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Posts Made By: Kevin Conville

October 29, 2004 04:19 PM Forum: Politics

Arnold in Ohio

Posted By Kevin Conville

Just watched the Terminator in Ohio on the TV. The crowd went nuts for him!

As a Californian, to Ohio: Take him! You can have him. He's all yours.

Arnold's one of the only guys who's dumbed down language and cornball rhetoric can match Bush's.

November 1, 2004 01:22 PM Forum: Politics

For Democrats

Posted By Kevin Conville

Here's something to while away the time as your waiting for the election returns:

November 12, 2004 10:49 PM Forum: Politics

Throwing in the towel

Posted By Kevin Conville

Here's a copy of a letter a friend of mine sent in to his local newspaper. He's an electronics engineer and software developer who owns his own company that develops and produces microwave testing equipment.


There I said it, go ahead and hate me. I have thought about this quite a bit. As a born in the US, 50 year old white male, independent voter, how could I come to this conclusion?

Well it’s not the corporate criminals like Ken Lay and friends still on the loose. It’s not the trillion-dollar debt or the sinking dollar. It’s not anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-women’s rights or anti-gay marriage. It’s not about “conservatives” who “hate big government” while they collect their paycheck from the government. It’s not people I know and see who complain endlessly about Mexicans while they hire them to clean their houses, nanny their kids or pick their wine grapes. It’s not the fact that Mr. Bush prefers oppressive governments like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as our “friends and allies” over elected western European democratic countries. It’s not that Osama Bin Laden is alive & well and being aided/abetted by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (how else could a guy with bad kidneys look so good?) who are our supposed “friends & allies”. It’s not that these same countries are actively aiding and abetting the insurgent fighters in Iraq or that we cannot win the war in Iraq.

Heck, It’s not even the remote control box Mr. Bush wears so he can be “coached” while speaking in public. I can live with all the above, as bad as it is, though it is pretty awful in review, isn’t it? So what exactly is it that’s driven me over the edge?

It’s about three things:

First, the re-installment of GW Bush is just too far towards the fascism side of politics for me.

Second, way too many people in the USA voted for Mr. Bush because of fear or ideological rigidity. They simply could not break away from what they had done for years (out of party loyalty or stupidity), or were told to do so by many church elders. In short there is a severe lack of critical thinking occurring here with these followers.

Third, and most importantly, Mr. Bush has made the USA almost universally despised by the majority of the people in the free world. It is this last fact that I find most destructive and disturbing. Why? Because when I travel in other countries, or when I meet someone from another country, I want to be liked when they find out I am from the USA. Pretty simple really. The way things are now, it’s likely they will assume (I would if I were in their position) that I support what has happened to the USA. I do not and never will. I want no part of the neo-fascism sweeping this

For those of us who prefer that the majority of the people can be counted on to engage in critical thought the USA is “toast” and our only choice is to leave it, if we can. And now I am hearing “Okay we won, get behind us, be quiet and stop THINKING and asking questions, we know what is best for you!” No thanks, I’ll pass.

November 14, 2004 10:31 AM Forum: Politics


Posted By Kevin Conville

Dollar's Decline Is Reverberating

Sun Nov 14, 7:55 AM ET

Top Stories - Los Angeles Times

By David Streitfeld Times Staff Writer

During a routine sale of U.S. Treasury bonds in early September, one of the essential pillars holding up the economy suddenly disappeared.

Foreigners have been regularly buying nearly half of all debt issued by the U.S. government. On Sept. 9, for the first time that anyone could remember, they stayed home.

"Thoughts of panic flickered out there," said Sadakichi Robbins, head of global fixed-income trading at Bank Julius Baer.

The foreigners returned in force at the next Treasury auction, and Sept. 9 was quickly dismissed as an aberration.

But the episode demonstrated how much the U.S. economy is dependent on other countries to bankroll its free-spending ways. That fragility is becoming even more precarious because of recent declines in the U.S. dollar to multiyear lows, some economists say.

Amid worries about bulging U.S. budget and trade deficits, the greenback dropped last week to a record low against the 5-year-old euro, a 12-year low against the Canadian dollar and a nine-year low against an index of major currencies. Many analysts don't see anything that will stop the decline.

A cheaper dollar reduces the value of American securities, making them less attractive to foreign investors. That could eventually precipitate what Robbins called "the doomsday scenario" — Japan and China not only refusing to buy U.S. bonds, but selling some of their $1.3 trillion in reserves.

