< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: November 2004

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It's About Time for America!

Following are a series of links and objectives that walk the reader through our time relief proposals. We believe time relief, styled as the "Time for America Worker Rights" is a mounting issue ready to take a national stage. If you doubt this, ask yourself a few simple questions: Do you feel like you had enough time today to get the things done you needed to? Do you feel like no matter what you never have enough time to give to your kids, your parents, and your community? Do you feel like someone else is managing more and more of your day? Now remember, most everyone feels exactly the same way.

Time for America Worker Rights Bill - A Six Part Program.
I. Home-based Worker Program.
II. Maternity & Pregnancy Discrimination Reform.
III. Health Care Credits for Business.
IV. Tax Incentives for Technology Investment.
V. National Religious Observance Days.
VI. National Emergency Day.
Other links and objectives below.
Quick Economic Rationale for Time Relief.
National Commercial Rollout, "It's About Time!"
Anticipated Attacks & Responses.

4 major economic objectives of time relief:

(1) Utilize a minimum of 500 million currently unused man-hours per year.

(2) Increase demand for services.

(3) Decrease travel demand during major metropolitan rush hours.

(4) Increase corporate and government investment in productivity enhancing technologies.

5 major political objectives of time relief:

(1) Increase low-income turnout in federal elections.

(2) Reverse current interest aligning trend by wedging middle management and professional class of workers away from equity owners.

(3) Assist if not achieve effective re-branding of Dem party as the party fighting for working families.

(4) Assist in re-branding GOP as radical Christian party. Wedge moderate Christians away from GOP. Drive a permanent wedge between diverse faiths and GOP.

(5) Increase gender gap and peel away GOP support from white males making over $75K/year.

Carbon Tax for SS Accts

Me like this idea. Me think it good. Only thing is, we'd like it a lot better if it were phased in, starting first with the carbon sources and moving out towards carbon users. This would allow for a smooth transition of higher fuel prices and enhance the desired ancillary effect (decreased oil dependency). Also, if you could fix the tax to oil prices, should a sudden drop in oil supply appear, the tax could fall in sympathy and alleviate artificial price fluctuations based on reserves (witness our hurricane season this year). Other than those two modifications, its an excellent idea and the Dems should start getting on board and stop worrying about who the next DNC chair is gonna be. Nice work Moose. Nice to have friends looking out for us!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Exhibit A of Whats Wrong with the Hard Left.

We've thought long and hard about posting this. And Lucas Doolin has inspired us with his recent post to go ahead and let the criticism begin. We won't go anywhere fast if we don't allow room for critique, no matter how biting that critique may be. So in the spirit of self-criticism and open inquiry, we proceed...

From our friend, we have the following, disturbing episode, which sheds some light on the hard left. A diary was posted by Jerome Armstrong, founder and editor of his site, MyDD.com, on Sunday, 11/14 at 3:19pm (est). You can link to to the diary by clicking here. Mr. Armstrong was posting a question in response to a post from another blog saying the US is violating the Geneva Conventions in Iraq. He expressed concern that this was becoming commonplace under the argument of "whatever it takes." 2 hours later, a regular blogger on MyDD responds with this comment to Mr. Armstrong's post.

The news is so consistently grim
(3.00 / 3)

That one starts to try to protect oneself from it. One hears, reads, registers, notes it away, but holds back a response, because how can you respond to this unbelievable thoughtless violence. And we are those who knew from before March 2003 that this was a criminal invasion. ...

The only reassuring thought I have is not a happy one, and it is that the level of casualties which the stormtroopers of the United States have received --- at least 40, and possibly many more than than killed, and several hundred maimed -- will slow down the juggernaut. It is horrendous that these young men and women have been psyched up into Nazi brutes, and are now paying the price for those criminals in Washington. And the poor Iraqi people whose blood is spilling for lies.

Now, our good friend retorted to this comment, and the general tenor of the other comments , to the effect of: "shit, my cousin lost his leg over there and now you all are calling him a Nazi?" Indeed, we've all lost something over there. But we'll lose more if we let this sort of sentiment stand for our party.

Its unbecoming of the Party of Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy to speak like that while our men and women are facing steel teeth. I'm not saying you must agree with Pres. Bush, I'm saying you must always put yourself in the place of military families. We should help them with our words, not ignore them with our rhetoric. They are listening.

We should also pause and reflect on this sad fact. This comment, comparing our soldiers to Nazis, and encouraging the further death of boys and girls in order to "slow down the juggernaut", was "rated up" three times by readers at MyDD. Surely some of them were conservative "trolls" up to no good and indeed two of the readers rating it up we don't know. But the third? You guessed it.... founder and editor of MyDD, Mr. Jerome Armstrong.

I guess he thought the comparison of our soldiers to Nazis was "Super"! Come on Democrats... we can do better.

More on FNM

So, now there's all sorts of color out there with no way to tell which is black and which is white, which is up and which is down. The latest tale seems to be OFHEO was trying to rough up FNM to help out its own image after the Freddie Mac embarrassment. According to an internal OFHEO Inspector General report, requested by none other than Sen. Bond (R) from the Big MO, OFHEO was purposely trying to punish FNM's stock price and reduce FNM's clout on the Hill. Oooh. Reducing clout on the Hill is business as usual down at beltway bandit headquarters... but stock price manipulation? Now that's intriguing. Oh Mr. Spitzer? You paying attention? Why, and better yet, who would want to punish FNM's stock price...? Follow the money, or perhaps, follow those shorts.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Stay Calm

Roach's big bad bear comments apparently have generated quite a stir in blogland. Everyone needs to just chill the fuck out though. The wolf-man is on the way...

Yes there are some pretty bad storms on the economic horizon. Yes bankruptcy attorneys are licking their chops. And yes, inflation, even a little wild inflation, is a distinct probablity.

But this isn't going to be the end of world. There will be economic pain, and it will be felt by a broader cross-section of society than the Bush-II recession. The doomsday scenarios many of you are chatting about right now are highly unlikely. A little bit of inflation isn't going to stop the music, it will just change the tune.

However, there is a very real possibility that record bankruptcies will cause many lenders whose sole collateral is over-encumbered property (over-encumbered because real estate, like all forms of collateral, is subject to market valuations and in an inflationary economy the equity in households is eaten away by rising rates) to fail. Yes, thats right, they will fail. Banks, where all the money is right, could fail across the country. A bail-out of FNM might very well be required. And homeowners may find themselves in an impossible position. I urge each of you to take seriously the very real need for debt relief, Mitya K's further explanation of it, and to start chatting about it, it will keep the consumer and the creditor in business which is good for us all.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Why are They So Much Better?

