Tag Archives: politics

California: We’re almost out of water

Calif. to cut water deliveries to cities, farms – Yahoo News.

The Department of Water Resources projects that it will deliver just 15 percent of the amount that local water agencies throughout California request every year.

This is horrible news. Rationing should have started with the drought, followed the snow level, and definitely followed the drier pumps. We had better all pray for a wetter than usual winter.

BTW: Agriculture accounts for about 80% of water used in California.

Didn’t we already know the bail out would just see us reamed?

Wall Street bankers in line for $70bn payout | Business | The Guardian.

Financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn (£40bn), a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year – despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash, the Guardian has learned.

Staff at six banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are in line to pick up the payouts despite being the beneficiaries of a $700bn bail-out from the US government that has already prompted criticism. The government’s cash has been poured in on the condition that excessive executive pay would be curbed.


I’m sorry, but you did not need to be a clairvoyant to know this would happen. Continued wasteful pay practices were to be expected and could be seen from the other side of the globe. Businesses that can pay this kind of money do not need bail outs. Or, better put, this bail out should not be directed to financial institutions whose pay packages are unreasonable. Leave it to Congress to not put greater controls on our money. I wonder aloud: would this qualify as a moral hazard, or a symptom of the moral hazard that exists with this bail out?

My feeling, if it isn’t already clear, is that it is irresponsible for businesses to pay such big bonuses, particulalry when those same businesses are at such high risk of collapse and losing gobs of money. It is likewise irresponsible for our government to prop companies up that have such irresponsible pay practices.

Dire warnings issued again about the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers Delta

SF Chronicle: Panel issues dire warning on Delta

A task force appointed by the governor warns that California must build new dams, canals and desalination plants and amend its laws or face economic and ecological disaster.

The state must elevate environmental needs for water to a standing equal to that of human needs to restore the state’s ailing water network, a report by the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force said.

In addition to new dams and reservoirs, the plan calls for other measures, including: designating the estuary a National Heritage Area by 2010, increasing the amount of recycled water in the state to 1.5 million acre feet annually and cutting California’s water use 20 percent by 2020.


The goals of this report are laudable. One major problem with the plan is that there is only one truly suitable dam site left in the state – Temperance Flat. We will end up relying on desalination and toilet-to-tap plants, like the one Singapore operates. Although I wonder if such projects will provide enough water for agriculture, which uses 80% of the water in the state.

Dividing America

Although this is nothing new, I think that supporters of both sides in the presidential race are creating the unnecessary division between Americans. Case in point:

VIDEO: The McCain-Palin mob in Strongsville, Ohio | blogger interrupted.

Itâ??s no wonder that the slightest incitement from Sarah Palin or John McCain will turn one of their rallies into a lynch mob. Just talk to the folks who attend.

My camera was rolling for literally seconds before people happily said to me, on camera, that Barack Obama is a terrorist. If I hadnâ??t spent most of my time at the event inside, waiting for the candidates to show up, I could have gotten dozens of these people on tape.

I commented on the video and have decided to also comment here. The video and the attitude taken by the videographer adds to the ideological canyon that divides America. He hurts progressive causes by stirring the pot in this way and causes these sort of folks to ignore progressive messages, sight unseen, that are brought by others with more constructive methods.

Like a lot of other well meaning activists, his current methods are not effective and come off as contemptuous. If I were to witness something like this, I’d think the guy a nut and perhaps an ass for talking down to people. Instead, I suggest that all aspiring boat rockers instead provide constructive forums for debating people and provide educational material and resources to help explain your positions. For example, you can direct people to FactCheck.org which is equally scathing of both campaigns/parties for their inaccurate statements and portrayals of the other. You can also provide information about McCainâ??s role in the S&L crisis, deregulation of the financial services industry, and recent comments about the economy. And, it is extremely important to provide independent sources for your material that can be easily fact checked against. Direct people to use Internet searches and educate themselves. Too few people want to read let alone learn more than the sound bites they hear. This is an opportunity to give them a boost.

You may not convince everyone (like the guy who thinks Obama was raised from 1-6 by militant islamists) but I think you can convince a few outliers or centrists who can go either way. Each and every person who decides on Obama may in turn bring another one or two to their viewpoint. Talking down to people just make them dig in their heals and resist.

