True reform

Please watch this clip. Make your friends watch it, too.

The Discussion: 40 Comments

Sec. Paulson apparently sent over a 3-page “plan” to Congress basically to transfer the wealth of the US and the power of the purse to the Executive branch without judicial oversight. The corruption and audicity of it is mindboggling.

And we hear nothing about it from the mass media–“That’s the Bloomburg Edge.”

Isn’t Sec. Paulson a Skull & Bones member? I’m not sure that he is, but I’d like to confirm. Thanks.

September 24, 2008 @ 11:35 am | Comment

Nice video. I agree with her completely on NO bailout. However her proposed plan is just as goofy. Steal from the rich and give to the poor might sound nice, but it’s just as wrong as the rich lying to and stealing from the poor.

In my own honest opinion, install new regulations to eliminate all the wild west speculation, dishonesty, and excessive risk that brought this problem on, and let all the wrongdoes suffer for their losses. That includes Wall Street, but also includes all of the stupid american going into too much debt than they can handle. I don’t want Wall street to be bailed out, and at the same time we shouldn’t be bailing out stupid home-owners either.

September 24, 2008 @ 1:40 pm | Comment

Actually I agree with you Chip. I’ve never believed in bailing out homeowners, but we should do what we can to rewrite their mortgages so they can escape foreclosure – if possible.

September 24, 2008 @ 1:42 pm | Comment

The danger is that they’re not trying to solve the problem, but rather trying to make it bigger.

September 24, 2008 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

I think that was pretty good.

I agree that a lot of people got in over their heads with their mortgages, but on the other hand, for a lot of people, incomes didn’t keep pace with the cost of housing (wonder why?), rents aren’t any kind of a great deal, so what were the options, really? Add in all the job losses and I think it would be appropriate for a provision to re-negotiate mortgages with the aim of preventing foreclosures (which are bad for the economy in general, not just the individual homeowners affected).

If you look at income disparity in this country in this country from Reagan to the present, it shows the way that wealth has been redistributed out of the working and middle class and to the wealthiest Americans. It’s a rigged game.

I absolutely agree that any bailout plan must include limits on executive compensation and that the Federal government should get a return on this investment. Make these firms open up their books and quarantine the bad debt. Real oversight with vigorous enforcement is essential.

Otherwise it’s a license for the same people who got us into this situation to continue their massive rape of the American economy.

September 24, 2008 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

“Otherwise it’s a license for the same people who got us into this situation to continue their massive rape of the American economy.”

Many foreign businessmen now say that China is the model for the West.

It reminds me of the story told by Pan in “Out of Mao’s Shadow” about the profitable SOE that was driven into the ground by corrupt management so that they could buy back the SOE’s assets at fire sale prices in bankruptcy using the proceeds that they accumulated over the years by embezzling SOE profits.

September 24, 2008 @ 2:50 pm | Comment

Buck, that sounds about right, unfortunately.

Meanwhile we are awash in propaganda proclaiming that “free enterprise” is the answer to all of our problems and that government has no legitimate purpose beyond national defense (a concept which has been perverted into all sorts of justifications for authoritarianism).

America needs a new FDR. Would that I had any confidence we are going to get one with this election…

September 24, 2008 @ 2:56 pm | Comment

Here’s what I mean about growing income disparity:

In 2007, the total compensation of chief executives in large American corporations was 275 times that of the salary of the average worker, the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization, estimates. In the late 1970s, chief executive pay was 35 times that of the average American worker.

September 24, 2008 @ 3:36 pm | Comment

Obama’s top economic advisor (Goolsbee) is a Skull & Bones member.

JR: “Go to bed Sue Ellen, there’s nothing uglier than a woman who can’t handle her liquor!”

September 24, 2008 @ 4:00 pm | Comment

Obama’s top economics adviser is Austan D. Goolsbee, a Skull & Bones member and University of Chicago economics professor. According to Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine”, it is/was Milton Friedman’s University of Chicago economics department that gave birth to The Shock Doctrine. The essence of The Shock Doctrine is that “shocks” (natural or man-made disasters, such as wars, financial crises, etc.) are necessary to bring about radical political and economic transformations, usually authoritarian, free market coup d’etats.

