Friday, February 29
A worthwhile insight on Bush and Africa and an interesting look at the president. He's sort of human when it comes to Africa but don't get me wrong, he still has a problem with just about everything else.
Regressive Antidote: Sickenme Flimflam Clinton
I know that the Clinton's are more Republican than Democrat and I know that the media's goal is to fool you, but I am missing something. Are the Clintons really such grand opportunists that no one wants them? Not the media, not the Republicans, not the Democrats? Are they an entity unto themselves? It seemed that way after reading this piece by David Green.
1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says
One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars.
One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.
One in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 are behind bars.
One in 100 black women are locked up.
Economy Slows to Near Halt
Israeli minister warns of Palestinian 'holocaust'
Ricin found at Las Vegas Motel
Thursday, February 28
"Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming"
"Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on."
So if it's Global Cooling instead of Global Warming, who's bullshitting whom?
I've lived in the midwest for 52 years, and this is the worst winter I can remember for sustained cold AND snow.
Hit the link for more, including evidence that a lot, if not all of the climate change is due to sunspots and solar flares. Poor old Al and his buddies if it's really cooling we have to worry about. See, if warming is caused by us, it gives him and the warming advocates something to raise hell about. But if it's cooling caused by the Sun, there's not a damn thing anybody can do about it--like with showers of meteors that cause fires over large areas.
RELATED UPDATE: Cold kills 1,300 in Afghanistan
(Begins): "KABUL, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - Around 1,300 people have died as freezing weather continues to cause havoc in Afghanistan with heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures hitting 17 of the country's 34 provinces, local authorities said Wednesday.
"This winter is the coldest in the last 30 years in war-torn Afghanistan, with temperatures reaching lows of -30 degrees Centigrade (-22 Fahrenheit). Some northern regions have been without food and medical supplies for over two months."
"I had an unaffiliated religious experience of sorts last night. I just happened to catch the live broadcast from Pyongyang of the New York Philharmonic
I just had to watch it all. It was really profound as the significance of each piece sank in.
It hardly got any media attention at all, and of course, the usual suspects were outraged, as if they have any comprehension of fine art at all. Anything that can bring both sides to tears must be sinister and subversive."
Watch their performance of Arirang:
You can watch the concert in full this evening (2/28/08) on PBS - Great Performances (check local listings). Here on the East Coast it is scheduled to be on from 9:30 - 11:30 pm.
Or, you can watch it in full here at PBS.org
The New York Philharmonic's historic concert in North Korea's capital city Pyongyang premieres via satellite, with Music Director Lorin Maazel leading the orchestra in Wagner's Prelude to Act III of "Lohengrin," Dvorák's "Symphony No. 9" ("From the New World"), and Gershwin's "An American in Paris." Opening with the national anthems of North Korea and the United States, the program will be transmitted from the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre, with behind-the-scenes coverage by Bob Woodruff of ABC News. The network has had rare access inside the closed society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, where contact with the outside world is completely forbidden to citizens. The Philharmonic visit marks the first by American artists there. "I have always felt that music is a powerful language," says Maestro Maazel, "in which those of us who are humane and intelligent can speak to each other, in defiance of political and cultural boundaries." The concert is the centerpiece of a 48-hour visit to Pyongyang by the Philharmonic.
This is one of THE GREATEST Great Performances I have ever seen on PBS, and the "behind-the-scenes-coverage" is an understatement. I never really knew or understood the history of the DPRK and Kim Jong II.
I am speechless.
crossposted at BigBrassBlog
The recording revealed that the teacher told the 4 and 5 year olds, "You are all just stupid kids. I swear to God." Also captured on tape was the teacher saying, "You're just a bad kid," and "You're mean to me, so I get to be mean to you."
The mother and child appeared on Good Morning America. The nation is outraged.
Just a couple of things struck me in the article as suspect, otherwise, most everything else was worthy of parental concern since the teacher seems ill suited for her choice of career and should find another job. (This is quite a far cry from what it was like in school in the 50's and 60's isn't it?)
From the first paragraph:
"A Houston mother, who said her daughter was well-behaved at home, was worried about what was going on in her child's classroom because the girl had been suspended four times for bad behavior."I hate to generalize, but kids who are well behaved at home are generally not so well behaved when they are away from home. Parents of well behaved children are shocked to hear this and generally over react. This of course does not excuse a teacher who belittles students. It can become a self fulfilling prophecy though:
"Now she and her husband, Oscar, are trying help Megan recover. She said that the girl still is having some problems in school and that they worry the teacher's harsh words may have affected the girl."There is quite a discussion at the GMA message boards on this.
I think that there are many sides to this story and lessons to be learned. Don't you?
One good thing is that this episode empowered parents, but I'd hate to see this power be abused. We humans can be so frail.
Via Mother Jones: This is the "torture playlist" that guards and interrogators use in American military prisons. There are 24 songs and the playlist below appears to work although none really caught my fancy.
Which song played over and over and really loud would make you turn in your mother?
Wednesday, February 27
Anyhow, if I'm a "conspiracy theorist" I'm in damn good company. To wit:
Y'all better take a look at Mad Cow Morning News' article entitled "John McCain's Sweet Ride--Lobbyist's Plane Flew Saudi Royals After 9/11."
"Antifascist", over at Joe Cannon's Cannonfire where I first caught the article begins the description of the article thusly: "What do you get when you cross John McCain, Vicki Iseman, Christian fundamentalist broadcaster Lowell "Bud" Paxson, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Andrew "Dice" Clay, Adnan Khashoggi, Jack Abramoff, murdered Florida casino boat mogul Gus Boulis and the "mystery flights" of escaping Saudi Royals "leaving Las Vegas" just days after the 9/11 attacks?
"Why another must read investigative report by Daniel Hopsicker, of course!"
But whaddayabet if it ever makes the front pages that the semensplattered MSM focuses on the sex angle?
Buddy of mine told me there might be a big fed investigation early this year but didn't tell me what about. Maybe this is it. One can hope. Yes, one can hope, but then one remembers the Congress.
(Crossposted in the comments at The Dark Wraith Forums.)
(No, not a steroid competition)
"A US team has won a $50,000 (£25,000) competition to design a spacecraft to rendezvous with and track the path of an asteroid which may threaten Earth.
The winning entry, led by SpaceWorks Engineering, will shadow asteroid Apophis for 300 days.
The measurements it takes will be used to refine what is known about the orbit of this 300m-wide space rock.
Apophis will make a close pass of Earth in 2029 and there is a small but real possibility it could hit in 2036." (continued)
Zubaz pants are back. Tune up your Camaro and turn your baseball hat around.
The Supreme Court is considering lowering the fine imposed on the Exxon for the Valdez disaster. Oh poor Exxon. The $2.5 billion dollar fine is almost a whole 3 weeks profit!