To be fair to the people in the video, a camera has a habit of pulling out the ignorance in people. Jackass comes to mind. Add to it that the fact he comes off as baiting people, I expect them to say ridiculous things or act like morons as does the woman jumping in front of the camera demanding he say when the first time he’d heard of Obama. Not that ignorance is excusable but this is a crowd of people who blindly follow a party based on an ideology they neither understand nor check the policies of. Sadly, the policies of the Republican leadership do more to hurt many of these people more than many of them comprehend or care to check. These are the type of people I grew up with. :( Sadder yet is that there are equal numbers of people like this on both sides. :(

BTW: Obama gets my vote because I think his team will manage the country much better and respect the Constitution more than McCain and the Republicans. We aren’t voting for a candidate, rather for the candidate and the party machine and philosophy of governing they bring.

And Nixon Cleared Himself of Wrongdoing in the Watergate Scandal

Palin pre-empts state report, clears self in probe – Yahoo News.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska â?? Trying to head off a potentially embarrassing state ethics report on GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report Thursday that clears her of any wrongdoing.

Sen. John McCain’s running mate is the subject of a legislative investigation into whether she abused her power as governor by firing her public safety commissioner. The commissioner, Walter Monegan, says he was dismissed in July for resisting pressure from Palin’s husband, Todd Palin, and numerous top aides to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, Palin’s former brother-in-law.

“Nobody is above the law” is a basic precept in American law. This “report” defines conflict-of-interest and should be taken for what it is – a sham. It would be similar to the Nixon administration issuing a report finding Nixon had done nothing wrong in the Watergate scandal while Congress was agitating for his cooperation.

10 Trillion Reasons

10 Trillion Reasons, originally uploaded by dfb.

In all this talk about bailing out Wall Street (let’s all call a pig a pig; this is a bailout) nobody is really talking about how we will pay for it. Are those assets really worth $700 billion dollars? I don’t think that anyone can say they certainly are worth that, let alone half that much.

The value of those assets is at the heart of the credit crisis. Banks and other financial firms world-wide do not trust lending to each other because nobody knows how much they really are worth. And because nobody knows what they are worth, they are no longer acceptable collateral to use in securing additional debt obligations, even if for the short term. Which brings me back to my initial point. Nobody is really talking about how we will ultimately pay for this bail out. Who, really, will pay? That’s right, regular tax payers.

Fiscal responsibility seems to escape politicians and Wall Street alike.

I do not understand why the Federal Government needs to pay
for toxic securities, or at least pay up front for them. Why can’t the program accept full portfolios of these fancy securities with no known value, and take on all the risk. If that wipes out the capital of an institution, so be it. The Feds will sort everything out, unbundling the securities and re-packaging them into fully transparent securities that can be adequately valued. Those transparent securities will be sold off. Fifty percent (50%) of the value, after factoring in cost of the program, will go to the Federal Government for taking on the risk. The other 50% to the previous holder of the securities or their creditors.

Every bailout must come with some serious revenge, otherwise what is to stop this same issue from happening again. CEO pay caps and small equity stakes in the firms are a good start. But if we really want them to pay for this and to give strong incentive against future, similar behavior, we need to make them pay more. And in the meantime, maybe, just maybe we can pay down the debt a little and not leave it to our children and grandchildren. Oh, that’s right, wishful thinking. The big spenders in both major parties are more interested in waging war, porking it up, and spreading the wealth around, than in responsibly running our government.

Video: Palin

“She’s not running for Vice President. She’s running for one heartbeat away!”

Wow, she came off as almost an idiot and made Bush look intelligent. It is all sound bites. And even then, they are strung together in such a way as to not make much sense. She comes off as ill prepared, over managed, and overwhelmed.

full video:

Sadly, her response reminds me of this answer to a simple question by a Miss Teen USA contestant:

Nouveau Capitalism

The Merriam-Webster dictionary should add the following entry.

Word: Nouveau capitalism (nou·veau cap·i·tal·ism)
Pronunciation: \nÃŒ-vō-ka-pÉ?-tÉ?-liz-É?m\
Function: noun
Date: 2008
: a capitalist economic system characterized by all the risks taken by the state and all of the rewards taken by private parties.
related:

There are several examples of nouveau capitalism in the news during the past few weeks.

First, the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed into conservatorship by the U.S. government. Both GSEs were and are publicly trade private companies whose debts were guaranteed by the U.S. government. That fact was a moral hazard since the companies’ actions were distorted knowing they could take high risks with little personal repercussions. Well, one good thing did happen in that the existing shareholders’ stock values were diluted when the government took a 79% share of each company as they entered conservatorship.

