Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wired News Quotes The Nordic Link Re: Ferrari Man

Wired News picked up on my report about the liquidators and Stefan Eriksson.

Ex-Gizmondo Exec Dodging Investigators

Here is my post on the Nordic Link

And for those of you who read Swedish, here is my report for Realtid.se

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Barack Obama Breaks With His Fiery Father


Barack Obama in New York.                     Photo: Hans Sandberg 

He had to do it, but I don't think he did it because he has become an ordinary politician like Hillary Clinton. He had to do it, because the issues Jeremiah Wright raises cut to deep into the American fabric of history. And this election is not about setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It’s about cleaning up the mess after George W. Bush, and setting America on a new course, one of fairness, sustainable growth and one that seeks peace and international cooperation.

Much of what pastor Wright said at his speech to the NAACP on Saturday was true (excluding his comments on the spread of AIDS and homecoming chickens), despite what all the pundits say. He named and cursed the abuses and abusers of the past, and drew the line from then to now. And there is such a line.

America’s history is not pretty. For all the progress and greatness, it is also a story about genocide, slavery, desegregation and prejudice, a story of atrocities at home and abroad, like in the Philippines, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, and now in Iraq. For a preacher who is looking for sins to condemn, the U.S. history certainly does not lack material, and Wright surely knows how to spin a gruesome cathartic tale out of it.

But the difference between Wright and Obama is not one of historic morals, but of remedies. Powerful preachers like Wright have staged their thunderous performances for decades, but they have failed to change America. Obama realized that to change America, you have to build a broad coalition, and to build a broad coalition, you have to leave behind emotionally satisfying, but divisive rhetoric like that of reverend Wrights, and seek a conversation that speaks to the majority. Barack Obama understands what Oprah Winfrey understood. You can’t withdraw and lick your wounds and curse injustice. You have to reach out wide, and if you do, you will find that you’re not alone, you’re not an oppressed minority, but part of a broad post-racial coalition that can build the future.

It must have hurt bad to break the bond to a pastor, who might even have served as a surrogate father. He didn’t want to do it, but reverend Wright didn’t give him a chance. He was trapped in his rhetoric of bitterness, and as much as we understand him, we also realize that he could not provide a path ahead in this world.

Hans Sandberg

Note: Check out Maureen Dowd's take on the father-son dynamic

"Having been deserted at age 2 by his father, Obama has now been deserted by the father-figure in his church, the man who inspired him to become a Christian, married him, dedicated his house, baptized his children, gave him the title of his second book and theme for his presidential run and worked on his campaign."
***
"The Illinois senator doesn’t pay attention to the mythic nature of campaigns, but if he did, he would recognize the narrative of the classic hero myth: The young hero ventures out on an adventure to seek a golden fleece or an Oval Office; he has to kill monsters and face hurdles before he returns home, knocks off his father and assumes the throne.

Tuesday was more than a Sister Souljah moment; it was a painful form of political patricide."



 

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jon Stewart Pokes Fun With John McCain - Enjoy!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bill Moyers Serves Up the Full Jeremiah Wright

I can't think of anybody better to interview Jeremiah Wright, the retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, than Bill Moyers, one of America's most illustrious and eminent journalists.

Bill Moyers is probably most known for his fascinating interview with Joseph Campbell, which was broadcast on PBS as the six hour long program The Power of Myth, but as important as this interview was, it's just one piece in his work. Moyers trademark interviews are deep and penetrating, and so was his interview with Jeremiah Wright. Here we saw the a profound and progressive intellectual behind the fiery preacher, who has been cut up and served as political sushi on Youtube and the various news networks.

”God Damn America” has become synonymous with his name, but when we here Moyers give us the context and Wright lay out the Biblical backstory, the words come out full of meaning and well withing the bounds of American self-improvement and reform through unflinching self-scrutiny.

You don't need to agree with him, but you have to respect him for taking his country seriously enough to dare to challenge it. Will it hurt Obama? Yes, maybe, but it might also make the difference between Obama and Wright clearer. If the country can't digest more than soundbites and hypocrisy, then maybe it doesn't deserve better than Hillary or more likely McCain... 

Hans Sandberg

Watch the whole interview on PBS’ website!

Jeremiah Wright's speech at the NAACP dinner in Detroit!



Part 2



Part 3



Part 4



Part 5




Washington Post-reporter Dana Milbank's discussion of Jeremiah Wright

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Democratic Village Counsel Might Be Getting Ready To Show Hillary the Door

Maureen Dowd wrote on Wednesday that "it will take a village to help Obama escape from the suffocating embrace of his rival." (New York Times, April 23, 2008)

Well it might actually happen.

