Sunday, September 21, 2008

Warning To Congressional Democrats: Republican Disdain For Truth And Their Contempt For The American People Know No Bounds


Will Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama stand firm for the American people?

It took Alexis de Tocqueville, a foreign commentator enamoured of America, to explain our country to us in 1835 (Democracy In America). This weekend England's SkyNews gives it a shot.
From Seattle to Athens, Georgia, homeless advocacy groups and city agencies are reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation.

Nearly 61% of state-run organisations in the sector have seen a rise in homelessness since the economic downturn first started in 2007, a report says.

The study, by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), says the problem has worsened since the report's release in April, with repossessions mounting, fuel and food prices rising and the job market tightening.

One of the so-called "tent cities" is based by the side of the railway tracks in the city of Reno, populated by people who lost their jobs to the ailing US economy, or newcomers who had moved there for work and discovered no-one was hiring.

Out of a dozen people interviewed in the tent city, six had come to Reno from California or elsewhere over the last year, hoping for casino jobs.

"I figured this would be a great place for a job," said Max Perez, a 19-year-old from Iowa.
He could not find one and ended up taking showers at the men's shelter and sleeping in a tent barely big enough to cover his body.

The relatively posh California city of Santa Barbara has given over a car park to people who sleep in cars and vans.

The city of Fresno, California, is trying to manage several growing tent cities, including an encampment where people have made shelters out of scrap wood.

Four more years? I can't imagine that anyone who has bothered to read Arianna Huffington's powerful newest book, Right Is Wrong-- How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe, would seriously consider voting for McBush or for any of the unindicted co-conspirators, called Republican and Blue Dog members of Congress, who have enabled the Bush Regime over the past eight years. But this weekend as Congress considers Master of the Universe, Hank Paulsen's Shock and Awe attack against them and his ultimatum to what are supposed the elected representatives of the American people, they might want to consider a chapter in Arianna's book dealing with... Karl Rove and how he "pulled out his bucket of whitewash and audaciously claimed that 'one of the untold stories' about the war in Iraq is that the Bush administration had been 'opposed' to Congress holding the vote authorizing the president to use military force in Iraq just a few weeks prior to the 2002 elections because 'we thought it made it too political.'"
He went on to paint a picture of a White House pushed into war, and laid blame for much of what has happened since on a Congress that had "made things nove too fast." If not for Congress, you see, there would have been more time for weapons inspections, and to build a broader coalition.

It was a satiric tour de force worthy of Jonathan Swift or Stephen Colbert-- but Rove wasn't joking. He actually expected us to buy his load of BS. Watching Rove, two things were perfectly clear: his disdain for the truth and his contempt for the American people know no bounds.

Rove's appearance [on Charlie Rose in November, 2007] was the work of a shameless, remorseless, soulless political animal taking the first steps on what will no doubt be a high-profile and lucrative march toward historical revisionism. He knows that he stands shoulder to shoulder with the fanatics responsible for the worst foreign policy disaster in American history-- not exactly the best thing to put on your post-government resume [unless you're looking to work for Faux News]-- so he is hell-bent on replacing reality with the latest incarnation of the Big Lie.

A student of history, Rove is obviously also up on Orwell: "Who controls the past, controls the future."

On October 10 and 11, 2002 there were six roll call votes on the Resolution Authorizing the Use of Force in Iraq. Roll call 237 was the final vote allowing an unprovoked attack against Iraq. Twenty-two Democrats and one Republican, Lincoln Chafee, voted against it. The rest of the Senate was stampeded-- many eagerly so-- into voting to give Bush and Cheney the green light to fulfill their dream of regime change in Iraq. Hillary Clinton isn't the Democratic nominee this year because she was one of those stampeded into making that catastrophically wrong decision. Every single Republican in the Senate today (with the exceptions of far right warmongers Roger Wicker and John Barrasso, who were not in the Senate at the time) voted for unprovoked war and should be held responsible for all that has resulted since that fateful roll call. The following current Democratic senators joined them in abdicating all responsibility over to Bush and Cheney:

Max Baucus (D-MT)
Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Joe Biden (D-DE)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Chris Dodd (D-CT)
Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Joe Lieberman (D-CT)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Paul Wellstone and Carl Levin were the only Senate Democrats up for re-election who voted against the war. Wellstone's polling numbers immediately skyrocketed and what looked like a close contest was no longer in serious contention. Many people think Rove had him murdered, although that hasn't been proven yet. The other current Democratic members of the Senate who voted no on that day were Dan Akaka (D-HI), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).


