Friday, October 31, 2008

Palin's shaky grasp of the First Amendment

I - Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Greenwald blogs:
According to Palin, what the Founders intended with the First Amendment was that political candidates for the most powerful offices in the country and Governors of states would be free to say whatever they want without being criticized in the newspapers. In the Palin worldview, the First Amendment was meant to ensure that powerful political officials such as herself would not be "attacked" in the papers. Is it even possible to imagine more breathaking ignorance from someone holding high office and running for even higher office?
Listen to the audio recording of Sarah Palin making a fool of herself here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

History of the 2008 US financial crisis

Chomsky manages to explain both the nature and the origins of the economic mess the world faces in just a few words.

presents a Chomsky sequel in the same series concerning the 2008 election that is also very much worth watching. In that video, Chomsky reflects on an interesting comment made by conservative writer George Will.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just in case Obama loses the election

I've had more than one Obama supporter tell me: "If McCain wins, I'm moving to Canada." This video explains the transition process.

Hat-tip: Marmot

Monday, October 27, 2008

ACLU: vast US border zone "Constitution free"

ACLU reports:
Using data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the ACLU has determined that nearly 2/3 of the entire US population (197.4 million people) live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders.

The government is assuming extraordinary powers to stop and search individuals within this zone. This is not just about the border: This " Constitution-Free Zone" includes most of the nation's largest metropolitan areas.

They have a video by a guy who passed through the US border and got stopped by US customs 20 minutes later on the freeway.

ACLU alarmed by domestic US army deployment

An Army Times article published a few weeks ago reported:
The brigade, the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, has spent most of the last four years fighting a war in Iraq, and will now be assigned on a permanent basis to engage in numerous domestic functions -- including, as the article put it, "to help with civil unrest and crowd control."
Greenwald blogs that the ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information request on the deployment.

Concerning the announcement, Digby blogged that the army may test new pain-inflicting crowd control technologies that could double as effective torture devices:
There was a time when I would have thought this whole thing was hysterical and paranoid. Not any more. We are living today under a government that has legalized torture and which sees absolutely no problem with shooting people full of electricity on the streets of America every day in order to force compliance.
Photo: Ray gun from an article at BBC "The US military has given the first public display of what it says is a revolutionary heat-ray weapon to repel enemies or disperse hostile crowds."

Background links:
  • Northern Command press release of Sept 30: "For the first time in its existence, U.S. Northern Command is gaining a dedicated force to respond to potential chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents in the homeland." The disclaimer says: “U.S. Army North has done an outstanding job anticipating the needs of our federal, state and local partners, and training the CCMRF to be prepared to respond when called upon,” said Army Col. Michael Boatner, USNORTHCOM future operations division chief. “We’re excited about obtaining a ready and capable team that we can quickly activate and deploy as part of a federal response package when responding in the aftermath of catastrophic events,” Boatner said. “This response force will not be called upon to help with law enforcement, civil disturbance or crowd control, but will be used to support lead agencies involved in saving lives, relieving suffering and meeting the needs of communities affected by weapons of mass destruction attacks, accidents or even natural disasters.”"
  • ACLU blog post on freedom of information request regarding CBRNE: "Here’s what we do know: The program, entitled the Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced, strangely enough, "sea-smurf"), will be stationed for one year in Fort Stewart, Ga., with the expectation — according to Army Times — that another active-duty brigade will then take over, and that the deployment will be permanent. The first unit to be deployed will be the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st BCT, or "First Raiders", which spent 35 of the last 60 months "in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle" (again, the Army Times‘ characterization). The unit’s explicit mission will be to provide support for civilian law-enforcement branches like local police and rescue personnel: it may be called upon in situations involving civil unrest, crowd control, or catastrophes like chemical, biological, or nuclear attack, and it will be trained in skills like search and rescue and crowd control. But we also know that the CCMRF deployment jeopardizes the Posse Comitatus Act, a cornerstone of America’s democratic society. . . .

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An American SOS

This campaign video is the funniest I have seen.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stock traders seek guidance from history and astrology

This post at the WSJ was the talk of Wall Street Friday afternoon:
Stock charts have unequivocally failed, so traders are turning to star charts.

I got this from the most bearish man in Western civilization,” reads an e-mail forwarded from a trader at a mid-sized Wall Street firm. “It’s legit. Panic lows have historically occurred on day 27/28 of the 7th lunar cycle, which are this Sunday and Monday. The panics of 1857/1907/1929/1987/1997 all marked their lows on these days in October!”

Fibonacci retracements may work during steady markets, but horoscopes are probably as good a charting tool as any this time around.

Right now, the DJIA is off 24% for October. If the Dow finished with that loss, it would be a bigger drop than October, 1987 and October, 1929, the two most infamous crashes in history.

