Hey, Obama! “Shovel-Ready” Stimulus Needed for Our Water Supply Problems…(TRILLIONS of $)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

While Barack Obama sells his Republican health care “reform,”  there seems to be some other important work being forgotten.

As economic hard times continue, many towns and cities are losing tax ratables as businesses shut down and an increasing burden is being placed on residents as aging water treatment and sewer construction funds dry up.  Projects are folding and bills are skyrocketing as detailed in the story below:

Strapped Cities Struggling to Fund Water Treatment Upgrades (N.Y. Times via Greenwire)

Excerpt:

Federal assistance declines

As for capital expenditures, Hornback said that almost all of the burden now falls on the local water agency.

During the 1970s and into the 1980s, the federal government provided construction grants to upgrade public drinking water and wastewater systems to meet stricter regulatory standards imposed by Congress. Since then, Congress has put about $2 billion into a revolving fund for loans that Hornback said is not sufficient to meet today’s needs.

There are 16,000 publicly owned wastewater treatment plants in the United States that operate 100,000 major pumping stations, 600,000 miles of sanitary sewers and 200,000 miles of storm sewers, according to U.S. EPA. That system received a grade of D- from the American Society of Civil Engineers in its latest “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.” The society noted that billions of gallons of untreated wastewater is discharged each year because of lagging investments.

Hornback said many communities would be facing a difficult challenge even if the economy were more robust. Communities historically “undervalue” their water and sewer services, charging users less than is needed to keep the systems operating to modern standards.

“The pipes in the ground are in some cases over 100 years old,” he said.

Water has to receive the same priorty as transportation, according to several parties:

NACWA has asked Congress to establish a trust fund — similar to the one used for transportation projects — to help cities and towns upgrade their water and sewer infrastructure.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors Water Council is also calling on Congress to boost federal investment in wastewater treatment plants. A March report from the council blasted Congress for authorizing a “costly and increasing wave of mandates” while essentially abandoning any effort to provide “meaningful financial assistance” to local governments.

What will it cost to repair our critical water and sewer infrastructure?

The conference report, written by senior adviser Richard Anderson, estimates that local governments will have to spend between $2.5 trillion and $4.8 trillion over the next 20 years to fulfill those demands for improved water and sewer systems.

That’s right…$2.5-$4.8 TRILLION added to our burgeoning budget (or non-budget, to be snarky about it.)

Congress seems to think they’ve done all that’s needed:

There is a “vague and false confidence among Congress that they have already addressed the issue by granting $60 billion to cities over two decades ago to build water infrastructure when the cost in a single year (2008) is over $40 billion in capital investments and another $50 billion for operations and maintenance,” Anderson wrote. “A more thorough understanding of how much is spent on public water and wastewater is a necessary first step in establishing a framework for a National Strategy.”

The report advocates adoption of a national strategy that would prioritize the mandates based on comparative risk and direct federal resources where they would have the greatest public impact.

Meanwhile, in Davenport, California, residents are “bracing” at the likelihood of a 74% increase in their sewer bill as one of their big employers has closed and someone has to make up the difference:

Household rates will likely reach $4,000 a year — $2,500 for sewer and $1,500 for water.

Who can afford THAT???

What interests me is how this fits into some of the ideas in Chris Martenson‘s Crash Course, namely, as we go through a massive economic shift, what do we have to prepare for?  Tops on the list is a viable water supply…how many of us living without wells are prepared for water problems?

When I bought my solar oven, not only did I buy it to cook food…it also boils and pasteurizes water in a pinch on a sunny day (and it does more good things, too!).

Let’s hope the Southwest keeps having sunny days…until we have energy problems and we all roast for lack of electricity to run air conditioning!

Health Care Reform? Must Be Visible to Only a Select Few…

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

…And that may be Democratic Congress Critters and THE ONE?

Whither True Health Care Reform?

