Saturday, December 27, 2008

That Was the Year that Was

It is that time of year where everyone in the media comes up with their best and worst list. The outcome of the 2008 election seems to have made a lot of the best lists and number one in most. No surprise as 75% of the population is thrilled GW Bush is leaving office. So his departure is contender for best in 2009.

The rise and then fall of gas prices gets it considered for both my worst and best list. I frankly am joyful about the trend downward. I am frankly waiting for more deflation before buying much of anything. But the best part of rising gas prices was that it got me looking seriously at my driving habits, energy use in my house, etc. I think the earth will benefit in the long run from all the above: Obama winning, Bush leaving, and the blackmail done by oil companies.

One of the things which has to make the best list for me is getting back into politics with the Obama campaign. I had been so turned off by GW cheating himself into office twice I was ready to move to another country. I was even studying Italian. But when I began to blog here about the primary process for my European friends I got involved in the blogging community who was still willing to invest time and opinions in the United States. It was infectous.

And the blogging community proved to be a powerful force for change in this country. I was thrilled to see Obama's campaign take full use of the internet. The FreePress is alive and well in the ether and that is just too cool. That gets number one for me. GW controlled the professional press after 9/11 to a level not used since Hitler. That probably gets number one on worst for about eight straight years in my assessment.

So the economy has tanked. Everyone is asking for a bailout and yet I feel surprisingly optimistic about the American people and our future. Though I do think we should cancel all bailouts to banks, investment companies, and auto dealers and just lower the interest rate on all personal mortgages, cancel all personal chapter 13 bankruptcies, and give tax breaks to all alternative energy systems installed in your homes.

All the remaining bailout moneys can be used to rebuild infrastructure, restore our national parks to their former glory, and develop affordable alternative energy technology and production. I personally want a windgenerator system and a solar well pump.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dog with a Bone

Not my dog and not my bone. But I have dogs. Two. One that wants to be alpha. And I always give them three bones. It avoids the fights. And lets me take one away anytime I want to let everyone know I am the alpha fur kid.

Obama threw Senator Clinton a really nice bone: Secretary of State. But Hillary Clinton is already fighting over the other bones in the cabinet and nobody has even been confirmed by the Congress.

It seems Hillary is not satisfied with being Secretary of State. She wants pieces of the pie from Treasury and Commerce. She is leaking to the press her plans to expand the role of the State Department to deal with economic issues. And to nominate special envoys. That particular honor may be Obama's bone.

I may have seriously misjudged Senator Clinton. I thought her only problem would be her husband. Wrong. She ran for president and she clearly wants to be president. Or at least Secretary of State, Commerce and Treasury. Not unlike the old office of Health, Education and Welfare. Maybe she wants that too.

I am anxious to see if Obama asserts his place as leader of the pack. If not than Hillary with her Alpha dog genetics will always have the bones in her corner.

BTW I have only fur kids to referee on bone issues so I have time to read the OpEd pieces and blog about them here even though Christmas is but two days away. Does Hillary think with Obama in Hawaii for Christmas she can claim dominance of all the bones before he returns? I bet he finds time to keep up with her issues.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How Low Will They Go

I read and printed out three days ago a New York Times Obed piece on the fall of gas prices and that it was putting Big Oil projects in jeopardy: "From the plains of North Dakota to the deep waters of Brazil, dozens of major oil and gas projects have been suspended or canceled in recent weeks as companies scramble to adjust to the collapse in energy markets."

When we were called a nation of whiners by the current administration I thought they meant the little guys but it seems those that whine the most are the big CEO's and corporations all rushing to the bailout trough with the rest of the political pigs. What did Big Oil do with all those quarter after quarter record profits? Give them as bonuses to their CEO's? I suppose it is only a matter of time before Exxon execs fly into Washington in their corporate private jets and beg for funds to continue their plans for new refineries in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and India.

Help me here - didn't they just claim the reason gas prices were so high a few months ago was because they had built no new refineries? And now they are suspending their plans to build at least three? And they wanted the right to be able to drill where they had never drilled before like the Alaskan wilderness. Now they are daily shutting down wells across the United States.

