Sunday, September 28, 2008
Each time I've blogged about Senator McCain or Governor Palin, I've received comments providing arguments and articles to refute my comments or blaming Bill Clinton for all the current ills of the nation, as if the last 8 years don't count. Some are simply ill-informed potshots. I've chosen to moderate comments and since blogs are not democracies and I'm not required to provide anything resembling 'fair and balanced,' please save your time and mine, or participate in the nemasket discussion forum. Begin a discussion thread and discuss the issues with others in a more appropriate venue. I've watched Senator McCain over the years, listened to his speeches on CSPAN, reviewed his votes and looked at his campaign contributors.
The following is excerpted from a New York Times article worthy of reading in its entirety:
Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.
When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe’s planned casino in 2005, Mr. McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with Mr. McCain.
In Connecticut that year, when a tribe was looking to open the state’s third casino, staff members on the Indian Affairs Committee provided guidance to lobbyists representing those fighting the casino, e-mail messages and interviews show. The proposed casino, which would have cut into the Pequots’ market share, was opposed by Mr. McCain’s colleagues in Connecticut.
...interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator’s longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.
Only six members of Congress have received more money from the gambling industry than Mr. McCain, and five hail from the casino hubs of Nevada and New Jersey, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics dating back to 1989.
He also voted twice in the last decade to give casinos tax breaks estimated to cost the government more than $326 million over a dozen years.
What this crisis should make plain to everyone is that not all financial innovation is benign. It is therefore baffling to hear the argument that fresh regulation is bad because it would stifle financial innovation. Fresh regulation is necessary because there has been a lack of proper regulation and supervision. The enormous mistakes that have been made by allowing finance to develop its own, highly risky “raisons d'être” must be undone.
The path from greed to panic
But are we capable of learning that lesson? Why is it that we fail to learn from previous crises? Alexander Lamfalussy issued warnings almost a decade ago; the financier Warren Buffett and the former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker are among those important figures who fired off warnings years ago. How is that their predictions of a crisis have not been listened to?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Such is the case of Charles Keating and Senator McCain's involvement.
My personal appreciation for fairy tales of political sorts, attracted me to Rosa Brooks' easy to understand explanation in the LAT:
Ms. Brooks concludes (emphasis mine):
Friday, September 26, 2008
In June of the same year, Habitat sold the property to private buyers for $36,000. Last June, after the property was sold two more times over the years, Wells Fargo Bank foreclosed on a $189,900 loan on the property.
The latest selectmen meeting minutes show that on July 8, selectmen and LaFond discussed the June 30 document, and LaFond acknowledged the issue was not handled properly.
The minutes show LaFond stated, “mistakes were made and he bears some responsibility of the disposition of tax title property.”
For national security reasons, it would seem that the wisest decision voters could make is to return Governor Palin to Alaska to continue to protect the US from a Russian invasion. She has clearly been successful in that endeavor.
I love that little wavy finger! It must be an Alaska THING.
Former President Clinton talks about the financial crisis and clean energy on 'The Daily Show'
Thursday, September 25, 2008
What does the Vice President do? Don't ask Sarah Palin!
“Back in 2000, this cobbled-together group that came together to end dog racing lost in the closest election in state history,” she said. “The dog tracks know this time the truth will prevail, (so) they’re going to run one of the dirtiest campaigns in state history to continue their cruelty. Voters should be able to judge based on the facts, and this is an effort to distract them away from the facts and mislead them.”
In response to concerns about Twin Rivers ending up in bankruptcy,
McCain camp to propose postponing VP debate
Letterman on being stood up by McCain:
The audience applauded.
"You don't suspend your campaign," he added. "Do you suspend your campaign? No, because that makes me think, well, you know, maybe there will be other things down the road -- if he's in the White House, he might just suspend being president. I mean, we've got a guy like that now!"
Incredulous, Letterman interrupted his chat with Olbermann to show the audience a live shot on the internal CBS news feed of McCain getting touched up by a makeup artist as he waited to talk to Couric."
