Saturday, October 18, 2008

Neocon Superbot: Michele Bachmann

This seasoned fashioner of policy, Rep. Michele Bachmann graces Chris Matthews with her tele-presence to deliver a hearty and intellectual discourse on the definition of Un-Americanism:

Answering questions is just so darn hard!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

That concludes tonight's nap time...

Seriously I'm falling asleep here!

Neither candidate seemed very energized, and they're didn't really contrast very much in this debate. They agreed on the major points and didn't really even bring up the minor ones.

If you're still undecided, I don't think this debate will help you very much. I'm tempted to say McCain lost, because the Townhall is supposed to be his awesome amazing zone of ownage, but really - this was a tie.

Callin' a tie on this here meetin', you betcha!

Why do they keep talking about Small Business Owners?!?

Christ its like an ad for Vista Business or something. How many people own a small business? I don't know any. I like small business, but come on, it's not like we're a nation of owners - we're a nation of WORKERS!

Also, McCain said that Obama's healthcare plan will have mandates -- that's not true. This has already been hashed out in the primaries. That was the main (if only) distinction between Hillary's and Obama's plans. She had mandates, he didn't. No mandates.

Oh I guess he just said he wanted to have a government mandate insuring children. How horrible! How dare you tell me to have health care for my child! If they break their leg and I don't want it taken care of, that is MY CHOICE! My children should have the freedom to contract polio if I don't want to immunize them!! (I have no children)

About a half an hour in

What's happened so far:

McCain: Stop spending! No taxes! My friends!

Obama: Some spending! Tax for only 5% of Americans! Ummm, uhh!

That's basically it. Townhall debates are boring as hell..

More Presidential Debate Livebloggin'

You betcha!

I'll be livebloggin', dontcha know!

Tonight's debate form will be Town Hall, which means questions from the audience and typically a more friendly atmosphere.

We'll see how 'friendly' things get, what with McCain's new campaign strategy of painting Obama as a terrorist sympathizer (while ignoring his own ties to the Council for World Freedom -- the group behind the coup in Nicaragua, the Iran-Contra scandal, Latin America deaths quads and also helped fund the Afghan groups that later became the Taliban).

I mean, that's some pretty heavy stuff. And what dirt does McCain have on Obama? Bill Ayers?!? That's it?! A guy who helped blow up buildings and kill a judge 40 years ago (note: the neowhigs are not in anyway in favor of the activities of the Weather Underground). Whom Obama's "relationship" with consisted of sitting on the same board for some charity in Chicago?

How can McCain bring up Obama's dubious ties when he has far more worse ones of his own? Why is he going there??

It should be an entertaining debate to say the least, even if it is pre-emting tonight's episode of "House, MD."

Oh and I just saw an ad for the Pickens Plan on MSNBC!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The $800 Billion Dollar Load of Bullshit

Whew... ok.

For the record, I'm not an economist. I've taken a macroeconomics class and an introduction to finance class, and of course had Economics in High School, so I know a little, but I'm no Warren Buffet. But I feel that something has to be posted about this, and as (currently) the sole contributor to this blog, I guess its up to me.

Note: Feel free to correct me in the comments section if I am incorrect on my analysis.

First things first: This whole mess could have been avoided. The Fed screwed up royally letting the credit market go hogwild and the housing bubble inflate to preposterous levels. The banks screwed up by passing bad loans -- going far beyond the reasonable prodding of congress to enact "fair housing" policies. Neocons will wail and say that the democrats are to blame because of this fair housing legislation.

A typical target of blame is Rep. Barney Frank. Barney Frank is a good man. The intentions of these legislative measures were to lower some standards of mortgage lending that seemed to unfairly single out minorities from home-ownership. Of course, we all know where good intentions lead... But the relaxations on credit that the fair-housing movement gave did not create the crisis we face. It may have been the first step, but it didn't end there.

