Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FDR: "The Rulers of the Exchange of Mankind's Goods Have Failed..."

"Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

"Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts.... Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

"True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

The money-changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit...."

Read the full speech here


by Patton Oswalt

I've been saying bad things about Sarah Palin before right now in the past ago. But that's only because I thought she was an unqualified, passive-aggressive, hypocritical cunt.

However, I was hit over the head 11 times with an amber paperweight this morning. Then, seventeen minutes ago, I got my head trapped in a big plastic bag, and was not able to get any oxygen into my breath-hole for several minutes. And then I paid the mailman to give me a screwdriver lobotomy.

And so now I see things different and also clearer than before back then.

For first things, everyone who's laughing about her on the TV with Couric needs to understand that, when it comes to the country's money and bank outlook, we need to consider what Sarah said about jobs making and also the shoring up of our proud country and the mountains of glory and tradition that we, as a people, have forever held. And don't forget the health care which for the body of Americans as people and as a whole is critical. Do you remember the people who died in the towers?

And to qualify more than Obama? Let me count on more than one hand! Obama went to smart-school Harvard only, which is shown by studies to be only a single school with a curriculum. Sarah spread her mind over five different colleges for more than that many years. Do you need a fancy school to know a thing or two about a thing or two? Ask a Democrat about the movie TRADING PLACES, where Eddie Murphy, with only street smarts, takes down a whole building of smart-school elites, and makes them poor. But that's because Democrats are racists and also Republicans freed the blacks which they also don't want you to know.

Now to bring into a finish, Sarah's foreign policy expertly. Obama spent years all over every part of the world except America with Muslims and terrorists. And where was Sarah? She was in America, knowing everything about our proud country and you can bet if foreign leaders come here she'll know tons and tons about our country, and will set them straight! And Obama does not wear a metal flag on his clothes, which is a signal for brown killers.

And also the troops babies eagles 9/11.

I type everything I do now and now I just boom-boomed in my sweatpants.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Muslim Children Gassed at Dayton Mosque After Obsession DVD Hits Ohio

Friday, September 26th ended a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail -- were distributed by mail in Ohio. The same day, a "chemical irritant" was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain's supporters has led to -- Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil.

I read the story as reported by the Dayton Daily News, but this was after I had received an email written by a friend of some of the victims of these American terrorists. The matter of fact news report in the Dayton paper didn't come close to conveying the horrific impact of this unthinkable act like the email I had just read, so I asked the email's author for permission to share what they had written. The author was with one of the families from the mosque -- a mother and two of the small children who were in the room that was gassed -- the day after the attack occurred.

"She told me that the gas was sprayed into the room where the babies and children were being kept while their mothers prayed together their Ramadan prayers. Panicked mothers ran for their babies, crying for their children so they could flee from the gas that was burning their eyes and throats and lungs. She grabbed her youngest in her arms and grabbed the hand of her other daughter, moving with the others to exit the building and the irritating substance there.

"The paramedic said the young one was in shock, and gave her oxygen to help her breathe. The child couldn't stop sobbing.

"This didn't happen in some far away place -- but right here in Dayton, and to my friends. Many of the Iraqi refugees were praying together at the Mosque Friday evening. People that I know and love.

"I am hurt and angry. I tell her this is not America. She tells me this is not Heaven or Hell -- there are good and bad people everywhere.

"She tells me that her daughters slept with her last night, the little one in her arms and sobbing throughout the night. She tells me she is afraid, and will never return to the mosque, and I wonder what kind of country is this where people have to fear attending their place of worship?"

"The children come into the room, and tell me they want to leave America and return to Syria, where they had fled to from Iraq. They say they like me, ... , and other American friends -- but they are too afraid and want to leave. Should a 6 and 7 year old even have to contemplate the safety of their living situation?

"Did the anti-Muslim video circulating in the area have something to do with this incident, or is that just a bizarre coincidence? Who attacks women and children?

"What am I supposed to say to them? My words can't keep them safe from what is nothing less than terrorism, American style. Isn't losing loved ones, their homes, jobs, possessions and homeland enough? Is there no place where they can be safe?

"She didn't want me to leave her tonight, but it was after midnight, and I needed to get home and write this to my friends. Tell me -- tell me -- what am I supposed to say to them?"


It's hard to conceive of the damage that's been caused by the neo-cons.

How did a far right Zionist cabal become so powerful in the politics of the USA?

Part of it is pResident Know-nothing's fault, part the fact that a large segment of the populace have become know-nothings. They believe what hate-spewers like Rush Limbaugh & David Horowitz say because they don't know any better. Don't get me started on the ministers. Post-9/11 I've heard such amazing, stupid, hateful, incorrect things said on "christian" radio stations. Pure fascist politics, the scapegoat: Islam.

This is what you get, attacks on children in a house of worship.

Woe is us. We may be beyond hope, the hope to live in a civil society. The hateful speak loudest, their message comes in the Sunday paper. There's plenty of fault to go around. First off, those speaking. Second, those giving them a platform. The first amendment wasn't intended to protect the screaming, hateful ignorant majority but the calm, peaceful minority.

Things are really fucked up. Measures need to be taken. For one thing, a fairness doctrine needs to be revived. We can't continue to just hear from the far right. They own the media but the 'people' own the airwaves. I don't know what to do about inflammatory DVDs stuffed in the Sunday paper. I'd like to think the 'people' would reject it out-of-hand & the publishers would then know better than to foist off propaganda as 'news'. But people have become soooo stoooopid. I despair....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

L.A. Times: Editorial
Bush the arrogant
September 28, 2008

As the Bush administration attempts to stabilize the nation's economy, we are witness to the final chapter of a period of perverse and dishonest leadership that has used its own crises to justify the expansion of its own power. This was a president who came to office on promises of modesty -- who championed a "humble nation," scorned nation building and promised a more limited role for government in the lives of its citizens. Then he presided over a six-year attempt to tear down and rebuild the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and now has embarked on the most profound expansion of the federal government's role in the private economy since the Depression.

In both cases, the pattern is the same. Ineptitude led to crisis; crisis then became the argument for the radical expansion of executive power. The administration insisted that it exercise its new authority with a minimum of scrutiny by Congress, the courts or the public.

In the so-called war on terror, that has meant the abdication of our most basic American principles. We have forfeited privacy and honor -- the administration has monitored phones and e-mails without warrants and has secreted prisoners in foreign lands, arguing that they deserved none of our protections even while in our custody. As a nation, we have stooped to torture (while debating the meaning of the word) and refused to recognize one of our most basic Anglo-American notions, the principle of habeas corpus (thankfully, the Supreme Court, seven of whose members are Republicans, drew the line at that abomination). We have held prisoners in detention without trial, without charge, without end. In so doing, we have antagonized the world and debased America's moral authority to lead.

The same administration responsible for these catastrophes has over the last month nationalized the largest source of funding for mortgages and the largest insurance company on the planet. And it proposed to intervene even more dramatically in the nation's economy by having the Treasury Department -- with no court, congressional or public oversight -- relieve financial institutions of the troubled mortgages and related securities that have locked up the lending system.

There is no doubt about the depth and range of the crisis that provokes these calls for government action. The gyrations of the stock market have been dismaying, and the threat to the country's financial institutions -- and everyone who borrows from or invests in them -- is real. Still, the audacity of this administration demanding expanded powers and curtailed accountability is a wonder to behold. The bitter irony is that this crisis warrants dramatic intervention, but President Bush's record makes him difficult to trust even when he's right.

These troubles are about more than a president who is unfaithful to his word. Bush has transformed the balance of power in our government. We are seeing the erection of an imperial presidency, immune from oversight when it fights terrorists and when it rescues banks....

Pre-election Militarization of the North American Homeland. US Combat Troops in Iraq repatriated to " help with civil unrest"

Global Research, September 26, 2008

The Army Times reports that the 3rd Infantry’s 1st Brigade Combat Team is returning from Iraq to defend the Homeland, as "an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks." The BCT unit has been attached to US Army North, the Army's component of US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). (See Gina Cavallaro, Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1, Army Times, September 8, 2008).

"Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. ...

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.

The command is at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., but the soldiers with 1st BCT, who returned in April after 15 months in Iraq, will operate out of their home post at Fort Stewart, Ga.,


The 1st of the 3rd is still scheduled to deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan in early 2010, which means the soldiers will have been home a minimum of 20 months by the time they ship out.

In the meantime, they’ll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it. (ibid)

The BCT is an army combat unit designed to confront an enemy within a war theater.

With US forces overstretched in Iraq, why would the Pentagon decide to undertake this redeployment within the USA, barely one month before the presidential elections?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sarah Palin on why living in Alaska gives her foreign policy experience:

"It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state."

Is English this person's language?

This doesn't make any sense. Literally, figuratively, actually, no sense at all.

If it does make sense to you, please don't vote. And see a mental health professional, you may be going insane.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tony Viessman of Rolla, Mo., grabs a quick smoke while promoting his support for Democratic candidate Barack Obama for president in 'The Grove' at the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Friday, Sept. 26, 2008. Representatives from various political and social walks of life took advantage of the large number of media covering the presidental debate to tout their positions.
(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Re-election fears, payback drove House GOP bailout revolt

By Margaret Talev and David Lightman | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader John Boehner got a standing ovation from his Republican colleagues on Friday, one day after he led their move to derail a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street negotiated by President Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, congressional Democrats and Senate Republicans.

Despite the image of political chaos in Washington that their stand caused, Boehner told his House GOP colleagues at their closed-door meeting Friday that they'd given him one of the best receptions he'd ever gotten as their leader.

Why? Rep. Ray LaHood, a retiring Illinois congressman, explained the enthusiasm: "Because he stood up to the president and Paulson."

Democrats have charged that the House Republicans' revolt against the bipartisan bailout plan was a ploy to help Republican presidential nominee John McCain by giving him a mess to clean up. As it turned out, McCain's high-profile eleventh-hour intervention achieved nothing. Still, the political reality behind the House Republicans' action is much more complicated than the Democrats' charge.

House Republicans are motivated by their own troubled re-election bids in November; fear of primary challenges in the next election cycle if they’re seen as reckless spenders; strong small-government and free-market convictions; and internal House GOP leadership politics — including whether Boehner will stay in his job and who might one day succeed him.

Then there's the Republicans' pent-up anger at President Bush for repeatedly pushing them to quickly pass major legislation that they later regretted — such as authorizing the Iraq war, costly Hurricane Katrina spending and the expensive Medicare prescription drug benefit plan.



Paul Begala calls Bush a 'high-functioning moron'

With the days of the Bush presidency dwindling, and yet one more crisis ramping up, the talk is getting hot on the TV circuit.

Paul Begala, the television commentator and Democratic strategist who with James Carville propelled Bill Clinton to the presidency in 1992, knew he was about to get into trouble on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" show Thursday night with his description of President Bush. He said as much as soon as he opened his mouth.

Still, with a panel that included Ed Rollins, the Republican strategist who ran Ronald Reagan's 1984 reelection campaign, he blurted it out:

"I'm going to get in trouble. He's a high-functioning moron, and that's what Congress treats him as. Both parties."

To be sure, the panelists were egging each other on:

COOPER: "Watching the president last night give that speech, it was like watching him in Jackson Square in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I mean, he did not seem to be there."

ROLLINS: "No, he wasn't there."

GLORIA BORGER: "He's not comfortable — "

COOPER: "He was physically there but — "

At which point Begala chimed in. And lit up the Web — from the liberal DailyKos site ("one of the most awesome moments in the history of cable news") to the conservative Media Research Center's NewsBusters ("What is it with Democrats and their grotesque slurs upon the intelligence of their political rivals?").

Video at link...
How lame...

McCain camp to propose postponing VP debate

Posted: 07:08 PM ET

From CNN Correspondent Dana Bash

(CNN) — McCain supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham tells CNN the McCain campaign is proposing to the Presidential Debate Commission and the Obama camp that if there's no bailout deal by Friday, the first presidential debate should take the place of the VP debate, currently scheduled for next Thursday, October 2 in St. Louis.

In this scenario, the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin would be rescheduled for a date yet to be determined, and take place in Oxford, Mississippi, currently slated to be the site of the first presidential faceoff this Friday.

Graham says the McCain camp is well aware of the position of the Obama campaign and the debate commission that the debate should go on as planned — but both he and another senior McCain adviser insist the Republican nominee will not go to the debate Friday if there's no deal on the bailout.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/09/24/mccain-... /

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bush's bailout meeting ends in disarray; McCain gets blame

By David Lightman and Margaret Talev | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Congressional negotiators’ carefully-crafted agreement on a $700 billion rescue plan threatened to unravel Thursday as lawmakers at an often tense White House meeting clashed over details.

As Republican presidential nominee John McCain looked on, House Republican Leader John Boehner raised concerns that the plan would be too costly to taxpayers, and offered an alternative plan.

Democrats were mad.

"What this looked like to me was a rescue plan for John McCain," said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd of the Republican objections.

His reference was to McCain's eleventh-hour intervention in the negotiations, when he declared he was suspending his campaign and postponing Friday night's debate with Democrat Barack Obama to help negotiate a bailout plan.

Democrats think that Republicans were backing away from a compromise many of them agreed to earlier Thursday — without McCain's involvement — in order to give McCain time to play a role and perhaps appear as a rescuer.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he believed the breakdown was simply an effort to allow McCain to miss Friday night's scheduled debate with Obama.


Tidbit from Ed Schultz:

McCain Camp insiders say Palin "clueless"

Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin.

The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as "disastrous." One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, "What are we going to do?" The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is "clueless."...http://www.bigeddieradio.com /
Joe Biden is going to eat her for lunch if the McLame campaign can't figure out a way to pre-empt the debate.

Frank: Republicans "winced" When McCain Was Mentioned In Meeting

By Ryan Grim

(The Politico)
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said that "nobody mentioned McCain" during the several-hour-long meeting on the $700 billion market rescue plan, other than Frank and that his Republican colleagues "winced" when he did.

"He’s been irrelevant to the process. He remains to be," said Frank. "I was afraid that his dropping in here, like Andy Kaufman’s Mighty Mouse—'here I am to save the day'—I thought that would slow things down. I didn’t see any sign of our Republican colleagues paying any attention to him whatsoever."

Franks went on. "Nobody mentioned him. The man’s irrelevant to the whole process. No Republican mentioned his name. I’m the only one who raised his name. They winced when I did," he said.

"I don’t think anyone takes that seriously," said Frank of McCain's suggestion that Friday's debate be delayed. "Sen. McCain trying to use the necessity for his presence to reach a deal that we’ve already reached as a reason to duck the debate is unworthy of him. There is absolutely no reason not to go to the debate."

Frank was equally cool about today's meeting with the White House. "The White House isn’t show and tell. We’re going to the White House because the president asked us to go. Nobody thinks at this point that anything useful’s going to happen. But we now have to get things drafted and worked on. The White House meeting is just an interruption in our schedule," he said.

Though he said McCain's presence would be unhelpful, he did say, getting a dig in at McCain's running mate, that there "were times when I was ready to suggest that, when we got to some of the more complicated issues about how do you price these sophisticated instruments, that we ask him to make Sarah Palin available to give us her expertise."...
Hot Dogs Prompt Evacuations At Phillies Ballpark

PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ― 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.

According to police, Pattison Street between Darien and 11th Streets was shutdown as officials investigated the discovery of several suspicious packages near a ticket office.

Fans inside the stadium were evacuated, but players remained on the field during the incident.

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...


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yeah we can 'bail you out'. Right after the FBI investigation is over. Sheesh...

FBI investigating companies at heart of meltdown

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer

The FBI is investigating four major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger a $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration, The Associated Press has learned.

