Sunday, October 31, 2004


NYT columnist THomas Friedman has sand up his vagina.


With three days left until the election and much of undecided America attending church this morning and then doning away in front of football games this afternoon, we might as well throw all the polls out the window. At this point, Tuesday's outcome all comes down to GOTV, and ABC News' The Note gives a slight nod to the Kerry machine:

Readeth this all-too-typical-when-it-comes-to-this-topic quote from the President's strategy honcho, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times:

"Strategist Matthew Dowd called Bush's get-out-the-vote effort 'much, much, much more extensive than any other' run by the Republicans. But he quickly added: 'The question we have is whether our operation is equal to their operation. And I don't think we will know the answer to that until election day.'"

If there is anyone in the Democratic Party respected by Rove and Co., it is Michael Whouley.

And Steve Rosenthal.

And those two and others are heavily involved in a Democratic ground game that is clearly going to have to outperform the GOP if Kerry is going to win. And it just might do that.

As the Washington Post says this morning:

"What makes this presidential election so difficult to call is the intensity of voter interest, reflected in swollen registration totals and long lines for early voting, combined with the most aggressive voter-mobilization efforts either party and its allies have ever mounted. Democrats in particular believe that their ground game may be decisive in the closest remaining states."

And from the Los Angeles Times:

"For the Bush campaign, the final push has been engineered mostly by a single top-down organization that sets goals in Washington and relies on a vast network of neighborhood volunteers."

"Kerry, in contrast, depends on a conglomeration of party, labor and issue organizations that use multiple messages to target divergent audiences."

Why Democrats have confidence in their ground game:

Michael Whouley; Terry McAullife's database innovations; experience of union organizers and canvassers who've done this for years; anti-Bush passion among younger volunteers; a field program that's triple the size of 2000 (without ACT and the unions); America Coming Together (Rosenthal, Ickes, et. al); outside "non-partisan" groups whose effect will be to get Democratically inclined voters to the polls on Election Day; and experienced operatives running the key states.

Why Republicans have confidence in their ground game:

Four years in the making, with design inputs by Maria Cino, Karl Rove, Blaise Hazelwood, and Ken Mehlman; 250,000 spirited volunteers; more money to spend; more efficient voter targeting (i.e., no outside groups to share voters with); surveys that show more people in battleground states have been contacted in person by BC04 than KE04; confidence from the 2002 experience.

This from the Des Moines Register Poll is potentially really key for Iowa and perhaps beyond:

"Twenty-seven percent of Iowa adults surveyed said they had already voted. Kerry leads Bush, 52 percent to 41 percent, among that group of early-bird voters. Among the 73 percent who said they definitely would vote on Tuesday, Kerry and Bush are tied."

And/but, as Mr. Dowd says, we'll see on Election Day — which, in the journalism dodge, we express as, "only time will tell."

People from ACT tell me that in PA, 85% of their targetted voters have already cast ballots in early polling.

Onward to the Whitehouse!

Friday, October 29, 2004


In one short video, Bin Laden threw into the American political machine a monkey wrench so large it gives Karl Rove wet dreams of power lust. May I suggest, Globalize This! readers, you read the transcript in full.

Bin Laden is crafty and no doubt the timing of his resurgence is part of his global agenda. He waited for just the last that when Americans went home from work on Friday, his timely reappearance on the political scene would stew in their minds all weekend, drive it home to the 24 hour news consumers all weekend long, brood in conversations among neighbors and family, and so on into the final blitz of remaining days til November 2.

(And if you don't by now know what's happening on November 2--if you don't have this date bound as a sign upon your head and your forearm--crawl back under your rock for another few years).

Unlike the political rhetoric of the American Presidential campaign, which for most Americans peaked out at the 150 seconds/pop max during the three presidential debates, Bin Laden's spin comes in much longer blips (which is necessary but not sufficient to craft a coherent argument); also, as you read here, Bin Laden's rhetoric invokes a great deal of compassion, that in many ways outshines the sincerity of both Bush AND Kerry's political speak. If you got nothing else out of reading this, you will see that Bin Laden broadcasts a rather charismatic and humble leadership to many people--people for whom his leadership compels them to run suicide missions.

