What a map can tell you

A teaser of Jenny’s work.

One of my favorite design bloggers, Jenny Komenda of LittleGreenNotebook, is currently in the ICU in Brooklyn due to a severe case of tetanus.  Yep. I’ll bet all you who were terrorized by your dads about lockjaw thought we had conquered that bugaboo.  Apparently not.  The tetanus bacteria is still out there and the human body doesn’t usually develop immunity to it on its own.  You need to get booster shots periodically, about once a decade.  If you’re in doubt, just get the shot.

Fatality rates of tetanus are pretty high and as Jenny and her family have found out, it doesn’t matter what your family is like.  In this case, the Komendas were working on the backyard of their house a couple of weeks ago, about the time she was infected.  They were moving around discarded items in their weedy enclosed yard of the Brooklyn brownstone they just moved into.  I’m guessing that’s where she was infected.  It doesn’t take much.  From what I read of the course of tetanus, it’s going to take Jenny months to recover.  The muscle spasms taper off in about 4 weeks but the body has to regenerate damaged nerve axons and that will take much longer.  So, Jenny will be out of commission for awhile.  I’m anxious for her to get back to work because she’s one of the cleverest, elegant and resourceful designers on the web and her interior design business is booming.  She also has three little girls who I’m sure miss her dearly.

So, I was on wikipedia looking up basic info on tetanus when I saw this map.  This map is very revealing.  Take a look at it and tell me if you see the same thing I see:

World Health Organization map of frequency of tetanus infections by country

Here’s what I see: It should come as no surprise that poorer countries have higher rates of infection. There are some interesting exceptions to this rule, however.  The African countries of Gabon and Benin have rates that are close to those of the most developed countries of the world.  This may be a legacy of colonialism.  Gabon was once a French holding and I know one French Canadian who was a Canadian “peace corps” volunteer.  Maybe they’ve taken lessons from the Canadian healthcare system. The population of Gabon is low and the country is presently benefitting from petroleum wealth but this is expected to peter out in a about a decade.  Still, for a country that still has a 1/3 of its citizens living in poverty, they’re doing ok in terms of vaccinations.

What’s really striking is where we know that government has broken down, there are exceptionally high levels of infection.  The horn of Africa where Somalia is looks pretty bad, as does Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the west coast of Africa.  Vietnam also seems to have a high rate of infection, I’m guessing as a legacy to years of war and forced integration of the two halves of the country.  But in general, where there are higher levels of corruption and political instability, the infection rate is higher.

One of the surprises: Iran.  Make what you will of that.  It probably has something to do with their oil wealth.  But Nigeria is also an oil rich nation and they’re pretty red.  So, Ahmedinejad and the Ayatollahs are some mighty mean Shiites but if you’re Iranian, the public health system is pretty good.  And note that central and South America is in pretty good shape as well.  Political turmoil has calmed down quite a bit over the past 30 years there.

Something to think about.  The less secure and more corrupt a government is, the greater the inequality, the more likely preventable diseases will become public health problems.

Friday, Gadding about

We’ve come so far, in such a short time.  (or it seems like only yesterday):

Measles cases reached 15-year high in 2011

Back in 2000 measles was eliminated from the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But now a new CDC study tells us there were 17 outbreaks and 222 cases of the highly infectious disease reported in 2011.

“Last year many U.S. travelers brought back more than they bargained for,” said Dr. Ann Schuchat, director, CDC’s Office of Infectious Diseases, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease. “This is the most reported number of cases of the measles in 15 years.”

Measles was wiped out in the U.S. for more than a decade, thanks in large part to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Cases here are sporadic and although the numbers reported seem relatively small, the CDC says vaccination is still key to maintaining elimination in the U.S.

And you don’t have to travel to obscure places to be exposed. Last year there were more than 37,000 cases of measles in Europe alone, including 27 cases of encephalitis – a serious infection that can lead to brain damage and possible deaths. Ninety percent of cases reported to in the WHO European region were found in just five countries: France, Italy, Romania, Spain and Germany.

I’m not a world traveler so this isn’t something I know anything about at all but, I thought there were certain shots you have to get when you travel around the world. Am I wrong or did that change?


This will surprise you but, I’m also not rich. So take this with a grain of salt…. I’d be way more impressed if these billionaires donated their excess cash to the Social Security or Medicare trusts than some carefully selected (or invented) charity.

12 more billionaires sign on to Buffett/Gates pledge

Their commitment is to give away at least 50% of their wealth in their lifetimes or at death to charity. Buffett and the Gateses developed the idea believing that a quantified goal would help the wealthy to think through their philanthropic plans. (For the full story on the $600 billion challenge, click here.) “Obviously there are a host of people we can recruit, and certainly we’ll be signing up many more,” says Buffett. “But I will tell you, I would have thought the Giving Pledge a success at levels well below 81.”