That brings us to what Jeffrey Feldman calls the "greatest shell game in history."
First, you fleece new home buyers with the promise of riches-- but you do it in their mortgage application instead of a late night infomercial (brilliant). Then, you squeeze out some crocodile tears and Bush cuts you a check right out of America's retirement accounts (ca-ching). We should send Wall Street a letter of congratulations just for inventing this scam, let alone pulling it off. Mail your keys to the bank, your checkbook to the oval office, grab your chimney brush, and start singing.

Meanwhile, to 'solve' the problem their cronies created, Treasury comes up with their own version of the PATRIOT ACT. It's a war on liquidity we're fighting, people! So the President must seize unfettered spending power before terror undermines our free markets. Invading the markets with the strongest money in the world is the only way to save small town values. Anyone who whines about 'oversight' must hate freedom. Somebody tell Barack Obama and the rest of the socialist elite that this is not a time for partisanship.

And yet... and yet... our congressmen, in terror, are expected to hand the keys to the car over to Hank Paulson? The Goldman Sachs hack who has missed every single warning sign leading up to this crisis? And who now demands that U.S. taxpayers assume the responsibility for tens of millions of dollars in golden parachutes for the very executives/political donors whose greed, arrogance and venality caused this crisis-- and the responsibility to shore up foreign banks as well!
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is telling Congress that if it doesn't give him a $700 billion blank check the financial system is going to collapse. It would be reasonable for reporters discussing this request to present some background on the track record of the person asking for this enormous blank check.

In March of 2007, after the first shock waves of the housing meltdown had already hit, the Associated Press reported Mr. Paulson's view that the credit difficulties linked to the housing slump would be limited.

In August of last year, after the second round of financial shock waves disrupted markets worldwide, Paulson commented, "We have the strongest global economy I’ve seen in my business lifetime."

Just last March he warmly endorsed a reduction in the capital requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying "additional capital [invested in mortgages by Fannie and Freddie] will enable the companies to help more homeowners and will strengthen the underlying fundamentals of the mortgage market."

At every point along the way, Secretary Paulson has failed to see the extent of the crisis resulting from the collapse of the housing bubble. This raises serious questions about his judgment. Reporters should be discussing Paulson't track record in the context of this bailout proposal.

Part of the problem: Bush, Bernanke, Cox, Paulson

Paulsen shouldn't be given a $700 billion blank check and his buddies and cronies on Wall Street shouldn't be given golden parachutes. They should be given hangmen's nooses... or at least long prison terms. I would trust Paul Krugman's assessment far more than Paulsen's or anyone in the failed Bush Regime's. Krugman has studied the whole plan and he says No Deal for this outrageous attempt at a bank heist (by the banks). He wants to know why taxpayers are being told we must pay premium prices for lousy assets. "Historically," he points out, "financial system rescues have involved seizing the troubled institutions and guaranteeing their debts; only after that did the government try to repackage and sell their assets." After McCain and his crooked buddies raped the savings and loan industry, "the feds took over S&Ls first, protecting their depositors, then transferred their bad assets to the RTC. The Swedes took over troubled banks, again protecting their depositors, before transferring their assets to their equivalent institutions."
The Treasury plan, by contrast, looks like an attempt to restore confidence in the financial system-- that is, convince creditors of troubled institutions that everything’s OK--simply by buying assets off these institutions. This will only work if the prices Treasury pays are much higher than current market prices; that, in turn, can only be true either if this is mainly a liquidity problem-- which seems doubtful-- or if Treasury is going to be paying a huge premium, in effect throwing taxpayers’ money at the financial world.

And there’s no quid pro quo here-- nothing that gives taxpayers a stake in the upside, nothing that ensures that the money is used to stabilize the system rather than reward the undeserving.

And in Congress, I'd turn to people who fancy themselves representatives of the People, like Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) rather than representatives of Big Money like John McCain, James Inhofe, John Cornyn, Max Baucus, Mary Landrieu, Susan Collins, Norm Coleman, Gordon Smith and Ted Stevens. Give Bernie the check and throw Paulsen in prison.
The current financial crisis facing our country has been caused by the extreme right-wing economic policies pursued by the Bush administration. These policies, which include huge tax breaks for the rich, unfettered free trade and the wholesale deregulation of commerce, have resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy.

The middle class has really been under assault. Since President Bush has been in office, nearly 6 million Americans have slipped into poverty, median family income for working Americans has declined by more than $2,000, more than 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance, over 4 million have lost their pensions, foreclosures are at an all time high, total consumer debt has more than doubled, and we have a national debt of over $9.7 trillion dollars.

While the middle class collapses, the richest people in this country have made out like bandits and have not had it so good since the 1920s. The top 0.1 percent now earn more money than the bottom 50 percent of Americans, and the top 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The wealthiest 400 people in our country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion while Bush has been president. In the midst of all of this, Bush lowered taxes on the very rich so that they are paying lower income tax rates than teachers, police officers or nurses.

