Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mooseburger Hockey Mom Sarah Palin

CHINATOWN, New York (August 30, 2008) politix>>
Ideologically, the pick made sense. Politically, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) is a very risky dice roll that reflects expediently on McCain's judgment and temperment. Half-baked Alaskan "Troopergate" rings of 'Reno 911' with county commissioner drive-by shooting thrown in! Does anyone else hear "Fargo" meets female "Bob Roberts"?

Intellectually, the McCain-Palin pair are a continuation of G-Bush's IDD (Intentional Dumb Down) Syndrome. Expect a billion dollars of 527 ads explaining that stoopid is smart and scientific is threatening. Empiricists risk bonfires, etc.

My physical gut reaction is linked to an image of Gov. Palin image with the "AK-44 training rifle" in furs on a snow mobile confronting the Russians on tundra en route to the raptures. "Alaskan Alamo" scenario...the Triumph of Social Darwinism.

Spiritually...the evangelical right is not my territory...detached tolerance and understanding seems the upright posture.

Emotionally, there's an immense unease to imagine that VP designate Palin can conceivably be the one that picks up the phone at 3 AM. Palin vs. Putin ?! This is NOT a Rocky & Bullwinkle your relatives in the swing states and plead sanity.

Never too late to learn...what is this raspberry catsup to garnish my grilled mooseburger about? ///

Monday, August 25, 2008

'Mad Men' Detachment on 'The New Girl'

'The New Girl’ - Season 2, Episode 5
MANHATTAN, New York (August 25, 2008) >> virtuality

'Mad Men' demonstrates how characters are effected by their decisions based on the willingness to let go of or forget about relational and/or psychological attachments. A foundation point of the entire series is that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has become the Creative Director of Sterling Cooper due to his previous detachment from his real identity, his original wife and son, and his brother. The first season's crystal moment of truth about the man who will remake himself as Lieutenant Donald Draper is the poignancy of the son who sees his father leaving on the train.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 5: "The New Girl." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes. MARATHON ALERT: This Sunday, August 31, at 5 P.M. (EST), the first five episodes will be shown in order before the regular cablecast; check your local listings.

In ‘The New Girl’ episode, Don barely hesitates to leave work to meet Bobbie Barrett (Melinda McGraw) at Sardi’s. They liquor up and drive out to Stoneybrook, Long Island for sex on the beach. Don drives under the influence of both alcohol and the sensation of having his ear sucked with serious sensuality resulting in an automobile accident. Peggy Olson is forced to intervene and to bail out Don – literally. (PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you still insist on holding to the belief that drinking and driving is ultra cool or even sane, please review the James Dean safe highway driving trailer as well as the soon-thereafter crash photos of his mangled Porsche!)

Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) has been dragged in as the rescuer and also has to provide Bobbie a safe haven at her apartment to sober up and to give her injured blackened eye a little time to cool down. Bobbie, we see repeatedly, asks a lot of questions to size up people; she queries Peggy about her possible romantic attachment to Don. Bobbie repays Peggy in her own way with tactical tips on how to achieve a corner office at Sterling Cooper. Bobbie insists Peggy has to “be a woman” and has to get don to treat her as an equal.

After her baby was born, Peggy disappeared from work and was in St. Mary’s hospital with "psycho-neurotic disorder" (possibly post-partum depression). In the flashback, Don came to her urging that she “get out of here and move forward.” In other words, detach as if “it never happened.” Don reveals himself in telling Peggy, “It will shock you how much it never happened.”

Meanwhile, Paul Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) and his wife Trudy (Alison Brie) have gone to the doctor for fertility evaluation. Turns out that Pete is ripe with “viability” while Trudy is informed the problem is hers. Pete seems ready to let go of the notion of fatherhood in exchange for less encumbered travel time and movie nights. Trudy, on the other hand, expresses suffering from her attachment to her perceived expectation of motherhood, “What is this all for? I really do want a baby.” Pete is unsympathetic and insensitive, “Work this through or keep it to yourself.”

At the office Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) has a new diamond ring visibly announcing to the staff her new status (and upcoming attachment) as fiancee to a doctor. Roger Sterling offers congratulations to her but also expresses regrets as Joan was “the only reason I came in to work.” Joan wields new authority and enforces dress code mores on the new girl secretary, i.e., Jane Siegel (Payton List), for showing a distracting amount of cleavage.

Jimmy Barrett (Patrick Fischler) compliments Don as a 'real cool cat' for his detachment from Jimmy’s bad behavior with the Schillings and then helping him escape a contract clause to do the 'Grin and Barrett' television pilot.

After the accident, Don arrived home very late from waiting to be bailed out for his driving while intoxicated to find Betty (January Jones) angry as well as deeply concerned. Mrs. Draper is attached to the notion that Don would call her since she is his wife unaware that he has been with Bobbie Barrett. Don makes the excuse that the high blood pressure pills and alcohol together possibly contributed to the impaired driving. In the end, Betty Draper states her real fear and attachment: “What would we do without you (Don)?” Betty informs Don that he will have to get used to meatloaf without salt (a contributor to high blood pressure) "because we love him." ///

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Writedowns Due - econo lines

CHINATOWN, New York (August 24, 2008)
econo lines commentary to The Economist

Fannie, Freddie and Lehman ensure August is anything but quiet
Still bleeding - american finance
Aug 21st 2008 The Economist Newspaper

No excuses: "They didn't see it coming." The professionals at Fannie, Freddie and Lehman were blinded by greed. Simple as the math of further system-wide losses due.

Writedowns are currently about $300 billion USD with projected losses at over a trillion. The amount of shakedown still due is pretty simple math and pretty ugly scenario.

Back in first quarter 2006, my hair was on fire with the view that Q3 2007 was piling up to about a trillion in ARM's needing re-fi. OK: September 2007 was the peak for that and the market peak was October 2007. Do not believe anyone "in the business" that says nobody saw it coming. At 2006 Q1, Nouriel Roubini (yeah, yeah, always the pessimist) and Stephan Roach at JP Morgan Asia were publishing that view...with clear stark apprehension.It was simple math.

I illustrated the impending circumstance as a wet sand castle at the is going to dry out and one of the corners is going to fall. Day and hour is as uncertain as a breeze at the beach. It's not a clock, it's a process. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Lehman played on the thin ice with egos like heavy armor. //

Street to Street ... Bloc to Bloc!

Bullhorn, clipboard & table - ACTIVATE !

Action list for street tablers:
Dust off bullhorn;
Bundle voter registration forms;
Select brochures & petitions;
Rubber band the pens & markers;
Polish clipboard;
Strap table onto the dog wagon
& drag it to in front of the big grocery store.


Street to street ... bloc to bloc!

We have a saying in New York city politics:
"If you're not prepared to streat fight, don't step off the curb."

CHINATOWN, New York (August 24, 2008) politix ///

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden Buzz

CHINATOWN, New York (August 23, 2008) >> politix

The decision to select Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) is no surprise. The timing and suspense were admirably handled by the effective campaign team over at the Obamavilla. Great choice given the middle working class roots of Irish Catholic "six-pack" Joe. Scion Evan Bayh is so (just too) so-so and Tim Kaine (on his Charley Rose coming out interview) demonstrated that he was not ready for the hot lights.

Senator Biden is Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and really knows the terrain. Former Chair of the Judiciary Comittee as well...

Biden, by the way, ranks 99th of 100 Senators in terms of wealth. If $300,000 in lobbyist money since 1997 is the worst the Republicans can dredge up, that is very good news. My primary concern was his son's hedge fund lawsuit... Everybody got something and I'm pretty sure Caroline Kennedy personally made some calls to vet that item. Biden's natural constituencies among foreign policy wogs, older folks and trade union types are helpful. Expect a non-stop tape loop on "economic anxieties." Perfect by me.

The MCM (Multinational Corporate Media) has weighed in with its usual gunk. Nothing brightens my Saturdays more than hearing William Kristol sound off with his regrets the standard of the Roman Empire doesn't fit on the White House lawn. Almost all of the McCain spokespersons were women. The Romney surrogate was as reassuring as a fresh probe of the Keating Five. Karl Rove insists Biden will be a liability because he "tends to exaggerate," "puts his foot in his mouth too often," and his tri-partite Iraqi proposal would have split that country into three pieces. What did you expect from Rove? Fox is NOT NEWS and somewhat emotionally childish in their approach.