The Huffington Post
reports today that Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean May Intervene In Dem Primary

"Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid took his comments about the state of the Democratic primary one step further today, suggesting that he and other prominent Democrats would intervene in the race if primary season concludes without a clear winner: Reid said he would consider writing a joint letter with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demanding that superdelegates make their endorsements public.

'The three of us, we may write a joint letter [to superdelegates],' said Reid. 'We might do individual letters, we are in contact with each other.'"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New York Times Warns Hillary In Editorial

New York Times has endorsed Hillary Clinton, but it looks as if they are having second thoughts, judging from today's editorial The Low Road to Victory:

"The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.

Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.

If nothing else, self interest should push her in that direction. Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead.

On the eve of this crucial primary, Mrs. Clinton became the first Democratic candidate to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad — torn right from Karl Rove’s playbook — evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden. 'If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,' the narrator intoned."

Hillary's aggressive campaigning "does more than just turn off voters who don’t like negative campaigning, New York Times writes and adds the following warning:

"She undercuts the rationale for her candidacy that led this page and others to support her: that she is more qualified, right now, to be president than Mr. Obama." (Our italics.)

Hans Sandberg

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

OK, Hillary, You Won Pennsylvania Alright - Now Please Get Out Of the Way!

Hillary Clinton won as expected, but her win was not enough for her to outdo Barack Obama in the democratic primary campaign.

"The senator from Illinois still leads in the number of pledged delegates and the popular vote. He is almost certain to hold the delegate lead and will probably maintain the popular-vote advantage when the primaries end in early June. Perhaps more important, Clinton's campaign is nearly broke, whereas Obama has an enormous amount of money in the bank to throw into the next two contests and beyond." 

(Washington Post, April 23, 2008, my italics.) 

The best she could do for the Democrats and the country would be to use her PA victory to bow out with dignity. But that's not going to happen. She has no business staying in the race other than helping John McCain's campaign. She feels entitled to have her turn at the wheel, and if that means that the Democrats loose in 2008, there is allways 2012. She's driven, and she's got the money (remember her and Bill's 100 million dollar tax return!), so she can wait for more years for her personal triumph. But if Obama wins in November, there is no way she would ever be president.

Also read Maureen Dowd's sharp comment on the Pennsylvania outcome:

Wilting Over Waffles

"Now that Hillary has won Pennsylvania, it will take a village to help Obama escape from the suffocating embrace of his rival. Certainly Howard Dean will be of no use steering her to the exit. It’s like Micronesia telling Russia to denuke."
(Maureen Dowd in New York Times, my italics.)

Hans Sandberg

Monday, April 21, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pope: Human Rights Better Than War On Terror

"The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security," Pope Benedict XVI told the U.N. General Assembly.

“Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and they can then become violators of peace,” he continued.

Maybe he never had a chance to meet Dick Cheney when he visited the White House.... for he would surely had set his holiness straight, explaining how such loose talk about human rights and dignity could distract us from the war on terror. After all, the way the Pope went on about absolute values, one might think the U.S. would have to shut down Guantanamo Bay.

Hans Sandberg

World Hunger & Capitalist Failure


Child labor in southern India, 1974.
                                                                                  Photo: Hans Sandberg

The issue of hunger may not be on everybody's lips, but it soon will, becuase it's serious, it's global, and it's not going to go away anytime soon. It’s time to replace the stupid war on terror with a war on poverty and hunger. If you feed and educate the hungry, you wont need to fight them in the streets. Even the Roman’s knew that.

But things were supposed to get better all by themselves the neo-conservatives told us. All that was needed was for the big bad government to step aside an let the markets do its job.

Here is how a narrow-minded economist feeds the hungry:

  • Let’s say that supply of food goes down, while demand stays high or goes up
  • Well, this will lead to higher prices, telling the producers to make more food, or luring new producers,
  • Hence supply increases, and voila,
  • Equilibrium is restored as a new balance is reached between supply and demand, leaving everybody if not happy, so least unable to become any happier without changing the rules of the game (which is what economists mean by ceteris paribus, i.e. everything else being the same).
When the whole wide world applies this model, we have complete globalization. Trade flourishes, and the benefits of trade and specialization (i.e. it’s cheaper to buy shoes than make them yourself) brings wealth to everybody -- unless governments interfere with taxes and tariffs.

