The Past Week: May 10-16, 2009 (The Smugness of Obama; Soros and Chinese Cars in the U.S.?; Cinie Sums It Up re: Bush/Obama; Gibson, the World’s Largest Dog, Recovers from Leg Amputation; Harold Pinter Adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Chicago Correspondent Leslie saw this on the cover of the local “free” newspaper and thought The One looked awfully smug. She captions: “I guess I really pulled one over on them.” Grail Guardian added this comment: “Hmmmm. Is there anyone left that I haven’t thrown under the bus yet?”

I guess I really pulled one over on them Obama from Leslie

***

The recent news that GM will be selling cars made in China here in the U.S. by 2011 came just before the news later in the week about the dealer closings.  But there’s an interesting twist to the story, as reported by China-Motors.Ru:

Chinese Cars – Soros help to Chery take USA market

Miliarder Georges Soros considers{examines} injection of hundreds millions dollars in Chinese Chery to throw out on the market of the USA cheap Chinese cars.

“Chery” – a copy of the South-Korean Spark sold in the USA in partnership with GM. GM has begun litigation against Chery Automobile Co. Having accused Chery in a piracy of the car, created Daewoo, and Chery should change the name of the car for the USA.

MORE

Can’t vouch for the accuracy of the story, but these days nothing would suprise me…

***

My favorite post of the week comes from Cinie’s World.  It’s titled It’s The Medical Records, Stupid. The section which grabbed me because it summarizes EXACTLY how I feel:

I have always been struck by the cozy, lovey-dovey relationship Georgie’s Ba’ Bruh has always seemed to have with “Obamacans.”  When I first heard of Republicans for Obama, I was like, “what’s up with that, huh?”  Why would a group of Republicans get together in 2006 to encourage the “most liberal Senator in the history of…liberals and Senators” to run for President after the guy had only been voting against their interests on a national basis for a couple years or so?  Sure, coulda been just another Axelrove AstroTurfing campaign, but, if it was, why weren’t real Republicans yelling their heads off about it?   Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney are not exactly shy about slamming one of their own for being too buddy-buddy with the other side.  Why did all the black Republicans endorse this “most liberal Senator, blah, blah, blah, either explicitly, or tacitly?  Why did so many registered Republicans switch party affiliation to vote for a community organizer, (a phrase they utter with all the dripping sarcasm, venom and contempt a mother uses to describe her law school-grad son, the “rap singer”’s career choice) in the primaries and caucuses, then neglect to switch back, swelling the ranks of Independents while depleting their former party’s numbers so significantly it’s now a shell of itself?  In fact, didn’t the guy Al Franken called a “big, fat, idiot,” encourage that?  Operation Chaos, anyone?  Why didn’t the sleazy Obama ploy plea for Republicans to become Democrats for a Day cause the “liberal media” and the “progressive blogospherians” who supported him with a blind fury to turn their backs on, and wash their hands of, him?  How come the Barackamedian’s biggest laugh on his Rock Star Tour campaign trail come from his oft-related response of “Thank you, why are we whispering?” to Republicans’ hushed confessions of “I voted for you”?

I think this says it all, Cinie!

***

Here’s a story about Gibson, the world’s largest dog, who stands about 7 ft. tall on his hind legs. This wonderful Great Dane was diagnosed with  cancer in one of his front legs and to save his life, the leg was amputated.  But, he’s going back to his work as a therapy dog as soon as he recovers. Let’s send all  our best thoughts to Gibson for a speedy and COMPLETE recovery! (Yes, that’s Oprah he’s greeting…)

Visit Gibson’s website at http://gibsondog.com/index.php.

Gibson

Gibson

***

Finally, I happened to find the 1990 Harold Pinter adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” last night on Indieplex, which starred Robert Duvall and a young Natasha Richardson in a role that was much different from “The Parent Trap” made about 8 years later and was aired earlier this week.  The combination of seeing the late actress who died so tragically only a couple of months ago, along with the horror of this story, was too much for me and I had to change the channel after a short time.  The “guide” called the film “sci-fi.”  Frankly, with the misogynist in chief in the White House playing fast and loose with women’s issues, and a general feeling that we’re in the “colonies”–well, it didn’t seem very “sci-fi” to me…

***

THE PAST WEEK

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (May 16, 2009) Cactus in Bloom! Gorgeous!

“The Bailout” by Cartoonists

In Search of the American Personality: Warnings from the Nuremberg Trial Rohrschach Inkblot Tests

The Past Week May 3-9, 2009 (Chicago Suits Pressure Wells Fargo; Push for a Single-Payer Advocate at Baucus Table; David Cameron Interview Re: British Politics One Year Away from Election)

The Past Week: March 29-April 4, 2009 (Hugo Chavez Takes Over Food Producers, Sounds Off on the G-20; A Government Bailout Special; “The Reluctant Ones”

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

As the  G-20 circus brought out the whole gang in London, Hugo Chavez was doing his thing in Iran.

Chavez had this to say about the G-20 summit:

Venezuela’s Chavez: Capitalism Must End

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday ridiculed the G-20 summit’s attempts to deal with the global financial meltdown, saying that capitalism is in crisis and must end. Chavez criticized the G-20 nations’ pledges of more than a trillion dollars for lending to struggling countries at Thursday’s summit in London, calling it “the same medicine that’s killing the patient—a trillion dollars … more money for a bottomless pit.”

SNIP

The IMF and the World Bank are “tools of imperialism” and must be eliminated, Chavez said.

