Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for November 24th, 2008

Report: bombed Syrian facility resembled a reactor

Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2008

A story we have followed for over a year is the bombing of a facility in northern Syria by Israel on the suspicion that it was a nuclear facility[1, 2, 3].
The Independent:

The nuclear watchdog has said that a Syrian complex bombed by Israel resembled an undeclared nuclear reactor and warned the country to co-operate more with UN inspectors.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that “significant” numbers of uranium particles were found at the site in June, but that it was not enough to prove a reactor was there. The confidential report, published yesterday and obtained by Reuters, said the IAEA would ask Syria to show debris and equipment it removed from the site after the air raid in September 2007.

So, it appears that I was probably wrong in dismissing the likelihood that this was a nuclear facility. But unilateral action was still the wrong way to deal with this.

Posted in nukes, Syria, wrong way to go about it | 5 Comments »

The one-party state

Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2008

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has a truly striking story that goes to how little real change we are likely to see if we do not hold the Obama Administration to account (via The irreplaceable Sideshow).

It seems that McCain and Obama coordinated to produce a single roster of advisors who would be installed after the election, no matter who won. Presumably, McCain would have taken a few more Republicans and Obama a few more Democrats.

So…exactly why did we hold an election?

Posted in Barack Obama, John McCain, WTF? | Comments Off on The one-party state

That Hugo Chavez Guy

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 24, 2008

When last we left Hugo Chavez, constitutional changes backed by him had just been shot down by the voters, and the TradMed’s Usual Suspects were chortling over what they saw as the beginning of the end for him, confidently predicting that the next round of elections would see his power evaporate for good. Meanwhile, lonely voices like Mark Weisbrot’s at The Nation were saying that the failure of the referendums didn’t much hurt Chavez’ long-term hold on power.

And so what actually has happened in the latest round of elections?

Hugo Chavez’s candidates leading in Venezuela elections

The president’s allies are ahead in 17 of 22 governor races, reflecting his continuing popularity among voters.

Heh. Chalk one up for Weisbrot.

Posted in Chavez, Latin America, media, Venezuela | 2 Comments »

A Few Words from Detroit

Posted by MEC on November 24, 2008

Mitch Albom has a few things to say to the Congresscritters who are recommending “tough love” for the Detroit automakers.

Sen. Shelby. Yes. You. From Alabama. You’ve been awfully vocal. You called the Detroit Three’s leaders “failures.” You said loans to them would be “wasted money.” You said they should go bankrupt and “let the market work.”

Why weren’t you equally vocal when your state handed out hundreds of millions in tax breaks to Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda and others to open plants there? Why not “let the market work”? Or is it better for Alabama if the Detroit Three fold so that the foreign companies — in your state — can produce more?

Way to think of the nation first, senator.

And you, Sen. Kyl of Arizona. You told reporters: “There’s no reason to throw money at a problem that’s not going to get solved.”

That’s funny, coming from such an avid supporter of the Iraq war. You’ve been gung ho on that for years.

[…]

Look. Nobody is saying the auto business is healthy. Its unions need to adjust more. Its models and dealerships need to shrink. Its top executives have to downsize their own importance.

But this is a business that has been around for more than a century. And some of its problems are because of that, because people get used to certain wages, manufacturers get used to certain business models. It’s easy to point to foreign carmakers with tax breaks, no union costs and a cleaner slate — not to mention help from their home countries — and say “be more like them.”

But if you let us die, you let our national spine collapse. America can’t be a country of lawyers and financial analysts. We have to manufacture. We need that infrastructure. We need those jobs. We need that security.

[…]

Ask fair questions. Demand accountability. But knock it off with the holier than thou crap, OK? You got us into this mess with greed, a bad Fed policy and too little regulation. Don’t kick our tires to make yourselves look better.

Also, auto worker and UAW member Steve Yandura suggests the union’s critics get a dose of reality about the work he’s done for 29 years. Car dealers aren’t too happy about the “let ’em go bankrupt” demagoguery, either.

Posted in automobiles, bailout, hypocrites | 6 Comments »

New Deal Denialism

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 24, 2008

Meteor Blades at Daily Kos debunks a few lies being told by George Will that he borrowed from other right-wing liars about FDR, the Depression, and the New Deal. MB cites Paul Rosenberg at Open Left, who sayeth unto all:

As conservative economics collapses disastrously under the weight of its many, many lies, it is only natural that the liars fall-back position is to take aim at the hope of actually cleaning up their mess. And hence the sudden rise of New Deal denialism. It’s not as if this comes out of nowhere. It comes out of the same sorts of folks who denied the New Deal as it was succeeding right before their very eyes. And it comes out of the right-wing think tank complex. And it gets spouted by George Will on ABC This Week. And it’s a load of bull. [The chart] shows the truth: the New Deal was working just fine, until FDR, with a premature sense of relief, and a lingering belief in the old economics, decided it was time to go back to balanced budgets, thus precipitating the recession of 1937/38. It was, in effect, a text-book science experiment: turn the New Deal stimulus policies on, economic goes up, turn them off, economy goes down.

