February 28, 2008

Onion News Network on Video

All I can say is "Brilliant."

Accidentally Releases Presidential Election Results
in Advance

Dibold, Diebold

February 27, 2008

Kennebunkport Indictment Resolution

On February 26, 2008 citizens served papers of indictment on George Bush and Dick Cheney to the Town of Kennebunkport, ME More.

Some criticize these actions, and similar actions in Brattleboro, VT, as political stunts, which is not the case. Their actions represent government by the people in the face of failing federal institutions. These actions have a legal basis rooted in the fundamental principles that united independent, sovereign states under the banner people blithely call "USA".

Impunity of Bush et al. would undermine the civil fabric of our nation and the world. The checks and balances of the federal government and corporate media are failing. The citizen's actions represent the assertion of states rights and government by the people as envisioned by our nation's founders. They are patriots in the finest tradition.

The following 3-minue video documents and explains the events of February 26 described above.

US Senate Candidate Laurie Dobson, serves papers on Bush and Cheney


For a 50-minute video interview with US Senate candidate Laurie Dobson Click Here


The following 3-min video examines the question of whether the next president will seek criminal prosecution of George Bush and other senior officials: "Prosecute Bush et al. Chapter 1".


Laurie Dobson for Senate YouTube Channel

February 26, 2008

Who Owns WHNT TV?

According to a posting at DemocraticUnderground.com...

"Robert Bass, a classmate and ally of President George W. Bush is the main investor in Oak Hill Capital."

Oak Hill Capital, in turn, owns LOCAL TV, which in Turn owns the Huntsville, Ala. CBS station WHNT TV Channel 19.

Robert Bass

The station is at the center of a controversy following a very rare blackout of the station which coincided with a 12-minute "60 Minutes" segment about Bush adviser Karl Rove's involvement in what is widely considered to be a politically targeted prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat. This case appears to demonstrate the corruption of the US Attorney function, which is an aspect of the US Attorney firing scandal that has received scant attention by the corporate media.


posted by originalpckelly

February 25, 2008

All Eyes on March 4

I'm not talking about Ohio and Texas Democratic primaries. I'm talking about the Brattleboro, VT Town Meeting, where residents will hold a paper ballot on whether or not to
allow for the indictment and arrest of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for war crimes, perjury or obstruction of justice charges if they ever visit Vermont

this according to the Political Gateway.

According to the Gateway, "The Brattleboro Select Board voted 3-2 to put the measure" before its citizens following a successful petition drive organized by Kurt Daims. Daims said,

This is exactly what the charter envisioned as a citizen initiative... People want to express themselves and they want to say how they feel.

This growing crisis of jurisdiction, between local government and federal government, is spreading to Bush's home town of Kennebunkport, ME. According to After Downing Street Memo.Org, US Senate Candidate Laurie Dobson will Deliver “The Bush-Cheney Indictment Resolution” to the Town Office on February 26, 2008. It is further reported that the Resolution

shall be placed upon the Town Meeting Agenda for the June Ballot.

See Dobson for Senate, and YouTube Dobson for Sentate.


Political Gateway, Vt. town to vote on Bush arrest, January 28, 2008.

After Downing Street Memo.Org, Indicting Bush in His Family's Home Town, February 25, 2008.

February 24, 2008

Four Phases of US Monetary Influence

The US is in it's third phase of monetary history in regard to its international influence. The key is the US dollar serving as the international reserve currency (the US dollar is accepted like gold for exchanges between countries with different currencies). This was established at the Bretton Woods conference following World War II.

First, the US dominated the world when the other nations were in post-war shambles or underdeveloped. The US could give money away to help build other economies, and the other nations naturally accepted US policies. Under the Bretton Woods System the US dollar was placed deliberately at the center of the system, with the US government guaranteeing other central banks that they could sell their US dollar reserves at a fixed rate for gold if they so desired. (The dollar was literally "as good as gold").

Second, after the gold standard collapsed in 1971, the US still had economic muscle and could effectively bribe other nations to go along with its imperialist foreign policies.

Third, the US economy has become hollow, having a huge trade debt, government debt and personal debt. Jobs and corporate head quarters have gone offshore, taking the tax base with them, making it nearly impossible to pay off these debts. The US is starting to depend on military force to get others to go along with its imperialist foreign policies.

The final phase will be the collapse of the dollar and it's rejection by other nations as the international reserve currency. This is already happening. It's just a matter of time, and we might be very close.

The following video discusses the final phase.


Four Questions for the Candidates on Global Trade

Lori Wallach, a leading voice on matters regarding corporate globalization, has a timely essay entitled, Questions the Democratic Presidential Candidates Need to Answer on Trade & Globalization, which appears on Huffington Post. In it, she poses four tangible questions for the candidates, modified as questions to an individual candidate (for you to cut 'n paste):

1. How will you change existing trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO to counter job offshoring and labor arbitrage that have reduced U.S. wages?

2. How will you, as future president, remedy the China trade imbalance?

3. How will you deliver on your promises to ensure imported food and product safety?

4. How will your proposals to create jobs by rebuilding America's infrastructure work in the face of trade agreement bans on "Buy America" and other domestic preference policies?

Maybe journalists should read her article, and begin asking some of these questions. Maybe all of us should pose the questions. Wanna do it? Here are the Clinton and Obama campaign contacts:

Obama Campaign Contact

Clinton Campaign Contact

I've sent these four questions to the candidates. We'll see if I get a response.


