Facebook Badge

Toll Free Numbers To The Washington Switchboard

1-866 338-1015
1-866 220-0044

Friday, August 8, 2008

Corporate America Prepares for Battle Against Worker Campaign to Roll Back Assault on the Middle Class | Election 2008 | AlterNet

"There is nothing more terrifying to corporate America than the prospect of dealing with its workforce on an even playing field, and, along with allies on the Right, it's pulling out all the stops to keep that from happening. At stake is much more than the usual tax breaks, trade deals and relentless deregulation; corporations are gearing up for a fight to preserve a status quo in which the largest share of America's national income goes to profits and the smallest share to wages since the Great Depression -- in fact, since the government started tracking those figures.

There will be many heated legislative battles if 2008 shakes out with larger Congressional majorities for Democrats and an Obama White House -- fights over war and peace, energy policy, health care reform and immigration. But it may be a bill that many Americans have never heard of that sparks the most pitched battle Washington has seen since the Civil Rights Act. It's called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) -- a measure that would go a long way toward guaranteeing working people the right to join a union if they so choose -- and it has the potential to reverse more than three decades of painful stagflation, with prices rising and paychecks flat, for America's middle class and working poor.

The Chamber of Commerce, D.C. lobbyists, firms that rely on cheap labor and a host of "astroturf" front groups are building a war chest that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to build a firewall against EFCA and other efforts to put a check on corporate power and rebuild a declining middle class. A recent report on the front page of the Wall Street Journal about how Wal-Mart -- the nation's largest employer -- is "mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors" in an effort to discourage its workers from voting Democratic this fall generated quite a bit of controversy. According to a report in the National Journal that received less attention, "several business-backed groups ... (including) two fledgling coalitions fighting labor-supported legislation and the conservative political group Freedom's Watch are trying to raise $100 million for issue advocacy and get-out-the-vote efforts to benefit about 10 GOP Senate races."

It's the EFCA -- the idea that working people who want to join a union can -- that has corporate America quaking in its collective boots. The bill passed the House easily in 2007 -- by 56 votes -- and had majority support in the Senate. But it didn't reach the 60 votes required to kill a GOP-led filibuster, and that massive war chest being amassed by the corporate Right is, in part, an attempt to maintain a firewall of at least 41 anti-union senators -- mostly Republicans joined by a few corporatist Dems -- to kill the bill in the 2009 Congress. President Bush threatened to veto the legislation if it had passed in 2007, but this time around, they fear that a Democrat will be sitting in the White House. Obama was a co-sponsor of the 2007 legislation; McCain opposed it.

The prospect of a filibuster-proof majority that's sympathetic to the needs of ordinary working Americans, according to the National Journal, is making "business groups jittery." Polls show that the economy is Americans' number one concern going into this fall's election; fully 75 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, and these well-funded groups are intent on keeping it firmly on that track.

American Wages and the Law of Supply and Demand

At the heart of the bloody cage match that's likely to come is this: In economic terms, the wages of many -- probably most -- Americans represent a "market failure" of massive proportions. Even the most devout of free-marketeers -- economists like Alan Greenspan and the late Milton Friedman -- agree that it's appropriate and necessary for government to intervene in the case of those failures (they believe it's the only time that such "meddling" is appropriate). But the corporate Right, which claims to have an almost religious reverence for the power of "free" and functional markets, has gotten fat off of this particular market failure, and it's dead-set on continuing to game the system for its own enrichment.

About 1 in 4 Americans has at least a four-year college degree, and many of those degrees are even worth something in the labor market (sorry, art history majors). Others -- Derek Jeter, Bill Gates, a gifted artist or a writer who can turn a decent phrase -- have specialized skills that allow them to command an income that's as high as the market for their scarce talents will bear. There are also people with more common skills who have the scratch (and/or connections) and fortitude to establish their own businesses -- think George W. Bush or a really great mechanic who owns his or her own shop."

Much more:
Corporate America Prepares for Battle Against Worker Campaign to Roll Back Assault on the Middle Class | Election 2008 | AlterNet

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Meridian Star - Let's go green without their help

The successful, billionaire oil prospector and hedge fund speculator, T. Boone Pickens, has announced that he is going to invest part of his fortune into renewable energy and develop fields of wind turbines. He's read the research and believes it will repay his investment.