Do they just love their people more? Someone should ask the White House why it is that the Brits and the Clinton Administration were able to foil attempt after attempt but the Bushies just rolled right over on day one and got us our asses smacked.

Monday, November 22, 2004

President John F. Kennedy

It's November 22, and we should all pause to reflect on President John F. Kennedy.

For every peaceful sunrise of the last 42 years, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to JFK. As a result of revelations about the Cuban Missile Crisis, we now know that if the USA had attacked Cuba the Soviets would have responded with a nuclear attack on major cities in the US. Many of our nation's other leaders at the time, including Kennedy's military advisers and many in Congress, wanted him to invade Cuba. They were all wrong, and if any of them had been President instead of Kennedy, there would have been a major nuclear war. But Kennedy, who at the time was not much older than Barack Obama is now, had the personal and political courage to stand up to them for the good of the nation and the world.

Many political leaders, given the gift of time, have accomplished more than JFK. But none has ever accomplished anything greater.

If It Sounds Good in Baghdad...

Front Page, today’s FT, big picture of Bush and Pooty-Poot. Each are wearing something over their shirts which looks like a blanket Putin's grandma made and now is used by his cat to sleep on. Sad. But the story is sadder. Paris, Moscow et al have forgiven approximately $30B of Iraqi debt. Now I know what you’re saying, $30B today ain’t nearly as much as $30B a year ago, but it is still a lot. Hey Georgie? Wanna spread the wealth a little? Our consumer debt relief program would be of a smaller scope, and it might help this war-torn nation increase its savings a little? Ithink it’ll play great in Dixie.

Not Just Call Centers Anymore

A whole list of funds, including MIT, are now exploring the vast Indian Subcontinent. Apparently a communist-lite people’s government isn’t so bad for business afterall (remind anyone of domestic politics hear in this country say, 10 years ago?). While the extra cash and high-brow status of these funds is a positive for India’s growth in the long-term, in the near term the huge run-up on the Bombay Exchange can only mean some type of correction is around the corner. Still though, I like the way this country is reforming old crony capitalist corruption and moving the world's largest democracy steadily ahead.

O Canada!

As of last week, the loonie is up to 84 cents on the dollar. Not bad considering 3 years ago the loonie was at an all time low of 62 cents on the dollar. And people say Canadians don’t like Bush. His first term has energized their economy by shorting the dollar with twin deficits. Now, with oil prices fairly high for the near term (and heading higher), Canada is looking sharp.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Enron

Out of 11!! Let's have a party. It seems a lot of people missed this. On page 16 of Enron's 11/19 filing with the SEC, the exit from Chapter 11 officially took place. Still a lot of house-cleaning to be done. But its as convenient a time as ever to reflect.

Enron went into 11 with a bang. Though many hedge funds had long suspected foul play, and several even issued opinions concerning various accounting shenanigans at the giant energy co., no one on "the street" was really expecting what happened. Beyond Ken Lay and some corporate greed, what really happened was a major accounting firm lost its business, a lot of employees lost their savings, a lot of creditors lost $.80 on each dollar of claim they had, and to this day no one knows how the SEC missed this one for so long.

That fact, that the SEC just keeps missing these major cases (Adelphia, Tyco, Worldcom... maybe Fannie Mae?) even when they have ample notice, is really disturbing to people in my business. The secret story of Enron, many of us fear, is this... some companies get a green light and a presumption of innocence, while others are given a first-rate full exam just to get cleared.

Does the SEC play favorites? I'm not sure. But I do know this. I was one of those people in the financial industry who said a long, long time ago that Enron's books looked shaky, and I gave some pretty detailed analysis to a colleague who was at the SEC at the time. His response: "Oh, well Enron is a really complicated business." I think he may have been using the term "complicated" a little differently than I use it. But, you get the picture.

Oh and one more question, why didn't the Kerry camp make a bigger stink about Bush's Enron connection? Were the polls unfavorable?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Just do it

Sign the petition. And if you need another reason, read this. Atrios has more. And remember, George W. Bush would rather pass a tax cut for the rich than help girls like her get their health care.

No More Kick in the Donkey

Time used to be if someone said Hitler was a great guy, the Nazis had a great idea, and the Holocaust didn't happen, that person would be branded, quite rightly, an anti-semite.

If another person said gays were getting AIDs because they deserved it, hispanics shouldn't be allowed to live in the US, and the Chinese just want to take over the world because they don't understand democracy, that person would be branded, quite rightly, a hate-filled xenophobe.

And if a person was on record as saying that they wanted "segregation forever", that person would be branded, quite rightly, a racist.

I guess if you combine all three of those into one person, they should be called: MSNBC Political Commentator? Yep, that's right, Pat Buchanan. In case you forgot about the hatred this windbag spews, you can find some of his Klan inspired rhetoric here, here and a good run-rundown on him here by Slate.

My point in bringing this up is simple. Why is this guy still on TV? Why is he talking to me after every Presidential Debate? And why, when he says, "I think George W. Bush did a great job" aren't Democrats turning around and saying: "Well of course you do, you anti-semitic, xenophobic racist. He is, afterall, YOUR GUY!" ???

Why aren't Democrats raising a stink everytime a big news outlet lets this guy, and others just like him, have a forum? Tolerance of diverse political views is one thing, but a Democrat isn't allowed to tolerate hate. Its a "value" of the Democratic party, that its always better to bring people together. And people who spew hate will never make room for that value. So, why don't Democrats protest and boycott and send letters and emails telling MSNBC to take this shell of a human being off the air? I trust the GOP would never let similarly held views on the left get an ounce of airtime. Are Democrats just too tired?

You wonder why people say the Dems have no values, they can't even hit a softball like this. Pathetic!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Dick Morris Counsels

W on, of all things, moderation. Dick, not that tired ol' tune?

Juicy News on FNM

And it ain't good. Developing... UPDATE:
The buzz is that the Raines show is wrapping up now and people are looking to open the blinds. Never a good sign. Here is the really bad part though. The SEC (as sunshine) doesn't want to rise to the occassion. Why? Because they approved FNM's registration back in March. If the derivative transactions (dating back to '01) at issue are NOW a deliberate misinterpretation of accounting rules (as OFHEO seems to be implying), these same transactions would also have been a misinterpretation BACK THEN when the SEC signed off in March. Leaving us with this insane question: How can the SEC police this one when doing so implicates their own misfeasance? God help us, but its time for OFHEO (and Congress, ouch!) to step up to the plate. This is getting ugly folks, and it doesn't look like the picture will change.

Will keep you posted, but for now beware of falling mice.

