Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain Tossing Away His Chances In Iowa


The latest Rasmussen tracking poll shows Obama ahead of McCain in Iowa by 8%-- 51-43. One Iowan, though, who seems to be buying in to every bit of embarrassing nonsense that McCain has been spouting is ring wing extremist Steve King. King, of course, voted against the Paulson legislation this week and is likely to vote against any compromise that comes up later this week regardless of what McCain says he wants Republicans to do. But King, on a right-wing talk show today, said he agrees with McCain that the "fundamentals of the economy are sound" and that "our unemployment is fairly low... People out there have jobs, they’re working, the economy’s flowing."

It's good that King and McCain see eye to eye. Neither of them has any understanding of economics. Earlier today McCain met with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register. What a nasty, mean old man! I suspect he's not going to get their endorsement again:

Obama's campaign had a tone-perfect response to McCain's haughty, nasty responses. "When confronted with his discredited lies about Barack Obama's record and his own willingness to continue the same failed policies of the last eight years, John McCain offered nothing more than snide, frustrated responses. Senator McCain's sarcastic diatribe is just more evidence that he will continue the same failed tone we've seen in Washington for too long and that Americans are looking to change."


Meet Bill Durston (D-CA), A Democrat Who Wants To Rescue The Real Victims Of The Bush Economic Miracle, Not A Bunch Of Wall Street Predators


The Bush Regime's plan to stave off what Bush insists is systemic economic catastrophe hasn't been sufficiently explained to Congress or the American people. Instead they tried shock and awe. That's why it failed yesterday. We've attacked right wing goons like John Shadegg (R-AZ), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Robin Hayes (R-NC), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Ric Keller (R-FL), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Tim Walberg (R-MI) for irresponsibility when they voted NO, at the same time we were praising solid progressives like Donna Edwards (D-MD), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Hilda Solis (D-CA) and Pete DeFazio (D-CA) for having the foresight and courage to vote NO. They are introducing legislation today to improve the bill and make it a bill to rescue the real victims of the Bush Economic Miracle. (Of all these suggestions from progressive economists, Brad DeLong's is the best.)

Bill Durston is a decorated Marine combat Vietnam Veteran who volunteered to serve his country at the height of the Vietnam War. His opponent Dan Lungren, now a far right extremist and Bush rubber stamp, tried everything to avoid serving in the military and his daddy (who was Nixon's personal doctor) got a 4-F medical deferment for him so he could avoid going to war (even though Lungren was all gung-ho about it). Lungren is still a true "chickenhawk" today as he continues to oppose any timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Bill's position on Iraq: "As a U.S. congressman, I will not vote for any further funding for military operations in Iraq that is not tied to a prompt, orderly, and complete withdrawal of U.S. forces."
Bill's an Emergency Room Physician in Sacramento and has lived in the 3rd Congressional District for over 25 years. Bill is the past President of the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. 
Bill ran for Congress against Dan Lungren in 2006 and lost to Lungren by nearly the same percentage as McNerney lost to Pombo in McNerney's first run for Congress (2004). The congressional districts also had nearly the same voter registration percentages. In 2006, the Republicans had a nearly 7% voter registration advantage in the 3rd CD. Today it has been cut nearly in half at about 3.5% with 18% Declined-to-state. This is definitely a winnable district if we are able to get the word out about Bill.
The Democratic presidential candidates received over 7,000 more votes in the Feb. primary than the Republican candidates did in CD3. The voters of the 3rd CD have voted for candidates with "Democratic" after their name before (Feinstein won this district in 2006) and we believe they will do it again for both Obama and Durston in November!
Yesterday, Lungren voted to give $700 Billion dollars of taxpayer money to the financial industry with almost no oversight or accountability.  It just happens that Lungren has taken over $475,000 from the Banking/Finance/Insurance/Real Estate industry over the last 3 campaign cycles. Do you wonder why he wants to give them free money?  Bill opposes the free giveaway to Wall Street.. This is the OpEd Bill wrote about the bailout plan last week. Last night we asked Bill to explain his position on the Bush Regime's proposal and tell us why solid progressives are opposing it.

Solving the Financial Crisis-- First Do No Harm
By Bill Durston, M.D.

Representative Dan Lungren, a career politician in virtual lock step with the Bush-Cheney Administration, voted as expected on HR 3997, the $700 billion bailout for Wall Street-- against the interests of his constituents in California’s 3rd Congressional District, and in the interests of his wealthy corporate donors. Having taken $25,000 in contributions from the American Banker’s Association Political Action Committee since 2004, Lungren’s “Yes” vote on the Wall Street bail out came as no surprise.
Lungren had previously voted against the Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation Act, to give shareholders a vote on multi-million dollar “golden parachutes” for corporate CEO’s, and against the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act, to require credit card companies to give cardholders fair notice before increasing interest rates.

I have publicly opposed the Wall Street bailout. As an Emergency Physician I can see an analogy between the practice of medicine and the practice of government. The $700 billion bailout plan violates the principle of “First, do no harm.” Increasing the national debt by another $700 billion will further reduce the value of the dollar, worsen inflation, and put the federal government itself at greater risk of bankruptcy.
Another principle in the practice of medicine which should also apply to government is that of informed consent. Before undergoing a major operation, a patient has the right to an objective discussion of the risks, benefits, and alternatives of the proposed surgery. In the case of the bailout for the financial industry, we’ve heard very little from economic experts about the risks, a very vague discussion of the benefits, and virtually nothing about reasonable alternatives.
I certainly don't advocate that Congress sit idly by during the financial crisis. Instead of bailing out financial institutions that engaged in corporate greed and unsound business practices, the government should provide more help to honest people who were victimized by predatory lending practices, reinstitute sensible regulations on the financial industry, and look at other ways to rebuild the American economy, including redirecting the massive human and financial resources that are being wasted on war toward more constructive uses.


Bill was just added to the DownWithTyranny ActBlue page today, only the third candidate this cycle. The first 20 contributors this week of at least $20 will get a thank you note from DWT with Quixotic, the two-disc new CD release by Matt Keating.

Labels: , ,

Shadegg And Bachmann Step In Boehner's Shit Sandwich


Now no one can accuse radical right extremists Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and John Shadegg (yeah, the shady two-timer from Arizona) of not being lockstep rubber stamps. They are widely considered two of the most brain-dead Bush puppets into the entire House and both eagerly voted against the bill and have been crowing about it ever since. But both have also denounced Eric Cantor's and the Republican leadership's extremely lame excuse of blaming their inability to live up to their end of the bargain on Nancy Pelosi's speech that they claim blamed the Republican philosophy of greed and selfishness, deregulation and bottom-line predatory, unfettered capitalism for the meltdown. Of course, neither is saying Pelosi was correct in her analysis-- which she was-- but... well, today Shadegg said it was "a stupid claim."
Shadegg said that he doesn't know of a single GOP vote that shifted because of the speech.

On Monday evening, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a lead opponent of the bailout, told the Crypt that the notion was "nonsense" and mocked the possibility that a Republican would be shocked or offended by the partisan nature of a Democratic speech.

Watch Barney exposing their perfidy:

Labels: , ,

McCain's Erratic Stands On The Economy Jeopardizing A Recovery


I'm not voting for either former Vietnam captive

OK, OK, everyone knows that McCain doesn't know anything about economics-- he's admitted it over and over-- and most people have figured out that he also isn't interested and just wants to get into the White House so he can start some wars and make up for whatever psychological problem is still haunting him from his failures in Vietnam. And Sarah Palin isn't exactly an economist either. But McCain doesn't need failed corporate plutocrats like Carly Fiorina and sleazy, crooked lobbyists like Phil Gramm to tell him what he has to say about the economy. All he has to do-- which is what he has been doing lately-- is go back to his old voting record and do the old McCain flip-flop.

Every single position he has supported-- from massive and irresponsible deregulation to more tax cuts for the wealthy-- has turned out to be wrong, dead wrong. So now all he has to do is talk about how he opposes everything he's ever stood for. And this morning he tried a new one. Many of McCain's supporters have a great deal of money in their checking accounts that federal insurance doesn't insure. The FDIC only insures bank deposits up to $100,000. What about all McCain's millionaire supporters? Well, following Senator Obama, McCain quickly came out for upping the federal insurance on deposits from $100,000 to $250,000. This is especially interesting since McCain has always opposed this-- loudly. In fact, in 1991 McCain introduced an amendment that limited insurance on Individual Retirement Accounts.

That same year, just two years McCain was caught in a massive bribery scandal, the Keating Five, which he was able to wriggle out of, he blamed the failure of Savings & Loan banks-- which he was an active participant in defrauding and robbing-- on "the perversity of Federal Deposit Insurance." Here's what he said then-- very different from what he's saying today: "The perversity of Federal deposit insurance is exemplified by the taxpayer bailout of the savings and loan industry. Mr. President, I think it is generally acknowledged that the failure of the savings and loan industry, to a
large degree, can be directly attributed to the unwarranted expansion of deposit insurance by the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980. Basic coverage was increased from $40,000 to $100,000. No longer was deposit insurance for the small depositor. It became the safety blanket for large, sophisticated depositors and freewheeling bankers."

More recently (last February), the Boston Globe reminded voters of McCain's key role in the Keating Five scandal that was a test run for today's Wall Street meltdown, trying crooked political hacks to avaricious bank executives.
"The story of how the 'Keating Five' senators allegedly pressured regulators to lay off a failing Arizona S&L became a major scandal, and marked a turning point in McCain's life-- the near-death of his political career… The events of 1987, when McCain met with regulators, and 1991, when the Senate Ethics Committee concluded that he used 'poor judgment' in the matter, are only dimly remembered by many. … McCain met Keating in 1982, during McCain's successful run for
Congress, and soon began accepting offers from Keating to fly McCain's family on a corporate plane to Keating's house in the Bahamas. McCain did not pay for most of the trips until years later, when the matter became public. Keating, meanwhile, complained regularly to McCain that a proposed regulation would hurt his business. … He cosponsored a resolution sought by Keating, but it failed to postpone the regulation."

McCain's spectacular flip flops are normally on issues like the FDIC which he was against years ago and now supports, But today he was flip flopping in a matter of minutes from one position to another. While the Republican Party was releasing an ad blaming Obama for supporting the unpopular bill to infuse liquidity into the credit system-- which Republicans, not understanding it, killed yesterday-- McCain was urging Americans to support the exact same bill!

While McCain and his surrogates have been running around like a bunch of chickens without heads sending mixed messages, sowing discord, politicizing the issues and telling every audience what they think it wants to here-- even though they contradict each other, Obama has been calm, clear and consistent. This crisis has shown, once again-- as if people still needed more proof, that McCain is erratic, ineffective and untrustworthy. Listen to Obama this morning and compared that to McCain's crazy-quilt of hysterical, always changing pronouncements:

Labels: , , , ,

Mooselini Brings Quite A Lot To The McCain Campaign


Courtesy of Guzzi Studios

So what if Palin doesn't know that the Supreme Court was founded in 1789 and that John Jay, a revolutionary who she and her fellow conservatives would have been very much against, was the first Chief Justice? And so what if she doesn't know Marbury v Madison or the Dred Scott Decision from Brown vs Board of Eduction or Bush vs Gore. She knows Roe v Wade and that's all any contemporary "conservative" needs to know about the Supreme Court anyway.

And, in any case, McCain didn't pick her to vet Supreme Court judges (or lead troops through the Khyber Pass into Pakistan). Obviously McCain's only real interest whenever he imagines himself in the Oval Office is fighting wars. So where does Palin fit in? One thing all Americans can agree on is that we need a vice president who has less to do with public policy. If Bush's approval rating is now 19%, can you even try to guess how low Cheney's is! Palin is the perfect antidote to a VP who stood behind the curtain and ran the show for 8 years. There is nothing she knows about and nothing she is capable of doing. Nothing. As long as McCain defies the actuarial odds and survives for 4 years, who cares? And if something happens to him... well, in that case he won't be around to explain what he meant by "country first" anyway. Fareed Zakaria:
Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, "to spend more time with her family"?

...Palin has been given a set of talking points by campaign advisers, simple ideological mantras that she repeats and repeats as long as she can. ("We mustn't blink.") But if forced off those rehearsed lines, what she has to say is often, quite frankly, gibberish.

Couric asked her a smart question about the proposed $700 billion bailout of the American financial sector. It was designed to see if Palin understood that the problem in this crisis is that credit and liquidity in the financial system has dried up, and that that's why, in the estimation of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, the government needs to step in to buy up Wall Street's most toxic liabilities. Here's the entire exchange:

COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

This is nonsense—a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase about economics that came into her head. Some commentators, like CNN's Campbell Brown, have argued that it's sexist to keep Sarah Palin under wraps, as if she were a delicate flower who might wilt under the bright lights of the modern media. But the more Palin talks, the more we see that it may not be sexism but common sense that's causing the McCain campaign to treat her like a time bomb.

Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start. The next administration is going to face a set of challenges unlike any in recent memory. There is an ongoing military operation in Iraq that still costs $10 billion a month, a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is not going well and is not easily fixed. Iran, Russia and Venezuela present tough strategic challenges.

Zakaria must hate McCain, as according to McCain's lobbyist brigade, the entire media does. He points out that McCain's claim to always put the country first has been utterly shredded" "it is simply not true."

As for Palin, they may not like her any longer in the battle ground states, especially ones that are traditionally safe Republican havens like Colorado and North Carolina, but McCain is certain she'll razzle and dazzle 'em once they get to know the real her.

Hard to tell which is the Tina Fey spoof and which is the cynical joke on America:


GOP Victimology


-by Mags

My husband and I watch Lions football. Yeah, we know we are gluttons for punishment, but we live in Michigan and we are loyal to our team. We are optimists. In the 90’s I watched while the Republicans turned language around on activists who were working for women whose lives were at stake due to domestic violence. Not just women, but on minorities who were finally able to move forward with educational goals. Clinton also put more cops on the beat in bad neighborhoods to lower the crime rates there, helping kids who would otherwise grow up in an environment of fear. The rights of the handicapped to access the public sphere became a matter of public concern. The Republicans decided, as they always do, that people in need, need not apply for government funding. They termed this as “victimology” and coined the term “Politically Correct” to mock the genuine concern for the needs of people… populism. They named programs to help those who paid for them, entitlements. Thus making it look like those less fortunate had some sort of terrible and awesome power over legislators and everyone else. Fantasy.

Now, let me get back to my football reference. In case you do not know this, the Lions as a team are not very good. But, to add insult to injury the refs often miss calls that would help the Lions. They miss holding calls and fail to call interference when the opposition is all over our receivers. I complain about this on a regular basis with a vocabulary that one cannot print here. This is what my husband says to me about all my griping. He tells me that you must earn the respect of the refs. That if you want to complain that you lost because of the refs that that does not fly. He says you should be a good enough team to overcome bad calls. He has a point.

John McCain and Sarah Palin daily come out with some whine against the media or Democrats. Honestly, they talk tough and they call names, tell lies, and insult others, but they whine even when others tell the truth about them or show them in a realistic light using their own words. Sarah Palin as we learned earlier must be not only respected, but deferred to. I am sure Katie Couric could not have been nicer while allowing Sarah to show she has no grasp of policy, foreign or domestic. Today I learned that Sarah disagreeing with McCain policies on Pakistan is now the fault of media, no not the media, but the “Gotcha Journalism.”

