Monday, September 29, 2008
Congress is about to give away my son’s future so their banker friends on Wall Street get to keep their houses in Greenwich. There is simply no other way to explain what is happening down in that cesspool at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Our politicians should be drawn and quartered for this and their bodies hung from the Treasury building. The bailout is unnecessary, unamerican, and it will likely be ineffective. The whole thing has been pushed forward with a manufactured urgency backed up with lie upon lie.
The best lie came from the Democrats: "All of this was done in a way to insulate Main St. and everyday Americans from the crisis on Wall St." (Nancy Pelosi). Insulate? Then why no bankruptcy reform? Why no money for investigators and auditors? Why no commitment to reform the way the street does business? Why no credit card reform? Why no automatic way to restructure the mortgages to make the (presently worthless) derivatives worth more to the taxpayer? Why? Because they are lying to you. This has nothing to do with Main Street.
Virtually no professional economists were invited to comment and testify on this plan, or appear to have been involved in coming up with it. Virtually all of the people involved, including those in Congress who are voting on it, are millionaires who have major investments in the markets. Especially Pelosi, who appears to be the ringleader. They all stand to make millions and possibly billions. Paulson owns $600 million in Goldman Sachs stock alone.
The fundamental principle of this bi-partisan plan is a $700 billion dollar tax shift from Wall Street to Main Street. That's just a fact. Any possibility of taxpayers recouping their losses on those worthless credit derivatives would depend on the housing bubble re-inflating. If it does, God help us, it will only be brief before it bursts again. Talk about voodoo economics. This is the economic equivalent of using leeches to cure cancer.
200 economists wrote to Barney Frank and Co. urging them to wait and study alternatives and they were ignored, as were the millions of Americans who wrote to their representatives screaming with fury. Every single one of those fuckers who vote for this bill, Republican or Democrat, should be held accountable.
What really speaks to how inept and corrupt Congress has become is the fact that if anyone were to ever introduce a $700,000,000,000 bill geared towards tackling our crumbling infrastructure, educational system, or healthcare problem they would be laughed out of the building. If the government is too "broke" to finance Medicare and Social Security, where is this money coming from? It’s all about priorities……….and you are not theirs.
Friday, September 26, 2008
It is interesting to watch the reactions of my fellow citizens to the Congressional wrangling over the capitalist system bailout. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the New York Times letters section for a few days now and what stands out to me is the apparently genuine confusion shown by many writers about the fact that their representatives are going to issue Paulson and the rest of the thieves at Treasury a $700,000,000,000 blank check when polls show the American public squarely against the plan. They profess to be shocked, shocked when their elected officials bend over backwards to save the asses of Wall Street titans but can’t muster enough votes to expand children’s healthcare by an amount less than two days funding of the Iraq war. Is anyone in this sorry excuse for a democracy really so naive as to think that the people in Washington are nothing more than paid lackeys of their corporate masters? How else to explain the intense effort to bail out the crooks on the backs of the middle-class?
And can we please stop calling the bailout socialism? Socialism would be if we took the people’s confiscated labor (that's what taxes are) and widely distributed it to the people in the form of social programs. In the bailout scenario being discussed in Washington we would be taking the people’s money and redistributing it to the upper class. That sounds more like fascism to me.
Even as the economy crumbles around them, the fat cats are still finding a way to hold onto their money while they try to steal yours. The Times story about the take-over of Washington Mutual by the Feds had this little gem of a sentence buried way down deep in paragraph 13: “Mr. Fishman (WAMU’s CEO), who has been on the job for less than three weeks, is eligible for $11.6 million in cash severance and will get to keep his $7.5 million signing bonus.” The audacity! Even as the lobbyists for the banking industry, and by that I mean Congress, haggle over the size of their piece of the bail-out pie in Washington, their masters are still stuffing their pockets with ill gotten lucre.
If the elites on Wall Street and Washington are worried about the people’s reaction to their massive attempt to loot the treasury they aren’t showing it publicly. They may, however, think that some behind-the-scenes preparation might be necessary if things start to get ugly in the heartland. From Glen Greenwald’s blog on Salon: “Several bloggers today have pointed to this obviously disturbing article from Army Times, which announces that "beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the [1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division] will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities. They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control (within the United States)… [W]hat possible rationale is there for permanently deploying the U.S. Army inside the United States -- under the command of the President -- for any purpose, let alone things such as "crowd control." Any guesses? I’ve got a few ideas.