Let’s see…this morning on NPR I heard about Massachusetts “Walmart” of health plans…where, in a half hour, you could compare loads of health care plans and enroll…VOILA! Just like that!! (Assuming you have the cash…)

Of course, the Federal version being debated in conference would provide so much more, looking more like what’s up on the Medicare site…the one that is so full of wonderful plans for medical and prescription insurance that you can’t compare any of it easily and which leaves you unsure of what the differing costs will actually be! The current idea being dealt with in conference  will be much better than that in Massachusetts because you’ll be able to plug in your scenario (Example used: “Hey, I think I might get breast cancer”) and shop for a plan specific to your worries…although, when you DO get cancer, who know what will happen!! Of course, the debate is over this provision’s “mandate-iness”–let’s see, if it’s left up to the states and you’re in a Republican state, the odds are YOU WON’T HAVE ACCESS TO THIS catalog of health care plans!!

(This was part of a bigger story about how union leaders don’t want their “negotiated for pay cuts/freezes” “Cadillac health plans” taxed…and they marched over to the White House to inform THE ONE that they couldn’t guarantee union votes during the midterms…Reality bites!)

Of course, the single payer option is gone already…

Now, I’m seeing reports that the EMPLOYER MANDATE for large companies to insure their workers may be gone, too?**

Now, what does that leave???

Not a helluva lot, as far as I can see! The same Swiss cheese non-system we’ve got, only more expensive, most likely, especially, if the expert I heard is right, not having a nationwide availability of the “shopping mall” for health care will definitely NOT help drive down costs…and, of course, health care shoppers will be left to the political winds even though there will be some vague business in the provision about the the Feds will be able to step in if the states don’t do things right…which, probably wouldn’t happen, from what I gather, as the Feds are apparently shy of doing such things.

Disgusting. A majority in both Houses, frittered away for WHAT????????

Foreign visitors to this blog must be wondering what the hell gives with health care in the U.S.  Well, let me inform you, that it’s just a political football  whose prime requirement involves making a buck for companies that lobby.  In other words, it’s not for people!!

**This headline and a pic of Nancy Pelosi and a couple of others appeared on the Comcast.net front page about 5 pm MT…when I went back to grab it…it was GONE!
UPDATE: The story is not on the front page, but is showing up at the bottom of the email section. It’s an AP story, which means linking to it is forbidden.

Link to the NPR story:

To Critics, Cadillac Tax Looks Like a Yugo

China Called “The Biggest Risk to the World Economy” But History Shows that War Can Always Straighten This Sort of Situation Out (Update 1X: China Missile = “No-Go Zone” for U.S.?)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

We’ve be writing later about the strength of China, but lately there has been some talk rising about a possible bubble being created in China.  In the Telegraph (U.K.),  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has written a piece which looks at what’s going on titled China has now become the biggest risk to the world economy.

This article shed a totally different light on the views of Larry Kudlow that I wrote about in my previous post, Larry Kudlow Has a Fit as Obama the “Declinist” Opens His Mouth in Japan; Says Obama is “Not His President”.

Evans-Pritchard argues that China is not going to take over as the growth engine of the world economy.  I’ve heard quite often that China cannot pull the world out of its economic troubles.  The stats that I’ve seen indicate that China, no matter how robust, simply is still too small an economy to accomplish this.

Evans-Pritchard has concluded that China’s policies” continue to play havoc with global trade and risk tipping the world into a second leg of the Great Recession.”

Why?  According to the piece, there’s plenty of overcapacity in China.  I saw a report the other day showing empty structures, built for basically no use.  The article explains:

“The inherent problems of the international economic system have not been fully addressed,” said China’s president Hu Jintao. Indeed not. China is still exporting overcapacity to the rest of us on a grand scale, with deflationary consequences.

While some fret about liquidity-driven inflation, Justin Lin, World Bank chief economist, said the greater danger is that record levels of idle plant almost everywhere will feed a downward spiral of job cuts and corporate busts. “I’m more worried about deflation,” he said.

Paul Krugman is quoted in this piece and he explains that China’s policy to hold the value of the yuan down versus the dollar is basically “stealing American jobs” as it relies on cheap exports to stave off massive unemployment. And other Asian countries must do it, too.

Of course, our capitalists use the cheap labor in China and, as the author says, “then lobby Capitol Hill to prevent Congress doing anything about it. This is labour arbitrage.”

But, China doesn’t hold all the cards, although it seems that way.  Evans-Pritchard writes:

Washington can bring China to its knees at any time by shutting markets. There is no symmetry here. Any move by Beijing to liquidate its holdings of US Treasuries could be neutralized – in extremis – by capital controls. Well-armed sovereign states can do whatever they want.

