Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Just a Reminder
The new blog, Tangled Webs, is over here. We'll not be blogging here any longer and have move.

Come join us!
Monday, April 16, 2007
Greyhair HERE
Hey YOU. Yeah, YOU.

I'm over here!

Since blogger has bloggered this blog, I've had to set up shop elsewhere. I'm now here.

So if you want to see the latest and greatest greyhairness, go HERE.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Sick of It
Frankly, I'm personally about to tell blogger to go screw itself.

Greyhair here, signed in as Lynne (the only way I can get in).

I've tried to remedy my problem for two days now in various ways. And contacting blogger help is worse than the worst computer phone system you've ever run into. I've gotten zero help.

I'm going to give it a day or so. Next stop, setting up a new blog!

Saturday, April 14, 2007
Greyhair AWOL
As soon as my coblogger gets acquainted with the new blogger, he'll be back online! :)
Thursday, April 12, 2007
All Roads Lead To Rover
Here's a short piece detailing more evidence that the Federal prosecutors were used to implement phony voter fraud intimidations/investigations curtailing Democratic voters.

The short version? He's done it before .... successfully.
I'm torturing myself today and watching the business news channel, CNBC.

They're currently having a hand wringing discussion about Democrats actually gaining power! Oh NO! They might not have a corporate agenda! They may favor union policies! Oh NO! Yet the story is that corporations are now giving more money to Dems than Republicans. Gee, I wonder which way big business thinks the electorate is going?

Corporations aren't stupid. They're going to put money where they think the investment will pay off. Perhaps Dems won't be quite as corporate friendly. But I don't think anyone with a brain is afraid that Dems are going to throw corporations out the door. Business folks want a guaranteed seat at the table, so they give money where power is. And politicians (of any stripe) need the mother's milk - money. It's a marriage made in heaven.

As liberals begin to regain their footing in the power game it's going to be ever more important for citizen institutions, i.e. bloggers, PAC's, non-profits, to stay all over Dems. Corporations should not be ignored. But they are one member of many players who should have an equal voice at the table. This is a weakness and the strength of liberals. We don't sing like a choir when we have power ......
A Stroll In The Marketplace
Needlenose makes a good point today. I wonder how John McCain feels about today's bombing of the Iraqi parliament that is located in the "secure" green zone of Baghdad?
Another Edition Of .....
What Digby said!

Just go give it a read. I'll simply add this. I heard a privacy advocate on PBS last night who capsulized my feelings on the entire issue of data gathering and privacy. He said (paraphrasing) that all gathered data is eventually used. There's no such thing as data gathered and not used. Reassurances that data gathered will be treated as "private" are always wrong.
More about the Chinese economy.

No wonder their stock market is frothy:
BEIJING - China's foreign reserves, already the world's largest, have risen past $1.2 trillion, a state news agency said Thursday, amid surging trade and plans to create a multibillion-dollar company to invest some of the stockpile.

The figure, as of the end of March, represented a 37.4 percent rise over the same period last year, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing the central bank.

China's reserves have risen rapidly as huge trade surpluses and foreign investment force Beijing to drain billions of dollars from the economy every month through bond sales to hold down pressure for prices to rise. The money is stockpiled in U.S. Treasury bonds and other foreign assets.
Their surplus is up $300 Billion in one year. The U.S. might as well be loading freighters with cash and shipping them over to China so they can then return with Wal Mart items.

This is a major ticking timebomb. What if the Chinese start putting that money in Euro's instead of Treasuries? And just what kind of leverage does our economic dependence on the Chinese give them politically? To free ourselves would require a substantial economic "readjustment" (read: meltdown). Of course a meltdown would also cause pain in China. But at least they'd have a whole bunch of cash in reserve to soften the blow. What do we have?
Want to see something amazing? This is an artist video rendition of a rotating building that is planned for Dubai (warning, a very short commercial is before the video).

Hope those oil sheiks are saving at least some of that money for when the wells run dry .....
Some of the more conspiratorial thinking among us have suggested that the markets are really controlled to a large extent by "the big boys". I found an example of this phenomena today that is interesting. First, here's last night chart for gold:

The chart maker suggests that we're in for a "smackdown" of gold. There are no shortage of government monetary people who really would rather gold not go wild and the speculation is that they are keeping it trading in a narrow range (the blue box above). Now let's take a look at today's interday chart for gold:

My my. Down boy. Stay in the box!

That's some major hair cut about midday. Wonder what happened to make gold drop $6 dollars like that?

The point is that if you're a little guy investing, make sure you understand the agenda's of the big boys before buying/trading. If you don't follow the movement of the big boys closely, find someone who does and let them swim with the sharks.
The Nasdaq Effect
Much is being made in the economic community about the Chinese stock market. It's being blamed for ups and downs. I have to admit, it seems a bit frothy. But I found this chart to be amazing. It's a overlay comparison of the Nasdaq chart during the recent internet bubble and the Chinese stock market today:

The chart asks a really good question. I'll be following this with interest to see if history is in the midst of repeating itself.
The Rose Mary Woods Affect
Ah huh:
Everyone goes inside with the White House saying that e-mails relating to official government business that were improperly sent through a private system may have been lost. These e-mails, which included communication with Karl Rove and several other officials, could have included key documents in the investigation of the fired U.S. attorneys. There has been growing concern that Bush officials may have used private e-mail accounts, set up through the Republican National Committee, to avoid investigations. The White House said it will try to recover the lost messages.
Yeah, I'm sure the White House is busting it's ass to resurrect these emails.

