enough is enough

Wow, what an amazing turn of events over the past couple of weeks in Arab countries.  I've mostly been tuning into Aljazerra TV for watching the unfolding of events when its happened. Seeing Egypt happen, and now Libya, just huge. A turn of events that makes you shake your head and say, who's next?

From what I gather, this has much more to do with the escalating price of commodities that has resulted in costly inflation. Here's a good succinct comment on the matter:

Anybody else think the Fed is partially responsible for this by devaluing the dollar, exporting inflation, and creating commodity speculation?

But you have to break a few eggs to make a Wall Street bailout omelet, right?

Pretty much. That's on Dr. James Hamilton's blog post, which I found via this blog post from a week ago:

...there is a possible inverse relationship between a country's oil production and that country's political instability. Meaning, those countries with low levels of oil production were among the first to revolt, whereas countries with high oil production have shown greater stability. The implication is that the lack of petrodollars had not provided enough of a political safety net for the governments to cover their weak economies.

Hamilton's brief analysis covers (in the order of increasing oil production as a percentage of the world total) Lebanon (0.0%), Tunisia (0.1%), Yemen (0.3%), Sudan (0.6%), Egypt (0.8%), Libya (2.1%), Algeria (2.5%), Iraq (2.7%), Iran (4.9%), and Saudi Arabia (11.7%).

Now, if Hamilton's thesis is correct, then Egypt appears to be the last of the "low-hanging fruit" to have undergone political unrest. Theoretically, then, Libya and/or Algeria should be the next to revolt.

I glanced at the markets (closed except for futures) and oil prices are sky-rocketing right now, up to a new 2 year high; this might blow really big and out of control. Egypt, then Libya, Algeria, Bahrain and Tunisia. Protests (peaceful) happening in Morocco.

But what if it leads to Iran (again), Saudi Arabia, or China next?

Chinese security officials questioned or detained scores of activists at the weekend and warned others against staging protests after an online call was made for demonstrations in 13 cities, campaigners said.

The message, posted on an overseas website on Saturday, was titled: “The jasmine revolution in China”. The swift crackdown underlined the anxiety of authorities in the wake of the Egypt uprising and protests across the Middle East.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy estimated that more than 100 activists across the country were taken away by police, prevented from leaving home or were missing.

Wang Songlian, of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders network, said more than 40 campaigners or dissidents had been summoned or questioned by police or placed under “soft detention” at home or elsewhere. In many more cases, police had visited people to ask them what they were doing or warn them not to take part, she said.

“[The message] linked it to the jasmine revolution and I guess that made the government nervous,” she said. “It really shows us how much the government has identified with regimes in the Middle East where people are so aggrieved about social injustice.”

Despite a huge police presence at the proposed demonstration locations, there were signs that at least a handful of people in Beijing and Shanghai had hoped to protest.

It is not clear who posted the call for demonstrations on the Boxun website, and the message may well have come from abroad. Many mainland activists appeared to have been unaware of it until police contacted them.

The message said: “You and I are Chinese people who will still have a dream for the future … we must act responsibly for the future of our descendants.”

It urged people to shout demands for food, work, housing and fairness.

It looks like the end of the regime in Libya is near, but there is no sign of commodity prices de-escalating anytime soon. It occurs to me that I've never known a world without Libya being ruled by the ruthless Qaddafi. I look forward to it, but right now, the dictator in Libya is bombing his own people.


same old same old

As for President Obama, what is there to be said? Goldman Sachs was his number-one private campaign contributor. He put a Citigroup executive in charge of his economic transition team, and he just named an executive of JP Morgan Chase, the proud owner of $7.7 million in Chase stock, his new chief of staff.

"The betrayal that this represents by Obama to everybody is just — we're not ready to believe it," says Budde, a classmate of the president from their Columbia days. "He's really fucking us over like that? Really? That's really a JP Morgan guy, really?"

Which is not to say that the Obama era has meant an end to law enforcement. On the contrary: In the past few years, the administration has allocated massive amounts of federal resources to catching wrongdoers — of a certain type. Last year, the government deported 393,000 people, at a cost of $5 billion. Since 2007, felony immigration prosecutions along the Mexican border have surged 77 percent; nonfelony prosecutions by 259 percent.

In Ohio last month, a single mother was caught lying about where she lived to put her kids into a better school district; the judge in the case tried to sentence her to 10 days in jail for fraud, declaring that letting her go free would "demean the seriousness" of the offenses.

So there you have it. Illegal immigrants: 393,000. Lying moms: one. Bankers: zero.

The math makes sense only because the politics are so obvious. You want to win elections, you bang on the jailable class. You build prisons and fill them with people for selling dime bags and stealing CD players. But for stealing a billion dollars? For fraud that puts a million people into foreclosure? Pass. It's not a crime. Prison is too harsh. Get them to say they're sorry, and move on. Oh, wait — let's not even make them say they're sorry. That's too mean; let's just give them a piece of paper with a government stamp on it, officially clearing them of the need to apologize, and make them pay a fine instead. But don't make them pay it out of their own pockets, and don't ask them to give back the money they stole. In fact, let them profit from their collective crimes, to the tune of a record $135 billion in pay and benefits last year.

