Saturday, November 29, 2008

This from "Financial Armageddon"

Is this the falling of the "other shoe"? How many shoes are there?

November 29, 2008

New Realities

Back in June, I had a brief chat with an investment banker who specialized in commercial real estate financing. He focused on securitizations, where mortgages on hotels, office buildings, malls and other income-producing properties were sliced, diced and repackaged into instruments that were then sold to institutional investors such as insurance companies.

In his view, the commercial market was somewhat immune to the problems afflicting the residential property sector. Among other things, he believed his segment had witnessed less of the speculative excess that had undermined housing markets, the major players were more sophisticated and had deeper pockets, and the revenue streams that supported new and existing developments were solid and dependable.

I countered that while those differences might have meant something under normal circumstances, his sanguine view failed to take account of new realities. Like the fact that various aspects of the economy had become highly interdependent; or the degree to which leverage had permeated Wall Street and Main Street; or the now apparent reality that greed and short-termism had swamped prudence and patience when it came to how things were really being done in the financial sphere.

Needless to say, he remained unconvinced and told me so. Unfortunately for him, that means he probably did not make the kinds of adjustments in his lifestyle or operating environment that would have allowed him to prepare for the unfolding reality described in the following MSNBC report, "New Crisis in Commercial Real Estate Looms."

Malls, hotels may foreclose and banks can’t renegotiate loan terms

The full scope of the housing meltdown isn’t clear and already there are ominous signs of a new crisis — one that could turn out the lights on malls, hotels and storefronts nationwide.

Even as the holiday shopping season begins in full swing, the same events poisoning the housing market are now at work on commercial properties, and the bad news is trickling in. Malls from Michigan to Georgia are entering foreclosure.

Hotels in Tucson, Ariz., and Hilton Head, S.C., also are about to default on their mortgages.

That pace is expected to quicken. The number of late payments and defaults will double, if not triple, by the end of next year, according to analysts from Fitch Ratings Ltd., which evaluates companies’ credit.

“We’re probably in the first inning of the commercial mortgage problem,” said Scott Tross, a real estate lawyer with Herrick Feinstein in New Jersey.

That’s bad news for more than just property owners. When businesses go dark, employees lose jobs. Towns lose tax revenue. School budgets and social services feel the pinch.

Companies have survived plenty of downturns, but economists see this one playing out like never before. In the past, when businesses hit rough patches, owners negotiated with banks or refinanced their loans.

But many banks no longer hold the loans they made. Over the past decade, banks have increasingly bundled mortgages and sold them to investors. Pension funds, insurance companies, and hedge funds bought the seemingly safe securities and are now bracing for losses that could ripple through the financial system.

“It’s a toxic drug and nobody knows how bad it’s going to be,” said Paul Miller, an analyst with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, who was among the first to sound alarm bells in the residential market.

Unlike home mortgages, businesses don’t pay their loans over 30 years. Commercial mortgages are usually written for five, seven or 10 years with big payments due at the end. About $20 billion will be due next year, covering everything from office and condo complexes to hotels and malls.

The retail outlook is particularly bad. Circuit City and Linens ’n Things have sought bankruptcy protection. Home Depot, Sears, Ann Taylor and Foot Locker are closing stores.

Those retailers typically were paying rent that was expected to cover mortgage payments. When those $20 billion in mortgages come due next year — 2010 and 2011 totals are projected to be even higher — many property owners won’t have the money.

Some will survive, but those property owners whose loans required little money up front will have less incentive to weather the storm.

Refinancing formerly was an option, but many properties are worth less than when they were purchased. And since investors no longer want to buy commercial mortgages, banks are reluctant to write new loans to refinance those facing foreclosure.

California, New York, Texas and Florida — states with a high concentration of mortgages in the securities market, according to Fitch — are particularly vulnerable. Texas and Florida are already seeing increased delinquencies and defaults, as are Michigan, Tennessee and Georgia.

The worst-case scenario goes something like this: With banks unwilling to refinance, a shopping center goes into foreclosure. Nobody can buy the mall because banks won’t write mortgages as long as investors won’t purchase them.

