Saturday, September 27, 2008

Part of the solution

Here's my contribution for solving the current financial crisis

Henry Paulson personally had over $600M worth of Goldman Sachs stock options when Bush appointed him as Secretary of the Treasury. Part of his defense of Bush's Big Bailout plan is that the US government, and therefore the US taxpayers, could turn a huge profit in the long run by bailing out Wall Street with $700B, as long as it's done now, before Bush (and Paulson) leave office.

OK Henry, you and your fellow banking CEOs and executives made massive personal fortunes because Sachs and others got to play loosey-goosey with the rules. So here's the deal that should be added to any bailout plan that comes out of the White House and Congress:

You and all of your fellow execs that made more than $10M under the Bush economic plan will have all of your personal assets, minus $10M, seized by the government. The government will place that money into US Treasury bonds. If your plan works, you get back your money plus all the interest from the bonds and a heartfelt thanks for serving your country. But if your plan, which you say is a great deal for average Americans, fails, then all that money is kept by the government to help pay for the bailout.

Oh, by the way, add Bush, Cheney and Phil Gramm to that list.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The October Surprise - a three point attack

A standard tactic of the new Republicanism (i.e. neocons) is to promote their political agenda by means of fear and reacting to panic. Naomi Klein refers to this as "The Shock Doctrine".

A cornerstone of this is rallying political enthusiasm during election time by spreading panic and fear. In 2004, the "terror alert level" would go up whenever John Kerry went up in the polls. In 2008, however, we are seeing a new level of political manipulation with their 3-point attack. The Republicans are literally willing to create global disaster to improve their chances of retaining the White House in November.

Point 1 - Threaten economic disaster
See previous post on The Big Bailout.

Here's the big kicker, though. In trying to defend the Bush Administration's plan of hastily passing a massive bailout with no definition of what's in the bailout, assistant press secretary Tony Fratto accidentally said too much. He ADMITTED that the Bush Administration has been working on this plan for MONTHS! "Some of the policy staff have had months to think about what a program like this would be like and how it would work", he told reporters on a conference call.

That's right, they knew what was coming, certainly did not do anything to avoid it, possibly facilitated it, likely collaborated with lobbyists and insiders, and have an extremely detailed plan of how they want to spend $700B of taxpayer money. However, they're only revealing a 3-page summary, and demand that the money be handed over with no discussion, no public accountability, oversight, or any revealing of where they're going to put the money.

To top it off, in the massive document they want passed sight-unseen, there's a dirty little secret that gives insight into just how badly they could screw over the American people.

Point 2 - Global instability
See previous posts on rewarming the cold war, Georgia, any of several posts about Dubya's War, and ... well, go check out the ZadPolBlog archives.

We're antagonizing Russia, turning Pakistan from an ally to an enemy, threatening war - potentially nuclear war - against Iran, playing games with North Korea who now has the bomb, still militarily occupying Iraq, stirring up military conflict in Georgia, beefing up nuclear capacity in India and have stoked the flames of conflict in Palestine throughout Bush's terms.

Global instability leads to fear - fear that Republicans exploit as election-year scare tactics.

Point 3 - MASSIVE voter fraud is in the works
As RFK Jr., point out, votes are being stolen by hundreds of thousands.

Here in Wisconsin, we have a massive one-two punch against Democracy. Our state attorney general is also the co-chairman for the McCain campaign in Wisconsin. Not only is this an egregious conflict of interest, but his is actually suing the state to try to prevent voting by anyone who has registered to vote since 2006 - because those people have been polled to be a majority Obama voting block. On top of that, the Republican Party is sending erroneous mail-in ballot applications to Democrats and Independents in the state, so they will believe that they can vote by mail and not show up at the polls. Instead, their votes can be ignored.

Support McCain or face arrest

Hm, this sounds like the exact same tactics the Republicans pulled in 2000 and 2004 - if you attempt to say ANYTHING against the party's darling, you will BE ARRESTED.