That’s essentially what Paul Krugman said a couple of weeks ago, when he talked about how FDR’s falling for the old balanced-budget hooey nearly derailed the economy once again:

The effects of federal public works spending were largely offset by other factors, notably a large tax increase, enacted by Herbert Hoover, whose full effects weren’t felt until his successor took office. Also, expansionary policy at the federal level was undercut by spending cuts and tax increases at the state and local level.

And F.D.R. wasn’t just reluctant to pursue an all-out fiscal expansion — he was eager to return to conservative budget principles. That eagerness almost destroyed his legacy. After winning a smashing election victory in 1936, the Roosevelt administration cut spending and raised taxes, precipitating an economic relapse that drove the unemployment rate back into double digits and led to a major defeat in the 1938 midterm elections.

What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs.

[…]

The economic lesson is the importance of doing enough. F.D.R. thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans; in reality, he was taking big risks with the economy and with his legacy. My advice to the Obama people is to figure out how much help they think the economy needs, then add 50 percent. It’s much better, in a depressed economy, to err on the side of too much stimulus than on the side of too little.

Posted in Barack Obama, economy, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, WTF? | 2 Comments »

Keeping Track

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 24, 2008

I intend to keep track of various people with various predictions, then check back in a year or two to see how the predictions (and the people) turned out.

There are more than a few of them that I hope to be watching as they eat their own words, with a little Tabasco sauce for seasoning.

Posted in 2008 | 3 Comments »

A Whoop-Dee-Damn-Do-Gooder

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 24, 2008

NBA star Derrick Coleman saved his money and now, having retired, is using it to do good in his hometown of Detroit:

PLEXIGLASS BARRIERS had gone up along Linwood Street, encasing attendants at gas stations and clerks at liquor stores, sealing employees from harm but also human touch. Hard to slide a hug through a slot meant for credit cards, pens and pennies. After the racially charged riots of 1967, when the west side of Detroit burned, most of the remaining businesses installed bars, steel shutters and, of course, bullet-resistant glass, making every trip to the bodega feel like a prison visit.

Who could restore dignity to the neighborhood? Who could lift the spirits of residents, especially now, with the auto industry on empty? A renowned lazy ass.

[…]

There is neither plexiglass nor steel bars in the four stores he owns in Coleman’s Corner, a handsome strip mall of brick and stucco he opened last year, part of a $6 million (and counting) investment he has made into developing the first retail center on Linwood Street since the riots. So neighbors don’t get haircuts in their basements anymore; they gather at the Barber Lounge, where they can talk politics and watch football on the tube every Sunday. So teens don’t have to take two buses to a suburban mall for a job; they can walk a few blocks to punch a clock at Hungry Howie’s, the pizza franchise Coleman owns and Johnson manages.

Johnson was the one who winced when Coleman refused to raise prices as gas shot to $4 a gallon and the cost of food skyrocketed. He was the one who saw a 2% drop in the ledger after Coleman decided to offer a dollar slice of pizza from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. last summer. “Derrick remembered how, as kids, we’d take bottles in for a deposit,” Johnson says. “He wanted kids to be able to buy a slice with them. I’d tell him, ‘It’s costing us.’ And he’d say, ‘That’s O.K., school will be open soon. Then, we’ll end it.'”

Some of those same children held an ear of corn for the first time when Coleman, a student of urban agriculture, brought a weekly farmers’ market to a parking lot across from his mall. Who knew eating right didn’t include a Fruit Roll-Up? “And you wonder why we, as black people, have a high rate of diabetes and high blood pressure,” says Coleman, who hopes to ultimately own seven blocks in the area. He can talk green energy solutions, biofuels and the platform of his candidate for Detroit mayor, Dave Bing, the Hall of Fame guard and former Piston. Years ago, Bing built his manufacturing business in Detroit’s inner city. “He has been my father figure,” says Coleman, who stood next to Bing when he announced his candidacy last month. “I’m in his footsteps.”

Derrick Coleman was often criticized during his NBA career for being lazy because he didn’t confuse his career with his life. Turns out that this “lazy” man is working very hard to make his home town a better place.

Posted in Good Things | 3 Comments »