The only way Uncle Sam could then find new customers for its IOUs would be by raising interest rates. And although higher rates are good for savers, they would be disastrous for a country weaned on cheap credit.

"Sometime soon, the falling dollar is going to show up in rising inflation, rising interest rates and a falling standard of living," said Harry Chernoff, an economist with Pathfinder Capital Advisors. "The housing and mortgage markets, which benefited the most from declining interest rates over the past few years, are likely to feel the most pain."

Not everyone agrees that suffering is imminent. The National Assn. of Manufacturers calls the dollar doomsayers "all but hysterical." Manufacturers and produce growers like a cheap dollar because it makes their products more affordable in foreign markets.

Even some foreigners like the low dollar. China has pegged its currency to the dollar. A weak greenback means a weak yuan, making Chinese goods cheaper in foreign markets and fueling the nation's economic boom.

To most American consumers, a falling dollar is more an annoyance than cause for alarm. It raises the price of a cup of coffee to outlandish levels during a Paris vacation, and may cause second thoughts about buying a more expensive Volkswagen.

But a number of economists and academics say there are real reasons for concern. If the dollar falls too far too quickly, they say, those all-important foreign investors will abandon the U.S. in favor of stabler places.

Indeed, there are signs that such an exodus might have already started.

In August, the most recent period for which there's data, foreign private investors sold $2 billion more in U.S. stocks than they bought, the Treasury said. Meanwhile, they dumped $4 billion more in government bonds than they purchased.

"A run for the exits could happen any day, that's for sure," said C. Fred Bergsten, author of "Dollar Overvaluation and the World Economy" and director of the Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank.

Such a prospect creates a tricky balancing act for policy makers. As long as the dollar devalues in a slow and orderly way, and doesn't trigger panic selling of American securities, Bush administration officials appear to be comfortable with the fall. As they see it, the benefits of boosting the economy through higher exports outweigh the drawbacks.

The administration approach could work out fine in the short run, economists say. But eventually the slide must stop. Few countries can maintain strong economies with a debased currency.

Indeed, if a weak currency was the prescription for long-run economic health, countries like Argentina and Mexico — which have suffered massive currency devaluations in the last decade — would be financial titans.

Ultimately, these economists say, the solution is for the U.S. government to reduce its massive budget deficit. That would curb the need for Uncle Sam to issue so many Treasury notes. And the dollar would rise on its own, because the deficit is the main reason it continues to fall.

Having China decouple the yuan from the dollar also could help, economists say. It's a step the Bush administration has sought from Beijing, with little progress.

Under the best scenario, economist Bergsten sees China acceding to American pressure and easing or dropping the yuan-dollar peg by the end of the year.

Allowing the yuan to float upward would raise the price of Chinese goods in this country and reduce the U.S. trade deficit with the new Asian powerhouse, estimated to be $150 billion this year.

But if the Chinese resist, the euro will rise even further. It could move up from last week's $1.30 to $2, Bergsten said. Three years ago, it was worth 84 cents.

That ascent would upset the Europeans, whose exports would suffer and whose economies are already struggling. Central bankers usually speak in measured tones, but European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet was moved last week to call the euro's rise "brutal" and "not welcome."

Neither the dollar nor the deficits became a hot-button issue during the presidential campaign, for obvious reasons. No politician has ever won an election by telling people their standard of living is going to go down, particularly at a moment when it's so easy to get a loan.

"The insidious thing about deficits is that they go on as long as the markets allow them to go on," said Maurice Obstfeld, an economics professor at UC Berkeley and author of many works on global capital markets.

"So people get lulled into the certainty they'll always be able to borrow at low rates, and that this is right and normal and an endorsement of their behavior," he said. "But it has to stop at some point."

A slump in the dollar also has been providing immediate benefits for some businesses, particularly multinationals but also smaller firms.

"There's all this scare stuff about the falling dollar, but it's allowing us to compete in the marketplace more effectively," said Stephanie Harkness, chief executive of Pacific Plastics & Engineering in Soquel, Calif.

Eighteen months ago, Pacific Plastics built a plant in Bangalore, India. It now employs 48 people there and 86 in Soquel.

"Our customers can save 50% when we produce molds for them in India rather than here," Harkness said. "My ideal scenario is not to have a plant in California at all."