Aren't you glad that America is being kept safe from the crime of a 61-year-old librarian being ticketed for trespassing and being threatened with arrest for appearing on public property at a meeting open to the public with a sign that said "McCain = Bush". The real kicker - she was told that if she threw the sign away, that she would no longer be trespassing.

The long-term Republican Party plan of turning America into a tightly controlled police state continues...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Big Bailout - why the parties cannot agree

Big sticking points of the big bailout – why the parties cannot agree

  • There is no time for discussion, the Republican plan must be approved right away, before the election and before the FBI investigation into potential criminal conduct

  • There be “no strings attached”, that the $700B can be spent on the whims of the President and Treasury Secretary

  • There must be no oversight of how the Treasury Department spends the money

  • CEO and executive pay for failed financial institutions cannot be capped in the bailout

  • US must also bail out foreign banks

  • Assistance should go to the large investment banks and institutions, not mortgage holders

  • Ignore the fact that the US was in a very similar situation in 1931, and Hoover took essentially the same action that Bush is now proposing - and it led to The Great Depression

  • Ignore our party's platform of opposing bailouts - after all, we're ignoring it

  • Ignore Paulson's $632,000,000 in Goldman Sachs stock options - really, there is not conflict of interest here. Really.

  • Spending $700B to $1T of taxpayer money deserves serious rationale, not a knee-jerk reaction of passing legislation without even having a plan

  • There must be a plan publicaly laid out to show how the money will be spent

  • There must be Congressional oversight on how taxpayer money will be spent

  • CEOs and executives that helped bring about this failure should not receive bonuses – their salaries and severance packages must be limited

  • Assistance should be given to distressed homeowners

Barack Obama
  • Maintains position that the financial industry must return to being regulated to protect the American people from crises like this, which can lead to massive governmental bailouts at taxpayer expense

  • Support the efforts of Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke to work in a bipartisan spirit with Congress to find a solution. In other words – don’t make this a partisan issue. Work together towards a common goal to stabilize markets and to maintain credit.

John McCain
  • Initially blamed the Chairman of the SEC and said the President should fire him, which is not legal

  • Previously, worked hard for deregulation and shrinking the government

  • Previously supported the Bush Economic Plan

  • Now, blames the Bush Economic Plan

  • Now, wants to restore regulation

  • Now, wants to create a new bureaucracy, the Mortgage and Financial Institutions trust.

  • Says his campaign manager Rick Davis had no involvement with Freddie Mac for "several years," but the truth is that he's been paid $15,000/month continuously.

Other good articles

Monday, September 22, 2008

Social Security

By the way, the GOP has not given up on trying to eviscerate Social Security. While Bush failed to privatize Social Security because Democrats exposed the details of his plan an people revolted against the scheme, the war is not over.

CNN article

Privatization of Social Security, although he doesn't like to talk about it during election time, is most certainly a part of McCain's economic policy.

Think about what that would mean. Social Security is, by definition of the program, pay-as-you-go. People receiving checks now get the funds from people paying into the system right now. If folk paying in right now had that money diverted to private accounts, current recipients would either stop receiving all money altogether (of course not), or the government would have to borrow the money. Borrowing the money means everyone's taxes would have to go up to pay back the loan and the interest. Then the private accounts would have fund management fees applied to them - a VERY, VERY sweet deal for whomever is selected by the government to run the private accounts.

I'm all in favor of being in charge of my own money, including my retirement savings - and I am in charge of most of it. I am not, however, willing to put the final safety net in the hands of private contractors selected by the government who are motivated by their own profits, rather than keeping Social Security solvent and reliable.

Can you imagine what all the Social Security recipients around the country would be facing right now if the current financial meltdown was directly reflected in checks they depended on? Benefits that took a lifetime of work would be hanging on every word from Wall Street. That just doesn't sound like good planning to me.

The big bailout, lobbyist payoff, and guess who

John McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, was paid millions to help Fannie & Freddie avoid tougher oversight and regulations, leading to their collapse which is part of The Big Bush Bailout.

