2004-03-28T20:35:00-05:00



Dude, I Can’t Afford To Drive My Car

Subtitle: The Real Reason Bush Will Lose in November

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gasoline prices across the country climbed another 3 cents in the past two weeks to a record-high average of $1.80 per gallon for all grades, according to a study released Sunday.

There is little chance of prices falling significantly in the near future, because increased demand will likely result from an improving economy, Memorial Day travel, and even the extra hour of light from daylight savings time, said Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations nationwide.

“The demand push this time of year is adding to supply tightness and therefore price,” Lundberg said. “I don’t see any recipe for substantial gasoline price cuts anytime soon.”

Monday, March 29th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-28T10:58:00-05:00



Dude, Where’s My Job?

The war on terror (or lack thereof) and the situation in Iraq seem to be dominating the news these days. No surprises there. Some have been critical of the Democratic Party’s largely sidelines stance over the past week. Again, no surprises there, at least for me. The Rovians have been on the defensive, notably without any direct involvement of Terry McAullife’s attack dogs. This is a good thing. When the GOP has to spend seven days of an election cycle playing nothing but defense to shore up the base, the Democrats can save up sparse ammunition (translation: money) for more important fights at a more opportune time.

That time might come at the end of this coming week. The government’s March payrolls report, due Friday, is likely to be the week’s main event. And jobs are where the Bush Administration is most vulnerable:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Show us the jobs. That’s what Wall Street will be hoping for in the week ahead when the closely watched monthly jobs report and a fresh batch of economic data are set for release.

Investors will be searching for signs that the U.S. economic recovery remains on track — and if they get some positive evidence, that could persuade them to buy stocks. If not — or if the economic reports send mixed signals — then stocks are likely to stay in a holding pattern or decline slightly….

Speculation that employment growth is not strong enough to support consumer spending — a force that powers two-thirds of U.S. economic growth — has been one of the main issues nagging stock investors in recent months, and it will put Friday’s report in the spotlight.

Economists polled by Reuters predicted 103,000 new jobs were added to U.S. payrolls in March, versus February’s rise of only 21,000. They expect the unemployment rate will remain steady at 5.6 percent.

An ongoing weekend CNN poll asks, Which issue will most impact your vote for president? By a wide majority (65% “the economy”, 35% “national security”), the vote is for jobs. Now, this is a decidedly unscientific poll, and I highly suspect the results would be flipped 180 degrees if the same poll were run on the Fox News website.

But anecdotal stories from my own personal portfolio lead me to believe that the economy is clearly the number one issue in the minds of voters (at least right now). Here’s one. I was in a local store this morning picking up the Sunday paper and a half gallon of milk. As I was checking out, the register clerk starts bitching about jobs going overseas and “that’s why I’m stuck behind a register.” Note that I didn’t provoke the conversation, she just hit me with it out of the blue.

Senator Kerry, you have an issue. Ride it.

I’ve opined here before that there’s a 50/50 split on the phantom “war on terror”, and there’s just not going to be big movement on that issue. The believers will continue to believe. The non-believers will continue to whine about the believers.

Jobs and the economy? That’s another issue all together. Americans have historically voted with their wallets. With energy prices reaching historic levels, the sure-to-result blowback on other prices from that, and the perception that the job market continues to leave people behind or thoroughly underemployed, we Democrats have an issue that will stick. The McAullife machine should be banging on that drum loud and hard from now until November 2nd.

Sunday, March 28th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-28T10:36:00-05:00

Precious, indeed.

Sunday, March 28th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-28T01:30:00-05:00



Knickers in a Knot

Everyone in the liberal blogosphere seems to have their knickers in a knot over Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s temper tantrum on the Senate floor Friday afternoon. Now, I’ll admit that it was reminiscint of the best rant Dennis Miller ever ranted when Miller was still actually funny, but here’s a note to the liberal blogosphere: you’re all missing the point.

(Just to recap for anyone who has been living in a political cave since Friday, Frist called for classified testimony from Richard Clarke to be declassified, austensibly to point out an “a-HA!” moment.)

My read on Frist’s little stage show is that it’s nothing more than a prefunctory bluff by a partisan hack. Let’s keep it real — he doesn’t want confidential testimony declassified — setting such a precedent would open a pandora’s box from which there would be no return. Frist’s political equivalent of a football “hail Mary” pass was calculated to generate a strong Friday afternoon soundbite for the GOP to surf through the weekend, after a miserable prior five days for the Bush Administration. He accomplished that mission, and that’s all he wanted.

