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November 28, 2008

$4.93 trillion

September 2008 DEBT
$480 billion

October 2008 DEBT
$406 billion

2008 DEBT

$1.45 trillion
January 8, 2009

CBO expects deficit to triple to $1.2 trillion

The federal budget deficit will nearly triple to an unprecedented $1.2 trillion for the 2009 budget year, according to grim new Congressional Budget Office figures released yesterday.

The eye-popping estimates reflect plummeting tax revenues because of the recession and about $400 billion spent to bail out the financial industry and take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Impeachable Offense
January 10, 2009

W. and the damage done

Jan. 8, 2009 | After a couple of presidential terms, mismanagement in every area of policy -- foreign, domestic, even extraterrestrial -- starts to add up. When George W. Bush entered the White House in January 2001, he inherited peace and prosperity. The military, the Constitution and New Orleans were intact and the country had a budget surplus of $128 billion. Now he's about to dash out the door, leaving a large, unpaid bill for his successors to pay.

To get a sense of what kind of balance is due, Salon spoke to experts in seven different fields. Wherever possible, we have tried to express the damage done in concrete terms -- sometimes in lives lost, but most often just in money spent and dollars owed. What follows is an incomplete inventory of eight years of mis- and malfeasance, but then a fuller accounting would run, um, somewhat longer than three pages.

It's odd how the media tend(ed) to say the GOP knows how to govern the economy better than Democrats. It's time to but this myth to bed. They don't know shit about business or the economy.

January 10, 2009

Yearly Job Loss Worst Since 1945

The worsening U.S. economy hit the nation's work force hard in December, as the unemployment rate climbed to 7.2% and brought the total number of jobs lost last year to just over 2.5 million -- the most since 1945.

Of those, 1.9 million vanished in just the final four months of the year.

Job losses spared no region or sector, except for small increases in education and health-care services and government employment. The U.S. lost 524,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department said Friday. Financial markets sank on the news, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 143.28 points, or 1.64%, to close at 8,599.18 on Friday.

Impeach Index:
Who was Better:
Reagan vs.Clinton rvcseal (7K)

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January 8, 2009

Paul Krugman's depression economics

You cover a lot of ground in 200 pages -- Mexico's "tequila" crisis in the early 1990s, the Asian financial crisis, the collapse of the Long Term Capital Management, the dot-com and housing bubbles, and, of course, the great financial crisis of the past year. What do you think is the one thread that links all these crises together?

Two threads, I think: leverage and the economic fragility it creates, on one side, and the limits to monetary policy on the other. The collapse of Indonesia or Argentina was all about leverage, and we've seen that replayed in the collapse of securitization in the United States. Japan showed us that central bankers can't always save the day, and Ben Bernanke is seeing that truth right now.

So the answer is to relearn our grandfathers' lessons: Highly leveraged financial institutions have to be regulated and insured.

January 7, 2009

China Losing Taste for Debt From U.S.

HONG KONG — China has bought more than $1 trillion of American debt, but as the global downturn has intensified, Beijing is starting to keep more of its money at home, a move that could have painful effects for American borrowers.

The declining Chinese appetite for United States debt, apparent in a series of hints from Chinese policy makers over the last two weeks, with official statistics due for release in the next few days, comes at an inconvenient time.

When we factor in how much it costs to pay for food stamps and unemployment benefits, the cost of a bailout seems minor.

January 7, 2009

US to spend 27 pct more on food stamps in '09

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The recession will drive the cost of the U.S. food stamp program, which helps poor people buy food, to $50 billion this year, up 27 percent from 2008, congressional forecasters said on Wednesday.

Spending on food stamps rises during economic slowdowns because more people apply for help. The Congressional Budget Office projected higher unemployment rates for the next few years, although economic recovery would begin in 2010.

There's some irony in all this. The same banks that worked with the GOP to make it nearly impossible for average joe to go bankrupt, are now bankrupt (for all practical purposes). It seems appropriate that they suffer a little after causing so much harm to others when they were down and it's nice to see they realize they were wrong.

January 9, 2009

Citigroup Accord on Bankruptcy Bill: Let Judges Cut Mortgage Rates

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc.'s agreement to back legislation that lets bankruptcy judges cut mortgage rates for at-risk borrowers drew criticism from bank industry lobbyists who said the compromise with Senate Democrats was flawed.

Citigroup endorsed the bill after Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, and Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Richard Durbin of Illinois, said they will limit the legislation to existing mortgages, rather than future loans. Durbin, the Senate's second-ranking Democrat, brokered the deal with Citigroup and sought similar agreements with other lenders.

