You know what we haven't talked about enough? Race in America. Well, we've been busy what with 9/11, the Iraq War, the destruction of the international finance system, and the paternity of Sarah Palin's baby. Really, it was hard enough surviving the "shredding of the Constitution" during the "worst presidency ever." Who had time to discuss race? Anyway, I seem to recall hearing something about race during the first OJ trial.
The play, which begins previews on Tuesday at the Public Theater, imagines a troubled moment in the American civil rights movement, when an act of intolerance leads to riots and hate crimes in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. Three black leaders try to rally their community, but their efforts are hampered not only by the K.K.K. and the F.B.I., but also by their own classism, infighting and vice.
By staging laudable characters’ indiscretions, the play confronts what Liesl Tommy, the production’s director, calls “the idea of the good Negro,” which has become especially relevant with Barack Obama’s presidency. “It’s that old standard that in order to be worth something in this country, you can’t be ‘as good.’ You have to be better."
Yet Ms. Wilson’s past and sense of obligation almost kept her from addressing the complexity of civil rights leaders.
“I grew up as a preacher’s kid,” she said, “and King was idolized. Idolized. And I was always told as a child that you don’t air your dirty laundry. It was ‘Don’t throw it out there, because white people already think the worst of us.’”
“We had some people who had been interested in the play say that it wasn’t relevant anymore because Obama was doing well,” Ms. Wilson said.
At that, Ms. Tommy chuckled, threw up her hands and said: “We were like: ‘What? Because Obama’s doing well, there’s no more racism?’ ”
Leaning forward, Ms. Wilson began, “The idea of ‘postracial’ to me is —— ”
“—— a fantasy," Ms. Tommy interjected.
Ms. Wilson added: “An insane fantasy. Like a ‘Star Wars’ fantasy. Racism is not going to end just because we have a black president. Real equality will come when black people can mess up just like white people and still succeed, and when a flaw in a black leader is not looked at as a flaw in the black race."
A glad-handing force of nature to some and a press-savvy con artist to others, Christopher Janus cut a legendary swath through Chicago's art and business communities.
A big-picture guy in culture as in business, he led delegations of noteworthy Chicagoans to Athens for democracy conferences, to Persepolis in 1971 for the 2,500th anniversary of Iran's monarchy and to China shortly after it reopened to the West. Yet many detected something not quite straight about the Bache & Co. broker.
"We never knew what kind of stockbroker he was -- maybe he never actually was one. That would figure, too," says Universal Press Syndicate columnist Georgie Anne Geyer, a longtime friend. "I have myself always mistrusted people who don't have a touch of larceny."
In his perhaps most famous exploit, he undertook a globe-trotting detective mission to discover the whereabouts of Peking Man, fossils of primitive man discovered in China in the 1920s and 1930s. The fossils disappeared in mysterious circumstances during World War II, and Mr. Janus seemed hot on the trail. That was shortly before he was convicted of fraud for the loans he took out to finance the venture. The fossils remain at large.
As much as $25 billion in preferred shares held by the U.S. government will be converted into common shares as Citigroup struggles to stabilize itself following more than $37 billion in net losses during the past five quarters.
Depending on how many current holders of Citigroup preferred stock agree to a similar move, the company's tangible common equity could surge to $81.1 billion from $29.7 billion at Dec. 31. That would reverse the recent slide in tangible common equity -- a gauge of what shareholders would have left if the company were liquidated -- that fueled a downward spiral in Citigroup shares.
The conversion leaves taxpayers exposed to the risk of greater losses. The government's preferred holdings had stood ahead of common stock in Citigroup's capital structure, meaning they were less likely to lose value if the company's woes continue to mount. In addition, by converting much of the U.S. stake to common shares, Citigroup won't have to pay the hefty dividend payouts that were attached to the preferred stock.
The U.S. now owns about 36% of Citigroup.
The Government of Singapore owns around 11%.
The Kuwaiti government owns about 6%.
And a Saudi prince owns about 5%.royal
That totals some 58% owned by governments and foreign ty.
Marty Peretz is in high dudgeon over the appointment of Chas Freeman (which I discussed a couple days ago), calling Freeman a bigoted and out of touch advocate of for dictators and anti-Israelis. Peretz's dudgeon is much higher than mine, inasmuchas Peretz noisily supported Obama because he believed Obama's assurances RE: Israel.