Then Bush came into office, at the start of a recession because the tech-bubble was collapsing. Desperate to keep the economy going strong, the Fed lowered interest rates. Then Phill Gramm pushed forward further deregulation of mortgage lending. Then we started the war in Iraq, and piled up massive deficit spending to wage it. Again, interest rates were lowered to keep the economy growing. So then there was a lot of easy credit to be had, and we were very willing to gobble it up. HSBC wanted to give credit cards to everybody, Capitol One's actual mission statement is "to get every single American to have a Capitol One credit card." Chase was no better.

So everybody had tons of credit, and with the relaxed mortgage market, everybody could do weird things like borrow against their equity or reinvest it into weird new securities and such. Meanwhile the Fed kept pumping new money into the system to continue paying for the war.

Well, as you can imagine, such a state of affairs is unsustainable. When things started to go south, however, everybody ignored it. Not EVERYBODY, but the people in power who could regulate us into a soft landing did nothing. Bernacke fiddled with the interests rates, lowering them a little bit, raising them a little bit - to stave off the inevitable collapse of the housing market.

So the banks tried to figure out how to deal with these bad loans they never should have extended in the first place. They repackaged them, and sold them off to other banks. I don't quite understand how you can get people to buy debts that will most likely never get paid off, but somehow they did it. Of course, it didn't work. Putting a bow on a pile of shit doesn't make it a christmas present.

Then, the same thing happened in the credit market. People don't tend to read the fine print. Its just a fact. You might think you're smarter than some dumbass like me who got an HSBC card my first year in college, and you might be. But the predatory lending was real, and a lot of people who are not moronic hicks got snagged by it. Interest rates suddenly skyrocketed to like 18-24%! Millions of Americans could barely pay the minimum balance due on their credit card bills, let alone try to pay down the interest.

Then the neocons decided it would be a good idea to make it harder for people to bankrupt and default on their debts. It was a double-whammy. Of course, that didn't change the fact that millions were hopelessly in debt they couldn't pay, and that debt had to be absorbed by the banks. So then credit tightened. It became harder for banks to be able to borrow money from other banks and from the Fed. And faced with all these ridiculous "mortgage backed securities," they couldn't hold up any more.

Countrywide was the first to go. Then Bear Sterns. It started a chain reaction. So far this year 12 banks have outright failed. Washington Mutual had to get bought out. For god's sake AIG needed a bailout! Morgon-Stanley got bought out! These are some of the biggest companies in the WORLD, let alone the USA!

So yes, we're in a terrible mess, and we need to do something about it. So here comes Secretary Paulson (diehard neocon) to the rescue! The government will buy up all these bad loans! But that wasn't it, he wanted the Treasury department to be free of oversight from any and all regulatory organizations, including the justice department and congress. He thought he was gonna get it too, with all his blustering and scare tactics.

But it didn't work. The democrats came up with a set of guidelines, and the republicans agreed with them -- and oversight was one of them. The House crafted a bill centered around these principles, and it failed to pass -- the cats weren't so easily herded...

So the Senate took the SAME BILL (which is improper at best and outright unconstitutional at worst), and loaded it up with $100 billion extra in pork to make the republicans happy. They passed it cheerfully --- Senators McCain and Obama both voted yes.

And now the House, even though most representatives reported a constituancy call-in of about 100-1 against this bill, passed it through. Surely Bush will sign it into law eagerly. And this bill is 451 pages long! Its one of the biggest bills ever passed by the legislative branch! Nobody knows all the little surprises that could be in it.

Meanwhile the Fed went ahead on its own and pumped about $650 bllion new money into the financial systems, while still hammering away at the nessecity of the $700-billion, now $800-billion bailout bill. That's a total of $1.45 TRILLION dollars in magical new fiat money.

Look, I'm not a Ron Paulite. I don't own a "Gold IS Money!" t-shirt. I don't think the government is trying to destroy the yankee dollar to replace it with the mythical Amero...

