Friday, October 31, 2008

Plumbing Joe

by AF
October 30, 2008

In the dwindling days of this election campaign, it's astounding how much mileage the McCain/Palin Republicans are still wrenching out of Senator Obama's comment about "spreading the wealth around."

Maybe it's all for the best that the Dems do not take the bait and mount any major response to this sinister distortion of Obama's words and their meaning. Why waste precious time at this point? The brain-dead GOP base will dutifully dismiss any thoughtful deconstruction (huh?) of Obama's words and react with conditioned knee-jerk outrage to any such red herring McCain might pull out of his butt, no matter how absurd.

McCain knows this as well as anyone. Which is why he has the gull to go on and brand Obama as a secret socialist after already smearing him with the secret muslim, secret terrorist and secret whatever labels.

Now, in breaking news, the BBC reports that the McCain campaign has uncovered yet another shocking Obama association with a controversial figure: Rahm Emanuel has been named as a possible Chief of Staff in the Obama administration. "The Illinois congressman is considered a highly partisan politician who served in Bill Clinton's White House."

Finally, the deepest darkest secret comes out: Barack Obama is secretly a... Democrat!.

It might be hard to make this last one stick, what with so many big name Republicans rushing to endorse Obama at the last minute.

Meanwhile, in a feeble deperate defense of his socialist smear McCain will tell you it is, in fact, based on Obama's own words. In response to Joe the Plumber Obama did say we should "spread the wealth around."

McCain says this "is one of the basic tenets of socialism."

But as Tom Brokaw even pointed out in his questioning of McCain last Sunday, the tenets of socialism also include governmental bailouts and takeovers of a nation's banks and industries, which McCain himself strongly supports as a way to save our failing economy.

In fact, central control of those economic engines by a country's government is more than just some vague conceptual idea that motivates socialist states: it is one of the solid operational mechanisms of socialist state governments.

As has been seen in those countries that operate under such a system, governmental intervention into the business of banks and industries - taking control of the economy - has only ever enriched those in power - and their friends - while the socialist working classes always only floundered.

"Spreading the wealth around," on the other hand, is only a tenet of socialism in the sense of being a mere conceptual premise from which to begin. Every government that has imposed income taxes on its citizens or provided Social Security can be said to be experimenting with socialist concepts. They do so, of course, in order to provide for those who cannot work and to support public services, work, infrastructure defense and, of course, war.

McCain/Palin Republicans are clearly far ahead of the Obama-led Democrats in the race to establish a socialist state in America and they totally side with those who already hold all the wealth. Those wealthy people will only gain more under state socialism than they have as capitalists. Which may explain a lot about the turn this economy has taken of late.

No wonder McCain doesn't want the wealth to go spreading around: he wants it to remain concentrated in the 2.4% of Americans who alread possess 95% of it!

And what is this "Wealth" of which we speak?

Well, I know it has nothing to do with the kind of money I have access to. It's not about the resources needed to meet a person's basic needs or even provide for a relatively comfortable existance.

Inarguably, "wealth" is just another word for "excess."

You cannot think in terms of wealth if you have trouble making ends meet or are worried about your financial future. It is a brazen insult to argue that we should not tap into the heaping excesses sitting in a relatively few millionaires' accounts - just earning them greater personal fortunes - to give a little relief to those of us currently struggling and suffering under a treacherous global economy.

What should by rights be taken as the outrageous affront it is to those regular Joes and hocky moms who crowd the McCain & Palin's rallies, instead flies right over their hot little angry heads.

What Obama said to Joe the Plumber was that he "should have gotten a tax cut years ago."

If he and all the working/middle class had been cut a break already - instead of having it all go into the pockets of the super-rich - some of that excess wealth would have been spread to him years ago and he would not now need to worry so much about whether he could afford to take over his plumbing business, as Joe said he wanted to do.

That's what I think Obama was saying and I believe it is true.

McCain prefers to keep all our country's excess/wealth concentrated in the hands of a relatively few individuals like his good friend Bill the Billionaire.

To add injury to the afore-mentioned insult, McCain apparently trusts his elite profit-driven friends to make better decisions about how to spend all those excess millions in a good or bad economy - more than he would trust Joe the Plumber or you.

They are the ones who have their hands on it all this time and just look where they have gotten us!

Why doesn't that point ever sink in to the mostly white trash knee-jerk McCain/Palin supporters?

Probably because it's so much easier just to seize on the latest diversionary label that McCain is trying to make stick to his Democratic opponent (who has the nerve to run for President as an openly black man!) rather than risk themselves being labeled racist merely because they have no rational reason to vote against their own self interests...

McCain Utters the "R" Word

Appearing on Larry King's show last night, John McCain is said to have acknowledged that racism still exists in America (duh!), but that it is only likely to be a small factor in people's decisions about whom they will vote.

Well, what did you expect him to say?

If he were to engage in any real "straight talk" McCain would have acknowledged that, yes, racism exists and he is counting on it to win this election.

He and Palin obviously have little else going for them.

If he had any principles at all he could have said that he does not want anyone to vote for him or anyone else primarily on the basis of race.

And if anyone is thinking about doing so anyway he should make it clear he does not want their vote.

If McCain weren't so desperate he could couch his words in terms of also rejecting the votes of those who would vote against Obama or him on the basis of race alone. To soundly condemn such negative voter motivation would be a strong statement that he is not counting on people to let their racist tendencies determine the politics of this great country.

But the Republicans cannot afford to offend their white racist base.

As they stand McCain's words are little more than a wink and a nod to those Americans who he acknowledges may still be racist.

At best, they convey the message: "you know you shouldn't, but I can't stop you if you do."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Election Projection

by DM

The site Election Projection publishes this map:

map from Election Projection site

As promising as this looks for Obama, I have little faith that young people, poor people, and people of color, will turn out on 04 NOV to cast the votes they are projected to cast. Most of the projections for an Obama victory rely on the notion that the millions of people who registered this year and voted in the primaries will actually show-up on election day. As I said: I have reservations about this.

The GOP will use legitimate polling-place tactics (like voter challenges) to slow-down and disrupt voting in minority precincts in swing states (especially Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, West Virginia, and Indiana). They successfully get people to turn away from voting by stalling the progress of the voting queues and having local operatives walk the line, free from law enforcement intervention, discouraging people to vote. They will tell people things like: "Obama's going to carry this state, you don't have to waste your time here." And scores, if not hundreds, of people will get bored with the long wait, the potential grilling they will get from poll witnesses. People will go home without voting, and McCain could win. This is not far-fetched. Many new voters do not understand the rules, regulations, and procedures for voting, and are easily intimidated by white people in suits trying to prevent them from voting. In red states, the poll workers are less inclined to protect the rights of voters, and this could lead to further disenfranchisement of pro-Obama voters.