Not to mention they are now saying that this fall in demand for their fuel supplies (yes, there is a glut being stored in tankers because they ran out of storage space) globally could curb investment and research alternative clean energy resources. Doesn't that seem rather short sighted? I suppose the Big Three Auto makers will now argue that they do not need to produce more energy efficient cars since there is ample energy just sitting around waiting to be burned.

If Big Oil cuts back dramatically on investments as they seem to be doing we could end up in a situation where supply growth goes flat when the economy starts to recover. Said on analyst: "The steeper the decline, the steeper the response."

It would seem that Big Oil (not unlike investment firms and the auto companies) look only toward the next quarter's profits. They do not take the long term five and ten year plan approach that would make for more stable markets and supplies. And yet Bush and other Republicans stay committed to the free market approach. And yet deregulation has worked so well as the current economic situation proves. We clearly cannot expect capitalists to look beyond immediate profits and bonuses and the annual corporate meeting at a five star hotel in Hawaii.

Obama is promising regulation of the banking and investment industry. I think we need regulation of Big Oil and the Big Three and all imports from China (just thought I would throw them in since they are now poisoning dog treats). I think they have all proven there is no limit to how low they will go to insure record profits at the expense of the economy and the American people.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

That Made My Day

I know we as Americans are all suppose to be insulted that such disrespect was shown to our President. But not me. Had the threat of Gitmo not hung over my head I might have tried it myself but I only wear a size 6. I am only sorry the old man still has some cowboy reflexes left and he ducked.

I suppose this blog could get me sent to Gitmo - giving aid and comfort to the enemy - the shoe thrower. I understand Cheney is still in favor of keeping Gitmo open and recommends waterboarding as a useful tool. Threaten me with drowning and I will tell you anything - even where the reporter buys his shoes to throw. I recommend steel toed and with taps. Among other things they are nicely weighted for accuracy when thrown.

I think the most disturbing part of this whole incident was the followup interview with Bush. One, he definitely needed his hair combed. And, Two, he did not get it at all. We have got to stop electing delusional people to office. You can included Illinois governors in that statement.

I dug myself out in the middle of the snow storm yesterday to run and get some things from the market. Snowy weather makes me crave clam chowder. Don't ask. And while standing in the check out line with all the other people craving their own snow storm comfort food I perused the titles of articles in the magazines. There was a sad deficit in space aliens and "she is having my baby" articles so I wound up reading the cover of Time Magazine. Almost bought it but it seemed so much more fun to wonder what was covered under the following article titles (heavily paraphrased): Why Obama is looked to as President, and Why Nobody is Looking at Bush as President. Don't they just beg lists?

Sorry Time if I did not get the titles exactly right. My mind was too busy already forming lists. I am still making lists only now I have gotten to paper. Maybe I will buy the magazine when I can dig myself out and see how close I have come to their reporter's concept. Number one on both lists: Nobody has thrown a shoe at Obama, and They threw a shoe at Bush.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Economy: A Personal Perspective

The economy is certainly a topic at every gathering of two or more people. Everyone begins with a rehash of the talking heads opinions, moves into their favorite economists view, and finally gets down to how it effects them on a personal level.

At a recent gallery reception in town most of us agreed that New Mexico is thus far not being hit too hard by the recession. Probably because we are a relatively poor state to begin with, and Gov. Bill Richardson, soon to be Secretary of Commerce, balanced our budget and managed to put the state in the black during his term of office.

But since we are a state that depends heavily on tourism we are concerned. The recent numbers are positive, however. The hotels and condos are booked solid for the holidays before us. People are coming to ski. Lower gas prices help in that area. And that we are less pricey than Aspen or Sun Valley, etc. It was a gallery reception so naturally selling art was a concern especially or the gathered artists. Having people in town to sell for was a plus.

We also have all noticed an upturn in sales of late. One collector's voiced opinion: "Keeping the money doesn't seem to work." And another said she had always wanted one of mine and figured now was the time to get it while she still had money. Others said they were giving fewer and less expensive gifts this year but were still looking for something unique and not from China.

And some art lovers seem to be looking at moving down a notch from the higher end artists they could afford to collect in years past to those commanding lower prices now but whom they see as up and comers or good investments. Nobody seems to be investing in stocks or expanding their real estate holdings at the moment.