So, what’s the situation in China?  Their much-heralded stimulus has been spent building up more capacity to ship more goods and they’ve been investing in property and stocks. There is a huge credit explosion and production is booming.  BUT, Evans-Pritchard reveals:

Once you know that Hunan authorities have torn down two miles of modern flyway so that they can soak up stimulus by building it again, or that the newly-built city of Ordos is sitting empty in Inner Mongolia, you know what must come next.

A crash, right??

The Chinese consumer is supposed to be the solution to all this overcapacity and oversupply, but it won’t happen overnight.  Meanwhile, China’s central bank is tightening and fewer loans are being issued.

Evans-Pritchard concludes:

The world economy is still skating on thin ice. The West is sated with debt, the East with plant. The crisis has been contained (or masked) by zero rates and a fiscal blast, trashing sovereign balance sheets. But the core problem remains. The Anglo-sphere and Club Med are tightening belts, yet Asia is not adding enough demand to compensate. It is adding supply.

My view is that markets are still in denial about the structural wreckage of the credit bubble. There are two more boils to lance: China’s investment bubble; and Europe’s banking cover-up. I fear that only then can we clear the rubble and, very slowly, start a fresh cycle.

In my earlier post, I included the quote by Obama that Kudlow ridiculed:

While he also talked of multilateral cooperation and human rights, he came to Asia to deliver the message that the rapidly growing export-driven economies can no longer count on the U.S. consumer to keep them afloat.

It seemed a bit arrogant, particularly because Obama hasn’t really been pushing China much:

As for Obama, during the presidential campaign Obama promised to “crack down on China” but during the primaries there was chatter: “But his commitment to that point of view was thrown into doubt during the primaries when a Canadian official said an Obama adviser had privately characterized his tough stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement as political posturing.” (As an example, see: U.S. to Impose Tariff on Tires From China, Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2009.  Detractors figure that “the tariff won’t result in more jobs. Tires will simply come in from other low-cost countries, they say, and U.S. manufacturers, keep making their cheaper tires in China.”) Of course, this is classic Obama…all that “get-tough” talk and “insisting” while we have to go “hat in hand” to China…more blowing smoke.

But Evans-Pritchard comments (above) about Washington’s ability to really shove are food for thought. To repeat, “Well-armed sovereign states can do whatever they want.”

Now, I’m not suggesting Barack Obama is going to start a “real” war with China.  I don’t even think a sane Repbulican would.  (Then again, the Chosen One may just be arrogant enough????)

But, what about an INSANE Republican or Democrat, for that matter, since the elite in Washington are all about the same?  George W. Bush and his oil buddies decided to mess around in Iraq and look what we’re stuck with.  (George and his father were too busy with their long-time ties to China, so Iraq filled the bill for George II.) Barack Obama is worrying about that pipeline in Afghanistan that’s attacked so often by the Taliban that it hasn’t even been able deliver any oil yet.

But, there are lots of INSANE Republicans and Democrats around and who can trust ANY of them?

And, there’s history which shows a link between trade and wars.

Over at the RGE Monitor, Kevin O’Rourke wrote in a 2008 piece  titled Lessons of 1000 Years of Trade History: (my bolding)

Even more fundamentally, the continuation of a broadly liberal international trading environment will require that the geopolitical system adapt to the rise of China, India and other ‘Third World’ giants.  In a historical context, this represents of course the restoration of the status quo ante, the end of a “Great Asymmetry” in international economic and political affairs caused by the Industrial Revolution, which was itself in large part a product of the interactions between early modern Europe and the rest of the world.  But that is not to say that such an adjustment will be easy.  The international system has historically done a pretty poor job of accommodating newcomers to the Great Power club. German unification and industrialisation during the late 19th century led to tensions with Britain and France over colonial and armament policy, while Japan’s rise to regional prominence during the interwar period, and its search for secure sources of raw materials, ended in war against United States and its allies.  Both precedents are worrying, in that similar questions are posed today, both in terms of the rights of emerging nations to rival the established powers’ military capabilities (notably with regard to nuclear weapons), and in terms of the strategic importance to countries like China of ready access to oil supplies and other natural resources.

