Tuesday, September 30, 2008
"I realized early on with horror what I was seeing in Governor Palin: the continuation of the Rove-Cheney cabal, but this time without restraints. I heard her echo Bush 2000 soundbites ("the heart of America is on display") and realized Bush's speechwriters were writing her -- not McCain's -- speeches. I heard her tell George Bush's lies -- not McCain's -- to the American people, linking 9/11 to Iraq. I heard her make fun of Barack Obama for wanting to prevent the torture of prisoners -- this is Rove-Cheney's enthusiastic S and M, not McCain's, who, though he shamefully colluded in the 2006 Military Tribunals Act, is also a former prisoner of war and wrote an eloquent Newsweek piece in 2005 opposing torture. I saw that she was even styled by the same skillful stylist (neutral lipstick, matte makeup, dark colors) who turned Katharine Harris from a mall rat into a stateswoman and who styles all the women in the Bush orbit --but who does not bother to style Cindy McCain.
Then I saw and heard more. Palin is embracing lawlessness in defying Alaskan Legislature subpoenas --this is what Rove-Cheney, and not McCain, believe in doing. She uses mafia tactics against critics, like the police commissioner who was railroaded for opposing handguns in Alaskan battered women's shelters -- Rove's style, not McCain's. I realized what I was seeing.
Reports confirmed my suspicions: Palin, not McCain, is the FrankenBarbie of the Rove-Cheney cabal."
Monday, September 29, 2008
But instead he ranted on with numerous culled soundbites from some 2004 hearing purporting to show how all these bad mortgages were shoved down the throats of concerned Republicans including Bush and McCain who were resisting and raising warning flags to no avail, as the minority members of Congress willfully ripped away any restraint from Fanny and Freddie.
The sneer of racism was thinly veiled by the Bloviator, as he has toned his overt racism down a little, believe it or not, from his glory days. But it seems he would like to incite a riot of sorts of white good-ol-boys who get stuck for paying for colored good-for-nothings to stay in their homes. Hard to tell just how cynical he is this time. We know he usually doesnt believe a word he is saying in his rants, as he confessed after the 2006 midterm elections, the only sure thing we can say about his peculiar form of psycho pathology bred from his tormented closeted childhood, is he truly hates America and would like to see nothing better than riots in the streets as he sits in his isolated bunker behind fortified walls, ranting over the daily papers like some demented unemployed resentful alcoholic.
His choosing of the label 'Operation Chaos' for his treasonous unpatriotic shenanigans during the primary, really reveals his true mission, to bring chaos to the country he hates so much for teasing him all during his childhood.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Webster Tarpley Aug 2007
"THE FOUR TRILLION DOLLAR HEDGE FUND BUYOUT ORGY OF 2006
Under Bush, with figures like White and Paulson at the Treasury, Wall Street has forgotten what productive investment in new plant and equipment even looks like. Millions of jobs have been lost to the runaway shop under the auspices of free trade swindles NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, and WTO. Under the reign of these financial parasites, we have witnessed an unprecedented boom in leveraged buyout deals, where one group of corsairs used junk bonds to take over an existing company, often firing many of the employees, cutting the wages and increasing the hours of those who remain, introducing speedup, busting unions, terminating health care, selling off parts of the business, and leaving what is left groaning under the burden of crushing debt which has not added anything to technology or other capabilities, but has lined the pockets of Wall Street lawyers and investment bankers.
These deals are a microcosm of what is wrong with US vulture capitalism today: paper wealth for a few gluttons of privilege is maximized, while jobs, wages, working conditions, and productive output in the real economy are mercilessly driven down. Leveraged buyouts and junk bonds need to be outlawed as a public menace. When Wall Street begs for aid in the coming months, don't forget that they were the ones who for years applauded every time American workers were fired by a leveraged buyout (LBO) pirate.
