Archive for the ‘New York Times’ Category

Say Hello to MSYahoo

Friday, March 14th, 2008

When it comes to corporations strong arming their way through any competition Microsoft is King. Once more Microsoft will obliterate yet one more great internet tool for all of us to use and insert themselves as the new messiah of the Internet. All the news about Microsoft buying Yahoo are officially over with the meeting of all the executives to find some common ground to get the deal done.Pass out the billion dollar paychecks to all the Yahoo executives and wait for your Yahoo email account to suddenly become a Hot Mail account. Latest news from the New York Times on Yahoo being bought out by Microsoft…

Microsoft, Yahoo Execs Finally Meet

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: March 14, 2008
Filed at 5:42 p.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft Corp. met with Yahoo Inc. to discuss the software maker’s unsolicited takeover bid earlier this week, a breakthrough that could be the first step toward a friendly deal between the two rivals.The meeting occurred Monday near Yahoo’s Sunnyvale headquarters, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke Friday on the condition of not being identified because the preliminary talks haven’t been formally disclosed.

No investments bankers attended Monday’s meeting, nor was there any discussion about whether Microsoft is willing to raise its offer, initially valued at $44.6 billion, or $31 per share. Yahoo’s board already has rejected that bid, arguing the company’s Internet franchise is worth more.

Although it’s unclear whether Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and his Yahoo counterpart, Jerry Yang, attended Monday’s meeting, senior management from both companies were on hand. - New York Times

I’m doing my best to help out Bill Gates with his latest email tracking software but this situation calls for my full attention and yours as well. Bill sent me a personal email from his old Netscape email account and asked my thoughts on the new name for the former Yahoo. I’ve been scratching my head over it but this is what I have so far.

Yarightthebastid’sofferedusmoremoneythanGodcouldcountwaaahoooo!.com

Msminefuhrerhoo.com

Mswemadethemadealtheycouldnotrefuseboohoo.com

Yawesquashedthemhoo.com

Msborgyouwillbeassimilatedyahoo.com

Micascrewyooo.com

MicroYoowillonlyseewhatwewantyoutoseesoft.com

Yawewillownalloftheinternethoo.com

Let me know if you come up with some other names for the new Microsoft division soon to be formerly known as Yahoo. I’m under a hot deadline because Bill wants to come out with five versions and new releases that will lock up and close you out within the next year.

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk
Feel free to link to this post…

GWB: The Cash In The Cradle & The Silver Spoon - I’m Gonna Be Like Him

Friday, March 14th, 2008

I try to avoid making unequivocal assertions…but if my instincts are correct, I’m not taking much of a risk in predicting that the calamity that will define this Bush presidency will not be the Iraq war. As with his father’s presidency, it will be the economy. Yes, the Iraq war will be factored into the equation that facilitated one of the worst recessions in modern times, but numerous other missteps will receive far more attention.

With the Savings and Loan scandal of the late 80’s as my point of comparison, I expect the magnitude of this recession to be much deeper and far more complex. Frankly, the fact that we survived events like the S & L scandal and the tech bubble have only contributed to the lackadaisical policies that have fostered an air of invincibility. This false confidence has resulted in a deadly conflation of economic poisons that will place a strain on our financial fortitude that hasn’t been witnessed since the Great Depression.

For months, the Bush administration has sought to convince the American public that the economy is sound. Unfortunately, the hollowness of those assurances expands exponentially with each new report. Today’s news is awash with further warnings of economic uncertainty. The President’s remarks, in response to the growing storm clouds, simply highlight the mindset that has typified his inclination to ignore information that doesn’t comport with his rose colored rhetoric.

Unfortunately, I fear this president suffers the misconception that he can tackle this systemic economic malaise in the same manner he addressed the many miscalculations that have plagued the prosecution of the Iraq war. Sadly, brute force has little relevance when it comes to the economy. As with the troop surge, the attempts by the Federal Reserve to pump more money into the economy in order to prop up flailing financial institutions fails to address the dire dynamics that underly the debacle.

Let’s pause to review the observations of others.