Snarky notes follow for those who are so politically addicted they have tracked all links down to Google Search page 216. Biden reclaims his Scranton, Pennsylvania roots... Biden is 65 and has been in the U.S. Senate since he was 29... OK, Time for Change in Washington. I do like the way he is going to constanntly reference "Bush-McCain."

Biden will stay on the populist message without hitting the third rail of "bitter" class warfare. I have news in case you've been hibernating in a deep salt mine: New York City's economic flooring is collapsing and the entire state Michigan is already drowning in the Lakes. Tax deductions for corporate off-shoring HAS TO END. Say it as often as possible, please.

Note the new GOP talking face is Ms. Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer identified as a McCain Campaign Advisor. During the 1990s, she was an apparatchik “executive vice president for policy” on behalf of coal company Koch Industries through their front group, the Citizens for a Sound Economy. This is John Birch country and hints toward the GOP's dark cloud future. (Is that coal soot or methane from cattle lots?) Either way, it smells of trouble.

I don't need to tell Barack Obama to turn that bad dog loose. One reminder for my buddy Joe: Refresh the voters on the old Harry Truman line: "Don't vote for me - vote for yourselves!" Give 'em hell! ///

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quick Draw McCain's Gang versus Honest Able

CHINATOWN, New York (August 20, 2008) politix

When a political party's convention stars are crony-meister Rudy Giuliani, Dick ("Halli-burden") Cheney, Roman Senator Joe LIEberman ("I, Likudius"), and The Terminator...
Who could possibly doubt the raptures are to follow the reception?!
Seriously, they call it "diversity."

Richard Clarke (former National Security Council counter-terrorism adviser) recently reminded that presumptive nominee John ("Quick-Draw") McCain pushed for war in Iraq before even President George Bush made up his mind (oxymoron there): "I'm sure he [McCain] loves his country. It's just that loving your country and lying to the American people are apparently not inconsistent in his view."

Q:: Who called Giuliani on his Orwellian-speak "noun-verb and 9-11" IDD ("intentional dumb-down") act?
A:: Senator Joe ("six-pack") Biden... Union man, I reckon. Showing up to support that yankee Honest Able...that skinny smart guy from South Side Chicago.

I'm betting against Giuliani who will neither stop pretending he's ill nor admit that he simply lacks depth and reason. Cronyism, Corruption & Incompetence! Giuliani and George Bush's FEEMA were total bluster and no muster in NYC after WTC attacks.

Who do you want in office when the next Katrina hits? They were so bad, they had to change the spelling to FEEMA: "Forget Everything Except My Ass." ///

Biden on Pakistan

CHINATOWN, New York (August 20, 2008) Politix

Last November, Joe Biden predicted that the South Carolina primary would pick the next president. He also directly answered the question: "What the hell do we do about Pakistan?" Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) replied.

"The single most significant thing that we could do to change the international environment according to most scholars is literally to empower women in countries where they're not empowered at all," he said after dealing with the latest round in the Biden-Giuliani street fight. And then, there was Pakistan -- which, unbeknownst to either of us non-Blackberry-wearing fellows, was at that very moment going down the kind of spiral that Biden had warned, in a debate four days earlier, was more frightening than Iran's furtive nuclear program. I asked him, on the heels of Karen Hughes's second departure from the Bush administration, how we worry about Pakistan as a threat while bringing up our 15% favorability rating among its people.

"You've got to have a Pakistani policy and not a Musharraf policy. This administration has a General Musharraf policy. So what you have to do is -- there's a vast majority, a significant middle of the population of Pakistan, [that] is democratic and middle-class. But what's happening is, absent free elections, you're forcing them underground, radicalizing them, and you're giving great sway to that portion of the population that's already radicalized," he said, and argued that aid to education with an eye toward economic development is more conducive to long term goals in the country."

Biden's response was to the question by Off-the-Bus's Shelby Highsmith (HuffPo Off-the-Bus) who reported it directly ("Biden: SC Will Pick the Next President" posted November 6, 2007). My commentary at the time follows.

Commentary reply to BIDEN in HuffPo nov6-07
Regarding Pakistan, Senator Biden must surely have dreaded the day that Musharraf's "emergency" came to fruition. With Islamists now controlling the Swat Valley and expanding areas in North-East Pakistan, the stakes cannot be higher. Biden knew very well the likelihood of such tension.

Biden, Edwards and Dodd are the Democratic candidates that show the most capacity to think beyond the present into the near-future difficulties that confront our next president. They recognize the interconnectedness of Iraq-Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Kashmir. Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan will certainly be the next fronts if Afghanistan goes badly. The Taliban resurgence is remarkable for its resilience but also for the Bush administration's failure of focus.

The Iraq War has damaged America's moral reputation, decreased our national security, and increased terrorism worldwide. That's pretty well acknowledged but Senator Biden goes deeper.
To his credit, Biden's proposal to federate Iraq into tripartite administrations is not dissimilar to Turkey's Ottoman solution (pre-WWI). As Senator Biden is aware, the British held onto Iraq for the oil and especially Kirkuk. My oppositon to the invasion was grounded in knowing that without a post-conflict solution for Kirkuk and Mosul that Sunni-Shia conflict of the worst sort was inevitable.

"We must dedicate this nation to the policy of the 'good neighbor' - the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.” - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

That must be balanced with realistic hard choices on the part of the next American administration. ///

Monday, August 18, 2008

'Three Sundays' Teach Mad Men Right & Wrong

MANHATTAN, New York (August 18, 2008)

"When the flesh meets the cross…Seduced by evil desires…" Admonitions and warnings of a sermon open the episode of ‘Three Sundays.’ How do we learn right and wrong? We can hear the encouragement to behave properly and the threat of punishment for immoral actions but we learn by empathetical observation of those in positions of standing. Witnessing actions of our parents and societal role models teach us what will be rewarded and what will be negatively reinforced or punished. At the extreme, the Catholic church of Peggy offers heaven and warns of hell.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 4: "Three Sundays." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

The Drapers engage in a domestic drama regarding how to control and discipline their son Bobby. He is full of “shenanigans, ...being wild in the house, ...lying in (Betty's) face” and ignoring warnings to be careful. Betty wants Don to deliver Bobby a spanking to teach him. Betty snarls the point, "First the washing machine and now the hi-fi... How else is he going to learn the difference between right and wrong?"

It is interesting to note that Betty has started to neglect the understood motherly function of feeding her kids (at 7:30 PM) and her husband when he returns from work. Betty at the end learns from Don: "My father beat the hell out of me. All it did was make me fantasize about the day I could murder him." Their couple violence escalates to shoves and threats to bodily harm (as in "put you through that window").

Daughter Sally is about eight years old and precociously knows enough to ask Paul about sex when she visits the office. “Do you kiss her? Do you ride on top of her?” Discussions with Joan about breast size and expectations of her own image of what she will be when she grows up are Sally's way of being sophisticated and “hip” (not yet a verbal meme for eight-year-olds in 1962). As we know, the tweeners and younger girls of today are bombarded with provocative and suggestive images and sounds. Some will not be so fortunate as to be carried home in the arms of their fathers after their first experiment with drinking whiskey until they pass out. It is worth noting for concerned parents that about 20% of children (even as young as six) are interested in sex, know the basics and fantasize about its adult implications (from the perspective and dream worlds of children, of course).

On the other hand, Roger Sterling has learned that he can get anything he wants if he is willing to pay the price of the ticket or “invoice” as he puts it. Vicky the prostitute has agreed to Roger’s price point in exchange for Roger getting whatever he wants in sexual acts. They depart from the hotel room to Lutece with Roger volunteering to school her in the finer points of red wine (and perhaps how to be his perfect mistress).

Father Gill learns from sister Anita Olson during confession that Peggy has “seduced a married man.” Anita judges her and hates her for her sin of the out-of-wedlock child. What's more, Anita feels that Peggy “acts like nothing has happened.”

Peggy's story resonates for us all. My own personal footnote is that I was conceived out of wedlock in murky circumstances during an evening of a summer baseball tournament. The act of conception was in a car with alcohol involved. This was an era when abortion was out of the question. Our nuclear family had a “wild-man” electron from before day one. “Growing up with the teenagers” was literal, figurative and painful. My familial (not the biological) father suffered and withdrew from me at a very early age.