Something in the terabyte range, please.
As many of you know, I'm a contributing writer to the Spontoon Island website. It's fun writing furry fiction, since you can tweak the story in another direction and the story'll be all human, all the time. Hey, if Aesop could do it, why can't I?
So here's my Pending Projects list for 2008:
Luck of the Dragon (serial started in 2003):
Chapters 133-137, closing out the section 'Hobson's Choice.'
Luck of the Dragon Summer 1937 story 'Pilgrimage'
Luck of the Dragon Summer 1937 story 'Sure Thing'
Chapters 138 - ff. (starting September 1937); section 'Dealing a Cold Deck.'
Tales from Rain Island:
'Kocha Koi' (sort of a seriocomic tale of a pirate submarine)
A Leaf in the Wind (a tale of political intrigue and crime, set in a semiautonomous Chinese colony)
Independence Day (how the Rain Coast seceded in 1885)
'Rain Island: The Great Experiment Fifty Years On,' ersatz article from the International Hydrographic Magazine (July 1935 issue)
The Highwayman Rides, the 'lost' first episode of the Highwayman radio serial
Fool's Gold, another episode of the Four Fools radio show
A Spontoon Island May Day story, to be titled
I think that should keep me occupied for a while.
Years ago I sat through an episode of his television talk show, Firing Line, and while I was impressed by Buckley's erudition, I was also convinced that he was quite the intellectual snob. Wealth + Yale degree = Self-righteous, Pecksniffian attitude, I guess.
He even wrote spy novels, so he wasn't all bad.
Unfortunately, although he was eulogized by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and John Boehner, I think Buckley would have been rather uncomfortable with the current crop of roadkill and white trash who masquerade as true conservatives nowadays.
A few quick tidbits of note from Summary of Key Findings:
16% are not affiliated with any denomination. That's more than double the number who said that they were unaffiliated when they were children.There are interactive charts and graphs breaking down the whole study at this link. Have fun. Come to you own conclusions.
Protestants will soon be in the minority. They make up currently 51% of the population and that is broken up into hundreds of denominations. The largest group of denominations are evangelicals which make up 26.3% of all protestants.
While American born and raised Catholics are changing affiliations in larger numbers than any other religion, the influx of Catholic immigrants makes up for it.
Tuesday, February 26
FEBRUARY 26, 2008 | ISSUE 44•09
DAYTON, OH—With a wide-ranging knowledge of both domestic and foreign issues, unflappable composure, and an uncanny ability to reach across the aisle in these divided times, 42-year-old David Johnson would be this generation's greatest president if he didn't have disturbingly askew eyebrows. "On paper, he's got it all," ABC News correspondent George Stephanopoulos said of Johnson, who is an undeniably powerful and engaging speaker. "But those eyebrows—Christ, one is way too bushy, and the other is just all over the place." According to Stephanopoulos, Americans will instead elect the president they deserve—a superficial, eager-to-please, spineless person with immaculately groomed hair above his eyes.
"Joe Lents hasn't made a payment on his $1.5 million mortgage since 2002.
"That's when Washington Mutual Inc. first tried to foreclose on his home in Boca Raton, Florida. The Seattle-based lender failed to prove that it owned Lents's mortgage note and dropped attempts to take his house. Subsequent efforts to foreclose have stalled because no one has produced the paperwork.
"If you're going to take my house away from me, you better own the note," said Lents, 63, the former chief executive officer of a now-defunct voice recognition software company."
Check it all out at Bloomberg in a delightful little article entitled "Banks Lose to Deadbeat Homeowners as Loans Sold in Bonds Vanish".
The lovely Ms. Gooding is getting married. Woo hooo! And the toady she's marrying a is a blogger at RedState.
Maybe instead of saying, "I do" they can say "I don't recall".
Here's to hoping there aren't any spawn.
Honk for Confederate prideTake a moment and chew on that last paragraph. hmmm.
Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, has filed legislation to create a new license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag.
But the controversial nature of the flag and failure to establish a plate before makes for a difficult road to approval.
The plate, featuring four Confederate-era flags as well as buttons worn by soldiers, was designed by the Florida division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group pitched the idea last year and got nowhere. The plate would cost $25 extra and proceeds would be used for education programs and graveyard restoration.
"A lot of people are making a big issue out of it," Brown said. "But all we're doing is giving individuals the right to choose to make a statement about their heritage." That's no different, he said, than people who want to see Martin Luther King Jr's name grace street signs....
Heritage. I thought Florida was "discovered" by Ponce de Leon. Shouldn't a heritage tag also be offered in Spanish and let's not forget Native American?
I found the comments at the story to be very enlightening. But talk about a divisive issue.
Monday, February 25
Ever wonder if those animated ads you see on various sites stop animating when you scroll past them or continue to run even if you’re not there? I guess they’re kinda like the refrigerator light.
Didja…Ever wonder where a headache goes? Are there only so many headaches in the world and does yours go to someone else when it’s finished with you?Didja …Ever wonder why mall walkers have to park so close to the entrance of the mall they walk in so they don’t have to walk so far to enter so they can get exercise – walking; same with people who go to a gym?
Didja…Ever wonder how the Evangelicals can say that un-provable religion is factual yet call evolution a theory?
Didja…Ever wonder who writes all those really stupid TV commercials today?
Or…Who the morons are that approve them?
Didja…Ever wonder why we moved most holidays so the people who already get weekends off can have longer ones? Yet those in the service industry get nothing?
Didja…Ever wonder how it is that when it snows so bad schools and offices have to be closed, those same morons expect Malls to be open so they or their kids can shop or goof off?
Didja…Ever wonder when Ice Cream started coming in 1.75 quarts INSTEAD of half gallons…and why?
DIdja…Ever wonder if the morons pushing carts in supermarkets drive the same way?
Didja…Ever wonder who the morons are that pick the final three usually not funny clips on
Didja…Ever wonder what happened to the wars on poverty and drugs? The Republicans lost those for us, too.
Didja…Ever wonder what happens to used photons? I mean, do they simply vanish or rot or what?
Didja…Ever wonder why something you’re looking for is in the last place you look?
I started the blog in 2004 in an effort to find some people I could talk to because I thought I might have gone insane. New Yorkers were great to talk to right after 9/11 because we had solidarity and could share our terror stories and hatred of OBL (whoever he was). A bunch of us made 9/11 music CDs. We wrote songs and were collectively nauseous for a good month or so but I started feeling quite alone in the world when the truth smacked me in the face one day while I was curled up in the fetal position on my bed with CNN on the television watching the US bring "justice" to Afghanistan via carpet bombs. Many of us parted company once the wars started and it was dangerous to speak. I made enemies in real life and on yahoo groups. Thank god for blogs.
