Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tom Hayden reminds us of Hillary's radical roots

Former Michigander Tom Hayden, an author of the Port Huron Statement of the Sixties, writes in The Nation about how disingenuous Hillary is being by piling on in attempts to tie Barack Obama to Sixties' radicals.

As Obama noted, he was only eight years old when the Weathermen were active. But he did not point out, as some think he should, that Hillary Clinton was a radical back then -- something that the "right-wing attack machine" is holding in reserve if she gets the nod for the fall election.

After leaving Yale, newly minted lawyer Hillary went to work for a left-wing San Francisco firm that specialized in defending the Black Panthers and labor leaders tied to Communist causes. Those facts may make me wish Hillary were more like she once was. But they also show that people change and that you cannot be judged by the actions of every friend or family member. (Though I am not sure I can forgive Hillary for sticking with Bill, especially now.)

As Hayden writes:

. . . doesn't she see how the Hillary of today would accuse the Hillary of the sixties of associating with black revolutionaries who fought gun battles with police officers, and defending pro-communist lawyers who backed communists? Doesn't the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom Hillary attacks today, represent the very essence of the black radicals Hillary was associating with in those days? And isn't the Hillary of today becoming the same kind of guilt-by-association insinuator as the Richard Nixon she worked to impeach?

I am glad to see Obama remaining above the fray, but I hope that Hayden's comments get a wide play. The argument that the right has thrown everything at Hillary belies the fact that they haven't even started.

First sign that the Dem establishment will give it to Hillary?

I just watched in horror as Howard Dean told the "Meet the Press" audience this morning that the Dem race is a virtual tie. A tie?

As Politico et al have explained, there is simply no way under the prevailing rules that Hillary Clinton can catch and then overtake Barack Obama in the remaining primaries. Tie? A tie where superdelegates should break the tie by choosing the person on the basis of who is perceived as most electable? Is that code for the black man cannot win, so give it to Hillary?

Rep. James Clyburn notes that many African Americans are worried that this is the "graybeards" of the party finding a way to rob the upstart black man of the nomination. Hillary is the mainstream candidate, arm twisting the superdelegates with promises of favors and threats of retribution - made all the more credible by years of doing just that. All Obama is offering is hope of a better society.

So is this a sign that the party elders are going to do whatever it takes to give Hillary a shot, even though her negatives are so high that they give John McCain a real shot in the fall? And will mainstream media collude because they love to keep the race going?

As Clyburn rightly noted, the idea that whites are the swing vote that should decide the race treats black voters as irrelevant. Why isn't anyone asking why Hillary no longer does as well with black voters as she once did?

No Democrat can win in the fall without the black vote. So why doesn't it matter that Hillary is threatening to bring the party down with the divisive tactics her campaign has been using, especially husband Bill?

If Howard Dean and his pals end up giving the nod to Hillary, then I will wonder why I ever returned to the fold after going to the Green Party in 2000.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Home price drop worst ever - check yours

Image of Cyberhomes
Check your home's
current value at

Home prices in the United States fell 11.4% last month, the worst drop since Standard & Poors began tracking them in 1987. A broader composite of cities shows home prices falling 10.7%, the first time both indices have ever fallen by double digits.

I checked my home on Cyberhomes and found it has dropped $22,770 just last month. I don't know about you, but I can't make that up by turning down the thermostat to the point where I turn blue.

Cyberhomes says my home would sell today for between $179,091 - $228,838, so the drop reflects what Standard & Poor's is reporting. Since I am 63 and have hopes of retiring someday without being forced to dine exclusively on dog food, losing more than a tenth of the value of my major asset is disconcerting, to say the least.

Pocketbook politics means me even more upset with the Clinton's continuing ego quest to win the nomination for Hillary at any cost.

David Brook's column in the New York Times today says that Hillary's 10% chance of winning the nomination is now down to 5%. Given the choice between McCain, who admits he's no good on the economy, and Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill apparently have no qualms about conducting a scorched-earth campaign that risks handing McCain a victory in the fall.

On "Morning Joe" on MSNBC this morning, Chris Matthews proposes that the Clintons would prefer a one-term McCain presidency to a possible two-term Obama presidency, if Hillary cannot get the nomination this time. Matthews is suggesting that the Clintons are so ruthless that they will do whatever they can to set up Hillary for the next time, if she cannot win this time, even if it means electing a Republican in the fall.