Time to stock up on canned goods and load the rifle kids. Things are looking bleak out there.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
What Bush is proposing is the greatest intervention in the economy since the great depression with absolutely no benefit to the average American. Bush just engaged in a defense of the capitalist system on national television without offering one reason why the American taxpayer should give the treasury secretary unfettered power to fuck with the banking system without judicial review. I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it not because I don’t think there is a crisis. I don’t buy it because I fail to see the wisdom of giving $700,000,000,000 to the former CEO of Goldman Sachs when it was he and his cronies who got us into this mess in the first place. If the Democrats cave on this then I’m voting for Nader.
Monday, September 22, 2008
"I never make predictions, but now I'm willing to guess that it's going to take a genuinely brutal collapse, one in which our citizens cannot get even the most basic necessities of life before the spell of American exceptionalism is broken. And even when that happens I have no doubt the citizenry will be provided with some appropriate scapegoat abroad, most likely a Muslim or Russian one. Hell, they are already ginning up the case against several suspects.
I find it amazing that after the highest rolling scam artists are given a walk for their theft. Our government is now letting the collapsing industries consolidate and actually own thousands of banks at the local level. I suspect that having raped the public for fees and having exhausted all the other mortgage racket scams, they now want to get closer to the pockets of the people and "get first count of the dough," as the carnies used to say. He who gets first count always makes money in the carnie world.
Another local citizen I talked to said: "Well, it's all more complicated than we can understand. You have to leave it to the experts." As if "the experts" somehow are not human beings prone to greed or other human folly. That people can watch such a disaster happen before their very eyes and somehow not relate it to their own lives as Americans boggles the imagination. It goes beyond apathy and into the realm of learned helplessness. Complete helplessness in the face of the corporate state. Complete reliance upon unseen "people in high places" who somehow know what is best for the rest of us, and belief these people will act first in our interests instead of their own.
I fear for this country's fate. I really do."
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The fuckers are actually going to do it. Bail out Wall Street while the rest of us struggle under credit card debt at 30% interest, onerous mortgages, $4 a gallon gas and rampant increases in the cost of goods. A kleptocracy is a term applied to a government that extends the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats) at the expense of the population. Our government has abandoned all pretense of being interested in the welfare of the people. If the government has the resources to assume the cost of billions of dollars of bad debt from financial institutions and manage these investments, then the arguments against socialized universal healthcare seem a bit specious, don’t they?
The architects of this disaster should be arrested and sent to prison, not allowed to retain their stature in finance and hoard their ill-gotten lucre. Why the hell is the government using my tax money to bail out private companies? Is there no way to stop this? From what I understand Congress has to sign off on the bailout and I am going to send my senators a copy of this post and let them know in no uncertain terms that I consider this vast transfer of wealth from the workers to the super-rich as nothing short of treason. And why does the government only nationalize the companies that lose money by the fistful? I think if they are going to start seizing corporations why don't we nationalize a few of the big profitable corporations as well? Exxon would be a good start. They seem to make a decent amount of money.
As a letter-writer to the NY Times succinctly put it, “A bailout like this is anathema to those who responsibly sat on the sidelines while avaricious moneylenders and their debtors made wildly risky bets that have now gone terribly wrong.” I say it again, if we can nationalize" our most hallowed financial institutions with no debate and no public discussion, why can't we nationalize health care and energy development in the same way?
