Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Arrival of Green Energy

So let's consider the moment.

We have a ton of problems, but also a second ton of opportunities. The Obama transition team is taking office in the middle of a monster crisis. Several crises, actually. As critical as the financial, credit, and market crises may seem, underlying all of them is one global problem that, unless we confront it head-on, will dwarf all other matters.

That, I am sorry to say, is climate change.

The U.S. population tends to divide into two camps: The Al Gore Camp, which projects frightening outcomes; and the Denial Camp, who believe that even if global warming occurs, it is nothing more than a natural planetary cycle, which we can do little about except to pray to God.

What if neither side turns out to be entirely right? What if it turns out that we have the solutions right here on earth to mitigate the consequences of excessive CO2 emissions that scientists agree we are causing?

The good news is that we are discovering resources on this planet that can help solve global warming. Click here to learn more.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Three E's -- Post-Election

I've been studying every bit of data I can find about the current state of our economy and have come to a (for me) startling conclusion.

As a deeply conservative money manager, I despise budget deficits and accumulated debts. Whether in a job, or as a parent, I could never mortgage the future by spending today what others would have to pay tomorrow.

Since being elected President-Elect, Barack Obama has been discovering just how weak our national economy actually is. (And you thought those daily intelligence briefings were about the wars!)

The problem is this is not an American issue, although it did originate here. This is a global problem. It works like this: Toss a rock into a quiet pool, and as it hits, concentric circles race outward.

Now imagine the global economy. It used to be that pool. Now it is experiencing an economic tsunami.

On to my point. Whatever Obama does, once he becomes President, he cannot afford to worry about deficits and the national debt. This is not the time for that. Now is the time for FDR-type initiatives. Everyone is looking to the new U.S. President for bold initiatives that will save millions of people (including many here in the U.S.) from falling into poverty.

The true moral test for this extremely ambitious politician and gifted orator is not whether he plays it safe enough to win a second term, and therefore fulfills liberal fantasies, but whether he takes the needed steps, which could easily be labeled as "socialist" to save the U.S. and the global economy from unimaginable ruin.

What we need now is a New New Deal. The federal government needs to establish a set of creative social investments on the scale of what FDR did starting in 1932. Although Republicans eventually demonized him as a socialist, he remains the only President elected to four straight terms in office. (He died shortly into his 4th term, on the day I was born.)

What I am suggesting here is that Obama needs to rise to the level of FDR and use public money and power to re-stabilize this economy, and therefore the world economy. In the process, I have no doubt that he may also sacrifice his political prospects, as the ignorant agents of fear re-establish themselves behind -- who? Palin? Some minister? Whatever. They'll find a candidate.

This is not 70 years ago, this is now. It is a privilege to be President for even four years. Somehow, I suspect our new President understands this. If so, he will act boldly, quickly, and decisively to pump money into public works projects, city and county and state bailouts, and certain business sector bailouts to ensure that, when the dust settles there is still a global economy worth investing in.

By the way, this new economy must include green energy investments, health care reforms, middle class tax cuts, small business incentives, and a true commitment to developing alternative energy sources, not to mention powerful diplomatic initiatives in many areas of the world.

Good luck, Mr. President.


Thursday, November 06, 2008


The mythology surrounding iconic figures is so powerfully entrenched in American culture that many people probably have trouble remembering that these are actually real people. As I watch the innocent daughters of Barack and Michelle Obama -- 10-year-old Sasha and 7-year-old Malia, I cannot help but tremble for their futures.

Not only will they suddenly be thrust into the role of "first daughters" -- a concept that surely is unimaginable to them -- their family life, as they have known it, will soon be shattered, never to be put back together again.

They will be black children living in the "White" House!

The girls will get a puppy. Their Dad will be downstairs, doing what he must as the most powerful man in the world. Their Mom will be both downstairs, as first lady, and upstairs, as their Mom, no doubt feeling tensions most of us never experience, since, to be truthful, most of the time nobody cares what we do or how we do it, save those closest around us.

Michelle Obama will not have that kind of privacy.

That's the problem for these little girls, I suspect. By all accounts, theirs is the kind of intimate nuclear family many of us have aspired to. But how can any family carry on under the glare not only of this country's 24/7 media, but the world's?

I, for one, do not know.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Very Bad Story.1

(This post has been substantially revised.)