Now, I've written this before and I'm going to say it again because there is not an elected official out there, outside of Dennis Kucinich, who'll risk losing contributions by supporting a "socialist," "big-government," program that will challenge the monopolization of our future energy sources by vulture capitalists like Pickens. Of course, when it comes to saving our failing banks, “big government” works for them.

We can, through our counties, cities and states, as well as our federal government, generate enough capital to invest in solar, wind and geo-thermal energy and do the same thing that Pickens is planning to do. That's the way the public can compete with the big monied interests.

I don’t disagree with Picken’s plan to use natural gas in automobiles. The British public transit system has been using natural gas in their buses for years so it’s not some new idea. Since Pickens has invested heavily in natural gas futures, he stands to make a killing there, too.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that while our economy is falling and prices rising, oil companies have been making record-setting profits. At the same time, speculators like Pickens have made fortunes buying oil futures which has contributed to the rise in gas prices.

Monopolists like Pickens want to be able to say in the end that they're the ones who saved us. When they've enslaved us.

Scott Tyner


Meridian Star - Let's go green without their help

Jesse Helms Made George Wallace Look Like a Lovable Amateur!

Leviticus Ballroom, Soul Winner's Resort, Freehold, Iowa - Friends when it comes to hating all the same folks God does, no one -- outside this room -- came close to the Late, Great Jesse Helms, a fine senator from one of those Carolinas.  We are here today to celebrate the life of a real Christian hero.  When Jesus takes a servant of His home on the 4th of July, a holiday more important to the Lord than His own birthday, it means that person was very special to Heaven. God is telling us that Senator Helms is His idea of a True American™.

Much like George W. Bush, Jesse Helms was a politician from the inspirational George Wallace School of Trash-Talking the Powerless.  In Alabama, back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Wallace learned the nuances of winning elections by serving his constituents' so-called "bigotry" rather than their interests.  It's easy to get the rich white vote!  You just give us and the corporations we own all the subsidies and tax breaks, while making the law free of pesky environmental and sissy safety regulations.  Of course, someone has to pay for all of this, and that’s the poor white folks (you know, the people who supervise our even-poorer help).  Since these folks are getting squeezed harder than a 400-pound Negress flying in the middle seat in coach, George Wallace came up with a nifty gimmick to trick these gullible fools into electing someone who will do absolutely nothing for them when he gets into office!  The secret?  You get their vote by creating an enemy they will loathe.  Then, promise to go after that enemy. For Wallace, the enemy was everyone's favorite: colored folks.  Friends, he used the “n” word more often than many of us in this room, and blocked the entrance to the University of Alabama to prevent some colored kids from contaminating the school’s shower facilities until he was removed by the activist National Guard.  This got him almost all the poor white vote, and with the lowest property taxes in America, the rich white vote was a cinch. 

For our President Dubya, the enemy has been, at different times, (1) Osama Hussein (or is that Saddam bin Laden?  Toe-mae-toe, toe-mah-toe), which later morphed into the not so easy to identify (and, therefore, not so easy to blame for not catching) "Al Qaeda," sort of a catchall for anything scary with facial hair and (2) Adam and Steve, a mythological pair of prancing homos that camped it up as they gentrified Eden.  Forgive what I understand may be coarse vernacular, friends, but as my hell-bound Jewish securities lawyer is fond of saying, the financially vulnerable will tolerate getting “screwed” so long as the government prevents the same from occurring between two penised persons.  Alas, one George didn’t keep those Negroids out of Tuscaloosa forever, and the other George never found Osama, but just the promise to try was enough to get the rednecks and white trash crowd to vote for them. 

No one understood all of this better than Jesse Helms.  Jesse got his start in 1950 working for Senate candidate Willis Smith, a man who recognized the importance of races knowing their place.  Jesse helped Smith win the Senate by doctoring a photograph of his opponent’s wife so that it appeared she was dancing with a black man, and we all know where that leads!  Jesse was elected to the Senate, himself, in 1972 on his relentless platform of attacking Negroes.  But Jesse wasn’t unfairly singling out coloreds for his disgust and derision.  Among the group of people for whom he expressed abject hatred, he generously included gays, liberals, socialists and anyone non-American.   

