Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BREVITAS

WORD

When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of priest for the sake of gain, and in order to qualify himself for that trade he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive anything more destructive to morality than this? ---Thomas Paine

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

Rasmussen -
Sarah Palin bests Joseph Biden 47% to 44% in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up for the presidency, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just over half of voters view both of the vice presidential candidates at least somewhat favorably, although 35% rate their opinion of Palin as very favorable while only 23% feel that way about Biden. Twenty-eight percent (28%) have a very unfavorable opinion of the woman governor of Alaska versus 20% who say that about the longtime Delaware senator. Women continue to be more skeptical than men of the Republican vice presidential nominee, only the second woman to be on a national political ticket. While men split 50% to 37% in Palin's favor, women support Biden 50% to 44%. When Palin is pitted against Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee wins 50% to 43%.

CNN
-
Former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that he has not yet decided which candidate to back in this year's presidential race. The election of an African-American president "would be electrifying," Powell told a George Washington University audience, "but at the same time [I have to] make a judgment here on which would be best for America. I have been watching both individuals, I know them both extremely well, and I have not decided who I am going to vote for. And I'm interested to see what the debates are going to be like because we have to get off of this 'lipstick on a pig' stuff and get into issues," he said.

Daily Kos - Former GOP governor Linwood Holton today endorsed a Democrat for president for the first time and is going to stump critical areas of the state for him. Linwood Holton is the hero of moderate Republicans in Virginia. He defeated the segregationist Democrat for governor and fought GOP right wingers. Holton is widely regarded as the father of the Republican party in Virginia. When Richmond public schools were ordered integrated Holton enrolled his children in the AA school close to the governor's mansion and walked them to school. He supported his son-in-law Tim Kaine for governor but has never supported a Democratic presidential candidate.

CNN:
The Democratic presidential nominee has never tried to hide the fact he delivers speeches off the device, though normally he doesn't use one at standard campaign rallies and town hall events. But the Illinois senator used a teleprompter at both his Colorado events Monday - making for a particularly peculiar scene in Pueblo, where the prompter was set up in the middle of what is normally a rodeo ring.

On the other hand, his partner could have used one. This, from Biden, is not the best way to win votes: "The Republican party and some of the blogs and others on the far right, are trying very hard to paint a picture of this man, they're trying the best as they can to mischaracterize who he is and what he stands for. All this stuff about how different Barack Obama is, they're not just used to somebody really smart. They're just not used to somebody who's really well educated. They just don't know quite how to handle it. Cause if he's as smart as Barack is he must not be from my neighborhood."

Politico - As banks reeled and presidential campaigns scrambled to react to the crisis on Wall Street Monday, color one man unsurprised. "I predicted this," said Ralph Nader, the independent presidential candidate. "All this I've written about five, 10 years ago.". . . It wasn't just banks that Nader criticized. In a letter to congressional leaders, Nader also attacked the idea of a government loan to major automakers, alleging that Congress was rushing to pass "panic legislation without due deliberations, without even having public congressional hearings." As Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain attempt to present themselves as plausible economic stewards, Nader told Politico both major party candidates fall short of addressing the root causes of the latest bank failures. According to Nader, Obama and McCain are too worried about containing fallout to take on the banks' irresponsible behavior. "Look at how they are knee-jerking similar approaches," Nader said, chiding the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees for their support, earlier this year, for bailing out Bear Stearns.

Huffington Post - "She's not telling the truth when she told ABC neither she nor her husband pressured me to fire Trooper Wooten," said Walt Monegan, the Alaskan official whose dismissal by Sarah Palin is the focus of a state investigation known as "Troopergate". "And she's not telling the truth to the media about her reasons for firing me." In an exclusive interview with ABC News.com, former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan said he resisted pressure by the First Couple to re-open an old case against a state trooper, who was in a hotly contested divorce and custody battle with the Governor's sister Molly. Alaskan lawmakers are investigating whether Palin and her husband used the power of the Governor's office to conduct a personal vendetta against their former brother-in-law, whose behavior during the 2005 divorce was described by the Palin family as " threatening."