Just think, our tax dollars are paying for the war crimes Israel is committing.

January 7, 2009

U.N. Suspends Food Delivery To Gaza After Driver Killed By Israeli Gunfire

New York, NY (AHN) - A United Nations aid agency on Thursday suspended delivering food to Palestinians refugees in Gaza Strip after one of its drivers was killed and another was injured by Israeli gunfire.

The incidents happened when a convoy of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) picking up supplies at the Erez crossing into Gaza and another convoy picking up the remains of an UNRWA worker earlier killed by Israeli bombardment came under Israeli fire despite getting clearance from Israeli authorities and bearing the UN flag.

The US can't complain too loudly because we did the same thing in Iraq.

There's one way to end this conflict within one day. The US should bomb an Israeli military base for every day this conflict continues. Israel will stop after one bomb.

January 9, 2009

Red Cross: Israel delayed access to Gaza wounded

GENEVA (AP) — The international Red Cross accused Israel on Thursday of "unacceptable" delays in letting rescue workers reach three Gaza City homes hit by shelling where they eventually found 15 dead and 18 wounded, including young children too weak to stand.

The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, said the Israeli army refused rescuers permission to reach the site in the Zeitoun neighborhood for four days. Ambulances could not get to the neighborhood because the Israeli army had erected large earthen barriers that blocked access.

The economy continues to collapse at an unprecedented rate.

January 9, 2009

467,000 new jobless claims during week of Jan. 3

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people continuing to seek unemployment benefits has risen sharply, according to government data released Thursday, indicating that laid-off workers are having a harder time finding new jobs as the recession enters its second year.

The Labor Department also reported that initial applications for unemployment insurance dropped by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 467,000 for the week ending Jan. 3. Wall Street economists expected initial claims to increase, but analysts said the new figure reflects the difficulty the government has in making seasonal adjustments over the holiday period.

Israeli war crimes continue/

January 7, 2009

40 dead as Israelis bomb two UN schools

The UN security council debating the Gaza attacks Link to this video

Israel's assault on Gaza has exacted the bloodiest toll of civilian lives yet, when the bombing of UN schools being used as refugee centres and of housing killed more than 50 people, including an entire family of seven young children.

January 7, 2009

U.S. Companies Cut 693,000 Jobs in December

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Companies in the U.S. eliminated an estimated 693,000 jobs in December, the most since records began in 2001, a private report based on payroll data showed.

The drop in the ADP Employer Services gauge was larger than the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Today's report is the first to reflect methodological changes that ADP says will narrow the differences between its calculations and the government's payroll numbers.

The likelihood that US imports will stimulate global recovery continues to decline. When this mess is over the global economic super power will be China.

January 7, 2009

Taiwan's Exports Drop By Record 41.9% on Global Slump

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Taiwan's exports slumped by a record 41.9 percent in December on weaker demand from the U.S. and China for laptops, mobile phones and computer chips.

Shipments fell for a fourth month, extending the longest losing streak in almost seven years, the Ministry of Finance said in Taipei today. The drop was more than the median estimate of a 30 percent decline in a Bloomberg survey of 13 economists.

For the past 30 years the Fed spent everything it had trying to stop inflation (and causing one recession after another), but the real problem was the Fed stopping the economy from growing with all those unneeded recessions. Now the problem is deflation and deflation almost always leads to depression. There isn't anything the Fed can do to stop deflation. Inflation is easy to kill so their obsession was unfounded.

January 7, 2009

Fed Discusses ways to avert deflation

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve officials revived the prospect of setting an explicit target for inflation to counter the risk that the worst economic slump in the postwar era will trigger a broad decline in prices.

The Federal Open Market Committee at its Dec. 15-16 meeting discussed ways to avert deflation while approving a reduction in the benchmark interest rate to as low as zero, according to minutes of the gathering released yesterday. The FOMC also considered increasing emergency loans that have doubled the Fed's balance sheet to $2.3 trillion in the past year.

Policy makers "face considerable uncertainty about how inflation expectations could evolve," said Brian Sack, deputy director at Macroeconomic Advisers LLC in Washington and a former Fed economist. "That enhances the argument for taking the further step and adopting an explicit inflation objective."

Does anyone still wonder why Palestinians hate Israel?

January 9, 2009

257 Palestinian children killed in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Tiny bodies lying side by side wrapped in white burial shrouds. The cherubic face of a dead preschooler sticking up from the rubble of her home. A man cradling a wounded boy in a chaotic emergency room after Israel shelled a U.N. school.