As such, Jesse was a man after our own hearts.  He opposed any increase in the minimum wage (which would just make poor people even more uppity), opposed any spending on the so-called “arts” (which is just another word for “smut”), opposed compensation of Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned during World War II (which was their own fault for being born Japanese in the first place), opposed naming a holiday after Communist, Martin Luther King, Jr., opposed all laws protecting gays and lesbians from violence (based on God’s edict in the Book of Leviticus) and fully supported apartheid in South Africa.  He even opposed the Civil Rights Act, insisting that North Carolina be exempted from any law against discrimination.  Congress overwhelmingly voted him down on this effort, further establishing his present status as a Christian martyr.

 Jesse didn’t mince words.  He was once accused of being a caveman.  He angrily responded: “I’m a conservative progressive, and that means I think all men are equal, whether they be slants, beaners or niggers.   After graciously complimenting the overly pigmented by noting that they “have a natural instinct for rhythm and for singing and dancing,” Jesse warned the coloreds: “The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that’s thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and otherwise interfere with men's rights.  Jesse, ever the scientist, completely dispelled the notion that AIDS can be transmitted by intravenous drug use or heterosexual acts when he observed: “If homosexuals would stop what they’re doing, there wouldn't be any more AIDS.

 As we all know, the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Once, Jesse’s dad, a policeman, stopped some uppity black wench from protesting some so-called injustice.  When she continued her silly rants, he smashed her with his huge fists, then dragged her off to jail, with her dress pulled up over her head, as the caveman used to do with his sexual prey.  She screamed in pain as the concrete tore away her skin, but he continued his trek, unabated.  Jesse continued that tradition of putting folks in their place with his time in the Senate.  Perhaps his greatest legacy of all is the fact that his hatred never escaped him.  He hated those who weren’t white, upper-income, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant heterosexuals up until the day he died.  He never “repented,” in fear that some of Jesus’ carelessly phrased New Testament proclamations might trump the Old Testament words upon which the senator had based his entire life.  Friends, Jesse Helms passed away on Independence Day, with a soul as clean as a 1950’s drinking fountain.

Jesse Helms Made George Wallace Look Like a Lovable Amateur!

Questions for John McCain

Senator, if you truly think we should be doing “all of the above” to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, why have you voted against every recent congressional measure to encourage renewable energy sources?

If you still worry about the effects of climate change, then why do you now emphasize drilling for additional oil offshore rather than energy sources that don’t create greenhouse gases? And why do you continue to talk about “clean coal,” which doesn’t actually exist?

Why do you say that offshore drilling will cut gasoline prices when the Energy Information Administration predicts that will not happen for a decade and will make little difference even then?

According to your best estimate, when will “drilling here and drilling now” reduce the price of gasoline in the United States? Please explain why you no longer believe in the data supplied by the Energy Information Administration, which you asked to provide the economic analysis for the climate-change bill that you co-sponsored with Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

When you assure audiences that drilling offshore will produce more oil within a matter of months, as you did in Bakersfield, Calif., last week, are you relying on sources other than the Energy Information Administration? Please identify the person or persons who told you that the oil industry can produce more petroleum within the next several months if we start offshore leasing today. Did you learn of that miraculous capacity from one of the many oil company lobbyists who have advised and raised money for your campaign?

When you said that there was no significant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico even during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, were you aware that at least 7 million gallons were spilled as a result of Katrina? How much oil must leak from a damaged offshore rig or barge before you would consider the spillage to be “significant”?

By the way, where will all that new offshore drilling occur if the states of Florida and California continue to oppose offshore leasing, as their governors have vowed to do? Do you still support the right of those states to prevent drilling in their coastal waters, as you promised last year? Doesn’t that promise conflict with your claim that offshore wells will produce enough new oil to lower gasoline prices?

Finally, what is so funny about checking tire pressure to save energy? Are you aware that auto and tire maintenance—like other conservation and efficiency measure—can save far more oil than offshore leasing will ever produce? Did you know that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has urged the people of California to pump up their tires? Is it really prudent to mock him?

Truthdig - Reports - His Drilling Plan Is Full of Holes

Israel and Bush are insane.

You think Bush want's cheaper oil?  An attack on Iran will push oil up to $400 a barrel.  These people don't care about Americans problems.  Israel likes flexing their muscle in the middle east and Bush wants to own Iranian oil at $400 a barrel.  Bastards.

