Saturday, September 20, 2008

Believe in God; trust in Clumber

Now that the troublemaker has been dealt with we rejoice in The Real Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh's bishop, +Clumber.

Feel free to express your support of him as he assumes such heavy responsibility in service to God and the People of Pittsburgh.

Godde be with you, Bishop!
--the BB

Godde bless Bernie Sanders

How's this for plain talk?

In my view, we need to go forward in addressing this financial crisis by insisting on four basic principles:

(1) The people who can best afford to pay and the people who have benefited most from Bush’s economic policies are the people who should provide the funds for the bailout. It would be immoral to ask the middle class, the people whose standard of living has declined under Bush, to pay for this bailout while the rich, once again, avoid their responsibilities. Further, if the government is going to save companies from bankruptcy, the taxpayers of this country should be rewarded for assuming the risk by sharing in the gains that result from this government bailout.

Specifically, to pay for the bailout, which is estimated to cost up to $1 trillion, the government should:

a) Impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers. That would raise more than $300 billion in revenue;

b) Ensure that assets purchased from banks are realistically discounted so companies are not rewarded for their risky behavior and taxpayers can recover the amount they paid for them; and

c) Require that taxpayers receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies so that the assumption of risk is rewarded when companies’ stock goes up.

(2) There must be a major economic recovery package which puts Americans to work at decent wages. Among many other areas, we can create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and moving our country from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Further, we must protect working families from the difficult times they are experiencing. We must ensure that every child has health insurance and that every American has access to quality health and dental care, that families can send their children to college, that seniors are not allowed to go without heat in the winter, and that no American goes to bed hungry.

(3) Legislation must be passed which undoes the damage caused by excessive de-regulation. That means reinstalling the regulatory firewalls that were ripped down in 1999. That means re-regulating the energy markets so that we never again see the rampant speculation in oil that helped drive up prices. That means regulating or abolishing various financial instruments that have created the enormous shadow banking system that is at the heart of the collapse of AIG and the financial services meltdown.

(4) We must end the danger posed by companies that are “too big too fail,” that is, companies whose failure would cause systemic harm to the U.S. economy. If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. We need to determine which companies fall in this category and then break them up. Right now, for example, the Bank of America, the nation’s largest depository institution, has absorbed Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and Merrill Lynch, the nation’s largest brokerage house. We should not be trying to solve the current financial crisis by creating even larger, more powerful institutions. Their failure could cause even more harm to the entire economy.

From Bernie's website

h/t to WattleBreakfast at Daily Kos

Cheney in a skrt?

h/t to bluegal at Crooks and Liars
--the BB

About the proposed bailout

Emptywheel says it all, and we need to be paying attention:
But here's all you need to know. Hank Paulson is asking for $700,000,000,000. That's $2,333 from every man, woman, and child in the United States.

In exchange for that money, Paulson is unwilling to accept any demands to make markets more transparent, limit executive compensation, or assist homeowners fighting foreclosure. The sole purpose of that $700,000,000,000 is to bail out Wall Street and only Wall Street, but not to fix it, or our larger economy.

He is asking to be absolutely unbound by any law when he spends that money.
[Emphasis mine]

Just. Say. No.

They can do better than that.

And if they don't, vote every damn one of them OUT in November. No prisoners.

This is Glenn Greenwald's elegant summation:
Put another way, this authorizes Hank Paulson to transfer $700 billion of taxpayer money to private industry in his sole discretion, and nobody has the right or ability to review or challenge any decision he makes.

--the BB

Take your son to work day

Yesterday was one of those gray days when one really would rather be curled up near a fireplace of snuggled under the covers than working. Today was rather gray also and it has rained off and on (my umbrella promptly died as soon as I got home tonight).

But for some cheer there was Eddie, my platypus, who went to work with me earlier in the week also.

Here he is posing with the Superdome behind hime like some halo. (He is a really good platypus though I am not sure about saintliness.)

Platypodes (I prefer the Greek plural, myself) are fond of shrimp and crawfish, plus annelid worms, so he was very eager to check out New Orleans. The wet weather suits him just fine as he is a superb swimmer, and he has been feasting on crawdads until he reeks of étouffée.

Zooming back west, here are two pics from the Albuquerque Sunport.