Children, who make up more than half of crowded Gaza's 1.4 million people, are the most defenseless victims of the war between Israel and Hamas. The Israeli army has unleashed unprecedented force in its campaign against Hamas militants, who have been taking cover among civilians.

What took him so long? Has he spent the past eight years reading US newspapers and watching US network news?

January 3, 2009

US-installed Iraqi ex-PM says Bush "utter failure"

BAGHDAD, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Former U.S.-installed Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has denounced the policies of President George W. Bush as an "utter failure" that gave rise to the sectarian venom that ravaged his country.

In an interview published on Saturday in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Allawi found fault with American management of Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 as well as the government of present Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The idea that governors know how to govern has been pretty much destroyed by this crisis.

January 2, 2009

U.S. governors seek $1 trillion federal assistance

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Governors of five U.S. states urged the federal government to provide $1 trillion in aid to the country's 50 states to help pay for education, welfare and infrastructure as states struggle with steep budget deficits amid a deepening recession.

The governors of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin -- all Democrats -- said the initiative for the two-year aid package was backed by other governors and follows a meeting in December where governors called on President-elect Barack Obama to help them maintain services in the face of slumping revenues.

The Fed is filled with idiots who got us into this mess in the first place so it probably doesn't matter what they think.

January 5, 2009

Federal Reserve Back Stimulus Plan

Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve officials, after taking the historic step of cutting the benchmark interest rate to as low as zero, are calling for greater government spending to help revive the U.S. economy.

San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen said yesterday at an economics conference in San Francisco that "it's worth pulling out all the stops" with an economic recovery package. Charles Evans, president of the Chicago Fed, told the same gathering he believes a "big stimulus is appropriate."

The legacy of conservative government is trillion dollar deficits for "as far as the eye can see."

January 3, 2009

Trillion Dollar Deficits

Warning of $1 trillion deficits "for years to come," President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on Tuesday vowed to eschew pork-barrel spending in the giant economic stimulus bill, a rare move in a place where large spending bills are routinely larded up with earmarks.

"What I'm saying is, we're not having earmarks in the recovery package, period," Mr. Obama told reporters, calling his election a mandate to force the federal government to change its budgeting and spending, slash broken programs and prevent pork.

December 31, 2008

Dow Jones industrial average plunged 4,488.43 points, or 33.8 in 2008

In a mere 12 months, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 4,488.43 points, or 33.8 percent, its most punishing loss since 1931. Blue chips like Bank of America, Citigroup and Alcoa lost more than 65 percent of their value. The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock index sank 39.5 percent, almost exactly matching its decline in 1937.

All told, about $7 trillion of shareholders' wealth — the gains of the last six years — was wiped out in a year of violent market swings.

Israel is hiding something, that's a given. What is that 'something' it doesn't want the rest of the world to see? War crimes?

January 2, 2009

Israel keeps ban on foreign journalists in Gaza

EREZ CROSSING, Israel – Israel maintained its ban on foreign journalists entering the Gaza Strip Friday despite a recent Supreme Court order to allow a limited number of reporters to enter the territory.

The ban has been in place since a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas began to fray on Nov. 5. Israel eased the ban last month but tightened it again after launching its air offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers a week ago.

President-Elect Obama hasn't said a word about the war crimes committed by Israel yet. What is he waiting for? Change to hit him in the face with a 2x4?

January 2, 2009

Civilians take brunt of 7th day of Gaza offensive

GAZA (Reuters) – The civilian death toll climbed in Israel's air offensive against the Gaza Strip on Friday and Palestinian Islamists vowed revenge for the killing of a senior Hamas leader and his family.

There was no sign of a ceasefire on the seventh day of the conflict, in which at least 425 Palestinians have been killed and 2,000 wounded, but a Palestinian official told Reuters that Egypt had begun exploratory talks with Hamas to halt the bloodshed.

January 3, 2009

FDIC Agrees to Sell IndyMac to Investor Group

The federal government has agreed to sell the skeleton of IndyMac Bank, the aggressive California mortgage lender whose July failure portended the autumn crisis of the financial system, to a group of private investors.

It is the first failed bank in almost two decades that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has sold to a buyer outside the banking industry, underscoring both the dearth of banks able to bid and the increased interest of wealthy investors in the ailing but historically lucrative industry.