Freeman's real offense (and the president's if he were to appoint him) is that he has questioned the loyalty and patriotism of not only Zionists and other friends of Israel, the great swath of American Jews and their Christian countrymen, who believed that the protection of Zion is at the core of our religious and secular history, from the Pilgrim fathers through Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. And how has he offended this tradition? By publishing and peddling the unabridged John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, with panegyric and hysteria. If Freeman believes that this book is the truth he can't be trusted by anyone, least of all Barack Obama. I can't believe that Obama wants to appoint someone who is quintessentially an insult to the patriotism of some many of his supporters, me included.
President Obama heads to one of the nation’s most storied military bases Friday morning to unveil plans to pull most troops out of Iraq by August 2010 and he has support from an unlikely quarter — Senator John McCain, the Republican he beat in last year’s election.
Mr. McCain and other Republicans emerged from a meeting with Mr. Obama at the White House on Thursday evening reassured that the president’s withdrawal plan is responsible and reasonable. After securing assurances from Mr. Obama that he would reconsider his plans if violence increases, Mr. McCain and the Republicans expressed cautious support.
I can understand the NY Times being excited about President Obama's "budget plan," but really I don't think it deserves this:
I think Greens are starting to go a bit mad as they ponder the possibility that there is a US president who may entertain all of their darkest prophesies and buy into their maddest solutions. This lady takes the (yellow) cake: Yellow Is the New Green
In the industrialized world, most of us (except those who have septic tanks) rely on wastewater-treatment plants to remove our excrement from the drinking-water supply, in great volumes. (Toilets can use up to 30 percent of a household’s water supply.) This paradigm is rarely questioned, and I understand why: flush toilets, sewers and wastewater-treatment plants do a fine job of separating us from our potentially toxic waste, and eliminating cholera and other waterborne diseases. Without them, cities wouldn’t work.
But the paradigm is flawed (isn't it always?-Psota). For a start, cleaning sewage guzzles energy. Sewage treatment in Britain uses a quarter of the energy generated by the country’s largest coal-fired power station.
IN the far reaches of Shaanxi Province in northern China, in an apple-producing village named Ganquanfang, I recently visited a house belonging to two cheery primary-school teachers, Zhang Min Shu and his wife, Wu Zhaoxian. Their house wasn’t exceptional — a spacious yard, several rooms — except for the bathroom. There, up a few steps on a tiled platform, sat a toilet unlike any I’d seen. Its pan was divided in two: solid waste went in the back, and the front compartment collected urine. The liquids and solids can, after a decent period of storage and composting, be applied to the fields as pathogen-free, expense-free fertilizer.
Some of the best reporting and analysis about the credit crunch and stock market crash has been produced by Karl Denninger. Denninger is NOT a financial reporter. He is a businessman and investor who made his pile in the Nineties. Sometime in 2007, he began writing about bank exposure to subprime loans, and hasn't stopped. His tone can sometimes be heated and, back in October, it grew quite apocalyptic. Still, he is one of the few people following these events who has been able to understand what is happening and why the efforts of our government have been useless to stop the crisis.
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Is this a joke?
Several hundred people packed a school auditorium in San Francisco's
Mission District on Wednesday evening to decry the city's treatment of
immigrants, making their case in front of a panel of city officials that
included representatives from the Police Department, mayor's office, school
board and Board of Supervisors.
That's right SAN FRANCISCO is bring accused of being "too tuff" on immigrants.
The mostly Latino crowd spoke out against the city's new policy of
automatically reporting undocumented juveniles arrested for a felony to federal
That's because we need them here to commit the crimes that Americans won't commit.
Guadalupe Carreno, a 15-year-old sophomore at June Jordan School for Equity,.
said her family has been in limbo since January when her father was deported
after a raid at their Bayview district home. Now, Guadalupe and her two brothers
- ages 14 and 20 months - are waiting to see whether their mother also will be
forced to leave. The children are all U.S. citizens who have only visited Mexico
once or twice, but their parents came to the country illegally 20 years ago.
Guadalupe, an A student who has epilepsy, said she is worried about both her
education and her health if the family is forced to move back to Mexico
Honey, you can stay, but your parents are another story. By the way, it would be nice to know the purpose of the "raid" on your house. Without that fact, I feel like you're not telling the whole story. Really, though, you should be aware that your plight is little more than an excuse for US politicos to do a little righteous grandstanding.
Could I have a cite for that, David? I can wait. I have allllll day, if you need extra time.
The meeting, organized by the S.F. Immigrants Rights Defense Committee - a
coalition of more than 30 immigrants rights organizations, labor groups, faith
organizations and other activists - came two weeks after Supervisor David Campos
held a similar hearing at City Hall that focused on racial profiling. Campos and
three other freshman supervisors - President David Chiu, John Avalos and Eric
Mar - were in attendance. All four come from immigrant families.
