Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Live from Baghdad

The Daily Show will actually have a reporter embedded in Iraq all this week:

Comedian Rob Riggle, who is an actual major in the US Marine Corps. will be traveling through Iraq as part of the USO tour, and will be filming segments for the Daily Show all week.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ghost Writing

For months now, George Bush and the Republican party have been telling us to wait until September when General Petraeus will issue his report before we're allowed to criticize the troop escalation. Now it turns out that the White House will be writing said report, and had sought to block General Petraeus himself from appearing before Congress and the American people.

from Countdown with Keith Olbermann

The official report may not be out until next month, but the numbers are already starting to come in. Alternet had this fantastic and sobering article on August 16th.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New UFO Footage From Haiti

If these aren't UFOs, if our military made these, I want one.

George W. Bush: Linguist

from The Daily Show August 9th, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mixed Feelings and Campaign Cash

Dave Eggers-Blame America First Defeat-ocrat?

Through The Huffington Post's new campaign cash tracker Fundrace I now know that Dave Eggers gave $2,300 to Barack Obama.

On the one hand, I'm glad that I can find the name and business of every single donor to every presidential/political campaign in America, but on the other hand, I'm not sure I'd like everyone knowing who I gave my financial support to. In the same vein of distrusting electronic voting machines because they strike at the very heart of democracy, the vote, I don't want to see who a friend or family member donated to, and have that slant my view of them even a tiny bit, and vice versa.

Privacy versus the publics right to know is a tricky question. I'll probably just do what I normally do; spy around to see who my neighbors gave cash to, and then become completely indignant when I find out they did the same with me. That's America.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Charles Simic

Charles Simic has officially been named as the new U.S. Poet-Laureate. He assumes control, as is my understanding, of not only the U.S. Department of Verse, but also its multi-billion dollar war chest and ability to both hire and fire the nations 50 Federal Poets General.

While this is quite an honor, and I myself have been a fan of Mr. Simic for many years, he faces quite the uphill struggle in returning the office of Poet Laureate to its former prestige. Following the cronyism of the Billy Collins administration, failed trickle-down poetics of the Ted Kooser administration, and the "do nothing" Donald Hall administration, popular confidence in the Poet Laureate is at an all time low.

We wish the Pulitzer Prize winning poet all the luck in the world as he attempts to steer the great poetic ship of state back to more prosperous waters.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

It's all about ownership

Conservatives love "National Sovereignty" and "Ownership Society" as talking points, but when it comes down to brass tax, what do they really mean?

Now that Rupert Murdoch owns the Wall Street Journal, the only reputable economic forum left in the western world seems to be The Financial Times of London. The latter ran an article this week by Lawrence Summers regarding Sovereign Funds, and their antithesis to capitalism, and, well, national sovereignty. A sovereign fund is a state owned asset which exists to purchase stakes in private companies. All governments, at least in the industrialized world, do this in one form or another. However, the idea of the sovereign fund as an engine of capitalism becomes something else when paired with an equally strong engine of protectionism. We're seeing this with the emergence of China.

China already has two economic weapons they hold over our heads: they own more of our debt than almost any other country, and in addition, due to our insane conservative trade policies, we can't even manufacture an aircraft carrier without parts they make. The emergence of China in the sovereign fund game has given them a third piece of leverage against us. China has been buying large, and in some instances controlling, stakes in American private equity funds and corporations. On the surface this just seems like the nature of global free trade, but when you consider the fact that China will not allow foreign investors to own even a small interest in any Chinese company, the disparity becomes evident.

It used to seem somewhat over the top to say that China could literally sink the entire United States economy with one flick of the stock ticker, but it's now becoming more and more a cause for concern. China (along with Mexico and Brazil) almost exclusively produces all American steel, textiles, clothing, machinery, electronics, high tech components, and in some cases our food. (Faltering global supplies of grain are another security issue, though one best saved for another post.) I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but considering China controls a vast amount of our economy, commodities, and food supply, if they were to, say, launch a military offensive against Taiwan, we would be almost foolish to intervene.

It's all about ownership. China isn't the only country to take advantage of our conservative ownership and trade policies, while protecting their own country's sovereign interests. The tragedy in Minnesota this week has highlighted the large disregard conservative economics leaves for our infrastructure. From Roosevelt until Reagen, we considered infrastucture akin to national security, and an investment in our nation's future. Now, Spain and Australia own large swaths of U.S. highways and toll roads. We literally pay foreign companies for the privelege of driving on our own American roads. Japan, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emerates, and India all also own huge chunks of the United States, while barring foreign ownership in most areas. If the economic prospects of the United States continue the way they are, we, and especially my generation, are going to find out the hard way that Milton Friedman, NAFTA, CAFTA, and the WTO were all terribly wrong, and that a decade ago, and of all people, well, Ross Perot was right: