Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 17, 2007

Economists for Edwards

In Vanity Fair economist Joseph Stiglitz writes about The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush. He has some sobering numbers:

The economic effects of Bush’s presidency are more insidious than those of Hoover, harder to reverse, and likely to be longer-lasting.
...
Inequality is now widening in America, and at a rate not seen in three-quarters of a century. A young male in his 30s today has an income, adjusted for inflation, that is 12 percent less than what his father was making 30 years ago.
...
As many as 1.7 million Americans are expected to lose their homes in the months ahead. For many, this will mean the beginning of a downward spiral into poverty. Between March 2006 and March 2007 personal-bankruptcy rates soared more than 60 percent.
...
Some portion of the damage done by the Bush administration could be rectified quickly. A large portion will take decades to fix—and that’s assuming the political will to do so exists both in the White House and in Congress. Think of the interest we are paying, year after year, on the almost $4 trillion of increased debt burden—even at 5 percent, that’s an annual payment of $200 billion, two Iraq wars a year forever.

Stieglitz has some prescriptions I can agree with. Especially a hefty rise of taxes on the rich and a general move from taxes on "the good things" like labor towards taxes on "the bad things" like pollution.

But who can be the candidate measuring up with FDR to implement this stuff?

Paul Krugman thinks Edwards is the best available choice. Today he writes against Obama's Big Table Fantasies:

Over the last few days Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have been conducting a long-range argument over health care that gets right to this issue. And I have to say that Mr. Obama comes off looking, well, naïve.
...
[In the debate] Mr. Edwards replied, “Some people argue that we’re going to sit at a table with these people and they’re going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it is a complete fantasy; it will never happen.

This was pretty clearly a swipe at Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly said that health reform should be negotiated at a “big table” that would include insurance companies and drug companies.
...
As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.

I have read a bit about Obama and certainly do not like his neocon illusions. But I don't know much about Edwards.

Who is financing his campaign? Who is on his staff? What is his likely foreign policy?

Posted by b on December 17, 2007 at 09:38 AM | Permalink

Comments

Mr. Edwards has a point in that any attempt to "socialize" the American health care system will meet opposition from interested parties who will not hesitate to sabotage the system just to prove that it "doesn't work".

Unfortunately, it will take a crisis on the scale of the Great Depression to get Americans around to thinking in terms of forcibly wresting power from vested interests.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 17, 2007 10:23:16 AM | 1

The American sheeple will wait until gas is ten bucks a gallon, and their bank accounts are frozen to prevent bank runs, pensions and Social Security are effectively looted, and grocery prices are tripled before they will get good and mad.

At that point, when they should turn on the crooks and liars who caused all this economic turmoil, they will instead demand a Messiah, a Fuhrer, a Strong Man to set all things right.

Their Savior will instead devote the nation to world domination as the sole solution to America's problems.

All perfectly predictable ahead of time.

Posted by: UESLA | Dec 17, 2007 10:58:48 AM | 2

I want to know how personal bankruptcy rates have still soared more than 60% between 2006-2007 when creditors saw all this coming two years ago and made it damned near impossible for anyone to successfully declare personal bankruptcy.

Jesus, Mary and Elvis... how bad would these numbers be on a level playing field???

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 17, 2007 11:19:32 AM | 3

Somewhat over a year ago, Newt Gingrich, in a little publicized interview, when
asked who he would most hate to run against (when he was first teasing at
running), rolled his eyes white, pursed his jelly lips, and in his best Georgian
Good Old Boy fashion said, "I shore wuddn't wanna' run against thet Hillary girl
and thet Obama boy, no sir!" Then he grinned like a Cheshire cat.

The East Coast liberal media went ga-ga, shutting out Biden, Kucinich and Edwards,
and elevating Clinton and Obama to super-star status! "The Republicans are afraid!"
Gingrich published another book, made another $M, and still smiling that Down-Home
Georgian Good Old Boy smile.

Sho' nuf', his plan worked. Hillary is stuck to that Tar Baby, or Obama is stuck
to that Tar Yuppie, however you want to flog it, but there you go. Gingrich's Uncle
Remus trap worked like a charm. It's not about issues now, but personalities.

He's condemned US to life under McCain, because Hillary ain't gonna win in 2008,
and Obama ain't gonna win in 2008, notwithstanding the "O-factor", and Edwards will
be just another collector's item in the (R-AZ) Fuhrer's campaign button collection.