The supervisors, as well as Phil Ting, the city's assessor-recorder, denounced
immigration raids and pledged to work on local and national reform to
immigration polices. Chiu called the raids "illegal and unconstitutional."
State employees who have worked 20 years or longer now receive fully paid
premiums for their health care when they retire, while 90 percent of their
spouses' and dependents' premiums are paid by the state.
Employees working 10 years receive half that benefit, said Clark
McKinley, a spokesman for the California Public Employees' Retirement System.
The state Legislature is not considering changing those benefits
Yeah, God forbid these guys would pay for their spouses and kids' healthcare like a normal person. Or their own, for that matter.
The State Controller's "plan" does not inspire confidence.
Controller John Chiang wants the state to nearly double what it spends on
the benefits - to $2.7 billion a year - and invest that money. Earnings would
pay some of the future health costs and save the state $17 billion in the next
28 years, the report said.
Boy, I hope Chiang knows of some surefire "investments" where we can stick these billions.
The amount of money that the Gill Action Fund has contributed to the Log
Cabin Republicans — about one-third of its total budget in some years — is
raising questions about Democratic influence over the GOP organization and its
search for a new president.
Tim Gill, founder and chair of Gill Action, is widely known for funding the campaigns of pro-gay politicians, many of them Democrats. He’s a wealthy entrepreneur and founder of Quark who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to various Democratic causes and candidates, including to the campaigns of Sens. John Kerry, John Edwards and Chris Dodd, as well as New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Gill is viewed as publicity shy, but made a rare public appearance at last year’s Democratic National Convention in Denver where he lives.
Sources familiar with Log Cabin, who spoke to the Blade on the
condition of anonymity, said Gill Action’s contributions last year comprised
$250,000 of Log Cabin’s $750,000 budget. The sources said in 2007, Gill Action’s
donations constituted a similar percentage of Log Cabin’s budget.
I don't think "dirty tricks" quite does it. This is the tale of an organization with staffers, offices, a sophisticated media operation, and a wealthy donor. They also seemed to have instant media access whenever they made their frequent attacks on GOP candidates like Mitt Romney. (They also took their name from the defamatory rumor that Abraham LIncoln was gay, which perhaps should have been an indication that these guys were not entirely trustworthy). This is really a political fraud enabled by the media.
It's a free country, and "Gill" can do whatever he wants with his $$. But, it seems odd that a Democratic activist would innocently donate his $$ to an ostensibly Republican group. This warrants more attention.
Gabriel Schoenfeld takes to the pages of the W$J to fulminate against Barack Obama's Pick to Head the National Intelligence Council, Charles 'Chas' Freeman Jr. He would be the guy ultimately responsible for the National Intelligence Estimate. Some of the quotable quotes Schoenfeld picks out are unbelievable.
Mr. Freeman believes, as he said in a 2007 address to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, that "Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them."
"No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it."
And, of course,
The primary reason America confronts a terrorism problem today, he continued, is "the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending."
The specter of a Chinese threat, he remarked during a China forum at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in October 2006, is nothing more than "a great fund-raiser for the hyper-expensive advanced weaponry our military-industrial complex prefers to make and our armed forces love to employ.
"The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities," he wrote there in 2006, "was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud." Moreover, "the Politburo's response to the mob scene at 'Tiananmen' stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action." Indeed, continued Mr. Freeman, "I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be."
Instapundit is highlighting this story about Christopher Dodd and his cosy Irish cottage. The "cottage" is actually quite sizable and is located in a fashionable weekend retreat area in the Irish countryside. Reynolds points to this passage:
Check out the picture of Dodd's "cottage" (provided to me by Rennie), where he spends summers and which is looked after during the rest of the year by a caretaker. It's not exactly the humble tumbledown abode with a leaky thatched roof, a fireplace with peat thrown on it and donkey tethered outside that the Senator might like you to envisage.
The nearby village of Roundstone is a celebrity hangout. When he's there, the Sunday Times reported in 2007, he's likely to "rub shoulders with [RTE's] Pat Kenny, Bill Whelan of Riverdance, Lochlann Quinn, the former AIB chairman, and the singer Brian Kennedy".
Given the Irish property boom, a conservative estimate would be that the house would be worth approaching $1 million, and very possibly much more than that.
Dodd became part owner of the 10-acre Galway property in 1994 along with Missouri businessman William Kessinger, whom Dodd knew through investor Edward R. Downe Jnr, who had pleaded guilty the previous year to insider trading charges. The mortgage was listed as "between $100,001 and $250,000". Downe was a witness to Kessinger's purchase.
