Saturday, March 10, 2007


I need to get something off my chest.

Recently, I posted what some have called "pornography" in conjunction with a story about tons of stolen uranium in the DR Congo, and how you didn't hear about it on American news programs, specifically because those shows felt the coverage of yet another untalented American Idol contestant's inability to stay away from a camera and to get paid for taking her clothes off and having sex was infinitely more important.

In other words, I posted a pornographic picture of Antonella Barba licking a penis, because it infuriated me that the news would spend ten minutes on this story, but not two on the uranium. I heard more about the opinions of Americans about the treatment of Antonella as opposed to some other bimbo named Frenchie from some other season.

I posted this picture not gratuitously. I did it to prove a couple of points. In addition to the one I've outlined already, I posted it because I felt that the smarmy treatment these pictures were getting, the lurid non-descriptive descriptions, deserved to have Americans smacked across the face to wake them up.

Termed "engaged in sexual acts," if I recall correctly, which could be anything from kissing to full out sex with an entire herd of horses. I refuse to buy into to the psychosis of America when it comes to sexuality, even if it means I am uncomfortable with some of the imagery I see (particularly on some GLBT sites, but that's my own emotions and not a reflection of their content). And if by making a few people uncomfortable, so be it.

This comes up, because Mike's Blog Round Up at Crooks and Liars had featured this story, until a handful of public (and presumably, more private) complaints forced Mike to revisit the post and find that, indeed, I had posted that picture, at which point he made the editorial decision that C&L should not be associated with porn, and took the feature down.

Fair enough. I'm not going to criticize his decision, altho I will point out that other sites undoubtedly have had even more pornographic content than my one photograph in nearly two years of blogging, so where does one draw the line? And it was incumbent upon me to give fair warning that the post was "Not Safe For Work".

For that, I apologize. I was angry, and sometimes in anger, assume that I can make people as mad as I am, thus negating my own ethical code to try to see things through other people's eyes.

There are a raft of other issues I could raise here: what precisely is pornographic? Why are you blogging from work in the first place? Where do you draw the line between "if the boss sees this, I'll be fired" and "I have to hide my blogging from my boss" because don't BOTH situations endanger your job? I could raise the issue that the A list bloggers have begun to give into the pressures of running a revenue-generating site, thus are beginning to mainstream their content in order to accommodate customs, mores and the law (noticeably, however, still violating copyright law by posting, say, news clips from other networks, and other creative content).

So rather than open the door to that rant, I'm going to make a statement here: I will post porn when and where I see fit, if I feel the pornography is germane to the discussion I'm raising. I will post porn the same way that I would post photos of dead Iraqi babies, or protestors giving George Bush the finger, or any myriad of other possibly offensive images. I do not draw the same distinction that many other Americans draw when it comes to images of people having sex, just because there's a nipple or a penis showing.

I will not post pornography for the sake of titillation, and if anyone GOT titillated by that photo of Antonella Barba sucking some guy's penis, then shame on you for having such a childish and immature attitude towards both sex and the news. Don't blame me for your embarrasments.


Moron More On Rudy

Personally, like many others in the thread earlier this week, I hope Rudy is handed the GOP nomination. Hell, I'd be on the stage to GIVE it to him if I wasn't sure Ann Coulter's bodyguard would try to get rowdy with me:
New Yorkers may have enjoyed Giuliani's success at taming the untamed city but are quick to recall the combative mayor who insulted constituents, bullied opponents and made crossing the street in the middle of the block a punishable offense.

That's not to mention his multiple marriages, a divorce so acrimonious a judge ordered Giuliani's mistress out of the mayor's mansion and a son so estranged he plans to play golf instead of campaign for his father.
The guy was a gutless, front-running pig of a mayor who stole credit for other people's work, including his predecesor, David Dinkins, three police chiefs and a string of Education Chancellors a mile long.

Crime dropped in the city during Rudy's administration for three reasons: President Clinton's economic boom, Bill Bratton's "No Crime Too Small" program (developed under Dinkins, who also provided the additional police manpower), and, well, as the editors of Freakonomics put it, abortion, which lowered the number of unwanted babies in this country without significantly changing the birthrate.

Isn't it amazing that, when a baby is born to a woman who is both emotionally and financially able, thanks to good economic times, to support it and give it love, that baby is less likely to turn to crime? But I digress...