Since paper profits are no longer invested in anything productive, they flow into these leveraged buyout deals, often called private capital transactions. The peak of this activity came in 2006, when there were $4 trillion in mergers and acquisitions, with $1 trillion of straight leveraged buyout deals. About $500 billion of this frenzy came in December 2006, setting the stage for 2007 to become the crisis year it has now become. Every LBO or private equity or private capital deal means fewer jobs, lower wages, less buying power, and thus, most to the point, less ability to keep up with mortgage payments. This problem was escalated by the takeover of many of the subcontractors and parts suppliers of the auto industry by predator hedge funds during 2005-2006. It got even worse when battered Chrysler was sold by Daimler Benz to the Cerberus Fund, aptly named after the hound of hell. As the collapse and looting of auto rippled through the economy, the income flows on which the sustenance of the mortgage bubble depended were severely constricted, leading to the current panic.
this essay from a year ago is coming all too true today:
"WALL STREET DERIVATIVES MONSTERS TOO BIG TO BAIL OUT
It would take more than $38 billion to bail out Goldman, Bear, Merrill, and the rest. The bonds of the firms just mentioned are already rated as high-risk junk. The Wall Street banks and investment banks represent a black hole into which literally trillions of dollars could disappear without a trace it is enough to cite the derivatives holdings of JP Morgan Chase and Citibank, who are listed in the spring 2007 report of the Controller of the Currency as having $105 trillion in derivatives between them, and the reality is a multiple of that. In addition, there is fear of the unknown. This past week traders from Rick Santelli in Chicago to London stock touts have reported that a large financial entity something probably bigger than Goldman Sachs has been selling off a portfolio of some $10 to $15 billion in value. No one has said publicly what this entity is, or what this "unprecedented event" might represent. A few days ago, oil hit an all-time high of $78 per barrel. It then fell back 10%, because so much of the price of oil at least $30 at present levels is pure hedge fund speculation. And these hedge funds, as they near bankruptcy, massively sell off oil futures. Gold has taken some nasty dips for the same reason.
DOW 36,000 IN SIGHT THANKS TO HYPERINFLATION
In 1998, neocon economic commentator James Glassman got some attention by predicting a steady rise to Dow 36,000. Now, Glassman mat get his wish THANKS TO hyperinflation. If the central banks continue to "inject" tens of billions of dollars every day, while secretly buying masses of worthless kited paper from banks and investment banks, we may soon experience a fool's paradise interlude which to some will look like recovery after all, the stock market may appear to be rising. But watch the prices for milk, other food items, gasoline, and other staples. If they begin to levitate upward, we will know that the fan and bellows of hyperinflation are indeed at work.
Helicopter Ben earned his name some years ago by giving a speech in which he said that he could stop a panic from becoming a depression by dumping bales of dollars out of helicopters to provide stimulus. He has thus always had a hyperinflationary overtone. On Tuesday, August 7, Bernanke presided over a Fed meeting that refused to cut interest rates, and also failed to offer the bankrupt speculators words of assurance that they would be assisted. This was followed two days later by a panicked selloff, with the DJIA down 387 points.
DEATH AGONY OF THE US DOLLAR
These events represent a new phase of the death agony of the US dollar, which has been in decline since about the start of the Iraq war, and has gone from 80 cents to buy a euro to almost $1.40. Knowing that the dollar is a wasting asset, and also because of widespread hatred for Bush, everyone in the world has been attempting to dump the dollar in any way possible."
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Limbaugh was so ecstatic the day after McCain caved in to the Christo-fascists and 'picked' someone he had no clue about, as they weren't going to let him have his own 'maverick' choice of whatsisname, Holy Joe something. Limbaugh was calling it 'sheer genius', of course, it was HIS idea (with a little help from some college kid blogger)!!! Of course it is genius!!!! What else could it be?
Or maybe Limbaugh will give us all a break and take off to the Dominican Republic for another sex tourism vacation with little boys.