The last point should cause us to reflect that, Cobden and Montesquieu notwithstanding, interdependence and trade do not necessarily guarantee peace.  The world economy of the late 19th century was extremely interdependent, to the point where Norman Angell famously felt able to pronounce, on the eve of World War I, that major conflict was now unthinkable.  Interdependence implies vulnerability, and vulnerability can lead to fear, with unpredictable consequences, as Anglo-German rivalry in the run-up to the Great War, and Japanese reactions to the Great Depression and Smoot-Hawley, both indicate.

Impermanence appears to be the most enduring feature of the human condition, and if there is one lesson which we can safely learn from history, it is that history has not ended.  Hopefully it will not repeat itself.

We know that Barack Obama knows nothing about history (in fact, dismissing the entire Viet Nam experience), and I’d bet that none of our future leaders will know it either. And, even if they DO, I doubt they’d actually pay any attention to any lessons to be learned.

***

UPDATE 1

Looks like China isn’t missing this military angle:

Related Story from Bloomberg News, November 17, 2009 (excerpt):

China’s New Missile May Create a ‘No-Go Zone’ for U.S. Fleet

China’s military is close to fielding the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile, according to U.S. Navy intelligence.The missile, with a range of almost 900 miles (1,500 kilometers), would be fired from mobile, land-based launchers and is “specifically designed to defeat U.S. carrier strike groups,” the Office of Naval Intelligence reported.

Five of the U.S. Navy’s 11 carriers are based in the Pacific and operate freely in international waters near China. Their mission includes defending Taiwan should China seek to exercise by force its claim to the island democracy, which it considers a breakaway province.

The missile could turn this region into a “no-go zone” for U.S. carriers, said Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budget Assessments in Washington. (MORE)

NOW, NOW…THERE, THERE…LITTLE VOTER

~~By Kenosha Marge

Have you ever written and/or emailed your Congresscritter or Senator and gotten back one of their “now,now…there, there” letters? A letter so condescending it makes your eyes bleed from just reading it?

As the blood rushes through your veins and threatens to blow your damn head off you wonder how you could have ever voted for this creature. And if you didn’t, you take some small satisfaction in that. You comfort yourself with the thought that at least this was one Asshat that you didn’t support among all the other Asshats that you did.

However, that doesn’t address the question, why on earth do these “elected” officials think it wise to send voters such letters? Do they really think we are that dumb? (If you answer yes you win a Kewpie doll.) Looks like Kewpie has had a close encounter with our government.

a kewpie-doll mARGE POST

It is obvious and has been for a very long time that the people that we elect to represent us don’t represent us or respect us.

I can understand the lack of respect. After all they lie to us again and again, do more flip-flops than seen at the last Summer Olympics and they can still count on our vote. What’s to respect in that?

Politicians are well aware that for the most part we will continue to support “our” party, even when “our” party doesn’t support us. Where we gonna go?

A “good” Democrat would sooner chew his/her leg off that vote for one of those rat-bastard Republicans. And a “good” Republican feels the same way about voting for one of them Wing Nut Democrats. I guess being good human beings and good Americans comes somewhere further down the list. Much further on the good human being part if many of the scurrilous remarks made about the “other” party are any indication.

Politicians are well aware that if they can just get some talking point stuck in the empty heads of many of the electorate they have won their battle. Nothing will dislodge these bits of misinformation from said empty head. No proof, no new information, no tablets coming down from the Mountain will change their minds.

If you doubt this then the proof is in that there are a whole lot of people around that still believe that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that he had something to do with 9/11. Or all the little people giving their pennies and nickels financed Obama’s campaign. These people have the cognitive abilities of a box of rocks. I may be maligning that box of rocks.

A box of maligned rocks

A box of maligned rocks

I  I have been disabused of the notion that our conservative/Republican brethren and sisters were less well informed than our own better, brighter, more informed people on the liberal/Democrat side. The last election and the immerging Obot Nation proves that Republicans have not cornered the market on stupid.

But I digress; let’s get back to our non-representing Representatives. They are our Representatives because we elected them. Enough of us voted for them so that they get to go to Washington D.C. and not represent the people that just elected them.