John McCain is now on the “No talk Express.” So it has been said. He is now blaming the media for everything negative that happens to his campaign. He and Sarah Palin blame the media for every word that comes out of their own mouths. These are people who want to make the rules of the game, but still cannot win by their own rules. Time and time again, they are left looking foolish.

Sarah Palin blames the media for her problems in Alaska, even though she had plenty of problems in store her before she was picked as McCain’s running mate. Knowing all the situations of her own family she chose to run, one would hope, knowing that she would be under scrutiny. But, no we are not allowed to scrutinize Sarah and her doings in a state that appears to be increasingly vocal about their disdain for her and her governing “style.”

Recently we learn that Sarah is quite the debater if only she were not hamstringed by having to overwork herself in cramming policy and talking points. Yes, she is quite delightful and intelligent if only someone would just let her talk on her own. Sure, ya, you betcha.

Throughout his campaign McCain has turned more and more negative to the point where he is losing even those once loyal to him. He blames that on Barack Obama. Obama would not meet with him in Town Halls across America. Yep, John was miffed that Barack would not let McCain set his campaign schedule. Then, he challenged Obama to suspend his campaign to go with him to DC to work out the bail out on the fundamentally strong economy, again attempting to set the agenda for Barack Obama. So far it all sounds silly and I am not sure his blaming of everyone else for his ineffectualness is sinking in for anyone except his target audience.

And Boehner didn't like his lunch yesterday

John McCain and the Republicans now blame the failure of the “Bailout Bill” on the Nancy Pelosi. What? They blame the financial meltdown on the Democrats, even though they have been busy deregulating since I can remember. In the past they blamed the war on the Dems for not fighting against Bush hard enough and then they continue by saying the Dems never failed to fund the war so must believe in it.

It has come down to this, I am sick of the Republicans and John McCain and the likes of Sarah Palin whining about how everything that is bad now is not their fault. It is your fault or my fault or the fault of some Democrat somewhere. No one loves the media. But, the media has been overwhelmingly conservative and neoconservative for a long time. Finally, they continue to screw up so badly that no one can avoid noticing. That these guys are playing the victim card is hilarious. It is sad. It is pathetic and someone needs to call them on it. Seriously. They need to show they are competent. If the media are the refs, then they need to show they are a good enough to team to overcome that from time to time. We all know that the media is not to blame for the silliness that is John McCain and Sarah Palin. They are to blame for their own actions.

Nancy Pelosi is not to blame for telling the terrible truth about her colleagues leadership in the last decade of so in congress. Poor Republicans? Huh? Sorry guys. There is no foul, only you making ridiculous excuses for your own foolish excesses and your own failures. We are the victims! We are the ones who have stood by knowing full well what all your actions would bring, even though many pretend all of this is some surprise out of left field. If escaping accountability for your own actions is your goal, then I throw the flag. You deserve it. The people have been fighting the refs for a long time. We are finally standing up and we are winning against the likes of you. We are overcoming the fouls against us that went without notice, without penalty.

Buck up and suck it up! It might be time to change your playbook.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Democrats And Republicans Unite To Aid Small Businesses-- Except Lunatic Fringe Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode


Tom Perriello, supporter of small business

After Congress rejected the Bush Regime's bailout/giveaway for Wall Street, they moved on to something far less controversial, HR 7175, the Small Business Financing Improvements Act of 2008. Unless McConnell and McCain and the rest of the McCreeps in the Senate McObstruct it-- and if Bush signs it (and he wouldn't dare to not), the bill reauthorizes small business assistance programs through the Small Business Administration. Even the craziest right wing fringe maniacs joined the Democrats in supporting this... well, let me re-phrase that. All the craziest right wing fringe maniacs but six joined the Democrats in supporting small business, the real engine of whatever is left of American prospertity.

No one should be surprised-- least of all the residents of Virginia's economically hard-hit 5th CD-- that their corrupt member of Congress, Virgil Goode, was one of the half dozen irresponsible Republicans to vote no. We asked Tom Perrielllo, the Blue America-endorsed Democrat running to give the district some serious representation, if Goode had had some kind of breakdown to make him take such a destructive stand against small business.
"It's nothing short of unbelievable that in the middle of an economic meltdown, Congressman Goode would oppose assistance programs for small businesses, who are the most vulnerable to the current credit crisis. His vote is amazingly out of touch. Congressman Goode talks a good game about standing up for the middle class, but where is he when it matters? He has sided time and time again with the special interests and even today-- of all days-- he votes against Main Street. It's unbelievable and unacceptable."

If you want to see a corrupt delinquent like Goode retired from Congress so he will no longer be causing problems for Virginians-- and Americans-- Tom Perriello is one of our priority candidates this year and even $5 and $10 donations are gratefully accepted.

Labels: , , ,

Yes, There's Other News-- Take Kyle Dusty Foggo and Alberto Gonzales, For Example


Gonzales and Foggo: two Republicrooks facing the bar of Justice

The Bush Regime appointed a corrupt political hack as Executive Director of the CIA-- then professed shock-- I mean shock-- when he behaved like... a corrupt political hack. We've been covering his case here at DWT since early March, 2006 when Newsweek first floated the facts about his sleazy relationship to corrupt members of Congress. The Bush Regime has skipped away from this disaster without so much as a "huh?" from the American people. The police swept into his home and office, indicted, and... well, today he pleaded guilty to extremely reduced charges. In fact, one charge "of defrauding the United States in a corruption case that stemmed from the bribery scandal that brought down former U.S. Congressman Randall 'Duke' Cunningham."

Bush appointed him to be the #3 ranking official at the CIA to make sure all the kickbacks and bribes went to the right (right-wing) people. He was in cahoots with GOP lobbyist and contractor Brent Wilkes who currently in prison after being convicted of bribing Cunningham. He was sentenced to 12 years but, like all the Republican crooks found guilty of corruption, is expected to be pardoned by Bush before he leaves the White House he has disgraced so badly.

And Foggo isn't the only Republicrook coming home to roost who Bush will be pardoning in January. Today Attorney General Mukasey appointed a federal prosecutor to look into whether or not his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, should spend the rest of his miserable life-- or some part of it-- behind bars for turning the Department of Justice into a politicized whore house-- and for the cover-up that followed. So far, "the investigation uncovered 'significant evidence' that partisan political factors played a role in some of the 2006 dismissals. Particularly 'troubling,' according to the report, was the sacking of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias after several Republican elected officials complained about voter fraud and public corruption cases he pursued. That episode raises the possibility that obstruction of justice and wire fraud laws were violated."
In the 390-page report, issued this morning, they said Gonzales "bears primary responsibility" for the debacle and asserted that he was "remarkably disengaged" from the process, which stretched on for months. Investigators said that after the mass firings came to light, Gonzales made "misleading" public statements about his involvement, failing to recall his attendance at a critical meeting and documents that landed on his desk.

...The internal watchdogs asked that the investigation continue under the authority of a prosecutor with the power to compel testimony and production of documents. They said their probe was thwarted in part because they could not interview key witnesses, including former White House officials Karl Rove, Harriet E. Miers and William Kelley. Investigators also pointed out that the White House refused to turn over internal documents related to the dismissal of the prosecutors by citing the "sensitivity" of the issues, saying the move had "hindered" their inquiry.

Mukasey selected Connecticut Acting U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy, a federal prosecutor for 17 years, to answer the lingering questions. Dannehy will report to the department's second in command. Her investigation likely will extend for months, ensuring that the politically charged issue will extend into the next administration.