… also? I’m creeped out by anyone having control of that much money. The payroll taxes (Social Security & Medicare) should be 100% on any sort of income over $10 million a year. Ooops — Did I say that out loud?


Have you visited Many Years Young lately? Every single day, Carolyn comes up with a great mix of stories. Here’s today’s selection:

Letting Go of Regret May Be Key to Happy Aging
New View of Depression: An Ailment of the Entire Body
Blood test looks promising in diagnosing depression
Medicare Now Covers Annual Screening For Depression
Plus lots more.


Activists sue Obama, others over National Defense Authorization Act

A coalition of well-known journalists, activists and civil libertarians have sued President Obama, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and other members of the U.S. government to push them to remove or rewrite this year’s defense appropriations bill, saying it chills speech by threatening constitutionally protected activities such as news reporting, protest and political organizing in defense of controversial causes such as the Wikileaks case.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was launched by former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges, claim that the new provisions, which went into effect March 1, not only put them at risk of arrest but also allows indefinite detentions of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, and that the provisions are too vague.

. . .

“My activities as a civil liberties, democracy advocate and independent journalist definitely leave me under the purview of the vague language of the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act],” says Jennifer “Tangerine” Bolen, one of seven current plaintiffs, along with Hedges, in the suit. A host of live panel discussions with what she calls “activists and revolutionaries” as part of independent media outlet Revolution Truth, Bolen has had ongoing contact with Wikileaks activists in an effort to get information to the public.

“I believe that could leave me in imminent danger of harm,” she says. “There was a global, trans-partisan, outpouring of distress over Obama signing the NDAA into law on Dec. 31, 2011, and I decided I had to do something.”


I’ve been thinking about corruption lately.  Not for any specific reason but, just noticing how sometimes when I read a newspaper story about – say a fire (where an entire apartment building burns down  which has happened around here almost once a month for a year) – I wonder if something went ‘wrong’ during an inspection.  No one around here is talking about it.  But, I’ve just started thinking about corruption…

Sequoia Fund Manager Campaigns Against Goldman Board Member, Former Fannie CEO Jim Johnson h/t Lambert:

A telling taboo in elite circles is the issue of corruption. At INET last year, after a panel discussion on the financial crisis, Jamie Galbraith said he was astonished that there was not a single mention of fraud. His observation was met with a resounding silence.

Second, it assumes that it isn’t worth taking a firm position on ethics because it will turn off powerful people who have engaged in questionable behavior. Better to be less accusatory in order to have a dialogue with them. I don’t buy that because being indulging their justifications of their conduct helps preserve a bad status quo.

One aspect of American exceptionalism is many still believe the US is cleaner and more above board than most other advanced economies. But if you go overseas, you will find that a lot of businessmen see the US as not particularly ethical. One British colleague who has worked with major US firms described the US as becoming more and more a scam-based economy (in fairness, he was really talking about the financial services industry). An American who works a great deal with foreign investors said his clients saw the US at best as on a par with other big countries, at worst, with Russia.

These are just some of the stories I’ve been reading lately.  Have you seen anything interesting?

MORE:

BP Covered Up Blow-out Two Years Prior to Deadly Deepwater Horizon Spill

Two years before the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP off-shore rig suffered a nearly identical blow-out, but BP concealed the first one from the U.S. regulators and Congress.

This week, EcoWatch.org located an eyewitness with devastating new information about the Caspian Sea oil-rig blow-out which BP had concealed from government and the industry.


Bipartisan Political Elite Implicated in For-Profit Education Fraud

In the cases of Senator Snowe and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), their husbands have operated under the cover of their wives as they directly benefited, and continue to benefit from, their positions as shareholders in for-profit college companies. Snowe and Feinstein are accomplices in the ongoing evisceration and defrauding of citizen taxpayers and students, which explains the pair’s complete silence on this matter.

The so-called ruling class of government officials and elected politicians, to which Feinstein and Snowe clearly belong, is little more than a gaggle of white-collar criminals which facilitates and benefits from the diversion of taxpayer money into private coffers. It all takes on the appearance of legitimacy. Unfortunately, this is not a victimless crime. Like Washington, thousands of students who attend these subprime institutions are left with tens of thousands of dollars of nondischargeable debt which ends up ruining their lives.


Monday, taking that first shaky step

A few months ago I read a short blog post that enchanted me:

I have a large basket by my front door. In the summer it holds hats covered with mosquito netting—essential for Maine’s black fly and mosquito season. In the winter, it holds 20 years’ worth of handknit scarves.

They come out in November and don’t get put away until April. This is partly because of Maine’s notoriously long winters, but partly because I can’t resist the womb-like warmth and security of a soft handknit scarf around my neck.