February 23, 2008

McCain's Paxson Problem

Sexual trysts aside, the substance of the Vicki Iseman buzz is starting to gain attention in the main stream media (DemocracyNow had been onto it earlier). According to Market Watch, via the Washington Post:
In a new twist to a potential scandal brewing on the campaign trail, broadcaster Lowell Paxson disputed statements from Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign that the senator did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, in 1999.

However, Lowell "Bud" Paxson remembers it differently.

"I remember going there to meet with him." He said he told McCain: "You're head of the Commerce Committee. The FCC is not doing its job. I would love for you to write a letter."

The letter that McCain eventually wrote to pressure the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was in violation of ex parte rules barring outside pressure. The FCC commissioners function like judges in matters of interpretation of regulation, and McCain tried to pressure those judges. For more background and links to an in-depth piece from the perspective of the other side of the Paxson FCC case my essay: Keating Five Belies McCain's Record.

Note: Paxson Communications is now called Ion Media Networks. Paxson "PAX TV" grew throughout the 1980s and 1990s buying stations on the fringe of markets, catering to shopping, informercials and religious programming. According to Wikipedia:

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the company wanted to buy WPCB, channel 40, from Cornerstone Television, and move the license to channel 16 (which was, and still is, occupied by WQEX), with channel 40 used for educational purposes. The two agreed on a purchase price, but the Federal Communications Commission had too many questions about the deal, most relating to the type of broadcast license to be operated on each channel, and it fell through.

So, Paxson's Pittsburgh deal fell thru, despite, or perhaps as a rebuke of, McCain's pressure. Remember, in 1999, the FCC was of a majority Democratic composition reflected by the Clinton administration.


San Fransisco Market Watch,
McCain's denial of lobbyist meeting disputed: report
, Sue Chang, February 23, 2008.

February 22, 2008

Keating Five Belies McCain's Record

In his reponse to the New York Times article regarding lobbyist Vickie Imesman, McCain said:
At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust nor make a decision which in any way would not be in the public interest and would favor anyone or any organization. As chairman of the Commerce Committee, there were hundreds of issues, including many telecommunications issues, that came before the committee. I had to make decisions on those issues, and I made those decisions. Sometimes they were agreed with, sometimes they were not.

Sometimes they were agreed with, sometimes they were not? Aside from being senseless, one has to wonder, does McCain mean to say "sometimes they were above board and sometimes they were not?" The evidence presented below proves that sometimes McCain favored private interests at the expense of the public, contrary to his statement above.

Two well-documented cases belie the claim McCain is upstanding. The first has a historic name, and the second involves lobbyist Vickei Iesman.

The first goes by the name of the Keating Five, of which McCain was one of the five. In short, the Keating Five crimes involved five US Senators who tried to influence regulators on behalf of wealthy Savings and Loan magnate Charles Keating during the 1980s version of today's mortgage and financial crisis. It's as illegal as trying to influence a judge's decision. The point. McCain cannot claim a long unblemished career; he's central to a famous influence peddling scandal.

The second more recent case goes by the name Paxson Communication. In the Paxson case, there is written evidence that McCain clearly violated ex parte rules barring outside pressure on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decisions, like trying to influence a judge. What makes it even more improper is that McCain did this as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FCC, its chartering legislation and its budget. Being in government myself, when the Senator of the committee that approves your budget asks you to jump, you don't wait to ask "how high," you immediately jump as high as you can.

The Issue:

At issue in the Paxson case was Paxson's desire to gain commercial control over a public TV station in Pittsburg, PA. It was a small-time issue, which makes it even more suspicious that Chairman McCain would take a personal interest. The reason for his personal interest was that the now-famous Vicki Iseman was lobbying Chairman McCain on behalf of Paxson.

What McCain Did Wrong:

First, McCain took sides on an issue in favor of a private organization contrary to the public interest. Second, he did so by trying to pressure the "judges" in the case, members of the FCC. There was an issue of the clock running out on Vickie Iseman's client Paxson. McCain wrote letters directly to each FCC commissioner inquiring about their votes, and asking them to respond by a specific date. FCC Commissioner Tristani wrote McCain saying, in diplomatic terms to the man who controlled the FCC budget:

“In that letter, you requested that each commissioner advise you in writing by the close of business today whether we have acted upon these applications. Respectfully, I cannot comply with your request, in order to preserve the integrity of our processes. It is my practice not to publicly disclose whether I have voted or when I will be voting on items in restricted proceedings prior to their adoption by the full commission.”

It's not only Tristani's practice, it's the law. She knew that McCain's actions were illegal. According to Angela Campbell, director of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, McCain's actions were formally proven to be a violation:

... on December 20th, we actually filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission’s general counsel, alleging that he had violated the rules, and we asked for them to act on it right away. They did not. However, eventually, in August of 2000, they did rule that the senator had violated the rules.

So, McCain's claims of high integrity are probably no better than any other Senator. Given his fame in the Keating Five scandal, his record is probably worse than most.


John McCain's campaign has denied the Sentor met with Paxson Communications in 1999; however, Lowell Paxson has contradicted this statement. McCain's Paxson Problem.


The Arizona Republic, The Keating Five, Dan Nowicki, Bill Muller, March 1, 2007, AZCentral.com.

DemocracyNow!, Behind the John McCain Lobbying Scandal: A Look at How McCain Urged the Federal Communications Commission to Act on Behalf of Paxson Communications, February 22, 2008.

Paxton, Paxon

Another JAG Hero: Colonel Morris Davis

You know. Sometimes the military gets a bad rap, and for good reason. But when it comes to the JAG Corps (Judge Advocate General’s), we are witnessing history in the making. Heroes in our lifetime.

