Solomonster

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

 

Green Pledge

I pledge to promote sustainability at work in 2009. What’s your green pledge: http://bit.ly/2M3bjE

Monday, October 13, 2008

 

2012: Candidate Palin?

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 13, 2008) - Kristol Meth
Kristol Meth

McCain surrogate Nancy Pfotenhauer says Kristol has "bought into the Obama campaign's party line."

There's a fascinating little subplot in the McCain campaign right now with McCainiacs of the old school turning on the Palin-Kristol-Schmidt machine. Kristol and the neocons are grooming Palin for 2012. Many of them have already discounted 2008, and are using this campaign as a platform for an even more extreme Republican future.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

 

Oregon Congressional Delegation Votes For/Against the Wallstreet Bailout Plan

I don't know what "The Right Answer" is on this enormously complex problem, in part because the credit crisis is just the first wave of several financial time bombs that are going to go off in the next few years, but I'm interested to know why my congressional delegation voted 3:2 against the wallstreet bailout Hail Mary prayer/bill. 

So, instead of fucking sitting here wondering, or whining about how congress just fucking sucks... I respect at least a couple of these representatives, I owe it to MYSELF to acknowledge that Respect that I feel, and at least go find out what my delegation SAYS are the reasons they voted against this package.

So, I decided to share with you what I've found out.  Here are the public statements from the congressional websites of those who voted against the bailout package:


David Wu (D - Between Portland and the Pacific Ocean):

Today Congressman David Wu issued the following statement after voting against the financial rescue package brought to the floor of the House of Representatives:

“We currently face a serious threat to our economy, and I do believe that we need to act to protect Americans’ jobs, retirement, and financial security.  Unfortunately, this hasty bill was not the right answer. 

I committed to the people of my district that I wouldn’t vote for a bill that didn’t have adequate protection for taxpayers, and this bill did not.   

Today’s bill put up taxpayer money without a commitment from the government that they would be paid back.  Instead, the American people were told that some future president would offer some future Congress a proposal to help taxpayers recoup any losses that they suffered—with no guarantee that they’d ever see their money again.

I am committed to staying here as long as it takes to do the right thing, because the taxpayers deserve better than the bill we had today.  They deserve a thoughtful solution with real investment protections.  They deserve meaningful regulations to rein in the over-the-top excesses of Wall Street.  They deserve to have the people who caused this problem bear some responsibility for fixing it.  And they deserve a bill that doesn’t just hope that a handout to Wall Street will trickle down to benefit Main Street.”






October 3 Update:  Today Congressman David Wu voted in favor of the revised financial
rescue package, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which
passed the House by a vote of 263 to 171.

“I understand the
anger that Oregonians have at the irresponsible few who got us into
this mess.  In fact, I share their anger,” said Wu.  “But this bill
isn’t about bailing them out; it’s about keeping the rest of us afloat.”

“This
is far from an ideal bill,” Wu continued.  “When we left on Monday, I
committed to staying here as long as it took to put together better
legislation.  This bill is improved, but it is still not all that I had
hoped.  

“But in the end, I believe that the risk of doing
nothing is too great.  I continue to believe that we face a serious
threat to our economy.  Action is essential to protect Americans’ jobs,
retirement, and financial security.  

“We didn’t need to rush to
pass a bill on Monday, but we do need to stabilize our economy so that
small businesses can continue to pay their employees, Americans will
stop seeing the value of their retirement accounts plummet, college
students can get the loans necessary to continue their education, and
working families have access to responsible home and car loans.  A
frozen credit market is simply not a situation that we can live with.

“Congress’s
job to shore up the economy doesn’t end here.  Now our responsibility
is to provide constant oversight as the rescue plan moves forward,
ensuring that people at all levels act in the most financially prudent
manner possible.  

“Instead of just waiting for better economic
times to trickle down from Wall Street to Main Street, this bill
provides direct relief to everyday Americans.”

The Emergency
Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, as passed today, contains the
following provisions that will directly benefit Oregonians and Oregon’s
economy:

•    A reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools
program, otherwise known as county payments, which will provide a
direct infusion of resources to Oregon communities.
•    Clean
energy incentives to grow our green economy and shift our focus from
dependence on foreign oil to renewable energy and green jobs here at
home.  
•    A temporary increase in the FDIC bank deposit insurance
limit from $100,000 to $250,000 to reassure Americans that their
savings are safe.
•    An increase in the Alternative Minimum Tax
(AMT) exemption to spare millions of middle-class families from an
unfair tax increase.
•    An extension of research and development incentives for business to grow the innovation economy that is Oregon's future.

“By
reauthorizing the county payments program today we are providing funds
to hire teachers, healthcare workers, librarians, and others who
provide vital services to rural communities across my district and the
state of Oregon,” Wu said.  “By restoring these much-needed funds, we
are also helping counties avoid issuing pink slips to police,
firefighters, and emergency service providers and allowing these
essential personnel to continue their important job of protecting our
lives and communities.