MORE

Well, he has a point…But does this mean that he’s no longer Obama’s “best buddy” since Obama is part of the Obama Borg?

Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago, Chavez took steps to deal with Venezuela’s economy during this global economic crisis:

Chavez trims budget, adds debt to counter crisis

(SNIP)

Chavez, who won a referendum last month allowing him to stay in office as long as he keeps winning elections, is popular for spending oil revenues on health and education programs for the poor majority.

During 10 years in office he has nationalized much of Venezuela’s economy including major oil projects as part of his drive to build a socialist state.

On Saturday, he cut the 2009 budget by 6.7 percent to $72 billion, raised the minimum wage 20 percent and increased planned government financing to $16 billion from $5.6 billion. And he increased a sales tax to 12 percent from 9 percent.

(SNIP)

Economist Luis Vicente Leon described the package of measures as moderate but said the government was gambling crude prices would recover later this year.

“These are not truly deep measures, they don’t attack the fundamental problems of the economy,” Leon told Reuters.

Faced with Latin America’s highest inflation, Chavez has in recent weeks increased pressure on business to lower prices by taking over farms and rice mills and threatening to nationalize the country’s top private employer, which makes food and beer.

What do you think of that last part?  When does Obama go after the food supply?

***

The next two items courtesy Kenosha Marge:

johndeer-bailout

***

A couple of weeks ago we learned that Evan Bayh has put together a group of “pragmantic Democrats.”  Then there are the Blue Dogs:

Centrist Dems: Dogged If They Do, Dogged If They Don’t

By Froma Harrop

There’s trouble around the Democratic campfire. The party has the White House and solid congressional majorities. But what it doesn’t have is everyone on the same page, strumming the same chords, singing the same tune.

Liberals who kept the fires burning during the long Republican reign now fear that moderate Blue Dog Democrats will thwart their much-delayed dreams. Elected from purplish parts of America, the Blue Dogs are fiscal conservatives who regard expensive new programs with a wary eye.

What’s a liberal to do? First, recognize that the Blue Dogs are the reason Democrats have such nice majorities. They are why the dreams are even on the menu. Second, concede that the Reluctant Ones have a point.

(MORE)

“The Reluctant Ones”…has a certain ring to it, yes?

***

THE PAST WEEK

*By American Lassie

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 4, 2009) Spring Winds; Squirrel Wars; Bees Invade Feeder; Wounded Butterfly; Sunrise Over the Organs; Slick Lounges Around

Non-Stop Campaigning Here in NM-CD2 By Bill Richardson’s Hand-Picked Freshman Rep Harry Teague, Who’s Splitting His Votes Pro/Con on Obama Policies

Iowa Gone Wild With Nazi Reference at Public Hearing (Listen to the Audio) as New Yorkers in CD-20 Test Obama’s Popularity

Canada Follows the U.S. Terms for GM/Chrysler; Harper Still Worrying About the “Eased” ‘Buy-American’ Clause in Stimulus Package

Closing Out Women’s History Month With Dr. Mary Schweitzer, Ground-Breaking Molecular Paleontologist, and a Special T. Rex

*China, the Treasury, and Real Estate (As in the New World Trade Center); Cross-Pollination:The New America Foundation/Council of Foreign Relations

The Past Week: March 22-28, 2009 (A Split in Russian Political Forces as Putin Weakens; The Voice of Korea, North Korean Propaganda Outlet; G-20 Protests Begin; A Prescient Wish for a Bush Successor ca. 2006; X-Rated Google Earth)

Canada Follows the U.S. Terms for GM/Chrysler; Harper Still Worrying About the “Eased” ‘Buy-American’ Clause in Stimulus Package

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

About a month ago we posted on the subject of how GM and Chrysler were begging from bailout money from the Canadian government. (See: The SCANNER–International/Political Edition, 2/24/09 (Which Deficit is Obama “Halving”?; Canada Rubs U.S. Nose into Its Stable Banking System; GM/Chrysler Beg for Bailout Help in Canada, Too; Half of Foreign Criminals in Canada Are Fleeing to the U.S. [???]).

Here’s the relevant excerpt:

GM, Chrysler ask for billions in Canadian aid

General Motors has outlined a restructuring plan that would cut its Canadian workforce to 7,000 and seek as much as $7 billion from the federal and Ontario governments, while Chrysler is requesting around $2.8 billion in aid.

GM didn’t specify how much it will ask for, but Reuters quoted federal Industry Minister Tony Clement as saying the company is asking for between $6 and $7 billion.

The Canadian government doesn’t seem to want to bailout CAW pensions…time will tell.

MORE

Here’s an update on what’s going on now…right in tandem with what the Obama Administration is doing:

GM, Chrysler scolded but given more time to restructure

Canada, Ontario provide $4 billion in loans to troubled manufacturers

Political leaders on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are giving General Motors and Chrysler extensions on deadlines to come up with viable restructuring plans, saying the auto manufacturers fell short in their first attempts.

(SNIP)

Disappointment in Canada

Canadian politicians also expressed regret that GM and Chrysler could not come up with viable plans.

Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement, along with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Ontario Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant, said GM has 60 days to come up with a plan for its Canadian division, while Chrysler has 30 days to reach a deal with the Canadian Auto Workers union and with Fiat.

At the same time, Clement said the first of the $4 billion in interim loans to the two companies is going out. Chrysler will get $250 million on Monday of the $1 billion allocated, while the first of $3 billion in funds for GM will begin to flow in early April.

“We are making this strategic investment to support an orderly restructuring of a critical industry with [the] goal of ensuring that Canada maintains its 20 per cent production share in the future,” Clement said.