In many cases voters cast their vote without having the faintest idea what this person has done or not done for their district/state. Having that letter “D” or “R” is all that matters. And we wonder why they don’t respect us. They count on our stupidity and we seldom disappoint them.

Many of these politicians have been slurping at the public trough for decades. They are therefore now eligible for that nice little pension that we taxpayers are going to pay for. Even if we don’t have a pension plan for ourselves at least we can rest easy knowing these people that did/do such a second-rate job will have a comfortable retirement. If we can ever get them to retire.

Some of them can’t even dodder onto the floor of the House or the Senate. Some are off in rehab, for the second time and must be hauled back to vote on important bills. See:  http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/rep.-kennedy-returns-for-climate-vote-2009-06-26.html

I feel sorry for the husband of a friend of mine who has an alcohol problem. That doesn’t mean that I would vote for such a person. Sympathy from me you get Congressman Kennedy. My vote? Not in this lifetime!

Once these people are elected/re-elected, they can cozy up with their real constituency, which would be the folks with the money.

Let’s see now– talking points firmly embedded in constituency’s empty head? Check.

Little/no concern about better-informed and/or recalcitrant voters because they have nowhere to go? Check.

Send condescending letters to any voicing disapproval/concern for actions not in keeping with what they were lead to expect? Check.

Call person with the most money to donate to my/his/her campaign and assure them that I will vote whatever way they want me to so long as the money keeps coming my way? Check!

There are many reasons we as voters are not respected and represented by those that we elect to public office. Many of them are just so damn sure they are smarter and know better than we do that our outrage or protests don’t even register unless and until it threatens their re-election.

Threats to re-election means it’s time to either dust off the old talking points or get some new ones. After all, those pointy-headed little voters keep falling for the same play why change it when you are winning the game? And if they voice some disapproval, send a condescending letter to explain it to the poor rubes.

Now-now, there-there little voter, we know what’s best. Don’t you worry your silly/pretty/empty little head about it.

SWITCH THE PARADIGM! Why We Really CAN Make a Change for the Better

(Editor’s Note: This inspiring essay comes just in time for the July 4th holiday.  Enjoy the holiday but take some time to reflect on what it really honors…IA)

~~By Grail Guardian

I’ve been reading a lot of internal squabbling on various web sites lately about whether or not people can or should vote for Republicans in order to restore the political balance in Washington. I’ve “listened” to both sides of the argument and for those who have not been paying attention (or living an actual life instead of following the blogs) I offer this brief summary of each:

Pro: Voting Republicans in is the only way to offset Obama and the idiots in Congress that are bleeding the country dry. The Democratic majority is killing the American economy and Constitution and is out of control. No third party candidate will be able succeed in the current system, so we must hold our noses and vote for all Republican candidates and hope they induce a stalemate in Congress.

Con: The Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats, and we’ll just end up swing from far left to far right (then back again) if we vote them back in. I can’t vote for someone that supports everything I have fought against all my life just to stop the Democrats (i.e.: abortion rights). Replacing one form of evil with another does no good, therefore I must look for the least offensive Democrat to support despite the fact that they will likely vote along party lines (think Kirsten Gillibrand in NY).

I must confess that I can find some truth in both of these arguments, but there’s something I need to point out here: These are not the only options!

That’s right – I said it! There are other choices. To wit, we need term limits and alternative candidates that don’t belong (a totally accurate term in every sense) to either political party. But, but…Grail, you say, how could that be? No Congress critter will ever vote for their own term to be limited and everyone knows that no third party candidate can possible get elected!

Wrong! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to play Switch That Paradigm! The exciting game show where you, the American public, actually get to choose the winners! No, it’s not American Idol. Not even close. It’s a nifty concept I learned about from commenter Practical Madman over at Logistics Monster, and it’s called Get Out of Our House. Here’s the concept: If we want to stop the insanity in D.C. we must clean out the political lifers in Congress; the Obama administration (or any other administration for that matter) cannot pass legislation without the support and complicity of Congress (at least as of the writing of this piece), no matter how many mouth breathers support him. The easiest way to do this is in the House of Representatives, since the whole barrel of monkeys is up for re-election every 2 years under the Constitution (yes, all 435 members are up in 2010). Besides, the Senate isn’t exactly a cohesive majority, and if the bills can’t pass in the House they aren’t making it to the Oval Office for signature. Get Out of Our House, or GOoOH (pronounced “go”) wants to dump all 435 members at once and replace them with ordinary citizens that actually (gasp) vote for what their constituents want. That’s right – you and me for Congress!