January 2, 2009

Manufacturing index drops to 28-year low

NEW YORK — Signs grew that the economy could turn even weaker in 2009, as an index of December manufacturing activity sank to its lowest point in 28 years. Every corner of the sector was down, from bakeries to cigarette-makers to aluminum smelters.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said Friday its manufacturing index fell to 32.4 in December, a greater-than-expected decline from November's reading of 36.2. Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected the reading to fall to 35.5.

Why doesn't this journalist know who was in the Mosque? Because journalists are banned from Gaza so they have to wait until Israeli propagandist tell them what to write.

January 3, 2008

Israel bombs Gaza mosque, kills 10

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Palestinian medical officials say an Israeli airstrike on a mosque in the Gaza Strip has killed 10 people and wounded dozens.

It was not immediately clear whether the dead were Hamas militants. The mosque is named after a founder of Hamas who was killed by Israel in 2004.

The medical officials say more than 30 people were wounded in Saturday's airstrike in the northern town of Beit Lahiya. At least seven are in critical condition.

Impeachable Offense
January 1, 2009

Bigger Than Bush

If the Bush administration became a byword for policy bungles, for government by the unqualified, well, it was just following the advice of leading conservative think tanks: after the 2000 election the Heritage Foundation specifically urged the new team to "make appointments based on loyalty first and expertise second."

Contempt for expertise, in turn, rested on contempt for government in general. "Government is not the solution to our problem," declared Ronald Reagan. "Government is the problem." So why worry about governing well?

December 25, 2008

Bush Reverses Pardon

U.S. President George Bush, in an unusual move, has reversed one of 19 pardons that he issued on Tuesday.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said in a statement Wednesday the president acted based on information that has subsequently come to light in the case of convicted Brooklyn, New York developer Isaac Robert Toussie.

December 25, 2008

With Fed's Help, AIG Unloads $16 Billion in Credit Default Swaps

American International Group retired $16 billion in credit default swaps, the contracts that almost caused the company's collapse, after buying the underlying securities with help from the Federal Reserve.

The fund created by the Fed and AIG to protect the insurer's customers from losses has now purchased collateralized debt obligations with a face value of about $62.1 billion, the firm said in a statement.

December 24, 2008

Fed Approves GMAC Request to Become a Bank

Federal regulators will permit the financing arm of General Motors to become a bank and gain access to billions of dollars in government aid, a crucial step that will help ensure the survival of the company.

In a 4 to 1 vote, the Federal Reserve Board approved GMAC's application to transform itself into a bank holding company "in light of the unusual and exigent circumstances" affecting the financial markets. The move will allow GMAC to tap as much as $6 billion in government bailout money. The approval came as GMAC bondholders were facing a Friday deadline to vote to approve a complex transaction that would significantly reduce the company's outstanding debt.

One of these quotes if off target. Barney Frank wanted to use Fannie and Freddie to buy up bad mortgages in order to stop this crisis from happening. What was he supposed to say? That Fannie and Freddie were not sound?

December 24, 2008

The Worst Predictions About 2008

1. "A very powerful and durable rally is in the works. But it may need another couple of days to lift off. Hold the fort and keep the faith!" —Richard Band, editor, Profitable Investing Letter, Mar. 27, 2008

At the time of the prediction, the Dow Jones industrial average was at 12,300. By late December it was at 8,500.

2. AIG (AIG) "could have huge gains in the second quarter." —Bijan Moazami, analyst, Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, May 9, 2008

AIG wound up losing $5 billion in that quarter and $25 billion in the next. It was taken over in September by the U.S. government, which will spend or lend $150 billion to keep it afloat.

3. "I think this is a case where Freddie Mac (FRE) and Fannie Mae (FNM) are fundamentally sound. They're not in danger of going under…I think they are in good shape going forward." —Barney Frank (D-Mass.), House Financial Services Committee chairman, July 14, 2008

December 30, 2008

UN official says Israel responsible for breaking truce with Gazal

Palestinians in Gaza believed Israel had called a 48-hour lull in retaliatory attacks with Hamas when Israel Air Force warplanes launched a massive bombardment of militant installations in the Gaza Strip, a UN official said Monday.

Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the UN Relief and Works Agency which helps Palestinian refugees, raised the possible violation of an informal truce in a video press conference with UN reporters from her base in Gaza.

December 31, 2008

Fifth Third receives $3.4 billion from government

Regional bank Fifth Third Bancorp said Wednesday it received $3.4 billion as part of the government's $700 billion bank investment program.

The government investment, administered by the U.S. Treasury Department, is part of a broader program to invest in banks amid the ongoing credit crisis in an effort to stabilize the financial services sector and spur lending between banks and to consumers and other businesses.