UPDATE: Poker, Hookers, and Black Contracts: Or How To Make a CIA Trial Go Away

The above is the title of Laura Rozen's Mother Jones piece on the latest Dusty Foggo developments. I recommend you click the link and read it in its entirety.
...it wasn't the hookers, the card games, the water contract, or even the staff mistress that concerned the Agency's executives when Foggo spared them by entering a guilty plea on a single count of wire fraud Monday. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the 27 other charges and requested only three years prison time out of the 20 Foggo could have faced. ("Your lawyers did a good job for you," US District judge James C. Cacheris told Foggo after he accepted his guilty plea, with evident understatement.)

No, what truly worried Agency brass were the darker secrets their former top logistics officer was threatening to spill had his case gone to trial as scheduled on November 3. They included the massive contracts Foggo was discussing with Wilkes, estimated by one source at over $300 million dollars. "Wilkes was working on several other huge deals when the hammer fell," a source familiar with Foggo's discussions with Wilkes told me. What kinds of deals? According to the source, they included creating and running a secret plane network, for whatever needs the CIA has for secret planes now that the network it used for extraordinary rendition flights has been outed. "In or about December 2004," the Foggo indictment says, "Foggo discussed with Wilkes and J.C. the idea that Foggo might be able to get Wilkes a classified government contract to supply air support services to the CIA…. In or about January 2005, Wilkes directed various ADCS employees to begin developing an air support proposal that would be designed to answer the CIA's classified needs as outlined by Foggo."

Labels: , ,

The Solution: Better Democrats-- Lots Of Them


Better Democrats: Darcy Burner and Annette Taddeo

Earlier today we highlighted Rep. Hilda Solis' reasons for voting against Paulson's bailout/giveaway. We've heard from many of our Blue America candidates explaining why they also opposed the bill. Annette Taddeo (D-FL), for example, explained to voters in Miami-Dade why she was against the bill:
“We must protect homeowners and taxpayers. This bill fails to address the collapsing housing market, the root cause of the crisis. I do not support spending $700 billion in taxpayer money on a flawed bill. I call on Democrats in Congress and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to draft legislation that protects the people and families of South Florida."
"While the proposed bill is a start, it is not complete until homeowners and taxpayers are protected, and there are mechanisms in place to assure proper oversight so this does not happen again."
“As a small-businesswoman and Past-Chair of the Coalition of Greater Miami-Dade Chambers of Commerce, I know what our economy needs to right itself. Congress should send President Bush a bill that includes real protections for homeowners and taxpayers.”

Now what's important is that Congress makes the bill better-- much better-- so progressives can support it. My fear is that there will be tremendous pressure to make the bill even worse so as to capture votes from the 133 reactionary Republicans who voted no. Andrew Rice, the Blue America-endorsed candidate for the Oklahoma Senate seat held by the most extreme right-wing fringe lunatic in Congress, James Inhofe, has some suggestions for how Congress should re-address the failed bill. Basically, what Andrew said is that he would only support a plan that includes: meaningful oversight; a stake for taxpayers; and hard limits on executive compensation. He looks at it as a bill that didn't do nearly to fix the broken system that allowed abusive and reckless loans, an explosion of risky investments and poorly understood financial instruments, and other excesses. Andrew:
"This bill gives too much away to the people who created these problems without guaranteeing that it won't happen again. Any bill would need to require much tougher consequences for Wall Street in order to earn my support."

"Taxpayer dollars should not be used to line the pockets of the corporate executives who helped create these problems. A message must be sent to Wall Street that reckless speculation and greed will no longer be rewarded."

I'd like to urge you to consider donating to the Blue America PAC to allow us to help elect progressive Democrats to Congress in November. This is the BETTER DEMOCRATS strategy, not the More Democrats strategy. We need Democrats like Hilda Solis, Donna Edwards and Carol Shea-Porter, who voted against Bush's bailout today-- Democratic challengers like Darcy Burner, Gary Peters, Mark Schauer, Larry Joe Doherty, and Annette Taddeo who are demanding a much better bill.

Most of our candidates echo what Mark Schauer had to say today:
"For years, Michigan has been struggling-- and there's been no bailout for us. No bailout for the Michigan homeowners who were losing their homes to foreclosure, no bailout for the Michigan workers whose jobs were being shipped overseas, no bailout for the middle class that kept getting hurt by George Bush and Tim Walberg's failed economic policies. More than that, Tim Walberg and his cronies in Washington have turned their back on us. This plan did not provide enough accountability, nor did it do enough to keep people in their homes, help small business, or bring jobs and economic development to our communities."

By all means, keep donating to the candidates on our list, but also please consider donating to our PAC so we can focus some last minute energy on the races that need them most-- and for the candidates who will be the real progressive leaders.

Meanwhile, join us over at Crooks & Liars at 3pm, PT for a chat with Texas Senate candidate Rick Noriega about this bill.

Labels: , , , ,

The Bailout Vote


This morning Michael Moore sent a letter out claiming the bailout vote this morning would be a coup by the rich; nevertheless, many of the rich's pet legislators have to put on a pained fake front that it disgusts and horrifies them to have to vote for it. And that's a very bipartisan thing.
After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies-- who must soon vacate the White House-- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.

No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:

"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.

"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."

Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.

House Republicans didn't elect John Boehner their leader after DeLay was indicted and fell from power in a series of sordid corruption scandals because of his tactical brilliance or his ideological purity. They picked him because of his powerful connections to K Street and his ability and willingness to access a great deal of lobbyist and corporate money and share it with his colleagues. Normal Americans may have been sickened at the sight of John Boehner handing out checks from the tobacco industry in the middle of a debate on smoking legislation on the floor of the House, but Republicans got woodies.

Now Boehner, who is viewed as lazy and spends an inordinate amount of time on the golf course and in his favorite tanning booth, is fighting for his leadership role. Tasked by the White House with rounding up enough votes to pass the hated Paulson bailout bill, Boehner is coming under increasing pressure from the lunatic fringe of his own party, Jeb Hensarling's neo-fascist Republican Study Committee. Far right show-boats from that the furthest reaches of the ideological right, like Mike Pence, have already declared that they are breaking their policy of reflexive rubber stamp posture towards the Bush Regime and will vote with progressive Democrats against the corrupt bill.

His life was complicated by McCain, who demanded that whatever happened he get all the credit.. Boehner tends to go along with anyone who talks to him long enough so that he misses time on the links. He's easily buffeted from one extreme to another and is the classic compromise candidate for leadership. But he still brings in the big bucks so even many of the conservatives who detest him ideologically, accept him as their leader. Ideologues like Eric Cantor and Mike Pence may have a fascist-leaning agenda, but they are easily bought off when enough money is waved under their snouts. Boehner has managed to co-opt both over and over.
Once Boehner gave the appearance he was open to the Treasury’s bailout plan, he faced an open revolt from his caucus’ right flank. And on Sept. 26, the minority leader was forced to replace his chief negotiator, Spencer Bachus of Alabama [the biggest single Republican recipient of bribes from the industries that caused the Wall Street meltdown], with Minority Whip Roy Blunt.

Democrats and the administration complained that Bachus had no authority to negotiate, but the final blow came when RSC members accused Bachus of “drinking the Kool-Aid,” as one angry lawmaker put it, and demanded his removal for standing by mutely during a Sept. 25 press conference where negotiators proclaimed that a deal was nearly done.

House GOP leadership changes appear certain no matter how the elections affect the balance of power in the House. Blunt has been deflecting rumors for months that he is considering retirement after winning a new term. Should that happen, his successor would almost certainly be his chief deputy whip, Cantor, an RSC member with broad support in the caucus.

Some Republicans predict Cantor would elevate Hensarling to be his top lieutenant. A prominent photo on Cantor’s Web site shows the two men alone, with Hensarling just over his ally’s right shoulder.

If Blunt stays on, Cantor and his allies might challenge Boehner, or perhaps try to replace [his personal fluffer] Republican Conference Chairman Adam H. Putnam of Florida.

