Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Maybe it has to do with being part of “Old Europe” – where devalued money, inflation, and bubble economies have a long history. However you slice it, it appears Europe may understand the root of our economic woes better than the Federal Reserve’s Ben Bernanke, or the Bush administration. EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said falling equity markets in the U.S. – and fears of a U.S. recession – are a result of America’s trade deficits. We spend too much, yet fail to produce and sell enough goods to pay for our spending.

Left unsaid, but very much implied, is the U.S. can’t keep spending and pushing dollars out, and expect the world to hold on to our dollars without suffering some consequences. Simply put, if you put out too much of anything its price, or value, will go down. This is especially the case with the U.S. dollar as we continue to run massive budget deficits, which puts even more dollars into circulation.

Some may ask, So why does an oversupply of deficit dollars matter? Here’s why.

In the 1960s Charles de Gaulle became a vocal critic of U.S. policies that spread deficit dollars around the globe. Specifically, de Gaulle complained about America’s “exorbitant privilege” to create and use dollars without suffering the consequences of inflation at home. No other country enjoyed this privilege. We were able to do this because the world wanted and needed U.S. dollars immediately after WWII. This made the dollar the world’s currency. Problems emerged when we created and spent more dollars than we could back with gold. Charles de Gaulle saw this and cried foul.

So what happened after de Gaulle called attention to U.S. spending habits? We continued to spend. And when de Gualle’s criticisms failed, we spent even more.

The question for us then is, Why didn’t the U.S. suffer the inflationary consequences from creating more dollars? Very simple: The U.S. and its cold war allies came to an agreement. As Benjamin J. Cohen explained, the U.S. agreed to pay for the defense of the West and our Western allies agreed to hold dollars. This was both an economic and geo-strategic decision.

Our allies benefited because instead of spending on tanks and guns they could concentrate on producing better cars and stereos. In essence our allies said, “Go ahead and write those checks (i.e. create more dollars), we won’t cash them (i.e. we won’t send them back).” For our part, we maintained our perch as the undisputed leaders of the free world.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union the U.S. no longer needs to pay for the defense of the West. And market players know this. With other currencies to bank on – and with continued concern over U.S. spending and deficit policies – market players are telling us to get our financial house in order. Unfortunately, by cutting interest rates Fed Chief Ben Bernanke is telling these market voices “I can’t hear you.” Worse, George Bush doesn’t want to discuss how his deficit spending binge (he's added $3.5 trillion in debt) really impacts markets. Squaring this “Hear No Evil … See No Evil” triangle, most of the American public can’t see, let alone understand the issues.

All of this is allowing President Bush to kick this economic can of worms down to the next administration. The Fed’s recent rate cuts may help bail out some of America’s irresponsible financial institutions, and may even encourage market players to continue buying U.S. assets - for the moment. This moment, however, is borrowed time. Markets can’t ignore that we’re running record budget deficits, and have done little as our national debt rocketed from $950 Billion to roughly $9.2 Trillion in just 27 years. In the long run, deficits matter.

My friends, we have to accept one simple fact. We are living on borrowed time, and borrowed money.

- Mark

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


If I hear one more “serious” expert say “the surge” is working I’m going to make the mythical vomitoriums of Roman life a reality - in said experts home. Let’s keep some perspective here.

First, the key political goals – which were the rationale for the surge – are far from being met. Second, we’ve been battered by such incompetence and ineptitude, which has put us in such a stupor, that we're now ‘settling’ ... Like bar patrons at ‘Last Call’ we have dropped our standards and are driven by the tyranny of lowered expectations. In this environment any hint of good news – both real and imagined – is seen as a success. Allow me to change metaphors.

If you left your teen-age kids to care for your home, and you returned early to find a mess from the party they threw, you are not going to breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Thank God. At least they didn’t burn down the house ... I think I'll give them the car keys as a reward.” Life doesn’t work that way (and if it does in your world, you probably deserve to have your house burn down).

Guess what? We left George Bush in charge of our national security house. Now we’re told, in spite of Team Bush taking us into a war of choice based on a pack of lies, that we should be grateful for recent successes. In fact, we’re told that we should embrace the surge’s Pyrrhic-like "victory" – as if reduced violence justifies years of poor judgment, ineptitude, and the continued drain on America's blood & treasure.

