Friday, August 22, 2008

I married a dead man

Did McCain Just Lose Colorado?


McCain might have just lost Colorado after saying he wanted to renegotiate a 1922 water deal and take water from Colorado and New Mexico.

What epic gaffe could unite Colorado's Democratic Senator Ken Salazar -- "over my dead body" -- and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer - "Over my cold, dead, political carcass"?

That would be Arizona Senator John McCain telling The Pueblo Chieftan on Thursady that he wants to renegotiate the famous 1922 Colorado River compact to take water from the so-called upper basin states, including CO and NM, where the river originates and give it to lower basin states like his home state of AZ:

"I don't think there's any doubt the major, major issue is water and can be as important as oil. So the compact that is in effect, obviously, needs to be renegotiated over time amongst the interested parties. I think that there's a movement amongst the governors to try, if not, quote, renegotiate, certainly adjust to the new realities of high growth, of greater demands on a scarcer resource'.
In short, the fact that lots and lots of people keep moving into the desert means Colorado should give up more of its water.

[Note to McCain -- Given your recent history of misinformation and disinformation on the subject (see "Will McCain's cynical lies destroy the chance for serious energy and climate policy?"), I'd skip the analogy to oil.]

Them's fighting words -- literally! The word rival, after all, comes from "people who share the same river." In the West they say, "Whiskey's for drinking, water's for fighting." See also "Warming Will Worsen Water Wars."

Needless to say, Coloradans do not see things the way that the senator from Arizona does.

Gingrich Claims Tire Inflation Lines Big Oil’s Pockets

By Ben Armbruster

Last night on Fox News, host Sean Hannity and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) returned (as they often do) to Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) recent suggestion that Americans inflate their tires properly in order to save energy costs.

Seeming to outdo his previous false attacks on this issue, Gingrich claimed that Obama's idea is actually encouraging Americans to "enrich Big Oil" because selling air has "a higher profit margin than selling gasoline":

GINGRICH: Well, I got a very funny e-mail from a retired military officer in Tampa who pointed out that most tire inflation is done at service stations and you pay for it. And it's actually a higher profit margin than selling gasoline. So Sen. Obama was urging you to go out and enrich Big Oil by inflating your tires instead of buying gas.

Watch it:

This claim is absurd for a number of reasons. First, gas station owners, not Big Oil, receive the profits from selling air — if they sell air at all (presumably from mechanized air machines). Second, air is free. So of course the profit margin for selling air is going be higher than a gallon of gas. By contrast, the cost of oil accounts for a significant portion of the price of gasoline. So any profits from gasoline sales (which are actually quite small) also go to the gas station owners, after Big Oil has already been paid.

But beyond Gingrich's ridiculous assertion, the Auto Alliance has noted that maintaining proper tire pressure is "more important than you may think" because it saves fuel and reduces costs and greenhouse gases.

The Real Cause of the Financial Crisis

Much has been written and said about our current financial crisis but there has been little discussion of the real cause of the crisis, which is our massive debt. The sub-prime mortgage mess was merely the straw that broke the camel's back. There are three broad aspects to our debt crisis.

First, in the current fiscal year, we are spending massive amounts of money on "defense" projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States. It is virtually impossible to overstate the profligacy of what our government spends on the military. The Department of Defense's expenditures for 2008 are larger than all the other nations' military budgets combined. Our military spending for fiscal 2008 will exceed $1 trillion for the first time in history. Such expenditures are not only morally obscene, they are fiscally unsustainable. We are financing these huge military expenditures through massive borrowing from China and other nations. If you begin in 1789, at the moment the Constitution became the supreme law of the land, the debt accumulated by the federal government did not top $1 trillion until 1981. When George Bush became president in January 2001, it stood at $5.7 trillion. Since then, it has doubled to over $11 trillion!

Second, we continue to believe that we can compensate for the accelerating erosion of our manufacturing base and our loss of jobs to foreign countries through massive military spending. This is based on the mistaken belief that public policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy capitalist economy. The opposite is actually true. It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment. Military spending is, in fact, a wasteful economic activity. America can no longer afford to operate on the flawed economic assumption that we can maintain a permanent war economy and treat military output as an ordinary economic product, even though it makes no contribution to either production or consumption.

