Saturday, September 27, 2008


A Non-Expert Opinion

Somebody with the screen name "commishiv250" posted the following comment on the Washington Post site:

Like so many others I am sick to death of the political thievery underway in D.C. Has anyone thought of bailing out the American People? So many crazy ideas and plots in the capitol, how about another? I'm against the $85 BILLION bailout recently approved for AIG. If it isn't too late, a friend of mine came up with the following solution:

Instead giving it to AIG, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a "We Deserve It" dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bona fide U.S. citizens, aged 18+. Our population is about 301 million counting every man, woman and child. so, 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up. Now, divide 200 million, 18+ adults into $85 billion - that equals $425,000.00 each!

Yes, my plan is to give that $425,000 to every adult as a "We Deserve It" dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So, let's assume a tax rate of 30%. Everyone would pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25.5 billion right back to Uncle Sam! It also means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife would have $595 ,000.00!

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00?

· Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved
· Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads
· Put away money for college - it'll really be there
· Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs
· Buy a new car - create jobs
· Invest in the market - capital drives growth
· Pay for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves
· Enable Deadbeat Parents to come clean - or else

Remember this is for every adult U.S. citizen, 18 and older (including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehmann Brothers and every other company that is cutting back) and of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces. If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult U.S. citizen!!

As for AIG - liquidate it.

· Sell off its parts.
· Let American General go back to being American General.
· Sell off the real estate.
· Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

We deserve the money and AIG doesn't. Sure it's a crazy idea, but can you imagine the coast-to-coast block party?!

How do you spell Economic Boom? W-e D-e-s-e-r-v-e I-t D-i-v-i-d-e-n-d!

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion "We Deserve It" dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington, D.C.. And remember, The plan only really costs $59.5 billion because $25.5 billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Any nuttier than the ones presently being seriously considered?

9/27/2008 11:57:00 AM

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Thursday, September 25, 2008


They used to call it dystopia.

Science fiction readers may recall a book from 1952,
"The Space Merchants" by Frederick Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth. The book provided a humorous view of the future, where political governance and national boundaries are replaced by the interests of giant monopolistic capitalist entities.

Fast forward to 2008. The following is from The Albuquerque Journal, business section, Wednesday, September 24.

"Ups and Downs

A look at some factors playing into the changes in financial markets


The government's recent interventions are separating companies into too big to fail, and others too small to bother rescuing. The big have the potential to get even stronger because the perception that the government stands behind their debts can make it possible for them to borrow money more cheaply.

"If there is a group of financial institutions in the United States that are immortal and others -- thousands and thousands -- are too small to save, then the immortals clearly have a leg up," said Kenneth A. Guenther, former president of Independent Community Bankers of America.

The result is likely to be a shakeout leading to greater concentration of power, less competition and higher prices, some industry watchers say...."

Read "The Space Merchants" again. It may not seem so funny anymore.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


It's not my fault!

OK, here's the problem with partisan politics. It is based on placing blame, the notion that everything bad that happens in government is the fault of the other party.

Somehow, fans of talk radio and other doctrinaire Republicans have managed to conclude that this $700 billion dollar mortgage bailout is the fault of the Democratic congress. In the bizarro world of right-wing commentary, the greed-based actions of capitalists running amok were caused by a liberal mindset in Washington.


Here are my uninformed citizen suggestions:

Require any politician who votes for this deal to contribute an additional $2,300 from his or her own money.

Require the executives of any institution that receives or will receive federal bailout funding to pony up the personal profits -- pay, options, benefits, whatever -- from their last two years of business.

Set up some kind of government authority to help homeowners whose houses are too big and expensive for their budgets find and trade down to smaller dwellings or rental properties. While we Americans do not want to put anybody out on the street, we are not willing to subsidize those whose eyes were larger than their wallets. These people may be victims of unscrupulous mortgage lenders, but now they can use a dose of reality. It may not be necessary to set up a whole new bureaucracy, just to increase funding and support to local housing services.

We are generous people. Just don't ask us to eat beans so we can afford the bill for someone else's steak.

And stop babbling about whose fault this is. Years ago, a very smart person (my mother) gave me the following analogy:

A bunch of people -- probably a family -- is sitting at the table eating dinner. Somehow, and no one really sees how it happened, a glass of milk gets knocked over and milk starts running all over the table, into the serving dishes, and on to the floor. How do you react? Do you (1) engage in a big argument and discussion about whose fault it is that the milk spilled, in order to ascertain who should have to clean it up, while that spilled milk spreads? Or do you (2) quietly and quickly work together to clean up the mess and then finish eating?

In option one, everybody's dinner is ruined and you may or may not find out who accidentally tipped over the milk. But choose in option two, and everybody gets to complete their pleasant meal.

So how about we just wipe up the milk.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008


How about some honesty and humility from both sides?