I have made the best friends and email pals here! Thank you all for coming and blogging and commenting. It's okay if we don't agree on every thing. It's not easy to discover the truth and we all have questions. I've learned so much from so many interesting people from all walks of life. I believe that we're all keeping each other sane. Keep that popcorn popping.
Special thanks to those who've blogged here: Patricia, Peter, Jaye, Billydoom, Jersey Cynic, Red State Blues, Missouri Mule, Anntichrist, Flame, NC Gal, Father Tyme, Walt, Candy and Sara.
There's a fine example in Raw Story's report of how you WILL be punished if you dare to tell the truth and cross Karl Rove.
CBS' 60 Minutes broadcast Sunday regarding the alleged political prosecution of Democratic Alabama governor Don Siegelman went black in several Alabama cities.
Only the Siegelman section went dark. According to WHNT-TV, the local CBS affiliate, the issue was caused by a technical malfunction.
The interview is available on the CBS website.
The White House put pressure on CBS to kill the show, those close to the case say. Journalists covering the story have been attacked. The case's most prominent whistleblower, Dana Jill Simpson, recently testified, under oath, to Congress about Rove's involvement in politicizing the Bush Justice Department
Her house mysteriously caught fire after she came forward.
UPDATE: you can watch the segment at Think PRogress.
And how about this. NY Times Holds Stories Because They're Afraid of Conservatives
If the NY Times is scared, what hope is there anyway?
Makers of medical devices are immune from liability for personal injuries as long as the Food and Drug Administration approved the device before it was marketed and it meets the agency’s specifications, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.
Today, they will consider whether plaintiffs may bring state law tort claims against a drug maker, claiming that the company made fraudulent representations to the FDA....
It must not be a big deal because there really is not that much information I can find about this.
What do you think?
Big deal, or no big deal?
Sunday, February 24
A poll by CNN about Obama's Patriotism
If I put into words the way I feel right now, I'd be off this blog, arrested by the SS and sent to Gitmo.
That the media sucks isn't even a premise any longer. We' are truly living in the Third Reich.
The latest strategy of the creationists is to blame the evils of mankind such as the rise of Hitler and the holocaust on that evil monster Charles Darwin (who wrote Origin of the Species in 1859.) Oh they are grasping at straws now. Humans have been downright evil towards each other since forever.
While their argument that Hitler's anti-semitism was influenced by Darwin, is simply ridiculous because even I knew that the Gospel of John in the New Testament written about 90AD (ish) was used to facilitate anti-Jewish sentiment which continues to this day, and that Passion Plays were clearly meant to incite anti-semitism throughout the ages. When people started actually reading the bible in print, hatred really flourished across Europe. What fascinated me in the post by PZ, and what I don't even remember learning in religion class is that Martin Luther was a rabid anti-semite and if nothing else his writing On the Jews and Their Lies (1543) might have had more than a little to do with anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany. After all, Hitler invoked "God" when gave speeches, not Darwin- The Gospel of John plus Germany's son, the father of Protestantism, Martin Luther clearly gave permission for the hatefulness of Hitler's mission.
So read the post over at Pharyngula and the hatred spewed by Martin Luther. One of the commenters also pointed out these interesting and ancient anti-Jewish quotes (which start halfway down the page.)
Just because YOU dismiss conspiracy theories doesn’t mean they aren’t real.
Does anyone think the Right Wing or NeoCons alone had the capacity for what has gone on these last 7 years? Could the PNAC have put together such a program without help? We’ve seen the emasculation of the Constitution by this administration while our media has looked the other way. We’ve seen partisanship unparalleled in broadcast journalism. We’ve seen incompetence in the media that makes high school newspapers look like Pulitzer winners. Why?
Did the radical right really have the wherewithal to pull off the coup on
We saw the media turn a blind eye toward everything that would have prevented not only the war in
For too long we’ve heard the excuse that the American People aren’t stupid and they’ll only take so much. Well, that has certainly been proven false over the last 15 years. What other reason could there be for the complacency exhibited by such mindless, media worshiping, apathetic drones than pandemic congenital idiocy? The information these borderline sentient mental midgets somehow glean from the media is sacrosanct. Tell an NRA owner that a Democrat wants to take his gun away and you’ll get more than a knee-jerk reaction, you may get shot. Tell an Evangelical that the Left wants to eat the babies of Christians, with no evidence more than that reported by a sensationalistic media and they’ll want to draw and quarter all liberals .
Who has the real power in
Whoever the real person(s) is behind the curtain, timidity is disappearing. In the past, the influence was subtle, possibly because of the times or maybe there wasn’t the outright greed of today. Today there seems more of a lust for immediate power. And controlling the media is the tool. Forget politics; forget big business; they are perhaps only unwitting but opportunistic beneficiaries of this newly outted power; a power that doesn’t mind being acknowledged but still wants anonymity.
The influence the media is exerting in the current presidential campaign has to be coming from somewhere. To think these mindless automatons could, as a group, summarily decide who gets to play God for the next four years let alone have the intellect to execute such a plan on their own is unthinkable. We’ve seen the Right Wing “talking points” on this administration’s network, Fox, spew over to the other media. Does anyone think that they are not being told by an individual what to say; that they are doing this on their own?
That similar planted stories, actions and propaganda vomited by the media is ONLY realized by the Left Wing portion of the blogs says volumes for the success of the hidden crusade; a crusade that depends on the mind-numbing stupidity of those who sit in front of the tube, drinking watered down beer, eating cholesterol laden fast foods, inhaling carcinogens that are acknowledged to shorten life, and buying veg-o-matics and pet rocks while coveting their neighbors goods, wives and kids. Someone has to tell the robots at the networks what to do. And that person has to be told by another in a higher position. Roger Ailes surely isn’t influencing MSNBC or CNN! So it must come from someone higher.
To ignore one side of a story that could change the direction of the country, there can be no doubt any longer that media manipulation is rampant. Someone wants their agenda put forward at any cost, and has the power to do so. Rational reasons, at least to us, are secondary. Remember, the Evangelical’s gawd’s mind can’t be understood by mere mortals, just other Fundies. Looking back at the history of these repetitious occurrences it would almost seem that it’s a game being played out and we’re the pieces. The difference today from that of a hundred years ago is the ease with which the player or players controls the game; control only made possible by a duplicitous, bootlickingly subservient media.
It’s hard to win a war when you fight the wrong enemy. The real terrorists in
Without these purveyors of 21st Century 1930s propaganda, the “hidden” would have to remain just that until an acceptable collaborator or patsy could be found and they would have to wait for a later time. Unfortunately for us, they found their Faust, and their time.
The real terrorists in
THE NEXUS OF POLITICS & TERROR: "what we were told about terror, and not told, for security reasons, has overlapped considerably with.......