(SNIP)

Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza said the union won’t reopen its collective agreement with GM Canada despite pressure from politicians that more cost restructuring is needed.

“We did it once 10 months ago and we did it again less than a month ago,” he said. “Opening up bargaining won’t resolve this problem.”

Lewenza said the union is still trying to work out a new collective agreement with Chrysler in advance of a March 31 deadline.

The email newsletter I receive from Radio Canada International sums it all up this way:

OTTAWA: GOVERNMENT OFFERS INTERIM HELP TO AUTOMAKERS

Two struggling Canadian automakers, Chrysler and General Motors, were offered help on Monday by the federal government and the government of Ontario. The two companies will receive bridge loans totalling CDN$4 billion to help them to survive. Chrysler would receive CDN$1 billion and General Motors would get $CDN$3 billion. Further government loans will depend on whether the two companies can present acceptable restructuring plans. Tony Clement, Canada’s industry minister, has rejected plans that were submitted earlier, saying that they fail to ensure the companies’ long-term survival. General Motors has until the end of May to present its new plan. Chrysler has until the end of April. Chrysler’s plan must include the company’s merger with the Italian carmaker, Fiat, that was announced on Monday. The plans will depend in large measure on negotiations with the company’s unionized workers. The Canadian Autoworkers Union welcomed the Chrysler/Fiat merger as long as it preserves the Canadian auto industry. CAW’s negotiations with Chrysler will continue, but the CAW refused to renegotiate a deal with General Motors that was arranged within the past month. The CAW also welcomed the government’s insistence that the two American-based companies commit to maintaining 20 per cent of their North American production in Canada. The government offer also requires that company executives agree to limits on their compensation.

Now, here’s another rather ironic bit from the same newsletter, considering how tightly bound together Canada and U.S. are.  (See: What’s Going On North of the Border: The Canadian Economy and Stimulus Plan & THE PROPOSED NORTH AMERICAN COMMUNITY/NORTH AMERICAN UNION: 2010 Is Just Around the Corner)

WASHINGTON: PRIME MINISTER EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER GLOBAL PROTECTIONISM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the danger of protectionism is one of his major concerns in the global economic crisis. He’s worried that if protectionism becomes a global option, the world could face a depression similar to the one in the 1930s when countries introduced trade barriers to save homegrown industries. The measures only accelerated and deepened the global economic downturn. Mr. Harper is concerned that the United States stimulus plan includes Buy-American clauses for recipients of government bailout money. Such a plan could hurt Canadian exports to the United States. Mr. Harper made his comments as he prepares to attend a Group of 20 summit in London this week.

In early February, the Senate “eased” the Buy-American” clause as Obama proclaimed he didn’t want a “trade war”…The EU, Canada, and Japan had protested; only the UK hadn’t complained at that point.

US Senate eases “Buy-American Provision in Stimulus Package”

(SNIP)

The measure had sparked fears of retaliatory measures by US trading partners and a possible spiral of protectionism in an already reeling global economy.

The requirement to favour US-made supplies to be used in infrastructure projects, included in a nearly 900-billion-dollar package being considered by the Senate, was softened to allow for exceptions as required by US trade agreements, broadcaster MSNBC reported.

Apparently, Harper isn’t completely satisfied with the changes to the clause. Maybe he doesn’t trust Obama or the U.S. Senate…probably a wise stance to take.

What’s Going On North of the Border: The Canadian Economy and Stimulus Plan

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Recently we posted information about how Canadian banks are moving into buy U.S. financial institutions (See: Canadian Banks On the Move Buying U.S. Banks While Bailout Recipient AIG Sells Canadian Life Insurance Business to Bank of Montreal (”Picking over the Carcasses”).

Things in Canada aren’t all rosy, of course. As of late January:

“The credit crisis and the global sell-off of commodities have started to hit Canada hard. The country lost more than 100,000 jobs in the last two months of 2008, and the central bank is predicting economic output will contract 4.8 percent in the first quarter.”

When Obama visited Canada last month (February 19, the two leaders pledged to work together:

Obama said the US and Canada were working closely together bilaterally and within the G8 and G20 – two blocs made up of the world’s largest economies – to see how to restore confidence in financial markets.

Like much of the world, both nations are battling a severe recession. In Canada, the world’s eighth-largest economy, the unemployment rate in January soared to a four-year high of 7.2 per cent. That rate was at 7.6 per cent in the US, the highest since 1992. Harper said he and Obama agreed that Canada and the US “must work closely to counter the global economic recession by implementing mutually beneficial stimulus measures.”He later said: “We know, as a small economy, we can’t recover without recovery in the United States.”

SNIP

NAFTA had threatened to become an acrimonious issue during this visit. On the presidential campaign trail, Obama had said that the US would threaten to pull out of NAFTA unless Canada and Mexico agreed to strengthen labour and environmental protections. But he has softened his stance since taking office.

Well, if you’re going to have a North American community, I guess some stances HAVE to be softened…

A few days before Obama hit town, The Hill Times, “Canada’s Politics and Government Newsweekly,” ran this story:

Canada needs whistleblowers to protect stimulus package

Given the $1-billion gun registry overrun and the sponsorship scandal, there’s little reason to trust that this unprecedented expenditure will be managed competently or even honestly.

Displaying start of article containing 755 words – Many Canadians rightly fear that the massive government spending recently announced may simply be wasted or the money end up in the wrong hands, without creating jobs or helping the economy. Given the track record of our corporations (with fiascos like Bre-X and Nortel) and past government waste and corruption (such as the $1-billion gun registry overrun and the sponsorship scandal) we have little reason to trust that this unprecedented expenditure will be managed competently or even honestly.