From The Wall Street Journal:

It is a very logical progression. Peloton, Carlyle, Focus — hedge funds and other non-deposit-taking financial institutions (NDFIs) are now being hit by the credit crunch, which had so far been mainly confined to mortgage lenders and the banks.

The Federal Reserve has reacted. Its Term Securities Lending Facility aims to encourage investment banks and prime brokers to lend to NDFIs and so relieve those parts of the credit market it cannot reach with its rate cuts and loans to banks.

So far its liquidity injections have got no further than the banks. Now it hopes to reach higher. Unfortunately, it won’t work.

The Fed is like King Canute with a difference — it is trying to halt an ebbing tide rather than a rising one. Its liquidity injection seems huge at $200 billion (with perhaps more to follow), but it is still only equivalent to one-third of the expected losses in the NDFI sector.

Moreover, the Fed’s readiness to accept almost any asset at just below face value as collateral will prevent price discovery. That means the U.S. financial system will remain burdened with uncleansed balance sheets that penalize future lending and economic growth.

Creating a lot of liquidity does not resolve an issue of solvency, which is now the driver of credit contraction. All the Fed will achieve is a dollar that will be further debased and inflation that will be higher. It cannot stop the process of deleveraging and asset price decline.

The credit crisis is unfolding as we expected, but more slowly than anticipated, because of the actions taken by central banks (mainly the Fed) and the U.S. government to allay its effects. The wholesale socialization of credit has meant that government and central bank measures account for 70% of new credit since last summer.

But these policy measures will not prevent asset-price deflation or credit contraction, which are functions of risk appetite and general readiness to maintain current levels of gearing throughout the economy. The non-bank sector has the potential to inflict more damage on the system than banks, because it has a much smaller capital cushion for a much more volatile and risky balance sheet.

Credit contraction translates through the financial system into a reduction in available credit for the non-financial corporate sector, and thus into reduced investment and growth in the real economy. The size of that contraction can be estimated from the leverage ratios of the financial sector and their impact on real GDP growth.

We estimate that nonfinancial corporate debt ultimately will have to shrink by 11%-12%. This will generate a decline of five percentage points of real U.S. GDP growth and push the U.S. into recession. Europe’s real GDP growth will contract by two percentage points.

Essentially, the point being made by the author is that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to lower interest rates is inadequate to address the fundamental problem - the value of the assets that underly much of the existing debt is in a period of contraction…largely as a result of the collapsing housing industry.

As such, the ability of lenders to lend is limited. They lack the capital needed to make loans; let alone the capital required to support declining equity positions and the increasing default risks that are associated with these loans. Hence, the Fed’s efforts to infuse the economy with the capital needed to spur growth isn’t going to be sufficient. Even worse, should this contraction lead to lender insolvency, the likelihood of the need for a huge government bail out advances. If this happens, I believe it will be far larger than the one witnessed during the S & L scandal.

From The New York Times:

The Fed’s economic power rests on the fact that it’s the only institution with the right to add to the “monetary base”: pieces of green paper bearing portraits of dead presidents, plus deposits that private banks hold at the Fed and can convert into green paper at will.

When the Fed is worried about the state of the economy, it basically responds by printing more of that green paper, and using it to buy bonds from banks. The banks then use the green paper to make more loans, which causes businesses and households to spend more, and the economy expands.

This process can be almost magical in its effects: a committee in Washington gives some technical instructions to a trading desk in New York, and just like that, the economy creates millions of jobs.

But sometimes the magic doesn’t work. And this is one of those times.

Instead of following its usual practice of buying only safe U.S. government debt, the Fed announced this week that it would put $400 billion — almost half its available funds — into other stuff, including bonds backed by, yes, home mortgages. The hope is that this will stabilize markets and end the panic.

Officially, the Fed won’t be buying mortgage-backed securities outright: it’s only accepting them as collateral in return for loans. But it’s definitely taking on some mortgage risk. Is this, to some extent, a bailout for banks? Yes.