December 31, 2008

New York Community Bancorp gets OK for $596M aid

New York Community Bancorp Inc. said Wednesday it was approved to receive $596 million as part of the government's $700 billion bank investment program.

The government investment, administered by the U.S. Treasury Department, is part of a broader program to invest in banks amid the ongoing credit crisis in an effort to stabilize the financial services sector and spur lending between banks and to consumers and other businesses.

December 15, 2008

Initial Jobless claims: 492,000

The Labor Department said initial filings for state jobless benefits fell to 492,000 for the week ended Dec. 27, a decline of 94,000 from the 26-year high of 586,000 claims a week earlier.

Economists were expecting jobless claims to slip to 575,000, according to a consensus survey by

It's the first time claims were below 500,000 since the week ended Nov. 1, when the government reported 481,000 initial claims. So far this year, job losses have totaled 1.9 million.

December 30, 2008

Consumer confidence index at all-time low

NEW YORK ( -- A key measure of consumer confidence fell to an all-time low in December amid a dismal job market and uncertain outlook for the new year.

The Conference Board, a New York-based business research group, said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 38 in December from the downwardly revised 44.7 in November.

Those of us who've been following this crisis since 2007 know it's bad - really, really bad and with almost certainty we can say the US going through a period of long-term decline. But collapse? Not least not now. If the GOP puts up barriers to Obama's reforms, it could and probably will happen but not the way Panarin predicts.

December 15, 2008

Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.

Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

But it's his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin's views also fit neatly with the Kremlin's narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.

Imagine if the supporters of this war paid for it with higher taxes. Imagine the GOP becoming responsible. Sure it's a dream and the problem with dreams is they hardly ever become real.

Impeachable Offense
December 26, 2008

Bush's $1 Trillion War on Terror

The news that President Bush's war on terror will soon have cost the U.S. taxpayer $1 trillion - and counting - is unlikely to spread much Christmas cheer in these tough economic times. A trio of recent reports - none by the Bush Administration - suggests that sometime early in the Obama presidency, spending on the wars started since 9/11 will pass the trillion-dollar mark. Even after adjusting for inflation, that's four times more than America spent fighting World War I, and more than 10 times the cost of 1991's Persian Gulf War (90 percent of which was paid for by U.S. allies). The war on terror looks set to surpass the cost the Korean and Vietnam wars combined, to be topped only by World War II's price tag of $3.5 trillion.

The cost of sending a single soldier to fight for a year in Afghanistan or Iraq is about $775,000 - three times more than in other recent wars, says a new report from the private but authoritative Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. A large chunk of the increase is a result of the Administration cramming new military hardware into the emergency budget bills it has been using to pay for the wars. (See pictures of U.S. troops in Iraq)

Impeachable Offense
December 10, 2008

U.S. and allies torture kids in Iraq

Since it invaded Iraq in 2003, the U.S. has detained thousands of juveniles---some of whom were tortured and sexually abused, according to published reports. Figures of the number of children behind bars vary. Some estimates put the number as high as 6,000.

While the criminal abuse of male prisoners at Abu Ghraib is well known, child and women prisoners held there have also been tortured and raped, according to Neil Mackay of Glasgow's Sunday Herald. Abu Ghraib prison is located about 20 miles west of Baghdad.<

December 23, 2008

US economy shrinks as IMF warns of Great Depression

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US economy shrank in the third quarter, official data confirmed Tuesday, as the IMF's top economist warned of a second Great Depression offering no respite from relentless gloom ahead of Christmas.

The abrupt 0.5-percent contraction of gross domestic product (GDP) in the world's largest economy was seen as marking the start of a steep downturn for the United States after GPD growth of 2.8 percent in the second quarter.

Impeachable Offense
December 23, 2008

Regulator Let IndyMac Falsify Report

A senior federal banking regulator approved a plan by IndyMac Bank to exaggerate its financial health in a May federal filing, allowing the California company to avoid regulatory restrictions only two months before it collapsed, a federal inquiry has found.

The same regulatory agency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, allowed similar legerdemain by other banks, according to a letter sent yesterday to members of Congress by the Treasury Department's inspector general, Eric Thorson. The letter did not provide details about the other incidents.

Impeachable Offense
December 20, 2008

White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire

As early as 2006, top advisers to Mr. Bush dismissed warnings from people inside and outside the White House that housing prices were inflated and that a foreclosure crisis was looming. And when the economy deteriorated, Mr. Bush and his team misdiagnosed the reasons and scope of the downturn; as recently as February, for example, Mr. Bush was still calling it a "rough patch."