Eddie says hi to his siblings in New Mexico.
--the BB

less burdened by ... regulation

John McClueless stumbles on. This time he writes in the CURRENT issue of the journal of the American Academy of Actuaries:

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
Note it's what "we" have done over the last decade in banking. He is, perhaps unconsciously, identifying himself with those who have worked so hard to bring us toward economic disaster. Take a bow, Johnnie Boy!

Don't you just wish for the day when YOUR health insurance is not burdened by regulation and performs something like the market has lately?

Hey, wait a minute. Johnnie Boy was in favor of privatizing Social Security too. Now I bet you're wishing that had worked right about now, eh? Just think of your retirement in the stock market, with no guarantee beyong the sterling moral character of the greeheads in charge. Woohoo!

I've seen this quote many times in the past 24 hours, but h/t to Barbara O'Brien at Mahablog
--the BB

Getting to know you: the series

h/t to sweetliberty
--the BB

We have our share of idjits

Texas had Dubya (though he was born in New Haven, Connecticut) and Alaska has Scary Sarah but New Mexico has Fernando de Baca, with sesos de caca de vaca (cowshit for brains, my gringo friends). He's the GOP Chairman for Bernalillo County, where I live. Evidently a bit of a racist pig, if this quote is any indication. And an idjit.
"The truth is that Hispanics came here as conquerors," he said. "African-Americans came here as slaves.

"Hispanics consider themselves above blacks. They won't vote for a black president."

Now, the September 14-16 SurveyUSA poll indicates this:
New Mexico Latinos:

McCain (R) 28
Obama (D) 69
[Sprained muscles from violent rolling of eyes]

Republicans: wrong on just about everything and wrong for America.

h/t to Latino Markos Moulitsas Zuñiga, founder of Daily Kos
--the BB

It seems to be birthday season

In just the past several days we have celebrated Eileen, Kirstin, Mimi, and Ruth. (Apologies to any I have unintentionally slighted.)

Had he lived, my father would be celebrating his 100th birthday tomorrow, 21 September 2008.

It seems I cannot let this milestone pass by.

Dad grew up on the family farm in Kingsburg. He was the eldest child and had lots of responsibilities, as Grandfather was often away working in construction (or as a logger) to help pay for the farm. Dad was always hyper-responsible.

Here is a photo of Dad as a young sailor. When he was younger than this he had the most amazing (almost frightening) head of hair, with his high forehead and a pompadour that rose way above it. I now resemble him more in his latter years, with less and less hair on top.

As noted in the Kingsburg nostalgia post, Dad was born and raised in that small Swedish farming community. He was senior class president at Kingsburg High School (go Vikings!) in 1927 and also starred in the senior class play. That was the end of his formal education.

Father was a very bright man. His two loves were aviation and electronics. If you had something with vacuum tubes in it, he was the go-to guy for repairs and tinkering. I remember him using a ring of coiled wires to de-Gauss the television periodically, something he did with the flair of a born ritualist. I doubt he considered that I may have gotten that touch of priestcraft legitimately from him, Swedish Baptist roots notwithstanding.

Dad rebuilt, and built, small aircraft and loved to fly. He met Lindberg when he was young. I, alas, invariably got airsick and thus was loathe to acommpany him in the air, though looking down at the world from above was very exciting. Dad always felt safe in very small planes and uncomfortable in airliners. I was the opposite.

When I was three years old, Father taught me to read using my alphabet blocks and simple phonetics. By the time I arrived at kindergarten I was already reading my comic books, including the publishing data, copyright notices, and fine print in the ads. If it had text, I read it. I will forever be grateful to Dad for introducing me to the magic of symbolic communication.

One of Dad's early memories was of an old man walking down the main street in Kingsburg banging two short pieces of pipe together. He was announcing the end of the Great War. (For you youngsters, that's WWI.)

May we soon all bang pipes together with the same motive.

Happy birthday, Dad!
--the BB

Road Trip in Review: San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles

A little something from the Museum of Contemporary Art - I can just hear him saying, "Oh, puhleez!"

From the Collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art:

An eagle-headed deity from Nimrod, Assyria, palace of Ashurnasirpal II. I love the Assyrian bas reliefs.

The Beach of Honfleur by Claude Monet. Big Impressionist fan here.