Senator John McCain’s campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations, current and former officials say.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Message to Republicans: You're being recorded

So when you flip positions from day to day, we can put both statements together to show how you'll say anything to pander to the current audience.

Ah, nothing like bring out his actual words and deeds to show his highly partisan core, surrounded by lobbyists

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Republicans attacking Oprah

Quite some time ago, Oprah Winfrey flat-out said that her show will not become a platform for ANY candidate, period.

Now the Republicans are demanding that Oprah put Sarah Palin on her show, and follow their script for a controlled interview. Linda Ivell, president of the Florida Federation of Republican Women made her plea on CNN that Oprah should go back on her word, but only for the Republicans.

Oprah stood by her non-partisan word and said "no". Now the Republicans are trying to get momentum for a complete Oprah boycott. They want people to stop watching her show, buying her magazine and in any way possible financially hurt and publicly embarrass her.

You'll have to excuse them. They're not accustomed to dealing with integrity.

What do the real experts of both parties say

Five former Secretaries of State from both parties told CNN Monday the Bush administration’s hard-line approach on Iran needs to be abandoned by the next president – with one GOP foreign policy heavyweight calling the current White House position "ridiculous."

"I would advise the president to fully engage with Syria," former George H.W. Bush Secretary of State James Baker said at a George Washington University forum co-sponsored by CNN. "I think it's ridiculous for us to say we're not going to talk to Syria, and yet the Israelis have been negotiating peace with them for the last six or eight months."

Considering that Barack Obama has steadfastly favored diplomacy and dialog first, with war as truly a last resort, and that John McCain is fully on board with the Bush doctrine and neocon agenda of bypassing diplomacy in favor of war for economic interests, it's not hard to see how responsible Republicans have a hard time coming to grips with McCain.

Whoops, Carly didn't get the memo

Carly Fiorina, John McCain's Victory chair and senior economic adviser, was asked during an MSNBC interview if she thought John McCain was qualified to run her old company. Fiorina broke from the standard McCain script and accidentally replied honestly: "Well, I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation".

Wow. Just, wow. The McCain campaign is now in major damage-control mode.

"If John McCain’s top economic adviser doesn’t think he can run a corporation, how on Earth can he run the largest economy in the world in the midst of a financial crisis?" said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. "Apparently even the people who run his campaign agree that the economy is an issue John McCain doesn’t understand as well as he should."

Republicans are still fighting the cold war

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike have combined to be, by far, the worst hurricane damage Cuba has ever suffered. Some 200,000 people have been left homeless, with hundreds of thousands more needing temporary accommodation.

The hurricanes are not political. They were natural and have caused much greater human suffering on Cuba than they did in Texas. Russia, Spain and Brazil have already sent planes carrying humanitarian aid and more is expected from regional ally Venezuela.

How do the Republicans respond to this human suffering and the opportunity to warm relations with a cold-war foe - perhaps leading to normalized relations some day? By sticking with the same old political rhetoric. They steadfastly refused to even temporarily relax the 1962 policy of complete embargo of Cuba. They will not even allow Cubans to BUY reconstruction supplies.

Alleviate human suffering? Take a step towards world peace? Not if there is a political statement to be made instead.

We SO need a change in Washington - get these same old Republicans and their old ideas out.

What a difference an election year makes

Bush lands in Texas as Galvestonians urged to leave

When Katrina destroyed New Orleans, where was Bush and FEMA? Oh, that's right - Bush was at McCain's fundraiser and couldn't be bothered. But now that it's an election year and a much less severe hurricane hit Texas, they can't find enough cameras to jump in front of, to show how the federal government is ready to jump in and help.

Emergency disaster relief, which Texas most certainly should be getting, should be deployed based on the magnitude of the disaster. The Republican viewpoint that federal relief should be withheld or scaled back if it's not an election year, or it effects a state with a Democratic governor, should not have a place in America.

Economic About Face

McCain is so furiously backpedaling away from his recent "the economy is strong" comments, that he is directly contradicting the Republican presidential nominee - that would be himself.