A more sanguine and rational Floyd Norris, spent the day live-blogging trading the New York stock exchanges. He summed things up like this:
October has one week left after today, and I would not dream of forecasting it. But in the unlikely event that prices do not move from today’s closing levels, here is how September-October will rank on the list of worst two-month periods for U.S. stock indexes.

Dow Jones industrials (1920 to 2008)

1. April-May 1932, down 39%
2. March-April 1932, down 31%
3. October-November 1929, down 30%
4. October-November 1987, down 29%
5. August-September 1931, down 29%
6. September-October 1929, down 28%
7. September-October 2008, down 27%
8. November-December 1931, down 26%
9. April-May 1931, down 25%
10. September-October 1987, down 25%

Standard & Poor’s 500 (1928-2008)
1. April-May 1932, down 39%
2. September-October 2008, down 32%
3. March-April 1932, down 30%
4. August-September 1931, down 29%
5. October-November 1987, down 28%
6. September-October 1931, down 25%
7. May-June 1932, down 24%
8. April-May 1940, down 24%
9. September-October 1929, down 24%
10. September-October 1987, down 24%

Nasdaq composite (1971-2008)
1. September-October 2008, down 34%
2. February-March 2001, down 34%
3. October-November 1987, down 31%
4. October-November 2000, down 29%
5. September-October 1987, down 29%
6. November-December 2000, down 27%
7. August-September 2001, down 26%
8. April-May 2000, down 26%
9. August-September 1990, down 21%
10. July-August 1998, down 21%

Looking at those lists gives me some comfort. Are these two months really comparable to the Depression periods of 1931 and 1932, or to the crash months of 1929? Will the economy do as badly as it did then? Is the threat to civilization comparable to the spring of 1940, when Germany conquered western Europe? Is the current period really worse for Nasdaq companies than the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000 and 2001?

If the answer to those questions is no, then perhaps the selling is overdone.

On the other hand, as Floyd noted, a lot can happen in a week -- especially in a time of "change." The past is no guide to the future.

Happy Days for Obama

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die
Hat-tip: Pud

Thursday, October 23, 2008

California Nurses: US health system as broken as the banks

TOM BROKAW: Healthcare ; privilege, right, or responsibility?
Responsibility -- for every American. (Bad answer. Obama should say: "It's a right!"- - because it is everywhere else in the developed world)
I think it should be a right for every American. (Yes!) For sick to have to argue with insurance companies, that's fundamentally wrong.
Above dialogue is an excerpt from my quick jot-transcript (with commentary) of the town hall presidential debate. Not surprisingly, the California Nurses Association endorsed the candidate who believes health care is a "right." CNA is the largest organization of nurses in the United States.** In a recent press release the organization proposes that the cure for America's ailing health delivery system would look similar to the one recently applied to the failing banking system:
On the heels of reports that the Bush administration is considering taking part ownership of U.S. banks, the nation's largest union of registered nurses today said why can't the nation have a similar approach for our collapsing healthcare system?

. . . "If we can bail out the financial speculators and the banking CEOs, why can't we do the same for the tens of millions of Americans facing bankruptcy and healthcare calamity due to the meltdown of our healthcare system?" DeMoro asked. "If it's good enough for Wall Street, why leave out the rest of America?"

Through the simple, cost-effective approach of improving and expanding Medicare to cover everyone, the U.S. could effectively nationalize the financing of healthcare delivery, a single-payer system, while leaving intact the mostly private system of hospitals and doctors.

An OECD study found that the US ranks last among industrialized nations surveyed in "preventable" deaths. As the economy tanks, the pressures on the dysfunctional US health system will likely increase.
** It has a website dedicated to exposing the way the US health system actually functions called Guaranteed Healthcare.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sarah Pallin's anti-intellectualism

Sullivan blogs:

The least one can say is that none of her children seems to have been brought up thinking that college is something to aspire to. And her new son-in-law just dropped out of high school as well.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Long-term perspective on the US financial crisis

Warren Buffet wrote in an op-ed published in Thursday's NY Times:
A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now.

John McCain and the so-called Acorn scandal

"Acorn is a nonprofit group that advocates for low- and moderate-income people and has mounted a major voter-registration drive this year" reports the The NY Times. The paper debunks the latest Obama "scandal" that McCain has lately taken to hyperventilating about:
Based on the information that has come to light so far, the charges appear to be wildly overblown — and intended to hobble Acorn’s efforts.
Acorn is just trying to register poor voters -- very few of whom will vote for McCain.

Friday, October 17, 2008

PBS torture documentary

The documentary "Torturing Democracy" can now be viewed at the PBS website. Hat-tip Sullivan who has posted a preview clip.

