Archive for the ‘BIO’ Category

We Don’t Need No Steenkeeng Record Companies

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

First Radiohead; now Nine Inch Nails. This makes two popular bands whose latest CDs were released online. They’ve completely bypassed the recording industry. There’s nowhere else for this trend to go but UP.

Another dinosaur is slooowly losing its grip. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of douchebags. The world is full of meanspirited amoral industries, but when it comes to taking a shit on the general public, the Recording Industry Association of America stands head and shoulders above the rest.

As you know, the RIAA has sued thousands of individuals. For the heinous crime of downloading music for free, they’re often sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars each. OK, so it’s wrong. But a $200,000 fine?

On top of that, the RIAA has virtually strangled Internet radio. Sky-high royalty fees — for which the RIAA is responsible — have forced a lot of webcasters to close down. Their new fees (retroactive to 2006) are proportionally much higher than those paid by large commercial broadcasters. It was nice while it lasted.

Record companies have also been catching it from Big Box retailers. Because CD sales have gone way down lately, Target and WalMart (among others) are setting aside less shelf space for CDs. And as fewer CDs are available in stores, the public will buy fewer CDs, stores will set aside even less space for CDs, and the cycle continues…

Personally, I probably won’t make use of these online CDs. I’ve never downloaded anything (but I listen to music on YouTube a lot). I’m one of those Luddites who has to have a solid physical record reel-to-reel tape eight-track cassette CD right in front of me, with a label that says “Name of Song” by “Performer.” (But I still tape music off the radio, which supposedly brought the recording industry to its knees in the 1970s.)

But as people buy fewer CDs and get more music online, the RIAA will ultimately go the way of the covered wagon repairman. It can’t happen soon enough.

Eliot Spitzer & WR 104: Lessons In The Life & Death Of Stars

Monday, March 10th, 2008

They say it’s written in the stars…and today’s news seems to have been all about the rise and fall of stars…those that occupy a distant point in space that we can barely fathom…and one that occupies a pivotal political office in the state of New York.

Whether it’s a quirky cosmic alignment or a karmic calamity, the death of a star can be menacing…or it can simply be messy. Either way, it is bound to draw some attention. The time it takes a star to explode or implode varies. In the case of the cosmos, it’s apt to be millions of year; in the case of Governor Spitzer, it appears to be a matter of days.

Let’s have a look at the trajectory of both.

From USA Today:

A beautiful pinwheel in space might one day blast Earth with death rays, scientists now report.

The pinwheel, named WR 104, was discovered eight years ago in the constellation Sagittarius. It rotates in a circle “every eight months, keeping precise time like a jewel in a cosmic clock,” Tuthill said.

Both the massive stars in WR 104 will one day explode as supernovae. However, one of the pair is a highly unstable star known as a Wolf-Rayet, the last known stable phase in the life of these massive stars right before a supernova.

“Wolf-Rayet stars are regarded by astronomers as ticking bombs,” Tuthill explained. The ‘fuse’ for this star “is now very short — to an astronomer — and it may explode any time within the next few hundred thousand years.”

When the Wolf-Rayet goes supernova, “it could emit an intense beam of gamma rays coming our way,” Tuthill said. “If such a ‘gamma ray burst’ happens, we really do not want Earth to be in the way.”

Unfortunately for us, gamma ray bursts seem to be shot right along the axis of systems. In essence, if this pinwheel ever releases a gamma ray burst, our planet might be in the firing line.

From The New York Times:

It was after 9 p.m. the night before Valentine’s Day when she arrived, a young brunette named Kristen. She was 5-foot-5, 105 pounds. Pretty and petite.

This was at the Mayflower, one of Washington’s finer hotels. Her client for the evening had booked Room 871. He was a return customer. The hundreds of dollars he had promised to pay would cover all expenses: the room, the minibar, room service should they order it, the train ticket that had brought her from New York and, naturally, Kristen’s time.

A 47-page federal affidavit from an F.B.I. agent investigating a prostitution ring lists the man at the hotel as “Client 9,” and includes considerable details about him, the prostitutes and his methods of paying for them. A law enforcement official and another person briefed on the prostitution case have identified Client 9 as Eliot Spitzer, the governor of New York.

So as this day comes to an end, one star has been fully exposed and is almost certain to crash. The other star lurks beyond our view…but it too will one day crash. The former is a spectacle we watch with unflinching amusement; the latter is a hypothetical we’ve barely begun to consider. The former will end the political life of one politician; the latter may bring an end to us all.

