Greg Prince's Blog

Musings and pontifications from a reality based progressive

Archive for November, 2007

The economic risk of Bush policies

Posted by Greg on November 30, 2007

Interesting take on the economic risk of the low dollar, trade imbalance, etc.  Definitely worth a read.

A few years ago the euro was worth 85 cents.  Today it is worth $1.48.  This is an enormous decline in the exchange value of the US dollar.  Foreigners who finance the US budget and trade deficits have experienced a huge drop in the value of their dollar holdings.  The interest rate on US Treasury bonds does not come close to compensating foreigners for the decline in the value of the dollar against other traded currencies.  Investment returns from real estate and equities do not offset the losses from the decline in the dollar’s value. 

China holds over one trillion dollars, and Japan almost one trillion, in dollar-denominated assets.  Other countries have lesser but still substantial amounts. As the US dollar is the reserve currency, the entire world’s investment portfolio is over-weighted in dollars.

No country wants to hold a depreciating asset, and no country wants to acquire more depreciating assets.  In order to reassure itself, Wall Street claims that foreign countries are locked into accumulating dollars in order to protect the value of their existing dollar holdings.  But this is utter nonsense.  The US dollar has lost 60% of its value during the current administration.  Obviously, countries are not locked into accumulating dollars.

Note, the author is a bit overwrought in places, but the central point about the risk to the American and world economies bears discussion.

Posted in Economics | Leave a Comment »

Past meets future

Posted by Greg on November 30, 2007

A Sully commentator has an interesting perspective on the current GOP race:

It would be a fascinating race if that’s what it turns out to be. A reader writes:

It is urban vs. rural, lapsed Catholic vs. fundamentalist Protestant, North East v. Deep South. On the issues, it breaks down along those lines. Look at how they stand on trade, taxes, guns, gays, abortion, healthcare. They both symbolize parts of the GOP that hate each other. After all do you really think guys who work on Wall Street want to hang out with the Values Voters, or vice versa? If it comes down to these two against each other and it gets nasty that could really divide the party for a long time.

But Huckabee represents the future of Rove’s sectarian, big government party, and Giuliani the conservative past. The only thing keeping Rudy alive, I think, is his authoritarian appeal to the Jacksonian “bomb-em-round-em-up-and-torture-them” wing of the GOP. So the two natural developments of the Bush years – massive spending and untrammeled executive war-power – find their two representatives. And if you’re a traditional conservative, you feel like slashing your wrists.

It’s an interesting thought, and one that can be extended.  Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo are the crazy old aunts in the attic, banging around and embarrassing the “nice” people downstairs.  Fred Thompson is the “one up” uncle whose real life exploits are far less exciting than the accomplishments he claims in from the distant past.

Posted in Election 2008, The Right | Leave a Comment »

Funding choices

Posted by Greg on November 29, 2007

Check out Blue Hampshire’s poll on the immortal question:

We should pay for Republican adultery through:

Posted in The Right | Leave a Comment »

A stinking pile of creationism

Posted by Greg on November 29, 2007

Whatever’s John Scalzi visits the Creationism Museum.

Imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit. And we’re not talking just your average load of horseshit; no, we’re talking colossal load of horsehit. An epic load of horseshit. The kind of load of horseshit that has accreted over decades and has developed its own sort of ecosystem, from the flyblown chunks at the perimeter, down into the heated and decomposing center, generating explosive levels of methane as bacteria feast merrily on vintage, liquified crap. This is a Herculean load of horseshit, friends, the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Augeas.

And you look at it and you say, “Wow, what a load of horseshit.”

Read the whole thing.

Posted in Science | Leave a Comment »

Booing veterans

Posted by Greg on November 29, 2007

Follow this link to get to a transcript of the GOP debate.  Some interesting points were made, Giuliani spanking McCain over the line item veto, for example.

From the volume of blogosphere posts, an apparent highlight was retired General Keith Kerr whose question was:

My name is Keith Kerr, from Santa Rosa, California. I’m retired brigadier general with 43 years of service, and I’m a graduate of the Special Forces Officer Course, the Command and General Staff Course, and the Army War College. And I’m an openly gay man.

I want to know why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians.

It’s a fair question, and he got the expected non response responses. The Carpetbagger Report picks up on something I missed:

CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Gen. Kerr, who was in the audience for the event, whether he was satisfied with the responses. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t.