Here’s the deal: if enough regular Americans are willing to participate, they group can raise enough money to support candidates in every district. People who wish to run for office complete a comprehensive position questionnaire that is posted on line. There are no right or wrong answers, no political philosophy you must adhere to, no liberal or conservative viewpoints required at the door. You answer the questions, and sign a legally binding pledge that if you are elected you will vote the way you answered on the questionnaire or abstain from the vote if there is fuzzy or unrelated material attached to the bill, as Congress is wont to do. (Note: there is an alternative option wherein you can change your vote if you post your intent to do so online at least 7 days in advance and a majority of your district votes that it’s OK for you to change your vote.) Once the candidates have locked in their answers, a series of Selection Sessions are held where members get the chance to vote for or against candidates that best represent how they would like their Representative to vote. Sessions are held until there is only 1 candidate per district, and that person becomes the GOoOH nominee for the district. The whole organization is based on the concept that the candidates will not follow any particular school of thought; for instance, voters in New York City would probably tend to select a candidate with more liberal viewpoints, whereas voters in Butte, MT would be more prone to select a candidate with conservative views that fit the local political consciousness.

Oh, and did I mention that all candidates agree in advance to a few interesting conditions:

· To run for no more than 2 terms (it was originally 1, but was changed due to input on the site)

· To disclose in advance of each Selection Session if you are an attorney (originally excluded, but again changed due to commenter input)

· To disclose in advance of each Selection Session if you are wealthy (a multi-millionaire)

· To resign within 72 hours and pay a fine if you vote contrary to your stated positions (per the questionnaire)

· To resign within 72 hours and pay a fine if you accept funds “other than your federal paycheck”

Are there drawbacks to the system? Yes. Some of the bigger ones are: the $100 membership fee (that is used to fund the candidates that are eventually selected, the fact that at least 500,000 members are needed to make it work, and the inability for people not on the web to participate in the upfront process (we all get to vote eventually, but you must register online).

Some of the other advantages are: the ability to join an existing organization that is prepared for the political process, regardless of your political views, the ability of average Americans to have a “hands on” role in actually choosing the nominee from a large pool of candidates (rather than just the guy who has lost the last 3 times in your area), and the inability of political interest groups (lobbyists, PACs, unions, or even religious groups) to influence the candidates. I personally believe that America is at a “do or die” juncture as a free Republic, and GOoOH may just provide a way back to the basics. We are at a crossroads that our Founders predicted and feared:

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” –Samuel Adams

“A government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have… The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.” –Thomas Jefferson

Now is the time for all good PUMAs to put up or shut up. We all agree we want change. We all agree that the current system is not working. We all agree that the time to stop the juggernaut poised to crush our nation is extremely limited. We call agree that 2008 ended the political process as we knew it forever. And who better to change things than us? And who are we? Simply average Americans that have seen the road the political corruption and corporate greed of the current government is leading us down and wish to return to the Constitution as it was written. For those of you that need a bit more background, I offer this excellent video courtesy of Diamond Tiger at Logistics Monster that explains the current political situation in concise and frightening terms. Take 10 minutes and watch it all the way through; if you are not scared at the similarities between circumstances preceding the fall of Rome and the current fall of America at the end, then go in peace and enjoy your final moments of freedom. If you are disturbed and unwilling to take any more, take a serious look at the GOoOH site and see what you think. I know it is not the ideal solution, but if we wait for perfection our economy will be collapsed, there will be record inflation not seen since 1920’s Germany, government will have taken an extraordinary amount of power away from We the People, and our country as we know it will be gone.

Change is inevitable. The only question is: which side of it do you want to be on?