I decided that I just have to have my own basket of scarves. Of course to get there, I had to learn to knit. And that’s what I’ve been working on these last several months.  I didn’t even know until last night that we could put slideshows in posts now!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, just imagine my surprise when I volunteered to do this morning’s news post and found it was the day before an election! OMG…. this is probably the slowest news day of the year:

The big news this weekend (is this true?) was a fake rally hosted by fake news guys. And (I actually watched the whole thing) I think it was a success.

If you think you’re seeing more political ads than in the past, it’s probably not your imagination:

Joe Conason, “The Rise of Sewer Money

In New York, there is a traditional name for the kind of anonymous cash now cascading into the American electoral process. It’s called sewer money.

. . .

The sewer money candidates favor policies that have been outside the mainstream in this country for more than 70 years, including the abolition of the minimum wage, the destruction of Social Security and Medicare, and the repeal of most laws governing environmental pollution, labor exploitation, consumer protection and child welfare. They would end the direct election of senators, returning that function to the state legislatures, where sewer money often ensured the selection of pliable corporate stooges rather than honest public servants.

And according to the New York Times, this is just a test year for the really fun stuff to come:

For Donors, Vote Lays a Base for 2012

Buoyed by the impact their blistering, anti-Democratic campaigns have had this year, two of the largest new conservative groups helping Republicans are planning to keep pushing their agenda in the lame-duck session of Congress that will begin in two weeks and are already laying the groundwork for a more aggressive campaign in the 2012 presidential race.

Officials with the two conservative groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS — which are on track to spend well over $50 million combined this year, a sizable part of it from undisclosed donors — said they would continue advertising against Democrats as Congress returns, when decisions loom on the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts and immigration.

Robert M. Duncan, the chairman of American Crossroads, which, like Crossroads GPS, was started with help from the Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, said he also informed major donors late last week that “research and development” was under way to make the groups even more effective in the next election, part of a pitch for continued investment toward a larger goal.

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not but ….

US Slides on Corruption Index

The United States, while still in the top 20 percent of the world index, fell from 19th in 2009 to 22nd this year, again failing to score in the top 20. That put it behind Canada, Barbados and Chile in the Americas.

The survey was carried out by watchdog group Transparency International (TI) in Berlin. To form its index, TI compiles surveys that ask businessmen and analysts, both in and outside the countries they are analysing, their perceptions of how corrupt a country is.

Relying on the number of actual corruption cases would not work since laws and enforcement of laws differ significantly from country to country.


There’s no question that my life was happier those last few months when I was just focused on my knitting…. I don’t know how things will go in tomorrow’s election.  But, no matter which actual candidates win, I’m not feeling optimistic about our future.  There’s big money out there.  And the people spending it aren’t on our side.

 

Lazy Saturday News and Views

Out of Town News, Harvard Sq., Cambridge, MA

Good Morning, Conflucians!!!!

It’s a gorgeous Saturday morning here in the Boston ‘burbs. I just love Spring!

Personally, I’m still mainly interested in the Blago-Rezko-Obama story, but there is some other news today.


ECONOMIC MELTDOWN

The New York Times informs us that Rating Agency Data Aided Wall Street in Mortgage Deals Yes, as you probably already guessed, the fix was in on those “complex investments” from the very beginning. The ratings agencies were collaborating with the investment banks to make sure all those “high risk” bets came out the way the banks wanted them to.

The rating agencies made public computer models that were used to devise ratings to make the process less secretive. That way, banks and others issuing bonds — companies and states, for instance — wouldn’t be surprised by a weak rating that could make it harder to sell the bonds or that would require them to offer a higher interest rate.

But by routinely sharing their models, the agencies in effect gave bankers the tools to tinker with their complicated mortgage deals until the models produced the desired ratings. [....]

But for Goldman and other banks, a road map to the right ratings wasn’t enough. Analysts from the agencies were hired to help construct the deals.

In 2005, for instance, Goldman hired Shin Yukawa, a ratings expert at Fitch, who later worked with the bank’s mortgage unit to devise the Abacus investments.

It really is time to break up these greedy “too big to fail” (TBTF) banks, but the Obama administration still defends their right to exist. Scarecrow at FDL has a great post on Larry Summers’ latest excuse for TBTF: Why Is Larry Summers Afraid of Having Many Small Banks? Summers says we can’t do that because that’s what was tried before the Great Depression, and it failed.

…if we broke up the megabanks and instead had many smaller regulated banks, it would be the end of America and the financial industry as we know it.

And that would be bad why? Scarecrow:

Funny, I always thought the smaller bank system, if that’s what it was, failed because Wall Street wasn’t sufficiently regulated, and the local bank runs happened because we didn’t have the FDIC at the time. So is Larry now saying that having the FDIC to take over smaller bank failures has been a failure?