Still, that’s not what has me worried. I’m more concerned that despite the extraordinary scale of Mr. Bernanke’s action — to my knowledge, no advanced-country’s central bank has ever exposed itself to this much market risk — the Fed still won’t manage to get a grip on the economy. You see, $400 billion sounds like a lot, but it’s still small compared with the problem.

Krugman offers a look into the risks being taken by the Federal Reserve to avert the looming collapse of financial institutions. The fact that the government is taking unprecedented risk signals the seriousness of the situation. The fact that the government has committed half of its available funds to this risk intensive effort suggests that the ultimate solution will require the government to appropriate additional funds…hence the bailout begins. The price tag of the S & L scandal would likely pale in comparison.

The impact to the overall economy could be mind-boggling since it would be apt to affect consumer spending. Falling home values would strip millions of Americans of the bulk of their accumulated wealth which would no doubt restrict their ability and willingness to spend money. The direct correlation of this intertwined cause and effect spiral could have disastrous consequences.

We haven’t even factored in the disproportionate numbers of baby boomers moving towards retirement. A worst case scenario could place the financial stability of many of these individuals in jeopardy at a time when the safety net of Social Security is also approaching insolvency.

From CNBC:

The United States has entered a recession that could be “substantially more severe” than recent ones, former National Bureau of Economic Research President Martin Feldstein said Friday.

“The situation is very bad, the situation is getting worse, and the risks are that it could get very bad,” Feldstein said in a speech at the Futures Industry Association meeting in Boca Raton, Florida.

“There isn’t much traction in monetary policy these days, I’m afraid, because of a lack of liquidity in the credit markets,” he said.

The Fed’s new credit facility, announced on Tuesday, “can help in a rather small way … but the underlying risks will remain with the institutions that borrow from the Fed, and this does nothing to change their capital,” Feldstein noted.

I simply don’t see the mechanism by which this strained liquidity can be alleviated in the near term. Pumping more cash into the system could have short term benefits but the risk to the already tenuous value of the dollar would likely outweigh them. Relying upon the standard bearers…the consumer…to spend us out of this mess seems unlikely. Rarely have prior recessionary periods been accompanied by such significant declines in home values.

Were we to see the emergence of sustained inflation, the picture becomes even more disconcerting. Many of the measures designed to address the liquidity crunch have the potential to do just that. Toss in our trade imbalance, the amount of debt held by the Chinese, and an international shift away from the dollar as the preferred reserve currency and one begins to see the growing alignment of negatives.

The fact that the American image has been tarnished during the current administration makes it difficult to imagine the kind of international cooperation we might have otherwise received during such a slowdown. In fact, don’t be surprised if a number of nations stand idly by as the perceived bully endures its comeuppance.

Returning to the Bush legacy, I recall the deteriorating situation faced by his father prior to the 1992 election. When the senior Bush expressed his amazement with the scanning technology found in grocery stores, his appeal and his connection to the average American is thought to have suffered. When the Clinton campaign added, “It’s the economy, stupid”, the stain became permanent.

The fact that the current president expressed surprise when a member of the press mentioned the prospects of $4.00 per gallon gas seems eerily similar to the last days of his father’s presidency…and it may also assist in cementing the economy as his legacy’s leading albatross.

George W. Bush’s seeming shortage of empathy for the plight of the average American shone through in his mishandling of Katrina, his passage of tax cuts for the wealthiest, his inept energy policy, and his willingness to sink trillions of dollars into the execution of a virtual vendetta in Iraq. These events will forever be tethered to his tenure and his successors are apt to spend years trying to repair the damage done.

They say the writing of one’s legacy is rarely finished since the past undoubtedly shapes the future. In the case of George Bush, I suspect he’d be best to hope that his influence on the future be less indelible than his unabashed attempts to color the present.

Gertrude Stein stated that a “rose is a rose is a rose”. Ernest Hemmingway responded with “a rose is a rose is an onion”. In thinking of the Bush legacy, I’m inclined to argue that a silver spoon may beget rose colored rhetoric…but a silver spoon full of rose petals rarely helps us swallow the thorns. When the bow breaks, the Bush legacy will fall.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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

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

The Price Of Economic Inequality?