Rudy was bellicose, belligerent, and a bully. He represented precisely everything that was wrong with Noo Yawk, without having any redeeming charisma (unlike Ed Koch, say). He was a martinet and a glory-hog.

He first came to the attention of New Yorkers when, along with then-Senator Al D'Amato, he "assisted" on an undercover narcotics bust in Washington Heights. I don't know about you, but I wasn't taken in by the sight of Rudy in slacks and jacket buying crack on the street....being filmed in broad daylight by Channel 7 Eyewitless News!

Many have pointed out (and indeed, Reuters notes) Rudy's personal peccadilloes: his many marriages, his rather outré lifestyle choices and, errrrr, costuming (looking like an aging dowager dragging out one more cross-dress version of "The Flintstones" on Saturday Night Live), but let's not forget that there's also some of the shady characters he's dealt with, starting with Senator "Pothole" D'Amato (who managed to duck twelve years of censure and impeachment from the Perhaps a little bent-nose strong arming?) right up to Bernard "Pimp My Apartment and My Bitch, Y'all" Kerik.

But for me, it was the single-minded dictatorial nature of Giuliani's tenure as mayor that will stand out in my mind as the overriding reason people will eventually realize what a jerk he is.

How bad did it get here?
Human rights group Amnesty International accused New York police of abuse, especially against minorities.
That bad.

He bullied people who had no defense against him and no power to fight back. When he was faced with a legitimate fight, against Hillary Clinton for Senate in 2000, he squeaked, made up some excuse of prostate cancer for dropping out, but only after serving his wife notice of their impeding a press conference.

In other words, he panicked.

His generally high marks from September 11 can only be attributed to the fine work of the people who he surrounded himself with, admirable only for the fact that he'd managed to fire even better, more competent people ahead of them. After all, this was the moron who put the city's emergency management command center (his "bunker") in the line of fire of the only terror attack in New York City since the JP Morgan bombing 150 years earlier.

And then never bothered to show up there when there was a real emergency, to take control, to make command decisions, like getting police and firefighters out of the building when it became obvious how grave the danger was. He wanted to be outside, in the fresh air.

In front of the television cameras.

tags technorati :

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Music Blogging

Centerfold - J. Geils Band

Gotta love any band whose members (pun intended) include Magic Dick...

Friday Kitten Blogging

Rudy's Mask

I'm betting you weren't aware that next Wednesday, the first Presidential "debate" of the 2008 campaign cycle will be held. All the big names will be there: John Edwards, John McCain, Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, even Duncan Hunter, the California representative who makes George Bush look like an intellectual heavyweight.

Conspicuously absent from this line-up is one looming, overwhelming (some would say "overbearing") name: Rudy Giuliani.

More intriguing is who is holding this forum: the International Association of Firefighters. You know, first responders at tragedies like, say, September 11.

Huh? Wha?

Yes, you read that correctly: the very people responsible for the "America's Mayor" tag that was given to Rudy during the aftermath of that tragedy are refusing to invite him to a forum where potentially, they will make up their minds about whom to endorse during the 2008 campaign.


Well, to sum it up, and this is no secret to New Yorkers, but will start to become apparent to the rest of the nation as well, Rudy's a front-running, glory-stealing, cowardly little jerk.

And that's being polite.

I'll let the IAFF speak for themselves now:
Early on, the IAFF made a decision to invite all serious candidates from both political parties — except one: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

We made this decision after considerable soul-searching and close consultation with our two New York City affiliates, the Uniformed Firefighters Association Local 94 and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association Local 854, as well as our former Local 94 President and current IAFF 1st District Vice President covering New York.

The IAFF recognizes that Mayor Giuliani generally enjoys a favorable reputation as a result of his actions immediately after the tragedy of 9/11. As such, we want our affiliates and every one of our members to clearly understand the reason and rationale behind this very serious and sober decision.

[...]His actions post 9/11 rise to such an offensive and personal attack on our brother and sisterhood — and directly on our union — that the IAFF does not feel Rudy Giuliani deserves an audience of IAFF leaders and members at our own Presidential Forum.

The disrespect that he exhibited to our 343 fallen FDNY brothers, their families and our New York City IAFF leadership in the wake of that tragic day has not been forgiven or forgotten.

In November 2001, our members were continuing the painful, but necessary, task of searching Ground Zero for the remains of our fallen brothers and the thousands of innocent citizens that were killed, because precious few of those who died in the terrorist attacks had been recovered at that point.