McCain's funding freeze

McCain said during the second presidential debate:
“I recommend a spending freeze that — except for defense, Veterans Affairs, and some other vital programs, we’ll just have to have [an] across-the-board freeze."
But when a McCain campaign spokesman spoke on Tuesday to a group that lobbies Congress -- you guessed it -- the spokesman explained why the spending freeze did actually apply to them. McCain would reaffirm his commitment to a federal "spending freeze" Wednesday during the third debate (without mentioning this caveat). The journal Science reports:

The McCain campaign . . . has committed to upping funding for federal research agencies, Brannon [a McCain campaign spokesman] said at a briefing sponsored by Research!America, an advocacy group made up of hundreds of organizations including universities, pharmaceutical companies, physician societies and patient groups. . . .

Research funding for federal agencies is of immense importance to influential and well-funded interests such as those that make up Research!America’s membership.
The McCain campaign spokesman says one thing to an important lobby group, while the candidate himself says quite another thing to the general public. To what other lobby groups is the McCain campaign making similar behind-the-scenes promises? Wink-wink.

Of course, the whole notion of a spending freeze makes no sense. See here.

Can Obama carry the Appalachian states?

Andrew Sullivan looks at the recent polling data and blogs:
I remain skeptical of Obama's real strength in the Appalachian states. Even if the Bradley Effect has waned elsewhere, among the older whiter voters in Ohio, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania, it still matters. You watch. That's why Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida are key.
Of the latter set, I suspect Florida and Virginia will be the hardest for Obama to carry.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is propaganda any basis for a foreign policy?

Glenn Greenwald blogs:
One of the two major presidential candidates is repeatedly lying to the American public about one of the most significant geopolitical events of the year. The other candidate has adopted the lie because doing so is more politically expedient than refuting it.

As a result, the vast bulk of the American citizenry has a completely false understanding of a war that took place this year between our "stalwart ally" and our New/Old Scary Enemy (namely, that the New Scary Enemy launched an unprovoked attack on our sweet and innocent democratic ally). That lie is then used to depict the New Enemy as a Grave Threat and to justify proposed NATO membership for the victimized ally, an extremely dangerous policy which all four major candidates, with varying degrees of qualification, fundamentally endorse (thus further eliminating any discussion, debate or dissent over it).

I blogged about how this interpretation of recent history went unchallenged when it came up in the first debate here. And, of course, I blogged the Russia-Georgia crisis relentlessly here.

How will candidates cut back spending?

It was a stupid question, as I blogged here. Worse still was the fact McCain mentioned Obama's "projector" for the third time in a presidential debate.
Q: What will you cut back spending? (Wrong question, depressed times call for stimulus package, deficit spending).
O: I have proposed a net spending cut. (Assumes audience too stupid to understand the concept of deficit spending to stimulate economy in recession?) Line by line cuts. Need to invest in country: education, energy .... Once through economic crisis can't go back to profligate ways.
M: I want to get back to home ownership. During depression era we had a home ownership corporation. .. (Shows M's age)
Q: The question was what are you going to cut?
M: Energy - wind, tide, nuclear. What I cut? Across the board spending freeze. Hatchet, then we take scapal. Government spending out of control. I know how to save billions in defense spending. . . . . I opposed subsidies for ethanol. .. . Obama supported those subsidies (True enough). Sen. O has asked for 10 billion for a . . . Including --- for an overhead projector in his home town. (See my blog post concerning this "projector" earmark, an issue which was raised twice in the first debate. This is a bogus charge. Obama take this on!)
O: Earmarks 1/2 of 1 percent. Not going to solve the problem. A little history: when Pres. Bush came into office we had a surplus. Debt has doubled.
M: I am not pres Bush. Should run against him 4 yrs ago. We can balance budget. NY city has.
I can eliminate spending. O's budget had 24 billion more in spending than Bush budget proposal (McCain is nickle-and-dimming).
O: In terms of standing up to party leaders, I stood up to tort reform. I support charter schools. Doesn't make me pop with teachers. I support clean coal. Does make me pop. with . . . . Even Fox News disputes it this claim, and that doesn't happen often with me on Fox News. You have stood up on torture, I give you credit. But economic policy is 8 more yrs of same.
M: Earmarks, pharma, HMO bill of rights, 9/11 commission, I have a long record of fighting. Your argument for standing up to party leaders isn't convincing.
The above text is an excerpt from my live-jotting of the debate, posted here. Video of the exchange posted here.