Am I the only one who thinks the Senate Majority Leader should be above “snuff politics”? Methinks the lady hath already protested too much.

Oh, and I made Richard Clarke’s publisher $24.99 richer yesterday. I’ll let you know what I think in a day or two.

Sunday, March 28th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-27T08:06:00-05:00



Survey Sez…

Here’s an odd one:

WASHINGTON – A Republican voter survey used to raise political money identifies Thailand and the Philippines as countries that “harbor and aid terrorists,” a description that has angered officials from the two nations.

A question on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Ask America 2004 Nationwide Policy Survey” asks, “Should America broaden the war on terrorism into other countries that harbor and aid terrorists such as Thailand, Syria, Somalia, the Philippines, etc.?”

Accompanying the survey, which also poses questions about health care, the economy and other issues, was a four-page letter signed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., which asks for a donation to help “keep the Republican Party in control of the U.S. House.”

Officials from both countries say they’ve been wrongly labeled and would contact the NRCC to complain. Both countries have been praised by the Bush administration for their roles in the anti-terror war.

“For the Philippines to be described as a country harboring terrorism is an entirely different matter altogether,” Patricia Paez, a spokeswoman for the Philippine Embassy in Washington, said Friday. “It doesn’t accurately describe the view of the Bush administration.”

I dunno. I guess they’re working on developing a list for the Semi-Axis of Sub-Evil, pending results of the November elections.

I just thought it was odd.

Hey, I’m heading out to support the economy today. Enjoy yours!

Saturday, March 27th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-26T22:26:00-05:00



Target Rich Environments

Reality is always a cold slap in the face to the Businistas. In another forum that I frequent (which, by the way has a nice crossection of libs and cons), one of the cons was shilling for Dub on a jobs report released yesterday:

Manufacturers expect to hire in 2004

By Rex Nutting, CBS.MarketWatch.com

Last Update: 11:44 AM ET March 25, 2004

WASHINGTON (CBS.MW) — A majority of U.S. manufacturing firms surveyed by a national trade group say they plan to add jobs this year.

Small manufacturers are more upbeat about hiring, sales, capital spending and profit growth, said Jerry Jasinowski, president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

No one can argue that the word “expect” has taken on a whole new meaning in the last 3+ years. Let me be kind enough to give a few examples culled from my response:

Yeah, and you expected al-Zawahri to be caught.

You expected WMD to be found.

You expected 2.6 million jobs.

You expected Richard Clarke to tank.

You didn’t expect $2.75 trillion in deficits as far as the eye can see.

You didn’t expect 3 more soldiers killed in Iraq today.

You didn’t expect a higher suicide rate among servicemen/women in Iraq than in Vietnam.

You didn’t expect 9/11. Apparently, neither did Dub.

You didn’t expect the drip, drip, drip, drip on the Bush presidency. It’s happening.

You didn’t expect to have to live in Bizzaro World to validate your viewpoints.

I think what pisses me off more than anything is that I had very low expectations for the Bush administration going into 2001, and three years into it, they’ve met or exceeded all of my expectations.

Saturday, March 27th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-26T12:01:00-05:00


One Song

Over at Eschaton we’ve just been talking about the recent Vanity Fair article on blogs and popular culture. To my mind they come close to the 19th and 18th century British broadside ballads and leaflets … not mainstream journalism, but something more, something “better” perhaps.

It is not governments, but popular social machines that transmit who we are from age to age. Song, art, theater, these and more.

In keeping with those thoughts, this, from this mornings 4 AM on-line meanderings:

Little songs: The Compassionate Conservatives, Skewering George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the GOP through music.

Among their offering are: “Another War” to the tune of the Beatles’ “Drive My Car”, and “Chalabi” to the tune, “Volari”.

The day I learned that the word “universe” was literally translated: one song, was a stellar day for me. It’s helped make things make sense.

Friday, March 26th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-26T10:34:00-05:00



Barking Defense Contractors

So, here we go. Sleep comes hard these days, has for years. I only check in on network TV news to see what the current fairytale is. I get my news from the Internet these days, and some print newspapers.