And what’s he saying about needing diversified megabanks that lose money on risky stuff but loot, uh, borrow money from better managed activities? Surely he doesn’t mean to argue for letting the investment casino borrow from the government-guaranteed deposit-based divisions?

Reuters: Goldman emails: firm lauds profits from shorts

Goldman Sachs Group Inc officials discussed making “serious money” in 2007 off the subprime crisis as mortgages were starting to falter in rapid numbers, according to a collection of e-mails released by a Senate panel on Saturday.

“Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts,” Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said in an e-mail from November 2007.

“Sounds like we will make some serious money,” said Goldman Sachs executive Donald Mullen in a separate series of e-mails from October 2007 about the performance of deteriorating second-lien positions in a collateralized debt obligation, or CDO.

Continue reading

New Light on Vatican Cover-Up: Follow the Money

Marcial Maciel Degollado with Pope John Paul II

An important article was published this week in The National Catholic Reporter by journalist and author Jason Berry. This article sheds new light on possible motives for the Vatican to encourage Bishops to conceal sexual abuse by priests, as they did for many years in the U.S. and, as we are now learning, in other countries.

Berry has been covering the story of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sexual abuse by Catholic priests since the scandal first broke in New Orleans in the early 1980s. Berry is the author of the book Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II and director of a documentary based on the book.

Berry’s April 6 article in The National Catholic Reporter is the first of two parts dealing with the secretive “Legionaries of Christ” and its late founder Father Marcial Maciel Degollado. This organization is said to be even more influential and mysterious than Opus Dei.

Berry Describes Maciel as a “great fundraiser” who was successful in attracting young men to the priesthood, as well as “a notorious pedophile” who also had affairs with a number of women who bore him “several children.”

The charismatic Mexican, who founded the Legion of Christ in 1941, sent streams of money to Roman curia officials with a calculated end, according to many sources interviewed by NCR: Maciel was buying support for his group and defense for himself, should his astounding secret life become known.

This much is well established from previous reporting: Maciel was a morphine addict who sexually abused at least 20 Legion seminarians from the 1940s to the ’60s. Bishop John McGann of Rockville Centre, N.Y., sent a letter by a former Legion priest with detailed allegations to the Vatican in 1976, 1978 and 1989 through official channels. Nothing happened. Maciel began fathering children in the early 1980s — three of them by two Mexican women, with reports of a third family with three children in Switzerland, according to El Mundo in Madrid, Spain. Concealing his web of relations, Maciel raised a fortune from wealthy backers, and ingratiated himself with church officials in Rome.

Berry reports that Maciel arranged through generous gifts (paying for massive renovations on the Cardinal’s house) to get a powerful Cardinal named Eduardo Francisco Pironio, now deceased, to sign off on the Legion of Christ’s constitution, which included:

…the highly controversial Private Vows, by which each Legionary swore never to speak ill of Maciel, or the superiors, and to report to them anyone who uttered criticism. The vows basically rewarded spying as an expression of faith, and cemented the Legionaries’ lockstep obedience to the founder. The vows were Maciel’s way of deflecting scrutiny as a pedophile.

Pope Benedict XVI, who has been sharply criticized for aiding in the cover-up of the pedophilia scandal, opened an investigation into Maciel’s activities in 2004, and despite the favor in which Pope John Paul II held Maciel, Benedict was successful in having him replaced as head of the Legion of Christ and disciplined for his sexual activities with seminarians.

How did this man get away with his debauchery for so long? Berry explains that Maciel gave money–a lot of it, and in cash–to Cardinals.

In an NCR investigation that began last July, encompassing dozens of interviews in Rome, Mexico City and several U.S. cities, what emerges is the saga of a man who ingratiated himself with Vatican officials, including some of those in charge of offices that should have investigated him, as he dispensed thousands of dollars in cash and largesse.

Maciel built his base by cultivating wealthy patrons, particularly widows, starting in his native Mexico in the 1940s. Even as he was trailed by pedophilia accusations, Maciel attracted large numbers of seminarians in an era of dwindling vocations. In 1994 Pope John Paul II heralded him as “an efficacious guide to youth.” John Paul continued praising Maciel after a 1997 Hartford Courant investigation by Gerald Renner and this writer exposed Maciel’s drug habits and abuse of seminarians. In 1998, eight ex-Legionaries filed a canon law case to prosecute him in then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s tribunal. For the next six years, Maciel had the staunch support of three pivotal figures: Sodano; Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; and Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish secretary of John Paul. During those years, Sodano pressured Ratzinger not to prosecute Maciel, as NCR previously reported. Ratzinger told a Mexican bishop that the Maciel case was a “delicate” matter and questioned whether it would be “prudent” to prosecute at that time.