Governor Palin could take a few lessons from a previous candidate for Vice President:
I, for one, look forward to watching Governor Palin debate Senator Biden.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
If you want to vote Nov. 4, you must be registered by Oct. 15
Here at The Arc, we encourage everyone to vote. Your elected officials make important decisions regarding funding for essential services for people with disabilities.
PLEASE VOTE NO ON QUESTION 1
The income tax question on the ballot this fall is a reckless proposal that will have severe and immediate consequences for all of us, including people with disabilities and their families. This binding referendum will take more than $12 billion—nearly 40 percent—out of the state budget, driving up local property taxes and leading to drastic cuts in services, such as disability services. Our communities will suffer sweeping education cuts, steep reductions in public safety personnel and further deterioration of roads and bridges. Times are hard enough. Let’s not make them worse.
See our website for more information, including:
More information about Question 1
A link to register to vote
FAQ's about Voting & People with Disabilities
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
BLOOMBERG NEWS: Paulson Plan To Mostly Benefit His Old Cronies at Goldman Sachs LINK
Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley may be among the biggest beneficiaries of the $700 billion U.S. plan to buy assets from financial companies while many banks see limited aid, according to Bank of America Corp.
2. Protect The Taxpayer. The Treasury bill would have taxpayers buying paper that nobody else wants at prices far above its current value. If a firm wants to auction off its toxic paper to the US Government, taxpayers should get equity in that firm equal to any amount paid in excess of the paper’s value. This will deter profitable firms from using the government as a dumpster for their toxic paper. And it will insure that if the bailout works and the firms become profitable, taxpayers, not simply bankers, benefit from the upside.
3. Curb The Casino. This crisis was caused because sensible regulations of the banking system that worked for dozens of years were dismantled or went unenforced. No bailout can go forward without requiring the necessary regulation to insure this does not happen again. Any institution which receives assistance should agree to come under a microscope going forward in terms of disclosure requirements, and it should have stringent capital requirement imposed upon it.
4. Invest In The Real Economy. Ending the bankers strike is not sufficient to avoid the recession into which we have been driven. Major public investment for investment in new energy and conservation, rebuilding schools and infrastructure, extending unemployment and food stamps, helping states avoid crippling cuts in police and health services – is vital to get the real economy moving and put people back to work. No bailout should proceed without being linked to support for a major public investment plan to get the economy going.
5. Hold CEOs and Boards of Directors Accountable. Wall Street CEOs shouldn’t be pocketing millions while taxpayers are forced to bail them out. Any firm that applies for relief must agree to cancel all stock option programs and CEOs should have stringent limits placed on their compensation until the Company has repaid all taxpayer assistance.
6. Aid The Victims, Not Just The Predators. Both bankers and home owners made foolish bets that home prices would keep rising. Many homeowners, however, were misled by predatory lenders into taking mortgages that they didn’t understand and couldn’t afford. It would be simply obscene to help the predators and not those that they preyed upon. No bail out of the banks should take place without measures to help people in trouble stay in their homes. Explicit provisions should ensure use of the full array of financial and legal tools available to the government to stop foreclosures and restructure home mortgage loans for ordinary Americans. Where workouts are not feasible, people should be allowed to stay in their homes as renters.
Urgent: Stop The $700B Blank Check!
George Bush with big hair
The hustling Evangelical with ethics issues and a chip on her shoulder could be our first woman president.
By Garrison Keillor
Sept. 10, 2008 So the Republicans have decided to run against themselves. The bums have tiptoed out the back door and circled around to the front and started yelling, "Throw the bums out!" They've been running Washington like a well-oiled machine to the point of inviting lobbyists into the back rooms to write the legislation, and now they are anti-establishment reformers dedicated to delivering us from themselves. And Mayor Giuliani is an advocate for small-town America. Bravo.
They are coming out for Small Efficient Government the very week that the feds are taking over Fannie and Freddie, those old cash cows, and in the course of a weekend 20 or 50 (or pick a number) billion go floating out the Treasury door. Hello? Do you see us out here? We are not fruit flies, we are voters, we can read and write, we didn't just fall off the coal truck.