But more than "knowing our enemy," Bin Laden's message is telling because, as is natural our enemies focus keenly on our weaknesses. What is remarkable about this speech is that Bin Laden lays out for Americans the weakness and corruption of the Bush administration's regime so much more clearly and effectively than the affiliated message machines of Democrats and the political Left have managed to do in the last four years:

"I say to you that security is an important pillar of human life, and that free people do not compromise their security.

Contrary to what [President George W.] Bush says and claims -- that we hate freedom --let him tell us then, "Why did we not attack Sweden?" It is known that those who hate freedom don't have souls with integrity...We fought with you because we are free, and we don't put up with transgressions. We want to reclaim our nation. As you spoil our security, we will do so to you.

I wonder about you. Although we are ushering the fourth year after 9/11, Bush is still exercising confusion and misleading you and not telling you the true reason. Therefore, the motivations are still there for what happened to be repeated.

...We found no difficulties in dealing with the Bush administration, because of the similarities of that administration and the regimes in our countries, half of which are run by the military and half of which are run by monarchs. And our experience is vast with them.

And those two kinds are full of arrogance and taking money illegally.

The resemblance started when [former President George H.W.] Bush, the father, visited the area, when some of our own were impressed by America and were hoping that the visits would affect and influence our countries.

Then, what happened was that he was impressed by the monarchies and the military regimes, and he was jealous of them staying in power for tens of years, embezzling the public money without any accountability. And he moved the tyranny and suppression of freedom to his own country, and they called it the Patriot Act, under the disguise of fighting terrorism. And Bush, the father, found it good to install his children as governors and leaders.

We agreed with the leader of the group, Mohammed Atta, to perform all attacks within 20 minutes before [President George W.] Bush and his administration were aware of what was going on. And we never knew that the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his people in the two towers to face those events by themselves when they were in the most urgent need of their leader.

He was more interested in listening to the child's story about the goat rather than worry about what was happening to the towers. So, we had three times the time necessary to accomplish the events."

Naturally, Bush and Kerry will inveigh that Bin Laden's message means one or the other is or is not fit to "win the war on terrorists," to "smoke out the terrorists," to "hunt them down and kill them...dead or alive." And we also know that almost no one will read the transcript independently; news reports will play a sound bite, and offer no underlying commentary or analysis beyond the lucidly honest political discourse noted above. (Repeat ad nauseaum for the next 96 hours).

We must address Bin Laden's text in the context of his global strategy against the US. Nonetheless, the subtext of his message is not of course that he prefers one side to the other. Heartfelt as it might appear, or even be, the goal of his message was to amplify the mayhem of political transition (our planned "mini-revolutions" in the Jeffersonian sense) at a time of when the divisions in America almost constitute low grade (and spontaneous) civil warring.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Right-wing nut jobs aren't the only ones getting pied these days.

Thanks to SV for the tip!


Red Sox win the World Series, a total eclipse of the moon, and Democrats return to the Whitehouse and take back our democracy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


So far the Kerry camp has refrained from making the integrity of the electoral process a political issue (most likely for fear of turning off borderline Naderites and the such from the political process). But the American polity needs to face the facts: the coming electoral anarchy in Florida, Ohio, and g-d only knows where else poses more of a threat to the American way of life than a sequel 9/11 scale attack.

The Bush administration has utterly failed in its responsibility to uphold the democratic system. Duh, that's the way they want it and always have...going all the way back to the 3/5ths compromise (you don't have to look too far to find it: see Article I, Sec. 2.3).

With the legitimacy of the electoral contest for a number of states in such question (and I'm now taking bets on how long after 11/2 we will finally see the triad bestow political legitimacy on one candidate or the other, dubbing them "president elect" (see a brief discussion of the logic of the triad here).

I discussed with some colleagues today over lunch the various scenarios in which this struggle for control over the US presidency might play out in the midst of election uncertainty. Usurpation was one of the leading themes--by direct force or other means. I wont speculate on particular outcomes, only will relate a general consensus that military usurpation (with Bush/Cheney at the helm) seemed remote. Not, mind you, because the Bush regime would outright shun such tactics (afterall, "missions from g-d" can demand drastic measures), but because the Bush regime has so alienated large swathes of the military brass and the CIA--they couldn't get away with it.