If Pacific Plastics' bottom line is improving, the government's is steadily getting worse. The gap between what it spent and what it took in during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 was $413 billion, a record.

This week, Congress will have to raise the government's $7.4-trillion debt ceiling so it can borrow more money. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (news - web sites), by 2008 nearly 10% of the budget will be devoted to interest payments.

President Bush (news - web sites) has pledged to halve the deficit by 2008. Many economists say that will be difficult, if not impossible, without raising taxes, something Bush has pledged not to do.

In his postelection news conference, the president said the economy could grow its way out of trouble.

"As the revenue streams increase, coupled with fiscal discipline, you'll see the deficit shrinking," he said.

The stock market soared on Bush's remarks, but the currency markets rendered a different verdict. The dollar continued to fall.

It's not only the government that is profligate. The U.S. current account deficit — the broadest measure of international trade, including exports, imports, services and investments — rose in the second quarter to $166 billion, up 13% from the first quarter.

Much of the second-quarter shortfall was in goods: for every $20 in products American manufacturers sent overseas, U.S. consumers bought $36 in foreign electronics, cars and other items.

The current account deficit has risen from 1% of gross domestic product in 1990 to 5.4%.

That doesn't seem like much, and in the short term it isn't, said James Gipson, chairman of the $7-billion equity mutual fund Clipper Fund, in a letter to shareholders. But just like credit card debt, it compounds over the long term.

"A slowly and likely growing share of our output of goods and services will go to provide comfortable retirements for the residents of Tokyo, not Topeka," Gipson wrote.

One trouble with owners in Tokyo is that they may decide they want to own something in India or China instead.

That's why the Sept. 9 auction prompted concern.

Usually indirect bidders, which include foreign governments, are heavy buyers at Treasury auctions. This time, their purchases were less than 3%. Traders speculated that Japan was finally calling it quits.

What happened was never explained, but neither was it repeated.

"It turned out to be a fluke," said Kim Rupert, managing director for global fixed-income analysis at Action Economics, a consulting firm. "But at first blush, it was 'Oh my gosh.' "

November 16, 2004 10:52 AM Forum: Politics

Re: shocking picture

Posted By Kevin Conville

Though I've referred to it before, I like what Bill Clinton said a few months back:

"When people think, Democrats win.

December 5, 2004 10:46 PM Forum: Politics


Posted By Kevin Conville

Much like Condi Rice's "no one could have imagined planes flying into the World Trade Center" we're now left with another 'whoops'!

I guess we have no other choice but to promote everyone responsible and pronounce W king!

December 15, 2004 11:20 PM Forum: Politics

War Costs, in Money

Posted By Kevin Conville

Here's a different (sobering) way of looking at the #s

May 20, 2005 10:02 AM Forum: Politics

What's your contribution?

Posted By Kevin Conville

I haven't been around this forum for awhile as I just couldn't, well anyway...

I have a question though for all the Bush / Iraq supporters. It's not meant to merely be provacative and if you read it and answer it without a tirade it will be appreciated.

What are you doing to bolster recruitment in the military? Are you encouraging your kids and your neighbor's kids to enlist?
Have you asked your pastor to bring this up on Sunday? What about you, yourself? What are you doing that distinguishes your support for this endeavor from a Kerry voter for example. Please don't cite ribbons and bumper stickers, or who you voted for as that's useless.

I hope you're not just counting on filling the ranks with poor rural and inner city kids with increased incentives, as I'm sure you feel a much greater obligation toward this task than that.

September 10, 2008 10:50 PM Forum: Politics

John McCain's worst nightmare.... John McCain!

Posted By Kevin Conville

September 12, 2008 07:49 AM Forum: Politics

Interesting Observations

Posted By Kevin Conville

[SIZE="Large"]Obama and the Palin Effect
by Deepak Chopra

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and turning negativity into a cause for pride. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.) I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision

Look at what she stands for:

a.. Small town values - a nostaligic return to simpler times disguises a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
b.. Ignorance of world affairs - a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.
c.. Family values - a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be needed.
d.. Rigid stands on guns and abortion - a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
e.. Patriotism - the usual fallback in a failed war.
f.. “Reform” - an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right, Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness

Obama’s call for higher ideals in politics can’t be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow - we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.[/SIZE]