This photo was taken across the street from the Los Angeles County museum complex. Once upon a time I lived on Spaulding Avenue a few miles north of this sign. I had dropped out of UCLA, been thoroughly indigent for a while, finally found a job that paid almost nothing (but was the beginning of my career in accounting), and roomed for a while with a friend while his partner was off doing summer stock in New England.

Later, at that same apartment on Spaulding, I met my best friend.

Blessings on Spaulding Avenue and its inhabitants past, present, and future.

But I jump ahead of our trip. Here is a hasty pic of the Pacific Ocean as we drove down the coast. No, we did not pull over and stop every few miles just so I could take photos. But I wanted to have at least one shot of the Pacific Ocean for my blog buddies.

This is a rather fascinating installation in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). It consists of lamp posts planted in close rows and all painted a flat neutral gray.

I am very fond of vintage lamp posts. I like the concept. And I am of the opinion that flat gray on lamp posts is just wrong.

A poignant scene at the tar pits, recreated to take us back to the ice age.

A look at the new facade (new to me, anyway) of LACMA.

Definitely the right place. It was, however, the wrong day. We had not planned ahead quite carefully enough and arrived on the one day of the week that LACMA is closed.

This is a great pity. It is not that LACMA's collection is all that stunning but Bill used to be a patron and we made many visits there. Many of the pieces are old friends. It was a great disappointment not to be able to visit them since they were the major item on our agenda for Los Angeles.

You may tour the collection online here.

Another shot of the new entrance to LACMA. I not only remember it before this addition and MOCA and taking on the Fairfax and Wilshire May Company but back when there were pools and really cool fountains in front. Exciting to arrive there at night back then (when I was a student).

Here is MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art. Alas, we did not get inside it either.

A look from another angle.

And, to close, back to earlier in the day as we drove through the coastal mountains of California and there was a bit of mist.

--the BB

Just remember...

...the names Keating and McCain have something to do with each other.

[Scroll down to the birthday photo.]
--the BB

Friday, September 19, 2008

Can you spot any stylistic differences/

h/t to Joe Sudbay at Americablog and Jed who put the video together
--the BB

The Seattle Times makes an endorsement

An economic Katrina is shattering the confidence of hardworking, middle-class Americans. The war that should never have been in Iraq is dragging on too long. At a time of huge challenge, the candidate with the intelligence, temperament and judgment to lead our nation to a better place is Sen. Barack Obama.

Obama should be the next president of the United States because he is the most qualified change agent. Obama is a little young, but also brilliant. If he sometimes seems brainy and professorial, that's OK. We need the leader of the free world to think things through, carefully. We have seen the sorry results of shooting from the hip.

Read it all here.

h/t to irishamerican at Daily Kos
--the BB

Some folks worked hard to make this mess

Froma Harrop:

McCain's former economic adviser is ex-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm. On Dec. 15, 2000, hours before Congress was to leave for Christmas recess, Gramm had a 262-page amendment slipped into the appropriations bill. It forbade federal agencies to regulate the financial derivatives that greased the skids for passing along risky mortgage-backed securities to investors.

And that, my friends, is why everything's falling apart. That is why the taxpayers are now on the hook for the follies of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns and now the insurance giant AIG to the tune of $85 billion.

--lifted from the abbreviated pundit round-up at Daily Kos

--the BB

Thursday, September 18, 2008


09/16/08 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pvt. Michael W. Murdock, 22, of Chocowinity, N.C., died Sept. 11 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered at Combat Outpost Lybert, Afghanistan, when he was struck by enemy fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion...

09/16/08 :
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Eichmann A. Strickland, 23, of Arlington, Wash., died Sept. 9 from injuries suffered when the vehicle he was driving hit an improvised explosive device in Afghanya Valley, Afghanistan.

09/16/08 AP:
General says far more U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan
Even after an extra U.S. Army brigade joins the fight against the insurgency in Afghanistan next January, three times that many reinforcements will be needed shortly thereafter, the highest-ranking U.S. general here said Tuesday.


O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that your servants, being raised with him, may know the strength of his presence, and rejoice in his eternal glory; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Leonard J. Gulczynski I, 19, of Carol Stream, Ill., died Sept. 17 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained when his vehicle was involved in an accident. He was assigned to the 610th Engineer Support Company, 14th Engineer Battalion...

09/18/08 Reuters:
Seven U.S. troops killed in Iraq helicopter crash
Seven U.S. soldiers were killed when a Chinook transport helicopter crashed in southern Iraq on Thursday, the U.S. military said. A military spokesman said it appeared mechanical failure was the cause of the crash of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter...