Two law enforcement officials said Tuesday the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insurer American International Group Inc. Additionally, a senior law enforcement official said Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. also is under investigation.

The inquiries will focus on the financial institutions and the individuals that ran them, the senior law enforcement official said.

The law enforcement officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigations are ongoing and are in the very early stages.

Officials said the new inquiries bring to 26 the number of corporate lenders under investigation over the past year.

Spokesmen for AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday evening. A Lehman spokesman did not have an immediate comment.

Just last week, FBI Director Robert Mueller put the number of large financial firms under investigation at 24. He did not name any of the companies under investigation but said the FBI also was looking at whether any of them have misrepresented their assets...[Open in new window]

Now Is the Time to Resist Wall Street's Shock Doctrine
by Naomi Klein

I wrote The Shock Doctrine in the hopes that it would make us all better prepared for the next big shock. Well, that shock has certainly arrived, along with gloves-off attempts to use it to push through radical pro-corporate policies (which of course will further enrich the very players who created the market crisis in the first place...).

The best summary of how the right plans to use the economic crisis to push through their policy wish list comes from Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. On Sunday, Gingrich laid out 18 policy prescriptions for Congress to take in order to "return to a Reagan-Thatcher policy of economic growth through fundamental reforms." In the midst of this economic crisis, he is actually demanding the repeal of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which would lead to further deregulation of the financial industry. Gingrich is also calling for reforming the education system to allow "competition" (a.k.a. vouchers), strengthening border enforcement, cutting corporate taxes and his signature move: allowing offshore drilling.

It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the right's ability to use this crisis -- created by deregulation and privatization -- to demand more of the same. Don't forget that Newt Gingrich's 527 organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, is still riding the wave of success from its offshore drilling campaign, "Drill Here, Drill Now!" Just four months ago, offshore drilling was not even on the political radar and now the U.S. House of Representatives has passed supportive legislation. Gingrich is holding an event this Saturday, September 27 that will be broadcast on satellite television to shore up public support for these controversial policies.

What Gingrich's wish list tells us is that the dumping of private debt into the public coffers is only stage one of the current shock. The second comes when the debt crisis currently being created by this bailout becomes the excuse to privatize social security, lower corporate taxes and cut spending on the poor. A President McCain would embrace these policies willingly. A President Obama would come under huge pressure from the think tanks and the corporate media to abandon his campaign promises and embrace austerity and "free-market stimulus."

We have seen this many times before, in this country and around the world. But here's the thing: these opportunistic tactics can only work if we let them. They work when we respond to crisis by regressing, wanting to believe in "strong leaders" -- even if they are the same strong leaders who used the September 11 attacks to push through the Patriot Act and launch the illegal war in Iraq.

So let's be absolutely clear: there are no saviors who are going to look out for us in this crisis. Certainly not Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the companies that will benefit most from his proposed bailout (which is actually a stick up). The only hope of preventing another dose of shock politics is loud, organized grassroots pressure on all political parties: they have to know right now that after seven years of Bush, Americans are becoming shock resistant.

From the Oct. 2 ROLLING STONE:

The Lies of Sarah Palin

By Matt Taibbi

I’m standing outside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sarah Palin has just finished her speech to the Republican National Convention, accepting the party’s nomination for Vice President. If I hadn’t quit my two pack a day habit earlier this year, I’d be chain smoking right now. So the only thing left is to stand mute against the fit-for-a-cheap-dog-kennel crowd-control fencing you see everywhere at these idiotic conventions and gnaw on weird new feelings of shock and anarchist rage as one would a rawhide chew toy.

All around me, a million cops in there absurd post-9/11 space combat get-ups stand guard as assholes in paper-mache puppet heads scramble around for one last moment of network face time before the coverage goes dark. Four-chinned delegates from places like Arkansas and Georgia are pouring joylessly out the gates in search of bars where they can load up on Zombies and Scorpion bowls and other “wild” drinks and extramaritally grope their turkey-necked female companions in bathroom stalls as part of the “Unbelievable Time” they will inevitably report to there pals back home. Only 21st-centrury Americans can pass through a metal detector six times in an hour and still think they’re at a party.

The defining moment for me came shortly after Palin and her family stepped down from the stage to uproarious applause, looking happy enough to throw a whole library full of books into the sewer. In the crush to exit the stadium, a middle-aged woman wearing a cowboy hat, a red-white-and-blue shirt and an obvious eye job gushed to a male colleague – They were both wearing badges identifying them as members of the Colorado delegation – At the Xcel gates.

“She totally reminds me of my cousin!” the delegate screeched. “She’s a real woman! The real thing!”

I stared at her open-mouthed. In that moment, the rank cynicism of the whole sorry deal was laid bare. Here’s the thing about Americans. You can send their kids off by the thousands to get their balls blown off in foreign lands for no reason at all, saddle them with billions in debt year after congressional year while they spend their winters cheerfully watching game shows and football, pull the rug out from under their mortgages, and leave them living off their credit cards and their Wal-Mart salaries while you move their jobs to China and Bangalore.

And none of it matters, so long as you remember a few months before Election Day to offer them a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne as part of your presidential ticket. And if she’s good enough likeness of a loudmouthed Middle American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his giant sized bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the sizzlin’ picante dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his life or anyone else’s, but simply because it appeals to the low-humming narcissism that substitutes for his personality, because that image on TV reminds him of the mean brainless slob he sees in the mirror every morning.

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 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 Palin speech was a political masterpiece, one of the most ingenious pieces of electoral theater this country has ever seen. Never before has a single televised image turned a party’s fortunes around faster

Until the Alaska governor actually ascended to the podium that night, I was convinced that John McCain had made on of the all-time campaign-season blunders, that he had acted impulsively and out of utter desperation in choosing a cross-eyed political neophyte just two years removed from running a town smaller than the bleacher section at Fenway park. It even crossed my mind that there was an element of weirdly self-destructive pique in McCain’s decision to cave in to his party’s right-wing base in this fashion, that perhaps he was responding to being ordered by party elders away from tepid, ideologically promiscuous hack like Joe Lieberman – Reportedly his real preference – By picking the most obviously unqualified, doomed-to-fail joke of a Bible-Thumping buffoon. As in: You want me to rally the base? Fine, I’ll rally the base. Here I’ll choose this rifle-toting, serially pregnant moose killer who thinks God lobbies for oil pipelines. Happy know?

But watching Palin’s speech I had no doubt that I was witnessing a historic, iconic performance. The candidate sauntered to the lectern with the assurance of a sleepwalker – And immediately launched into a symphony of snorting and sneering remarks, taking time out in between the superior invective to present herself as just a humble gal with a beefcake husband and a brood of healthy, combat-ready spawn who just happened to be innocent targets of a communist and probably also homosexual media conspiracy. She appeared to be completely without shame and utterly full of shit, awing a room full of hardened reporters with her sickly sweet line about the high-school-flame-turned-hubby who “Five children later” is “Still my guy.” It was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag.

Within minutes, Palin had given TV audiences a character infinitely recognizable to virtually every American; the small-town girl with just enough looks and a defiantly incurious mind who thinks the PTA minutes are Holy Writ, and to whom injustice means the woman next door owning a slightly nicer set or drapes or flatware. Or the governorship, as it were.

Right-wingers of the Bush-Rove ilk have had a tough time finding a human face to put on their failed, inhuman, mean-as-hell policies. But it was hard not to recognize the genius of wedding that faltering brand of institutionalized greed to the image of the suburban American supermom. It’s the perfect cover, for there is almost nothing in the world meaner than this species of provincial tyrant.

Palin herself burned this political symbiosis into the pages of history with her seminal crack about the “Difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick,” blurring once and for all the lines between meanness on the grand political scale as understood by the Roves and Bushes of the world, and meanness of the small-town variety as understood by pretty much anyone who has ever sat around in his ranch-house den dreaming of a fourth plasma-screen TV or an extra set of KC HiLites for his truck, while some ghetto family a few miles away shares a husk of government cheese.