States using electronic voting devices from Diebold are susceptible to vote tampering, and I believe that any state controlled by the GOP will have their tallies tampered with. Pay special attention to any districts in GA, IN, and MO, that use Diebold's equipment.

These three states have Republican governors whose terms are up this cycle:

Indiana. Indiana's Republican Governor Mitch Daniels is facing re-election. Neither Democrat Democrat Jill Long Thompson nor Libertarian Andrew Horning seem likely to unseat Daniels. A late-September poll showed the incumbent with a 53% share of the vote with 37% for Long Thompson and 6% for Horning. Given the incumbent's seeming victory, his State House is in a position to sway things in favor of McCain, even though McCain's overall support in the state is considered weak.

Missouri. Missouri's Republican Governor Matt Blunt is retiring this year and his seat is contested. Since the Republicans currently control the State House, and there will be a lot of attention paid to the governor's race, this is a state where it might be easy for party operatives to participate in a little voter fraud without garnering much attention. Missouri is currently projected as Weakly Supporting Obama. Nobody will be surprised if it goes to McCain. A little tweaking of vote counts from minority districts and 11 electoral votes go to McCain.

North Dakota. ND's Republican Governor John Hoeven is running for re-election this year. ND is projected as Weakly Supporting McCain. ND is known as a GOP stronghold, and it surprises me that anyone projects the slightest possibility that Obama could carry the state. However, an incumbent Republican running for re-election would be wise to distance himself from the GOP's nationwide campaign. Although this State House is controlled by the Republicans, I suspect that there will be little cooperation if party operatives wanted to finagle the votes to ensure a McCain victory.

Florida and Ohio are completely corrupt states whose voting procedures would embarrass a third-world dictator. The use of Diebold voting machines in these states is almost a moot point, as the state governments are uninterested in free and fair elections.

Free and Fair Elections. The United States has been an advocate of free and fair elections for decades. Some of our leading statesmen, including Presidents, have traveled the world to help ensure that new and burgeoning democracies are playing fair. We attacked a sovereign nation five years ago, insisting that we wanted them to reap the benefits of a free and open democracy.

Along with other Western powers (nations that used to respect us and considered themselves our allies) we defined guidelines for election monitoring. They are simple and logical guidelines. Over the past ten years, the United States has been troubled by voter fraud and election tampering to the degree that our Supreme Court has had to appoint our President. In those ten years we have adjusted our voting methods and gutted voter protection to such a degree that we are not eligible for international election monitoring to ensure that our elections are free and fair. We do not meet the minimum requirements for consideration as free and fair elections.

The United States, long held up as the paragon of open and free democracies no longer holds free and fair elections.


Many polling places have no paper trail.

In order for an election to be considered "free and fair" (as defined by the United States and its allies), there must be a paper record of the voting.

Our Republican Party and their operatives (government and corporate operatives alike) have been working diligently to remove the paper trail from our elections.

This means that Americans must vote the Republicans out of office on as many levels as possible.

Now we have a chance to throw them out of the White House.

This means that EVERYONE has to vote. We have to stand in the lines at our polling places, rain or shine, until the very last minute, to cast our vote for Obama, because the tactics employed by the GOP only work if we surrender.

If you are still not moved to vote and vote for Obama, then perhaps you could consider that the next president will appoint up to three Supreme Court justices.

I have used data collected from the following sources and some newspaper sites.

List of current United States governors

Election Projection:
The Race for the White House - 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ACORN Bashing

by AF

From the top down, Republicans have desperately been trying to paint ACORN as the greatest threat to US Democracy since... well, since Karl Rove and the Republican Party, if they were honest about it.

I have been aware of ACORN as a local activist organization in Philadelphia for as long as I can remember. The public impression they always made on the Philadelphia scene was through their presence as a group at most rallies, demonstrations, and marches usually staged and usually organized by some coalition of progressive activists rallying around various, anti-war, pro-peace, leftist, LGBT and Quaker causes.

The ACORN signs and banners seen at these events are most striking for their obvious home-made noncommercial appearance which only validates the group's authenticity as a real-people powered grassroots low-funded volunteer organization. The often rag-tag appearance of the people seen carrying those signs and banners identifies them as low-income and poor, and even homeless supporters out for justice and basic human rights.

So it is incredibly shocking to see such an gigantic well-funded and politically powerful Goliath as the National Republican Party picking on this grassroots organization, inventing a bogus national crisis (to distract from those real national and international crises they have caused) and blaming it on such a defenseless little-guy group as ACORN.

For local perspective and background on this desperate move by the threatened RNC giant, read the article posted at Philadelphia's City Paper web site.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dear Red States:

by DM

This seems like something I read during the last election, but it is relevant today. I have taken some liberties with it.

Dear Red States:

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois and New York . We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, we get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Arnold Schwarzenegger, you get Ken Lay. We get the Statue of Liberty, you get Dollywood.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America 's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to try to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in your quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite. Thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11, and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Peace out,
Blue States

Author unknown.

Thanks to Steven for sending this along.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Identity Politics

by AF

By now it is just old news that the Republican strategy in naming Sarah Palin to the ticket was all about their need to shore up their party’s fundamentalist base. 

Earlier this year the radical right was steadily drifting away from the GOP with little more than outright indifference. Even though John McCain had already proved he was more than willing to say and do whatever it takes to appease them, he failed to convince anyone that he does not still hold such views as once prompted him to call Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan "agents of intolerance."

As the primaries came to a close last spring, Republican strategists apparently put their heads together and concocted the most extreme composite of a personality that would best offset McCain’s perceived shortcomings as a true extremist for the general election. Then, incredibly, they found the perfect embodiment of that outrageous caricature in Palin.

Sarah Palin’s deceptively simple appeal to the GOP base and those dubious "undecideds" comes from her assumed identity as someone who is “just like you.” Never mind that it’s an utter lie spoken in an exaggerated Fargo accent by a total phony. She has the nerve to stand up and say it out loud to all those disgruntled and disaffected right-wingers who had been feeling abandoned by the party they had long been sucked into supporting.

But although they still eat up and spit out those lame old “Joe Sixpack” and “Hockey Mom” sound bites, the truth is that nobody believes that Sarah Palin is just like them. If she were, how could that be enough, even for the least ignorant among them? Would anyone who knows they couldn’t possibly run the country think that someone like them could possibly run the country?

Now, I am not the most intelligent person I know. But at least I know better than to hope that any President-in-waiting should not be way smarter than me, or anyone at my level. Any of the Palin zealots who have seen and heard her in action - and can still identify with her - must surely also recognize that it would be better to have someone at least slightly smarter than themselves in charge.