Then we have places such as Haiti, where Saint Louis Meriska worries for his children. New York Times tells the story:

Saint Louis Meriska’s children ate two spoonfuls of rice apiece as their only meal recently and then went without any food the following day. His eyes downcast, his own stomach empty, the unemployed father said forlornly, “They look at me and say, ‘Papa, I’m hungry,’ and I have to look away. It’s humiliating and it makes you angry.”

The article opens with a sentence that makes you think Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and their 1848 pamphlet the Communist Manifesto:

Hunger bashed in the front gate of Haiti’s presidential palace. Hunger poured onto the streets, burning tires and taking on soldiers and the police. Hunger sent the country’s prime minister packing.

Well, communism is pretty much dead, except maybe in Nepal, but capitalism is quickly loosing it’s raison d'être. Remember that Adam Smith wrote that if we wanted our bread, we were better off relying on the baker’s greed than his charity. This is true, unless our pockets are empty, and he can earn his dough by selling artisanal bread to the rich. Capitalism isn’t picky. It’ll always survive one way or the other. But people need food to live, and if the distribution of income and property is skewed enough, capitalism will not deliver even the basic stuff people need to survive.

Which is why we have governments, laws and regulations and social security. The German ”Iron Chancellor” Bismarck knew that unless you provided a modicum of security for the workers, they would line up with the socialists. So he introduced health insurance and 13 weeks of sick pay for workers in 1883. Even America got the message under FDR, and instead of an angry working class, we got a relatively comfortable middle class.

On a global scale, this didn’t happen, which is why we never got peace, and it took so long to fend off the ”communist threat”. After the Berlin Wall came down, and China opened its doors for business (but not freedom), we had a chance to fix the world, and take care of the poor and hungry. It didn’t happen. Instead we got globalization, which although great in principle didn’t bother with the underlying structural problems in this world. There was no global social security, and the rich of this world – including the wealthy oil sheiks of the Middle East - preferred to invest their enormous surpluses in financial assets than in improving the lot of their fellow human beings.

With no global democracy or modern Otto von Bismarck, we got on one hand Osama bin-Laden and his Al-Qaeda and on the other George W. Bush and his imperial presidency.

And while they were locked in a mad balance of terror, the world changed, and shit happened. In many ways this changes are wonderful: China and India leapt from Walt W. Rostow called the take-off stage to the age of high mass-consumption (at least for a segment of the population). But an ocean of people were left behind, while the bakers of this global world catered to those with purchasing power.

The last couple of years seismic shifts in the global economy, combined with natural events and human folly now prevents Saint Louis Meriska from feeding his children.

Unless the world comes together, there will be another Manifesto, and blood in the streets. The market has failed. The political system has failed. Our will has failed.

Now we need to restore the will, restore the political system and build a global security system so that our bakers can provide bread for us all, not out of charity, but by selling for profit in a world, where the resources are more equally distributed.

For more about the current food crisis,
read
More Hungry Mouths To Feed.

Hans Sandberg

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Philadelphia Debate: A Low Point For ABC News

(Updated on April 20, 2008)

Yes, Barack Obama came out meek and week in the debate with Hillary Clinton who came out slugging like a virtual Rocky. She once again showed that she is tough, smart and ready to serve up whatever lies and dirt it takes to win the nomination. I wonder how her lack of moral rectitude is going to play out in this very conservative and religious state.

All pundits agree that she won the debate, but 58 percent of the 71,130 people who voted on MSNBC’s website said that Obama won the debate, while only 28 percent felt that Hillary had won!

Maybe substance counted for more than appearance this time?

“The encounter, particularly in the early stages, seemed more like a grilling of Obama on a Sunday-morning talk show than a debate between the two candidates. Obama fielded most of the questions calmly, although at times he appeared to choose his words with extreme care as he faced perhaps the toughest series of questions he has encountered since taking the lead in delegates in the nomination battle,” reported Washington Post’s Anne E. Kornblut and Dan Balz.

The same paper’s columnist Tom Shales blasted ABC News for its performance during the debate:

”It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.
For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.”
...

”To this observer, ABC's coverage seemed slanted against Obama. The director cut several times to reaction shots of such Clinton supporters as her daughter, Chelsea, who sat in the audience at the Kimmel Theater in Philly's National Constitution Center. Obama supporters did not get equal screen time, giving the impression that there weren't any in the hall. The director also clumsily chose to pan the audience at the very start of the debate, when the candidates made their opening statements, so Obama and Clinton were barely seen before the first commercial break.
At the end, Gibson pompously thanked the candidates -- or was he really patting himself on the back? -- for ’what I think has been a fascinating debate.’ He's entitled to his opinion, but the most fascinating aspect was waiting to see how low he and Stephanopoulos would go, and then being appalled at the answer.”