My friends, let's remember one thing: We are the United States of America. In war we don’t hand out medals for participation, or moral victories. And we certainly don’t lower our standards by moving the goal posts so the incompetent can be complimented for kicking easy field goals that should have been made early in the game.

The Surge – like George Bush’s presidency – is a failure. Unless, of course, you happen to be governed by the tyranny of lowered expectations.

- Mark


We know that President Bush has issued over 150 signing statements, many of which point to his intention to circumvent the will of Congress. Again, and for clarification, signing statements were originally used by presidents to comment on the importance of a piece of legislation but today are increasingly used to “explain” how the president will interpret the law he signs.

Well, President Bush just issued what could be called the Mother of All Signing Statements.

After signing into law the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act President Bush issued another signing statement, which claims: (1) the U.S. can indefinitely commit troops to fight Iraq’s civil war(s), (2) the president doesn’t really have to set up a war profiteering commission, (3) the president can disregard the ban on building permanent bases in Iraq, and (4) the U.S. can “exercise” control of Iraq’s oil resources.

After Downing Street has a pretty good synopsis (with a link to the signing statement) which you should review.

If President Bush's interpretations of legislation are allowed to stand Congress might as well as pack up and go home. 

- Mark

Monday, January 28, 2008


Well, I’m not sure if David Gray really is the stupidest man alive, especially since Douglas Feith is still around (p. 281 in Woodward's book) and writing this kind of nonsense. Then we have the clowns at the NY Times who hired analytic buffoon, and Chicken Hawk extraordinaire, Bill Kristol to write op-eds. Paul "I've Been Wrong in Three Different Decades" Wolfowitz can throw his hat in the ring too.

While our cup may 'runneth over' with these stellar examples of incompetence and bumbling, if someone like Brad De Long says Mr. Gray is the stupidest man alive we have to look into it.

For those of you to busy to keep up on your Econ 101, what Brad De Long is referring to is the question, What creates the conditions for economic growth and wealth formation? Old style economists often talked about gold, infrastructures, or knowledge (among others) as the key to growth. Then, during the Depression, John Maynard Keynes came along and said "none of the above" - its confidence. Psychology is critical here.
In estimating the prospects of investment, we must have regard, therefore, to the nerves and hysteria and even the digestions and reactions to the weather of those upon whose spontaneous activity it largely depends ...
If people aren’t confident about the future they will withhold money and stop investing. Simply put, fear of what’s around the corner can put the best of plans to waste (this helps explain the Feds recent rate reduction). Apparently, David Gray didn’t read Keynes. And if he did read him, he didn’t understand what he read. Too bad … we may have recreated the conditions necessary for the return of depression economics. Stay tuned.

- Mark

Friday, January 25, 2008


We already know that tax cuts for the rich do little but add more debt to our nation’s financial ledger. So the real question is, Who Ultimately Pays for the Tax Cuts?

In testimony before House Ways and Means Committee, Brookings Institute scholar Jason Furman presented a nice matrix that helps explain who benefits and who pays for Bush's tax cuts under different scenarios. To make a long story short, whether we pay for Bush’s tax cuts by raising taxes (now or later), or by cutting services, Bush’s tax cuts achieve one thing: The richest Americans gain at the expense of the vast majority of Americans.

Put another way, the tax cuts are a massive transfer of wealth from the ‘have-nots’ to those who already ‘have.’ Nice.

Oh, an added 'benefit' is that we now owe trillions more in national debt. Jesus must be proud.

- Mark


At first I asked myself, Why should I link to this post? Then it hit me. This post does much to help us understand the intellectual poverty of Conservativism under George Bush. It's titled "Liberalism's Tragic Soul" and is a real lesson in rigid and sloppy thinking.

Whoever wrote this has some anger issues to work through as well.

- Mark

Thursday, January 24, 2008


By way of Daily Kos’ Lukery.

Imagine the following scenario … The Bush administration looks the other way after determining Turkey sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. We're then told that Turkey’s nuclear middle man, AQ Kahn, had an associate meet with Osama bin Laden to discuss an al Qaida nuclear device. Incredibly enough, the transfer of nuclear technology to Turkey continues after 9/11.