A while back I wrote about a JAG defense attorney, Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey Vokey and Cerveny: True Americans.

Today we can proudly point to a JAG prosecution attorney, Air Force Colonel Morris (Moe) Davis.

In a recnet DemocracyNow! piece Davis exposes William Haynes' bias on the Military Commission trials:
“We can’t have acquittals.” Haynes said, “How can we explain holding these people for so long?” and “We have to have convictions.”

Haynes is the general counsel for the Department of Defense... the top legal position. What makes this devastating is that he is quoted by Morris Davis, the former top military prosecutor at Guantanamo. This isn't an idle claim by a partisan.

According to Scott Horton, international law expert and Harper’s magazine legal affairs contributor:

.. let me first say something about Colonel Davis. He is a very highly respected figure within the JAG court. I think a number of people saw him as someone who was likely to emerge perhaps ultimately as the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force, certainly one of the handful of candidates likely to move forward. And he’s hardly some civil libertarian. In fact, his attitudes are extremely conservative. He’s a prosecutor. The friction he had previously with the Pentagon was essentially over the fact that he was chomping at the bit, ready to go forward with these prosecutions.

But will this bombshell get legs? Nothing has gotten legs to bring down Bush. Only the weight of innumerable crimes if finally grinding him and the Republican party into a slow collapse. Nevertheless, we have to point out the fact that Haynes should be added to the growing list of Bush officials who should be prosecuted.


The following link is to a central Wall Street Journal article describing serious divisions among Guantanamo prosecutors. Article.

At issue was Davis' independence as the lead prosecutor.

"If someone above me tries to intimidate me in determining who we will charge, what we will charge, what evidence we will try to introduce, and how we will conduct a prosecution then I will resign," Col. Davis said in his written statement.

Davis eventually resigned.

Final note: Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift is another JAG hero, worthy of a blog entry.


Haynes is out
as of February 27, 2008.


DemocracyNow! EXCLUSIVE: Rigged Trials at Guantanamo, February 20, 2008.

Credit for the update to Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note, picked up by the Huffington Post.

Thoughtful Commentary on Obama and Clinton

Some thoughtful commentary on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton from a guest contributor, who happens to be female and is an Obama supporter:
I know we over-reflect upon 9/11 but I do think it's true that our nation experienced a great sense of "common" destiny which just was not cultivated -- and I don't think the neocons are the only ones to blame for that. You're right, Obama's campaign is much about recovering that sensibilty, inviting anyone and everyone to embrace it, and allowing it to permeate our society so that "common" is actually a more popular paradigm than "elite" and, so that movements of fairness will have a real chance to sweep the political ranks and significantly change some of the "business as usual".

As far as Hilary's challenge, I really feel that she already has a legacy -- as a unique first lady who insisted that the powers-that-be take a clear hard look at a private, monolithic system, which has been bleeding our citizens instead of healing them. She can always be proud of that. This whole "first female president" stump however is a hollow carp to my ears. Do we really need a "Hillary" in the oval office to assure our daughters that they can achieve their dreams in this country? Don't get me wrong. I do think it's GREAT that she's pursuing her dream in this context. But if she doesn't succeed there better not be any suggestion from her that it was because she was a gal. That would be discouraging to girls....and would, I think, discredit her as a role model. Anyway...

February 21, 2008

Vicki Iseman Photos

Pictures of the woman lobbyist that McCain denies having an intimate relationship with. She works for www.alcalde-fay.com.

As for substance, McCain's Record is not that Clean. A little digging shows he's got a clear case of impropriety involving Vicki Iseman and her client Paxton Communications.

Who is Penny Pritzker and Why is She Obama's Campaign Finance Chair?

Yesterday, February 20, 2008, on Flashpoints Radio (Stream/podcast Link), an investigative report into Penny Pritzker, the Obama campaign finance chairman. She and her family were central to the innovation known as "Mortgage Backed Securities," which are now at the center of the financial crisis and real estate melt down.
Pritzker is one of the most active of celebrated Chicago patriarch Abraham N. Pritzker's 12 living grandchildren. A Harvard-trained attorney, Pritzker, 46, was chosen by her late uncle Jay to help oversee the family's vast portfolio of investments, including the Hyatt hotel chain and the Marmon Group industrial conglomerate. (Forbes Lists 2005)

One reason we don't hear the Clinton campaign raising this as an issue is because Penny's brother has apparently been playing a spokes-person role in Hillary's campaign. Reminds me of Enron buying off both Republicans and Democrats, along with accounting firms, the media, law firms, regulators, ....

Don't get me wrong. After Edwards dropped out I shifted my support to Obama, in as much as I support dismalcrats. But, if Barak Obama was smart, he'd thank her for her services and quietly let Penny Pritzker go.

As of today, Google search of Penny Pritzker Obama generates 9,700 hits. Expect that number to grow over the coming months. But today, you are led to comments on Nation Magazine article entitled "Subprime Obama" - Letters (article link in Sources below. One comment begins as follows:

One reason Barack Obama might not want to talk about the role of financially irresponsible bank board members in creating the subprime mortgage foreclossure financial disaster is that the national finance chair of Obama's campaign, Penny Pritzker, is a former board member of the failed Superior Bank S&L that engaged in irresponsible subprime mortgage lending during the 1990s.

