Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's Pouring

by CB

Do you want to know a secret…….?
Do you promise not to tell……………?

Sure you do, everyone wants to know a secret. So come closer……pull your chair in pundits……lean in talking heads……shhh………even closer politicians…….come closer and I will tell you a secret……….


You probably think it’s a Wall Street bailout too. It’s not.

I can understand your confusion, what with all the politicians and everyone in the press calling it a Wall Street Bailout. And the 2 guys running for President telling us that gosh, they’re sorry, they don’t like it, but they have to luke-warmly support the “Wall Street Bailout.” Timidly, and completely without leadership or suggestions to improve it.

The $700 billion rescue fund is actually called the Troubled Asset Recovery Program, but I think Henry Paulson and I are the only 2 people calling it TARP. Paulson, because he made it up, and I because I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with tarps. I like tarps.

Tarps are thin but they do their job. I’ve relied on tarps to keep me dry when camping, I’ve slept on tarps as a layer between my sleeping bag and the ground, and I’ve washed many an artist tarp, splattered with paint, after it’s fulfilled its role to protect the floor from permanent damage.

If it’s pouring rain and you don’t have a tarp, boy you sure wish you had a tarp. This time around, we don’t just need a tarp, we need a $700 billion financial TARP. So I wish that the people hauling out the TARP would spare a few spare minutes to explain to people what it is that TARP will do.

An explanation in exchange for $700 billion? That only seems fair.

TARP will be a fund, a ‘portfolio’ if you will. TARP will purchase bonds from financial institutions and hold them until the price of the bonds improve, or they default. TARP is buying bonds, not stocks. TARP will buy distressed bonds, paying something approximating fair market value to the financial institutions, which will be a price well below cost. (If the price is above fair market value then the financial institution needs to give up some equity. But that’s still being worked out.)

Sometime in the future, when TARP has worked and the financial community returns to normal lending, the economy will improve. When that happens, the bonds that TARP owns will be worth more than TARP paid for them. TARP will sell the bonds and any gain will inure to the Treasury. Meaning us, the taxpayer. Any bonds that mature while TARP owns them will also generate a gain for TARP (because the bonds were bought at a discount and they mature at full value.) Unfortunately, some bonds will default. If a bond defaults then there will be a true loss to the taxpayer. Hopefully, there will be more gains than losses, and the ultimate cost will be less than the $700 billion. Hopefully a lot less.

The same is true in the case of AIG, where the Treasury lent them $85 billion to stay in business for an orderly liquidation, providing time for the Treasury to break up AIG into pieces and sell those pieces. Hopefully, because the Treasury avoided a fire sale, the pieces will add up to something approximating $85 billion and we’ll get our money back.

It is also similar to the Bear Stearns case (another NON bail-out) where JPMorgan bought Bear Stearns for basically no more than the value of Bear Stearns’ headquarters and the Treasury promised JPMorgan that if Bear Stearns’ portfolio valuations fell further they would purchase part of the portfolio. A sort of pre-TARP.

In the $700 billion program, the financial institutions that will sell bonds to TARP are, with a few exceptions, banks and insurance companies. Commercial banks, like YOUR bank. And insurance companies, like YOUR insurance company. Technically, there won’t be any investment banks participating because there aren’t any investment banks left. The only remaining 2, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, converted to become commercial banks in order to avoid following the path of Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers. Into bankruptcy, or close to it. Well done, Chris Cox, head of the SEC, regulator of investment banks! It’s a rare regulator who takes on a job only to run every single entity he’s regulating into oblivion.

But, if you want to know another secret, the investment banks got to that point because they were already required to write down their bad investments to something approximating fair market value. They’ve already had to face the music, and taken their losses.

I’m sure that in the past year, as you’ve been reading all the write-downs taken by investment banks, you’ve thought to yourself, “Hey – what about all the insurance companies? What about all the commercial banks? Don’t THEY own the exact same securities, and a lot more of them? How come they’re not reporting big losses too?!”

That was a good question!

It all has to do with everybody’s favorite topic, accounting rules! Sometimes, they give people choices, and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes, those choices turn into a noose and make every other entity afraid to lend to you. If I don’t know what a commercial bank’s portfolio is worth then I don’t know how much capital they have. And I can’t extend credit to them - I can’t lend them money. And if I can’t lend them money then they can’t lend anyone else money, including you. Eventually, when no one will lend to them they can’t satisfy their capital requirements or their depository requirements, and they can’t open their doors. They aren’t a bank any more. Ditto for insurance companies, and credit unions, and every single party in the highly interconnected financial web.

We’ve already seen it happen a few times, and the financial web has been able to tenuously endure. But it cannot sustain an unending succession of failures without the interconnections resulting in the complete collapse of all banks. To quote Harry Bailey and the building & loan, “You're thinking of this place all wrong. As if I had the money back in a safe. The money's not here. Your money's in Joe's house……”

We’ve complicated things since the simple Bailey Building & Loan. We’ve widened the web and created securities that rely on a complex models and take hours to value, but financial institutions still exist by borrowing money from some and lending it to others. That process cannot come to a complete standstill without dire consequences. In a shorthand example, Monday another bank failure, Tuesday another bank failure, Wednesday everything OK, Thursday ALL banks fail.

The Fed and the US Treasury have been trying to keep the web of inter-bank lending in place by stepping in to extend credit themselves. But they waited too long. And just offering banks a bit of cash does not solve the problem of valuations. It doesn’t answer - what is the value of the securities that financial institutions hold? It doesn’t assure all other institutions that valuations are sound, so it cannot foster widespread lending and bring about a return to normal lending practices.

To solve the problem of valuations there must be a market for the bonds that banks own that everyone is worried about. In order for there to be a market there must be 2 sides – a buyer and a seller. At the moment, we have no buyers. No buyers = no markets = no valuations = no one will lend to anyone else.

The credit markets, as they say, have ‘seized up.’ Like an engine that fails due to lack of lubrication. Or over-heating.

TARP will be the buyer. When you have buyers and sellers you have valuations. TARP will, in effect, be the buyer of last resort. (In this case, the buyer of only resort.) And by creating a market again, the credit markets can eventually return to normal.

We didn’t have to get here. They waited far too long, they didn’t remove the stigma of emergency borrowing from the Fed, and they didn’t fix the problem BEHIND the valuations. Which is that borrowers are unable to make their mortgage payments. They sat back and allowed the sub-prime mortgage problem to grow into a wider mortgage problem, and expected banks to manage their way out of it via highly expensive foreclosure and bankruptcies. What a waste of money!