So, a bruising election season is finally over. Insults have been hurled, scars have been exacted. For me, it has been personal. I've received my share of hate mail, despite my best efforts to remain fair and balanced here in my obscure blog's coverage.

I'll admit to feeling a bit beaten down by my feeble attempts to express my honest (and well-researched) opinions now and then. As one friend of mine said today, "Yikes, you're being attacked both from the right and the left, mainly from within your own family!"

It's true, and I really appreciated her message. In an age of blogging and email, many misunderstandings quite easily occur, and I am powerless to prevent them. Here are some of the errors I've made and the personal consequences of those errors.

(1) A few of my blog posts supporting Obama and attacking Palin have found their way onto various conservative email lists, some of which include dear family members of mine in the Midwest. In the process, in at least one case, horribly provocative paragraphs have been attached to my original blog post, which in turn triggered angry responses from friends and family and a ton of strangers whom I don't know (and don't care to know.)

How can I counter this? I can't. The vitriolic messages I have been sent shows me that regardless of what I actually believe or write, thanks to the ease of manipulating or altering my actual words, those who wish to over-politicize my messages can easily do so.

So be it. I now see how much I am in fact loathed by people who never knew or apparently have forgotten who I actually am as a person. "Absence breeds ignorance, and ignorance breeds contempt" is, I think, the salient cliche .

(2) A rather innocent message about my disappointment, indeed my disgust, when a colleague showed me a SPAM message yesterday by perennial wannabe Ralph Nader, which I carelessly forwarded to a few loved ones, triggered another nuclear response. For the record, what disturbed me was Nader's timing. Just as the first African-American President in our history was delivering an inclusive, modest acceptance speech, here comes bitter Ralph, finding a way to critique Obama's fundraising techniques.

In my view, this was tasteless and self-righteous, two common themes in Nader's latter career after an earlier record of having achieved truly remarkable consumer protections. I speak from personal experience. The man is a sad ghost of what he once could have been.

Little did I know that buried deep in Nader's (typically) windy message were some references to Palestine and Israel.

All fool me. I didn't get that far into his email, because I was working 18 hours last night, as is my custom on election nights. I only read Nader's first paragraph and felt like puking. Why? Because he was again denouncing the corporate funding Obama received when the true story of the 2008 election was Obama's remarkable and unprecedented gathering of small donations from individuals all across America.

Do I think that Obama will serve those supposedly evil corporate interests just because they donated to his (obviously winning) campaign? No, of course not. I've been around to witness this pathetic phenomenon many times. Corporations do not donate on principle but on practical grounds.

Nader, of all people, knows this too. So I considered his message to be the sour grapes of a failed egotist, and I continue to believe this to be the case.

In any event, the feeble corporate attempt to influence Obama's policies are doomed to fail, and that's why the markets fell today. Most of his money came from the little people, and they are who he will represent.

Deeply buried, as I noted, in Nader's rant were some references to Obama's views on the Israel-Palestime question. Sadly, I only found out about this when family members redirected my attention back to Nader's original message.

On this point and on it alone, I strongly agree with Nader. It's an awful scandal that any serious candidate for U.S. President seems to feel (s)he has to pledge unconditional support for Israel, and not just Israel as a nation (which I support) but the worst elements of its society, the Zionist imperialists. This is the ultimate pragmatic political compromise, and in this sense, Obama seems to be no better than any of his predecessors.

If his message of change is to be meaningful, if Obama is going to be a great leader, he is going to have to confront this type of contradiction head-on, and suffer the political consequences of doing so (or not doing so.) But please give him time!

I just wish the people who do care about me would read my actual words here, at this blog, which I alone control. Or maybe I am asking for something else, something deeper, but if so, I do not have the words to express it.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Now Comes the Hard Part

Congratulations to our new President-Elect, Barack Obama.

Personally, I am happy that he won.

Why? Because I truly believe he is our best chance to rebuild the country I love into the right kind of society for the global era that my children and grandchildren will inherit.

But he inherits a government that has made so many wrong moves, for eight long, sad years that he will move into a White House that is essentially, symbolically in foreclosure.

A new moment has arrived in America. Let us all embrace it, because this is our last, best hope as a people.