Live-blogging the final presidential debate of 2008

These are jots and commentary from my live-blogging of the last presidential debate. This is not an actual official transcript. For some more commentary on the debate, see "How McCain lost the final debate".
Q - Question asked by Bob Schieffer, moderator (links to CSPAN video)
O - Obama
M - McCain
bold text - interesting line
red text - Jotman's comments
Q: Why your plan better than his?
M: Nancy prayers. Americans hurting and angry, innocent victims of greed and excess on W Street. Angry. New direction. Elements of my proposal. One of the short-term fixes: catalyst F and Fannie. Let's take 300 M to buy out home mortgages. So they can afford to stay. Put home owners first.
O: I think everyone understands we are experiencing worst financial rescue since G Depression. I expressed core principles, making sure ceos don't enrich selves. What haven't seen is rescue package for the middle class. 1) no breaks for job exporters 2) tax cuts for mid class 3) I agree with McCain to help homeowners. Disagree with M on how to do it. Could be give away to banks if we are paying full price for loans that could be worth a lot less. Fix health care.
Q: Ask O a question?
M: Plumber wanted to buy a business, but saw O would have had tax increase. "Joe, I want to tell you I want to help you buy that bus, afford healthcare, I won't stand for taxes on small business."
O: He's been watching ads of Sen McCain. (great line) We both want to cut taxes, just who tax them for. M wants to cut taxes on corporations. 95 percent etc. I provide 3 times relief. "Joe plumber, five years ago you needed a tax cut then."
M: We need to spread wealth around. Give Joe's wealth to O to spread around. I want Joe the plumber to spread the wealth. O premise is class warfare. Why would you want to increase anyone's taxes right now? Anyone in America?
O: I I could answer. I want to cut taxes for 95 percent. My friend Warren Buffet could afford more taxes to give Joe plumber before he was at 250 K level a break.
M: We need to cut taxes, not spread the wealth around.

Q: What will you cut back spending? (Wrong question, depressed times call for stimulus package, deficit spending).
O: I have proposed a net spending cut. (Assumes audience too stupid to understand the concept of deficit spending to stimulate economy in recession?) Line by line cuts. Need to invest in country: education, energy .... Once through economic crisis can't go back to profligate ways.
M: I want to get back to home ownership. During depression era we had a home ownership corporation. .. (Shows M's age)
Q: The question was what are you going to cut?
M: Energy - wind, tide, nuclear. What I cut? Across the board spending freeze. Hatchet, then we take scapal. Government spending out of control. I know how to save billions in defense spending. . . . . I opposed subsidies for ethanol. .. . Obama supported those subsidies (True enough). Sen. O has asked for 10 billion for a . . . Including --- for an overhead projector in his home town. (See my blog post concerning this "projector" earmark, an issue which was raised twice in the first debate. This is a bogus charge. Obama take this on!)
O: Earmarks 1/2 of 1 percent. Not going to solve the problem. A little history: when Pres. Bush came into office we had a surplus. Debt has doubled.
M: I am not pres Bush. Should run against him 4 yrs ago. We can balance budget. NY city has.
I can eliminate spending. O's budget had 24 billion more in spending than Bush budget proposal (McCain is nickle-and-dimming).
O: In terms of standing up to party leaders, I stood up to tort reform. I support charter schools. Doesn't make me pop with teachers. I support clean coal. Does make me pop. with . . . . Even Fox News disputes it this claim, and that doesn't happen often with me on Fox News. You have stood up on torture, I give you credit. But economic policy is 8 more yrs of same.
M: Earmarks, pharma, HMO bill of rights, 9/11 commission, I have a long record of fighting. Your argument for standing up to party leaders isn't convincing.

Q: O said M is angry, out of touch lying. M said .. lying, P said terrorist. Are each of you willing to say to each others face the things your campaigns have said about each other? (This was a really good question)
M: If O had sat down town hall. (M isn't looking at O).
The way Barry Goldwater did before tragedy at Dallas (What? Very strange). Deaths of children at church bombings. John Lewis comments, very unfair totally inappropriate. O has spent more money on negative ads.
O: 2/3 of US people think M running a negative campaign. 100 percent negative John. Americans less interested in our hurt feelings than addressing the issues. Health, The notion we aren't doing town halls that justifies the ads going up that are making some pretty tough accusations. I don't mean being attacked for the next 3 weeks. What the Americans deserve over next three weeks is discussion of economic crisis. M campaign said don't want to talk about that. I would love to talk about issues. Politics as as usual is not solving main problems. (WOW! O hit it out of the ballpark).
M: lists specific ads that were wrong. (O should say he won't go listing ads O doesn't agree with.)
O: If we want to talk about Congressman Lewis said -- unprompted -- troubled. People shouting things like terrorist and kill him. I think Cong. Lewis saying.... I put out a statement saying Lewis went over the line comparing it to Civil rights movement unrest. (O is totally in command of this thing. O is absolutely DESTROYING McCain!)
M: I'm proud of the people who go to our rally. To say those veterans are not patriots, I'm not going to stand here to someone saying that someone yelled at rally that I'm not happy. Some T-shirts. (M is attacking O for mentioning)
Q: Do you take issues? (This debate is incredible)
O: If we are going to life wages we are going to have to work together, disagree without being disagreeable.
M: You asked me... We need to know extent of O's relation to Acorn which is destroying fabric of democracy.
O: I will respond to Ayers. It is the centerpiece of the M campaign. Ayers is a Prof of education in Chicago. Despicable acts in 60s. 10 years ago I served on S Reform board, Annenberg, with Pres. of Chic Tribune, Pres of Ill Uni. Acorn apparently paying people to go out and register folks, some just filled out a bunch of names. My only involvement was when worked with Dept of Justice. Let me tell you who I associate with: economic policy: Buffet, foreign policy: Lugar Jim Jones, NATO, Biden. I think that this [your attacks on me for my association with Ayers] is such an important part of your campaign says more about you than about me. (Obama is demolishing M)
M: You started career in Ayer's living room.
O: Not true.