Third, in our devotion to militarism (despite our limited resources), we are failing to invest in our social infrastructure and other requirements for the long-term health of our country. These are what economists call "opportunity costs," things not done because we spent our money on something else. Our public education system is falling apart. We have failed to provide health care to all our citizens and neglected our aging infrastructure, which is rapidly deteriorating. Most important, we have lost our competitiveness as a manufacturer of civilian goods – an infinitely more efficient use of scarce resources than arms manufacturing.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones: Champion of Electoral Justice

by John Nichols

Stephanie Tubbs Jones came on my radar in 1990 when, as a relatively young and little-known Cuyahoga County Judge, she mounted a progressive challenge to a conservative Republican justice on the Ohio Supreme Court.

It was an uphill race, and a thankless one at a time when the Ohio Democratic Party was stumbling into a period of deep decline.

But Jones kept the contest close, and she made an impression.

As an editor on an Ohio newspaper during that campaign, I got to know this remarkable woman as a rare political player: someone who was smart and connected but also fearless.

I did not always see eye-to-eye with Tubbs Jones, who has died unexpectedly at age 58 from a brain hemorrhage. We disagreed at times on issues, and on endorsements that she made. But we usually agreed, especially when she cast a series of brave -- and lonely -- anti-war votes around the time that George Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones frequently displayed the sort of political courage that put her at odds not just with her president and his party but, at times, even with her own party.

That courage was most evident when, after the disputed 2004 presidential vote in her home state, Tubbs Jones led the House floor fight against certification of President Bush's re-election.

John McCain now agrees with re-enacting the draft!

by: Ironside

John McCain claims he's willing to follow Osama bin Laden "to the gates of Hell" but he's not even willing to follow him into Pakistan even if he knew bin Laden was there. Imagine that! It doesn't seem he's actually willing to follow him anywhere. It appears he's more likely to invoke the draft and force our young brave soldiers to do the following for him. Well this may be one sure way to end the wars. The young Americans have been relatively quite about the wars in the Middle East. Just wait until the draft is implemented and witness the outrage that's sure to follow. Do you remember the 1960s like I do? I had recently predicted McCain would call for a draft in order to accomplish all the military action he's pledged to use. There's his wanting to stay in Iraq for 100 years, wanting to bomb, bomb, bomb..... (bomb, bomb Iran), he's now following Barack Obama's lead in Afghanistan, the only valid war, and who knows he'll probably invade Moscow for their attack on Georgia. Now how to pay for these wars. He pledges to keep Bush's tax cuts intact as if owing China $1.8 trillion is nothing! McCain has made it clear he's not one for negotiations. He clearly prefers military action.


John McCain agrees with re-enacting the draft!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Senator McCain I truly hope you get the opportunity to chase Bin Laden right to the gates of hell and push him in as you stated on your forum. I do have a question though. Disabled veterans, especially in this state, have horrible conditions [...] My son is an officer in the Air Force, and I am a vet and I was raised in a military family. I think it is a sad state of affairs when we have illegal aliens having a Medicaid card that can access specialist top physicians, the best of medical and our vets can't even get to a doctor. These are the people that we tied yellow ribbons for and Bush patted on the back. If we don't reenact the draft I don't think we will have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell.

JOHN MCCAIN: Ma'am let me say that I don't disagree with anything you said and thank you and I am grateful for your support of all of our veterans.

How to Burn the Speculators

NEWS: Why is the price of oil so high? Because the Bush administration did to the commodities market what it did to housing.

Whenever economies sour, politicians blame speculators. But on occasion, they are right to do so. Speculators did wreak havoc in 1630s Holland, 1720s France, and in the American stock market in 1929. That crash led to the Great Depression and 60 years of tight controls on speculation. Now, thanks to our 30-year infatuation with free markets, the controls are off, and the mad gamblers are at it again. Yesterday's burst bubble was housing; today's expanding ones are energy and food. True, we have major long-term energy problems that cannot be laid at the feet of speculators. To avoid catastrophic global warming, we will be obliged to reengineer the country, from housing to transport to forests, and How to Burn the Speculatorsalso to develop and export the technologies required for the rest of the world to do likewise. Eight years of George W. Bush's policies have made this much harder, and during that time the world may have passed "peak oil"—that moment when half the recoverable reserves of conventional oil have been drained and burned—so that from now on short supplies will be endemic. Meanwhile, demand grows, notably from China and India, which account for nearly 40 percent of the world's population.