In her speech, Palin presented herself as a raging baby-making furnace of middle-class ambition next to whom the yuppies of the Obama set – Who never want anything all that badly except maybe a few afternoons with someone else’s wife, or a few kind words in The New York Times Book Review – Seem like weak, self-doubting celibates, the kind of people who certainly cannot be trusted to believe in the right God or to defend a nation. We’re used to seeing such blatant cultural caricaturing in our politicians. But Sarah Palin is something new. She’s all caricature. As the candidate of a party whose positions on individual issues are poll losers almost across the board, her shtick is not even designed to sell a line of policies. It’s just designed to sell her. The thing was as much as admitted in the on-air gaffe by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who was inadvertently caught saying on MSNBC that Palin wasn’t the most qualified candidate, that the party “went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives.”

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 reflective prejudices of their demographic, as they would for a 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 $15 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.”

Palin hasn’t been too worried about federal taxes as governor of a state that ranks number one in the nation in federal spending per resident ($13,950), even as it sits just 18th in federal taxes paid per resident ($5,434). That means all us taxpaying non-Alaskans spend $8,500 a year on each and every resident of Palin’s paradise of rugged self-sufficiency. Not that this sworn enemy of taxes doesn’t collect from her own; Alaska currently collects the most taxes per resident of any state in the nation. The rest of Palin’s speech was the same dog-whistle crap Republicans have been railing about for decades. Palin’s crack about a mayor being “like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities” testified to the Republican’s apparent belief that they can win elections till the end of time running against the Sixties. (They’re probably right.) The incessant pausing about the media was likewise par for the course, red meat for those tens of millions of patriotic flag-waving Americans whose first instinct when things get rough is to whine like bitches and blame other people – Reporters, the French, those ungrateful blacks soaking up tax money eating big prison meals, whomever – For their failures.

Add to this the usual lies about Democrats wanting to “forfeit” to our enemies abroad and coddle terrorists, and you had a run-of-the-mill, almost boring Republican speech from a substance standpoint. What made it exceptional was its utter hypocrisy, its total disregard for reality, it’s total disregard for reality, it’s absolute unrelation to the facts of our current political situation. After eight years of unprecedented corruption, incompetence, waste and greed, the party of Karl Rove understood that 50 million Americans would not demand solutions to any of these problems so long as they were given a new, new thing to beat their meat over.

Sarah Palin is that new, new thing, and in the end it won’t matter that she’s got an unmarried teenage kid with a bun in the oven. Of course, if the daughter of a black candidate like Barack Obama showed up at his convention with a five month bump and some sideways-cap-wearing, junior-grade Curtis Jackson (50 cent) holding her hand, the defenders of Traditional Morality would be up in arms. But the thing about being in the reality-making business is that you don’t need to worry much about vetting; there are no facts in your candidate’s bio that cannot be ignored or overcome.

ne of the most amusing things about the Palin nomination has been the reaction of horrified progressives. The internet has been buzzing at full volume as would-be defenders of sanity and reason pore over the governor’s record in search of the Damning Facts. My own telephone began ringing off the hook with calls from ex-Alaskans and friends of Alaskans determined to help get the “truth” about Sarah Palin into the major media. Pretty much anyone with an internet connection knows by know that Palin was originally for the “Bridge to Nowhere” before she opposed it (She actually endorsed the plan in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign), that even after the project was defeated she kept the money, that she didn’t actually sell the Alaska governor’s state luxury jet on eBay but instead sold it at a $600,000 loss to a campaign contributor (who is reportedly now seeking $50,000 in taxpayer money to pay maintenance costs).

Then there are the salacious tales of Palin’s swinging-meat-cleaver management style, many of which seem to have a common thread: In addition to being ensconced in a messy ethics investigation over her firing of the chief of Alaska state troopers (dismissed after refusing to sack her sister’s ex-husband), Palin also fired a campaign aide who had an affair with a friends wife. More ominously, as mayor of Wasilla, Palin tried to fire the town librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, who had resisted pressure to censor books Palin found objectionable.

Then there’s the God stuff: Palin belongs to a church whose pastor, Ed Kalnins, believes that all criticisms of George Bush “Come from Hell” and wondered aloud if people who voted for John Kerry could be saved. Kalnins, looming as the answer to Obama’s Jeremiah Wright, claims that Alaska is going to be a “refuge state” for Christians in the last days, last days which he sometimes speaks of in the present tense. Palin herself has been captured on video mouthing the inevitable born again idiocies, such as the idea that a recent oil-pipeline deal was “God’s Will.” She also described the Iraq War as a “task that is from God” and part of a heavenly “Plan.” She supports teaching creationism and “Abstinence only” in public schools, opposes abortion even for victims of rape, has denied the science behind global warming and attends a church that seeks to convert Jews and cure homosexuals.

All of which tells you about what you’d expect from a raise-the-base choice like Palin: She’s a puffed-up dimwit with primitive religious beliefs who had to be educated as to the fact that the constitution did not exactly envision government executives firing librarians. Judging from the importance progressive critics seem to attach to these revelations, you’d think that these were actually negatives in modern American politics. But Americans like politicians who hate books and see the face of Jesus in every tree stump. They like them stupid and mean and ignorant of the rules. Which is why Palin has only seemed to grow in popularity as more and more of these revelations have come out.

The same goes for the most damning aspect of her biography, her total lack of big-game experience. As governor of Alaska, Palin presides over a state whose entire population is barely the size of Memphis. This kind of thing might matter in a country that actually worried about whether its leader was prepared for his job – But not in America. In America, it takes about 2 weeks in the limelight for the whole country to think you’ve been around for years. To a certain extent, this is why Obama is getting a pass on the same issue. He’s been on TV every day for two years and according to the standards of our instant-ramen culture, that’s a lifetime of hands-on experience.

It is worth noting that the same criticisms of Palin also hold true for two other candidates in this race, John McCain and Barack Obama. As politicians, both men are more narrative than substance, with McCain rising to prominence on the back of his bio as a suffering war hero and Obama mostly playing the part of long-lost, future-embracing liberal dreamboat not seen on the national stage since Bobby Kennedy died. If your stomach turns to read how Palin’s Kawasaki 704 glasses are flying off the shelves in Middle America, you have to accept that Middle America probably feels the same way when it hears Donatella Versace dedicated her collection to Obama during Milan Fashion Week. Or sees the throwing-panties-onstage-“I love you, Obama!” ritual at the Democratic nominee’s town-hall appearances.

So, sure, Barack Obama might be every bit as much as a slick piece of imageering as Sarah Palin. The difference is in what the image represents. The Obama image represents tolerance, intelligence, education, patience with the notion of compromise and negotiation, and a willingness to stare ugly facts right in the face, all qualities we’re actually going to need in government if we’re going to get out of this huge mess we’re in.

Here’s what Sarah Palin represents: being a fat fucking pig who pins “Country First” buttons on his man titties and chants “U-S-A! U-S-A!” at the top of his lungs while his kids live off credit cards and Saudis buy up all the mortgages in Kansas

The truly disgusting thing about Sarah Palin isn’t that she’s totally unqualified, or a religious zealot, or married to a secessionist, or unable to educate her own daughter about sex, or a fake conservative who raised taxes and porked up earmark millions every chance she got. No, the most disgusting thing about her is what she says about us: That you can ram us in the ass for eight solid years, and we’ll not only thank you for your trouble, we’ll sign you up for eight more years, if only you promise to stroke us in the right spot for few hours around election time.

Democracy doesn’t require a whole lot of work of its citizens, but it requires some: It requires taking a good look outside once in awhile, and considering the bad news and what it might mean, and making the occasional tough choice, and soberly taking stock of what your real interests are.

This is a very different thing from shopping, which involves passively letting sitcoms melt your brain all day long and then jumping straight into the TV screen to buy a southern Style Chicken Sandwich because the slob singing “I’m Lovin’ It!” during the commercial break looks just like you. The joy of being a consumer is that it doesn’t require thought, responsibility, self-awareness or shame: All you have to do is obey the first urge that gurgles up from your stomach. And then obey the next. And the next. And the next.