09/17/08 MNF:
Five U.S. Soldiers killed in CH-47 hard landing west of Basra
Five U.S. Soldiers were killed when a CH-47 Chinook experienced a hard landing at approximately 12:01 a.m. about 100 km west of Basra Thursday. The Chinook was a part of an aerial convoy flying from Kuwait to Balad.


May they rest in peace and may we seek peace diligently.
--the BB

Road Trip reminiscence: Telegraph Avenue

I worry about evoking too much yearning for home in Margaret but am taking the risk.

No stop in Berkeley is complete without a walk along Telegraph Avenue. I (vaguely) remember how it creeped me out when I first moved to the Bay Area in 1981. It is a total time warp experience, which was cool. It was crowded as hell and is still very busy with foot traffic. It was also much more riddled with runaway teens, addicts, and panhandlers than it is today. Had I known the word back then I might have said that Telegraph Avenue skeeved me.

Looking down Telegraph from the Cal campus

The absolutely requisite tie-dyed shirt vendor

I have not known a time when you could not get tie-dyed shirts here. There is always at least one folk singer sitting on the sidewalk and playing a guitar (usually not too well). An amazing sense that nothing has changed here in four decades.

As we passed by the folk singer on our walk, Bill opined that the city (or was it the chamber of commerce?) paid him. I mean, you gotta have one or it's not Telegraph, right?

The saddest sight of the day

Cody's Books was THE premier independent bookstore of Berkeley, a wonderfully rich place to browse and buy, always busy. Evidently not busy enough in the era of Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble. Cody's is no more. I had heard something of its demise and dreaded reaching the corner where my fears would be confirmed. Sure enough, there it was, closed up, abandoned, dead.

Have you spent money at a local independent bookstore lately? (I try to, but know that I also rely on the big chains way too much for the sake of convenience. Yet we see where that leads.)

From the Cody's website:
After 52 years, Cody's Books will shut its doors effective June 20, 2008. The Berkeley bookstore has been a beacon to readers and writers throughout the nation and across the world. Founded by Fred and Pat Cody in 1956, Cody's has been a Berkeley institution and a pioneer in the book business, helping to establish such innovations as quality paperbacks and in-store author readings. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Cody's was a landmark of the Free Speech movement and was a home away from home for innumerable authors, poets and readers.

A mural celebrating (feistily, of course) People's Park

This mural is across the street, north of People's Park. Here is the People's Park web site and a Wiki article on it. It is a great symbol and an important gathering place, yet not something to be romanticized.

An fire escape staircase

I looked up and saw the rhythms of this and the light patterns and had to pause and take a picture. I recommend clicking to enlarge it.

Enjoy! More road trip pics to come.

“We are, ” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.

The Poem of the Week features "And Yet the Books" by Czeslaw Milosz. How appropriate after thinking about Cody's and other independent bookstores. You may read it here.
--the BB

Al Gore and friends want to run this on TV

I do not have limitless funds but I can share videos on this blog, so I do.

Y'all will be relieved when the election is over.

Unless they steal it again.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the corporatocracy, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom it may devour.
[No apologies to Peter or to the GOP]

h/t to digby for the video
--the BB (aka Commander Coalfire - how retro is that?)

Obama in New Mexico

Now that this disaster has hit, John McCain is calling for the firing of the Security and Exchange Commissioner. Well here's what I say: In 47 days, you can fire the whole Trickle-Down, On-Your-Own, Look-the-Other-Way crowd in Washington who have led us down this disastrous path.

You can read the whole speech at TPM.
--the BB

Senators Clinton and Biden on Women's Issues

This is 32:37 minutes but you might want to treat yourself.

h/t to LauraThorne at Daily Kos (who apologizes to Hillary)
--the BB

Anyone sorry we didn't privatize social security?

Jack Cafferty sums it up well:

McCain: not to be trusted with your future

h/t to SoulGeorgia at Daily Kos
--the BB

Spain / Mexico - Sunni/Shia - fundamentals/foundering - experience/ignorance - shit/Shinola

Does McCain have a clue? I mean, really?

While speaking with a Spanish reporter he seemed unclear on who Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain was and that Spain is not part of Latin America. Not too sure who America's friends or foes are either.