Q: Next: Running mates, why country if better off if your running mate rather than his running mate?
O: B has best foreign policy creds. Pattern through career to fight for little guy. Joe fights on behalf of working families, shares my core values. Where country needs to go. Both us agree we must invest in Am people, tax cuts to [mid class]. Would make outstanding pres if something happened to me.
M: P a role model for women, took on corruption as head of energy, given money to taxpayers, negotiated with (O should ask M why he didn't list lies like bridge to nowhere. M was too careful to leave out many bogus accomplishments). She understands autism on the rise. Special needs children. I'm proud of her. She has united our party. I'm proud of her and family.
Q: You think qualified?
O: Up to Am people. I think special needs work commendable. I want to put out autism will require additional funding, across bord funding cut won't help them. (great response. O is being a gentleman).
M: Attacks B. Several issues on which he and B disagree (nobody cares, McCain.) O wants to raise taxes.

O: How much can the U.S. reduce dependence on foreign oil? (Shaefer is an awesome moderator, way better than the previous ones).
M: Candadian oil is fine. When Obama said he would renegotiate NAFTA, Canadians say go ahead, we sell our oil to China. Don't tell countries we are going to unilaterally renegotiate deals.
O: In 10 years I think we can so we don't have to import from mid east or V. No longer borrow money from china to pay middle east. We can't drill way out of problem: solar , wind, biodiesel . . . Need fuel eff car built here. I believe in free trade, NAFTA should have environ and labour terms. South korea -- 100 k, 4-5 k cars get here.
M: I admire O eloquence. Must drill now. O said "look at offshore drilling." O disapproves of the free trade agreement with Columbia. The country that just freed 3 Americans. Maybe you ought to travel down there and visit and now.
O: History is labor leaders have been targeted for assassination. We have to stand for human rights and mk sure violence isn't perpetrated against workers asking for their rights. (good O sounds really principled about this, I like it). We have to guarantee loans for automakers, but also hold them accountable for higher energy efficiency vehicles. (Such a smart answer. Elect this man!)
M: Wants no free trade with Columbia, but will talk to Iran. O wants to restrict trade and raise taxes -- Herbert Hoover last one to say that.

Q: Healthcare - Do you favor controlling health care costs over expanding coverage?
O: My plan is . . . keep your health insur. if have it. But lower costs. If don't have it give option to buy into federal pool.. We will negotiate....
M: Painful situation. Cost escalations inflict pain. Need to do a lot of things. Records online. Walk in clinics. Obesity . .. Fitness programs in schools. Have rewards for fitness. 5K refund tax credit. O will fine Joe Plumber.
M: Fine is zero, Joe. Exempt small business from pay into kitty. Either they provide it to their employees or someone has to. (US system is stupid: government should do this, not the businesses). We exempt small businesses. We give you 50 percent credit. Sen M's plan 5 K creit sounds good. Problem: 20 m will have no way, old folks can't get insurance for 5 K. Only young so cheap to insure. M would tax healthcare benefits. Insurers: main restrictions is state law.
M: Joe wanted to buy business .. . 95 percent of people in America will receive benefits.
O: You heard my plan. You keep it. Under M's plan risk of losing it. US C of Commerce said M plan could lead to unravelling of employer based healthcare.

Q: abortion: Could you nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with your view of Roe v. Wade?
M: No litmus tests. Should be state decision.
O: Right so not a states' issue. Outstanding judicial qualities. Would withhold lifesaving treatment for an infant. A woman being treated unfairly...
M: gets into really hard-core Pro-Life agenda issues: late term abortion (procedures that are extremely rare, yet right is obsessed with these isolated cases).
O: Already a law on the books that required care for infant. I supported ban on partial birth if exception for mother's life. There was not. That was rejected. That's why I voted present. (O should not have said that about voting present, sort of diminishes argument).
M: Eloquence of O. "Health of mother." "Health" means different things to different people.