I believe that Palin, herself not the brightest bulb on anyone’s Xmas tree, is actually smart enough not to identify with any of those loonies who show up at her rallies. She is not really like them and they are not like her. The only thing they can all agree on is the kind of people who are “not like us.”

This is the one common denominator among Palin and her backers: what they tell themselves she is not.

For religious fundamentalists, she is not someone who is anything other than Christian: least of all a secret Muslim and certainly not a - gasp! - atheist.

For the embittered female demographic she is not a man.

For staunch conservative Republicans, she is not one who has failed to toe the party line even as little as McCain ever did.

She is definitely not a socialist or a lesbian. Or a big-city sophisticate. Or particularly intelligent.

Most of all, she is not black.

On this last count Palin leaves no room whatsoever for doubt or equivocation. Her exaggerated folksy manner and upper Midwestern nasal twang convey a covert racial bond between her and those hordes of resentful white Americans who, like her, harbor deep irrational phobias about people who are not as white as “us.” Palin’s overall persona is so lustily appealing to them because it is farther from black than any white person would ever feel comfortable owning up to in mixed company.

This is identity politics at its most insidious. Sarah Palin's cutesy little winks, virile/feminine posturing, and droppin' off the g's from the ends of her gerunds have tapped into the mother lode of latent white supremacy. Those deepest shared feelings are only obscured by any number of things that are still generally acceptable, unlike outspoken hatred based on race.

Like some convoluted secret code Palin's mannerisms resonate deeply with anti-Obama voters who don’t consider themselves racist but are.

And John McCain clearly expects to ride this undertow of racism right into the White House.

Friday, October 24, 2008


by DM

When I was watching this wildlife video, I thought of a pop song from the 1960s.

But, I don't know how to dub the sound of a song over the video of a movie, so I thought I'd just give you both of them:

Dick Mac Recommends:

Essential Sly & Family Stone
Sly & Family Stone

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Witchhunts. They're trying to make a comeback!

by AF

I remember the election of 1994, when for the first time in 42 years, Republicans finally re-gained control of both houses of the US Congress. It was not since the election of 1952 that Americans gave them the majority and with it free reign to do their evil worst.

Almost 14 years ago I fretted and feared a swift return to the era of McCarthyism, HUAC, red-baiting and blacklisting Commie witch hunts that had long been the hallmarks of that party. They had been out of power for so long I was sure they were itching to get back in there and pick up where they left off.

With the midterm election of 1954, after the Senate censured McCarthy for his extremism, the country had finally been pushed to the point of soundly routing them as rulers and, having seen what they are capable of, kept their authority in check for nearly half a century.

Of course, the first order of business for the newly restored Republican Congress was payback. While they were unable to throw their weight around for all those years they suffered the humiliation of their party leader's resignation in disgrace in 1974 and the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v Wade. So it did not take long before they accelerated their so-far unsuccessful campaign to re-criminalize free reproductive choice and, of course, do everything they could to take down President Bill Clinton through long drawn-out and expensive investigation and impeachment. Meanwhile they tried to stack the Courts with far-right justices.

With the disastrous effects of the last 14 years we can only be thankful that they did not get further along in their hateful agenda before now when the country seems to have reached the point of disgust with them again on a national scale.

One of the contributing reasons to their ineffectiveness this time has been the need to couch their frankly fascist agenda in terms that did not explicitly rekindle the outrage that thinking Americans would recognize as the extreme language used by Joseph McCarthy and the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. Back in the 50s they still called a commie a commie.

Until now they have been very cautious not to invoke the language and images of those televised hearings that blew the cover off their bogus witch hunts that finally brought on their demise after Joseph Nye Welch famously stood up and rebuked Senator McCarthy. It was during one of McCarthy's typically extreme Senate hearings on supposedly "Anti-American" activities in the military when Welch, head attorney for the US Army, uttered the remark, "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

We may not need a new Joseph Nye Welch to stand and shame the likes of Sara Palin and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann who have been shooting off their big mouths lately with their neo-McCarthyite rhetoric about "Real Americans" and most recently resorting outright to inflammatory labels like "Socialists" when they refer to Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden and anyone else who doesn't toe their fascist party line. They themselves have begun to rip the cover clean off the real Republican agenda in their desperate attempt to escape another routing and 50 years of exile after the upcoming election.

If you need one more reflection on famous quotes from American history in order to steel your nerves when you go to the polls in two weeks, remember the ominous 1935 quote from Sinclair Lewis who said, "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Red Bull New York 3 - 1 Columbus Crew

by DM

Saturday night was the final home match of the season for my Red Bulls. My daughter, Charlotte, and I have season tickets and we do our best to never miss a match.

For the final match of the season, there was a special event for select members of the youth fan club, the Fanatics. Every Fanatics Fan Club member who had attended at lease ten matches during the season was invited onto the field to watch the Red Bulls players during their pre-game warm-up.

Arriving at Gate C by 6:15 P.M. was not a problem for us, and we arrived fifteen mintuies early. It was a chilly Autumn evening and we had wisely dressed in layers, with hoods and gloves.

The "High 5" club was also waiting in line at Gate C for a 6:00 P.M. entry to the match. The High 5 club is comprised of youth soccer teams from around the metropolitan New York area. The youth teams line-up along the far sideline before warm-ups start, to greet the players as they enter the field.

The Fanatics group was escorted to the field, and lined-up behind the goal where Caleb Patterson, Terry Boss, and Danny Cepero were warming-up with goalkeeper coach Des McAleenan.

Danny Cepero is one of Charlotte's favorite Red Bulls players, and because he spent most of the 2008 season on-loan to Harrisburg, she had never had a chance to meet him. She was very excited to see him up close, along with her buddy Mr. Patterson.

Because our starting keeper, Jon Conway has been suspended along with Defender Jeff Parke, we knew that one of these two guys would be the starting goalie, and we were excited about it.

Cepero looked very strong in goal and got the nod to start against the league-leading Columbus Crew. This would be Cepero's first MLS appearance, and I was surprised that Petterson, who played the second-half against FC Barcelona earlier in the season, was passed over.

The High 5 club formed a sort of gauntlet on the far sideline and as the Red Bulls players entered the field for warm-ups, they ran the gauntlet, slapping the hands of as many of the kids they passed. Midfielders Seth Stammler and Luke Sassano (another of Charlotte's faves) continued their run by making their way behind the goal to slap the hands of all the Fanatics kids. There was much joy!

As the players took their warm-ups, most of them made sure to move close to the end line wherre the Fanatics where cheering. Juan Pablo Angel, the Colombian star of the team, spent a good deal of time stretching and warming-up only five yards from the kids and there was much happiness.