Prior to November 2001, 101 bodies or remains of fire fighters had been recovered. And those on the horrible pile at Ground Zero believed they had just found a spot in the rubble where they would find countless more that could be given proper burial.

Nevertheless, Giuliani, with the full support of his Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, decided on November 2, 2001, to sharply reduce the number of those who could search for remains at any one time. There had been as many as 300 fire fighters at a time involved in search and recovery, but Giuliani cut that number to no more than 25 who could be there at once.

In conjunction with the cut in fire fighters allowed to search, Giuliani also made a conscious decision to institute a "scoop-and-dump" operation to expedite the clean-up of Ground Zero in lieu of the more time-consuming, but respectful, process of removing debris piece by piece in hope of uncovering more remains.

[...]The fact is that the Mayor's switch to a scoop-and-dump coincided with the final removal of tens of millions of dollars of gold, silver and other assets of the Bank of Nova Scotia that were buried beneath what was once the towers. Once the money was out, Giuliani sided with the developers that opposed a lengthy recovery effort, and ordered the scoop-and-dump operation so they could proceed with redevelopment.

In the first few days immediately after the disaster, Giuliani had said he was committed to the recovery of those lost "right down to the last brick." We believed him at the time. But, what he proved with his actions is that he really meant the "last gold brick."
So it was OK to do a deliberate and thorough search so long as it was possible to salvage some few millions of (insured) wealth under the rubble, but once that was recovered, it was OK to start dumping bodies and body parts into a landfill like it was some massive mob hit?


it got so bad, in fact, that Rudy turned the cops against the firefighters, which led to a fairly large brawl in downtown Manhattan on November 2, 2001, which saw five police officers injured when the NYFD members were protesting the reduction in forces, and started pushing through barricades. At that time, Rudy said, "We were given very, very strong advice that this site was a disaster waiting to happen. Our concern has to be for the lives of the people who are working there now."

And the gold. don't think he thought the firefighters might steal a few million dollars in precious metals, do you?

This is just one more chink in the armor of America's Self-Styled Knight Mayor, Rudy Giuliani

(H/T to Mr. Doggitty for this tip...he really should have his own blog...)

UPDATE: CNN, Fox News cited Giuliani claims that firefighters union's criticisms are partisan -- but NYC affiliate endorsed Bush in 2004. Cuz, you know, you'll read that tomorrow about the "partisanship"...

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Quick Reminder

Daylight Savings Time, which Sam Levenson once joked "is like cutting off one end of a blanket and sewing it to the other end," (*ahem*, Jacq...) starts this Sunday, March 11th, three weeks early. Make a note.

But now comes a question: the bromide to remind yourself which way to turn the clock was "spring ahead, fall back."

Errrrrr, it's still winter. Shouldn't it freeze?


(Relax...I didn't get anyone pregnant....)

I've been spending a fair amount of time pondering how to approach the topic of abortion, since I've had the chance to finish Freakonomics.

You may recall this book was involved in the abortion controversy in two sidebars: first, this is the book that claims the legalization of abortion was directly and primarily responsible for the drop in crime the United States saw in the 1990s (and has some compelling evidence to back it up), and was also cited by Bill Bennett in his ill-fated "kill all black babies, crime goes down" interview (which the authors did not say).

I'm not going to discuss the crime-abortion connection, but there was something that the authors mentioned in a follow-up blogpost (regarding Bennett's remarks) that caught my eye:
4) When a woman gets an abortion, for the most part it is not changing the total number of children she has; rather, it is shifting the timing so those births come later in life. This is an important fact to remember. One in four pregnancies ends in abortion and this has been true for 30 years in the U.S. But the impact of abortion on the overall birth rate has been quite small.
In 1972, the year before Roe v. Wade was passed, the birth rate in the United States was 15.6 per 1,000 people, man or woman. In 1994, it was 15.4. In 2001, it was 14.1.

In effect, the ability to have a legal abortion had no real effect on the birth rate of this country.

As Levitt and Dubner point out, this means that abortions don't stop women from having babies, but abortion allows them to choose when to have a baby. Most of the women who have abortions go on to have the same number of babies, only when they are better financially and emotionally able to care for them.

Which raised an issue in my mind: all we hear from the strident right wingers who oppose abortion is how many "dead babies are killed" each year by abortion. Why hasn't anyone responsibly pointed out that, given that assumption, what about all the babies that the right wing are killing in absentia by trying to stop abortions?