This is a must watch video for anyone in America, no matter what political party you support, this simply is above any of that. The video is from Thursday night's "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann segment which presents a detailed time line he called "The Nexus of Politics and Terror," in which he chronicled the Bush administration's exploitation of terror threats for political gain. Olbermann's exhaustive account weaves from each revelation of an intelligence failure or a Democratic political victory to an almost immediate orange alert or "new threat" from al Qaeda.
The clip is 17 minutes long and entirely worth it, and its conclusion — "what we were told about terror, and not told, for security reasons, has overlapped considerably with what we were told about terror, and not told, for political reasons" --Please, I cannot stress how much I am hoping you take my advice and give this a look, it is important both Republican's and Democrat's learn from this, so we can prevent history from repeating itself in the future.
FYI UPDATE : The transcript of Thursday's night segment on the "Nexus of Politics and Terror" can be found at the MSNBC website. It's about halfway down the page and starts after (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) and then OLBERMANN (voice-over).
Nexus of Politics and Terror (Keith Olbermann) part 1 of 2
Nexus of Politics and Terror (Keith Olbermann) part 2 of 2
These are disheartening days for Hillary supporters. Not just because of the string of losses but because of the kind of loss.
This was nothing if not a careful campaign. Neither the strategists nor the candidate had illusions about the hurdles that would face the first female president in American history. They knew women have to prove and prove again their toughness. They knew women have to prove and prove again their experience.
They began well by framing Clinton as the establishment candidate. But then the establishment became "the status quo" and the historic candidacy became "old politics." She even got demerits for experience.
Something else happened along the way. If Hillary Clinton was the tough guy in the race, Barack Obama became the Oprah candidate. He was the quality-circle man, the uniter-not-divider, the person who believes we can talk to anyone, even our enemies. He finely honed a language usually associated with women's voices.
Women of Hillary's generation were taught to don power suits and use their shoulder pads to push open corporate doors. In the 1970s, the lessons on making it in a man's world were essentially primers on how to behave like men.
But the next generation of advice books urged women to do it their own way. The old stereotypes that defined women as more compassionate and collaborative were given a positive spin. They were framed and praised as women's ways of leading.
Today's shelves are still full of titles — from "Seducing the Boys Club" to "The Girl's Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch)" to "Enlightened Power" — that tell us to act like a man or act like a woman. But in many ways, the transformative inspirational, collaborative, "female" style has become more attractive. Especially to a younger generation. And — here's the rub — especially when it is modeled by a man.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee political scientist Kathleen Dolan sees Obama as "the embodiment of the gentle, collaborative style without threatening his masculine side." But she adds, "He's being more feminine than she can be. She is in a much tighter box."
This too is a bit like what's happened in business. Whatever advice they follow, women are still only 3 percent of the CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. Meanwhile, it's become more acceptable for a man to take an afternoon off to watch his kids play ball than for a woman.
Ilene Lang heads Catalyst, which surveyed more than 1,200 senior executives in the United States and Europe. This research calculated the tenacity of double binds and double standards. It showed how hard it still is for a woman to be seen as both competent and likable. And it led her to the conclusion that "What defines leadership to most people is one thing. It's male."
As for the Obama style? "Both men and women are much more likely to accept a collaborative style of leadership from men than from women. From women it seems too soft," she adds ruefully.
Hillary was quite right that she needed to be seen as the experienced, competent commander in chief. Obama was quite right about the country's desire to reach across boundaries and beyond divisiveness.
We have ended up in a lopsided era of change. After all, how many of us wanted to see male leaders transformed from cowboys to conciliators? Now we see a woman running as the fighter and a man modeling a "woman's way" of leading. We see a younger generation in particular inspired by ideas nurtured by women, as long as they are delivered in a baritone.
So, has the women's movement made life easier? For another man?
Ellen Goodman is a syndicated writer in Boston. Here is a brief bio.
Saturday, February 23
From the Washington Post The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists we learn that McCain's top adviser, lobbyist Charlie Black, says he does his work by phone from the The Straight Talk Express (McCain's campaign bus.)
"...An angry and defiant McCain denounced the stories yesterday, declaring: "At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust."I agree with Greg Sargent at TPM that this is key for understanding the big Times story. In fact, McCain is very tied to lobbies and special interests despite his protests. shame on him.
Even before McCain finished his news conference, uber-lobbyist Black made the rounds of television networks to defend McCain against charges that he has been tainted by his relationship with a lobbyist. Black's current clients include General Motors, United Technologies, JPMorgan and AT&T.
Black said he is still being paid by his firm and does work for clients in his "spare time," recusing himself from lobbying McCain: "I not only do not lobby him [McCain], but if an issue comes up that I have a client on, I will tell him that and stay out of the discussion."
But even as Black provides a private voice and a public face for McCain, he also leads his lobbying firm, which offers corporate interests and foreign governments the promise of access to the most powerful lawmakers. Some of those companies have interests before the Senate and, in particular, the Commerce Committee, of which McCain is a member.
Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain's Straight Talk Express bus.
Pass me the popcorn, Wanderer.
hat tip to oddjob
Friday, February 22
The Turkish military announced, and the PM in Ankara confirmed, that the Turkish Army had moved some of its ground forces into northern Iraq to attack some bases of the Kurdish terrorist group, the PKK.
The Turks have bombarded part of the mountainous region (part of autonomous Kurdistan in Iraq) for a while now, but sending troops in while there's still a lot of heavy snow sounds, well, suspicious.
If you're just raiding or flexing your muscle, you don't want to have the weather reduce your troops' effectiveness.
But if you're invading, it's perfect timing - the adversary would not expect it.
The United States says that it's watching, but isn't doing anything to help either the Turks (apart from intelligence and satellite images) or the PKK (apart from allowing the Kurdish government to harbor a terrorist organization).
Now, what happens if the Turks throw the bulk of their forces in the area (estimated at about 150,000, with armor) into that part of Iraq?
Will the Kurds demand they leave, and what will they do if the Ankara government tells them to get knotted?
What will the US do? And what will our NATO ally tell us if we order them to back off?
It's already shaping up to be a very interesting year.
Fantastic read. Great research. A lot of history I never knew.
It's finally snowing like a mofo today on Long Island. Mr. BS is clearing the snow off the company gas guzzler and will head out to the highways where car crashes are occurring by the minute.
I thought that Hillary did a better job than Obama in the debate last night. She really does sound like she knows what she's talking about. I'm just saying.
What happened to
The world we knew
When we would dream and scheme
And while the time away
Where did it go
That yester glow
When we could feel
The wheel of life turn our way
I had a dream
So did you
Life was warm and love was true
Two kids who
followed all the rules
Now it seems
Those yester dreams
Were just a cruel and foolish game we used to play
When I recall
what we had
I feel lost
I feel sad
Jesus approved sex toys and vibrators now available online A loving married couple shocked by the pornographic websites that sell marital aids have started their own, Book 22. Thanks to prayer and Jesus' holy guidance they add toys accordingly, avoiding those that would elicit unholy sexual activities.