CBS News reports, “Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran’s atomic program, even if it can’t destroy it.” The country has also “purchased 90 F-16I fighter planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran, and will receive 11 more by the end of next year.” According to the Times of London, President Bush has given an “‘amber light‘ to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties.”
Think Progress » Israel building up strike capabilities against Iran.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

t r u t h o u t | Exploiting Poverty

This is what free trade and deregulation brings us to.  Just another slave labor country for the corporations to exploit.  they're tearing down our environmental protections and our social programs.  all they want is a cheap labor force to keep them serviced.  They can't create products so they live off the backs of workers.


    As more companies view low-income Americans as opportunities for profit, the "poverty business" is booming. "Bill Moyers Journal" and "Expose: America's Investigative Reports" follow a team of Business Week reporters as they track new corporate practices among auto dealers, banks and even nonprofit hospitals, which some say exploit the working poor. Also on the program, Bill Moyers discusses the rise of the imperial presidency with Andrew J. Bacevich in his first television interview about his latest book, "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism."

t r u t h o u t | Exploiting Poverty


On Friday, the House considered a bill providing needed funding to veterans and military organizations. House conservatives tried to attach an offshore oil drilling amendment to the bill, threatening its passage. Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Chet Edwards (D-TX) denounced the tactic. When he read statements from veterans groups urging Congress not to meddle with the legislation, House conservatives booed. Watch it:

Embedded Video

Despite the Republicans’ stunts, the House passed the bill.

Contribution scams

There’s been a fair amount of interest lately about John McCain’s contributions from the oil industry. It’s not surprising some of the donations raised eyebrows — that’s what happens when a middle-class family that rents their home in Queens donates more than $60,000 to the Republican campaign.

The concern, of course, is whether McCain’s generous benefactors are playing a shell game. It’s illegal for a donor to get the money from another source — it’s called the “straw donor” problem — and if people who seemingly wouldn’t (or couldn’t) write big checks to a political campaign suddenly become generous donors, it’s going to raise questions about whether there’s an illegal fundraising scheme being orchestrated.

Today, in a fascinating front-page report in the WaPo, those questions get considerably louder.

The bundle of $2,300 and $4,600 checks that poured into Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign on March 12 came from an unlikely group of California donors: a mechanic from D&D Auto Repair in Whittier, the manager of Rite Aid Pharmacy No. 5727, the 30-something owners of the Twilight Hookah Lounge in Fullerton.

But the man who gathered checks from them is no stranger to McCain — he shuttled the Republican on his private plane and held a fundraising event for the candidate at his house in Delray Beach, Fla.

Harry Sargeant III, a former naval officer and the owner of an oil-trading company that recently inked defense contracts potentially worth more than $1 billion, is the archetype of a modern presidential money man. The law forbids high-level supporters from writing huge checks, but with help from friends in the Middle East and the former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit — who now serves as a consultant to his company — Sargeant has raised more than $100,000 for three presidential candidates from a collection of ordinary people, several of whom professed little interest in the outcome of the election.

And when the Post says “little interest,” that’s quite literal. Some of the generous checks Sargeant has bundled for McCain come from people who aren’t even registered to vote.

Some of the most prolific givers in Sargeant’s network live in modest homes in Southern California’s Inland Empire. Most had never given a political contribution before being contacted by Sargeant or his associates. Most said they have never voiced much interest in politics. And in several instances, they had never registered to vote. And yet, records show, some families have ponied up as much as $18,400 for various candidates between December and March.

Both Sargeant and the donors were vague when asked to explain how Sargeant persuaded them to give away so much money.

“I have a lot of Arab business partners. I do a lot of business in the Middle East. I’ve got a lot of friends,” Sargeant said in a telephone interview yesterday. “I ask my friends to support candidates that I think are worthy of supporting. They usually come through for me.”

One of these friends is Ibrahim Marabeh, the manager of a Rite Aid drugstore. Neither Marabeh nor his wife are even registered to vote, but the couple has nevertheless donated more than $9,000 this year to Sargeant-backed candidates (Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton). When asked, Marabeh said he hadn’t made any campaign contributions. He then said he was asked to donate by “a local person. But I would like not to talk about it anymore.”

That seems a little odd.

And now that Sargeant has become a top bundler for John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee is getting big checks from people who seem passively disinterested in politics. Abdullah Abdullah, a supervisor at several Taco Bell restaurants, and his wife have donated $9,200 to McCain. Asked about his contributions, Abdullah said, “I have no idea. I’ll be honest with you.”