"Submitted by Guest (WPN reader) on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 11:13am.
that video is pure propaganda
It just astounds me the cognitive dissonance at work in ideologues who, after 8 years of utter failure and fiasco, will stick with what's untrue to the bitter end. We've been here before and guess who was in charge the other times? Something similar happened in the 1920's, when Republicans were in charge, inflating the market at Wall Street, and it took a Democrat, FDR, to come in and clean it up. It happened again, with John McCain and his Keating friends at the center of it, in the 1980's, with the Savings & Loans crisis. Bush Sr. led us into recession, and once again it took a Democrat to come in and clean it up and give the country a surplus that fixed so-called "fiscal conservatives'" massive deficits. So here we go again with unfettered capitalism and the corruption it breeds (that's a Republican criticism, by the way, all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt who said it), and the need for some smart-as-a-whip Democrat to fix it.
You're crediting the low-income lending for this? Even conservative old O'Reilly admitted that was just one percent of the problem. You mentioned the credit swaps, that was right, and those credit swaps, removing barriers between banks and securities companies, were the brainchild of Phil Gramm, McCain's former advisor and critic of a nation of whiners. He slipped them into legislation in 1999, granted, it was signed by Bill Clinton. These credit swaps are the problem, not the low-income lending, not the Demon Democrats.
The bigger picture is one painted by Nixonian economics, criticized by Republican Ron Paul (he calls it a fiat economy), set up in 1970's where our entire system is predicated on credit, or the credibility that our currency is worth something. Paul notes fiat systems are doomed to fail, and that's what we are witnessing now. This is not a Democrat problem, especially with all the Nixonians in power these past decades--Bush Sr. and Dick Cheney come to mind immediately.
Personally not a fan of Democrat ideology most of the time, but it's time to stop 20th Century-thinking Republicans from destroying everything by rewarding greed and ignoring the people. Step by step we come closer to fascism.
And you should be ashamed of yourself for spreading their propaganda."
Their favorite citation is a 2005 bill that supposedly would have prevented this had it passed, but too many Democrats were in the pocket of Wall Street, unlike the stalwart heroic maverick defender McCain.
So what really happened with that 2005 bill? It's hard to tell just by reading Limbaugh's patented Newspeak drivel, but evidently he thinks it is glaringly obvious and everyone else are fools, as usual, except of course, for his mythical 'my friends' toadies.
Friday, September 26, 2008
"· My paranoid fantasy...
...no longer seems quite so paranoid. And what is this fantasy?
That Bush/Cheney will determine it's no longer "safe" to leave office on Jan. 20, 2009 -- that the situation here and around the world makes a Constitutional transition of power, orderly or otherwise, too "risky". They've already suspended or subverted multiple Constitutional guarantees of other sorts -- why should THIS one be any different?
The third Bush term could actually become a literal third Bush term. How's THAT for a nightmare scenario, gang? Ya gotta have a little "muscle" to back up such a coup -- this Army unit would seem to fill the bill. Say, have they got any of those fabled BLACK HELICOPTERS?
[Read RichEmery's other letters]
Permalink Wednesday, September 24, 2008 10:42 AM
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"· The great Arthur Silber...
... doesn't like the sound of this one bit:
[Read vastleft's other letters]
Permalink Wednesday, September 24, 2008 10:44 AM
· People call you paranoid
When you maintain that it is a citizen's responsibility to prepare to defend themselves from their own gov't. They call you crazy and a survivalist, a gun nut, a loon, etc. Sadly, my own liberal friends (whose pov I generally share) are the worst about this. What can such a measure mean? Why on earth would our own congress want to pass this? The only thing I can think of is that we are rapidly, irrevocably heading in a totalitarian direction. Total information awareness, the "war on drugs", the militarization of our police, the erosion of civil liberties, etc. I think they are going to steal this election, and when the populace rightly goes batshit about it, they are going to roll in the troops. Get ready for the collective rat cage, America. You shoulda seen it comin.
-- Manimal "
It seems to have worked beautifully in Bush's knee-jerk reactions to 911 which have done infinitely more damage to our own country than to the terrorists, while also destroying Iraq and Afghanistan in the bargain.
Bush destroyed our civil liberties and our economy and our world standing all on his own. Bin Laden is chuckling in his cave with his harem.