“Credit markets have seized up,” corporate securities lawyer Michael Gambro said. “People are not willing to take risks. They’re not buying anything.”

That drives down investments already on the books. Insurance companies are seeing their stock prices fall on fears they are too invested in commercial mortgages.

“The system has never been tested for a deep recession,” said Ken Rosen, a real estate hedge fund manager and University of California at Berkeley professor of real estate economics.

One hope was that the U.S. would use some of the $700 billion financial bailout to buy shaky investments from banks and insurance companies. That was the original plan. But Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has issued a stunning turnabout, saying the U.S. no longer planned to buy troubled securities. For those watching the wave of commercial defaults about to crest, the announcement was poorly received.

“He’s created havoc in the marketplace by changing the rules,” Rosen said. “It was the stupidest statement on Earth.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering another option that might ease the crisis, one that would change accounting rules so banks don’t have to declare huge losses whenever the market declines.

But the only surefire remedy is for the economy to stabilize, for businesses to start expanding and for investors to trust the market again. Until then, Tross said, “There’s going to be a lot of pain going forward.”

Friday, November 28, 2008


Even though I posted the same information before, and even though I'm not enamored of "Chart Porn", Iposted this chart from "Jesse's Cafe Americain", another economics blog. There's a heck of a lot of good info out there on the "intrawebs" -- those "tubes" must be working well

This from "Jesse's Cafe Americain"

November 2008

The Wages of Irrational Greed

The actual costs of several of the items can be debated, especially in the case of warfare and its soft and collateral costs. Joe Stiglitz has estimated the cost of the total Iraq war to three trillion dollars when all the expenses are considered.

One can quibble with the details, and even make the case that any expenditures financed by debt are of equal economic value, that there is no difference between pure consumption and greed, and productive investment in infrastructure. That there exists no good or evil and that justice has no penalty or value.

But one has to ask what could have been accomplished, what great achievements could we have endowed to posterity, if we had only restrained the greed of Wall Street and the corruption of the world's economy through the US dollar as its reserve currency which permitted the almost unrestrained creation of debt by a succession of narcissists and sociopaths?

If this chart is not shocking, does not sicken you at heart, repulse you, fill you with righteous anger, make you feel ashamed, then you may be emotionally a child, or perhaps no longer human.

Ended up well!

I've got a cold. A nasty, rotten, cold. One of those things with a sore throat, hacking cough, etc., etc., etc.

I'm sure you've all had such things. It is so bad, I cancelled our reservation for a fancy-schmancy Thanksgiving Dinner.

Suzy, the love of my life, and blogmistress at The Woman Rebel "No Gods, No Masters" saved the day by going out to the market, and making a last minute Turkey Dinner - with a pre-cooked turkey breast, some quick stuffing, peas, rolls, etc.

In truth, it was a better meal than many of the Thanksgiving disasters I've attended over the years ---- a much better meal.

Afterward we went to see "Milk", at the Angelika, here in Dallas. WONDERFUL movie. Sean Penn IS Harvey Milk (I guess that's why they call it "acting"). Suz had met Harvey Milk on many occasions -- she said "even his gestures were near perfect". In addition, the time line was accurate, the depiction of the era was spot on, and the story was well told.

I really, really, enjoyed it ---- and, I wanted to stay home, I was feeling so bad.

All in all, a truly wonderful Thanksgiving

Go see Sean Penn in Milk.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today is "Thanksgiving" here in the USA. A day to celebrate all the good things given us.

Rarely do we hear anything negative about this national holiday.

It was different some 50 or so years ago. Back then may Catholic priests would rail against Thanksgiving from the pulpit, claiming it was a Protestant "invention" in opposition to Christmas. I sat through many of those tirades as a child.

At the same time, many Protestant denominations still do not celebrate Christmas.

So, all this "conservative" "War on Christmas" crap is just total bull.

Today various Roman Catholics, Protestants, Mormans, etc. -- groups that hated each other not that long ago -- unite in opposition to LGBT rights and marriage.

Just think how much so many of the "religious" are threatened by gay men and lesbians when they are willing to put aside years of hatred to band with their enemies, absolute sworn enemies.

Oh! By the way. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This from "The Economic Populist"

Are our current leaders trying to "baffle us with bullshit" --- again?