As one of those less known artists I seem to be enjoying a current modest boon in sales. But the sales have differed too from previously. Less credit cards. More cash sales. Not even personal checks but actual currency. I am not upset about this trend at all. But my merchant account seems more and more unnecessary. And Mastercard and Visa decided on another way to get money from us: the changed us for a five minute test on credit card security. This will be an annual thing. And while they have previously waved a "subscription fee" for the ability to take credit cards this seems to be of the same cost only in lump sum instead of monthly. Unless of course you are "out of compliance" and then there is a monthly penalty equal to the old subscription fee.

Why again are we bailing these banks out?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


In December us humans, since the dawn of recorded history we assume, like to look back at the year and pick those people that have defined it. Time and Newsweek both have their persons of the year (not always for the good we should note). The Sunday News programs will have their icons featured.

None probably have yet to replace Nero, who it is said, fiddled while Rome burned. See he wanted to build this perfect city center as honor to himself and there were all these other buildings in the way. So in an era when people were tied to stakes and set afire to light the streets it seemed his solution was easy.

GW Bush, who used every paid for ploy he could to avoid service in Vietnam, wanted to go to war with Iraq and best his dad at something. And in a day of terrorist attacks the solution to that problem seemed easy too. History does not completely record how many died in Rome in Nero's slum clearing project. We know how many died on 9/11, and how many continue to die in Iraq. And we know that neither leader shows any remorse. Nero had his new city center, and Bush has his exit interviews discussing his "grand legacy" as the 43rd President of the once great United States.

Now we have Governor Blagojevich of Illinois. He has to be included in there with GW and Nero because he too shows no remorse. Seems that every possible benefit he can bestow is up for sale. Sort of reminds me of the Midevil Catholic Church and the selling of indulgences. Bush has pardons for sale and Blagojevich a senate seat. Neither seems concerned about their immortal soul just the press coverage of it.

Both are icons of how low United States politics has gone. Maybe Nero had the right idea. We should just burn it all down (or watch it self-distruct) and start over.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Things are Going to Get Worse

Obama, sound more presidential than our president, said in his weekly address to the nation that things are going to get worse before they get better. I got that. I don't like the news but I am glad we are not being lied too. I was getting really tired of that, "the underpinnings of our economy are strong" shit. I'm not economist and I knew GW was wrong more than a year ago.

He is against the auto bailout. I am frankly against all the bailouts starting with Lehman's and moving on to AIG and then to Citibank. But I own a GM car and I would like to be able to get parts for it. But bailout or no most economists believe none of the big three auto makers will be around in 5 years. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could say that about the tobacco manufacturers? Or the porno industry? Notice how they have not asked for a bailout. Nor has Jack Daniels.

But as I was digesting all this news and commenting on a friend's blog it suddenly occurred to me that one of the reasons 9/11 targeted the World Trade Center buildings is that Bin Laden wanted to bring the United States to financial ruin. He could have kept his terrorists home. GW Bush has done it for him. That, as they say, is the bad news.

The good news is as goes the US so goes the World so probably nobody can afford to invade us and take over our country - like who would want it now?

But what really worries me is the vast amount of time till Obama really is president. It is over a month! And we do not seem to have anyone reliable at the helm of the sinking ship of state. How much harm can Paulson and Cheney and Bush do in 42 days?

A program I was watching on the Internet about stress reduction during these trying economic times says don't think about it. Obviously that is what the current White House is doing!

What does sit take to swear in Obama and his team tomorow!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Not Our Fault

As we navigate through these perilous economic times there seems to be a lot of name calling and finger pointing. In a recent OpEd on the New York Times website the following was said by US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson about talks with China: "the talks as 'robust' and characterized by 'straight forward back-and-forth' exchanges."

They yelled at each other a lot. China blames the US Administration for the falling exports to our country. Well, in some cases the exports have happened. Goods are sitting in containers on our shores with no takers. I assume that means China is paying storage fees.

Seems the Americans are fretting that China might be losing the stomach to let its currency keep rising in value and China voiced concern about Washington's management of the world's largest economy -- in which China has a huge financial stake. (We owe them tons of money.)