But do you honestly believe that over a trillion dollars in new currency injected into the economy in one week is not going to have a serious negative impact on the value of the dollar? A lot of armchair economists on the web say the bailout is a dire necessity, and that the inflation that will come with it is better than the alternative -- which is, they say, a total credit freeze and melt down of the banking system.

I've never been convinced of this -- most real economists seem to be suggesting that the government should be engaging in a careful purchase of these bad securities, along with major new regulation on the financial industries.

But, oh well, its over and done with now. We're buying everything up now and sorting it out later, with no major sanctions on the banks and financial institutions that engaged in this predatory lending and lack of risk-assessment. And while we're at it, we're giving tax breaks to rum companies, toy manufacturers; basically a legislative orgy of special interest kickbacks.

So for you TL;DR folks: Our government fucked up the free market through interventions, and now it is attempting to fix the free market with interventions.

Oh, and our kids will foot the bill. Even though most of America didn't want this damn thing anyway. Hmm, I remember a saying I learned as a child when I was in social studies... how did it go? Oh yes,


Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Surge Won't Work in Afghanistan

Looks like my earlier foray into military analysis was correct. Newly-appointed commander of the war in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan (whom Palin referred to as "McClellan" in the debate), had this to say about the surge strategy:

“The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge,' ” McKiernan emphasized, saying that what is required instead is a “sustained commitment” to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many more years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

Yet in the debate tonight Gov. Palin said, and I'm paraphrasing, "A surge or a similar strategy like that is what is needed to win the war in Afghanistan."

So does the McCain camp want to listen to and act on the advice of the Generals, which McCain has stated is his policy, or not?

Remember, one of the major reasons we've been fighting in Iraq for five years is because of the power vacuum created by the interim government's decision to ignore the advice of the generals and disband the Iraqi army.

Why do the neocons profess to support the troops so vehemently when they consistantly undermine them by ignoring the advice of military leaders, vote against bills for veterans' benefits, reward Haliburton with no-bid contracts to build extremely sub-par barracks and mess halls, and fail to supply the troops with the equipment and armor they need?

Maybe they just don't know what the word "support" means. I think this calls for another entry in the neocon dictionary:

SUPPORT THE TROOPS: To use the US Military as a pawn in furthering political and ideological desires.

Sarah Palin isn't "regular folk," she's a MORON!

Watching the Vice-Presidential debate was a very painful experience. I missed the first 20 minutes, so maybe Gov. Palin made some brilliant comments then, but I highly doubt it.

What I saw was Joe Biden being unusually sedate, which was kind of a bummer. I also saw him lay out policy positions, attack McCain's inconsistent voting record, show how his own voting record backs up his current statements and positions, and give clear and straight answers to the questions.

What did I see from Palin? She must have said 'Alaska' over 100 times, she deflected questions, made outright lies about her administration as Governor, constantly quoted Reagan, and misquoted Regan -- atributing "a shining city on the hill as a beacon to the world" to him. Those are not Regan's words... He might have said that once, but that quote is from John Winthrop, a puritan reverend speaking about the newly formed Massachussettes colony and how it should be an example of a proper Christian community.

She was glib, silly, and several times acted like she was on some kind of awards show - giving shout-outs to school kids "back home" and mentioning that her father was in the audience. It was ridiculous!

Even worse she maintained that the "surge strategy" should be implemented in Afgahnistan. This is just plain wrong. I don't want to be an armchair general, but surely the proper tactics in Afghanistan would be mainly search-and-destroy excersices. There's no insurgency to quell, what the fuck would a surge do?

All in all, she didn't screw up that badly. She didn't make any major gaffes, but she came off as shallow, uninformed and her style of speech is very grating to me. While I assume she is trying to maintain the image of being a regular American without pretentions, to me she sounded like an idiot. Bad grammer, obnoxious accent, cliche's aplenty, empty talking points...

A definite win for Biden.