Think about it: if a woman has two children (fairly average number), and if instead of having them at age 19 and 23, she has them at, say 23 and 29, if by saying she HAS to have the first set, aren't we essentially condemning the latter babies to hell? That kid she has at 19, you could say, is the one she's not going to have at 29, and that poor soul is floating around baby limbo.

Just some food for thought. Obviously, I haven't thought this through enough to articulate a position on it more clearly, but I'm sure someone will seize the opportunity to make me look bad ;-)

A Story You Won't Read About In The United States....

....but probably should. It involves brown-skinned people and therefore beneath the mainstream media:
Congo arrest over missing uranium

[...]A large quantity of uranium is reported to have gone missing in recent years, although state prosecutor Tshimanga Mukeba did not reveal any figures.

He told the BBC an "important quantity" of uranium was taken from the nuclear centre and they were investigating.

DR Congo's daily newspaper Le Phare reported that more than 100 bars of uranium as well as an unknown quantity of uranium contained in helmet-shaped cases, had disappeared from the nuclear centre in Kinshasa as part of a vast trafficking of the material going back years.
Hm. Africa. Low security, close to the Middle East and other Muslim states. DR Congo is bordered by Sudan, which has immediate access to the Red Sea.

Anyone see a possible pattern here? True, it's out-of-the-ground, unprocessed uranium, and therefore "relatively" harmless, but truth be told, the way the Pakistanis were helping Iran and North Korea with their nuclear programs, one might be led to believe that the "withdrawal" of so much uranium might be part of a shadow program, one that the United States is most assuredly not monitoring, one that could even be taking place right under its nose, and involve people who are far more hostile to us than a ranting lunatic in Iran who holds little to no power and less authority, and a microcephalic moron in North Korea with delusions of godhood but no real sphere of influence to exert.

To reinforce the point, historically, DR Congo was where the US obtained the uranium that was used in the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In return, the US assisted the Congo in building a nuclear resreach facility and power plant.

So why aren't you reading this in today's newspaper?

Blame her:
Antonella Barba, American Idol contestant, at the microphone

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

Kids these days just don't know what they have...
Believe it or not, this is NOT a Monty Python sketch!

Altho it was written and performed originally by two of "Python" (Cleese and Chapman), it was written for the At The Last 1948 Show. It was performed by Python on their American tour of 1976, and at three Amnesty International "Secret Policeman's Ball"s

Someone Explain Something To Me, Please....

Bush gets bailed out two times by money that comes from a terrorist family, but no one makes anything of it, even after a member of that same family attacks the shit out of 3,000 Americans, but this is front page news?
WASHINGTON - Barack Obama's presidential campaign Wednesday defended two investments he made right after his election to the Senate, saying he was unaware of the stock purchases at the time and did nothing to directly aid either company in its business before the federal government.
Huh? What?

PS Obama lost money!

An Honest Republican

I realize it's probably asking a bit too much, given the heavy-handed and paranoid fashion that this administration is run, to have an honest Republican speak his mind while he can actually have some influence in governing, but this may be as close as we get in 2007:
WASHINGTON -- New York City's counterterrorism chief said Tuesday he wakes every morning braced for another terrorist attack -- most likely from satchel bombs blown up near-simultaneously in the city's subways.

"The threat to New York City's transit system is not just theoretical," Deputy New York Police Department Commissioner Richard Falkenrath warned House lawmakers in sometimes apocalyptic testimony. "It is real. There have been 22 bomb threats and 31 intelligence leads related to subway attack plots this year."
It's true: the New York City subway, as well as the regional commuter railways, have long been a target for terror attacks and in fact have been subjected to various terrorist-like criminals acts.

One, the result of which saw Nassau County send it's first woman to Congress, Carolyn McCarthy, involved a mass homicide on a Long Island Railroad commuter train. Various plots have been tested, by both the US government and the state and local governments (jointly), which involved attacks using weapons of mass destruction, as well as simultaneous bombings across the system.

And in truth, it's really easy to blow up a subway train. Police presence is keyed to high volume stations on a random basis where a terrorist might blend in carrying an oversized satchel, such as near bus depots, train stations and connections to the two area airports. 468 stations, 26 train lines, and 1.4 billion riders every year, and you can see that this is a tactical response and not a comprehensive one. The allocation of resources determined based on trying to "guess" the possible scenarios.