Father Gill commits an act of tender kindness when he gives Peggy the blue Easter egg “for the little one.” May we all learn compassionate wisdom. ///

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sudan Attacks in North Darfur

CHINATOWN, New York (August 14, 2008) >> CENTCOMM: At The Front

The Sudan government is waging a fresh campaign to clear North Darfur of rebels. The May 10 assault on Khartoum was from Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) camps located in that region near the border convergence of North Darfur, Chad and Libya. Oil exploration activities have also begun in that area. A satellite view of the terrain shows a vast area of desert that could be a clip of Mars – endless rippled reddish-tan sand hills.

At least seven were killed in Tuesday's most recent attacks by Sudan in North Darfur. Purportedly between 100-270 vehicles and 500 mounted janjaweed on camels and horses were involved in the operational assaults. All the water has to be transported...hence the truck convoys and low numbers of attack troops riding in “technicals” and on camels and horses. The location of the attack was identified as a soda ash plant apparently occupied by Darfurian rebels. Exact location (according to Abdel-Wahid al-Nour, the chairman of the Sudan Liberation Movement) was proximate to the soda ash deposits of Jebel Atron. The area is south of the great Wadi Atron geo-physical feature (like a giant desert washed-out area or a river with no water). This is also – not coincidentally – in an oil development and exploration field identified as Block A12.

The Sudanese government fails to acknowledge that seismic activity is underway. However, Block A12 is operated by a “consortium led by the privately held Saudi Arabian oil company al-Qahtani” (BBC/Khartoum). Al-Qahtani & Sons is enormous in oil field services: and construction contracting; the company has a division specializing in anti-corrosive pipes. The region is one that Chinese companies are seeking to explore and Chinese workers have recently been moved there to look for oil in the remote area.

"Preparations are ongoing to launch a small campaign of 1,000 kilometers of seismic" works at Block 12A in Northern Darfur, Sudan's country manager at Ansan Wikfs, a partner of Sudan-owned Sudapet, Denis Rey told the Dow Jones at or around July 9. Company officials confirmed at that time that “state-linked Chinese oil services companies are in talks to help Sudan exploit its crude reserves in its troubled Darfur region with the Sudanese army providing security,”

The Darfur region of conflict now sprawls over four countries: Sudan, Chad, northern Central African Republic (CAR) and now cross-border retreats of rebels into Libya. At the core, the central factors of the overlapping conflicts are depleting water and developing oil.

The Sudanese offensive to clear Darfurian rebels out of north along Chad border is also a convenient place to park Sudan's anti-Chadian proxies. At the corner with the Libyan border are mountains to the west from there along northern Chadian border with Libya.

Sudanese Army and Chadian insurrectionists outweigh the Chad Army and Darfurian rebels many times. So Khartoum's strategy may be to lean on the Chad government and wait until they wear down or to diplomatically achieve what they want from Chad without a fight.

The Sudanese embassy in N'Djamena is set to re-open next week. A rapprochement with the Chad government of Idriss Deby (presently ranked as the world's most corrupt) includes side agreements for restoration of bilateral relations and cessation of negative media campaigns by the two governments. Libyan leader. Muammar Ghaddafi is also sponsoring a tripartite summit that the two presidents of Sudan and Chad have agreed to attend.

This regional campaign to clear the northern flank is in the context of the larger overall conflict over Darfur. In 2003, Darfurian rebels attacked Sudanese positions as push back on Arab herders displacing black African villagers in the massive region of Darfur (meaning "land of the Fur" tribe). Most are familiar with the Sudanese response of ferocious janjaweed irregulars engaging in brutal ethnic cleansing. According to the United Nations, over 300,000 have been killed and two million have been displaced with a substantial proportion of those falling into refugee status. ///

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Manage Expectations on Mad Men's "The Benefactor"

What do we expect? What would Don Draper do? How do the characters “manage people’s expectations”? How are others able to use and manipulate us because we "expect" them to behave a certain way? The level of social contracts contains a framework within which we expect people to act and respond. The characters who trump that level with their willful expedience to take the game beyond the boundary triumph as the winners. They act on their needs and how to attain them beyond societal norms.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 3: "The Benefactor." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

"The Benefactor" (episode #16) of Mad Men involves five couples: Drapers, Barretts, Schillings, Harry and his pregnant wife Jennifer, Arthur and his girlfriend Tara. Each of those couples demonstrates surface of expectations (e.g., contractual fidelity) and how those expectations really play out under the table and/or below the belt.

For example, the couple of comic Jimmy Barrett and his manager/maybe-wife/(sister-in-the-old-days) Bobbie have very low expectations around "fidelity." It's all business and survival. In the open, Jimmy goes beyond politeness and totally insults the obese Mrs. Schilling as a semblance of the Hindenburg. He ceases to stop and dumps on with “buffalo” and “whale” comparisons. Getting drunk on a contracted promotional shoot doesn’t faze him as wrong or inappropriate. People expect it. Later in the episode, Bobbie tells Don on the phone that Jimmy is auditioning at the Copa nightclub – controlled by the Mob in those days. That’s hard ball rules.

Bobbie thinks (expects) she can intimidate Don Draper as if he plays by the understood rules of propriety in business dealings. She will discover that Don plays hard ball better than she does. Bobbie expects a payoff for her behavior but doesn't get one. The turning moment is the command-performance sex in the front seat of Don’s car during the hailstorm. He protests, “I don't want to do this.” She retorts, “(IT) doesn't feel that way.” In the powder room at Lutece, Don manipulates Bobbie's expectations of his need/affection/lust for her. Don threatens to ruin Jimmy if she does not prompt him for the apology to Mrs. Schilling.

The insulted Schillings deserve but barely expect an apology from the likes of Jimmy Barrett. Mrs. Schilling “knows that’s what (Jimmy does) but she doesn’t have the stomach for it.”

Harry's wife Jennifer expects him to ask for a raise. She also has expectations that they somehow “deserve” the money because they need it for the coming baby. Oh my, how times have changed.

Arthur, the handsome rider, expects to be treated as “the rooster” at the stable but discovers that Betty turns down his advances. Immediately revealed are imbalances of money (she's got it) and dimorphism (he is much larger than she is). Arthur's relationship with Tara seems to be social climbing, expedient and unequally balanced.

Betty Draper defends her fidelity and performs as Don's “better half.” She understands the game and asks Don if the business dinner at Lutece will be an occasion for her to “talk” (i.e., participate in the conversation) or one in which she is expected to be silent. When the evening ends with Betty cuddling cozy next to Don in the car, she expects him to recognize that they “make a great team.” ///

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mother Bear Russia Attacks

CHINATOWN, New York (August 10, 2008)
If one sees South Ossetia as a bear cub of Mother Bear Russia, one may want to turn one's eyes away from the fate of the small creature (say a racoon, i.e., Republic of Georgia) that threatened such a much larger beast. Out on the icy surface of geopolitical reality, the "frozen conflict" is heatedly engaged.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has set in motion actions that may prove very dangerous for us all. The question is the degree to which the Russians are willing to withstand international pressure while taking territory. Russia as the "Gazprom Inc." petrostate covets control of the pipeline from Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea energy fields.

The military weight advantage of Russia over Georgia is overwhelming: 650,00 versus 30,000 personnel; 200 versus 13,000 tanks and APC's; combat aircraft 1200 versus handful; 7500 artillery pieces versus roughly a hundred. (Source: Jane's Assessments) At this posting, Russian naval operations are encircling the Black Sea side while tank-lead Russian occupation forces are pouring south into the area around Gori, Georgia and down through Abkhazia.

The warnings were clear. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin especially, warned repeatedly of "serious consequences" if South Ossetia was "provocative." Putin was explicitly clear that "Russia will not and can not accept a NATO presence in Georgia." Kosovo's separation from Serbia in February was one more factor leading to this unfortunate turn of international events. The Russians substantially upped the volume of the growl since April. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has specifically and repeatedly threatened that Georgian efforts to join NATO “will lead to renewed bloodshed.”