UESLA is right. All perfectly predictable ahead of time. On November 1st, everything
changed. Now it's time to stampede the elections, like wolves bursting into chase on
an unwitting herd of milling cariboo. Now it's time for the gelding to begin.

Posted by: Toulou Rincou | Dec 17, 2007 1:29:43 PM | 4

staring into the abyss

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 17, 2007 3:13:38 PM | 5

The guy to run against Edwards?

As of shortly after midnight Sunday Pacific time, the Paul website was reporting more than $6 million raised on Sunday from more than 30,000 donors and an amazing fourth-quarter fundraising total surpassing $18.1 million. The little-known pro-life Texan, who favors abolishing much of the federal government and the Federal Reserve, could raise the most money of any Republican candidate this quarter. A spokesman said the average donation was $50.

Posted by: b | Dec 17, 2007 3:24:48 PM | 6

The Collapse of the Modern Day Banking System

Staring Into the Abyss

By MIKE WHITNEY

Stocks fell sharply last week on news of accelerating inflation which will limit the Federal Reserves ability to continue cutting interest rates. On Tuesday the Dow Jones Industrials tumbled 294 points following the Fed's announcement of a quarter point cut to the Fed Funds rate. On Friday, the Dow dipped another 178 points when government figures showed consumer prices had risen 0.8 per cent last month after a 0.3 per cent gain in October. The stock market is now lurching downward into a "primary bear market". There has been a steady deterioration in retail sales, commercial real estate, and the transports. The financial industry is going through a major retrenchment, losing more than 25 per cent in aggregate capitalization since July. The real estate market is collapsing. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on Friday that he will declare a "fiscal emergency" in January and ask for more power to deal with the $14 billion budget shortfall from the meltdown in subprime lending.

Economists are beginning to publicly acknowledge what many market analysts have suspected for months; the nation's economy is going into a tailspin.
Morgan Stanley's Asia Chairman, Stephen Roach, made this observation in a New York Times op-ed on Sunday:

This recession will be deeper than the shallow contraction earlier in this decade. The dot-com-led downturn was set off by a collapse in business capital spending, which at its peak in 2000 accounted for only 13 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The current recession is all about the coming capitulation of the American consumer - whose spending now accounts for a record 72 percent of G.D.P.

Most people have no idea how grave the present situation is or the disaster the country will face if trillions of dollars of over-leveraged bonds and equities begin to unwind. There's a widespread belief that the stewards of the system - Bernanke and Paulson - can somehow steer the economy through this "rough patch" into calm waters. But they cannot, and the presumption shows a basic misunderstanding of how markets work. The Fed has no magical powers and will not allow itself to be crushed by standing in the path of a market-avalanche. As foreclosures and bankruptcies increase; stocks will crash and the fed will step aside to safety.

In the last few weeks, Bernanke and Paulson have tried a number of strategies that have failed. Paulson concocted a plan to help the major investment banks consolidate and repackage their nonperforming mortgage-backed junk into a "Super SIV" to give them another chance to unload their bad investments on the public. The plan was nothing more than a public relations ploy which has already been abandoned by most of the key participants. Paulson's involvement is a real black eye for the Dept of the Treasury. It makes it look like he's willing to dupe investors as long as it helps his d Wall Street buddies.

Paulson also put together an "industry friendly" rate freeze that is supposed to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. But the plan falls well short of providing any meaningful aid to the estimated 3.5 million homeowners who are facing the prospect of defaulting on their loans if they don't get government assistance. Recent estimates by industry experts say that Paulson's plan will only help 140,000 mortgage holders, leaving millions of others to fend for themselves. Paulson has proved over and over that he is just not up to the task of confronting an economic challenge of this magnitude head-on.

Fed chief Bernanke hasn't done much better than Paulson. His three-quarter point cut to the Fed's Funds rate hasn't lowered interest rates on mortgages, stimulated greater home sales, stabilized the stock market or helped banks deal with their massive debt-load. It's been a flop from start to finish. All it's done is weaken the dollar and trigger a wave of inflation. In fact, government figures now show energy prices are rising at 18.1 per cent annually. Bernanke is apparently following Lenin's supposed injunction though there's no conclusive evidence he actually said it -- that "the best way to destroy the Capitalist System is to debauch the currency."