And when it comes time to vote all you have to do is put your Country First – Just like that lady on TV who reminds you of your cousin. U-S-A, Baby. U-S-A! U-S-A!
Oregon's own Rep. Peter DeFazio really uncorked one yesterday on the house floor. Here's a transcript:

“Well, Secretary Paulson has submitted a simple proposal to Congress. This is it, three pages. It’s about a billion dollars a word.

“It is quite simple. Secretary Paulson gets the key to the treasury to start off by borrowing $700 billion dollars in the name of the American people. Maybe more later. And it waves all laws. ALL LAWS. No oversight. No one looking over his shoulder. No conflict of interest rules. Not even court review. Pretty simple proposal. He insists it has to be done without meaningful discussion or debate or any change by the Congress. Sort of immediate authorization for use of financial force. Does this remind anybody of anything – like the rush into Iraq on election eve a number of years ago? It’s all too familiar.

“He wants to take care of Wall Street’s illiquid assets, his way of putting things. Less charitable pundits have said ‘cash for trash’ Wall Street could then return to business as usual. That’s Mr. Paulson’s plan.
“He is of, by, for and about Wall Street, the former head of Goldman Sachs. He wants to go back to the way things were. They should never go back to the way things were! There need to be consequences and there needs to be major change in the financial structures and the financial instruments and the regulation of Wall Street – Something this administration still continues to deny or says, ‘Oh, we’ll do it later after we give ‘em everything they want up front, after we bail ‘em out.

“Now many want a condition on what’ll happen here. They want to have oversight. That’s good. They want to limit executive compensation for any firm that takes a bail out. That’s good. They want a linkage to a main street stimulus package and jobs. That’s good. Those are all good. But we’ve got to question it and take our time here to question the basic premise. Should we just take all their junk that people like Hank Paulson created – exotic instruments, the big parties they’ve been throwing – should we just take that and give it to the taxpayers and borrow the money from who knows where? Or should we take an equity stake in these firms? That’s what the government did when it bailed out Chrysler. They said, ‘OK, we’ll bail you out, but we own you. And when you come back, we’re going to make money for the taxpayers. Secretary Paulson wants to set it up so that the taxpayers, at best— and in all likelihood this wouldn’t happen— might break even some day. No. We need to take an equity assurance from these firms, or we need to extend them loans. Have them mark down this junk to market. There’s a market for it, it’s about 22 cents on the dollar. Make ’em mark it down. And then if they’re threatened or they’re illiquid, they can come to us and ask for a loan. And the terms are going to be stiff and we aren’t going to give it to just any one of these firms. No. We need to do this. We need to do it with oversight.

“And executive compensation is key no matter which way we go. Oh, let the boards of directors control that? Come on. Boards of directors are all like first cousins and closer, you know? I mean, these people are all feathering each other’s nests. Hank Paulson himself got a $50 million bonus for one year. The same year Wall Street rewarded itself with $60 billion of bonuses. That’s not a mistake – billion dollars worth of bonuses in 2006. These people are out of control, They don’t understand the real world. And for them to talk about main street or pretend they’re populist and they care about main street and student loans and homeowners’ equity is a bunch of B.S. We need major structural reform.

“We are the last bulwark here – the House of Representatives, the United States Senate. Because if we pass this bill as they proposed it, we would be doing a terrible disservice to the American people, to the world economy. And what if his bet doesn’t work? You have the execs come out of it whole and then they scoot that money offshore into hiding holes or into gold or something else. What if it doesn’t work and we’ve extended our credit out about as far as it will go? Where are we going to borrow $700 billion? What’s the next step? We need a much more targeted, deliberative process. You can’t come up with it in three days or four days. We shouldn’t be rushed into this. If it takes a week, two weeks, three weeks, a month. The world will wait. They’ll wait for a thoughtful plan that cure the disease in addition to getting us beyond this initial problem. That’s the job of this congress. We should not be rolled by our Wall Street execs who’s masquerading as secretary of the treasury.”
I know how to fix things on Wall Street.

We need some guillotines & some large angry crowds.

The fun shouldn't be confined to NYers.

It could be a fine 'reality' show. Somehow make it into a contest with audience voting.

It'd be perfect for FOX. Eventually they could get around to executing hosts from FOX NEWS.

I bet it would be the most popular TV show ever.

Click to see enlarged image.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fleecing What’s Left of the Treasury


Posted on Sep 21, 2008

By Chris Hedges

The lobbyists and corporate lawyers, the heads of financial firms and the crooks who control Wall Street, all those who spent the last three decades assuring us that government was part of the problem and should get out of the way, are now busy looting the U.S. treasury. They are also working feverishly inside the Democratic and Republican parties to blunt any effective regulatory reform as they pass on their distressed assets to us. The process is stunning in its hubris and mendacity, and two of the most potent enablers of this unprecedented act of corporate welfare are John McCain and Barack Obama.

The federal government, reeling backward from the meltdown of financial markets, is now considering taking responsibility for the bad assets of numerous financial companies. But if that intervention does not include robust new mechanisms of regulation, accountability and control we will see nothing more than a massive taxpayer-funded bailout of stockholders and the financial industry.

The rhetoric of the two presidential candidates about the crisis has been filled with pious outrage about the abuses of Wall Street and short on actual solutions. John McCain and Barack Obama know, after all, who funds their campaigns. The financial industry has given $22.5 million in the current election cycle to Obama and $19.6 million to McCain, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And the financial industry has come around to collect. Two of the biggest financial groups in Washington, the Financial Services Roundtable and the Mortgage Bankers Association, have been holding meetings with McCain and Obama’s economic advisers. They are working with the campaigns to protect the unregulated power of financial industries and at the same time to shift bad debt to taxpayers. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Financial Services Roundtable, made up of the very banks and firms that got us into this mess, has developed draft legislation. The Roundtable has called a meeting this week with the chief executives of more than 50 banks, brokerages and insurers. The three-day meeting includes private, closed-door sessions on Thursday with Obama economic adviser Ian Soloman and McCain adviser Ike Brannon. Those hovering around Obama—economists like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers and Laura Tyson—bear as much responsibility for the dismantling of government regulation as those advising McCain.

If the financial-services industry is able to suck us dry, our assets, from our homes to our retirement investments, will continue to tumble. Taxes will go up. Jobs will be lost. The grim economic indicators will get worse. The dollar, which has already lost about a third of its value against the euro, will continue to plummet. The rate of foreclosures, one in every 416 U.S. households in August, will skyrocket. Consumer spending, the engine of the U.S. economy, will continue to decline. Industrial production, which has fallen for three consecutive quarters, will fall further. Unemployment, which shot up to 6.1 percent in August from 5.7 percent in July, will get worse. These tremors presage an earthquake.

Ralph Nader, who has spent his adult life battling corporations, understands more about the rise of the corporate state and the steady fleecing of American citizens by corporations than anyone else in the country. The core of his message is that Republicans and Democrats are hostage to corporate power...MORE

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Matt Stoller :: Yes, There Are Deeply Angry Democratic Members of Congress
This email is from a lawmaker and it should give you a flavor for what's going on right now in Congress:
"Paulsen and congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can't be any "add ons," or addition provisions. Fuck that. I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother fuckers.

"Nancy said she wanted to include the second "stimulus" package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don't want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few fucking bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible.

"Henry Waxman has suggested corporate government reforms, including CEO compensation, as the price for this. Some members have publicly suggested allowing modification of mortgages in bankruptcy, and the House Judiciary Committee staff is also very interested in that. That's a real possibility.

"We may strip out all the gives to industry in the predatory mortgage lending bill that the House passed last November, which hasn't budged in the Senate, and include that in the bill. There are other ideas on the table but they are going to be tough to work out before next week.

