Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sorry, Out of Gas: the recession and the oil crisis...

This is an excerpt from a short essay written by Gail E. Tverberg of Oil Drum about the link between the actual recession and the oil crisis. Ms.Tverberg is an actuary who writes articles on finite world issues and the impact of the oil crisis on different industries.

We Are Reaching Limits

No matter what kind of resources we are working with, they don’t simply “run out”, as we use more and more of them. Instead, they become more and more difficult to extract. In the case of minerals, the ore concentrations become lower and lower. Mines need to be built deeper and deeper. Fossil fuels become of lower quality and more difficult to extract quickly.

For many years, depletion was not really an issue. Resources were so vast, and the leverage provided by energy from fossil fuels was so great, that we could extract as much of almost anything we wanted (oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, copper, phosphorous, gold, platinum, indium, gallium, fresh water, and many other things) very cheaply, in the quantities needed for whatever use was desired.

What has happened in the last few years is that we have started reaching the point where extraction of many of these resources is becoming much more difficult. In April, 2007, the CEOs of Royal Dutch Shell and of French oil company Total SA were quoted as saying that the days of “easy oil” are gone. Just this past week, the International Energy Agency released a report whose executive summary begins, “The world’s energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable environmentally, economically, socially.”

Our Current Economic Crisis

Now that we are reaching a point where the extraction of fossil fuels and minerals of all types are starting to reach limits, we find that if the economy starts to heat up, the price of many commodities starts to skyrocket. Part of this is competition for limited resources. Part of this is the high cost of extraction of these resources, now that we are increasingly reaching limits. Food prices are affected as well, partly because oil (for machinery) and natural gas (for nitrogen fertilizer) are used in food production, and partly because competition with corn production for ethanol drives land prices up.

Once food and fuel prices rise, people find it difficult to repay debt, and debt defaults rise. Now debt defaults are rippling through the economy. The poor financial condition of banks makes them unwilling to lend. This lack of credit is making it difficult for many direct and indirect buyers of commodities to buy products of many types (oil, natural gas, uranium, and copper, for example). Prices are plummeting for a wide range of products because prices are relatively inelastic.

These lower prices have a feedback effect on new production of commodities. In a paper to be published in Journal of Energy Security shortly, I show that the credit crisis and the resulting lower commodity prices are leading to cut backs in planned production of energy products of all types (fossil fuels, renewables, and uranium). As a result, if the economy does start to heat back up again, we will have another round of commodity price increases. This, of course, will be followed by another round of debt defaults.

What Is the Solution?

In a finite world, we will soon find ourselves in a level or declining economy, simply because there are not enough easily-extractible resources to support growth without causing huge price spikes, followed by debt defaults, and another round of credit contraction and commodity price crashes. The only solution I can see is to develop a new monetary system that is not debt based, and is not expected to grow. Ideally, it would decline as there are fewer resources, and as the economy naturally declines.

With a flat or declining economy, long-term debt no longer makes sense. The likelihood that borrowers will be able to repay loans with interest becomes quite low, because the economic system as a whole is not growing and producing a surplus that can be used toward interest payments. It is much easier for a borrower to repay a 20-year mortgage with interest when he is getting promotions and salary increases than when his employer is downsizing and cutting hours.

Somehow, a monetary system needs to be devised which operates without debt, except for very short-term debt to facilitate commercial transactions. In addition, we need to extract ourselves from the debt morass we have created. ..."

I'm not saying I approve of all of her ideas. But your banker probably do. If so, what is going to happen and what will replace the defunct system of the Masters of the Universe?

Also, she touches here the problematic question of the reform of the Fed. Seriously this is way over my head, but there is a big debate about what to do with the greenbacks when it will be so devalued as to be almost worthless. With the economical power of the United States evaporating, the other nation won't see our currency as a golden etalon anymore. Interesting quote from the Hard Truth of Money web site:

"...Fed Chairman Paul Volcker also complied with President Reagan's wishes by supplying rapid growth initially and then slower growth. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan also was accommodating to both Presidents Clinton and Bush. These figures would seem to explain the close relationship between the president and the Fed chairman. In 2003, President George W. Bush heaped praise on Alan Greenspan and told the press his wish that Greenspan could serve another term, despite the fact that under Greenspan's tenure, prices increased 71 percent (compare this to the fact that the price level was relatively the same in 1900 as it was in 1800). And over the course of Greenspan's tenure, the money supply rose from $3.62 trillion to over $10 trillion, a 179-percent increase!

For nearly the first 100 years of our nation's history, presidents debated central banking and monetary policy. A titanic struggle was waged between free bankers and central bankers, with the pendulum swinging back and forth in their struggle. This public debate came to an end in the 20th century when both major parties adopted the inflationist line. Today, the Fed is an unquestioned money machine that supplies the president with enough cash to fund his extravagant government programs, be they vast expansions abroad or at home or both. The presidential candidates rarely question what effects these large increases in the money supply might have on future generations as the dollar is devalued and Fed-manufactured booms and busts rock our economy."

Any ideas?

For more on Oil drum, click here.

Today's Good News and Bad News: Pelosi, Waxman, Foreclosure suspension and...oil crisis.

“I'd put my money on solar energy… I hope we don't have to wait til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
—Thomas Edison, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, March 1931

There are crazy people out there watching too much Heroes...

On Truthout web site (, I just found out a nice piece from NY Times' Bob Herbert articulating most of the points I have made here before in a clear and concise way. It is even funny at times, humor not being one of Herbert's strong suit, this was surprising and more than welcome.

But, there again, a lot of people are calling for Armageddon, the Apocalypse, the End of Days, all of it. "Bring it on!", they chant, as Bush have done before with the consequence we know.

"let a new world be born!!!" an Anonymous guy said. A lot of people are hoping for a Mad Max rerun, with Tina Turner in the Thunderdome for those night slow in slaughters, I guess. I'm sure they are sewing their matting and ripped leather Warrior outfit as we speak. And most ridiculous of all, I've read comments of people blaming Obama for all the bailouts and the lack of regulations enforcement!