“When it came down to it, the bill that
all members were asked to vote for today was the last train leaving the
station,” Wu said.  “I wish this legislation had been further revised,
but ultimately, we needed to act.  I remain committed to working on
behalf of Oregonians to address the needs of our economy in the years
to come.”



Earl Blumenauer (D - Portland to Mount Hood):
I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy, as I credit his mastery for bringing this bill before us today. Thanks to his leadership, the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, the cooperation of the Republicans, it is a far better bill. But unfortunately this is not likely to be the end of the bubbles.  We must be extraordinarily careful if we are not to compromise the next rescue. Remember long-term capital management, the hedge funds? What happens if the hedge funds are next? Any real rescue must include bankruptcy equity for homeowners. This is not just a moral issue; it's the key to stabilizing home values currently in free fall.

We cannot continue to bail out with borrowed money. No bill should be enacted without a payback from the financial services sector.  Not a hint of a promise to pay back in five years. And at the core, we are ignoring the fundamental question about the size and scale of the financial services industry that is in trouble not just because of a lack of regulation, but because we had too many people pursuing unsustainable business practices.

We have seen an irresponsible bill change into a responsible bill. It's not as good as it should be and sadly may be beside the point. I will vote no reluctantly hoping I am wrong but fearing that I am right.

The unprecedented outpouring of emotion and advice from Oregonians about our financial crisis has been the silver lining on a dark cloud. If anything, the responses are more intense and widespread than those to the war in Iraq, or to any of the myriad calamities and momentous developments in the dozen-plus years I have been in Congress.  The American people understand the significance of this financial meltdown, and they are asking all the right questions.

Here’s what I’m hearing: People are demanding accountability, and no golden parachutes. Instead of using tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to reward the Wall Street executives who drove us into this ditch, we should insist on ‘clawback provisions’ to ensure that the people who created this mess bear some of the financial burden as well. Congressional leaders are right to be skeptical of a $700 billion bailout, and should not rush to conclusions. People are insisting that Congress understand the depth of this problem and what might be on the horizon. Could the heavily leveraged, murky world of hedge funds become the next crisis?

People are clear that if there is going to be some relief it ought to protect Main Street, not just Wall Street, and make a difference to people across America who are caught in this financial firestorm and are at risk of losing their homes and businesses.

People want to make sure that they receive fair value for the investments of their tax dollars. Whether it is a loan guarantee or a capital infusion, Americans want to know that they have a chance to get their money back. If there is a profit to be made, it ought to come back to the taxpayers and the US Treasury.

Americans are asking hard questions about whether taxpayer assistance means more borrowed money.  Many people feel that we should tax or surcharge the people who profited from this rollercoaster, instead of adding to the debt burden for future generations, which only puts us further at the mercy of foreign investors.

People are, without exception, outraged at getting a three-page proposal from the Bush administration in the dead of night that would concentrate all power, with no checks and balances, in the hands of the Secretary of the Treasury -- the same Secretary who refused to bail out Lehman Brothers and thought that the economy was fundamentally on track.  Finally, and most importantly, people think that we ought to know what’s involved, and we ought to understand the details before we put taxpayers’ money at risk.  If it takes an extra day, an extra week, an extra month to get this right — that’s just fine.

At a particularly stressful time, amid stock market tumult and a 24-hour news cycle, I am encouraged that Oregonians have the presence of mind to counsel deliberate, thoughtful action. I hear you loud and clear, and will do everything within my power to craft solutions that address your concerns.


Peter Defazio (D - Eugene and Southwest Oregon):

 The House of Representatives rejected the $700 bailout yesterday. Distinguished economists across the world have stated it would not have solved the problem at hand. However, we can potentially solve this liquidity problem at little cost to the taxpayer.  I am proposing that Congress drop the Paulson Plan, and instead pass the No BAILOUTS Act.  The No BAILOUTS Act provides an alternative to the Paulson Proposal to address the current credit crunch.  Once Congress addresses the liquidity shortfalls in our financial markets, a Democratic Congress can turn to Democratic solutions to address the broader economic crises we face today.  Specifically, Congress can work to resolve the housing crisis across the country and pass effective job stimulus, which is the response Main Street America expects and deserves.     

While Democrats and Republicans may disagree on the underlying solutions to solve the economic crises we face, the No BAILOUTS Act - a regulatory based proposal - has the potential for significant bipartisan support.

 The Paulson Premise Flawed

Simon Johnson, a former chief economist as the International Monetary Fund, stated today in the New York Times of Paulson’s plan, “It’s our view that this package, in a fundamental sense, will not solve the problem.”  Other economic analysts noted yesterday that the credit markets around the world were almost entirely dysfunctional even when political leaders and investors assumed that Congress had reached a deal and would easily approve the bailout.  There is no reason to believe Paulson’s plan will work.