And it appears that daily we are more and more unable to pay that debt. Could China foreclose?And what would it gain by doing that? World indebtness is really the Emperor's New Clothes. It exists only on balance sheets.And if China is upset about the American people buying less of their goods whose fault is that? Consumer confidence in Chinese goods is at an all time low due to their manufacturing (make that poisoning) debacles. Why should we continue to buy poisoned pet foods or leadbase painted toys? So they won't yell at your Treasury Secretary?

And what do we buy these flawed goods with? Money the banks will no longer lend us though I have read in the same article that interest rates will drop again. And could get to zero. Frankly I am waiting until they start paying us to borrow money. I like the falling gas prices. And my e-mail alerts keep me posted on deals on items I need. Finally jumped at the last 20% off plus 10% to our subscribers deal and bought the winter boots I needed. Today I could have gotten free shipping.

I suppose if you are sitting with huge wharf fees for boxes of goods that have been shipped to the United States but not distributed to potential wholesalers it will sooner or later be cheaper to pay us to take them. I am willing to wait. Meanwhile, China, don't depend on the United States to buy just anything your produce. Improve your quality, meet your EPA and safety standards, and cut down on the junk.

Besides with our people losing jobs daily we are not to thrilled with countries that took a lot of US jobs away. Or with US based companies that took tax breaks to go over there. And now we are suppose to bail them out with our tax dollars. Well, we are mad as hell. Take your goods and shove them.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Secretary of Commerce????

First let me say that I am one of Bill Richardson's fans. He was my representative to the United States Congress for many years and has most recently served as my governor. The highest praise that I can give this politician is that he listens.

I suppose it is that ability to listen which makes him a great negotiator and I was all for him being Secretary of State. I don't think Hillary listens, and least of all to herself.

When it looked like Obama was set on Hillary for Secretary of State I was rather hoping for Secretary of Energy for my governor. Our state is always concerned with energy and as governor Richardson has done a lot to promote more green energy, and now the building of the Chili Line which is a light rail commuter train going up the Rio Grande corridor and linking our major cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe to the bedroom communities where the workers live.

When the rumors started flying about Secretary of Commerce it took me a while to wrap my mind around it. I even went to Wiki this morning to get their take on the duties of SoC. The Department of Commerce states its mission as
"to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce." Well, that certainly is broad. But when you look at the Under Secretaries you get a more complete picture of Commerce. There are undersecretaries for international trade, economic affairs, oceans and atmosphere, technology, and exports. Does that sound like the hub for development and implimentation of green technology?

Well, way to go Bill. You have my vote of confidence.

Monday, December 1, 2008

He Lies to Us All The Time

What is that joke about how to tell when a politician is lying? When his lips are moving.

That is certainly true of G. W. Bush. Though he is capable of lying without moving his lips. Even when there is no reason to lie he lies. He told Charles Gibson in one of his exit interviews that he did not come to the presidency prepared for war. That certainly is not what was leaked from the White House. His first goal upon election was to go to Iraq and try to do it better than Daddy.

And he is still maintaining the intelligence passed to him was flawed. General Powell has already said he was lied to by Bush and Cheney. Now who are you going to believe?

But his biggest lie in my opinion is the one he is telling himself: "I will leave the presidency with my head held high."

This from a man that cheated himself into office twice, got us involved in an illegal invasion of an independent country, re-named prisoners of war enemy combatants so he does not have to adhere to the Geneva convention on POW's, established a prison camps on foreign soil where he can detain and torture United States Citizens, has broken every privacy law under the constitution, exempted his presidency from having to follow the rule of law with the 'signing exception' on bills passed by the elected congress, and deregulated all his rich corporate friends so they could rob us blind and retire in the Bahamas with Golden parachutes.

This man has in eight years totally ruined the United States economy and the faith of the American people in our system of government (no longer a democracy because of him) and he is proud? I think he is far stupider than I gave him credit for. And I have no faith in the 26% of the people that believe him.

I am frankly disappointed he is being allowed to leave office instead of being impeached for high crimes against humanity and our government. Thank god he only has 50 more days. Hopefully we will survive as a people and a country for that long. Though you have to give him credit - there are not a lot of ways left to sink the United States and destroy the faith of its people in elected officials.