This:

clip_image002

Or this:

clip_image004

These images should remind us of a few very simple concepts:

· Ordinary people can make a difference if they believe enough to fight against tyranny

· You can speak truth to power, no matter how well ensconced it may appear

· Women can and do lead the way

· We have what everyone else in the world wants, and we are letting it slip away with little more than a whimper

· “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (This quote is generally attributed to Edmund Burke but the true source appears to be unknown.)

The truth of the matter is simple: the concept that we, the people of the greatest nation in the world, cannot alter our destiny or stop The Powers That Be from destroying our Republic is nothing more or less than the same mass-marketing advertising scam that has been used to brainwash the masses into thinking we need the latest bright, shiny object on the market to distract ourselves from reality. It’s a sales job – that’s all! If enough of us are disgusted and use our votes, any candidate can be elected and any party can be successful. When you get right down to it, isn’t that all political campaigns have evolved into? Never-ending infomercials! And now the very office of the President of the United States of America has been turned into the world’s largest infomercial. (I’m surprised he doesn’t have a Guthy-Renker logo on his backside!) But that’s really good news, because that means that we don’t have to buy it! We can shop around for what we really want, no matter what they tell us on the tee vee! For cryin’ out loud, when have they ever told us the truth? Isn’t that the whole concept of Madison Avenue (and K Street)? Lie big, lie often, and then lie some more and eventually people will buy what you tell them because that’s what Charlie and Katie and Brian tell them to do!

Well, I’m here to tell you the sad news: Edward R. Murrow is dead and so is the “fourth estate”; John F. Kennedy was barely elected (and probably only then because of “creative” voting in Daley’s Chicago) and there was no “magic bullet” (no matter what Arlen “Which party am I in again?” Specter wants you to believe); aspartame and fluoride are actually toxins sold to us to make profit off of useless chemicals; and the United States Constitution does not grant the government the right to tax income or sales, no matter what the IRS says. They are all advertising scams designed to persuade compliant Americans to buy the “official” version of a convenient fabrication. The idea that no third party candidate could ever win a national election is another such ad campaign, and we have bought it lock, stock and barrel. We even preach it to each other. So the time has come to shift our paradigm and alter our vision of “reality” (whatever that is). Dorothy eventually looked behind the curtain and discovered that Oz was nothing more than a two-bit carnie hustler, and that the ability to return to where she wanted to be was always within her own power. We, too, must accept that we’re not in Kansas anymore and take a good hard look at what’s behind that curtain.

You can save this nation. You can be a US Representative. If you believe in the Constitution of this Republic, I propose you owe it to America to step up to the plate and either be a candidate or at a minimum support the system that may just be capable of returning every day, common sense Americans to the business of running this country.

The choice is yours; what will you choose?

“The Bailout” by Cartoonists

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Grail Guardian shipped us a bunch of cartoons on the subject of  THE BAILOUT and the general state of the .  Here are a couple and more will be sprinkled here in the future…Cartoonists DO say it best!! Thanks, GG!!

Bailout1

Bailout2

The Past Week: April 19-25, 2009 (Pakistani Women Pushing Back; French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde Speaks; Doubts About Toxic Asset Plan; UK Blogs)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

With Pakistan and the Taliban now center stage, I found this story from The Dawn Blog interesting. Women in Karachi are meeting because of their concerns about events there:

Women Push Back

…On Friday, the Karachi chapter of the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) invited members of the civil society to help craft a comprehensive strategy to stem the Talibanisation of Pakistan and respond to the recent passage of the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation 2009. On short notice, about 60 women gathered at the Aurat Foundation’s Clifton premises to brainstorm ideas for concrete action against the spread of militant ideology. Participants included the crème de la crème of Karachi society – revered activists, teachers, artists, filmmakers, professionals and many women who described themselves as ‘concerned citizens’ and ‘mothers’ (I could start name-dropping but someone might mistake this for the social pages and not the Dawn Blog).

The general mood was somber and, as the discussion proceeded, panic and passions flared. As one long-term women’s rights activist put it, ‘we came of age in the Zia years. Then, we were fighting the state. Now, we’re fighting against public misogyny being encouraged by non-state actors who have grown more powerful than the state – and they don’t play by any rules.’ In short, the women assembled at Aurat’s offices knew they were there to put up a fight.

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Let’s hope we don’t see the women of Pakistan have the same fate as those in Afghanistan.

