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      In light of the collapse of the Ruble I think it’s worth revisiting what controls exchange rates. Supply and Demand. Yeah, if you know something about the subject you’re probably shaking your head. Supply and Demand doesn’t set prices in many cases in the way that an Economics 101 course tells you. Such texts will [...]
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Monday Morning News

Summer Tanager (male)

Good Morning Conflucians!!

I’m “back home again in Indiana,” visiting my mom. This afternoon we saw a beautiful bird–a Summer Tanager. It was bright red all over and gorgeous. I never even knew they existed. The females are beautiful too. They look something like a goldfinch, only they are olive green.

Summer Tanager (female)

It’s little moments like these that remind me that life is worth living even while the world economy is crumbling, the Gulf Coast may become a permanent dead zone, and we still have an incurious, uncaring, narcissistic President, even though George W. Bush has left the public stage for now.

As for the news, you’ve probably heard that BP finally managed to get their 100-mile-long siphon into the Deepwater Horizon gusher, but government officials say this is “not a solution.”

“This technique is not a solution to the problem, and it is not yet clear how successful it may be,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a joint statement.

“I don’t think we should get our hopes up until we know for sure that all of the oil is staying down,” said Edward Markey, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts.

“With reports of miles-long undersea clouds of oil floating around the Gulf of Mexico, and the very real possibility that more oil has been spilled than previously estimated, this crisis is far from over,” he said.

According to BBC News, the chemicals that BP has been using to break up the oil may be causing the huge oil slicks that are building up down below the surface of the water.

Researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology said they had detected the slicks lurking just beneath the surface of the sea and at depths of 4,000ft (1,200m).

Samantha Joye, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia, said: “It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s impossible to fathom the impact.”

MSNBC reports that BP rig inspections were fewer than advertised

The federal agency responsible for ensuring that the Deepwater Horizon was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that the rig be inspected at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

In fact, the agency’s inspection frequency on the Deepwater Horizon fell dramatically over the past five years, according to federal Minerals Management Service records….Since January 2005, inspectors issued just one minor infraction for the rig. That strong track record led the agency last year to herald the Deepwater Horizon as an industry model for safety.

And did you hear that Brit Hume thinks the BP oil spill is no big deal? Here, from Think Progress, is an exchange that took place on Fox News this morning between Hume and Juan Williams:

WILLIAMS: First of all, don’t you think, this spill now is going to be in excess of what happened with Exxon Valdez.

HUME: Let’s see if that happens. There’s a good question today if you are standing on the Gulf, and that is: Where is the oil?

WILLIAMS: “Where is the oil?”

HUME: It’s not on — except for little of chunks of it, you’re not even seeing it on the shore yet.

WILLIAMS: But I think it will damage the environment in the gulf and damage tourism and damage fishing. I don’t think there’s any question this is in excess of anything we’ve previously asked the ocean to absorb.

HUME: We’ll see if it is. We’ll see if it is. The ocean absorbs a lot, Juan, an awful lot. The ocean absorbs a lot.

Here’s the video:

The Washington Post says that Obama is about to have another legislative victory–a financial “reform” bill.

Administration officials, along with Dodd and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), have walked a fine line: fending off most conservative efforts to scale back core elements of the legislation while resisting most liberal attempts at harsher regulations, including strict caps on the size of big banks. Senate Democrats also have courted key Republicans, including Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, by accepting some of their recommendations, including adding rules tying capital requirements to risk and clarifying which businesses would be covered by the new consumer agency.

Something tells me this bill is going to hand over a lot more money to banks and their lobbyists. I hope I’m wrong.

In other news, Glenn Beck gave the commencement address yesterday at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and received an honorary degree. Beck told the graduates that he

…never graduated from college but spent one semester at Yale University when he was 30…leaving because he could not afford the tuition.

Beck, who is Mormon, delivered a speech that emphasized the power of faith in righting a country that he said has gone off track.“I look at the things that are facing you today: the worst economy in generations, the euro on the road to collapse, we’re spending ourselves into oblivion…” he said. “We live in a time where you must have great courage; you must have great faith. We live in a time where it seems truth is on the run.”