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve initiated a "coordinated effort" with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the and the Swiss National Bank to address the "elevated pressures in short-term funding of the markets." The Fed issued a statement that "it will make up to $24 billion available to the European Central Bank (ECB) and Swiss National Bank to increase the supply of dollars in Europe." (Bloomberg) The Fed will also add as much as $40 billion, via auctions, to increase cash in the U.S. Bernanke is trying to loosen the knot that has tightened Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) rates in England and reduced lending between banks. The slowdown is hobbling growth and could send the world into a recessionary spiral. Bernanke's "master plan" is little more than a cash giveaway to sinking banks. It has scant chance of succeeding. The Fed is offering $.85 on the dollar for mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that sold last week in the E*Trade liquidation for $.27 on the dollar. At the same time, the Fed has promised to keep the identities of the banks that are borrowing these emergency funds secret from the public. The Fed is conducting its business like a bookie.
Unfortunately, the Fed bailout has achieved nothing. Libor rates---which are presently at seven-year highs---have not come down at all. This is causing growing concern among the leaders of the Central Banks around the world, but there's really nothing they can do about it. The banks are hoarding cash to meet their capital requirements. They are trying to compensate for the loss of value to their (mortgage-backed) assets by increasing their reserves. At the same time, the system is clogged with trillions of dollars of bad paper which has brought lending to a halt. The huge injections of liquidity from the Fed have done nothing to improve lending or lower interbank rates. It's been a flop. The market is driving interest rates now. If the situation persists, the stock market will crash.

Staring Into the Abyss

One of Britain's leading economists, Peter Spencer, issued a warning on Saturday:

The Government must suspend a set of key banking regulations at the heart of the current financial crisis or risk seeing the economy spiral towards a future that could make 1929 look like a walk in the park.

Spencer is right. The banks don't have the money to loan to businesses or consumers because they're trying to raise more cash to meet their capital requirements on assets that continue to be downgraded. (The Fed may pay $.85 on the dollar, but investors are unwilling to pay anything at all.)Spencer correctly assumes that the reason the banks have stopped lending is not because they "distrust" other banks, but because they are capital-strapped from all their "off balance" sheets shenanigans. If the Basel regulations aren't modified, money markets will remain frozen, GDP will shrink, and there'll be a wave of bank closings.

Spencer said:

The Bank is staring into the abyss. The Financial Services Authority must go round and check that all banks are solvent, and then it should cut the Basel capital requirement level from 8pc to about 6pc. ("Call to Relax Basel Banking Rules, UK Telegraph)

Spencer confirms what we already knew; the banks are seriously under-capitalized and will come under growing pressure as hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) continue to lose value and have to be propped up with additional capital. The banks simply don't have the resources and there's going to be a day of reckoning.

Pimco's Bill Gross put it like this: "What we are witnessing is essentially the breakdown of our modern day banking system." Gross is right, but he only covers a small portion of the problem.

The economist Ludwig von Mises is more succinct in his analysis:

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought on by credit expansion. The question is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

The basic problem originated with the Federal Reserve when former Fed chief Alan Greenspan lowered interest rates below the rate of inflation for 31 months straight which pumped trillions of dollars of low interest credit into the financial system and ignited a speculative frenzy in real estate. Greenspan has spent a great deal of time lately trying to avoid any blame for the catastrophe he created. He is a first-rate "buck passer". In Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, Greenspan scribbled out a 1,500-word defense of his actions as head of the Federal Reserve, pointing the finger at everything from China's "low cost workforce" to "the fall of the Berlin Wall". The essay was typical Greenspan gibberish. In his trademark opaque language; Greenspan tiptoes through the well-documented facts of his tenure as Fed chief to absolve himself of any personal responsibility for the ensuing disaster.

Greenspan's apologia is a masterpiece of circuitous logic, deliberate evasion and utter denial of reality. He says:

I do not doubt that a low U.S. federal-funds rate in response to the dot-com crash, and especially the 1 per cent rate set in mid-2003 to counter potential deflation, lowered interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and may have contributed to the rise in U.S. home prices. In my judgment, however, the impact on demand for homes financed with ARMs was not major.

"Not major"? 3.5 million potential foreclosures, 11-month inventory backlog, plummeting home prices, an entire industry in terminal distress pulling down the global economy is not major?

But Greenspan is partially correct. The troubles in housing cannot be entirely attributed to the Fed's "cheap credit" monetary policies. They were also nursed along by a Doctrine of Deregulation which has permeated US capital markets since the Reagan era. Greenspan's views on how markets should function were -- to great extent -- shaped by this non-interventionist/non-supervisory ideology which has created enormous equity bubbles and imbalances. The former-Fed chief's support for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and subprime lending shows that Greenspan thought of himself as more as a cheerleader for the big market-players than an impartial referee whose job was to monitor reckless or unethical behavior.