The other day I got into a heated exchange with a well-meaning Republican friend about the way this election is going. Someone on a site I read had been writing about the people she encountered who still thought Barack Obama was a Muslim, that he insisted on being sworn in to the Senate on a Quran, that his wife went around calling people whitey. "If Obama loses because people really don't approve of his plans to govern," I tried to say, "that will be something I can accept. But if most voters are basing their decision on flat-out lies, I might have to move to New Zealand."

My friend wasn't interested in having this particular conversation. (I'm pretty sure it's because he knows in his heart that lies are the only way McCain can win.) I know people who will never vote for a Democrat because they honestly believe that all Democrats want to do is throw our tax money at every problem in the universe, or that Democrats are setting up a nanny state that wants to make all our decisions for us, or because they cannot stomach the platform's blithe dismissal of pro-life arguments.

I sympathize. I stopped voting for Republicans for similar reasons. I never changed my registration, though, because philosophically I still consider myself a Lincoln Republican. Maybe that's why I don't find it helpful for us to be as snotty, smug and dismissive as Ann Coulter at her worst. I've never won an argument by saying "Oh you're too stupid to understand. " I just wish Obama's supporters would stop talking to each other about how dumb the voters are, and go back to making a real case.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008


Lady de Rothschild strikes again.

A few months ago I wrote about three of Hillary Clinton's financial backers. They seemed to feel entitled to control the decisions of U.S. voters, and I called for them to be ignored. At the time I also claimed that the three of them "meant well."

Pictured: Lynn Forester and husband Evelyn de Rothschild.
At the time of their marriage, Forbes Magazine noted: "Forester now heads the Luxembourg-based wireless broadband venture FirstMark Communications Europe. The startup launched in 1998 with great fanfare, raising $1 billion in funding and landing former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Washington consigliere Vernon Jordan as board members. But with losses piling up and a public offering pulled, investors are now disgruntled. Not to worry--there's no better backup plan than the Rothschild name."

Now we know better. You see, one of these three committed Democratic activists has just endorsed John McCain. Turns out she's not so comfortable with a Democrat in the White House if that Democrat is not also a personal friend who owes her numerous favors.

The donor in question is a certain Lynn Forester, also known as Lady de Rothschild. I cited this description of her from the Conde Nast Portfolio:

"When 67-year-old British banking scion Sir Evelyn Rothschild first set eyes on 44-year-old Lynn Forester at the 1998 Bilderburg conference—the matchmaker was none other than Henry Kissinger—she was already a woman of major means.

A corporate lawyer and telecommunications entrepreneur, the sparkly blond ex-wife of former New York politician Andrew Stein had made more than $100 million from the sale of cleverly acquired wireless broadband licenses. She was also sexy, charming, and dazzlingly well connected. Two years later, after the smitten Sir Evelyn divorced his second wife, Victoria Schott, the mother of his three children, Forester became the third Lady Rothschild. After marrying in November 2000 at a London synagogue, they honeymooned at the White House, guests of Lynn's good friends Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Today the New Jersey-born Lady de Rothschild—the flashiest hostess in London—is mates with Tony and Cherie Blair, among other topflight Britons. She's also mistress of the former John Singer Sargent home in Chelsea and of Ascott House, the 3,200-acre Rothschild family estate in Buckinghamshire, and the chief executive of E.L. Rothschild, the holding company that she owns with her third husband to manage investments in the Economist and various enterprises in India. Those include Fieldfresh, a startup that will grow and export Indian fruits and vegetables for markets in Europe and Asia, and a soon-to-be-announced retail venture aimed at the exploding Indian middle class."

The Conde Nast article gets much worse -- and much more revealing. Lady Forester de Rothschild also offered these tidbits:

"First of all, Hillary will be good for America. And so if we care about our country —which all of my fellow capitalists do —we'll be very pleased that she's president. And second of all, if we look at what is best for the economy, remember, she is a Clinton, and our economy under Clinton was strong, dynamic, productive, exciting. And the same kinds of people who advised Bill Clinton will be around Hillary Clinton. And she understands the importance of the business community, and it's not going to be about raising taxes or doing any one specific thing. It's going to be, What is in the best interest of all Americans? And I think if history is our guide, we've had stronger economies, more wealth creation, under Democratic presidents than we have under Republican presidents. So I don't understand why all my capitalist friends aren't Democrats...

They're all going to take whatever questions we have. She's going to listen; they're going to listen. She can't be there the whole day, but it's so quintessentially Hillary. Politics is so boring, where they ask for your money, you get a glass of cheap wine and a biscuit, and then when you say, "You know, I have an idea about health care or I have an idea about inheritance tax," nobody wants to listen to you, because what they really want is your money. Hillary is the opposite. Obviously there aren't enough hours in the day to listen to every idea, but she is listening, and she is responding."

Translation: She will let me and my rich friends steer her economic policies.

To be fair, I don't think Hillary Clinton was ever going to be as easy to control as Lady de Rothschild expected. The quote reveals very little about Clinton's plans, and a whole lot about the assumptions of her so-called friends.