But do supply and demand explain oil prices at $140 per barrel, with voices from Goldman Sachs projecting $200 for next year (a figure that would push gas prices above $5 per gallon) and Russia's Gazprom saying $250, despite a likely US recession? Do they explain the historic price hikes in rice, corn, and wheat, leading to hunger in the developing world? Do they explain the absolutely stratospheric price of copper? No they do not.

Yes, Virginia, speculators can affect the price—if they are large and relentless enough to dominate a market, and especially if they can store the commodity and keep it off the market as the price rises.

Fakery in Games makes plain China's contempt for reality

by Glenn Garvin

Time to clear the air: That's not smog hovering over Beijing, swallowing entire office buildings like a mighty python. It's just "a funny mist," says the city's environmental chief, who insists that the Chinese government has eliminated air pollution in the capital. And he's right: By moving its monitoring stations as far as 40 miles from the city center, Beijing's air-quality reports read like Irving Berlin lyrics: Blue skies, smilin' at me. Nothin' but blue skies do I see ...

If Berlin ought to be the official balladeer of the Beijing Olympics, the official currency should be the $3 bill. That's as in the phrase "phony as ..." From Spielbergian digitized fireworks to Milli Vanilli-esque lip syncing to let's-pretend newscasts, these Olympics have been the biggest public exercise in media-inspired fakery since Orson Welles' Martians terrorized New Jersey.

That cute-as-a-button little girl who sang during the Opening Ceremony? Actually, the voice belonged to another kid, whose big nose and crooked teeth were deemed unsuitable for the TV cameras. Those crowds of noisy fans in yellow T-shirts, banging inflatable batons? Government shills, "cheer squads" recruited to fill all the empty seats left by no-show tourists.

And the stunning display of opening-night fireworks that seemed to show a series of Godzilla-size footprints approaching Beijing? Computerized special effects inserted into the television broadcast. A reporter for The Oregonian in Portland, watching with a crowd in Tiananmen Square when the real fireworks went off, wrote that they saw only "two tiny flare-like blasts pop in the sky, followed by a lot of nothing."

Literally nothing at the Olympics is too important or too trivial for the Chinese to counterfeit. On the high end is free speech. China's totalitarian government swore it would permit protests and demonstrations during the Games, albeit only at three designated parks distant from Olympic venues. But apparently there's been a sudden burst of public contentment just in time for the Olympics; the parks are deserted, and Chinese authorities can't remember if they've issued any permits for demonstrations.

The Plot Against Liberal America

by Thomas Frank

The most cherished dream of conservative Washington is that liberalism can somehow be defeated, finally and irreversibly, in the way that armies are beaten and pests are exterminated. Electoral victories by Republicans are just part of the story. The larger vision is of a future in which liberalism is physically barred from the control room - of an "end of history" in which taxes and onerous regulation will never be allowed to threaten the fortunes private individuals make for themselves. This is the longing behind the former White House aide Karl Rove's talk of "permanent majority" and, 20 years previously, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's declaration to the Republican convention that it's "the job of all revolutions to make permanent their gains".

When I first moved to contemplate this peculiar utopian vision, I was struck by its apparent futility. What I did not understand was that beating liberal ideas was not the goal. The Washington conservatives aim to make liberalism irrelevant not by debating, but by erasing it. Building a majority coalition has always been a part of the programme, and conservatives have enjoyed remarkable success at it for more than 30 years. But winning elections was not a bid for permanence by itself. It was only a means.

The end was capturing the state, and using it to destroy liberalism as a practical alternative. The pattern was set by Margaret Thatcher, who used state power of the heaviest-handed sort to implant permanently the anti-state ideology.

"Economics are the method; the object is to change the soul," she said, echoing Stalin. In the 34 years before she became prime minister, Britain rode a see-saw of nationalisation, privatisation and renationalisation; Thatcher set out to end the game for good. Her plan for privatising council housing was designed not only to enthrone the market, but to encourage an ownership mentality and "change the soul" of an entire class of voters. When she sold off nationally owned industries, she took steps to ensure that workers received shares at below-market rates, leading hopefully to the same soul transformation. Her brutal suppression of the miners' strike in 1984 showed what now awaited those who resisted the new order. As a Business Week reporter summarised it in 1987: "She sees her mission as nothing less than eradicating Labour Party socialism as a political alternative."

Don't help them spread propaganda