Commuter trains would be even easier: while subways have at least some nominal police presence, police presence at commuter rail stations is dependent upon the town one would board in, and some towns deploy their officers with other priorities in mind, trying to get the best bang for the buck in fighting crime. Too, while an unwatched satchel on a subway might grab someone's attention (we city folks are trained in hanging on tightly to our bags), on commuter lines, it's not uncommon for someone to leave a bag behind when deboarding, knowing that at Grand Central or some other terminal station, it will be picked up and taken to the lost and found.

What makes Falkenrath's statement even more remarkable is the fact that he is a former White House homeland security official. As he continued his testimony, he gets to the nub of the problem:
Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee on a bill that would require a national mass transit strategy and would appropriate $4 billion to fortify subway and rail systems -- including $100 million to secure six tunnels in New York's Penn Station -- Falkenrath praised it as "a step in the right direction."

But he was also highly critical of key provisions, such as its call for a national strategy.

"Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the field of homeland security has been gripped by a mania for plans, strategies and other mandatory reports," Falkenrath said. "... They are of almost no value to operating agencies in the field; and they seem to be ignored by virtually everyone except the government contractors paid to verify that the reporting requirements have been met."
(emphasis added) Bingo!

We were attacked by killers and they gave us a rainbow! A Fucking rainbow!!! 184,000 employees, and I'd wager that more than half of them are on some planning committee or other.
The Department of Homeland Security has been dogged by persistent criticism over excessive bureaucracy, waste, and ineffectiveness. In 2003, the department came under fire after the media revealed that Laura Callahan, Deputy Chief Information Officer at DHS with responsibilities for sensitive national security databases, had in fact obtained her advanced computer science degrees through a diploma mill in a small town in Wyoming. The department was blamed for up to $2 billion of waste and fraud after audits by the Government Accountability Office revealed widespread misuse of government credit cards by DHS employees, with purchases including beer brewing kits, $70,000 of plastic dog booties that were later deemed unusable, boats purchased at double the retail price many of which later could not be found, and iPods ostensibly for use in "data storage".

The department's initial response to Hurricane Katrina was castigated by its critics as inadequate, a charge later acknowledged by the Bush administration. Following the discovery by British authorities in August 2006 of a plot to destroy commercial airliners using liquid explosives, it was revealed that DHS had consistently failed to spend research and development money on new airport screening methods, and that funds for explosive detection equipment were re-routed by the Bush Administration to cover budget shortfalls elsewhere. In August 2006, a bipartisan group of Senators on the Appropriations Committee described the Sciences & Technology Directorate, the research arm of DHS, as a "rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course".
Of course, Falkenrath also attacks the Bush mantra of "accountability":
"This [technology] bias pervades virtually all homeland security grant programs," he said. "It is a reflection of the interests of government vendors, who sell more products, and federal auditors, whose jobs are simplified when grants can be connected to invoices."

He also criticized a proposal that would pay for training for transit workers but not for law enforcement, noting that the NYPD assigns nearly 2,700 officers daily to secure subways.
Here's the kicker for me: I can pretty much picture Falkenrath, like Richard Clarke, raising hell inside the administration and quietly being ignored, then not-so-quietly being ignored and then being told to shut up.

One might think that journalists would do some legwork in agencies like Homeland Security, the FBI and CIA and start finding these people before they have to, out of good conscience, quit a vital post in order to be heard. After all....
Republicans criticized provisions mandating whistleblower protection for those revealing security lapses

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lewis "Scooter" Libby Convicted

Actual Wikipedia entry just after verdict announced
hat tip Miss Cellania

Time to play a game.

What's the most frightening sentence he's going to hear in prison?

My money is on "Yo, Bubba! Ride that Scooter over here and scrub muh back!"

Naturally, Fox has a different take....

Like A Wave Caught On The Sand....

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Tuesday that a weakened housing market will not have a major impact on the U.S. financial sector, which he described as quite healthy.

In a roundtable session with reporters during a visit to Tokyo, Paulson said the housing downturn had had some impact on certain types of mortgages but he did not see it as a major problem.

"Some of the credit issues are there, but they're largely contained," Paulson said.
Yea. *AHEM*
NEW YORK - Mounting concerns on Wall Street that mortgage lenders might be hurt by increasing defaults and delinquencies sent investors fleeing Monday from some of the biggest names in the industry.