The Street goes to the House

The meeting described here was pretty important, despite the article's dismissal. My sources tell me reviews were "mixed" as always and there seems to be an increasing sense of denial at the White House concerning the dollar's slide. Social security reform apparently was the topic du jour on everyone's lips. My only comment after hearing a fairly detailed account of this meeting: "buy more euros".

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Principles

Our first mission is to understand the core principles that we need to advance. Our second mission is to articulate those ideas in the most effective ways. Whether we Progressives think of ourselves as a party, as a political movement, or as a cultural force (and I think we must aspire towards being all of those things), we must identify at least some shared principles -- some "values," if you will -- that we believe in and that we are fighting to advance. Let's use Amendment Nine, at least in part, to spark a broad discussion about what those principles are and should be, and about how to fight for them most effectively. (Several days ago, I laid out one general theme in a post that seemed to be pretty well-received (http://amendmentnine.blogspot.com/2004/11/our-way-of-life.html))

But first off, Progressives need to spend some time making sure they comprehend the pragmatic political value of having clearly-defined core principles. I am not talking enforcing about ideological purity. I am perfectly prepared in appropriate situations to support and even defend some compromising of even core values in the short-term if it will advance our agenda in the long-term. What I am talking about is understanding the way people make decisions -- about which candidate to support, about which brand of computer to buy, about which store to shop at, or about which political party to line up with. They hardly ever make those decisions based on discrete, particular, issue positions -- e.g., whether you support or oppose stem-cell research. What they do base their decisions on is -- (a) what principles/ideas/"values" are evident from the things a candidate or party says and, more importantly, does, (b) how comfortable am I with having those type of people running things?

Think, for example, of the following principles: patriotism, support for the troops, law and order, respect for life, preserving our way of life. Which party comes to mind first? I, of course, would argue strongly that the Democratic party, and Democratic issue positions, advance each of those principles far better than the Republicans (obviously on terms different from those that the Republicans/Conservatives have been allowed to set). But does anyone doubt that a vast majority of Americans -- probably even many people who regularly vote Democratic -- would identify the Republican party most closely with that list of principles? Democrats will never become the majority party they rightfully should be in this country until more Americans associate the Democratic party with the principles I've listed (and I'd be interested to hear others weigh in on what other principles we're losing on when we should be winning).

By contrast, what principles come most readily to mind when you think of the Democratic party, of John Kerry, of John Edwards? Takes a little while to think of them, doesn't it? Issue positions (e.g., stem-cell research) come to mind far more easily than principles. And that is, paradoxically, with two people who are in my view two of the most principled and honorable people who have topped either party's ticket in a long long time. But we didn't run a principles campaign. Instead we ran a positions campaign. And it didn't work. And it never works. A clearly understood set of principles on one side, even if those principles are undercut (even to an outrageous degree, as happened this year) by the reality of what those people are doing with that power, has a huge advantage over a hodge-podge of positions and a difficult-to-discern set of core principles.

So my point for today is, being right on policy simply does not cut it. Having the issue positions that most people agree with just doesn't cut it. In order to get our message through, we have to link our policies together behind a core set of principles that are easily emotionally understandable. Having the right issue positions is good governance, which we certainly should aspire to as well, but we'll never get to put our good governing skills and policies to use unless and until we have a core set of principles that everyone -- everyone -- understands.


Crude Report...

First, let me just state for the record, the Kmart-Sears merger that everyone is applauding is a BAD idea, for various reasons. I may or may not post on them later, depending on how much money I think I can by shorting these pitiful old dinostores.

Second, crude inventories were UP, but by 1/2 the amount everyone expected. I call that a haircut. And with distillates continuing to contract, I think we can reasonably expect further "lowering of expectations" over the next month. Anyone who can tell us where the initial injection of inventories came from back in mid October (which began crude's decline) gets a bottle of wine on us (and possibly some sort of investigative journalistic prize). TIPS TO: mailamendmentnine@yahoo.com


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I agree with Sharpie

On tomorrow morning's crude report... a truly big deal indeed. But I got another 800 lb gorilla to watch over the next month or so. Fannie Mae. Yesterday's missed filing, and the potential $9B derivative loss all give me visions of Adelphia dancing in my head. (btw, I hear we should be expecting good news soon on that front, eh, Mr. Sharpie?) Good old Fannie Mae. Keep an eye on them. I think I'm starting to hear the ever faint sound of some type of bubble somewhere, somehow, beginning to pop...

Crude trading down

Ahead of a VERY important inventories report tomorrow. I can't begin to emphasize the importance of tomorrow's report. In fact, I think its so important, I'm going to go call Eliot Spitzer himself and let him know about it. Well, maybe I won't call Spitzer. Maybe I'll call Mitya and either gloat, or eat more shoe. The PPI report today was expected, despite a bunch of nervous little girls out there, it was completely within the realm of the probable, so no big deal, yet. Tomorrow's inventory, and I'll even go on record here and say crude inventory throughl mid-Dec. are going to be CRITICAL in figuring out what sort of bear is lurking in the new year. Watch and listen.

BANNED FROM MyDD (but not here) - Ohio Recount News - Bush Margin Could Go UP!

Could the unrepetant left's hysterical call for an Ohio recount actually result in getting more votes for Bush? You bet!

Based on conversations I've had over the last couple of days with well-placed sources at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, the big pool of potential Kerry votes in the provisional ballots is returning a substantially lower percentage of rejects than expected.

Turns out that voter education in the media, and the presence of Democratic challengers at the polling places who helped, not hindered, voters in finding their correct precinct where they could cast a provisional ballot, greatly reduced the number of provisional ballots that won't count.

The voter ed and the helpful Democratic challengers (which the BOE says was a huge help) also has reduced the number of spoiled ballots, overvotes, undervotes, and hanging chads, by constantly reminding voters to check their ballots, right up to the point of putting it in the box. All very good news for democracy, and at first blush, good news for Kerry, right?

Mmmm, not so much. All of these efforts were focused on heavily Democratic areas, inner city African American precincts especially. Which means that Kerry's vote is already maximized. There is a much smaller pile of uncounted ballots to recount, thanks to the Democrats' effort to keep that pile small.

And that means....you guessed it. If Ohio were to recount, the largest pile of uncounted ballots will probably come from areas where there were no challengers and less voter ed...Bush areas.

Any recount is thus likely to not only fail to close the gap in Ohio, but may even bump Bush's margin of victory.

Insert Homer Simpson forehead slap.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Why Debt Relief?