Rewarded with Taxpayer Money

Trillions. Literally trillions of taxpayer money is now pouring to financial institutions. Today the Federal Reserve added $800 Billion more. The United States has now pledged $8.5 Trillion dollars to the financial crisis. To put that in perspective, one could have paid off, in their entirety, every house being foreclosed on for $320 billion dollars, the supposed root cause of the financial crisis. The entire home mortgages liabilities in the United States are $10.6 Trillion dollars

So, why is the United States pledging money worth 60% of the entire United States GDP?

More importantly why is this spitting in the wind even going on?

To date, Citigroup has been given more money than it's worth, yet taxpayers don't own the bank, the same executives are there, nothing has changed.

Why are not alternatives being shouted from the rooftops with this level of money being pledged?

Margaret Blair and Ralph Gomory state an obvious point that never makes it to the lips of policy markers, Leadership is More Than Profit.

In the rush to globalization, the United States has tossed aside a crucial principle that guided the economic prosperity of the twentieth century: corporate leaders have a responsibility to their country, their community, and their employees that goes beyond maximizing share value.

Isn't this a most opportune time to realign our corporations to the interests of the United States? Why are we not demanding national loyalty from our corporations in exchange for taxpayer funds?

While Gomory and Blair suggest tax incentives, assuredly some sort of corporate personhood redefinition could be done.

In Corporate Citizen, an Oxymoron Dr. Bruce Scott recommends a redefinition to start a federal charter or licensing to require corporations act in the national interest.

Considering the handing of these corporations gobs of taxpayer money, why not make part of the equation a realignment to the US national economic interest? The public should have voting shares with a controlling interest, even founder stock or stock with restrictions. One could at least make receiving these funds conditional on keeping and creating jobs for Americans in America.

We need our Congress to represent the American people and put oversight, conditions on this money and somehow stop this inane hemorrhage. The same people who caused this problem simply cannot be entrusted to solve it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This from "The Big Picture"

Just to help you understand what the bailout is costing us all ---- so far.

Big Bailouts, Bigger Bucks

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By Barry Ritholtz - November 25th, 2008, 7:19AM

Whenever I discussed the current bailout situation with people, I find they have a hard time comprehending the actual numbers involved. That became a problem while doing the research for the Bailout Nation book. I needed some way to put this into proper historical perspective.

If we add in the Citi bailout, the total cost now exceeds $4.6165 trillion dollars. People have a hard time conceptualizing very large numbers, so let’s give this some context. The current Credit Crisis bailout is now the largest outlay In American history.

Jim Bianco of Bianco Research crunched the inflation adjusted numbers. The bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures – combined:

Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion


data courtesy of Bianco Research


That is $686 billion less than the cost of the credit crisis thus far.

The only single American event in history that even comes close to matching the cost of the credit crisis is World War II: Original Cost: $288 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $3.6 trillion

The $4.6165 trillion dollars committed so far is about a trillion dollars ($979 billion dollars) greater than the entire cost of World War II borne by the United States: $3.6 trillion, adjusted for inflation (original cost was $288 billion).

Go figure: WWII was a relative bargain.

I estimate that by the time we get through 2010, the final bill may scale up to as much as $10 trillion dollars…


UPDATE: November 25, 23008 10:34am

A few additional details:

-Well regarded Jim Bianco did the number crunching. The easiest method is to recalculate the numbers using CPI data. There are other ways to depict this — such as percentage of GDP, or on a per capita basis, or in terms of costs of common items (eggs, bread, big macs, etc.).

Bloomberg calculates the total amount the taxpayer is on the hook for is $7.76 trillion, or $24,000 for every man woman and child in the country. (Data breakdown is here)

Regardless, no matter you calculate it, we are talking about an ungodly amount of money.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This From "The Woman Rebel"

No More Nice Atheist

When I was in High School back in the 1960s I was a hippie commie queer. My parents tried to indoctrinate me in to the Catholic version of the sky daddy cults. I was a born anarchist who asked annoying questions of authority like, "Why should I believe that?"