From Wikipedia: ‘Austan D. Goolsbee is an economist and is currently the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

September 24, 2008 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

JR, this was one of my huge red flags about Obama. Extremely troubling, as are his weak environmental stances, sell-out of gays and lesbians to pander to evangelical voters and his less than full-throated support of women’s rights.

And then there’s McCain. Don’t get me started.

I want a do-over.

September 24, 2008 @ 4:25 pm | Comment

I’m going to vote for Nader.

On an unrelated note:

“But Wall Street, its lobbyists and trade groups are waging a feverish lobbying campaign to try to fight compensation curbs. Pay restrictions, they say, would sap incentives to hard work and innovation, and hurt the financial sector and the American economy.”

Actually, Stalin proved that the link between the level of incentive and hard work is a myth. Stalin proved that a worker/slave will work just as hard if one pays the worker/slave just slightly more than a subsistence wage than if one pays the worker/slave a high level of compensation.

JR: “Anything worth having is worth going for- all the way.”

September 24, 2008 @ 4:35 pm | Comment

Gah. I can’t vote for Nader. He’s an egomaniac and a destructive force in politics in recent years, which is sad. He was funded by Republicans in 2000, and look what happened.

I dunno. I live in California so I can vote for Obama or not and it won’t really matter. I am just extremely depressed that we’ve come to this, at a point when we really need leadership to take us in a positive direction. I don’t get that from Obama, and I sure don’t get that from McCain.

I’m going to watch the debates and see what I think. Anybody have suggestions for a drinking game that won’t totally destroy my liver?

September 24, 2008 @ 4:46 pm | Comment

“…we really need leadership to take us in a positive direction. I don’t get that from Obama, and I sure don’t get that from McCain.”

Obama’s a politician; a little pandering is to be expected. I say get the man into the Oval Office and give him a chance to lead because, as you say, the other guy hasn’t got the game to bring to the table.

I hope I can find the debates live online somewhere. It needs to be merciless, from both Obama and Biden, to the extent that fence-sitters are left in no doubt about who has the better leadership credentials.

September 24, 2008 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

A vote for Nader is a vote for Palin. Just remember that.

I completely don’t understand JR’s comment No. 10 above – what is the connection between Goolsbee and Milton Friedman? I just read the Wikipedia entry on him (for what that’s worth) and it’s pretty positive, with no reference to Friedman or Naomi Klein. So what kind of a connection are you making in comment No. 10, JR? That since he taught at the same school Friedman did, he is…well, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. I read his obituary of Friedman, and it was balanced and not at all fawning. They have disctinctly different perspectives on economics. I also went through some of his articles in Slate and he seems like a pretty smart guy who will fight against wage disparity and improving educational opportunities for the working class and their children. He is in some ways not as liberal as I might like, but he certainly doesn’t sound like one we should single out as a reason for not voting for Obama. As for his being Skull and Bones – I intrinsically distrust them, but that’s not a litmus test. After all, Kerry was S&B also, and I felt I had to vote for him. One of my favorite WaPo columnists, Dana Milbank, is a member as well. Let’s focus on what really matters, not the fact that someone advising Obama was a member of Skull & Bones.

Lisa while I am almost as depressed as you are, I’m still glad to see that we’ll be running the neocons out and keeping Palin and her running mate out as well. Have you seen the bounce Obama/Biden received in the wake of the financial crisis? At least there’s some good news this week. (The meltdown has take the spotlight off of Pakistan, where we are about to start a new war, and off of Afghanistan, where we are doing far worse than most of us want to believe, and off of Iraq, where the Sunnis are on the verge of being abandoned, opening the door for more violence.)

Obama is probably not the very best choice for world leader at this incredibly fragile moment, But Palin is definitely the worst possible choice, with McCain very close behind. I know who I’m voting for.

September 24, 2008 @ 6:06 pm | Comment

I received this email and thought it related:

From: Minister of the Treasury Paulson


Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check.

