Archive for September, 2008

Hey US, Need Money?

September 29, 2008

Start here:

On Wednesday, September 24th, right in the middle of the fight over billions of taxpayer dollars slated to bail out Wall Street, the House of Representatives passed a $612 billion defense authorization bill for 2009 without a murmur of public protest or any meaningful press comment at all….

Our annual spending on “national security” — meaning the defense budget plus all military expenditures hidden in the budgets for the departments of Energy, State, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, the CIA, and numerous other places in the executive branch — already exceeds a trillion dollars, an amount larger than that of all other national defense budgets combined.
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Hmmm, so while we whine about the fat cats on Wall Street, almost no one is crying about the war profiteers who are cleaning the treasury out. Never mind that our world image is now shit, never mind that our actions are making more terrorists, never mind that we are a torture nation who invaded a country to steal it’s resources; besides all that, we are breaking our own backs and no one is talking about it.

Between a trillion plus a year and massive tax cuts for the filthy rich, does anyone really wonder why we are broke as a nation?

Want a solution? Start with this:

In 1932, during the final year of the Hoover Administration, Republicans and Democrats agreed that immediate action needed to be taken to confront an economic crisis. The crisis they agreed upon was not the Depression’s day-to-day impact on ordinary Americans, but instead, the need for new revenue in the face of a soaring budget deficit.

The initial proposal was a regressive sales tax. It had bipartisan support among congressional leaders, but prompted an unexpected popular revolt….

After the sales tax was defeated, Congress instead enacted the Revenue Act of 1932, a progressive tax measure that more than doubled the tax rate on top incomes, doubled the estate tax, and raised corporate taxes by almost 15 percent.

The Revenue Act of 1932 laid the groundwork for the progressive income tax system that prevailed in America for the next 45 years, as we built the largest middle class the world had ever known under Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower (Ike rebuffed appeals from his fellow Republicans and kept top marginal rates above 90%).

So here’s the question: what’s the progressive opportunity presented by the defeat of today’s bill?

Is it making Wall Street pay for Wall Street’s own bailout by enacting a tiny transaction tax on Wall Street trades, as proposed by a group of House Democrats led by Oregon’s Peter DeFazio?

Is it tough regulation, including a resurrection of Glass Steagall?

Is it both?
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That would help, as would cutting our defense spending in half today. Not hard to figure out.

Let me add that if all of us would quit living on credit, that would help. And maybe we should stop electing the same people over and over, that would help too. But hey, enjoy your 62 inch plasma TV in your McMansion tonite because you won’t be able to fit it in your cardboard box tomorrow.

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Quick Debate Analysis

September 27, 2008

McCain is an asshole. Obama needs to stop saying McCain is right.

Longer version, McCain lied his ass off through the whole debate, and no, we veterans don’t believe you will take care of us. Personally I wish Vietnam would take you back. Better yet, I wish they would have never let you go. You should be fertilizer in a rice field.

Seriously Obama, stop saying McCain is right. He’s an asshole and a traitor.

Freep some polls

September 27, 2008

FREEP!

I like transcripts

September 27, 2008

Here’s tonite’s.

It Looks Like Home

September 27, 2008

Ok, so I think everything transfered over here. If not, well, it’s gone now.

I am anxious about the debate tonite. It’s not that I think McCain is smarter, it’s that he has a whole team of shitheads feeding him one liners intended to put Obama on the defensive, or at least screw with the flow of the debate. But Obama has made it this far, even surviving against the force that is Hillary Clinton, so there is hope.

On the upside I want to see McCain get confused without Mrs. Homewrecker by his side to hit reset. And if we can just get some anger, some flustered pissiness, well all the better.

But McCain is not some new kid on the block. And though he is not the man he was in 2000, he may still pull it out of his ass and come across as sane. Let’s hope not. The best scenario to me is Obama getting it right on the surge not actually working because of several factors outside of our control, then nailing the Pakistan issue (they are shooting at us now), not going retarded with his Israel love (though it may be better if he keeps that up tonite for mass consupmtion) and then bringing it home with our failure to capture Osama bin Laden.