So here we are. It could have been prevented; it wasn’t.

A rescue could have been initiated earlier; it wasn’t.

Billions – HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS - of dollars of losses could have been avoided. Industries like construction and manufacturing and shipping could have been prevented from slipping into recession. Thousands of jobs could have been saved.

Will there be an indirect benefit to Wall Street? Probably. As there will be an indirect benefit to other parties in the chain that became the mortgage crisis. Including real estate, construction, manufacturing, and every person that has an equity line of credit. But this isn’t being done to bail out Wall Street. It’s the necessary evil needed to avoid a financial meltdown. And it doesn’t help that simple explanations haven’t been forthcoming from those we elected or appointed to work on our behalf.

Finally there has been action. It is sadly, better late than never.

It is POURING. Bring out the TARP!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Adore Smart People

I've got friends! I've got good friends. I've got good friends in high places. I've got high friends in good places.

Most of the people with whom I am friends are smart. Some are book smart, some are erudite, some have college degrees and some have graduated from the school of hard knocks. But they are all people with whom you can have a conversation. Unless you're stupid. Or conservative. Which might be the same thing, as we have been learning for a generation.

I have a particular friend named Lori. She is really smart. She is text book smart like a scientist and she is erudite. By that, I mean that she learns stuff no matter what she is doing. I once remarked that Lori " . . . always hits the nail on the head. She can discuss and analyze economics, politics, music, painting, or fingernail polish with a sensibility that leaves me begging for more."

Last week we were dining with mutual friends. We were talking about economics or politics or music or Indian food or fingernail polish, and the death penalty and drug addicts and all those issues that make living life so dynamic. Actually, we were dining with a friend whose parents had been murdered by a meth head, and the conversation leaned more towards the serious and emotional than the callous and witty.

I adore Lori, so I popped the question: "Did you get my email this morning?"

She hadn't. She's busy. She has a real job and doesn't take as much time surfing the web and writing emails as I would like to think.

My email had asked the real question: "Would you like to be a guest writer on Dick Mac (alive!)?"

I got my answer this weekend, and it was: "Yes!"

So, the next post to be published here later today is the first entry by Lori, a guest writer at Dick Mac (alive!). I hope you enjoy her ideas and her writing as much as I do.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bailing Out The Bailout That Will Bailout The Economy

Well, the GOP has put the brakes on any bailout. I can't believe I am typing this: Good for them!

Of course there is going to be a bailout of some sort, and there should be. We are supposed to be a civilized nation (though I question that at times), so we should have a bailout of some sort.

I am a simple thinker and this is what I think:

We should create a federal bailout trust funded with a couple hundred billion dollars. Distressed financial companies should be required to issue AAA Preferred Stock that this bailout trust could purchase. This would give the companies an infusion of cash. This is how capitalism works! When the company is back on its feet, the value of this stock will have risen and can be sold for a profit that would be returned to the fund.

This newly-issued preferred stock would not be available to executives or employees of the company, and their stock would be subordinate to this new stock.

Executives in any of these companies would have their stock options suspended or frozen and they would be required to hold their shares until such time as all the newly-issued AAA Preferred Stock was repurchased and the company was solvent. Using a method like this would prevent the newly-minted Wall Street Welfare Queens from benefiting from their failures.

This same trust should issue standard 30-year mortgages, at about 6.5%, to people who have bad mortgages on homes they can otherwise afford. Some people purchased appropriate homes for their income level and are only falling behind because the adjustable interest rate has sky-rocketed. If a home-owner is in a home that they are qualified to own, we should write them a proper mortgage.

As those mortgages become stable and profitable, they could be sold by the trust to financial institutions to regain some capital.

This deal should be offered only for a primary residence for families who own only this one home.

People who purchased more home than they could afford, or speculators who hoped to cash-in on the real estate boom should lose everything. There should be no bail-out for second homes, vacation homes, or McMansions owned by people who can't afford them even with a proper mortgage. When those properties fail and go into foreclosure, the real estate market will correct and in due course all property will begin to regain value in a sane and appropriate manner.

Yes, we should establish a trust to save ourselves; but we should be smart about it.

If house prices were allowed to settle in a legitimate market, long-time home-owners would be protected by normal, sustained growth, and new home-buyers could get into the game.

Call your representatives and tell them you want no bailout yet. Tell them to wait until a decent plan is presented.

Barney Frank and George Bush are dead-wrong with their plans!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bailing Out The Billionaires, Because We Want To Keep Our Jobs

So, something is going to happen. Billionaires who engineered the supply-side take-over of the American dollar have walked away with our financial worth, and the Treasury will now give them another trillion dollars for themselves. Reaganomics implementers are being rewarded for destroying our entire economy and those of us who live within our means will be forced to pay for President Reagan's most important legacy: moral, political and financial bankruptcy.

Yes, you Reagan Democrats, this is the gift you brought to America: nothing! A generation of nothing, with nothing left, and nothing to build on. Just nothing. Well, you've left us with a lot of debt. And you also brought us the social movement that endangers reproductive freedom and the notion that non-partisan justices would sit on the Supreme Court. Nothing. The end-result of the Reagan "revolution." Nothing.

Every single one of you who works for a living and have votes Republican are responsible for this mess. I stand in judgment of you, knowing I was right and you are wrong.

Oh! But wait! I will bail you out! That's right! I have managed to live within my means, and can't afford a million dollar home in the inner-city because I refuse to sign the insane paper that has bankrupted our nation. So, you will keep your home and I will pay for it!

Nice work! I guess I really am the fool!

Well, all you Reagan Democrats, your fearless leader George W Bush (the perfect heir to the Reagan Dream) got on television last night and said that he would normally let bad businesses go bankrupt but that these are special times so he's going to bail them out with my money.

By the way: his successor is also going to stack the Supreme Court against you, eliminate funding for what's left of our infrastructure, and privatize anything he can!

There are some people out there not as angry as me and not as stupid as you who are trying to talk reason around this bailout. One of them is a Simon Johnson, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and a professor at MIT. Professor Johnson wants stupid people (that would be any working person who supports the Republicans and any Democrat that voted for Reagan) to understand that there are alternatives to giving welfare to the poor starving billionaires on Wall Street.


Congress should consider alternative means of aligning incentives. For example, lawmakers could set a target for what return the fund is expected to get, and managers' compensation could be tied to their actual return relative to that target. Would-be fund managers should bid in an open process what target return they are willing to base their compensation on — the management company that is willing to accept the highest (or least negative) target for a set of assets would get the contract.