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Caught a brief segment a few days ago on BBC America’s nightly newscast with the French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, but she’s been speaking about the latest IMF report elsewhere, too.  Here’a link to a transcript of  her inteview on Lateline which airs on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). It’s a worthwhile read if only to get a better understanding of what the people in charge of the money elsewhere are thinking.

But what caught my attention in the BBC segment was her comments about how unimpressed she was with the idea of creating stimulus package after stimulus package without getting a clear idea of how useful they really are.  She noted that France was early in pumping up government spending on infrastructure projects, like public buildings, etc. and programs versus cash payments, but the results were only just beginning to trickle in.  She was very pointed about how the French had started their stimulus efforts earlier than the U.S. and was quite clear that an idea of how effective the spending has been–and if it is getting to the right places–is needed before more spending is approved.  She also pointed out that the money really hasn’t started flowing yet, so it’s going to be a while before anything is really known here in the U.S.

Although Lagarde is “on the same page” with the Obama Administration in many ways, we’ll have to see if the Obama crowd and Congress keep creating more “stimulus packages” in spite of Lagarde’s warnings.

Here’s a something Lagarde said toward the end of the interview:

My personal belief is that this crisis stems from excess, abuses of the system. I don’t suggest, though, that it would be the end of free enterprise. I think that a liberal economy can also have its social dimension and that liberal economy, as liberalism is understood in economic terms, can only survive if it is properly regulated. And I think it would be a complete deterioration if you will, or abuse of liberalism itself, if it wasn’t regulated. So, when he says that government is back and policies are back, I totally agree with him if he means regulation, ownership of the development of a free market economy by politicians, by those who have been elected by the people to represent the general interest and to make sure that proper functioning of the economy is actually respected. And to that end, we need a combination of sensible and strong regulations, but also sensible and strong bodies that will make sure that regulations are actually applied. And if there are violations, that such violations are sanctioned appropriately.

“And if there are violations, that such violations are sanctioned appropriately.”

I’m not holding my breath here in Obamaland, are you?

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Kenosha Marge spotted this article in the Financial Times….seems like Timothy Geithner still hasn’t dispelled a sense of mistrust among financial leades:

Warning over US toxic asset plan

By Francesco Guerrera, Deborah Brewster, Henny Sender and Aline Van Duyn in New York

Published: April 24 2009 02:03 | Last updated: April 24 2009 02:03

The Obama administration will on Friday get the first indication of investor interest in its $1,000bn toxic assets plan amid fears that the threat of government intervention and banks’ reluctance to sell will deter fund managers from participating.

Applications to become one of the five asset managers charged with raising funds to buy mortgage-backed securities from banks are due today and groups including BlackRock, Pimco and Bank of New York Mellon are set to apply.

However, financial executives warn that the plan is in danger of missing its goal of quickly shifting billions of dollars in troubled assets off banks’ balance sheets unless the government dispels investors’ concerns.

Potential buyers of assets complain that, a month after Tim Geithner, US Treasury secretary, unveiled the public-private investment programme, the authorities have yet to reassure them they would not be subjected to draconian Congressional scrutiny.

The Treasury did say that, aside from the small group of asset managers, investors who receive the generous loans available under the PPIP will not have to abide by restrictions on employees’ pay imposed on the banks that got funds from the troubled assets relief programme.

Yet some fund managers fear Congress and the government may change the rules mid-course, as they did with Tarp. Wesley Edens, chief executive of Fortress Investment Group, said: “The most important thing for the government is consistency.”

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Wonder what Christine Lagarde thinks about all this?

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Stumbled across this site which is a huge list of UK Political Blog Feeds.  It’s fun to check out what’s on the minds of folks across the pond.

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THE PAST WEEK

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 25, 2009) The Squirrels Invade

While Pakistan Has Our Attention, Look What’s Brewing in Somalia…

The Financial Filter: How CNBC Handles Howard Dean vs. Susan Boyle

Labour (UK) Facing Poll Meltdown After “Smeargate” Allegations–Brown’s Fmr. “Spin Chief” (Now Political Director of a Union) Involved

The Past Week: April 12-18, 2009 (Newsweek Death Spiral?; Anti-Abortion Wars; Susan Boyle and Human Grace)