Strategic considerations in the Caucasus Mountains have lead Russia to military action for over 200 years. The 1989-1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union led to serious fighting then followed by 19 years of "unsettled conflict" as it has been characterized. It is notable that linguistically, the Ossetians are of Persian rather than Caucasus lineage. Culturally, their history is connected to the north. Local tensions include competition for scarce water and fuel between the 80%-majority Ossetians (many of whom now possess Russian passports) and the Georgians.

Russian-Georgian Timeline
13th Century - Ossetians pushed south into the Caucusus by the Mongols
1783 - Georgia accepts protectorate status under Catherine the Great
1801 - Russia annexes Georgia
Dec. 1879 - Josef Stalin born in Gori, Georgia
1914-1918 - World War One
1918-1920's - Russian Revolution and aftermath; flu pandemic
1930's - Bloody purges under Georgian Communist Party chief Beria
1941-1945 - World War Two
1948-1985 - The Cold War between the Warsaw Pact and NATO/U.S.A.
1989-1991 - Collapse of the Soviet Union
1990-1991 - South Ossetians fight for separation from Georgia
1991 - Georgia declares independence from Russia. Shevardnadze became president
1992-1994 - Abkhazia fights for separation from Georgia and Russian re-unification
2003 - Shevardnadze overthrown
2004 - The Rose Revolution elects Mikheil Saakashvili as Georgian President
Summer 2004 - Georgian troops re-enter South Ossetia to restore "territorial integrity" and order against banditry
Winter 2006 - Russia imposes food embargoes, cuts transportation and energy
Summer 2006 - Georgia sends troops back into Abkhazia
2006 - South Ossetian referendum votes for full independence
February 2008 - Kosovo independence recognized. Russian Duma votes to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia
April 2008 - Georgia's Saakashvili demands reversal and supplies mobilization
May-July 2008 - Violence, bellicosity, military over-flights and insults escalate on all sides

August 2008 - Georgians surround and attack Ossetian city of Tskhinvali; Russians invade; state of war is decreed and mobilization expanded; 2000 troops flown back to Georgia from Iraq by Americans

Russia has made itself clear. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin: "War has started." Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: “We will do anything not to allow Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO.” The West is calling for ceasefires. ///

Saturday, August 9, 2008


CHINATOWN, New York (8/08/08)

HEARD ZONE alludes to the moment of uncertainty when a migratory herd must cross a river. The “mascot” of the fresh water mosasaur is the visual reminder that those who jump first and attempt to cross are likely to discover hungry hidden predators. Today's Nile crocodile awaiting a herd of zebras that must cross the river would be the same metaphor. The site is organized into primary sections of POLITIX, VIRTUALITY, WORLD, ECONO LINES, and CENTCOMM: AT THE FRONT.

POLITIX = political fix for recreational weekenders to hard-cure self medicators. I will be attempting to aim the shining Kleig lights of 21st Century progressivism into the darkly shadowed world of the American demographic forest. Realistically, there are 300 million people on the ground in The States... and we are not all above average. In a reality-based frame, we will traverse the districts of discourse from America's unresolved tribal conflicts to villainous Corporados stealing the church collection plates!!!

VIRTUALITY = the etheric realms of organized electrons that attempt to inform, persuade and assure us as witnesses to our history of transition into an unknown somewhere. Television section opens with “MadMen Reflections in an Antique Mirror.” My focus on that series will be its dramatic presentation rather than its interior decorating aspects. The Internet sub-section will be mobbing up and netting live prey. Humans are swimming in their own Tao, Maya and/or Karma of perceptible immersion. Musica = that which is absolutely necessary and "Unforgettable.” At this juncture, the world of Print Media has as much chance for survival as our first zebra to hit the water. Psycho-demography = population dynamics and interrelational analysis; I will be sounding off to synaptic snap, the crackle of self-remembering and Pop Psyc.

WORLD = All and Everything on the "Occasion." 6.7 billion humans are each clamoring for their share of life and potential in a Malthusian environment of demand pressure and supply squeeze. The tangible and physical realms of our planet's struggle to survive will be reported.

ECONO LINES = analysis and commentary on macroeconometric trends and happenings too large to ignore. Previously, “Sub Prime BBQ” and “Dance of Debt” (on the unbalanced coupling of the U.S.A. and China trade and debt relationship) were series that will be re-introduced in this new configuration. I was pounding my shoe on the table in the first quarter of 2006 and farther back into 2005 attempting to draw attention to the obvious that the bulge of re-financing Adjustable Rate Mortgages in Q3-2007 was over a trillion dollars. The re-fis pressure would be the economic tsunami to hit our beach-front security. My effort will be to interpret macro financial numbers into naturalistic allegories. and references to the worlds of physics and energetics.

CENTCOMM: AT THE FRONT will cover the territory of the corresponding American military command. Big trouble looms from the camel corps of the North African Maghreb to the operational disposition of the Khyber Pass. ///

Dear John (Edwards),

MANHATTAN, New York (8/08/08)

"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
Until, in our own despair,
Against our will, comes wisdom,
Through the awful grace of God."
-- Aeschylus

Vanity got you...the house, the hair, the hedge fund, the hottie.Why oh why were you attracted to this woman? Bars are not good places to meet campaign workers.

The Rielle Hunter videos were terrible. Maybe the hotel flickers were better. Couldn't you see that? To my eye (even on first viewing way back when), you were "lit up" on the airplane (probably Fred Baron's). Sordid and sorry.

I sympathetically see the "son of a mill worker" but am now distracted by the $400 haircut that you just couldn't live without. I empathetically respect the private life separate from the public role but you repeatedly misled everyone including the Democratic Party (DP). The DP fortunately acted on higher wisdom than my own or we would be facing a presumptive nominee with a political death sentence.

Is it the giddiness of the ascent? Is it the "golden touch" of great fortune and fate? Is there a lesson to be learned by us all as we witness your suffering with this tragic error?

Times have changed since Grover Cleveland and you have self-destructed an opportunity to deeply and substantively contribute to the well-being of your country. You've gone from Teddy Rosevelt to Grover Cleveland in historical association...yikes!

Having written and posted about a thousand articles and commentaries on behalf of your candidacy, I will be pondering and reflecting...going forward.

Blessings and peace on your family as you miss the convention you worked so hard to achieve. So sad and my heart still goes out to you. ///

Friday, August 8, 2008

Chinese Olympics Total Solar Eclipse

CHINATOWN, New York (8/08/08)

From the perspective of Chinese divination, the prophetic portent (augury) of the August 1, 2008 total solar eclipse is ominous. The associated forebodings include:
-- Change of dynasty or fall of the regime
-- Death of emperor (or Chairman of the CCP, we might presume)
-- Initiation or turning point of war
-- Natural disaster, e.g., major earthquake or volcano
-- Eruption of social chaos

Before one dismisses the astronomical event as unable to affect earthly events, consider the following: Total solar eclipses occur due to specific alignment of the Earth, Moon and Sun. That alignment will surely have a gravitational and electro-magnetic effect on the planetary energy fields and tectonic plates. The Chinese Imperial Library was maintained for two millennia; the Sichuan earthquake of July would qualify as a significant entry.

Please note some curious synchronistics. Pope John Paul II was born on and buried on the day of solar eclipses; he had been prophetically referred to as the “solar Pope.” Russian author and lion of anti-Communism Alexander Solzhenitsyn died immediately after the recent eclipse. He wrote a fascinating in-depth section in "August 1914" on the ecliptic influence and effect on military strategies of nation states that he saw as greater (or meta) spiritual beings. Mother Russia and Dragon China are "nations" of the solar energy and eclipses. The Solzhenitsyn passage states they initiate military operations synchronous with solar eclipses. It might be concluded that the Russian-Georgian conflict could dramatically escalate based on this "ecliptic influence." He writes that (alternatively) the historical and mystical Persians and Jews were influenced by lunar eclipses. (Note that one is due on August 16.)

There is recent scholarship of the classics that dates the return of Odysseus from the Trojan War to Ithaca at the time of a solar eclipse in 1178 B.C.E. In our end-of-era moment, we would be wise to consider the lessons learned and “signs given” since ancient times. In recent memory, the solar eclipse of August 6, 1990 coincided with Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. The 1991 Gulf War coalition response was launched on January 17, the day after another solar eclipse.