As for Bush's bailout bill, Republicans don't have the balls to kill it, the way their constituents want them to, so instead rail against it while assuring Bush they will vote for it. Fake lions like Cantor and Paul Ryan-- who said it "sucks"-- have promised to go along with Bush, as they always do. Boehner called it a "crap sandwich," but has been twisting arms-- or offering bribes-- behind the scenes to get GOP members to vote for it. All smoke and no fire. In fact, according to today's CongressDaily Boehner turned to his buddies on K Street to beat up Republicans on the bill. Huge GOP donors like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the Financial Services Roundtable all sent letters of support for the bill, implying that if they wanted continued donations they'd have to vote for the bailout.
Senate Budget ranking member Judd Gregg made a pitch for the plan Sunday afternoon, saying that if Congress didn't act, the consequences would something "we don't even want to think about."

"If we don't pass this, we shouldn't be here in Congress," said Gregg, who contends the federal government could make money on the program as the assets increase in value once the real estate market rebounds.

The early procedural voting this morning showed which Democrats would be voting with the right-wingers: mostly the regular suspects-- Don Cazayoux (LA), Nick Lampson (TX), Gene Taylor (MS), Baron Hill (IN), Chris Carney (PA), Travis Childers (MS), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Mike McIntyre (NC)... and a handful of principled liberals (Bob Filner (D-CA), Pete DeFazio, Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jesse Jackson (IL). DeFazio explained his opposition: "I have seen this game before; NAFTA, Bill Clinton, it was going down until he came up with phony side agreements on labor and the environment. A whole bunch of members hid behind that, even though they knew it was phony. They've come up with a phony 'pay-for' here. That's meaningless, but they're going to try and get a bunch of Blue Dogs to hide behind that, and get the New Dems to go along ... They're just trying to get a slightly over a majority of the Caucus..."

So far they haven't. The bailout lost and Boehner and Emanuel are twisting arms to get stitches. I hope it Robin hayes changes his vote we get to watch him weeping on the floor of the House like we did when he bent to DeLay's threats and switched his vote to pass CAFTA. So do the leadership teams resign now? How about Paulson? Will he resign? Commit hari kari?


They need 10 members to change their votes.
Nope; someone changed from Yes to No and now they need 11 votes again.
But they've moved on to other business and will bring this up again.
How hated and mistrusted is George Bush-- both by Congress and the public?
And what about all that bragging all weekend by McCain about how he whipped the House Republicans into shape and saved the day? He better suspend his campaign again or get on the phone with some of his supporters.

The final vote was 228 No and 205 Yes. 140 Democrats voted Yes and 95 Democrats voted No. Boehner only delivered 65 Republicans. 133 Republicans voted No. Boehner and his team, making the most viciously partisan speeches I've ever heard in Congress, are blaming Pelosi... for giving a "partisan speech." What an ass clown. I guess they were mad that she hurt their feelings. Did he eat another shit sandwich? As my friend Pach said, this was another clear example of Republicans putting their country club first.

Among the Blue America candidates:

Tom Allen- yes
Steve Cohen- yes
John Hall- yes
Jerrold Nadler- yes

Donna Edwards- no
Carol Shea-Porter- no
Hilda Solis- no

Republicans being opposed by Blue America candidates

Mean Jean Schmidt- no
Mike Pence- no
Charlie Dent- no
Scott Garrett- no
Virgil Goode- no
Ric Keller- no
Robin Hayes- no
Randy Kuhl- no
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen- no
Mario Diaz-Balart- no
Michael McCaul- no
Dave Reichert- no (He had no choice with Darcy Burner breathing down his neck)
Dana Rohrabacher- no
Tim Walberg- no
Joe Knollenberg- no

David Dreier- yes
Frank Wolf- yes
Chris Shays- yes

Hilda Solis, one of the few incumbents Blue America raises money for explained why she voted no today:

“Today, I voted against H.R. 3997, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA), compromise legislation to bailout financial institutions saddled with large debts. I am very concerned about the credit crisis created by the housing market meltdown and while I appreciate efforts of the Democratic leadership to work in a bipartisan fashion to improve the Bush Administration’s proposal, this legislation lacks needed taxpayer protections and assistance for Main Street families like those in the Congressional District I represent.

“I cannot in good conscience, vote for legislation that gives $700 billion to the same firms that helped cause the current financial crisis through irresponsible lending without providing meaningful help for homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure. In the 32nd Congressional District, housing foreclosures have nearly tripled in the past few months, with over 2,300 homeowners currently going through the foreclosure process. The impact of such widespread foreclosures on our local economy and community is devastating.

“Unfortunately, this legislation will not help the families who are stretching paychecks and trying to hold onto jobs without additional steps to stabilize our housing market. It lacks needed reform of bankruptcy laws to allow consumers to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage in bankruptcy courts to help keep their homes. Homeowners on Main Streets should have the same rights to renegotiate their loans, especially those for their primary residence, as Wall Street.

“Without addressing bankruptcy, provisions in the bill aimed at stemming foreclosures are not enough to provide real relief to struggling homeowners. While the Bush Administration is working with congressional leaders to fast-track this legislation, they are indifferent to the Main Street economic stimulus bill passed last week by the House which I strongly supported.

“I was proud to vote for the Main Street economic stimulus bill, which would have extended unemployment benefits for the growing number of Americans looking for work. In the 32nd Congressional District, unemployment has risen above 10 percent in many communities. The bill also would have helped to sustain the safety net of services for our country’s neediest families by providing additional Food Stamp and Medicaid assistance. It is incredibly disappointing that in the face of skyrocketing unemployment and increased need for food and healthcare assistance, the Bush Administration is instead prioritizing a huge cash infusion for Wall Street instead of needed investments for our country’s working families.

“In these difficult economic times, we must come together as a community and help each other. I have already hosted foreclosure seminars in my district and my constituents were able to take advantage of important information about the impacts of the current mortgage crisis and the importance of financial literacy in foreclosure prevention. I plan to hold additional housing seminars so that our community has access to the resources they need to save their homes. As this economic crisis continues to unfold, please be assured that I will continue working in Congress to obtain the real relief that our community greatly needs.

“Congress and the Administration need to focus on real regulatory reform on Wall Street and real help for homeowners who face foreclosure. We must enact bankruptcy court protections for foreclosures on primary residences. We must pass comprehensive financial sector reform to restore integrity and stability to our financial system. We must address the root of this financial crisis in order to prevent future problems. And we must grow jobs by investing in our nation’s infrastructure and funding green collar jobs training.

“These are the actions that Congress must take to produce widespread and meaningful reform in our financial sector, provide a lifeboat for the thousands of families facing foreclosure, and provide economic security for families across our nation.”

Labels: ,

We Ask Again-- Bail Or Bailout For Wall Street


When I heard some CNBC spokesperson of the Forces of Greed and Selfishness talking about how the Democrats' efforts to change the Paulson bailout/give away proposal-- now dubbed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008-- have been "scaled back," I knew the bill would be even worse than I feared and that it would do little to help keep homeowners from being foreclosed on. And it won't be just holders of bad mortgages who get screwed by this. The Bush Regime seems to have come close to ensuring that President Obama will be forced to explain why he can't live up to his promises regarding health care, education, benefits for veterans, disaster relief, or anything remotely discretionary because we just can't afford it.

