Thursday, January 31, 2008

Florida Speaks: Giuliani A Turkey, Flops On Road

Reports from the Florida Republic are that Rudy Giuliani woke up and smelled the expresso, and it didn't smell like Cuban coffee. As everyone except three guys in a submarine under the polar icecap now know, he got thumped in the Florida primaries and hauled up the white flag with what now seems to be unseemly and indecorous haste.

It seems to me that Giuliani went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, thus proving P.T. Barnum once and for all wrong.
The "strategy" was to ignore the traditional proving grounds of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries, and, as he thought, go directly to the first big primary state and stake everything on one grand roll of the dice. Was Florida an outpost of New York? Would the Cubans buy into it and send Rudy over the top?
As it turns out, the answer from the land of sunshine, oranges, and quirky emigre politics was 'hell, no!'.
As any aspiring Thespian will tell you, you first open in New Haven and see whether your show's got legs. Then, and only then, are you ready to open on Broadway.

The New York Daily News ran an article today about Chuck Grassley (Senator from Iowa) that says he unloaded on Giuliani about the "New York lifestyle",(whatever that is) saying that it didn't travel well. Nobody else has picked the story up so far, but I have to figure it actually happened.

Of course, Hizzoner appearing in drag, seen above with a puzzled Donald "Combover" Trump, and hot and cold running bimbos at Gracie Mansion really didn't help matters-nor did the Bernie Karik contretemps. Imagine THAT photo circulating around the Kremlin just before the next summit meeting, for Chrissakes.
But nevermind.

People there are ready to declare a jihad for Grassley's impertinence, and there's a veritable hurricane of fatwas are flying from all the usual mullahs.

However, like a fumble fingered rookie dentist with one of those horrible metal probes striking the mother of all nerves, what Farmer Chuck (as he is sometimes known here) did was inartfully expose all the contempt that many people in Festung New York have for anything west of the Hudson.

As long as we're a bunch of illiterate and inbred bumpkins and retards out here, everything's fine, and we can safely be ignored just as long as we keep sending truckloads of all the things we make and grow, on credit, on time, with no real expectation of payment anytime soon.

But let anyone west of Jersey City mumble that maybe New York is not the ultimate arbiter of all things regarding science, decorum, taste, good government, ethics, morality, and honoring your obligations by paying your debts and the fan hits the shit, so to speak.

If New York's such a great place, how come it never fails to produce the likes of John Gotti, for Chrissakes? At least the Dapper Don never disguised who he was, what he did, or what he expected of people. Rudy is a different study. I also think that the gennelmun from Ozone Park probably never would have appeared in public in drag.....but that's just me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

From the Mealy Mouthed Newspeak Department

Information Week informs us this day that Yahoo! ( I freakin' hate that name-don't you? A 'yahoo' in the vernacular is a redneck moron of no great wit.)...where was I? Oh yes. The aforementioned yahoo is going to get rid of 1,000 employees by what Jerry Yang, chief yahoo, calls a 'realignment' of jobs.

I dunno. I do not pretend to know much about this, but this "realignment" used to be called getting fired, getting the axe, the bum's rush, the old heave ho, and sometimes my way or the highway. I've heard it called downsizing, rightsizing, and even reengineering, but it's the same old crap.

Some poor bastard who ain't gonna get a golden parachute, corporate America style, is going to have to figure out how to make the car payments and feed the kids out of his realignment.

And what is the source of this 'realignment' as Chairman Yang calls it?

Simply that Yahoo! did not make quite as much money as they did last year.

If you thought they were bleeding to death, you thought wrong. Here's the tape.

The company said net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 fell to $206 million, or 15 cents a share, from $269 million, or 19 cents a share, for the same period a year ago. Contributing to the drop were stock-based compensation and other expenses. Operating income for the quarter plunged 38% to $191 million from $308 million a year ago.

How about that "stock based compensation" they're talking about? Wouldja believe stock options given to highly placed executive types siphoned off a few bucks here and there? Killing the goose that laid the golden egg, anyone?