And oh please, please let McCain slip up and mix Obama and Osama, that would just make my night. Or at least come across in his usual condescending tone; that would make him look even less presidential then the past couple of days.

Now, he will no doubt play the POW card all night, jerking off his hero worshipers. That’s where Obama has to tread lightly without constantly saying how he just respects McCain to the point of making himself look like he has no point being there. This is where he really has to find a way to trip up McCain, get him off message; if Wes Clark can get slammed for not even saying anything bad about McCain, then Obama does have to manuver with some grace.

Anyhow, I guess it’s up to Barack to win this thing tonite. Good luck Mr. President.

Ok, forgot Georgia. McCain will bring up Putin and Georgia. Obama will have to give a history leason to get through this one. Hope he has the time.

King George Speaks at the Nation

September 25, 2008

Here’s the transcript I got off the New York Times site:

Following is a transcript of President Bush’s address to the nation Wednesday evening, as recorded by by CQ Transcriptions:

Good evening. This is an extraordinary period for America’s economy.

Over the past few weeks, many Americans have felt anxiety about their finances and their future. I understand their worry and their frustration.

We’ve seen triple-digit swings in the stock market. Major financial institutions have teetered on the edge of collapse, and some have failed. As uncertainty has grown, many banks have restricted lending, credit markets have frozen, and families and businesses have found it harder to borrow money.

We’re in the midst of a serious financial crisis, and the federal government is responding with decisive action.

We boosted confidence in money market mutual funds and acted to prevent major investors from intentionally driving down stocks for their own personal gain.

Most importantly, my administration is working with Congress to address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets.

Financial assets related to home mortgages have lost value during the house decline, and the banks holding these assets have restricted credit. As a result, our entire economy is in danger.

So I propose that the federal government reduce the risk posed by these troubled assets and supply urgently needed money so banks and other financial institutions can avoid collapse and resume lending.

This rescue effort is not aimed at preserving any individual company or industry. It is aimed at preserving America’s overall economy.

It will help American consumers and businesses get credit to meet their daily needs and create jobs. And it will help send a signal to markets around the world that America’s financial system is back on track.

I know many Americans have questions tonight: How did we reach this point in our economy? How will the solution I propose work? And what does this mean for your financial future?

These are good questions, and they deserve clear answers.

First, how did our economy reach this point? Well, most economists agree that the problems we’re witnessing today developed over a long period of time. For more than a decade, a massive amount of money flowed into the United States from investors abroad because our country is an attractive and secure place to do business.

This large influx of money to U.S. banks and financial institutions, along with low interest rates, made it easier for Americans to get credit. These developments allowed more families to borrow money for cars, and homes, and college tuition, some for the first time. They allowed more entrepreneurs to get loans to start new businesses and create jobs.

Unfortunately, there were also some serious negative consequences, particularly in the housing market. Easy credit, combined with the faulty assumption that home values would continue to rise, led to excesses and bad decisions.

Many mortgage lenders approved loans for borrowers without carefully examining their ability to pay. Many borrowers took out loans larger than they could afford, assuming that they could sell or refinance their homes at a higher price later on.

Optimism about housing values also led to a boom in home construction. Eventually, the number of new houses exceeded the number of people willing to buy them. And with supply exceeding demand, housing prices fell, and this created a problem.

BUSH: Borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages, who had been planning to sell or refinance their homes at a higher price, were stuck with homes worth less than expected, along with mortgage payments they could not afford.

As a result, many mortgage-holders began to default. These widespread defaults had effects far beyond the housing market.

See, in today’s mortgage industry, home loans are often packaged together and converted into financial products called mortgage-backed securities. These securities were sold to investors around the world.

