On Hallowe’en, Prepare to Be Spooked
Posted on October 30th, 2008 at 4:34 pm by Steve


On the Friday before the 2004 election, ex(?)-CIA asset Osama Bin Laden released a videotape in which he addressed the American people. Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin said at the time, “Bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President.”

Assuming that everyone in the “spooky” underworld is on schedule, that means tomorrow is the big day!

I can hardly wait… (shudder)

Born in 1899, She’s Voting Obama in 2008
Posted on October 30th, 2008 at 3:50 pm by Steve

Amanda Jones, age 109, cast her ballot for Barack Obama

Amanda Jones, 109, the daughter of a man born into slavery, has lived a life long enough to touch three centuries. And after voting consistently as a Democrat for 70 years, she has voted early for the country’s first black presidential nominee.

The full article from the Austin American-Statesman is a good read, despite some of the nasty comments after the article.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before…
Posted on October 30th, 2008 at 10:51 am by Steve

“[Oil company] reports record profits…”

That headline ran today. It also ran in July, 2008. According to my search of the New York Times archives (oil AND record AND (profit OR profits)), it also ran in April, 2008. It also ran in February, 2008. It also ran in February, 2007. It also ran in July, 2006. It also ran in January, 2006. It also ran in October, 2005. It also ran in August, 2005. It also ran in February, 2005. It also ran in August, 2004. It also ran in July, 2004. It also ran in October, 2000. It also ran in July, 2000. It also ran in May, 1997. It also ran in January, 1997. It also ran in January, 1990. It also ran in October, 1988.

It’s funny. I guess if you control the supply of something vital to every sector of the economy, and there’s no limit on your pricing power (other than “the market”), then you can pretty much guarantee you’ll earn a shitload of money.

Here’s the relevant graf from 11 years ago:

Exxon, the largest oil company in the United States, said its profit jumped nearly 49 percent to a record $2.49 billion, or $2 a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $1.68 billion, or $1.35 a share, in the similar quarter of 1995. Revenue climbed to $37.62 billion from $31.50 billion.

And here’s the word today:

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s third-quarter net income rose 58% to a new record of nearly $15 billion… Exxon Mobil said it earned $14.83 billion, or $2.86 a share, up from $9.41 billion, or $1.70 a share in the year-ago period.

Those are quarterly profits, not gross receipts. That’s a profit rate of almost $2,000 per second!

I also enjoyed finding this little nugget in an April 27, 1986 article in the New York Times:

President Reagan urged the repeal of the ”windfall profits” tax on domestic oil in an attempt to help out those companies hit by the price drop.

That tax was repealed on August 23, 1988, and has not been reinstated – although oil prices, which were around $38/barrel in 1980 and had fallen below $20/barrel in 1988, peaked above $140/barrel this summer.

Wonder Woman: I’m afraid of Sarah Palin
Posted on October 30th, 2008 at 9:05 am by lulutsg

“She’s judgmental and dictatorial, telling people how they’ve got to live their lives,” Carter added. “And a superior religious self-righteousness … that’s just not what Wonder Woman is about. Carter said that it was “anti-American” to try to force religious views on others.

Chris Hedges’s Dire Warning for Leftists
Posted on October 29th, 2008 at 9:38 pm by Steve

Chris Hedges won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on terrorism for the New York Times. He’s the author of a number of books, including War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002) and American Fascists (2007), the latter book a disturbing look inside right-wing evangelical Christian movements in the United States. He earned his Masters of Divinity at Harvard in 1975, and he served for several years as the Chief of the Middle East bureau of the New York Times.

In other words – yes, the man has a particular political perspective, but he knows his shit. And what he says in his most recent article for Truthdig is truly terrifying:

A victory by Barack Obama may embolden right-wing populists. They will be able to use Obama and “liberal Democrats” as a lightning rod for the failings, growing poverty and incompetence of the state. The elite – as happens in all such moments of confusion, revolt and social chaos – will probably be forced to make an uncomfortable alliance with right-wing populists if they want to survive. The center of the political spectrum will melt…

We have begun a socialist experiment. George W. Bush and John McCain, in stunning repudiations of all they claimed to believe, call for massive state intervention in the financial markets and the use of billions in government funds to buy major stakes in banks. The question is not whether we will build state socialism. This process has already begun. The only question left is whether this will be right-wing or left-wing socialism.