A colleague asked me why I was so convinced debt relief was necessary, and why I thought it would work. He chided me that debt relief wasn't realistic and quizzed me as to why I thought creditors would allow: "the wholesale conversion of their property" (apparently, "conversion" in the legal world means "thef"t). I relayed to him, A) a massive de-leveraging of the nation's total debt is the only way to avoid some pretty nasty fiscal scenarios and B) creditors don't view restructuring as theft, they view it as a way to reduce overall default risk. He's a lawyer, who represents creditors, so he thought that was funny and figured he knew better. But I'm a creditor, so I may be wrong, but it doesn't matter cause I pay his bill.

I concluded with a question: if you really think debt relief is such a radical idea, how radical a situation will it be when pension defaults are not relegated to the steel industry, but instead infect some of the largest companies in the world? Check out this little note in the NY Times and wonder aloud. And for anyone who cares, run a default probablity on Ford and GM. Then get back to me on how to explain this to lawyers a little better.

UPDATE: according to Mitya, a couple of people are "pissin' in their pants" to get a comment in, so I'm opening up the comments for this post. We'll be using Haloscan shortly, until then, just keep hitting refresh if you're in a back and forth. - Federalist X

Editor's Note

Tim Russo appeared today as a guest blogger to Amendment Nine. Many of our readers wanted to know more about him, why he's guest blogging at Amendment Nine, and other such stuff. We saw his work at MyDD and liked it. So we asked him if he'd like to post here. He agreed to post his latest section of a multi-part series on what he calls: "the Unrepentant Left". We hope he'll agree to post more, and we thank those readers who left comments today (we'll be upgrading to haloscan shortly to accomodate comments more readily). Tim also has his own blog, Ohio Countdown, which can be accessed on our recommended links list. Thanks Tim for your post, and we look forward to seeing more of you!

Death Grip Of The Unrepentant Left - Part II - How Dennis Kucinich Destroyed the Ohio Democratic Party

Ohio's lessons for Democrats after 2004 are many. Here's an oldie, but a goodie.

Before Dennis Kucinich started tickling the fancy of the pre-packed sushi buying Sonoma Valley housewife set with his supremely ill-timed Department of Peace proposal, Dennis' disastrous term as mayor of Cleveland laid the seeds that destroyed Ohio's Democratic Party.

After leading Cleveland to default in 1978 over a defense of intellectual integrity known best as obstinance, Dennis narrowly survived a recall attempt, then was soundly defeated in 1979 by a Republican named George - Voinovich. Cleveland's reputation as a bad joke was cemented, and a white, ethnic, male, Republican, claimed the most solid Democratic base in the state of Ohio as his own, a city more than 50% black.

The kryptonite was born. A Republican claiming Cleveland and Cuyahoga County as his base is a death sentence for Ohio Democrats. Voinovich took full advantage, and it was only a matter of time before Ohio Democrats were wiped out - because their base was voting Republican.

Voinovich and his Republican progeny have dominated Ohio politics since 1990 when Voinovich became governor. He and his first lieutenant governor, Mike DeWine, are the US senators. His decades-long, ballot-deep coattails include the now hated Kenneth Blackwell, as well as every other elected statewide office. Both houses of the state legislature are locked in the control of a caveman caucus of Republicans. State Supreme Court? Packed with R's.

The futility for Democrats has been staggering. The last Democrat to win Ohio other than Bill Clinton (1992 & 1996) was John Glenn's 1992 Senate re-election win. Our US Senate candidate in 2004 got 35% (losing Cuyahoga County to Voinovich by 30,000 votes, while John Kerry won it by over 200,000). Our gubernatorial candidate in 1994 got 27%.

For those who would dismiss such failure as worth whatever glory might be gained by principled losing, take your eyes off of the board of elections website for ten minutes and take a good look at Ohio. Fifteen years of Republican domination have made this state a caricature of decline, young people fleeing, our schools crumbling, our tax base dwindling, Republicans so ashamed of their record in Ohio that the current governor was almost never seen campaigning in Ohio with George W. Bush in 2004. But Democrats are impotent to do anything about it...thanks, in the first instance, to the disaster of Dennis Kucinich losing to George Voinovich in 1979.

And Dennis? It was a long road back from oblivion. Dennis got me my start in politics as his Cleveland State campus coordinator when he ran for Congress in 1988 (losing 75-25. yikes). I even helped him finally win the seat he now holds in 1996.

But in tragedy known best to Shakespeare, Dennis' redemption is falling victim again to Dennis himself. As talk of a quixotic presidential campaign grew, his margin of the vote steadily declined, from 75% in 2000, down to 59% in 2004. His laughing stock presidential campaign is the subject of bitter scorn in his hometown, and the Republicans are salivating. He's turned a safe Democratic seat into a legitimate Republican target, soon to require millions of dollars to defend when it should not cost a dime to hold.

He may not hold it next time. People in Sonoma would applaud Dennis' glorious integrity in defeat. People in Cleveland, and Ohio, would be screwed. And Dennis would become not once, but twice, the biggest gift the Republicans ever got - the hand delivery of the largest Democratic base in Ohio for yet another generation.

One man's ideological purity is 10,000,000 other folks' sentence to decline. Remember that, Democrats, as we embark on our big re-think.

Coming soon - Part III - September 11, Democrats, And Moronic Moral Equivalence

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Gosh Darn It!

So diplomacy and the international community work after-all. Iran has agreed, through diplomacy and strong-arming by, dare say it, "old europe", to suspend its nuke program. You know what W is thinking now right? "Better get Unka Dick on the phone. This program suspension stuff has got to stop!"

Mea Culpa & Apologia

My predictions were off, way off. I'm sorry. I was suckered in by the polls just like everyone else. I got NM, CO and IA going to Bush right, but I got just about everything else wrong. Of course, it wouldn't be right to just say, I got it wrong. I also need to offer some sort of apology on my behalf.

Here it is:

The poll numbers weren't what threw me off. What threw me off were the stories, now mostly the stuff of urban legends, of massive registration efforts and high predicted turnout. I had heard from insiders in these groups say to me that 10M new registrations were not improbable. I heard a lot about unprecedented turnout expectations, so much that a 120M total vote was conceded; Charlie Cook even suggested 130M! There is no way we are going to lose if 60% of Voting Aged Pop. votes. You hear? No way at all. But only 117M folks voted. I knew the closer we were to 115M the more likely it was we'd lose. 117M is right in the middle, and we just barely lost. I like Donna Brazile a lot, but she needs to be held accountable here, there weren't the numbers that we needed to win. PA was a success, but that was pretty much it. Everywhere else was a valiant turnout fight, but still a loss. I think sometimes Ms. Brazile fails to appreciate the importance of message in turnout. Organization matters, but without a message that spreads like, quicksilver through the camps, the troops won't show up to fight. If you're in charge of GOTV, you gotta demand fire from the pulpit.