In 2001, Dodd circumvented the US Justice Department to help get his pal Downe a full pardon on President Bill Clinton's last day in office. The following year, Dodd bought off Kessinger's two-thirds share of the "cottage" for, Dodd said, $127,000.
Ever since then, Dodd has continued to list the value of the property as "between $100,001 and $250,000".
A fund of hedge funds run by two members of Vice President Joe Biden's family was marketed exclusively by companies controlled by Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, who is facing Securities and Exchange Commission accusations of engaging in an $8 billion fraud.
Tom Ammiano is beginning his term in the Assembly by proposing Assembly Bill 390, which seeks to legalize the growing and selling of marijuana. Mostly, this looks like a typical stunt by an SF pol trying to make a splash. There's a lot of natural resistance to pot legalization that you can expect from not just the GOP and law enforcement, but also some of the more temperate Dems. The only people who have shown any enthusiasm for legalization are Libertarians, progressives, and potheads in general; not exactly the Best and the Brightest. I have to wonder how hard Ammiano is going to push this.
This is a rare year in which I actually managed to watch one of the nominees for Best Documentary before the Oscars broadcast. It was "Encounters At The End of The World," Werner Herzog's documentary about the people and fauna that live at the South Pole.
The film is probably best known for the underwater footage showing the odd, alien life forms that live out their lives essentially trapped under ice. The ice lets in quite a bit of light, so this footage is shot with an other-worldly glow. But, it should be mentioned that all of this footage was shot by avant-guitarist Henry Kaiser, whose day job is doing this sort of diving for bio research. Herzog has used this footage elsewhere in his work, but it is always worth seeing
The majority of the movie will be familiar to anyone who has seen one of Herzog's documentaries. Herzog narrates in his inimitable German accent, and is not shy about inserting himself into the story. He interviews the eccentric researchers and wanderers who are drawn to the US research outpost at the South Pole. Everyone Herzog talks to is highly intelligent and many have a touch of whimsy about them. Back in the States, they are undoubtedly Phd's and lecturers, moving quietly through the nation's university system. But at the Pole, they push themselves to the absolute extreme just to do research on seal milk. And, some of these folks also show signs of darker edges. A penguin researcher Herzog talks to seems to go slightly mad as he talks to Herzog, for example.
Although Herzog's work often touches on the environment, he is no Green. His great theme is that nature is too wild and untamable for humans to ever truly conquor. At one point he gripes about Western Greens who fight to save every silly little snail on the planet, but allow human languages to disappear without a trace.
However, Herzog has also caught the apocalypse bug that has taken hold among Greens and scientists. Everyone Herzog talks to in the movie believes that the world is coming to an end through global warming. After watching these highly intelligent people living in extreme conditions, it's not hard to see why they would start to think apocalyptic thoughts like this. Not sure if I'm convinced this should provide the basis for the "Green Economy" that we supposedly need to invest in.
of course, this movie didn't win an Oscar. For one thing, it grows progressively downbeat as the film goes on and the assorted researchers start to get a little nuts. And, Herzog's theme that nature is essentially untamable and inimicable to humans is not a message the typical America Green wants to hear.
I'm planning to do a CA governor's race preview sometime in the next few months, but as there are some GOP hopefuls who are already making their pitches to GOP insiders, I thought I'd to a little preliminary commentary.
1. Increase savings and production. People need to start saving and paying down credit card debt, and the US needs to become a net producer and manufacturer of goods once again.
2. Vote no on all bailouts. Instead, the government should begin eradicating grotesque budget deficits and national debt by reigning in profligate spending.
3. Allow the recession to run its course and rebuild quickly from a fresh start. “Let it collapse today so it can prosper tomorrow.” To use a crude analogy, wildfires are devastating in the short term, but they are extremely beneficial in the long run for the entire ecology. Currently, the trillions of dollars of new government spending is akin to pouring gasoline on the fire. It will only serve to exacerbate the problem and delay meaningful recovery.
4. Let the free market operate without inefficient, ineffective, and cumbersome government involvement. The government should enforce the integrity of free markets, not manipulate them.
5. Drastically cut federal spending. It’s time to quit over spending and over borrowing and start living within our means.
6. Cut corporate and personal income taxes to spur savings, job growth, and real industrial production.
7. Minimize corporate regulation. If you allow the free market to operate, businesses and banks which accrue massive debt will fail. More efficient and fiscally responsible banks and institutions will prevail and restore prosperity to the economy.