For more info on yahoo, see Business Week's article.

Photo credit to the fine folks at BW. One of my old profs at Rutgers was an editor there back in the day. Rod Craib? Remember him?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama Takes South Carolina-the Billary Skedaddles UPDATE 1

It is reported that when asked about the Obama sweep in South Carolina Bill Clinton said in an offhanded way "So did Jesse Jackson". The bare fact is true, but the subtext seems to be that Obama could only win as a black man first. That betrays the contempt that the Clinton campaign seems to have for the electorate.

Here's what Andrew Ward Schmookler said in an Op Ed piece this afternoon. I reprint it in full.

I just heard on television that Obama seems to have pulled out a rout over the CLintons, and this is interpreted --by Tim Russert, and by me-- to mean that indeed the Clinton's way of campaigning against Obama had produced a backlash. And yet still Bill Clinton is doing it, fanning the flames of the racial angle by responding to the news of Obama's great victory by saying, "Yeah, so did Jesse Jackson [win the South Carolina victory, in other words, that Obama had won this election by being a black man rather than by being a truly viable choice for America, affirmed by the 24 percent of the white vote that ended up going for Obama (up from only about 10 percent before the Clinton dirty campaigning).

One does indeed get a bad taste about the Clinton's, in their current manifestation. There are pieces about this on the web. Jonathan Chait in the Los Angeles times talks about starting to wonder if the Clinton's are capable of being anything but divisive. And Bob Herbert's piece about the Clinton's making conflicts that are unnecessary.

I'll tell you what I think. I do not think this is the same spirit that the Clinton's brought to the presidency. But they went through some intense experiences with the assault from the vast right-wing conspiracy, and I think that a kind of traumatic learning took place which led to their internalizing a great deal of the spirit of the forces that had assaulted them.

Call it "identification with the aggressor" or a vampire-like contagion or whatever. I think that they were changed into dirty fighters by their decade-long assault from a cadre of dirty fighters.So I have compassion for them, having been victims first and being turned into a kindred victimizer. But regardless, this is not the spirit we want or need to rule America.

As Bob Herbert wondered about the Clintons, at the conclusion of his piece:
Can they look beyond winning to a wounded nation’s need for healing and unifying?The voters of South Carolina have decided apparently that THEY can look beyond the win-at-any-cost-and-by-any-means approach, repudiate the Clintons, and turn to Obama as the leader to take us toward that healing. As for me, I now know --99.9 percent-- that I will not vote for Hillary Clinton, for the same reason as it is conjectured that those 15 percent of white voters shifted to Obama in those last days. As for whether I will vote for Obama come Super Tuesday, or use my vote to strengthen Edwards, it will depend on what is the state of play in the larger game by then.

As for today, I am glad for Obama to have enjoyed this triumph. I continue to have my questions about his capability of achieving his purposes as the president of the United States, BUT I also have a basic trust in the goodness of his purposes.

And methinks that Americans will be so relieved to have a president whose goodness of purpose one can trust that they'll be willing to put up with a bit of floundering, and perhaps ready to lend a hand and help this unripe leader use his considerable abilities --intellectually, legally, rhetorically, morally-- to achieve something of good for the country.My prediction is that the Obama tide that got side-tracked by New Hampshire, for reasons of sympathy for Hillary (sympathy she has now altogether squandered, and not built upon), will now pick up momentum.

I'm not sure I'm ready to say this is more than even money, but I think there's a genuine chance that Hillary Clinton has now squandered her advantages at the crucial moment. She has squandered it by showing herself unfair and dishonest in seeking advantage, up against the upright Obama, whom she tried to goad into slinging it out in the mud of her level, reducing his asset of seeming to be a genuinely righteous and competent man who talks of hope and inspiration and what we can do together.This is the crucial moment because now the new valence and momentum are imparted at a moment is when the NEXT big battle is the super-battle for all those delegates.