"We pray about things before we add them to our site," she says. "We live our lives very openly in front of Jesus, so we just kind of pray for direction about which way he would have us go, and I have to be honest with you — he's really surprised us. ... Almost our whole entire 'special order' page has come about from that."
Ultrasound can be used to locate the elusive woman's G spot.
If hubby can't find it, a team of scientists can scan the entire urethrovaginal space to check for a thicker vaginal wall near the urethra which would indicate the presence of the "controversial G spot."
But if your sex life is dead, there is some advice for reviving it. Bring it on!
Thursday, February 21
Freemason Recruitment -- Has anyone heard the recent radio commercials? (Ben is worried - Secrets and Trust - Prepare for Greatness)
It was kinda creepy - What do you think?
The days when newcomers could join only by a whispered invitation from an existing "brother", followed by a lengthy initiation, are coming to an end, after a steady fall in membership. ~~(2005)
I had no idea that this campaign had been going on for a few years now. Today was the first time I heard the commercial.
As the world’s oldest and largest fraternal organization, Freemasonry today is built on Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Through fellowship, charity, education and leadership, Freemasons are making their lives - and their communities - stronger by the day.
Inside the Masons - The fraternal order has long been the target of conspiracy theories and hoaxes. Here's the real story
Whew....I'm glad we can put all those conspiracy theories behind us now.
crossposted at BigBrassBlog
"Rule by fear or rule by law?.
The article begins: "Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of "an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."
"Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.
"According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."
I wonder if we'll be transported to the camps in boxcars.
(EDIT): Maybe they won't call them "detention centers" or "concentration camps." Maybe...well, y'all might wanna take a look at:
Dr. Rafil A. Dhafir at Terre Haute Prison’s New Communications Management Unit.
AT PRECISELY 7 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 11, 2006, 17 federal prisoners across the country were taken out of their cells, held in isolation for two days, then bused to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Terre Haute, Indiana. Here the government quietly began implementing the first stages of a secret new program, the Communications Management Unit (CMU)."
While Anderson Cooper on CNN said that "Hillary Clinton did indeed call Barack Obama to congratulate him on winning," the closed caption read, "been told that al qaeda did indeed call Barack to congratulate him on winning." And that was no obama/osama faux pas like this.
And they haven't even really begun the Barack Hussein Obama campaign yet.
- Orwell, 1984
Political campaigns in the United States are what is known as “Hurrah” campaigns – full of colorful signs, banners, and pictures of the candidates. Slogans such as “I Like Ike!” and even campaign songs figure into the process, culminating in the carnival-like atmosphere of the Party conventions.
Which brings me to Senator Barack Obama.
Allow me to tread carefully here. I am not endorsing the Senator from Illinois, just as I am not endorsing the Senators from either Arizona or New York. However, there’s been a lot of bilge spread around liberally by various of the chattering classes regarding the creation of a “Cult of Obama,” and I felt that it requires a bit of addressing.
Chanting Obama’s name (and you have to admit that it does lend itself well to that) or “Yes We Can!” or even “U.S.A!” or even having some overwrought audience member pass out does not a cult of personality make.
A cult of personality, according to Wikipedia, is usually created by a leader’s manipulation of the national media (and we’ve seen, quite clearly, that Senator Obama does not have power over what the media is saying about him), and is an extension of regular hero worship. People hanging on every word Rush Limbaugh spews from his flabby piehole can have their devotion qualify as hero worship or a cult of personality.
Cults of personality are most common in totalitarian regimes where the State controls the Press.
And it's fairly obvious that the last thing Senator Obama controls is the news media.
What I would cite as a possible indicator that a cult may be forming is the formation of a club or similar organization dedicated solely to the figure, along with an almost religious or fanatical devotion to that person. The SA and SS from 1930’s Germany are the best examples of this, and we’ve seen a hint of it in the youth organization that has sprung up around Vladimir Putin.
In other words, when you start seeing uniforms, start getting worried.
What we’ve been seeing around Senator Obama is, in my opinion, an indicator that a growing number of people in the United States want some sort of change. It’s the “Don’t Just Sit There, DO SOMETHING!” attitude – the feeling that the nation’s leaders need to do something, anything, to get the country back on track.
And these people don’t feel that Senator McCain can do it.
Or Senator Clinton.
So they flock to hear a message that, while it may be short of specifics, resonates with the yearning they have to DO something.
"What I was clearly talking about was that I'm proud in how Americans are engaging in the political process," she said. "For the first time in my lifetime, I'm seeing people rolling up their sleeves in a way that I haven't seen and really trying to figure this out -- and that's the source of pride that I was talking about."
Still, her comment was in keeping with the generally bleak view of the country that is the heart of her stump speech, a departure from the usual chauvinism of the campaign trail.
But unlike her husband, she tends to dwell on the negative. America, in her telling, is a place where "regular folks," meaning the working class, can't get ahead because, as she said at Ohio State University, "folks set the bar, and then you work hard and you reach the bar -- sometimes you surpass the bar -- and then they move the bar!"
Americans, she says, have become "cynical" and "mean" and have "broken souls." For regular folks, life is bad and getting worse.
People can't raise a family on one salary anymore, she says. They can't afford to get sick even if they have insurance because of deductibles, premiums and the high cost of medication. They can't confidently send their kids to neighborhood public schools because so many of them are so bad. Young people can't afford to attend college to become teachers or nurses or journalists because those jobs don't pay enough to repay college loans.
"We don't need a world full of corporate attorneys and hedge-fund managers," she told a crowd in a Baptist church in Cheraw, S.C., last month. "But see, that's the only way you can pay back your educational debt!
"The life that I am talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl. And this is through Republican and Democratic administrations. It doesn't matter who was in the White House. . . . So if you want to pretend there was some point over the last couple of decades when your lives were easy, I wanna meet you!"
and to be fair - lets' hear what Cindy McCain has to say:
During her introduction of Sen. John McCain at a rally Tuesday, his wife Cindy took a shot at controversial comments recently made by another 2008 spouse.
“I am proud of my country. I don’t know about you? If you heard those words earlier, I am very proud of my country,” Mrs. McCain said while revving up the crowd and introducing her husband.
When asked at a media availability afterward if they were responding to Michelle Obama’s comments Monday that this election is the “first time” she was “really proud” of her country, Sen. McCain deferred to his wife–who reiterated her previous words.
“I just wanted to make the statement that I have and always will be proud of my country,” McCain said.
Cindy McCain was asked to expound upon her thoughts about Obama’s remarks at an availability in Columbus, OH this afternoon but again resisted—instead repeating her earlier comments.