Earlier this year, Norman Hsu, a top Clinton bundler, was brought up on criminal charges for allegedly using “straw donors” to exceed legal limits. The media treated this as a pretty big deal for quite a while.

I wonder if Harry Sargeant’s name will soon achieve similar notoriety.

McCain’s generous — and ‘unlikely’ — financial supporters - The Carpetbagger Report

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I'm just speechless!

Summary: Jerome Corsi, author of the book, The Obama Nation, falsely claimed on Hannity's America that Sen. Barack Obama said, "Even if a child was born ... the woman still had the right to kill the child in an abortion." Corsi similarly falsely asserted on Hannity & Colmes that "[a]fter a child's born, Obama ... in the [Illinois] state Senate, wanted the child killed if the mother desired an abortion," and on Sean Hannity's radio program, said that "Obama's on record as let's kill the baby if that's what the mother wants." In fact, Obama has never supported giving people the right to kill their children.

Media Matters - On three Hannity programs, Corsi offered another falsehood: Obama supports abortion "[a]fter a child's born"

Fox News' Colmes pressed Freddoso over voting "technicality" claim

Conservatives on the right are such liars.

"In the introduction of his new book The Case Against Barack Obama (Regnery), author David Freddoso asserts that Sen. Barack Obama "thr[e]w all of his opponents off the ballot on a technicality, so that those voters have no choice but to elect him. This is precisely how he first won his state Senate seat in 1996." But on the August 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Alan Colmes questioned Freddoso's assertion, pointing out that the "technicality" that Freddoso described included allegedly forged petitions and signatures reportedly from people who did not live within the district that the Senate seat represented, as Media Matters for America has noted.

As Media Matters further documented -- and which Colmes also mentioned as an example of a "contradiction" in the book -- on Page 2, Freddoso undermines his own claim of a "technicality" by quoting a 1996 Chicago Weekend article explaining that some of incumbent Sen. Alice Palmer's signatures were disqualified because some voters who signed lived outside the 13th district represented by the Senate seat -- something more than a mere "technicality." From Page 2 of Freddoso's book:

With that justification, he approved the project, and he checked up on its progress nightly. One by one, Obama's "petitions guru" disqualified Palmer's signatures for one reason or another. According to one local newspaper at the time: "Some of the problems include printing registered voters name [sic] instead of writing, a female voter got married after she registered to vote and signed her maiden name, registered voters signed the petitions but don't live in the 13th district."

Additionally, the Chicago Tribune reported on April 4, 2007, that one of Obama's opponents, Gha-Is Askia, "now suspects" some of the signatures his campaign collected were forged. Tribune reporter David Mendell wrote in his book Obama: From Promise to Power (Amistad, 2007), that Palmer acknowledged at the time that her signatures had not been properly collected. From Pages 109-110 of Obama: From Promise to Power:

So a volunteer for Obama challenged the legality of her petitions, as well as the legality of petitions from several other candidates in the race. As an elections board hearing on the petitions neared, Palmer realized that Obama had called her hand, and she acknowledged that she had not properly acquired the necessary number of signatures. Many of the voters had printed their names, rather than signing them as the law required.

Freddoso is presumably aware of these facts, as he cites both the April 4, 2007, Chicago Tribune article and Page 109 of Obama: From Promise to Power in the first chapter of his book. On Page 3, Freddoso reproduces a quotation from Askia in the Tribune article:

One of them was Gha-is Askia. He never had much of a chance of winning anyway, but he had gathered 1,899 signatures, and Team Obama took the time to challenge them as well.6 Askia spoke to the Chicago Tribune in 2007 about it:

"Why say you're for a new tomorrow, then do old-style Chicago politics to remove legitimate candidates?" Askia said. "He talks about honor and democracy, but what honor is there in getting rid of every other candidate so you can run scot-free? Why not let the people decide?"7

From the August 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

COLMES: Hey, David, let me -- there are some of the issues I have with your book. First of all, in the introduction to the book, and I put up on the screen, you talk about him basically getting everybody else off the ballot when he's running for local office.

FREDDOSO: That's right.

COLMES: You say, "Obama will throw all of his opponents off the ballot on a technicality so that these voters have no choice but to elect him."

FREDDOSO: That's right.

COLMES: But then you quote, on Page 2 of the book, Chicago Tribune that you mentioned earlier, "Some of the problems include ... registered voters signed the petitions but don't live in the 13th District."

FREDDOSO: That's true.