McCain has always been on board with the Bush economic doctrine of removing governmental regulation and oversight of the financial markets. Their stated reasoning is that big financial institutions will self-police themselves to best serve the public, instead of putting short-term profit and executive bonuses ahead of all else. Well, we can see how this plan is playing itself out.

Faced with his past support of a disastrous economic policy, McCain is now calling for putting back the same governmental oversight that he and his own party worked to destroy, starting as soon as dubya took office.

As Senator Joe Biden put it: to boost the economy the incoming administration would have to "create jobs, keep people in their homes and increase regulatory oversight of the very people John [McCain] has refused to regulate." Prefer to listen to a non-partisan expert on the economy rather than McCain's double-speak or Biden's realistic assessment?

Jeffrey Sachs, a renowned economist and special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general, said he blames the Bush administration for "ignoring the economy" and the Fed for increased deregulation.

Sachs said he thinks Obama's plan is "closer" to being on target, with his calls for regulation. McCain also has started talking about increased regulation, but Sachs said McCain has "reinvented himself in the last 24 hours" with such talk.

Asked if either candidate has a prescription for the country's immediate financial problems, Sachs said, "I think right now that this is a recession that's going to happen."

He added, "I don't see anybody being able to stop that giant wave. The question is how we get out if it."

So, as far as economics goes, you can select Obama who has steadfastly recognized that there is a problem that must be addressed, and has gathered economic experts to create a realistic long-term plan to fix the problems.

Or you can stick with the same Republican plan and select McCain who has assembled political experts to help guide his talking points so they'll match the news of the day, carefully avoid "the R word" despite the recession we're in, and just throw out pronouncements from one of you many houses that the economy is working great for regular folk.

All hail the great inventor

Previously, John McCain has admitted that he does not know anything about computers or the internet, and does not send or receive any of his own emails or text messages.

It might surprise you, then, to learn that he invented the Blackberry.

Huh? Well, right now the country is going through some severe financial problems as a result of GOP deregulation (i.e. allow financial institutions to police themselves, the devastating results of which are happening just as predicted). On top of that, McCain just made another out-of-touch pronouncement that the economy is strong. With this one-two punch of being complicit and out-of-touch on the economy (perhaps he was busy counting his houses), the Republicans needed a distraction. Enter McCain senior domestic policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

Through Holtz-Eakin, the McCain campaign responded to questions about the economy by pronouncing that the Blackberry mobile e-mail device was a "miracle that John McCain helped create." He held up his Blackberry, telling reporters: "He (McCain) did this", followed by: "So you’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create."

I'm sure this also comes as a complete surprise to Research In Motion, the Canadian company that actually produces the Blackberry.

Same old Republican tactics - when faced with a tough question that brings your failures to light, answer by changing the topic and make an outlandish claim. I'm just surprised that they're backing off from their previous blame of Obama for the failed Republican economic policies of the past seven years.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It pays to have friends in high places

The Air Force has been trying to replace its fleet of mid-air refueling tankers for quite some time. After the contract was awarded to Boeing, John McCain led the charge in 2004 to kill the contract. It turned out that McCain and his staff were receiving a ton of money from lobbyists for Airbus, who would build planes overseas for a competing bid submitted by Northrop.

This conflict-of-interest scandal that tied McCain to big lobbying money was particularly embarrassing because it was going to cost American jobs and outsource a sensitive military contract overseas, all in the quest for lobbyist money. Besides being downplayed in the mainstream media, McCain just received additional help from the Bush Administration, who announced the whole re-bidding process will now be put on hold until after the Presidential elections.

It's good to have friends in high places who will cover up for you.

We DEMAND you take our bait

The Republican machine expected, and perhaps counted on, the Democrats picking an obviously unqualified and devisive veep candidate. However, Barack Obama's campaign has continued with its same message: McCain in the new front-man of the Republicans, so get to know his policies and my policies, then decide who you should vote for.