Why else did Bin Laden want Bush to be elected in 2004, as evidenced by his releasing a tape right before the election? He knew Bush would finish off the country according to Bin Laden's plan.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
This is a debt crisis, not a credit crisis. Just as FDR had to save capitalism after Wall Street excesses, we have to re-invigorate our economy with real - not imaginary - growth. It does not address the never-ending war on the middle class.
The same corporate interests that profited from the closing of U.S. factories, the movement of millions of jobs out of America, the off-shoring of profits, the out-sourcing of workers, the crushing of pension funds, the knocking down of wages, the cancellation of health care benefits, the sub-prime lending are now rushing to Washington to get money to protect themselves.
The double standard is stunning: their profits are their profits, but their losses are our losses.
This bailout will not bring real jobs back to America. It will not bring back jobs that make things. It does not rebuild our schools, streets, neighborhoods, parks or bridges. The major product of this financial economy is now debt. Industrial capitalism has been destroyed."
I need to ask you to support an urgent secret businessrelationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic ofAmerica. My country hashad crisis that has caused the need for large transferof funds of 800 billion USD. If you would assist me in this transfer,it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyistfor UBS, who (God willing) will be my replacement asMinistry of the Treasury in January. As a former U.S. congressionalleader and the architect of the PALIN / McCain Financial Doctrine,you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s.
As such, you can be assured that this transaction 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 transferthese 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 andthose of your children and grandchildren to http://email@example.com so that we may transfer your commission for thistransaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Minister of Treasury Paulson
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
How much do they stand to profit from the barrage of television advertising revenue the 2 campaigns will shovel on them? The closer the race is, the more the candidates will feverishly shovel ad revenue on them to sway the polls, and the higher the viewership will be for any news coverage, increasing their revenue rates for regular ads.
It is such a transparently contrived phony horse race, yet we all fall for it.
The last thing the mainstream media would want to do is to actually cover the candidates actual message, if they did that, there would be no need for the campaign to shovel ad money on them.
They only provide coverage when the margin looks like it is widening, in order to narrow it back down again to increase viewer interest.
this whole country is corrupt to the core.
our values are all backwards - wealth is perceived as virtue and poverty is an automatic crime.
Oh ye generation of vipers and hypocrites!
"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 a 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 self-centered attitudes of the 1920s seemed to fit nicely with the needs of the economy. Modern industry had the capacity to produce vast quantities of consumer goods, but this created a fundamental problem: Prosperity could continue only if demand was made to grow as rapidly as supply. Accordingly, people had to be persuaded to abandon such traditional values as saving, postponing pleasures and purchases, and buying only what they needed. “The key to economic prosperity,” a General Motors executive declared in 1929, “is the organized creation of dissatisfaction.” Advertising methods that had been developed to build support for World War I were used to persuade people to buy such relatively new products as automobiles and such completely new ones as radios and household appliances. The resulting mass consumption kept the economy going through most of the 1920s.
But there was an underlying economic problem. Income was distributed very unevenly, and the portion going to the wealthiest Americans grew larger as the decade proceeded. This was due largely to two factors: While businesses showed remarkable gains in productivity during the 1920s, workers got a relatively small share of the wealth this produced. At the same time, huge cuts were made in the top income-tax rates. Between 1923 and 1929, manufacturing output per person-hour increased by 32 percent, but workers’ wages grew by only 8 percent. Corporate profits shot up by 65 percent in the same period, and the government let the wealthy keep more of those profits. The Revenue Act of 1926 cut the taxes of those making $1 million or more by more than two-thirds.
As a result of these trends, in 1929 the top 0.1 percent of American families had a total income equal to that of the bottom 42 percent. This meant that many people who were willing to listen to the advertisers and purchase new products did not have enough money to do so. To get around this difficulty, the 1920s produced another innovation—“credit,” an attractive name for consumer debt. People were allowed to “buy now, pay later.” But this only put off the day when consumers accumulated so much debt that they could not keep buying up all the products coming off assembly lines. That day came in 1929. "
the similarity in disparity numbers is uncanny, and the comparable stagnation in wages while productivity soars over the last 20 years, it is a recipe for revolution or at the least riots and blood in the streets.
