Friday, December 19, 2008

Bristol Palin's Mommy-in-Law Loves Drugs.

Sherry L. Johnston--mother of Levi Johnston, Bristol Palin's husband to be and father of her child--was arrested on Thursday on SIX felony drug counts.  Details about the specific charges and drugs have yet to be released.

HA!  Oh man o man o man, I guess you can take the Palin's outta Wasilla but...well, you know the rest.

The thing is, Sarah Palin is right about some things: her family is nearly as dysfunctional as most.  She has the requisite teen pregnancy, the requisite family drug-addict, and the requisite over-bearing mother who runs for Vice-President.  Wait, what?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama Maddens the Gays, And Rightfully So.

Who is Obama's choice of a spiritual leader for his highly-anticipated and potentially record-breaking inauguration?  

Jeremiah Wright.  

Ha!  GOT YOU!  No, but seriously, it's totally not Jeremiah Wright.  Though, he really should be.  Jeremiah Wright is his pastor for shit's sake.  And, he is as American and as passionate and as worthy a character to send Mr. Obama--the first African-American President, did we forget that?--into the Presidency. 

But alas, it's some Evangelical, of course.

How could he do this to us progressives?!  Rick Warren--the Evangelical southern California minister--claims he champions tolerance and acceptance at his parish, Saddleback Church; but this is a 'tolerance' champion who, in the same INTERVIEW, discussed his church's help in the AIDS crisis and "compared the 'redefinition of marriage' to include gay marriage [and] legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy."  


I mean, I love Obama as much as you do (maybe not you, but DEFINITELY you), but this is a clear F in Ass to the GLBTA community...pun intended? 

In all seriousness, many have described this as Obama's first mistake and indeed it is. Alienating this community--especially in the wake of Prop 8's passage and especially since this minister actively supported Prop 8--is a terrible idea politically and further, damages his credibility as a progressive.  

Can Bill's Foundation Screw Obama's Promise?

Bill Clinton today released a ridiculously long document detailing the list of donors to his private and somewhat controversial foundation.  

It's a shame that he didn't just hold a press conference and air all the massive donations he's received from foreign nationals.  It might've helped to clear the air.

The Obama vetting process for the Clintons a month or so back cleared the way for a Secretary of State nomination for Hillary, but I really wonder how much of the vetting was for show, and how much was a true examination of the the financial dealings of former President Clinton. reports that Clinton has received upwards of 25 million dollars from Saudi sources.  Also, according to Politico, the former president's foundation--The William J. Clinton Foundation--has raised significant resources "from Norway, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Italy and Jamaica."  

If Obama thought he was caught in the Clinton web of entanglements, favors, political currents, and international history during the primary season, he is about to come face to face with that reality in his Presidency.  While Ms. Clinton will serve at Mr. Obama's pleasure, he can nearly guarantee that the Clinton machine will affect the way in which he hopes to conduct diplomacy.  
Look for Obama to break out the short leash on Ms. Clinton (and, presumably, Mr. Clinton), in order to steer away from becoming the administration of political favors.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blagojevich is a Douche; Obama Remains the Man.

If you like to frequent the FOX channel of lies or Drudge Report, you may be crossing your arms, raising your eyebrows and saying "told you so."  But, contrary to the misguided reportage you can find, Obama is NOT connected to this scandal.

Let's review:

One of Blagojevich's (ssss.  It's a tough name, let's admit it.  Maybe the cause of his prickly--pun intended--nature) memorable snippets has already cleared Obama: "They're [Obama Team] not willing to give me anything except appreciation.  Fuck them."  I mean, case fucking closed, right?

GOP pundits were drooling over these headlines for a few brief hours, until they realized that borderline fictitious information was needed to fan the flames in their demoralized party.  The result are articles on conservative sites that weakly connect Obama associates like Jesse Jackson Jr. and Rahm Emanuel (who, by the way, have not been charged nor considered suspects) to the Blagojevich.  

Even the most scathing of articles finally conclude that there is no purported wrongdoing on the part of ANYONE connected to, involved with or close to the President-elect.  One of my favorites claims actually reads "the best evidence that Barack Obama is corrupt is that he is a politician from Chicago."  Nice.  Really, nice job.

Others have pointed to Obama's connection with Blagojevich during Obama's state and national Senatorial campaigns and cry out "See! Look! They ARE connected!"  Hmm.  How would it look during a very public campaign for the DEMOCRATIC governor of the state you plan to represent to NOT endorse you?  The Lieutenant Governor admits that he hasn't had a 'real' conversation with Blagojevich since August of 2007.  But, he must be guilty as sin.  

Let's get real.  Obama is not the messiah nor the magician many hope he will be on January 20th, but he certainly isn't Blagojevich's pawn in the despicable game of selfish politics.  

Blame Game.

Everyone knows that the demise of the Big Three rests on the shoulders of the sniveling, whiny autoworkers.  Right?  Hello?