"There is no question we did not recognize the severity of the problems," said Al Hubbard, Mr. Bush's former chief economics adviser, who left the White House in December 2007. "Had we, we would have attacked them."

Looking back, Keith B. Hennessey, Mr. Bush's current chief economics adviser, says he and his colleagues did the best they could "with the information we had at the time." But Mr. Hennessey did say he regretted that the administration did not pay more heed to the dangers of easy lending practices. And both Mr. Paulson and his predecessor, John W. Snow, say the housing push went too far.

Warren is a religious man and because he holds this title, he's allowed to lie. The fact that Obama embraces liars doesn't bode well for our future. He should call Warren a liar and leave it at that.

December 20, 2008

Constitutional experts: Warren claim on Prop 8 was "totally unfounded"

Summary: In a Dateline NBC report on Rev. Rick Warren, after noting Warren's support for California's Proposition 8, co-host Ann Curry reported that "Warren says he joined the fray out of a concern that if Proposition 8 wasn't passed, pastors would lose their right to preach about the biblical definition of marriage." Curry then added, "But many constitutional experts say that fear was totally unfounded, and gay rights leaders saw Warren's stance as an infringement on their civil rights." Curry had uncritically reported the previous day that Warren "was worried that this Proposition 8 would prevent him from getting up on the pulpit and speaking out against same-sex marriage."

Obama thinks too highly of dumb conservatives.

December 15, 2008

Rick Warren is an insulting choice

To understand how angry and disappointed many Democrats are that Barack Obama has invited evangelical preacher Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural, imagine if a President-elect John McCain had offered this unique honor to the Rev. Al Sharpton -- or the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. I know, it's hard to picture: John McCain would never do that in a million years. Republicans respect their base even when, as in McCain's case, it doesn't really return the favor.

Only Democrats, it seems, reward their most loyal supporters -- feminists, gays, liberals, opponents of the war, members of the reality-based community -- by elbowing them aside to embrace their opponents instead.

December 15, 2008

Deflation or disinflation, it's all downhill

A downward spiral of prices, earnings and economic activity, it may be the most difficult problem for officials to fix. Deflation is best remembered for the severe economic hardship it caused in the United States during the Great Depression.

Financial markets will confront this specter on Tuesday, when U.S. data is expected to show another monthly drop in prices as the year-old recession cuts into consumer demand for everything from cars to casual wear and gasoline to groceries.

December 10, 2008

Japanese Economic Data Increase Deflation Fears

But the 17th floor was Bernie Madoff's sanctum, occupied by fewer than two dozen staff members and rarely visited by other employees. It was called the "hedge fund" floor, but federal prosecutors now say the work Mr. Madoff did there was actually a fraud scheme whose losses Mr. Madoff himself estimates at $50 billion.

According to charges against Mr. Madoff, his firm paid off earlier investors with money from new investors, fitting the classic definition of a Ponzi scheme. It unraveled as markets declined and many investors who lost money elsewhere sought to withdraw money from their investments with Mr. Madoff.

December 15, 2008

National Lampoon's Laikin Named in Stock Fraud Sting

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- National Lampoon Inc. Chief Executive Officer Daniel Laikin and six others were charged with stock manipulation as part of a federal crackdown.

Laikin, 46, conspired to pay kickbacks to a stock promoter to boost shares of National Lampoon, the Los Angeles-based media company, according to allegations in an indictment filed by acting U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid in Philadelphia.

December 15, 2008

Siemens to Pay $1.34 Billion in Fines

The fines that the company agreed to pay on the American side of the case — $450 million to the Justice Department and $350 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission — dwarf the previous high for a foreign corruption case brought by Washington. That mark of $33 million was set last year in the case of Baker Hughes, an oil conglomerate that paid a total of $44 million over foreign bribery charges.

Officials said that Siemens, beginning in the mid-1990s, used bribes and kickbacks to foreign officials to secure government contracts for projects like a national identity card project in Argentina, mass transit work in Venezuela, a nationwide cellphone network in Bangladesh and a United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Impeachable Offense
December 12, 2008

Pentagon Pro-Troop Group Misspent Millions

While the Pentagon preps for a new administration, a scandal from an earlier era is rearing its head.

A Defense Department project, supposedly designed to support U.S. troops, was used instead to channel millions of dollars to personal friends and allies of its chief. The "America Supports You," or ASY, program was led in a "questionable and unregulated manner," according to a Department of Defense Inspector General report, obtained by Danger Room. At least $9.2 million was "inappropriately transferred" by the project's managers. Much of that money served only to further promote ASY, instead of assisting servicemembers.