"I also find myself drawn to provisions that would serve no useful purpose except to insult the industry, like requiring the CEOs, CFOs and the chair of the board of any entity that sells mortgage related securities to the Treasury Department to certify that they have completed an approved course in credit counseling. That is now required of consumers filing bankruptcy to make sure they feel properly humiliated for being head over heels in debt, although most lost control of their finances because of a serious illness in the family. That would just be petty and childish, and completely in character for me.

"I'm open to other ideas, and I am looking for volunteers who want to hold the sons of bitches so I can beat the crap out of them."

Truthiness Stages a Comeback

NOT until 2004 could the 9/11 commission at last reveal the title of the intelligence briefing President Bush ignored on Aug. 6, 2001, in Crawford: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” No wonder John McCain called for a new “9/11 commission” to “get to the bottom” of 9/14, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off another kind of blood bath in Lower Manhattan. Put a slo-mo Beltway panel in charge, and Election Day will be ancient history before we get to the bottom of just how little he and the president did to defend America against a devastating new threat on their watch.

For better or worse, the candidacy of Barack Obama, a senator-come-lately, must be evaluated on his judgment, ideas and potential to lead. McCain, by contrast, has been chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, where he claims to have overseen “every part of our economy.” He didn’t, thank heavens, but he does have a long and relevant economic record that begins with the Keating Five scandal of 1989 and extends to this campaign, where his fiscal policies bear the fingerprints of Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina. It’s not the résumé that a presidential candidate wants to advertise as America faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. That’s why the main thrust of the McCain campaign has been to cover up his history of economic malpractice.

McCain has largely pulled it off so far, under the guidance of Steve Schmidt, a Karl Rove protégé. A Rovian political strategy by definition means all slime, all the time. But the more crucial Rove game plan is to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness. All campaigns, Obama’s included, engage in false attacks. But McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it.

When a McCain spokesman told Politico a week ago that “we’re not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say” about the campaign’s incessant fictions, he was channeling a famous Bush dictum of 2003: “Somehow you just got to go over the heads of the filter.” In Bush’s case, the lies lobbed over the heads of the press were to sell the war in Iraq. That propaganda blitz, devised by a secret White House Iraq Group that included Rove, was a triumph. In mere months, Americans came to believe that Saddam Hussein had aided the 9/11 attacks and even that Iraqis were among the hijackers. A largely cowed press failed to set the record straight.

Just as the Bushies once flogged uranium from Africa, so Palin ceaselessly repeats her discredited claim that she said “no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. Nothing is too small or sacred for the McCain campaign to lie about. It was even caught (by The Christian Science Monitor) peddling an imaginary encounter between Cindy McCain and Mother Teresa when McCain was adopting her daughter in Bangladesh.

If you doubt that the big lies are sticking, look at the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. Half of voters now believe in the daily McCain refrain that Obama will raise their taxes. In fact, Obama proposes raising taxes only on the 1.9 percent of households that make more than $250,000 a year and cutting them for nearly everyone else.

You know the press is impotent at unmasking this truthiness when the hardest-hitting interrogation McCain has yet faced on television came on “The View.” Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word “lies” to his face. The McCains are so used to deference from “the filter” that Cindy McCain later complained that “The View” picked “our bones clean.” In our news culture, Behar, a stand-up comic by profession, looms as the new Edward R. Murrow.

Network news, with its dwindling handful of investigative reporters, has barely mentioned, let alone advanced, major new print revelations about Cindy McCain’s drug-addiction history (in The Washington Post) and the rampant cronyism and secrecy in Palin’s governance of Alaska (in last Sunday’s New York Times). At least the networks repeatedly fact-check the low-hanging fruit among the countless Palin lies, but John McCain’s past usually remains off limits.

That’s strange since the indisputable historical antecedent for our current crisis is the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal of the go-go 1980s. When Charles Keating’s bank went belly up because of risky, unregulated investments, it wiped out its depositors’ savings and cost taxpayers more than $3 billion. More than 1,000 other S.&L. institutions capsized nationwide.

It was ugly for the McCains. He had received more than $100,000 in Keating campaign contributions, and both McCains had repeatedly hopped on Keating’s corporate jet. Cindy McCain and her beer-magnate father had invested nearly $360,000 in a Keating shopping center a year before her husband joined four senators in inappropriate meetings with regulators charged with S.&L. oversight.

After Congressional hearings, McCain was reprimanded for “poor judgment.” He had committed no crime and had not intervened to protect Keating from ruin. Yet he, like many deregulators in his party, was guilty of bankrupt policy-making before disaster struck. He was among the sponsors of a House resolution calling for the delay of regulations intended to deter risky investments just like those that brought down Lincoln and its ilk.

Ever since, McCain has publicly thrashed himself for his mistakes back then — and boasted of the lessons he learned. He embraced campaign finance reform to rebrand himself as a “maverick.” But whatever lessons he learned are now forgotten.

For all his fiery calls last week for a Wall Street crackdown, McCain opposed the very regulations that might have helped avert the current catastrophe. In 1999, he supported a law co-authored by Gramm (and ultimately signed by Bill Clinton) that revoked the New Deal reforms intended to prevent commercial banks, insurance companies and investment banks from mingling their businesses. Equally laughable is the McCain-Palin ticket’s born-again outrage over the greed of Wall Street C.E.O.’s. When McCain’s chief financial surrogate, Fiorina, was fired as Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive after a 50 percent drop in shareholders’ value and 20,000 pink slips, she took home a package worth $42 million.

The McCain campaign canceled Fiorina’s television appearances last week after she inadvertently admitted that Palin was unqualified to run a corporation. But that doesn’t mean Fiorina is gone. Gramm, too, was ostentatiously exiled after he blamed the economic meltdown on our “nation of whiners” and “mental recession,” but he remains in the McCain loop.

The corporate jets, lobbyists and sleazes that gravitated around McCain in the Keating era have also reappeared in new incarnations. The Nation’s Web site recently unearthed a photo of the resolutely anticelebrity McCain being greeted by the con man Raffaello Follieri and his then girlfriend, the Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway, as McCain celebrated his 70th birthday on Follieri’s rented yacht in Montenegro in August 2006. It’s the perfect bookend to the old pictures of McCain in a funny hat partying with Keating in the Bahamas.

Whatever blanks are yet to be filled in on Obama, we at least know his economic plans and the known quantities who are shaping them (Lawrence Summers, Robert Rubin, Paul Volcker). McCain has reversed himself on every single economic issue this year, often within a 24-hour period, whether he’s judging the strength of the economy’s fundamentals or the wisdom of the government bailout of A.I.G. He once promised that he’d run every decision past Alan Greenspan — and even have him write a new tax code — but Greenspan has jumped ship rather than support McCain’s biggest flip-flop, his expansion of the Bush tax cuts. McCain’s official chief economic adviser is now Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who last week declared that McCain had “helped create” the BlackBerry.

But Holtz-Eakin’s most telling statement was about McCain’s economic plans — namely, that the details are irrelevant. “I don’t think it’s imperative at this moment to write down what the plan should be,” he said. “The real issue here is a leadership issue.” This, too, is a Rove-Bush replay. We want a tough guy who will “fix” things with his own two hands — let’s take out the S.E.C. chairman! — instead of wimpy Frenchified Democrats who just “talk.” The fine print of policy is superfluous if there’s a quick-draw decider in the White House.

The twin-pronged strategy of truculence and propaganda that sold Bush and his war could yet work for McCain. Even now his campaign has kept the “filter” from learning the very basics about his fitness to serve as president — his finances and his health. The McCain multihousehold’s multimillion-dollar mother lode is buried in Cindy McCain’s still-unreleased complete tax returns. John McCain’s full medical records, our sole index to the odds of an imminent Palin presidency, also remain locked away. The McCain campaign instead invited 20 chosen reporters to speed-read through 1,173 pages of medical history for a mere three hours on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. No photocopying was permitted.