But on our side of reality, we'll try to prevent all that - nihilism was never sexy to me - and, Damn!, who do we find fighting by our side with a woozy of a whip in her hand? Pelosi! Finally, she's alive! I am so happy that she is pushing this not as a simple "Here's the money, thank you and remember me at re-election time" kind of issue but as a way for the auto exec to show more on the table than their million dollar jet. Great work, Nancy!

"They need a plan, or no money". That's the minimum Paulson could have said.
See HuffPost for more:

So that was one good news. Henry Waxman getting John Dingell's head was another. From what I understood, Dingell was the go-to man on the hill of the American car industry. What surprised me was the fact that the union backers were against Waxman. I AM politically naive but it seems to me that union members and "Rust Belt Democrats" would understand that things are changing even faster than they know and a guy that will renew the sector with a new cash plan and a push toward better technology should be welcome... But, that's me, and what do I know...
For more, click here.
Other good news: Cheney on his way to a Texas prison! Ha! If only... But it gave us hope and the audacity to dream again (since some of Obama's surprises gave us cold sweat and shudders).

Holiday breaks for foreclosure! Ain't that spiffy and just plain nice! Told you before, in this recession, you can't have a home and you won't have a job. But for now, you can eat turkey and pray in that $300,000 McMansion that's worth $1,99 until January 9th. After that you can go knock on the doors of Bush mansion and ask if you can stay awhile or join the libs and "Fight the Power!".

Now for the real bad news: The web site is called the Oil Drum. The subject, the future (Damn! Here comes Mad Max again...). The conclusions, you don't want to know...

Actually, most of it was kind of predictable (China and India as the next superpowers - Duh! The end of America supremacy - Duh! Those two countries' population growth and economic restructuring putting enormous pressure on the Earth's resources - Double Duh!)

But Brazil and Russia are also mention as the wave of the future!:

  • "The whole international system — as constructed following WWII — will be revolutionized. Not only will new players — Brazil, Russia, India and China— have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game.
  • The unprecedented transfer of wealth roughly from West to East now under way will continue for the foreseeable future.
  • Unprecedented economic growth, coupled with 1.5 billion more people, will put pressure on resources — particularly energy, food, and water — raising the specter of scarcities emerging as demand outstrips supply.
  • The potential for conflict will increase owing partly to political turbulence in parts of the greater Middle East."

I know HuffPost reported this, but why I like Oil Drum analysis is because it is seen through the lens of the oil crisis. Everybody's happy now because of lower gas prices, but these, according to Oil Drum, would be the calm before the storm, or rather a plateau in a sharply declining economy.

For the complete essay of Gail E. Tverberg of Oil Drum, click here.
Or just go to the next post for an excerpt.

By the way, Mad Max clones: your guy drives a Ford...

Soothing, Breathing, Easing into the Republican Double-Talk of the Day

Walter Malan's River Misty will do the trick.

I'll Calm Down the Hulk and Put the Gloves Back On...

I've been going on a limb in my rants lately. I'm usually the cool, calm, collected dark lady in the room but Republican double-talk and seeing how people are almost considering millions of workers like they are trash to be disposed of without a second thought made me lose it.

Some people do not want to give money to the billionaire crooks, but they do. But at the same time they would like to help the economy and the middle class, then they don't.

And all this is rationalized in such an elegant, superficial way that I look like a radical prog, which I'm not. Not really.

But I won't go all melodrama queen on you so, today, I'll put my David Banner's nerdy glasses back on and read my HuffPost calmly while sipping my morning tea.

Still, cool Spidey/Hulk pic , huh?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To Cindy, my neocon nut BFF, with all my bipartisanship love

My second week blogging and here come the neobots already! Propaganda must be shared at all cost, I guess…

"Gee wizzz buddy calm down.

Just because the market falls 20% after Obama is elected and non of the bail money has been released doesn't mean Obama is the cause.

(ok I am laughing over that)

Of course he is responsible, good grief the sell off is to avoid his increases in cap gains tax you idiot.

from Cindy "

But to answer my charming guest's puzzlement at the recession, let's use simple drawings: see the chart above, Cindy dear? That's the Dow's average index for June 2008 to November 2008.

Do you see what we could call a trend , maybe? Kind of like money getting out of one pocket and into oblivion type of thingy? And that - yes, yes, - even before Obama even won the election? But your guy was there remember? On permanent vacation…

But do not take my word for it, Cindy dear. Here's a professional putting it in professional terms:


Uncle Sam's Credit Line Running Out?


NOVEMBER 11, 2008

The yield curve and credit default swaps tell the same story: the U.S. can't borrow trillions without paying a price.

WHAT ONCE WAS UNTHINKABLE has come to pass this year: massive bailouts by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve, with the extension of billions of the taxpayers' and the central bank's credit in so many new and untested schemes that you can't tell your acronyms or abbreviations without a scorecard.

Even more unbelievable is that some of the recipients of staggering sums are coming back for a second round. Or that the queue of petitioners grows by the day.

But what happens if the requests begin to strain the credit line of the world's most creditworthy borrower, the U.S. government itself? Unthinkable?

American International Group which originally had to borrow what was a stunning $85 billion from the Fed to keep it from cratering in September, upped the total Sunday to $150 billion.

Monday, Fannie Mae reported a $29 billion third-quarter loss, far in excess of forecasts, raising the specter that the mortgage giant may need more money after the Treasury pledged to inject $100 billion in preferred stock financing in September.

Meanwhile, American Express received Fed approval to convert to a bank holding company, joining the likes of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, that have a direct pipeline to borrow from the Fed or the Treasury's TARP, the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Fund.

And, of course, Detroit is looking for a credit line from Washington. General Motors (GM) Friday warned it could run out of cash next year without a government loan. GM plunged another 23% Monday, to 3.36, as several analysts helpfully recommended selling shares of the beleaguered automaker that already had lost more than 85% of their value.

