Of Course I Support Hillary!

A recent post I wrote with James, defending Hillary from a racist Republican attack, has evoked e-mail and comment “accusations” that I am a “Hillary supporter.”
OF COURSE I AM A HILLARY SUPPORTER — I’M A DEMOCRAT!!
I also support Barack Obama, Chris Dodd and John Edwards! Duh!
I think I prefer Edwards and Dodd right now, because their polices and thinking and approach lines up more with my own. Obama sure is winning me over, too. I am more progressive-oriented than Hillary.
But let me suggest something to you — If Hillary Clinton becomes President, she will be the most progressive president America has ever had.
So relax. We have a great group of candidates this time.

Revived Asian-Donations Smear On Clinton

By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
The right is reviving the 90s Asian-donations smear on the Clintons.
Headlined at the Drudge Report, the Wall Street Journal has Big Source of Clinton’s Cash Is an Unlikely Address,

It isn’t obvious how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess. …

Did you ask them? Is it your business? Actually they did ask them,

But he added: “I have been fortunate in my investments and all of my contributions have been my money.”

But they have a Chinese name, so let’s do a big story on it.

The Paws’ political donations closely track donations made by Norman Hsu, a wealthy New York businessman in the apparel industry who once listed the Paw home as his address, according to public records. Mr. Hsu is one of the top fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.

And now we get to the root of the big scandal – (queue horror-movie music) Someone is CHINESE-American!

William and Alice Paw are of Chinese descent..

That’s the whole story. There are no accusations of any wrongdoing. Just that a family with a Chinese name gave a lot of money to the Clintons.
In the 1990s the Republicans ran a smear campaign for years, accusing the Clintons of passing nuclear-weapons secrets to China in exchange for campaign donations. There was never anything to back it up, of course, but the racial hatred aspect got them votes. It plays big in the South, I guess.
In case people don’t get it, the right’s echo chamber cranks up the noise. No subtle implications need apply: Laundering for Hillary?

The little green house at 41 Shelbourne Ave. in Daly City, Calif., (shown right) may spell big trouble for Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York as she pursues the presidency.

And there they go again. The Republicans are gearing up the smear and race-hatred campaign early this time.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Record Price Drop

Home prices fall record 3.2% nationally, Case-Shiller says,

U.S. home prices fell 3.2% in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, Standard & Poor’s reported Tuesday.
It’s the largest decline ever in the 20-year history of the Case-Shiller home price index.
A year ago, home prices were rising at a 7.5% pace nationally.
… Meanwhile, prices fell 3.5% in the past year in 20 major cities and 4.1% in 10 major cities.

It’s only the beginning. The psychology hasn’t set in yet. What happens next is sellers hear this news and start to realize that the game is up. So they’ll start to accept that they have to lower prices if they are going to sell. And this doesn’t even take into account that foreclosures are going to start serious price drops soon.
I’mnot trying to be doom and gloom here, I’m just describing what has to happen when we have seen the kind of price bubble we have seen. Prices have to revert to the mean.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Credit Cards Now

Credit-card defaults on rise in US

US consumers are defaulting on credit-card payments at a significantly higher rate than last year, raising the prospect of problems in the stricken US subprime mortgage market spreading to other types of consumer debt.
Credit-card companies were forced to write off 4.58 per cent of payments as uncollectable in the first half of 2007, almost 30 per cent higher year-on-year. Late payments also rose, and the quarterly payment rate – a measure of cardholders’ willingness and ability to repay their debt – fell for the first time in more than four years.

Ripples.

Today’s Republican Arrested For Sex Crime Post – Senator Craig of Idaho

ANOTHER Republican official arrested… BREAKING NEWS: Senator arrested in airport restroom

According to the police report obtained by Roll Call, Sgt. Dave Karsnia of the airport police was investigating a men’s room where frequent arrests have been made for sexual activity. Soon after the plainclothes officer took a seat in a stall, he noticed “an older white male with gray hair standing outside my stall.” He peered through a crack in the door for two minutes before entering the adjacent stall.
The officer reported that Craig tapped his right foot, “a common signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.” Craig allegedly moved his right foot so that it touched the officer’s left foot. When the officer flashed his badge beneath the stall wall, Craig reportedly exclaimed, “No!” The officer informed him he was under arrest and took him for 45 minutes of interrogation and photographing.

and Sen. Craig arrested in airport men’s room; admits to disorderly conduct – On Deadline,

Roll Call is reporting that Sen. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, was arrested earlier this summer in a men’s room at the Minneapolis airport by an undercover officer investigating complaints about sexual activity. The Capitol Hill newspaper says it obtained the arrest report.
So far, CNN and several blogs are reporting the news.
On Aug. 8 Craig pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. A 10-day sentence was stayed, but he received a year probation and paid more than $500 in fines and fees, Roll Call writes.
A spokesman for Craig described the June 11 incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding,” and said the senator’s office would release a fuller statement later today.

