The radical homosexual Koala agenda

Australia rocked by 'lesbian' koala revelation.

A pox on female koalas! They just want you to believe it's natural, when really they are engaged in a coordinated PR campaign targeted at destroying the building block of Koala society: One man bear married to one woman bear living in a tree and eating nuts.

No redemption

Sy Hersh is reporting that Covert U.S. Funds Are Being Funneled To Al Qaeda . If true, there is absolutely no redeeming quality I recognize left in this administration.

The only thing we can do, not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans, is try to limit the damage this president can do in the time he has left. He is not worthy of the title or of our trust.


He Is Really, Really Anti-Choice

"He's pretty moderate."
"He's a Republican I'd actually vote for."
"He seems to have integrity."
"I'd definitely vote for him over Hillary."

How many times have you heard your liberal friends say this about John McCain? Or maybe you've even said one of these gems yourself? Do you assume McCain's pro-choice because he seems to be an alright kinda guy? Well, he's really, really not. Read it for yourself:

I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned.

I fully support voting for Republican candidates who are party stand-outs. I even voted for Lincoln Chafee in the 2000 RI Senate. But I'm afraid Democrats are being lured into supporting McCain's campaign for superficial reasons without knowing the full truth about his positions. You heard it from the man himself: he would support overturning Roe.


Let the scales fall from your eyes

As with most polls, this one isn't so much measuring reality as it is measuring people's perceptions of reality. Or to put it another way, it's tallying how many people are duped by the dominant ideology of this bogus "clash of civilizations". Note, for example, that Nigeria is the only nation that exceeds the U.S. in the percentage of people who think "differences of religion/culture" are the cause of Islam-West tensions. And that Lebanon and Mexico seem to have the most clarity about the issue.


Al Franken's signoff and announcement

MP3 of Al Franken's signoff from Air America and his announcement that he's running for U.S. Senate in Minnesota.

And of course, the video announcement and Al Franken for Senate web site.

Bernanke deflects some subprime queries, but becomes briefly lucid on inequality (Plus: what is up with the fluctuating Fed?)

Amid all the hootin' and hollerin' regarding Ben Bernanke's glowing testimony today, I found this exchange, which apparently hasn't been printed elsewhere (emphasis mine):

Dodd cited a December letter he and five committee colleagues sent to regulators, including the Fed, urging them to expand consumer protections for subprime mortgage borrowers, those with weak credit who are typically subject to higher interest rates.

The response, that regulators were thinking about the issue, "was a little inadequate," Dodd told Bernanke today during the Fed chairman's semiannual appearance before the committee. Dodd said he was concerned "about the predatory lending practices that go on" in the subprime market.

Bernanke said, responding to a later question, that "distress" in the subprime market is of "significant concern" to him, though he didn't yet think it had implications for the larger economy.

"Evidently, some loans have been made that are not turning out well, to the detriment of both the lenders and the borrowers," Bernanke said.

He said the Fed and other regulators "will certainly be watching that carefully and trying to provide guidance and oversight to minimize that risk going forward."

I like these bits: no "implications for the larger economy" -- meaning when poor people get thrown out of their new homes, the "larger economy" gets barely a dent, maybe even a boost. And finally, "that risk going forward," meaning the backward part of the risk -- the part where someone is rendered into debt peonage if not utterly homeless -- means nothing to the Fed. As it should.

On the other hand, Bernanke didsay this:

To retain support for policies of free trade, open borders, technological change, flexible labor markets, we need to make sure that the gains and benefits from these powerful growth-producing forces are broadly shared and that people understand that these things are good for the American economy and good for people generally in the economy.

Nearly brought a tear to my eye, that did. Not sure how he's figuring on "broadly sharing" these growth-producing forces (tax policy, maybe?), but it's a start.