In any case, the fund should provide full disclosure of the securities it buys, its valuation of them and the price paid. Its leaders should be open about overpaying relative to market price, and on that basis, the fund should receive preferred stock in any participating bank. This would give taxpayers some much-deserved potential upside.
Opinion: Who manages the bailout fund matters

That's right! We can demand preferred stock in the companies we are going to help! This is the Warren Buffett approach: invest, don't rescue.

So, we would purchase preferred shares in these companies, they would have an infusion of cash (which, by the way, is how capitalism works), they could stabilize and get back into the swing of business and profiteering. Then, when the companies are back on their feet, the fund would sell this now valuable preferred stock in the still-open and still-free market, and perhaps we could use some of those profits to pay down some of our debt.

Now, if you voted for Reagan I know you probably wouldn't understand something as fundamental as investment; but, believe me: this is a better idea than Barney Frank and George Bush have manufactured.

Any bailout of Wall Street is immoral. Any investment in Wall Street is questionable, but could potentially benefit everyone.

By the way, the billionaires on Wall Street oppose Professor Johnson's ideas, so you know they must be good ideas!

Next? John McCain will privatize Social Security and we can watch the Wall Street guys lose all of that, too! So, if you love this disaster, make sure you vote Republican again (because the black guy lacks experience) and watch the rest of our Treasury disappear.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bailout Fever

I've never pretended to know anything about the science of economics. I have never studied economics and know little about the history of the economy. I do, however, know how to count and I do understand the concept of supply and demand.

There is little demand for the huge glut of houses available in the market.

The 'value' of these houses is inflated.

The reason so many bad mortgages were written is that these artificially-inflated house prices could not be covered by conventional mortgages. So, to continue propping-up the artificially-inflated market, the real estate brokers and the bankers colluded to pass bad paper to the consumers.

Now that we have exposed the underbelly of the crime that has been the United States housing market, it should continue to be left in the sunshine to fester and rot and find its rightful place in the economy.

No three-story wood-frame house wrapped in vinyl siding is worth three-quarters of a million dollars. Anywhere. Yet, that is the asking price for this low-end housing in Brooklyn, New York. Why? Because the market is artificially inflated.

Many people who purchased these houses at these prices are now in trouble with their exotic mortgages.

If these exotic mortgages had not been available, the houses would probably have sold for the three-hundred thousand dollars they are worth (on a good day).

Now that the market is collapsing, it is wrong - it is a huge mistake - for lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to bailout these home owners and keep the values artificially inflated.

Let the market correct.

Let the housing prices drop to where they belong.

Let Americans learn to live within their means.

Bailing-out Wall Street is criminal, and bailing-out Main Street is immoral.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The AIG Bailout

I know it's old news, but I haven't discussed it online and I am still steaming about it.

One of the tactics AIG used to get itself into such a mess was to loan money to itself. It works like this, you have a hundred bucks in your checking account, and the electric bill is $200. You write a check to yourself for a hundred dollars and deposit it in your account, then you write a check to Consolidated Edison for $200. Should be fine, right?

Well . . . no . . . because you really only have a hundred dollars, so the check bounces, so you now have $65.00 after the fees charged by your back, and you still owe $200 to the electric company.

No problem, because the federal government will send you as much money as you need to pay your bills.

Except, the government doesn't (nor should it) bailout those who cannot manage their money properly.

If you're AIG, however, the feds have billions for you!

Not only shouldn't the feds have bailed-out AIG, the directors and officers of AIG should be under arrest for fraud!

If you bounce a check it's actually a felony! The AIG guys are rewarded!

It's important to note that John McCain was dead-against the AIG bailout, and then less than 24-hours later he was all for it. McCain is the king of flip-flop and never has there been a Democrat who has switched positions so often and so rapidly as this knucklehead.

If you think these problems are the fault of the Democrats, you are mistaken. This is Reaganomics at its finest, and this is what happens to every industry that is deregulated. Economic policies of the last generations have destroyed our nation.

If you vote Republican, I have only one question: Why do you hate America?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bailout The Rich, Then They'll Take Care Of The Poor

But, of course, in America, working people consider themselves the "middle class" and some other people are the "poor" people. So American working people, well - white-skinned American working people - consistently vote against their own interests, electing Republicans who tell them that they spend too much money supporting the poor (themselves).

This has been going on since 1980 (TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS), and white-skinned American working people are still voting Republican. (And if you think I am exaggerating, just wait until you see what happens in November.)

Come forward, now, the economic disaster that is the American economy. A generation of deregulation and corporate subsidy has landed us at a decision about whether or not to give $800,000,000,000 (eight hundred billion dollars) to Wall Street to bail them out of the mess they've created.

We will give it to them of course, because they control our government and all the elected officials (from McCain to Obama, from Clinton to Specter).

The Democrats who pretend to have the interest of the working people in their plans are insisting that more governmental control, relief for homeowners, and capping of executive salaries be included in the bailout.

Both sides are liars and cheats.

How dare the Republican Administration even consider giving Wall Street nearly a trillion dollars, a blank check, to save themselves? You know how? Because the American people still believe that Reaganomics will work and they will continue to elect men like George W Bush and John McCain to implement supply-side economic theory that has completely failed them. And secure middle-class Republicans will sit around saying that it is only the fault of the people who went into debt that they are losing their homes, that government oversight of the mortgage industry isn't needed.

And how dare the Democrats say that people who signed bad paper should be rescued and that chief officers of corporations shouldn't get the money they've earned? If you signed bad paper, then you should find a new loan to help you out, and if you can't afford one because the gas-guzzling SUV you're driving eats-up all your discretionary income, well then take the fall, change your lifestyle and begin to rebuild. Then think twice before you vote Republican again, because it is the GOP's plan that this be the state of our economy. And if we cap the salaries of the CEOs we will be closing one of the few doors that allows bright middle-class children to move into the ruling class.

Call your elected official and demand that Wall Street be forced to rescue itself. Let the lay-offs begin. Force them all into bankruptcy. Let them sue their chiefs for malfeasance. Let the prosecutors have the CEOs arrested for fraud. Let the bastards wallow in it.

But do not give them a trillion dollars of tax money to save themselves!

Or, perhaps we should bailout the rich and watch the money trickle-down to help the poor. That's what we've been promised.

If you vote in November, and you vote Republican, you must really hate America!