Regardless, the world goes round and round. How’s that for an illuminating astrological forecast?

Eliot Spitzer: Hittin’ The Sheets Of New York:

elliottspitzer.jpg

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Democrat Election Over Kill

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

With all the hype over the election it makes one wonder who the real person is that is actually the candidate for President of the United States of America. I can picture John McCain red faced with anger in a doubting mode just before bed forgetting where he put his glasses only to have his lovely wife point out that they are on the tip of his nose. Hillary, upon getting ready for bed would kick all of the campaign staff off the Clinton couches and out of the kitchen so she could get the 3:00 AM call from Bill at yet another undisclosed location. Barack would be rolling into bed as the stars were perfectly aligned, the sound of choirs from heaven above singing and just as he kissed Michelle good night she punches him solidly in the arm demanding that he shut the damn motivational tapes off and go to bed like a normal person.All of the candidates claim to be what is best for America and yet each has their own faults. While John McCain takes a walk as the duly elected next candidate from the Republican Party he is not the next President. He might as well be if the two candidates on the Democrat side keep up the daily slams of one another. He said, she said, is bull and the only one that wins in that kind of debate between Obama and Clinton is McCain.

I have been in constant contact with some very interesting friends and bloggers that write about politics all the time and this election is unique in a generation or more time span. Not since the primaries of Bobby Kennedy have the Democrats been so active with such a passion for politics that we are all in fact wearing our heart and soul candidate for President on our sleeves. Our choice of candidate no matter who it is can be and is the only hope for change in America. We are a political party so desperate for change that the actual process of selecting the one candidate to represent our political party could be our undoing. While we tear the candidates down in comments on blogs we in fact tear one another down in the process. Who benefits from that other than the one true candidate from the right, Senator John McCain.

If you do not know what Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama stand for then you have not listened. If you know one then you know the other and the end result is a Presidency based on change. Neither is George Bush and that is honestly clear. If you love W then by all means vote for more of the same in John McCain. If you want a new America not owned by special interest where the future is just a little bit brighter than a ten thousand year war in the Middle East then vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Pick a damn issue and they are close enough on those issues to be brother and sister arguing over who did the dishes the last time. As a voter you should not care who did the dishes last but care if you have a clean plate to start your meal off with.

If there is one more debate, Obama and Clinton should not bash one another over the issues but concentrate on what McCain will not do for the people. Other than his commitment to continue to send our sons and daughters off to fight in a land that would not recognize freedom even if it was stuffed down their throats. Isn’t that what Hillary and Barack are both running against anyway?

The people are voting in such large numbers because they do not want George Bush policies anymore. Concentrate on that and you win the election.

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

Feel free to link to this post…

Unemployed with NO Insurance

Friday, March 7th, 2008

The vast great economy of George W. Bush finally tapped yours truly on the shoulder on Thursday March 6th. I was laid off by my employer and for the first time in my entire working life I am without a job. Depressing as that may sound, my families health insurance for my five girls, my wife and I, was canceled effective with my the deliverance of my vacation pay and box of personal effects.For some odd reason my interest in the election for President has a new foundation on why health insurance for all is very important. Not having health insurance that I’ve had my entire working life is somewhat perplexing that for every day I no longer have coverage our former Governor Mitt Romney found it in his heart to penalize this out of work citizen for. What a swell guy… NOT!

If you have followed this little blog then you might be aware that one of our children has been very sick for a very long time. She is the star in her Daddy’s eye and her life has such huge potential that sometimes it scares me. Even with what most would call full medical coverage by my now former employer, we lost everything when she spent ten months in the hospital. Our home, our A1 credit rating, and our self respect. One thing we did not loose was faith and hope in our oldest baby. Time is a wonderful thing and today she still has personal health issues but her future is brighter than ever. Is it really health insurance when all the things your companies medical plan does not cover drags you financially under?

One of the reasons that I am backing Barack Obama is the simple fact that his Universal Health Care plan has the best chance of passing in the Congress once he is elected President. The important part of that last statement was “best chance”. We still live in a democracy and legislation like this is not a given once you sit behind the desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Unlike President Bush who has had a slam dunk, in his pocket, looking the other way at all times Congress. Our nations next President will have a very new and independent Congress to face. Just because you promise Universal Health Coverage does not mean the Congress will pass it.

When it comes to health coverage for all we need a President that can and will work across party lines for the good of the country. Not that Senator Clinton has not shown that ability in the past but on this issue you need to convince the opposing side with a little kindness and political charm and Obama brings that and more to the table.