The meltdown among lenders that specialize in home loans to people with weak credit, known in the industry as subprime lenders, again ravaged stock prices. Financial institutions from Britain's HSBC Holdings PLC to subprime leader Countrywide Financial Corp. sank amid reports of strained portfolios as loans went bad.
Some 31 sub-prime lenders have gone into technical default since January 1st of this year, which is essentially a run on the bank to frame it (simplistically) in terms we might comprehend.

The housing boom of the nineties was largely financed by these firms, like Countrywide and Ditech, who would lend first and second mortgage money at sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages. Most of these mortgage promised that, for the first five years, you would pay a very low introductory interest rate with no paydown of your principal. After five years, the rate would then be allowed to float to prime plus a premium, based on your credit history, payment record and current financial situation. Also, you'd have to start making payments against the principal.

All this made a lot of sense when the loans were 2.5% and the prime was 3.25%, and the housing market was robust. Over the course of the Bush administration, however, prime lending rates have nearly doubled, meaning that folks who took out those mortgages will now face almost a thousand dollars more each month in payments than they had last year. Too, there's no way to sell the house for a profit, since the housing market has stalled and as more of these properties go into default, will drop further, faster, and harder. Supply and demand, you see.

You might think this means nothing to you: after all, you have credit cards, maybe you own your own house but you have a regular mortgage and a good credit'll be fine.

And likely, you will. Unless you have health issues, and need to take out a second mortgage because your insurance won't cover your therapy. Or you get divorced. Or your spouse dies. Or you lose your job.

Now think back to the passage of the new bankruptcy law, which makes it nearly impossible for you to get a clean slate anytime in your lifetime (although Donald Trump has a few loopholes to jump through).

See where this is going? Instead of providing for the American dream, what has happened over the past half dozen years or so is precisely the opposite: a shell game that is designed to fatten the wallets of the uberrich to the detriment of you and I.

We ought to be pissed as hell at these developments. These "bankers" were no better than crack dealers, except they didn't use a gun to keep you in line.

Just a lawyer.

Oh...and Paulson? He's just the delaying tactic until the smart money can get out of this very volatile and very dangerous market.

Related Story: Eclipses and Market Crashes

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Interesting Theory

I thought I had heard this over the weekend, but I'm amazed to find out it just wasn't some bit of conventional wisdom floating around the Internet:
In 1995, Steve Puetz, an investment newsletter writer, attempted to discover if eclipses and market crashes were somehow connected. He concluded that a full moon in general and a lunar (eclipse) full moon close to solar eclipses, in particular, seem to be the trigger that allows for the rapid change of investor psychology from manic greed to irrational fear. Using eight of the largest historical crashes in various markets from the Holland Tulip Mania in 1637 through the Tokyo crash in 1990 as case studies, Puetz found that all fell within a time period of six days before to three days after a full moon that occurred within six weeks of a solar eclipse. For all eight crashes to accidentally fall within the required intervals would be .23 raised to the eighth power, or less than one chance in 127,000. He discovered that market crashes tend to be lumped near the full moons that are also lunar eclipses. More specifically, the greatest number of crashes start after the first full moon after a solar eclipse when that full moon is also a lunar eclipse. Once the panic starts, Puetz notes, it generally lasts from two to four weeks. The tendency has been for the markets to peak a few days ahead of the full moon, move flat to slightly lower, waiting for the full moon to pass. Then on the day of the full moon or slightly after, the brunt of the crash hits the marketplace.
Why is this relevant now?

Maybe you missed it over the weekend...

The next solar eclipse takes place on March 19, 2007.

Too, market crashes tend to happen on Mondays and Tuesdays, so tomorrow ought to be a doozy of a day, cuz, you know, today sucked in the markets; it will be a Tuesday, and less than three days after a lunar eclipse.

PS There will be another lunar eclipse in August, while the next solar eclipse will be September. 2007. Ohboy...

Race, Royalism, and Religion

So I'm standing in the shower this morning, hacking and wheezing my ass off, when my mind flashes across an argument I've been having with liberal friends: why is it that the theocrats and the economic royalists of the Republican party are able to hang together? What issues unite them and what issue could we wedge between them?

And my mind wandered back to a brief little item from the Sunday talk shows, I think it was Chris Matthews, where someone contrasted the appearances this weekend in Selma, Alabama of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. What triggered this inquiry in my mind was the fact that Obama is black and Hillary brought with her arguably "America's First Black President", husband Bill.

