Tuesday, June 24, 2008



Yes, my son, Dick here will keep you on the straight and narrow when it comes to that boring economic crap

A few days ago I had the misfortune to pass a TV set that was showing George Bush braying like a jackass about how the energy crisis-- i.e., high gas prices-- was due to supply and demand. That doesn't seem to actually be the case. Outrageous speculation, ala, Bush-Enron practices, appears to be more the culprit. But now Bush, McCain and the whole Republican (and Blue Dog) menagerie want to reward the profiteers in the oil industry with the right to drill in places off shore where they have been banned-- by Bush's father and by Congress. Oddly enough it looks like the House Agriculture Committee is going to tackle this, probably because the prohibitively high cost of fertilizer is putting farmers out of business. It looks like conservative North Carolina Democrat, Bob Etheridge, chairman of Agriculture's General Farm Commodities Subcommittee, will bring up a bill this morning, similar to the one Dick Durbin introduced in the Senate, that addresses unfair market practices that are artificially inflating energy prices-- energy speculation. Etheridge's proposal allow the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to hire 100 employees and grant the CFTC more authority over the trading of U.S. energy commodities on overseas markets, which is unregulated. Predictably, the conservative Etheridge, has managed to cut out most of the sharp elbows in Durbin's bill. Still, it's somewhat, but just somewhat better than what the 2 bozos leading the House Energy and Commerce Committee, John Dingell (D-MI) and Joe Barton (R-TX) proposed-- i.e., a study. Pelosi wants to move Etheridge's bill to the floor... pronto.

The House already passed a bill combating price gouging in 2007, although apparently it's teeth were a little on the blunt side. Besides this anti-speculation bill, she also wants to push the oil companies to stop sitting on the oil and gas leases they already have and start drilling. It is widely believed that they are just waiting to drive prices up even higher before exploiting the leases they have, while conspiring with Bush, Cheney, McCain and the GOP congressional leadership to get even more leases before the Republicans lose power. Pelosi will also seek to bolster mass transit.

Perhaps more promising-- and more productive-- is a plan by Bart Stupak (D-MI) in the House and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in the Senate to close the Phil Gramm's Enron Loophole. This one would actually end speculation instead of just making an ineffectual show about it. This also seems to be the approach Obama wants to take once he's in the White House. He's at least willing to admit that energy speculators have driven the price of gas up and that there is no government oversight to protect consumers (and the economy).
"My plan fully closes the Enron loophole and restores commonsense regulation as part of my broader plan to ease the burden for struggling families today while investing in a better future," Obama said in a campaign statement.

Obama's campaign blamed the loophole on former Sen. Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican who serves as Republican candidate Sen. John McCain's co-chairman and economic adviser. The Obama campaign accused Gramm of inserting a provision into a bill in late 2000 "at the behest of Enron lobbyists" that exempted some energy traders from government oversight.

Houston-based Enron collapsed in scandal in 2001 when it was discovered the company had vastly overstated its income.

And this takes us right to yesterday's big economic story: the parallel interviews in Fortune Magazine with Senator Obama and John W. McCain on... the economy.

The Obama piece is, of course, written from greed-and-selfishness perspective Republicanism. It's all about how Obama's populism must be tamped down to play in the adult world with the Big Boys (people who read-- and advertise in-- Fortune. Obama's hope to raise the minimum wage to an actual living wage ($9.50) is rank heresy for the Greed-and-Selfishness crowd. They hate him with all their might. And they have a lot of might-- which they certainly plan on deploying against him. But first they need to weaken him with the masses by luring him rightward. So far he seems to be taking the bait, like he did with the FISA farce. The fix is in on that and he sure isn't persuading reactionary Democratic senators who were among his earliest supporters, like Ben Nelson (NE), Herb Kohl (WI), Kent Conrad (ND), Tim Johnson (SD) or Claire McCaskill (MO)-- let alone the biggest villain in this mess, Jay Rockefeller (WV)-- to follow his lead.
As Obama says on the campaign trail, "In America, prosperity has always risen from the bottom up." Likewise, he argues, increased regulatory oversight, capital requirements, and transparency standards will help capital markets by injecting stability. More federal spending on education and basic science will improve workforce quality.

"I still believe that the business of America is business," Obama told Fortune. "But what I also think is that with all that power and talent, and all those resources at their disposal, comes some responsibilities - to not game the system, to not oppose increased transparency in the marketplace, to not oppose fiscally prudent measures to balance our budget."

Obama insists that he's a pragmatist, not an ideologue. "We're not an ideological people," he says. "We're a commonsense people who say, 'What's going to work?' and 'Let's figure it out.'"

His voting record, however, is among the most liberal in the Senate..

A certifiable lie and a Republican Party talking point that all media shills are required to mention at least once per day. On the tough, partisan votes on substantive matters Obama is the 43rd most liberal out of 49 Democrats. His ProgressivePunch Chips Are Down score is 74.19, about 24 points away from that of his far more liberal Illinois colleague, Dick Durbin. Much of his voting record has more in common with Senate conservatives like Max Baucus (MT), Evan Bayh (IN) and even proto-Republican Joe Lieberman (CT) than with real liberals like Durbin, Lautenberg (NJ), Whitehouse (RI), Sherrod Brown (OH), Boxer (CA) and Bernie Sanders (VT).