I just watched Lil' Adam Putnam fluffing John Boehner on TV-- and announcing they would be voting for the Paulson bill. Putnam has been a 98.7% rubber stamp for Bush's agenda, including all the heinous, reactionary initiatives that have led directly to the financial meltdown, and he's sticking with Bush on this as well. His Democratic opponent, Doug Tudor, who does not support this horrible bill calls it a symptom of our representatives being asleep at the controls. Tudor:
“Adam, of course, will vote for this bill because Roy Blount told him to. Adam will then try to tell our district that he had to hold his nose to do so, because he hates spending taxpayer money. The real question for Adam should always be, 'Why in Hell didn’t you do your job in the first place? Why has it taken you seven years and nine months to finally decide to care?' No matter Adam’s personal vote, we have seen the total death of Reaganomics in the past 10 days. Never again can the uber-wealthy like Polk’s Prince Putnam claim that deregulation and self-correcting markets are the way to go. As a friend explained to me, ‘When millions of Americans lose their homes, it's free market forces at work. But when the millionaires get into trouble, it's a financial crisis.’”

Dennis Kucinich claimed last night that the Democrats don't have enough votes to pass the bill, at least not yet. If Pelosi, Emanuel-- who has been the beneficiary of more bribes from the culprits in this mess than any other member of the House-- and Hoyer think that all the safe seats are in the bag, they probably haven't had a talk with moderate southern California Rep. Brad Sherman lately. An organizer of the "Skeptics Caucus," Sherman organized a meeting yesterday so Democrats could meet with respected economics like James Galbraith, economics professor at the University of Texas, and William Isaac, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission."
Speaking before the meeting, Sherman equated the Treasury Department proposal to a power-grab by the Bush administration as well as a gift to failing financial services firms.

“This is greatest shift of power to the imperial presidency and the greatest shift of wealth to a still wealthy Wall Street that anyone could imagine,” said Sherman. In addition, the California Democrat also began distributing Sunday a “Dear Colleague” letter highly critical of the relief package.

Kucinich called for more hearings on the bailout despite Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaking about the proposal before lawmakers last week.

“None of this has been subject to a critical analysis. We haven’t had access to the books to the people who are claiming they are going broke,” said Kucinich. He also drew the parallel between the administration’s intense urgency on the Wall Street relief package and its drive towards the conflict in Iraq.

“They rushed this Congress into the Iraq resolution and look what happened. Catastrophe for this nation as well as for the people of Iraq,” said Kucinich.

Another Florida Democrat, Alan Grayson, has the clearest arm's length analysis I've seen anywhere. Like Tudor, Grayson is running against a useless rubber stamp bribe-taking crook, Republican Ric Keller. Grayson:
The story so far . . . .
President George W. Bush, grandson of an investment banker, appoints the Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, Henry Paulson, to head the Treasury Department. Goldman Sachs is the largest investment bank in America. Paulson has a personal net worth of $700 million, probably consisting largely of Goldman Sachs stock. He sees the market cap of his company drop from $100 billion to merely $60 billion. He also sees Lehman Brothers file for bankruptcy, and Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns come close to bankruptcy before being bought at fire-sale prices by Bank of America. He knows what that means for Goldman Sachs. As Bob Dylan said, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
Paulson bails out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and puts it in the fine print of the bailout that the Government will get out of the mortgage business, starting next year. That's great for Wall Street, and horrible for Main Street.
Paulson then waits until the very last week that Congress is in session before the election to replace Bush, and then he announces that the Government needs to buy $700 billion of "toxic" assets, or confidence in the capital markets will be endangered. And it has to happen immediately. No time for hearings, no time for amendments, right now. No explanation of who is responsible for this mess, or even who will get the money. Normally, an announcement like this would itself causes a considerable loss of confidence in the capital markets. On this occasion, however, the U.S. stock market rallies by... just over $700 billion. Paulson is so desperate to get this through Congress that he literally gets down on bended knee to Nancy Pelosi. Is he begging for our sake, or for his?
As someone said about Paulson in Washington this week (not for attribution, of course), "I wouldn't trust that guy to tell me the time of day." Why are we letting someone with a hopeless conflict of interest dole out, to his golf buddies, an amount greater than $2000 for every man, woman and child in America?
We "elect" a Texas oil man as President, and then the price of gas triples. We "elect" the head of Halliburton as Vice President, and then we are mired in a war longer than World War II, with no end in sight. We see the head of the largest investment bank appointed Treasury Secretary, and suddenly there is a "need" to fork over $700 billion in taxpayer funds to Wall Street. I'm beginning to see a pattern here.

David Sirota gets down into the weeds and tells members of Congress the top 5 reasons to vote against Paulson's bailout, mostly focussing on the widespread belief that the bill's approach is irresponsible and will make the nation's fiscal problems worse, that there are much better and safer alternative, that this approach is as fraught with sleaze and corruption as was all the trillions Congress has handed over to Bush for the Iraq war, and that the public hates the bill and will defeat otherwise safe incumbents who vote for it.

Republicans, of course, are trying to shift the blame away from predatory capitalists and vultures on Wall Street and blaming working people who sought better lives for their families through the Community Reinvestment Act, a bill that unregulated capitalists were able to use to create massive amounts of wealth... for themselves and their political servants. This slanderous, racist YouTube is spreading like a virus and distinguished historian and author Rick Perlstein compares it to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Fact of the matter is-- regardless of the virulent racism of people like Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), who are spreading this garbage-- this crisis was caused by greed and avarice and the ideological prediction of right-wing politicians (and easily bribed politicians who, like Rahm Emanuel and Melissa Bean aren't right-wing per se) to deregulate industries that have proven time and time again that they need regulation-- to prevent exactly these kinds of excesses. Some facts that the Bachmann-DeMint Overdrive seems to have missed in their juggernaut to inject racism into the issue:
• CRA does not require banks or thrifts to make loans that are unsafe or unprofitable. Infact, the law stipulates that CRA lending activities must be done consistent with safe and sound banking practices. In fact, most high-cost loans were originated by lenders that did NOT have a CRA obligation and lacked federal regulatory oversight
• According to an analysis of HMDA data in the 15 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas, non-CRA lenders made a disproportionate number of high-cost loans. In 2006, 84.3% of high-cost loans were originated by non-CRA covered entities (overall, non-CRA covered entities originated 69.6% of all mortgages) and nearly 83% of high-cost loans to low- and moderate-income individuals were originated by non-CRA covered entities (overall, non-CRA covered entities originated 67.5% of all loans to LMI individuals).
• In 2006, only one of the top 25 subprime lenders was an insured depository institution with a CRA obligation. Although a few others were mortgage/finance company affiliates of CRA covered lenders, these entities do not have a CRA obligation (i.e. Countrywide, CitiMortgage, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage). Similarly, the vast majority of the top 20 producers of risky interest-only and option ARM loans were not CRA covered lenders.

• The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA) encourages federally insured banks and thrifts to meet the credit needs of the entire communities they serve, including low- and moderate-income areas, consistent with safe and sound banking practices.  The law was enacted in response to concerns about disinvestment and evidence that some lenders were systematically denying credit to certain communities, particularly lower-income and minority neighborhoods, under a practice known as “redlining.”
• The benefits of CRA have been substantial:  CRA has been credited with increasing home ownership, decent affordable rental housing, small business ownership, community development investments; and critically needed affordable financial services and products (such as remittances, low-cost banks accounts, and bank branches) in distressed communities across the nation.

• In March 2007, Federal Board Chairman Bernanke noted that CRA has helped institutions discover and enter new markets that may have been previously under-served and ignored by insured depositories. 
• CRA covered institutions, for the most part, did not engage in lending practices that fueled the foreclosure epidemic and subsequent economic crisis. 