What happens if the Obama tide rises all the way to Super Tuesday?I heard it on the eve of the New Hampshire primary that the voters in Iowa had declared that they were not yet ready to have a coronation for Hillary and so they gave a great victory to Obama, but then in New Hampshire, the voters decided that it was too soon for them for an Obama Coronation, and so they gave the victory to Hillary, as if to say, according to the TV guy, we'd like for this race to go on for a while longer.

My guess is that, with the present force in operation being what the Clintons have disclosed about their present moral nature, this time the voters will be ready for a Coronation. I believe that Obama will come out of this night's election with a winning hand if he plays his hand as well as he's been playing it.

Reports are that Barack Obama scored a tub thumping victory in the South Carolina primary this day, despite all the slime that the Clintons could toss with their brand of hagfish style politics.

And he did it on the high road with a coalition of people who want real, substantive change and not eight more years of Billary style government and slash and burn campaigning that Newt Gingrich would approve of.

I dunno, whitewater, Web Hubbell, Susan McDougal, Paula Corbin Jones, Vince Foster, Monicagate, Gennifer Flowers, maybe Belinda Stronach and an unidentified divorcee in Chappaqua, late nights down in the law student slave cabins and the odd suicide and on and on and on...maybe people have had a bellyfull.

What does this tell you? Despite her high profile efforts and attempts to portray Bill as America's first black president (he wasn't-Warren G. Harding may have been if the neighborhood rumors of his youth were to be believed) and despite the continuing use of Bill as an attack torpedo, the handwriting was on the wall. The voters didn't buy it.

So what did she do? She left the state, that's what. So did Bill.

It vindicates to a large extent what we started here in Iowa and what we hope will end at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. The good sense of the voters of South Carolina made the record.

What is as yet unexplained is the attraction that some Americans seem to have for this virago and her odious consort.

Photo NY Times

I Went To A Flea Market And A Border Broke Out

We've been watching the recent events on the southern border of Gaza with some interest the past few days. For the three people who've been underground in a coal mine this week and haven't kept up with events, the southern border of Gaza was until recently sealed off by a metal and concrete wall erected when the Israelis pulled out of the area a couple years ago.
In a carefully orchestrated 'spontaneous' event, the wall came down with the assistance of Hamas sappers and large quantities of plastique. It was, I think, contrived because Hamas apparently paid the civil servants early so they could attend the 'spontaneous' event.
Perhaps they expected the Egyptian border guards to open fire and create yet another stage managed atrocity event they're so good at.
It didn't work out that way.
What happened was that a flea market on a grand scale erupted. To the gaze of bemused Egyptian border cops, people bought things-cigarettes, food, motorbikes, cement, diesel fuel, cell phones-that are difficult to come by and expensive on the mean streets of Gaza.
They also took the opportunity to visit the old folks who'd moved to Egypt, drink tea, have a day trip and generally lighten up. For the most part it seemed like a good natured sort of thing.
In one respect, cooping people up in Gaza doesn't seem to have done much good for anyone, doesn't matter who they are or what flag they fly, and it hasn't improved security a great deal for anyone.
On a deeper level, however, Hamas may have miscalculated badly, if the intent was to contrive yet another stage managed atrocity, because people had a good time and folks for the most part behaved pretty well. How long it'll continue is anyone's guess.
This was an unintended referendum of sorts, and a lot of Palestinians voted with their feet and their cash.
What they said, loud and clear, was "We want a normal life with a few comforts, and you're not delivering."
If it was up to me, I'd say, let it be.
Photo credit NYT

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sooner Than We Thought?

We're informed by CBS News this morning that, as we predicted would happen a few days ago, somebody tossed the race grenade into Senator Obama's lap in Nevada.

We just didn't think it would happen this soon, but folks in the Silver State are known far and wide for their independence, outspokenness and ability to go right to the heart of the matter.

There was no carefully stage managed scripted play for the cameras, which, in any case wouldn't have worked. We figured that this was coming sooner or later and the 'gennelmun from Illinois' would have to man up and deal with it straight up.

He handled it with his usual understated aplomb, which vindicates our confidence in his intelligence and midwestern gift for plain speaking.