We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbail… so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully,

Minister of Treasury Paulson

September 24, 2008 @ 6:41 pm | Comment

At one point in M…e..i///n K, the psychopath H..i t-l-er recounts the “glorious time” when in his early days as an organizer he’d give lengthy speeches standing atop a table in a German beer hall ranting and raving for hours gazing into the bloody faces of a boisterous, drunken crowd of brawling St/orm Tr..oop..ers about the evils of those weak, corrupt politicians.

First Fear, Then Loathing, Toward Wall Street
Tuesday 23 September 2008

by: Allison Linn,

Public fear turns to anger over Wall Street collapse. (Photo: Richard Drew / AP)
Crisis sparks anger over executive salaries, lax regulation.

Steve Ebels hasn’t been that hurt by the recent stock market roller-coaster ride because he no longer has much to lose.

Ebels, who owns a heating business, said he already lost much of his life savings when a general contractor he was doing work for went belly up, leaving Ebels with a pile of bills for materials and labor he had already invested in the project.

And that is perhaps the biggest reason why Ebels, 51, would like to see the failed Wall Street titans pay for the actions that have led to this crisis. If he has to start over because of a soured business deal, he figures, so should they.

“I would just like to see some way that these people are held personally accountable,” he said. “We’ve got to do more of that in this country: personal responsibility and accountability.”

For Ebels, who lives in Falmouth, Mich., it’s also especially galling that people like him, who are already suffering from the weak economy, will now end up footing the bill for these chief executives’ mistakes.

“All (the bailout has) done is transfer all the indiscretions of all these people onto the shoulders of the taxpayers,” he said.

As Americans digest a dizzying series of events that has left Wall Street shaken to its core, the mood on Main Street is shifting from fear to loathing. They are angry that government regulators did not do enough to prevent this – and protect them – in the first place. They are upset the government is proposing billions of dollars in bailouts for Wall Street, even as many regular Americans are struggling to hang onto their homes and pay their bills.

They also are livid that massive financial firms in which they trusted took wild risks and made incredibly bad decisions, in turn impacting their personal finances. Some wonder why, in the face of such a massive financial crisis, so few of these executives have stepped up to apologize for, or even try to explain, their actions.

Mostly, they think it’s despicable that many of these top executives could walk away with millions of dollars in their bank accounts, even as some average Americans see their retirement plans thrown into chaos.

The Senate Tuesday opened a series of congressional hearings on the bailout plan that will address some of the issues, such as executive compensation and relief for regular homeowners, that have drawn some of the outrage.

The one thing Susan Provencal, 63, knows is that her retirement will not go as planned. First, Provencal was laid off from one, then another, high-paying job training workers. Then, she had to abandon a plan to live in her getaway home in the mountains because she couldn’t find enough work there, either.

So, Provencal decided to sell that home and put all her equity into a condo in the northern California city of Fairfield, where she found clerical work. But in the year since she bought the condo – and after staving off phone calls urging her to take on the type of non-traditional home loans at the center of this crisis – she has seen its value plummet.

Now, with her home equity wiped out, her regular income down and her retirement investments suffering, Provencal figures there will be no way she will retire in three years as she had hoped. Plus, she’s worried about her kids and grandkids, whom she wouldn’t be able to help if they lost their homes or their jobs.

As she struggles to figure out her drastically changed situation, Provencal says it’s aggravating to think that Wall Street executives aren’t suffering a similar financial fate.

“It’s like adding insult to injury to then see that the government is going to step in, and these idiots that have done wrongdoing for a long time are still going to retain big bonuses,” she said.

Provencal thinks the executives should have seen these problems coming. And if they couldn’t foresee it, then she thinks safeguards are needed to prevent the same thing from happening again.

“I hate to see too much regulation in place, but the bottom line is, these institutions have not been self-regulating,” she said.

At 59, Richard Martin also is dealing with a suddenly changed financial landscape. Martin had planned to stop working next year, using his 401(k) savings and two pensions he has earned to finance his retirement. But after watching his investment portfolio shrink for the past 12 months, he said that plan is looking iffy at best.