COLMES: That would be breaking the law. Another thing from the same Chicago Tribune article that you quote, you talk about Gha-Is Askia, and you quote the Chicago Tribune, that refers to him as "a perennially unsuccessful candidate, acknowledging he paid the Democratic Party workers $5 a sheet, and that they forged signatures."

And so, on one hand, you're accusing him of forcing people off the ballot, but the Chicago Tribune story that you referenced basically says these people were breaking the law

FREDDOSO: They weren't breaking the law. What --

COLMES: Forging signatures?

FREDDOSO: Well, OK. The signature gatherers who forged signatures were breaking the law. The candidates who were trying to be on the ballot and appear and give the voters the choice weren't breaking the law. And when Senator Obama had them thrown out, he actually went and had his volunteers --


COLMES: Wait a minute. The elections commission did it based on the fact that he was -- that he didn't follow the law.

FREDDOSO: They challenged all the petitions.


FREDDOSO: And what happened was they actually took the time, Obama's volunteers took the time to take -- I think it's fascinating. They took a perennial candidate, a hopeless, no-chance candidate, and they actually took the time to challenge more than a thousand signatures from him.

COLMES: But they also challenged Alice Palmer, who I quoted earlier that you, yourself, according to your own contradiction of the book on Page 2 --

FREDDOSO: How is that a contradiction?

COLMES: Because you say first that he was basically forcing people off the ballot. Then you say -- suggest that he was doing it illegally or underhandedly.

FREDDOSO: I didn't suggest that he did it illegally, Alan, or underhandedly. What I said was --


FREDDOSO: What I said was that the man who campaigns on hope and change and tries to make us less cynical about politics, Alan, is -- is the same guy who won his first election by denying the voters a choice.

COLMES: But it turns out, according to your --

FREDDOSO: It was perfectly legal. He had every right to do what he did, Alan.

COLMES: David, according to your own reporting, they didn't live in the district, these people.

FREDDOSO: Some of them didn't. In some cases there was a woman who -- who signed the petition with her married name, but she was registered to vote under her maiden name. There were a lot of cases where people printed their name instead of signing it. There were a lot of different cases. The petitions may very well have been -- may well have been bad signatures. That's all -- that's all true.

COMES: Which wouldd be illegal.

FREDDOSO: But if you read The Audacity of Hope by Senator Obama, he portrays this election as if he told people you should be less cynical about politics and they loved his speech and they elected him.

COLMES: Anyway, we've got to -- we've got to run, David. Thank you very much for being here tonight."

Media Matters - Fox News' Colmes pressed Freddoso over voting "technicality" claim

The Real State of the US Economy

"The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified."

"    Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide.

    Eddie Bauer to close more stores after closing 27 stores in the first quarter.

    Cache, a women’s retailer is closing 20 to 23 stores this year.

    Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines closing 150 stores nationwide

    Talbots, J. Jill closing stores. Talbots will close all 78 of its kids and men's stores plus another 22 underperforming stores. The 22 stores will be a mix of Talbots women's and J. Jill.

    Gap Inc. closing 85 stores

    Foot Locker to close 140 stores

    Wickes Furniture is going out of business and closing all of its stores. The 37-year-old retailer that targets middle-income customers, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

    Levitz - the furniture retailer, announced it was going out of business and closing all 76 of its stores in December. The retailer dates back to 1910.

    Zales, Piercing Pagoda plans to close 82 stores by July 31 followed by closing another 23 underperforming stores.

    Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores.

    Home Depot store closings 15 of them amid a slumping US economy and housing market. The move will affect 1,300 employees. It is the first time the world's largest home improvement store chain has ever closed a flagship store.

    CompUSA (CLOSED).

    Macy's - 9 stores closed

    Movie Gallery – video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500 Movie Gallery

    and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations the video rental

    chain closed last fall as part of bankruptcy.

    Pacific Sunwear - 153 Demo stores closing

    Pep Boys - 33 stores of auto parts supplier closing

    Sprint Nextel - 125 retail locations to close with 4,000 employees following 5,000 layoffs last year.

    J. C. Penney, Lowe's and Office Depot are all scaling back

    Ethan Allen Interiors: plans to close 12 of 300 stores to cut costs.

    Wilsons the Leather Experts – closing 158 stores

    Bombay Company: to close all 384 U.S.-based Bombay Company stores.

