Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for July 24th, 2007

A beautiful photographic and personal journal of Mexico

Posted by Charles II on July 24, 2007

Happening Here by Jan in San Fran (via Avedon).  Jan recommends, Visit the Anthropology Museum in Xalapa online by clicking here.

Posted in Mexico | 1 Comment »

Gonzales: I Can’t Answer Any Question

Posted by MEC on July 24, 2007

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Salon’s War Room provides a partial transcript of an exchange between Senator Arlen Specter and Alberto Gonzales.

SPECTER: Mr. Attorney General, do you think constitutional government in the United States can survive if the president has the unilateral authority to reject congressional inquiries on grounds of executive privilege and the president then acts to bar the Congress from getting a judicial determination as to whether that executive privilege is properly invoked?
 

GONZALES: Senator, you’re asking me a question that is related to an ongoing controversy which I am recused — I will say the president’s tried very hard …
 

SPECTER: Oh, no, no. I’m not asking you a question about something you’re recused. I’m asking you a question about constitutional law.
 

GONZALES: You’re asking me a question that’s related to an ongoing controversy.

If Gonzales won’t answer questions related to “ongoing controversies”, then he won’t answer any question at all, except maybe, “Do you think it will rain today?” Because how would any question he’s likely to be asked not be related to some controversy?

This is not stupidity. This is arrogance. Gonzales may as well say, “I won’t answer that question because it relates to my job and it’s none of your business.”

Posted in abuse of power, Alberto Gonzales, Constitutional crisis | 1 Comment »

Bill Gross Joins the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill

Posted by Charles II on July 24, 2007

Please listen:

[W]hen the fruits of society’s labor become maldistributed, when the rich get richer and the middle and lower classes struggle to keep their heads above water as is clearly the case today, then the system ultimately breaks down; boats do not rise equally with the tide; the center cannot hold.

 

Of course the wealthy fire back in cloying self-justification, stressing their charitable and philanthropic pursuits, suggesting that they can more efficiently redistribute wealth than can the society that provided the basis for their riches in the first place. Perhaps. But with exceptions (and plaudits) for the Gates and Buffetts of the mega-rich, the inefficiencies of wealth redistribution by the Forbes 400 mega-rich and their wannabes are perhaps as egregious and wasteful as any government agency, if not more. Trust funds for the kids, inheritances for the grandkids, multiple vacation homes, private planes, multi-million dollar birthday bashes and ego-rich donations to local art museums and concert halls are but a few of the ways that rich people waste money …

“The way our society equalizes incomes” argues ex-American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall, “is through much higher taxes than we have today. There is no other way.” Well said, Bob. Enough said, Bob. Because enough, when it comes to the gilded 21st century rich, has clearly become too much.

 

If gluttony describes the acquisitive reach of the mega-rich, then the same gastronomical metaphor applies to today’s state of the credit markets. Stuffed! Both borrowers and lenders may have bitten off more than they can chew, and even those that swallow their hot dogs whole – Nathan’s Famous Coney Island style – are having a serious bout of indigestion.

As Tim Bond of Barclays Capital put it so well a few weeks ago, “it is the excess leverage of the lenders not the borrowers which is the source of systemic problems.” Low policy rates in many countries and narrow credit spreads have encouraged levered structures bought in the hundreds of millions by lenders, in an effort to maximize returns with what they thought were relatively riskless loans.

Posted in economy | Comments Off on Bill Gross Joins the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill

This Is Astonishing

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 24, 2007

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This is a few months old, but I had to share it with you all.

Ben Stein, the man who never saw an upper-income tax cut he didn’t like, suddenly sounding like frickin’ Che Guevara — and in the pages of the the Scaifetator, too:

A few days ago, a man from a slick new magazine about business sent me an e-mail. He wanted me to do a column for him about what was “new, hot and exciting — or terrible — in business today.” The only catch was that he did not want me to complain about the rich. This is what I sent him:

Here is what’s new and hot and exciting (or terrible) in the world of money today:

The average wage of the American worker adjusted for inflation is lower than it was in 1973. The only way that Americans have been able to maintain their standard of living at the middle and lower ends has been to send more family members to work and to draw down savings or go into debt or both.

The most sought after jobs in the United States now are jobs in finance in which basically almost no money is raised for new steel mills or coal mines, but immense sums are raised to buy companies, recapitalize them — which means pay the new owners immense special dividends and other payments for going to the trouble of taking over the company. This process results in fantastically well-paid investment bankers and private equity “financial engineers” and has no measurably beneficial effect on the economy generally. It does facilitate the making of ever younger millionaires and an ever more leveraged American corporate structure.

It goes on from there, but you get the gist.

Dare we hope that some conservatives might finally be realizing what untrammeled greed has wrought — and have enough of a conscience to care?

Posted in big money, capitalism as cancer | 2 Comments »

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

Posted by MEC on July 24, 2007

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From the Albuquerque Tribune:

Editorial: It’s time to stop accepting Bush’s failures

Attentive Americans have figured out since Sept. 11, 2001, and the Homeland Security Advisory System of colors was introduced that it always seemed the threat level was raised whenever some otherwise unfavorable administration news was occurring.
 

[…]
 

But maybe from the people’s perspective – those 70 percent or so of Americans who now want the United States out of Iraq – the timing is the perfect storm. The convergence is amazing for those who want to spin the news right back at an administration that:
 

Has obsessed over Iraq, which posed no threat to the United States when it was invaded.
 

Has ignored al-Qaida’s growth and resurgence in Pakistan and, perhaps, parts of Afghanistan.
 

Hasn’t a clue where Osama bin Laden is.
 

Continues to represent the civil war in Iraq as a terrorist threat to the United States.
 

Insists in the face of the brutal realities on the ground, and in its own reports and assessments, that the United States and/or the Iraqis are making progress.
 

One of the blunt realities of this week’s al-Qaida threat assessment, which found the terrorist group “considerably operationally stronger” and “regrouped to an extend not seen since 2001,” should be that Bush’s policies not only permitted this to happen by waging an unnecessary and all-consumptive war in Iraq, but it also created a grand opportunity for al-Qaida to do battlefield training during our four-year occupation of Iraq.
 

[…]
 

Do Americans feel any safer approaching the sixth anniversary of 9/11, given the dismal performance of Homeland Security during and after Hurricane Katrina? Not to mention, of course, that two years after that gruesome tragedy, the inexcusable reality remains that much of New Orleans and the Katrina-afflicted Gulf Coast look like they belong in Iraq, not the American South.
 

[…]
 

It is not about accepting failure in Iraq anymore. It is about recognizing and changing the policies that have utterly failed our soldiers, failed the people of Iraq and continue to fail the American people.

Posted in madness of King George, real journalism, September 11 | 1 Comment »

 
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