His message to the graduates was peppered with tears, humor and even some offbeat wisdom, such as “cabs smell worse in the summer” and “labels are meaningless, but Louis Vuitton shoes are really the best.”

The article didn’t say if Beck had been drinking heavily before his speech.

At Boston University a very special graduation ceremony was held today for the class of 1970.

The accouterment and spirit of their era still radiate from the class of 1970, despite the harsh and abrupt ending to their years at Boston University.

That spring was supposed to bring a flowery conclusion to their four years of academe. But President Richard M. Nixon had invaded Cambodia. National Guardsmen had gunned down students at Kent State, killing four and wounding nine. Young men still faced the draft. And this campus, like many across the country, was in turmoil, with strikes, sit-ins, building takeovers and fire-bombings.

The situation became so incendiary that, for safety’s sake, university officials called off final exams, canceled graduation and sent students packing.

This weekend, on what would have been the 40th anniversary of that ceremony, the university sought to make amends with a proper graduation.

What the heck is going at Ohio colleges these days? It’s a lot worse than anything in Animal House from the reports I’ve been reading.

Sorority at Miami University of Ohio accused of drunken debauchery at Underground Railroad museum

Members of the Alpha Xi Delta at Miami University and their dates are accused of a laundry list of bad behavior at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati during a spring formal, the Associated Press reported.

Accusations include smoking inside the museum, excessive trashing of the dance floor and bathrooms, vomiting in different places, leaving puddles of urine in the men’s bathroom, stealing bottles of booze from the bar and smuggling their own alcohol inside the museum in flasks and plastic bottles.

But that’s not even the worst of it. In a letter to Miami U. officials, event coordinator Rhonda Miller wrote that

…she followed a male partygoer who ducked under the stanchions around the Slave Pen exhibit, which was built in the early 1800s and was used by Kentucky slave trader, Capt. John W. Anderson.

“In catching up with him, I found him about to relieve himself on the corner of this priceless and sanctified artifact,” Miller wrote.

“I told him to get out of the closed off area and use the restroom on the main floor. A Bensons Catering employee later found the same boy attempting to relieve himself on the freight elevator where Bensons had stored their food.”

After a sorority member vomited at the dinner table about a half hour into the 7 p.m. event, Miller said “we realized that seemingly every single sorority sister had illegally brought alcohol into the building in plastic juice or soda bottles and flasks.”

Previously, the Pi Beta Phi sorority at Miami of Ohio had been suspended by the university for similar behavior at another event venue. The suspension came after

a lodge owner complained about damage and unruly behavior at a spring formal including guests urinating in sinks, men scrambling over the bar for drinks, and couples caught having sex.

And at the University of Dayton,

A third Ohio sorority is in trouble after a wild party that authorities said involved vandalism.

The University of Dayton’s Alpha Phi sorority faces a May 27 disciplinary hearing for a March gathering at the Top of the Market banquet hall in Dayton.

Authorities said students were accused of urinating and vomiting on carpet and alcohol theft. A men’s bathroom sink was ripped off the wall and mustard and ketchup was sprayed around the facility.

And Obama thinks this younger generation is going to clean up the mess we baby boomers supposedly made back in ’60s and ’70s?

Here’s a WTF story for you: Congress may override Gates’ plans to cut defense spending

Lawmakers from both parties are poised to override Gates and fund the C-17 cargo plane and an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — two weapons systems the defense secretary has been trying to cut from next year’s budget. They have also made clear they will ignore Gates’s pleas to hold the line on military pay raises and health-care costs, arguing that now is no time to skimp on pay and benefits for troops who have been fighting two drawn-out wars.

The competing agendas could lead to a major clash between Congress and the Obama administration this summer. Gates has repeatedly said he will urge President Obama to veto any defense spending bills that include money for the F-35’s extra engine or the C-17, both of which he tried unsuccessfully to eliminate last year.

Let’s all keep this in mind when Congress and the President try to take away our Social Security and Medicare. There’s always plenty of money for weapons and banks and nothing for the ordinary people who pay the bills with our taxes.