But BuzzFlash is my home page, the first page I scan in the mornings, and the last page I look at before I say, “aw heck”, at night. This morning I found this: Nick Turse on Iraq as a weapons lab

“Back in 1965, Jack Raymond of the New York Times wrote a piece aptly headlined, “Vietnam Gives U.S. ‘War Laboratory.’” And in that era, there were a couple of American commanders who publicly said as much. For instance, General Maxwell Taylor, who served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, noted that “we have recognized the importance of the area [Vietnam] as a laboratory. We have teams out there looking at equipment requirements of this kind of guerilla warfare.” But as Raymond pointed out, most American officials were loath to make such boasts for fear of comparisons to the Nazis, who had, only three decades earlier, used the Spanish Civil War as a training ground for World War II.”

What struck me about this article, which goes on to say suggest that the military industrial complex uses every “war” or military action as a living laboratory, is that my brother-in-law (a known wacko) has been saying this for years. He was regular Army sorta, in Vietnam, but most probably special ops. He refuses to say, or melts down completely when pressed. He said it: They use such actions as ways to test new weapons systems. They like that they can do that.

I’ve gone way past the point in my life where I can discount that the machiavellian cronies do exactly what they want to do where weapons are concerned. But I know that I live in a different bubble from most people.

Do weapons makers salivate like pavolian dogs at the first hint of a military action where they can road test new systems? My mind goes to the Dodge Brothers’ Proving Grounds where the prototype cars get tested.

I point. You decide.

Friday, March 26th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-26T10:18:00-05:00



Hello, World!

I’m humble and nearly prostrate to the ground, dumbfounded because Richard asked me to add my voice to the All Spin Zone. I’ve been around the Internet since we could only get access through a local BBS portal. My computer credentials go back to teaching myself BASIC and backward engineering programs in order to learn how to create sounds on a Commodore Pet. Say: Peek and Poke.

This is my first crack at this interface with a brief look at the how-tos. Wish me luck, and thank you Richard.

I’ve got one of my family tinfoil fedora issues to discuss with you, which I’ll post if this one works. It’s based on something I found at BuzzFlash this morning.

More later. As my family says: “Watch out for low-flyin’ crazies!”

Friday, March 26th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-26T10:09:00-05:00



Participatory Democracy

Folks, I’m going to play this one straight.

The 9/11 Commission hearings this week have marked a watershed event in understanding the precursors to the acts perpetrated on America during a few brief hours on September 11, 2001. In my simple mind, there’s a key piece missing in the testimony – that of National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice. Dr. Rice has been blanketing the media over the past two days trying to refute some of the testimony, and has spent quite a few hours in the process. She has previously declined to testify under oath before the commission, claiming “separation” arguments – that is, separation of executive branch involvement in a congressionally mandated inquiry.

Yesterday evening, cracks started to appear in the her steadfast refusal to testify. The White House has offered to have Dr. Rice meet with the commissioners in private – and presumably, not under oath. I know I’m only one guy, but I don’t think this is acceptable.

So, this morning, I did a bit of research. I found a contact at the 9/11 Commission other than a “blind email” inbox, and wrote a quick letter. The letter isn’t particularly artful or eloquent, but hopefully it gets to the point. Feel free to cut and paste and send as your own.

afelzenberg@9-11commission.gov

Dear Mr. Felzenberg,

The Commission hearings this past week were both instructive and revealing, and as a private citizen I commend the Commissioners for conducting a thoughtful inquiry. I note with interest that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has offered to speak once again with the Commissioners in a private meeting.

Given the events of the past week, I think it is critically important, to both the fact finding and national healing processes, that Dr. Rice agree to testify to the Commissioners. Such testimony should be taken only under oath and in a public forum, as have Secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell and other honorable witnesses. In the absence of agreement to proceed under these conditions, I feel the Commissioners should decline to meet behind closed doors with Dr. Rice.

Two and one half years after one of the most defining events in our history, America as a nation has not yet been allowed to complete our grieving. This is not about assigning blame or responsibility. It’s about understanding and learning.

Lastly, I would sincerely appreciate it if you would forward this note to Chairman Kean and Vice-Chair Hamilton. I don’t believe I’m alone in my desire to have Dr. Rice complete the picture of 9/11 precursors under oath in a public setting, particularly if she desires to rebut prior testimony.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Friday, March 26th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized
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