Q: Spend more on education, gets less. Does poor performance in schools pose a threat to national security?
O: Key to our economic future, national security. Can't have decline in economy, and remain a mil. power. 4K tuition credit.
M: Charter schools help, same opportunity I had (O should ask why M didn't support veteran's bill)
O: Agree with M about charter schools. Agree on need to fire bad teachers. Disagree that vouchers will solve problems. I don't think America's youth are an "interest group" they are our future.

Q: Should the federal government play a larger role in education?
M: DC voucher program successful. Want same chance. I'm surprised you didn't pay attention to that. Autism -- we will fund it. I will fund reform. Won't continue to throw money at problem. Vouchers proven good system.
O: Vouchers in DC. DC system in terrible shape. Wonderful new superintendent
M: supports vouchers
O: supports charters. 2K slots increased. so 50 states left out.
M: Not enough vouchers, therefore don't do it, even though it is working (M laughs to himself, but he's not funny).

Q: Final statements:

O: Long record, careful steward of health dollars. Have to stop the spending that has mortgaged your children's futures. Long line of McCains that have served our country in war and in peace.
M: I want to thank Sen M and Bob. The biggest risk we could take now is to adopt the same failed policies and politics. Fundamental change needed. What I'd like to bring. I'm sure our brighter days are still ahead. Got to invest in the American people again. Tax cuts, in policies that will life wages and grow our middle class. Not going to be easy. Going to require all of us to come together and renew a spirit of sacrifice and responsibility. I will work every single day tirelessly on your behalf and for the future of your children.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Obama wants moratorium on mortgage foreclosures

LA Times has the details. Because Obama is now the American leader, I have little doubt that Americans will soon will soon get what he wants.

US financial crisis: impact on startups and small businesses

The venture capitalists at Sequoia in Menlo Park, California have put together some slides showing the impact of the financial crisis on American entrepreneurs.

Hat-tip: Fallows

Friday, October 10, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Obama letter to Paulson of March 22, 2007

March 22, 2007

Dear Chairman Bernanke and Secretary Paulson,

There is grave concern in low-income communities about a potential coming wave of foreclosures. Because regulators are partly responsible for creating the environment that is leading to rising rates of home foreclosure in the subprime mortgage market, I urge you immediately to convene a homeownership preservation summit with leading mortgage lenders, investors, loan servicing organizations, consumer advocates, federal regulators and housing-related agencies to assess options for private sector responses to the challenge.

We cannot sit on the sidelines while increasing numbers of American families face the risk of losing their homes.

And while neither the government nor the private sector acting alone is capable of quickly balancing the important interests in widespread access to credit and responsible lending, both must act and act quickly.

Working together, the relevant private sector entities and regulators may be best positioned for quick and targeted responses to mitigate the danger. Rampant foreclosures are in nobody's interest, and I believe this is a case where all responsible industry players can share the objective of eliminating deceptive or abusive practices, preserving homeownership, and stabilizing housing markets.

The summit should consider best practice loan marketing, underwriting, and origination practices consistent with the recent (and overdue) regulators' Proposed Statement on Subprime Mortgage Lending. The summit participants should also evaluate options for independent loan counseling, voluntary loan restructuring, limited forbearance, and other possible workout strategies. I would also urge you to facilitate a serious conversation about the following:

* What standards investors should require of lenders, particularly with regard to verification of income and assets and the underwriting of borrowers based on fully indexed and fully amortized rates.

* How to facilitate and encourage appropriate intervention by loan servicing companies at the earliest signs of borrower difficulty.

* How to support independent community-based-organizations to provide counseling and work-out services to prevent foreclosure and preserve homeownership where practical.

* How to provide more effective information disclosure and financial education to ensure that borrowers are treated fairly and that deception is never a source of competitive advantage.

* How to adopt principles of fair competition that promote affordability, transparency, non-discrimination, genuine consumer value, and competitive returns.

* How to ensure adequate liquidity across all mortgage markets without exacerbating consumer and housing market vulnerability.

Of course, the adoption of voluntary industry reforms will not preempt government action to crack down on predatory lending practices, or to style new restrictions on subprime lending or short- term post-purchase interventions in certain cases. My colleagues on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs have held important hearings on mortgage market turmoil and I expect the Committee will develop legislation.

Nevertheless, a consortium of industry-related service providers and public interest advocates may be able to bring quick and efficient relief to millions of at-risk homeowners and neighborhoods, even before Congress has had an opportunity to act. There is an opportunity here to bring different interests together in the best interests of American homeowners and the American economy. Please don't let this opportunity pass us by.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What is a trash-out?

This video depicts something called a "trash-out." It's what happens when the owners of a US home cannot pay the mortgage. This one from a region of SoCal called "forclosure alley." Half of all homes in sold in the region today are sold on account of a mortgage foreclosure.