Friday, September 19, 2008

National Health - National Debt

Almost every conservative I know lives on psychiatric drugs, and since the majority of Americans consider themselves "conservative," I know more than you would think (you know the type: social liberal, fiscal conservative, Reagan Democrats). Not all of them are on drugs. Some of them are hard-working, sober people. But, most of them are filled with hatred of, or impatience with, liberalism, intelectualism, the sick, the weak, those in need, and people of color.

Most of the liberals I know (and I know a few) do not need to take psychiatric drugs to cope. Some do, but the majority don't. The psychiatric druig industry seems to have been good for the right-wing.

Why the difference?

What are these conservatives hiding from? I mean, besides reality . . .

Remember Alice? "Eat Me."

The following song was on The Kinks' "Low Budget" record from the late-1970s. "Valium helps you for a while, but somehow valium seems to bring me down. . . ." Indeed!

National Health
Ray Davies

Nervous tension, man's invention,
Is the biggest killer that's around today
Let the tension out or it will build and build inside
And strike you down some day
Nervous tension, man's invention
Is the biggest waste of human energy
Let the tension out, or it will surely kill
And that will be a tragedy

Valium helps you for a while
But somehow valium seems to bring me down
There's no pill I can recommend where side effects
Aren't guaranteed to send you round the bend

You gotta let out the tension
With a little bit of exercise
Loosen up your muscles
And feel the knots in your body untie

We oh we oh
Oh oh oh oh ah ah ah ah
Oh oh oh oh ah ah ah ah

It sure beats quaaludes
It sure beats cocaine
Even Freud recommends it
Cos it relieves the strain

Altogether now
Oh oh oh oh ah ah ah ah
Oh oh oh oh ah ah ah ah

Some people say it sends you deaf
Some people say it sends you blind
Some people say it makes you old
Some people say it blows your mind

But I say

If it's good for your health
It's good for your mind
If it keeps you together
It's really all right
We oh we oh

Oh c'mon, kick the cat

Oh oh oh oh it's the state of the national health
Oh oh oh oh Blame it on the national health

Nervous tension, nervous tension, nervous tension
Nervous tension. nervous tension, nervous tension
Nervous tension, man's invention
Is the biggest killer that's around

Oh oh oh oh ah ah ah ah
Oh oh oh oh ah ah ah an

Valium helps you for a while
But somehow valium seems to bring me down
There's no pill I can recommend where side effects
Aren't guaranteed to drive you round the bend

I say I say

Oh oh oh oh it's good for your health
Keeps you together, it's the state of the national health
Oh oh oh oh Blame it on the national health
Oh oh oh oh it's the state of the national health
Oh oh oh oh ah ah ah ah

Low Budget
The Kinks

And now, for a look at the National Debt . . .

In the time since that song was released, we have had twenty years of Republican presidents and ten years of Democratic presidents, and this is what the national debt has done:

Source: Los Angeles Free Net

Ahhh, yes! The health of the nation! Rememeber that conversation? It ended sometime during the Reagan Administration. Nobody cares about the National Health anymore. Take some Prozac and get back to work you friggin' whiner!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm A Little Confused . . .

I do not know the origin of this email but it was forwarded along by a friend. I decided it is worth publishing:

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight (hope I'm not offending anyone):

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're 'exotic, different.'

If you grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, you're a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack, you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

If you name your kids Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig, and Track, you're a maverick.

If you graduate from Harvard Law School, you are unstable.

If you attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well-grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest-ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system, while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.

If you're husband is nicknamed 'First Dude', with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, *much* clearer now.

Thanks to Gracie for sending this along.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

NOW Endorsment

It is with great enthusiasm that I announce today, on behalf of the nation's oldest and largest women's rights organization, that the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee (NOW PAC) proudly endorses Sen. Barack Obama for President of the United States. . . .
National Organization for Women PAC Endorses Obama-Biden

It is rare that NOW endorses any political candidate.

Since there is a conservative, anti-women woman on the GOP ticket, the National Organization for Women has taken steps to publicize their belief that Barack Obama is a better chioce for the women of America than John McCain.

Any platform that wants to restrict access to reproductive freedom, and wants to promote abstinence as a viable form of birth control to women, is an intrinsically anti-women platform, even if the message is being delivered by a perky, small-town mom.

I know there are women who resent Obama's victory over Clinton and will never see it as a failure by Clinton but as another conspiracy by the old-boy-network (of which Hillary Clinton is a member); but, this is the time to put that resentment aside and make a deliberate choice to support, advocate, and vote Obama for President.

Obama does reflect change, no matter how much the pundits and pro-business Democrats complain that he is more of the same. He will change the type of person nominated to the Supreme Court, and that alone is reason for all thinking Americans to reject perkiness and motherhood as legitimate characteristics of an administration.

Do we need a changing of the guard in Washington that would be represented by an Obama election, or do we need a little perkiness in the White House that would be represented by a McCain election?

Listen to this:

National Organization For Women Endorses Obama. Kim Gandy, president of NOW, talks with Renee Montagne about why the organization is endorsing Obama, at npr.org.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Unamerican Tactics - Typical GOP

In their total lack of regard for the laws of the United States of America, including the states rights they pretend to honor so deeply, Republicans in Mississippi have tried to bury the too-close-to-call Senate race at the bottom of the state's ballot, even though state law requires that the Senate race be listed right under the Presidential race at the top of the ballot.

Of course the courts have ruled against them, but they are now appealing to a court that is beholden to the current administration. And although it is hard to fathom that a court would so blatantly undermine the law of the land, it is very much like the Republicans to stoop to this tactic. This is how they win most races these days: cheating.

Here is an editorial from the New York Times:

September 11, 2008
Mississippi's Ballot Trick
Mississippi's governor, Haley Barbour, and its secretary of state have come up with a particularly cynical dirty trick for the November election. Let's call it: "Where's the Senate race?"

Defying state law, they have decided to hide a hard-fought race for the United States Senate at the bottom of the ballot, where they clearly are hoping some voters will overlook it. Their proposed design is not only illegal. It shows a deep contempt for Mississippi's voters.

Republicans have long had a lock on the state's two Senate seats. But this year, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat, has been running close to Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican, in the polls. Mr. Wicker was appointed to the seat by Governor Barbour in late December after Trent Lott stepped down.

Mississippi election law clearly states that federal elections must go at the top of ballots. And the secretary of state, Delbert Hosemann, plans to list the state's other Senate race — incumbent Thad Cochran is running far ahead of his Democratic challenger, Erik Fleming — where it belongs, right below the presidential contest.