With forty-five seconds left for warm-ups, Charlotte announced that she wanted to go to our seats, and she was happy that Mr. Patterson made one last pass along the endline to shake hands before we were escorted off the field and allowed to take our seats.

The match was an important one, the Red Bulls had just fallen out of the last playoff slot and had to win this match, and next week's season finale at Chicago, in order to qualify for the post-season.

The first half was scoreless, but the Red Bulls dominated play, and Cepero made a spectacular save getting the tips of his fingers on a sure goal by Columbus and sending the ball over then net.

The second half was much wilder, with Angel scoring in the 48th minute off a pass from newcomer and Senegalese internations, Macoumba Kandji.

Columbus turned-up the heat, and fourteen minutes later, Steven Lenhart, scored an equalizer off a pass from Argentinian, Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

This half was littered with rough play and four yellow cards, the last of which to Andrew Boyens late in the match brought Charlotte to tears. Most soccer fans don't realize that MLS is a strong, physical league. Fans of the European leagues took notice last year when Juan Pablo Angel, who has played for River Plate in Argentinia and Aston Villa in England, discussed in an English newspaper his surprise at the level of play and the toughness in Major League Soccer. MLS is a stronger league, with a higher level of play than Eurosnobs want to admit.

In the seventy-sixth minute, Juan Pablo Angel delivered his 13th goal of the season (with assists from Stammler and Dutchman Dave van den Bergh) to put the Red Bulls ahead 2-1.

In the 82nd minute, van den Bergh and Columbus star, Pat Noonan, got into an argument, at the Red Bulls end of the field, that turned slightly physical but amounted to nothing more than the swingnig of handbags. Each, however, erceived a yellow card for Unsporting Behavior. When the dust and mascara settled, Danny Cepero sent the rest of the team forward and prepared to deliver a long pass to Angel or Kandji who were setting-up towards the Columbus goal. Cepero delivered a beautiful seventy-yard kick that landed in the penalty area, ten yeards in front of the goal, and bounced high over the Columbus keeper's head and into the goal! 3-1 New York!

The crowd and the team were ecstatic. Defender Andrew Boyens bolted towards Cepero and lifted him in the air as the crowd cheered and the rest of the team made their way to offer congratulations.

Cepero's goal is the first by a goalkeeper in MLS history, and is believed (as of this writing) to be the first time ever in the history of the game, that a goalkeeper scored a goal in his debut appearance.

The remaining seven minutes and added time were perfunctory, notable only for the yellow card to Boyens for Dissent, and the final playoff berth is well within reach.

Red Bull New York season ticket holders (known as Red Bull Members) are invited into the stadium pub before and after every match. After each match, players dress in blue blazers, white shirts and red ties, and make their way from the locker room into the pub to meet the fans, sign autographs and take pictures. Juan Pablo Angel and other international stars rarely, if ever, make an appearance, but the developmental players and many of the teams starting corps freely give their time to shake hands, take congratulations and give kids lifetime memories. It's a fantastic perk for season ticket holders, and MLS should be proud of the Red Bulls players who serve as such effective ambassadors of the game and the league.

Throughout the season, I managed to get pictures of Charlotte with each of the players who visited the pub regularly, and we printed two copies of each photo. She autographed one for them and asked them to autograph one for her. Many of the players appreciated the gift and she is well-known among the players and front office staff because of it. She is on a first-name basis with many of the players and their wives/girlfriends, and she loves going to the pub after the match.

Last night was no different.

Because this was the last home match of the regular season, all players were required to make an appearance in the pub. There are two entrances at either end of the long room, and it was impossible to know which entrance a particular player would use. We chose the back, and I settled into a seat at a table and Charlotte made her way around the room before the players arrived, seeking-out friends, acquaintances, and players' wives or girlfriends. She managed to find two of Mr. Patterson's friends and they adopted her for the evening. The pub was much, much more crowded than usual, and the women made sure Charlotte found Mr. Patterson, her friends Johnny Gilkerson, Michael Palacio, and Danleigh Borman, and other players she sees on a regular basis.

There are a few signatures missing from her Red Bulls jersey, but the noticeable absences for her were Cepero and Angel. We were promised that both would be in the club, but it would be our job to get the signatures. I managed to secure a couple of other players who joined the club late in the season, but it took the assitance of the front office staff to get Cepero's autograph. Angel remains elusive to this day.

Charlotte has met everyone but Angel, Pietravello, Kandji, Macumba, Boss, and Jimenez. If the Red Bulls make it into the playoffs she might meet some of them at those matches. Otherwise, it's "wait til next year."

Major League Soccer is one of the best deals in the world. Season tickets are reasonably priced, and special youth rates are available for children 14 or younger. Click here to see the subsctipion information for Red Bull New York.

If you haven't been to a professional soccer match, I recommend it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

McCain's Jungle Fever - The Dark Side

by AF

This late in the election season the McCain campaign has the nerve to raise the ominous question, "How much we know about Senator Barack Obama?"

I think you also have to ask, "How much do we really know about John McCain?"

Of course we know that John McCain is a war hero.

This is the sacrosanct claim that has long been one constant in the Arizona senator's life as a career politician. We all know the routine: acknowledge that McCain is a war hero or else. And we all know the story of his five-year captivity in Vietnam some 35 years ago. He will never let us forget it. And, today more so than ever, every opponent he faces feels automatically compelled to genuflect before his glowing heroic halo.

Conventional wisdom holds that to question McCain's war hero status is totally out of the question, as to do so would call one's own patriotism into question. No one can afford that politically. In today's climate any threat to a candidate's carefully constructed veneer of patriotism is too much to risk.

Obviously, if you choose to run for office you must always wear your flag pin prominently on your lapel. But Mr. McCain has the war hero card and never fails to play it. This handy invisible status symbol always trumps any American flag broach no matter how many precious stones you have set in it.

Well, I'm not running for anything. Still, McCain's old gold plated heroic aura serves him well in blunting any criticism of his more recent erratic politics.

But I ask again, what do we really know about John McCain the war hero?

What I really want to know is how has McCain's POW experience affected his life: his inner life – his psyche?

Does anyone doubt that he may be hiding something behind that war hero label? That he may be using it for reasons deeply personal and troubling that involve more than base political gain?

Combat has long been glamorized in movies and legend, but in real life and in better movies it has never been regarded as something a person easily gets over. In fact, the horrors of Vietnam continue to haunt many veterans of that era who still suffer the lasting effects of PTSD. Those who survived capture and long-term imprisonment by the Viet Cong would seem likely to carry even more serious and long-lasting baggage. It stands to reason that they must have way bigger issues stemming from the trauma of their experience than those who made it out with their platoons.