Lord knows if they could get away with it--under the guise of terrorist-inspired martial law--at least half of the American people could be whipped into a patriotic frenzy, with the corporate media falling in lock step. And the Democratic machine would be too inept to counter the right wing PR machine.

Side note: I was down in Florida last weekend for election-unrelated reasons, but had the opportunity to participate indirectly by helping my grandparents fill out their absentee ballots. I called the state party office in Talahasse and the county party office in West Palm Beach for help with understanding the ballot initiatives, proposed consitutional amendments, etc. In a word, they were both useless. They couldn't even point me to a voting guide (becaue how will people know how to vote if we don't tell them?). If the election monitoring and recount battles are fought by these guys, it looks like were in store for more disappointments in Florida.

When knowing that a military coup is improbable is good news about the strength of the American polity, you know we have hit rock bottom. At least we'll always have "exit, voice, and disloyalty." (Of course to where can you exit when the US has more than 700 foreign military bases and growing?)

Friday, October 22, 2004


Oh, they were so close.

Click here to learn more about great moments in pie history.


As I build by library of economic history texts, I am adding more books to the "Beyond Economic Globalization" reading list.

Today, I added Capitalism and Slavery by Eric Williams, a seminal account of how the trans-Atlantic slave trade fueled the British Industrial Revolution in the first wave of globalization of the capitalist mode of production. This is a good one to read in tandem with Walter Rodney's How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.

I should aslo note that I've dropped Robert Gilpin's Global Political Economy from the list. I first read Gilpin's prescursor The Political Economy of International Relations as an undergrad. When I recently returned to read this updated version, I was thoroughly underwhelmed by what I once found to be incisive (albeit ideologically realist-neoliberal) analysis of the world economic system. So off it goes.

As promised, more on Eric Williams after the weekend...

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Repeat Globalize This! readers might be wondering where I've been lately.

To put all rumors to rest, no I haven't been moonlighting as a successul E-bay trader. That's not me.

Mostly, recently, I've been buried in the book stacks of the W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Library reading big piles of books, occupying countless bandwith, and writing megabytes worth of Microsoft Word Files.

As the 2004 US Presidential campaign careens toward almost certain electoral chaos on November 2nd (and likely for days and weeks after), I am busy writing a brief history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and British industrialization (to be posted soon upon submission)--one of the many arduous chores set before me by the Master Craftsmen of the modern day Guild System known as graduate school. As I clear hurdle after hurdle of this apprenticeship process, I fear that my ability to keep tabs on the ins and outs of Washington politics and the "inside baseball" look at economic policy in the international political economy. Postings will still be regular, but with greater periodicity (i.e. less frequent). I'm only one man...

Sunday, October 17, 2004


Read it all here.

Friday, October 15, 2004


John Stewart and the geniuses at the Daily Show have coined the best word for expressing holisticly our ever-deteriorating war on Iraq: Mess'o'Potamia.

Enter this NYT's late edition teaser:

"In other violence in Iraq today..."

Escalation in journalistic ennui such as this is rather frightening: mapping diminished expectations and defeatism onto the collective conscience.

Fox News ran a headline on tonight's ticker that read something about Bush extending warm Ramadan wishes to people of the Muslim faith.

Meanwhile, just below the aforementioned teaser, another NYT gem of a headline: "US Pounds Fallujah in Ground and Air Assault."

We can draw but two conclusions:

1. Bush's utter lack of connection with reality is simply staggering: he must be battier than Napolean. Or,

2. Bush knows exactly what the reality is but is lying through those gap-buck-toothed-chromosome-deficient teeth of his to dupe the overworked, information-bombarded masses. But this guy couldn't be selling us all a bill of goods, could he?

I think people might readily make compelling arguments for either one of these theses. But it should be clear that neither one is a good choice for American voters...and g-d knows for the rest of the world. If only those monobrowed Nader supporters would just grow up, this thing might just be a lock for Kerry.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


This is important:

Get active.