By the way, how did Lynn Forester de Rothschild make her first few million? She acquired assets for free from the U.S. federal government, and then sold them at an enormous profit.

"I realized that frequencies were a limited resource and that there would be a big business at some time around that, and so I was the first person to apply in the United States for wireless-broadband licenses. And yeah, I sold them for a lot of money.

Forester de Rothschild sold her interest in that company a couple months before the economic crash of 2000, and left her investors holding the bag. Anybody who takes investment or political advice from this character seriously needs psychiatric care.

Watch closely next time you see John McCain or Sarah Palin out in public. Are they scratching? It just seems like they've been lying down with so many dogs lately, they've just got to have fleas by now.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008


This guy gets it.

I'm a big fan of Craig Ferguson anyway -- love that Scots accent -- but last night he hit it out of the ballpark. Ferguson is a recently naturalized citizen of the United States, and he used his monologue last night to urge us all to vote. "If you don't, you're a moron."

Full coverage is available on the Kansas City Star's television blog, which also includes video of the monologue and Craig's later comments. Here's a sample:

Half of the people who didn't register to vote were asked why and said, "I'm not interested in the election," or "I'm not interested in politics." How could you be not interested in politics? You have to have an opinion about something! "I'm not interested in politics" - do you live anywhere? Do you shop anywhere? Do you drive a car? Do you put on pants? Do you leave your house at any point? Do you own your house? Do you rent the house? Do you ever hope that the police will save you from something that may or may not be illegal? Of course you are involved in politics! If you are alive you are involved in politics!!

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Saturday, September 06, 2008


Drinking age isn't the problem.

This is from a letter to the editor in today's Wall Street Journal. I couldn't paraphrase it as effectively as the writer put it to start with.

"...We learn to drink not from those who love us but in someone's basement, where the focus is speed and avoiding authority. Instead of tasting alcohol out in the open--at dinner, a club or a restaurant, as do minors overseas--we learn to drink secretly and sometimes alone, where a bottle is the sole source of entertainment.

Teach us to drink responsibly; teach us that a glass of wine at dinner isn't such a big deal, that alcohol should enhance an evening, not constitute its total attraction.

Give us clubs and venues where we can learn it's no fun to be incredibly intoxicated and where we'll choose to stick to one or two drinks. And give us a ride or a means of public transportation so we can get home safely.

Or leave us vomiting in someone's basement, getting rushed to the hospital because we had to teach ourselves to drink and we guessed wrong."

Simone Foxman
New York

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Monday, September 01, 2008


Aren't there other issues at stake?

I don't think there is much more to be said about Sarah Palin. Is she a bad mother? Not as far as I can tell. Is her son Trig really her grandson? None of our business.

Sarah Palin is a likeable, camera-friendly evangelical woman and committed lifestyle conservative. That means that philosophically she has no problem making it illegal -- or at least legally uncomfortable -- to be different than she is. It is no surprise to see a candidate with these views on the Republican ticket. She is a smart choice for McCain if only because her judgmental take on many issues of personal choice is infinitely more palatable coming from a young attractive woman instead of a dour middle-aged man.

So let us move on or, in this case, go back to a previous issue. Why is it that women who call themselves feminists are so hung up on legalized abortion? There is a whole spectrum of opinions about whether Roe v. Wade is a good thing for women. Even if you subscribe to the Clinton formulation that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare," you can be unhappy about the absolutist implications of the so-called right to privacy. The fetus is human, and is alive. The only dispute is about whether, or at what point, it is a separate entity with rights apart from those of its mother.

Before any of us had heard of Sarah Palin, i.e. a couple of days ago, I was still curious about whether the die-hard Hillary Clinton supporters were going to join the push to elect Obama, or at the very least shut up. It troubled me that so many professionals and citizen commentators kept falling back on the Emily's List mantra of "You can't vote for McCain because he might be pro-life." There are many other reasons that a supporter of either Clinton would be crazy to vote for any Republican, but that one seemed to trump all other arguments in the hearts and pens of the Democratic Party faithful.

The thing is, and I'm sure I'm repeating myself here, many Americans are ambivalent about the right to choose. We aren't comfortable criminalizing it, but we'd really rather address the issue of unwanted pregnancy at a different point. Maybe there should be better access to birth control. Maybe young women should be raised to value themselves beyond their sexual desirability. Maybe boys as well as girls should be taught to take responsibility for their behavior. Maybe fathers as well as mothers should be encouraged to take time out to raise children. Maybe we should stop treating young parents as social failures.

There are lots of maybes that could reduce the interest in abortion on demand. If the "war on drugs" has taught us anything, it is that making something difficult or illegal doesn't make it go away. The first thing we need to agree on is that abortion, even as a choice, is usually a bad one. I know it is boring and long-term and might make people have to talk to and associate with those they don't currently respect. Maybe the answer is in the gray areas.

Maybe it does take a village.

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