We can presume that POWs like McCain who were held by the Viet Cong for five years or more were subjected to varying degrees of "enhanced interrogation techniques," previously known as torture (Since McCain supports the Bush Administration's revision of what amounts to torture and what doesn't, the treatment he endured never actually rose to the level of torture. But that doesn't stop him from using the term to score political points.)

Given that the former party boy survived four combat plane crashes and harsh prison treatment over five years -- two of them spent in solitary confinement -- and was reportedly driven to attempt suicide twice during that time, the man has had plenty of trauma to deal with.

What do we know about how John McCain managed to work through the psychological issues that must plague him as they would anyone who had lived through such extreme life-changing events?

I'm just asking. Could McCain's self-revisionism as the consummate war hero also shroud a deep inner turmoil? How could it not? The American people have a right to know. What kinds of demons have bedeviled John McCain all through these years after he first encountered them in the jungles of Vietnam?

Even after three and a half decades, it has often seemed to me as though McCain's mind never left the jungle prison that held him during the war. Or maybe it has just wandered back there in his old age. In any event, it is clear that he believes we should have stayed in Vietnam until we scored a "victory" there. Just as he says we need to be "victorious" now in Iraq. In neither case was it ever clear to the rest of the world what a victory would look like.

And in both cases he is one of a minority of Americans who could see any sense in fighting on.

He seems disturbingly delusional to me.

Here is a man who must constantly reassure himself that having been held in a Vietnamese jungle cage somehow made him a true war hero. And he demands that everyone else kiss up to his stale delusion of grandeur or else be damned. Such stern denial of reality and overcompensation does not indicate to me someone who has effectively conquered his inner demons.

If anything, it seems that McCain has convinced himself that he can perhaps achieve ultimate vindication and personal aggrandizement as President by appeasing those pesky ghosts rather than fighting against them.

Now if "that one" can only convince enough like-minded delusional voters to buy into his cockamamie hallucinations . . .

Monday, October 20, 2008

With Friends Like This . . .

by DM

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday endorsed the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama, by announcing that he would vote for the candidate.

He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.

He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure.

I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities -- and you have to take that into account -- as well as his substance -- he has both style and substance."

Powell also criticized McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate:

Now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

And, about the tone of McCain's campaign:

Mr. McCain says that [1960s radical Bill Ayers is] a washed up terrorist, but then why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have the robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate.

Powell also announced, as do many of the government employees supporting Obama, that he is John McCain's friend.

Sen. Joe Biden, the vice-presidential candidate, has made several mentions of his friendship with McCain since the Democratic Convention in August.

If I were Sen. McCain, I would find new friends.

Dick Mac Recommends:

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

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hey Sarah, Sarah (Que Sera, Sera)

by DM

Lyrics by Jen Ryan
Movie by Jen Ryan & Rik Sansone
(based on the song "Que Sera, Sera", words and music by Ray Evans)

Que sera, sera? No! Vote Obama!

Thanks to Ted for sending this along!

Dick Mac Recommends:

The Ike & Tina Turner Story [3CD]
Ike & Tina Turner

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


by DM

The discovery of oil in the United States helped build an economy that was the envy of the world. Now, dependency on oil is destroying the United States.

Conservatives tell us that we need to drill for American oil on-shore and off-shore. That our only salvation will be to get more of our own oil so we are not dependent on foreign powers.

They don't talk about conserving oil or developing alternatives to oil.

They also ignore the conservative mantra that supply and demand should dictate the market. This is because they have no intention of letting an increased supply effect market changes. If there is more oil to sell, then that just means more profits, not reduced prices, even though demand is reduced.

Do you think a million barrels of oil drilled from the shores of Alaska or Mexico will lead to a price decrease in the cost of a barrel of oil? It should, but it won't. Now that we as a people, a government, have abdicated our responsibility of regulating industry and have turned the regulation of industry over to industry itself, industry will maintain artificially high prices for oil to increase their profits. You don't really think that something as trivial as sound economic principle would play a role in the decisions of energy executives do you?

Absolutely not!

If we let the oil companies drill as they want, they will not lower the price of oil just because the supply goes up and the demand goes down! They will regulate the price as high as they like, because we the people, our government, have turned our collective backs on responsible regulation of industry.

Ronald Reagan himself promised that with deregulation would come innovation. That industry regulated by government couldn't afford to innovate (though I can't remember a single year during decades of regulation that saw decreased oil profits). We were told that a deregulated energy industry would find new, innovative ways for us to power the American Dream. Well, energy profits (oil profits in particular) have soared, in the past generation of deregulation; but, I haven't really seen much innovation - especially from the oil companies.

So, no, I don't think we should allow drilling right now. Not until the American people grow a set of balls and take back our nation from the pirates who have mismanaged it with the powers they have been given under Reaganomics, and restore it to the post-war glory that includes unyielding growth, huge profits, lots of jobs, and flourishing regulated industries.

Industry doesn't know how to act like responsible, good citizens, unless they are taught and guided (like a miscreant). They need (like all misbehaving citizens) to be punished and controlled, just like other sociopaths.

Dick Mac Recommends:

The Assault On Reason
Al Gore

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sarah Silverman and The Great Schlep

by DM

I am a fan of Sarah Silverman because she does that humor that makes me squirm in my seat. She is disquieting. And she is very funny, and now she wants Jews to gets their butts down to Florida for the Great Schlep.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Ethics for the New Millennium
Dalai Lama

Monday, October 13, 2008

Andy Martin

by DM

The New York Times has published an article about Andy Martin, a very bad man. It would be wise to keep an eye on this guy:

The Man Behind the Whispers About Obama

Published: October 12, 2008

The most persistent falsehood about Senator Barack Obama’s background first hit in 2004 just two weeks after the Democratic convention speech that helped set him on the path to his presidential candidacy: "Obama is a Muslim who has concealed his religion."

That statement, contained in a press release, spun a complex tale about the ancestry of Mr. Obama, who is Christian.

The press release was picked up by a conservative Web site,, and spread steadily as others elaborated on its claims over the years in e-mail messages, Web sites and books. It continues to drive other false rumors about Mr. Obama’s background.

Just last Friday, a woman told Senator John McCain at a town-hall-style meeting, "I have read about him," and "he’s an Arab." Mr. McCain corrected her.

Until this month, the man who is widely credited with starting the cyberwhisper campaign that still dogs Mr. Obama was a secondary character in news reports, with deep explorations of his background largely confined to liberal blogs.

But an appearance in a documentary-style program on the Fox News Channel watched by three million people last week thrust the man, Andy Martin, and his past into the foreground. The program allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government.