Update: Oh. By the way. Deletion of these emails is a felony. One of many felonies perpetrated by Rove, Bush, et. al. over the years. But hey, there's been no revelations of blowjobs yet! (although, I have my suspicions about Jeff Gannon)

Update II: Let's make that 5 million felonies.
Have a Tour
I'm sure you've heard by now that the tour of duty for Army soldiers has been extended to 15 months (from 12 months) in order to fuel the escalation. I found this part to be most interesting:
Gates made sure to emphasize that although the new policy doesn't meen the troop buildup will be extended, it will allow the Pentagon the possibility to maintain current troop levels in Iraq for another year.
Another case of the Pentagon enabling Bush, or simply following Bush's orders. By taking this particular route, the military has made allowances for two full Friedman Units, reassuring the Preznit that he has the "flexibility" to do what he perceives is needed.

The Pentagon and military observers have been pointing out for some time that the military is at the "breaking point", yet it never seems to break. Rather the entire military structure is slowly crumbling to bits, much like the way the military was damaged during Vietnam. Like with everything Bush, it will take some time to rebuild (and frankly, I'm not sure if that's a bad thing?). Interestingly, I heard my first news report last night on ABC News of a wife complaining bitterly about her husband having been severely injured after being a stop-loss victim of the escalation. The husband was uninjured in his initial tour, but not so lucky later.

Trust me. At the end of the year Bush and the Pentagon will find a way to continue escalating, that is unless a significant number of Republicans turn against the President and the war. Ball's in their court .... let's see what they do with it.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
"Once I was called to an explosion site," Saad, a humanitarian worker, is quoted as saying in the report.

"There I saw a four-year-old boy sitting beside his mother's body, which had been decapitated by the explosion. He was talking to her, asking her what had happened. He had been taken out shopping by his mum."
I don't believe in Hell but I'm wishing I did. Just for George and his neocon buddies.
Nobody is positive that there is going to be a recession soon. But businesspeople are sure pulling in their horns:

Looks like a classic rollover chart to me.
Ok. So Bush didn't almost blow himself up the other day.

Interesting that the CEO of GM felt ok to make the Pres. the butt of his joke.
Death Watch
Froomkin had this in his column this a.m.:
"Shawn Steele, the former Republican Party chairman in California, said the candidates were being dragged down by their associations with Mr. Bush as well as with the war. Mr. Steele and other Republicans argued that the candidates were in a difficult position as they tried to distance themselves from a president who is having so many difficulties, while at the same time not alienating Republican base voters and donors who remain loyal to Mr. Bush and his foreign policy.

"'It's a dying administration,' Mr. Steele said. 'There's a fatigue factor and there's a rubbing-off when it's not very smart to be closely associated with such low ratings.'"
I think this is the real story of this year's politics.

I was watching a retrospective on Nixon and Watergate last night. What struck me was the large and key role Republicans played in bringing Nixon down. It seems they had better instincts when it came to saving the GOP from an out-of-control President than the current GOP. It continues to be my focus to watch Congressional Republicans as we move into summer ... to see if they ever come to their senses and tell Bush NO (I'm not holding my breath).

Fortunately it appears that this misplaced loyalty by Republicans is going to have the effect of really crippling the GOP. We can only hope it has a cleansing effect.

Update: More:
"Republican leaders across the country say they are growing increasingly anxious about their party’s chances of holding the White House, citing public dissatisfaction with President Bush, the political fallout from the war in Iraq and the problems their leading presidential candidates are having generating enthusiasm among conservative voters," reports the New York Times.

"In interviews on Tuesday, the Republicans said they were concerned about signs of despondency among party members and fund-raisers, reflected in polls and the Democratic fund-raising advantage in the first quarter of the year. Many party leaders expressed worry that the party’s presidential candidates faced a tough course without some fundamental shift in the political dynamic."
Looks like Bush is having a bit of trouble recruiting someone to add another layer of blame management to the war:
"The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation," they write.

"At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said. . . .

"'The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going,' said retired Marine Gen. John J. 'Jack' Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. 'So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, "No, thanks," ' he said. .
My first thought was, isn't that the President's job?

(slapping myself across the forehead) OH yeah, that's right. This is Bush.

Seriously, anyone with half a brain would be crazy to take such a job. There's zero upside and all downside. It may also be unprecedented that a Presidential request is being so roundly turned down.

Update: Just a quick note that one of the main architects of the whole escalation surge strategy, Gen. Jack Keane, turned down the job. I guess it's easier to shoot your mouth off than to actually stand for something.
For some.

If you want to read a pretty good, short, post about why the average person is not particularly optimistic about the recent economic "expansion", go read this.