Alternatives


We have credible alternatives to the Paulson/Bush $700 billion gamble.  William Isaac, the chairman of the FDIC during the previous worst financial crisis in the United States during the 1980s, believes Congress can address the current crisis with simple changes to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules.  Mr. Isaac points out that while we face serious financial challenges today, many banks are still in good shape.  This allows Congress to take swift, uncomplicated steps to ensure the financial markets return to working order. After that, we can work to resolve the housing crisis and pass effective job stimulus.
 
Today I am offering an alternative to the Wall Street bailout that will correct the capital shortfalls experienced by many financial institutions and help protect the integrity and quality of the securities market.  My plan could be implemented promptly meeting the demands of the Bush Administration to act immediately without putting the American taxpayer on the hook for billions of dollars.

    No BAILOUTS Act


Bringing Accounting, Increased Liquidity, Oversight and Upholding Taxpayer Security

1)      Require the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require an economic value standard to measure the capital of financial institutions.
 
This bill will require SEC to implement a rule to suspend the application of fair value accounting standards to financial institutions, which marks assets to the market value, no matter the conditions of the market. When no meaningful market exists, as is the current market for mortgage backed securities, this standard requires institutions to value assets at fire-sale prices. This creates a capital shortfall on paper. Using the economic value standard as bank examines have traditionally done will immediately correct the capital shortfalls experienced by many institutions.
 
2)      Require the Securities and Exchange Commission to restricting naked short sells permanently
 
This bill will require SEC to implement a rule that blocks naked selling, selling a stock short without first borrowing the shares or ensuring the shares can be borrowed. Such practices many times harm the companies represented in the sales and hurt their efforts to raise capital. There is no economic value produced by naked short sales, but significant negative effects.
 
3)      Require the Securities and Exchange Commission to restore the up-tick rule permanently.
 
This bill will require SEC to implement a rule that blocks short sales without an up-tick in the market.  On September 19, 2008, the SEC approved a temporary pause of short selling in financial companies “to protect the integrity and quality of the securities market and strengthen investor confidence.” This rule prevents market crashes brought on by irrational short term market behavior.
 

4)      “Net Worth Certificate Program”
 
This bill will require FDIC to implement a net worth certificate program. The FDIC would determine banks with short-term capital needs and the ability to financially recover in the foreseeable future.  For those entities that qualify, the FDIC should purchase net worth certificates in these institutions.  In exchange, these institutions issue promissory notes to repay the FDIC, counting the amount “borrowed” as capital on their balance sheets.  This exchange provides short term capital, with not cash outlay.  Interest rates on the certificates and the FDIC notes should be identical so no subsidy is necessary.
 
Participating banks must be subject to strict oversight by the FDIC including oversight of top executive compensation and if necessary the removal of poor management.  Financial records and business plans should be subject to scrutiny while participating in the program.
 
In 1982, Congress approved a program, known as the Net Worth Certificate Program, that allowed banks and thrifts to apply for immediate capital assistance.  From 1982 to 1993, banks with total assets of $40 billion participated in the program. The majority of these banks, 75%, required no further assistance beyond the certificate program.
 
5)      Increase the FDIC Insurance limit from $100,000 to $250,000.
 
The bill will require the FDIC raise its limit to provide depositors confidence that their money is safe and help eliminate runs on banks which are destabilizing to the industry.
 

Sincerely
Peter DeFazio

Darlene Hooley (D - Everywhere In Between)
Ms. Hooley has not posted any comments on her congressional website explaining why she voted in favor of the bill.


Greg Walden (R - Eastern 3/5 of Oregon, or an area larger than any state east of the Mississippi River)
Mr. Walden has not posted any comments on his congressional website explaining why he voted in favor of the bill.

Monday, September 29, 2008

 

BROAD Overview of T-mobile's Google-Powered G1 Phone

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Bed sharing 'drains men's brains'

Ah-HAH!
Sharing a bed with someone could temporarily reduce your brain power - at least if you are a man - Austrian scientists suggest.

When men spend the night with a bed mate their sleep is disturbed, whether they make love or not, and this impairs their mental ability the next day.

The lack of sleep also increases a man's stress hormone levels.

According to the New Scientist study, women who share a bed fare better because they sleep more deeply.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

 

What Strange Maps!




US personalities vary by region, say researchers

Research finds Americans on eastern seaboard "more anxious and impulsive" while westerners are comparatively relaxed.
Here's one of their very strange, though surprisingly agreeable maps.

 

McCain's "Honor"?



Oof! What a visceral hit this ad is!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

 

Snapping Food Pics Can Help You Lose Weight

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that dieters asked to take a picture of everything they ate—before eating—led to better weight loss achievement, according to the UK's Telegraph.

Makes sense, to me.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

 

I Miss Stephen Colbert

Ever since Stephen Colbert graduated to his own show, I can't stand to watch even a parody of those whackos, so I don't get to see Stephen Colbert anymore, but here's a lovely flashback to his performance at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, a classic:


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