Adding to his woes, Martin now isn’t sure he’ll have a job, even if he does decide to keep working. The Grand Prairie, Texas, resident works for Electronic Data Systems, which was recently bought by Hewlett-Packard. Last week, HP announced plans to cut 24,600 jobs over the next few years as it absorbs EDS.

But even if he postpones retirement, Martin isn’t going to hold out for a stock market rebound. Last week, he arranged to have his 401(k) investments moved completely into cash-like investments. News later in the week of the proposed massive bailout plan didn’t make him feel better about betting on the markets.

“I’m not sure anything gives me any confidence anymore,” he said.

In fact, to Martin, the bailout seems to just be giving corporations what they want, without forcing them to change their ways enough to prevent the same thing from happening again. If these companies have spent the last few decades arguing for deregulation, he figures they should be willing to live with the consequences of a free market.

“I would have loved to have seen a few of these go under, personally,” Martin said. “The idea of the free market is that the strong survive and if they’re not capable of surviving, they shouldn’t be in the marketplace.”

Michael Danter, 45, thinks the government did the right thing by coming to the aid of a few financial institutions, in an effort to maintain some measure of confidence in the U.S. financial system.

Still, he thinks the top executives at companies getting federal aid should pay for their misdeeds in the form of a substantially smaller paycheck, especially since the savings could be enough to save a couple thousand regular workers their jobs.

“I know they work hard and I’m not into this socialism, but what’s enough? One million? Two million?” he asked.

Still, despite the current crisis, in general Danter said he’s against more regulation of the financial markets. The physician, who lives in St. Louis, also has no plans to get out of the stock market, especially since retirement is still a long way off for him.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is a good time to buy,” he said.

Even among experts, there is some room for anger.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research who was among the few predicting this type of mortgage-related disaster years ago, has the biggest beef with former Fed chief Alan Greenspan, who he believes should have done more to temper the housing bubble that is at the root of the crisis.

“If he didn’t know it was going on, it was undoubtedly incompetence on his part,” Baker said of Greenspan.

Mark Gertler, a professor of economics at New York University, also thinks Americans have a right to be angry, both at the regulators who failed to police these financial institutions and at the companies who didn’t see this mess coming.

While many Americans may have assumed that the denizens of Wall Street had a keener understanding of the situation than they did, he said it’s been sobering to realize that even executives at some of the biggest financial companies, such as insurance giant AIG, didn’t fully appreciate the risk involved.

“The thing you learn is people who seem smarter than you may not be,” he said. “That’s the scary thing.”

September 24, 2008 @ 7:18 pm | Comment

A vote for Nader is a vote for Palin. Just remember that.

That’s like saying a vote for Edwards was a vote for someone else. Whatever you may think, he wasn’t going to take the nomination.

I very much disagree with the prevailing view that you “have” to vote for one of the top two candidates in an election, else you are:

a) wasting your vote
b) letting in a “nasty”

I find it unfortunate that there is no represented third party in the US (i.e. that can win representation in Congress and at least contest the presidental elections). Whilst I wouldn’t say that a vote for Nader would change that, it is in my view important to vote for candidates who you actually approve of – otherwise nothing will change. The exception is if someone like France’s Le Pen is running, and the McCain ticket certainly does not represent that.

September 24, 2008 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

On the flip side I would also disagree that a vote for Bob Barr is a vote for Obama/Biden and thus must also be opposed by people that don’t want to see either of them in government.