James Carville

Just saw a brief part of his appearance on Meet the Press with his lady-love at his side. The esteemed James Carville says its time to re-examine where the Democratic party is headed. Rethink the party's "narrative". I agree. And since you volunteered, Mr. Carville, let's begin by examining you. Why wasn't John Kerry allowed to continue running to the right of Pres. Bush after the first debate on foreign policy (a debate where Sen. Kerry demolished Pres. Bush)? Josh Marshall has more on the need for purging, but I can't help but to lay this defeat on the backs of Kerry's helpers. Sen. Kerry did what he had to do. He beat George Bush, soundly, on George Bush's turf: the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. But Carville and others let the President back into his corner, let him regroup, and he came out swinging. Moreover, the Democratic "ground game" was pathetic. We needed 120M voters, and we didn't get them. In fact, we were 3M short. Hmm. 3M short. What we'd lose by? Carville, I know you weren't "responsible" for the ground game, but your failure to let the Senator be the Senator was a large reason why we lost. Next time around, stick to polling.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Spitzer!

There you are you rascal. Now I've got you. Where was this suit during the campaign? Might have helped with the whole "tort reform" madness. I, for one, have long been of the opinion that personal injury lawyers are merely an excuse for insurance companies to line their pockets. In fact, I know that's the case. Some of our largest investors are the very best global insurance companies. Since I deliver them a pretty good return, they often speak freely around me. They say the reason for the run-up in rates is threefold: A) stupid growth funds with bad equity investors,B) a market with a lot of steam let out and C) greed. I believe them. PI attorneys aren't exactly a tasteful bunch, not the type you'd like to see at your yacht club, nor would you really want your daughter to marry one. But the insurance companies need to feel a little fire now too. My guess is, if Spitzer pushes hard enough (and that is a topic worthy of a separate post at some point) he'll find all sorts of misconduct which will take the paint off the walls at the old Enron HQ.

UPDATE: I have a tip for ol' Eliot if he's listening. Look at the discrepancies in oil reports over the last five months. Particularly distillates and crude supplies. Then look at production analysis figures from the majors. You'll see something that is, shall we say, ve-ry in-ta-rest-ing!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Moments

Hegel revealed: one is precisely what one claims one isn't.
I've found this an instructive line to help my Democratic friends during this time of soul searching. The party is faced with a dilemma. Either swallow their self-enligtened pride and start talking 'values', or stand steadfast to fighting for the economic needs of the people. This is not a dilemma though. Remember, you are that which you say you are not. Democrats say they are not the party of "values" as that would smack too much of religion in politics. Kerry uttered in one debate that he couldn't legislate his faith. I find, Democrats who are pressed with Hegelian force will eventually see the light.

Democrats are the party of religion and faith, not the GOP.
The GOP preaches one God, but we know better. There are as many Gods as there are faiths. Once Democrats stand up and say: "my faith tells me this is the right way to lead" Republicans will all but fall over themselves to say: "no, it does not tell you that." Once uttered, that pretense will destroy the GOP, just as it did the BJP (thanks for keeping it going Fed X).

In India, as America, tolerance is the bark on the tree.
Brad Carson's recent article in TNR recounts a campaign trip to a church. The sermon that day was something like: "How Would Jesus Vote?" There was an answer already determined, and coded for the believers, it said: "vote righteously". Democrats though can use this greatest strength of the GOP to tie them in knots. "Vote righteously" sounds a lot like telling people how to pray, or what to believe, or which God they should worship. If Democrats simply stand up for what they've always stood up for, "don't you tell me how to pray, or what to believe, you can't even find me a job!" they will demolish the GOP misuse of religion. It simply takes courage, courage to not listen to pollsters or campaign advisers, but simply to listen to one's heart. That's all Hegel ever wanted, and that's all any God would ever require. What if Kerry said: "my faith tells me I have no right to intervene." What if he said it with conviction, just as a Jehova's Witness says it to the doctor seeking to perform an evasive maneuver? You may disagree with him, but you would admire his faith.

Burn Hollywood Burn I Smell a Riot

Ain't no way to deny it. Was that from fear of a black planet or one of their later albums? Anyway, J. Marshall has a pretty disturbing letter from Pres. of Bob Jones U to Pres. of USA. Josh calls him a "radical cleric". That's cute, but pretty ineffective. In keeping with the theme posted by Schenker, I'd like to call him: a "Religious Biggot"... as members of the BJP are now called.

Oh yeah, and in case I forgot, Happy Diwali Everyone!


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Faith, In India.

I've been struck by my Democratic friends of late. They have almost become religion-haters. Not quite, as each of them is privately religious. But they hate the fact that what they call "evangelicals" were the ones that put Bush back in power. I don't think they realize that this so-called "evangelical" movement has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with power. Were religion not a convenient fact of life, it would be some virtually universally held belief system the GOP would use to divide and conquer the country. It is all made up. There are some true-believers. But the story line for this election was printed long ago, and the "christian" vote (small c) was going to get the credit (or the blame) no matter what.

I can say this with such confidence because I closely followed the BJP (the hindu nationalist party, formerly the "natural ruling party" of India, or so they said) for quite some time. They picked religion because it had worked in the past, and their arguments and lines of attacks are almost exactly what the christian right use today.

These powerhungry elites will stop at nothing. They care not for the republic. But the good news is, they will lose because in their heart, they are not faithful, just like the BJP. At their heart these elites are tyrants. And tyrants always lose. Just ask Ghandi.

Arafat's Death

Look, I'm no macro-sage or anything, in fact, I think those people are basically mythological in nature anyway, but I gotta say this, I do not understand at all why people are saying Arafat's death is such a good thing. As I recall from the few history classes I took in college and was also awake for, I remember something about "power vacums" causing general instability. So, oil trades down on this news and guess what? I think that's crap. Arafat has nothing to do with global production. Production capacity is the problem, not politcs. It's gonna be a cold winter. Brrr.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

No more crude jokes

From the FT, on today's oil close:

Crude oil futures rose after weekly data on petroleum inventories showed a rise in crude oil inventories but a decline in distillate products such as heating oil. The data raised the possibility of another run-up in oil prices amid fears of a shortage of heating oil as winter approaches.

I got an email from someone saying they thought I was "stupid" to say what I said about oil in Mid-Nov. Well, it's 11/10... Five More Days; Four More Years; Five More Days!!!!!

Oh, and Fed X had it right on the distillates too, gee, should have bought back then. Viva Bu$h!

A note about power

I've heard a lot of people say: "power corrupts". It does, I agree. They then go on to say: "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Again agreed. Patting themselves on the back, they conclude: "this will not be a good four years for the Republicans." Maybe.