Here's how CBS reported it:

A local woman told Obama that she wants to vote for a Democrat who is electable so she wonders what role race will play in his presidential bid. “We have never elected a black man in our country,” she said.

“I noticed that,” Obama joked.

He went on to say that he believes the American people will look beyond the issue of race but acknowledges there may be some who will not vote for him because of it.

“I don’t want to sound naïve. Will there be some folks who probably don’t vote for me because I am black? Of course. Just like there may be somebody who won’t vote for Hillary because she’s a woman or wouldn’t vote for John Edwards because they don’t like his accent.”

Friday, January 11, 2008

On Naming Rights

The Cleveland Plain Dealer informs us today that Jacobs Field will now, for a tidy sum as yet unspecified, be called Progressive Field, after the insurance company of the same name. Apparently the insurance folks figured the incessant television commercials just weren't enough.

What do these folks think? That anyone is more likely to buy whatever they're peddling because the ballpark sold off the naming rights? I suppose that's the idea, and it does make a dandy tax deduction that you, my dissatisfied fellow citizens, get to pay for.

Nobody will remember what happened at Enron Field, whether it is Enron Field or something else. Hell, they probably will never remember if it ever WAS Enron Field.

Here in Des Moines, Sec Taylor Stadium, named for a long serving sports writer, and Veterans' Stadium, became Principal Park and Wells Fargo Arena, for heaven's sake.

But the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field and the like....that's magic. Nobody shed tears when they ripped the Enron poiut off the front of whatever the place is these days....but my Mom was inconsolable when the Bums headed for Los Angeles. She's still kind of sore about it. I can still remember the tune Let's Keep The Dodgers In Brooklyn coming out of radios all over Jersey in 1957.
Nobody will shed tears when some nameless team deserts Stadium for warmer climes, or make up songs about it.

Places like Ebbets and the Polo Grounds, although long gone, will live on in people's hearts as long as there are hotdogs and beer and a good afternoon game in high summer, long after the whores who sell naming rights and the johns who buy them, and the pimps who facilitate the entire process have all breathed their last and been dumped in Potter's Field-which is the only field they deserve.
Unwept, unhonored and unsung, as Sir Walter Scott put it.
Picture credits, a couple keepers of the flame:
Polo Grounds: Richard Lillard
Ebbets Field: Edward E. Steele. Buy his book.

The Dougloid Papers: Feisty Two Year Old Or Not Fit For Public Consumption?

This marks the two year anniversary we've been publishing The Dougloid Papers. In the beginning the idea was to scratch an itch, and I did not know where it was going to take us.

Well, we've met new friends, we've made some mistakes, we've been called on the carpet a couple of times and we've had to eat crow-however, it was in small portions and the servers up of that dish had their own plates to clean as well so maybe they should shut up.

The only thing we've had to do was cook up the comment policy and we moderate very rarely. Most of the comments that get excised are from random spambots, but we had to tell people this is not a public toilet and they don't get to write on the walls. That's really the only house rule. People can disagree with the host as much as they like until it gets personal.

My health is holding up remarkably well for an old git, and I expect to be able to keep this up indefinitely.

A thanks to my loyal readers and viewers-one of these days I may revive my clustrmaps account and see where you all are.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Big Girls Do Cry: A Pavlovian Interpretation

The New York Times informs us that accordin' to the Clinton Herself, the weekend debate was what put her over the top with the voters in the recent Democratic contretemps in the Granite State.

It was a more subtle play than that. Much more subtle and much more cynical.

What happened, you say? Clearly, the Clinton Machine knew that they could get out the votes if only, if only they had a sure fire, never-fail selling point.

Well, they had one of a lachrymose nature and it was the only card they had left to play.

Parenthetically, it's a gender specific strategy as well. Simply stated, girls can cry in public-but not the kind of screaming and flailing that labels one as hysterical-what's wanted is the trembling lower lip, the discreet dab with a handkerchief kind of 'the bastards did it to us again' kind of thing.

