Part 203 In The Continuing Series Titled, "A Comment I Left"

Here is a comment I left, over at Atrios (edited to make me look better.)

I think the full impact of two recent events are going to take some time to dawn on all of us.

1) We just went to war with a country that did not threaten us. However we got there, that is a huge change in the nature of our country, and a huge change in the world order. As the world recedes from the fog of propaganda surrounding this war the consequences will begin to appear. I think it still has only barely started to dawn on everyone how big a deal it is that this happened - never mind how we got there.

2) We are only starting to wake up to the consequences of the Bush tax cuts. Before the tax cuts the administration was assaulting everything we care about, on many fronts at once, overwhelming our ability to gather a response. But the tax cuts - they have virtually destroyed the government a few years out. Aside from the international consequences of racking up that much debt there is the effect on the ability to pay for our government -- Starting a few years from now Social Security is gone, Medicare is gone, even fixing roads is gone! As I said, the consequences of ALL the money being gone are only beginning to dawn on us.

The Pop-Up Is Gone

OK, the Dean pop-up is gone. I couldn't stand it anymore, and readers were complaining. All of you who were annoyed are now ethically bound to go contribute to Dean so he can show a great quarter at the end of the money, and become the nominee, and get Bush out of the White House.

I actually think there is some validity to determining the viability of a candidate by how much money the candidate can raise early in the process. It is a gauge of whether the candidate is able to generate committed support, which is necessary to sustain a campaign for the White House. BUT I think it is just as important to look at the number of donors as it is to look at the amount. If a candidate is able to inspire a lot of people to send $100 checks, that says a lot. If a candidate is mostly raising $2000 check, that's a different story - that tells you how many rich people who don't CARE about spending $2000 the candidate attracts, and could lead to absurd pro-rich positions like supporting repealing the estate tax.

I think people who send $100 checks are almost always people for whom that $100 really matters. I think people who can send $2000 are more likely to be people to whom $2000 doesn't matter all that much.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to send $100 if you CAN send $2000! Gov. Dean needs every penny if he's going to be able to go after Bush.

I will be writing about how I think we can beat Bush's money advantage. I've been percolating an idea.

Stolen Election Coin

Check out the Stolen Election Coin!

Bubbles and Disconnects

Paul Krugman starts his column today with:
"The big rise in the stock market is definitely telling us something. Bulls think it says the economy is about to take off. But I think it's a sign that America is still blowing bubbles ?— that a three-year bear market and the biggest corporate scandals in history haven't cured investors of irrational exuberance yet."
A news story this morning, Foreclosures Hit Record High in 1st Qtr:
Home loans in the process of foreclosure climbed to 1.2 percent of all mortgages in the first quarter, beating the previous high of 1.18 percent set in the fourth quarter of 2002, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America said.

Mortgages entering the foreclosure process rose in the quarter to 0.37 percent from 0.35 percent in the fourth quarter.

The percentage of all loans for one- to four-unit homes that were delinquent -- at least 30 days overdue -- slipped to 4.52 percent from 4.53 percent in the fourth quarter.
And a little story in this morning's San Jose Mercury News, Home sellers paring prices to speed deals:
"In general, homeowners are selling at lower prices, even in the lower-end ranges of homes,'' said Richard Calhoun, of Creekside Realty, who tracks Silicon Valley real estate data. "With increased inventory, buyers have more choice. And if a seller is not aggressive on pricing, the property doesn't sell.''

The drop in prices in May was steeper than in previous months this year, suggesting that sellers are accepting lower prices to close sales.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve sees a need to cut interest rates further,
All the debate in financial markets this week has been on exactly how much "insurance" the Fed will want to take out. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said recently that in the face of sluggish growth, insurance is cheap compared to the cost of disappointing growth that could eventually lead to deflation.
And the trade deficit, expected to decrease as the dollar falls, is rising, U.S. trade deficit swells,
The latest snapshot of trade activity reported by the Commerce Department Thursday shows that the mushrooming "current account" deficit in the first quarter was 5.8 percent larger than the previous record deficit of $128.6 billion set in the fourth quarter of 2002.
OK, the Federal Reserve is concerned enough about the economy that they are using up their last interest rate cut. The housing bubble looks like it could burst very soon. The Federal budget deficit is wildly, massively, unbelievably out of control. Japan is in deflation and Germany looks like it's there as well. The dollar has dramatically fallen, but the trade deficit is UP. And the jobs picture is still declining.

But the stock market is engaged in a major rally. What's up?