Fortune not so subtly is pushing him rightward into the right's gaping maw, their little trap to dirty him up before going in for the kill.
there are hints that the presumed Democratic nominee's economic agenda remains a work in progress - and will evolve toward his ambition to win in November. Already his circle of advisors has expanded beyond a small core of academics to include veteran capitalists inside the Democratic Party.

In late March he gave a thoughtful if sometimes vague speech on the need for more financial-markets supervision, which was heavily influenced by advice from former Fed chairman Paul Volcker.

He is frequently on the phone with billionaire CEO Warren Buffett ("one of my favorite people," says Obama, "he's just completely down-to-earth and as smart as they come"), a critic of the financial industry and of tax breaks for the rich who also happens to understand capital markets better than just about anyone.

Obama calls on Apple's Steve Jobs to help him "think about how to be successful and nimble in the current global environment."

Advice also comes from Wall Street veterans like J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Centerbridge Partners founder Mark Gallogly-- as well as longtime Chicago friends Penny Pritzker of Hyatt (who runs his campaign finances), Ariel Capital's John Rogers, and investor James S. Crown.

In his first management act as de facto Democratic nominee, Obama signaled that he might inch toward the center. He enraged labor leaders and liberal activists by appointing Jason Furman to run his economic team. Furman directed the Hamilton Project, a Brookings Institution-- based initiative sponsored by former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, a centrist and pariah among hard-core liberals. Furman has defended free-trade agreements, and at a time when unions were on the warpath against Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), he produced a research paper arguing that the chain's low prices are a boon to low-income consumers.

On the same day that Furman's appointment was announced, Obama told CNBC he might consider deferring some of his tax increases if the economy remains in bad shape. According to Furman, Obama will consider cutting the corporate tax rate while revising the tax code to eliminate business incentives to accumulate more debt and to discourage moves offshore. And in Obama's interview with Fortune, the candidate suggested that his overheated rhetoric on NAFTA was just that - overheated rhetoric.

Asked what single economic concern worries him most and will be uppermost on his mind if he steps into the Oval Office next January, Obama said energy supplies. "It's not a problem I think we can drill our way out of," he says. "It can be a drag on our economy for a very long time unless we take steps to innovate and invest in the research and development that's needed to find alternative fuels, to make our transportation system more energy efficient, retool our industry and our buildings."

Pretty hard even for a GOP propaganda sheet like Fortune to turn down when McCain, asked the same question, replies, after a long and confused silence, straight from his burned out reptilian brain:
"Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we're in against radical Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences."

The sleazy and unscrupulous lobbyist running McCain's campaign, Charlie Black, hisses that a terrorist attack on America would win his boy the tired old man he works for, the presidency. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," he confides to Fortune, friendly turf. They'll say anything to get people to stop thinking about McCain's reactionary economic plans with are scoffed at as untenable and ruinous by every serious economist in the country.

Just look at this comparison of changes in the tax code under Obama and McCain. If you're wealthy, you will be a lot wealthier under McCain. If you're middle class, you fair much better under Obama. If Obama wants to close the Enron loophole, McCain's lobbyists will make that loophole the rule rather than the exception. He would like nothing more than to leave energy policy up to... well, the only man in the country more detested than George Bush or Paris Hilton: Dick Cheney. And that's not hyperbolic.
Asked whether he'd be interested in Cheney had the vice president not already have served under Bush for two terms, McCain said: "I don't know if I would want him as vice president. He and I have the same strengths. But to serve in other capacities? Hell, yeah."

Anyone voting for McCain who doesn't want another 4 years of George Bush, is just plain ignorant. Sorry.

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At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are just as confused as barack obama...he is making everything up as he goes...you'd think he would have this election in the bag BUT look he has to SPEND 250million to buy your vote...

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the first commenter,

Obama has to spend a lot of money to get people's vote because of ignorant racist Republican trash like you are too stupid to know a good idea when you hear one.

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of Europe will share your hopes, I know nothing who liked Bush or would vote for McCain, and yes I call myself conservative, by Euro standards.

Never heard for ages somebody with that much knowledge of world politics (George W. failed even with basic geographic knowledge any kid should have!), heard several of his speeches, and not only the way he talks but also his ideas are impressive. He understands the world and will America make the strong and loved leader of Western World again, what it was before Bush.

Just some things I will never understand:

Why is so much focus on the fake patriotism in that campaigns? If I can choose between a wise and a just patriot leader, I'd choose the wise one. For true patriotism is using wisdom and knowledge to serve a country, not flags and pathos. Why does it matter what a preacher said in sermons? Honestly, when I go to churches I often hear shit in sermons, so am I guilty for that now?

Future has many big tasks for agenda, so McCain should retire and let a capable leader take over. All the western world hopes on Obama to face the exploding powers or fight terrorism instead of creating new terrorists in iraq desert, a land where no terrorism existed, as well as no WMD's and no real threat. Now there is an Iran-near government, and Iran will soon have WMD, thanks George W. weakening the US.

There is no alternative, 4 years more McCain will me a desaster!

If somebody could heal the wounds, it's Obama. There is no warranty all will work, but it is sure McCain will fail!


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