Tuesday, September 30, 2008
So, if the PIGAC tries scaring you with "Great Depression," to make you cower, acquiesce -- and pay for! -- the Wall Street Bailout, then buck them, scare them back with "General Strike!" Such an event may be a necessary step between the government we have and the government we want.
Friday, September 26, 2008
People always ask me - what did you do to preserve it ?
Sarah Palin's performance in the tiny vignettes of unscripted dialogue in which we've been allowed to see her has been nothing short of frightening -- really, as I said, pity-inducing. And I say that as someone who has thought from the start that the criticisms of her abilities -- as opposed to her ideology -- were much too extreme. One of two things is absolutely clear at this point: she is either (a) completely ignorant about the most basic political issues -- a vacant, ill-informed, incurious know-nothing, or (b) aggressively concealing her actual beliefs about these matters because she's petrified of deviating from the simple-minded campaign talking points she's been fed and/or because her actual beliefs are so politically unpalatable, even when taking into account the right-wing extremism that is permitted, even rewarded, in our mainstream. I'm not really sure which is worse, but it doesn't really matter, because with 40 days left before the election, both options are heinous.
Sadly the Republicans have mastered the art of selling shit as foie gras, and so can turn any political disaster into its opposite.
Far more importantly, this news ultimately perpetuates the electoral dog and pony show that keeps us from waking up to the real problems facing us, including but not limited to the Wall Street giveaway.
Defying a federal tax law they consider unjust, 33 ministers across the country will take to their pulpits this Sunday and publicly endorse a candidate for president.
They plan to then send copies of their sermons to the Internal Revenue Service, hoping to provoke a challenge to a law that bars religious organizations and other nonprofits that accept tax-deductible contributions from involvement in partisan political campaigns.
Organizers said they wanted a range of clergy of various faiths and political persuasions to join the protest, but acknowledged that the participants might be “weighted” toward the conservative end of the spectrum and more likely to support the Republican candidate
The Rev. Barry Lynn, of Americans United, said of the protest on Sunday: “They act like this is a massive act of civil disobedience, but this is not like sitting in at a lunch counter. This is trying to change the law to give certain conservative churches even more political clout.”
I mean, that's what you'd expect from an actual republic, and not a corporately controlled simulacra.
Nader's ideas need to be heard and discussed. So do Senator Bernie Sanders' and those of various economists. Again, why is the media falling down on the job, buying the line that this is a crisis that demands immediate, thoughtless action when just last week they were telling us it was peachy, that the fundamentals of our economy are strong?
Congress should hold a series of hearings and invite broad public comment on any proposed bailout. Congress is supposed to be a co-equal branch of our federal government. It needs to stop the stampede to give Bush a $700 billion check. Public hearings should be held to determine what alternatives might exist to the four-page proposal advanced by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson.
I also recognize, though, that not allowing the market to contract will be more devastating in the long run. First, from what I know, the market is "contracting" because it has been artificially inflated through lending of way too much credit; so this sort of contraction is inevitable. All Congress would be doing here is giving $700 billion of tax-payer money to the same agents responsible for the crisis we're facing, with few strings attached. There go even more social programs, etc. into Wall Street's gluttonous maw.
Even more importantly though is that the current program of economic growth uber alles is what is threatening the very survival of humanity or at least of civilization as we know it, in terms of resource depletion and global warming.
A crash would not be pleasant to anyone, although the poorest among us would probably feel it least, ironically, having endured privation in the midst of the economic "boom" of the last few decades. But it might give us a chance to start anew, and approach our economies more wisely, with people and the planet in mind.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The bizarre Dutch policy of allowing smokers to puff away on pure cannabis but not tobacco has apparently perplexed police in the Netherlands, who have fined a man for mixing the two substances.
A spokesman for the Amsterdam Police has accepted that it is very difficult to understand the rule that allows cannabis smoking while fining tobacco users.
Trickle-down doesn't work, folks. Time to try trickle-up.
Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University, is describing the plan as a raw deal for taxpayers. What’s needed most, Stiglitz argues, is to assist struggling homeowners. “We should begin with the core of the problem, the fact that millions of Americans were made loans beyond their ability to pay. We need to help them stay in their homes, including by converting the home mortgage deduction into a cashable tax credit and creating a homeowners’ Chapter 11, an expedited way to restructure their liabilities.” If these mortgages are fixed so the debts are paid, will that not make the banks solvent? It is time to build the economy from the base, rather than the top. Trickle down does not work — especially when it is debts that trickle down.
The idea is to take as much as you can. As the saying goes: “You only have to make a fortune once in a lifetime.”
Their plan now is for icing on the cake — to take Mr. Paulson’s $700 billion and run. It’s not a “bailout of the financial system.” It’s as giveaway — to insiders, to sell out all their bad bets.
This change always is sudden, arranged under emergency conditions.
These bad loans are toxic because they can only be sold at a loss — if at all, because foreign investors no longer trust the U.S. investment bankers or money managers to be honest. That is the problem that Congress is not willing to come out and face.
Is the McCain campaign's decision to "suspend" campaigning and the Friday debate smart or not smart?
"It ranks somewhere on the stupidity scale between plain silly and numbingly desperate.... I’m confident that somehow the administration and the other 533 members of congress will be able to muddle through without tapping into the superior wisdom and intellect of their nominees. Sorry, john; it really sounds like you're afraid to debate. This sounds like the sort of ploy we used to use in junior high school elections." --- Mickey Edwards, Princeton lecturer and former Republican congressman
"Not smart. I agree with Mickey Edwards. It is not as if McCain has a reputation for being able to contribute to the solution of this economic problem, and it smacks of "you can run, but you can't hide." I think this is more likely to raise doubts rather than reassure independent voters." -- Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
Bringing the presidential candidates and their press entourages back to Capitol Hill won't speed or improve the process of coming up with a good bailout deal. It will politicize it. That's so transparently obvious that it barely requires stating. And of course that is the point.
This isn't a reaction to the national financial crisis but to the McCain polling crisis.
He's desperate and reckless. This is what it appears to be: political stunt dressed up as vainglorious self-sacrifice. In other words, typical John McCain.
The discovery of several hot dogs in packages outside Citizens Bank Park brought the bomb squad out and forced the temporary evacuation of the stadium Wednesday evening.
Bomb squad members further investigated the packages and determined they were simply several hot dogs in foil wrappers. Sadly, the wieners were detonated as a precaution.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
And since when are OUR representatives supposed to be shills for Wall Street, giving us their pep talks. Pathetic.
FADE IN: Our camera eye sees nearly two dozen people in a conference room. They appear serious and somewhat anxious.
The phone rings.
An FBI agent in charge says, "OK, senator, answer it."
CLOSE-UP SHOT: The senator carefully picks up the phone.
The Bush Administration finds socialism despicable, when it comes to an issue like health care, but not when it benefits private corporations through corporate welfare – like the $3,000,000,000 annually given to the fossil fuel industry, that takes our tax money, then gouges us at the gas pump, while making record profits. This Treasury Proposal is another attempt by the Bush Administration to socialize debt and risk, and private profits.
In other words, how many guillotines could we buy for $700 billion?
The Republicans, in their party platform, spell out the reasons they need to be executed en masse. They "support ... carefully targeted aid" to the people losing their homes in the economic meltdown, but they prefer the shotgun blast, no stipulations bailout of the bankers who knowingly created this mess.
And you have to "love" the irony of the line: "We do not support government bailouts of private institutions." That's Republican-speak for "fuck you, John Q. Public. Your tax money is ours to play with and you have no say in how we spend it."
Someday these people will pay.
We support timely and carefully targeted aid to those hurt by the housing crisis so that affected individuals can have a chance to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects their home’s market value. At the same time, government action must not implicitly encourage anyone to borrow more than they can afford to repay. We support energetic federal investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution of criminal wrongdoing in the mortgage industry and investment sector. We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all.