My Mourning Tribute


Well, primary engineering rules the day.  I feel like I did during the Dubya’s inauguration.  One more cheater prospers.  Here’s to you my friends,  join me on my knees praying that we don’t get fooled again!!!

so, it appears

I’ve been tagged in some bizarre Puma equivalent to a chain letter  where  I have to tell folks 6 random things about myself and then tag six other bloggers to do the same.  The easy part is tagging six other bloggers … don’t hate the player folks, hate the game!

So, here’s the easy part first.  (Hey, doing the easy things first got me through school, what can I say?)

Okay, six random things about me:

1)  I wrote a song that Beyounce recorded.

2) I would eat sushi everday if I could afford it.sushi-1760

3) I had a speaking role in a French Movie of the Week that was filmed in New Orleans called Scarlette’s Children.  I played a waitress at cafe du monde even though the scene was filmed in the courtyard of a hotel and not cafe du monde.

4) I have a hobby of being a sound engineer … I’ve mic’d Elvis Costello, Joss Stone, Keith Richards (and had a 2o minute conversation with him in which i understood NOT one word, but said, really? and yes?  a lot), all of the Nevilles,  the ZZ Top dudes, was supposed to but refused to mic Nelly, mic’d Randy Newman several times and a whole bunch of other folks …


5)  This is a picture of me playing one of the big steinways at Carnegie Hall a few years a go

6) My favorite movie of all times is Local Hero.  I own every single session of Cowboy Bebop.  My steinway grand and the front two rooms of my house were used in the imax movie Hurricane on the Bayou as the supposed home of Allan Tousaint.  He plays my piano and watches out for Hurricane Katrina.  The stupid crew filmed and left my kitchen door open and you get a great view of the kitchen sink area where they stacked a bunch of cans of soda pop, I did actually straighten up for them but cringe every time I see that.  They shot most of it from outside my dining room window because my house is really small and the imax cameras are HUGE. As a matter of fact, I’d bet the IMAX screen is about twice the size of the two rooms they used for the set.

Update: here’s a pic of my dining room/piano room with the kitchen door CLOSED.



Still Too Little and WAY TOO REPUBLICAN

hooverbuttonThe Financial Time’s Martin Wolf adds his voice to the growing number of economists saying the Obama financial plan is a dud.

“Last week, President-elect Barack Obama duly unveiled his American recovery and reinvestment plan. Its title was aptly chosen, for Mr Obama spoke, astonishingly, as if the policies of the rest of the world had no bearing on the fate of the US. He spoke, too, as if a large fiscal stimulus would be enough to restore prosperity. If that is what he believes, Mr Obama is in for a shock. The difficulties he confronts are much deeper and more global than that. “

His criticisms echo many of those I’ve mentioned before as well as those you’ve read if you’ve followed Dr. Krugman’s op-ed pieces, blog, or my cites of his comments here.  Wolf warns that the U.S. could face the same type of ‘lost decade’ suffered by the Japanese after the Asian Financial Crisis of the 1990s.  The Japanese experience is well documented and studied.  Wolf cites a book by Richard Koo of the Nomura Research Institute that points to the combination of downward asset prices combined with high indebtedness in the private sector that forces both households and businesses to stop spending to pay down debt.  In *The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics: Lessons from Japan’s Great Recession (Wiley, 2008), Koo documents that the government winds up being both the lender and the borrower of last resort.  Recognition by the government of these theories of depression economics led the Japanese government to take action that led to a prolonged slump instead of a prolonged recession.

The Obama administration is holding on to the tax cut portion of its plan despite decades of economic research showing that tax cuts are not as efficient as government spending in aggregate-demand led recessions.  Now the Financial Times is no ‘liberal’ rag.  Its closest U.S. counterpart is the Wall Street Journal.  Wolf not only argues that the spending portion of the package is too small, but that the bigger the tax cut portion of package, the bigger the fiscal stimulus must be.  I’ve highlighted some of his relevant arguments below.

Any complacency about US recovery prospects is perilous. Moreover, the fact that the US has a structural current account deficit has bearing on the second point Mr Obama’s advisers must make. Fiscal stimulus is a necessary palliative for a debt-encumbered economy afflicted by falling asset prices. But the likely longevity and scale of the needed fiscal deficits are quite scary.

“The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that US output will be 7 per cent below potential over the next two years, on unchanged policies. If so, the actual deficit should now be much larger than the structural one. It is easy to see, therefore, why the critics argue that the Obama plan for an additional fiscal stimulus of 5 per cent of GDP over two years is too small, even though the CBO forecasts a baseline deficit of 8.3 per cent of GDP this year. It is also easy to understand why many object strongly to tax cuts, since the more likely cuts are to be saved the larger the package must be – and, in addition, taxes will clearly have to rise in the longer term.

The bigger point, however, is not that the package needs to be larger, although it does. It is that escaping from huge and prolonged deficits will be very hard. As long as the private sector seeks to reduce its debt and the current account is in structural deficit, the US must run big fiscal deficits if it is to sustain full employment.”