I’ll end with this old song about Indiana, sung a cappella by “Straight, No Chaser,” a choral group from Indiana University.

So what are you reading this morning? Got any good news? Any bird sightings or other nature stories to share? Post whatever stories you like in the comments, and have a marvelous Monday. Where there’s life there’s hope!

Lake County Mayor McDermott says vote count looks improper

I picked this up off of By the Fault, Charles Lemos’ new blog (check it out). I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen one Democrat all but accuse another of corruption on national TV. But he’s got a point. The vote in Lake County, where Gary is located, was held up for hours after all of the other towns in the county had reported. Mayor Rudy Clay of Gary says it took them a long time to count 11,000 absentee ballots.

Sorry, that just doesn’t make sense. If everyone else, including Indianapolis, could get it done pronto, why couldn’t he? Or were they desperately fishing through the ballots, looking for ones to throw away? It doesn’t look innocent to me. It looks like there was a frantic attempt to swing it for Obama and they just couldn’t come up with the numbers.

Wednesday: There is no unity without FL and MI, Don-na

Donna Brazile did an awful lot of eye-rolling last night. I caught her doing it on several occasions when Paul Begala pointed out the obvious. But it wasn’t Paul that made the outrageous statement of the night. It was Donna herself:

BRAZILE: Well, Lou, I have worked on a lot of Democratic campaigns, and I respect Paul.*** But, Paul, you’re looking at the old coalition. A new Democratic coalition is younger. It is more urban, as well as suburban, and we don’t have to just rely on white blue-collar voters and Hispanics. We need to look at the Democratic Party, expand the party, expand the base and not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

***There are a couple good reasons to respect Paul Begala, Donna. He has actually won the presidential campaigns that he’s worked on. You, unfortunately, have not. I think you ought to listen to him.

This is what followed:

Ok, now let’s think about what Donna has just said: *WE* are part of the “old coalition”. We are working class, hispanic, women, seniors, asians. We cut across all socio-economic and education levels. We are over-represented in Florida and Michigan. What sets us apart is that we vote for Clinton. Therefore, we MUST be white trash Bubbas and Archie Bunkers. You can almost hear the contempt she has for us in her voice. That word “old” probably has a double meaning for Donna. (BTW, I happen to fit the Obama demographic but at this point, I’m beginning to think my mom is right. He is the anti-Christ, just with a lot less experience and the inability to win a debate.) Just where does Donna think the “old coalition” is going to go? And how about all of the women in that “old coalition”?

But this is not the only thing that bothers me about Donna. No, I think the thing that bothers me most is her consistent threat that if African-Americans don’t get Obama, bad things will happen. As if race is permitted to triumph over every other criteria we should use to pick a president. And Obama’s campaign has done the most despicable thing you can do to a fellow Democrat He’s destroyed Clinton’s character by manipulating her words and calling her and her supporters racists. But as we can clearly see from the election results, it is the African-American community that votes based on color of the skin, not content of the character. This is the sordid truth behind his win in urban areas, NC and other southern states where he holds 90+% of the African-American vote. In IN, we have the Gary’s mayor deliberately sitting on votes for hours. We can only speculate what was going on there but it doesn’t look pretty.

And here is Obama’s “new coalition”: college students, DINKS, African-Americans and crossover troublemaking Republicans who will not vote for him in the fall. It isn’t a new coalition. It’s a losing one without us. And without Michigan and Florida, it’s an illegitimate nomination. As Begala said, “Count me out”. Oh, that’s right, Donna already has.

Donna needs to be fired.

One More Thing: This race is not over. There is still KY and WV next week. But the late call for Clinton for Indiana didn’t give her the moment she needed last night to make a triumphant speech and ask for money. Forgive my tin foil hat but for all I know, the votes were withheld for just this reason. Now’s the time to make up for that. If you have a few dollars, throw it her way. Contribute here.