Now, where are the true conservatives who are willing to speak out against the treasonous uber-fascists Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, and Murdoch?
Without regulation, boom-bust-boom-bust is the natural order of things. The purpose of regulation is like a feedback control system to moderate the swings inherent in the system. The only thing you can really trust people to do is to be greedy and to push the limits as much as possible. Hence the need for limits.
I have listened to hours and hours of punditry and no one has mentioned this simple concept, nor how similar it is to 1932 with the bad mortgages, frozen credit system, and botched bailout directed to the wrong target - the bankers, instead of the homeowners being foreclosed.
A good explanation appeared in daily Kos
Three Times is Enemy Action
Sun Sep 21, 2008 at 06:03:41 AM PDT
"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is Enemy Action."
-- Auric Goldfinger
James Bond's wealthy nemesis may have had an obsession with gold, but he judged, quite correctly, that if people keep putting your plans awry, that was likely their intent.
In 1982, the same year John McCain entered the Senate, a bill was put forward that would substantially deregulate the Savings and Loan industry. The Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act was an initiative of the Reagan administration, and was largely authored by lobbyists for the S&L industry -- including John McCain's warm-up speaker at the convention, Fred Thompson. The official description of the bill was "An act to revitalize the housing industry by strengthening the financial stability of home mortgage lending institutions and ensuring the availability of home mortgage loans." Considering where things stand in 2008, that may sound dubious. It should.
Seven years later, the S&L industry was collapsing. What was the cause? Garn-St. Germain handed the S&Ls a greatly expanded range of capabilities, allowing them to go head to head with full service banks, but it didn't give them the bank's regulations. Left to operate in an anarchistic gray area, S&Ls chased profits, indulged in amazing extravagances, and cranked out enough cheap mortgages to fuel a real estate boom. They also experimented with lots of complex, creative -- and risky -- investments, even though they didn't have the economic models to really determine the worth of the things they were buying. The result was a mountain of bad debts and worthless "assets." Does any of that sound eerily (or nauseatingly) familiar?
It wasn't a foregone conclusion. In 1985, three years after the deregulation of the S&Ls, the chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board saw that the situation was already looking shaky, with the potential to become much worse. He instituted a rule to limit the amounts and types of investments S&Ls could carry on their books in an effort to head off disaster. However, many savings and loans -- among them Lincoln Savings & Loan Association of Irvine, CA, which was headed by a fellow named Charles Keating -- promptly ignored these rules.
Now enters a familiar cast of characters. First to pop up was the universally beloved Fed-chief-to-be, Alan Greenspan. Greenspan argued against the loan board's new rules, and persuaded Reagan to appoint one of Keating's pals to the board to blunt the requirements. A quintet of senators, among them John McCain, began having meetings with both the management at Lincoln and the regulators at the loan board. ] Alan Greenspan also helped out with a letter to the regulators, asking that Lincoln be exempt from the new rules. With their help of Greenspan and their pet senators, Lincoln was able to stay in business an additional two years, at the end of which they failed -- taking the life savings of 21,000, mostly elderly, investors with them.
How involved was John McCain? McCain and Keating had known each other since 1981 and had become fast friends. Of all the "Keating Five," it was McCain who moved into the life of the Lincoln S&L chief. The two men vacationed together multiple times, with the whole McCain clan (babysitter included) heading out for Keating's private Caribbean property on Keating's private jet. McCain didn't think to actually report these trips, or pay for them, until the investigators were breathing down his neck. And McCain took his payment in the form of more than just vacations. Keating and other members of Lincoln's parent company padded McCain's pockets with $112,000 in campaign contributions.
In John McCain's biography, he called his meetings with Keating and regulators "the worst mistake of my life," though from the text you'd think this was a spur of the moment decision, not something that McCain did repeatedly over a space of years. Still, you might think that a "worst mistake" would stay fresh in his memory.