“I always have been and will always be extremely proud of my country. I have led an extremely fortunate life. It was nothing more than that. I am just extremely proud to be an American,” she said.
Well Michelle -- for the first time in my adult life I'm happy to say I'm proud of a politician's wife.
Thank you for telling it like it is. I hope that someday I will be proud of my country also. It may just happen.......
BEHIND EVERY GREAT MAN THERE IS A GREAT WOMEN
Wednesday, February 20
Who does he think he is? Rudy Giuliani? Well I never...
WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.How does the television media cover this? By attacking the messengers. Really. Just turn it on and see, if you dare. I thought Fox was going to cut into American Idol, but they just kept turning up the heat during the commercials instead.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement. Continued
I especially loved Bay Buchanan on CNN feigning shock because she felt Republicans simply do not put up candidates that are not family values oriented, so this story must be a lie. I was in shock that she actually said that. But then it was revealed that she worked in the Romney campaign and it would have been nice if the Times had put out this story months ago. Well yes, when you look at it that way, I can see why she was outraged. Her candidate could have had more delegate votes. Well if this was a real conspiracy hit piece, the Times would have released the "bombshell" in October where it would have the most impact on those ever precious "values" voters.
By Thursday, this story ought to be even more juicy.
Florida Calls Evolution "Scientific Theory" - Hundreds of Monkeys at Silver Springs Prepare to Leave State
Honestly, think about it.
You have our largest space port on the Atlantic coast, several nuclear power plants, aerospace firms and at least two oceanic biology institutes. Our universities are generally first-rate (okay, okay, I'm being generous regarding Florida State, but sometimes you have to generalize).
The State School Board of Florida accepted the new science standards by which local schoolkids will get themselves educated (hopefully) by a small margin, but not before the board members bluffed by a tiny addition of three words.
Instead of calling it "evolution," the Board called it the "scientific theory of evolution." Reaction from both sides of the specious debate that has enraged the Irrational and embarrassed the Rational was understandably muted, as the decision doesn't really satisfy anyone.
But in a way, couching the term in that manner enables teachers to explain what "science" really means, and let kids know what a "theory" actually entails (because we have to remind others that gravity and atoms are also just theories).
Think Progress reports that the bluff was inserted mainly to mollify the people I referred to in an earlier post as The Stupid, the legions of pig-ignorant people who can get whipped into a frenzy of irrationality by their shamans or right-wing politicians.
Typical of The Stupid is the Panhandle resident Think Progress highlights in the bit of video they have in their article (I caution all of you to make sure your stomachs are empty before you watch, as it'll make you retch). Which got me thinking of the earliest Evolution/Creation debates shortly after Darwin published his findings and conclusions.
In 1860 at Oxford, England, a debate was held about the merits of the work (Darwin wasn't present, being a shy and retiring person). He was ably represented, however, by biologist Thomas Huxley; the opposing viewpoint was presented by the Lord Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce. The topic was what the theory did to Humanity's place in the Universe.
At one point, Bishop Wilberforce decided to tweak Huxley by inquiring whether it was Huxley's grandfather or grandmother who was the ape.
Bear in mind, now, that in Victorian England the very idea that a man, let alone an Englishman, might be related to any other man let alone an inferior form of life was anathema. Wilberforce thought he could fluster Huxley and score some points.
The story is apocryphal but it is related that Huxley leaned over to a friend and whispered, "The Lord hath delivered him into my hands." He then stood and delivered the following response to Wilberforce:
"If the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence and yet who employs these faculties and that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape."
Both sides thought they had managed to get their point across, and all went off to dinner together.
Now, if someone had pointed out to the wonderful rube from Florida's Backwoods that the orange WAS related, on an atomic and molecular level, and shared some similar processes in common with our own cells, I'm afraid the idea would be totally lost on him. Irrationality is at times a wonderful thing, as ignorance is bliss.
I'd much rather be rational, and know that in the depths of my own ignorance about quite a few things I can at least think, reason, acquire knowledge and reduce that level of ignorance.
But, to quote the movie Cool Hand Luke, "Some people you just can't reach."
But what about the monkeys? I hear you ask.
Glad you brought it up.
Way back in the 30s a troupe of rhesus monkeys were brought over from Africa and deposited in the Silver Springs area to give a bit of color to the old Tarzan flicks. They stayed, went feral and are now protected within the boundaries of the park.
I heard that after they heard that guy from the Panhandle speak, many of them have decided to emigrate back to Africa. A spokesape said, "We're moving back to a smarter country."
I'll be checking outside around 10pm, here in NY. This hopeless romantic loves the moon.
Michelle Obama said this and it made the morons go crazy:Possible interpretations:
"What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud."
1) Perhaps the punditry didn't take what she said in context. That's no surprise.
2) Perhaps she meant that before now, she was only just proud, but not really proud.
3) Or maybe she's proud to see that Americans are waking up for a fucking change.
4) She wasn't an adult during the glorious Reagan years. How long has her adult life been anyway? 20 years? So that covers Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. Conservatives would agree that the 8 years under Clinton sucked. Literally. Bush I was pretty pathetic for conservatives. He cut and run, didn't he? And how can anyone expect a Democrat to be happy about the Bushista years? The conservatives aren't happy with him either. So what's the problem? She'd make a legitimate point even if she meant that she wasn't proud at all, but I don't think she meant that.
5) Or maybe it's because she's black for god's sake and it's not like most black people are on the receiving end of liberty and justice for all. For the first time, there is hope collectively.
6) Oh the rich white male punditry is showing themselves for the racist pigs they are. Big fat pigs whose only interest is other big fat pigs who are always proud unless a Democrat gets a blow job. Shame shame.
Female monkeys may shout during sex to help their male partners climax, research now reveals. Without these yells, male Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) almost never ejaculated, scientists found. Female monkeys often utter loud, distinctive calls before, during or after sex. Their exact function, if any, has remained heavily debated.Scientists are very pleased with themselves. They've finally captured photographs of gorillas having sex face to face.... in front of the kids, no less!
To investigate the purpose behind these calls, scientists at the German Primate Center in Göttingen focused on Barbary macaques for two years in a nature reserve in Gibraltar.
The researchers found that females yelled during 86 percent of all sexual encounters. When females shouted, males ejaculated 59 percent of the time. However, when females did not holler, males ejaculated less than 2 percent of the time.
Many Americans will fall short of current standard of living after retirementCouples mostly don't have a clue as to how much they should have in retirement savings and greatly underestimate what they will need.
"The Center for Retirement Research estimates 61 percent of households are "at risk" of being unable to live the way they would like and pay for their health care when they retire."