Hat-tip: Sullivan

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My transcript of the Palin-Biden debate

This is not an authoritative transcript. Just some jots. Tried to touch on the main things that were said.

P: Can I call you Joe? Thank you, thank you.
Q: H of Rep, bailout bill, as America watches, is this the best of Washington or the worst?
B: Neither. Evidence last 8 years worst ever economic policies. Need any more proof of excess regulation, no more needed. Obama laid out 4 basic criteria: oversight, homeowners, main street, ceo's can't benefit. Consequence? Diff between us and them? Focus on middle class. When it grows we all do.
P: Want to focus on . . .. Goto a kids soccer game on a Saturday and I betcha ya're gonna feel some fear. Fear about... Fear ... Barometer there that the economy is hurting, need reform. John McCain representing reform. Sounded warning bell. He was putting obsessive politics aside.
Comment: Palin said nothing.
Q: How will you be able to get anything done?
B: Until two weeks ago fundamental strong he said. McCain: 9am economy strong. 11am we have a problem.
P: Blathering about American workforce. TRACK record of reform. We just get the job done. Tired of the old politics
Q: Sub-prime lending meltdown: who was at fault.
P: Darn right was the predator lenders. Was de-ception there. Let's commit ourselves, Joe sixpack, hockeymoms, Never again will we be exploited again! We need to demand strict oversight. Let's not get ourselves in debt. She sounds like a she's addressing her fellow high school students. Are Americans this immature?
B: John McCain thought tried and true "deregulation" the answer. Self-regulation. Obama wanted more regulations. McCain: as for banking, so would do for health care.
P: We do need tax relief. O supported tax increase recently.
B: Absolutely not true. Vote she's referring to did not raise taxes. McCain 477 times ... Did not respond to McCain's failure to oppose deregulation, his support for it.
P: Eliminated property and business taxes as mayor of Wasilla. John McCain known for regulations: cigar., etc.
Q: Class warfare?
B: Fairness. 250 K and under not taxed more.
P: Taxes, said Biden, Patriotic. Patriot is saying govt the problem. So govt get out of the way. And let us thrive.
Q: Health care plan?
P: Tax credit. Won't cost more. Not universal government run way. I don't think health care being taken over by feds is answer.
B: I don't know where to start. We don't call not giving Exxon 4 billion class war, we call it fareness. You know how McCain pays for health care: taxes as income the health care benefit. Goes straight to insurance company. .... I call that the ultimate bridge to nowhere.
Good line.
Q: what will be cut in downturn.
B: Not going to support corporate tax cuts. Can't cut education. Not going to cut health care. Bottom line: 100 billion dolar tax dodge, overseas money.
P: Doesn't tell one thing to one group, another to another. I took on oil companies. I undid what Obama did by voting for an energy bill. In my own area of expertise, that's energy.
B: McCain won't support a windfall profits tax like you did in Alaska. I hope the Gov will support for the country what she gave to Alaska.
P: We need to be appreciative of McCain's call to reform those who were starting to rear that head of abuse. Now we have to ....
Q: Morgage holders had to pay price.
B: Only 10 percent . . . Obama pointed out 2 years ago sub-crime crisis; McCain 6 months ago wrote was "surprised." Bankruptcy courts should be able to re-adjust principle you owe. But McCain and gov don't support that. Ways to help people, but not supported byPalin and McCain.
Q: that so?
P: No. Nonsensical when have energy, but reliant on foreign countries. Circulating 700 billion into foreign countries. Energy independence key to nation's future. (Repeats)
Q: Causes?
P: Alaska feels impact more than others. Not one to attribute every activity of man to changes in climate. ... We are allowing other countries to pollute more. Conserve more. ...
B: Biggest difference: You don't understand causes, can't solve it. We have 3 percent of the reserve, consume 25 percent. McCain opposed ... China polluting ... John McCain voted against funding alternatives. Drill only answer.
Q: clear up issues
P: Chant is drill baby drill and that's what we hear all across this country. Pipeline... O and B say no to everything. You even call drilling offshore "raping" the outer continental shelf.
Q: Support capping carbon cap
P: Yes
B: If only answer is oil ...
Q: Same sex benefits
B: No difference between same sex and hetro couple. rights same. Only fair. Constitution calls for. Same Const. benefits as hetro.
Q: Expanding it?
P: Not if it expands traditional definition of marriage. If I would be anything but tolerant. I have diverse family and group of friends. I would do nothing to prohibit visits in hospital. Straight up in non-support for anything but a trad def of marriage.
Q: B support g-mar?
B: We really don't have a difference.
Q: Foreign policy. You Palin want a clear exit strategy.
P: I am thankful we do have a plan. Thankful we have plan, implemented under hero, supported by hero McCain. Biden called out Obama for not funding troops. Got to win in Iraq. Down to presurge numbers. Could put more troops in Afghanistan. Grow military. Travesty if quit now in Iraq.