    Dillard's Inc. will close another six stores this year. "
The Real State of the US Economy

Crooks and Liars » Ron Suskind: White House ordered forgery to link al-Qaeda/Saddam to 9/11 attacks

A new book THE WAY OF THE WORLD, is about the war on terrorism and the Bush Administration since 9/11 and especially since invading Iraq in March ‘03. (You can easily Google details of the alleged letter from “Habbush” to Saddam Hussein dated July 1, 2001, which says (future) 9/11 hijacker was trained in Baghdad, AND that Iraq received shipments from Niger.) [..]

The book reports (or charges) that the Bush White House faked a letter from Saddam Hussein’s intelligence chief to President Saddam in late 2003, backdating it to July 2001 and reports that Saddam’s intelligence chief (Habbush) was in the protective custody of the C.I.A. at the time– even while the U.S. military had him in the “deck of cards,” a list of Saddam officials wanted dead-or-alive. The White House ordered the C.I.A. to arrange for Habbush to write the fake letter in his own handwriting. The controversial letter did find itself to the world media in December ‘03.

Habbush was in the deck of cards — the (approx. 50) Saddam officials wanted dead-or-alive by the U.S. after the March 2003 invasion — while in reality he was in C.I.A. protection. And in October 2003, Habbush was paid $5 million by the C.I.A. AFTER the C.I.A. asked Habbush to write — in his own handwriting and in a convincing way — the note that the White House suggested.

Britain’s Sunday Telegraph in December ‘03 caused a sensation by reporting the discovery in Baghdad of that letter… and a few days later NEWSWEEK reported strong doubts that the letter was genuine. Among other things, experts wondered, why would Saddam’s intel chief write about both Atta & nuclear material in the same letter?

Complete article:
Crooks and Liars » Ron Suskind: White House ordered forgery to link al-Qaeda/Saddam to 9/11 attacks

Schwarzeneger fouled again! Blast that red baron! I curse you!

California controller says he won't carry out paycut ordermcclatchydc.com: HomepageYesterday at 2:25 PMState Controller John Chiang said Monday an antiquated state computer system makes it impossible to adjust the state payroll quickly to issue minimum-wage checks to state workers. He said it would take at least six months to make the change.State Controller John Chiang said Monday an antiquated state computer system makes it impossible to adjust the state payroll quickly to issue minimum-wage checks to state workers. He said it would take at least six months to make the change.

Creating life. Isn't that "god's" work?

WASHINGTON — Scientists are advancing slowly toward one of the most audacious goals humans have ever set for themselves: creating artificial life.

They've already accomplished some steps needed to construct a simple, single-celled organism that's capable of evolving and reproducing itself — basic requirements for life.

"We have made considerable progress," said Jack Szostak, an artificial life investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Md. "Any prediction like this is just a guess, but I'm hoping we'll have a synthetic cell in under 10 years.''

Such a cell would be ``unrelated to any existing life form on Earth,'' Szostak said.

full article:

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 08/05/2008 | Science's awesome challenge: Creating artificial life

Why we need corporate regulation

Ronald Reagan managed to convince a surprising number of people who should have known better that the federal government is the enemy and government regulation is the problem rather than a solution. The Savings & Loan crisis (with the Keating Five scandal) should have put an end to that nonsense, but some were slow to figure out that regulations typically exist for a reason. The corporate looting of America under George Bush finally is putting an end to that canard, however. Americans get it. Regulations are there to protect them. And even before the corporate scandals of the last few years, one trend was clear: The more an industry earns a reputation for being untrustworthy, the more Democrats, Republicans, and Independents favor increased regulation of it.

Three stories today on the front pages of three national newspapers tell the tale. These are the kinds of practices that should not be occuring under a government that takes regulation seriously. You know, under a Democratic administration. From Ellen Nakashima at WaPo we learn that insurers are snooping around in people's medicine cabinets:

Health and life insurance companies have access to a powerful new tool for evaluating whether to cover individual consumers: a health "credit report" drawn from databases containing prescription drug records on more than 200 million Americans.

Collecting and analyzing personal health information in commercial databases is a fledgling industry, but one poised to take off as the nation enters the age of electronic medical records. While lawmakers debate how best to oversee the shift to computerized records, some insurers have already begun testing systems that tap into not only prescription drug information, but also data about patients held by clinical and pathological laboratories...