The short version? This economic recovery has been one of the worst in history.
Easter Egg Hunt
Did you happen to see the surprising video of the traditional White House easter egg hunt?

What Are You Buying Today?
Shoppers concerned with the environment (and their health) strive to make the right choices at the grocery store. Bolthouse Farms, a family-run California company whose products are often seen at organic markets and Whole Foods, seem like a good choice. But what else are you buying?
According to the Washington Spectator, the Bolthouse Foundation is underwritten chiefly with profits from Bolthouse Farms.
Bolthouse requires recipients of its grants to pledge adherence to a statement of faith that includes the declaration that "man was created by a direct act of God in His image, not from previously existing creatures" and a belief in "the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the everlasting punishment of the lost."

Bolthouse Foundation is a major contributor to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF).
Created just 13 years ago with the support of such Christian Right powerhouses as James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, it is today the nation's leading Christian Right legal organization. Through its National Litigation Academy, ADF has trained more than 900 lawyers, who commit themselves to performing 450 hours of pro bono legal work "on behalf of the body of Christ." It doles out millions of dollars a year to other Christian Right organizations—many of which are already well endowed—to cover attorneys' fees and costs.

And you thought you were just buying an organic tomato.
What A Clod
Can you believe this?
The president invited lawmakers to the White House to discuss the bill but emphasized he's not willing to compromise. Democrats stood firm and said that sort of meeting would be useless.
What a clod.

Of course the point was to make the invitations and have Dems turn him down. Bush is still under the delusion that if he appears to be trying people will support him while he tries to make Democrats look intransigent. Unfortunately Bush forgot to look at the polls on the war where Dems are supported overwhelmingly. Thus, everything Bush does to try and humiliate Congress is essentially equivalent to humiliating the American public. By the Dems refusing to play, they are the proxy middle finger of the American public to the President.

Point Dems.

Rove is definately off his game. He's like a general who is fighting the last war.
I just heard on CNBC that margin debt is at a new high. Margin debt is money borrowed by investors (read: speculators) to buy/short stocks. It also means that the market rally is being fueled by credit. This is ok as long as the market goes up. But if, or I should say "when", the market begins to fall (and it WILL fall), the fall could be precipitious as folks rush to the exits to cover their loans.
Whoa. What a big story! Not.

My only thoughts on the Imus controversy are what took so long? Imus (and many other folks) have been saying crap for years. Why the outcry now? I'm glad Imus is getting his hands slapped. But there is an element of unfairness in the application of the standard. Maybe this is the beginning of a "new era" of civility in broadcasting?

I doubt it.
Apple's Newest
As a Mac user, I really appreciate this: The Apple iRack!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Hey Gang. Not much bloggin' goin' on with my end. We've had a new addition to the family and I've been in/out of town. Hopefully back in the saddle soon! In the meantime, give em' hell!

Update: Here's the details of the new addition.
National Day of Climate Change
Saturday, April 14th, thousands in all 50 states will rally for a National Day of Climate Change. Is there a rally near you?
Nothing to Add

More truthiness over at Freewayblogger.
A Gentler World
The latest issue of The New Republic features an article that caught my attention. Harvard professor Steven Pinker maintains that the levels of violence worldwide have fallen over the centuries. My first thought was, "Are you crazy?"
His article, A History of Violence, begins with this example:

In sixteenth-century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted in a sling on a stage and slowly lowered into a fire. According to historian Norman Davis, "[T]he spectators, including kings and queens, shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized." Today such sadism would be unthinkable in most of the world.

Indeed it would. We live in an age in which every atrocity is fed live and in full color directly into our living rooms. We tend to remember the violence we see, store it up, and draw conclusions based on these pictures and stories. The news is not full of people dying of old age nor are the cameras covering the normal routines of peaceful nations. How much news coverage have you seen recently of events in Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, etc.?

No one really knows why humans are becoming less violent but it appears to be a worldwide trend. Pinker states, "The leading edge has been in Western societies, especially England and Holland, and there seems to have been a tipping point at the onset of the Age of Reason in the early seventeenth century."

I have long suspected that reason and secular societies are the beacons that will light our way toward a kindler and gentler world. Phil Zuckerman, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California, questions whether religious societies are safer and more stable than secular nations. He writes
In reality, the most secular countries—those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics—are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations—wherein worship of God is in abundance—are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute.
Morality is not dependent on religion. In fact, it is observed in the animal world. A recent New York Times article begins:
Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.
Regardless of what is changing, we should not give up hope when we see all of the violence in the news. Pinker ends his article with this thought:
Whatever its causes, the decline of violence has profound implications. It is not a license for complacency: We enjoy the peace we find today because people in past generations were appalled by the violence in their time and worked to end it, and so we should work to end the appalling violence in our time.

Keep fighting the good fight.
No Dissent Allowed
"...the Senator [Norm Coleman R-MN] is avoiding a conversation because he is headed into a difficult, uphill reelection bid. He does not want to speak publicly about how he has supported the Bush Administration at every opportunity because his constituents have opposed President Bush's destructive War Policy.
So his office decided to have us arrested instead.