My friends, guess what? Apparently these scenarios not only happened, but the technology we sent to Turkey was sent with the assistance of a high level official in Bush’s State Department. Here’s the story in the UK’s Times ONLINE.

Here’s the problem (as if the above isn’t troubling enough). It appears the Bush administration wants to make the activities of the official(s) who facilitated the transfer of nuclear technology to Turkey after 2001 RETROACTIVELY legal. To sell this, in a press release President Bush is citing a 2000 agreement signed by President Clinton to sell nuclear technology to Pakistan. And here’s the rub: Citing Clinton’s “agreement” with Pakistan is really designed to camouflage that AQ Kahn sold nuclear technology to our enemies and that we continued to provide technology after we learned of this.

Not to worry, says President Bush. Be happy. He’s confident that “the pertinent issues have been sufficiently resolved” by a review process. I have a couple of problems here.

First, the review process clearing Pakistan has been “classified.” Second, if we’re pushing nuclear transparency around the world why do we need the review process to be classified - especially if we’re assisting Turkey’s planned “civil nuclear sector”? Third, isn’t Turkey experiencing a bit of political turmoil at this time? Is this the appropriate time to be rewarding Turkey’s behavior, and their record? Finally, this actually looks like someone’s “Get Out of Jail Free” card. If so, whose?

OK, I have another problem with this. President Bush starts off his justification for pushing this agreement by writing “In my judgment ...” Look, with his track record, when Bush tries to inspire confidence by referencing his “judgment” we should all be worried.

- Mark


We already know from Paul O'Neill's book, Richard Clarke's book, and the Downing Street Memo (among other sources) that President Bush wanted to invade Iraq, and needed no real justification after 9/11 to do so. Now we have the first definitive study from the Center for Public Integrity reporting on the use of misinformation and false statements by President Bush and his administration in the lead up to war.

I know, I know ... this is no surprise to those of us who said we shouldn't go to war in Iraq, and questioned the president's Intelligence.

Still, if (1) authoritative insiders with Cabinet level access, (2) allies with stellar reputations, and (3) the Statement Evidence tell us that the "facts" were carefully crafted to fit around the policy, we have to ask ourselves At What Point Are America's Blood and Treasure Worth Holding People to Account?

Just asking ...

- Mark

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Let’s recap.

In 1980 Ronal Reagan said if we cut taxes on the rich we would have more money to pay down the national debt. And "Reaganomics" was born.

1980 National Debt: $ 909 billion
1988 National Debt: $2.601 Trillion

In 1988 George H.W. Bush said we had to continue Reaganomics …

1989 National Debt: $2.687 Trillion
1992 National Debt: $4.001 Trillion

In 2000 George W. Bush said we had to cut taxes on the rich …

2000 National Debt: $5.628 Trillion
01-08 National Debt: $9.130 Trillion

After adding $3.5 trillion to the national debt, and creating a recession-primed economy with his jihad-like tax cut policies, George W. Bush is saying we need still more tax cuts ... you know, to ‘stimulate the economy.’

I think the only thing left to be asked is, At what point do you think Nurse Ratched will show up at the Republican Fun House?

- Mark


Here’s Eric Prince, CEO of Blackwater, telling Congress why his company doesn't have to follow protocols of disclosure:

"We're a private company and there's a key word there — private."

Eric may own a private company, but he’s operating with PUBLIC FUNDS, in a PUBLIC WAR, that draws on troops paid for and maintained by the AMERICAN PUBLIC. Oh, and the Constitution says we have a right to look at your books when we spend from the PUBLIC TREASURY.

Eric Prince might want to keep this in mind unless, of course, he can get the private sector to pay his bills.

- Mark

Sunday, January 20, 2008


With housing prices falling, and consumers looking for money and credit, Citibank borrowed $500 million from the Federal Reserve in late August. In spite of Citibank being involved in the subprime mess, their rationale was that it was the consumers and borrowers who needed money. Citibank's public relations office reported they were “pleased” to borrow and “inject liquidity into the financial system during times of market stress.”