The trend holds promise for improved health care and cost savings, but privacy and consumer advocates fear it is taking place largely outside the scrutiny of federal health regulators and lawmakers.

Meanwhile Vikas Bajaj of the NYT explains that the mortgage crisis is about to get much worse as gimmicky loan terms at prime rates begin to bite:

The first wave of Americans to default on their home mortgages appears to be cresting, but a second, far larger one is quickly building.

Homeowners with good credit are falling behind on their payments in growing numbers, even as the problems with mortgages made to people with weak, or subprime, credit are showing their first, tentative signs of leveling off after two years of spiraling defaults.

Predatory lending of all sorts has been allowed to go unchecked for years under Republicans. By contrast, Barack Obama has made abusive lending practices a signature issue, including the re-regulation of credit cards and payday lenders (PDF).

And from the front page of that leftist rag the WSJ, we learn that increasingly pension plans are being siphoned for executive perks. It's all done in secrecy and by sleight of hand:

At a time when scores of companies are freezing pensions for their workers, some are quietly converting their pension plans into resources to finance their executives' retirement benefits and pay.

In recent years, companies from Intel Corp. to CenturyTel Inc. collectively have moved hundreds of millions of dollars of obligations for executive benefits into rank-and-file pension plans. This lets companies capture tax breaks intended for pensions of regular workers and use them to pay for executives' supplemental benefits and compensation.

The practice has drawn scant notice. A close examination by The Wall Street Journal shows how it works and reveals that the maneuver, besides being a dubious use of tax law, risks harming regular workers. It can drain assets from pension plans and make them more likely to fail. Now, with the current bear market in stocks weakening many pension plans, this practice could put more in jeopardy...

Generally, only the executives are aware this is being done. Benefits consultants have advised companies to keep quiet to avoid an employee backlash.

Ripping off pension plans to the point of crisis is one of the most vile legacies of Republican governance. Americans will be looking to Democrats to rein in corporate excesses.

Daily Kos: State of the Nation

How much oil do we have? How long to produce it?

with known sources (oil not natural gas)it will take about 5 years and all others will take between 7 and 12 years. Shale could take as many as 20 years because as of today, we don't have the technology to extract it from the rock it's in. America uses 19.6 million barrels of oil per day. That's 7.15 billion per year. According to the Minerals Management services website the total oil on the outer continental shelves of north American equate to about 6.7 billion barrels. That will give us one years worth of oil if we could suck it all up in one day. it is estimated that total, land and sea, we have a 90 billion barrels. that means that if we drilled every drop of our own oil and had a nationalized system where we didn't sell it to the world market before buying it back, we would have enough independent oil to get us about 12 years. We have to move away from oil.
Proposed 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas
Will drilling lower the price of gas? Politico is the most conservative publican i know of. i actually stopped getting their rss feed during the primaries they were so sickeningly biased. But here it is from their publication.
an article:
"Between 1999 and 2007, permits for drilling in onshore and offshore public lands “increased by more than 361 percent, yet gasoline prices have also risen dramatically,” ...“There is simply no correlation between the two.”
"Despite contrary claims by McCain, the Coast Guard estimated that oil rigs hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita spilled more than 7 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. Rigs routinely discharge thousands of pounds of mercury, lead, benzene and other toxic chemicals into the water."
it's not environmentally friendly.
And the department of energy is filled with experts and geologists from all the energy production types and scientists who know what they're talking about. it is where the oil industry gets their information.
Take a look here:
New drilling wouldn’t bring the first drop of oil to market for at least 10 years—and they know it.
even if we did get oil out tomorrow it wouldn't reduce the price of gas by more than .02 cents per gallon.
Even at peak capacity in 20 years, new oil drilling won’t lower gas prices—and they know it.
The Big Picture #12936.31

Monday, August 4, 2008

Congressional Budget Office - Historical Budget Data

Before attempting to read this chart, know the difference between a deficit and a debt.  Notice how the first bush administration almost put us to death with a 290 billion deficit by 92.  It took Clinton6 years to put us into surplus before bush II made that all disappear within 2 years with  his tax cuts for the wealthiest americans.  1969 and 1998, 99, 2000 and 01 were the only 5 years we've had a surplus in the past 40 years.  4 of those years were Clinton years.

Deficit (-) or Surplus
Social Security
Postal Service
Debt Held by the Publica

Congressional Budget Office - Historical Budget Data