Apparently Penny was into subprime lending before it became all the rage starting in around 2000. It continues:

Penny Prtizker's chairmanship was apparently "to concentrate on subprimelending, principally on home mortgages, but for a while in subprime auto lending, too," after the Pritzkers' bank acquired its wholesale mortgage organization division, Alliance Funding, in December 1992.

Back then they called it "predatory lending."

What else does Google dish up? Penny's contribution record. There are rumors she gives to republicans, and it's true. She gave $1,000 to both John McCain and George W. Bush in the 1999 primary. She also gave money to McCain for Senate in 1998. She also gave money to Barack Obama for his failing House bid in 1999. She gave to Bill Frist, Rudi Giuliani's exploratory fund, and several other Republicans in 2000. $4,000 to Joe Lieberman in 2006 (he's practically a Republican). Dennis Hastert in 2006, 2003. You get the idea. Our Noble Obama's campaign finance chair likes to spread money around. Grease the wheels so to speak. She's a billionaire. Woman of the people (NOT).

Impressive list goes back to 1987. Don't you love the internet? That's why net neutrality is so important.

Now that I've whet your appetite, dig a little and leave your comments below.


Flashpoints Radio, Febrary 20, 2007 (linked above).

Nation Magazine, Subprime Obama, Max Fraser

NewsMeat Campaign Contributions.

February 20, 2008

Why Does AP Give Terrorists a Platform?

I don't know why. Perhaps it has something to do with the profit motive of commercial media.

Associated Press passes on propaganda with the title "Group claims Iran speeding up nuke plans" when a better title would have been "Terrorist Group claims...."

They report this despite a recent CIA assessment to the contrary. *shrug*


Associated Press, Group claims Iran speeding up nuke plans, February 20, 2008.

Rush Holt: Safeguarding the US Constitution

What is the Protect America Act reauthorization debate all about? According to Congressman Rush Holt (D NJ) its about changing a bedrock principle of the American form of democracy that would allow the executive branch to spy on American citizens without the check of a warrant from the judicial branch. That is, the Bush White House intends
... to fundamentally change the relationship between the people and their government... and that's scary and it's troubling and it could be long lasting.

In response to a recent essay of mine on warrantless fear mongering, a commenter recently asked "Who is going to protect Americans from the Protect America Act.?" My reply was,

The PEOPLE. AND, apparently Congressman Rush Holt is doing a pretty good job of it.

Below is a video interview with Holt by Robert Kennedy, Jr. It was conducted prior to last weekend's show down between the House Democrats and the White House. Holt was pessimistic in the interview, but still fighting. Holt apparently won a short term victory, because the House leadership decided it would let the Protect America Act expire rather than vote on it.

Interview by Robert Kennedy Jr. of Congressman Rush Holt

Much attention has been focused on whether or not Congress would use the Protect America Act as a vehicle for giving the telecommunications industry immunity from prosecution for being party to Bush's violation of the 4th amendment to the constitution against warrantless searches (surveillance). Holt, as noted above, points out that the implications are much deeper.

The fight is not over. Contact your representative. Tell them you Do NOT want the Protect America Act to be reauthorized. No action is good action in this case.

Also, contact Rush Holt and thank him for his service to the Nation: 202-225-5801.


Ring of Fire Radio and GoLeft.TV.

February 19, 2008

Prosecute Bush et al. Chapter 1

Below is my latest video (only 3 min). It builds upon commentary by Mike Papantonio and David Bender of the Ring of Fire radio show. Their point? Bill Clinton should have continued the Iran Contra investigations and prosecuted senior officials of the George H. W. Bush. Had Clinton done so, we would have avoided the disaster of George W. Bush.

Prosecute Bush et al. Chapter 1


Audio and video from Air America radio, Ring of Fire program.

February 18, 2008

Clinton: Big News

A big headline news item on Sunday? Hillary Clinton is coming out against trying the 9/11 suspects in the offshore (Guantanamo) venue created by the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006. For some reason it isn't a big story when Barak Obama says the same thing. Both Clinton and Obama voted against the MCA.

The difference? Besides the media falling all over itself to help make the Clinton campaign newsworthy, Clinton has a plan. If elected president, she's going to "direct the Justice Department to evaluate the evidence amassed against these prisoners and make a determination", according to Lee Feinstein the Clinton's national security director. Whoa! Ask the Justice Department for legal advice? Now that's big news.

The Big News I'm waiting to hear is whether Clinton or Obama would nominate John Edwards to be the head of the Justice Department. Then, maybe the Downing Street Memo, evidence of Bush fixing the intelligence to meet his intent to wage a war of aggression in Iraq, among other things.

Update on Downing Street Memo Aside:

This, according to DemocracyNow!

“Dossier” Author: Britain Was “Wrong” on Iraq

The British government has released an early version of the so-called intelligence “dossier” that made the case for attacking Iraq. The document contains no mention of the central claim often made by then British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Saddam Hussein could launch chemical or biological weapons within forty minutes. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the early draft wasn’t used as a basis for the final document. He also criticized a judicial decision to enforce the release after a Freedom of Information Act request. As the draft was released, its author, former Blair aide John Williams, said those in Blair’s cabinet who had resigned in protest of the war were “right.” He added: “Those of us who carried on working for the government were wrong.”


McClatchy News Bureau, Clinton would seek to try 9/11 plotters in established courts, February 17, 2008.

February 17, 2008

Crumbling Rock at the End of the Rope

Wow. Britain has socialized the bank Northern Rock PLC. Northern Rock is one of the top five mortgage lenders in the United Kingdom in terms of gross lending.