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

A report on the rising number of incarcerated Americans provides a disturbing look at the unspoken impact of economic inequality and the high cost we pay for perpetuating it. At the same time, during each election cycle, politicians from both parties accuse each other of practicing suspect fiscal discipline.

For this discussion, I want to look at the costs of incarceration in relation to providing universal health care as well as the Bush tax cuts. Time and again, the GOP points out the exorbitant costs that might be associated with providing universal health care. From what I’ve read, the plans being pushed by Senators Clinton and Obama are reported to cost 10 to 15 billion dollars annually. That’s a big expense…but before one concludes we can’t afford it, one must consider the burgeoning costs of incarceration and the distribution and impact of the Bush tax cuts.

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

NEW YORK — For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America’s rank as the world’s No. 1 incarcerator. It urges states to curtail corrections spending by placing fewer low-risk offenders behind bars.

Using state-by-state data, the report says 2,319,258 Americans were in jail or prison at the start of 2008 - one out of every 99.1 adults. Whether per capita or in raw numbers, it’s more than any other nation.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.

So in the course of 20 years, we have increased our annual corrections spending by a whopping $38 billion dollars. That is roughly three times the projected annual cost to provide universal health care…health care that would help elevate the very people who are disproportionately represented in the prison population. Factor in the following data on the Bush tax cuts and one will begin to see the larger picture.

From MSNBC.com:

WASHINGTON - Since 2001, President Bush’s tax cuts have shifted federal tax payments from the richest Americans to a wide swath of middle-class families, the Congressional Budget Office has found, a conclusion likely to roil the presidential election campaign.

The conclusions are stark. The effective federal tax rate of the top 1 percent of taxpayers has fallen from 33.4 percent to 26.7 percent, a 20 percent drop. In contrast, the middle 20 percent of taxpayers — whose incomes averaged $51,500 in 2001 — saw their tax rates drop 9.3 percent. The poorest taxpayers saw their taxes fall 16 percent.

Unfortunately, these percentages are deceptive. Let’s look at a practical explanation of what these tax cuts meant to the working poor.

From BusinessWeek.com:

Imagine you are a waitress, married, with two children and a family income of $26,000 per year. Should you be enthusiastic about the tax cuts proposed by President Bush? He certainly wants you to think so. He uses an example of a family like yours to illustrate the benefits of his plan for working Americans. He boasts that struggling low-income families will enjoy the largest percentage reduction in their taxes. The income taxes paid by a family like yours will fall by 100% or more in some cases. This is true–but highly misleading.

President Bush fails to mention that your family pays only about $20 a year in income taxes, so even a 100% reduction does not amount to much. Like three-quarters of working Americans, you pay much more in payroll taxes–about $3,000 a year–than in income taxes. Yet not a penny of the $1.6 trillion package of Bush tax cuts (in reality, closer to $2 trillion over 10 years) is used to reduce payroll taxes. Moreover, should your income from waitressing fall below $26,000 as the economy slows, your family could be among the 75% of families in the lowest 20% of the income distribution that stand to get absolutely zero from the Bush plan.

The President claims that the “typical American family of four” will be able to keep $1,600 more of their money each year under his plan. Since you won’t be getting anything like that, you might be tempted to conclude that your family must be an exception. Not really. The reality is that the President’s claim is disingenuous. Eighty-nine percent of all tax filers, including 95% of those in the bottom 80% of the income distribution, will receive far less than $1,600.

In other words, when a 100% tax cut is the equivalent of $20.00, a family of four might be able to translate that twenty dollars into a meal at McDonalds…one time in 365 days. On the other hand, if one is lucky enough to be in the top one percent (those with $915,000 in pretax income…and first class health care) of earners and receive a 20% tax reduction, I suspect the savings would buy more than one fast food dinner over the course of a year. The skewed advantages…and disadvantages…suddenly become obvious.

If that isn’t bad enough, let’s return to the costs of incarceration and look at future cost projections.

From The New York Times:

By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, and will accelerate as the prison population ages.

In less than four years, we will spend another $25 billion annually (more than enough to pay for universal health care) to incarcerate more and more Americans…the bulk of which come from the economically underprivileged.