Greenspan also adds this revealing bit of information in his article:

The value of equities traded on the world's major stock exchanges has risen to more than $50 trillion, double what it was in 2002. Sharply rising home prices erupted into major housing bubbles world-wide, Japan and Germany (for differing reasons) being the only principal exceptions." ("The Roots of the Mortgage Crisis", Alan Greenspan, Wall Street Journal)

This admission proves Greenspan's culpability. If he knew that stock prices had doubled their value in just 3 years, then he also knew that equities had not risen due to increases in productivity or demand.(market forces) The only reasonable explanation for the asset inflation, therefore, was monetary policy. As his own mentor, Milton Friedman famously stated, "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon". Any capable economist would have known that the explosion in housing and equities prices was a sign of uneven inflation. Now that the bubble has popped, inflation is spreading like mad through the entire economy.

Greenspan is a very sharp man. It is crazy to think he didn't know what was going on. This is basic economic theory. Of course he knew why stocks and housing prices were skyrocketing. He was the one who put the dominoes in motion with the help of his printing press.

But Greenspan's low interest credit is only part of the equation. The other part has to do with way that the markets have been transformed by "structured finance".

What's so destructive about structured finance is that it allows the banks to create credit "out of thin air", stripping the Fed of its role as controller of the money supply. David Roache explains how this works in an excerpt from his book "New Monetarism" which appeared in the Wall Street Journal:

The reason for the exponential growth in credit, but not in broad money, was simply that banks didn't keep their loans on their books any more-and only loans on bank balance sheets get counted as money. Now, as soon as banks made a loan, they "securitized" it and moved it off their balance sheet.

There were two ways of doing this. One was to sell the securitized loan as a bond. The other was "synthetic" securitization: for example, using derivatives to get rid of the default risk (with credit default swaps) and lock in the interest rate due on the loan (with interest-rate swaps). Both forms of securitization meant that the lending bank was free to make new loans without using up any of its lending capacity once its existing loans had been "securitized."

So, to redefine liquidity under what I call New Monetarism, one must add, to the traditional definition of broad money, all the credit being created and moved off banks' balance sheets and onto the balance sheets of nonbank financial intermediaries. This new form of liquidity changed the very nature of the credit beast. What now determined credit growth was risk appetite: the readiness of companies and individuals to run their businesses with higher levels of debt. (Wall Street Journal)

The banks have been creating trillions of dollars of credit (by originating mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and asset-backed commercial paper) without maintaining the proportional capital reserves to back them up. That explains why the banks were so eager to provide mortgages to millions of loan applicants who had no documentation, no income, no collateral and a bad credit history. They believed there was no risk, because they were making enormous profits without tying up any of their capital. It was, quite literally, money for nothing.

Now, unfortunately, the mechanism for generating new loans (and fees) has broken down. The main sources of bank revenue have either been seriously curtailed or dried up entirely. (Mortgage-backed) Commercial paper (ABCP) one such source of revenue, has decreased by a full-third (or $400 billion) in just 17 weeks. Also, the securitization of mortgage-backed securities is DOA. The market for MBSs and CDOs and other complex bonds has followed the Pterodactyl into the history books. The same is true of structured investment vehicles (SIVs) and other "off balance-sheet" swindles which have either gone under entirely or are presently withering with every savage downgrade in mortgage-backed bonds. The mighty juggernaut that was grinding out the hefty profits ("structured investments") has suddenly reversed and is crushing everything in its path.

The banks don't have the reserves to cover their downgraded assets and the Federal Reserve cannot simply "monetize" their bad bets. There's no way out. There are bound to be bankruptcies and bank runs. "Structured finance" has usurped the Fed's authority to create new credit and handed it over to the banks.

Now everyone will pay the price.

Investors have lost their appetite for risk and are steering clear of anything connected to real estate or mortgage-backed bonds. That means that an estimated $3 trillion of securitized debt (CDOs, MBSs and ASCP) will come crashing to earth delivering a violent blow to the economy.
It's not just the banks that will take a beating. As Professor Nouriel Roubini points out, the broker dealers, the investment banks, money market funds, hedge funds and mortgage lenders are in the crosshairs as well.