Maybe Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is being persuasive. More likely, corporate capitalism is demonstrating that, yes, it is self-correcting. But, "self-correcting" is not the same as "self-regulating." With unregulated markets, those self-corrections can come in the form of large institutions going down the tubes after bacchanalian speculation.

The deregulation craze, starting with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, went too far. Regulation, like a heavy flywheel on a car, helps smooth out the booms and busts, the later known as "corrections".

Take regulation away and capital accumulation goes wild, a few people get rich, stocks zoom up, speculation, a natural part of it, creates disconnections between the real value of assets and the get-rich-quick aspirations of speculators. Add cheap credit, inflationary federal monetary policies and fractional reserve banking and, as we're seeing, the disconnect between real value and speculative prices can become so large that the "correction" of the market can be terminal.

The message? Laissez-faire capitalism was given enough deregulatory rope to hang itself. It is now twisting at the end of that rope, feet kicking, eyes bulging looking to governments, that means We the Tax Payers, to "do something."

There is a solution floating around here in the US, but some think it's too "radical." Take Joe, snookered into an adjustable rate mortgage on a home that was overpriced because of the deregulatory speculative boom described above. Because Joe's mortgage is now part of a bundle of mortgages, known as a mortgaged backed security (bond), which is now part of someone's investment portfolio, it isn't possible to say, "Joe, we're going to renegotiate your mortgage." So, the "solution" is for the US Government to buy these crappy bonds, unbundle them, and do the renegotiations with the Joe's of the Nation.

Everyone pays for bailing out this capitalist debacle. But, another part of the solution must be that we get a public admission that well regulated markets are a good thing. No more of this know-nothing punditocracy lauding the Laissez-faire deregulated free market system as some kind of deity. That notion is, once again, discredited by the facts unraveling before us.

History shows, time and again, that, yes, economics principles exist. What goes up, must come down. Humans are supposed to be different from other members of the animal kingdom in their ability to self-reflect, to document their history in writing, to learn from their history. So far, it appears the free market fundamentalists have yet to join the human side of the animal kingdom, 'cuz they continue to make the same mistake over and over.


Associated Press, Britain Nationalizes Northern Rock, February 17, 2008.

February 16, 2008

Warrantless Fear Mongering

Will the Democrats stand up to Bush's warrantless fear mongering on domestic wiretapping? It appears that they have, for the time being.

It appears that the fear mongering of Bush and the Republican Congress is warrantless.
Many intelligence scholars and analysts outside the government say that today's expiration of certain temporary domestic wiretapping laws will have little effect on national security...

With the Protect America Act expiring this weekend, domestic wiretapping rules will revert to the ... Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which requires the government to obtain a warrant from a special court to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance in the United States.

Gotta love the name, "Protect America Act." That's the law that lets the president intercept domestic phone calls and emails without a warrant. Do you trust the president, Republican or Democrat? I don't.

It's always worth re-reading the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution at times like these:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

shall not be violated, period. Warrants are only issued if there is "probable cause," not just for curiosity sake, to to see if, maybe somebody is thinking about maybe doing something to resist the US empire.

So, Bush turns to the fear card... again. But even the conservative Washington Times is reporting that the FISA law, updated in 2001, is sufficient; we don't need the additional Protect America Act, which allows unconstitutional warrantless surveillance.

The House Democrats are wise to take no action on reauthorizing Protect America Act. The Senate has passed a version that includes retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry from prosecution for their role in warrantless spying on American citizens, that is, violating the fourth amendment to the Bill of Rights. The House Democrats know that, if they reauthorize the Protect America Act, even without an immunity amendment, reconciliation of the House and Senate versions by a conference committee would likely result in immunity.

We need to support the Democratic House members who are taking a stand to protect our civil liberties. Now is the time for all good citizens to contact their US Representatives:

CLICK to Contact Your House Member. Ask them to let the "Protect America Act" expire for good. Don't reauthorize it, period. FISA is sufficient.


One of the tireless members of Congress fighting on our behalf is Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). Learn more and watch an interview with him.


Washington Times, Analysts say FISA will suffice, Sean Lengell, February 16, 2008.


February 15, 2008

Who is to Blame for Subprime Mess 2

Maybe you don't believe my case for who is to blame for the subprime mess, and pending recession.

Would you believe former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan? According to the Associated Press, Greenspan said the following last night at a dinner for energy executives:
... what began as a niche part of the mortgage market grew as hedge funds sought out the collateralized paper associated with the loans.

Greenspan said recently it was the repackaging and sale to investors of the risky home loans — not the subprime loans themselves — that were to blame for the global credit crisis.

And who let the risk be passed on via all of this speculative paper? In part, Greenspan's Federal Reserve and other regulatory bodies. They let it run amok when rocket scientists like me were saying, "Whoa. This real estate bubble is getting way out of control."

Some were saying, "it's not a bubble." As if foreign investment would sustain the high prices, even though my well paid, middle class friends were saying, "If I had to buy my house today, I couldn't afford it."

Then there is the globalization factor. First, globalized financial markets allowed the foreign money to rush into our markets and contribute to the balloon. And, just like the saying, "what goes up, must come down," that global money can flee from our markets, deflating the balloon.

My recommendation: The system has become so corrupt that you're better off trusting your instincts than the so-called experts.

Update: Who is Penny Pritzker and what is her relationship with Barak Obama and the mortgage backed bond mess? The Pritzkers were central to the invention of mortgage backed securities.


Associated Press, No recession yet, Greenspan says, February 15, 2008.

February 14, 2008

Is the US a Failed State?