Many investors assumed these securities were trustworthy and asked few questions about their actual value. Two of the leading purchasers of mortgage-backed securities were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Because these companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government. This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk.

The decline in the housing market set off a domino effect across our economy. When home values declined, borrowers defaulted on their mortgages, and investors holding mortgage-backed securities began to incur serious losses.

Before long, these securities became so unreliable that they were not being bought or sold. Investment banks, such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, found themselves saddled with large amounts of assets they could not sell. They ran out of money needed to meet their immediate obligations, and they faced imminent collapse.

Other banks found themselves in severe financial trouble. These banks began holding on to their money, and lending dried up, and the gears of the American financial system began grinding to a halt.

With the situation becoming more precarious by the day, I faced a choice, to step in with dramatic government action or to stand back and allow the irresponsible actions of some to undermine the financial security of all.

I’m a strong believer in free enterprise, so my natural instinct is to oppose government intervention. I believe companies that make bad decisions should be allowed to go out of business. Under normal circumstances, I would have followed this course. But these are not normal circumstances. The market is not functioning properly. There has been a widespread loss of confidence, and major sectors of America’s financial system are at risk of shutting down.

The government’s top economic experts warn that, without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold.

More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically.

And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs.

Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And, ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession.

Fellow citizens, we must not let this happen. I appreciate the work of leaders from both parties in both houses of Congress to address this problem and to make improvements to the proposal my administration sent to them.

There is a spirit of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans and between Congress and this administration. In that spirit, I’ve invited Senators McCain and Obama to join congressional leaders of both parties at the White House tomorrow to help speed our discussions toward a bipartisan bill.

I know that an economic rescue package will present a tough vote for many members of Congress. It is difficult to pass a bill that commits so much of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

I also understand the frustration of responsible Americans who pay their mortgages on time, file their tax returns every April 15th, and are reluctant to pay the cost of excesses on Wall Street.

But given the situation we are facing, not passing a bill now would cost these Americans much more later.

Many Americans are asking, how would a rescue plan work? After much discussion, there’s now widespread agreement on the principles such a plan would include.

It would remove the risk posed by the troubled assets, including mortgage-backed securities, now clogging the financial system. This would free banks to resume the flow of credit to American families and businesses.

Any rescue plan should also be designed to ensure that taxpayers are protected. It should welcome the participation of financial institutions, large and small. It should make certain that failed executives do not receive a windfall from your tax dollars.

BUSH: It should establish a bipartisan board to oversee the plan’s implementation, and it should be enacted as soon as possible.

In close consultation with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and SEC Chairman Chris Cox, I announced a plan on Friday.

First, the plan is big enough to solve a serious problem. Under our proposal, the federal government would put up to $700 billion taxpayer dollars on the line to purchase troubled assets that are clogging the financial system.

In the short term, this will free up banks to resume the flow of credit to American families and businesses, and this will help our economy grow.

Second, as markets have lost confidence in mortgage-backed securities, their prices have dropped sharply, yet the value of many of these assets will likely be higher than their current price, because the vast majority of Americans will ultimately pay off their mortgages.

The government is the one institution with the patience and resources to buy these assets at their current low prices and hold them until markets return to normal.

And when that happens, money will flow back to the Treasury as these assets are sold, and we expect that much, if not all, of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back.

The final question is, what does this mean for your economic future? Well, the primary steps — purpose of the steps I’ve outlined tonight is to safeguard the financial security of American workers, and families, and small businesses. The federal government also continues to enforce laws and regulations protecting your money.

The Treasury Department recently offered government insurance for money market mutual funds. And through the FDIC, every savings account, checking account, and certificate of deposit is insured by the federal government for up to $100,000.

The FDIC has been in existence for 75 years, and no one has ever lost a penny on an insured deposit, and this will not change.

Once this crisis is resolved, there will be time to update our financial regulatory structures. Our 21st-century global economy remains regulated largely by outdated 20th-century laws.