It certainly didn't fade quickly for the country. Following the S&L crisis, the Resolution Trust Company was formed to swallow up the debt of Lincoln and 746 other S&Ls gone wild, and taxpayers were left with the $125 billion bill. The resulting budget deficit forced cutbacks in other programs. The artificial real estate boom collapsed and housing starts fell to their lowest levels in decades. Finally, the whole nation settled in for a period nasty enough that three years later someone could still campaign around the idea "It's the economy, stupid."
Even so, by 1999 Phil Gramm -- who had entered the Senate two years after McCain and quickly become the economic guru of the Keating Five maverick -- put forward the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This Act passed out of the Senate on a party line vote with 100% Republican support, including that of John McCain. (To be fair, the bill eventually passed again with a wide margin following revisions in the House.)
This act repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act. This may sound like a bunch of Congressperson soup, but the gist of it is that Glass-Steagall was put in place in 1933 to control the rampant speculation that had helped cause the collapse of banking at the outset of the depression, and to prevent such consolidation of the banks that the nation had all its eggs in one fiscal basket.
Gramm-Leach-Bliley reversed those rules, allowing not only more bank mergers, but for banks to become directly involved in the stock market, bonds, and insurance. Remember the bit about how S&Ls failed because they didn't have the regulations that protected banks? After Gramm-Leach-Bliley, banks didn't have that protection either.
Gramm wasn't done. The next year he was back with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which was slipped into a "must pass" spending bill on the last day of the 106th Congress. This Act greatly expanded the scope of futures trading, created new vehicles for speculation, and sheltered several investments from regulation.
As with both Gramm-Leach-Bliley and Garn-St. Germain, large parts of this bill were written by industry lobbyists. This famously included the "Enron Loophole" that exempted energy trading from regulation and was written by (big suprise) Enron Lobbyists working with Gramm. Not coincidentally, Senator Gramm, the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Enron, was also key to legislating the deregulation of California's energy commodity trading.
Thanks to this fortunate trifecta of Gramm-crafted legislation, Enron was able to create "EnronOnline" and trade electricity in California with absolutely no oversight or transparency. They quickly worked out how to game the system. Previously, there had been only one Stage 3 rolling blackout in the history of California. Within months, the system had been manipulated by traders to generate 38 such blackouts and wholesale electrical prices had gone up more than 3000%. Despite production capacity equal to four times the demand during winter, energy traders even engineered a blackout in mid-January.
During the confusion of these deliberate "shortages" and "price spikes," the California administration of Gray Davis -- blind to speculator manipulations because of the walls erected by Gramm's legislation -- was forced to sign energy contracts at enormous rates. There was little choice, because most of California's public utilities were on the brink of bankruptcy from the rising wholesale prices.
In a single year, Gramm's legislation allowed speculators to bring the state to its knees. Enron alone looted California of $11 billion. The manipulations of the energy market were also a major factor in Davis getting the hook, helped usher the governator into power, and they still have repercussions in California's budget battles today. By the end of that year, the depth of Enron's deception could no longer be hidden, and the whole company came crashing down in the largest bankruptcy in history -- at the time. This brought more billions lost in mutual funds and pension funds across the country, and played a major role in the economic downturn of 2001.
But that was only the second act. The combination of Gramm-Leach-Bliley and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was a toxic cocktail whose total damage was greater than the sum of its parts.
The first Act promoted bank buyouts and mergers that reached such an insane pitch that the average consumer could only keep up by tracking the changing names on their checks and credit cards. Mercantile buys Ameribanc and Mark Twain. Firstar buys Federated and First Colonial. US Bancorp buys Mercantile and Firstar. And, because it allowed brokerages and insurance companies to mingle with banks, the Act cemented a trend that was already (and illegally) underway in which all those terms had become rather quaint. Is Wachovia a savings bank, an investment bank, a brokerage, or an insurance provider? The answer is "yes."
In allowing financial institutions to grow to Godzilla-sized proportions, Gramm-Leach-Bliley helped ensure that we would have financial entities that were "too big to fail." Rather than choosing to enforce rules that kept these institutions apart, the deregulators chose to create monster bankeragasurances whose downfall (and existence) was enough to threaten the whole system.