Visiting the White House Monday, President-elect Obama pressed President Bush to support emergency aid for GM and other automakers. The prospect for federal aid for GM ironically weighed on its shares as one bearish analyst said the price of the bailout could be a wipeout of common holders.

Be that as it may, it's all adding up. If the late Sen. Everett Dirkson were around today, he might comment that a trillion here, a trillion there and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Trillions are no hyperbole. The Treasury is set to borrow $550 billion in the current quarter alone and $368 billion in the first quarter of 2009. "Near-term pressures on Treasury finances are much more intense than we had thought," Goldman Sachs economists commented when the government announced its borrowing projections last week.

It may finally be catching up with Uncle Sam. That's what the yield curve may be whispering. But some economists are too deaf, or dumb, to get it...

Cutting through the technical jargon, the yield curve and the credit-default swaps market both indicate the markets are exacting a greater cost to lend to Uncle Sam. And it's not because of anticipated recovery, which would reduce, not increase, the cost of insuring Treasury debt against default.

All of which suggests America's credit line has its limits.

Pasted from <>

Oh, and he added:


The Recession Started in June at the Latest and is Deepening: Non-farm Payrolls

The most important chart is the 12 month moving average of the changes in US non-farm payrolls directly below.

It should have been apparent to any economist, as it was to us, that the US was falling into recession at the end of 2007. The actual start of the recession is a formality, but no dating for the start past June 2008 seems justifiable, especially when all the other coincident non-jobs indicators are consulted."

Pasted from <>

In other words, the war and all those tax cut for your boss and the bosses' boss took a toll, Cindy. The government is quasi-bankrupt. I know, I know… Your media Republican gurus told you that we could run a deficit forever and call it small government, but, well, how could I put this: they lied to you.

Bush, the guy you voted for, took a budget surplus and run it to the ground. Then, since September at least, he added a last parting gift to his "homey" in the shape of a big fat Christmas bonus checks. And now the Chinese would like their money back, thank you very much. You know, our lenders…

Investors had lost faith in the American stock exchange way before Obama. But Bush unwillingness to address the problem by any other means than blank checks to defaulting companies - all while consumer consumption was down or stagnant and unemployment rampant - was the nail in the proverbial coffin. Of course, we'll share that coffin in a spirit of bipartisanship, Cindy. Don't worry...

Of Dreamy Vikings...

Blog of note of the moment, Herzensart make beautiful plushies and soft original toys that all seemed to be telling a particular story. This web site deserves all the hype.

Republicans are all big, fat, lying, thieving idiots: here's how to figth them

Or Begich wins, suckers!!! And Franken soon will too!!!

"...the country's best-known radio talk-show host wasted no time using our airwaves to attack the president-elect for preaching "racism" and "socialism," and for creating our current economic collapse by scaring off potential investors who fear higher taxes. "The Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen," Limbaugh proclaimed only two days after the election. "Stocks are dying, which is a precursor of things to come. This is an Obama recession. Might turn into a depression.""
-Steve Weissman, Truthout Web site

So it is an Obama recession, Rush. Got a little bit ahead of your next whiteline for this one, isn't it Rush. My favorite conservative cokehead is all "bipartisan" happy right now, spinning the next improbable tale of the Republican Agenda.

It shows clearly the next revolutionary tactic that the Republicans will adopt as they try to win their peau-de-chagrin base back: more of the same but more rabid, foolish and empty than usual. I did notice too that clear talking-points Repugs web-bots or brainwashed fake dems are springing a bit everywhere on left blogs' comment space. Republicans take nazi mastermind Goebbel at his word and apply every one of his recipes for "national enligthenment": radio, press, tv, now web. All media are blanketed by one message under all the joe the plumber , Bill Ayers, hate the Clinton nonsense: destroy and control.

Destroy as a mean, control as an end. This type of very disciplined, organized, deliberate sabotage of democratic freedoms and collective wealth for the benefit of a few won't just disappear because of an election. After all, they were in power for so long before, they could describe that fact as a success. They'll readjust. That's all. But they won't go away. For Rush and co to get their coke and bonbons they need to lie and attack and keep at it until nothing is left but their voices.

So the Republican party is not "down in the dump", or in "bad shape" or , if only, are they going to "self-destruct" anytime soon. They're barely wounded. And they are still dangerous. I am all for ignoring Palin: she has nothing but winks and lipstick jokes. But Savage, cokeline Rush or, it's all the same, Michele Bachmann are different. They have a base, a regular appointment with it and an habit of using false flag operations to augment or strengthen this base.

So how do we fight them?

Here's what I found: the axioms of counter propaganda:

Axiom 1: When they intensify. downplay.

Axiom 2: When they downplay, intensify.

Pasted from <>

We need to literally level the playing field even in the area of conceptual thoughts and argumentation. We need to oppose them effectively by shining light where they would rather we keep the statue quo and downplay their hysterics.

"Realistic assumptions must be made: power exists, weakness exists. The strong do not voluntarily give up power. Total equality will never exist. Yet, a movement toward equality is better than a movement away."

Pasted from <>

Then, education and getting ourselves good legislators, judges and lawyers that would pass and protect fair laws are our best bets.

Punish the Auto Execs, Not the Auto Workers....

As I said before, the auto industry is guilty of many complacent moves that brought upon them the wrath of economical hell that they're feeling right now.

But I did also say that almost 5% of all American jobs hang in the balance. That's almost 3 million jobs, people, human beings with families!

Who do you think benefit from this monumental failure? NOBODY!

If we can give 700 billions to a small number of corporate crooks, we sure can give a hand to those workers and their families !

There is no economy without consumers and poor consumers make for a bad economy! The warhead rich cannot save this country economy by themselves by buying a couple of jets and hiring people at 8.55$ an hour!

The 25 billions that the industry is seeking should come with string attached, of course, but it should come.

Repugs show that they really do want a bankrupt country that they can manoeuvre as they like just like before FDR's New Deal.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lieberman is smiling!! Why? Why?!!!

Why is this man smiling?