December 15, 2008

Japan's Tankan Confidence Plunges Most in 34 Years

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Sentiment among Japan's largest manufacturers fell the most in 34 years, signaling companies are likely to cancel spending plans and cut more jobs, pushing the economy further into recession.

An index that measures confidence among large makers of cars and electronics dropped to minus 24 from minus 3, the Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan survey showed today. A negative number means pessimists outnumber optimists.

November 12, 2008



Continuing economic problems have created budget problems in many states, leading some 25 states to reduce services to their residents, including some of their most vulnerable families and individuals.  Some 14 states have increased taxes or taken other revenue raising measures to help mitigate the need for budget cuts.

Examples of enacted cuts to state services include:

  • Public health programs: At least 17 states have implemented cuts that will affect low-income children's or families' eligibility for health insurance or reduce their access to health care services.  For example, Rhode Island eliminated health coverage for 1,000 low-income parents; New Jersey cut funds for charity care in hospitals; and California and Utah are reducing the number of services covered. Additionally, the governor in California has proposed cuts that, when fully phased in, will cause more than 400,000 adults to be denied health coverage.
Impeachable Offense
December 13, 2008

Pentagon inflated number of Iraqi security force

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department "kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! 'We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.' "

Mr. Powell's assertion that the Pentagon inflated the number of competent Iraqi security forces is backed up by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former commander of ground troops in Iraq, and L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator until an Iraqi government took over in June 2004.

December 10, 2008

Japanese Economic Data Increase Deflation Fears

NEW YORK ( -- Bankruptcy filings rose 30% during the government's 2008 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, according to figures released Monday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Total bankruptcy filings increased by 241,724 cases, or 30%, to 1.04 million in the 12 months between Oct. 1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2008.

December 16, 2008

Five out of six financial professionals do not expect business conditions to improve in 2009

After a year that saw the collapse of credit markets and the loss of nearly 2 million U.S. jobs, five out of six financial professionals do not expect business conditions to improve in 2009, according to the newly released 2009 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Business Outlook Survey. Fifty-five percent of the more than 800 financial professionals responding to the survey expect business conditions to continue to weaken during 2009; while 29 percent expect business conditions to remain the same.

Without access to credit, organizations are taking defensive actions, including: hiring freezes, layoffs, reduced capital spending, tightening credit standards for trading partners and the closing of plants and/or offices.

December 16, 2008

Consumer prices fall by record 1.7%

NEW YORK ( -- Consumer prices dragged down by plunging energy costs fell by a staggering amount in November, the government reported Tuesday.

The decline marked the second straight month that prices fell by a record amount.

December 16, 2008

Housing permits, starts hit record lows

NEW YORK ( -- Housing permits and starts fell to record lows in November, the government said Tuesday, in the latest sign that the housing market is continuing its decline.

Housing permits fell more than 15% to an annual rate of 616,000 last month, the Commerce Department said, while starts slid nearly 19% to an annual rate of 625,000.

December 16, 2008

Goldman Sachs posts $2.1 billion loss

NEW YORK ( -- Goldman Sachs suffered its first loss as a publicly traded company Tuesday, serving as yet another reminder that no corner of Wall Street has escaped the ongoing financial crisis.

The once-revered investment bank said it lost $2.1 billion, or $4.97 a share during the fourth quarter, representing the company's first loss since it went public in 1999. A year ago, Goldman reported a profit of $3.2 billion, or $7.49 a share.

December 15, 2008

Bankruptcy filings rise 30% this year

NEW YORK ( -- Bankruptcy filings rose 30% during the government's 2008 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, according to figures released Monday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Total bankruptcy filings increased by 241,724 cases, or 30%, to 1.04 million in the 12 months between Oct. 1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2008.

Japanese wages will raise as their workers retire.

December 11, 2008

Japanese Economic Data Increase Deflation Fears

Hourly wages for United Auto Workers laborers at General Motors Corp. factories actually are almost equal to those paid by Toyota Motor Corp. at its older U.S. factories, according to the companies. GM says the average UAW laborer makes $29.78 per hour, while Toyota says it pays about $30 per hour.

GM says its total hourly labor costs are now $69 including wages, pensions and health care for active workers, plus the pension and health care costs of more than 432,000 retirees and spouses. Toyota says its total costs are around $48. The Japanese automaker has far fewer retirees and its pension and health care benefits are not as rich as those paid to UAW workers.