Non-bank institutions do not have direct access to the Fed and other central banks liquidity support and they are now at risk of a liquidity run as their liabilities are short term while many of their assets are longer term and illiquid; so the risk of something equivalent to a bank run for non-bank financial institutions is now rising. And there is no chance that depository institutions will re-lend to these to these non-banks the funds borrowed by central banks as these banks have severe liquidity problems themselves and they do not trust their non-bank counterparties. So now monetary policy is totally impotent in dealing with the liquidity problems and the risks of runs on liquid liabilities of a large fraction of the financial system. (Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor)

As the downgrades on CDOs and MBSs continue to accelerate, there'll likely be a frantic "flight to cash" by investors, just like the recent surge into US Treasuries. This could well be followed by a series of spectacular bank and non-bank defaults. The trillions of dollars of "virtual capital" that were miraculously created through securitzation when the market was buoyed-along by optimism will vanish in a flash when the market is driven by fear. In fact, the equity bubble has already been punctured and the process is well underway.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state.

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 17, 2007 3:33:40 PM | 7

sorry b - spam filter wouldn't permit me to link

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 17, 2007 3:34:47 PM | 8

@4

You, at some point, will have to decide if a Newt Gingrich call "against" Hillary and Obama is a strategy to promote them negatively (he really thinks these are hard to beat and/or he wouldn't like their politics), or is a strategy to promote them positively (he thinks these are easy to beat and/or he likes their policies).

Both don't fit.

Posted by: b | Dec 17, 2007 3:35:40 PM | 9

in this month's issue of the Atlantic there is an uplifting story about Obama. I would like to get behind him as well. Sure, he still says things that annoy me and he has been vetted by AIPAC but of all the candidates who have a slight chance of pulling it off he is probably the least worse. The republicans are of the lowest scum imaginable with the possible exception of Ron Paul and the democrats are either ignored (Kucinich and Gravel) or considered unelectable (Dodd, Biden, and Richardson) untrusted by everyone (Edwards) or a republican in jackass clothing (Clinton), leaving Obama to stand out as someone different.

The fact that Oprah Winfrey threw her support to Obama is actually a very big deal. Millions of women watch Oprah and take her advice. This had to be a crushing blow for Hillary Clinton. Oddly enough it seems to me that rightwing hate radio is now bashing Hillary too after giving her a pass. That probably has more to do with marketing and keeping the rubes interested than a tactical or strategic move.

I don't know who is funding Edwards, I don't care. His southern twang reminds people in the north of Jimmy Carter and I suspect the people in the south see him as just another fancy lawyer. Hate radio has successfully labeled him as a vain fairy with Limbaugh calling him the Breck Girl and Coulter calling him a fag. those labels tend to stick. he has no chance, he would make a damn fine vice for Obama though...maybe that is what he is hoping for. Some suspect Richardson of running for VP as well...he too is certainly qualified for that.

but, corporate media will play with us, let HRC fall behind so that she can be the comeback kid just like Bill was and ultimately stand in the general election. If one of the republican candidates can come up with good slogan they will win in 08 or else HRC will be selected and the republicans will win anyway. they will then get everything they ever wanted and will be able to blame it all on a democratic president. woo hoo!

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 17, 2007 3:57:27 PM | 10

@r'giap The Whitney CounterPunch article was fresh in my mind when I read some of the comments about impending economic doom upthread. Maybe Whitney is correct, it is difficult to imagine that all of the economic interferers will just get out of the way as Whitney suggests, should the system turn to mush. In 1929 economists were pretty thin on the ground, There are just so many 'experts' nowadays and the majority of them have the ear of someone in the elites. The biggest danger is everyone pulling all the levers at once, which would be interesting to watch I suppose.

I can't understand those still concerned about a rethug victory next year, it just cannot happen. The forces of darkness have already invested into a dem administration and the only question is going to be who?

After too many years of impotently watching this insanely destructive 'primary system' where the frontrunner at the end of the penultimate year is always dog tucker by March of election year, it seems to me that Obama and Clinton will be casting around for a strategic alliance with the real front runner by March having cancelled each other out, their only hope is to try and overwhelm the candidate who has the momentum's infrastructure.

That may work for Obama but Clinton realises this is her only shot so she will fight until the end and lose badly. Best guess based on knowing that the eventual victor will be as morally depraved as Clinton and Obama, is Edwards. He will come from behind in a few crucial primaries after Clinton's mud has stuck to both Obama and herself.

