers to the state by dangling millions and millions of financial incentives in front of them in the form of infrastructure construction and improvement, job training for workers and tax breaks for the auto companies. In fact, in every case, Alabama outbid other states with its attractive offer, like the $30-million training center that Honda said clinched the deal for its choice

If the U.S. is a level playing field, then Alabama is the biggest pot hole today, on this issue ...

Update: Shelby, 12/12/08, "They have a bloated workforce."

Yeah, the best thing as we move closer to coping with 'depression economics' is to insist that companies downsize. Keep it up. Give us all the quotes you have!

Gettelfinger: Toyota Kentucky Plant Pays More in Wages than UAW gets

...based on Toyota's own numbers!

It looks like the UAW is finally getting going on this in spades.

I'm not even a big union guy, really at all, but anyone can spot a put-down when you see one, right?

Direct labor-input costs are not nearly the large input cost that some make them out to be. In the name of fighting "big labor", the truth is that Shelby-Corker will put more robots out of work than auto workers, these days, even though the number of both is huge.

Little Hoover


Flashback: It's 9/11 and the President has just heard that the twin towers have been attacked. He is reading to children.

Flashforward: It's 12/12 and the President has just heard that his own political party has torpedoed the American auto industry. He is in Texas talking to children.

From Wikipedia, Senate seats up for grabs in 2010:

Richard Shelby of Alabama
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
John McCain of Arizona
Johnny Isakson of Georgia
Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Jim Bunning of Kentucky
*David Vitter of Louisiana
*Kit Bond of Missouri
*Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
*Richard Burr of North Carolina
*George Voinovich of Ohio
Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
*Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
Jim DeMint of South Carolina
John Thune of South Dakota

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Double double dare them


This Congressional leadership has yet been unable to seriously play chicken with the intransigent GOP.

The GOP's destruction of the auto industry could be so catastrophic for the U.S. economy that one could predict that the Democrats could sweep the South...

Certainly, to "pull a Shelby" will become a national punchline.
I suggest that Senator Reid come out and say that, if the 50% of the GOP do not agree to vote alongside a token amount, say $10 billion for three companies to drawdown as needed, relatively unrestricted, that the Democrats will follow the GOP into letting the U.S. auto industry fail, if it must, before Obama becomes President.

Call their bluff, in other words.


The GOP's destruction of the auto industry could be so catastrophic for the U.S. economy that one could predict that the Democrats could sweep the South... Certainly, to "pull a Shelby" will become a national punchline.

Those new to the unemployment lines just this week, 757,000:

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 757,481 in the week ending Dec. 6, an increase of 221,735 from the previous week. There were 423,130 initial claims in the comparable week in 2007.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Directionless GOP

So, the GOP's President insists that the Congress use funds designated to help the auto makers re-tool for higher emissions standards.

Then, the GOP's Senate stalls over ... putting in penalties for failing to meet higher emissions standards (as California has threatened to do).

zzzzzzzzz ... meanwhile,

A Bush-appointed "auto industry ambassador plenipotentiary" (a Tsar or Tsarina) is ... revolting.

Palin's Clothes and Lies

Was it me, or did the "reporters" at Faux News just seem to be so completely relieved not to be talking about Sarah Palin, now that Blago is in the news?

Not so guilty-pleasure

I confess that I'm a sucker for year-end roundups.

Vote for the most insane punditry of 2008, via Media Matters. Somehow, I think their list is _way_ too abbreviated.:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Not All Deadbeat Borrowers

Ditch the 2005 Bankruptcy changes wholesale? Yeah, probably.

Some part of the default rates on mortgages (we don't know how much, because the government isn't collecting statistics systematically) is related to changes in the bankruptcy code, brought under Bush and supported by Blue-dog Democrats.

Depending on the median income of your State, one may not be able to walk away from credit card debt, leaving the mortgage as the next likely stress point.

As the world turns:

One bankruptcy lawyer told me that MBNA (now part of Bank of America) had pushed hardest for the changes, and estimated that the new law would enable it to extract an extra $100 a month from consumers who declared bankruptcy, which would increase their profits by $85 million.

In a bit of schaudenfreude, it looks like the new rules may have increased the profits of their credit card business at the expense of their mortgage business,...

Stimulus Plan


No bounds to the amount of creativity that can be found. "Fix" cable. It will stimulate the right part of the economy:

The Failure Of Cable Deregulation: A Blueprint For Creating A Competitive, Pro-Consumer Cable Television Marketplace.

Since enactment of the 1996 Act that deregulated cable rates, consumer cable prices have been rising at three times the rate of inflation and even faster for basic and expanded basic service, which is the choice of the overwhelming majority of cable subscribers. These rates have risen by more than 50 percent. Individual markets have suffered much larger increases.
It's good politics, too:

YONKERS, NY [Dec 2008]Consumer Reports’ latest national survey finds that more than half (56%) of respondents think that government hasn’t done enough for them in these tough economic times.

The FCC under Bush has been almost an abject disaster, but there is this:

"We are asking why some companies have taken steps to require customers to pay higher cable prices after the digital switch for the same channels that they received through analog signals previously," Martin told Reuters.

And the persistence of monopolistic franchise has lead to all kinds of vested, structural nonsense:

The 2004 State Study and Report on Telecommunications Taxation, released in May 2005, shows the average state and local effective tax rate on telecommunications services is 14.17 percent, compared to 6.12 percent for general business nationwide. In many states, taxes make up more than 20 percent of a telecommunications consumer's bill.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Those Naughty Unions

Labor management, Japan-style:

The dismal assessment of domestic sales by the Japan Automobile Dealers' Association, and anecdotal evidence from overwhelmed job placement agencies in Toyota's heartland of Nagoya, fuelled a growing mood of panic in political circles. Many thousands of Brazilian immigrants have flocked to the Nagoya area to work in the hundreds of factories supplying Toyota; there are similar patterns around the largest plants of Honda and Nissan. Those regions are now in increasing chaos, as entire communities debate whether to stay in Japan or abandon their mortgages and head back to Brazil.

"Guest worker" programs are just so ... swell, don't you think?

Overused Parody

This was the funniest from the primary elections and it is funny for the real-estate bust, too:

From the primaries (far more hilarious):