But Mr. Hosemann argues that because the Wicker-Musgrove race is a special election to fill the remainder of Mr. Lott's term, he is free to place it at the bottom, below state and county races.

Mr. Hosemann is insisting on that placement even after the state attorney general's office notified him that his ballot design violates state law.

Mr. Hosemann's ballot also violates the Voting Rights Act, which requires that changes in election procedures that could make it harder for people to vote — and this certainly fits that bill — be cleared in advance with the Justice Department.

This is not a dispute over aesthetics. Mr. Hosemann's decision could easily change the outcome of the Wicker-Musgrove election.

Some voters, including the elderly, the least educated and first-time voters, have more trouble than others navigating complicated ballots. Many of these voters are more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans. And, yes, Governor Barbour and Mr. Hosemann are both Republicans.

A local election official is suing to put the Wicker-Musgrove race back where it belongs. The state court judge who is hearing the case on Thursday should order that the Senate race be placed at the top of the ballot. Even if she does the right thing, we fear, that will not end the matter.

The case is likely to wind up, on appeal, in Mississippi's Supreme Court. Voting rights advocates are worried that the Republican-leaning court will decide the case on partisan lines, rather than on the law.

If the state courts do not provide relief, supporters of fair elections should take the case to federal court. They will need to move quickly since time to prepare ballots is fast running out. Mississippi's voters have a right to a ballot that conforms with the law — and that is not designed to win a Senate seat by trickery.

Also see, Mississippi's Dirty-Trick Senate Ballot Foiled — for Now

Even if you're a racist and can't vote for Obama because he "doesn't have a plan" or "doesn't have the experience," you have to be morally outraged by the Republican Party at this point. Never has there been such an immoral party in this hemisphere.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stealing From Veterans

Privatization of federal programs is not the same thing as supporting a free market.

Using our tax dollars to prop-up private corporations is not the same as supporting the free market.

Turning-over federal benefits to be managed by private corporations is not the same as supporting a free market.

Yes, the wrong-wing, political extremists draped in the Christus and extolling the benefits of privatization would have you believe these things.

In reality, the current American president and vice-president, and their extremist friends have no real interest in a free market, or a reduced federal budget. They only want to re-write the laws so that they can create monopolies and funnel tax dollars away from those who need it and into the pockets of those who do not.

The area in which this has been most sinful is the Veterans Administration, where entire branches of that once-successful program have been privatized and the rules re-written so that veterans in need of benefits cannot get those benefits, and the money intended for programs is sitting in the pockets of private companies hell-bent on refusing benefits to those they are hired to help.

Our nation is failing, and government policies written in the name of Reaganomics are the cause.

How the VA Abandons Our Vets
By Joshua Kors
August 27, 2008
The Nation

Sgt. Juan Jimenez had one of the most dangerous jobs in Iraq, ushering top Administration officials through the war-torn streets of Baghdad. He returned home with two Purple Hearts and shrapnel lodged in his right arm. Today he is gravely ill.

What Jimenez didn't realize is that before he could receive benefits for his wounds, he'd have to prove that those wounds came from war. Three and a half years later, the sergeant is still making his case. The Department of Veterans Affairs isn't convinced. And it won't give him his benefits until it is. Continue reading "How the VA Abandons Our Vets" at The Nation

Veterans are suffering without the benefits they need.

And the so-called conservatives are laughing any lying all the way to the bank.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Rabbi Speaks Of Lipstick

Yesterday's posting at The Rabbi Report discusses the charges of "sexism" levelled against Barack Obabma for his lipstick remark. The Rabbi provides a nice analysis and points out the reality that the remark is not sexist at all.

"Sexism" is prejudice or stereotyping against someone on the basis of their gender. Simply calling someone a bad word or insulting them is not sexist.

Barack Obama didn't say anything about Gov. Palin in the first place, and if he had, it was not sexist. But the important thing is that he wasn't talking about Sarah Palin.

The part of The Rabbi's post that I appreciate most is the inclusion of this news report from Keith Olbermann, at MSNBC:

"Apparently a rape joke is authentic McCain!" Well said, Mr. Olberman.

See the post at The Rabbi Report here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

I was sitting in an office over-looking the Thames and the Tower of London and the Lloyds Building in number 1 The Undershaft, just off St Mary Axe, across from Lime Street. I was chatting on AIM with my friend Elizabeth, in Manhattan, about the previous night and a fantastic party I attended with with our friends, Rex and Susan. Then she told me to turn on a television, that something bad had just happened.

It was the early afternoon for me.

I spent the next hour or so glued to a television set in a conference room, and when the buildings collapsed I panicked and fled from the room in tears. I ran back to my office and stood at my desk in a panic. I didn't know what to do. Who did?

The government closed all the offices in The City, and my wife and I made our way home to our flat in Chepstow Place, near Notting Hill Gate. We sat in front of the television with a friend visiting from Boston.

We watched that image over and over and over again. What else was there to watch?

I felt so alone all the way in London while most of my friends and colleagues were in New York. I felt helpless and guilty for not being in Manhattan with my friends, to help and to mourn.

I don't remember eating, I just remember the shock and the fear.

I spent time calling the families of friends around the United States, trying to get news about what was going on in New York, worrying if everyone was safe or not; but, nobody had any information except what they saw on television. We cried together long-distance.

It feels like yesterday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Imagine what America would be like with a 20 percent decrease in fear, a 10 percent increase in literacy, and more transparency in the media . . . "

An email I received this morning included a link to a Vanity Fair blog, and I followed it to find this:

A few days ago, I crawled away from the Democratic and Republican national conventions. I wasn't even a participant—wasn't even in America for the Democratic one but listened and watched from Scotland, and monitored the RNC from Los Angeles—and I felt worn out. Mr. Giuliani said "9-11," who would have thought? Mr. McCain was as inspiring as laundry. It was Ms. Palin's comedy routine that was most memorable. Freaky. How a woman who says that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick is supposed to get me off is beyond me, but hearing the Nuremberg roar that greeted her scripted stupidity, someone was into it. Republicans who enjoy this kind of thing, they're a strange bunch, know any? I wonder what they'll do when and if they get what they want.

Continue reading the entire blog entry "Are We Really Going to Elect Sleepy John?" by Henry Rollins at Vanity Fair

Thanks to Kathy for sending this along.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


In 1865, the issue of secession was resolved with end of a bloody civil war that saw 620,000 soldiers (American men and boys) slaughtered on the battlefield to keep the United States united.