Is the US a failed state? The thought came to my mind three times in one day, so it is begging for a response.

First, the issue of "failed states" was raised by Alan Narin, journalist and long-time human rights activist on behalf of the people of East Timor. In response to a question about the recent assassination attempt against the Timorese president, Narin said[3]:

Some are saying Timor is a failed state, that here the international community has been pouring all this money into Timor, and all they get out of it is chaos. I think those comments distort the situation.

He goes on to define a failed state:

I think a serious definition of a failed state would involve two basic responsibilities of any state. I mean, one is, they have to obey their own murder laws, so they shouldn’t be killing civilians or backing the killings of civilians overseas. And, two, they shouldn’t be letting people die preventably. People die of hunger, disease, that could be easily prevented.

Then Narin turns the lens on the United States:

But if you’re going to judge other states by that standard, you would have to say that, say, Australia or Indonesia or the US are much more of a failed state than Timor is, because those are countries that have been killing civilians overseas.

And the evidence on the second point is glaring. The US government failed dramatically in preparing for and responding to Hurricane Katrina. Years after Katrina, New Orleans remains a disaster area, due in great part to failures of the state.

Playwright Eve Ensler[1] has been active in New Orleans since Katrina hit. The disaster is man made, and outgrowth of corporate capitalism run amok, much like the on-going financial sector crisis:

People don’t know that the mental health rates and the suicide rates are out of control. People don’t know that people who lived in houses [with rents] that were once $400/month are now $1,200. People don’t know that people are being charged for fuel adjustment, this new term, and they don’t even have a meter, you know, the gas meter in their house. I mean, it’s a bizarre, I think really immoral and profound statement about where the US is. [a failed state].

You know, we did a brunch there recently for the women in the Gulf South, Mississippi, Alabama, grassroots activists, fabulous women who have just been working twenty-four hours a day, and we just gave them a brunch. Women were standing up and weeping, you know, talking about the fact that no one had ever given them a brunch. I thought, a brunch? This is what we’re grateful for? A brunch?

It is pitiful, in the sense you would expect from the most desperate people living in an undeveloped nation, not the United States.

Throw in the FEMA trailers with toxic levels of formaldehyde, provided by the unassailable "private sector," and the failure is palpable. This is now well documented by the Center for Disease Conrol (CDC), as is FEMA's attempt to cover up the evidence. Remember Narin's definintion: 1) don't murder civilians and 2) don't allow them to die if preventable. True, formaldehyde works slowly, but here's a case in which the US government gets a two-fer as a failed state; the US is simultaneously killing civilians and allowing preventable deaths.

Finally, the third reference to "failed state," was an article that didn't use the term, but effectively made the case. I include a reference to that article in my "Sources" below.[2] It was the thing that ultimately triggered this blog entry.

A "failed state" or perhaps simply a "corporate state"? Perhaps the more appropriate question is whether this "failed state" status is intentional. We hear people, beginning with Ronald Reagan, say, "We want less government." They are usually people who want more undemocratic corporate power. People like radical tax reformer, and Bush administration insider Grover Norquist, who says he wants to shrink government, "to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." They say they want to make government small and ineffective. So is it "conspiracy theory" to take them at their word?


[1] Democracy Now, On Tenth Anniversary of V-Day, Vagina Monologues Playwright Eve Ensler Focuses on Violence Against Women in New Orleans and Gulf South, February 15, 2008. Eve Ensler, Award-winning playwright and creator of The Vagina Monologues, which has been translated into over forty-five languages and is running in theaters all over the world. She is the creator of V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.

[2] For an extensive piece on related topics See: Race, Poverty, and the Neoliberal Agenda in the United States: Lessons from Katrina and Rita, Kenneth E. Bauzon on Crimes and Corruption blog.

[3] DemocracyNow, East Timor Braces for Potential Crisis Following Assassination Attempt on President Jose Ramos-Horta, February 15, 2008.

February 13, 2008

Clinton Rejected in Potomac Primaries

Obama has charisma, which goes a long way. That's the positive factor that propelled him to win in the Potomac Primaries by huge margins:

Obama's Margins of Victory:

51% - District of Columbia
22% - Maryland
29% - Virginia

But there are negative factors too. Factors that push people away from Hillary Clinton:

  • The Corporate factor... leads to sellouts.
  • The "We Hate Clinton" factor (AKA Bill factor)... leads to divisiveness.
  • The Dirty Tricks factor... leads to a lack of trust.
  • The Yuppy factor... leads to feeling "she's not one of us."
  • The Washington Insider factor... sellouts, no trust, not one of us.
  • The Iraq and Iran factors... leads to the realization she's not experienced in foreign affairs.

The list could go on. I could elaborate. But it isn't necessary for most people, who get it.

Obama isn't the best Deomcratic Party candidate. That would have been Edwards. But, Obama is the best remaining Democratic Party candidate.


Election 08 Political Dashboard.

February 12, 2008

You Are What You Spend

Letter to the New York Times

A friend wrote the following letter.

To the editor:

W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm (“You Are What You Spend”, Feb. 10, 2008) do an admirable job of proving the very point they wish to skewer. Those of means, by the authors' very own measures, spend far less of their worth on what have come to be seen as life’s necessities. Moreover, using consumption as a surrogate for wealth is flawed logic; many of our society’s problems, whether related to health, economy, national security or environment, stem from our insatiable appetite. Equating consumption to wealth while ignoring savings and security is simply absurd.