Undeterred by the lack of attacks on Palin, the Republicans decided to react as if it had actually happened. They're feigning outrage and demanding apologies for insults and attacks that never occurred. Same old dirty political tricks from the same old political rhetoric machine. Distract people with mudslinging to avoid discussing the real problems that the country faces.

Meanwhile, they are not even allowing Palin to face questions from the real media. All she is tasked with doing is repeating the same old canned talking points over and over again. The only "interview" the GOP has allowed her to do was a partially-scripted, pre-recorded exchange with Charlie Gibson on ABC - an interviewer known for not asking tough questions on a network known to be very friendly to GOP requests. Even then, Palin stumbled due to lack of knowledge of world affairs, both past and present.

US to focus on Pakistani border

This is a good thing, since al Qaeda is the enemy of the US. They've been growing in strength in that region ever since Bush ordered the US military to halt the bombardment in Tora Bora.

But why is this happening only now, SEVEN YEARS after the attacks of 9/11? Why has the Bush Administration given al Qaeda exactly what it wants (a place to grow and practice fighting the US) until now? Could the upcoming election have something to do with the delay?

National security should not be something that is attended to or ignored based on shifting political winds. It should be taken to heart by all elected officials, who should work together - because this should never be made a political issue.

We so need a change from the old mindset of the Bushes, Cheneys and McCains of the Republican establishment.

Mixing GOP with Big Oil

Culture of corruption between the US government under Republican leadership and big oil

Federal investigators had found that under Republican leadership, cronyism and pro-big-oil energy policy, government officials handling billions of dollars in oil royalties improperly engaged in sex with employees of energy companies they were dealing with and received numerous gifts from them. This added up to, and potentially far beyond, a BILLION dollars to big oil companies' profits, from the pockets of US taxpayers.

The alleged transgressions involve 13 former and current Interior Department employees in Denver and Washington. Their alleged improprieties include rigging contracts, working part-time as private oil consultants, and having sexual relationships with -- and accepting golf and ski trips and dinners from -- oil company employees, according to three reports released Wednesday by the Interior Department's inspector general.

The investigations reveal a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" wrote Inspector General Earl E. Devaney. The reports describe a fraternity house atmosphere inside the Denver Minerals Management Service office responsible for marketing the oil and gas that energy companies barter to the government instead of making cash royalty payments for drilling on federal lands.

John McCain is not only on board with the same old GOP energy policy of pumping up big oil, but he wants to GIVE AWAY massive amounts of drilling rights on federal lands and waters to big oil companies. This is in addition to the millions of acres of oil-rich land that the US Government has already given to big oil, but that big oil refuses to drill, so they can keep those assets safely tucked away to insure future windfall profits. Plus with the running mate assigned to McCain, you can be sure they're in complete agreement with following the same old energy policy, now with more drilling instead of addressing the real problem of oil dependency.

Absolutely unbelievable

Typically, it's much easier to blame the victim of a crime, rather than the criminal, because the victim goes to police and the criminal hides. It's also incredibly and obviously wrong.

Alaska routinely has the nation's highest rate of sexual assault. To lower the reported numbers, one small Alaskan town had and idea - charge the victims between $300 to $1,200 to report the crime. This was to cover the costs of rape kits (sample containers, swabs and other medical supplies used to collect evidence from women after they are attacked) and the forensic exams. The goal was to push costs of law enforcement onto the victims, which would discourage victims from coming forward, thereby lowering the number of reported cases of sexual assault.

This action was taken by only one small town, and was so abhorrent to the rest of Alaska that, once word got out in 2000, Alaskan state legislators immediately passed a bill making this practice illegal.

That small town was Wasilla. That would be the tiny town left $12,000,000 in debt by the irresponsible deficit spending of their former mayor. The mayor that oversaw the implementation of the "charge the victims" scheme and runaway spending was Sarah Palin.

Of course, the neocon viewpoint of reporting on facts would be: Stop picking on our poor, innocent candidates. Bringing up their past record is such dirty politics, that now we'll spread lies about your candidates.