In any case, the show will go on the next couple days. But there's a back story: last week, Susan B. Bies -- a centrist, expert on bank regulation, and the Fed's only woman -- stepped down in order to "spend more time with her family" (this seems an evasive reason since both her sons are adults). Her term was due to expire in 2012. Now Bush has two Fed vacancies to fill (Mark Olson -- a native Minnesotan -- resigned last June to head the SOX-begat PCAOB, which may or may not survive the relentless assault from the free-market crazies.) Additionally, the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank announced a new president last Thursday, and the heads of both the Chicago Fed and Boston Fed have announced they will step down this year. What's going on? At first I suspected some ideological bullying from the top, but Douglas S. Roberts at BloggingStocks inadvertently suggests a more frightening reason: increasing fluidity between the supposedly independent Fed and the business community.

As for the rumors that some type of a "palace coup" is taking place at Fed, I view this as highly unlikely. There has always been turnover at the Fed. This is largely due to the attractiveness of opportunities in the private sector. Former Fed Governors can move into very lucrative, senior positions on Wall Street or start their own international consulting firms.

This is very different from the past, when often a Fed Governorship was the culmination of a long, distinguished academic career. My former academic adviser when I was a student at the Wharton School of Finance in the early 1980's was a Fed Governor as well as a distinguished economist. In contrast, Susan Bies was actually a senior executive at First Tennessee National Corp. prior to joining the Fed.

This sort of thing screams for more Congressional oversight and stricter vetting of Fed nominees. Better to have distinguished academics setting far-sighted policy than greedy bizzers ready to hop off the train at the next gold dig.

Democrats vs. Bernanke

It'll be worth checking out the Bernanke Show for the next couple days, as Democrats plan to confront him (finally) on the growing income gap between rich and poor:

Fed officials argue a tight labor market may spur faster inflation and are threatening to resume rate increases they suspended in August. Democrats are determined to pry the central bank loose from the concept that wage growth and low unemployment necessarily translate into inflation.

"The model risks persistent and unnecessary slack in the economy, wasting billions of dollars and consigning millions of potential workers to fewer job opportunities and lower wages than should be the case," said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think-tank funded partly by labor groups.

In the Senate, where Bernanke opens his testimony today at 10 a.m., Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, wants to discuss ``interest rates and their impact on the financial opportunities of middle-income families.'' Dodd, 62, also wants to address ``stagnant incomes,'' according to a statement his office issued Feb. 12.

Bernanke, 53, testifies before the House Financial Services Committee tomorrow. Committee Chairman Barney Frank of Massachusetts has summoned economists, including Bernstein, to a hearing on Feb. 16 to appraise Bernanke's testimony.

Call me a macroeconomic moron, but how is it that economic "growth" (as in "rich get richer") is good, whereas "inflation" (whatever that is, though now it seems primarily to refer to increasing wages) is "bad"? In any case, definitely some testimony worth following.


Pros and Cons of Barack Obama


  • Just like his touchstone Abraham Lincoln, he acts like a principled idealist, but at bottom he seems like a crafty stoic. This latter trait can be the making of a great president (cf. FDR, Lincoln, Eisenhower, Polk).
  • With Obama at the helm, America will definitely look a lot less ridiculous to the rest of the world. Partly this might have something to do with his brains, heritage and skin color, but mostly it's the fact that he's not a sinister puppet. And also, that smile.
  • He voted againstCAFTA, for the totally retro reason that it would hurt American workers (though he wasn't exactly a lone wolf on that roll call: 44 other senators voted against it). Still, it suggests he's not ready to shake hands with the invisible hand of globalism just yet.
  • He's in favor of network neutrality. I know this seems like a tiny issue for a presidential candidate, but it demonstrates that he's willing to draw a firm line in the sand when it comes to that escalating "everything for sale" corporate mentality.