Generally a total solar eclipse crosses any portion of the Earth’s surface about once in 350 years or twice in an "age of civilization cycle" (see Rodney Collins's "Theory of Celestial Influences"). For those individuals troubled and seeking immediate spiritual guidance, Chogyam Trungpa's "Cutting through Spiritual Materialism" is a worthy reference point for this junction.

Before you conclude that you have wasted your time and attention speculating on invisible influences, recall that the Aztec calendar predicted the arrival of Cortez on their beach to the very day...on the occasion of an eclipse! ///

Thursday, August 7, 2008

'Mad Men' Takes Flight One

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK (August 7, 2008)

The essential nature of drama is conflict. How the future unfolds and circumstances resolve is dependent on the characters and how they adapt or do not due to their inherent hubris (fatal ego flaw). Characters develop (transcending upward or devolving down). These very same principles apply on 21st Century TV as in the ancient theaters of Greece beginning in the Sixth Century B.C.E. We, the audience, are drawn in by identification with those characters and through our anticipation of what will transpire.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 2: "Flight One." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

The operational center of the Mad Men universe is the office complex of Sterling Cooper that doubles as its emotional arena. The character conflicts of staffers introduced in the Flight One episode will resolve in that primary setting. As Joan Holloway foreshadows, People should not bring their problems into the office. They just drag you into the garbage.” The antagonistic dualities are being established.

At the open, Paul Kinsey has thrown a party in his suburban Montclair, New Jersey “poor little rich boy apartment.” Paul introduces his girlfriend Sheila White (who is black) to fellow staffers. Joan immediately and directly insults Paul with her feigned surprise that he would be “open-minded.” Staffers observe that Paul has lifted an office typewriter (and made him vulnerable). His justification is that he is a WRITER who NEEDS it. Later in the office, she shows her sharp teeth: “At least I'm not a phony.” Viewers see a male hand steal Joan's red purse from her locker; then her ID is copied and posted on the bulletin board with her birthday circled. (Presumably) Paul's act of payback reveals Joan’s age to be 31.

The episode reveals Peggy's internal spiritual conflict. She visits her new baby that is living at her mother's. Sleeping in the same room with the baby are two additional boys who are potentially hers. Peggy declines communion. This all adds up to possible issues such as aversion to contraceptives and abortion, which was still generally illegal at that time.

Betty Draper demonstrates talent as a card shark when the Drapers entertain at home. She also expresses a greater willingness to confront Don but he dodges the confrontation, “I’ll say whatever you want but I don't want to fight about it.” Rules of marriage are about to be tested.

Don Draper's contradiction at the office is that cutting loose a client is called “conflict of interest” for a good reason. We have additional complications as Duck Philips has recruited Pete Campbell in opposition to Draper’s call for “loyalty.” Pete Campbell’s father was in the airplane that crashed. He is suddenly without even a semblance of an emotional or moral rudder. Inheritance has turned to obligation and security into uncertainty.

Early 21st Century needs the straight-forward self-made (on many levels) Don Draper. Golden Globe Best Actor Jon Hamm deserves his accolades. His persona is resonating with those who are aware they are somewhere new now but unsure where, when and what that is. Our own end-of-era feelings and anxieties are being projected onto characters that we know are soon to find themselves immersed in social upheaval and revolutions across the realms of human existence.

Ageism and racial prejudice have been added to the previous blatant gender prejudice of WASP-ish 1962. The religious underpinnings of “proper” socially contractual sexual mores are creaking and cracking from the weight of cultural pressure. The duelists in these emerging conflicts are maneuvering and circling without head-on collisions – so far. Plenty of combatants are itching for a fight this season. ///

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Taking Issue(s)

CHINATOWN, New York (August 3, 2008) >> politix

Let us not be distracted from the critical issues that face our nation. When the GOP lowers the Presidential dialogue level to celebrity baiting and racial fear mongering, remind your family, friends and neighbors that our nation is in real peril if we do not reach resolutions on the overwhelming problems confronting us.

--> Need to Address Our Economic and Housing Crisis;
--> Need for Universal Health Care;
--> Need to End Combat in Iraq;
--> Need to Preserve Our Environment;
--> Need to Solve Energy, Security & Global Warming;
--> Need for Economic Justice & Fair Taxation Policies;
--> Need for Rural Recovery and Broader Internet Access;
--> Need to Rebalance Corporatist and Lobbyist Dominated System;
--> Need for Smart Trade Agreements;
--> Need to Defend the Constitution.

McCain is simply not up to the task. We obviously do not need John McCain as Bush's third term! ///

Saturday, August 2, 2008


MANHATTAN (July 2008) politix ©2008 by M. Dubay

The first decision of paramount impact for presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama is the choice of Vice Presidential running mate. There are three integrated aspects to measure: Electability advantages, assistance in governance if/when elected, and the personality mesh. The Vetting ZOO chart [excel] includes those presently mentioned as under consideration and in the process of vetting scrutiny.

For baby boomers, the George McGovern candidacy really sank and doomed many down-ticket Democrats due to the Eagleton VP withdrawal – a fiasco of the first magnitude. More recently, most political readers recall the personality clashes and tactical differences between nominated Senators Kerry and Edwards in 2004. Was it “help or hope is on the way!” that got in the way? The response to “swiftboating” demanded naval razing rather than time-consuming navel gazing. How could “they” not have been aware that the flank attack was going to launch? No doubt, a certain stubbornness set in as turmoil inside the campaign churned.

Marc Ambinder's [[“It's Vetting Time”]] in the National Journal provides a behind-the-curtain view of the psychological nuances and potential traps for presumptive nominees of both major parties. He quotes John Kerry as revealing, “You inevitably come upon things that have never been made public.”

2000 gave us Sen. Joe Lieberman (Likud – CT) and a body of opinion exists that Gore's fatal campaign error was his choice of running mate. Senator Diane Feinstein (CA), Sen. Bob Graham (FL), Sen. Evan Bayh (IN) and Sen. John Edwards (NC) were all better choices. My own strategic recommendation at the time was to launch the Riverboat Express with Bill Clinton (as skipper and M.C.) to plow the waters of our great interior rivers. Lights, music and BBQ’d dancing girl hoopla (with prizes and free food at every stop) would have broadcast from Cincinnati to Chattanooga and on down to N'Orleans. I was serious. Blame Nader as much as you like for as long as you want but recognize that even the Revolutionary Workers Party had enough voters to tip the result. Nuff said on that.

The personality mesh affects both campaign dynamics and the sought after reins of governance. Among the top-tier possibilities, Sen. Clinton is realistically unlikely on that count alone. The naming of the ousted Patty Solis Doyle as Chief of Staff to the selected running mate is a huge sign – blinking and blaring if not blinding and deafening. Obama is most likely not comfortable with Sen. Clinton and her inner corps of cadres. One disqualifier is the linkage to Mark Penn since the “change and reform” message is a direct clash with his ilk and their expedience.

Assistance in governance is two-fold in that the voting electorate sees and hears sufficient slices of the VP candidate to judge not only a level of executive competence and gravitas but also what the Presidential candidate perceives as their need (to govern and to project through media a help to getting elected). The executive experience is why Governors have had a better chance than Senators historically.

Electability assistance includes demographic appeal, electoral weight, Party unity and media presentation of the primary candidate and their message. Certain factors are obvious as generalizations. For example, older white working-class Catholic men living in the Deep South are not amongst Obama’s strongest demographic clusters. Balance on the ticket can be helpful.

Electoral weight (as in large states get more electoral votes) balances with certain prospects that appeal to entire regions or demographics rather than their own one state. Gov. Kathleen Sibelius of Kansas (EV=5) is unlikely to deliver her own very red state but is very much in the style of Obama and could assist greatly in the bordering and attached swing states of Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and the E.V.D. of Omaha. She might be a winning complement. Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana (EV=3) is probably fairly well recognized and respected in Denver and Phoenix but not so inside the “Beltway bubble” or in the corridors of Wall Street.

The demographic appeal of Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (EV=13) or Fmr. N.C. Sen. John Edwards (EV=15) to working-class folks is well known. The Vietnam War hero and the son of the mill worker have their supporters that are not naturally (or even in some cases comfortably) Obama's constituency.

Party unity enthusiasts and realists are pointing to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (EV=21) and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (EV=11). One is stronger on executive experience and the other has Senatorial foreign policy tenure. Gov. Rendell is an ardent Clintonite from the “old school” world of machine politics.