September 24, 2008 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

Financial systems are by their nature chaotic and will fall over regularly when new technology and trading patterns allow practitioners to push the boundaries in their quest for profit – all knowing that it is a based on the hope of finding a “greater fool”. (Roman financial crisis – Chinese silk import burden, internationalised silver specie; South Sea Bubble – cheap printing, limited companies; French Lottery – the manual telegraph system, basic laws of probability; the 1890 – 1910 copper corners –formalised commodity markets, electric telegraph; 1929 Crash wide ticker tape, investments, trusts/ investment banks on the back of commercial deposits; Cadburys, Barings, LTC, this one – derivatives (of ever increasing complexity), electronic communications. Regulation always has to play catch up (time to understand and legislate against the past problem, also the best of the best join the grown up’s not the regulators), usual over time are counter productive (Glass Segal Act). However despite the call for more regulation, and the doom meisters calling that the sky will fall, we do seem to move forward. In general rather successfully, after all we are all better off than the Average Roman Pleb. ….. hum may be there is something in this capitalist system that works, lets not throw the baby out with the bath water.

September 24, 2008 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

One used to see bumper stickers on trucks in middle America that read: “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out!”

I suppose that such a perspective does tend to absolve one of responsibility while allowing one to vent one’s anger.

September 24, 2008 @ 8:57 pm | Comment

Personally, this meltdown has been a financial disaster for me as I depend on the market for my livelihood.
So who’s to blame?
I read and listened to at least 2 dozen “experts” and each one, from Cramer, to Krugman, to Samuelson etc, ALL have different opinions on who is to blame and what to do about it.
I even read Larissa comments on Huffington Post that this whole mess has been engineered by the Bush Fascists to take over the government in a business coup. Declare martial law, anything to retain “power”
I don’t know if these folks are deranged or can see into the future.
“Fear is the mind killer”…Dune
We seem to be in THAT place right now.

September 24, 2008 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

Finally a reason to like Toledo. Unfortunately, the rest of my home state doesn’t seem to be as enlightened.

September 24, 2008 @ 10:16 pm | Comment

Raj: A vote for Barr or Nader is a vote for Palin. Period. A vote for anyone else but the Democratic ticket is a vote for Palin. I don’t much care who is on the ticket (within reason) if they are a Democrat and have demonstrated a modicum of intelligence, awareness and the demonstrated ability to coherently discuss pressing issues and shown they are actively considering solutions. Do I wish it were my dream candidate (whoever that may be)? Certainly, but irrelevant. Whoever is on that ticket I’ll vote for. And I’m certain you would, too. You wouldn’t really want Palin running the world, now would you??

Whish, there will always be ups and downs, but some downs are more severe than others. No matter who you are reading, there is near-total consensus on one thing: that this is much deeper than most of us realize and will last longer than most of us expect. It’s not about a quarter or two or even a year or two. It’s about a reorganization of America as we transition to a different role in the world.

And Whishkers, we’ve argued about many things before, but go back and see what I was saying about the economy one year ago, especially about the dollar and gold.

“Peking Duck Infallibility” I think is what they call it.

I’ve said before I felt this was China’s century, not due to any admiration of China, but because it was clear to me we were stumbling while China (and others) were rising. The financial crisis just kicked us down the stairs. It’ll hurt China in all sorts of ways, but nothing like what we are seeing in America. I know it is affecting my own plans right now at this instant, and it’s probably affecting yours (everyone reading this) as well. We all have to readjust.

September 24, 2008 @ 10:57 pm | Comment

Yes—“No matter who you are reading, there is near-total consensus on one thing: that this is much deeper than most of us realize and will last longer than most of us expect. It’s not about a quarter or two or even a year or two. It’s about a reorganization of America as we transition to a different role in the world. ”

September 24, 2008 @ 11:03 pm | Comment

Raj: A vote for Barr or Nader is a vote for Palin. Period.

Huh, a vote for Barr is a vote for Palin? Surely he’s more likely to attract McCain leaners than Obama leaners….

September 25, 2008 @ 12:03 am | Comment

Only one party can defeat Palin, for better of for worse, and that is the Democratic Party. We should have more parties, but for now we don’t. So anyone who votes who does not vote for the Democratic candidate is in effect voting for Palin. It is a wasted vote, one that could have been used to defeat the wicked witch of the north.

September 25, 2008 @ 12:13 am | Comment

It’s true that only two tickets are likely to win, but you’re missing the point. If you want to complain about votes going to another candidate, the Republicans can make the same complaint.