Religion always seemed like a scam. Particularly in my working class town where most people busted their asses working in the paper mill, the iron mines or the small businesses. The priests got to sit around on their asses, drive nice cars and live in luxury all for saying some magic words and sticking out their hand.

I got tired of this. I was reading Camus and Sartre as well as Voltaire. I guess I was a junior in high school and some creepy Christer made a comment about how they would pray for me to see the light.

I wasn't planning on saying anything about my atheism. I was already looking into becoming a runaway because my parents kept dangling the words "Incorrigible" and "Juvenile Delinquent" over my head and suggesting I might be sent to either the state mental hospital or reform school. Being a militant atheist seemed one step closer to fucking up before I was old enough to gain my freedom.

But that was too much. Pray for me? I thought, "You self-righteous pious asshole!" I said, "Don't waste your time, there isn't any god." "No god!" "No Jesus!" No heaven, no hell!"

Gee... Think I provoked and arguments back in 1964 small town Amerika?

Now as time went on I learned that one of the joys of atheism is not having to preach.

That brings us to today when Christofascists think they can use their imaginary bully in the sky to abuse LGBT/T folks and no one has the right to say shit to them because they are doing the work of imaginary sky daddy.

From Box Turtle Bulletin:

About those “Peaceful Christians” In the Castro

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2008

"I think it’s safe to say that Joe.My.God was at least as alarmed as I was over news reports of a so-called “Christian” group being escorted out of the Castro by a heavy protective police contingent.

Well Joe.My.God has learned that at least one of those so-called “Christians” is associated with Lou Engle, who is a pastor in the Christian Dominionist group Joel’s Army. She appeared with Engle in Kansas City to call for a “mass exodus from the demonic influence of the Castro.” Engle described the confrontation os “a confrontation of the Spirit” and called on God to “turn back this evil that is rising” in the fight against “the powers of darkness.”

Christian Dominionism is a harder-core, more violent offshoot of Christian Reconstructionism. Christian Reconstructionists are on record as calling for the biblical punishment of stoning for gays and lesbians.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified Joel’s Army as a potentially violent Dominionist group which believes that the United States “should be governed by conservative Christians and a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law.” Engle was a lead organizer of ”The Call” at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium just before the election."

After 9/11 there was a lot of blithering about Islamofascism. Scary shit like all fanaticism based in delusional thinking. Islam is not a nice religion like the Universal Unitarians. It is mean, as misogynistic as it comes, brutal towards non-believers and a death sentence to LGBT/T folks unfortunate enough to be born in an Islamofascist theocratic state.

But then The Southern Poverty Law Center made me aware of the Christofascist version. The "beam me up, Scotty" rapture bunnies live in this delusionary hope that the world will become some sort of heavy metal version of a blood bath.

Psychiatrists who spend so much time pushing the 'scientific version of bibical rule ( i.e. Gender Identity Disorder because while they don't have lesbians and gays to abuse any more it is still okay for them to milk the cash cows of transgenders and transsexuals) have ignored the mental illness of these believers in Christofascism.

There was a time in the 1970s when the psych profession actually engaged in deprogramming people who got mixed up with these extremely insane cults.

Inbred-shit- throwing-flying- monkeys like the Phelps klan are more annoying than dangerous. Joel's army are dangerous. They are well armed and hold their hate fests in these warehouse 'churches". One way to recognize these Nazis is that they often adorn their buildings with a star of David with a cross in the the hexagonal center of the star.

I would suggest looking into the permits and zoning rules governing any buildings on which this symbol crops up.

In the meantime I think it is important to not condone fath based hate. Taliban Christers just violated my civil rights big time in California.

Happy Holidays 0 comments

Sunday, November 23, 2008

So many

There are so many "marginalized" folks in this USA. So many different societies, different groups -- rarely recognized, mostly ignored.

I'm clean and sober, and have been for over 25 years. I rarely go to meetings these days -- one reason is the huge influx of religion into what was a mostly secular program way back when.

That's not the issue. Ex-drunks, ex-junkies, tend to have their own little society -- only recognized when some one wants to praise some newly sober/clean celebrity.

That's just one of the little groups mostly ignored. We also have the gun owners, various religious, hobby, and "affinity groups".

