Sep 28 2008

The Blog, and Other Such Concerns

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

I know I’ve been MIA for a long time. Let me just say that this past 17 days has been long and trying. Hopefully, the next several days at home will prove to be fruitful here at the blog.

Unfortunately, traveling for weeks on end, working long hours, and being largely cut off from any news is the nature of the business that I’m engaged in. Ideally, I’d prefer to do something that forces me deeper into the news, but as of yet, I’ve not found anything that can replace my salary doing that, so, expect posting to be spotty over the next several months as I build up my savings to deal with the slow months that will follow Thanksgiving. It’s the nature of the business.

Despite all this, I have been working on several things here at the blog. I’m trying out a new twitter plug-in, and have a couple of posts rattling around in my head. I hope to have these out soon.

The financial crisis has been the primary focus of the news, and for good reason. I’m not economist. In fact, macroeconomics is not something that my education in Music prepared me for. There are several places that I go for more information; Bonddad and Calculated Risk are just two sources. I also rely on advisorjim a Memphian, for occasional Q&A sessions. These are always enlightening. Later today, I’ll have a post that is the result of our discussions earlier this week.

Thanks for sticking around, I’ll have more later in the day.

Sep 14 2008

The Coming Financial Disaster

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

So far this year 11 banks have failed. 14 since February of 2007. In the past 2 years 27 banks have closed. Some of those came under FDIC control long ago. (Source)

Back in March, Bear Stearns, one of the largest investment banks in the world was sold to JPMorgan Chase for $10 a share. Its 52-week high had been $133.

Just last week, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got rescued by the federal government.

This weekend, we learned that Merrill Lynch will be purchased by Bank of America, who also purchased the troubled Countrywide Financial back in January.

To add insult to injury, Lehman Brothers may file for bankruptcy tomorrow. This news has led to the dollar falling in international trading.

John McCain thinks the ”fundamentals of the economy are strong”, even though he has said he doesn’t know much about the economy, and his economic advisors have called the American people a nation of whiners.

I’m not trying to whine, but if the fundamentals of our economy are strong, why has unemployment risen to 6.1%?

Why are banks failing at the highest rate since 1986?

What does this mean for the rest of the economy?

Ian Welsh at firedoglake says that a lot more bankruptcies may be on the way due to these failures, but not all of them in the financial markets.

…The banks and the remaining brokers have a lot of this toxic waste on their books, and they don’t have it on the books at market prices, because there is no market price. A market price is about to be created for a ton of it, as Lehman is forced to sell during its bankruptcy liquidation. That will force banks and brokerages and other holders of this crap (like municipalities, States and pension funds) to also have to value it. A lot of them are going to find out that they’re bankrupt….

The fundamentals of our economy are strong? Really? That’s interesting, because what I’m hearing is that our cities could go bankrupt because these million dollar douchebags have stacked and gamed the system for big money, but gambled and lost? Strong?

I think I need a drink.

How much longer can this go on? How much longer can we borrow from other nations to support our wild flung fantasies? How much longer will the American people allow our nation to be run into the ditch by people who have nothing more than self-interest in mind?

Remember, just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t effect you.

Sep 14 2008

Clusterf**k in Clarksville

Posted by Steve Ross in TNDP

I’m not going to go into any of the details. I want to talk about something that both Newscoma, Goldni and LWC touched on, as well as just some common sense that doesn’t seem to be very common in just about every corner of Tennessee Democratic Party.

First, three truths that EVERYONE can agree on:

1. Rosalind Kurita betrayed the Democratic Party by voting for a Republican for Lt. Governor.

2. She was challenged in a primary, probably (definitely) as a direct result of item 1.

3. She won the primary within the bounds of the rules as they stood at the time of the election.

I’m as pissed off at Rosalind Kurita for what she did as anyone. However, the simple fact remains that no matter how much people are pissed at her, she won the damn election.

Since when did Democrats start using party unity as a test for being the nominee for anything? Come on, we’re Democrats! We’ve had one side of the party screaming bloody murder for some 20 odd years that we have to act more like Republicans and another hootin’ and hollerin’ that we’re not acting like Democrats. Where did this sudden call for party purity come from?

If the powers that be on the in the TNDP and throughout the state wanted to “take her down” they should have used their connections and influence to organize an unbeatable campaign behind Barnes. I have seen no evidence of anything resembling coordination from any of the party functionaries. I certainly never got an email from ANYONE associated with the Party asking me to give him my support. Had this been solved in this manner, we all would have been giving each other high fives back in August when the election happened.

If her disunity disqualified her from the Democratic ballot, then that should have been dealt with BEFORE the election. Once the votes are cast, it does more of a disservice to the communities in question than it does any benefit to the party to have her removed from the ballot.