Now, having mismanaged the economy for eight years as well as having lied about our situation by continually insisting, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” the Bush administration, six weeks before an election, wants the middle class of this country to spend many hundreds of billions on a bailout. The wealthiest people, who have benefited from Bush’s policies and are in the best position to pay, are being asked for no sacrifice at all. This is absurd. This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.

In my view, we need to go forward in addressing this financial crisis by insisting on four basic principles:

(1) The people who can best afford to pay and the people who have benefited most from Bush’s economic policies are the people who should provide the funds for the bailout. It would be immoral to ask the middle class, the people whose standard of living has declined under Bush, to pay for this bailout while the rich, once again, avoid their responsibilities. Further, if the government is going to save companies from bankruptcy, the taxpayers of this country should be rewarded for assuming the risk by sharing in the gains that result from this government bailout.

Specifically, to pay for the bailout, which is estimated to cost up to $1 trillion, the government should:

a) Impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers. That would raise more than $300 billion in revenue;

b) Ensure that assets purchased from banks are realistically discounted so companies are not rewarded for their risky behavior and taxpayers can recover the amount they paid for them; and

c) Require that taxpayers receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies so that the assumption of risk is rewarded when companies’ stock goes up.

(2) There must be a major economic recovery package which puts Americans to work at decent wages. Among many other areas, we can create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and moving our country from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Further, we must protect working families from the difficult times they are experiencing. We must ensure that every child has health insurance and that every American has access to quality health and dental care, that families can send their children to college, that seniors are not allowed to go without heat in the winter, and that no American goes to bed hungry.

(3) Legislation must be passed which undoes the damage caused by excessive de-regulation. That means reinstalling the regulatory firewalls that were ripped down in 1999. That means re-regulating the energy markets so that we never again see the rampant speculation in oil that helped drive up prices. That means regulating or abolishing various financial instruments that have created the enormous shadow banking system that is at the heart of the collapse of AIG and the financial services meltdown.

(4) We must end the danger posed by companies that are “too big too fail,” that is, companies whose failure would cause systemic harm to the U.S. economy. If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. We need to determine which companies fall in this category and then break them up. Right now, for example, the Bank of America, the nation’s largest depository institution, has absorbed Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and Merrill Lynch, the nation’s largest brokerage house. We should not be trying to solve the current financial crisis by creating even larger, more powerful institutions. Their failure could cause even more harm to the entire economy.

Obama is in Charlotte today, not quite Wall Street-- but, getting close. I'm sure he doesn't want to be stampeded into anything but, apparently, his instincts are pointing him in the right direction:
As of now, the Bush Administration has only offered a concept with a staggering price tag, not a plan. Even if the U.S. Treasury recovers some or most of its investment over time, this initial outlay of up to $700 billion is sobering. And in return for their support, the American people must be assured that the deal reflects the basic principles of transparency, fairness, and reform.

First, there must be no blank check when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money.

Second, taxpayers shouldn't be spending a dime to reward CEOs on Wall Street.

Third, taxpayers should be protected and should be able to recoup this investment.

Fourth, this plan has to help homeowners stay in their homes.

Fifth, this is a global crisis, and the United States must insist that other nations join us in helping secure the financial markets.

Sixth, we need to start putting in place the rules of the road I've been calling for for years to prevent this from ever happening again.


William Greider in The Nation explains how the swindlers on Wall Street and their handmaidens among the Republican Party and the Blue Dogs are planning to turn their lemons into lemonade-- at our expense.
Financial-market wise guys, who had been seized with fear, are suddenly drunk with hope. They are rallying explosively because they think they have successfully stampeded Washington into accepting the Wall Street Journal solution to the crisis: dump it all on the taxpayers. That is the meaning of the massive bailout Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has shopped around Congress. It would relieve the major banks and investment firms of their mountainous rotten assets and make the public swallow their losses-- many hundreds of billions, maybe much more. What's not to like if you are a financial titan threatened with extinction?

If Wall Street gets away with this, it will represent an historic swindle of the American public--all sugar for the villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims. My advice to Washington politicians: Stop, take a deep breath and examine what you are being told to do by so-called "responsible opinion." If this deal succeeds, I predict it will become a transforming event in American politics--exposing the deep deformities in our democracy and launching a tidal wave of righteous anger and popular rebellion. As I have been saying for several months, this crisis has the potential to bring down one or both political parties, take your choice.

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At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate your astute insight, and really enjoyed your blog on this- Thanks!!!!


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