UPDATE: More Bubbe Madness!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Before tomorrow nights debate on domestic issues, I thought it would be useful to stop and look back at Bush's jobs record of the last 4 years. Nothing particularly ground breaking here, but it doesn't hurt to make this point over and over again until it bores its way into our collective consciousness.

In last Friday's debate, he claimed the economy had added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months. Not quite true, as the chart below illustrates.

The economy has added only 1.8 million in this time. Moreover, only 1.7 million of those jobs were in the private sector.

Here it is real simple. The US economy entered recession in March 2001 shortly after Bush took office. I note this not to blame Bush for recession (no way he could have caused it yet), but to note that at the peak of the business cycle total US employment reached 132.5 million jobs. The recession was pretty short--over by November of the same year when employment stood at 130.9 million.

But the economy kept shedding jobs (hence, the "job-loss" recovery), so Bush and the Republican Congress passed a whopper of a tax cut. Man was it big, with almost all the benefits going to people who already made a sh@t ton of money. The tax cut, he told us, was necessary to create jobs. How many jobs? About 1.4 million more than the 5.1 million or so the economy would create on its own without a tax cut or other change in policy. These jobs would all come by the end of 2004.

Finally, the job market hit rock bottom in August 2003 at 129.8 million (what mathematicians might call a local minimum) and began clawing back to 131.6 million jobs in September 2004. At this point, trillions of dollars into deficit from Bush's tax cuts, the president was some 3.7 million jobs short of those he promised--not to mention 800,000 jobs shy of the level when he took office.

In the words of Dick Gephardt, "A miserable failure."

Monday, October 11, 2004


Simply shameless:

The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race

..."When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive.

Securing Iraq now (rather than after Nov. 2) means less opportunity for opposition to mobilize, which means less American casualties, which could mean a more stable Iraq, which could mean better prospects for political change, which could mean that those poor kids could come home soon instead of serving as proverbial cannon-fodder. Brilliant, selfless leadership yet again from the President pro tem.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


Jacques Derrida is gone. No no one will ever know what the f*@# he meant.

Friday, October 08, 2004


Get this man a speech writing job.


The hidden story behind today's Employment Situation Report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morining:

While the economy added 96,000 jobs in September (via the payroll survey), another 221,000 gave up looking altogether.

(Note: by the household survey, employment fell by 201,000 jobs, so the shrinking labor force cannot be explained by self-employed entrepreneurs. Anyone who wants to know just what the difference is between the two surveys can read a PDF here).

Oh those 96k, 37,000 of the jobs were created by government, meaning the private sector created only 59,000 jobs. Even the retail sector--the back bone of our consumer debt driven economy--shed jobs in the last month.

Note 2: The hurricanes plagueing the American Southeast had no effect on this month's jobs data collection: "Establishment survey response rates in September were within the normal range for these areas as well as for the U.S. as a whole." This doesn't allow us to determine the jobs impact of the storms, only that the numbers reported today reflect ann accurate survey of te picture on the ground.

Prediction: In tonights debate, President pro tem Bush will tout a low 5.4% unemployment rate as a sign of a strong economic recovery.

In reality, if we assumed that labor force participation had kept pace with population growth, unemployment would be well over 7% by now.

Some friendly advice: if you are unemployed and want to get a job, Bush is not your man.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Yes, I'm finally getting around to reading SWA, roughly a month after it's preliminary release. Well, I shouldn't say I'm reading it so much as digesting its rich multitude of tables and charts of easily digested economic facts. It's not a book that most people will read cover to cover--just look through for what you need to know, and then maybe read some of the adjacent text for context. (Much of the data detailed in SWA is available for free download here).

Here are some of the gems I pulled out:

Class structure in the US is pretty rigid and growing more so by the day. So, of those in the richest quintile (top 20%) in 1969, 49% still were in 1979. But those starting off in the richest quintile in 1989 were more likely to stay there by 1998 (53%). This is good news if you are really rich, and bad news if you are poor. While 51% escaped the bottom rung of the income distribution in the 1970s, only 47% were able to in the go-go 1990s.