More From The New York Times:

Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 are behind bars but that one in 100 black women are.

Let me be clear…crime is wrong…and it should be punished. However, we cannot ignore the factors that facilitate crime. Failing to provide opportunities to those most lacking in resources is also wrong…and it often leads to a lack of education and therefore a susceptibility to participating in crimes that are driven by poverty.

We have likely exceeded the point at which it will cost us more to punish and incarcerate those who commit these crimes of poverty than it would have cost us to insure their education, to raise the minimum wage above the poverty level, and to grant them the dignity and peace of mind that comes with knowing one’s family members can receive health care when it is warranted; not just when it is necessary to prevent death.

Instead, under the guidance of the GOP, we have elected to ignore the fact that 47 million Americans lack health care and to focus upon further enriching the wealthiest…all the while being forced to endure asinine arguments that doing so will create jobs and thus facilitate a rising tide to float the boats of all Americans. It simply isn’t true.

At a savings of $20 a year, millions of Americans can’t even buy a seat in the boat…let alone stay afloat by treading water in the midst of the steady deluge of ever more ominous waves. If the number and availability of life preservers continues to dwindle, we are fast approaching the point at which our society will collapse under the weight of the inequity we chose to ignore.

If that happens, it will be as my grandfather argued many years ago, “They can eat you, but they can’t shit you”. The cannibalism has begun. What follows will not be pleasant.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

William F. Buckley has died at 82

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

The self-professed father of conservatism, although the neocon’s eventually pissed him off, has left this sphere. He wrote 45 books, founded The National Review and wrote millions of words in the process. The NYT has a piece up about him here. Norman Mailer had this to say about Buckley once when asked about him:

“No other act can project simultaneous hints that he is in the act of playing Commodore of the Yacht Club, Joseph Goebbels, Robert Mitchum, Maverick, Savonarola, the nice prep school kid next door, and the snows of yesteryear,”

Buckley also supported the decriminalization of marijuana. Probably one of the few things we had in common.

tags: William F Buckley

Solar Power Research

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Solar Power is going to be a big part of your future life whether you like it or not. With the cut throat politics of big oil, the future is going to be very different. America much like in the past will change the world with our direction. Not from some group in some far away lands demands, but on our own terms. American’s are a funny people, we will buy your product on our terms if it is affordable and reliable. That includes our energy needs. While the nice folks sitting on mega trillions of oil think that they have “We the People” over their barrel, creative Americans are turning those same barrels into wood stoves and home made bio-fuel tanks.

I love the New York Times and I have to thank my friend Jeff from Worm Town Taxi for turning me onto this story. The New York Times writer could not find his back side from his elbow on this topic. Rather than reporting on the true research they condemn solar power as a fad for this generation. Different paper, different generation but the same is true, Solar power is not good enough once more over at the NYT…

A link between Moore’s Law and solar technology reflects the engineering reality that computer chips and solar cells have a lot in common.

“A solar cell is just a big specialized chip, so everything we’ve learned about making chips applies,” says Paul Saffo, an associate engineering professor at Stanford and a longtime observer of Silicon Valley.

Financial opportunity also drives innovators to exploit the solar field. “This is the biggest market Silicon Valley has ever looked at,” says T. J. Rogers, the chief executive of Cypress Semiconductor, which is part-owner of the SunPower Corporation, a maker of solar cells in San Jose, Calif.

Mr. Rogers, who is also chairman of SunPower, says the global market for new energy sources will ultimately be larger than the computer chip market.

“For entrepreneurs, energy is going to be cool for the next 30 years,” he says.
Optimism about creating a “Solar Valley” in the geographic shadow of computing all-stars like Intel, Apple and Google is widespread among some solar evangelists.

“The solar industry today is like the late 1970s when mainframe computers dominated, and then Steve Jobs and I.B.M. came out with personal computers,” says R. Martin Roscheisen, the chief executive of Nanosolar, a solar company in San Jose, Calif.