You might also want to read this article:

wicked witch of the north

I find it ironic that you complain when I have negative stuff to say about the Chinese Communist Party, yet you call McCain “evil” (a term I do not use) and Palin the above.

Or is it that you would never say the same about the Republican Party and see individuals as a free-for-all? So you wouldn’t complain if I called Hu Jintao “evil” or likened Wen Jiabo to “Saruman/Sauron”? Or, God forbid, you’d say both are better than McCain and Palin? That would be pretty twisted.

September 25, 2008 @ 12:33 am | Comment

Raj, i am being quite tongue in cheek in that light-hearted and well-meaning nick-name for St. Sarah. It is the name of a leading character of a movie you’ve probably never heard of.

I don’t believe I have ever called McCain “evil.” I’m afraid you misunderstood something. Absolutely never said it. A fantasy. Now, many Republicans nowadays are prone to fantasy, so don’t be too alarmed.

Meanwhile, just remember – a vote for anyone who is not on the Democratic presidential ticket is a vote that helps Palin.

September 25, 2008 @ 12:48 am | Comment

Stuart, there’s a difference between pandering, which I get (I’ve worked on political campaigns) and unnecessary sell-outs on bottom-line issues. Obama’s vote on FISA I’d put in the latter category, and his pandering (oops, I did use that term myself) to evangelical voters by campaigning with people who would deny equal rights to gays and lesbians. I have a lot of friends who would be directly affected by the passage of prop. 8 in California – it’s wrong, and I don’t want to see this happen.

Richard, several of Obama’s economic advisors, including Goolsbee (I forget the name of the other guy) are Chicago School of Economics guys – to the left of Milton Freedman to be sure, but with those same disconcerting “neo-liberal” stances that favor privatizing Social Security (and what a great Wall Street pig-out that would be).

I don’t know, I want to get onboard, I want to support him, I want a change in this country – we desperately need it. But I’ve never felt so discouraged by my choices before.

September 25, 2008 @ 1:46 am | Comment

Richard, I could swear you said that about McCain some time ago but it’s possible you re-wrote the entry after I read it or I misread it. Certainly if you say you wouldn’t have meant that then I’m very happy to hear it.

Perhaps being a foreigner means I just can’t get that annoyed about Palin. I’m not voting for anyone so I don’t have to make a choice. But as I say about Obama, I hope that any misgivings I have about her wouldn’t be proven by how she acted in office (if she becomes VP).

I hear that McCain has asked for the Friday debate to be moved back because of the on-going discussions over the “rescue package”.

September 25, 2008 @ 4:07 am | Comment

When, in a moment of crisis in China, will we be able to hear such a declaration from an elected/unelected member of the National People´s Congress?

September 25, 2008 @ 4:40 am | Comment


We’ve debated many things for sure but I have not challenged your contention that this is China’s century, that is one of many reasons that I am here in SH.
My point was whatever the degree, one in a thirty, fifty or hundred years, financial problems come and go. I agree that you were perceptively arguing for a gold safe havens a year ago.

With all of the above I find Ob’s positions less than presidential – if he wants to debate himself by himself – I think he will show himself as a vain peacock.

September 25, 2008 @ 8:04 am | Comment

Well, here’s where I’m on Obama’s side – by all means, go to Washington and work on a bipartisan solution to the Wall St. mess – but as Obama said, they have these airplanes – they should fly to Mississippi and debate. I want to see these two face to face, discussing the issues.

September 25, 2008 @ 8:06 am | Comment

Lisa, did you see what Letterman said about McCain’s mind-boggling decision to suspend his campaign and skip the debate:

David Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.

Then in the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, “Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?”

Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, “You don’t suspend your campaign. This doesn’t smell right. This isn’t the way a tested hero behaves.” And he joked: “I think someone’s putting something in his Metamucil.”

“He can’t run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second-string quarterback, Sarah Palin. Where is she?”

“What are you going to do if you’re elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We’ve got a guy like that now!”