I’m off to figure out what to do with my lack of a good job with good pay and health insurance. I’ve already begun the networking of friends in the wire and cable industry. If you hear of anyone looking for a great sales guy in the wire and cable business please point them my way. Otherwise I’ll be knocking on doors come Monday morning till one of them says come on in and have a seat.

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

Feel free to link to this post…

Working The Economic Voodoo: Bush’s Magic “Shot In The Arm”

Friday, March 7th, 2008

If you listen to W, today, you would think we are all but one shopping spree away from fixing what ails our economy.

Secondly, the growth package will provide tax rebates to more than 130 million American households. These rebates will begin reaching American families in May. And when the money reaches the American people, we expect they will use it to boost consumer spending, and that will spur job creation, as well.

Well, we all wish that were true. Unfortunately, it’s our reckless spending on wars and mortgages we can not afford that his killed George Bush’s economic plan.

When a person suggest that all we need do is go out and spend our way out of recession, she or he misses the whole point. It’s not spending that we have trouble with; it’s spending without the means to cover the costs. All Bush is doing is feeding our habitual spending beyond our means by encouraging “retail therapy.” That’s like giving crack free to the local crack head. Before you know it the blow is gone and you are back to the debt ridden operation you had before the check arrived. Sounds like more of that twisted brand of GOP fiscal conservatism that put us where we are now; in a very large hole with no ladder big enough to reach the rim out.

Well, shoot, if I get one extra Starbucks Latte out of my rebate check I’ll be happy, but I doubt it will create a new job. In fact, if I were responsible, I will simply have to sign over the rebate check back to the government to pay my tax bill in April.

Just out of curiosity, what do you plan to do with your check to accomplish the President’s aims?

All About The Onion: 63,000 Jobs & An Economy Without A Core

Friday, March 7th, 2008

It’s difficult to find anything to smile about in the latest jobs report. Despite the assurances from the Bush administration that the economy remains strong, each new report brings evidence that we’re in a recession. It looks like the administration is either in denial or simply employing the same “head in the sand” mindset that spent the last five years telling Americans that the situation in Iraq is improving. Despite the president’s rosy rhetoric, I choose to believe that the data doesn’t lie.

The current economic uncertainty reminds me of a metaphor shared by a friend many years ago. While discussing borderline personality disorder, a psychological condition prone to sociopathic behaviors, she described it as being akin to comparing an apple to an onion. The normal personality is like an apple, in that it has a core; whereas with the onion, you peel away layer after layer to find that no core exists.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but it underscores my belief that this latest period of economic expansion has lacked the essential fundamentals to insure economic stability. When one strips away the facade of inflated home values…driven by artificially low interest rates…all that remains is a tenuous economy in the throes of adjusting to the instability and uncertainty of globalization.

The economy shed 63,000 jobs in February, the government said on Friday, the fastest falloff in five years and the strongest evidence yet that the nation is headed toward — or may already be in — a recession.

“I haven’t seen a job report this recessionary since the last recession,” said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “This is a picture of a labor market becoming clearly infected by the contagion from the rest of the economy.”

The loss in February was the second consecutive monthly decline in the labor market; economists had predicted a slight increase. The government also revised down its estimate for January to a loss of 22,000 jobs — the first decline in four years — and cut in half its estimate for job growth in December.

Wages stayed stagnant in February, further depressing the outlook for consumer spending over the next few months. Among rank-and-file workers — more than 80 percent of the work force — average pay grew just 0.3 percent to $17.20 an hour. Wages are effectively running flat when adjusted for inflation.

These job losses are only one segment of the current economic downturn. Truth be told, the housing crisis and its impact on financial markets looks to be an unprecedented debacle that has yet to fully unfold. The efforts of the Federal Reserve to reduce interest rates and make huge amounts of capital available to struggling financial institutions is a testament to the severity and complexity of this crisis.

I suspect the powers that be are hesitant to offer a candid assessment for fear it will trigger even more caution on the part of consumers. To a degree, that is prudent. Unfortunately, this snowball is already rolling and I see little reason to offer false assurances that it won’t continue to expand. I look for the government to make added admissions in much the same manner found in a criminal investigation…as more evidence is unearthed, the administration will find itself unable to continue with the denials.