Like dutiful stenographers, our increasingly worthless press wrote what the corporate press officers gave them. And all was good in the market. I mean, after Enron, we all know we can trust market players to tell us the truth and do the right thing, right?

Conservatives and Marketopians smiled wistfully at one another, and delighted in their observation that markets work wonders if we just leave them alone ...

Let’s get real, kind of ... Think what would happen if you went to borrow money from the Financial Rock of your family. Then you learned your Financial Rock went to the local bank soon after you went to him.

Then you learn from co-workers, who also have Financial Rock buddies, that their Financial Rocks also went to the local bank to borrow money after they were asked for loans. When confronted all the Financial Rocks said they wanted to demonstrate going to the bank to borrow money is a good thing. By borrowing they're really saying: “Taking out a loan shows we have ‘community spirit’ and that we want our local bank to succeed.”

A warm fuzzy feeling comes over you. After all, this is what the paper reported. If the press reported what the Financial Rocks told them, it must be true.

Then you learn that your Financial Rock will not lend you any money. Hmmmm. Fuzzy feeling all gone.

You soon learn that your Financial Rock suddenly stopped investing in your community. Instead, your Financial Rock succumbed to the potential for large payoffs … in Vegas. "Don’t worry," your Rock tells you, “We have a system.” It must be true, you think, because your Financial Rock has friends in Vegas … he must have insider knowledge. Warm Fuzzy returns.

Financial Rocks win early bets. Better yet, they won with money provided by friendly Vegas “insiders” and even “friendlier” bar pals. You go to Vegas to see for yourself. They are so friendly. They even give you your drinks for free. Warm Fuzzy deepens.

But you soon learn that your Financial Rock – along with other Financial Rock – have been losing big at the track. You wonder, Can we fix the system to work for your Financial Rock again? Fortunately, you are told, it can be done.

However, there is a hitch. As was the case with mobster Doyle Lonnegan in the 1973 movie The Sting, your Financial Rock has to start providing their own money. You think to yourself, “this doesn't sound good.” You tell your Financial Rock. But Doyle Lonnegan, um, er, your Financial Rock, tells you to “Min’ yer owen bizness … ya fellah …”

What’s happening in the market today is similar to the logic we saw in the movie The Sting. The institutions with money and contacts (i.e. Lonnegan), who were already making good money, wanted even more. So they decided to put their money in profitable but questionable “subprime” loan markets. Put another way, they got sucked into dangerous but lucrative “insider” track tips of easy early money. In both cases - Lonnegan and our financial industry - the sucker ignores how the easy money is made possible. Both "hot" money making activities were driven by developments that could not be sustained; e.g. the sting operation and low interest loans (along with rising home values).

My friends, our financial institutions got suckered into a sting of easy money, greed, relaxed regulations, and even easier profits. The bartender (Alan Greenspan) and his bar pal (George Bush) helped make it all happen. And they could care less that subprime lending preyed on the American Dream of owning a home ... telling themselves we're doing them a favor by getting them into homes. This hackneyed and incredibly misguided justification tells us everything we need to know. These guys (the financial industry) got so greedy that they were willing to damage the integrity of the market for a temporary high, which they get from another shot of fat fees and easy profits.

Let me make this simple: Preying on the needs of others when you know your greed and incompetence will be bailed out by the Federal Government is NOT what Adam Smith was talking about when he talked about capitalist markets.

The funny thing is, we stung ourselves by believing in bartender Alan “I’ll Pour You Another” Greenspan and George “I’m your bar pal” Bush. But, together, they concocted a toxic brew. Today, Bush’s economic stimulus plan - yet another tax cut with rebates - is little more than Doyle Lonnegan going back to the scene of the crime for more action. Only this time, the bartender and game are gone. All that's left is the bar pal (George Bush), who’s desparate to leave once he sees you. But he's also ready to offer a smile and one last swig of whiskey (Bush's Economic Stimulus Plan) from his flask. He does not feel your pain, and doesn't want to see it.

And the flask? Bar Pal Bush is not drinking from it.

Oh, and it's full of rotgut.

- Mark

Thursday, January 17, 2008


You would think that being home to 15 of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers AND Osama bin Laden, PLUS being the center of petroleum policies that have led to the tripling of gas prices in the U.S., might push our President to stand up for America. Think again.