Edwards may offer Obama the VP gig as a sort of kick in the groin to the uppity blackfella, but Obama would be a mug to take it, even though finding a place to be relevant and in the public eye for 12-16 years is gonna be tough.

Sorry kids the elites have declared Kucinich 'unelectable' and even if he did manage to cobble together enough delegates to seem like he should win the primary he would get sand bagged at the convention.

So the only hope for a reform which would let the best person win, is a total collapse of the amerikan economic system. That means destruction of the social infrastructure too of course, so it isn't the type of thing anyone would wish for. Same old, same old, really. Whoever of these smugly self satisfied polished balls of pus does win, the people are going to lose.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 17, 2007 4:27:50 PM | 11

Dan of Steele #9: Your comment about Hillary Clinton becoming the comeback kid (at least to be played that way by the main stream media) was put forth by Rush Limbaugh in the first few minutes of his radio talk show today. Is this coincidence? Anything coming from Limbaugh is suspect and needs to be examined carefully. Rush Limbaugh always has a hidden agenda. The biggest joke is that Limbaugh claims he is not part of the MSM propagenda. In this case, is Limbaugh preparing his ditto heads for such an (desired?) outcome?

Posted by: Rick | Dec 17, 2007 4:50:51 PM | 12

r'giap the Whitney article was fresh in my mind also when I read some of the comments about impending economic doom upthread. Maybe Whitney is correct, but it is difficult to imagine that all of the economic interferers will just get out of the way as Whitney suggests, should the system turn to mush. In 1929 economists were pretty thin on the ground, There are just so many 'experts' nowadays and the majority of them have the ear of someone in the elites. The biggest danger is everyone pulling all the levers at once, which would be interesting to watch I suppose.

I can't understand those still concerned about a rethug victory next year, it just cannot happen. The forces of darkness have already invested into a dem administration and the only question is going to be who?

After too many years of impotently watching this insanely destructive 'primary system' where the frontrunner at the end of the penultimate year is always dog tucker by March of election year, it seems to me that Obama and Clinton will be casting around for a strategic alliance with the real front runner by March having cancelled each other out, their only hope is to try and overwhelm the candidate who has the momentum's infrastructure.

That may work for Obama but Clinton realises this is her only shot so she will fight until the end and lose badly. Best guess based on knowing that the eventual victor will be as morally depraved as Clinton and Obama, is Edwards. He will come from behind in a few crucial primaries after Clinton's mud has stuck to both Obama and herself.

Edwards may offer Obama the VP gig as a sort of kick in the groin to the uppity blackfella, but Obama would be a mug to take it, even though finding a place to be relevant and in the public eye for 12-16 years is gonna be tough.

Sorry kids the elites have declared Kucinich 'unelectable' and even if he did manage to cobble together enough delegates to seem like he should win the primary he would get sand bagged at the convention.

So the only hope for a reform which would let the best person win, is a total collapse of the amerikan economic system. That means destruction of the social infrastructure too of course, so it isn't the type of thing anyone would wish for. Same old, same old, really. Whoever of these smugly self satisfied polished balls of pus does win, the people are going to lose.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 17, 2007 6:11:35 PM | 13

dan, why pollute yr. brain w/that crap. Elites have selected Margaret Thatcher Clinton & Barack Obamination. they're both Trojan Horses for the Wall St. Predators. Don't waste your time differentiating between them. Merely different gift wrapping on the same declaration of war against you. If you do not want 90% of you income taxed to bail out Wall St., look elsewhere. That's the Robt. Rubin agenda at the moment. And worse. Extreme medical rationing; carbon trading so only the rich will be able to afford to drive & keep warm. Destroy American jobs. Eliminate the Constitution & the dollar merging w/Mexico. Working to form a World State. And on & on. Get w/the substance, rather than whose voice sounds like what bad memory...

Posted by: jj | Dec 17, 2007 10:20:08 PM | 14

Simplifying - a candidate either advances an agenda that promotes your interest or they do not. Any one who does, will get creamed by the elite media. Last time I heard, Kucinich is the first candidate since Ross Perot to do so. Edwards rhetoric is slightly less offensive, but as they say JackAss Party Candidates have to run "to the left" in the primaries. If that's his concept of left, don't expect too much.

Posted by: jj | Dec 17, 2007 10:27:19 PM | 15

Still think HRC is the corporate choice. The rest is theater.