This is the same tactic of selective document release that the Bush White House used to bamboozle Congress and the press about Saddam’s nonexistent W.M.D. As truthiness repeats itself, so may history, and not as farce.


Click on image to see enlarged version.

Lipstick Bungle

Mr. McCain, on Monday you repeated your delusional notion that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Now, the federal government is working on a deal to save that economy from collapsing. You have admitted that the economy is not your forte, so you could have used a running mate with some financial chops. (Remember Mitt Romney?)

But no. Who did you pick? SnowJob SquareGlasses whose financial credentials include running Wasilla into debt, listing (but not selling) a plane on EBay and flip-flopping on a bridge to wherever. In fact, when it comes to real issues in general, she may prove to be a liability.

In what respect, you may ask?

It turns out that the Republican enthusiasm for Sarah Palin is just as superficial as she is. They were so eager for someone to cheer for (because they really don’t like you) that they dove face first into the Palin mirage. But, on the issues, even they worry about her.

In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this week 77 percent of Republicans said that they had a favorable opinion of Palin. But when asked what specifically they liked about her, their top five reasons were that she was honest, tough, caring, outspoken and fresh-faced. Sounds like a talk-show host, not a vice president. (By the way, her intelligence was in a three-way tie for eighth place, right behind “I just like her.”)...


And Palin is proving to be just as vacant as people suspected. In her interview with Charles Gibson last week, she didn’t know what the Bush doctrine was. At your first joint town hall meeting with her in Michigan on Wednesday, in front of an invitation-only crowd of Republicans no less, she dodged substantive questions about the issues as if they were sniper fire, while issuing a faux challenge to the audience to play a game of “stump the candidate”. Seriously?

Many of your supporters will no doubt cry sexism. Fine with me. But that defense rings hollow. I find many of them to be sexist. Fresh-faced? Delegates on the floor of the Republican National Convention wearing buttons like “Hoosiers for the hot chick”?



Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bush Compares The Financial Crisis He Created To The Terrorist Attacks He Never Saw Coming»

Today, President Bush gave his first substantial comments on the current economic crisis, trying to reassure the American public that his administration has a plan to get through it. Toward the conclusion of his speech, he cited the financial crisis in the same breath as terrorist attacks and natural disasters:

We’ve seen that resilience over the past eight years. Since 2001, our economy has faced a recession, the bursting of the dot-com bubble, major corporate scandals, an unprecedented attack on our homeland, a global war on terror, a series of devastating natural disasters. Our economy has weathered every one of these challenges, and still managed to grow.


He's workin' on that worst/stupidest president thing again.

Hey right wing nuts & doofii, thanks for voting this mental zero into office twice by keeping the vote count close enough to steal. I have an idea:

NEVER VOTE AGAIN. You're just too stupid.

Recommendations From Bush War Crimes Prosecution Conference
Submitted by davidswanson on Thu, 2008-09-18 15:01. Criminal Prosecution
By Sherwood Ross

ANDOVER , MASS. (Special) -- Twenty recommendations made at a conference on prosecuting President George Bush for war crimes are under consideration for action, according to conference convener Lawrence Velvel, a prominent law school dean.

"Attendees discussed the violations of international and domestic law that were committed and are now studying recommendations for action," said Velvel. “All of us feel that those who committed war crimes and other crimes against humanity must be held accountable," he said. “The continued viability of Nuremberg Principles barring aggressive war and torture depends on it.”

More than 120 public officials, lawyers, academics, and authorities on the U.S. Constitution and international law attended the two day conference, which was held in Andover , Massachusetts on September 13th and 14th.

The conference resulted in recommendations ranging from asking the next U.S. Attorney General to prosecute Bush, to having any of some 2,700 county district attorneys launch proceedings against him for murder, to having Bush prosecuted for war crimes in other countries.

A newly formed committee will decide which of the suggestions can practicably be pursued.

The complete list of possible actions is:

1. Working for the election of district attorneys who pledge to prosecute high level war criminals for murder under state law, and working for the reelection of district attorneys who pledge to prosecute such criminals for murder.

2. Working for the election of state attorneys general who pledge to prosecute high level war criminals for murder under state law.

- snip -

5. Requesting state bar authorities to disbar the lawyers who were part of the executive cabal to authorize torture and other abuses that are crimes under international law, domestic law, or both.

- snip -

7. Asking universities to conduct hearings on whether certain individuals (e.g., John Yoo, Jack Goldsmith) should be dismissed from faculties for aiding and abetting criminal acts.

8. A march of many thousands of American lawyers on the Department of Justice (a la Civil Rights or Viet Nam war marches or the million man march). The purpose of the march would be to highlight lawyers’ belief that crimes were committed and must be punished.

9. Seeking prosecutions of high level war criminals before foreign courts or before international tribunals such as the International Criminal Court.

10. Asking the next federal Attorney General to prosecute war criminals.

11. Seeking major congressional investigations of what occurred.

- snip -

14. Impeachment, even after the culprits leave office. And, unless he resigns from the federal bench, Jay Bybee, who collaborated with John Yoo on the first torture papers, will still be in office after the election.

15. Legislative or judicial action to dramatically cut back on, and sometimes totally eliminate, the present vast overuse by the federal government of the state secrets doctrine, executive privilege and other such doctrines.

16. Repeal of immunity amendments (which, even if not repealed, may have tremendous holes in them with regard to federal prosecutions, are unlikely to have any immunizing effect at the state level (though they may nonetheless be claimed as a defense), and whose only effect on foreign and international prosecutions would be to encourage them because these amendments indicate that the American federal government (like the governments of Argentina and Chile for many years) refuses to take action against federal criminals.

17. Resisting pardons, particularly advance pardons by Bush or the next president before there are convictions.

18. Creating an office of Chief Prosecutor(s), with Vince Bugliosi as Chief Prosecutor for domestic actions and perhaps a Co-Chief Prosecutor, with international prosecutorial experience, as Chief Prosecutor for foreign and international actions. This office would handle prosecutions in which governmental officials are willing to use “our” designated chief prosecutor as the lead lawyer, and would advise governmental prosecutors who desire to handle the prosecutions themselves but are willing to use “our” chief prosecutor as an adviser...

And bailouts for all...

Looks like AIG and its fraudulent business practices have gotten themselves a nice big bailout to the tune of $85 billion. So Conservative economics works like this:

-step 1: deregulate (let the looting begin)
-step 2: hide profits to avoid taxes (preferably in a Swiss bank)
-step 3: deny taxpayers any right to bankruptcy protection or legal protection from corporate thugs (think big tobacco), citing bootstraps and the American dream.
-step 4: demand that taxpayers bail you out once you have stolen everything
-step 5: make profits, don't pay taxpayers back

In response to this, the very first step that should be taken by Congress (assuming we ever get one) is to strip corporations of their "person-hood" and put behind bars every white collar crook anywhere near this fiasco - including those taking bribes in government...


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

‘Barbies for War!’

Published: September 16, 2008


I sautéed myself in Sarahville last week.


I talked to a Wal-Mart mom, Betty Necas, 39, wearing sweatpants and tattoos on her wrists.

She said she’s never voted, and was a teenage mom “like Bristol.” She likes Sarah because she’s “down home” but said Obama “gives me the creeps. Nothing to do with the fact that he’s black. He just seems snotty, and he looks weaselly.”

Ten Obama supporters in Wasilla braved taunts and drizzle to stand on a corner between McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. They complained that Sarah runs government like a vengeful fiefdom and held up signs. A guy with a bullhorn yelled out of a passing red car: “Go back to the city, you liberal Communists!”


I stopped by Sarah’s old Pentecostal church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, and perused some books: “The Bait of Satan,” “Deliverance from PMS,” and “Kissed the Girls and Made them Cry: Why Women Lose When They Give In.” (Author Lisa Bevere advises: “Run to the arms of your prince and enter your dream.”)

In Anchorage Saturday, I went by a conference conducted by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and supported by Sarah’s current church, the Wasilla Bible Church, about how to help gays and lesbians “journey out” of same-sex attraction.