Proving that American consumers are not his constituency, and that democracy in the region is really just a smoke and mirrors side show, President Bush wrapped up his failed Middle East "good will" tour with a strong embrace of medieval-like Saudi oligarchs. In spite of being led by a corrupt and democratic-challenged family, President Bush felt no need to push a democracy agenda with these tyrants of the Middle East, even signing off on a $20 billion arms deal for the country.

Well, at least we still have our military bases in Saudi Arabia ... just in case ... uh, wait ... Oh, never mind.

- Mark

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz is concerned about the economy. But he also lays the problems we're seeing squarely at the feet of Alan Greenspan and George Bush. According to Stiglitz "Alan Greenspan really made a mess of all this" because he:

1) Supported Bush's tax cuts in 2001, which added debt.
2) Encouraged banks to extend large low interest loans when markets needed to cool off (i.e. "He pushed out too much liquidity at the wrong time.")
3) Encouraged people to take out variable-rate mortgages they wouldn't be able to afford if rates went up.

And let's not forget Greenspan's famed support for privatizing Social Security, which would have added even more liquidity to the markets.

Still, today, Greenspan claims his support for Bush's tax cuts was "contingent" upon spending reductions. As a Washington insider, Greenspan is incredibly naive if he thinks he can hide behind this buck passing fig leaf ... either that or he thinks we're all idiots. As I recall, Greenspan advocated tax cuts 1) warning of the dangers of paying down the debt too fast, and even 2) defended his support for Bush's tax cuts years later.

Does anyone tied to Bush and his policy disasters take responsibility for anything? Honey, pass the buck, please ...

- Mark


You can read what you want into this.

The Bush administration is breaking all records for shredding paper documents. In fact, the amount of federal shredding under the Bush administration has gone up over 600 percent. And the real interesting part? The vast majority of the "private" shredding contracts go to contractors who have no competitition. Imagine that.

- Mark


Another investment/financial guide arrived today with some interesting observations. After noting that IBM's profits were artificially boosted by "currency moves in their global sales" (topic for another day) Angora Financial tells us that Citigroup "announced a cornucopia of bad news":

- $18 billion write-down
- $12.5 billion cash infusion from outside investors, including Government of Singapore Investment Corp, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and former Citi CEO Sandy Weill
- 41% dividend cut
- 70% decline in year-over-year revenue
- a 4,200 job cut -- at minimum
- $9.8 billion net loss -- the biggest quarterly loss in the bank’s 196-year history.

This is important because it's followed by Angora's most interesting quote of the day ...

Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Washington Mutual all report earnings this week. While Citi is expected to be the worst of the bunch, similar write-downs and losses are practically guaranteed ... When the dust settles, this might be the worst quarter for financials since the Great Depression.

With falling housing prices, record bankruptcies, record debt levels, a confused Fed, a weak dollar, etc. I'm not sure this is the type of commentary the Bush administration - or us - want to hear.

- Mark


In spite of declining health care quality and limited access issues that are well documented (millions with no insurance) America's health care costs continue to climb.

The numbers presented in the accompanying graph show per capita costs in 2003. But according to the journal Health Affair, per capita costs for American health care rose to $7,026 in 2006, which is by far the highest in world - and much higher than earlier reports.

- Mark

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Most of us over the age of 40 can still remember the Dragnet series. I used to get a kick out of Joe Friday asking questions, dispensing with ignorant gossip and personal opinions with: “Just the facts, Ma'm.” I think a few money managers and conservative pundits need to watch some Dragnet reruns.

I was reading through my e-mail inbox this morning, and the usual daily market news from Newsmax was there. The subject heading read: “If the Democrats Win Watch Your Wallet.” I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this or similar commentary. Usually it’s some blowhard on FOX lamenting the coming economic apocalypse if a Democratic candidate wins the White House. Does their ignorance know no bounds? Here are the simple facts.

Using the Dow Jones industrial average as the benchmark, if you had invested $10,000 in 1901 and kept it in during republican presidencies you would have $78,699 by 2005. However, if you had taken the same $10,000 and put it in the market under Democratic presidents, by 2005 you would have a whopping $279,705!