How many is this now? Hookers, soliciting blow jobs in mens’ rooms…
Update – To be clear, I don’t care if someone wants to see a hooker or get a blowjob in a mens’ room – that is their business. But the Republican Party stands for putting people in jail for things like this. They think it is their business to tell everyone else what to do and how to live their lives. And the fact is that most of them don’t care either – they do it themselves. But they use that kind of stuff to trick good people into voting for them so they can then loot the treasury and launch wars. I am sick of it, and I hope a lot of other people are as well.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Existing Sales Fall Again

Home sales hit slowest pace in 5 years,

Sales of existing homes dropped for a fifth straight month in July, falling to the slowest pace in nearly five years, while home prices fell for a record 12th consecutive month.

Listen, people, this is only just starting. Where I live in California it hasn’t even started – owners don’t understand yet that the “price” of their house isn’t what they think. And MOST of the adjustable loan payments haven’t even started ratcheting up yet.
Oh no, this is barely just starting. Prices have to fall a tirid to a half of where they are to get back to normal, and to where regular people can afford to buy a regular house again.

The War On Terror

The country is at war on terror. Why? Because terrorists can kill us.
Cigarettes kill about 400,000 Americans a year. Cars kill about 44,000 Americans each year. Guns kill about 30,000 Americans each year. And then there are the deaths from diseases related to obesity caused by processed and fat-laden foods, deaths from various causes stemming from lack of health insurance… Do I need to go on? These are all examples of Americans killed while big corporations keep us from bringing them under control.
I think the war on terror might just be about distracting us from the things that really CAN kill us.
Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

m4s0n501

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Spreads to Jumbo Loans

The effect of the “credit crunch” are starting to ripple out.
You’ve probably been reading the houses “at the top” are still selling. Expensive houses require big mortgages – called “Jumbo” loans. And getting a jumbo loan has gotten much harder, which means there will be fewer buyers for the houses at the top, which means they are going to sell fewer of them, which means prices there will also have to start dropping. Growing mortgage crisis spreads to jumbo loans,

The evening before their home purchase was to close, Gary Becker and his wife, Amy Dacus, learned their mortgage to buy a Woodinville home had evaporated.
Unlike subprime borrowers defaulting on loans, the couple had a stellar credit score, a 20 percent down payment, strong employment history and had effortlessly purchased three prior homes.
But their new home’s $670,000 sales price was large enough to require a “jumbo” loan, so named because it was for more than $417,000, the limit the nation’s largest mortgage backers will fund.

Why is this happening?

The credit crunch isn’t universal.
Borrowers with good credit scores, good jobs and a down payment still have ready access to 30-year “conforming” loans — those funded through banks and mortgage brokerages by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant federally chartered companies that fund the bulk of the nation’s mortgages.
But Fannie and Freddie cap their loans at $417,000, which means that banks and mortgage companies must tap other sources, such as mortgage-backed securities, for jumbo funds.
In recent weeks a skittish Wall Street has loudly signaled its unwillingness to invest in these securities.

Update – I just have to add this. Maybe we need a version of the Darwin Awards for people who just refuse to keep up with the news and try to buy a house in this market. The people who are not getting the jumbo loans are dodging a huge bullet. What kind of idiot is trying to buy an expensive house in a market where every single news story talks about how no one can sell a house, no one can make their payments, and prices are going to drop dramatically in the next few years?

Continue reading

Tough Republican Choices in California Budget

Shorter Daily Kos: Californication: Yachts safe, homeless not so much.: The new California budget removes $45 million from spending to help the homeless mentally ill, in order to add a $45 million tax break for yacht owners.
California came out of the “conservative revolution” with a requirement that 2/3 of the legislators approve any budget. So a few Republican Senators were able to block passage of the most recent budget until they got everything they wanted. Among other Republican priorities this included a rule preventing California Attorney General Jerry Brown from enforcing global warming rules, and big cuts in health care spending.
How long will the public continue to let this radical minority treat us this way?