We need his vote not his Benedict Arnold of the 21rst Century act .
I'm sure some other soft core Repug - less schizo prone and sociopathic - are dying to ride the Obama wave now, no?
Do you think he will be politically a sound bet and vote with the Dems that humiliated him?

And what did I say about Reid ?
Pro-lifer, pro-Defense of Marriage Act, pro-death penalty, pro-Iraq war, ultimately voted for the Patriot Act Senator Reid...
When did he firmly and openly fight Republicans' hijack of the Senate through filibusters galore?

Worst : what is Obama doing keeping him?
I understand the concept of detente but this is too much of a gamble and I can almost already see the knife plunge in our collective back by Mr. Connecticut for Sale Joe.

Can't wait 'till Franken and others come change the tempo of the impotency tragedy that the Senate has become. Plutocracy fan club or not, the same old, same old routine can't continue forever...
The Dems have power now and they do not want to touch it with a 10 ft pole.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Racial Harmony Right in your Kitchen...

I want them!!

Beautiful stuff on Elsewares web site, like these salt ans pepper shakers. I'm all for spreading the wealth AND beauty!

Post Punk Wall Street: Killing Jokes, Echoes and Masters of the Universe

"Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men....The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.

Pasted from <>

Michael Lewis represented what was wrong with the Wall Street system, the "trickle down" theory and the "greed is good" Geckoian approach to capitalism. And he knew it. He knew it so much he was disgusted enough by the whole affair to quit it with little regret. It is ironic and fitting that I discovered him through a post made at HuffPost by a very fragile and sick woman that was battling cancer alone in America's insurance hell. She once was one of those "Masters of the Universe" dissected by Tom Wolfe way back in 1987. Significantly, Wolfe is now calling Wall Street an anachronism:

"Incidentally, there are no seats on the Floor, none that this correspondent ever saw. The Exchange is already an anachronism, like Broadway. Everything is done by computer today. Hanging out on the Floor of the Exchange is like hanging out at OTB. Broadway and the Exchange are like the first thing you see when you enter Disneyland in California. You find yourself in a turn-of-the-last-century town with a trolley and an apothecary and a barber shop. That’s Broadway and Wall Street today."

Pasted from <>

Another sign that the United States' position in World Affairs is shifting from main actor to soon to be second seat witness.

So Lewis tells us that as a young, inexperienced brat, he just played with money, other people's money and made millions doing it. Then he retired and wrote a book about it. He was early but now the young Masters are following suit, just fashionably late enough, and are leaving their million dollar jobs as easily as Arsene Lupin after a good sting or one of Kevin Smith's everyday slackers in Clerks. "They’d read my book as a how-to manual.", Lewis tells us , a tad bit amazed. And now, Tom Wolfe tells us in his NY Time op-ed piece:

"...when your correspondent paid his one and only visit to the Floor, one member came up to another and informed him that he, like so many others recently, was leaving the Exchange for good.

“What will you be doing?”

“I’m joining the Fire Department.”

“The Fire Department? In what capacity?”

“I’ll be a firefighter. The pension plan is awesome.”"

Yep, they saw, they gain, they bought a Manor in Greenwich, Connecticut, leaving us the pieces of broken hype and sudden disillusion. Their bosses do not know what they did or how or why. But they WILL receive that bail-out check, thank you very much. The fact that the young Masters had no clothes and that the Repugs were giving them money like candy again, and again, and again; scandals after scandals after ruinous scandals, screaming in horror every time somebody mentioned that this displacement of power and wealth is killing the working class and the poor i.e. more than 90% of Americans. The fact that a Nobel Prize of Economics like Krugman has to teach basic history to right wing propaganda drone George "I have a bow tie, so, thrust me" Will, the fact that Obama will have to deal again with people so blinded by greed that they will destroy everything , including his Presidency, to fulfill their ambitions; all those fact are why I started this blog.

In every system, capitalism or socialism or communism or anarchism, unregulated freedom will fail if left unchecked. And the only one in power to check those systems are you and me. The Repugs
get away with it because we let them get away with it. We are participating in our own demise, hoo-ing and haaaa-ing and fawning over Coulter, Palin, Lieberman, Kissinger, Bill O'Reilly for Pete's sake!

The Masters are not dead and we DO need them. But on a golden leash.

But how? Jason Forman (CitiGroup), Robert Wolf (UBS), Jim Johnson (Fannie Mae),William Daley (Freddie Mac), Robert Rubin ("deregulate now, sir!"), people with THE money (corporate employees, CEOs, ex-execs) all are glued to Obama's ears and are adding gentle constant pressure to his private Presidential parts.

But I still believe in his capacity to do what's right. For now, I like what I'm hearing. Not love (Stop with the Hillary nonsense already. Leave her where she is so she can try again for the Presidency and influence the hell out of Reid and Pelosi. Richardson is the one.) But like. Now I have to wait 'till January to see if I'll like the action.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Let's Erase the Bitter Taste with Beauty II

Let's Erase the Bitter Taste with Beauty...

Some Amazing pix from Travel Into the World (

To forget the harsh reality...

Of Cars and Roses: he says what I say but says it better...

From CounterPunch, a short article by Alexander Cockburn that basically resume a lot of what I have said in the last few days, minus the optimism.

If you want to read on the web site here's the link (; if not here's some highlights:

"...Bush is urging the world’s leading economic powers, now mustered in Washington, not to give up on capitalism. The mere fact that an American president should feel obliged to issue this worried advisory shows how desperate things already are and much worse they will soon get.

Each week brings a terrifying lurch, like a house on the edge of some cliff being pounded into slush by a Pacific storm. On the Doppler radar, we can see financial storm after financial storm lined up out there. Next to burst: the credit card overhang, of some $2.8 trillion in consumers’ plastic debt, much of which will have to be written off. The week after? Scores of cities and towns and even states are on the edge of bankruptcy.