Just the facts, Ma'm. Just the facts.

- Mark

Friday, January 11, 2008


With unemployment creeping up to 5% the jobs picture doesn't look good. But it's even worse if we consider job growth under President Bush through early 2006 owed more to public sector job growth, rather than private sector job growth.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, we need to start asking, How many of the two million jobs created during the Bush years can be attributed to tax cuts and how many are a product of increased government spending?

This is a question I don't think Team Bush wants asked.

But wait. There's more ...

One additional point: To be considered unemployed in America you actually have to be looking for a job. The job picture is so bleak the number of people who quit looking for work, and are no longer counted as unemployed, has gone up - by more than 2.5 million people. If you add this number to the unemployment picture, the unemployment rate is actually 6.5 - 7%. Nice.

- Mark


Some of you may recall Don Quixote, the primary protagonist of Cervantes’ Man of La Mancha (1604). One of the characteristics that made the delusional Quixote so attractive was the way he wrote his own story. Too bad for President Bush it doesn’t work like this in real life.

Like the errant knight of chivalry, our Errant President of Arrogance thinks he can write his own story – and how it will end. First he tried to write history by declaring “mission accomplished” (3,700+ dead U.S. soldiers since). Then he tried to make the case that he’s a “war president,” only to find that war means more than shortchanging American troops by sending them into battle with no plan (other than a fervent belief in his gut). He will likely go down as the only U.S. president to leave office as a failure on two war fronts.

Undeterred, President Bush once again is allowing impulse and fantasy be his guide. Incredibly, our modern day Don Quixote has declared there will be peace between Israel and Palestine before he leaves office: “I believe it's possible - not only possible - I believe it's going to happen that there'll be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office.”

By the end of Cervantes’ book Don Quixote had the good sense to give up on his utopian search. And our Errant Knight of Chivalry? He flies around the world on a ‘quixotic’ quest to create a world his incompetence has made impossible - and along the way he will be tilting at windmills only he can see.

I don't know if this is sad, or embarrassing. It's probably both.

- Mark

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


We are now in a recession. Merrill Lynch’s chief North American economist David Rosenberg said recession is no longer a “forecast” but a “present day reality.” He added:

"At no time in the past 60 years has the unemployment rate risen 60 basis points … from the cycle low without the economy slipping into recession, and here we now have the jobless rate hitting five per cent in December versus the [March 2007] trough of 4.4 per cent,"
But, perhaps, there’s nothing to worry about. According to Bush appointee and the head of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Martin Feldstein "… we're not in a recession now."

With the Bush administration’s track record on truthiness - and reality - I think I’ll go with Mr. Rosenberg's position.

- Mark

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Take a look at House Resolution 888. HR 888 has 31 history challenged co-sponsors who want to: (1) affirm “the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding” and (2) get their "facts" into the Congressional Record. There are so many fact-challenged errors in their claims the sponsors should be embarrassed. But they're not. They're republicans.

Chris Rodda has the goods on 14 distortions, omissions, and mangled interpretations of fact employed by these religious panderers.

I just want to know, What part of the Bible says it’s OK to lie in the name of God? Is it next to the part about killing in His name?

Just asking.

- Mark


Remember President Bush's challenge that before we “start griping about the health care system here ... compare it with other systems around the world”? Well, guess what ...

By way of Kevin Drum we find that when it comes to deaths that are "potentially preventable" - what's called "amenable mortality" - the United States is dead last in a group of 19 countries.

Increasingly, in more and more areas it appears that the best health care in the world is not here. I wonder why that is ...

- Mark


In spite of reports of reduced violence in Iraq opposition to the Iraq war is at an all-time high in the U.S., according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Thursday.

The number? 68% of Americans now oppose the war in Iraq.

- Mark


Well, $20,900 is what a congressional committee is estimating that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost a family of four through 2008. And if we don't finish paying by 2017 interest and other costs (oil prices, VA, etc.) will bring the total up past $46,000.