Sounds so familiar!

And the newsletter I receive from Radio Canada International had this tidbit one day:

TORONTO: CBC IN STRAITS

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. President Hubert Lacroix says the public broadcaster is considering reducing services in coming months to cope with budget problems. In a speech in Toronto, Mr. Lacroix says the CBC faces an advertising shortfall of as much as $65 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, as advertisers reduce spending amidst the ongoing economic crisis. Mr. Lacroix says that while the CBC will likely break even this year, the future is problematic. The president said the broadcaster may sell assets, consolidate local stations or introduce more U.S. television shows. Mr. Lacroix says he has asked for a meeting with the prime minister, Mr. Harper, not to ask for a bigger subsidy but possibly for a line of credit or an advance of funding allotted for future years. On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Heritage Minister James Moore told The Globe and Mail newspaper that the government expects the CBC to manage with its $1-billion a year subsidy. Meanwhile, The Globe reported on Thursday that private broadcaster CTV plans to close money-losing television stations in Windsor and Wingham, ON.

Meanwhile,  Canadian Auto Worker union members will finish voting today on a tentative agreement which may or may not get the approval of the Canadian government. Although union negotiators have agreed to concessions, it’s not clear sailing:

The new deal is contingent on GM winning financial support from the governments of Canada and Ontario.

Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement has suggested the deal may not be acceptable to Ottawa, although he seemed more receptive today.

“I’m not here to pass judgment,” Clement said after a speech to the C.D. Howe Institute. “For government money to flow, there has to be the ability to be competitive in the new marketplace, there has to be a viable plan on a go-forward basis, there has to be the right kind of management decisions that have been made.”

Clement suggested that in the end, the only thing that will save the auto industry is the American consumer.

“If you’re asking me what will save the auto sector in North America, it’s what American consumers do and buy, not just what Canadians do and buy.”

GM and Chrysler have until March 31 to finalize restructuring plans to get access to Canadian government financial aid.

So, while Canada may not have the same problems with its financial institutions that we are  seeing  in the U.S.,  the spillover of the U.S. banking system’s crisis and our economic woes is unavoidable.  The condition of the Canadian financial system will have to be watched as Canadian banks assume more risk as they take over U.S. assets.

And, as of the moment, the Canadian government’s stimulus package remains hung up as the budget has still not passed the “Liberal-dominated Senate” as Opposition members demand “reports” on the details:

The reports, which detail the budget’s implementation and costs, are to be delivered this March, June and December ahead of opposition days in Parliament. This would give opposition parties the chance to move a no-confidence motion against the government if they wanted to trigger an election.

How about that? An opposition that could trigger a election.

Meanwhile, there was some fighting over the price tag in the bill to fund the government through September that passed yesterday. The $410 billion bill, on top of the $787 billion stimulus package approved in February is starting to bring out the rancor. But:

While most of the votes throughout the debate were along party lines, eight Republicans crossed the aisle to vote to end the weeklong debate on the legislation while three Democrats opposed it. The Senate approved the measure by a voice vote.

So much for a solid opposition here…

***

More information on the Canadian stimulus plan and a comparison of the U.S. vs. the  Canadian situations and priorities

Canada’s Stimulus Plan–The Canadian plan focuses on infrastructure.  This article provides a list of measures and a chart of the action plan

Canada’s Fiscal Stimulus Package versus the Obama U.S. Plans

The Past Week: March 1-7, 2009 (More on Sinclair Lewis; Canada-EU Free Trade?; China Eyeing the Big Three Automakers’ “Juicy Bits”?; Palin’s “Troopergate” Foe Winds Up In Obama Administration)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

This week’s post on Sinclair Lewis (see below) drew a lot of attention, so I thought I’d point readers in the direction of a site devoted to Lewis that is really a great place to start if you want to find out more about “It Can’t Happen Here” and all of Lewis’ work.  Here’s the link:

http://www.squidoo.com/it-cant-happen-here-sinclair-lewis

***

Friday I received the daily newsletter from Radio Canada International and once again there were squibs included that I couldn’t find at either the RCI site or when I searched around the CBC’s news area.

Read these with an eye to several posts that will be starting tomorrow, with American Lassies’s post entitled “THE PROPOSED NORTH AMERICAN COMMUNITY/NORTH AMERICAN UNION: 2010 Is Just Around the Corner.”

OTTAWA: CANADA, EU AGREE ON FREE-TRADE AGENDA

Canada and the European Union have agreed on a framework for negotiation of a free-trade accord after six months of discussions. Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day says the two parties will discuss goods and services, investment rules, intellectual property and free circulation of workers. The minister says Canada’s provinces will take part in the negotiations. Bilateral trade last year was worth $90 billion, an increase of seven per cent over 2007.

***

Chicago Correspondent Leslie emailed me during the week about a report she heard on the local Chicago PBS station:

Late last night (3/4)I was watching “France 24 News” (http://www.france24.com/en/) on one of the public teevee stations here. They were covering the auto show in France and interviewed a spokesperson for the Chinese car line called “Brilliance” . This company is partners with BMW. The reporter inquired about the possibility this auto would enter the US market in the near future. The answer was: this auto line doesn’t meet the emission standards of the US. It is a big polluter. BUT,

They are looking at the auto industry in the US, and are realizing the financial distress of the auto manufacturers may make them – particularly GM – interested in having this Chinese company buy them out.