Obama’s tax cuts, at this point, seem clearly aimed at placating Republicans in the Senate to achieve some magical, happy, consensus vote of 80 that says yes, he can.  I’m trying hard right now to determine if this is some weird need to look popular and right or an even weirder need to be able to say “see, everyone thought it the right thing to do, it wasn’t just my policy” if and in this case WHEN it fails miserably.  I’m tempted to say both and probably more right up to and including the weird fetish Obama seems to have with Republican Presidents like Lincoln and Reagan, himself.

David Sirota clearly points to continual inconsistencies in Obama’s campaign rhetoric in his column.

“The veto is the legislative equivalent of a nuclear warhead – a rarely used instrument of devastating force that singularly vaporizes the votes of 535 elected representatives. So when a president-elect issues a veto threat before being sworn into office, it sets off a particularly big explosion because it is a deliberate agenda-setting edict about priorities for the next four years.

That’s why every American who isn’t a financial industry executive should be nervous.

After President Bush this week asked Congress to release the bank bailout fund’s remaining $350 billion, Obama pledged to veto any bill rejecting the request, meaning he is beginning his presidency not by “turn(ing) the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street,” as he once pledged. Instead, he is promising a mushroom cloud unless lawmakers let taxpayer cash continue flowing to the biggest of Big Money interests.

Amid paeans to “new politics,” we’re watching old-school paybacks from a politician who raised more Wall Street dough than any other – a president-to-be whose inauguration festivities are being underwritten by the very bankers who are benefiting from the bailout largesse. Safely distanced from electoral pressure, Obama has appointed conservative economists to top White House positions; floated a tax cut for banks; and is now trying to preserve corporate welfare that almost exclusively benefits the political donor class.

This isn’t much-ballyhooed “change” – it’s money politics by a different name. How do we know? Because neither Obama nor anyone else is genuinely trying to justify the bailout on its merits – and understandably so. Even the most basic queries prove such merits don’t exist.”

I think I’ve indicated as strongly as possible that these are truly perilous economics times.  We need leadershipreaganbutton with a bold vision based on knowledge of what works.  FDR didn’t have much economic theory  when he confronted the Great Depression.  Barrack Obama does and yet continues to make the same kinds of mistakes that Hoover made in the name of “new politics”.  I know how much taking a stand in the PUMA corner lands one in La La Land in the eyes of many progressives/liberals. So many voices in the wilderness of spam shout that I’m just not giving Obama a chance because I hate him so much because Hillary lost.  I’d also bet that these same folks believed in Santa Claus way pass the normal age.  If you think it’s wrong because it’s coming from a PUMA site, then I’m just going to ask you to look at the facts here and look at the voices of dissent.  Krugman and Sirota are icons of the left.  Wolf is British.  These folks are saying the same things that I have said for months.  The guy isn’t who he said he was and you can tell a lot by the actions he’s taking now. There is a lot at stake here and it’s time to stop hiding behind the feel good historic nature of this president and expect something more than repackaged trickle-down economics.

Note:  You’ll have to be patient with me for a bit since this is the beginning of a semester and I’m also facing some publishing deadlines.  I’m afraid my focus will be elsewhere so I won’t be as consistent as usual in my blogging efforts.

U.S. introduces new generation of Stud Missiles

WASHINGTON (AFP) – CIA agents are offering the potency drug Viagra and other gifts to win over Afghan warlords in the US-led war against Taliban insurgents, the Washington Post reported on Friday.


Viagra: Bombs AWAY BOYS!

Alright, why does the CIA hate Afghani women and goats so much they have to hand over viagra to warlords?

The aging chieftains often have up to four wives and are open to the Viagra pill as a way to “put them back in an authoritative position,” said another official.

Life is now much more HARD in the Afghani resistance.  It seems giving out birthcontrol to hapless burkha-clad women is  a problem, but giving viagra to their nasty old husbands is strategy to win the war on terrorism.  If most of these old dudes have at least four wives and some of them are young woman, I’d just like to say, way to go CIA, we’ve just upped the ante on torture policies.

If you really want to dig a little deeper into this, just go to the comments section of the Al Arabiya News Channel.  Yes, I went there.

Beacon of  wisdom and light Alamgir-Pakistan posted this:

for the deprived american female soldiers who probably masturbated…ooops masterminded this operation. I’ve heard planeloads of blonde “women rights” activists and reporters are available in the Afghani beauty parlours and ministries fighting over picks of native flavour. They get off on the idea of “sleeping with the enemy”… ha! what else can you expect from the daughters of the west. they are the civilised ones after all.

Jamal equates it with suicide-bombing:


The BBC outlines this charming anecdote:

In one case, a 60-year-old warlord with four wives was given four pills and four days later detailed Taleban movements in return for more.

“Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people,” the Post quoted one agent as saying.

“Whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra.”

‘Silver bullet’

The newspaper said the use of Viagra had to be handled sensitively as the drug was not always known about in rural areas.

It quoted one retired agent as saying: “You didn’t hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones.”

In the case of the 60-year-old warlord – the head of a clan in southern Afghanistan who had not co-operated – operatives saw he had four younger wives.

The pills were explained and offered. Four days later the agents returned.