The left – with a few exceptions, like the Progressive Party in Vermont – has largely thrown in its lot with the Democratic Party. Right-wing populists, as is evidenced by the acrimonious split in the McCain campaign, remain clustered around the fiefdoms of large megachurches that stoke hatred and frightening totalitarian visions of a Christian state. The left has no correlating centers of activism, organization or mass support, especially with the decline of labor unions. If left-wing populists do not rapidly build local organizations, as was done in Vermont, to compete with the right-wing populism of the Christian right, the most dangerous mass movement in American history, they will be easily swept aside.

In other words… the Democratic Party is happy to use the efforts of thousands of dedicated volunteers to elect their candidate; don’t expect the Democrats to return the favor, when those thousands of people are demanding mortgage relief, welfare payments, and health care. The Democrats have demonstrated, time and time again, that they are firmly on the side of the corporate masters, and against the people.

I’m hopeful that, with so many people getting experience in organizing their fellow citizens during the Obama campaign, we’ll find it easier to work together to bring about greater economic and social justice. The big difference will be that, instead of working with the support of the Democratic party, we’ll be “out in the cold,” working against the entire corporate-political juggernaut. If you think it’s hard to fight the Republicans with the Democrats on your side, wait until they’ve ganged up on you!

Hopefully the Progressive Party in Vermont can teach us a few lessons…

Self Interest Trumps Raciscm?
Posted on October 29th, 2008 at 1:04 pm by dr.hoo

obama MLKOne of the blogs I’m checking obsessively these days is Nate Silver’s excellent poll data site www.FiveThirtyEight.com. In addition to fascinating analysis (and detailed critiques of other polling sites) he peppers his blog with a number of anecdotal election stories. This recent post from a caller in Virginia caught my eye:

Last week, Julie Hensley made one of her thousands of phone calls on behalf of Barack Obama. A woman answered. As Hensley ran through her short script, the husband impatiently broke in.

“Ma’am, we’re voting for the n***er.” And hung up.

NOTE: Be sure to check out the final twist to this story at the bottom of the post.

I think this story says a lot about how Obama is winning over folks who otherwise are racist. In troubled times like these, the “content of his character” really is more important than the color of his skin.

We’ve gone down a lot of bad roads in this country, but we are growing up. I see this election very much as a generational shift, from the politics/ideals of the past to those of the future.

UPDATE: More on “Racists for Obama”

Senator Wonder Bra (D-Roxbury)
Posted on October 29th, 2008 at 10:15 am by Steve

Dianne Wilkerson stuffing bribe money into her bra

She had raised herself up from poverty, burst onto the scene as a crusading attorney for the NAACP, and championed good-government causes as a liberal legislative powerhouse. But 15 years after starting her career with the promise of a new kind of political leadership, state Senator Dianne Wilkerson was arrested yesterday and charged with a decidedly old-school form of corruption.

Wilkerson, the lone African-American in the state Senate, was taken into custody at her Roxbury home yesterday morning by federal agents and charged with accepting eight bribes totaling $23,500 to secure a liquor license that can sell for $300,000 on the open market and legislation to pave the way for a towering Roxbury development.

And, yes, that is a surveillance photo of the Senator stuffing alleged bribe money into her bra at a coffee shop next to the State House.

Hubris, thy name is Wilkerson.

Republican Voter Deterrence Strategies
Posted on October 28th, 2008 at 8:39 pm by Steve

Republican voter deterrence

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast report in the latest Rolling Stone on continuing Republican efforts nationwide to disenfranchise eligible voters, quoting a New Mexico voting-rights attorney who says “All these new rules and games are turning voting into an obstacle course that could flip the vote to the GOP in half a dozen states.”

All told, states reported scrubbing at least 10 million voters from their rolls on questionable grounds between 2004 and 2006. Colorado holds the record: Donetta Davidson, the Republican secretary of state, and her GOP successor oversaw the elimination of nearly one of every six of their state’s voters. Bush has since appointed Davidson to the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency created by HAVA, which provides guidance to the states on “list maintenance” methods.

Why I’m Voting Cthulhu
Posted on October 28th, 2008 at 6:29 pm by Steve

Cthulhu 2008

Why vote for a lesser evil?

“Which Country’s Government Am I?”
Posted on October 28th, 2008 at 5:40 pm by Steve

Stolen from a comment on IOZ’s blog by aaron:

Which country’s government am I?

  1. I sink hundreds of billions into armaments, bankrupting myself and creating a current accounts deficit with my own extraterritorial dependencies.
  2. I invade Afghanistan.
  3. I have a centralized banking system.
  4. I own the means of production (auto manufacturing for example).
  5. I imprison millions of my own citizens.

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