I think we're seeing one more part of what I will call a "disconnect society." This is the disconnect between the top tier of people who are doing well and managing things, and the rest of us. I think we are seeing the effects of a widening gap between the affluent and regular people, where the affluent lifestyle depends on greater and greater isolation from reality -- a reinforced head-in-the-sand view of the world.

In today's stock market rally we see a disconnect between the wealthy elite who manage the stock funds, and the real economy. They live well, they commute from the wealthy suburbs around New York into office buildings inhabited by other top tier elites, they don't know anyone who is hurting, they read the Wall Street Journal (written by other top tier elites) and they watch the world on TV. They think things are great, everyone THEY know is doing well, and we're in a "recovery" and heading for a prosperous Republican future.

We see the same disconnect in news reporting. Our local paper, the San Jose News, occasionally runs stories about how people live, and invariably picks people living in four-bedroom million-dollar houses, with six-figure incomes, and tells their readers how hard things are for them because their exclusive private school tuitions have risen. It is infuriating! The paper's managers, editors and reporters are well-paid and live in that top-tier world. The news anchors and reporters on the networks make seven figure salaries. The head of the companies they glorify make hundreds of millions! The politicians make six figures and live in the Washington yuppisphere - and say that people who talk like I am talking are on the "fringe."

And people in business are living this disconnect. Look what they expect people to be able to pay. Cable TV with a premium channel is $65-70 per month. A cable modem or DSL is another $40-50. (Cable modem is better.) A cell phone account for two is $65 or so. Then they show up with offers for internet or satellite radio for another $10-20 per month and think people can afford it - because THEY can. Never mind that they are moving YOUR job to India. I'm not talking about essential services here; my point is that they're trying to get customers and are pricing for a society that is living like they are. (Health insurance - $500 a month for a couple, minimum.)

I'll write more about this disconnect society. Leave a comment.


Building The Right

I came across this interesting look at how the right developed. At the bottom of the page are links to more pages.

Former Senator Max Cleland

A recent speech by former Senator Max Cleland is certainly worth reading. Here's a bit:
"Since the President declared a so-called "victory," we have buried 34 young Americans killed in Iraq. We are losing young men and women every day. We are trapped in a quagmire. We have 240,000 American troops tied down in Iraq and Kuwait. We have no clear exit strategy. So far we have found no WMD. We have taken our eye off the ball. In so many ways, we have substituted a rogue regime for the true target. The real target is Osama bin Laden and his terrorist cadre around the world.

This administration has not found Osama bin Laden. It has not found Saddam Hussein. And it has not yet found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Supposedly all of that was the rationale for losing over 200 American lives and wounding over 500 American troops so far."
Sen. Cleland lost three limbs fighting in Vietnam. But the Republicans campaigned against him by saying he is "unpatriotic" because he is a Democrat. The guy who won is another Republican chickenhawk.

But wait, there's more:
"What then is the Bush record in fighting the so-called war on terrorism? They have not found bin Laden. They have not found Saddam Hussein and as of yet there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. However, we have found two trailers. Is that why we fought the war? For two trailers? Did we send our sons and daughters to spill their blood in the desert over two trailers? We are spending over $100 billion bombing and then rebuilding Iraq while giving a tax cut to America's wealthiest citizens and denying hard-working Americans making $26,000 a year or less a child tax credit in order to pay for it.

That's the Bush record. It is not compassionate, and with this year's budget deficit running over $400 billion -- a record set by no other President, Republican or Democrat, it is certainly not conservative."
"Like Colin Powell, I have served in a real war, and I know what it is like. The same cannot be said for other top administration officials, including the president, vice president, secretary of defense, deputy secretary of defense, and other top national security advisers who hatched this scheme to go to war with Iraq."
Go read.

Thanks to Counterspin Central.

Progressive Talk Radio

BuzzFlash points to this story, asking for a progressive talk-radio network.

Well, I'm listening to one right now, online. It isn't JUST online - it carries talk shows that are syndicated on radio stations - but you can listen to it anywhere online. It is so refreshing to be able to tune in for this perspective, and it is also very informative. But you gotta tune in just to hear the clip where they play Ari Fleisher saying, the job of the press secretary is to faithfully articulate what the President is thinking," and then play what the President is thinking!

Right now Thom Hartmann has a libertarian on, talking about health care. He is just ripping the libertarian's arguments apart. (Not hard to do.) Thom is a more serious, intellectual host, and his show is great. Yes, the same Thom Hartmann who writes articles on Common Dreams, AlterNet, etc. Later there's Peter Werbe, out of Detroit, and he is more aggressive and funny. Go see the "Topple Bush Now" poster at his website. Tonite is Mike Malloy, who is a wild man, very, very funny, takes no prisoners. He talks about "the Bush Crime Family."