But you don't have to look far to find to find Republican members of Congress who want to blame the wntire mess on poor people, particularly on poor people of color. As if on cue, arch-racist Virgil Goode, one of the most corrupt bribe-takers in Congress, was ranting and railing and blaming the Wall Street meltdown on immigrants. Tom Perriello is the progressive young Democrat, more a problem solver than any ideologue, who is running against Goode. He isn't shy about assigning blame to a corrupted Establishment that crosses party lines. "Is there any integrity left in Washington? Rep. Goode has taken over $200,000 from the lobbyists that helped caused this meltdown; he voted for the deregulation that got us here, and then yesterday had the audacity to try blaming illegal immigrants for the problem. All of a sudden, the gang up in Washington is calling for more accountability, when they had years to see this coming and didn't lift a finger. It's too late for them to get off the hook or play the reformer card-- regardless of how they end up voting on the bailout, Goode and the gang in Washington should be fired for letting corruption put our entire economy at risk."

Everyone has been buzzing about how the Republican leadership, such that it is, might not have the requisite votes to hold up their end of the deal. Well... neither do the Democrats. Paul Krugman seems to feel that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd have forced enough improvements onto it so that it's worth passing-- although he thinks it still sucks "and it won't end the crisis." That sounds ominous; maybe it will wind up in the hands of Sarah and First Dude. Matt Taibbi:
Sarah Palin is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern United States. As a representative of our political system, she's a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers like Karl Rove. But more than that, she is a horrifying symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of our political power.

Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she's the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV -and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.

...The great insight of the Palin VP choice is that huge chunks of American voters no longer even demand that their candidates actually have policy positions; they simply consume them as media entertainment, rooting for or against them according to the reflexive prejudices of their demographic, as they would for reality-show contestants or sitcom characters. Hicks root for hicks, moms for moms, born-agains for born-agains. Sure, there was politics in the Palin speech, but it was all either silly lies or merely incidental fluffery buttressing the theatrical performance. A classic example of what was at work here came when Palin proudly introduced her Down syndrome baby, Trig, then stared into the camera and somberly promised parents of special-needs kids that they would "have a friend and advocate in the White House." This was about a half-hour before she raised her hands in triumph with McCain, a man who voted against increasing funding for special-needs education.

Palin's charge that "government is too big" and that Obama "wants to grow it" was similarly preposterous. Not only did her party just preside over the largest government expansion since LBJ, but Palin herself has been a typical Bush-era Republican, borrowing and spending beyond her means. Her great legacy as mayor of Wasilla was the construction of a $14.7 million hockey arena in a city with an annual budget of $20 million; Palin OK'd a bond issue for the project before the land had been secured, leading to a protracted legal mess that ultimately forced taxpayers to pay more than six times the original market price for property the city ended up having to seize from a private citizen using eminent domain. Better yet, Palin ended up paying for the fucking thing with a 25 percent increase in the city sales tax. But in her speech, of course, Palin presented herself as the enemy of tax increases, righteously bemoaning that "taxes are too high," and Obama "wants to raise them."

Yeah, why don't we all march to the polls, vote for McCain, watch him die and leave Sarah to solve the financial crisis! I actually lived through soon to be 8 years old stolen Bush Regime without moving back to Amsterdam. But I can barely stomach seeing this one on my TV screen.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Joe Klein Claims McCain Is Not A Crook, Not Breaking Any Laws, But...


In commenting on today's shocking story in the NY Times about McCain's ties to the gambling industry, Time Magazine's Joe Klein writes that McCain isn't actually breaking any laws. What he leaves out is that McCain and the rest of the crooked members of Congress write the laws to make their own patterns of behavior "legal." Keep in mind, for example, that so far this year Big Oil has "donated" $22,543,340 to members of Congress, almost all of it to Republicans and to nominal Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party (DNC and Blue Dog garbage like Dan Boren and Mary Landrieu). McCain, who is Big Oil's great white hope for a continuation of the policies that have enslaved American workers and consumers to their whims (and high prices), has accepted $1,663,590 from them. Even though these gargantuan sums-- more than the combined contributions Big Oil has made to their half dozen most devoted Republican shills who always push their agenda, John Cornyn (R-TX- $535,200), Steve Peace (R-NM- $283,034), James Inhofe (R-OK- $270,050), Miss McConnell (R-KY- $238,000), Pat Roberts (R-KS- $148,700), and Joe Barton (R- $146,441)-- are clearly bribes, the way Congress has written the bribery statutes, there is nothing illegal about McCain being financed by Big Oil, by lobbyists ($843,216 this year alone), by the booze industry ($466,036, their favorite member of Congress by far), by the crooks who brought us the mortgage crisis and Wall Street Meltdown (over $30,000,000) ... or by the gambling industry ($260,025). But...
A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party’s evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain.

The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to Mr. McCain’s campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world’s second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s current campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just Mr. McCain’s affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.

As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America’s casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.

...Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests-- including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe’s planned casino in 2005, Mr. McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with Mr. McCain.

By attacking the Times, which endorsed McCain in the primary and has given him years of unwarranted heroic coverage, as being biased against him, McCain has been able to bully them into pulling their punches against him over and over. For example, they refer to his disgraceful role in whitewashing his Senate colleagues in the Abramoff scandal as burnishing his image as a reformer. McCain's committee would have us believe that Abramoff was a horrible briber-- which is true-- but that he bribed... no one in the Senate. McCain is a crook and has been from the very beginning of his career. He's taken and continues to take, immense sums of money from special interests to vote for their initiatives at the expense of the taxpayers. The media, including the Times thinks nothing of regurgitating his hype machine's epic deceptions. Finally, the Times has started doing its job in exposing some of McCain's hypocrisy:
... interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention-- and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator’s longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.

McCain, of course, claims he stands up selflessly for Indians at grave risk to his career, exactly what he claims, blinking furiously, whenever he's caught with his greasy fingers in the cookie jar. But as public support for tribal casinos has diminished, Senator Selflessness has backed away. "But he has rarely wavered in his loyalty to Las Vegas, where he counts casino executives among his close friends and most prolific fund-raisers," some of whom have raised millions of dollars for McCain's efforts to capture the White House. No one expects McCain to turn the White House into a casino but "in May 2007, as Mr. McCain’s presidential bid was floundering, he spent a weekend at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip. A fund-raiser hosted by J. Terrence Lanni, the casino’s top executive and a longtime friend of the senator, raised $400,000 for his campaign. Afterward, Mr. McCain attended a boxing match and hit the craps tables."

DWT has covered McCain's serious gambling addiction before. The Times had steered clear until today, although they soft-peddle the seriousness of his behavior.
For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain’s patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We were always concerned about appearances,” one former official said. “If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter.”

The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.”

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

Now, back to Joe Klein. "We've known for months," he writes, "that McCain was a high-rolling craps player. What we didn't know about was his extensive ties to the lobbyists who work the Indian gambling issue, his willingness to do their bidding, take their money and advice. There is nothing illegal here. McCain even bucks the gaming interests at time-- opposing betting on college football games in Vegas, for example. But there is much that is unseemly." Much more-- and "unseemly" certainly doesn't come close to defining McCain's life of corruption.
Some of the most amazing stuff is the etymology of the Jack Abramoff investigations--which was apparently dumped in McCain's lap by a lobbyist who was one of Abramoff's competitors.

... Finally, the notion that McCain loves craps-- as opposed to skill games like blackjack or poker-- is just too perfect. As a sometime novelist, I can assure you that you couldn't create a character whose public behavior is marked by wild, peremptory gambles and whose private avocation was shooting craps. It would be too obvious. The question is, will McCain's weird public risk-taking-- the nomination of Palin, the bizarre "suspension" of his campaign last week-- come to be seen as a problem for him as a prospective President. But his behavior as Chairman of the Indian Affairs Subcommittee is certainly disappointing-- and about as far from being a maverick, or a reformer, as you can get.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Can The Power Of Love Change The World? Can Music? Can Obama? Or Can Sarah Palin Successfully Harness The Forces Of Reaction?