Of course, I wanted to jump up and email you all right away, but I’ve been having some sleep problems and decided to try to stay in bed.  Glad I did. Because This Morning I heard:

GM is now talking about filing for Chapter 11.

(Maybe you all have heard all this before, but I had not and wanted to just tell you before I start ruminating.)

I did a bit of poking around and it was easy to find articles from November-December 2008 on the subject. And, apparently, it’s not just GM that’s involved in buyout speculation.  The following post that I found at The Truth About Cars blog seemed to sum it up nicely:

China Buyout Watch: SAIC Sets Sights On Saturn

By Bertel Schmitt
December 12, 2008

After last night’s Congress cruelty, there might be government help after all. From the Chinese government.  In China, the interest of Chinese automakers has grown far beyond the rumor stage. Today, government-controlled China Daily (THE English speaking news outlet for the official party-line) runs a long article on the Chinese aspirations to snap up juicy bits of Detroit. Actually, as China Daily sees it, it’s Detroit that’s making the advances to China. The headline says it all: “Big 3 look for Chinese medicine.”

SNIP

Folks, take my word for it: If China Daily writes something like this, then the matter is way beyond the idle chatter stage. There will be denials, or milquetoast “no comments,” but if it’s in China Daily, something is definitely in the bush.

***

Remember “Troopergate” that marred Sarah Palin’s reputation during the Presidential campaign? Well, guess what? From the Anchorage Daily News:

Legislator takes job with Obama administration

Longtime Juneau Democrat Kim Elton resigned from the state Senate on Monday to take a job as director of Alaska affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“This job is the funnel through which the Alaska issues are going to be addressed,” Elton said in an interview after an emotional farewell speech in the Senate.

SNIP

Elton was chairman of the Legislative Council, a bipartisan panel that voted unanimously last summer to investigate Palin’s removal of Walt Monegan as public safety commissioner, as well as the allegations she pressured public safety officials to fire a trooper who was her ex-brother-in law.

SNIP

Palin and Elton have also been at odds, and Palin greeted the announcement of Elton’s new job with the terse declaration that “Senator Elton pledged his allegiance to President Obama last summer.” Palin also said in her written statement that she hopes Elton will use the job to Alaska’s benefit.

An earlier story in the Juneau Empire offers more details:

Elton was head of the Obama campaign in Juneau, but has one other attribute which may help him get the Interior position. He’s a close friend of Pete Rouse, a former Alaskan who served as chief of staff for Obama’s Illinois Senate office. Rouse also serves as chief of staff for Obama’s transition team. “Every time we go back to D.C., we stay with Pete,” Elton said. The most recent visit was three weeks ago, to attend the inauguration of President Obama.

How about them apples?  Now, where did those 30 or so Obama lawyers go who were reported to have  turned over every part of Alaska to find dirt on Palin?

THE PAST WEEK

*By Kenosha Marge

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (March 7, 2009) (The Many Faces of Pansies and Other Garden Delights; Tico Goes Belly Up!) Pics!

Secy. of Defense Robert Gates Downplays Possible U.S. Role as Fears of Mexico Collapse Mount; Don’t Be Fooled, There’s A Bush-Era Agenda Still Going On Here…

*STANDING TALL: DECLARATION OF AN INDEPENDENT

URGENT PRESS RELEASE March 4, 2009 from W.A.M. RE: Expiration of the “E-Verify Program” Which Screens Employment of Illegal Aliens

“It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis: Well, It Sure Seems Like It IS Happening Here…

IL State Treasurer/Obama Ally Giannoulias Planning to Challenge Roland Burris–Report from Our Chicago Correspondent; Medicare Musings

An Interesting Theory on Superpower Collapse: U.S. Going the Way of the Soviet Union?

The Past Week: February 22-28, 2009 (Laura Bush Lives On; Budget Director Peter Orszag/Robert E. Rubin, Iceland Bankrupters; China Taking Advantage of U.S. Weakness As It Looks to Buy Foreign Oil Companies?; U.S. Deaths Spike in Afghanistan; Baracus Caesar Obamacus Meets Barackistanis)

The SCANNER–International/Political Edition, 2/24/09 (Which Deficit is Obama “Halving”?; Canada Rubs U.S. Nose into Its Stable Banking System; GM/Chrysler Beg for Bailout Help in Canada, Too; Half of Foreign Criminals in Canada Are Fleeing to the U.S. [???])

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I heard a clip of The One yesterday talking about cutting that deficit on the news as I drove around town.

Obama said that he would halve the deficit….THAT HE HAD INHERITED.

Of course, the typical headline reads:

Obama pledges to halve budget deficit by 2013

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama pledged on Monday to cut the ballooning U.S. budget deficit by half in the next four years and said the country would face another economic crisis if it did not address its debt problems soon.

Oh, this Reuters story finally gets to the real point, 6 paragraphs into the report, out there in the area which usually gets cut from local papers picking up the story.

“We cannot and will not sustain deficits like these without end,” he said. “Today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office.”

Frankly I”m surprised the clip I heard on the radio even got aired…but I guess that most people driving around might be busy on the phone, talking to someone else in the car, or too busy drinking a Slurpee to really notice the magic words “deficit we inherited.”  And by the time they hit the TV “news”–well, I bet somehow those magic words will be buried in pictures and glowing reports. Since I don’t watch TV news, I don’t know if that forceful pledge will be played in full or if it will be truncated to just the first part of the statement and the “inherited” bit fades into the ether.  I guess it won’t matter in the long run, since it will go down the memory hole, unless some Republican decides to dust it off someday.

