Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So, here's the deal. At the Obama office we told people that anything we collected in the way of contributions to the office, the sales of yard signs etc., that was past what was due on the actual offices expenses was going to be donated to a local charity.
Here we are (Mary, Jay, Bill - the director of Love Inc, and me) giving him that leftover money. It totaled $1,167.25. Sweet! Even sweeter was that we found out today that First Banking was matching all cash contributions through Dec. 24th so that is now doubled to $2,334.50 BONUS!
I do have to say it felt pretty damn good to be out in the community doing a good deed on behalf of all the generous Obama supporters who knew that what didn't go to the campaign efforts would go to a good a cause. Let me repeat that. BAP did this on behalf of the Obama supporters. We don't get all the credit, we just did the leg work and suggested it in the first place. BAPpers did contribute also, but most of the excess was from Obama supporters.

BTW, Love Inc. is well known and well respected for doing so much in this area for people in need. And, a FYI........if you want to contribute to the quickly emptying food banks giving some can goods is okay. But, money is the best because they can buy bulk foods at 14¢ a lb. Now, I know it's fun to put some yummy foods in a basket or collection barrel, but really, they need cash to get more food than they can collect easily. Plus then they can buy things that aren't donated like personal care items which don't seem to come in too often (hint, hint).

Also, before this gets into a debate of why and if we could do this. We spoke to an attorney and I called the FEC head office and spoke to an auditor myself and yes we can, so we did!
Feel free to use the link and give something yourself. It will make you feel good.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Depression Economics and the Nobel Prize

Back in 1999 Paul Krugman saw the economic crisis in Mexico, Argentina and Indonesia along with the collapse and bailout of the American hedgefund Long Term Capital Management as a wake up call in his book The Return of Depression Economics. He has recently updated, expanded and re-released the book and is on his way to Sweden to accept the Nobel Prize for Economics. In short he blames the over leveraging (gambling in the $ Trillions of dollars), lack of adequate cash reserves, lack of transparency and lack of common sense regulation of large swaths of the financial industry that allowed this all to happen and imperil people all over the globe.

Linked here is a brief interview with Mr. Krugman from

It's a short piece and well worth the read (especially for those who tend to rely on commercial TV for what passes as news and information there), but I've included a couple of the more pointed experpts below.

Andrew Leonard: What do you think is the one thread that links all these crises together?Paul

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

Andrew Leonard: What practical steps can we take to immunize ourselves from debilitating panics?

Paul Krugman: Well, we had about 60 years of financial stability, basically because we had an effectively regulated banking system. Then we fell prey to a combination of excessive optimism and excessive literalism. We started believing that financial markets always work, and we also believed that everything was OK as long as things we call banks were guaranteed, not realizing that lots of things we don't call banks are nonetheless subject to bank runs. So the answer is to relearn our grandfathers' lessons: Highly leveraged financial institutions have to be regulated and insured.

Andrew Leonard: What explains the growth of the unregulated shadow banking industry to a point where it could imperil the living standards of everyone on the globe? Was it simply the triumph of deregulatory ideology?

Paul Krugman: Ideology played a big role -- but we should also bear in mind that the shadow banking system was making a few people incredibly rich. And that much wealth distorts policy, not just through campaign contributions and the revolving door, but because people who make that much money come across as masters of the universe who know what they're doing.

Andrew Leonard: And how soon do you think it will be before Republican ideologues start blaming Obama for making it worse? Grover Norquist is already making the claim that the bear market is a result of the 2006 election.

Paul Krugman: To some extent you can't fight it -- people will believe what they want to believe. If they can make FDR the cause of the Great Depression, they can do anything. But one thing progressives can do is make sure that the story of the Bush administration is told, in all respects. There's going to be huge pressure from the usual suspects to let bygones be bygones, to forget about everything from torture to reckless disregard of financial warnings. But I want truth and reconciliation across the board, and progressives have to make it clear that it was an ideology, not an act of God, that made this crisis possible.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Torture Leads to U.S. Troop Deaths/Maimings

A Bronze Star awardee and former Special Intelligence Operations Officer in Iraq who obtained the information that lead to the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq has concluded that the mistreatment and torture of prisoners by American authorities and contractors has lead to a significant portion of the deaths and maimings of American troops in Iraq.HE has written a book; How to Break a Terrorist: The US Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq and an article for the Washigton Post

He discovered that the interrogation techniques developed at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba were transferred to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and that the outrage over the torture and abuse that occured at Abu Ghraib was a primary monivating factor for foreign fighters to go to Iraq and attack American troops. He also notes that the revelation, not long after the Abu Ghraib atrocities, that the CIA's repeated use of waterboarding at it's black sites around the globe and by proxy through it's extraordinary rendition program of snatching people, including innocent people and sending them to other countries like Syria and Egypt to be tortured on our behalf added more fuel to the fire, further deminished America's moral standing in the world and provided a great recruiting tool for al-Qaeda.

He concludes that Americans and military officers need to fight to protect our values from al-Qaeda and from those in our own country who would erode them.

And here's another little tidbit for those so enamored with extra-judicial detention and torture, a quote from Bush's, and soon to be Obama's Secretary of defense Robert Gates, stating on Tuesday that closing Gitmo will be a "high priority" and that; “I think it is possible to close it. I think it does require a joint effort with the Congress. I think some legislation probably is needed as a part of it. And I think that it will—I think trying to move forward on that, at least from my standpoint, should be a high priority.”

Change is coming and for the good.