Finally, consider who looks the best on the poster with Obama. Which prospect visually emanates “CHANGE that works for you”? The [[Vetting Zoo VP Prospectus chart]] has more information on the following individuals.

Regionally, there are seven prospects from the West: Gov. Jane Napolitano of Arizona (EV=9), Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana (EV=3), Gov. (and former Clinton cabinet officer) Bill Richardson of New Mexico (EV=5), Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado (EV=9), Gov. Sebelius of Kansas (EV=6), and Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (EV=5). Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri (EV=11) was another early and capable Obama supporter. Sebelius’s father was governor of Ohio but whether that can be parlayed into actual votes is another matter.

The “Sons of the South” include Gen. Wesley Clark of Arkansas (EV=5), Tennessee's Fmr. VP Al Gore (EV=11), Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (EV=13), Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (EV=27) and Fmr. N.C. Sen. John Edwards (EV=15). Fmr. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia (EV=15) was chairman of the Military Affairs Committee and is an expert on non-proliferation. A look at the electoral map shows the six-state arc between North Carolina north and west to Michigan-Indiana as the region that can tip the balance strongly and unassailably towards a substantial Democratic majority.

Obama's Great Lakes neighbor Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana (EV=11) was also on the “short list” in 2000. From the East are New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (EV=31), Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (EV=12), Connecticut’s Sen. Chris Dodd (EV=7), Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware (EV=3), and Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania (EV=21). Pennsylvania’s Representative John Murtha is also mentioned but unlikely. Obama’s difficult balance that I am observing is the necessity to evolve to a Smart Trade policy (precluding Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio (EV=20) and perhaps Edwards) while closing off the issue against McCain expressing support for “free trade.”

The military is well represented by Gen. Tony McPeak (Air Force), Admiral Anthony Zinni, Former Secretary of Navy Richard Danzig, and General James Jones as well as Ret. Gen. Wesley Clarke, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (EV=5), and former Army Ranger and now Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island (EV=4), plus Webb and Kerry. Sun Tze’s classic “Art of War” is clear that the decision to commit war is the most serious ever made by a head of state.

The selection scenario will tighten to the very short list of Virginia's Sen. Webb and Gov. Kaine, Gov. Sebelius of Kansas, the foreign affairs expert Sen. Biden, the unobtrusive Sen. Bayh (fresh face for decades, right?) and Fmr. Sen. Edwards waiting in the wings. Obama is hoping for all Pros and no “Cons.” At August 1, my short list is Biden, Bayh and Kaine; dark horses are Gov. Schweitzer and Wesley Clark. ///

Top Five Political Movies

MANHATTAN, New York (August 2, 2008) virtuality: movies

We Americans swim in a river of political conflict and dialectical exchange to such a degree that we forget democracy is the fragile element of our realm and we are but various schools of fish (i.e., Swimming in Tao). When the process gets blocked or bottled up, the flow stops and the fluid element becomes brackish very quickly. Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff and uber-shadow Dick Cheney come into view as surreal denizens in a cloudy murky cesspool of ill content. My realization was - given the richness of the environment - how few really good political movies involving campaigns and elections have ever been made.

1. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Directed-produced by John Frankenheimer
A political party is extorted to place the brainwashed Congressman and presumed war hero Raymond Shaw on its ticket as vice president. (See Veepstakes Vetting Zoo.) His mother, Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw (played by Angela Lansbury), has a zombie assassin (Frank Sinatra !) preparing to shoot the Presdential nominee. She will weild the power of the United States through her "subliminally conditioned" son. The 1962 version (remade in 2004) was sensationally pre-cognitive and theatrical release was withdrawn after the Kennedy assassination.

2. Z (1969 - French) Directed by Costas-Gavras
Military junta assassinates Socialist peace candidate in Greece. His Deputy (Yves Montand) and the Magistrate (Jean-Louis Trintignant) investigate. Well worth the post-viewing depression. Disclaimer: "Any resemblance to real events, to persons living or dead, is not accidental. It is DELIBERATE." A key historical note in that the Magistrate becomes President years later.

3. Bob Roberts (1992) Directed, written (script & songs) and starring Tim Robbins. The fantastic songs were co-written with older brother Dave Robbins.
This mockumentary of Pennsylvania Senatorial campaign reveals the "rebel christian" folk singer Bob roberts to be corrupt, crooked and connected to the C.I.A. Bob sings and sells patriotic ultra-conservatism; he lives and lies to the contrary. Gore Vidal acts as the liberal incumbent opponent in his finest role. Movie is based on a SNL 1986 skit - best of its kind.

4. The Candidate (1972) Directed by Michael Ritchie
Robert Redford as "Bill McKay - the Better Way" represents the liberal idealist lawyer who becomes an "outsider" Senatorial candidate. He is also a dynastic scion who is persuaded into the race by his father, a former governor. This leads to important character transitions as the battle toughens up. (Dare I say "dark horse"?)

5. Citizen Kane (1941) Directed, Produced, Co-Written (with Herman Mankiewicz) & Starring Orson Welles!!! Mercury Theater Players featured including fabulous Joseph Cotton.
Sexual scandal with a "singer" brings down an all-powerful condidate for New York Governor. Circumstance and extortion thwart Kane's presidential ambitions. (See recent Gov. Spitzer Goes Down and "Tutela Valu" Ashley Dupre.) The karmic turnaround is a major turning point in the greatest film ever made. The Bernard Herrmann soundtrack for Kane (married to the niece of the President) changes its tune.

In summary, a museum compendium of clips from our selection (i.e., the linkage set among these political movies) would include: Corruption, hypocrisy, amoral expedience, media manipulation, dirty dealing, connivance, brainwashing, scandal, betrayal, dark humor, deadly deceit, assassination and karmic retribution. Cautionary note: No republic in the history of manind has lasted more than 300 years (OK, maybe Iceland - thank you, Bjork). Countdown is 96 days and re-count, so enjoy the election! ///

Friday, August 1, 2008

What's The Diff? – John Edwards

POLITIX - reposted from Edwardian HDQ Site
MANHATTAN (August 1, 2008)

"What's The Diff? – John Edwards" was formatted and edited to fit one sheet front-back for easily printable campaign tabling hand-outs.

John Edwards is distinctly different from the other major Democratic candidates on a number of key issues. These briefs, as stated by Leo Hindery (see below), specifically point out where or how Edwards’ proposals and policies diverge from or substantially advance beyond the others. Website links to further in-depth analysis accompany each answer.

Electability in November 2008
John Edwards continues to prove that his appeal extends well beyond traditional Democratic strongholds. He continues to perform very well against the Republican White House hopefuls in general election match-ups, and recent polls in states like Ohio, Iowa and Missouri show that John Edwards is the Democrat most likely to carry those vital battleground states in a general election. Numerous leaders of the labor movement have cited electability as one of the reasons their unions have endorsed John Edwards. It is a reality that Democratic elected officials, party leaders and strategists around the country have expressed concern that Senator Clinton would hurt Democratic candidates in down-ballot races.

Middle East – End The Iraq War
John Edwards is the only major candidate who will withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within ten months. He opposes the Ccongressional action that Hillary Clinton recently voted for that could be the first step toward military action against Iran.
John Edwards believes there is no military solution to the chaos in Iraq. Instead, the Iraqi people must solve the problem politically by taking responsibility for their country.
John Edwards believes that the U.S. must show the Iraqis that we are serious about leaving by actually starting to leave. American intention must be demonstrated by immediately drawing -down approximately 50,000 troops. A withdrawal of all combat troops within ten months would follow. John Edwards strongly supports the supplemental spending bill passed by both Houses of Congress and vetoed by President Bush that funds the troops with a timetable for withdrawal. He continues to call for Congress to respond to the President’s veto by sending back the same bill – and doing this as many times as it takes for the President to end the war. John Edwards believes it is of the utmost importance that we prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons. However, he opposes the designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist organization,” which Hillary Clinton supported. As President, John Edwards would take aggressive steps to resolve this situation and to protect the United States and our allies.