This week’s storm center has been the US auto industry, effectively bankrupt. “What’s good for the country is good for General Motors and vice versa,” said GM’s chairman Charlie Wilson in 1952, amid the glorious surge of the postwar auto boom. This week GM’s stock was trading at around $3, and analysts at Deutsche Bank said America’s largest industrial corporation, the ninth largest company in the world, is effectively worthless. Congress seems to be saying, bailout is only for bankers. GM has 266,000 employees. If it goes under, the ripple effect will put 2.5 million Americans out of work.

Drive through any American town and you’ll see hundreds of acres of malls and box stores, almost all of them built in the past 20 years: Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, Home Depot, Borders Books, Linens ’n Things… Each day brings another bankruptcy. Circuit City, Borders, Linen ’n Things have gone. Home Depot is shutting down branches. In my local town of Eureka, northern California, the mall owner, General Growth has gone broke. With malls from Hawai’i to Maine, it was the second largest in America. The US Postal Service, with almost a million employees, and $2 billions worth of red ink this year, is considering the first layoffs, of 40,000 workers, in its history.

Already America’s real unemployment rate, if shorn of statistical tricks designed to conceal bad news, stands at around 15 per cent and is rocketing up. Consumer spending in the third quarter was the worst in 28 years. As the country totters wanly into what promises to be an appalling holiday sales season, Obama and his advisors gingerly finger the poisoned chalice handed them by Bush.

Vivid in their minds is Bill Clinton’s terrible transition, which permanently scarred his presidency. An incorrigible and disorganized procrastinator, surrounded by a self-indulgent, arrogant and inexperienced staff, Clinton left crucial posts unoccupied, ignored burning issues, dithered on policy, offended Congress and by the end of five months had lost control of government.

So Obama is moving with all deliberate speed, starting with the hiring of Rahm Emanuel, fourth in rank among Congressional Democrats, as his chief of staff. Emanuel was present at the early Clinton meltdown and partly responsible for it. A foul-mouthed rough-houser, Emanuel’s job is to try and hold the Congressional Democratic majority in line and enforce White House supremacy. If there’s one particularly salient feature of the Obama campaign, it was discipline. Whether Emanuel will maintain it is an open question.

Already Obama is urging a $50 billion bailout package for the auto industry and in his first press conference he emphasized his campaign commitment to tax cuts for middle Americans to stimulate the economy.

The problem with GM and Ford is that they will be back for more billions in a few months, because their cars aren’t selling well. The problem with tax cuts is that they won’t prompt Americans to rush to the stores to buy things. “Go shopping,” Bush advised the American people after 9/11. They did. But now, hocked up to the eyeballs, they’re stopping and any spare change from lowered tax rates will go to paying off old debts, not buying expensive new cars and gadgets. This week I shopped for old corded phones on e-Bay. I got a big rush scoring an ATT pink princess phone with lighted dial for $13.50, but that’s not going to bail out America.

The options for Obama and his future economic team are bleak. How to revitalize an economy and whose manufacturing jobs have gone to China, where the big employment gains have been among bartenders and waitresses, and where the building and home sales industry will be on its back for years to come? Would the oft-called-for shift to a “green jobs” program really mean big pay offs? The numbers are shaky. The falling price of oil has already finished off big alternative energy schemes like Boone Pickens’ monster wind farm in Texas.

Obama’s advisors ponder huge programs to battle “man-made” global warming. It will be hard to persuade Congress to commit to vast programs to combat the supposed menace, if another cold winter rolls in, and anyway, “war on gobal warming” mostly spells out as adding new taxes to utility bills and saddling the government with new debt for nuclear plant construction and guarantees.

What bailed out America’s economy in the thirties was not the New Deal but World War 2. Obama is indeed pledging a wider war in Afghanistan, but these days America’s wars are financed by countries like China, buying US debt. China says it doesn’t want to go on doing that...."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Dubai is nuts!", he says...

Dubai architectural landscape is one of the craziest and busiest in the world. Ex-Hubby just came back from a business trip there and he agrees with the creator of this web site (, Tom Fletcher of Essential Architecture Web Site. Hubby-One brought me a camel from the trip and lots of addictive Tea Perfume from Bulgari. The camel is a key chain and the perfumes were free samples but it is the thought that count. And it did. Really.

Obama's Power: short of 60, it's nil...

At first, “filibuster” referred to a “free booter” or “pirate”, who engaged in illegal activities for self gain; then it became “an endless discourse to impede the passage of an ‘unwanted’ congressional bill.

Words for a Modern Age

Well, Jimmy Stewart was a Republican and he did make that filibuster look good!

He was also one of my favorite actor of the 40's when I was young with Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda and Fred McMurray. With Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Capra made a movie about the figure of the Every American Man who watches his ideals and efforts corrupted by crooks, assaulted by thieving liars and self-serving public figures and saved by the bon-vouloir of individual power. Yes, we do know the feeling...
In the movie, the filibuster was used as the last desperate act of a desperate man, as a last measure to stop the usual going-ons of the Senate so it could pay attention to a particular injustice as a citizen used his right to petition the government and state his grievances.

But now...Now...

There is this great graph about the filibuster use in the Senate since the 1960's on the McClatchy DC web site (, a real clear trend toward catastrophe can be seen in those numbers:
The use of the threat of a filibuster to delay or block legislation have gone from 3 to 7 case in the 60's to 50 to 100 projected in 2007!!!

Paralysis is what thwarted the Clinton Presidency and what do you think those beacon of passive aggressiveness that are the Repug will do starting January (if they have not started yet): screamed of partisanship while doing every partisan trick in the book to block changes. You know that, I know that but what can we do about it?

So, here a little article by Doug Page that I stumble upon on the Black Commentator web site comes more than handy: it is a goldmine of info on the filibuster and the inner working of Congress. Let me quote some to you:

"The unanimous maintenance of Senate Rule XXII by the Senators constitutes the overthrow of our constitutional governing pattern and an overthrow of our right to govern ourselves and to guide our destiny through our elected representatives. It is a bloodless coup by the Senators, as effective as a military coup in a banana republic. Given even the normal disagreements among humans, it is impossible to muster and maintain political support for legislation or for reform by a majority of the Members of the House, the support of the President, and in addition the votes of a supermajority of 60 Senators. This Rule stands as an effective obstruction to any reform, any hope of change, and any effective governmental relief from the effects of an economic downturn....