I'm not sure what ticked off my friend, but it might have been this bizzare line:

Looking at a far more direct measure of American families’ economic status — household consumption — indicates that the gap between rich and poor is far less than most assume, and that the abstract, income-based way in which we measure the so-called poverty rate no longer applies to our society.

By their own measures, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer:

It’s true that the share of national income going to the richest 20 percent of households rose from 43.6 percent in 1975 to 49.6 percent in 2006, the most recent year for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has complete data. Meanwhile, families in the lowest fifth saw their piece of the pie fall from 4.3 percent to 3.3 percent.

Cox and Alm go from bizzare to absurd. First they inform us that

The bottom fifth earned just $9,974, but spent nearly twice that — an average of $18,153 a year.

and ask "How could this be?" Most of us immediately think, "Debt" as in credit cards, and "No Money Down" sales. But NOoooo. Cox and Alm inform us these poor people are splurging via

sales of property, like homes and cars and securities that are not subject to capital gains taxes, insurance policies redeemed, or the drawing down of bank accounts.

Most poor people don't have cars. They don't have bank accounts. They live paycheck to paycheck, getting ripped of by check cashers and payday loan sharks.

Then based on the foundation of that logic, we are given the not so brilliant conclusion of Cox and Alm:

if we compare the incomes of the top and bottom fifths, we see a ratio of 15 to 1. If we turn to consumption, the gap declines to around 4 to 1.

The logic is sick. Besides, anyone who is familiar with comparisons of rich and poor know that "income" is not the correct measure to use. The more proper measure is "wealth." Rich individuals often don't have, or need, "incomes." They live off the returns on investments, capital gains, which Cox and Alm point out is not counted as "income" and which is taxed at a lower rate than income (can you say, "the system is rigged by the wealthy?"). Furthermore, the rich accumulate wealth over time. The poor are lucky to have a job and live paycheck to paycheck, no accumulated wealth.

Cox and Alm should be ashamed of themselves, but I doubt they have any clue what shame is. There is a time honored solution for this. It's called the guillotine; some heads are going to roll unless people like Cox and Alm wake up and do something to narrow the wealth gap.

For those who are serious about the subject of wealth inequality, I direct you to Edward N. Wolff, economics proffessor at New York University. According to Wolff

The bottom 20 percent basically have zero wealth. They either have no assets, or their debt equals or exceeds their assets. The bottom 20 percent has typically accumulated no savings.[2]


The top 1 percent of families hold half of all non-home wealth. The richest 10 percent of families own about 85 percent of all outstanding stocks. They own about 85 percent of all financial securities, 90 percent of all business assets. These financial assets and business equity are even more concentrated than total wealth.

Mike, Dick: It's not about "income" or "consumption." It's about "wealth."

Let Cox and Alm, of the Dallas Federal Reserve, know how you feel by contacting the Community Affairs office:

Let Cox and Alm know that you think they need remedial education in "economics" by contacting the Dallas Federal Reserve Director, Economic Education and Special Projects Sherry Kiser:

Let the New York Times know your views too:

The Fellowship of the Pen lives.


1. New York Times, Opinions, You are What you Spend, W. MICHAEL COX and RICHARD ALM
Published: February 10, 2008.

W. Michael Cox is the senior vice president and chief economist and Richard Alm is the senior economics writer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. With "chief" economists like Cox, it's no wonder the US is facing a financial sector melt down.

2. The Multinational Monitor, The Wealth Divide: The Growing Gap in the United States Between the Rich and the Rest, Interview with Edward N. Wolff, May 2003 - VOLUME 24 - NUMBER 5.

February 11, 2008

Surprise Surprise: Troop Drawdown Delay

Surprise surprise, the troop surge has worked so well that we need to delay the troop draw down. This isn't a quagmire, it's an occupation.

Now that we know either Clinton, Obabma or McCain will be the next president, we know the US troops will be in Iraq, at some level, for at least nine more years, unless they are pushed out.

My estimate of the length of the occupation is still on track, but I'm not sure I haven't under estimated it.

In my original estimate I used a comparison of Iraq and Vietnam as the basis for estimating six more years from January 2007. Here's another possible basis for an estimate of how long we'll be in Iraq.... Bosnia:
TUZLA, Bosnia, Nov. 24, 2004 -- U.S. troops marked the end of their nine-year peacekeeping role in Bosnia on Wednesday as NATO prepared to hand over the task to the European Union in December.

Ooops! Forgot something:

A small number of U.S. troops will stay in Bosnia to hunt war crime suspects and help the country reform its military.

Sound familiar? Obama and Clinton always say have a similar disclaimer, like those words read really quickly at the end of a damn advertisement:

Thecandidatedoesnotrepresentthisstatementasfact and reservestherighttomaintaintrooplevelstomeetunforseenneeds astheyarise
including butnotlimitedto securityforcontractorsandembassyemployees
trainingiraqiforces interdictingterrorists

So, General Petraeus wants a little time for "consolidation and evaluation," and Defense Secretary Gates "had been kind of headed in that direction as well."

Fear and Worry are all Part of a Crumbling Empire:

Some fear the drawdown could result in giving up some recent security gains while many in the military worry that strains on troops from long and multiple combat tours will grow worse unless the troop reduction continues after July.

If people like Barak Obama have their way, who call for increasing the size of the US Military by 90,000, the latter worry should subside... for a while.

Crumble, crumble.


CBC, U.S. may delay troop cuts in Iraq: defence secretary, February 11, 2008.