One more thing x 2: Yesterday during one of the breaks in my all day meeting, I had several people approach me to say they would never vote for Obama. They are not politicos and the statements were delivered without any prompting from me. They just flat out said, “We’re voting downticket but will skip the presidential if Obama is on the ballot.” So, Donna and Dean better get control of this situation and soon. There are many, many people who do not appreciate being drowned out by caucuses and the monolithic racial Frankenstein’s monster that Obama created.

Nuclear nightmare scenario: Guam determines nominee

It could happen.

The votes were close in IN and not so close in NC. But we all know why this is. Indiana was an open primary. We don’t yet know how many crossover votes there were to make havoc. Plus, Obama *should* have had a major geographical advantage and Chicago media market spillover. It *should* have been a blow out for him in Indiana as well. It doesn’t look like his urban-youth-DINK-Republican crossover vote was enough though. Most of those Republican votes will not be staying with us for the general, of course. He won urban areas where African-American votes are highest. He did the same in NC where he won the middle of the state where 2/3 of the population lives. And 35% of the state is African-American.

I think what we’re seeing here is a real racial divide. It was engineered, deliberately, by Obama’s campaign in order to separate African Americans from the Clintons. It has worked spectacularly well. Obama consistently wins urban and southern AA voters, by lopsided margins. It didn’t have to be this way. There was no reason for the African-American community to spurn Clinton. But in this America, in 2008, color is everything. It seems like the civil rights movement of the 60’s was just a dream. As long as you are the right color, you’re golden. Color masks a multitude of deficiencies- experience, knowledge base, earned coalitions, even interest. Obama has not reached out to the working class, to women, to the elderly, the loyal base of the Democratic party. But he has managed to exacerbate the fault line in the party when it comes to race. There’s no doubt about that now.

Winning NC does not make me like him more nor do I have an elevated desire to vote for him. Let me dispel the notion that he and his supporters have about me voting for him in the fall: unless Florida and Michigan are seated and have an impact on the nomination, I will not consider the nomination legitimate. That doesn’t mean I’ll vote for John McCain. It just means that I don’t know what I’ll do when I stand in front of that button. And don’t hang this on Hillary. If it comes to that, I’m sure she would do her best to GOTV. It has nothing to do with her. It has to do with how deeply offended I am by how Obama has split my party on racial lines and pitted race against their regular party members, as if there was a real split there to begin with. As if I were the enemy. He has pitted Dem against Dem. I am insulted that Howard Dean and Donna Brazile have put their thumbs on the scales for Obama instead of encouraging him to agree to revotes in FL and MI. The thought of voting for him under these circumstances fills me with revulsion. And there’s no amount of cheerleading that Hillary can do to make me change my mind. It’s not her. It’s him.

A win is a win and we will gladly take it and whip his butt in WV and KY and maybe even Oregon. But don’t expect me to support the guy who won with Guam at the expense of Florida and Michigan. I don’t care how tropical it is.

Indiana and North Carolina Primary Cocktail Party

What the heck, Champagne for everyone, Rico. We’re going to have fun regardless.

The polls have closed in Indiana. That was fast. Wolf Blitzer is reporting that with about 1% of the vote in, Hillary leads Obama 64% to 36%. As I understand it, Indiana processes its ballots very quickly so we should know fairly soon what the score is.

I read on some blog today (they did give us bathroom breaks) that Obama had a meeting with big money contributors. Maybe that’s what that single closed door meeting in NC was all about yesterday. I’ve been expecting this for awhile. Obama has to have a really high burn rate. He is spending money like a sailor on ads in a lot of states and the firm he hired to do them gets paid by the ad, hence the incentive to do even more. When NC commenters started saying there didn’t seem to be many Obama lawn signs, that suggested to me that they are starting to feel the pinch. Don’t be surprised if his money starts to dry up if he doesn’t win NC by a healthy spread.

Anywho, sportsfans, let’s party!

Tuesday: In my mind I’m going to Carolina

Whoever keeps scheduling these training classes on primary days is a sadist. I’ll try to check in during breaks but I’m going to have to leave it to others to make posts for much of the day. You’re probably bored with me anyway and Kbird, BB, ronk and gary are my favorite reads these days.