In 2004, John Paul — ignoring the canon law charges against Maciel — honored him in a Vatican ceremony in which he entrusted the Legion with the administration of Jerusalem’s Notre Dame Center, an education and conference facility. The following week, Ratzinger took it on himself to authorize an investigation of Maciel.

According to Berry, in 1997, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, firmly refused a cash gift offered by a Legionary after Ratzinger spoke at one of their meetings. That certainly speaks well of Ratzinger, judging by the amount of money the Legion was spreading around. Here is a little more from Berry’s piece:

Maciel traveled incessantly, drawing funds from Legion centers in Mexico, Rome and the United States. Certain ex-Legionaries with knowledge of the order’s finances believe that Maciel constantly drew from Legion coffers to subsidize his families.

For years Maciel had Legion priests dole out envelopes with cash and donate gifts to officials in the curia. In the days leading up to Christmas, Legion seminarians spent hours packaging the baskets with expensive bottles of wine, rare brandy, and cured Spanish hams that alone cost upward of $1,000 each. Priests involved in the gifts and larger cash exchanges say that in hindsight they view Maciel’s strategy as akin to an insurance policy, to protect himself should he be exposed and to position the Legion as an elite presence in the workings of the Vatican.

Yet Berry could find no evidence that the Legion’s “donations” have been reported or recorded in any systematic way. There does not even seem to be a method by which this could be done. So the Church has a situation in which a powerful organization run by a pedophile has used money to spread its influence far and wide during “five decades” of “Maciel’s strategy of buying influence.”

Based on Berry’s descriptions, the Legion of Christ is still extremely influential in the Vatican, in the Church as a whole, and in the secular world as well. Maciel’s followers are everywhere, even among the wealthy and powerful in the U.S. Some of Maciel’s famous followers/admirers who are mentioned in Berry’s article are actor Mel Gibson, Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan, singer Placido Domingo, politicians Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum, and frequent cable commenters William Donohue and William Bennett.

Meanwhile, seminarians are still being taught that Maciel was a saint:

Two Legion priests told NCR in July that seminarians in Rome were still being taught about Maciel’s virtuous life. “They are being brainwashed, as if nothing happened,” said a Legionary, sitting on a bench near Rome’s Tiber River.

How do you go about cleaning up corruption that is this long-term and pervasive?

The Culture of Cannibalism in US Politics: The Triumph of The Cyclop’s Values Over Democratic Citizenship

{The first essay in this series introduced a model I created to explain the cycle of corruption that plagues US politics. This essay looks into the roots of this corruption. It takes a long time to get to the payoff. Further, the conclusion is somewhat ex nihilo if you have not read the first essay. This said, for those who dare, I hope you find it worth the read.}
polyphemus2-3717

Polyphemos the cyclops would have eaten Odysseus, if his survival was dependent on the moral virtues of Silenus’s satyrs. Fortunately for Odysseus, and Silenus and his lot, Odysseus could depend on his fellow citizens. If Polyphemos had the majority of America’s elected representatives depending on him for their survival in his cave, the way that they are presently beholden to lobbyists’ money for their electoral survival, he could have had a ready supply of citizens for his daily meals.

Cyclopean virtues regularly triumph over the virtues of democratic citizenship in the political landscape of the United States. Given that the Declaration of Independence embodies the spirit and principles that ground the virtues of democratic citizenship, why is it that cyclopes, who eat humans, win the day in America? Answering this question requires that we journey back to Attic Greece and her proto-democratic foundations. Continue reading

Wednesday: For Sale- Senate Seat, like new, barely used

Kudos to myiq2xu for coming up with that ad copy.

The Governor of Illinois sounds like he’s a bit tetched.  He’s a megalomaniacal, power hungry, corrupt pol in deep, deep denial.  His approval ratings are hovering right down there with George Bush.  And he *knows* he may be recorded when he flat out asks for a quid for his pro quo.   What made him so damn cocky? 

We have learned from years of the Whitewater investigation that where there’s smoke, there isn’t necessarily fire.  It could very well be that Barack Obama had no interactions with his personal Jim McDougal regarding the disposition of his senate seat.  But those of us who witnessed how the primary was stolen from Hillary Clinton already know how corrupt Mr. Obama is.  A man who gets $600,000,000 in campaign contributions, some of them from untraceable pre-paid credit cards and manages to buy superdelegates to flip and whose campaign organization threatens various states to withhold funds from downticket races if their delegates don’t switch sides, has more than enough experience with buying his way to the top. Some stupid Obamaphiles and media types will say that’s just hardball politics and everyone does it.  But when money and favors exchange hands in order to bump someone out of the way and gain you an undeserved advantage is viewed by the skeptical eye of Patrick Fitzgerald, it looks a lot like corruption- and it’s illegal.