Now that's Hardball.

And that's reprehensible.

And it must be stopped before the bottom completely falls out of my home's value.

It's time for Howard Dean et al in the Democratic Party to find a way to put a stake through the heart of the Clinton candidacy at the end of the primary season in June, at the latest. Waiting until the convention in August is a surefire way to weaken the Democratic candidate to the point of unelectability.

Guiding the U.S. economy through the dangerous shoals of a falling dollar, a ballooning trade deficit, continuing losses in manufacturing jobs and dramatic rises in energy and food prices, on top of the crisis in housing, requires focusing on what the candidates propose to do about the economy.

Yes, I know Hillary embellished the dangers she faced in Tuzla a dozen years ago. But, as Dick Cheney would say, So? It's time for the media to stop trafficking in trivia, even when today's news benefits my guy.

Before the housing market collapses completely, let's get back on track and start talking about what government can do to turn this around, other than bailing out the big boys on Wall Street, while fobbing me off with $600 I will have to wait months to collect.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Economic predictions sound familiar - meanwhile BBC shows us the new Hoovervilles

CNBC superstars Erin Burnett ("Street Signs") and Maria Baritromo ("Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo) just appeared on "Meet the Press" where they (mostly) assured everyone that the economy looks good in the long run and how much better off you will be if you put your money in stocks.

Money Honey Bartiromo said that the Federal Reserve and international banks have made it clear they will do whatever it takes to avert disaster. Up-and-comer Burnett hinted that there are some who fear that doing everything may not be enough to stave off nasty surprises.

An editorial in Gold Eagle by Colin Seymour in 2001 saved me the trouble of looking up reassuring predictions from the past. Here are a few of the 20 entries Seymour gathered:

- "There will be no interruption of our permanent prosperity." - Myron E. Forbes, President, Pierce Arrow Motor Car Co., January 12, 1928

- "We feel that fundamentally Wall Street is sound, and that for people who can afford to pay for them outright, good stocks are cheap at these prices." - Goodbody and Company market-letter quoted in The New York Times, Friday, October 25, 1929

- "I am convinced that through these measures we have reestablished confidence." - Herbert Hoover, December 1929

- "There is nothing in the situation to be disturbed about." - Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, Feb 1930

- "... the present depression has about spent its force..." - Harvard Economic Society, Aug 30, 1930

- "All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed... and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S." - President F.D. Roosevelt, 1933

- - - - - -

My goal is not to foment panic. After all, economic prosperity depends on everyone maintaining faith in the system, and I have a retirement account to protect.

But I, for one, am weary of having my security threatened by a two-party system with one position on the economy, which is to allow corporate America to call the shots without any real regulation.

Remember the Savings and Loan scandal? Weren't we supposed to learn some lessons from that?

Republicans and Democrats colluded in passing NAFTA without requiring other countries to meet our environmental and labor standards, guaranteeing the playing field for manufacturing jobs would tilt elsewhere. Then there was the Internet bubble, the Enron energy bubble and now the housing bubble.

Remember the old song called "I'm forever blowing bubbles - pretty bubbles in the air"?

When the bubbles burst, tax dollars are used to mop up the fallout on corporations, but not on citizens. And our corporate media colludes in offering reassurances rather than analysis.

Congratulations to the BBC for showing us the tent cities springing up in our country. And thanks to the Internet for allowing us a way to see real reporting again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A break from politics - or maybe not?


Click on the little doggie, and she will take you to a place where you can give her commands. (Don't forget to ask for a "kiss.")

The first time I asked her to vote for Obama, and she told me to "Please put that in dog-friendly language." The second time, she said, "That is beyond my abilities.

I wonder what she would say about Hillary? Recognize another b----? (As Barbara Bush would say, "Rhymes with rich.")

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gotcha! Federal Reserve HAS been bailing out the banks without telling us!

Reuters now has a report from The Financial Times explaining that banks have quietly borrowed roughly $50 billion from the Federal Reserve the past few weeks.

excerpt from Federal Reserve Web site

Please note that on February 7, this blogger noted that the report on the Federal Reserve website showed that more than $40 billion had disappeared from the books in just the past few weeks. (Thanks again to all my paranoid (but eagle-eyed) buddies at the Godlike Productions forum for spotting the strange goings on.)