Our great nation survived this terrible conflict, and we built a nation over the next 100 years that became the envy of the world. Over the past 25 years, so-called conservatives have been attempting to destroy our nation, but they haven't done so yet.

Come now, the Alaskan Independence Party, a political party working to have Alaska secede from the United States. I think this is traitorous. It is certainly not in the best interests of the Untied States or its citizens for Alaska to secede, and no State has the right to secede.

You might think the Alaskan Independence Party is a wacky fringe party that nobody takes seriously, and you would probably be correct. Except there is one particular person who endorses the party's work, and wishes them Well and Godspeed. That person is the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee, Gov. Sarah Palin, of Alaska.

With her quaint, old-fashioned ideas about science and history, reproduction, equality, and freedom, Governor Palin also thinks that States (not just any State, but the State she is sworn to guide and protect) should secede from the nation that she wants to help run.

This seems odd to me. If I am making money running a plant that is part of a successful company, why would I want that plant to cease being part of the company? Also, why would I encourage people at the plant to promote this, and potentially commit conspiratorial crimes that could lead to damage to my plant? What kind of manager is this woman?

Though Governor Palin has never been a registered member of the Party, her husband was. I would love to know when he stopped being a registered member.

Governor Palin addressed the Alaskan Independence Party. Here is her recorded speech:

I don't know about you, but I would say this puts Governor Palin on the Radical-Extremist end of the political spectrum. Not a moderate, not even a conservative, but an extremist.

She wishes good luck and God's blessings for a group of people trying to destroy the United States, and refers to their efforts as 'good work'!

I would think this should disqualify her from being an elected federal office-holder and perhaps should be arrested and prosecuted for sedition.

Alaskan Independence Party

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Race for New York's 21st Senate District Seat

I got a call yesterday from a young woman working for City Councilman Simcha Felder, a local Democrat who is seeking to unseat local Democratic State Senator Kevin Parker in the Democratic Primary tomorrow. Felder is a religious man whose attire includes displays of religious fundamentalism and who actively opposes same-sex marriage.

This young woman wanted to ask for my support for the Councilman.

The call went something like this:

Me: "Oh, I'm glad you've called. I've written the Councilman and called trying to talk to someone about his campaign, but nobody ever answers the phone or responds to my emails."

Worker: "Oh! I'm sorry about that."

Me: "No big deal! Now that you are on the phone, you can answer some questions."

Worker: "Sure!"

I asked: "What is the Councilman's position on reproductive freedom?"

Worker: "Um . . . I don't really know."

Me: "Well, OK, never mind. What is the Councilman's position on same-sex marriage?"

Her: "I don't know. I can ask."

Me: "Please do."

I hold for about a minute or so, maybe a little longer.

Her: "Hi. Sorry, I don't know his position; but, I can give you a phone number where you can call him right now and ask him."

Me: "Well, you called me and it's Sunday afternoon with my family and I'm not really interested in making another phone call that I've already made a number of times before. You've called me! I'd expect that you would know the Councilman's positions if you are working for him."

Her: "Yeahhhhhhhh . . . well I'm not sure, but you can call this number I have."

Me: "You are working for this guy and you don't know his positions? What if you disagree with his positions?"

Her: "I hadn't thought about that. I can give you a number to call."

Me: "No thank you; but, thank you for calling."


The state senate race in my district is actually a real political race with candidates who differ from each other substantially enough that it is worth investigating their records, positions, and tactics. One is a self-avowed class-clown, one is caught-up in the scandal of funds embezzled from the city council, one was accused of attacking a traffic cop who was writing him a ticket, one is a Caribbean immigrant, one is an orthodox Jew, one is a three-term incumbent.

The 21st is a typical modern-Brooklyn district smack-dab in the middle of the borough. With well over 300,000 residents, it starts with the solidly Jewish, predominantly fundamentalist community of Borough Park on the West, crosses to Kensington and Prospect Park South whose demographics are being changed rapidly by the migration of white hipsters and young professionals into the area, to the beautiful gentrifying Victorian district of Ditmas Park whose stately homes are attracting a solid economic base of well-heeled New Yorkers, into the geographically massive, solidly black and politically valuable Flatbush area (which includes the neighborhoods of Farragut, and Rugby), ending in East Flatbush and the very tough Remsen Village.

Incumbent Kevin Parker, at 41, is the youngest of the three Democrats vying for the party nomination. He is also on the Working Families Party ticket. He has done well in Albany as Democratic Whip and ranking member of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee. He built his political career in the offices of Democratic leaders in city government, and can turn to his roots in Flatbush where he was raised and educated for the majority of his life. Parker's once-promising political career has been hampered by well-publicized violent bursts of anger, some obvious and some alleged.

City Council Member Simcha Felder has entered the race. New York City's ridiculous term limits require Felder to vacate his city council seat, and he has set his sights on Albany. Felder was expected to seek the city comptroller's position, a job seemingly well-suited for him and his talents. Felder is a religious man, who displays his orthodoxy in dress and political positions. He opposes homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I have been unable to find information about his position on reproductive freedom, but I do not hold-out any hope that he is a 20th-century, never mind a 21st-century, thinking man.

Though I am a religious person, I am deeply suspicious of orthodoxy and parochialism. I could never support any candidate who uses their religion to prevent women and homosexuals from having complete control over their lives and loves. I could never vote for Councilman Felder, and I urge my friends, neighbors, and readers to vote against him.

City Council Member Kendall Stewart, who defeated Senator Parker in a previous city council race is also being forced from office by term limits. Stewart is an unimpressive politician who seems to base at least part of his strategy on leveraging his ethnicity in this largely Afro-Caribbean district.

I have written to each of them asking that they tell me their positions on reproductive freedom, same-sex marriage, and charter schools.

Parker is running the comfortable campaign of an incumbent. I recently received a glossy flyer ostensibly written by Parker's mother, Georgie, which is a tactic that has worked well for Parker in his previous elections. It's a very effective ad in which she brags about his accomplishments in the Senate and the values she instilled in her son.

Parker's glossy broadside stands in stark contrast to the Karl Rove-like mailings from Felder's campaign. With an impressive war-chest exceeding a million dollars, Felder is producing very slick broadsides focusing on dead children and tabloid articles, screaming histrionics and accusations that the incumbent is soft on crime. Felder's campaign materials are offensive and unconvincing. Unless, of course, you read crap like the Daily News and New York Post, watch Fox News, and believe GOP ringmasters who are destroying our nation. He is a Democrat much the way Joe Lieberman is a Democrat. That is, he is not really a Democrat at all.