I covered a boisterous women against Palin rally in Anchorage, where women toted placards such as “Fess up about troopergate,” “Keep your vows off my body,” “Barbies for war!” “Sarah, please don’t put me on your enemies list,” and “McCain and Palin = McPain.”

A local conservative radio personality, Eddie Burke, who had lambasted the organizers as “a bunch of socialist, baby-killing maggots,” was on hand with a sign reading “Alaska is not Frisco.”

“We are one Supreme Court justice away from overturning Roe v. Wade,” he excitedly told me.

R. D. Levno, a retired school principal, flew in from Fairbanks. “She’s a child, inexperienced and simplistic,” she said of Sarah. “It’s taking us back to junior high school. She’s one of the popular girls, but one of the mean girls. She is seductive, but she is invented.”

A well deserved really bad day for a dick:

A Washington lawyer reader sends this:

Gabriel Nathan Schwartz was a Colorado Delegate to the Republican National Convention. During the convention, Schwarz, 29, wasn't shy about talking to the media. ... In an interview filmed the afternoon of Sept. 3 and posted on the Web site LinkTV.org, Schwartz was candid about how he envisioned change under a McCain presidency. "Less taxes and more war," he said, smiling. He said the U.S. should "bomb the hell" out of Iran because the country threatens Israel.

Asked by the interviewer how America would pay for a military confrontation with Iran, he said the U.S. should take the country's resources. "We should plant a flag. Take the oil, take the money," he said. "We deserve reimbursement."

A few hours after giving that interview, Schwartz took a hooker back to his hotel room, where she drugged him and stole more than $120,000 in cash and jewelry.

In case you're wondering what anyone would be doing with $120k in cash and jewelry at a hotel, Schwartz said the haul was closer to $60,000, and was mostly accounted for by his own jewels: "The haul included a $30,000 watch, a $20,000 ring, a necklace valued at $5,000, earrings priced at $4,000 and a Prada belt valued at $1,000,...http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/008057.html
Banks: Whore Houses for the rich.

McCain and BCCI, the Bush Bank

Before he was selected to as Ronald Reagan’s 1980 running mate, George H.W. Bush had a short and little-known career as an international banker. That effectively started in 1976, while Bush was still CIA Director, a post he held for part of the Nixon and Ford Administration. In the final months of the Ford presidency, Bush made a deal with the newly-appointed head of Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, Prince Turki al-Faisal. The two spy chiefs agreed the CIA would look the other way while the Saudis ran their own global operations. In exchange, the Saudis financed the sort of black ops that had been banned by the Democratic Congress after Watergate and the Church Committee hearings. The arrangement was called “The Safari Club” , and the funding mechanism for this was the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, “BCCI”. See, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/7/8/146 ... ; http://www.saudiembassy.net/2006News/State ...

Newly-elected President Jimmy Carter fired the CIA Director. In early 1977, Houston banker Joe Allbritton appointed Bush to direct his First International Bancshares (dba, First Interbank) and its London and Luxembourg affiliates. According to Kevin Phillips, Bush’s bank was among the first outposts in America for BCCI. http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0111-0 ... In the early 1980s, Allbritton followed G.H.W. to Washington, purchasing Riggs Bank, installing brother Jonathan Bush as a Director.

Riggs closed in 2004 after being fined $25 million dollars for violation of federal money laundering and anti-terrorism laws. Riggs had catered to high-end foreign customers and the diplomatic trade in Washington, as well as having “a relationship” with the CIA. http://www.slate.com/id/2112015 / After 9/11, the bank was found to have transferred money from Saudi Embassy accounts that ended up supporting two of the 9/11 hijackers, Flt. 77 leaders Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khaleed al-Midhar after their arrival in the U.S. See, http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/b ...

Know Your Banking Customer: Salem Bin Laden

Meanwhile, back in Texas, First Interbank merged with Jim Baker’s Republic Bank, in which the Saudis had taken a stake with the 1978 purchase of the bank’ headquarters building by members of the Bin-Laden and bin-Mahfouz families. The merger of these two Texas banks several years later created the largest regional financial institution in the U.S. Infused with capital from Saudi Arabia, First RepublicBank went on a massive bargain buying binge in the Southwest oil patch. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/mar/3 ...

This Saudi-financed merger of the Bush bank with the Baker bank created the nation’s largest bank holding company, and soon the largest bank failure, resulting in a $1 billion tax-payer funded bailout in 1987. This was to become a pattern for the trillion dollar rip-off to come. See, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html ...

McCain's Role in Covering Up the The Trillion Dollar Bank Heist

It’s been said that the American people didn’t become very angry about the S&L crisis because the explanations given for what caused it were too complicated for many to comprehend. That seems to have set a pattern for financial scandals to follow. Nobody dared tell the American public – although the 1992 Kerry Commission report came close -- that their financial system was being looted by a well-funded, highly-organized global criminal organization with ties to half a dozen of the world’s most powerful intelligence services, including elements of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. They didn't name CIA Headquarters, "The George H.W. Bush Intelligence Center" for nothing. See,
http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1992_rpt/b ...

Buried in all this muck is the thread running through all these financial scandals – from Keating to Silverado to First RepublicBank to BCCI to Enron -- has been corrupt management, corrupt officials, corrupt intelligence operatives, and corrupt auditors. See, http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/92jan/st ...

As the group’s scams became more sophisticated and wide-ranging, the price tag for bail-outs escalated. The federal rescue of Neil Bush’ Silverado S&L cost the taxpayer $1.3 billion. The price tag for Charles Keating’s Lincoln Savings & Loan bailout eventually reached $2.6 billion. http://www.slate.com/id/1004633 BCCI was termed “the $20-billion-plus heist.” (Beatty, Jonathan; S.C. Gwynne. The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride Into the Secret Heart of BCCI Beard Books (1993)). Finally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) estimated that Enron fleeced ratepayers of $30 billion, creating the 2001 California energy crisis. On November 15, 2005, FERC settled with Enron’s receivers for a mere $1.5 billion. http://www.ferc.gov/industries/electric/in ...

The Keating S&L scandal was part of a now-familiar pattern of transnational commodities price-fixing, land grabs, stock-price rigging, fraudulent audits, financial panic, and public bailouts, all carried out by an overlapping cast of characters with ties to foreign and domestic intelligence agencies. Amidst the financial panic of 1986-88 that followed the drop of a barrel of oil from $39 to $13, many of these banks and S&Ls (and their land deeds and oil rights) were bought out for pennies on the dollar. More than a thousand deregulated financial institutions went belly up and were looted. Deregulation allowed crooked bank managers to cash in on the junk bond craze that was sweeping Wall Street. Banks and S&Ls issued unsecured notes and plots of land and traded them in circles with other institutions to ring up the notional value to support cash-out loans for themselves and their partners.

This is precisely the sort of round-robin games that Neil Bush, Director of Silverado S&L played with Charles Keating and his partners, Saudi European Investment Corp’s board and officers – Roger Tamraz, Tolat Othman, Abdullah Taha Bakhsh, Abbas Gokal -- along with other BCCI players. All told, the S&L scandal left the American taxpayer holding the tab for an estimated $1 trillion bailout. See, Steven Wilmsen: Silverado: Neil Bush and the Savings & Loan Scandal, p. 81; http://www.netmagic.net/~franklin/SS1.html ; ... ;
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getc ...

It was during this period that the Saudis and Gulf states leveraged their earnings from American bank acquisitions through junk-bond mills, and then moved on to the 1996 Chemical-Chase and Citi banks consolidations in New York. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html ... Today, Prince Alaweed’s Kingdom Holdings owns a substantial and growing share of Citicorp, the largest bank in America, along with a portfolio of the nation’s largest financial, technology and media corporations. A similar process of slash and burn acquisition of the U.S. financial industry is now going on with the collapse of the U.S. mortgage and derivatives markets. See, http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/week ... ; http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/11/business ...