The House of Representatives, bound by the same phrase in the Constitution, has no such filibuster rule and has functioned by vote by simple majority for over 200 years. The Senate can and should also do its business by majority rule.

Our Constitution, with its cumbersome requirement that a bill be approved by a majority of the House of Representatives, a majority of the Senate, and the signature of the President, presents difficult obstacles to any change in the status quo, and to any reform. Unfortunately, we sovereign voters have this further unconstitutional obstacle. The filibuster authorized by Senate Rule XXII requires a supermajority, the affirmative vote of 60 Senators to pass any legislation, and not merely a majority of a quorum....

Why do our Elected Senators Maintain the Supermajority 60 Vote Rule?

Senate Rule XXII gives each individual Senator immense political power to block legislation or appointments. Under Senate practice at least since 1993, there are no long speeches, no long debates, and no speeches at all. A single Senator simply asks his party leader to put a “hold” on a pending proposal. The party leader and the rest of his party honor this individual request. If the proponents wish to proceed despite the opposition, the proponents must muster the support of 60 Senators. The Rule also gives overwhelming power to “special interests,” a drug company that wishes to oppose Single-Payer Health Coverage, a Wall Street firm that wishes to prevent reform or an ideologue who wishes to maintain capitalism as totally unregulated. These unelected “special interests” initially need to “persuade” only a single Senator to stall the legislation, and only 41 Senators to block our majority will, as manifested in the 2008 election. This accounts for much of the gridlock in Washington. Senate Rule XXII makes it easy for unelected “special interests” to maintain the status quo, even when an overwhelming majority of voting citizens vote for and desire change. Senate Rule XXII makes it practically impossible to enact reform legislation.

All 100 Senators support Senate Rule XXII because it gives each of them immense individual power, and it provides them with campaign contributions from powerful wealthy “special interests” to finance their re-election campaigns. The Senators routinely betray a majority of the sovereign voters, violate their oaths to support and defend the Constitution, and accept money from the special interests. Even newly elected Senators support the Rule, even if they may secretly oppose it, because of their belief that they must go along with Senate tradition if they have any hope of getting the support of more senior Senators for their own proposals.

We all need to organize and lead a million voter march, armed with symbolic pitchforks, on both the local and Washington offices of Democratic Senators, and to keep marching as long as is necessary. There are millions of voters...with a focused demand:

1. That when the Republican Senators filibuster this badly needed legislation, that the Democratic Senators and newly elected Vice President Biden pledge to use the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster and restore constitutional legislating by majority vote in the Senate once and for all.

2. That the Senators halt the useless bail out to the very interests in Wall Street that created the problem.

3. That the Senators support legislation that will immediately and directly help voters and Main Street without making things worse.

4. That the Senators pledge to fund the costs of the Stimulus Package and other necessary rebuilding by a wealth tax on the wealthiest 1%.

5. In order to collect the new taxes, that the Senators pledge to require IRS to use the powers of the Patriot Act and DOD and CIA computers to locate that wealth, wherever on the planet the wealthy may have hidden it, to achieve the following objectives:

a. To heal the damage Wall Street has created.

b. To fund Single-Payer Health Coverage for every American, to fund alternative sources of green energy, and to rebuild the infrastructure.

c. To curtail the overwhelming antidemocratic political power that the wealth of Wall Street and the top 1% affords them.
Most of us do not know about the immense total wealth held by the wealthiest 1%. It is a well kept secret. It is at least $13 Trillion. How much is that? Well, it is as much wealth as all the bottom 95% own. This $13 Trillion is held by 30 thousand people. These 30 thousand hold as much wealth as 300 million of us. If we stack up $100 bills, a $1,000 stack would be a stack between ¼ inch and ½ inch high. A million dollar stack would be 39 inches high. A billion dollar stack would be 3280 feet high or 6/10 of a mile. A trillion Dollar stack would be 621 miles high. The $13 trillion total wealth of the top 1% would be a stack of $100 bills 8,073 miles high. The wealth of this top 1% must be taxed in order to help us build a stable functioning community as authorized by the 16th Amendment to our Constitution. We have no alternative. We ordinary citizens cannot afford further taxes during this economic downturn.

A further source of funds is a stock transaction tax. A tax of one dime on every purchase and sale of stock on our exchanges would raise $52 billion per year, assuming trades of 2 billion shares per day and 260 trading days per year.

We are motivated by our own need, and the desperate need of our human community. We seek Justice. As the moral philosopher Ronald Dworkin has written: “It is unjust for some to have more than they need when others are needy.” Our community is very needy and we the people must recapture our voter sovereignty."

Well, this is not what Mr. Smith has envisioned with his used of the filibuster!! If we do not ACT to give a clear support to Obama to make immediate change that is beneficial to mainstreet, we will be friggin' cooked. If Pelosi and co. do not turn the table on the Republican and ask them for proof of their supposedly bi-partisan fervor, we are fried. And if the Repug cashmad Senators succeed again in their hijack of public power to benefit a minority of greedy spoiled brats that love the smell of cash burning in the morning, there will be no America left to look after but a country where 1% laugh at our feeble attempt at democracy while the rest of us live in abject poverty and desperation, giving every last dollar to Wal-Mart.

Somehow, I'm sure that is exactly what we're fighting against...

In Vogue: Valerie Jarrett , more than a supermodel!

Who is Valerie Jarrett?
For her birthday, Obama gave her a senior White House adviser /Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison job (Try to say THAT three times while drunk!) and a lot have been said about her keeping our President-Elect "grounded" or being the "female version" of Obama.

But that didn't tell me who she was and WHAT exactly she did.

In the Vogue piece (, not everything was fluff and chiffon but it was still a "An American Next Supermodel" type of expose. All wide eyed, slick and shiny.