Energy, Security and Environment
John Edwards was the first to endorse aggressive science-based caps on global warming: 20% below current levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, receiving the unanimous endorsement of the national environmental organization Friends of the Earth Action.
John Edwards led all candidates by being the first to support a cut in global warming gasses to be achieved through a cap and trade system. He has called for a $13 billion per year New Energy Economic Fund to support research and development in energy technology, funded in part by a windfall profits tax on oil companies. He has called for 25% of electricity produced from renewable sources by 2025, and for all new cars built after 2010 to be flex-fuel vehicles. John Edwards has proposed a Green Collar Jobs initiative to train and employ at least 150,000 workers a year in new energy economy jobs. He also overwhelmingly won MoveOn's “Virtual Town Hall” on climate change issues. John Edwards opposes construction of any new nuclear energy plants andor any new coal-fired energy plants that do not possess carbon capture and storage technology. He is against subsidies for coal liquefaction.

John Edwards recognizes the linkage between security, energy and counterterrorism. His landmark speech, "A New Strategy Against Terrorism," presented a bold vision of how this nation can proceed into the 21st Century with steadfast confidence defined by the two principles of strength and cooperation. As President, John Edwards will restore America's mantle of moral leadership in the world. U.S. and Global Economies – “Fair Trade” and Job Growth“It's time we honored work in this country, not just wealth.” John Edwards has the most specific proposals of any candidate to restore tax fairness, to enhance competitiveness and job growth, and to re-negotiate free trade agreements so they are once again fair trade agreements. In the breadth and detail of his proposals, John Edwards differs substantially from the other candidates.

John Edwards is informed by the fact that 300,000 taxpayers make half of the nation’s income, while 150 million make the other half, which represents the greatest income inequality in this country since 1928. This reality has been exacerbated by the combination of unfair tax practices, the ill effects of unfair globalization, and trade policies that mostly enrich multinational corporations and certainly not workers. Regarding “fair trade,” John Edwards is for strong labor and environmental standards and against illegal subsidies and currency manipulation. He is also for rigorous enforcement of trade agreements, not just negotiation. Only John Edwards has called for raising the minimum wage to $9.50 and creating a new test for trade: Will new deals benefit working families, not just multinational corporations?

Universal Health Care
John Edwards was the first candidate to announce a detailed plan for universal health care and has been honest about how he would pay for it – by repealing Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. His plan could evolve into a single-payer approach as everyone is offered the option of a public plan as an alternative to insurance companies.

John Edwards was also the first presidential candidate – Democratic or Republican – to advocate taking on the big insurance and drug companies and to propose a plan for quality, affordable heath care for every man, woman and child in America. John Edwards has also put forward specific proposals for bringing down health care costs, improving the quality of care, fighting cancer, HIV/AIDS and strengthening the nursing workforce.

John Edwards is the only major candidate to propose a comprehensive education plan (Smart Start) that coordinates education, health care and family support services for children before they enter school.
The Edwards education plan would increase incentives for teachers in high-poverty schools as well as improve training and mentoring programs for teachers. John Edwards advocates a radical overhaul of No Child Left Behind based on the understanding that teachers, not tests, are the single most important factor in successful schools.

John Edwards will help low-income families move to better neighborhoods by creating one million new housing vouchers, phasing out housing projects that concentrate poverty in fixed locations, and investing in revitalizing dilapidated neighborhoods.

Leo Hindery, Jr.
Leo Hindery, Jr. serves as the campaign's Senior Economic Advisor. John Edwards describes him as a “respected leader in the business community who is well known throughout the country as a strong voice for people who often aren’t heard and for responsible economic and trade policies.” He co-founded, along with Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergey Mironov, Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA), and received from the Asia Society its Founders Award for his efforts in the international fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Notable among his many credentials (e.g., Chair of the Horizon Project developing economic and trade policy recommendations for the 110th Congress) and business accomplishments in cable media, Mr. Hindery recently received the “Keeper of the Dream” Award from the National Action Network for his efforts on behalf of equality and worker rights.

Mr. Hindery responded to a request for statements specifically stating the differences among the three major Democratic contenders. This arose from his representing John Edwards in the NYC presidential forum sponsored by the major progressive Democratic political clubs. This environment provided for a candor the candidates themselves are often restrained from expressing. 400 attended the dual Manhattan event held at the upper west side Symphony Space and the L.G.B.T. Community Center in the Village. ///

Bikinis & Slave Labor

POLITIX - Reposted from Edwardian HDQ Site
MANHATTAN (August 1, 2008)

Now that your attention has been commanded, jot this down: Obama (and Clinto dis so as well) has expressed his support for and intention to for vote the Peru FTA. Edwards supports Smart Trade rather than NAFTA-style extension of so-called "free trade" agreements.

"The problem is that these [FTA] deals ... are primarily about protecting the rights of capital. You can never hope to enforce labor rights (or for that matter environmental protections) under a regime that is focused on profit first, and community second. It will not happen. And all the statements to the contrary are just rubbish. Why we would pretend that labor rights can be enforced as an after-thought, as a secondary issue, in countries around the world - when we can't even enforce basic labor rights here (such as safety and health regulations) because they are subject to politics and the free reign of the so-called 'free market' - exposes the true fallacy of so-called 'free trade.'" - Jonathan Tasini (Clinton's primary opponent for the New York Senate seat)
Tasini's latest HuffPo article points out that even model (pun intended) deals such as Jordan use exploitable "imported" labor from Bangladesh. "Victoria's Secret, Slave Labor And So-Called "Free Trade" LINK

Edwards advocates for Smart Trade: "Globalization, technological change and outdated labor and workplace laws have fundamentally changed our economy and redistributed the benefits of economic growth upwards. Equally fundamental change is needed to ensure our economy once again rewards work."

Hillary Clinton tried in the last debate to laugh off the NAFTA fiasco but roughly 20 million Americans in 1992 not only thought that Ross Perot was correct but voted their convictions. Remember that "giant sucking sound" represented millions of jobs that have been lost. Those 20 million are independent swing voters that a Democratic winner will need.

Roughly ten percent (estimated two million) of those voters have since been job losers due to outsourcing or trade-related displacement. That's ten percent of Perot's vote total versus the entire American workforce of 150 million losing roughly five million jobs or 3.3 percent. Those voters knew who they were and their vulnerability. Present projections for outsourcing or trade-related displacements range from 15 to 20 million. YOU know who you are and your vulnerability.

Harry Truman said it correctly for all time: "Don't vote for me. Vote for yourselves!" ///

The Substance of Transformation

REPOST in POLITIX (August 1, 2008)
michael duby in Arguments & Analyses Edwardian HDQ Site
from 12/22/2007 at 9:14 PM EST

Fmr. Senator John Edwards continues to be an Advocate of Transformation

The American people must rise up and seize the historical opportunity to impact the direction of our country. Domestically, the three major difficulties confronting working families are lack of universal health care, income disparity and unfair trade policies.

Above and beyond the statements of progressive policies, John Edwards is the candidate committed to truly and steadfastly advocate and "fight" for the nation's (mostly working) people of low-income and the 47 million Americans who desperately need health insurance. The big insurance and drug companies will need serious persuasion to allow the implementation of universal health care that is a fundamental right recognized in all other advanced economies and societies. Our present system is a structural hindrance to the well-being of the American labor force.

In a country of 300 million, 300,000 at the top make more income that the bottom 150 million of America's earning taxpayers. The Bush administration provided additional tax cuts for these super wealthy in an amount that would essentially pay for universal health care. Over the past 20 years, 40 percent of income growth has gone to the top one percent while wages for the bottom 90 percent have remained stagnant. This represents the greatest income inequality in this country since 1928.

This reality is due to the combination of unfair tax practices, ill effects of unbalanced globalization and trade policies that mostly enrich multinational corporations, but certainly not workers. It is well known and recognized that John Edwards is for strong labor and environmental standards and against illegal subsidies and currency manipulation. He is also for rigorous enforcement of trade agreements, not just negotiation.

The third major obstacle to American working families is unfair so-called "free trade" agreements. Edwards has the most specific proposals of any candidate to restore tax fairness, to enhance competitiveness and job growth, and to re-negotiate trade agreements so they are once again fair. In the breadth and detail of his proposals, John Edwards differs substantially from the other candidates. Only Edwards has advocated a fundamental standard for "Smart Trade" deals: Will the agreements benefit working families, not just multinational corporations?