Radar - John McCain surrogate Carly Fiorina, being interviewed by a St. Louis radio station, was asked whether vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had the experience to run a company like Hewlett-Packard, which Fiorina herself once headed. "No, I don't," she responded. Fiorina, who was forced out of her job after her company lost half its market value, quickly added, "But you know what? That's not what she's running for." Anyway, who cares? She can kill and clean her own moose! What more do you people want?

Political Wire
- Gov. Sarah Palin "had a private tanning bed installed in the Governor's Mansion in Juneau," according to Us magazine. "Tanning beds can cost up to $35,000 to install in a home -- not including the cost of parts." Said a spokesman: "She did. She paid for it with her own money."

WATCHING THE COUNT

Cincinnnati Enquirer
- About one-third of the absentee ballot applications received at the Hamilton County Board of Elections have been ruled invalid because Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign printed a version of the form with an extra, unneeded box on it. In a narrow interpretation of Ohio law, Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says many of the McCain forms have not been completed properly. If the box stating the person is an eligible elector -- or qualified voter - is not checked, Brunner said, the application is no good. Even though the box is unneeded, by not checking it voters are essentially admitting they're not eligible, Brunner said. "I have not seen a ruling that indirectly impacts voters to the enormity of this since I've been here,'' Hamilton County Board of Elections Deputy Director John Williams said of his nearly five-year tenure at the board. More than 750 absentee ballot requests in Hamilton County have been invalidated because of Brunner's ruling, Williams said. Absentee voting begins in 19 days, or on Sept. 30. If a registered Ohio voter's application is rejected, Brunner said, "We said you have to notify them within 48 hours and we also suggest that (Board of Elections) send them a new application." That means county Boards of Election must contact tens of thousands of voters and ask them to fill out a new, valid form in time to vote for the Nov. 4 election. The McCain campaign says it mailed out about 1 million of the faulty forms.

MONEY & WORK

Rodrigue Tremblay Global Research
- This major crisis has to be placed at the very feet of the Washington establishment. This is a politico-financial establishment that has pushed to the limits its ideology of deregulation of financial markets and stretched the working of unregulated corporate market capitalism to the breaking point. Now, the system is imploding under our very eyes and financial institutions are falling like dominos. . . The U.S. financial problem is not one of liquidity, (there is plenty of liquidity provided by the Fed when banks and brokers can borrow at will newly printed dollars from the Fed's discount window) but one of solvency, weak balance sheets, risky assets and debt liquidation. That's a horse of a different color.

Over the last twenty-five years, beginning with the Reagan administration and culminating with the current Bush-Cheney administration, the Washington establishment dismantled piece by piece the system of protection that had been built since the 1930's economic depression and removed nearly all government regulations that could stand in the way of greed and gouging on the part of unscrupulous market operators. . . What we are witnessing these days in the U.S. is a massive wealth transfer from taxpayers, savers and retirees to banks, their creditors and their managers. On the one hand, the Fed has pushed real interest rates deep into negative territory to help troubled banks, and, on the other hand, the American taxpayers have to foot the bill for bailing out very large financial institutions.

David Corn, Mother Jones -
If McCain wants to hold someone accountable for the failure in transparency and accountability that led to the current calamity, he should turn to his good friend and adviser, Phil Gramm. Eight years ago, Gramm, then a Republican senator chairing the Senate banking committee, slipped a 262-page bill into a gargantuan, must-pass spending measure. Gramm's legislation, written with the help of financial industry lobbyists, essentially removed newfangled financial products called swaps from any regulation. Credit default swaps are basically insurance policies that cover the losses on investments, and they have been at the heart of the subprime meltdown because they have enabled large financial institutions to turn risky loans into risky securities that could be packaged and sold to other institutions. . . Lehman, the fourth-largest securities firm until last week, has been one of the 10 largest counterparties in the market for credit-default swaps, according to a 2007 report by Fitch Ratings. The market, which is unregulated and has no central exchange where prices are disclosed, has been the fastest-growing type of so-called over-the-counter derivative, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

JIM CRAMER WENT BERSERK A YEAR AGO; TOO BAD NOBODY LISTENED TO HIM

NEIGHBORHOOD CRIME WATCH

Think Progress - In 2004, after top Justice Department lawyers refused to re-certify the legality of President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, the Bush administration re-authorized the program anyway without the Justice Department's approval. Previous accounts of the program's re-authorization reported that the "line for the attorney general's signature remained blank." But in the Washington Post today, Barton Gellman reports that Vice President Cheney's lawyer, David Addington, actually signed then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales's name to the document: "Addington opened the code-word-classified file on his computer. He had a presidential directive to rewrite. It has been widely reported that Bush executed the March 11 order with a blank space over the attorney general's signature line. That is not correct . For reasons both symbolic and practical, the vice president's lawyer could not tolerate an empty spot where a mutinous subordinate should have signed. Addington typed a substitute signature line: 'Alberto R. Gonzales.'