Posted by: ben | Dec 18, 2007 1:29:01 AM | 16

Clinton Library Got Funds From Abroad - Saudis Said to Have Given $10 Million

The royal family of Saudi Arabia gave the Clinton facility in Little Rock about $10 million, roughly the same amount it gave toward the presidential library of George H.W. Bush, according to people directly familiar with the contributions.

Posted by: b | Dec 18, 2007 1:49:06 AM | 17

b @ 17
I don't think it is odd that the Saudis gave WJC some money. He was good to them just like GHWB was good to them. What is not clear is why WJC would not openly publish the list of donors. What on earth would they have to hide?

of course, these non profit organizations are cash cows, you only have to give away a couple of percent of your net earnings each year to maintain the status. that is where the outrage should be in my opinion.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 18, 2007 7:02:16 AM | 18

it is a matter of complete indifference to me who the elites choose as their vassals in this or that horse race

the senators & representatives are goods & chattels bought a sold at the slightest whim

all their discourses are borne in death & derived in dread

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 18, 2007 8:21:01 AM | 19

...non profit organizations are cash cows, you only have to give away a couple of percent of your net earnings each year to maintain the status. that is where the outrage should be in my opinion.

Yes I agree. As I posted sometime ago charitable organizations are 85% self serving admin costs (authoritative hierarchies are expensive to preserve) and 15% charitable works.

Posted by: jcairo | Dec 18, 2007 9:59:35 AM | 20

rgiap, you seem to have joined jj in giving up. while it is hard to keep on fighting in face of overwhelming opposition, there really is no other choice.

what can I tell my grandchildren? that I figured it was hopeless so I just went along with it?

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 18, 2007 10:45:24 AM | 21

d of s

my pessismism is mine only. i know there are many here - conchita, siun & others who are giving the 'process' their best efforts & i do not want to diminish that effort in any way

but as i sd in a post the other day, & it is not unique to the empire - the 'leadership' in our countries are cretinous. in your case - at least prodi is not a mafia hood but berlusconi the buffoon could return, here sarkozy is such small potatoes - all he can do is smirk, merkel a moron, brown bovine as you can be without mooing

in the county of my naissance - population & 'leadership' - are both so politically & morally impoverished - it has made parliamentary politics a little more putrid than it otherwise is. & i hear pitcairn island is not so good either

the 'democracy' that is promoted here & there like some lifesaver - is turning countries into charnelhouses

dan, i am an old fashioned guy - give me dictatorship of the proletariat - with a cadre who are at least conscious of which foot foot follows the other

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 18, 2007 12:15:22 PM | 22

Hillary is not electable. (for the nth time! I’m getting to be boring..) Obama will on the whole appear as more attractive and I suppose may win the ‘primaries’ or what not I don’t keep up with that stuff. Edwards is a side show.

If the election was fair, the winner would be Ron Paul.

As it is not, it will be Giuliani.

dan wrote: what can I tell my grandchildren? that I figured it was hopeless so I just went along with it?

Submitted to it. Bowed down. Not went along. Could do nothing, was powerless. Then they will either understand, or berate you for not trying something. (I have been thinking about the same thing, provided I have any, which is unlikely.)

Posted by: Tangerine | Dec 18, 2007 12:23:20 PM | 23

rick @ 12
as you suspected I also heard Limbaugh say that the driveby media was going to make HRC the comeback kiddette. I apologise if I conveyed the impression that it was my own idea.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 18, 2007 12:50:32 PM | 24

from rgiap #19: it is a matter of complete indifference to me who the elites choose as their vassals in this or that horse race

the senators & representatives are goods & chattels bought a sold at the slightest whim

all their discourses are borne in death & derived in dread


Precisely (except for "whim"), and necessarily in current system. Personally, as posted here before, I think Gore's the choice and gore (plus drowning and disease) the plan, probably before his anointing.

Posted by: plushtown | Dec 19, 2007 6:26:40 PM | 25

Rob Perry on Clinton:

Because of Sen. Clinton’s unique status as the first former First Lady to run for President – and because her husband was succeeded by a Republican – she is the first candidate to have both her and her spouse be subject to regular, long-term surveillance by an Executive Branch agency controlled by the opposing political party.

Since they left the White House in 2001, Bill and Hillary Clinton have been under the protection of the Secret Service, formerly a branch of the Treasury Department and now part of the Homeland Security Department. Records are maintained showing where they go and whom they meet.