Please.  The GOP caucus is suddenly heavily invested in the cause of the automakers after blocking the legislation in the Senate that was designed to bridge the failing companies.  The GOP claims that they could not proceed on the legislation since the UAW and its interests had not committed to enough concessions.  

This is ridiculous.  To blame assembly line workers for the massive collapse of multi-billion dollar companies is blame the Enron collapse on the 9-5 cube workers.  

In the first round of bailout pleading, the UAW was the only represented party at the table that came with concessions already made.  What did the CEOs bring?  Oh yeah, a private jet each.

It certainly couldn't be the management of GM, Ford and Chrysler that drove these companies into the blood-red.  No, of course not.  It couldn't have been the decades of relentless lobbying against fuel-efficient technology or environmental responsibility.  No.  Nor could it have been the blind production of Suburbans, Tahoes or Hummers.  Of course not.  The fact that they're drowning in that inventory is irrelevant.  

Come on.  The fact is these companies are mismanaged.  Yes, in part that has to do with the sometimes incestuous relationship with the UAW; however, if two separate car companies can sell nearly an identical number of cars with a disparity of 50 billion (GM lost 25 billion, Toyota gained 25 billion), I think stakeholders, shareholders, and employees deserve some new leadership.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

False Promises.

Legislators represent the people.  The people want prosperity.  The private sector helps to foster that prosperity.  The legislators, in turn, regulate that expanding private sector to protect the people.  These bailouts are a jagged, monstrous monkey wrench in this system.

When Secretary Paulson and Ben Bernanke came crawling to Congress, crying wolf and urging the utmost speed on the passage of a defecit-crushing sum of money, lawmakers bowed.  With a small amount of debate, Paulson assured them that he would buy toxic mortgages and unfreeze the markets.

Well, he didn't buy the mortgages.  He invested the money into companies.  Guess how much money he's lost in that investment?  9 billion dollars.  So, in the first 30 days of the bailout execution, 2% of the first 350 BILLION dollar tranche has already vanished.  The future isn't rosy.  And guess what?  The markets haven't unfrozen.  GM, Ford, and Chrysler can't find financing anywhere.  While due in a large part to their historically poor business sense, their inability to bridge their capital speaks volumes of the continuing credit crisis.  

Let's not forget the staggering amount of money being thrown at companies in bailouts.  It's easy to get lost in this language and in the monstrosity of it all, but guess what 700 billion dollars would buy in 'real-person' budgets?  Well, just your normal, run-of-the-mill ten-thousand dollar vacation to Europe with you and your closest 500 friends.  140,000 times.

We're dealing with big-time bucks, but this is no trip to the Louvre with your buds--this is high-risk, low-reward gambling.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Stigma of Renting.

As Congress continues to work with disgraced financial officers, it's easy to get lost in the jargon and lose interest.  But, as Barney Frank pointed out yesterday, there is an social undercurrent to this crisis that fueled the expansion of the housing bubble and is worth a quick note.

All segments of the financial industry and Congress are, in part, to blame for the housing crisis. However, the consumers that were either duped or lied to themselves felt an overwhelming pressure to get into a home that they owned.  Congressionally funded programs like HUD were setting ambitious goals for homeownership which contributed to the broad social migration into unaffordable homes.

In the past 6-8 years, renting has become a lifestyle of a second-class citizen.  In order to stimulate the economy and prevent the mistakes of the past, as Mr. Frank suggests, the new administration must invest in repairs to crumbling public rental units, and begin to change the public lens with which we all view homeownership in the United States.  


Monday, December 8, 2008

The Transparent President?

Is Obama the ghost of Presidents-future?

In a recent press release, the Obama transition team promoted its commitment to transparency both during pre-inauguration and the presidency.  In addition to meeting minutes and topics, John Podesta, Obama's transition co-char, claimed that this announcement will be merely the tip of the iceberg--a hint at the precedent the incoming President hopes to set for future administrations.

Obama is seemingly following through on this promise by updating his weekly video blogs, however bland they may be.  The crucial test will be the hard-hitting information concerning troop withdrawal timetables, troop buildup in Afghanistan, and pending stimulus legislation.   

I'm as fervent a supporter of Obama as the next teary-eyed-post-election liberal, but so far the 'transparency' videos offer little in the way of policy disclosure.  In the four updates that Obama his delivered, it's tough to glean more than this: he intends to funnel at least 150 billion into green technology--both for jobs and new infrastructure development--and expects that he will have created 2.5 million jobs by 2011.  That's about it.  

While I can understand his hesitancy--Mr. Bush is still technically the Big Man in the Rose Garden--it's time to pack away the rhetoric and lay out, point by point, the objectives and policies of the new administration.  Not only does Obama's team need to hit the ground running (sprinting breathlessly, perhaps) on January 20th, we Americans need to know where we stand in the context of their plans.  


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