It is a bold move on the Republicans' part -- forget about the past, it's only history, so write a new narrative and be who you want to be -- and if they succeed, I think I might declare myself a 24-year-old virgin named Lance and see what that might lead to. Paste a new face on my Facebook page, maybe become the Dauphin Louie the Thirty-Second, the rightful heir to the Throne of France, put on silk tights and pantaloons and a plumed hat and go on the sawdust circuit and sell souvenir hankies imprinted with the royal fleur-de-lis. They will cure neuralgia and gout and restore marital vigor.
And a former mayor of a town of 7,000 who hired a lobbyist to get $26 million in federal earmarks is now running against the old-boy network in Washington who gave her that money to build the teen rec center and other good things so she could keep taxes low in Wasilla. Stunning. And if you question her qualifications to be the leader of the free world, you are an elitist. This is a beautiful maneuver. I wish I had thought of it back in school when I was forced to subject myself to a final exam in higher algebra. I could have told Miss Mortenson, "I am a Christian and when you gave me a D, you only showed your contempt for the Lord and for the godly hardworking people from whom I have sprung, you elitist battle ax you."
In school, you couldn't get away with that garbage because the taxpayers know that if we don't uphold scholastic standards, we will wind up driving on badly designed bridges and go in for a tonsillectomy and come out missing our left lung, so we flunk the losers lest they gain power and hurt us, but in politics we bring forth phonies and love them to death.
I must say, it was fun having the Republicans in St. Paul and to see it all up close and firsthand. Security was, as one might expect, thin-lipped and gimlet-eyed, but once you got through it, you found the folks you went to high school with -- farm kids, jocks, the townies who ran the student council, the cheerleaders, some of the bullies -- and they are as cohesive now as they were back then, dedicated to school spirit, intolerant of outsiders, able to jump up and down and holler for something they don't actually believe. But oh Lord, what they brought forth this year. When you check the actuarial tables on a 72-year-old guy who's had three bouts with cancer, you guess you may be looking at the first woman president, a hustling Evangelical with ethics issues and a chip on her shoulder who, not counting Canada, has set foot outside the country once -- a trip to Germany, Iraq and Kuwait in 2007 to visit Alaskans in the armed service. And who listed a refueling stop in Ireland as a fourth country visited. She's like the Current Occupant but with big hair. If you want inexperience, there were better choices.
(Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.)
Monday, September 22, 2008
Lehman hires Jeb Bush as private equity advisor
Thu Aug 30, 2007
... Josh Rosner of Graham Fisher in New York, defined the sponsors of this stampede to action: "Let us be clear, it is not citizen groups, private investors, equity investors or institutional investors broadly who are calling for this government purchase fund. It is almost exclusively being lobbied for by precisely those institutions that believed they were 'smarter than the rest of us,' institutions who need to get those assets off their balance sheet at an inflated value lest they be at risk of large losses or worse."
By Ellen Brown20 September, 2008
"I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men." – Sir Isaac Newton, after losing a fortune in the South Sea bubble
Something extraordinary is going on with these government bailouts. In March 2008, the Federal Reserve extended a $55 billion loan to JPMorgan to "rescue" investment bank Bear Stearns from bankruptcy, a highly controversial move that tested the limits of the Federal Reserve Act. On September 7, 2008, the U.S. government seized private mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and imposed a conservatorship, a form of bankruptcy; but rather than let the bankruptcy court sort out the assets among the claimants, the Treasury extended an unlimited credit line to the insolvent corporations and said it would exercise its authority to buy their stock, effectively nationalizing them. Now the Federal Reserve has announced that it is giving an $85 billion loan to American International Group (AIG), the world’s largest insurance company, in exchange for a nearly 80% stake in the insurer . . . .
The Fed is buying an insurance company? Where exactly is that covered in the Federal Reserve Act? The Associated Press calls it a "government takeover," but this is not your ordinary "nationalization" like the purchase of Fannie/Freddie stock by the U.S. Treasury. The Federal Reserve has the power to print the national money supply, but it is not actually a part of the U.S. government. It is a private banking corporation owned by a consortium of private banks. The banking industry just bought the world’s largest insurance company, and they used federal money to do it. Yahoo Finance reported on September 17:
"The Treasury is setting up a temporary financing program at the Fed’s request. The program will auction Treasury bills to raise cash for the Fed’s use. The initiative aims to help the Fed manage its balance sheet following its efforts to enhance its liquidity facilities over the previous few quarters."