Homeland Security is under the control of Michael Chertoff, a longtime Clinton nemesis dating back to his work as a Republican lawyer on the Senate’s Whitewater investigation in the 1990s. In 2003, Sen. Clinton cast the sole dissenting vote against Chertoff’s nomination as a federal judge in protest against his abrasive conduct during the Whitewater inquiry.

Though Secret Service records are supposed to be closely held secrets, a source close to the Clintons told me that it is believed that senior Republicans have received regular briefings about movements of the Clintons that might prove embarrassing if released during the general election campaign.
...
During Clinton’s presidency, I approached then-deputy White House chief of staff John Podesta and other senior officials to ask whether they had any plans to pursue important investigations that had been left undone in 1993. I was told those issues simply weren’t “on the radar scopes.”

However, if Clinton thought that his collaboration in keeping the Reagan-Bush secrets from the American people would earn him some bipartisan help from the Republicans, he was mistaken.
...
Now, as Campaign 2008 begins to unfold, a similar dynamic is in place.

George W. Bush has engaged in a variety of acts that appear to be illegal, extra-legal or unconstitutional, while the Clintons are again signaling that they have no intention of holding the Bush family accountable.
...


Posted by: b | Dec 20, 2007 1:49:28 AM | 26

dan, not sure why you say "I've given up." I'm simply observing that voting for a candidate of the Elite's choice is selecting between death by lethal injection or the electric chair. On the other hand, FDR was elected w/essentially the same prog. as Hoover, but he was brilliant & decent & pushed by a hugely strong labor movement. I simply see no one either mobilizing behind Kucinich, which given his uninspiring vegan energy is not surprising, nor building a strong movement in support of his economic policies - shutting down WTO, NAFTA, etc. on Day 1. Then implementing a tax code that promotes the re-industrialization of America & makes it possible for us to begin feeding ourselves. As his ec. advisor says, the price the elite have exacted for supporting JackAss party candidates is having us bail out Wall St. via 90% income tax, so that no one will have any money, obviously 'cept the elite. Are you suggesting one should delude oneself into thinking this will advance our interests? Don't ask me why activists are mis-directing all their energy away from the Economic Tsunami the xUS Elites are sending our way, rather than linking it to the movement to restore Civil Liberties. It utterly escapes me why working to maintain the ec. health of the middle class should be controversial. And as P.C. Roberts & Lou Dobbs demonstrate, it's hardly a "leftist" position. In fact, it's astonishing, not to mention embarrassing, that only right-wingers (except T. Hartmann) are even paying any attention to the issue.

Posted by: jj | Dec 20, 2007 2:45:00 AM | 27

b asked "What is his likely foreign policy?"

stephen zunes: John Edwards' Foreign Policy

Liberal Hawk

Despite presenting himself as a new kind of politician, in many ways Edwards is a throwback to the 1960's Cold War liberalism of such leading Democrats of that era as Hubert Humphrey, who had a strong record in support of labor, economic justice, and the environment, yet supported criminal and disastrous military adventurism overseas, most notably the war in Vietnam.

Indeed, Edwards is yet to explain how the United States can afford his ambitious and progressive domestic agenda while simultaneously having to fund large-scale military interventions overseas. He has called for dramatic increases in military spending, most of which has nothing to do challenging the threat from al-Qaeda.

Edwards' call that America should "reclaim the moral high ground that defined our foreign policy for much of the last century" sounds noble until one considers that taking the moral high ground has been more the exception than the rule in U.S. foreign relations over the past 100 years. Though calling for a return to the policies of previous administrations that "built strong alliances and deepened the world's respect of us," he uses the presidency of Ronald Reagan as an example.

Posted by: b real | Dec 21, 2007 2:52:52 PM | 28

Edwards said in his recent speech to CFR that he would NOT cut the military. But the silly war on terra should be jettisoned.

If he doesn't cut the War Dept., by the time he pays interest on Nat'l Debt on top of that, there is NO money left - so rest is simply hot air :( Plus as much as he yaks about "trade policy", he has never come out for re-industrializing America.

Posted by: jj | Dec 22, 2007 1:59:26 AM | 29

Regarding Posts #10 and #12 above, and with about a week to go before the Iowa Caucuses, it is not surprising, this is the headline in the DrudgeReport today, linking to a CNN newsreport:
SHOCK POLL: CLINTON DOUBLES OBAMA; TAKES COMMANDING LEAD

It seems like Drudge and Limbaugh work as a coordinated team.


Posted by: Rick | Dec 26, 2007 12:13:50 PM | 30

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