Nanosolar shipped its first “thin film” solar panels in December, and the company says it ultimately wants to produce panels that are both more efficient in converting sunlight into electricity and less expensive than today’s versions. Dramatic improvements in computer chips over many years turned the PC and the cellphone into powerful, inexpensive appliances — and the foundation of giant industries. Solar enterprises are hoping for the same outcome. - New York Times

This is where the article should have ended but it didn’t. You can read the rest of it if you like but it is more or less if you can’t have the whole loaf of bread then you don’t want even one slice.

When it comes to our nations energy needs in the future you can no longer put all your eggs in one basket. You need to look at all options and Solar Power is just one option of many for your individual energy needs. There isn’t a person involved in the real life business of solar power that will tell you it will serve all of your energy resources. That kind of science and technology just doesn’t exist… YET! When you think of solar power you have to think of your vegetable garden, it offsets your grocery bill with food grown by your own hand that you know will help your family budget. It’s only the vegetables. As in the old commercials from long gone by political campaigns “Where’s the BEEF?”

The beef is in the current research that will mass produce the solar panels to the point where Joe and Joanne Sixpack can afford to install a solar panel on their home. That is where Moore’s Law meets the common consumer. That is where engineers and scientist break the back of OPEC and pretty much look at locations in the middle of the desert here in America with sunshine year round that are not in the Middle East for our nations electric power needs.

Solar Power was not a fad in the 70‘s, or the 80‘s, or for that matter in the 90‘s. It is and will be part of your life, it is only a question of what part it will be producing power for your families needs. Ten years from now you could probably pick up a whole house solar panel unit that you plug into your outdoor outlet that powers your entire home from Home Depot or Lowes. Then again Walmart might have those nasty falling prices and outsource the American designed technology to China to mass produce it. Any way you look at it, the technology will be cheaper and our nations energy needs will come from somewhere else and solar power is just one piece of the puzzle.

The only thing that will hold solar power back is the people most afraid of it and how much of their bottom line it will take away. Those are the people that this story in the NYT’s should have looked at more closely. That is when you will smell the sense of smoke in the air and new patents for new energy smoldering on the bonfires of big energy R us. Capitalism at its worst.

Papamoka

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Cross posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

Hillary is Broke

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

It’s not uncommon for any political candidate to loan their campaign money during any election but it is newsworthy when the supposed front runner in the Democrat race for the President campaign is broke. It was revealed today that Hillary Clinton had to loan her campaign five million bucks to keep going. Apparently, the donations have not kept up with the need for the campaign to spend during the run up for the Super Duper Tuesday election.

This just in from The Caucus over at the New York Times…

February 6, 2008, 3:25 pm
Clinton Lent Campaign $5 Million, Considers More
By Kate Phillips

Updated LOS ANGELES — Our colleague Patrick Healy tells us that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, facing big primaries against her rival Senator Barack Obama in places like Ohio and Texas, is weighing whether to lend her campaign money.

And in a quick update, her campaign has just confirmed that she’d already lent her coffers $5 million of her own money in late January. A just-issued statement from her camp:

The loan illustrates Senator Clinton’s commitment to this effort and to ensuring that our campaign has the resources it needs to compete and win across this nation. We have had one of our best fundraising efforts ever on the Web today and our Super Tuesday victories will only help in bringing more support for her candidacy.

More Updates: At her news conference this afternoon, Senator Clinton acknowledged the loan, saying: “I loaned the campaign $5 million from my money. That’s where I got the money. I did it because I believe very strongly in this campaign, and we had a great month fund-raising in January, broke all our records, but my opponent was able to raise more money and we intended to be competitive – and we were – and I think the results last night proved the wisdom of my investment.” - New York Times, The Caucus

If you think running for office is cheap then talk to someone who is running for a local political office in your city or town. Most political candidates pay for all of the materials needed to run a campaign out of their own pocket. Running for Dog Catcher isn’t as easy a task as it used to be. Hell, Mitt Romney must have turned his head and coughed up ten times the amount Hillary Clinton has loaned her campaign but that isn’t news because Mitt is a mega hundred millionaire and a Republican.