"I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies ... If the American people ever allow the private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”-Thomas Jefferson
I think the most interesting thing about the economic meltdown in the financial industry is how little immediate effect the crisis is having on
It is going to take a lot more than shrinking retirement funds to get the populace out into the streets, but something tells me that a lot more is coming. I have this strange feeling that with one swift kick the whole shitbox will come crashing down around us. At some point it is going to dawn on people that there is an inherent unfairness to punishing the taxpayers while reckless financiers get to walk with their golden parachutes more or less intact. This kind of thing wouldn't happen if we extended capital punishment to white-collar crimes of sufficient gravity. My personal belief is that all the robber barons should be lined up against a wall and offered a last cigarette. A good old fashioned blood sacrifice is just the catharsis this country needs.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I'm going to apologize in advance for another posting on Sarah Palin. I realize that issues are more important than personalities, but I fear the prospect of an end-times Armageddon believer having the nuclear codes, I really do. By most accounts Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson yesterday was a complete train wreck. The Eskimo queen was stilted in her delivery and apparently had no idea what the Bush Doctrine was, despite the fact that it will form the basis of McSame’s foreign policy. (Gibson described it to the clueless Palin as, “anticipatory self-defense.” ) Whatever, what is important is sticking to your plan, not thinking for yourself: “You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war.” Uh, yeah.
What came out of her mouth wasn’t reasoned analysis or thoughtful consideration of the questions asked, rather, she regurgitated Republican talking points and sounded as if she had just memorized a stack of cue cards with titles like, “Ten Things I Should Know About NATO”. Oh, and she also indicated that it might be necessary to attack Russia. Then again, she’s an expert on Russia, being the governor of Alaska and all, which is sort of close to Russia. Slate’s lead sentence in today’s article Palin v. Gibson Round One pretty much summed it up, “Without being smarmy about it or unfurling gotcha questions, ABC News anchor Charles Gibson demonstrated that he knows volumes more about national security and foreign policy than does Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.”
As if the interview wasn’t enough, yesterday, Palin also took a leap off the straight talk express by telling a group
After yesterday’s interview it isn’t hard to see why the McCain campaign has kept Palin away from reporters and off the interview circuit. The woman is as moronic as the voters the Republicans are trying to pander to. Frankly, this is getting ridiculous. Somebody should arrest John McCain for endangering democracy.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Although it has been seven years since the 911 attacks, their impact continues to shape the way the country reacts to perceived threats and has pretty much lead to a complete gutting of the Constitution in the name of national security. The attacks have been used as cover by the Republican Party to start a war and engage in intrusive warrantless spying on the American people. I have a deeper connection to the attacks than most because I was there. I worked a block away from the Trade Center and stuck around long enough to get immersed in the mayhem and have to run for my life up Church Street when the towers collapsed. I’ve posted my story before, in 2006, but I felt like putting it up again as a memorial to everything we lost that day.
“On the morning of September 11, 2001 I and a number of other newly hired attorneys were due to have our picture taken with then Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the steps of City Hall. We were all supposed to meet on the second floor of the Law Department and then proceed to City Hall as a group. I was running late that morning and didn’t get to 100 Church Street until shortly after 8:30am. The first plane must have struck the tower when I was in the elevator because I don’t recall hearing any explosion. When I arrived on the second floor, I was somewhat surprised that no one else was there yet. Apparently the folks who were on the floor at the time the first plane hit had immediately gone downstairs to see what was happening. I grabbed a co-worker and went back to the lobby of my building. As I was pushing through the front door of the building the second plane hit the tower. There was a tremendous explosion and flash of light reflected in the windows of the building across the street which promptly shattered due to the explosion. A piece of the plane’s engine (I could see the flywheel clearly) tore through a section of roof of the next building north of 100 Church and landed with a tremendous thud about 20 yards from where I was standing. It was still there, smoking, when I ran up Church Street later on that morning.
Immediately after the second plane hit I bolted back into the lobby which was already full of FBI agents who were screaming at everyone to evacuate the building because it was about to collapse. I remember thinking at the time that this fact was kind of curious since only about 20 minutes had passed since the first plane struck the tower. To my knowledge the only tenants of 100 Church Street at the time were the Bank of New York, the City Law Department and a private law firm. At this point I still didn’t know what had happened; my first thought was that someone had blown up the Federal building next door. It was only when I exited the lobby into the street that I saw the towers burning for the first time.
Instead of leaving the area immediately as many of my colleagues did, I bummed a cigarette from a co-worker and stood in front of my building watching the tragedy unfold. I saw many, many people jumping to their deaths from the holes where the planes went into the tower. Fortunately, the Federal building blocked any view of them landing. The streets were full of paper blowing from the Trade Center offices like it was a perverse ticker-tape parade.