-by Decay

We were hippies, idealists, thinking the world could be better, more fair, less racist, better income distribution, less violent. More insightful, more intelligent. But the mindset of what we saw as our parent's generation is still intact, and at times seems stronger than it ever was. There were good reasons for our parents' way of living and thinking.  WWI & II, the Great Depression, the ascendent America cast as a hero on a quest for democracy. I'm not belittling that thinking. But the circumstances changed, and we were trying to figure it out.
And now, even after what appears to many of us to be a disastrous 8 years of Republican Bush mismanagement and constitutional destruction, we often feel we are losing.  We can't create enough momentum to overcome the insidiousness of what we felt in the 60's needed to be overcome.  Even with a brilliant candidate, studied and fair, openly egalitarian, inclusive -- we often feel we are losing again. 
When we had our candidate in Clinton, and had momentum, we were stopped by his sexual stupidity, sold down the river by a blowjob.  (When they get caught blowing or being blown, they are seldom punished. They are the moralizing parents who say "don't do as I do, do as I say" and they mean it, for real.)
Until recently, much of the MSM has been silent. The outrage about the lying, the manipulation, the criminality, is corralled within the nets. The map looks too red, the numbers eroding the hope. The same hope we had 40 years ago. Our parents are still scolding us, in the aged sagging voice of John McCain and the demonic grasping fantasy of Sarah Palin.
Were we wrong? Are we naive to believe? Is it really that Exxon guy with the fat neck who got 100's of millions of dollars for his bonus that is the reality? Obama is told in blogs to get nasty, hardcore, vicious, to strike back violently as the Republicans are striking out at him.

   Should Obama make a Depends box with a picture of McCain on it, as the Values Voters made a box of waffle mix with an overtly racist caricature of Obama on it? Obama's trying to be decent, to not be drawn into the glop where the Republicans like to play. It seems obvious to us that it is in his nature to be fair, to weigh alternatives and try to make decisions for the greater good. In other words, he's weak. Rove and Davis et al see Obama as a sucker.
Music in the 60's was a driving force of the idea of change. The World War was over, the Swing Era was crashing, and a new era had started. America's interests had become paramount, and 50,000 soldiers were dying in Viet Nam. It was a fight for democracy. There really was a cold war going on, all in the shadow of nuclear holocaust and world-wide destruction. The main ideas of change were expressed through songs. 
Alot of people thought a song could change the world. A song was a hope that once played would work like a fuse, burn down to and ignite the major charge, blow things open and start the chain reaction of change to the new. The new order of things would be an open society free of racism, injustice, poverty, and the ideas that cause and support them. It would be a new majority, in charge, beneficent, enlightened. All would be included, all religions, all points of view, all cultures. In a word, Love.
Howie and I started out together in thinking this way. He had his independent label, and was releasing new bands no one had heard of, punk bands, rebels, more new ideas. I had been writing songs and putting out albums of my own, trying to come up with a song that would be another fuse to the future, and having failed at that, I started over, answering phones in a studio so I could learn the gear, get control over the means of production, and make albums with artists who were also looking to make a fuse.
Plus, I just loved music. Independent of the participation in culturally revolutionary activities, I loved the art of sound, the mechanics of it, the resonances and what I learned about the nature of Nature. The 5th, air moving in powerful ways, the human voice and it's connection to what is hidden in the human soul. So there was a meta level to the whole thing that was and still is much deeper than the cultural aspect. There are the ideas behind it all, but behind those ideas is the physics of music, the beauty of a sound well made. More than a metaphor, music at it's deepest level is an actuality, briefly existing and disappearing when the air quits moving. Arising and dissolving...
Then a record I made that Howie put out did well in the marketplace, and then another, not good enough to make a lot of money, but to put the label on the map as a potential source of new gold, a new vein to be mined by the big music corporations. Howie made a deal with CBS, and started putting out records through their distribution systems. The idea was to reach an even bigger audience with this new music, and spread the change.
I was noticed too, and made my deal with the corporation. I was intensely idealistic about it all, wondering if my soul would be absorbed by the big machine in the push to grow profits.  Would the music be co-opted, the message changed to suit the market, and thereby miss the market the artists were aiming for? Would the emerging new be shaved down and compromised? When I shopped the music that I was working on to the major labels, before Howie and I made our deals (I'd shopped music to majors and didn't get anywhere with it before Howie decided he'd give it a shot) I was told the music wasn't mainstream or marketable. But when the labels saw it selling on Howie's label, they all came back to get in on the action.
Howie's label grew, and he eventually became general manager of a very successful major label, one that was very much on the cutting edge of new music. And then later he would become president of an even larger label. And I eventually became head of the A&R department of a major label. It felt like there would be an even greater opportunity to spread the change. 

We both kept working towards this change through music. Trying to find artists who would move the dialog forward, make the dream more real, change the culture through their artistry, bit by bit. Howie would do it by promoting and marketing the new music, and I would do it by making the music with the artists. Oddly enough, Howie and I never spoke about any of this. The push for change, for a new culture revealed through music, was always implied but never explicit. It was, and is, always taken for granted.
And the major corporations allowed us to move forward with our ideas in our own ways. And prosper, too. As the business grew, so did we. We were in league with big companies, but trying to change them from within.

One thing about the metaphor business that's fascinating is that the product, when it's good, is intensely ephemeral. Artists who are seeking to make a strong personal statement, and who have the power to do so, are unique and often in delicate balance within themselves. And constantly in danger of losing that balance. And these artists are the people whom the corporation relies upon for its future viability. If the music isn't forward thinking, then eventually the business will atrophy.
When music follows the needs of the mass market, growth stops. In the artistic direction, music grows and changes and the markets follow. This is not to say that music can't be produced that targets a market and succeeds; that it can is proven every day. But the life of the music company is based on moving the culture forward; the vitality of the corporation is based on the new markets that open up when new music catches on.  Before Prince, there was no Prince market. His creativity sparked a whole new set of businesses, and infused his label with a new vitality that lasted for years. You could feel the pride.
Another change that disrupted the business is that a generation of listeners began to feel two things simultaneously-- music is not the main driving force for new ideas, and, music is free. Gaming, film, internet, all became as important in the New as music had been. This is not to say that music doesn't mean as much in individual lives, because it can still spark change for people. 
But the idea that a song can change the world doesn't seem viable anymore. Music releases are dwarfed by Halo releases and Batman releases. And those massive releases seem like ancient history 5 weeks after they take place. Listeners still love their favorite new music, but there hasn't been a Sgt Pepper queue for many many years. 

What is the larger view I'm trying to get at here? It's that, just like the weight seems to have gone out of music's ability to be a catalyst for big change, it feels at times like big change through a catalyst like Barack Obama is impossible.

 There was an initial hope and expansion which carried Obama forward into the place where his success was the driving force to finally-- or once again (as in Kennedy)-- make real headway against the culture of Christianists, racists, posturing hypocrites, corporate greed, and now, creeping fascism in the form of governmental suppression and intrusion and gross mismanagement. With the lethal injection of Sarah Palin into McCain's life, we see in her the reflection of a part of the electorate that-- once demoralized by the possibility of Obama-- is suddenly reanimated. The energy around her, that she drew as a strange attractor, is the hope of everything that new music and new culture fought against initially in the 60's. Hippie love is attacked by God's love, and it feels like the pendulum is swinging breathlessly between the two.
Music was the way of expressing the change we felt might to come. We made these metaphors of revolution and change, thinking they had the power of armies. And the music did inject the ideas into the culture, seeds & memes taking root. But Obama is an actual embodiment of the change. He's not a metaphor. I can barely imagine what he feels like, knowing the forces that are at play and at war through him. But I'll stand in the queue for him, waiting for the store to open, to see what a possible new way might look like, to see whether the fuse burns down and reaches its explosive goal.

Labels: ,