Then, the Federal Reserve Bank and U.S. Treasury provided an $85 billion loan to the giant insurance company A.I.G. in return for 80% stock, a move that, in effect, it nationalized A.I.G. and likewise diluted existing shareholder value.

Now, the Treasury wants to buy all the toxic, bad debt from the credit and money markets.

$700 Billion Is Sought for Wall Street in Massive Bailout – NYTimes.com.

The ambitious effort to transfer the bad debts of Wall Street, at least temporarily, into the obligations of American taxpayers, was first put forward by the administration late last week, after a series of bold interventions on behalf of ailing private firms seemed unlikely to prevent a crash of world financial markets.

A $700 billion expenditure on distressed mortgage-related assets would be roughly what the country has spent so far in direct costs on the Iraq war and more than the Pentagonâ??s total yearly budget appropriation. Divided across the population, it would amount to more than $2,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

Whatever is spent will add to a budget deficit already projected at more than $500 billion next year. And it comes on top of the $85 billion government rescue of the insurance giant, American International Group, and a plan to spend up to $200 billion to shore up the mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Well, seriously folks, the bailout proposed by the Bush administration is more than a bailout. It proposes to take only the most toxic debt off the hands of those holding it. That means, we’ll be left holding the bag entirely while the rewards of better debt will be left in private hands. There has to be a better way. I’m certain of it. I’d like to see the investment bankers and those who profited off the toxic debt cough up some most of their gains as a result of this plan.  Otherwise, what will make people think twice about the consequences of their actions in the future? Why can’t the government just accept all debt from a given portfolio, good and bad? I can barely wait to see how economists and financial industry watchers react to the bailout. I’d also like to hear how Bush, McCain, and Obama, Congress, etc. expect to pay for this. More tax cuts?

btw: if you’re wondering why I’m spending time reading/writing about this when I have other, higher priorities, Fannie/Freddie are subjects of a tax policy paper I’m writing. That, and I can’t help but chime in; that’s my son’s future they’re pissing away. 😉

My First Pottytunity

Mitch Albom: Don’t judge Palin’s book by its cover

Mitch Albom has the most intelligent comments about Sarah Palin that I’ve seen from anyone, including mainstream media (MSM), the blogosphere, or the various emails I’ve received. His latest column is worth reading.

My take on Palin is that interest in her will wane, as interest always does in America, and by next month, we’ll feel silly about the frenzied fuss that was made in her early days.

This bodes badly for Republicans who think they’ve captured lightning in a bottle, and for Democrats who think they’ve found the Holy Grail of attack.

But Palin — like all of the them — deserves to be evaluated on her actions, and analyzed from research, constant listening and comparing records with words.

If we don’t want to work that hard, we deserve whatever boxed-up product we get.

Don’t judge Palin’s book by its cover | Freep.com | Detroit Free Press.

Lesbians For Sarah Palin

By now, you’ve all heard facts about Sarah Palin (abusing power, firing people, banning books, porking it to the Feds, etc.) Now for some humor. 😉

Lesbians For Sarah Palin – “… we would start this website advocating that our lesbian sisters nationwide turn out in DROVES at all presidential campaign pit stops where Sarah Palin appears. Arrive with large signs openly proclaiming, “Lesbians For Sarah Palin.” Let’s be out and proud about it, my sisters!”

Obamania

I liked Obama’s acceptance speech tonight. If you haven’t heard or seen it, it is worth listening to.

The Obama web site highlights this portion of the speech. I felt it was a powerful statement.

That promise is our greatest inheritance.  Itâ??s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours â?? a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincolnâ??s Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there couldâ??ve heard many things.  They couldâ??ve heard words of anger and discord.  They couldâ??ve been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead â?? people of every creed and color, from every walk of life â?? is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked.  That together, our dreams can be one.

â??We cannot walk alone,â? the preacher cried.  â??And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.  We cannot turn back.â?

America, we cannot turn back.  Not with so much work to be done.  Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for.  Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save.  Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend.  America, we cannot turn back.  We cannot walk alone.  At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future.  Let us keep that promise â?? that American promise â?? and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

I liked the reference to Harlem (also known informally as Dream Deferred) by Langston Hughes, the poem that begins A Raisin in the Sun. Good poem.

Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

	-- Langston Hughes

One theme I picked up on and have heard him say before is that we must be the change we want to see. And, like his other references to famous but unnamed persons/events, he channeled the ideas of Gandhi without specifically calling him out.