  • He's been marking his campaign with weasel words such as "journey", "hope", "quest", and "destiny," which suggests a total lack of imagination and even a teensy bit of mushbrain (not to mention that "destiny" has been owned by Darth Vader since 1981).
  • His misapprehension of Abraham Lincoln's character ("[Lincoln] tells us that there is power in hope" etc.) suggests either a cynical manipulation of an American myth, or Obama's true belief that Lincoln was a dreaming idealist. If the former, then whatever, Obama's a politician. But if the latter, then we're in trouble.
  • He played a really crappy U2 song ("City of Blinding Lights") to open his campaign kickoff speech. I mean, sure, it wasn't Radiohead (that would've cost him my vote). But U2? A somber quartet of Irish millionaires? For the record: at least two-fifths of Fleetwood Mac were American citizens when Bill Clinton used "Don't Stop" in his 1992 campaign.
  • He seems to be repeating the unquestioning pro-Israel cant of so many neocons and beltway insiders. If he truly wants to "usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth" (the closing words of his speech), then he should probably look at Israel with a more critical, even jaundiced, eye.
  • Each of us, in our own lives, will have to accept responsibility - for instilling an ethic of achievement in our children, for adapting to a more competitive economy, for strengthening our communities, and sharing some measure of sacrifice. So let us begin. Let us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation. That there's a nice lawyerly dose of "ask not" escapism from Obama's infuriatingly moderate campaign kickoff speech. Utterly meaningless. Haven't we been "working hard" already, fending off predatory lenders, trading our talents for diminishing returns in crap jobs, tossing frayed lifelines to our hurricane-drowned peeps? Instead of the elder Bush's "thousand points of light", we get "a thousand communities instilled with an ethic of achievement." You know, places like Kenwood or Darien, CT! Same old class reproduction couched in pseudo-meritocracy blather. Them that's got shall get. Them that's not shall lose.

Well, Jesse Jackson he ain't. On the whole, I'm wary of Obama's centrism, almost as if he sees the Presidency as an end in itself (but then, so did Lincoln). Still, I'd vote for him if he wins the nomination (whereas I would not vote for a New Democrat such as Hillary Clinton). And I still prefer the open class warfare of John Edwards, a healthy bit of angry ideology that might actually turn this country around.


The Truth About the Myths About the Bush Tax Cuts

Last week the Brian M. Riedl posted his Ten Myths About the Bush Tax Cuts with accompanying "truths," nearly all of which (myths #3 and #6 do contain a kernel of mythology) struck me as dorm bull-session sophistry. Myth #8 is especially grating, though I'm happy to know that "pro-growth tax cuts" are the Official Euphemism for "tax cuts for the rich" (more on my irritation with "growth" here).

Anyway the good folks at Angry Bear are toppling the "myths" one by one. And it goes without saying that not one of Riedl's "myths" acknowledge the fact that tax avoidance, tax competition, and tax fraud run rampant among upper income brackets, and that falling revenues probably have much (or everything) to do with these moral hazards than with federal policy changes.

Richard Murphy confronts this last point at his blog, where he also unearths a password-protected Wall Street Journal editorial which uses the new tax gap as springboard for pimping another absurdly regressive flat tax. (The cardboard corpse of Steve Forbes: Presidential Candidate rattles often on the WSJ editorial page, don't it?)

Well anyway, at least now the Democratic Congress is trying to do something about this tax mess, though not without antagonizing the "small business lobby" (which is really a hand puppet of the big-business lobby, and both sure do a lot of play-acting as "victim" when socially defensible legislation hits the Hill).


Blogumentary: Local politics

An excerpt from Blogumentary which is now available for download in its entirety on Google Video.

It documents the rise of political and personal blogs, from the early days up through the Iraq War and Dan Rather's downfall - not to mention sweet blog love. Features interviews with Jason Kottke, Jeff Jarvis, John Hinderaker, Joe Trippi, Rebecca Blood, David Weinberger, my mom, my girlfriend, and myself.


Pakou Hang

Pakou Hang is a Hmong woman who worked for Paul Wellstone, and now teaches and inspires children with Paul's message.

This short is from THE MAGIC GREEN SCHOOL BUS. Its a documentary portrait of Paul made by kids at Lake Country School in Minneapolis with their teacher Malinda Holte and the artist Media Mike Hazard.

It airs on Sunday February 4 at 6pm on The Minnesota Channel, TPT-17. Check local listings. It is a trip for people of every age.

SEE ALSO: Pakou Hang for Saint Paul City Council