But my fare Democratic friends, my soul-sisters and brothers, you have forgotten one more premise to your tiddy wisdom. "Knowledge is power." And insofar as knowledge is power, it too corrupts.

I caution you all, do not think for one spare second this is unknown to your opposition. They know this truth well, and they will seek continued shelter under the shield of ignorance. How long will the politics of "un"knowledge last? No one I talk to seems to know.

Did You Say Bankruptcy Reform?

The LA Times reports this on 11/8: with a Bush win, business lobbyists sure are licking their chops now! The article gives an overview of pro-business legislation: tax reform, social security reform, tort reform... those were the headliners. Deep in the article though is a paragraph about banks and credit card companies seeking bankruptcy reform. I realize this isn't the most glamorous topic in the world, but for me its a livelihood so that caught my eye. In a slight panic, I talked to some lobbyist friends of mine who reassured me the banks were looking for individual bankruptcy reform, not business reorganization reform. In other words, the banks want to steer more people into 13 and away from 7 (big state's rights problems, or so I hear). Here's the interesting point though, the lobbyist also mentioned to me that there would likely be some proposals to make 11 a little more debtor friendly. Now, that would really piss me off for two reasons: A) It will be harder for me to make money then and B) it just isn't fair! They want to make it easier on businesses to get in and out of 11 but make it harder for people to do the same in 7. They want management, who runs a multi-billion dollar company into the ground, to retain more control of the reorganized company but a person who is sunk because of medical bills and an unavoidable tragedy to have less control over their wages. I thought corporations were treated "as people" under our law, not as super-people. This is ridiculous and I hope (again for at least on selfish reason, I confess) that the Democrats get their act together. Make debt relief a real issue and you'll find some surprising allies in your fight.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Blue state / Red state

Man, I spoke with some Dem activist types coming back from the "field" today and they are absolutely hysterical! The party of pragmatism is now the party of: "those damn red states!" boogey-mania. What is going on? Do you all really believe there is such a thing as a "blue state"? If you do, Karl Rove pretty much has you brainwashed. Drive across the country once or twice and see how similar everything is. In red states and blue states the unwashed all shop at Kmart, the yuppies shop at Target, and everyone shops at Wal-Mart cause their prices are so damn low. In both red and blue, main streets in small towns are pretty much boarded unless a Starbucks has opened up, in which case there are too many coffee houses to shake a stick at. Gas stations in red states look just like gas stations in blue states. People who should know better drive big SUVs in both redand blue. Kids like to play ball instead of do their homework in both blue and red. Medical bills pile up in both red states as well as blue states. Traffic sucks in both blue and in red. And most importantly, everyone's shit stinks in red and blue. Ain't none of us any better or worse cause of where we live. This is America afterall. Gay rights didn't win or lose this campaign, guns didn't neither. Nope, not even terrorism. People won this election, and people lost it. Not red and blue, but American people. There just isn't that much difference between each of us, merely shades of... well... gray!

Answers to Debt Relief Questions

Many of the same questions re-appear from our readers, here are some responses to the most common Qs I've seen so far:

(1) Yes, I fully realize debt relief is an atom bomb. Federalist X tells me that irresponsible debt forgiveness was one of the animating forces behind the Constitution. My answer to this is, SO WHAT? Sometimes you gotta be bold. And if you look at our numbers just on the retail/consumer side, we aren't exactly stealing the banks blind. Our real goal is merely to lower the default rate on high interest debt. Change begins at the margins so the proposal is quite modest.

(2) Yes, the banks will fight this and some will certainly fail, but again, SO WHAT? Banks fight a lot of stuff and over the long-term, the improved financial situation only makes their business better. Secondly, the soft approach will by no means throw most of Delaware into 11; in fact I can argue that it will do the opposite, but I need a projector and some much cooler charts than available on this blog.

(3) No, this isn't simply tax cuts for the poor. This is a restructuring of high interest debt using the federal government's tax and spend power as leverage in the negotiation. That's all.

(4) For those readers who had some cognitive dissonance, think of this is as a simple debt restructuring between all credit card holders and all banks all at once. The feds are merely the attorney or representative for all credit card holders. The goal of the restructuring is to bring down the average interest rate two points. In return, the banks will get a combination of new debt, better controls over how they issue credit and how revolvers are drawn down, and of course, equity in the new enterprise. Except here the new enterprise is the US government. So instead of stock or warrants, they get future tax breaks and credits. These incentives could be a new type of security as well.

Not sure if that clarifies anything, but hope it helps!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Debt Relief - Part I, Plank One

This is a high-level overview of the first of three planks of Debt Relief. Sharpshanks contributed to this particular plank and Mitya K is currently working on planks two and three. We believe these policies are necessary, and at the current time, they make good political sense. If you want to flood the polls with your voters, you'll be for debt relief in the coming elections.

Debt Relief; (Saving America's Middle Class)

Plank One: Retail Debt Relief
Plank Two: School / Home / Medical Debt Relief [coming soon]
Plank Three: Small Business Debt Relief [coming soon]

Retail debt means credit card, store card, etc., debt of household consumers above the age of 18. Total debt estimated at current time is: $672B (not including business credit cards or no-interest cards). Retail debt has the highest default rate for consumers and is therefore the highest interest debt burdening America's great consumer class. There are two ways to go about restructuring this debt, one gentle, the other heavy-handed. The policy goals of retail debt relief are: a) increasing solvency (and eventually savings) of America's households and b) aiding state governments strapped for revenue to fund higher education.

The gentle approach uses tax incentives and banking regulations to induce banks to offer lower interest rates. Over time, as consumers become aware of the lower rate offerings, a great chunk of this debt will be transferred to lower interest accounts, freeing up vast amounts of capital and increasing demand. The incentives for credit card companies will be additional tax credits (cents on the dollar) for every dollar saved through lower rate transfers as well as less restrictive regulations for participating banks.

We would like a two-point concession targeting 1/10th of outstanding bank credit card debt (or approximately $67B) to be achieved in two years. This restructuring would free up approximately $3B in annual interest payments made by consumers. It would also free up about a point of available credit to American consumers, or approximately $10B. Obviously the impact to the economy would be enormous. A significant infusion of sales tax receipts to our state and local governments would be another benefit. Also, by of using the soft approach, banks will compete for the restructured or transferred business merely through the use of tax and regulation incentives. Equally obvious is that banks will oppose this, which is why the federal government must make the pot sufficiently sweet. If it isn't enticing, they won't bite. After assessing the two-year impact, a more aggressive restructuring could commence if there is sufficient evidence it will work. Again though, if the deal isn't sweet, they won't take it.