Who Is Our Economy FOR, Anyway?

THIS looks interesting!
THE “WHAT’S THE ECONOMY FOR, ANYWAY? CONFERENCE!!!

What’s the economy for, anyway? Is it just about having the biggest GDP or the highest Dow Jones Average? Or is it about providing for a healthy, happy, fair and sustainable society? If you think quality of life matters, and wonder how the United States compares to other countries when it comes to providing for its people, then the WHAT’S THE ECONOMY FOR, ANYWAY? conference is for you!
Dozens of prominent experts and activists will offers parts of the answer to the big question and offer out-of-the-box ideas about what we can do to make our economy serve us instead of vice-versa. Three tracks include FINDING HAPPINESS, SEEKING JUSTICE and SECURING SUSTAINABILITY.

SOMEONE has been reading Seeing the Forest, no?

Bloggers Suck Up To Dems – Trying To Destroy Dems

Booman is giggling over this, and it is pretty funny.

There is something strange going on in the progressive blogosphere these days: instead of uniting against Republicans, progressive bloggers like Matt Stoller have decided to declare war on every Democrat who they consider not to be progressive (read anti-war) enough. Seemingly frustrated that there are actually Democratic Congressmen that do not necessarily always vote along party lines – but make up their own minds – they have decided to ask their readers to make profiles of so-called “Bush Dogs” (Blue Dogs and New Democrats) as to be able to target them in the coming years, and to replace them with progressive, left-wing Republicans.
… Once one pays attention to what is happening, one also sees that they are targeting Hillary Clinton. Obviously not to replace her, but instead to make sure that she does not win the nomination. Besides attacking Hillary straight on, the left-wingers of the Daily Kos, Open Left and MyDD, also seem to have declared Bill Clinton their enemy. Their new best buddy? Al Franken.
[. . .] Make no mistake about it however: once these people get their way regarding Iraq, they will target politicians who they deem not progressive enough on other issues.
And so, slowly but surely, these people are destroying the Democratic Party. The average American does not favor truly progressive policies nor does the average American think highly of the anti-war crowd (led by Kos and Stoller). They might have their fair share of groupies, but so did other totalitarians in the past. These people are totalitarians because they do not accept any dissent.

etc. etc.
Except usually I hear complaints that the progressive bloggers have sold out to “The Democrats” whatever that means.

MoveOn and many of the leading left-wing blogs have become nothing but appendages of the Democratic party

War For Profit

Wanna get angry? I mean really, really angry? I just finished reading The Great Iraq Swindle: : Rolling Stone and I am really, REALLY angry now.
Iraq was the big test of the Republican vision of a privatized, outsourced government. But what it really was, was billions and billions of taxpayer dollars just handed to Republican-crony contractors – to do nothing or worse.

George W. Bush’s war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity — to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.
… What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureauc­racy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profit­eering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure — American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.

Read this story. It talks about the environment in which everyone understood that the gates to the US Treasury were open, and the party was on, and the best part was the government expected you to steal, wanted you to steal, encouraged you to steal – because that was what the war was for.

The Bush administration’s lack of interest in recovering stolen funds is one of the great scandals of the war. The White House has failed to litigate a single case against a contractor under the False Claims Act and has not sued anybody for breach of contract. It even declined to join in a lawsuit filed by whistle-blowers who are accusing KBR of improper invoicing in Fallujah.

And then anyone who tries to do anything about it is fired and blacklisted – or worse. Worse, as in forced out of the protected, guarded areas and on your own among the insurgents.

What’s more, when anyone in the government tried to question what contractors were up to with taxpayer money, they were immediately blackballed and treated like an enemy.
[. . .] And how did her superiors in the Pentagon respond to the wrongdoing highlighted by their own chief procurement officer? First they gave KBR a waiver for the overbilling, blaming the problem on an Iraqi subcontractor. Then they dealt with Greenhouse by demoting her and cutting her salary, citing a negative performance review. The retaliation sent a clear message to any would-be whistle-blowers. “It puts a chill on you,” Greenhouse says. “People are scared stiff.”
They were scared stiff in Iraq, too, and for good reason. When civilian employees complained about looting or other improprieties, contractors sometimes threatened to throw them outside the gates of their bases — a life-threatening situation for any American.

Go read it.