February 10, 2008

Delegate Numbers Show the People are for Obama

What we have known all along is being revealed in the delegate count for Clinton and Obama. The people back Obama and the inside-crowd backs Clinton. You want "change"? Pick Obama. You want Washington inside-crowd "experience" (group think)? Pick Clinton.

Having worked in Washington, I can assure that you need not worry about "experience." Obama will be surrounded by plenty of people with Washington experience, including himself, a member of the upper chamber. He would, however, bring fresh perspective that helps avoid Washington group think.

Democratic Party delegates come in roughly two flavors, "popular delegates" picked by the people through primary elections and the "super delegates", current and former politicians and other Party functionaries (the inside-crowd).

The on-going primary election results give us the count of the popular delegates, and it presently leans in favor of Barak Obabma.

Popular Delegate Count:

904 Obama
875 Clinton

The super delegate count is known only by inference, because they need not reveal their preference until the delegates cast their formal votes. However, the Associated Press is keeping a tally of super delegates who have stated their position, summarized below. Of the 796 lawmakers, governors and party officials who are Democratic super delegates, Clinton currently has 243 and Obama has 156.

Super Delegate Count:

243 Clinton
156 Obama

Total Delegate Count:

1,118 Clinton
1,060 Obama

And, once again, to show that Faux News doesn't give it to you straight, the moniker for their "Delegate Count '08" is "You Decide." Well, in the case of Clinton and Obabma, if it's close, the inside-crowd will decide, not "you" the average person.

UPDATE: From MoveOn.Org

The superdelegates are under lots of pressure right now to come out for one candidate or the other. We urgently need to encourage them to let the voters decide between Clinton and Obama—and then to support the will of the people.

I signed a petition urging the superdelegates to respect the will of the voters. Can you join me at the link below?

Sign the Petition

February 9, 2008

Freedom News Nation

We don't need Faux News or the other corporate media. We have FNN:

Bush's Iraq Lies Exposed!


February 8, 2008

The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall

Paul Krugman zeros in on the how the "widely watched" indicator of trends in the service sector [70% of the economy] "has fallen off a cliff."

More specifically, the Institute for Supply Management reported that its new composite index measuring the health of the service sector was 44.6 in January. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while below 50 indicates contraction. That was down from 54.4 in December. "This is an absolute collapse of this index," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at Global Insight... AKA "fallen off a cliff."

Krugman also leads us to a paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff - PDF for which there "has been a lot of buzz."

Reinhart and Rogoff explore the historic record for the "Big 5" bank-centered financial crises in industrialized nations. They cite "the five most catastrophic cases" to be episodes in Finland, Japan, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

They address some specifics the common refrain, "but this time it's different," only to make me more uncomfortable with the mainstream economists and pundits who use this refrain. Notworthy is the following:

This time, many analysts argued, the huge run-up in U.S. housing prices was not at all a bubble, but rather justified by financial innovation (including to sub-prime mortgages), as well as by the steady inflow of capital from Asia and petroleum exporters.

So, average Americans are at the mercy of a petro-dollar induced real estate price rise making homes unaffordable and pushing people into exotic mortgages? So, we're supposed to take comfort in the argument that the housing prices, bid up by foreign oil money, will remain high (the bubble won't burst)? Is that supposed to give me confidence in our economy and corporate globalization?

On to the prediction, or should I say comparison.

The figure below compares the US real estate bubble with the average of the "Big 5." Years are marked along the bottom of the graph, with "T" representing the year of the onset of the financial crisis. By that convention, "T-3" is three years prior to the crisis, and T+3 is three years after the onset of the crisis.

The left side of the axis a normalized index of housing prices, allowing comparison between different time periods and currencies. The authors not "the run-up in housing prices in the United States exceeds that of the “Big Five” ... by a lot. One can't help think of the saying, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall."

There's more to the paper, which I'll let you read. It's only 11 pages long and not too techincal.


Paul Krugman, A Long Story, February 8, 2008.

Is the 2007 U.S. Sub-Prime Financial Crisis So Different? An International
Historical Comparison, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, Draft, January 14, 2008. (Linked above).

US Service Sector Contracts [recession] in January

February 7, 2008

Another Link in the Chain

This one could easily go by unnoticed, but has significant economic implications.
Moody's cut Security Capital Assurance's financial-strength rating to "A3" from "AAA." The insurer's financial strength is now "high quality," whereas it was previously "maximum safety."

This means the bonds insured by SCA will loose value because insured debt is only as safe as the reliability of its insurer.
Moody's said in order to cover the claims the company is likely to face, Security Capital needs $6 billion in "claims-paying resources," or cash it can access. The company only has access to $3.6 billion, Moody's said. Security Capital insures $150 billion in debt.

This is one more link in the unraveling chain, triggered by past irrational exuberance about, that is crazy speculation in, real estate.


CNNMoney.ComMoody's Cuts SCA's Rating:
Moody's Slashes Rating on Security Capital Assurance, Threatening $150B in Debt
, February 7, 2008.

Mukasey: We Cannot Indict Ourselves for Waterboarding

Orwell would say, "I told you so."

Attorney General Mukasey explains why his department cannot initiate a criminal probe of waterboarding:
Waterboarding, because it was authorized to be part of a program ... cannot possibly be the subject of a Justice Department investigation,

OK, then we need a higher authority than the Department of Justice to do the investigation. Now we know another reason the dark side doesn't want to be part of the international court.

We've heard of "Justice delayed is justice denied." In this case, it's simply "justice denied."


Washingon Post, Mukasey Rejects Criminal Probe into Waterboarding, February 7, 2008.