What the real story is behind the words in the NY Times piece is that Hillary is running for broke and pulling out all the stops to get the job done. She might pull it off but the wave of donations running into the Obama camp hit $30 million in January alone. That is the real story along with the fact that many of Obama supporters have not maxed out their contributions to the primary election or the general election campaign.

One of the problems over at the Clinton camp is that they maxed out their credit card or political supporters early in the race and you simply can not tap that well again. Which leads anyone with a political mind to wonder if the Clinton donors are of the elite in the political party and thus a pulse on who is the Clinton base. Obama on the other hand has the numbers working for him with the ten and twenty five dollar donors donating in mass over and over again.

Tim Russert did a piece on the NBC Nightly News with his magic number boards and the remaining campaign states left. Based on polling numbers today the election process between Clinton and Obama would be a tie separated by three or four delegates going into the convention. One thing he did not figure into the equation was if the Clinton campaign did not have the money to place ads on the air or pay staffers in those states.

This race is by far not over.

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

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Obama and Republican Crossovers

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Not since the days of Ronald Reagan have you seen or heard of so many people that will cross party politics to vote for the opposing political parties candidate. Even on talk radio there are many die hard Republicans that are running for the Democrat side of the possible ticket if McCain wins the Republican nomination for President. What’s intriguing is that they would vote for Barack Obama over McCain if that was the choice they had to face at the voting booth.

Republican’s are suffering from the same malaise today that Democrat’s faced in the campaign of Jimmy Carter versus Ronald Reagan. Our entire nation was in a state of depression over the economic status in our lives and the message the Republican Party of hope, unity, and an America that could be proud once more steam rolled with Democrat voters its nominee Ronald Reagan into the White House.

Barack Obama is not stealing from the Reagan playbook for this election and does not need too. He has the message of change and a better America for all of our people that you can actually believe when he tells you that change is coming to America. That is something Hillary or the rest of the Republican’s running in the race for President of the United States that can not converse to the people. Words are easy to speak but the speaker or candidate actually has to believe that change is possible.

Over at Newsweek they have this on the flood of Republican’s for Obama…

Barack + GOP = ‘Obamacans’
Some prominent Republicans have caught Obama fever.
By Richard Wolffe Newsweek Web Exclusive
Feb 1, 2008 Updated: 7:02 p.m. ET Feb 1, 2008

Susan Eisenhower is more than just another disappointed Republican. She is also Ike’s granddaughter and a dedicated member of the party who has urged her fellow Republicans in the past to stick with the GOP. But now Eisenhower, who runs an international consulting firm, is endorsing Barack Obama. She has no plans to officially leave the Republican Party. But in Eisenhower’s view, Obama is the only candidate who can build a national consensus on the issues most important to her—energy, global warming, an aging population and America’s standing in the world.“Barack Obama will really be in a singular position to attract moderate Republicans,” she told NEWSWEEK. “I wanted to do what many people did for my grandfather in 1952. He was hugely aided in his quest for the presidency by Democrats for Eisenhower. There’s a long and fine tradition of crossover voters.”

Eisenhower is one of a small but symbolically powerful group of what Obama recently called “Obamacans”—disaffected Republicans who have drifted away from their party just as Eisenhower Democrats did and, more recently, Reagan Democrats in the 1980s. They include lifelong Republican Tricia Moseley, a former staffer for the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, the one-time segregationist from South Carolina. Now a high-school teacher, Moseley says she was attracted to Obama’s positions on education and the economy.

Former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough, who anchors MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” says many conservative friends—including Bush officials and evangelical Christians—sent him enthusiastic e-mails after seeing Obama’s post-election speeches in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. “He doesn’t attack Republicans, he doesn’t attack whites and he never seems to draw these dividing lines that Bill Clinton [does],” Scarborough told NEWSWEEK. - Newsweek

One thing is certain and that is the fact that Barack Obama does not need to attack anyone from any political party when our nation is faced with so many problems. Selling the possibility of hope and change is not easily spoken if you are just not believable. A distinct advantage Obama has over Hillary Clinton.