On a totally different topic, for those who insisted the bailout would actually strengthen the dollar, please read this:

US dollar set to be major casualty of Hank Paulson’s bailout
This may prove to be the dollars epochal moment the moment historians look back at as its major turning point.

Whether or not tomorrows accounts of todays turmoil prove David Owen of Dresdner Kleinwort right; whether or not this is the beginning of the end of the dollars pre-eminence in the worlds central banks and foreign exchanges, the economic landscape has undoubtedly changed forever.

The US taxpayer bail-out of Americas banking sector is an event whose significance will reverberate for many years. What it means for free markets, for the way Western economies are run, for the prosperity of the world economy, must remain to be seen.

But as investors scrambled to make sense of last weeks events, already one conclusion was all but irrefutable the US dollar will have to take another major fall.

The dollar rally that began in July and pushed the pounds value against the greenback significantly lower has come to an abrupt end as markets face up to the fact that the currency will have to absorb the effects of a sudden shocking increase in Americas budget deficit.

And yet McCain said on the day the crisis hit its peak in the media that America’s economy is fundamentally sound. Then, days later when his polls start to suck, he suddenly says the situation is SO dire he needs to stop campaigning, chicken out of his debate and work on the bailout plan. Right. Read what Letterman said again.

There were a few moments the week after the GOP convention where the notion entered my mind that McCain might actually win. Any such fears are now gone. Palin appeared to be a brilliant choice at the moment, but now, when America is looking for leaders, they are recognizing that Palin is the worst possible choice.

Raj, I never wrote anything even close to calling McCain evil. A liar, a hypocrite, cruel – but evil is a special word I reserve for the likes of Dick Cheney and Pol Pot.

Lisa, I want to see them debate, too. But for me it will be more for entertainment – there is nothing McCain can say that will make me pull the lever for Palin. The importance for the debate is for the undecideds, and there are a lot of them. The real debate I am waiting for is Palin-Biden. That could be critical – we’ve seen Obama and McCain speak and answer questions without a teleprompter for years now. Not so with Palin, and in the debates she can’t hide, it’s sink or swim time. She’d better not blink.

September 25, 2008 @ 10:09 am | Comment

Well, there is no way I would vote for McCain. But I really want to like Obama. I don’t think he generally does well in debate or off-the-cuff situations, and it worries me because to me it suggests a certain lack of development in his policy ideas and an inability to communicate what it is he’d really like to do and what he really cares about. The speeches are another thing, but those are off a teleprompter.

So I want to see Obama debate McCain. I want to see him win a debate based on the quality of his ideas and the clarity of his communication. I want to feel better about him as a potential president.

I am really looking forward to the Biden/Palin debate. That one has “surreal” written all over it. Biden is really well-informed but has this tendency to go off on strange tangents. Palin is…well, who knows what Palin is?

September 25, 2008 @ 10:49 am | Comment

Can’t argue with any of that. I would like to be reassured about Obama myself, even though i will vote for him no matter what. As for Palin – I think it’s becoming clear that she was a tragic mistake. People’s concerns have shifted in the past 10 days. They don’t want a nincompoop running the country at a time when they are afraid of losing their savings.

September 25, 2008 @ 11:03 am | Comment

The poisoning of baby’s milk is just a symptom of a larger moral collapse in Chinese society. In the US, we’re experiencing a similar moral collapse. If people are willing to knowingly poison infant formula (or maliciously or recklessly cause the collapse of the US financial system), then there’s no moral floor as to how far we will sink into the moral abyss.

I’m certain that if one wanted to re-create Au..sch/w==it/ z in China, then all one would have to do is to take an existing hell-hole Chinese export factory (and there are literally thousands of them) and then pay them some money to liquidate their less efficient workers. You’d have to make it legal, of course, or, at least, pay off enough government people to look the other way, but you could do it. There is no moral bottom.

September 25, 2008 @ 11:43 am | Comment

“…for what is proposed is not the nationalization of private corporations but rather a corporate takeover of government. The marriage of highly concentrated corporate power with an authoritarian state that services the politico-economic elite at the expense of the people….”