“With all due respect, I did not get an answer from the candidates,” Kerr said, adding, “We’re talking about doctors, nurses, pilots, and the surgeon who sews somebody up when they’re taken from the battlefield.”

At which point, the Republican audience began booing the 43-year military veteran. It was an interesting contrast — at Democratic debates, veterans get standing ovations. At Republican debates, veterans get booed if they’re gay.

It’s an interesting point.  Basic questions of fairness and equality shouldn’t be controversial or even remotely partisan in 2008.  And the GOP “base” booing a veteran with 43 years of service is just pathetic.  And the usual suspects are spewing spittle over the ex post facto revelation that Kerr is leaning democratic.

Carpetbagger continues:

I’m not sure what the fuss is about. Kerr asked a legitimate question about a political issue. Candidates answered it. Kerr defended his position, and the conservative audience booed him. Who cares if he supports a Democratic presidential candidate? It wasn’t a partisan question.

It seems to me the problem here is that Republican presidential candidates want to discriminate against able-bodied, patriotic Americans, who are prepared to put their lives on the line during a war for their country. Conservatives can’t explain why this policy makes any sense at all, so they’re attacking an honorable, 43-year military veteran for daring to raise the subject in the first place.

Booing Kerr isn’t the answer; allowing equality in our ranks is.

Posted in Civil Rights, Election 2008, The Right | Leave a Comment »

Hagel piles on

Posted by Greg on November 29, 2007

Senator Chuck Hagel piled on to the Bush White House yesterday at a Council for Foreign Relations event in New York.

Hagel, who considered running for the GOP presidential nomination as an antiwar candidate, told the foreign policy experts that he would give the Bush administration “the lowest grade of any I’ve known.”

“I have to say this is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I’ve ever seen or ever read about,” Hagel said, according to our colleague Robert Kaiser, who attended the speech. In case his audience didn’t get the point, Hagel also said: “They have failed the country.”

He’s absolutely right, of course, but few among the GOP recognize that.

Hat tip: Think Progress

Posted in Bush Adminisration | Leave a Comment »

The spin cycle

Posted by Greg on November 29, 2007

Kagro at Kos has a good take on the Giuliani Affair:

Rudy will no doubt deny any knowledge of, oh, you know, how the city’s finances are run (even as he takes credit for “fixing” them), and then maybe even fall back on the, “Hey, it’s a fact of life and everyone has a private life” explanation.

But while it’s true that everyone has a private life, it’s also true that public leaders know its price. If you want to claim it’s no big deal that Giuliani was having an adulterous affair, that’s one thing. But why not just be an adult and have it, already? Why the long drives out of the city, when you know full well it’s going to cost $3,000 a pop (no pun intended — and we hope he got a better rate than that by buying in bulk)? What was the taxpayer cost of having his gal pal come by the mansion?

But he didn’t want to do that, because that would be unseemly. Family ValuesTM and all, you know. So he snuck out to the Hamptons instead (where everyone America’s just gotta “have a beer with” summers, dontcha know) and passed the costs on to the city. Because he couldn’t be a man and be honest about what he was doing, and never gave a moment’s thought to whether or not it was fair to make you and me pay for his cowardly selfishness. And why would he? He’s a Republican. Their entire philosophy of government is to privatize the benefits of public expenditures.

So here we are in round one of the spin game. If there could have been no worse timing for breaking the story than the night of a debate, then there’s perhaps no better timing for the spin cycle than during a television writer’s strike, when Giuliani will be spared the acid test of political scandal: late night comedy monologues.

It’s an interesting situation for the righteous folks who haven’t been happy to begin with.  It’s one thing to have skeletons in the closet, but to be paying their room and board at taxpayer expense – and milking unrelated agencies to do so?  That’s going to be an issue.  And it should be.

Posted in Election 2008, Politics in General | Leave a Comment »

Mitt’s quotas

Posted by Greg on November 29, 2007

I’ve tried to avoid Mitt’s asinine “I won’t hire a Muslim” thing because, well, he’s just not worth the effort.  But Polysigh does raise the interesting point about quotas in politics.

Mitt Romney is in a bit of hot water over his comments that he would be unlikely to appoint a Muslim to a cabinet post. He is reported to have said:

Based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a Cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.

