The Recession Is Mental… What?

McCain is weak on the economy.  He knows this, so he’s got to compensate with a crack advisory team.  Phil Gramm leads the pack:

In an interview with the Washington Times, McCain’s top economic adviser Phil Gramm tells America to suck it up and stop complaining about the economy:

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,” he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. “We may have a recession; we haven’t had one yet.”
“We have sort of become a nation of whiners,” he said. “You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline” despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.

Gramm, whose extensive ties to Enron proved problematic during the firm’s implosion several years ago, was serving as a lobbyist for the international banking and subprime mortgage giant UBS until April. As Mother Jones documented, Gramm played a key role in the subprime meltdown during his time in the Senate.

He’s got ties to Enron, the subprime meltdown, and he’s a lobbyist.  I can see why McCain likes him.  But the best part of all is that I can suddenly see an explanation for McCain’s insistence that the war in Iraq was going swimmingly when he took his infamous walk.

Its all in our heads.

All of it!  The election, the recession, the war.  Upstrairs.  Nogginland.

We are dreamers adrift in a world that knows no mortal bounds, nothing can harm us but we must all be very afraid and patriotic.  Now vote for McCain, lord of reality.


Good Reads 10-07-08

Secrecy News has insights into the FISA bill.

Democrats may give in on offshore drilling (DailyKos).

A fascinating look at Dawkins, Atheism, and Religious Scientists over at Pandagon.  I now really want to read the “The God Delusion” in public for the discussions it could spur.

Carly Fiorina, the HP exec who is angling for a VP slot, disagrees with McCain on the basic issue of health care coverage for the pill.  As Ann points out, the language she uses “women would like a choice” is exactly what she shouldn’t use “when she’s stumping for a candidate who is blatantly anti-choice“.

Bluegal has the video, according to a supporter McCain understands the working class because he wants to ensure they have marshmellows.  And they said his tax-free summer plan was a shoddy gimick, hah!

Karynthia at the Angry Black Woman has a piece up on the impact of voting for McCain.

Evil Bender: A Grand Jury convened by petition against an abortion provider does not indict.

Finally a really interesting exploration of the problem of anti-semetic rhetoric in discussions of Israel and Palestine by the-girl-detective at Feministe.

Healthcare for America NOW!

Oh Hell YES.  MoveOn and a massive coalition of political groups asks the question on Healthcare: Which Side Are You On?

The time is now for an American solution that will secure our families’ health and a healthy economy.

The first order of business for the new President and Congress in 2009 should be to pass health care legislation that guarantees quality, affordable health care for all.

We are asking everyone to tell us which side you are on

From the email sent out:

If Obama wins, will we be ready to fix this outrageous system and achieve health care for everyone? Not unless we start laying the groundwork now.

The Health Care for America Now campaign fuses together the power of MoveOn and leading labor unions, community organizations, think tanks, women’s groups, doctors, nurses, and small businesses.

We all remember how the famous “Harry and Louise” TV ad helped kill the Clintons’ health care plan.1 You can bet HMOs and private insurance companies will block change again—unless we beat them to the punch.

Health Care for America Now will hammer home the outrageous, immoral behavior of the private insurance companies toward sick people in need of medical care. We’ll make it impossible for them to torpedo health care reform again. And we’ll force members of Congress to go on the record—for or against health care for everyone.

This is an outstanding, practical, kick ass idea.  I like every part of this campaign, right down to the rhetoric.  Which Side Are You On is a brilliant choice to make the battle lines sharp.  Here’s the Dropkick Murphys doing Boston proud and covering Pete Seeger live:

I’m incredibly pumped about this.  Its past time we make health care a right.  No more discrimination based on prior illness.  No more coverage gaps for the millions of uninsured children in America.  We can change the face of Health Care and literally save the lives of thousands and improve the quality of life for millions. is asking for funding to help run this campaign.  You can contribute directly the coalition here.  I just did.

Analysis: Obama’s Argument on FISA

The last thing Obama wants to do is move closer to John McCain and George Bush on issues of constitutional rights.  But take a look at his own rationale for his terrible decision to vote for the FISA bill (TPM, emphasis mine):

Obama on the FISA ‘Compromise’ …

“Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.”That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

“After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year’s Protect America Act.

“Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.

This is crucial, and its great Obama fought for this.

It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

Ok.  So there is no accountability for the President or the Telecoms in the past, but moving forward they are now restricted from freely spying on Americans.  The bill’s supporters essentially carved out what they could with the intention of going back later and pursuing actual accountability for crimes committed.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.”

I don’t like that.  Its a very Republican argument to make.  Essentially “There are scary bad men so we need to spy on some of you but don’t worry it will be the right ones”.  I don’t like the FISA courts, its just that since Bush ignored them they seem downright transparent and democratic by comparison.  How sad our country is becoming.

So in essence, Obama and the bill’s other Democratic supporters (like Jim Webb) seem to have decided to trade accountability for past actions for assurance that as of this bill’s passing the illegal spying will stop.  Personally I feel this was a poor decision to make, and that this bill should have been used to embarress the politicians who supported giving complete and total freedom to the administration and the telecoms to spy on Americans “above the law”, with no stated intention of “fixing it later”.  But its an understable decision.  However now Barack Obama has another part of his platform whether he acknowledges it or not: “If elected I will hold the Bush administration and the Telecoms responsible for breaking the law, and work to ensure they are fully prosecuted”.  Although I wonder if we just saw that chance sail by?