To tune in, go to ieamericaradio.com on the web. Click on "Listen Live!" at the top and on the left side of the window. You will be taken to a page with instructions for how to listen.

Update -I guess Peter Werbe has a substitute on today...

What Bush Said Tuesday

Tuesday Bush had this to say about the Iraq invasion:
"We made it clear to the dictator of Iraq that he must disarm ... and he chose not to do so. So we disarmed him," Bush said at a Virginia community college.
Well, Bush has now set the marker. He has made it clear that the invasion WAS about WMD, not the post-war excuses about "liberating the people of Iraq."

But there were no WMD. It was either bad intelligence or they lied. Bad intelligence certainly doesn't let Bush of the hook. Since Bush has declared that preventive invasion is U.S. policy, we need to have faith in our intelligence that the country we invade really IS a threat. Bush invaded Iraq, killed thousands, bogged down half our forces in a quagmire with no path out (and by the way, we're going to need to start drafting people into the army soon), found no WMD, and this has destroyed the credibility of our intelligence agencies and our country.

Jobs Data

Remember last week, when the number of people filing first-time unemployment claims "dropped 17,000 to 430,000?" Well, this week it "dropped 13,000 to 421,000."

At least this week the number is lower after "dropping." Last week it "dropped" to a higher number. Anything over 400,000 shows a still-deteriorating jobs situation.


WMD Question

If Bush misled the country into war, can he be prosecuted for murder? Are there any legal experts out there who want to comment?

Tax Cuts

What do those tax cuts mean, besides that YOUR Social Security money is gone now? This post by Lambert over at Eschaton sums it up:
Student loans? "Wiped clean." Unemployment insurance? "Wiped clean"? School lunch for your kids? "Wiped clean." National parks? "Wiped clean." Your Mom's Medicare? "Wiped clean." Your Dad's Medicaid? "Wiped clean." And so on. Well, it is certainly "bold" and "audacious."
Oh yeah, don't forget paying for checking cargo containers at ports. Even the National Parks (yes, they're proposing selling them.)


Doc Searls writes about George Lakoff's work describing why people become liberals or conservatives.

As I have said before, I highly, highly recommend reading Lakoff's book Moral Politics.


Investigate the Missing WMD

From this story, Dean: Investigate Bush's Statements on Iraq
"Yesterday, President Bush asserted that those who question the evidence he used to justify the pre-emptive war in Iraq are ‘revisionist historians.’ Yet it is President Bush who is rewriting history.

“To justify the preemptive invasion of Iraq, the President claimed that the United States faced an imminent threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and that the Iraqi regime had direct ties to Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, no reliable evidence has materialized to prove Iraqi support of Al Qaeda, and weapons of mass destruction have not been found.

“The American people shouldn't have to wait for the history books to be written to discover the truth. Did the President receive bad intelligence, or did his administration deliberately mislead Congress, the United Nations and the American people?

“An independent investigation must be held to determine what the President knew, and when he knew it. The American people deserve the truth."

"We need a thorough look at what really happened going into Iraq," Dean said. "It appears to me that what the president did was make a decision to go into Iraq sometime in early 2002, or maybe even late 2001, and then try to get the justification afterward."

"No one is going to trust a right-wing Congress to do this," said the former Vermont governor.
Right to the point.

Taking Credit

Bush takes credit: Bush, Republicans Buoyed by Stock Market Gains.

So if the market does down, that will be Clinton's fault.


MoveOn Primary

If you are not already a MoveOn member, please consider registering for MoveOn.org's Presidential Primary and participating. I encourage you to vote for Howard Dean, but even if you don't support Dean it's great to get involved and MoveOn is an important organization to support. Voting begins June 24. You'll receive a "ballot" via e-mail.

Malpractice Awards

P.L.A. brings some perspective to the cost to society of jury malpractice awards.



<<--------- Eschaton is referring to the pieces linked to in the left column, like Don't Blame the Democrats, An Amplifier Of Our Own, Some History of the Conservative Movement, and the How They Do It series.

There's also We Urgently Need Our Own "Message Amplification Infrastructure".

Because it's blogspot, sometimes you have to scroll down to those titles, sometimes it takes you right to them...

Tax Cuts & Revenue Revisited

Let's revisit the question of whether tax cuts increase revneue. From August: Tax Cuts Don't Raise Revenue