Muslims currently make up anywhere from 0.5 to 2.2 percent of the population of the U.S.

In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower appointed Ezra Taft Benson as his secretary of agriculture, making the first Mormon cabinet secretary. At the time, there were approximately 1.2 million Mormons in the U.S., or approximately 0.75 percent of a total population of 160 million.

In 1969 Richard Nixon appointed George Romney, Mitt’s father as his secretary of Housing and Urban Development. At that time, there were 2.8 million Mormons, approximately 1.4 percent of the population of the time.

Does Romney believe that these appointments were not “justified” because Mormons were too small a percentage of the U.S. population? Exactly what percentage of the population do you need in order to claim a position in the Romney cabinet?

Posted in Election 2008 | Leave a Comment »

Freedom of friendly speech?

Posted by Greg on November 29, 2007

John Cole laughs at the complaints on the right that difficult questions were asked at the GOP debate.

Despite earlier stating that “the questions were almost all coherent and well-framed,” we now have a full fledged SCANDAL because not everyone who asked a question at the debate had taken the Virginia GOP Loyalty Oath!

Seriously- I can’t even parody these lunatics anymore. I’ll just leave you with this- it sure is fun watching the group that excoriated Hillary Clinton for planting friendly questioners in her appearances COMPLETELY freak out because CNN refused to make sure all the questioners in the debate last night were friendly to Republicans.

Although, if you think about it, I guess they have to bitch about the media. We all saw their candidates last night. I wouldn’t want to talk about them this morning, either.

Poor babies.   They’ve soiled their diapers.

Posted in Election 2008, The Right | Leave a Comment »

GOP Debate

Posted by Greg on November 29, 2007

Here’s Mitt stepping in it at the GOP You Tube debate.  I’ll have perhaps a comment or two throughout the day as I find time.

Posted in Election 2008 | Leave a Comment »

Tin Man Miracle

Posted by Greg on November 28, 2007

via Andy Borowitz:

In a stunning development that has confounded medical experts around the world, doctors examining Vice President Dick Cheney said today that they have detected signs of a heart.

The vice president was rushed to the hospital over the weekend after complaining of chest pains, but no one in Mr. Cheney’s inner circle suspected that a human heart was the cause.

“We had been operating under the assumption that he didn’t have one,” said chief of staff David Addington, who said that Mr. Cheney also has not had a soul since 1995, when it was purchased by the Halliburton Company.

At George Washington University Hospital, doctors struggled to contain their excitement about what appeared to be the medical anomaly of the century: the sudden appearance of a human heart in a 66-year-old man.

“It is too early to say conclusively,” said Dr. Carol Foyler, head of the team of doctors who examined the vice president. “But so far the beating and pumping sounds we are hearing in the vice president’s chest cavity are very much consistent with his having a heart.”

Dr. Foyler stressed that if the sounds emanating from Mr. Cheney’s chest are those of a human heart, “This will contradict everything we thought we knew about Dick Cheney.”

At the White House, spokesperson Dana Perino said that the sudden appearance of a heart in Dick Cheney’s chest had motivated President Bush to schedule an MRI of his head.

Elsewhere, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) said that writing his memoirs would be “challenging,” adding, “I can’t even remember what I did last night.”

Posted in Humor | Leave a Comment »

Dodd asks an important question

Posted by Greg on November 26, 2007

Posted in Bush Adminisration, Election 2008 | Leave a Comment »

Embarassed to be a Utahn

Posted by Greg on November 21, 2007

Hat tip to Digby for this:

A man is tasered for no  reason other than he has the gall to ask the officer why he was pulled over.

Is this what America is coming to?   What happened to civil rights, and to law enforcement that actually receives respect because it DESERVES respect?

Posted in Justice and the Courts, Utah | Leave a Comment »

I was a stooge

Posted by Greg on November 20, 2007

It seems Scott McClellan wants his dignity back.

”The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

“There was one problem. It was not true.

“I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the president himself.”

Yes Scotty, but it’s been common knowledge that they’re a pack of liars for quite some time now.  You’ll have to do better than that to redeem your credibility.

Posted in Bush Adminisration | Leave a Comment »

Another You Tube question for the GOP candidates

Posted by Greg on November 20, 2007

A question they probably don’t want to answer.

Posted in Civil Rights, Election 2008 | Leave a Comment »