So here are some details I gleaned through the web (Thanks WIKI among others!)

She comes from a family of "FIRSTS":
Her father: Currently Professor Emeritus in Pathology and Medicine, University of Chicago, Dr. James Bowman, was the first black resident at St. Luke’s Hospital;
Her grandfather: Robert Taylor the first black man to head the Chicago Housing Authority;
Her great-grandfather: He was the first African-American to graduate from M.I.T..

She herself was born in Shiraz, Iran. (Wait till the Repug get a hold of that!!) and received a B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University in 1978, and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Michigan Law School .

She started working for Mayor Harold Washington in 1987, then Richard M. Daley and during that time she hired a certain Michelle Robinson - now Obama - AND a certain Barack Obama - now the President.

A less pretty picture is her legacy in Chicago real estate: the housing project she funded and supported with the help of Antoin 'Tony' Rezko and Allison Davis - Obama's former boss - were so bad that they were deemed uninhabitable from the start:
"In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale -- a score so bad the buildings now face demolition.", according from the Boston Globe.

But as the Vogue piece is quick to point out :

"...Valerie Jarrett's real clout comes less from her career than from her extraordinary connections and seemingly endless capacity for extracurriculars. As one observer put it, "She knows everyone in Chicago." Obama's media adviser Anita Dunn recently cracked that "she may be one of the most plugged-in people in the United States." Or as Susan Sher says, "Whatever situation she's in, she rises to the top," enumerating how Jarrett did just that at City Hall, where she ended up in the famously difficult post of chairing the Chicago Transit Authority for eight years; at the Chicago Stock Exchange; and on the board of the University of Chicago Hospital, which she now also chairs. "She is like a god in Chicago, an icon," says Adrienne Pitts, a 40-year-old lawyer who takes every opportunity to see Jarrett speak at events around the city..."

Another good description of her comes from that article in the Chicago Tribunes (,0,1640738.story):

"Technically her title is "senior adviser.'' But Jarrett, the soft-spoken, steely willed, longtime Chicago powerbroker, has also been called the other side of Obama's brain. At the very least, he says, she is his eyes and ears in meetings that he cannot attend....Every successful politician, monarch or business tycoon needs someone like Jarrett, a straight-talking, fiercely loyal, well-connected, discreet, disciplined, protective confidant/friend/sounding board/ surrogate sibling who has known the candidate since before he or she became the next big thing. Obama told me that having an adviser like Jarrett, someone who "knows your flaws but also knows your strengths'' and encourages you "to follow your gut'' when others advocate sticking to the script is crucial in the brutal, chaotic, 24/7 world of presidential politics."

So how I see it we should be grateful to Valerie Jarrett to have let her former employee go, get him to meet his fantastic wife and groomed him to be our 44th President.

Not bad for a psychology major...


Was tired when I finished this post, I concluded abruptly and a little too much on a sissy note.

Yes, I admire Valerie Jarrett and I am relieved to see such complete a genius, a mom and first rate political presence in a covalent bond with our actual President Elect. It is way much than what the Bushies' kibitzers have given us as a character study during those last 8 Republican years.


Is she a real Democrat - believing in her own Habitat co. mission to give poor people a better environment through a good mix of affordable housings and middle-class homes.

Or was this just a front, meaning her Democratic leaning would be a front also, giving us a fantastically sexy but still nefarious Machiavelian type of Obama's whisperer that would tell him to thread gently in the middle?

I think Obama is strong enough to hold to left leaning politics if he feels that he is clearly supported by a strong majority of Americans. But there will be pressure and I hope that Jarrett will be more a safeguard than an obstacle to Obama.

Tenderness and a cup of joe

I had to steal this one from cat lovers and master bloggers Bad Attitude.
Great shot. Aren't you glad they're going to the White House?

Friday, November 14, 2008

What to do with Hillary?

She is smart, courageous, strong, tenacious, ridiculously more than Palin's "capable"....
So what do we do with her?

I have seen the different news reports saying that she is being considered as SoState.
I have stated before that Bill Richardson was my choice for all that he would bring in this position: an articulated foreign policy outlook, actual experience brokering peace treaties and prisoners' release and the respect of the Hispanic caucus.

OK, he is not perfect and the concealed handgun law or the offshore drilling job is not to be put on his immediate resume for now.

But we do have to say to our new President: enough Clinton's leftover already! Hillary was my first choice as President but now that the other jobs are filled with Clintonian ghosts we do have to ask that Obama gives a chance to other less obvious choices.

We need new faces too. The fact that Lieberman is staying is bad enough as it is and announced a future catastrophe of Shakespearian proportion. One day we will hear Obama utter "Et tu, Brute?" while looking at Lieberman's pretty snickering face.

But in the meantime, what to do with Hillary?
Why not ask her? Isn't she in a good enough position as she is? Can't we count on her to kick Pelosi's scaredy-cat ass once in a while?

But if it's being a Secretary she wants, cautious, "Third Way" advocate, "I voted for the Iraq war" Hillary will needs to ask herself first who she wishes to be. I hope the "I don't bake cookies", I want Medicare for all Hillary will re-surface soon.

All That and World Hunger Too!

So we gave Obama a paper clip, a light flare, some light bulbs, a couple of loaded dice and are now expecting him to solves all the world's problems and then some!

Some are touting the end of white guilt - because they do not see how everyday African Americans still have to fight regularly for minimum respect under the threat of the prison goulag and permanent civil disfranchisement. Some other just killed racism in its sleep, so sure they are that a black president represent the possibilities of all African Americans - while they easily ignore negative cultural environment, bad schools, lowered job prospects, higher costs for basic services at lower pay because of discrimination, etc...

I admit that I am excited by a new era in black culture where the leftover toxicity of the Reagan years can finally wear off and we will not compulsively define and limits our people by our errors - that are solely human and shared by all other culture on this earth despite their assurance of the contrary - but by our heroes and and our positive contribution to the world. We are not dogs, bitches, hoes, somebody's baby mamas, somebody else's nigga and our world, our realities are not stopped by the frontiers of some ghetto. Everything everywhere is also ours. We can change all of it and some have been changing some of it, not only by sport, music and attitude but by exploring their talent in so many other fields.