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Homeowners can get a look at new technology at free event
By Jennifer Santos
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Sep 19, 2008 @ 05:39 AM
This weekend homeowners will be able to watch demonstrations and meet with
Local retailers will showcase alternative-energy and water-efficiency technology this weekend at the town’s first Energy and Water Fair.
The event is scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Sharon High School, 181 Pond St.
Home Depot will hold educational sessions on insulating pipes and sealing windows. E Inc. of Boston will provide information on global warming and wind power.
Solar Wrights will demonstrate solar panels, which can be used to produce electricity, heat and hot water.
Adults will be able to test an electric scooter and view a hybrid and electric car that runs on bio-diesel fuel. The Sharon school system will hold a scavenger hunt for children.
An electric meter monitor valued at $100 to $150 and a rain barrel are among the prizes to be raffled off. A meter monitor enables a homeowner using a remote control to see how much electricity is being used.
For a list of the retailers and organizations that will be participating in the fair, visit www.sharonwater.com/ef/SharonEnergyFair.htm Brockton Enterprise
September 18, 2008 11:30 AM
By CINDY DOW
MIDDLEBORO — With fuel prices rocketing toward the sky and the economy swimming in the other direction, smart homeowners are looking into ways to cut back on heating and energy costs. One local home builder has taken that thought to a whole different level, by building passive solar homes designed to reduce the amount of energy used, and, in some cases, generate enough energy on their own that they sustain themselves electrically.
Tom Pittsley is not new to the construction business; he's been building for over 25 years. Four years ago, he decided to focus on building the most energy efficient buildings he could, and started a new company, Energy Efficient Building Technologies.
Some of his recent projects include working as the general contractor on the MIT submission to the 2007 Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C., working as an advisor to the Boston Architectural College and Tufts University team for the 2009 Solar Decathlon, and building passive solar homes in Rochester and Middleboro that will be part of the Green Buildings Open House, sponsored by Northeast Sustainable Energy and American Solar Energy Society's National Solar Tour, on Oct. 4.
"Over 25 years ago, I was sitting in AutoCAD in high school, and I drew what basically was a passive solar house," Mr. Pittsley said. "Now, 25 to 30 years later, I'm fulfilling a dream."
Mr. Pittsley explained that building "green" is not only better for the homeowner, who benefits by reduced expenses in heating and cooling, but also is better for the environment by reducing the pollution and energy used. He utilizes several different types of technology in his construction that greatly reduces the amount of energy a house will use for heating and cooling, but also incorporates materials in the house that make better use of the resources that are consumed.
The 2,700 square foot home in Rochester was completed last year. The concrete slab floor had radiant floor heating installed, and the walls of the first floor and basement were insulated concrete forms. Large, high solar heat gain windows were installed in the south facing side of the home, and windows on the north, east, and west were smaller and fewer.
The heating bill for the first winter in the Rochester home was less than $750 for the season.
The Middleboro house is located on Tispaquin Street. Mr. Pittsley said he spent some time on the lot before agreeing that the passive solar house would be a good fit. The southern side of the house has to be able to receive enough sun during the day to ensure the systems will work. While the majority of the lot is clear, a few trees on the sideline of the lot still need to be removed.
The four bedroom, two bath house will be just under 2,000 square feet, with a single floor design. Radiant floor heating installed in the concrete slab floor will heat the house. The structural insulated panel walls, ceiling, and insulation under the concrete floor, as well as a specially designed thermal mass window system that stores the sun's energy while allowing the homeowner to control how warm the rooms get, are specifically designed to keep the costs for both heating and cooling this home below $700 a year.
The roofline of the Tispaquin Street house is also designed to install photovoltaic panels on it at a later time. These panels, which were used in the MIT Solar Decathlon zero-energy house, translate solar energy into electricity.
"The MIT house was an off-grid house," Mr. Pittsley said, explaining the requirement of the Decathlon for the submissions to be self-sufficient. "Here, we would do a grid-tied system"¦we tie in to the town's electric system, and during the day, when you're not using much electricity, it goes back through the meter into the 'grid,' and at night when you need more but the sun is not out, it comes back through the meter."