In case I haven’t made myself clear, I’m still mad at Kurita and don’t think she deserves to be the Democratic candidate for State Senate, but this smacks of sour grapes. Removing her from the ballot almost certainly assures that her supporters will turn on the State party and vote for the Republican (ed note: I guess I should have checked the race first, there are no other individuals in this race besides the Democratic candidate). Further, should she be allowed to stay on the ballot, you’ve created the Tennessee equivalent of a Lieberman, except this one will continue the charade of being a Democrat.

What has happened here is someone in the party, or a group of someone’s, have decided out of the blue that the party has to grow a pair. They’ve chosen a hill to die on, and I feel confident that they will get their wish.

Should Kurita get pulled from the ballot, a seat that was probably safely Democratic will probably fall to a Republican (ed note. again there are no Republicans or independents on the ballot for this election, however that doesn’t exclude this possibility in the future). Despite Kurita’s actions in the last session, I believe that when it came to brass tacks she would have done the right thing and made sure a Democrat was the Lt. Governor (her problem with Wilder now solved). Now that is far less certain.

There is one thing for sure, the party does need to grow a pair. But that doesn’t mean using technicalities or smoke filled rooms to get the desired result. That means BUILDING A PARTY that is competitive in as many counties as possible instead of just focusing on the urban areas. Tennessee is a rural state. There are a lot more voters in the rest of Tennessee than in Shelby and Davidson Counties. The failure here is on the apparatus of the state party and their seemingly stubborn determination to maintain a paternalistic oligarchy in its affairs.

If you want to build a party, you have to go for a groundswell. That means bringing in all types and allowing them the opportunity to own a piece of the party through some other means than giving money. This means having get-togethers and functions and stuff and things more than just asking for a vote and some money now and again.

If you want to build a party, you have to address their needs like you want their vote. That means not budgeting an arbitrary number of signs for a county, or just abandoning an area because it’s too hard or you’re too whatever.

If you want to build a party, you have to take these first two things, and use them to build a relationship with people, build their trust, so when you do have to do the occasional unpleasant thing, they, at the very least, don’t turn against you.

Right now, all the TNDP seems to be is an ugly web site and a couple of high falutin’ dill weeds that couldn’t organize themselves out of a shoe box.

It’s way past time to step up folks. Give us a reason to trust you and we will. Give us a reason to support you, and we will. Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll eventually lose everyone. I’d say you’re well on your way.

Sep 14 2008

Every Trick in the Book to Suppress the Vote

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

Over the past several days there have been many stories about attempts by State Republican Parties to use every available option available, and some whose viability is in question.

Foreclosing the Vote

On Wednesday, an article in the Michigan Messenger detailed one such plan. The Michigan Republican Party in Macomb Co. is using foreclosure lists to challenge voter registrations. There is some question as to whether this method is legal, there’s no question it is unsavory.

Different states have different laws governing how up to date voter registrations have to be. However, as the article points out, a foreclosure notice is not necessarily an indication that a person has moved to another location. Foreclosures can be resolved before the foreclosed buyer has to leave the property.

This “insult to injury” tactic smacks of class warfare. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the weeks to come.

Indiana ID Imbroglio

As pointed out in this article by Jonathan Alter (h/t LWC), State Republican Parties all over the country are gearing up to contest voters based on the Supreme Court ruling Crawford vs. Marion County. The ruling affirms Indiana voter ID laws that require a valid state issued photo ID or US Passport.

Read the entire article, it lays out the strategies and efforts of State Republican Parties in many key states to disenfranchise voters, including…wait for it…Florida.

Florida has some of the most ridiculous election policies in the US. Alter points out

Even after the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and worldwide attention, the Florida software is still flawed. It requires only an 80 percent match to the name of a convicted felon. “So if there’s a murderous John Peterson, the software disenfranchises everyone named John Peters,” Andrew Hacker writes in a recent New York Review of Books.

Brilliant!

Voting is a fundamental right that segments of the population have tried to take away from other segments of the population since the beginning of our nation. First, you had to be a white male landowner. Over the years, it’s become less and less restrictive, opening up the process to all citizens. Still, there are those who wish to disenfranchise some for political gain.

Alter asserts that this effort is “…political, not racial…”. In one respect, he’s right. These efforts may just be outwardly motivated for a desired political outcome. Regardless of the intent, the effect in elections past has been to disenfranchise more African-American voters than those of other ethnicities. You can call that what you want, but if it looks and smells like a racist, it probably is.

Sep 12 2008

Welcome to the New vibinc blog!

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

If you just arrived from the old blogger site, thanks for coming over. If you just stumbled upon me, take a look around.

Cheers,

V.