Here are some more criticism of ABC News:

"A stinker, an absolute car crash—thanks to the host network ABC...[It] ran the gamut from banal to inane. At the end of the debate members of the crowd appeared to be booing moderator Charlie Gibson."
(Richard Adams, The Guardian)

"We've revisited bitter. We've gone back to Bosnia. We've dragged Rev. Wright back up onto the podium. We've mis-spent this debate by allowing Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos to ask questions that skirt what in my mind is what we need to know now."
(Daniel Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer)

"In perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years, ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous focused mainly on trivial issues as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadelphia."
(Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher)

"In the seven weeks since the previous Clinton-Obama debate, the death toll of American troops in Iraq had reached four thousand; the President had admitted that his 'national-security team,' including the Vice-President, had met regularly in the White House to approve the torture of prisoners; house repossessions topped fifty thousand per month and unemployment topped five per cent; and the poll-measured proportion of Americans who believe that 'things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track' hit eighty-one per cent, a record. Yet for most of the next hour Gibson and Stephanopoulos limited their questioning to the following topics: Obama’s April 6th remark about 'bitter' small-towners; whether each candidate thinks the other can win; the Obama family’s ex-pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.; Clinton’s tale of sniper fire in Bosnia; Obama’s failure to wear a flag lapel pin; and Obama’s acquaintance with a college professor in his Chicago neighborhood who, while Obama was in grade school, was a member of the Weather Underground."

Hillary's Support Dropping

Earlier the same day as the Philadelphia debate, a joint poll by ABC News and Washington Post revealed that even if Hillary leads in the Pennsylvania primary, her support nationally is dropping like a stone.

“Likely Democratic voters, 51-41 percent, say they want Obama to win the nomination — his biggest advantage to date. Obama has also cleared the ‘electability’ hurdle in Democratic minds — 62 percent say he is more likely to win than Clinton.

In more bad news for Clinton, 58 percent of Americans polled said she is not honest and trustworthy. Obama beats her on this attribute by a 23-point margin.
...
'She flip flops on issues too much and seems like a professional politician whose goal is just to get elected at any cost,' said Gene Louin, a Pennsylvania voter told ABC News.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hillary's Phony Toughness

What planet is she from? Maybe Mars? Definitively not Venus, despite those crocodile tears that was supposed to show her human side. It seems as if Hillary's supporters take a certain pride in her toughness; as if all the scandals and dirty business she and her husband has been involved in would somehow make her ready for the job, i.e. you have to be a real asshole to become President of the United States. That would be sad.

Besides, I see two problems here:

1) Hillary is not tough, but hides behind a heavy shield, which is why it's so hard to se the human being behind the mask. It was the same thing with George W. Bush, who is basically a wimp carrying a big stick, a man without qualities clinging to master Dick and/or God.

2) What the U.S. needs is not another Jerk-in-Chief; another leader beholden to special interests, and ready to do or say anything to have his or her ways with the world. We've had enough of that and look at where it got us.

If Hillary has no moral qualms about doing anything to win, what will she do as President? Who knows? I have no idea, except that she would pave the way for a Republican comeback in 2012.

Hans Sandberg

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What If Colin Power Backs Obama?

There is something about Colin Powell. I read his autobiography a long time ago, and there was something about this man. Even though he delivered his infamous speech to the United Nations, I still believe he is an honest man.

He fought hard within the administration, but in the end he could not prevail against the neocons and experienced soundrels such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. What made him stay on and give the speech? I don't know, but I still believe he is a good man.

Now he tells Diane Sawyer at "Good Morning America" that he is "looking at all three candidates," and that he has "not decided who /he/ will vote for yet."

When asked about Barack Obama, he sounds like he likes him a lot. I don't see him as a VP candidate, but if he backed Obama, it would help bring in republicans who otherways would go with John McCain.

Watch the interview here!

Hans Sandberg

Monday, April 7, 2008

Don't Try Calling Hillary At 3:00 AM In the Morning, Because She Is Busy Calling the Ghost Busters

Hillary has the experience. She's the one you can trust. She's the one to call if a world crisis happens at 3:00 AM in the morning. It was her chief strategist Mark Penn who came up with the idea. But I don't know if it was he who came up with the idea to blast Barack Obama when one of his guys went to Canada to tell people not to worry too much about Obama being against trade, but he sure had a good feel for trade issues. He had seen it from both sides. First helping craft Hillary's strategy to fight the trade deal with Colombia, and then helping the Colombian government to get the deal passed. Isn't this a very Clintonian situation? To have it both ways? To fight for the poor and to rake it in hand over fist. To fight corruption, while selling access as if it was candy. The $106 million jackpot. The secret dealing and wheeling....