I do have a question, oh Messiah:  When do you cut the deficits YOU are creating by a half??

***

While we here in the USA wallow in this muck, the folks in Canada are trying hard not to smirk. Yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was visiting touting the financial stability of Canada’s banking industry. From The Toronto Star:

PM praises Canada’s financial sector on U.S. TV

Feb 23, 2009 12:53 PM

Ottawa bureau chief

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper hit the Big Apple today — the heart of America’s economic meltdown — to boast about Canada’s stable banking system, warn against trade protectionism and note the insatiable appetite for oil south of the border.

SNIP

The prime minister sang the praises of Canada’s prudent banking and financial system, which he said can be attributed to “activist” regulation by Ottawa.

“We’re helped by the fact we have six major banks, three major insurance companies so it’s easier for the government to exercise moral suasion on the sector,” Harper said.

He said that Canada, while hit by the economic downturn, hasn’t suffered a meltdown of the financial sector or the mortgage foreclosures that have hit the U.S. economy so hard.

“We haven’t had to bail out any of our financial institutions,” Harper said. “There will be no government bailout of mortgages in Canada.”

***

But, it seems that Canada may not get off entirely scott-free of demands for government cash.  Guess who’s asking for help?

GM, Chrysler ask for billions in Canadian aid

General Motors has outlined a restructuring plan that would cut its Canadian workforce to 7,000 and seek as much as $7 billion from the federal and Ontario governments, while Chrysler is requesting around $2.8 billion in aid.

GM didn’t specify how much it will ask for, but Reuters quoted federal Industry Minister Tony Clement as saying the company is asking for between $6 and $7 billion.

MORE

The Canadian government doesn’t seem to want to bailout CAW pensions…time will tell.

***

I get a news summary from Radio Canada International every day (most of the news comes from the CBC) and noticed this short squib about how foreign criminals are heading out of Canada to the U.S.

2/22/07  10:37 PM

OTTAWA: REPORT CONCLUDES FOREIGN CRIMINALS ARE FLEEING CANADA

A new report to Canada’s government suggests that many foreign criminals might be fleeing abroad, mainly to the United States. It’s believed that about two thousand foreign criminals are hiding in Canada.  But a squad of special border police found that almost half of the criminals being tracked had left the country.  Last year, the auditor general criticized the agency for the large number of missing people.  There are concerns that the list of high-priority cases maintained by the Canada Border Services Agency is out of date.  The agency is responsible for deporting unwanted foreigners.  It has 1,973 priority cases for whom removal warrants have been issued.  The Agency removes about 12,000 people from Canada each year.  About 13 per cent are classified as criminals.  Three out of four of them are failed refugee claimants.

If you follow the link, you’ll get the current day’s news.  The funny thing is, however, the day I searched for this story, it wasn’t there. In fact, of all the story summaries I received in the RCI newsletter, this story about foreign criminals was the ONLY story that wasn’t up at the site.

The question is: WHY??

The bigger question is: WHO are these “foreign criminals,” how successful is the U.S. in finding them…and WHAT are they up to here in the U.S.?

***

By the way, the RCI site has extensive information on how to relocate to Canada, in case you want to get out of the U.S. (Scroll down a bit down the page to get to the information.)    Maybe if I were younger…

The Past Week: December 7-13, Recaps and Random Thoughts (Blago in the Can and ON the Can; Obama License Plates in IL?; Reality-Based Black Commentary; Canada & the Auto Bailout; Live Blog of The History Channel on “Crash: The Next Great Depression?”– No Surprise, A Waste of Time; Ignored Science) (Updated 1X)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

We haven’t really discussed the Blago case on this blog over the past week, but we have to chime in with a couple of bits about this case and other Obama-related insanity.  Both these nuggets come from our Chicago Correspondent Leslie.

First, CC Leslie gives us this bit from WBBM 780 in Chicago:

blago-on-toilet

Obama Senate Seat Listed On eBay

Posted: Wednesday, 10 December 2008 8:28AM

(WBBM/STNG) – Governor Blagojevich was unsuccessful at trying to sell the vacant Illinois Senate seat, federal prosecutors say.

But that hasn’t stopped other people from trying to seal the deal.

There are at least a dozen tongue-in-cheek offerings of President-elect Barack Obama’s senate seat on eBay.

The items up for bidding range from a replica of the state seal to photoshopped pictures of Governor Rod Blagojevich.

One of the created images shows him sitting on a toilet with graffiti on the wall around him. It’s a direct quote from the criminal complaint by federal prosecutors, reading “This seat will go to the highest (bleeping) bidder.”

(MORE)

A couple of days earlier, CC Leslie posted this comment at IA:

Leslie, on December 8th, 2008 at 2:47 PM Said: Edit Comment

This is sooo OT I hope you don’t all throw your hands up and bar me from commenting any more ………..

Today, on Radio News Chicago, the most recent crass report is that the State of Illinois (”Land of Lincoln”) is considering creating a license plate with “Land of Obama” or some such oddity because “there is such a HUGE demand” for those plates. And they will raise MILLIONS of $$ for the state !!

I guess with all the “Change” anticipated, we will have to change the way we identify ourselves here in the Obama-nation !

If I don’t buy one of those plates, will that make me racist? or a terrorist?

There are no more words.

Here’s the link to the Chicago SunTimes report:
I can’t stand much more of this…I feel a migraine coming on.
My suggestion to Leslie is to get out of Chicago if she values her health!!
***
Meanwhile, in the reality-based black community, Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford unloads a MASSIVE barrage of whoop-ass I-told-you-so” that shouldn’t be missed:

Obama’s ‘Center-Right’ Presidency: The Die is Cast

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“Black folks desperately needed the Obama of their imaginings.”