“He came up to us beaming,” the Post quoted an agent as saying. “He said, ‘You are a great man.’

“And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area.”

Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people — whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra,” one CIA operative who has worked in Afghanistan was quoted as saying.

 Ah, my tax dollars at work.  Maybe the Obama Adminstration will send Pastor Rick Warren over there to give them copies of  “The Purpose Driven Life” as phase two of this all out assault on the Taliban.

A little too little and maybe a little too late

 As the details of Obamanomics finally roll out to the public, it is increasingly obvious that what we are seeing is some kind of banksy-girlReaganomics lite.  I mentioned this in a post on January 5th trying to answer Paul Krugman’s concerns on how  ‘bold and swift’ the Obama plan will be.   Today, Krugman answered strongly not bold enough in the Obama Gap.

But Mr. Obama’s prescription doesn’t live up to his diagnosis. The economic plan he’s offering isn’t as strong as his language about the economic threat. In fact, it falls well short of what’s needed.”

Today’s Market Watch outlines the abysmal labor market.

Total hours worked in the economy fell 1.1%, with the average workweek falling to the shortest ever, signaling an annualized decline of 6% in gross domestic product in the fourth quarter, wrote John Silvia, chief economist for Wachovia. Hours worked have declined “at an eye-watering” 7.7% annual pace in the quarter, Shepherdson said.

An alternative measure of unemployment that includes workers too discouraged to look for a job rose to 13.5% from 12.6% in November; it’s the highest in the 13 years since those data have been kept.

These are serious numbers that followed the even MORE serious numbers in manufacturing reported earlier in the week.  Rather than repeat what I said earlier, I’d like to show some that I’m not alone out there in the liberal wilderness. Yes, I said LIBERAL wilderness.   The Black Agenda Report which has never been in the Obama corner and endorsed Cynthia McKinney outlines Obama’s hostility to both Universal Health Care and what is traditionally the Democratic Party’s approach to the economy.

In a similar vein, “Obamanomics” at best falls short of the bold progressive initiatives and challenges to financial and corporate power required to spark equitable domestic development. As adjusted in response to the banking crisis and deepening recession, moreover, Obama’s economic program could well amount to “something akin to a national austerity program….” Instead of forward movement on jobs, education, retirement, and health care, Jack Rasmus finds, “what me may well get is ‘Let’s all tighten our belts to get through this crisis.”

Turning away from the op-ed pieces, let’s examine this front page headline from the NY Times: Senate Allies Fault Obama on Stimulus.

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan ran into crossfire from his own party in Congress on Thursday, suggesting that quick passage of spending programs and tax cuts could require more time and negotiation than Democrats once hoped.

Senate Democrats complained that major components of his plan were not bold enough and urged more focus on creating jobs and rebuilding the nation’s energy infrastructure rather than cutting taxes.

So here we have more evidence that many are beginning to see that the Obama plan is not bold and will not be swift.  Back on MarketWatch, we once again have the winds of cold, harsh reality hitting the face of any one connected to the U.S.  Economy.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The U.S. recession will last two full years, with gross domestic product falling a cumulative 5%, said Nouriel Roubini, chairman of RGE Monitor. Roubini was one of the first economists to predict the recession and the credit crunch stemming from the housing bubble. For 2009, Roubini predicts GDP will fall 3.4%, with declines in every quarter of the year. The unemployment rate should peak at about 9% in early 2010, he said. Consumer prices will fall about 2% in 2009. Housing prices will probably overshoot, dropping 44% from the peak through mid-2010. “The U.S. economy cannot avoid a severe contraction that has already started and the policy response will have only a limited and delayed effect that will be felt more in 2010 than 2009,”

As we get more and more evidence that Obama’s actions never reach anywhere near the level of his rhetoric, will the koolaide start wearing off even before the President Elect gets to give his first State of the Union Address?  I’m waiting to see if it comes any where near even one of FDR’s minor fireside chats. 

Meanwhile,  Senator Harkin from Iowa, the state where, oddly enough, I attended Herbert Hoover Elementary School had this to say in the Times article today.

“There is only one thing we have got to do in the stimulus, and that is how can we create jobs,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, as he left the meeting. “I am a little concerned by the way that Mr. Summers and others are going at this in that, to me, it still looks like a little more of this trickle-down, if we just put it in at the top, it’s going to trickle down. A number of people in there said, ‘Look, we have got to have programs that actually create jobs and put people to work.’ ”

Okay, did Senator Harkin just call Obamanomics more trickle down economics, voodoo economics, Reaganomics?  Can I get a witness?  Again, it’s very hard to argue for business tax credits when most businesses are just looking for customers.  If you don’t put the money into the hands of customers, a few tax credits here and there aren’t going to accomplish anything.   There has to be income first.

Anyway, is it too early for me to buy an ‘I told You So’ bumper sticker for my poor worn-down mustang yet?

NOTE: For those of you into really snarky satire, there’s a post at today’s Daily Beast about Obama’s package being inadequate.  Also, other blogs are discussing this same topic.  Jane at FDL and even HuffPo have put up threads. The link to FDL is on the right side.  I think you can manage to find the other on your own.