All Further Articles

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
On The Road to Recovery. Oh, Except For That Elephant-In-The-Room-Sized "Only If"
In a masterful turn at the ever-evolving art of spin, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Tuesday there is "a reasonable prospect" the recession will end this year and 2010 "will be a year of recovery" – if, that is, the Administration, Congress and Federal Reserve can get financial markets to do roughly what they're supposed to do, which to date, despite billions of bailout dollars, they've failed to do. Exhibiting a relative if still modest level of candor, Bernanke conceded that “downside risks probably outweigh those on the upside” and that the Fed's forecast is clouded by “considerable uncertainty.” Damn straight. And they wonder why so many of us remain skeptical about their honesty and competence. Given all that's come before, in the words of Rich Hughes of Portfolio Management Consultants in L.A., "We haven't seen...(what) you'd want to see before you'd get thoroughly enthused."
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Gramps Would See Idiots and Greed, Greed, Greed
We love the no-nonsense interview with the white-haired granddaughter of the guy who founded Bank of America – as Bank of Italy because existing banks wouldn't lend to immigrants – who asks the pertinent question of current goings-on, "What kind of idiots are running that bank?" Virginia Hammerness says her grandfather A.P. Giannini, who started the bank in San Francisco in 1904, would have been appalled at the B of A's recent purchase of a near-bankrupt, obscene-bonus-paying Merrill Lynch. He once turned down a $1.7 million bonus, saying the bank should help its customers instead, and after the 1906 earthquake gave out loans from a wooden plank set up on the street with a handshake as collateral. Every loan, he said, was repaid. Masters of greed, take note.
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Monday, February 23, 2009
Commie, Homo-Loving Sons of Guns Do The Right Thing
Amidst the surreal glitz of last night's Oscars, it was refreshing to hear Sean Penn speak, less than politely as he often does, of real things. We're happy to see the improbable resurrection of Mickey Rourke, who was terrific in "The Wrestler," but Penn's fierce, savvy, exuberant portrait of gay-rights activist Harvey Milk deserved to win. And Penn has clearly taken Milk and his mesage to heart. He began by wryly thanking "you commie, homo-loving, sons of guns" and then blasted those Californians who voted for the notorious Proposition 8. "I think it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way...We've got to have equal rights for everyone."
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Useless Marvels: Cutting the Military Budget
Progressive Democrats of America and other grassroots groups are urging people to contact their legislators to express support for a proposal by Rep. Barney Frank to cut wasteful military spending by 25 per cent in order to meet domestic needs like health care, green energy and education. Frank will hold a briefing on Tuesday to explore ways of cutting a bloated budget that almost doubled during the Bush/Cheney years. The Chairman of the House Banking and Financial Services Committee, Frank argues that the U.S. is wasting billions, not just in Iraq, but on developing weapons that "might have been useful against the Soviet Union." "Many of these weapons are technological marvels, but they have a central flaw: no conceivable enemy. It ought to be a requirement in spending all this money for a weapon that there be some need for it. In some cases we are developing weapons – in part because of nothing more than momentum – that lack not only a current military need but even a plausible use in any foreseeable future." To see examples of expenditures that make no sense, and take action against them, go here
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Rage and Shame: Park of the Grateful
It is hard to read about the lives of Iraq's war widows – begging for food or blankets, sifting through garbage, forced into "temporary marriages" or prostitution, living with their children in gas station bathrooms – and not feel at least partly responsible. There is no mercy here: Of an estimated 740,000 who are homeless, 750 get to live in a trailer park named Al Waffa, or "Park of the Grateful." There is little help forthcoming for these women from their government or religious leaders. To do something besides feel helpless shame at their plight, you can help Madre help them through the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq here
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Friday, February 20, 2009
President Obama: It's Time to Nationalize Insolvent Banks
We know that President Obama is hearing from Wall Street. We know that he is hearing from the financial 'wizards' and the lobbyists who helped wreck our economy in the first place. And we know that he's hearing from the inside-the-beltway Democrats who are terrified of the "N" word - nationalize. As part of our effort to help President Obama "do the right thing" has just launched a petition to President Obama urging him to nationalize the insolvent banks. Sign here...
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Deja Vu All Over Again: Anybody Listening?
The news that NATO members are essentially ignoring misguided American calls for more military support in Afghanistan is entirely logical. Hopefully, it will also prove instructive to an Obama administration that seems determined to escalate the war there despite widespread skepticism at home and across Europe. A cogent definition of insanity is the insistence on doing the same thing over and over despite disastrous results. Repeat after us: Iraq.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009
To Infinity and Beyond
Following in a fine old Republican tradition of non sequitur, stereotyping, and incoherent visions for the future, new RNC Chairman Michael Steele says his party will soon make radical changes to broaden its appeal, including an "off the hook" public relations campaign to "uptick our image with everyone," including "one-armed midgets” and "moms of all shapes." For more on a RNC campaign that he promises will go "beyond cutting edge," go here
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We Know How You Feel, Though Of Course Not Quite
Iraqi journalist Muntadher al-Zaidi, who appeared in court Thursday to cheers and loud applause, said he threw his shoes at then-president Bush at a December press conference because he couldn't stand looking at the "bloodless and soulless smile" of "the man who killed our nation." "I could only see Bush and feel the blood of the innocents flow under his feet... I was expressing my inner feelings and those of all the Iraqi people from east to west and north to south and the feelings of hatred they hold for him."
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
One More Red Flag: Bribes, Kickbacks, Profiteering, aka Reconstruction
In Afghanistan, mismanagement, incompetence and corruption have claimed up to a third of the $15 billion already spent on so-called reconstruction, international aid workers say. Along with wasting an obscene amount of money, the flawed rebuilding efforts have also deepened Afghan resentment toward foreign troops whose numbers will soon be rising. For more on the alarming realities of for-profit reconstruction, go here
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