We already know enough. There is no more mystery as to what makes Barack Obama tick. He is your garden variety “center-right” American politician, as rated by no less an authority than the New York Times – the folks who practically invented the standards by which one is located in the corporate political spectrum.

There are lots of political appointments to go before Obama’s roster is complete, but the heavy lifting is done. The ideological pillars of America’s first Black presidency have been planted wholly within the parameters of governance allowed by big capital and the imperial military. Obama’s “transition” is more accurately seen as a “continuity” of rule by the lords of finance capital and their protective screen of warriors and spies. The Obama regime, still incomplete, already wreaks of filthy rich thieves and gore-covered war criminals.

Obama’s “national security” and economic lineup is an infinity of ugliness, more repulsive than I could have imagined back in the summer of 2003, when Obama’s rise to glory was about to begin. The supremely talented actor/state senator’s capacity for obfuscation; his refusal to take a firm position on any subject of real controversy; his transparently false denials of fealty to the corporate Democratic Leadership Council, which had publicly claimed him – all this should have marked Obama as bad news for Black America. But his was a fatally attractive package, like the shiny little cluster bomblets that kids pick up in places like Afghanistan.

“The ideological pillars of America’s first Black presidency have been planted wholly within the parameters of governance by finance capital and the imperial military.”

My colleagues and I were most fearful of the effect Obama’s corporate-rigged explosion onto the national scene would have on the Black polity – both the masses and leadership circles. Obama’s phony progressivism didn’t fool us for a second – although we yearned as much as other African Americans for the appearance of a Great Black Hope. Obama wasn’t “The One,” no matter what Oprah said. Rather, he became a menace to Black folks’ collective mental health.

We knew that a mass hallucinatory phenomenon was about to occur, that would loosen many Black folks’ grips on reality no matter how often and loudly we warned that Barack Obama was a cynical corporate striver who encouraged whites to believe that his election would mark the end of Black politics as we have known it. (Take breath, here.) He was the anti-Jesse, the anti-Sharpton, a fraudulent peace candidate, an eager servant of the rich. We diligently provided evidence of Obama’s true political nature, and at every juncture before and during the primaries we were proven correct in our analysis. But no matter. African Americans’ pent up hunger to see a (pretty) Black face in the highest place, would not be denied. They desperately needed the Obama of their imaginings, and would draw and quarter anyone that questioned the senator’s sainthood.

Were Black folks “losing their damn minds,” as comedian David Alan Grier puts it on Comedy Central’s Chocolate News?

Yes, they were.

(MORE)

OUCH!
***
Even though the auto bailout package appears dead for now, the Canadian government apparently thinks something is going to be done “soon” and is also involved, trying to pre-emptively protect its own auto jobs. Stay tuned…

Federal government, Ontario agree on $3.3B auto bailout package

Deficit now ‘likely,’ finance minister acknowledges

Last Updated: Friday, December 12, 2008 | 9:31 PM ET

The federal government and Ontario have reached a deal to offer proportional funds to Canada’s auto industry if a proposed $14-billion US aid package is approved in Washington, Industry Minister Tony Clement said Friday.

Speaking to reporters in Toronto, Clement said the proposed aid to Canada’s ailing auto sector would amount to approximately 20 per cent of the U.S. proposal, or about $3.3 billion Cdn.

The U.S. bailout appeared to have died late Thursday night after hours of heated negotiations between lawmakers, representatives from automakers and unions. But lawmakers said they still hope an agreement on the Democratic- and White House-backed plan could be reached.

The Canadian subsidiaries of the Detroit Big Three automakers had asked Ottawa and Ontario for financial aid that could total as much as $6 billion.

Clement said the deal was contingent on GM, Ford and Chrysler working together with parts suppliers and unions for a long-term solution for their industry, as well as the American proposal going forward.

“Governments can decide to help, but these decisions will only be made in the best interests of the taxpayer,” Clement told reporters.

The minister also said the Canadian government expects U.S. President George W. Bush to announce something “very soon.”

“What we’re signalling here tonight, both the governments of Ontario and the government of Canada, is that we want to be part of the solution as well, and it will be commensurate with the production that takes place here in Canada,” Clement said.

The pre-emptive move by Ottawa and Ontario will make it harder for U.S. lawmakers to strike a deal that protects American jobs at the expense of Canadian ones, said veteran auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers.

(MORE)

***

After sitting through Greta’s hour on Blago-gate (which was a limited rundown, with very little dot-connecting), I decided to see how the History Channel covered the current financial crisis.

