On Corporate Power

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism–ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
- – Franklin D.Roosevelt
“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
- – Benito Mussolini

The Unity Party – Meet In The Middle?

Chris at Open Left talks about the “need” for a “middle” party of Unity”

. . . over the last five years, Democrats in Congress have only blocked the following pieces of legislation:
* Three conservative judges (out of several dozen)
* Privatization of Social Security
* Retroactive immunity for telecom companies in the warrantless spying program.
* Legislation to deport millions of illegal aliens
Given that these are the only conservative pieces of legislation that Democrats in Congress have blocked in the past five years, one must assume that a “government of national unity” means a government that will confirmation 100% of all conservative judges, the destruction of social security, retroactive immunity of telecom companies, and the mass deportation of twelve million people. If this third-party did not favor these things, then there would be absolutely no need to form “a government of national unity.” Those four things are the sum total of what Democrats in Congress have prevented Republicans from passing, and thus are the entirety of what Democrats have contributed to “gridlock in Washington.” Every other reform has been blocked by Republicans.

Go read.

Who Do These People (The Press) Think They Are?

Brent Budowsky: Media Insiders Shaft Biden, Richardson, Dodd, Kucinich and America – Media on The Huffington Post

[. . .] The insider political media is now embedded with, and morphed into, the insider political classes to the point where they part of the same beast. The insider political reporters have moved beyond the courtiers that Stephen Colbert so brilliantly satired two White House correspondents dinners ago; and have fully joined the home team of the insider Washington establishment.
This class decided a year ago which candidate was inevitable, and which candidates were exiled into the insider media gulag, destined to disappear as though they never existed.
By any standard, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd stand at the top of the list in presidential qualification, stature, substance and a lifetime of depth and achievement. A reasonable person might conclude that each of these three, has equal or greater qualification to be president as any of the three leading Democrats.
[. . .] Who do these people think they are, that during most of the presidential debates, the three candidates with such vast experience had to virtually ask permission, to sandwich a few seconds of their views, into the most boring, shallow, vapid, pointless debates that any serious democracy could possibly conduct at such a momentous time in our history?
Regarding the last Iowa Democratic debate, who do these sainted Iowa debate organizers think they are, that Alan Keyes gets prime participation in the Republican debate while Dennis Kucinich is banned from the Democratic debate?
I cannot even show minimal professional respect; only an idiot would give Keyes prime exposure while treating Kucinich like a Guantanamo detainee; and the idiots that made this decision have far too much power, in Iowa and nationally, for the health of our democracy.

Go read – it’s great.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Next Year, Not Just Subprime

So far we have been hearing about a “problem” with “subprime” mortgages that went to people with bad credit. Then we heard about problems with “adjustable” mortgages where the payments go up after a period of time and mortgages with no down payments and mortgages where the borrower didn’t have to verify how much income they really had. You can readily see where there could be problems with all of those.
My prediction for next year is that the problem will spread to regular mortgages given to regular people with good credit. The reason I think this will happen is that I think housing prices are going to fall quite a bit. If prices go to where they should be according to historical norms, or according to the historic ratio between rents and prices,or according to what always happens when bubbles pop, then they are going to fall as much as 40-50%. Maybe even more. (And never mind that the “boomers” are starting to retire and will not need the houses many of them have further increasing inventory and decreasing demand…)
So next year we’re going to see a LOT of regular people with regular mortgages go “underwater” — meaning they will owe a lot more than the current market price of their houses. In many states the regulations allow people to get out of their mortgages by giving the house to the lender and not have to make up the difference if the mortgage is for more than the house can sell for. And many will do exactly that. (Which will even further increase inventory and put pressure on prices.)
So next year I predict the credit crisis is going to get a LOT worse.

Shock Economics – Arm Yourself With Information

After a traumatic event people are in shock. And that is when the capitalists push through a series of radical changes to the system, all in their favor, before citizens get a chance to catch their breath, understand what is happening to them, and fight back. For example, since 9/11 how many things have changed here in favor of the big corporations and against the citizens? (The Department of Homeland Security prohibited unions and outsourced all those government workers. The war in Iraq. The Constitution no longer means anything. Oil company profits are beyond belief, etc…)
Watch this short film about Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism:

This short film concludes that the best defense is to arm yourself with information. To that end I strongly, strongly recommend that you watch the four-part series The Century of the Self.
Here is episode one, but it is so much better to go to the Google Video site and see it in higher resolution.Go see Episode two
Episode three
Episode four

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – New Home Sales Fall More And Expected

A bulletin arrived in my e-mail this morning with the headline, “U.S. new-home sales fall more significantly than forecast in November” All I could think to say was “NOT”
No, everyone who actually learns about what is going on with housing is surprised that ANY new homes were sold, and that ANYone is stupid enough to buy ANY house until the price reverts to the mean. This is a popping bubble, people. If you buy a house now it will be worth a third less in two years. ANY house! Remember how many stocks went to zero after being “golden” for so long? This is what HAPPENS when bubbles pop. DUH!
Sorry.
U.S. Nov. new-home sales fall 9% to 647,000 pace – MarketWatch

Sales of new U.S. homes fell by a more-than-expected 9% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 647,000, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch were expecting new home sales to drop to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 710,000 in November. Meanwhile, October’s sales rate was revised downward, to rise by 711,000, or 1.7%. They were previously estimated to have risen to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 728,000. In the past year, sales of new U.S. homes are down 34.4% nationwide.

Republicans Get To Their Point

Republicans are making their point more clear — and the point is that hatred and bigotry will be their 2008 campaign theme: Chase “the Muslims” “back to their caves.”

John Deady, Co-Chair for New Hampshire’s Veterans for Rudy:

…(Rudy Giuliani has) the knowledge and judgment to attack one of the most difficult problems in current history. And that is the rise of the Muslims. And make no mistake about it, this hasn’t happened for a thousand years. These people are very, very dedicated. They’re also very smart, in their own way. And we need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people ‘til we defeat them or chase them back to their caves, or in other words, get rid of them.

Go read more and see the video clip.

Best of 2007

As I wrote earlier, Jon Swift put together a roundup of best blog posts of 2007 from a number of bloggers. So I looked through all of my 2007 posts and picked out a few.
It turns out that I co-wrote the one I submitted to Jon, The Boy Who Cried Terror, with James Boyce. Oops.
So here is a collection of the Seeing the Forest Best of 2007, not in any order:
Did Spitting ‘Victim’ from DC Protest Cry Wolf?
If Iran And Islamofascists Are A Threat: What Bush Must Do.
How the “Pelosi 757” Lie Was Spread.
The Media Does Not Act In The Public Interest.
The Reach Of Progressive Blogs.
While Progressives Talk To Each Other, Conservatives Talk To The Public.
Five Years of Seeing the Forest.
The First Problem in Iraq is BUSH.
Why Don’t Democrats Have “Courage?”
A Bad Ad In A Teachable Moment.
What I Expect In 2008.
All of the Housing Bubble Post archives are here.
And of course everything I wrote with James Boyce, which is archived at Smoking Politics.

DownWithTyranny Banned In Burma!

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Go read the whole thing: DownWithTyranny!: Update to Howie’s post from Myanmar: NO MORE POSTS FROM MYANMAR,

Let’s suppose you’re a functionary working for a tinpot dictatorship, and you hear tell of a website called “DownWithTyranny.” Do you:
(a) E-mail your friends saying, “Hmm, this sounds way cool”?
(b) Read some back posts, adding snarky comments reflecting the pro-tyrannical point of view?
(c) Block the shit out of the damn thing?