The heavy-handed approach could be used at any time but we prefer it to be used only if the gentle approach doesn't achieve the desired two-year results. The heavy-handed approach raises taxes on all banking institutions that do not offer credit rebates to their clients. For every dollar of debt, clients will be offered $0.18 of rebate from participating banks, up to a maximum of around $2,500 (or the present average retail debt / person plus 8.5%). Note: for those thinking this is quite high, remember the feds gave $400 back to everyone w/dependents for the Bush tax cut, this is merely $450 for every card-holder.

The tax increase under the heavy-handed approach will not be prohibitive, but it will account for the loss in free-floating capital with an increase in treasury receipts (perhaps for every dollar lost, $0.10 in receipts). Any banking institution showing signs of distress from participation in rebate plan will be allowed a one-time write off and restrictions on the mergers of distressed banks will be removed. This isn't a pretty picture. Some banks will fail. But with hardwork, only a few of the already high risk banks will be exposed and the benefits to the longterm health of the economy will more than make up for it.

The above is Plank One of the Debt Relief Proposal. The other two planks will be unveiled within the coming days. Please discuss...

A name you haven't heard

Since the election, I haven't heard a lot from a certain: Eliot Spitzer. Anyone? Anyone? Spitzer?

Distressed? Sure thing!

Everyone knows this year has been pretty lousy for hedges. Yet distressed funds are posting solid returns. According to Hedgefund.net's distressed index, vultures are posting close to 12% this year. Not too bad. Here's what is strange though. While vultures don't typically fly in cycles, one can predict with some accuracy a good from a bad year. This was supposed to be a bad year. What happened? Well, first off, we aren't pulling 30% like last year. Secondly, investors are pulling money out of all hedges and plowing it back in equities. This is fine by vultures as we typically like small crowds and there's more to eat when fewer are around. But I'll go ahead and say it, the most important thing that's happened this year for vulture funds is the following: geopolitical instability. Some may say I'm crazy, but from the bird's eye view, the whole distressed market is simply a play on how peaceful and sane the world is. The less of that, the more return. The more of it, the less return. Viva Bu$h!

Global Test

Dollar Sell-Off

Here's an interesting rumor, certain to make my day a little more fun, China is continuing to sell-off the dollar, says FT. Beyond a general sense of "fear" that four more years of Bush will be, well, four more years of Bush, the column doesn't say much about why we're seeing our Asian trading partners so uninterested in our currency. There are a bunch of reasons, but before we go blaming the Bush re-election, can we blame his initial four years first? Even if Kerry had won, there would have been a slide right about now. Our trade deficit is childish. Our current account deficit is absurd. Our budget deficit is an example of adolescent decision-making. We'll break the 105/yen threshold today and the euro will set a new high. Will the Bush administration finally put some adults in charge at that point?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

our way of life

Our way of life is under attack, and no one in power is doing anything to defend us. That basic feeling has set the terms of political debate in my home region -- the south -- for 150 years. It sounds to progressive ears like the opening of a reactionary rant. Progressives have become instinctively wary of anything that sounds like a yearning for the past. Sometimes, that's a good thing, but I want to suggest that right now, at this time in the history of American and Western civilization, that single phrase should be the progressive battle cry. First of all, it is unquestionably true. Never before has the future of reason, of a society of ordered liberty built on the consent of the governed, of the idea that humans, rather than faceless institutions, control human affairs, been under such threat. In more concrete terms, never before have the vast majority of American citizens had so little influence over their daily lives. Who has more power over the future of rural communities or urban neighborhoods -- the people who live there or the executives of the big box retailers who decide -- sometimes without ever visiting the place and almost always without meeting any person in the area whose life will be irrevocably changed by their decision -- where to locate their stores? Who has more power over our children's minds -- their parents and family members, or marketing executives at record companies and tv networks? Yes, in a thousand ways, our way of life is under attack, and no one in power is doing anything to defend us. But the reason progressives must make this their battle cry is not just that it's true, but also that it is good politics. No theme has the power to energize and engage people both in the short term and over time than feeling that their way of life is at stake. Republicans have become masters at making people feel this way, even while doing virtually nothing effective to stop the things they fear from happening. They do this to mask their profoundly futuristic vision (think Gattaca, Minority Report or 1984, rather than a progressive futuristic vision like, say, Star Trek) of an oligarchy of overlords jetting around above a mass of proles satiated into disengagement by consumerism. They are against the power of individuals over their own lives. They are against the power of local communities everywehere over what their world looks like. They are against freedom, against democracy, and for disenfranchisement through disengagement. Their aspiration is to bring the era of the individual, of a society built on reason rather than on privilege, to an end. They are attacking our very way of life, and we must fight in every imaginable way to stop them.

Pragmatism, no longer useful?

For the better part of my generation, Democratic foreign policy (and to some extent domestic policy too) would aptly fit the term "realist". So pervasive was "realism", and so acute were its successes in preventing a third world war that even Republicans like Eishenhower, Reagan and Bush I unquestionably accepted most of its tenets. The ethos of foreign policy "realism" is simple: one cannot change the world, but everyone working together can. From this universal value the UN was created and for sixty years, a major world war has been averted. I will post again soon on the state of foreign policy realism, today I'd like to turn the focus briefly onto domestic policy. In this realm, America has a long history, dating back to pre-WW-I times. Of course, "realism" was not the original term, "pragmatism" was. The Supreme Court adopted pragmatic approaches, confusing terms even more, with the Brandeis and Llewellyn school of "Legal Realism". It is not accident that this school of thought flourished at the same time that America's great foreign diplomacy victories were abounding. The ideas of pragmatism were, and still are, the same ideas of realism.

Yet today progressives must look very hard at how pragmatism has been used domestically. What originally started as a critique of blind, or still worse intentional, adoption of ambigious first principles, the pragmatic endeavor has evolved into what some today call relativism. That is, the argument that: "these moral values judgments are arbitrarily chosen to fit the winner" has morphed into: "all moral judgments are arbitrary." There is a certain radical pragmatism at work here, it should not be discounted. However, pragmatism has never been concerned with the radical. In some sense, it has never been concerned with the true, rather merely the better is pragmatism's goal. Before proceeding with a long and mostly uninteresting historical discussion, I will simply conclude here, as all pragamatic progressives might fittingly conclude, with a question or two. I hope they engender thought and most importantly, discussion...

How pragmatic is it to argue that all moral judgments are arbitrary? Aren't some moral judgments necessary? Isn't pragmatism itself a moral judgment?

I would very much like to thank Federalist X for setting this site up. I will be posting regularly from now on. Please email us at: mailAmendmentNine@yahoo.com if you have thoughts you'd like to share.