So, Hillary should win Indiana. Of that we are fairly certain. It would be nice to win by 10 but we will be happy with winning. Carolina though is still anyone’s guess. Obama is likely to win it but by how much is just speculation at this point. Jerome Armstrong has been pretty good at predicting these things and he says Obama by 6. Or 12. *sigh*

Just keep sending good thots to Hillary. It’s going to be a good day for her.

In other news:

  • Obama tries to woo white working class voters by taking his jacket off and loosening his tie. This is to dispel the notion that he and Michelle are elitist intellectuals. Well, I would NEVER call Obama an intellectual. He’s smart, sure, but hardly an egghead. Hey, I’ve got an idea! Why doesn’t he stop calling them bitter and undignified? Or better yet, he could stop acting like an extra $30/month is pocket change. Or not call them cheap dates.
  • Gas tax? In Obama is wrong about the gas tax, George Frost at Salon says Obama was for it before he was against it. Obama voted to lower the gas tax in Illinois in 2000 and guess what? Some of that savings went into consumers’ pockets. Fancy that!
  • Joan Walsh talks about Michael Wolff’s sex life and projection. Apparently, Mr. Wolff thinks that we stupid old women should give up our sex lives like adults give up getting lots of gifts for Christmas. It’s just part of getting old for women. Men on the other hand, spend their middle age figuring out how they can have affairs with younger women and get away with it. And this is an explanation for what in this political season? That middle aged men can’t identify with any of the candidates and Obama is too young? Wha? Huh? How come Obama is the same age as me but he’s young and I’m old? Joan is right. The endless primary season is making people progressively sillier.

OK, Conflucians, here’s a fun little exercise. We know that Hillary will have a good day today so how will the media sing her death knell? Last night, Hardball raised expectations for her to stratospheric heights. If she doesn’t trounce him by 35 points in both states, she’s a loser. For some reason, they’ve also got it into their pinheads that she’s looking for a VP position if she doesn’t win North Carolina. That’s some mind reading because, to *me*, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Why would tbe more qualified person want to take second place to a guy she’s beaten in the primaries? Oh, I forgot. Guam was an Obama win so it counts. Florida and Michigan were Clinton wins so they don’t. All’s right with the world.

So, predict the spin tonight. Will it be, “Now that she’s won Indiana and held Obama to a single digit win in North Carolina, her campaign must be trying to figure out how to concede gracefully. She can’t keep winning like this and actually expect the superdelegates to make her the nominee. Howard, what’s your take on this? Will she sweep the remaining primaries and THEN concede or will it be sooner than that?”

Cocktail Hour: Indiana Pale Moon and Stardust

Only two more days until the Indiana primary.  Hillary and Bill have been running a marathon. No, make that an Iron Man trialthlon to reach as many voters as they can and bypass the media filter that remains steadfastly in Obama’s court.  It’s hard to believe our sticker still has this much of an uphill fight after all of the “must win” states she’s added to her column.  But she’s not giving up and neither are we.  We’re here til the very end, climbing that mountain with her.

Welcome to the Clinton Cocktail Hour.  This is the time the day when we beat our pens into swizzle sticks and relax with friends.  Our bar is to the left of the door.  Our bartender, as always, is Rico.  Watch his flair.  Tonight he is featuring the Indy Melonade as his special cocktail, but you can order anything you like.

Indiana was home to the composer of the music we are listening to tonight.  Hoagland “Hoagy” Carmichael, Bloomington, Indiana’s native son, wrote the American standard Stardust.  It’s melody meanders, swooping up and down on tinkling piano to a sweet resolution.  It’s lovely.  And so is this song, The Nearness of You, sung by our brown-eyed beauty, Norah Jones.

We welcome Obamaphiles to stay and celecrate but everyone should know that it isn’t polite to use your trigger words at a cocktail party.  So please check them with our lovely checkroom attendent, Florence.  The waiters will be circulating with and assortment of fine popcorns, plain, buttered and seasoned.   Please dring responsibly and tip your wait staff generously.

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