Barack Obama is already as corrupt a politician as Rod Blagojevich.  But as to *this* indictment,  this is no failed real estate deal where innocent people are getting caught up in a political vendetta.  This is the selling of a US Senate seat coming on the heals of one of the most brazenly  corrupt primary and general election seasons I have ever seen in my life.  And Patrick Fitzgerald is no Ken Starr but there is a very real possibility that in little more than a month from now, he could be out of work if Barack Obama chooses to replace him.  Now why would he want to do that?

And Rod Blagojevich is a little bid mad, un poco loco en la cabeza, unpredictable and curiously reluctant to step aside during his indictment.  Oh, the things he knows.

So far, the only good that seems to have come out of this is that Jesse Jackson Jr. will probably not be going to the Senate:

Even before Mr. Obama was elected president, Mr. Blagojevich was recorded telling an adviser on Oct. 31 that he was giving greater consideration to one candidate (described only as Senate Candidate 5) after an approach by “an associate” of that candidate who offered to raise $500,000 for Mr. Blagojevich, while another emissary of the Senate hopeful offered to raise $1 million. “We were approached ‘pay to play,’ ” Mr. Blagojevich said on a recording.

But prosecutors, who have made it clear that the investigation is continuing and who issued a plea on Tuesday for people to come forward with information, warned against drawing any conclusions about the true roles of candidates or anyone else in Mr. Blagojevich’s plans. And they emphasized repeatedly that the affidavit made “no allegations against the president-elect whatsoever.”

Several people among the half-dozen whose names have been suggested publicly as Senate possibilities did not respond to requests for interviews. Others, including Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr. and Mr. Jones of the State Senate, who has been one of Mr. Blagojevich’s few allies in Springfield, issued statements expressing shock over the accusations, but they did not answer requests for interviews.

“If these allegations are proved true, I am outraged by the appalling, pay-to-play schemes hatched at the highest levels of our state government,” said Mr. Jackson, who had openly expressed interest in Mr. Obama’s old job and who met with Mr. Blagojevich, whom he is not known to be close to, for 90 minutes on Monday afternoon to discuss the post.

Cry me a river, Mr. Jackson:

I guess we should be grateful that he only offered a bribe and didn’t threaten the state of Illinois with making their legislative agenda dead in the water if the governor didn’t appoint his niece.

Still, what goes around comes around.

Lest we forget

Lest we forget

In other news, DeeDee Myers, President Clinton’s former press secretary, is pretty steaming mad over the Favreau picture:

What’s bugging me is his intention. He isn’t putting his hand on her “chest,” as most of the articles and conversations about the picture have euphemistically referred to it. Rather, his hand—cupped just so—is clearly intended to signal that he’s groping her breast. And why? Surely, not to signal he finds her attractive. Au contraire. It’s an act of deliberate humiliation. Of disempowerment. Of denigration.

And it disgusts me.

Oh, I know: If Hillary can get over it, why can’t I? Her spokesman, Phillipe Reinnes, tried to make light of the incident. “Senator Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon’s obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application,” he told the Washington Post in an E-mail. Obviously, she has no interest in making a federal case out of this particular incident, particularly as both the Clinton and Obama camps work on letting bygones be bygones. She has to pick her battles, and for her this ain’t a hill worth dying on.

But there is a larger issue at stake. At what point does sexist behavior get taken seriously? At what point do people get punished in ways that suggest this kind of behavior, this kind of thinking, is unacceptable? At what point do we insist there will be consequences? Clearly, that didn’t happen during the recent presidential campaign, when Hillary was—as I guess she is now—fair game. The press, the pundits, and the public could say things about her (“She’s a shrew!”) and to her (“Iron my shirt!) that were over-the-top sexist—yet got almost no reaction.

Indeed, Ms. Myers, where do we draw the line and hold people accountable?

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON GROPERGATE!

1. Sign the Pumasphere Petition and Send it to Friends and Family:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Fire-Jon-Favreau/

2. Send an email to the obama transition team, demanding that Favreau resign!

vjarrett@barackobama.com

3. Call Transition Headquarters:

202-540-3000 press option # 2 for a live person

A Tale of Two Parties: Myths, Realities and Strategies in the General Election

What Happened?
What Happened?

Now that the shock and disbelief of Election Night have passed (and I must admit, I feel no small relief to finally have the matter decided), I find myself more able to analyze what happened on Tuesday. And unsurprisingly, it isn’t the tale the media told us.

We are all supposed to believe that the Democratic turnout was enormous and unprecedented. The youths and the AA’s came out in droves. It was an outpouring never seen before for the most Unifying and Post-Partisan Candidate Ever! We are also supposed to believe that Obama’s electoral strategy of expanding the map into the South and West through that turnout was successful, and that his Holy Awesomeness was recognized throughout the land. Yea, verily, he is the President of All The People! (Yes, I heard a pundit on MSNObama actually say words to that effect on Election Night.)