December 2, 2008

Beige Book report shows weakness across all districts

NEW YORK ( -- Economic conditions deteriorated further across the nation, according to the Federal Reserve's latest snapshot, suggesting the U.S. central bank may continue to lower interest rates in the near future.

"Overall economic activity weakened across all Federal Reserve districts," the Fed said Wednesday in the December edition of its Beige Book, a report on current economic conditions.

How much more evidence do we need that Bush is a war criminal?

Impeachable Offense
December 2, 2008

Generals to urge quick action on torture by Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barack Obama should act from the moment of his inauguration to restore a U.S. image battered by allegations of torturing terrorism suspects, said a group of retired military leaders planning to press their case with the president-elect's transition team on Wednesday.

"We need to remove the stain, and the stain is on us, as well as on our reputation overseas," said retired Vice Adm. Lee Gunn, former Navy inspector general.

December 3, 2008

U.S. services sector contracting at record pace

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Non-manufacturing companies in the United States were contracting in November at the fastest pace on record, according to a survey of companies released Wednesday by the Institute for Supply Management.

The ISM nonmanufacturing index fell to 37.3% from 44.4% in October. It's the lowest level since the survey began in 1997.

Readings below 50% in the diffusion index indicate more firms are contracting than expanding. In November, only one industry - health care - reported growth.

December 10, 2008

Japanese Economic Data Increase Deflation Fears

TOKYO -- Overseas orders for Japanese machinery dropped in October while deflationary pressure appeared to increase in the country's corporate sector, according to government data.

The figures suggest that the global slowdown could continue to cut into foreign demand for Japanese products as domestic demand in the world's second-largest economy remains stagnant. They also indicate that a sharp drop in world commodity and energy prices might bring deflation back to Japan's economy, possibly forcing its central bank to cut its policy interest rate lower than the current 0.3%.

Key Votes
Senate Passes FISA Bill With Telecom Immunity - Roll Call
156 Votes Against The Use of Force - Roll Call
58 Votes Confirming Alito - Roll Call
60 Senators Confirm Gonzales - Roll Call
78 Senators Confirm Roberts - Roll Call
31 Republicans Vote Against Child Healthcare - Roll Call
65 Senators Voting for Torture and ending End Habeas Corpus - Roll Call

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Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders

July 26, 2001
Airline threat forces Ashcroft off civilian planes

August 23, 2002
FISA Court Chided Justice Dept. On Misinformation

October 7, 2002
Dissent over going to war grows among U.S. government officials

March 19, 2003
Bush cites al-Qaeda link to justify Iraq attack

July 2003
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August 10, 2003
US admits it used napalm

December 2003
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Feb. 20, 2003
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June 06, 2003
John Dean: Worse than Watergate

June 06, 2003
Data didn't back Bush's weapons claims, officials say

June 10, 2003
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June 27, 2003
U.N. Panel Finds No Iraq Link to Al Qaida

December 22, 2004
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January 28, 2005
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February 10, 2005
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March 7, 2005
Bush backs rendition policy

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Army, CIA Agreed on 'Ghost' Prisoners

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June 2005
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June 24, 2005
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July 02, 2005
Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S
  August 1, 2005
CIA Knew Iraq Shelved WMD Plans

August 3, 2005
Documents Tell of Brutal Torture, Murder by GIs

October 1, 2005
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November 6, 2005
U.S. is spending its way to financial ruin

November 20, 2005
FBI: 30,000 national security letters to financial and communications institutions

November 22, 2005
Bush Withheld Intelligence from Congress

November 25, 2005
CIA flew terror suspects via US bases in German

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European arrest warrant issued for 22 CIA agents

November 17, 2005
Meet John Rendon - Bush's Propaganda General

November 30, 2005
Lincoln Group Hired to Spread Propaganda to Media

January 17, 2006
Whose Fault Is This Curveball Mess?

May 2006
Names of Guantanamo Bay POWs

May 29, 2006
Bush 'Planted Fake News Stories on American TV'

July 25, 2006
American Bar Association: Bush signing statements violate constitution

August 13, 2006
9/11 Detainee Released After Nearly Five Years

December 2006
Iraq Study Group Report - 387 K HTML

May 27, 2006
More than 60 children have been held at Guantanamo Bay

September 5, 2007
Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction

September 14, 2007
IAEA: US Iran report branded dishonest

September 26, 2007
State Dept. blocks Blackwater probe

October 13, 2007
'Curveball: Spies, Lies and the Con Man Who Caused a War'

May 22, 2008
22 Republicans Vote Against GI Bill