Exit Polls: Caution

Read these with a proper degress of skepticism:

The states indicating an Obama lead in exit polls:

Florida: 52 percent to 44 percent
Iowa: 52 percent to 48 percent
Missouri: 52 percent to 48 percent
North Carolina: 52 percent to 48 percent
New Hampshire: 57 percent to 43 percent
Nevada: 55 percent to 45 percent
Pennsylvania: 57 percent to 42 percent
Ohio: 54 percent to 45 percent
Wisconsin: 58 percent to 42 percent
Indiana: 52 percent to 48 percent
New Mexico: 56 percent to 43 percent
Minnesota: 60 percent to 39 percent
Michigan: 60 percent to 39 percent

The states where McCain is leading in exit polls:

Georgia: 51 percent to 47 percent
West Virginia: 45 percent to 55 percent

As Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said about exit polls in an interview today with the Huffington Post: "The biggest problem with exit polls is... we do know that young voters are much more likely to do an exit survey and seniors are much less likely to do an exit poll," he said. "So exit polls are heavily waited to young people, which normal bias favors Democrats especially this year."

My own view: Obama's margin in the states listed for him above seem too high based on the final tracking polls before the election, possibly by +5 points. That would turn three states around for McCain: Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina.


Just Do It!

The longest lines I've ever witnessed at my polling place were already forming as of 7:30 a.m. this morning, when I got there.

It took 40 minutes in line to reach the precinct station, and about 5-10 minutes to vote for all the offices and measures on seven long paper ballots. (In San Francisco, we mark our ballots with pens; we do not use electronic voting machines.)

The guide to the ballot was an inch thick, at least.

After you're done, you feed you ballot sheets into a tally machine, take your receipts, and get a sticker.

Wherever you are, and whatever candidates or issues you support or oppose, exercise your franchise! It's a citizen's solemn right -- and duty.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama Loses His Grandmother on Eve of History

By HERBERT A. SAMPLE, Associated Press Writer

HONOLULU – Barack Obama's grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, one day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86. Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, N.C. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Dunham died peacefully late Sunday night after a battle with cancer.

They said: "She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances."

Obama learned of her death Monday morning while he was campaigning in Jacksonville, Fla. He planned to go ahead with campaign appearances. The family said a private ceremony would be held later.

Republican John McCain issued condolences to his opponent. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they remember and celebrate the life of someone who had such a profound impact in their lives," the statement by John and Cindy McCain said.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Alice in Wonderland, 2008

Elections in America are quite weird.

Given that, you have to admit that I live in the weirdest city of all.

Here we have several odd ballot measures.

One would rename our sewage plant the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant."

Another would decriminalize prostitution.

I oppose both of these. Here's why. As much as I regret what Bush's policies have done to my country, I don't see any point in sticking his name on our shit. Like most Americans, we are incredibly wasteful in San Francisco, and that is our problem, not his, not anybody else's.

As for decriminalizing "sex work," if I felt that the young women working the streets and brothels of this city really were in control of their own decisions, I could support it. But, I suspect that pimps control most prostitutes. Furthermore, here in the Bay Area, we've had a series of police raids lately revealing that very many young girls, some of whom were kidnapped in foreign countries and brought here as virtual sex slaves, are the ones Johns are going to.


Beyond the local measures, we have a statewide measure that would take away the hard-won right of same-sex marriage from gay and lesbian couples. That this is even on the ballot saddens me. If the hate-mongers (mainly Mormans from Utah) succeed in scaring enough ignorant Californians into voting for this measure, we will once again retreat from where we Californians need to be. Our job, as the biggest and most progressive state, is to lead, not follow the other parts of this country.

But mark my words. Should Prop. 8 win, nothing will be settled. Justice can be delayed, but never denied.


Birthday Party Friends

After a rainy Saturday, we had a dry Sunday, with fantastic cumulus clouds rising high above this city on a peninsula.

South of here, in Daly City, twenty or so kids splashed in a pool, ate pizza and cake, shivered in towels and sang 'Happy Birthday.'

Like many ten-year-olds, Julia is happy to be the center of attention, but there's another reason she picked this venue.

She and her friends all love to swim. Even when it's cold outside.

Near the end of the party, they were able to swing on a rope out into the pool.

After everyone splashed three or so times into the pool, it was time to gather up the swimmers and head back to the city.