Pull this off and you invoke the kind of victim empathy that Ed Muskie could only dream of on the long bus ride home to wherever he came from.

Sooner or later, somebody's going to toss the race bomb at Senator Obama.

He won't be able to break down in tears unless he wants to be on the next plane back to Chicago. No, he'll do as men have always done, and that means he'll suck it up and deal with it.

That's what comes along with the snips and snails and puppy dog's tails, ladies.

But how to stage it so it didn't look so....well....contrived?

The execution was simple.

Pick something that would reach the choice demographic-older white women with a buried sense of victimization against...well, against whatever: the glass ceiling, all the men in power, the unrealized opportunities and unfulfilled aspirations.

Pick a forum where a fellow traveler might be expected to probe a little bit into personal matters, and then strike while the cameras were rolling.

Thus it was that Marianne Pernold Young, a woman who alleges she was an undecided voter threw the slow pitch that Herself knocked out of the park.

Young alleges that later she voted for Obama but I figure that only means the Clinton Machine could afford to lose one vote as something of a fig leaf and get themselves the kind of plausible deniability that the Clintons do so well.

On cue, the voice lowered half an octave and it became a real, woman to woman moment of carefully staged, manicured, scripted ersatz truth-and just as Pavlov's dogs began to drool on command when the bell rang, the victims trooped to the polls and did what they were programmed to do their entire lives.

Surprised? Not me. Look at the demographics and the exit polls.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Phone Hasn't Rung Once This week

Photo credit, Gregory Williams, the Jimi Hendrix of the camera, somewhere in Providence Rhode Island.

Iowa's kind of like Cinderella.

We're back to being pumpkins and it'll remain that way for the next four years.

During the quadrennial presidential campaigns we get to feel we're important and that our opinions matter, but for the most part the folks who campaign here don't have a clue as to who we are, what we do, and what we think about if we think about anything at all.

I mean, don't get me wrong, the attention is nice and we like it but Hollywood this ain't. We have other things to worry about, and there are local matters to attend to in the movable feast that is the Iowa Legislature, just now settling into their chairs in the state house to deliberate over whether we should or should not have a state mollusc. (If we do, it'd be the razor clam or the freshwater mussel. Where do you think all those mother of pearl buttons on grandma's dress came from?)

See, we're sorta uncomfortable with the hustle and bright lights, just as if we were suddenly whisked to the academy awards and it was us in the camera heading in for the festivities. We'd rather be at a hog roast or a fire department chili supper., truth be told

Like I say, we always (well, me, anyway and one other guy) have the feeling that folks from out of town are a little clueless about us. I did a little campaign work with the Kerry campaign in 2003 until I figured out that what they wanted was bodies with fingers that could punch telephones more or less around the clock and that the brain could be safely checked along with the hat and coat. I forked over an elegantly crafted document on what we call the hog lot controversy, which was kind of like the man who went to Birmingham and never was heard from again.

It's no controversy, though. I heard this from an expert on the subject who, because of his work for the USDA shall remain nameless. And I have been here long enough to vouch for the truth of the matter. Pigs stink, but they make money. There's no getting around it, and it is a matter of what you do to reconcile this that determines where your policy takes you. That's what I said.

The other fellow I was talking about was on the radio today and he related a story which you can retrieve easily enough. It seems that the Clinton campaign went out and shelled out for 600 snow shovels to help people shovel out and get to the polls in case there was a snowstorm or something. He said of the Clinton campaign "They're totally clueless about Iowa. If you live in Iowa you already have a snowshovel. I have three of them."

It's true. I looked around this morning and I have two of them and a junkyard snowblower that is good for hanging my coveralls on in the garage when they need an airing. What with global warming I haven't used it in a year or more.

FOUND: An anonymous source

Folks, I printed this back in November and it's still trenchant commentary. As it happened I learned a little bit about my source and I'm pretty impressed. I also owe him a few beers and a vote of thanks.

Take it away, Perry.

Article follows.