Needless to say, I’ve made up my mind. I think Obama will make a better President, manage the government better, and he will put better and more competent people in charge than McCain will.

Even then, I don’t like how either canidate handles the subject of the budget deficit. A deficit today is a tax tomorrow. Deferred taxation is not good policy. But both argue for tax cuts. If you disagree and want a tax cut, see whether Obama or McCain will cut your taxes more. http://alchemytoday.com/obamataxcut/

Race is not always the issue

I think it is unfortunate for African Americans and others who are non-white that some people choose to blame race whenever something goes wrong in life. For example, consider the reaction to a verdict today in New York regarding three police officers shooting 50 rounds from their guns and killing an unarmed man.

NYPD officers cleared in killing; rights leaders want probe – Yahoo! News
NEW YORK – Civil rights leaders demanded a federal investigation and vowed to march through the streets in protest after three police officers were cleared of all charges Friday in the killing of an unarmed man cut down in a hail of 50 bullets on his wedding day.

The verdict by Justice Arthur Cooperman elicited gasps as well as tears of joy and sorrow. Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 of the shots, wept at the defense table, while the mother of victim Sean Bell cried in the packed courtroom. Shouts of “Murderers! Murderers!” and “KKK!” rang out on the courthouse steps.

Two of the three police detectives involved were African-American. I don’t understand the connection to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to this case. I can see a strong argument for excessive force but I don’t see much, if any, argument for racism.

It is unfortunate for America when the race card is pulled in a situation like this. In fact, it occurs far too often. Another example comes out of the Motor City. Current Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has accused numerous folks of racism in his recent text messaging scandal, even though race doesn’t play a role. He is accused of perjury in his testimony during a lawsuit by former cops (neither white) he had fired because they were looking into corruption. Speaking of Detroit, former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young used it too frequently through the 1970’s and 80’s to retain his hold on political power, meanwhile driving his city further into the ground. Remnants of the antagonistic relationships with other local cities is still evident in local life and politics.

Race comes out too often when it has no relevance to a situation and is used only to raise hackles. But the louder and more frequent these cries are, the more they are ignored. Sadly, it has become a situation much akin to the parable regarding the boy who cried wolf. This was demonstrated by the Jena 6 imbroglio. It took weeks before the mainstream press bothered to cover the story and it is still taking a beating these many months later. That story deserved the discussion about racism that our country should have. But it didn’t and has been largely forgotten by most of America less than a year later.

As Barack Obama recently argued, a discussion about race in America does need to occur. However, I don’t think it can be very constructive in a world in which the little boy who cries wolf about racism is ignored. It is time for people to step back and collect all details about a situation before inferring that racism is a cause and, even then, to be more careful before pulling it out. There are many other reasons beyond racism that may cause a person to say or do something. In the case of the New York City cops killing Sean Bell, I would think that there are many, many other reasons such as fear, the early morning hour, a crowd of mostly intoxicated young men dispersing after an altercation, and society’s love for and access to guns. In the end, I think that America has been desensitized to cries of racism, as unfortunate as that is for us all.

BTW: I think Obama’s speech is well worth watching. I wish someone spoke up and made this many years ago.

McCain: Cutting taxes more important than balanced budget

I don’t think John McCain subscribes to the belief that: “A deficit today means a tax tomorrow.”

McCain: Cutting taxes more important than balanced budget – Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – Republican John McCain said Sunday that cutting taxes and stimulating the economy are more important than balancing the budget, and accused both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama of supporting tax hikes that would worsen the impact of a recession.

“The goal right now is to get the economy going again,” the GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that he would put the country “on a path to a balanced budget” by attacking wasteful spending.

What John McCain asks for is not a tax cut, it is a deferred tax. As far as he’s concerned, he won’t need to pay the tax man today (but his kids/grandkids surely will).

The thing I don’t think John McCain or our Congress quite understands is that they are pushing 96% taxes someday in the future to pay for the war they refuse to pay for today. In the end, someone needs to pay for war spending, in addition to all the regular stuff the government spends on domestically. I’d rather we all pay our fair share today through taxes (yes, even increased taxes) than it be forced on my generation later on. If that’s the case, I’d rather the U.S. Government default on its debt obligations today rather than force the younger generations to do so later.

Note: I’m not against trimming or cutting programs, I just think a balanced budget is required before tax cuts can be implemented. The first place I’d cut is Congressional pay. The second is the war in Iraq. What a boondoggle!