Look no further than a comparison to the Saving & Loan scandal of the late 80’s to understand how the government will attempt to downplay the gravity of the situation. Sadly, I’m concerned this fiasco may be far more pervasive. While the S&L scandal was primarily isolated to commercial real estate, the current crisis involves residential real estate and millions of homeowners. That alone suggests a greater magnitude; one that will strike a blow to a core source of economic growth…consumer confidence and spending.

I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I see a unique and troubling confluence of conditions that have the potential to challenge our existing economic constructs. The growth of multi-national corporations with GDP’s that rival those of many nations serves to undermine the assumption that all Americans share similar economic objectives with consistent measures of success. It simply isn’t true in this day and age of global investments and the outsourcing it facilitates in order to increase the bottom line. When the goals of a huge corporation no longer comport with the goals of their nation of origin, the established economic models have become outdated and virtually irrelevant.

I realize I’m painting a gloomy picture. At the same time, I’m convinced that the American public must demand an honest assessment and an open dialogue with regard to these dramatic developments. If we allow our politicians to plot the course…in conjunction with their corporate benefactors…we may find ourselves in a conflict with the United Empire of ExxonMobil…a conflict that we can neither overcome or endure.

On that dark note, I think the following video from The Onion captures much of the essence of this shifting economic construct. It made me laugh…but as with all comedy…it also underscores an undeniable truth that requires our consideration.

The Onion: Outsourcing Child Care Overseas

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

“Let the Buyer Beware”

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Predatory lenders have caused a record number of home mortgage foreclosures. Credit card firms are extorting millions of dollars in “penalties” from customers who have never made a late payment or gone over their credit limit. Insurance companies are weaseling out of billions of dollars’ worth of claims, using the zaniest excuses imaginable. And you’re paying hidden fees and surcharges every time you rent a car, stay in a hotel, go to the bank, sign up for a new phone service (or cable TV or Internet service), deposit money in your retirement account…

And yet Libertarians and rightwing Republicans keep insisting that there’s no problem here. This is capitalism, Buddy; the free market. Caveat Emptor. That stupid mouthbreathing retard should’ve read the fine print.

Riiight.

What the fuck are we devolving into? A company can hide a booby trap on page 37 of a contract — written in legalese in a size .01 font — and it’s up to the customer to spend several hours poring over the contract with a magnifying glass.

How far does this “logic” go? Is it legal to sell fake Rolexes on the street for $200 apiece? After all, if some dumbfuck is gullible enough to buy one — cool!

Auto repair shops should be allowed to use the cheapest shoddiest parts they can find and then tell you they used the highest quality components money can buy (and charge you accordingly). Hell, why even make them work on your car at all? They can just tell you they did it and then charge you $1,200 for the work they didn’t do. Hey, if you’re suspicious, just look under the hood and check it out for yourself. What, you want some big fluffy drooling Nanny State hovering over you??

And why is it against the law to assault or mug someone? When you’re walking down the street, it’s up to you to be aware of your surroundings and be ready and able to fend off any would-be attacker. If a person is oblivious or preoccupied, and/or too feeble to defend him/herself — hey, easy pickings!

People get thrown in jail when they try anything mentioned in the previous three paragraphs. And when slippery businesspeople mug their customers with deceptive practices and fine print, they belong in jail too. And throw the key away.

Pearls Of Wisdom: The World Is No Longer Our Economic Oyster

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Economists attempt to measure the health of the economy in a variety of ways. I’m of the opinion that two news reports (here and here) shed some ominous light on its status and may well signal the need to sound the alarm bells. For many years real estate, and in particular home ownership, has been the single greatest source of wealth accumulation for the average American. As such, it has served as the foundation for much of our confidence to spend money.

Having the safety and security of growing home equity has given consumers confidence to make purchases they might otherwise forego. It has also been the source of the capital needed to make large ticket purchases that wages may not always enable. The buying, selling, and refinancing of homes has pumped countless dollars into our economy and in recent years it has helped to offset the shifting dynamics of growth.

Following the recessionary period at the beginning of this decade, much of the growth we’ve experienced hasn’t translated to better jobs or higher wages. In fact, for a large majority of Americans, the latest period of economic growth has been accompanied by a decline in the standard of living…except for those in the top tier of incomes.

Here’s where the housing bubble comes into play. In this same period of time, we’ve seen an unprecedented increase in home values and therefore some means for consumers to offset the lack of measurable benefits from this latest period of economic expansion. Unfortunately, that offset appears headed towards a screeching stop…and likely a virtual reversal of fortune.

Let’s first look at the foreclosure picture since the bubble has already burst for these individuals.