Yet, in fact, none of these things are actually true. All the assumptions above are based on nothing but pretty stories – indeed, I might say, with a hat tip to Bill Clinton, “fairy tales.”

Commenter Cognitive Dissonance mentioned this yesterday, but I had already seen bloggers State of Disbelief and Edgeoforever mentioning it on PUMA sites during the day. From EOF’s site, let’s take a look at the actual turnout numbers this year, compared to the numbers in 2004, the election between the Worst President Ever and Senator John Kerry, a man for whom I gladly voted.

2004
62,040,606-Bush
59,028,109-Kerry
411,304 Nader

2008
63,507,800 – Obama
56,151,859 – McCain

Youth voters only ^ 1%
AA voters ^ 2%

So, this enormous and unprecedented turnout for Obama was only unprecedented for a Democrat. It amounted to 4.5 million more votes than John Kerry, and only 1.5 million more than Bush. The PUMA factor is being estimated at between 2.7 million and 2.9 million, and we must not forget the role of the much-investigated ACORN in registering all those new voters, some as many as 72 times each. As usual, stories of election fraud will be suppressed by the corporate media, since their favored candidate has won once again; but I suspect that ACORN contributed greatly to those surprising numbers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. In any case, the PUMA numbers were very close to matching the “massive turnout” numbers for Obama.

One myth down.

The second myth is that Obama could win without PUMAs because he was going to “expand the electoral map.” He felt he even had a chance in deep red states like Kansas, but counted on states like North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado and Virginia to make up for his possible losses in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Obama’s map held up, and even improved in the General Election (although many of the red states Obama thought he would win stayed red).

However, in the primaries Hillary Clinton disputed that map, and so did we. The numbers were simply not there for Obama. But we didn’t realize that he would have a lot of help – not just from ACORN, but from…Republicans.

As we know, Barack Obama is the most scandal-ridden Democratic Party nominee in recent memory. He is our Rudy Giuliani, whose mob ties, failures of judgment on 9/11 (putting the emergency response center in the World Trade Center so he could see it from his bachelor pad) and inveterate and classless womanizing caused him to self-destruct in the primaries. Yet where were the 527 ads against Barack Obama this year? They wouldn’t even have had to lie this time, the way they shamefully did in 2004 about John Kerry’s military service.  Obama repeatedly insulted working-class voters, cementing his elitist creds in a way Al Gore and John Kerry never did or could. Obama really DOES hang out with domestic terrorists. Obama’s pastor, mentor and friend of 20 years is an unrepentant, America-hating misogynist and racist, who is close friends with renowned anti-Semite and whackjob Louis Farrakhan. Obama’s associates in Illinois are being investigated and indicted. His birth, his education and most of his life are shrouded in mystery. The slightest bit of investigation uncovers a mountain of dirt and doubt. In addition, his choice for Vice President made Dubya look well-spoken. So why did the Republicans not do what they do best, and destroy the opposition?

There is nothing else to conclude other than this: the Party hung McCain and Palin out to dry. They threw the election. Influential conservative commentators pulled their punches, and some even backed Obama openly. KKKarl Rove was on the teevee saying that an Obama win was inevitable. The media leaked stories of chaos within the campaign regarding McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Republican Party allowed Governor Palin to be savaged in the press (and it is still happening), despite the brave statements of a few Republican women when she was first introduced to the public. Senior Republicans snarled that she was not ready, inexperienced, an embarrassment. Key Bush figures like Colin Powell and Scott McClellan endorsed Obama. The evangelical base never supported McCain, despite the addition of a Christian conservative to the ticket. This behavior was a shocking departure from the Party of the past, which had always followed Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment.

The effect of all of this undermining was undeniable: 56 million voters came out for McCain, and 62 million voters came out for Bush.

We don’t know what the PUMA factor was, since a lot of PUMAs voted third party, left the top of the ticket blank, or wrote in Hillary. Some even stayed home in protest. Those PUMA votes would neither have gone to McCain nor Obama. However, if we assume for theoretical purposes that about a third of PUMAs voted McCain, that means that at least 7 million fewer Republicans voted for McCain than Bush.

The short-sightedness of these voters astonishes me, for John McCain and Sarah Palin were the only shot the Party had at redemption. They were rebranding the Party as the Party of feminism, tolerance, government oversight and responsible spending. That brand is now lost to the Republicans. The Democrats will never regain that brand either, because they trashed the person who exemplified it, Bill Clinton, in order to gain Barack Obama. The Republican Party Leaders found themselves a Democratic George Bush, and they did everything in their power to help him win.