Live-blogging the History Channel …Saturday night 12/13

As  I put together this roundup, I’ve got one eye on the History Channel’s special, “Crash: The Next Great Depression?” which is contrasting the present financial crisis with the 1929 stock-market crash and the Great Depression which followed. The program has traced the ripple of the bad credit/loans and the boom and the bust.  Sort of.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have come and gone with nothing about Raines and the skulduggery there.  So far, I’ve heard Ronald Reagan on getting rid of regulation; how starting in 2000 Phil Gramm pushed for deregulation;  how Bill Clinton how kept Alan Greenspan on and urged the loosening of regulations; and how George Bush espoused the importance of home ownership. Then, onto about how people wanted a “change” after the 1929 crash just like now and how FDR along with the new Democratic majority in 1933 took action by announcing  the “New Deal”  and creating a “flurry” of new programs.  It’s now showing Barack Obama’s December 7 press conference unveiling a lot of “flashy” names and pushing for lots of stimulus.  In juxtaposition, Jerry Stiller is talking about how the  “whole country was lifted, happy days were here again” because of  the New Deal.  YES, Jerry Stiller.  The experts are talking about the first 100 days and the restructuring of the banks which included inspection of the banks and the creation of the FDIC.  And, yes, Henry Paulson is doing the same thing (??).  Now we see the Depression work programs and how Obama is proposing similar projects.  An expert talks about how government will be the driving force from now on. But we then hear how the New Deal didn’t solve the problem, that it was the war that brought the economy back to life and pre-crash levels.  There’s the hope that we won’t have a world war to solve the current predicament. Guess what the next ad is?–the Capital One credit card, after all the talk about the irresponsible credit spending of consumer at the start of the program.

Andy Serwer, Editor of Fortune Magazine* and one of the often-quoted experts, opines that we learned a lot from the 1930’s and how important it is to pump money into the system. Banks, auto industry bailouts in the face of accelerating  job loses, no lending, pressure on non-bank auto loans, credit cards…But, we can’t go back to the highly-regulated system created in the 30’s by FDR — we have to make the current system “better.”   Last word, it’s bad but won’t turn into the next Great Depression, even though all the scary music sure makes it seem that way.  I guess FAITH will overcome…

So, that’s it.  Great job..NOT!  NOT ONE WORD about the politics behind the bad loans, the lack oversight and the Democrats’ culpability. What there seemed to be was a not-s0-subtle link created between FDR and Obama.  There’s also the message from one of the “experts” that government is going to take over the driving force of job creation and the economy.  We even get the “change” message. We see a smiling Obama…the image of all that “happy days are here again” stuff…

There you have it. The incomplete and subtly biased by omission, “in-depth reporting” from the History Channel.  Just enough to make an unsuspecting viewer think he or she is getting the full story, while all it is is a rehash of the spin being shipped out on a daily basis by the media. Served up nice and clean.  All neat and tidy for the arrival of Barack Obama.  It’s all gonna be OK, even though one guy who actually runs a plumbing supply place seems to think there will be a greater challenge in 2009 as current orders drop and promised government contracts are on hold or just drying up..  But the expert says not to worry, government will take over.

Frankly, I’m sticking with the plumbing supply guy.  (What is it about plumbers this year??)

(*Fortune Magazine: Part of Time, Inc, which in turn is part of Time Warner, which also controls AOL, HBO, Time Warner Cable, Turner Broadcasting System, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Time Warner Investments, and Time Warner Global Media Group.  Feeling better now???)

***

Earlier this week we discussed the “healthcare reform” push started by the Obama Transition Team (see post listed below). We’re wondering how the concerns raised by the folks at The American Association for Health Freedom will be addressed under an Obama healthcare team headed by a lobbyist (Tom Daschle) and in light of  the “positive response” by Ted Kennedy to the insurance industry writing up their own proposals, just the way Big Pharma wrote the Medicare Part D legislation.

What Happened to the Promise to Save This Nation Billions in Healthcare Costs?

One of the biggest clinical trials ever organized by our federal government indicated that generic medication for high blood pressure in use since the 1950s worked better than the newer drugs costing more than twenty times more. Yet Dr. Curt Fuberg, the chair of the $130 million ALLHAT trial, resigned in frustration in August 2004, citing the lack of effort put into diseeminating “the ALLHAT message.”

A similar situation has existed since the 1997 publication of the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) research study at Harvard. DASH emphasized a diet rich in potassium-containing foods such as fruits and vegetables, and more physical activity; these approaches, they found, could lower blood pressure in up to 90% of hypertensive patients without medication. Yet this too has fallen on deaf ears.

(SNIP)

The money spent on the direct-to-consumer drug ads that dominate the American media is dwarfed by the $21 billion dollars spent annually to sway doctors prescribing habits. Dr. Jerome Kassirer, professor of medicine at both Yale and Tufts and former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, describes conventional physicians as paid prostitutes for drug manufacturers.

It has progressed to the point that the standard treatment offered by international physicians after a patient suffers a heart attack—high doses of fish oil—is ignored or even rejected in the U.S. Here, prescriptions and procedures dominate cardiac care, and heart blockage is viewed as a plumbing or structural abnormality. Yet science has proven that patients do not live longer or better when heart disease is addressed by surgically opening or bypassing closed arteries.

As Arizona psychiatrist Ed Gogek wrote in the Buffalo News, the new Surgeon General should back alternative medicine. Dr. Gogek indicates that the public is far ahead of medical experts and politicians on alternative medicine. Isn’t it time they caught up?

A related article at the site is also worth a look; see The Science of Prevention.

***

UPDATE:

CNN is owned by AOLTimeWarner… For more info on media incest, visit the Columbia Journalism Review. According to an archived article there, The History Channel is owned by The Walt Disney Company, GE, and Hearst.  Figures!!!! So that’s where the fairy tales come from…

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Finally, a busy week in the garden harvesting loads of mustard and collards. Today, I did the final cleanup of all the pots I used to grow peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes on the patio. This involved taking off the bark mulch and bagging it, putting the dead plants into the composter, bagging up the potting soil to use in the spring, washing out all the pots and lugging them all into the garage. I use only clay pots from Italy to grown vegetables in and they do last a lot longer if they’re protected from the winter extremes. I also cleaned out the glazed pots I use for flowers.  It was a big job that I kept putting off, but with milder temperatures today, it was now or never.

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