Read about it here.

As John Aravosis says: "This isn't funny. It's actually quite serious. We may have the first evidence, on tape, that McCain's age, or illness, or both are catching up with him and he's losing his mental faculties."

Although he was fifth from the bottom of his class, I do not believe McCain is stupid. I do suspect he is ignorant. I know he is mendacious. There is no doubt he is unprincipled. And I fear he is well on his way into senility.

Great: more Bush with a degenerating mental capacity. And Scary Sarah in the wings.

Libera nos, Domine.

Steve Benen at Political Animal/Washington Monthly, quoted at Americablog:
Let's also not lose sight of the broader pattern. McCain thinks the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia was "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War." He thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border. He believes Czechoslovakia is still a country. He's been confused about the difference between Sudan and Somalia. He's been confused about whether he wants more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, more NATO troops in Afghanistan, or both. He's been confused about how many U.S. troops are in Iraq. He's been confused about whether the U.S. can maintain a long-term presence in Iraq. He's been confused about Iran's relationship with al Qaeda. He's been confused about the difference between Sunni and Shi'ia. McCain, following a recent trip to Germany, even referred to "President Putin of Germany." All of this incoherence on his signature issue.
CNN on the topic:

--the BB

Interview over

CNN reports on Governor Palin's first town hall meeting:
Asked for "specific skills" she could cite to rebut critics who question her grasp of international affairs, she replied, "I am prepared."

"I have that confidence. I have that readiness," Palin said. "And if you want specifics with specific policies or countries, you can go ahead and ask me. You can play 'stump the candidate' if you want to. But we are ready to serve."

As job interviews go, I'd say this one ended right there. One must be prepared to name specifics. All she did was dodge the question.

h/t to PLU Tim at Daily Kos
--the BB

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Road Trip Memories: Downtown Fresno

You know how I hit all the hot spots of every town I visit, right? (As if.)

Here are a couple of buildings in downtown Fresno, California. The first is the historic Warnor's Theater or, as it is now called, the Warnor's Center for the Performing Arts.

I don't really have commentary to add. Just sharing architectural details. Again.

--the BB

Celebrate by fighting for it!

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Ratified 221 years ago today, the United States Constitution is a gem of governmental genius. It has needed, and still needs, tweaking here and there but it remains an amazing document. I urge you to read it (or re-read it).

Remember justice, domestic tranquility, and the general welfare? Remember liberty? Remember having rights as a citizen?

Let's keep on fighting to restore all this to our nation.

h/t to Adam B at Daily Kos for reminding me what day it is.
--the BB

Getting to know you: the series

Now, whom does that sound like?

"Executive abilities? She doesn't have any," said former Wasilla City Council member Nick Carney, who selected and groomed Palin for her first political race in 1992 and served with her after her election to the City Council.

Four years later, the ambitious Palin won the Wasilla mayor's office -- after scorching the "tax and spend mentality" of her incumbent opponent. But Carney, Palin's estranged former mentor, and others in city hall were astounded when they found out about a lavish expenditure of Palin's own after her 1996 election. According to Carney, the newly elected mayor spent more than $50,000 in city funds to redecorate her office, without the council's authorization.


Carney confronted Mayor Palin at a City Council hearing, and was shocked by her response.

"I braced her about it," he said. "I told her it was against the law to make such a large expenditure without the council taking a vote. She said, 'I'm the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can't.'"

"I'll never forget it -- it's one of the few times in my life I've been speechless," Carney added. "It would have been easier for her to finesse it. She had the votes on the council by then, she controlled it. But she just pushed forward. That's Sarah. She just has no respect for rules and regulations."

From David Talbot at Salon (h/t to Kagro X at Daily Kos)
--the BB

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Road Trip Review: A bit of San Francisco

Yes, in the middle of the California road trip I made the requisite pilgrimage to the City (as San Francisco is called by locals - and never, ever "Frisco," a gross vulgarism guaranteed to shake the City's pretensions and make local folks queasy).

I love the old Victorians, lovingly maintained and nicely painted. Mostly just a bit of color and not too tarty, though there are exceptions.

View at a stop light.

The Mint.

More Victorians and a corner turret.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen (and the rest of you lot), Castro Street. Towards the end of the street is the Castro Theater. [Click to enlarge.]

Lots of nice fauna too.
--the BB