It's funny how race gets talked about in this nation. Bill Clinton has more in common with poor folks than Barack Or Hillary ever did. Born poor, in a single parent family for significant stretches, stepfather beat him, all pretty common occurences in the rural South of the 50s.

Black AND white. Meanwhile, Obama was born in Hawaii to two college students, and had a fairly middle class life (altho he was basically i a single parent family since age two) and Hillary was born into a traditional middle class family, the daughter of immigrants.

In truth, Bill is more "black" than either one, and yet, he's cleary not black.

And neither, I suspect, are most of the people we think of when we think of "black". And I think that's the intent of the Republican party.

It started back in the 80s, when Ronald Reagan touted his "Chicago welfare queen," the prototypical welfare cheat: black, drawing more than one check, wearing furs and driving a new Cadillac.

Subsequent research proved there was no single person who fit this precise story, and in fact, most welfare recipients (and therefore, most welfare cheats) were poor and white.

But welfare had been successfully linked by the GOP as a racial issue, and the ball started rolling. The black community impoverished, living off the fruits of our labors, undereducated, and economically in need of assistance.

Which may in fact, be all true, but turn this statement on its head for a moment. There are many poor blacks, no one doubts this, but do they make up the majority of poor people in this nation?

We know the statistics: 46% of African American children live in poverty where overall 21% of kids live in poverty, for example. Clearly blacks are disproportionately affected by poverty.

But blacks make up 12% of Americans (36,000,000). Whites make up 75% (225,000,000). That alone means that there are far more white people in poverty than black. Yet poverty is always cast as a racial issue: solve black poverty and you'll solve poverty.

Now, no one doubts that being black and poor in the United States is a lot harder than being white and poor. But being black in America is tougher than being white in America, and we ought to work to separate these two issues into two issues: race is one thing, economics is another.

The problem is, the second a liberal raises that issue, he's accused of "class warfare", which is usually enough to shut down the argument in a kind of Godwinian fashion.

It's here that the key to using this issue to divide the theocrats from the economic royalists lies. The unity on this issue revolves around the confusion most people have in delineating poverty as an issue without including race. This stereotype is reinforced consistently in the media.

Think about the television shows that showed poor white people: Roseanne, and maybe Married With Children as opposed to the endless shows of middle class white families. Now think of how many television programs showed poor or working class black familes, and how many showed middle class black families (The Cosby Show is about the only one I can think of, although you can probably include The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as one which showed the conflict between classes).

The theocrats believe in the teachings of Christ, who was very clear about the poor, but they also have a large proportion whose beliefs about race lag behind the rest of the nation (to be sure, many evangelicals live in nearly all-white communities); they can compartmentalize their work with the "poor" to include the few poor white families they may encounter, while wondering why the black churches don't do more for their own kind.

One wonders what would happen if, say, a church in suburban South Carolina was forced to spend a summer in Appalachia. How overwhelmed would they be once they finally see an auditorium of abjectly poor white faces looking back at them?

Similarly, if the message were able to get through to the theocrats that the royalists in the Republican ranks have been deliberately using their "goodness" to exploit themselves and their fellow theocrats, how quickly would this coalition remain together?

Not very long, and we started to see it dissolve in the wake of the Foley scandals and other high profile missteps by the Republicans in office who abused their power and authority and clashed mightily with some core beliefs of the church-goers. This is, in large part, why November 2006 turned out as well as it did.

There is one other issue centering around race and the Republican party that should be addressed here: of all the candidates Republicans of both stripes will have serious problems with, it is Barack Obama. The economic royalists will not be able to paint him as a "Republican in sheep's clothing" as they can with Hillary, and the theocrats will have a hard time denoting someone who speaks with a preacher's patios as "irreligious". But the one thing they can, and will, attack is his race. And given the fear of blacks that so many Republicans have, it will be very hard for Obama to peel voters away from the Republicans and the "Reagan Democrats".

What evidence do I have to support this? I look no further than the black candidates that the Republicans themselves have run for public office and in fact, the campaign of Michael Steele for Senator from Maryland in 2006 points up an object lesson: knowing he could not count on white suburban and rural Republican Marylanders to vote for a black candidate of either party, Steele fashioned himself as a "democrat", even co-opting the color blue for his campaign posters in an attempt to trick "dumb Democrats" into voting for him, and bussing in hundreds of poor people from Philadelphia to hand out campaign fliers.

For his opponent. His white opponent.