No one looks at the quilters, or scrapbookers, as a "bloc" -- but they may well be --- so, it's not just gays and lesbians that are a group. everyone belongs to various different "blocs".

As a point, look at all the Cops on line, in various quasi-military, and gun groups -- they are to a man (and woman) very anti-union, while at the very same time belomging to unions that are stronger than the much reviled teachers unions. -- strange, no?

Also from "Angry Bear"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

David Sirota has it right....


David Sirota at Salon has reflected my take on media and says it much better than I. And here in addition to the first link.

If you’re having trouble remembering what the recent election was all about, rest easy: You’re probably not going senile — you’re likely experiencing the momentary effects of brainwashing.

For weeks, your television, newspaper and radio have been telling you that America is a "center-right nation" that elected Barack Obama to crush his fellow "socialist" hippies, discard the agenda he campaigned on, and meet the policy demands of electorally humiliated Republicans.

This is the usual post-election nonsense from the Braindead Megaphone, as author George Saunders famously calls our political and media noise machine. When George W. Bush wins by 3 million votes, the megaphone blares announcements about a conservative mandate that Democrats must respect. When Obama wins by twice as much, the same megaphone roars about Democrats having no mandate to do anything other than appease conservatives.

It's confusing, isn't it? We hazily recall backing Obama and his progressive platform. Yet, the megaphone's re-educative shock treatment aims to wipe away that memory and conjure eternal conservatism from our spotless minds.

Luckily, we have polling to maintain our sanity.

Public opinion surveys show that most Obama voters knew the Illinois senator was a progressive when they cast their ballots — and that those votes for him weren't just anti-Bush protests; they were ideological. According to a post-election poll by my colleagues at the Campaign for America's Future, 70 percent of Americans say they want conservatives to help this progressive president enact his decidedly progressive agenda.

But we have a possible 1 trillion dollar federal budget deficit:

"A trillion-dollar deficit is not only something you wouldn't have seen in an economic textbook, it is something that even a science fiction writer would not dare mention," said Stan Collender, one of the nation's most respected budget analysts, who was a budget staffer for both the House and Senate and now works for a Washington corporate communications company.

A serious problem with Medicare expenditures and a growing burden of using increasing % of income for health care, shrinking state and local government revenue for services, a trade imbalance that makes recovery seriously difficult for most Americans, and some economically oriented ideologies that can only claim purity and offers 'if only', 'other factors all being equal' (slipping past the need for an answer), and platitudes about 'the force' taking care of things come what may, externalities not being important.

Spinners are pretty much bankrupt walking that talk...(then the flip side accusation is communism and 100% government. That kind of argument has nothing to do with thinking, but simple personality structure...nuanced being not understood). So the blathering is part of needing to publish something every day instead of saying 'I don't know', 'I need some time to think on it', 'Watch carefully to match intent and behavior'. 'oops.' Can voters handle nuance. Not many I know. Quite a quandary, yes?

Another from "Angry Bear"

Late Working-Age Suicides Rising

Late Working-Age Suicides Rising: Study

Noni Mausa

This study from the American Journal Of Preventive Medicine offers troubling statistics – between 1999 and 2005, there has been roughly a 5% increase in suicide rates. But all that increase is confined to one demographic -- whites aged 40 to 64.

An L. A. Times story today reports:

A new six-year analysis in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the U.S. suicide rate rose to 11 per 100,000 people in 2005, from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999, an increase of just under 5%.

The report found that virtually all of the increase was attributable to a nearly 16% jump in suicides among people ages 40 to 64, a group not commonly seen as high-risk. The rate for that age group rose to 15.6 per 100,000 in 2005, from 13.5 per 100,000 in 1999.

Susan P. Baker, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and an author of the study, said she was baffled by the findings. Sociological studies have found that middle age is generally a time of relative security and emotional well-being, she said.

The abstract itself says:
Mid-Life Suicide: An Increasing Problem in U.S. Whites, 1999–2005
I don't know what to make of this, though it would be easy to say that the members of the previously secure age group have since 1999 been hitting the wall like warblers in migration time. The numbers in this study only take us up to 2005 -- I wonder what;s been happening since then?