There were a lot of people on Church Street and the rumor mill was grinding out information every second; there was a third plane, the Met Life Building had also been hit, etc. At some point before the first Tower collapsed a fighter jet appeared in the sky which started a panic because people thought it was another hijacked plane. When the first Tower collapsed I was standing on the corner of Church Street and Chambers Street. I remember very clearly thinking and telling a number of friends and family that additional explosives must have been placed in the Tower because I saw puffs of smoke emanating from several stories below the fire just prior to the building collapse. I also thought I heard an explosion but I can’t be sure if this is a real memory or not. I watched the implosion and then ran for my life up Church Street with thousands of my fellow New Yorkers.
I was much further away when the second tower collapsed; on Canal Street and I could only see the top of the building as it disappeared.
We were shut out of the building for eight months as it was inside the frozen zone. We returned in April of 2002. Meanwhile life changed for me and for everyone else in the world. Anyway that’s the outline of my story. Hopefully many of you were a lot further away and only had to watch it on TV because, frankly I have had a difficult time processing all of that destruction. The fact that our government has seen fit to expend all of the world’s positive feelings toward the United States by waging war on the entire world saddens me beyond all description. Peace.”
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Talk about voting against your self-interest! Undecided voters have to be uneducated or uninformed and if the polls are to be believed, seemingly have no ability to analyze a complex decision. That lack of intellectual curiosity is what allows Grandpa McSame to run under the mantle of change despite the fact that the Republican Party has been in power for most of the last 20 years and is the principal reason the economy is going belly-up. It’s the reason a long-term ultra rich senator with deep ties to lobbyists and a history of scandal (Keating Five anyone? The bailout cost American taxpayers $3.4 billion.) can run on a platform of reforming Washington. It’s the reason McCain can pick an equally wealthy and corrupt running mate who ripped off the Alaska State Treasury to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars and portray her as a squeaky clean suburban mom. Get the picture? They lie, but they do it draped in the American flag while waving a bloody steak and a six pack of Budweiser. People have no idea how fucked up this country can still get. Drill now? Who gives a fuck? Gay marriage? Who gives a fuck? This election is about the survival of America as a country, but most Americans are too goddamn lazy to pick their heads out of a bag of Doritos long enough to realize what’s at stake.
Unfortunately, the mockery of intellectualism that Republicans have advanced with great gusto has inexorably led to a dumbing down of society as a whole. I would have to guess this was their strategy all along. An intellectual populace would never swallow Republican Party platform. As always, America elects its Presidents not on the basis of what they promise, but whether they project “leadership” even if their ideas are morally and intellectually bankrupt. McCain has already won.
Friday, September 05, 2008
The media shows no sign of letting up on this wall to wall Wassila coverage either. Today at around noon CNN interrupted its coverage of an Obama rally in Pennsylvania after about 45 seconds to cover a McCain rally where Palin was giving substantially the same speech she gave on the floor in Minneapolis two days earlier. McCain just stood next to her like a proud father for about 20 minutes while she denigrated community organizing, told a few lies about Barak Obama and bragged about being mayor of a small town. After she was done frothing he took the mike and pronounced her the greatest Vice-Presidential pick in the history of the country.” The crowd ate it up.
It appears to me that the Obama campaign has no idea what to do about Palin fever. Obama is even starting to look very tired while McCain is shedding years just by standing next to Sarah Barracuda. It wouldn’t surprise me if the McCain Palin father-daughter road show continued to barnstorm every small town in the swing states right up to the day of the election.
I have been reading the comment boards of the New York Times and Salon and the Daily Kos and I am getting the sinking feeling that Democrats are seriously underestimating this ticket. Too many times I have seen defeat snatched from the jaws of victory and it usually happens when Democrats overestimate the intellectual capacity of independent voters. Let’s face it, Americans who are still sitting on the fence in this election are not particularly smart. This group can easily be swayed by flag-waving and appeals to patriotism and have little patience for difficult policy arguments or words more complicated than “delicatessen”. Any “independent” voter who would return a Republican to the executive branch after the tragedy of the last eight years either isn’t doing their research or just doesn’t care that we are staring into the abyss of another great depression brought on by supply-side economic theory and unregulated financial markets. What Republicans have learned over the last two elections is that they can just get up in front of the American people and simply lie to their faces, and no one will question them. They learned that lesson after seeing the tepid response to the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004. The media doesn’t get it. The Democrats don’t. The only thing I agreed with in Palin’s speech is that Harry Reid is, in fact, a pussy. The Republicans do get it: "“This election is not about issues,” Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager said this week. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.”