8. Restore the value of the US dollar. Since 2002, the US dollar has been devalued by nearly 30%. Put a stop to the Federal Reserve setting artificial interest rates and printing trillions of dollars out of thin air. Instead, get the Fed out of the markets and bring back balanced budgets, low taxes, and robust production.
Russ Feingold wants to prevent another "Burris Moment" by amending the constitution to make it mandatory for states to hold special elections to replace Senators who leave office before their six-year terms are over. George Will counters that this is more progressive overreach and yet another display of Leftist disdain for the Constitution's state-federal division of powers.
Stringent Hiring Rules Leave Treasury in Need of Staff says the W$J.
The Obama administration's tough rules about who it will hire and its increasingly rigorous vetting process are complicating Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's team-building efforts, government officials say, at a time when his agency faces a punishing workload brought on by the worst financial crisis in decades.
The delay leaves Mr. Geithner without many chief lieutenants while the Treasury is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to try to blunt the financial crisis -- and hustling to stay abreast of unfolding events. Mr. Geithner himself is taking on a bigger workload and relying on a skeleton crew of advisers, including some holdovers from former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's staff.
But even if the stimulus is a magnificent success, the money still has to be paid back. The plan of record apparently is that we keep borrowing, spending and stimulating, faster and faster, until suddenly, on some signal from heaven or Timothy Geithner, we all stop spending and start saving in recordbreaking amounts. Oh sure, that will work.
There is another way. If it's not the actual, secret plan, it will be an overwhelming temptation: Don't pay the money back. So far, even as one piggy bank after another astounds us with its emptiness, there have been only the faintest whispers about the possibility of an actual default by the U.S. government. Somewhat louder whispers can be heard, though, about the gradual default known as inflation. Just three or four years of currency erosion at, say, 10 percent a year would slice the real value of our debt -- public and private, U.S. bonds and jumbo mortgages -- in half.
Michael Phillis' play 'Dolls' is about ... DOLLS!
Looks like Senator Palpatine is on another one of his foreign junkets.
The Obama plan will use $75 billion from the $700 billion financial bailout fund to match reductions lenders make in interest payments that lower borrowers’ payments to 31 percent of their monthly income. Under the program, a lender would be responsible for reducing monthly payments to no more than 38 percent of a borrower’s income, with government sharing the cost to further cut the rate to 31 percent.
Treasury will share the cost when lenders reduce monthly payments by forgiving a portion of the borrower’s mortgage balance, the government said. The program may help as many as 4 million borrowers, the administration said. The average borrower’s home value could be stabilized against a price decline by up to $6,000, the White House fact sheet said.
‘Aimed at Homeowners’
“We think it is accurately aimed at homeowners at risk that are most likely to represent avoidable foreclosures, so it is likely to have a maximum impact where the dollar is committed,” said Robert Davis, executive vice president of the American Bankers Association, in a telephone interview.
Banks accepting help from the government must adopt loan modification plans, the government said.
Companies that service mortgages will get $1,000 for each modified loan, and as much as $1,000 for three years when the borrower stays current, the government said. Homeowners also are eligible for $1,000 annually for five years for remaining current on their loans, according to the plan.
Mortgage servicers will get $500 and loan holders $1,500 to modify agreements as an incentive for the industry to seek out borrowers at risk of falling behind on their payments.
“The Obama team is betting that if they can afford to stay in the home month-to-month, that borrower is not concerned about what today’s value of the home happens to be,” Howard Glaser, former counsel to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said today in a telephone interview. “I think that’s the right bet.”
Focusing on reducing the mortgage principal would have been a “prohibitively expensive proposition,” said Glaser, a Washington-based mortgage-industry analyst.
Treasury will increase the size of Fannie and Freddie’s retained mortgage portfolios, to $900 billion, allowed under the preferred stock agreement included in the September federal takeover of the two mortgage-finance companies.
“It is an indication they are not looking at shuttering them to move their responsibilities elsewhere
S.F. could face weeks without a police chief because they are conducting a "nationwide search"
This is the problem with the corporatization of government. Suddenly, everything turns into a "nationwide search." Are there superstar police chiefs out there, like superstar CEO's? I hope not.
There must be someone in the SFPD who could do a creditable job without having to go through a months-long "nationwide search" to replace the utterly unremarkable Chief Fong. A local would certainly be better able to deal with the innumerable anti-cop activists in SF. He would certainly be able to get through the City's warren of streets and neighborhoods without a map.
They've done it. They found the "last Republican vote." Sen. Abel Maldonado from Santa Barbara has allowed the state Legislature to pass the emergency budget plan. The GOP may be the "party of the rich" in the popular mind, but it's the country club types like Maldonado who always vote for big government in the end.