- Mark

Monday, January 7, 2008


FOX is finally being held to account for their irresponsible biased reporting by Barack Obama. First they tried to disparage Obama with their false "Madrassa" rumors and lies, and then played up a ridiculous "Flag Pin" non-story ... and now they want access to Obama, but can't get it.

Watch this as Bill O'Reilly gets desperate to get a moment with Senator Obama.

- Mark


By way of my friend Jack, this is from Slate ...

The Bush administration continues to limit our basic freedoms, conceal its own worst behavior, and insist that it does all this in order to make us more free. In that spirit, it seemed an opportune moment to commemorate the administration's worst legal justifications and arguments of the year. And so I humbly offer this new year's roundup: The Bush Administration's Top 10 Stupidest Legal Arguments of 2007. (Be sure to click here for an explanation, with links.)

10. NSA eavesdropping was limited in scope.

9. Scooter Libby's sentence was commuted because it was excessive.

8. The vice president's office is not part of the executive branch

7. Guantanamo Bay detainees enjoy more legal rights than any prisoners of war in history.

6. Water-boarding may not be torture.

5. Everyone who has ever spoken to the president about anything is barred from congressional testimony by executive privilege.

4. Nine U.S. attorneys were fired by nobody, but for good reason.

3. Alberto Gonzales. I am forced to put the former attorney general into his own category only because were I to attempt to round up his best legal whoppers of the calendar year, it would overwhelm the rest of the list. As Paul Kiel over at Talking Points Memo so aptly put it earlier this year, Gonzales was and is clearly "the lying-est attorney general in recent history."

2. State Secrets. Again, it's virtually impossible to cite the single most egregious assertion by the Bush administration of the state-secrets privilege, because there are so many to choose from. This doctrine once barred the introduction into court of specific evidence that might compromise national security, but in the hands of the Bush administration, it has ballooned into a doctrine of blanket immunity for any conduct the administration wishes to hide.

1. The United States does not torture.


... because it's true.

The NY Times is actually running op-ed articles from failed intellectual and Bush war mongerer, William Kristol. I mean, Kristol has been so wrong on virtually everything involving the War on Terror - from lead up to its miserable policy follow through in Iraq - I have to wonder, Did the NY Times learned nothing from their Judith Miller Debacle?

Proving he's still a clueless ideologue, Kristol thanks Obama in his opening remarks for having "defeated" Hillary in Iowa, and sparing the country from a "Clinton Restoration."

Is there something that I've missed? The last time I looked, the Clinton Years were years of Peace and Prosperity.

- Mark

Friday, January 4, 2008


Barack Obama's victory speech is pretty good. He gets it. The money quote's a not so discrete slap at the fear mongering Bush administration-republican presidential candidates (@ 6:19 seconds):
... that 9/11 is not a way to scare up votes, but a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the 21st century.
You can sense the energy from the crowd. It's genuine. And you can bet the farm he's not going to implode like John McCain.

- Mark


Well, I'm not sure if he went home, or was sent there by FOX News.

Since Hillary didn't win (which republicans want), and Mike Huckabee's the Religious Frankenstein republicans wanted to keep in the tower (to scare the social conservatives as needed about moral decline), O'Reilly had nothing to say about the Iowa Caucuses. It appears that FOX News knew this, and didn't want O'Reilly's bile stinking up their "coverage" of Iowa ... so they sent him home after only 30 minutes of nonsense with Dick Morris.

The "News Hounds" (We watch FOX so you don't have to) has the scoop.

- Mark


ABC News headline:
Bush Stays up Past Bedtime to Watch Iowa Results
"If we ever elect another president whose "bed time" is mentioned in this child-like context, we deserve to be invaded and conquered by the Chinese."

I couldn't agree more.

- Mark

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I just came across this from Robert Reich.
When it comes to risky behavior in the market, America has a double standard. We’re told that economic risk-taking is the key to entrepreneurial success, but when big entrepreneurs take big risks that fail it’s amazing how often they get bailed out.
In a few words the former Labor Secretary is telling us what many of us already know: When an industry makes stupid decisions, but is big enough that their stupidity causes fear in markets, the government will move to bail it out. But if you and I have financial problems we're on our own.

I encourage you to read the entire post on Corporate Welfare/Bail-Outs from Reich. You won't be disappointed.

- Mark