---The study abstract is here: . The whole text is behind a subscription wall.
---The L. A. Times article is here:,0,838216.story

Read More on "Late Working-Age Suicides Rising"

This from "The Angry Bear"

Why Conservatives Hate Social Security

By Bruce Webb

PGL raises and answers this question over at Econospeak Health Care Debate: So This is Why Conservatives Hate Social Security. Or rather he allows Conservatives in the person of Michael Cannon at Cato admit the fundamental truth: successful government social programs fatally undercut future political success for the Right. Cannon: Blocking Obama's Health Plan is Key to the GOP's Survival

PGL sums it up as follows:

Truth be told – this is a major reason why conservatives want to undermine the Social Security program. Yes – they do try to tell us it’s some sort of Ponzi scheme, which of course, is just blatant dishonesty. But the real reason that they hate Social Security is that it is popular – as well as good policy from the perspective of those who care at least as much about the working class as the investor class.
Another way of saying this is that the debate over Social Security is not and never really has been about the best way to insure retirement security for workers, opponents simply don't care that their numbers don't add up, when indeed they use numbers at all. Instead they approach the subject from two conjoined perspectives: one that Social Security (and Universal Health Care coverage) is Socialism and/or two that Social Security (and Universal Health Care) if perceived to be successful are political winners for the Democrats for possibly decades to come.

In practice it is hard to separate out the Hayekians who believe that all of this is just the first steps on the Road to Serfdom from the Rovians who believe that successful social programs are instead the Road to Political Oblivian for the Republican Party from the Sheep who simply know what they have been told. And of course these groups all to a degree cross-cut, it is difficult to reliably differentiate knave from fool. But no one who cares about Social Security or Universal Health Care coverage should assume that the opposition they encounter are solely motivated by data about program effectiveness and relative costs, that you are going to get through to these people by explaining how small the problem is in the case of Social Security or how honest cross-country cost/outcome numbers show that other developing countries get more bang for their health care buck, that is to make the simple mistake that political discourse on these topics is fundamentally Reality Based instead of being what it really is: driven by ideology on one hand and political outcomes on the other.

For many, many people the claim "There is no Crisis" is not the answer to a specific problem, instead it IS the problem. Without 'Crisis' they got nothing. And the smarter, better informed ones know it (hence the whiff of panic floating around the halls of Cato).

Thursday, November 20, 2008


O.K., my previous post was about "change", lack of same, and Obama.

In the last few days it struck me ---- the guy is not President yet! He has not really done anything yet. There has been no opportunity for any real change yet.

I think the last eight years have so damaged us, have left us such cynics, that we can't believe anything will really happen. We are so sure we will be totally disappointed that we start to both complain, and lower our expectations, as a survival tactic.

At the same time, I do not see many of the lib-bloggers saying much about this economy -- this fall into Depression -- this freefall that destroys savings, pensions, retirement --- all the things so many people worked all their lives for.

Before we look to further damn Obama, perhaps it's time to look at what is right in front of us, what is before our noses.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I just do not quite get it -- we elect a new President based on "change" -- and, the very first thing that happens, a group of folks in California LOSE hard earned Civil Rights .

Now, it seems the new administration-to-be is going to recycle all the old Dems. -- the ones who could not win an election. Is that really "change"?

Oh well, I do recall saying (a long time ago) that Obama was the least progressive of the two major candidates. After Hillary lost, I got behind Obama with all my heart and soul -- there was no other sensible choice.

Now, we will have to keep working to keep him from going into "neo-lib mode". Perhaps the dissolving economy will force some more progressive, more radical action -- if only to keep the ruling class from being deposed.

I don't think most folks in the USA can withstand a harsh economic downturn. In the first place, they would, according to their own rules, be branded as "losers". In the second, they might have to recognize some sort of "community" (beyond their Church). They might actually be forced to accept the fact that government can be useful, and discover the concept of "the Commons". In a time of scarcity the extreme individualism promoted by those who would keep us powerless can easily devolve into a nasty form of anarchy, where youth, strength, and ability to use a gun, might decide who lives or dies. Under those circumstances some folks might realize communal action would work better -- why in heck do you think governments formed in the first place?