If Obama wants to win this thing he has to get out there and go for the throat. If Kerry could be swift-boated, so can McCain. If not on his military record, than on the Keating S&L scandal, his adulterous affairs and his connections with the lobbyists he claims to disavow. I’m getting a sinking feeling that McCain's post-convention bounce is going to last a lot longer than a week or two.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
The George W. Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages.
The Library will include:
The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.
The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
The National Debt room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first tour, they make you go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth tour.
The Dick Cheney Room, in an undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.
The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
The Supremes Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
The 'Decider Room' , complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
Admission: Republicans - free; Democrats - $1000 or 3 Euros
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Giuliani was also frightening. He was able to channel his inner trial lawyer in a way that he couldn’t during the campaign and his speech was like red meat to a bunch of hungry jackals. I’m in the middle of watching Sara Palin explain how being the mayor of Wassila Alaska was really a lot like running a country and I am starting to wonder whether the beer I drank was somehow laced with hallucinogens. McCain advisor Charlie Black on questions about Sarah Palin's foreign policy competence. "She's going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he'll be around at least that long."
Lest we forget, Palin was elected to her second term as mayor by a landslide, 800 votes to her opponent’s 240. Why should we question her experience? A degree from Idaho State and a few years running a backwater in Alaska after her career as a beauty contest also-ran is plenty of experience. And for gods sake woman, let your child go home and go to sleep. I had a four month old not too long ago and would never think of letting him sit in a convention hall surrounded by screaming people for four hours so I could make a point on national television. Republican family values. America is so fucked up. Thank you Republican Party. You got me off the sofa to get my credit card and send Obama $100. I suggest you all do the same.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Of course you don’t really need to get into her private life. Her public life is repugnant enough. Aside from the oddities like her support for a bill allowing the hunting of wolves from airplanes, there is this from her days as mayor of Wassila:
“[Former Wasilla mayor John Stein] says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." The librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire her for not giving "full support" to the mayor.”
Any doubt as to whether Palin is a true conservative in the Bush/Cheney mode need look no further. While mayor, Palin continuously exhibited a contempt for the rule of law and showed a predilection for abusing executive power. Here's a news report citing another example:
"City librarian Mary Ellen Emmons [Baker] will stay, but Police Chief Irl Stambaugh is on his own, Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin announced Friday. The decision came one day after letters signed by Palin were dropped on Stambaugh's and Emmon's desks, telling them their jobs were over as of Feb. 13.
Both Stambaugh and Emmons [Baker] publicly supported Palin's opponent, long-time mayor John Stein during the campaign last fall. When she was elected, Palin questioned their loyalty and initially asked for their resignations. But Stambaugh said he thought any questions had been resolved.”
I guess not. She'll fit in pretty well in Washington, especially in such executive branch corridors as those at the DOJ. How about foreign policy? Can expect Governor Palin to focus on the important issues like the war in Iraq. In her own words, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq," she said. I'll bet Bush loves her. Bravo McCain. Now I am convinced that you are totally senile. No one in their right mind would nominate someone like this to the vice presidency.
The mainstream media would like you to believe that Sarah Palin’s daughter’s love-child is somehow important. They most certainly do not want you to realize that the Republican convention is beset by protesters and that the Minneapolis PD has been resorting to Gestapo like tactics to stifle the free expression of ideas. The mission of the media is to maintain the illusion that everything is fine out there in the heartland and that
What was barely reported over the week-end was the fact that the federal government was the architect behind the heavy-handed policing at the convention as well as taking the lead in a number of illegal raids on protest groups in the days leading up to it. Minnesota Public Radio reported that "the searches (of the protester headquarters) were led by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office. Deputies coordinated searches with the