With supper dooper Tuesday election day coming up, the lot in life of each of the candidates in both parties is up in the air. There is no clear winner in either party but there is a sense that our nation needs a different captain at the helm. With the vote to come and any decision for any candidate we need to think not of ourselves but who can serve the nation best. Who can make the biggest difference that crosses all political party lines. Hope is not just a Democrat or Republican state of mind or thought, it is an American belief in a brighter tomorrow.

Hillary Clinton has been too locked up in the political machine of her husband and national politics that she would not recognize her own self of twenty years ago in the mirror. How she can speak of change and believe the words coming out of her own mouth is unbelievable. Her experience and politics are far too damaged by the legacy she and her husband left behind them that makes her words not worthy of even one vote. Maybe the experience she is trying to sell is something we have seen before. Former President Clinton is not a uniting force of America and the more he speaks on her behalf, the more people look to Obama as the beacon of hope. Party politics and affiliation aside.

Anyone but Hillary is the strongest message coming from the people. I’m voting Obama and for hope. You should too!

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

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Move On Members Endorse Obama

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

When you think of a political ideology like liberalism then one of the front runners in that thought process is Move On. I like to think of them as my loony friends on the left simply because I love being a moderate liberal. I’m not an extremist but I believe in my heart many of the same thoughts that Move On proposes as they seek a progressive liberal agenda. They give a sense of direction for the political junkies amongst us and in that direction millions more that are not members or affiliated with Move On tend to lean on the fence post and listen, read, and form our own opinion.

Move On is endosing Barack Obama and over at the New York Times they have this little piece on it…

February 1, 2008, 12:11 pm
MoveOn Endorses Obama
By Jeff Zeleny

LOS ANGELES – Senator Barack Obama has won the endorsement today from the membership of MoveOn.

In a vote of the group’s members, Mr. Obama outpaced Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton 70 percent to 30 percent. The political action committee of MoveOn.org has 3.2 million members across the country, including 1.7 million members who live in the 22 states with Democratic primaries or caucuses on Tuesday.

“Our members’ endorsement of Senator Obama is a clear call for a new America at this critical moment in history,” said Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn. He added, “The enormity of the challenges require someone who knows how to inspire millions to get involved to change the direction of our country, and someone who will be willing to change business as usual in Washington.” - New York Times

After watching the love fest debate of Obama and Clinton on CNN in California several differences emerged between the two candidates. Politicians are sneaky and vague for the most part but one thing I noticed was the use of two simple words. When and If. Two little words but when they are used in a political debate they can portray a great difference between the candidates talking about the issues. Those two words play to the back of your mind and depending on the topic and how they are used can have a direct effect on how you subconsciously perceive the discussion.

In the debate I found it ironic that in many of the replies that Senator Clinton gave were started with “If” which opens up the question of doubt as to her ability to achieve the high goals she has set for her platform and candidacy. So many “If’s” seem to have to happen “If” she can deliver the promises she proposes in her universal health care plan. That in itself wreaks of a true politician telling you what you would like to have happen in our nation “If” we can overcome all the hurdles she spoke of. It almost seems that she is afraid to cross the secret line of politicians in Washington? You tell me?

On the other side of the cookies and milk debate was Barack Obama using the word “When” in many of his responses. Along with that word he used the word “We” which seemed more appropriate when you are talking about the political issues that will effect 300 million plus Americans. “When” we negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry for lower prescription costs and “When” we pass health coverage is just more believable. Backing it up with an insistence on CSPAN coverage of the actual debate on health care for all takes the closed doors discussion of screwing America out of the equation.

In the end the debate was not a debate in the sense where one politician calls another on the carpet on any issue. The questions were all softball lobs and played into both of the candidates best interests.

It’s all politics but I have to go with the majority of Move On members and believe that Obama is the path to a new America and the force for change in all of our lives.

Hillary can be very articulate in her answers to any question but she proved last night during the CNN debate that she can circle the question directly asked with the best of them and never answer the question asked. I tend to think that as things go, “If” Senator Clinton were the party nominee, and “If” she were to become President, then we could be faced with two many “If’s” and not enough “When” or “We“.

Papamoka

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Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk


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