What's next?

Taibbi hate'n on Obama again. Come on, Obama comes from a single mother family.


Away out

"I am one of those who do not believe the national debt is a national blessing...it is calculated to raise around the administration a moneyed aristocracy dangerous to the liberties of the country." —Andrew Jackson, letter, April 26, 1824

Happy holidays and new year everyone.

I'll wish for ending the Federal Reserve & ending  the wars (Afghanistan, Pot).

I predict its going to be a hell of a year for those inviting chaos. If you are looking for normality, good luck.


First, among the McCain 49 Democrat seats, that won: Mike Ross AR-4, Gabrielle Giffords AZ-8, Ben Chandler KY-6, Collin Peterson MN-7, Mike McIntyre NC-7, Heath Shuler NC-11, Dan Boren OK-2, Jason Altmire PA-4, Tim Holden PA-17, Jim Matheson UT-2, Nick J. Rahall WV-3. That's it, only 11 out of 49 survived but you know those 11 can survive just about anything.

Most Ironic: Bill Owens holds on in NY-23 because Doug Hoffman pulls in 6 percent.

The Sarah Palin PAC went 18 out of 20 with her initial House 'targets'.  Giffords and Rahall hold on.

California. Now just a simple majority state, Democrats are going to own how things are done. Burt not redistricting. Legalizing marijuana went down 53.7 to 46.3, which is convincing; in fact, it lost in all four states, only close in Arizona.

I've not drilled down to look at the fallout for re-districting, but rest assured that the Republicans dominate the playing field for gerry-mandering, especially since CA has unilaterally done away with gerry-mandering.

The race I'm most surprised by is Reid winning in Nevada. he won by 5.4% with the last 8 polls over the last three weeks showed Angle up, an average of 2.7%. Its pretty odd to see Senate polls off by over 8 percent-- how did that happen?

The Democrats did much better in the Senate than most, including myself, expected, limiting their losses to 6-7 seats. The House came in more than was the consensus, at about 65-67, but right where I thought it would be, and the Governor races the blowout that was expected in the polling. The landscape of Governors, and the result further down-ballot in the state legislatures, remains to be seen. I can't see getting to excited about the Democrats congressional chances of re-taking the majority in the upcoming election.


Russ Feingold

"So to all of you in the words of, who else, Bob Dylan, 'But my heart is not weary, it's light and free, I've got nothing but affection for those who have sailed with me.'"

"I hope and I intend to continue to work with all of you in the future as much as possible, so it's on to the next life, it's on to the next battle, it's on to 2012, and it is on to our next adventure. Forward!"

Thanks for the moments Russ when you were the one telling the truth.

Election 2010 Thread

An early twitpic of things bubbling, around 7 pm est.

Around 10 pm est, things are looking terrible for Dems in some states (IN, KY, VA) for example, and overall the House is going Republican (hard to tell by how much still); but the Senate races appear to be breaking Democrat in IL, PA, CO-- wow; and Gov races going to the GOP too.

Around 12 est, the House numbers are now in the 50's, still climbing, the Senate numbers are going to be somewhere between 6 and 8, depending on WA and CO. Ried has won. The gubernatorial landscape, outside of gains in MN, CA, and VT gains, has been a wipeout-- IL is pretty tight.

Around 2:30 est, the House number is going to wind up at about 66, the Senate number at 7 (maybe 8), and the Governor numbers are likely ending at 18 Dem and 31 Rep, and 1 Indy. Everything about what I predicted numberwise. Pot will not pass-- what a pipe dream. Lieberman will stay a Dem, ha.

Crash and Burn Day for Dems

Here are the fearless predictions:

House: I was at 50 seats being lost for about a year, then at 57 last week, and now... 67 seats. That's what the generic house poll says, or more. We'll know a bit after 7 PM EST, when VA returns. If the 6D/5R Virginia delegation looks like its headed to a 2D/9R one, we are headed way up there.

Senate: Still at 9 seats. I am going with Adams pulling off an upset win in AK for the Dems. But I am also predicting that the toss-ups, WA/IL/CO/NV/WV all go Republican. Its a 50-50 Senate, with Biden in control, but not for long. There are two fallouts--

1) Palin is going to get thrashed and trashed inside the GOP. She'll be skapegoated for the Republicans not winning the Senate-- it will really all be about '12 by Romney/Pawlenty... supporters.

2) Lieberman, seeing CT go red, "in the interest of Connecticut (himself)" will caucus with the Republicans as an Independent, giving the GOP the Senate majority.

3) I am probably applying Matt Stoller's theorem to the Senate (imagine the most annoying, not the worse, scenario) to a fault. I would probably, if it involved money, bet that Manchin holds on in WV.

Governor: 32 Republican, 17 Democratic, 1 Independent. FL, OH, and CT all go Republican. Chafee wins RI. Yes, Markos, Joe Trippi will have won CA for Jerry Brown. Believe it or not, it actually could wind up worse too, if all the other toss-ups currently going Dem (OR, CO, MN, VT, MA) go instead Republican. Florida is the toughest call, as I think the Sink ads are some of the best for her state, and she leads in Independents, but man, the early voting numbers in Florida are so Republican.