Prop 8 has been a wonderful wake-up call. The truly American concept of "majority rule, minority rights", one of the absolute basic concepts of our great American Experiment, has been violated in a way that should be clear to EVERY minority.

Separation of Church and State is a founding, and very radical, for the times, basis of our Republic. "Equality" is enshrined in most all State Constitutions.

To allow ANYONES "religious scruples" to overide the civil rights of any other group is totally Un-American! This means Christians, Jews, Muslims, LDS, Hindus, etc., etc., etc.

We were founded as a secular republic, one that has become more and more democratic over time. It is always wrong for any majority to vote on the civil rights of any minority.

Of course, our society still limits the civil rights, the equality, of a MAJORITY -- WOMEN!

We can get into that one later -- it's too late/early right now.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


O.K., today I went fishing. It's a wonderful way to relax, to forget about the world. This is especially true when the fish you're after force you to concentrate on what's happening at the end of your line. It's not that they are so smart, it's that they like to nose around your lure, pick it up, mouth it, and then, maybe, strike. It's like being connected to the fish. It's about concentrating on what this little creature is going to do next.

When I lived on Long Island, I did a lot of bottom fishing, Sea Bass, Blackfish, Cod, Ling, Porgies, etc. You'd drop your bait to the bottom, feel the tap, tap of various bait stealers, and try to recognize the rap, pick up, tug, of the various target fish. Some would pick up the bait prior to eating it --- strike too early, no fish, strike too late, no fish. It was all about "just right".

It could become almost Zen like. The days I was "on" were amazing. Those when I was "off" --- well, they were off.

In many ways it's just like life -- except the consequenses are smaller --- though still verey important.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's just a word

Can you say DEPRESSION? It's just a word -- right?

All the economic news really, really, sucks!

Tell me, what good will your "super individualism", "rugged self reliance", do when there is nothing for you -- no job, no future (that you can see), no hope?

What will folks do when the only way out for most people is COMMUNITY? When most folks will have to band together to support each other, when those who have will have to help those who don't.

What will all those who fetishize Ayn Rand do when they see it's nothing but a huge lie?

Those are the folks who brought us to this place. Once again socialism for the rich is shown not to work. Wide based prosperity serves us all best.

Get ready for some real change -- not brought about by neo-libs -- but, as a response to our new "great depression".

Does anyone else think GWB would like to leave office RIGHT NOW?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This from Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Prop 8 passes. Florida bans damn near anything but man/woman marriage., Ark. bans adoptions by gay folks, etc., etc., etc.

Obama wins, it's a "new day" in America --- and, for the first time, an existing right has been taken away from an entire group of supposed "Citizens". LGBT folks in Ca. can no longer marry.

Nov. 3rd they were equal to other Citizens --- today they are not.

Isn't that just peachy?

I'm so damn angry I can hardly type.

Nothing else to say right now. No "buck up", or "keep on fighting". No we must "engage" the Evangelical/African-American/Mormon/Roman Catholic/Latino/blah, blah, blah, blah, groups.

If you do not understand that denying fellow CITIZENS of rights EQUAL to yours is wrong, is immoral, is mean-spirited, there is little hope for you.

As "just another old woman", I do not expect to live long enough to see true equality for LGBT folks.

I just hope the bigots don't deny their children who might happen to be gay -- that's something they might well carry to their grave. Denying fellow Americans appears to be just a minor detail to them. Just a passing event.

Monday, November 3, 2008

one more thing

No matter what folks say ---- the economy still sucks. We are in a long, getting deeper recession. Like many others, I run the risk of losing EVERYTHING!! Being 70, and starting all over AGAIN is not something I'm looking forward to.

Oh well -- outside my control.

Go OBAMA, these Republicans are dumb scum.


Today is Nov. 3rd. Tomorrow we have an election. Nov. 1 would have been my late Mother's 101st birthday. She was 94 when she died -- I still miss her. She was one of the most determined, strongest, women I've ever known. Thankfully, I had a chance to re-establish a positive relationship with her before she died.

I had been a thoughtless child. She taught me many things -- and, helped me establish limits and boundries.

Since I have already voted there is little more to say --- until tomorrow.