The Economic Policy Institute ("EPI") recently underlined the concern about the growing impact of unfair trade agreements and practices on America's working families. EPI concluded that 25 to 30 million American jobs - about one in five American jobs in states all across the nation - are at risk for being offshored over the next decade. These are not just manufacturing jobs; EPI reports jobs most at risk are those requiring at least a four-year college degree. Those workers and their families will be substantially more secure with Edwards as chief executive.

The lobbyist-dominated system and practical realpolitics of Washington contribute to lack of universal health care, disadvantageous trade deals, cheap foreign labor, illegal foreign subsidies and foreign currency manipulation. American workers are being incrementally devastated. The American middle class is being pushed down and they know it. "It's time we honored work in this country, not just wealth." - John Edwards ////

Smart Trade & the Real Deal

MANHATTAN (August 1, 2008)
michael duby in Arguments & Analyses
Edwardian HDQ11/16/2007 at 2:16 AM EST

Trade is the strikingly clear policy issue that demonstrates the difference between John Edwards and the corporate Democrats. As he has always been a consistent champion for working families, Edwards is now their advocate for fundamental "smart trade" changes that address imbalances and unfairness in the present system. The American middle class has been squeezed downward a full level due to stagnant wages and an extreme disparity of income. Despite all-time high productivity, working people have not received their fair share under the present trade regime. The rules benefit multinational corporations and the economic elite but not American working families.

The comprehensive Smart Trade proposals of John Edwards provide Americans the opportunity to believe again that their children will have a better life in the future rather than face a depressing decline. "Working together we must do everything we can to minimize the unfair offshoring of American jobs and do right by America's working families." - John Edwards
NAFTA (1994) and WTO (1995) agreements contain structural advantages for the corporations that provide them with extraordinary commercial rights and remedies. The existing system of "free trade" agreements contains provisions that provide means for the multinationals to bypass and challenge health laws and safety rules and environmental standards. For example, NAFTA's infamous Chapter 11 provides foreign investors rights that enable corporations to sue against U.S. labor and workplace standards as trade barriers. The result is that our country is adversely affected by the globalizing economy because the present system relies on disadvantageous, unbalanced and outdated laws against labor including rights to organize.

These consequences are increasingly dramatic. Income disparity is at an extreme unseen since 1928. 300,000 at the top make more income that the bottom 150 million of America's earning taxpayers. The Bush administration provided additional tax cuts for these super wealthy in an amount that would essentially pay for universal health care. Over the past 20 years, 40 percent of income growth has gone to the top one percent while wages for the bottom 90 percent have remained stagnant.

The recently passed Peru Free Trade Agreement does not meet the Edwards standard to put American workers and communities first. Once again, the multinational corporations have taken advantage of Washington's lobbyist-dominated system to the detriment of working families. Specific international labor standards were excluded (although the text of the agreement is 800 pages long). Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are supporting the Peru FTA despite knowing the detrimental consequences to American economic interests, to its labor force and to their families. Once again, the special interests wrote the rules and Americans are expected to pay the price.

There is a positive and progressive alternative in the comprehensive Smart Trade proposals advocated by John Edwards. His proposals include universal health care, pro-worker provisions, enforceable guarantees of compliance by trading partners, investment in displaced workers, supports for adversely affected communities and safety standards for imports. Edwards will not give in to pressure from corporate lobbyists seeking special privileges or hidden provisions that harm American workers. These privileges are illustrated by NAFTA's Chapter 11 that enables corporations to justify profits over American sovereign rights to health and environmental protections. NAFTA did not include labor standards but did provide corporations with rights to challenge for their commercial interests outside U.S. judicial process in secret tribunals!

The Edwards standard of measurement for Smart Trade is direct and clear - American working families must benefit from the combined impact on jobs, wages and prices. Smart Trade proposals also include provisions to address the following:- Edwards demands strong labor laws "requiring our trade partners to adopt and enforce basic workers' rights [to] prevent a global race to the bottom and help build a global middle class. Edwards believes that all of our trade partners should be required to enforce at least the core labor rights defined by the International Labor Organization [including] the right to organize and bargain collectively along with prohibitions against forced labor, child labor, and discrimination."- Smart Trade requires strong environmental standards so that "multinational companies cannot profit by exploiting weak environmental laws and enforcement in some countries."- Edwards insists that America fight currency manipulation with agreements containing strong, clear language on impermissible currency practices that put the U.S. at great disadvantage.- Smart Trade requires (and Edwards will demand) a level playing field for trade to "ensure that overseas markets are open and that American workers and companies can compete on fair terms."- Edwards will prosecute violations of trade deals by assigning "top prosecutors at the U.S. Department of Justice to the job of enforcing trade laws." (quotes from "Rebuild The Middle Class Through 21st Century Manufacturing," John Edwards)
Notable will be the elimination of tax incentives for corporations to move offshore. "The U.S. tax code encourages multinational corporations to invest overseas by allowing them to indefinitely defer taxation on their foreign profits. A recent $90 billion `tax holiday' for multinational corporations failed to create jobs, as President Bush promised, and many of these companies laid off employees instead. The effective tax rate on foreign non-financial income is less than five percent, which is well below the U.S. statutory rate of 35 percent. In some cases corporations actually receive subsidies to invest overseas through a `negative tax.' Edwards will eliminate the benefit of deferral in low-tax countries, ensuring that American companies' profits are taxed when earned at either the U.S. rate or by a foreign country at a comparable rate." (Edwards Nov. 14 press release) [Sources: NY Times, 7/27/07, Grubert & Mutti, 2002; Altshuler & Grubert, 2001; U.S. Treasury, 2000]

The recent Economic Policy Institute report concludes that "between 25 and 30 million American jobs - about one in five American jobs - in states all across the nation are at risk for being offshored over the next decade." The report shows that "jobs requiring a four-year college degree are the most at risk" in this next wave of economic globalization. The Edwards Smart Trade proposals advocate assistance to displaced workers and disrupted communities. Specific programs include:- Passage of universal health care legislation;- Creation of new "Training Works" initiative tied to high-wage jobs;- Assistance for communities recovering from mass layoffs;- Strengthening of the safety net for workers who lose their jobs;- Safeguards to ensure that imported food, drugs and toys are safe.

"Americans need new trade policies that put workers, wages and families first. Most families are working harder and struggling to get by. Our economy is growing and the productivity of our workers is at an all-time high, but workers' wages have failed to keep up with the costs of health care, education and retirement. Globalization, technological change and outdated labor and workplace laws have fundamentally changed our economy and redistributed the benefits of economic growth upwards. Equally fundamental change is needed to ensure our economy once again rewards work." - John Edwards /

PRESS RELEASE re EPI Report on OffshoringEdwards Statement On EPI Report Citing 25 T0 30 Million American Jobs At Risk To OffshoringNov 14, 2007 12:02 PM Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Today, Senator John Edwards released the following statement in reaction to a recently released report on the offshoring of American jobs from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI):
"Today, the Economic Policy Institute issued a report that should come as a clarion call to everyone concerned about the impact of unfair trade agreements and practices on America's working families. In their report, the EPI concludes that between 25 to 30 million American jobs -- about one in five American jobs -- in states all across the nation, are at risk for being offshored over the next decade. And it's not just manufacturing jobs – the report shows those jobs that require at least a four-year college degree are actually the most at risk.
"This report makes clear what the labor community has known for far too long: bad trade deals, cheap foreign labor, illegal foreign subsidies and foreign currency manipulation are having a devastating effect on American workers. These practices are stealing the American Dream from the middle class and the broken system in Washington is allowing it to happen. Given this reality, I find it alarming that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama have chosen to support a flawed Peru Trade deal that will only further expand the NAFTA-model that has already cost us well over a million jobs.
"As Democrats, we can and must do better. It's time for us to show a little backbone and stand up for America's working families. As president, the first and last question I will ask before signing any trade deal is, 'Is this good for American workers and American jobs?'
"When I am president, I will put American workers and jobs first, and make sure we invest in the American workforce by putting more resources toward education and innovation and building a new energy economy with over a million new green-collar jobs. And I will help American businesses do right by their workers by finally passing universal health care to cut health care costs, which is the single most pressing business problem in the country today.
"Working together we must do everything we can to minimize the unfair offshoring of American jobs and do right by America's working families."-- John Edwards - the Real Deal ///