I traveled a lot and I have seen how hip hop was adopted everywhere as a communication tool by all culture to defy the established order of their country. I was proud of this but at the same time I wished they also knew of our pioneers in medicine, science, the arts. All of them had to fight, as Obama did, the character assassination attempt that is racism and the contempt of lowered expectation, that hypocritical double edge-sword.

For like the new President-Elect, those brave souls had also to constantly prove their right to exist, by being not only good, but close to perfect. They had to exceed, surpass, fly higher, faster. And they had to be ready for the ritual stoning at their slightest mistake.

Because this too shall come: Obama will face some serious backlash when people will see him not as a saviour anymore but as a human being. Racism has two simple faces: positive where everything that a culture, or an individual from that culture, does is taken to be superior and close to perfection. Or negative, and we all know what that is, Palin and McCain were so counting on it to get elected.

Being a human being is define by one color for a lot of people. Obama will show them how untrue that is and some of them are really not ready for the shock. He's not MacGyver, he's not MLK, he's not FDR not even LBJ. He's our new President and he will trace he's own path of triumphs and errors.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Republican non-event dumboes, ignoble acts and latest desperate sayings

Top 5 Repug dumb and dumber festival kings and queens:

1. Sarah "Bloody" Palin
She just can't shut up! Why the hell are people wasting my time analyzing every single one of her ferocious power hungry moves. She is a blank space. An imaginary creature. A new neocon vending machine. The latest science fair "Let's make a President-like puppet" pet project of the right wing fringe. Sometimes I think lefties and progressive are our own worst enemy: remember the Anne Coulter-effect. It's the left that gave substance and exposure to a pretty idiot mad ravings. And suddenly she was on the cover of Newsweek! Let's not make the same mistake twice, damn it!

2. Fed Thompson
He still can't distinguish his tv persona from the real deal! Now he wants to become RNC chair. Oooh shit! Just let him!! Let's rename the party "The failed actors and sociopath party" and the hell with it!!
Read it on James Walcott:

Oooh. A slap on the wrist? That must hurt? A friggin' fine?!! They're selling weapons to the US Army AND the Iraqi insurgent and they get a silently given hush-hush fine?!! They should have just shut up about the whole thing and fake - no act like their usually ignorant selves.


4. Stupid Georgia Congressman
Whatever is name is. Another non-entity. Rabid, mouth foaming free capital bonehead that still don't get that his party was in power for 8 years and made a freaking mess out of everything it touched. After the pyramid scheme have blown in their faces, he thinks the worst that can happen is Obama trying to help anybody that's not a corporation.

His logic:
“I’m just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism.”

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

“That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did,” Broun said. “When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.”

Obama’s comments about a national security force came during a speech in Colorado in which he called for expanding the nation’s foreign service.

“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set,” Obama said in July.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

5.The stupid guy who thought a vote on Proposition 8 was a good idea.

Look. I'm sorry. I'm a black woman and my best friend have been gays since forever. I do not care who you sleep with as long it's an adult and s/he makes you happy. Why should I tell you who you must let in your trousers?!! So, I do not know why we voted as we did. Sometimes we think more conservatively than the Repug since every moves we make is set against us. Being a gay black man is sometimes a big cross to bear. But in the community, well, in mine, its more like the military: don't ask, don't tell. But everybody knows and tolerate it. My mother, for example, don't mind. She will say she minds but she will accept my best friend at her dinner table and his lover and their kids if ever they have any, no problem. I see it as a reverse of this "My black friends are ok but I'm afraid of all the other" type of white mentality I've lived through. The gay they know are ok, all the rest are weirdoes.

It's just a non scientific hypothesis. I might be wrong of course. But still, another bad Repug idea.

They DID stop the check to Trump! They might send it to YOU instead...

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department on Wednesday officially abandoned the original strategy behind its $700 billion effort to rescue the financial system, as administration officials acknowledged that banks and financial institutions were as unwilling as ever to lend to consumers.

But with a little more than two months left before President Bush leaves office, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. is hoping to put in place a major new lending program that would be run by the Federal Reserve and aimed at unlocking the frozen consumer credit market.

The program, still in the planning stages, would for the first time use bailout funds specifically to help consumers instead of banks, savings and loans and Wall Street firms.

Treasury officials said they hoped to invest about $50 billion from the bailout fund into the new loan facility, with the aim of helping companies that issue credit cards, make student loans and finance car purchases.

As envisioned, the Treasury would put up about 5 percent of the money that a company would use for lending and private investors would put up perhaps 20 times that much by buying bonds issued by the new program.

Despite the mind-boggling amount of money that Congress has authorized the Treasury to spend — $350 billion immediately, and another $350 billion that Congress would approve under a fast-track procedure — Mr. Paulson is running short of money and time.

The news that the government will not buy soured mortgage assets, along with a string of poor corporate earnings, disheartened investors on Wednesday, sending the markets down for a third straight day this week. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 411.30 points, or 4.7 percent, to close at 8,282.66.

The Treasury has already committed about $290 billion. It has allocated $125 billion to the nation’s nine biggest banks and investment banks; another $125 billion for publicly traded regional banks; and $40 billion to expand the existing bailout of American International Group, the insurance conglomerate that collapsed in September.

Mr. Paulson alluded to the consumer credit plan vaguely in a news conference on Wednesday, and some Fed officials cautioned that they had seen few details. But Treasury officials said such a plan would give them the biggest bang for the buck and might be enacted within several weeks.

Mr. Paulson conceded that he had scrapped the plan he originally sold to Congress in September, which was to have the Treasury Department buy hundreds of billions of dollars worth of illiquid mortgage-backed securities in order to free up banks to resume normal lending.

It's vague but it's a start! Who knows maybe you won't have a job but you'll still have a house?!...

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