MyDD: Still on beta... will crash and burn early. Save it for another day.

Fallout: Of course this mid-term result is more a rejection of the Democrats, and specifically Obama politics, than it is an embrace of the Republicans. The Obama loyalists will say they are reality-based and that Obama wasn't on the ballot. White liberal intellectuals imply that any potential Democratic '12 challenger is being racially divisive.

Probably the thing to be most hopeful for in 2011 is that, because its Obama's war in Afghanistan, we can help push Republicans to join Democrats in not funding Obama's war.

The other thing to hope for is that SCOTUS throws out the corporate insurance mandate for individuals as unconstitutional.

And pot. I think it will pass in CA; meaning California dreaming has a whole new meaning. If it doesn't pass, it will create an even stronger movement.

Gallup: 60 - 80 seats

I've been re-reading a text-book on the election period from 1888 to 1896, "Years of Decision", and the tumultuous whipsaw elections that occurred in that period. '88 swept in the Republican congress and President Harrison; '90 swept in a Democratic Congress; '92 brought in Cleveland; '94 swept in a Republican Congress; '96 brought in McKinley. Back and forth it went. When I first read this book, about 5 years ago, I recall talking about it with a friend that we could be headed for a similar type of swings. The analogy between the parties is tough to hold straight. A lot of progressives look back to the Republican Party of Lincoln's era as their representatives in the day.

What I've in particular found fascinating is the '88 to '90 period, when pent-up Republican frustration of not having control of Congress and the Presidency in prior times, resulted in a record of congressional activity and centralization of power. You can imagine Speaker Pelosi's echo in this quote of the Republican Lodge after his party being demolished in 1890: "The sting of the present defeat lies in the fact that the Republican Party never since the war deserved so well."

Back to today. Gallup is giving us a 15% generic likely voter gap in favor of Republicans. The Independents have deserted the Democrats. What they've decided, amidst the stupidity of partisanship on display while the country is mired in seemingly intractable conflicts, is that they will make the Republicans and Democrats even madder at each other.

How many seats can Republicans possibly gain? 

And if Gallup is right, it implies an almost unprecedented Republican sweep on Tuesday. As Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz explains via email, "Republicans have never had anything close to a 15-point popular vote margin in the past 80 years." Their biggest national margin in that period was "7 points in 1946, followed by a 6 point margin in 1994." A 15-point majority this year, he adds, "would probably result in a gain of close to 80 seats and between 250 and 260 GOP seats in the new House, more than in any Congress since the 1920s.


Gallup says above 60. Their numbers say up to 80.

99% there

I've ended my hyper-partisan allegiance to the Democratic Party. In moving beyond the past decade's partisan affair with Democrats, I am ready for a real revolution to happen in this country.

It has got to happen over the next two years, and its going to take progressives, libertarians, tea partiers, coffee partiers, conservatives... everyone that is not part of the problem (the financial/political/military elite). Get radical, first by moving beyond attachment to a single party or a political identity. Radicalize them both, go independent; whatever, and if that's not you too, then get out of the way.

This is a good video, and explains where I have arrived politically.

It's quite liberating, actually. We'll see where it goes next.

Sabato's Crystal Ball has final call

The Crystal Ball’s Final Calls, good read. Their projections:

House: 55 seats. Pretty solid. My thoughts are basically that if the generic ballot is 6% Republican, the House makeup is going to revert to back to 2002-2005 level. Anything greater or lesser than that 6% means a few seats either way. 49 seats would be right at 6 percent. Democrats would be down to 206 seats. The adjustment to make is that using this as a traditional model means going by Gallup's numbers for the final generic ballots for the previous elections, and the composite generic ballot for this one. However, Gallup right now has a 9-14 percent lead, much higher than the current 6 percent composite. I'm going to wait for Gallup's final numbers on Monday to see where this falls-- I would not be surprised to see them halved.

Senate: 8 seats. This is a straight consensus shot. Of the six contests (CO, NV, IL, WA, WV, CA), Sabato has the first three going R and the other three going D. I could go with this too, but knowing that they tend to all slide one way or the other means we could see 10 too.  11 (Boxer losing seems out of mind but Rasmussen has this a 49-46 race today).

However, a 1982-like scenario is not out of the question either; where all the close one's break opposite the House, and the D's even pull out an upset, like the 3-way in AK, for a net loss of 4 or so seats.

But it sure looks like IL and NV slipped away from the Dem's this week, WV went back to Dem, CO has become tighter, with CA & WA still Dem but tightening. CT & DE are solid Dem now. KY is done.

Gov: 8-9 seats. This is where the real damage is being done, without much commentary either. FL, OH, PA, WI, but howabout CA & Brown? It's going to be tough for the "blame the professional left" meme to get started when trend-setter CA goes for the lefty Brown. Sabato adds this:

The closest of these are CA, CT, IL, MN, OR, and VT. In each case we have had highly reliable, well-placed sources insist that our frontrunner could end up on the short end come Tuesday. So again, we will keep an eagle eye on these states over the weekend, for a possible Monday update.



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