But if Gramm-Leach-Bliley removed the limits on size and scope, these new institutions still needed fuel. With many financial transactions operating on razor thin margins, and increasing automation sapping the profits from trading of all sorts, they needed a new way to generate the funds required to swallow their brethren in the merged fiscal corporation pond. For that, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was a godsend.
Among those instruments which the CFMA sheltered from regulatory scrutiny was something called the "credit default swap." A kind of insurance one bank could exchange with another, credit default swaps supposedly made it safe for banks to take on ever riskier forms of debt. The Act didn't invent these swaps, though they were relatively new. Instead, by placing them in a state where they were not only unregulated but almost perfectly opaque, credit default swaps were turned into the perfect vehicle to fuel a Wall Street revolution. No one had any idea what these things were actually worth, they were traded "over the counter" without being administered by any exchange, and even the SEC could monitor their existence only indirectly.
Who would cheer for a new kind of financial instrument that was difficult to understand, invisible to regulators, and impossible for even the whizziest of Wall Street whiz kids to value? Guess.
More recently, instruments that are more complex and less transparent--such as credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, and credit-linked notes--have been developed and their use has grown very rapidly in recent years. The result? Improved credit-risk management together with more and better risk-management tools appear to have significantly reduced loan concentrations in telecommunications and, indeed, other areas and the associated stress on banks and other financial institutions.
--Alan Greenspan, 2002
But is it serious? Twice the price of the Prius, and wont be available for 2 years. And then in very limited quantities. Sounds like a serious game of catch-up that is good for PR now, but will fizzle in the end. Why wont they call it a hybrid, either? They have to differentiate it from the Prius, they dont want a 'me-too' design. What is new or innovative about it?
They killed the EV1 and gave us the Hummer, now they are forced to give us an electric muscle car with risky unproven battery technology. GM, only 20 years late to the game. Dead in the water on their 100th birthday.
Mr Lutz certainly seems to reflect the ossification of American industry, peddling his phallic horsepower-mobiles and tired old scientific mythology while the world has done a U-turn.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Are they homeless? Are there camps of foreclosed homeless forming?
Leave it to the BBC to tell us what is going on in our own country
The precursors and botched reactions to the Great Depression are eerily familiar, as well as it giving rise to fascism and Hitler:
Monday, September 15, 2008
It’s the Economic Stupidity, Stupid
By FRANK RICH
Published: July 20, 2008
"Mr. McCain’s fiscal ineptitude has received so little scrutiny in some press quarters that his chief economic adviser, the former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, got a free pass until the moment he self-immolated on video by whining about “a nation of whiners.” The McCain-Gramm bond, dating back 15 years, is more scandalous than Mr. Obama’s connection with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Mr. McCain has been so dependent on Mr. Gramm for economic policy that he sent him to newspaper editorial board meetings, no doubt to correct the candidate’s numbers much as Joe Lieberman cleans up after his confusions of Sunni and Shia.Just two weeks before publicly sharing his thoughts about America’s “mental recession,” Mr. Gramm laid out equally incendiary views in a Wall Street Journal profile that portrayed him as “almost certainly” the McCain choice for Treasury secretary. Mr. Gramm said that the former chief executive of AT&T, Ed Whitacre, was “probably the most exploited worker in American history” since he received only a $158 million pay package rather than the “billions” he deserved for his success in growing Southwestern Bell.But no one in the news media seemed to notice Mr. Gramm’s naked expression of the mind-set he’d bring to a McCain White House. And few journalists have vetted the presumptive Treasury secretary’s post-Senate history as an executive at UBS. The stock of that banking giant has lost 70 percent of its value in a year after its reckless adventures in the subprime lending market. It’s now fending off federal investigation for helping the megarich avoid taxes.Mr. McCain made a big show of banishing Mr. Gramm after his whining “gaffe,” but it’s surely at most a temporary suspension. When the candidate said back in January that there’s nobody he knows who is stronger on economic issues than his old Senate pal, he was telling the truth. Left to his own devices — or those of his new No. 1 economic surrogate, Carly Fiorina — Mr. McCain is clueless. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, a supporter, said that Mr. McCain’s latest panacea for high gas prices, offshore drilling, is snake oil — and then announced his availability to serve as energy czar in an Obama administration."