"But according to EBRI, couples need to save about $300,000 in retirement to cover health expenses, assuming they live to average life expectancy and Medicare benefits remain at current levels. For those who live to 95, that amount jumps to $550,000."Gee, with the economy tanking and great losses expected for investors and homeowners, even those who have done pretty well will have to sell their homes and settle for a lot less. So much for the "golden years." And for regular folks who live paycheck to paycheck, the prospects are gloomy for any sort of dignified older age and they'll probably just die off sooner than the somewhat wealthier.
Imagine my non-surprise when I read this in the NY Times: Midlife Suicide Rises, Puzzling Researchers
I dunno, unless you want to kill yourself or just let the nature of the "Land of Free and Home of the Brave" kill you a bit more slowly, your best bets are to move out of this country if you can do so or plan to spend yourself broke and go on Medicaid (but make sure you're in a good solid blue state). If you're really lucky and your kids don't hate you, maybe they'll take you in one day.
My plan is to urge my child to get the best education and qualifications for an exciting career abroad and then send for me... in my dreams.
McCain the "Songbird" - McCain the "Manchurian Candidate" -- McCain's Presidential Ambitions Set To Be "Swiftboated"
POW's Say John McCain Is A Lying Skunk !!!!!
"We are planning right now a counter-offensive called GOP Tea Party, and in the spirit of 1773 when the colonists rebelled against the King of England and tossed all that tea over, we're going to rebel against the Republican Party and toss McCain over," Sampley said.
"We hope to start a revolution within the Republican Party to cleanse it of all the left-leaning Republicans and McCain is a leftist if you look at his major activity," he added, pointing out that McCain has direct links to the Clintons and would be no different than having Hillary in the White House.
THE McCAIN TRAINWRECK:
"Everything I think about the election centers around there being no election. In 2004, when they determined to re-appoint Bush for four more years, they had to find a stalking horse who was actually worse. It took a while to find John Kerry, but his complete unelectability made the Bush “victory” appear more legitimate. In this election, they’re all stalking horses. They are all amazingly unelectable, and this is the signal that there will be an extension of this administration. The people will accept the suspended election because the Hillary alternative is a worse choice. So, the fake terror attack is inevitable. It seems like the logical course of action, it’s just a matter of when this will occur. Going by The Establishment’s flair for the dramatic, this event may be timed to coincide with something else; and I am guessing that this “something else” will be the torpedoing of the McCain candidacy. He is such the obvious loser in this contest, and a McCain meltdown would leave the Republicans without a candidate with only months to go in the election. This would be the most effective moment to stage the “terrorist” attack.
The McCain candidacy is the strangest aspect of this event and the most obvious feature indicating that the whole thing’s in the bag. After a nationwide search, how is it possible that a legitimate electoral process ended up with this lunatic?"
crossposted at BigBrassBlog
Tuesday, February 19
Does anyone have a clue why that suddenly happened? Does anyone know how I can fix it?
We haven't changed the sidebar lately.
The section on politics caught my eye. Talk about a self- fulfilling prophecy --
POLITICS: Freedom Will Survive
How will this land of ours be governed in 50 years?
Much as today, perhaps – with two parties contending against each other and within themselves, with the people free to choose between them, with the winner pressured from all sides yet curbed and guided by a constitution little changed since George Washington’s day.
And yet it is easy to scare ourselves with other possibilities.
Some see us drifting toward the all-powerful state, lulled by the sweet sound of “security.” Some see a need to curb our freedom lest it be used to shield those who plot against us. And some fear our freedom will be hard to save if a general war should come.
A military dictatorship to restore the nation’s body, if not its soul from the ravages of atomic attack? Some sort of Fascism? Or, in the name of Socialism, some mild or strong control of what we do; directive here, big red “Thou-Shall-Not’s” there?
Some fear the worst. And yet:
We’ve feared the worst, while hoping for the best, ever since we have been a nation. We’ve come through wars and depression. And we’ve come through – free.
Today, almost alone among men, we have the strength – as we may need to prove – to hold the course we choose.
h/t to J-walk
h/t to Foiled Goil over at BigBrassBlog
She asks -- "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?"
I know what I am going to do to raise awareness in the neighborhood and get some folks talking.
THE FLAG SHOULD NEVER BE DISPLAYED WITH THE UNION DOWN, EXCEPT AS A SIGNAL OF DIRE DISTRESS IN INSTANCES OF EXTREME DANGER TO LIFE OR PROPERTY
~United States Code
Title 4 Chapter 1 - The Flag
(Photo courtesy of Citizenarcane )
The UnPatriotic Act — one nation, under surveillance, with oppression and terror for all.
I don't agree with the boxer's overall opinion, but he has a point.
I perish the thought but we all know what happened 40 years ago and history has a way of repeating itself and it will be even uglier this time around.
Parents Rise Up Against A New Approach to Math
Greg Barlow, an Air Force officer in the defense secretary's office at the Pentagon, was helping his 8-year-old son, Christian, one recent night with a vexing problem: What is 674 plus 249?
The Prince William County third-grader did not stack the numbers and carry digits from one column to the next, the way generations have learned. Applying lessons from his school's new math textbook, "Investigations in Number, Data, and Space," Christian tried breaking the problem into easier-to-digest numbers.
But after several seconds, he got stumped. He drew lines connecting digits, and his computation amounted to an upside-down pyramid with numbers at the bottom. His father, in a teacherly tone, nudged him toward the old-fashioned method. "How would you do that another way?" Barlow asked.
Wow, this reminded me of when I was doing "new" math back in the dark ages and my loooong division problem took up a whole loose leaf page. My mom looked at it, sighed, and showed me how to do it in a tiny space on the page, the way she learned it. It was so easy! But nooo, I had to submit my homework the loooong way. Eventually I figured out another way to do it in my head that I can't really explain.
I felt very dismissive of this new new math when I started the article above, but as I went on though, I realized that they are teaching kids to do math exactly the way that I do it in my head.
Carol Knight, Prince William's math supervisor, said that when children break down numbers into multiples of 10 and 100, their understanding of place value and "number sense" increases.I thought this way was cockeyed and naive so I never told anyone how I calculate, but I am not so sure I could figure out a way to teach it to people who didn't already know how to do it the old way. Calling it "Investigations" however is a sure way to freak out parents on a week night at 11 o'clock.
"Memorization will only carry you so far," Knight said. "With 'Investigations,' kids understand the real values of the numbers and are not doing shortcuts. When they multiply 23 times 5, they'll do five 20s to get 100, and then add five 3s to get 15, and they put that all together and get 115. What they've done is made actual use of the numbers."
I heard it about 0330 local on CNN International. Let me summarize.
Fidel Castro has resigned.
His brother Raul will act as interim President until the election, as he has done since Fidel took sick a year and a half or so ago. Whether he will be Cuba's next leader remains to be seen.
Monday, February 18
The Price of a college education.....Will it be leaving your child behind?? Connect these dots and tell me what you see.