An examination of legal documents and election filings, along with interviews with his acquaintances, revealed Mr. Martin, 62, to be a man with a history of scintillating if not always factual claims. He has left a trail of animosity — some of it provoked by anti-Jewish comments — among political leaders, lawyers and judges in three states over more than 30 years.

Continue reading at the Times website.

Dick Mac Recommends:

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

Friday, October 10, 2008

" . . . don't call me a liberal."

by DM

When Ronald Reagan made conservatism 'hip' and new voters of the early-1980s embraced conformity instead of progressiveness, a great rift appeared between left and right. Reagan convinced working people that they did not need a government, that government was wasteful and expensive, and that it just got in the way.

Never in the history of the United States had conservative ideals received such a boost.

Hatred of liberalism became palpable and the movement against open-mindedness was so thorough and effective that today closed-mindedness is de rigeour and liberalism is laughable.

As a leftist, I do not live with a hatred of the Right. In fact, through the few years of liberalism this nation experienced from 1964 - 1976, leftists insisted that there always be a dialog. Right-wingers were never squeezed out of the dialog and books about conservative thinking were never banned. Leftists just don't use these tactics.

In the early-1980s, the mother of an acquaintance referred to me disdainfully as a 'liberal.' I objected and her response was that I was trying to hid my real (liberal) beliefs, because our nation was finally being taken over by real Americans and there was no room for people like me.

I insisted that I was not a liberal, that I was far left of liberal and if anything, she should label me a 'leftist.' She dismissed my differentiation with arms flung in the air and a resounding "Whatever!" and removed herself from the conversation. This dismissiveness is what right-wingers use when they run out of Ann Coulter buzz-words to insult us.

Later in the 1980s, a newly-conservative friend went on and on about the virtues of conservatism and the problems of liberalism (neither of which he understood), and I told him that "if we lived in a leftist society, I would probably be a conservative."

Recently, a new friend said: "I had no idea how liberal you were." In the 20+ years since the encounter with that newly-conservative mother, conservatism is the order of the day and people are shocked when they meet a leftist.

During this conversation, I remembered a line I used in the late-80s: "Right-wingers hate left-wingers because left-wingers get laid, and right-wingers don't."

I believe this is true.

But, back to liberalism. Though I believe in liberal philosophy, the word liberal hardly describes my views of the world, its problems, potential solutions, and the role of open-mindedness in day-to-day life. I am not a liberal.

The October 6, 2008, issue of the New Yorker includes an article composed of letters written by the late Norman Mailer.

I was struck by this entry, and I nicked part of it in my response to my new friend's remark about my political views:

To the Editor of Playboy
December 21, 1962

Dear Sir,

I wish you hadn't billed the debate between William Buckley and myself as a meeting between a conservative and a liberal. I don't care if people call be a radical, a rebel, a red, a revolutionary, an outsider, an outlaw, a Bolshevik, an anarchist, a nihilist, or even a left conservative, but please don't ever call me a liberal.

Thank you, Norman Mailer! I could not have said it better myself!

Subscribe to The Nation
Since 1865

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Old Sex Humor

by DM

An older couple arrive at a sex therapist's office and the doctor asks, "What can I do for you?"

The man says, "Will you watch us have sexual intercourse?"

The doctor raises both eyebrows, but he is so amazed that such an elderly couple is asking for sexual advice that he agrees.

When the couple finishes, the doctor says, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with the way you have intercourse."

They thank him and he thanks them for coming in for the visit, he wishes them good luck, charges them $50 and they're off.

The next week, the couple returns and asks the sex therapist to watch again. The sex therapist is puzzled, but agrees.

This happens several weeks in a row. The couple makes an appointment, has intercourse with no problem, pays the doctor, then leaves.

After 5 or 6 visits, the doctor asks, "I'm sorry, just what are you trying to find out in this therapy?"

The old man says, "We're not trying to find out anything. She's married and we can't go to her house. I'm married and we can't go to my house. The Holiday Inn charges $98, the Hilton charges $139. We do it here for $50, and I get $43 back from reimbursement.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

You're Undecided?

by DM

I didn't watch the debate last night. They aren't really debates anymore, they are Q&As and I have little interest in the canned responses.

The choice of President is a philosophical decision.

It's not that complicated.

Either you support the conservative policies of waste and corporate anarchy that have driven our nation to its knees, policies that are proudly represented by Senator McCain and Governor Palin; or you don't.

Either you will vote for more of the same crap that has been doled out for the last 8 years, or you'll vote for the black guy (who will not give you more of the same).

The only undecided people are those who don't support conservative policy (because it is an utter failure), and can't bear to to vote for a black guy.

If you can't vote for the black guy, just say it. Stop pretending you are undecided. We all know why you can't decide, and the sooner you face up to it, the sooner we can move on from the bullshit that is being slung by the two conservatives currently seeking the highest offices in the land.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


by DM

In the 20th Century, the United States formed federal agencies to oversee transportation, food, drugs, eduction, and the like. These agencies protected the public from unscrupulous businessmen and dangerous products.

At the end of the 20th Century, Americans were convinced that they didn't need those protections, that these agencies were impeding progress and making life too expensive. So conservatives were elected and those agencies were first gutted of effective staff, then managed by executives from the industries they were supposed to regulate. The results have been disastrous.

Conservatives are still getting elected on the lie that less government is better, and that regulation is bad for the economy, even though history and all sane reasoning points to the success of regulation and capitalism.

The conservatives have spent the last generation gutting agencies and stocking them with industry cronies, to the point where everyone thinks this is how it's always been and that this is the way it should be. Gone are the days when a pharmacological scientist might head-up the FDA, or an engineer might head-up the Department of Transportation. No, now it's a drug company executive and an auto-manufacturer that would be expected to head-up those agencies.

These people would have no interest in protecting the taxpayer and consumer, they want to protect the companies producing these products.

All agencies have fewer auditors and investigators than they need to protect our nation, and that's the way conservatives want it. Government is to stay out of the way of industry and that is the final word in these post-Reagan decades.

This means that the federal government is ill-prepared to investigate and protect; and over the past couple of decades, states have had to carry the burden of protecting the citizenry without the assistance of the federal government.

Now come the Supreme Court. On the current docket is the issue of pre-emption.

Leading the docket is an issue that has long topped the business community's wish list: immunity from lawsuits for drug companies. The shield that drug companies argue protects them from suit is a legal doctrine called pre-emption — meaning that Congress can write laws that give the federal government the exclusive right to regulate in an area, barring states from getting into the act.