Mr. Pittsley said the roof panels would wait until the homeowner has been in the house for a year, when they could compile all the energy bills and could design a system that would equal the usage for the home.
Mr. Pittsley said the house will cost about $269,000 to construct. He estimated that a similar building constructed without the energy efficiency would cost $30,000 to $40,000 less to build, but that savings could quickly be eaten up with increasing fuel costs.
For more information on Mr. Pittsley's projects, visit his website, www.eebt.org, or see his blog, http://tompittsley.blogspot.com. For more information about the Green Buildings Open House scheduled for Oct. 4, visit www.nesea.org. SouthCoastToday
Friday, September 19, 2008
The final candidates included a former mayor of Brockton, Yunits, who currently lobbies for the proposed *Brockton Power Plant with the same firm handling the proposed Mashpee Wampanoag Casino PR; a current Town Manager from Mansfield, D'Agostino, with a mega-judgement against the Town caused by his actions and an unprecedented judgement against himself for legal fees, who precipitated a recall election; and Charles Cristello, Town Manager of Hingham, who improved the Town's bond rating to triple A, and by the way, check out the Town's Web Site. (For comparison, check out Town of Middleborough.)
The public is urged to attend and voice their concerns.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
As Wall Street collapses, McCain declares that ‘the fundamentals of our economy are strong.’
Speaking in Florida this morning — the very day that two of Wall Street’s major banking institutions collapsed — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared he “still” believes “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
Progress has presented those who advise Senator McCain on economic policy, among them is Phil Gramm:
Charlie Rose has been offering round tables of financial experts worth watching.
Monday, September 15, 2008
The Daily Green offered:
Or, that's what we thought.
Consumer Reports has identified two flaws in the Energy Star rating system that cast doubt on some of the 50 product categories labeled with the Energy Star symbol.
• Fitchburg Public Library, Wednesday, September 24, 1:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
• Heritage State Park Visitors’ Center, Holyoke, Thursday, October 2, 8:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.
• Old Town Hall, Salem, Friday, October 3, 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
For more information about the Roundtables, including agendas, directions, and registration, please visit:
Sunday, September 14, 2008
END BIG OIL'S ENERGY PLAN
With rising gas prices and America's growing dependence on oil, it is clear that too many politicians in Washington are paid for by big oil. We need to stop letting oil companies run our energy policy. To make America truly energy independent, we call on Congress to boost production of clean energy, end all tax breaks for oil companies, and resist the false promise of drilling in environmentally sensitive areas. We need an energy policy that isn't paid for by big oil.
Too many Republicans in Washington are in the pocket of big oil. They've taken millions of dollars from oil companies like ExxonMobil. So instead of fighting for new jobs and investing in clean energy, these Members of Congress have supported $18 billion in tax breaks for oil companies.
Now they are back in Washington calling for more drilling - exactly what the oil companies would like. It's time to expose the politicians who refuse to stand up to big oil.
We need leaders to stop working for big oil and to start working for the American people.
We can conserve our way out of 30-40% of our problem without drilling. It's time for sensible solutions that don't rely on sound bytes, but offer accurate information designed to educate.
Warren Buffett on Energy
Note the Warren Buffett comment that the US used 25% of the world's oil and his comments on the Pickens' Plan.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Even Canada understands that they have been left behind.
As Americans, should we do the same?
Canadians use 60% more energy than Swedes.
Germany uses 20 times more wind than Canada. And created almost a quarter of a million green jobs.
China has more energy efficient vehicles standards than Canada or the US.
Mars Petcare US Announces Nationwide Voluntary Recall
Franklin, Tennessee (September 12, 2008)—Today, Mars Petcare US announced a voluntary recall of products manufactured at its Everson, Pennsylvania facility. The pet food is being voluntarily recalled because of potential contamination with Salmonella serotype Schwarzengrund. This voluntary recall only affects the United States.
Even though no direct link between product produced at Everson and human or pet illness has been made, Mars Petcare US is taking precautionary action to protect pets and their owners by announcing a voluntary recall of all products produced at the Everson facility beginning February 18, 2008 until July 29, 2008 when we stopped production.