B: I did not hear a plan. O plan same as Malaki and Bush plan. Believe in timeline to transfer responsibilities to Iraqis. For J McCain no end in sight.
P: Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq. That's not what our troops need to see. You'll know when can govern themselves..... Iraqi commanders on the ground can tell us when that is. Says: I respect your decisionBiden. Obama? Anyone who can cut off funding for the troops, that's another story. Looks really disgusted.
B: McCain has been dead wrong.
B: Focus on Pakistan. Has nukes. Iran not close to having nuke able to be deployed.
P: Both dangerous. Central war on terror is Iraq according to 2 leaders: Petreus and leader of Al Quaeda. Iran's A not one we can allow to acquire nuclear energy or nuclear weapons. There is an agreement that Iran can acquire peaceful nuclear energy. Palin is in disagreement with the Bush administration here.
P: Our tolerance. Can't sit down on presidential level as Obama would. Diplomacy is....
B: This is not true about Obama. He didn't say that about A. A doesn't control security apparatus. 5 sec of state said we should sit down. McCain won't sit down with Spain, a NATO ally. Incredible.
P: Israel peace seeking nation. Track record of peace with Jordan and Egypt.
B: None a better friend of Israel than me. Biden misspoke saying Hamas won election in West Bank (not Gaza).
P: Enough of the blame game. Have been huge blunders in the administration. Too much finger pointing backwards. We'll learn from past mistakes of this administration.
Q: Nuclear weapons.
P: Nuclear weaponry of course the be all and end all of all the regimes on our planet. Ours is for deterrence. That's a safe stable way to use nuclear weaponry. Can we talk about Afghan? Surge principles that worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghan also. We're fighting terrorists, building schools there, we will win there too.
B: Afghan, facts matter. Our comanding general there says surge principle used in Iraq will not work in Afghan. We spent more money in 3 weeks in Iraq than in 7 years in Afghan. No. 2. With regards to arms control, requires control. McCain opposed nuke test-ban treaty. Obama's 1st thing: Obama Lugar bill on nuke proliferation.
P: Certainly accounting for different conditions, counter-insurgency principles -- clearing holding rebuilding -- could work in Afghan.
B: Our commanding general did say that. While we have been calling for more help in Afghan, McCain saying it succeeded two years ago.
B: Bosnia: it worked. Look what we did. (Says we can do more: chad, darfu...)
P: You voted for the war, now you opposed war.
Q: Line drawn?
B: capacity, new international consensus needed.
P: McCain knows what evil is. Know how to implement the strategies.
Q: if pres dies how carry on?
B: If did, would carry out Obama's policies. In essence I agree with every major initiative
P: Not going to agree on everything. ANWAR disagree. What I would do also if ever happen put the govt back on side of people, we need a bit of reality from Wasilla mainstreet to see how average family viewing Wall Street. Govt get out of my way. Going to have a choice.
B: Just go into Home Depot and ask if a single major initiative McCain differs from Pres on? People in my neighborhood get it. Walk with me in my neighborhood. These people know corporateAmerica done very well.
P: There you go again Joe, you preferenced whole comment with the Bush admin. Schoolteacher, blah blah. Got to increase the standards, NCLB not doing enough. Got to ramp it up and put more attention into that arena.
P: I would lead with energy independence in America, and with children with special needs.
Q: What is your achilles heel?
P: Gov of huge energy producing state. Not answering the question. Of course!!! Palin doesn't know what the phrase "Achilles heel" means. The question asked Palin to point to some of her weaknesses. She has not understood the vocabulary necessary to answer the question!
B: You're very kind suggesting my only Achilles heel is a lack of discipline. Lists achievements.
P: John McCain has been the consummate maverick. (me too)
B: McCain is not a maverick on the things that matter to peoples lives. Not a maverick on education. Not a maverick on the war. On the things that people talk about, not a maverick.
B: Don't question others motives. Respect them.
P: Choice: vote to lower taxes, build infrastructures. Or vote for more taxes, spend more, say no to energy independence.
Q: closing statement
P: Like to answer tough question without the filter of the mainstream media. I want to assure you J McCain and I will fight for average every day American family like mine. We have to fight for our freedoms. Ronald Reagan said.

SPECIAL COVERAGE I live-blogged the spontaneous Obama victory celebration in Washington DC. Experience what it felt like to be among thousands of deliriously happy people gathered outside the White House. Click here.

Previously, I had been blogging about the Obama, McCain and the US election. I wrote about Sarah Palin on this blog even before McCain chose her to be his running mate. The choice was disappointing, and a possibility I had anticipated.

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