He is very interesting also on the topic of Wall Street incestuous scams, especially his prescience on the Lehman bankruptcy due to the artificial construction of 45 trillion dollars worth of credit default swaps, but this is not the focus of this lecture.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
limbaugh then picked up on the blog and pushed it on his radio show
the rest is history
funny how this story has since disappeared in the media, it is now as if she was always in the top running, no mention of how mccain caved in to rightwing pressure
--Ted Rall, Why Bush Is Addicted To Perpetual War
Saturday, September 13, 2008
He mentioned the book 'Outright Barbarous'
And the book Shock Jocks - Hate Speech and Talk Radio
apropos of hate speech, here is an essay on Rush Limbaugh and fascism:
I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.
She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".
It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.
She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.
She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.
She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.
Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.
Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.
Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.
During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.
Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative." During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.
The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn't even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later — to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.
While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.
These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.
As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.
In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.
She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.
While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.
Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal — loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State's top cop (see below).
As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla's Police Chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.
She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.
Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.
When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club" when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).
As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.
As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects — which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance — but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork."
She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.
Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.
As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.
Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as threatened species.
McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.
There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.
However, there's a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.
CLAIM VS FACT
o "Hockey mom": true for a few years o "PTA mom": true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since p "NRA supporter": absolutely true o social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconsitutional). o pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it. o "Pro-life": mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation. o "Experienced": Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000. o political maverick: not at all o gutsy: absolutely! o open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions. o has a developed philosophy of public policy: no o "a Greenie": no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR. o fiscal conservative: not by my definition! o pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards. o pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents. o pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history. o pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.
WHY AM I WRITING THIS?
First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.
Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.
Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.
Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.
Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.
I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall — they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.
You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.
Anne Kilkenny August 31, 2008
What more do we need to know about this farcical 'maverick'? he will bendover and grab em for any fascist ideologue who can bring a few votes.
This is pretty funny. Not too hard to imagine that McCain knew as litlle about her as this suggests. What is not funny are the reports that Rush Limbaugh is the guy behind pushing Palin on McCain. I thought the drug-addled gasbag fascist demagogue was on his way out of the mainstream. Just goes to show this country is getting stupider by the minute.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I guess he has a new book out
I hadnt realized how tough it was to get the media to actually publish the Pentagon Papers, as they are such corporate wimps, and Mike Gravel paved the way for them to do it.
Look for podcast 9/10/08 hour 2, right click and save-as the mp3 file then double click on it to play
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Hannity is such a fascist tool, such a buffoon, yet so unfazed by any awareness of his own ignorance. Any normal person would be terminally embarassed to be so flagrantly ignorant in front of millions of people. But it takes self-hating buffoons like Limbaugh and Hannity to perform this role that his fascist masters are dictating.
Listen to how he spews incoherently when confronted by someone who actually knows what they're talking about.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Isnt it clear this little potboiler of a war is exactly designed and orchestrated for the McCain campaign? Putin has repeatedly made this charge but our idiot media is silent on the obvious. They get yanked whichever way the repugs want to to yank them.
Surely there is some October Surprise being hatched even now by Rove, who has supposedly retired but seems to be still heavily involved. Capturing Osama would be a good one. That would yank the news cycle for a good month.
Obama is oblivious, it seems, he should be getting us ready for this, repeatedly suggesting that there will be some October Surprise like the Georgian war, and not to be distracted by it.
Obama meanders on academically droning on in long convouted sentences that the average voter conditioned by American Idol will tune out in short order in favor of the act that shoots moose from airplanes with high powered artillery and has a flock of nubile teens getting knocked up by good ol church going country boys.
Where is the outrage?
8 years of rule by two alcoholics, one and possibly both with pre-senile dementia, the very future of America as a country put in jeopardy by a brain-damaged alcoholic and a non-existent 'news' corps, gutted by the military-industrial corporations.