How did this happen? It turns out that a greater share of taxes people pay are now regressive--that is, they cost more to poor people than to rich people as a share of income. Bush's tax cuts really helped along this trend: the 80th percentile of households (that is the household where income is higher than 80% of the population and less than 19%), with an annual income of $96,600 received a whopping $967 tax cut from Bush. All those people under the 80th percentile got even less. But hey, if you were in the richest one percent (where 99% of people have lower incomes) you got a nice check from the IRS for $66,600. This only accounts for income taxes, not other changes in the tax code including the repeal of the estate tax.

Of those poorest 80%, 77% of their income is earned through wages and salaries from working. The richest 1% get 58% of their incomes from investments and 42% from salaries--hey, they are still the bosses and can pay themselves big salaries, too). Think stock ownership is more egalitarian these days with the rise of dot-com stock options? Wrong. Individuals with incomes over $100,000 own 79% of all stocks. The concentration of ownership is increasing. (Note that now we are discussing individuals as opposed to households--the household figure is standardized for two adult workers such that the 80th percentile household discussed above represents a combined income of $96,600 whereas this figure is for individual incomes > $100,000.

Meanwhile, many Americans are getting poorer. 87 million people, some 31% of Americans no live on incomes below twice the poverty line (roughly 2 x $14,000 for a family of four).

What can I say, it's George Bush's America.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


The Hill, a wonkish newspaper with a Washington insiders beat, today profiles Bob McIntyre of the Center for Tax Justice:

“If you’re looking for people who hate me, dial at random,” he jokes. “Bill Archer and I weren’t exactly bosom buddies,” he recalls. A tax staffer told McIntyre that Archer would ask the joint tax staff, “If we do this, can CTJ estimate” where the money goes by income group? “If the answer was yes, he would say, ‘Well, damn, we can’t do it.’”

This is how the right chooses which tax policy to push...the one that McIntyre has no model to dissect.


The Hill, a wonkish newspaper with a Washington insiders beat, today profiles Bob McIntyre of the Center for Tax Justice:

“If you’re looking for people who hate me, dial at random,” he jokes. “Bill Archer and I weren’t exactly bosom buddies,” he recalls. A tax staffer told McIntyre that Archer would ask the joint tax staff, “If we do this, can CTJ estimate” where the money goes by income group? “If the answer was yes, he would say, ‘Well, damn, we can’t do it.’”

This is how the right chooses which tax policy to push...the one that McIntyre has no model to dissect.


The Blogger system has been a bit spotty in the last few days. I have a little back log of posts which I will be spreading out over the course of the next few days as I catch up. Starting with this one:

James Henry's book Blood Bankers depicts a series of richly detailed histories of political and economic corruption endemic in international finance. While Henry presents the stories as discrete episodes, from these histories a number of general observations can be drawn that contradict much conventional wisdom on global financial markets.

*Transnational networks of elite bankers, politicians and technocrats are indispensable to the operation of international finance under present conditions. Transactions in these markets are far from arm's-length, and thus allocation of resources tends to be driven by backroom deals between personal connections as opposed to an invisible hand. (This is perhaps to be expected: who would loan a billion dollars to someone known only at arm's-length?)

*Foreign lending often has a lot to do with the need of foreign lenders to continually find new opportunities for surplus capital (not to mention the personal greed and professional vanity of individual elites) rather than domestic demand for investment. As such, the lenders are at least as culpable for massive developing country sovereign debts.

*Money center banks are the indispensable backbone of international drug trafficking, terrorist financing, arms trafficking, human trafficking, and a slew of other seedy, illicit activities. It is more than that the banks turn a blind eye-they are willing co-conspirators.

*Citibank: Have you no shame?

*The power of foreign banks is underwritten by the use of state power (and sometimes state violence). No matter how debts are incurred, the broader population can be made to pay for it by state force. So long as states maintain this power, lending will continue. As a Citibank Vice Chairman said, “Who knows what political system works best? All we ask is, can they pay their bills?” (p.263). This relationship between the power of foreign banks and state power is mutually reinforcing: financial service and instruments provided by private banks also enable military power-both by financing acquisition of military goods and services and by financing political operations that favor right-wing leaders and movements.

*The centrality of US government intervention to financial markets (through the Fed, Treasury, and IMF) provides a powerful instrument of economic statecraft: the US government can induce private bank behavior to achieve its non-economic foreign policy goals.