(image courtesy of istockphoto )
Here is the recent article that got me thinking: Lenders Predict Harsher Climate For Student Loans
"There is no question in my mind that, unless something changes in the marketplace, there will be a shortfall of funds available to make student loans," says , president of the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation, a nonprofit lender based in Rock Hill, Conn. "I've been doing this since 1978, and I've never been more nervous."
I think we all know what needs to change in the marketplace --I wish I knew more about the pros and cons of regulation and deregulation in the banking industry. Did deregulation help to create this mess that is now affecting so many? Haven't our elected officials had ample time to look at the whole picture here to see how it is unfolding? I don't even know if any of this is even related, but the graphs in the article on banking deregulation from opensecrets sure spoke volumes. Check out the amounts given to dems and repubs from lobbying groups for the banking, securities, and insurance industries. From 1993-1998, the GOP was clearly the favorite.
President Clinton signed the Financial Services Act of 1999 (The Gram-Leach-Bliley Act) which replaced the Glass-Steagal Act
Economics Journalist Robert Kuttner on the “Most Serious Financial Crisis Since the Great Depression” -- “This is the Result of Rightwing Ideology and the Political Power of Wall Street”:
(Amy Goodman Interview)
Mr. Kuttner: "some people have this picture of subprime lenders as these neighborhood predators. They were put in business by Citigroup. They were put in business by Merrill Lynch. They were put in business by the bluest chip names on Wall Street.
The prime enabler under Clinton of deregulation was Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury. And Rubin comes out of Goldman Sachs, then he goes to work as one of Clinton’s top guys. He presides over the repeal of the key piece of New Deal legislation designed to prevent conflicts of interest, the Glass-Steagall Act. And then he lets a short interval go by, and then he becomes chairman of the executive committee of Citigroup, which was only able to become the kind of conglomerate it did because of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Now, that’s a flat-out conflict of interest."
Bush Drops Unpopular Plan To Raise Cost of Student Loans
Bankruptcy Bill Passes
Concerns mount over higher rates on student loans
Congress narrowly passed a deficit-reduction bill last month that cut $12 billion from student loan programs, which was signed by the president. The new law will slash subsidies to lenders and raise interest rates on loans taken out by parents.
As part of the new bill, Congress also increased the interest rate on loans paid by parents. Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students, better known as PLUS loans, had been scheduled to rise from the current rate of 6.1 percent to a fixed rate of 7.9 percent.
But lawmakers, seeking greater savings in the budget package, boosted the rate even higher, to 8.5 percent. The change is likely to make the loans less attractive to many parents.
Student Loan Overhaul Advances
Many Democrats have long decried subsidies to the lending industry as a waste of taxpayer dollars and have promoted direct lending by the government to students. Republicans have generally sided with the lending industry, contending that the companies bring needed competition to the market.
But several key Republicans yesterday supported the Democratic legislation.........
(I believe they are referring to this bill)
H.R. 5: College Student Relief Act of 2007
Why the sudden turn around? I have a pretty good idea --
Did Revolving Door Lead To Student Loan Mess? "At least eight top officials in the Education Department during the Bush administration either came from student-loan or related organizations or have taken lucrative jobs in that arena since leaving the agency. Former Education Department staffers say a revolving door between the department and industry has led to lax oversight of federal financial aid."
Last month, the White House released the following Statement of Administration Policy Regarding H.R. 5—College Student Relief Act of 2007 -- the Administration opposes H.R. 5 and says that reducing student loan interest rates encourages more student debt and can also fuel today's upward tuition spiral at colleges.
So, who's minding the campus lately?
Let's hear from Peter Wood. He is the Executive Director of the National Association of Scholars and has recently written a few very informative articles on this topic for mindingthecampus--Student Loans - Sequel To The Mortgage Mess? In this essay, he links to a paper written by Andrew Gillen, writing for the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. His working paper is: "A Tuition Bubble? Lessons from the Housing Bubble"
Mr. Wood concludes that "There are not enough dots yet to draw a picture of a credit squeeze in the U.S. for student loans, but it might be a good time to start watching for more dots."
I wish I could figure Peter Wood out. He wrote this gem about
THE ANGRY LEFT.
He has also written a few books. This one caught my eye: Diversity - The Invention of a Concept here's a review: The diversity movement, hiding in the garb of peace, love, and tolerance, is working hard to destroy the qualities that make America America. Sound harsh? It is. But Peter Wood documents with names and dates.
Why is education heading down the toilet? Well, there are many reasons, but diversity is certainly a major contributor. How about the fact that what passes for art these days leaves most people cold, if they're lucky, disgusted if they're not? Diversity again.
Diversity is a new concept, as Dr. Wood scrupulously points out. It is not an American ideal, but a recently coined invention to disguise the failure of affirmative action. Its purpose is to remove judgement and evaluation, to protect the incompetent and the insignificant, and to force everyone to embrace everyone else (except those cranky, right-wing wackos...don't embrace those nasty people!)
So, what do we know about this National Association of Scholars. According to sourcewatch: The National Association of Scholars (N.A.S.) was founded in 1985, was created, according to a report by People for the American Way, " to unite right-wing faculty against 'politically correct' multicultural education and affirmative action policies in college admissions and faculty hiring that take race or gender into account."
"In addressing issues that are of academic concern across the political spectrum, the N.A.S. has recently been successful in attracting a small number of liberal and moderate faculty, but the overall thrust of the N.A.S. remains conservative.
Its advisory board lists right-wing intellectuals such as
Irving Kristol The one who spawned that monster William Kristol
Well now Mr. Wood -- I don't have to watch for any more dots. I've connected them and I see a very dark line dividing the haves and have nots. I also see a line that will soon cross out most of the middle class in America today. It's a line that has been carefully drawn by the PTB (whoever THEY are) -- I'm betting it's the bankers - the feds - the "money makers" and most of our elected politicians. The ones who let this mortgage lending fiasco proceed for years and years. The ones who printed the money, the ones who "packaged" the money, the ones who lent the money. The ones who carefully manipulate the "trends" (i.e. the PPT - plunge protection team) The Plunge Protection Team - long kept secret - was last mobilised to calm the markets after 9/11. It then went into hibernation during the long boom. But, last month, Bush convened the so-called Plunge Protection Team for its first known meeting in the Oval Office
For any readers who are still with me (sorry I take so long), here is a must read article written by Elizabeth Warren back in June for TMPcafe --
College Loan Squeeze Play:
Any notion that the student loan industry works for students and their families vanished in the scandals over lenders' giving money to college loan officials to steer business their way. Now education policy specialist Bob Shireman exposes another ugly side of the student loan industry: Leaked documents show what the private student loan businesses have been squeezing out of Congress.
crossposted at BigBrassBlog