Parker has won the endorsement of the Empire State Pride Agenda who say he "is a strong supporter of the LGBT community and votes correctly on all of our issues." Parker also carries the endorsements of the WFP and the United Federation of Teachers.

The Pride Agenda goes on to explain:
His challengers are New York City Councilmembers Kendall Stewart, who is against marriage equality, and Simcha Felder, who is against marriage equality and has voted a number of times against pro-LGBT legislation in New York City, including a bill protecting transgender people from discrimination.

Planned Parenthood of New York also endorses Kevin Parker.

So, it is easy for me to vote for the incumbent, and I look forward to an exciting race. The incumbent is not guaranteed the nomination, but from where I sit in Kengsington, Brooklyn, the incumbent looks like the best bet. If you live in this district, I hope you will vote for Kevin Parker, too.


Senator Parker's website

Councilman Felder's website

Councilman Stewart's website

The Empire State Pride Agenda Endorsement of Kevin Parker

21st State Senate candidates debate last night; the gloves are off, at the Brooklyn Junction blog

In Flatbush, Running with Baggage, by Giovanni Russonello, at Gotham Gazette

Felder Shakes Up State Senate Race, at the New York Times

Council Indictments Overshadow a Senate Bid, an article about Stewart at the New York Times

Senator Is Accused of Punching a Traffic Agent Over a Ticket, a 2005 article about Parker at the New York Times

Republican, and fake Independent billionaire Michael Bloomberg endorses Felder, at Topix

Dick Mac Recommends:

Friday, September 05, 2008

So Much Babysitting

Ben Stein, conservative Republican stalwart, television game show host, speechwriter and comedian offered his opinion of the Sarah Palin nomination:

It will be interesting to see if Henry Kissinger takes the assignment.

It's exciting to hear him refer to the "fundamentalist, born-again, backwards values" of the United States. This is language we do not hear enough. The problem with Republicans is no longer their economic policies or their social constipation. Those haven't been the problem in a long time. The problem is that the GOP has become the party of the wacko fringe religious right, and more Republicans (like Stein) have to speak-up about it.

Ben Stein doesn't believe in evolution, so his credibility diminishes a little bit in my book; but, unlike many Republican apologists, he isn't blinded by Jesus (thank God for Jews), and his intellectual prowess is impressive.

Sarah Palin's credential are unimpressive -- wholly unimpressive. But she's adorable as a beauty queen . . .

. . . and apparently is in need of a babysitter.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

So Much Executive Qualification

Dick Cheney has dramatically changed the office and the role of the Vice-Presidency, acting really as a shadow President, and not at all as a Vice-President. The current American president didn't need to die in order for the current vice-president to ascend to power - the vice-president enjoyed the power already.

In an exchange with my friend Henry, he mentioned that the nomination of a hockey mom from Alaska as the vice-presidential nominee was a bit of a slap in the face to Cheney and a mockery of what the office has become. What the GOP needs in the office of the vice-president is a ruthless politician with no scruples and an undying hard-on for profiteering at the expense of freedom; and though she may liken herself to a bulldog with lipstick, Governor Palin is hardly the kind of "man" I'd expect the GOP to put forth as a serious candidate.

What are her qualifications? What are the qualifications of any of the candidates? What experience makes someone qualified to be president or vice-president, to assume the power of the Executive Branch. Is it Executive Branch experience? I think it is.

Anyone who has not sat in the seat of president or vice-president lacks the necessary experience to be "qualified."

In the big picture, really, there are only three requirements to be President of the United States: (1) you must have been born an American citizen; (2) you must be at least thirty-five years old; and (3) you must have been a permanent resident in the United States for at least fourteen years. You need not have been born IN the United States, as John McCain was not born in the United States, but you must be born a natural citizen (that is, that your parents were citizens). There are a lot of natural-born Americans over the age of 35 who have been permanent resident of the United States for at least fourteen years. So there are many, many, many qualified candidates for the Presidency.

We have tended to elect Governors as Presidents, assuming that as the head executive of one of the United States, they would be "better-qualified" to be the executive in charge of ALL the United States. However, no governor has experience with our clandestine programs, our military command, or international relations. Senators are rarely elected President because their "experience" is not thought to be 'executive' enough. If Barack Obama or John McCain are elected President, it will be the first time a senator has been elected since John F. Kennedy; and never in my lifetime has there been an election where two Senators were the major party candidates. Senators just don't enjoy the reputation that Governors enjoy.

But, let's go back to the right-wing, mainstream media question of qualifications. When we look at further amendments to the Constitution we realize that nobody who has already served two terms or ten years as President is eligible to become President, so that eliminates only the current American president, George W Bush, from the race. Still a pretty wide field to choose from. Now, if we accept that there is a certain type of "experience" required to fill a vacancy in the Executive offices, that "experience" must be Executive Branch experience (a president or a vice-president), which narrows the field considerably!

Using the notion that there is a certain type of "experience" necessary to be President, then there are only six eligible Americans with Executive Branch experience: Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Dan Quayle, George H.W. Bush, Walter Mondale, and Jimmy Carter. They are the only Americans with Executive Branch experience, as presidents and/or vice-presidents, who are eligible to run for President. None of them are running.

But we do now have a Governor involved. Governor Sarah Palin, of Alaska, is going to be on the GOP ticket. Using the right-wing notion of 'experience' needed to govern at the highest level, this former beauty queen and hockey mom whose grasp of science includes the notion that the only acceptable form of birth-control is abstinence, and whose grasp of religion includes the notion that our invasion of Iraq is God's plan, is the only "qualified" person the GOP could find for their ticket.

Then comes forth the mainstream media's circle-jerk about the history-making event of a woman being on the presidential ticket.

Excuse me . . . there is nothing ground-breaking or newsworthy about Palin's nomination. Geraldine Ferraro was a woman of deep Christian faith and beliefs (albeit Roman Catholic) nominated for the office of the vice-presidency, decades before Palin.

The only thing ground-breaking about Palin is that she is a political fringe wacko with insane religious beliefs and absolutely no intellectual grasp of science, sociology, or political governance.

Now THAT'S newsworthy!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

So Much Palin, So Many Faces

On August 29th, Pat Buchanan trashed the notion of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential nominee. Then a few hours later, he praised her as a brilliant choice and one of his people!