The Fed site shows that its reserves had tumbled from $42,281 billion in the black during November to -$8749 billion in the red by February 7. As of February 13, they are now down to -$18,009 billion. According to the records on the Fed site, nothing like this has ever happened before.

Aren't these the reserves designed to protect us against bank runs and insolvency? Does this mean we're broke but nobody has bothered to tell us yet?

I do want to thank the vigilant citizen journalist watchdogs who are keeping on eye on the big boys for us. But I also want to know how a meltdown of these proportions could go unnoticed by the mainstream financial press.

Even now, with word of the bailout beginning to leak out, where is the analysis telling us what it means?

The Financial Times fails to answer my bottom-line question - is it time to put my money in gold -- or in my mattress?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Marrying John didn't make Yoko a great singer and marrying Bill . . .

Erica Jong argues in the Huffington Post that the Hillary-Haters are ruining the chances for us to have the first woman president in the United States. She views women for Obama as turncoats. "Ok folks, stick your heads in the sand like Maureen Dowd who thinks we're not against women but just against Clinton 'baggage.'"

What Jong and many other old-line feminists ignore is that believing that a woman should have an equal shot at being president does not mean that every woman is the right choice for the job. Again, marrying John didn't make Yoko a Beatle or a great singer. And marrying Bill didn't make Hillary a great politician or a potentially great president either.

The problem with the Clintons is baggage. Pointing out the failures of the Clinton co-presidency is not evidence of Hillary-hating, it's proof of a good memory, coupled with an overwhelming desire not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

On January 31, the New York Times ran an article about how Bill Clinton took Canadian mining exec Frank Giustra with him to Kazakhstan, where two days later Giustra walked off with three spectacular contracts for uranium. Shortly thereafter, Giustra donated $31 million to the Clinton Library (or patronage slush fund, if you prefer), with a promise of $100 million more.

Barack Obama may not need to use this ammo to derail Hillary's presidential aspirations. He seems to be doing just fine rolling along above the fray. But can you imagine what the Republicans could do with that in a fall campaign? Even today's Hillary-lovers might recover from their current amnesia and remember why she's ultimately unelectable no matter which gender she is.

Some of Hillary's high negatives stem from misogyny, which remains a sad reality. There are also white folks who will never vote for Barack Obama no matter how qualified and talented he is, and that is equally sad.

But sympathy for discrimination is not a good enough reason to vote for a woman who is not the right choice for the job. The worst thing in the world would be for women to push Hillary over the top now only to have her fail in the fall and elect President McCain.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A trend whose time has not come

Amy Winehouse with Cindy McCain, Michelle Obama and Hillary
I am old enough to remember the beehives of the Fifties. Maybe someone as hot/cool at Amy Winehouse can wear her hair piled high, but Cindy McCain has been looking a little odd lately, with that French twist thingie creeping up the back of her head. And we all remember those painful years when Hillary's hair shaped-shifted from one dorky 'do to another. Let's nip this new trend in the bud before it spreads any further.

A new future for Michigan

Michigan Future Inc.
Note to Michigan Future: If you want credibility in talking about high-tech jobs, invest in a better-looking Web site.
A new study by Michigan Future Inc. finds that Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing are falling behind the rest of the country in creating high-level jobs. The report argues that recent MIchigan government policies, such as cutting corporate taxes and dis-investing in higher education, are the wrong medicine for what ails us.

It is sad that The Detroit News, the Republican business paper, embraces the know-nothing strategies that actually drive good jobs from Michigan. There's the cut-taxes mantra. Equally as short-sighted is the rigid orthodoxy that lowering CAFE standards is bad for the car business.

Sorry, Henry, but the lesson of the Seventies was that smart car companies should focus on building fuel-efficient, reliable cars. Detroit's Big Three instead invested in manufacturing pickup trucks on steroids they sold to insecure males desperate to flaunt something big. Or SUVs/Hummers for soccer moms who mistakenly think they're safer. These gas-guzzling monsters are simply this era's equivalent of the fin-tailed, chrome-clotted land-monsters that put Detroit and Flint into the economic dumper the first time that gas prices spiked as a result of Middle East misadventures.

The first time is tragedy, the second time farce. So why aren't we laughing?