There are discussions raging on fleetbuzz and on on the subject we talked about below. One of the folks over at posted this interesting information which sheds some light on the current dollar-euro contretmps, and it seems to suggest that inflating the euro was one way for Europe to pay down its foreign debt on the cheap.

It turns out that the writer of this post is a fellow named Perry Holzman, he's a nuclear engineer, and in all respects a thoughtful fellow. It wasn't too long ago that nuclear engineers were as scarce as passenger pigeons and in real danger of going the way of the dodo, but Perry survived, and it looks as if his field of expertise is undergoing a bit of a revival because of that dang climate change thing.

"I am short time this morning; but for those who are interested in how debt service relates to currency valuation I provide the following summarized information: Due to the shortness of time I will not post links to the easiest to find information First some comparisons between the US and the European Union (numbers are rounded):
GDP - Gross Domestic Production (Purchasing Power Parity):
US $13.1 Trillion (2006)EU $13.1 Trillion (2006)Essentially the same Population:US 300 MillionEU 490 MillionEU has 1.63 times the population Oil Data: (Not sure of date - may be from a couple of years ago; but this site list all numbers for the same date: Consumption & import information buried in notes between charts.Oil ConsumptionUS 19.7 bbl/day (Billions of barrels per day)EU 14.5 bbl/day Oil Imports: US 11.6 bbl/dayEU 11.2 bbl/dayEssentially the same Natural Gas Imports: 118 bcm/year Billion Cubic Meters/yearEU 362 bcm/year EU imports more than twice the natural gas as the US Land Area:EU is about 1/2 the size of the US. Total Debt Service owed to outside of country (Government and Private debt): The following chart is based on individual nations and really interesting: I do not have time to add it up today (and have not found an equivalent chart for the entire EU at this time) The US total external debt: $10 Trillion (GDP of $13.1 Trillion) United Kingdom (England): $8.3 Trillion (GDP of $1.9 Trillion) Germany: $3.9 Trillion (GDP of $2.6 Trillion) France: $3.5 Trillion (GDP of $1.9 Trillion) Italy: $2 Trillion (GDP of $1.8 Trillion) Netherlands: $1.9 Trillion (GDP of $0.5 Trillion) Spain: $1.6 Trillion (GDP of $1.1 Trillion) Ireland: $1.4 Trillion (GDP of $0.2 Trillion) Switzerland: $1.1 Trillion (GDP of $0.3 Trillion) Belgium: $ 1.1 Trillion (GDP of $0.3 Trillion) Total outside of country debt service for the world is about $44 Trillion: (So much for a gold standard if there is only several $Trillion of gold, or so, in the entire world). Overall: The nations of the European Union are far more in debt (public and private) than the US. While I am sure that some of that will be debt between each other. I suspect that a lot of it will not be due to the fact that the EU imports about the same amount of oil as the US - and has a smaller per capita income. Each of the EU countries I listed data on above owes more debt outside their borders than their annual GDP (with an average of several times their GDP). The US owes less than its GDP (about 76% of its GDP). Might I suggest that one of the values of having a high Euro value is that EU countries could make substantial payments on their international debts (should any country decide to do so). Long term the easiest way to pay off international debt is to have a highly valued currency. I suspect that this is one of the reasons their was a substantial effort to raise the value of the Euro. While the current sub prime bank issues are affecting the value of the US currency. The argument that the primary cause of the lowered value of the US dollar is the US debt service does not hold up. The EU has a far greater debt service compared to their economic activity level. Values of currencies are due to many "intangibles." Despite their debt service the EU was able to raise the value of the Euro substantially with a multi-year effort on those intangibles. The US has recently been working to lower its value. Are there other blips (such as the recent more sudden drop of the US currency due to the sub-prime mess; yes). But there are many other issues at play. I will also agree that while it is true that the economists have projected that the Euro would go higher compared to other currencies, and that the Dollar would go down somewhat - due to efforts of both governments. No one can predict the blips and other intangibles involved. Thus the full extent of the shift in the Euro to Dollar ratio was not predictable."