Poor Mr. Penn is out, and if you can get through on that red phone at 3:00 AM in the morning, maybe Hillary will be as hillarious as on Saturday Night Live or the Jay Leno Show. But if the line is busy, rest assured that it's Hillary herself calling the Ghost Busters...

Hans Sandberg

Friday, April 4, 2008

Remembering MLK: "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam"

It's a beautiful and powerful speech, doubly so in this era of war and recession. (Thanks to Moveon.org who sent out the link!)

A Picture Speaks: A Lonely Bush In Europe

Sometimes a picture speaks more than words, but you don't need a thousand words to describe this photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters, here published in the New York Times:

President George W. Bush at the NATO Summit in Europe.  Take a closer look here!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Europe Is Waiting To Exhale

Around the world, there are hopes the next president will adopt a different style from what critics have called Bush's cowboy diplomacy and go-it-alone foreign policy, AP writes in a report about Bush "farewell tour" and his visit to the NATO Summit.

"There seems to be a great deal of enthusiasm, particularly for (Barack) Obama but also Hillary (Rodham Clinton) on the other side of the Atlantic, that there's going to be some revitalization of the trans-Atlantic partnership and we start with a clean slate and a new chapter and all the rest," said Julianne Smith, Europe program director for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"I think a lot of these European countries have found a way to get past the dark shadows of 2003 and '04 when we had divides over Iraq and all the rest," she said. "And many of them are looking forward now to the next president in Washington and are already thinking about what the 2009 (NATO) summit will bring."

(from an AP article published in New York Newsday on March 29, 2008)

Obama Interviewed By Chris Matthews In Pennsylvania

Are You As Tough As Dick Cheney? (Iraq, Al-Qaeda etc)



What If You Get A Call At 3:00 AM In the Morning?



What's It Like To Be A Black Kid With A White Mom?




Transcript

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bush & the Troubled Economy.... Who? Me? What?

The U.S. economy is tanking and its financial system is in shambles. So what does the U.S. President do? Well, he goes to Europe -- the same "Old Europe" that his former Secretary of Defence (Donald Rumsfeldt) used to dismiss as irrelevant -- asking for more troops to Afghanistan.

In Economic Drama, Bush Is Largely Offstage New York Times' writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote in a White House Memo on April 3, 2008.

"WASHINGTON — The first hint that President Bush might be detached from the nation’s economic woes was in February, when he conceded that he had not heard about predictions of $4-a-gallon gasoline.

Then Mr. Bush went to Wall Street to warn against 'massive government intervention in the housing markets,' two days before his administration helped broker the takeover of the investment bank Bear Stearns."

"For a man who came into office as the nation’s first M.B.A. president, Mr. Bush has sometimes seemed invisible during the housing and credit crunch. As the economy eclipses Iraq as the top issue on voters’ minds, even some Republican allies of the president say Mr. Bush is being eclipsed and is in danger of looking out of touch.

'He’s over there arguing about who should get into NATO, and the American people are focused on what’s in their pocketbooks,' said Kenneth M. Duberstein, who was chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan in his second term. 'He has talked about the economy, but it is not viewed as being a satisfactory response. Unfortunately, the lasting image is of not knowing of $4-a-gallon gas.' "

Instead, his leutenants Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson have been left to do whatever they can to fix the short term crisis on Wall Street, why the democrats and republicans are trying to put together a package that could help out homeowners who are risking losing their homes (and are not being much helped by the "Hope Now" that Bush touted as some kind of miracle cure against foreclosures). Bernanke and Paulson are bright men, and not as limited ideologically as we are used to in this administration, but even they are working within a rather narrow republican straightjacket, so their solutions have been too limited to really fix the problems looming over Wall Street. Bernanke was on Capitol Hill today, and refused to use the word recession, but said that the country faces “a rough patch” and stayed away from Bush's "everything is fine" statements, and Alice-In-Wonderland-talk.

“He has to get back in the public conversation again,” Mr. Duberstein said. “All the conversation going on now is Obama, Clinton and McCain, and people are not talking about: ‘What’s George Bush thinking? What’s George Bush going to do?’ ”

On the other hand? The economy will probably do best without too much meddling from the dunce who occupies of the White House.

Hans Sandberg

Hubble Telescope Images