WASHINGTON - Home foreclosures soared to an all-time high in the final quarter of last year and are likely to keep on rising, underscoring the suffering of distressed homeowners and the growing danger the housing meltdown poses for the economy.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, in a quarterly snapshot of the mortgage market released Thursday, said the proportion of all mortgages nationwide that fell into foreclosure shot up to a record high of 0.83 percent in the October-to-December quarter. That surpassed the previous high of 0.78 percent set in the prior quarter.

More homeowners — at the same time — fell behind on their monthly payments.

The delinquency rate for all mortgages climbed to 5.82 percent in the fourth quarter. That was up from the 5.59 percent in the third quarter and was the highest since 1985. Payments are considered delinquent if they are 30 or more days past due.

The percentage of subprime adjustable-rate mortgages that entered the foreclosure process soared to a record of 5.29 percent in the fourth quarter. That was up from 4.72 percent in the prior quarter, which had marked the previous high. Late payments skyrocketed to a record high of 20.02 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 18.81 percent — the previous high — in the third quarter.

Take note of four key numbers. One, we’re approaching the point at which one percent of all mortgages are in foreclosure. Two, over five percent of ALL mortgages were considered delinquent. Three, over five percent of all subprime adjustable rate mortgages are in foreclosure. Four, over twenty percent of the remaining subprime loans are delinquent.

It doesn’t take a math wizard to realize that we’re on the front end of this crisis and it’s clearly going to get worse before it gets better. Why? Two reasons. First, the interest rates on more loans are going to adjust upward. Second, home values are going to continue to decline which will mean more borrowers will be unable to refinance. So what does this mean? It means there is currently nothing on the horizon that will blunt the increase in foreclosures…or the increase in borrowers who won’t be able to refinance out of unfavorable loans.

Now let’s look another key piece of the problem…the decline in homeowner equity.

NEW YORK - Americans’ percentage of equity in their homes fell below 50 percent for the first time on record since 1945, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.

Homeowners’ portion of equity slipped to downwardly revised 49.6 percent in the second quarter of 2007, the central bank reported in its quarterly U.S. Flow of Funds Accounts, and declined further to 47.9 percent in the fourth quarter — the third straight quarter it was under 50 percent.

That marks the first time homeowners’ debt on their houses exceeds their equity since the Fed started tracking the data in 1945.

The total value of equity also fell for the third straight quarter to $9.65 trillion from a downwardly revised $9.93 trillion in the third quarter.

Home equity, which is equal to the percentage of a home’s market value minus mortgage-related debt, has steadily decreased even as home prices jumped earlier this decade due to a surge in cash-out refinances, home equity loans and lines of credit and an increase in 100 percent or more home financing.

Economists expect this figure to drop even further as declining home prices eat into the value of most Americans’ single largest asset.

Moody’s Economy.com estimates that 8.8 million homeowners, or about 10.3 percent of homes, will have zero or negative equity by the end of the month. Even more disturbing, about 13.8 million households, or 15.9 percent, will be “upside down” if prices fall 20 percent from their peak.

The latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index showed U.S. home prices plunging 8.9 percent in the final quarter of 2007 compared with a year ago, the steepest decline in the 20-year history of the index.

I would argue that this data may be even more troubling than the rising foreclosure and delinquency rates because it undoubtedly predicts more declines in consumer confidence and spending and thus growing recessionary pressure.

Take particular note of the connection between the housing bubble and the latest economic expansion. When home values soared at the beginning of this decade, homeowners borrowed more money. They did so because the economic growth didn’t translate into better jobs and higher wages. Hence, more Americans dipped into rising home equity to keep apace with rising costs….and we haven’t even touched on rising credit card debt.

What this tells us is that the latest expansionary period was primarily manufactured through the implementation of artificially low interest rates which enabled homeowners to bolster spending through debt. Lower interest rates meant people could afford more expensive homes. Once this rollover process began, it set in motion rising home prices that were unsustainable. Even worse, it gave homeowners and borrowers a false sense of security. People began to believe their home values would continue to rise and they became less averse to pulling out and spending a higher percentage of their paper equity.

While one can fault these individuals for taking greater risk, one must also consider the incompetence of those who enabled this housing bubble…complete with shoddy monetary policy, suspect lending practices, and inadequate oversight. Not since the Savings & Loan scandal of the late 80’s have we seen such shortsighted and lax practices…complete with the now infamous non-qualifying assumption loans.