Some well-meaning Republicans think they can rebuild the Party by going “back” to conservative principles. Sorry, but wow! Get a clue, guys: Republicans never govern the way they say they will. George W. Bush was beloved by the base, and he was completely anti-conservative. The government grew huge under his Administration; spending was out of control; and he all but destroyed the Constitution with his faith-based initiatives and unprecedented seizing of executive power in the name of “National Security.” Of course, he “kept us safe” too; that is, if you forget that 9/11 happened on his watch and so did the anthrax attacks, and that he created thousands of NEW terrorists by instigating two invasions and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Well, if Bush is what you love, oh Republican voters, have no fear: Barack Obama seems poised to continue smoothly in the tracks laid so deeply by George W. Bush. There will be no oversight of anything, with a one-Party government in power; out-of-control spending will certainly continue; and faith-based initiatives and warrantless wiretapping are both enthusiastically supported by the Senator from Illinois. Oh, and Joe Biden promises us death and destruction within six months, so you may get your terrorist attack too. Well-done, folks! And I feel so lucky, living in New York! Golly gee, I sure hope I live through Obama’s first term, unlike 3,000 of my compatriots in Bush’s first term, and so many, many thousands more in his second. But hey, what does it matter as long as you all get what you want?

Poor John McCain and Sarah Palin. Poor Bill and Hillary Clinton. They are career politicians without a Party. Both Democratic and Republican Party Leaders teamed up with the media to elect Barack Obama this year. No one else ever had a chance.

I am sure that within a few months of Barack Obama’s inauguration, we will know a lot more about what he intends to do to, er, for, America. One thing we know for certain is that the media never, EVER likes the candidate that is good for our country. They liked Reagan. They liked Bush. How’d those guys work out for us?

As I said before, I understand the joy that so many Americans are feeling. But if you look at the reality of what happened on Tuesday, you will see that it was a very ominous sign. Yesterday, Russia felt emboldened to announce a very aggressive move that they had been threatening to make for months. The stock market fluctuated wildly yesterday, but ended up down 145.44 points – an extremely unusual event on the day after an election - and today, it is plummeting further. I fear that things are going to get worse for Americans before they get better.

I do have faith that our democracy will survive, however; but only if enough of us are willing to discard our party loyalty and work together to make it happen. I invite everyone of all political stripes to join us in the effort to become more than hopeless pawns of the corporations that run our media and our political parties. I will have an updated blogroll soon, which will provide more information about things you can do to help.

In the meantime, while we organize and focus, stay strong, my fellow Americans, and remember this quote:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead
US anthropologist & popularizer of anthropology (1901 – 1978)

PUMA POWER!!!

If Obama can’t even take care of his own neighborhood, how can he take care of our country?

‘If you can’t run your own house, then you can’t run the White House.’

-Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama, I wondered the same thing too especially when your neighborhood, not too far from your million dollar Rezko mansion, looks like this:

American Girl in Italy at No Quarter posted a compelling argument into Barack Obama’s character by showing his paternal grandmother and Barack’s half brother – it’s heartbreaking – in her post “if you are not caring for your family…” It inspired me to do the same here at the Confluence.  American Girl in Italy reminded us of when Obama was a state senator for Illinois, Obama pushed for privately owned and managed low-income housing that is subsidized with state and federal funds.  In other words, the government gives the property owner money if they promise to provide housing for needy families and to maintain it under US housing code. And this tragic incident is the result of Obama’s corruption:

The great PUMA videomaker, Flineo, had this to say about Obama’s district in Chicago:

And this is how the Obama campaign & 2008 DNC sell him as:

Uhhhh, I don’t see rainbows and unity ponies floating in the sky over Grove Park or Cabrini Housing Projects. I don’t see Curtis Cooper’s family “getting over” his death due to Obama & Chicago Thug Crew’s quest for power & cash.  We’re supposed to let this guy waltz into the Oval Office just because it’s a “historical candidacy” when he treats the very people he represented like animals to benefit his rich friends?   The 2008 Chicago Machine  DNC stole votes to put a corrupt slumlord appeaser into office?   Voter fraud is little compared to what Obama let happen under his watch in the only piece of land Obama represented before his US seante run.

Right now, people are living in dangerous inhabitable buildings because of Obama and his Chicago cronies.   And cold weather is already here and I wonder about the people in Grove Park, whether they are stuffing plastic bags between the door cracks just to keep warm.  I wonder if Curtis Cooper’s family has filed a lawsuit against Obama’s friends who manage Cabrini, who opted to solve the problem by putting a chain around a fence so iron fences won’t kill another child.

The people of Chicago voted for Barack Obama and this is what they got. What will we get if he becomes president?  More than ever, we have to really think about our voting strategy this November 4th.  We’ve got to keep this criminal out of the Oval Office.  Think out your voting strategy wisely.

¡Que viva los PUMAs!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 413 other followers