SP Alert: Four Hundred Bucks For A Haircut? WTF?

By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
A quick visit to John Edwards’s Presidential Campaign web site clearly shows what his passions are and what he wants to talk about. Not necessarily in order of his priority, but John Edwards wants to:

    End the war in Iraq.
    Guarantee affordable health care to every American.
    Fight global warming.
    Eliminate poverty in America.
    Revitalize rural America.
    Restore America’s moral authority in the world.
    Help solve the humanitarian crisis in Africa.

It’s almost too many critical issues and is more than enough to talk about right?
Well, this past week, we have seen clearly, that the Right Wing doesn’t want to talk about these issues. Let’s break them down briefly:

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Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Worst Drop In 18 Years

The tightening of mortgage lending standards is beginning – just beginning – to have an effect.
Existing home sales pace, prices fall again in March – Apr. 24, 2007,

Home sales posted their sharpest drop in 18 years in March, a real estate group said Tuesday, as problems in the subprime mortgage sector pushed sales well below what economists had forecast.
Sales of existing homes fell 8.4 percent to an annual rate of 6.12 million in March from February’s 6.68 million rate, the National Association of Realtors said. It was the biggest one-month drop since January 1989. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast sales would fall to an annual rate of 6.45 million in March.

It’s also beginning – just beginning – to affect prices,

At the same time, prices also dropped. The median price of an existing single-family home decreased 0.9 percent last month, to $215,300, compared with a year earlier.

And it will get worse,

The realtors’ association report reflected a housing market that is becoming increasingly unfriendly to anyone looking to sell their home. While the number of unsold existing homes for sale fell 1.6 percent in March, to 3,745,000, the time it took to sell a home increased. There was a 7.3-month supply of unsold properties on the market last month, up from a 6.8-month supply in February.
Economists said that if home prices continued to fall, potential buyers would be discouraged from acting while they waited for the bottom of the market to hit.

All of this could add up : Poor housing data raise fears for US economy

Our Trade Deals Harm America

The Establishment Rethinks Globalization.
Short version: Our trade deals are transferring “wealth-generating productive capacity” to other countries, which weakens America.
It’s not just that we no longer make stuff, it’s that we’re transferring the capacity to make stuff, along with the higher-paying jobs that tend to be located where the stuff is made. Shoes are one thing, and you can start making shoes again in a relatively short time if you have to. But LCD screens and computer chips are another thing entirely. The technology advances rapidly. When you transfer that it’s gone and very hard to get back.

“The question is where do you put your technology and knowledge and investment? These other countries understand that. They have understood the following divergence: What countries want and what companies want are different.”

And,

Americans can choose to blame China or disloyal multinationals, but the problem is grounded in US politics. The solution can be found only in Washington. China and other developing nations are pursuing national self-interest and doing what the system allows. In a way, so are the US multinationals. “I want to stress it’s a system problem,” Gomory says. “The directors are doing the job they’re sworn to do. It’s a system that says the companies have to have a sole focus on maximizing profit.”

And the best part:

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Alberto Gonzales Isn’t The Point

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales can resign or not – so what? The PROBLEM will remain. The PROBLEM is that we have 93 US Attorneys who have already proven – by not being fired – that they will indict innocent Democrats and ignore Republican corruption and criminality. THAT is the problem we have to do something about!
The Republicans learned in the 2006 election that lots of headlines about corruption influences votes. So the plan is to start investigating and indicting lots of Democrats – guilty or not – to provide plenty of 2008 election-time headlines. And the plan is to block as many investigations and indictments of corrupt Republicans as they can. (That brings other benefits to them as well…)
So Gonzales can resign or not – don’t be distracted from thinking about how to stop what is coming.
Watch your backs!

Unprecedented Security Clearances For A Libyan?

And no one knows who bypassed our national security rules and gave the clearance. And, of course, no one will investigate.
From Wolfowitz’s girlfriend problem,

State Department officials familiar with the details of this matter confirmed to me that Shaha Ali Riza was detailed to the State Department and had unescorted access while working for Elizabeth Cheney. Access to the building requires a national security clearance or permanent escort by a person with such a clearance. But the State Department has no record of having issued a national security clearance to Riza.
State Department officials believe that Riza was issued such a clearance by the Defense Department after SAIC was forced by Wolfowitz and Feith to hire her.
… But State Department officials tell me that no such letter can be confirmed as received. And the officials stress that the department would never issue a clearance to a non-U.S. citizen as part of a contractual requisition. Issuing a national security clearance to a foreign national under instructions from a Pentagon official would constitute a violation of the executive orders governing clearances, they say.

Come to think of it, Karl Rove still has a security clearance – even after admitting that he revealed the identity of a covert CIA agent!
Is there NO law?

On Imus

The Enablers of Imus: A Study In Careerism,

It’s hard to predict when you will be confronted with a moral test. The Imus controversy arrived suddenly and challenged the vital interests of the Washington press corps and political pantheon. In the end, they willfully overlooked Imus’ bigotry, advocating forgiveness to protect their platform, their careers — and their paychecks. For the enablers of Imus, it was never about freedom of expression, it was about themselves.

Don’t Reward Failure

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At Firedoglake: Don’t Reward Failure By Giving Money to NARAL,

And what did they do with all that cash? They sat it and didn’t do a damn thing, didn’t lift a finger to fight Samuel Alito. Worse yet, when the Gang of 14 decided to vote in favor of cloture, they said that they did not consider cloture votes “significant” and would not be considering them in their scorecard. They then went on to add insult to injury by asking their membership to thank Lincoln Chafee and Joe Lieberman for the beatings they delivered with their “aye” cloture vote by pretending that their “nay” floor votes were significant. They then poured salt into the wound by endorsing both “short ride” Lieberman and Chafee over their opponents who made it clear that they would not have voted for cloture for Alito, which gave us the 5-4 decision we have today.

Go read.

Don’t reward failure. Tell your friends. Don’t give money to NARAL when they come knocking on your door to tell you that choice is going down the crapper unless you give them a lot of money, because what you’ll be giving money for is Nancy Keenan’s ability to point her little pinky over tea at Washington cocktail parties and tut-tut over the state of choice in this country at the hands of the fundamentalists. She’ll take no responsibility for the fact that NARAL will not fight, will not back those that fight, and worse yet, that NARAL sucks up all the pro-choice money so nobody else can mount a meaningful fight, either.

SP Alert: Mitt Romney Should Return Sam Fox’s $100,000

On our “Smoking Politics Radio Show” we just sent a simple message to Mitt Romney, and a fair one too:
Give SwiftBoat Donor Sam Fox his $100,000 back.
Sam Fox (now our Ambassador to Belgium you might recall thanks to President Bush’s recess appointment) gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat Liars in 2004 and has since claimed that he didn’t know what they were doing. Hah. Anyway.
Mitt Romney has no such excuse.
Mitt Romney knows that John O’Neill never served a single day in Vietnam with John Kerry. Mitt Romney knows that Swifties like O’Neill got big checks from the Swift Boat veterans. Mitt Romney should give Sam Fox his money back.
Because if Fox got an ambassadorship for $50,000, what did Romney promise for $100,000?
Here is Romney’s campaign contact info.
Give the blood money back Mitt!