A Fox to Protect the Henhouse?
by Robert Scheer

Does it really matter which party is in charge when it comes to bailing out the Wall Street hustlers whose shenanigans have bankrupted so many ordinary folks? Not if the Democrats roll over and cede power to the former head of Goldman Sachs, the investment bank at the center of our economic meltdown.

What arrogance for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson-who the year before President Bush appointed him treasury secretary was paid $16.4 million for heading the company that did as much as any to engineer this financial travesty-to now insist we must blindly trust him to solve the problem. Paulson is demanding the power to act with “absolute impunity,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who admonished the treasury chief: “After reading this proposal, it is not only our economy that is at risk, Mr. Secretary, but our Constitution as well.”

Clearly, it’s a vast improvement to have Dodd in the chairman’s seat of the Senate Banking Committee, asking the right questions, rather than his predecessor, Texas Republican Phil Gramm, who presided over the committee in the years when the American economy, long the envy of the world, was viciously sabotaged by radical deregulation legislation.

Gramm, whom Sen. John McCain backed for president in 1996, pushed through the financial market deregulation that has brought the American economy to its knees. Maybe this time Congress won’t give the financial moguls everything they want, including a bailout for foreign-owned banks like Swiss-based UBS, where Gramm now hangs out as a very well paid executive when he’s not advising the presidential campaign of McCain, his old buddy and partner in crime. Oops, sorry, no crimes were committed because the deregulation laws Gramm pursued and McCain faithfully supported decriminalized the financial scams that have proved so costly.

Just check out the language of Gramm’s pet projects, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. By preventing mergers between the various branches of Wall Street, the former act reversed basic Depression-era legislation passed to prevent the sort of collapse we are now experiencing. The latter legitimized the “swap agreements” and other “hybrid instruments” that are at the core of the crisis.

The legislation’s “Legal Certainty for Bank Products Act of 2000,” Title IV of the law-a law that Gramm snuck in without hearings hours before the Christmas recess-provided Wall Street with an unbridled license to steal. It made certain that financiers could legally get away with a whole new array of financial rip-off schemes.

One of those provisions, summarized by the heading of Title III, ensured the “Legal Certainty for Swap Agreements,” which successfully divorced the granters of subprime mortgage loans from any obligation to ever collect on them. That provision of Gramm’s law is at the very heart of the problem. But the law went even further, prohibiting regulation of any of the new financial instruments permitted after the financial industry mergers: “No provision of the Commodity Exchange Act shall apply to, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission shall not exercise regulatory authority with respect to, an identified banking product which had not been commonly offered, entered into, or provided in the United States by any bank on or before December 5, 2000. …”

Even some Republicans on the Senate committee expressed exasperation Monday with the swindles that they had voted for with such enthusiasm in the past, as well as with giving Wall Street yet another blank check. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., condemned Paulson’s proposal as an effort to “take Wall Street’s pain and spread it to the taxpayers.” He added, “It’s financial socialism and it’s un-American.”

He’s wrong on that last point, for what is proposed is not the nationalization of private corporations but rather a corporate takeover of government. The marriage of highly concentrated corporate power with an authoritarian state that services the politico-economic elite at the expense of the people is more accurately referred to as “financial fascism.” After all, even Hitler never nationalized the Mercedes-Benz company but rather entered into a very profitable partnership with the current car company’s corporate ancestor, which made out quite well until Hitler’s bubble burst.

Smell a rat if Congress approves the Paulson plan without severely curtailing CEO pay and putting a freeze on the mortgage foreclosures that are threatening to destroy the homes of millions of Americans.

September 25, 2008 @ 11:45 am | Comment

Bush: “Without immediate action by Congress, American could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold,” Bush said in a 12-minute prime-time address from the White House East Room that he hoped would help rescue his tough-sell bailout package.”

This is a LIE. If they’re worried about averting a collapse of equity markets, then all that they have to do is do what other governments have vowed to do: Pump money into falling equity markets.

This is a coup d’etat of the US government.

September 25, 2008 @ 11:46 am | Comment

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