ECO CLIPS

WGME, ME -
Portland City Council unanimously approved a new plan that limits the time drivers can leave their vehicles idling. The new plan makes it illegal for vehicles to idle for more than 5 minutes. . . City Councilors will give drivers six months to get used to the new anti-idling ordinance, and within that time offenders will be given written warnings. After the 180-day grace period is up, police will begin handing out $50 tickets. As for the winter weather that's quickly approaching, when the temperature dips below 32 degrees, drivers will be allowed a 15-minute window to let their vehicles warm up. Then when the temperature hits the zero degree mark, the limit on letting your car idle will be lifted.

Berkeley has approved a plan to give loans of up to $22,0000 to home owners to install rooftop solar power. The loans would be paid off over 200 years as part of the homeowners' property tax bill.

JUSTICE

Times Standard, CA
- A landmark decision for all Californian's quietly made history on August 20th in a Santa Cruz courtroom. For the first time since 1996, when the Compassionate Use Act was passed, the federal authorities have been charged with violating the 10th Amendment for harassing medical marijuana patients and state authorities. The case of Santa Cruz vs. Mukasey, was heard by U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel, who said the Bush Administration's request to dismiss a lawsuit by Santa Cruz city and county officials, and the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana wasn't going to happen.

HEALTH

ABC
- An ubiquitous ingredient in plastics has been linked to diabetes and heart disease in adults, according to a study being released today, heightening concerns about the widespread use of the chemical BPA. Water bottles A new study has found a link between BPA, a chemical found in some water bottles, and medical disorders, such as diabetes. Otherwise known as bisphenol A, BPA is the chemical once studied as a synthetic form of estrogen, but more recently known to leach out of some plastic water bottles and baby bottles, and that is found in all kinds of plastic products. "We're talking about pacifiers, sippy cups, spoons, the bath toys, the chew toys ... everything," said Sommer Poquette, mother of two toddlers and author of the blog Green and Clean Mom. "It's hard to get a BPA-free product," said Poquette. The concerns of people like Poquette will likely be heightened by a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association in which researchers found a connection between BPA and diabetes and heart disease in adults. Scientists reviewed the health of 1,455 American adults and found that people with higher concentrations of BPA in their urine were slightly more likely to have heart disease and diabetes. The researchers also estimate that most Americans are exposed to a higher level of BPA each day than the current Environmental Protection Agency recommendation.

Common Dreams -
Doctors, nurses, consumers and community activists from throughout New York State came together in Albany to create a statewide coalition to push for adoption of a single payer health care system at the federal and state levels. Single Payer NY will help coordinate grassroots education and outreach activities in support of single payer throughout the state. They already have county coordinators in two dozen counties. . . A recent national survey by Indiana University of 2,193 doctors found a solid majority, almost 60 percent, supporting government legislation to establish national health insurance - a 10 percent increase in support since 2002. A March 2007 poll by CBS/ NY Times found that 64 percent of the respondents said the government should guarantee health insurance for all.

Progress Report - In July, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services quietly amended its list of required vaccinations for immigrants applying to become citizens. One of the newest requirements was Gardasil, which vaccinates against the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted viral infection in the United States. The problem with this regulation is that the HPV vaccine is not mandatory for U.S. citizens. Therefore, U.S. citizens are allowed to weigh the costs and risks associated with Gardasil, but immigrants are forced to pay-out-of-pocket for a vaccine they might not want to take. Without health insurance, the three-shot vaccine can cost $162 per dose, making it the most expensive vaccine on the market. "Given Gardasil's high cost, and the fact that there does not seem to be a public health justification for this particular mandate, I'm concerned that its real purpose is to create a financial barrier for immigrant women who seek to lawfully enter this country," said Jessica Arons of the Center for American Progress.