Consumer Issues Top Supreme Court's Docket

Conservatives want to strip states of the right to regulate industry within their borders, and insist that regulation be kept at the federal level. This means that states could no longer sue to protect their citizens, even though the federal government is no longer equipped to provide that protection.

Pretty impressive.

Any bets on how the Court will decide?

Monday, October 06, 2008


by DM

One of the biggest scams in America is the white-collar benefit of "reimbursement."

Executives in the business world are reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, like meals and travel, incurred in the course of doing business.

These reimbursement payments are not considered tax deductible, or tax-exempt, if they are simple commuting costs (like parking, gas, tolls, or subway fare). These reimbursements are deductible only for long-distance travel, when the executive is away from home.

Some companies have simply reduced the process to a per diem, an amount of money that is simply paid to an executive for each day of travel in the course of business. This per diem is not generally paid for days the executive is working at his desk, in his office; but, it is not unusual for the money to simply be paid to the executive as part of annual compensation.

This would be, of course, illegal; but the practice continues because it's generally only $30, or $100, or a couple hundred dollars a day. Not enough to make a fuss over, if you are managing a billion dollar budget.

It's sleazy and it should be stopped.

It's sleazy and immoral, so it is a popular practice among conservatives.

Come now, Governor Sarah Palin, of Alaska, who

. . . collected per diems for scores of nights spent in her own home and working at a state office in Anchorage rather her office in faraway Juneau, the state capitol. The patterns varied, but the state paid her, on average, $890 a month, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the payments.

Sure, it's only $890 per month, but the problem is not the amount of money, it's the judgment of the governor. She thinks she is simply entitled to the money and needn't play by the same rules as those over whom she governs.

This is the problem with conservatives. All the rules apply to everyone but them. And when you investigate them or complain about them, then you are being mean, or unpatriotic.

See, Palin's Tax Return Missing Travel Reimbursements, and Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home.

The Washington Post article also discusses Governor Palin's use of government fund for family travel.

Palin could have made all this right by filing the proper forms and filing appropriate tax returns; but she didn't. If you made that choice, you would be prosecuted. The IRS and Alaska State Police should be investigating this situation.

Dick Mac Recommends:

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

Saturday, October 04, 2008


by CB

People fear math. As a result of that fear the math-geeks of the world spin people into passivity with condescending comments about how only math PhDs can understand the current mortgage and credit crises.

This annoys me. So I try to do my part by explaining what's going on. Because of that I am also asked fairly often - "You seem to understand this mess - what would YOU do?"

Now that TARP is ready to start working, here is my suggestion for the NEXT step. Think of it as an extension of TARP. TARP is there to protect us from the annihilation of the entire financial system, so I'll go with another giant canvas metaphor, this one a sail, intended to catch the wind, to carry us away from the catastrophe.

Here is TARP II, the big canvas sail. But I am giving it a hip-hop name. "Rezz-Q."

*insert blaring hip-hop music here*

Rezz-Q is my one-two punch for TARP and beyond. My proposal is to immediately reduce the interest rates on all mortgages to 5.25%. Fixed, for the duration of the mortgage. If you have a mortgage with a rate over 5.25% then your final maturity date would stay the same, your outstanding principal balance would stay the same, and your interest rate would fall to 5.25%. And if you don't have a mortgage then there would be a 12-month period during which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must establish qualification rules, and if you qualify then they must extend you a mortgage at 5.25%.

I am serious.

This solves all the problems for which people hate TARP, and provides an economic stimulus FAR more powerful than a bunch of $400 checks signed by George W Bush, which are just more federal debt for your children to pay.

Rezz-Q punishes those that caused the financial crisis but benefit from TARP, because it reduces their income. But not in a way that destroys their balance sheet or contributes to their demise. They will earn a bit less income from their outstanding mortgages, and they will be reminded of it until the last payment on the last mortgage gets paid, which frankly, seems more than fair to me.

It forces modifications to teaser ARMS which have left homeowners unable to pay their mortgages, but weeds out the liars and the speculators. If you cannot afford 5.25% on your mortgage then you cannot afford your mortgage and foreclosure should follow. Period.

A “modification” is a change to your mortgage to help you get out of delinquency, help you avoid foreclosures. Rezz-Q would modify ALL mortgages - even the healthy ones, to reduce delinquencies, to reduce foreclosures, and to slow the decline in home prices. But it would also compensate taxpayers for having to support TARP, and would stimulate the economy.

And it's SO much better than anything else that's been suggested. Like a mortgage deduction if you don't itemize. (Come ON. What are there, like, ELEVEN people out there that would help?!)

Or more education for borrowers. (You know - Chapter 4 from the "Let the industry regulate itself" handbook.)

Rezz-Q is fair. It doesn't reward the delinquent while ignoring the struggling but fiscally prudent, which is what all proposed and existing help-for-homeowners- programs offer. With Rezz-Q everyone benefits. Why should the reckless be offered a lifeline to modify their mortgage while the homeowner who cuts back on food and heat in order to pay on time gets no help?

It is MASSIVELY cheaper than new government programs to help distressed borrowers, and drastically cheaper than foreclosure. In addition, the entire cost is born by the lenders. This again, seems fair to me. Because there is no such thing as a bank that would be forced to modify their loans outstanding but doesn't benefit from TARP. The entire financial industry benefits from TARP - all are better off from having the U.S. taxpayer step in to prevent a financial meltdown. Every bank, every credit union, every mortgage company, every mortgage servicer, every mutual fund, every money market fund - all, ALL of them benefit from TARP, either directly or indirectly. They can all give something back.

We've already taken over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so let's require something in return for saving them. They were created to facilitate home ownership AND low-income housing which they turned their back on. Let's take advantage of the fact that we now own them, make them start cranking out some modifications, and let them return to their roots.

Rezz-Q is a sure thing, requiring the financial industry to give back NOW, rather than relying on some vague legislative language about a 'future tax on the issuance of securities.........sometime in five years.......if TARP costs the taxpayers money.........' (I'm not holding my breath.) The financial industry pays now, and it's over and done with. Moral obligation satisfied. Move on.

The costs to banks are directly proportional to the risk that they took on. The more risky the mortgage product you created the more you have to modify under Rezz-Q. How apropos.

It is fairly zero-cost to the federal government. Congress passes the legislation (do feel free to call them!) and from that point on the expense are borne by the industry they have stepped in to save.

Rezz-Q would be a serious stimulus to the economy. Everyone with a mortgage benefits. A typical homeowner with a mortgage of $150,000 at a current rate of 7.00% would save $169 a month. Every month for the rest of their mortgage.

That would buy a LOT of gas. Or food. Or health insurance. It would cover half the car payment on a $20,000 hybrid car.