There are two things I admire about Pat Buchanan: his face!

Thanks to Ted for the tip!

Dick Mac Recommends:

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

So Much Failure

America's "conservative" movement has its darling personalities: bleach-blondes in black cocktail dresses at dawn, trophy-wives in a Vicodin haze, middle-aged men in restrooms looking for a little action, housewives promoting abstinence-only sex-education programs, members of congress texting pornography to children.

They have their darling projects: privatization, the further marginalization of homosexuals, abstinence-only sex-education programs, wars on drugs and terror, voter fraud.

They have enjoyed a lot of failure: Iraq, Katrina, the economy, the health of the nation, international relations, abstinence-only sex-education, the price of oil.

So, like so many humble congregants, they assemble this week in Minnesota with the sword of righteousness slung by their side and the power of God firmly planted in their souls.

They will nominate John McCain as president to represent their interests in the next election. They will nominate Sarah Palin as their vice-president.

Palin is an interesting choice, because she was completely unknown outside of Alaska, where she is Governor. We know that she is a staunch conservative, opposes abortion for any reason (including rape and incest), and is a proud mother and wife. She is, like all elected officials from George Washington onward, pretty sleazy and is involved in a lawsuit stemming from an incident where she fired a police chief who refused to fire a former in-law with whom she was displeased.

Who knows? Maybe the lawsuit is frivolous.

I am fascinated by Palin's full-throttle opposition to abortion. No abortion, ever, for any reason, even if the pregnancy will kill the mother. Period. And I am further fascinated by her support of abstinence-only sex-education programs.

I don't think I am expressing an opinion when I state that abstinence-only sex-education is a failure. The only sex-education that prevents pregnancy is sex-education that discusses contraceptives. Without contraception, teenagers get pregnant.

Even Sarah Palin's teenager.

When I was growing-up in the projects, a teenage girl about three or four years older than me was removed from school and sort of vanished from the neighborhood. I was eleven and she was probably 14 or 15. A few months later, her mother had a mixed-race baby, so the teenage girl had a little brother. It didn't take long for the ruse to be exposed. Nobody was trying to expose the ruse, but it just all came out that it was really the teenage girl's baby, not the mother's. It was kind of sad, but not earth-shattering. The teenager grew-up to have a few more kids with a number of different men; one of whom she may or may not have married. I never knew and it never really mattered to me.

Over the weekend, it was reported by Daily Kos that Governor Palin's daughter, Bristol, had become pregnant, that the Governor announced that she herself (the Governor) was pregnant, the child was allegedly born to the daughter, and the Governor claimed it as her own. The exact same story I witnessed in the projects forty years ago! I marginally followed the "scandal" with little interest because I think it's a sad story, not a scandalous story.

It's a story of human shame, confusion, fear and embarrassment. Not a nice story, not a funny story, not even a scandalous story.

Then the next story that came out was that the Governor's daughter is actually now pregnant.

Still, I read and thought about what I would write today. I want to attack Palin and her extremist positions on abortion and sex-education. And I guess that's what this will become.

This morning, I followed the link back to the original Daily Kos article at http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/8/30/121350/137/486/580223, and it is gone. So, there seems to be pull-back on the story that the daughter had a baby and the grandmother claimed it as her own. Perhaps the Governor was pregnant, even when she didn't appear pregnant, and perhaps she did give birth to little Trig, after all. Or maybe she didn't. Who knows? I was disappointed that the original article was gone.

I now find all kinds of articles and retractions and re-writes in the blogsphere, and I am grateful that I was not blogging yesterday when I would most definitely jumped on the mother-grandmother-baby bandwagon.

It's all so convoluted, just the way the conservatives like it. All the 'facts' are questionable, and the competing news stories of questionable maternity and current pregnancy make it easy for the mainstream media to manipulate the story to the benefit of the GOP. Which they will do.

So, Bristol Palin is a normal teenager. She is like every other teenager, she had sex. Teenagers have sex. She got pregnant as many teenage women do when they have unprotected sex. This is a family crisis. Every family faced with an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter is facing a crisis.

Teenagers having children is a problem in America, because our economy is so rigged against families and children. Some teenagers are lucky to come from families that can nurture and support them in this crisis. Most are not.

Most teenagers live in conservative America, getting their cultural information from television, and their political information from News Corporation, and their ideas of romance, love, and sex from trashy Hollywood movies (like "Juno") and soft-core music videos. Our schools have stopped teaching, our hospitals are not allowed to educate young women about contraception, and most families are comprised of two-working parents, neither of whom really has the time or energy to monitor, guide, nurture and teach their kids.

These are the reasons why contraceptives must be promoted and readily available to sexually-active women, even teenagers.

I have no sympathy for Sarah Palin, Bristol Palin, or any member of the Palin family, because they have chosen a lifestyle that is so wholly un-American, stupid, unproductive, and contrary to good sense, that no good can really come to them or those they encounter. They are backwards-thinking, anti-intellectual consumers with no grasp of reality.

The best any of those kids (Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig) can hope for is to get the hell out of that insane household and build a life rooted in the real world where medicine, information, and social responsibility trump God and country.

The conservative agenda that includes abstinence-only sex-education is a failure on every level. The conservative agenda of economics, social engineering, health, war, business development, international relations, religion, education, and civility is a failure top-to-bottom. Now stands before us a woman from the army of God who has been elected Governor of Alaska and wants to be Vice-President, who promotes abstinence-only sex-education, and she is explaining to us that she loves her pregnant daughter who had taken a vow, a pledge, to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. Yet, she is pregnant out-of-wedlock. Still, this Governor believes with all her heart that abstinence is the only acceptable form of birth control.

And what about the baby's father? We will never know who really fathered that child, and it really isn't any of our business. The name Levi Johnston will appear on the baby's birth certificate. This is the guy who will marry Bristol, and become a member of the First Family of Alaska. God bless him, and God help him.

These people are dangerous. These people are sociopaths. These people are not living in reality and when she is elected Vice-President she is going to work to impose her insane morality and radical agenda on our children, especially our daughters, sisters, lovers, and mothers. So, it is important that people considering a vote for McCain consider this.

What's a parent to do? The best we can do is arm our teenagers with facts about reproduction, sexually transmitted disease, love and intimacy, and hope they make good choices.

Sure, the whole thing is sad; but, these people have to be stopped, and if Sarah Palin stays in the race, I will not be so sympathetic and restrained in future articles.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Free Ride: John McCain and the Media
David Brock, Paul Waldman