UPDATE: I completed a reading of Josh Marshall's "Talkingpointsmemo.com" just this past hour. His post concerning Hillary's potential run references the false dichotomy (I believe) that many progressives seem to have engrained in their souls. At the start he says there are two reasons he opposes a Hillary run, one reason being "principled" the other reason "pragmatic". Yet, when I read the so-labeled reasons, I confess, I see both reasons equally principled and therefore pragmatic. I read Mr. Marshall all the time, I like his work. I just want to point out even the esteemed Mr. Marshall falls prey to a view that principle and pragmatism are somehow essentially different.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Wedge Issues

At the risk of oversimplification... wasn't it Lyndon Johnson who said all you need to do to win an election these days is run down to the courthouse and scream negro, negro, negro (though, he sounded like he was saying: "nigrah, nigrah, nigrah")? I guess now what you do is run down to the courthouse and scream: "faggot, faggot, faggot"

This federalist is a little appalled at the state of the union. Not sad, just a little disgusted. Along with helping out with the big ideas for this site, I'm also gonna show progressives a few ways to fight fire with fire. More to come soon...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Just how crude?

I know, very. $48, Dec. delivery. Mitya K. is my daddy. We should wait till mid-nov just like daddy said.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Crude Awakening?

Despite the increasing increase in reserves (up from last week) el Presidente speaks, Russia listens. Russia pulls the Yukos trick again and afer Bush speaks, oil is up 3%. Oh yeah, and distillates continue to detract. Mid-Nov? Try tomorrow Mitya K.

Economics of the Election

I'm sorry Kerry lost. Too bad. What might have been? I'm not sure it matters. What I do know is this: Bush tax cuts will be permanent, pork spending will increase. Both will ballon the deficit as the Iraq war costs mount. Soon, the current account deficit is going to reach a tipping point. Yesterday could well have been it. Let's see where oil goes in Mid-Nov.

This too shall pass

So we need to make sure we have ideas at our disposal and the tools necessary to take advantage when this passes. The central idea to any reform must be constitutional enfranchisement. We need it, it is required to eliminate election day hijinks and hijacks for that matter. See the post below for more. Also, we will be unveiling a new idea at least once a week for the remainder of the year. Please check back early and often.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Preview of Big Ideas

We had some more contributors scheduled to join today. It seems the election has upset their timetables. In the meantime, here is a preview of some of the ideas we will be unfolding...

(1) Debt Relief
There is a responsible and irresponsible way to do this. Both will be discussed. Our proposals will include corporate as well as consumer debt relief, and will use a series of tax and regulatory incentives.

(2) Time Relief
Essentially, as our society ages, work will be performed by fewer and fewer people. Some regulation (or as we prefer, incentives) will be necessary to avoid the temptation of slipping into a split-level economy.

(3) Tort Reform
This is exactly what it sounds like. You might be surprised though because its nothing like you've ever heard before. Our policies will have less to do with government and more to do with the markets.

(4) Tax Reform
The big daddy of the whole thing.

(5) Federalism Concerns
Numerous proposals will be explored including: representation levels, federal body structure, policies behind national voting, as well as others.

(6) Religion
The inability to clothe economically efficient arguments with moral righteousness has led to a widespread distrust of the greater scientific world. A schism between religion and science will only work mischief. We will examine ways to buttress scientific and economic analysis with moral force and persuasion.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The that for the sake of which.

Despite the initial posts from this site, Amendment Nine exists because several people would like to put their various ideas out for a new progressive agenda. Here is idea one:

A federal right to vote; Amendment 26 redux.
There isn't one now. Bush v. Gore made that painfully clear. There is only a right to equal protection. This is problematic and yields the hodge-podge regulations amongst are states. Further, with no federal right to vote, states are able to disenfranchise certain groups of voters (today, typically black and hispanic voters, earlier in history, typically debtor voters) so long as they avoid obvious racial classifications. A universal federal right to vote (all adult American citizens) puts pressure on the states and Congress to treat the ballot professionally. This increases confidence in the political process. It also makes attempts to disenfranchise minority factions extremely difficult (here minority is used generically, not exclusive to race). Moreover, an increase in minority participation (again, generic) makes the likelihood of an extreme or radical government closer to zero. Ancillary benefits include reexamination of the Electoral College, reassessment of representation between big and small states, a revisit of campaign finance policy, significantly less volatility in presidential elections. This is just the kernel of the idea, but it is the central idea for any progressive platform. Both parties would ultimately benefit from such a move, though each would experience inevitable growing pains as the sphere of political influence grows. A federal right to vote is necessary for the continued success of the American experiment.

In order to be as effective as possible, this right should be added to the Constitution. Altering the poorly drafted Amend 26th would be one interesting way to achieve this goal. Less effective, but equally interesting, would be challenger litigation suing for a violation of a federal, constitutional right using Amend 9, Amend 10 and Amend 26 to argue for a constitutionally implicit federal right to vote (novel). Note: coincidentally, this would have the effect of overturning Bush v. Gore (which with its judicially created “our holding applies to this case only” caveat, wouldn’t really matter that much anyway). Please discuss…

Oil - Too little too late?

I hinted earlier that oil's sudden price drop was odd. Given the correlation between Bush's approval rating and the price of gas, it was less odd but more alarming; perhaps an October surprise? Today Nymex shows oil testing the $50 mark and likely to close under it. The economic analysis I've seen says this is unjustified. Why is the market not worried about the decrease in heating oil as winter approaches? Not sure. According to this article, a "change of psychology" is to blame. Hmmm. Last time we had a change of psychology, I think it was when everyone realized that dotcoms needed to make money, not just issue stock certifactes... this could be the inverse. I continue to get panicky emails from traders and analysts alike. Something is amiss. Look for a much different crude oil supply report in the future. I still don't think this will change the election at all though. Early voting, as I said in the post below, has essentially given the Kerry campaign a touchdown before the game even starts. Gas prices last week were pretty horrible... least, around here they were!

But who scored the touchdown?

Imagine you're about to play in your first superbowl. You dominated your conference during the regular season, as did your opponent. And both teams breezed through the playoffs. All the sportscasters say you're evenly matched with the other team, and virtually everyone has a final score prediction within a field goal. You know this means the game will be hard fought, and won on the field, not the booth. Yet, just before the game starts, the officials decide to award your opponent a touchdown and extra-point, before the first kick-off. You'd pretty much feel like the game is over right? Well, that's why I say this game is over. Josh has a rundown on the pre-kickoff touchdown going Kerry's way. Long as the Dems don't go around and fumble the football near their own goal line (this would be equivalent to losing to NJ), they are definitely going to win. Ruy's roundup gives you some more color.