It wouldn't require expensive regulatory oversight - all homeowners would know whether their mortgage went down or not. And the financial industry could hardly argue that it wasn't possible for them to recalculate all those interest rates; that is easy math. Especially considering that their penchant for highly sophisticated mortgage derivatives wasn't beyond their modeling capabilities. (sarcasm intended)

Is it possible for Congress to interfere with private industry? Can they DO that? Can they require that banks modify outstanding contracts? Gee, I don't know, let's ask Henry Paulson, Chris Cox, Ben Bernanke, and Nancy Pelosi. Oh goodie - turns out it's possible!

But I'm sure you're still wondering, why call it Rezz-Q? Why the hip-hop name, rather than something reminiscent of an evening sail off Martha’s Vineyard? Because one of the final requirements that this program must satisfy is to scare the HECK out of an industry. To ensure that they never EVER want to go through this again. The industry didn't hate TARP, but they need to HATE Rezz-Q. Legislators and economists and sociologists worry about the "moral hazard" of an enormous program like TARP. They fear that by offering a life-line to an entire industry in its darkest moment that they will subconsciously reward risky behavior.

So let's bring back the hazard. Let's make sure that the industry feels the fear. They're walking down that dark dark's's scary.....there has never been such real danger. They feel the hair on the back of their neck stand up and they KNOW it's BAD, their very existence has ever been more tenuous.

But no! It's a rescue! They’re safe! They'll make it!

And JUST when they thought the danger had passed - when they are ready to be cocky again, ready to swagger down the same scary path again, they see.....they hear........they FEAR....


*insert blaring hip-hop music here*

Feel the fear.

Fear Rezz-Q!


Friday, October 03, 2008


by DM

Well, I watched the vice-presidential debate last night. It was the first election debate I'd watched in over twenty years.

I generally have no interest in these debates, because nobody really debates. It's like a fashion show with words; it's all style and no substance. This was proven to me in the debates between an actor and an orator; and since that actor became president without very much to offer besides a plan to destroy America I have had little interest in watching the show.

Last night promised to be a bit of a train wreck. Democrat Joe Biden is known for gaffes that have landed him in hot water, and Republican Sarah Palin commands the respect of a pre-school teacher. (Now, pre-school teachers should be well-respected, but this is America and we treat our teachers like so much detritus.)

I wanted to see one of them have a meltdown, but neither did.

I wanted to see one of them rattle-off a string of cliches, but neither did. That was left to the tedium of the post-debate punditry.

I, like many others I know, longed for the interchange that ended with "Governor, I know Hillary Clinton, and you're no Hillary Clinton." But it never happened.

But there was sexism, and I am surprised the mainstream media haven't covered that angle more. But, then again, they probably had all their articles and scripts written long before the debate took place. The last thing about which we can accuse the mainstream media is creativity or on-the-spot analyses.

Had Sarah Palin cried during the debate, she would have been criticized (hillaried, if you will), because women aren't supposed to cry if they are strong. I believe the turning point in the Democratic Primary was the day Hillary cried. Damn it, nobody's supposed to cry in America!

"There's no crying in baseball!" remains one of the battle cries of American culture, and even when it's said ironically, everyone really still believes it. NO CRYING EVER!

Especially men! You're supposed to be strong. Face-up to the hard realities of life.

I know a medical doctor who thinks that crying is an unacceptable, dirty emotion; and this guy is tops in his field!

Americans have no time for crying.

But there was Joe Biden, getting weepy when recalling the loss of his family in a car wreck.

I would get weepy talking about that. Crying is rooted in anger, and anger is rooted in fear. These are perfectly normal emotions and experiences, and we all struggle with them.

Joe Biden cried and he hasn't been politically pilloried (or hillaried). I think Palin would have been. That double-standard represents sexism, and it's alive and well in America.

But, as to the debate: Nothing.

Dullness. No big gaffes. Some small gaffes, but nothing worth noting.

I'm still voting Democrat.

Dick Mac Recommends:

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Thursday, October 02, 2008


by DM

de·bate /diˈbeyt/
noun, verb, -bat·ed, -bat·ing.

1. a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints: a debate in the Senate on farm price supports.
2. a formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.
3. deliberation; consideration.
4. Archaic. strife; contention.

–verb (used without object)
5. to engage in argument or discussion, as in a legislative or public assembly: When we left, the men were still debating.
6. to participate in a formal debate.
7. to deliberate; consider: I debated with myself whether to tell them the truth or not.
8. Obsolete. to fight; quarrel.

–verb (used with object)
9. to argue or discuss (a question, issue, or the like), as in a legislative or public assembly: They debated the matter of free will.
10. to dispute or disagree about: The homeowners debated the value of a road on the island.
11. to engage in formal argumentation or disputation with (another person, group, etc.): Jones will debate Smith. Harvard will debate Princeton.
12. to deliberate upon; consider: He debated his decision in the matter.
13. Archaic. to contend for or over.

[Origin: 1250–1300; (v.) ME debaten < OF debatre, equiv. to de- de- + batre to beat < L battere, earlier battuere; (n.) ME debat < OF, deriv. of debatre]

I haven't watched a presidential debate since a Carter/Reagan debate that left me disgusted and knowing that our future was sealed with a Reagan election. Reagan didn't debate. He couldn't. Carter never stood a chance in those exchanges because he wanted to debate and actually discuss issues. Republicans will have none of that.

Today we live the fruits of two Reagan presidencies. We are a financially, morally, and spiritually bankrupt nation: just the way the Republicans want us.

Sarah Palin is the new Ronald Reagan: not much to offer, but a 'presence' and perkiness. And, by golly, people like her!

She will not debate, of course, she will perform.

Joe Biden is screwed, because he is capable of discussing the issues of the day, and he will be made to look like a buffoon because he will want to debate and that will be mean of him. He's screwed: he can't win if he wins the debate and he can't win if he loses the debate.

And well, let's face it, there really won't be a debate.

But there will be a circus, and tonight I am going to tune in.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


by DM

Sarah Palin was required to file her finances with the Federal Election Commission within thirty days of announcing her candidacy. She says she became the vice-presidential candidate when she was nominated at the Republican convention, on September 4, 2008; but John McCain established the McCain-Palin Compliance Fund six days earlier, on August 29, 2008.

Of course, this means her finances were due on Monday; but, since she is a conservative with Jesus on her side and all the witches exorcised from her soul, she sets her own date and that date would be October 3, 2008, this coming Friday.

The Federal Election Commission says that Palin's financial statements are overdue, but she insists that she has a few more days.

How complicated are her finances that she needs more than 30 days to file them with the FEC? Or is she hiding something?

I guess the latter.

Awaiting Palin’s Personal Finances

Dick Mac Recommends:

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