Well, just over twenty years later, we’ve done it again. I have two favorite examples of the current debacle. First, the 125% loan…a loan that simply allowed homeowners to borrow 25% more than a home was worth. Second, what the industry initially called “stated income” loans (NINA’s - no income, no asset verifications), which are now being called “liar loans”. Essentially, the borrower was allowed to state an annual income and place a value on assets held without the requirement of any substantiation.

What remains to be seen is how long it will take our government to fully embrace the magnitude of the current crisis. Sadly, the hope that reducing interest rates or rolling out programs like “Project Lifeline” will solve this problem is more of the same. A quick look at the value of the dollar informs us of the consequences that accompany these efforts to avoid the inevitable.

Harsh as this may sound, I find myself in general agreement with the following thoughts of Robert Samuelson from a recent Washington Post column.

Gloom. Doom. Calamity. Home prices are tumbling. We’re bombarded by somber reports. But wait. This is actually good news, because lower home prices are the only real solution to the housing collapse. The sooner prices fall, the better. The longer the adjustment takes, the longer the housing slump (weak sales, low construction, high numbers of unsold homes) will last.

Samuelson isn’t keen on aggressive measures to assist those who are in foreclosure or upside down; arguing that it only postpones the necessary adjustment. While this may sound heartless, the point he’s making is that we must cease our efforts to bolster a weakened and changing economic structure by creating artificial housing prices. The sooner we strip away this facade, the sooner we can begin to address the deficiencies of our underlying economy.

The longer we tinker with the primary means of accumulating wealth (homeownership), the more likely it won’t be available to more and more Americans. In this time of job loss to globalization, we can ill-afford to damage one of the last bastions of the American Dream…especially for an increasingly challenged middle class.

We must demand that our politicians implement the measures necessary to insure a sound and sustainable economy without resorting to politically expedient manipulations meant to mask the manifestations of a world economy. While the world used to be our oyster, I suspect our share of the pearls is destined to decline. Knowing this, I would suggest our leaders start by setting a better example with regards to fiscal responsibility. Lest we be buried by the shifting tides, it’s time for a sea-change.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Audits!

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

ruler.jpgHoly moly. Talk about eating your own young. Apparently, there are sticky fingers in the National Republican Campaign Committee. Not just a light pilfering either, but what is taking shape as a deliberate, well planned and ongoing scam to lift cash out of the NRCC.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are missing and presumed stolen from the chief fund-raising arm of House Republicans, according to party officials who described the findings of emergency internal audits.
The financial records of the group, the National Republican Congressional Committee, may also have been falsified for several years, Republican officials said. — NYT

Chief Sticky Fingers, or Christopher J. Ward as he is known to his friends and cellmates political bedfellows, has left the building. He is the focus of the FBI’s investigation. My money ( and probably the NRCC’s) is on sunny, no extradition treaty Belize.

According to The New York Times this morning, it all began to unravel when Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), a CPA, asked to meet with the audit firm that was supposedly checking the NRCC’s books, an idea that apparently no one had had for several years. Christopher Ward, then the NRCC’s treasurer, finally relented, but then chickened out 30 minutes before and fessed up that there actually hadn’t been any audits. — TPM Muckraker

Also noteworthy is the fact that “the financial irregularities might extend beyond the national committee to the campaign funds of individual Republican lawmakers who also worked with Mr. Ward, a longtime party operative.”

I guess that’s what tickle down is really about.

I know lots of Republicans personally. They’re nice people. I don’t think they’d tolerate this kind of behavior from their friends, co-workers or children. Yet, they defend this crap vociferously in the name of their party. That’s a disconnect I just don’t get.

Some Fun Quotes for Thursday

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

A friend sent along the following quotes to consider given the geopolitical sour climate the W, Rove and Co has fostered in their democracy spreading experiments about the globe, and in particular the rather bad situation we caused in Iraq:

Sieg Heil

The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.
- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear - kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor - with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it …
- Douglas MacArthur, 1957

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity. War settles nothing.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech: Ottawa, Canada, January 10, 1946

If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, president of Columbia University, speech to luncheon clubs, Galveston, Texas, December 8, 1949

When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, press conference, 1953

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech: New York City, May 31, 1954.

You don’t need a totalitarian dictatorship like Hitler’s to get by with murder … you can do it in a democracy as long as the Congress and the people Congress is supposed to represent don’t give a damn?
- William Shirer, 1973

This [the U.S. Constitution] is likely to be administered for a course of years and then end in despotism… when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.
- Benjamin Franklin


Fish.Travel