Recently, we’ve seen how one company can grow so large that its failure jeopardizes the entire financial system.

Earlier this year, Secretary Paulson proposed a blueprint that would modernize our financial regulations. For example, the Federal Reserve would be authorized to take a closer look at the operations of companies across the financial spectrum and ensure that their practices do not threaten overall financial stability.

There are other good ideas, and members of Congress should consider them. As they do, they must ensure that efforts to regulate Wall Street do not end up hampering our economy’s ability to grow.

In the long run, Americans have good reason to be confident in our economic strength. Despite corrections in the marketplace and instances of abuse, democratic capitalism is the best system ever devised.

It has unleashed the talents and the productivity and entrepreneurial spirit of our citizens. It has made this country the best place in the world to invest and do business. And it gives our economy the flexibility and resilience to absorb shocks, adjust, and bounce back.

Our economy is facing a moment of great challenge, but we’ve overcome tough challenges before, and we will overcome this one.

I know that Americans sometimes get discouraged by the tone in Washington and the seemingly endless partisan struggles, yet history has shown that, in times of real trial, elected officials rise to the occasion.

And together we will show the world once again what kind of country America is: a nation that tackles problems head on, where leaders come together to meet great tests, and where people of every background can work hard, develop their talents, and realize their dreams.

Thank you for listening. May God bless you.
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Senator Dodd talking with Rachel Maddow immediately after the speech: I’m beginning to think this is more about a rescue plan for John McCain then a rescue plan for the economy.

Indeed.

Quick analysis of the speech: It’s all your fault, you stupid greedy middle class assholes. And don’t even think we will regulate this shit, cause it ain’t our faults. Fuck you. Thank you for listening. May God ass rape you.

Oops

September 25, 2008

Ain’t life a bitch: (follow link for talking points)

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In suspending his campaign to address the continuing financial crisis, John McCain’s campaign is pushing the theme of “having both parties come together to solve this problem,” according to campaign talking points inadvertently released Wednesday….

The talking points were accidentally sent out to members of the Colorado press early Wednesday afternoon by McCain spokesperson Tom Kise.
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If true, this is just shows that McCain doesn’t give a shit about America. Or it may be a plant. All depends on how it plays out in the MSM over the next day or two.

Let The Games Begin

September 24, 2008

Our dear leader is going to bless us with his profound wisdom tonite. Prepare to be enlightened. McCain has called for a suspension of the campaigns, and Obama has responded by saying a president should be able to multi-task.

I am withholding judgment for now on how I feel about either strategy. I do think our elected officials need to get their asses in gear, but I can also see how it ain’t that damn hard to jump in a plane, fly down to Florida for a couple of hours and then get back to work.

What I fear is that McCain will turn this into a political shit storm, and since he is slipping in the polls, my fears are probably right. Palin is a disappointment at best, and McCain is not the man he once was intellectually. So skipping the debates works to his advantage. Plus, since he has already admitted economics isn’t his area of expertise, just what is he planning on doing in D.C. to actually help?

As for the crisis to end all of humanity, my doubts continue to grow. We have learned that the administration has been drawing up plans for months. Months? You mean they knew this was coming, sat on their hands till it did, and now want unlimited power over 700 billion bucks? Didn’t we already do that with the Iraq fiasco?

Add to that the meme floating around that House Republicans should vote against any bailout and then run on the message that Democrats handed our tax dollars to Wall Street. Red Flag alert. Hell, I watched Rep. Barney Frank look like a drunken sailor last night trying to explain this crapfest on MSNBC, only to learn today that he has meeting with members of the administration without Sen. Dodd. Why?

Me thinks it all stinks. Why would Bush give in to anything anyone else wanted? Since when did the “deciderer” start compromising? Either we really are all fucked or he and the Republicans are betting the farm that they can win this election by making the Dems out as the bad guys in this.

I like the idea of a phased in plan, one that addresses immediate issues but that allows for a more thorough evaluation of this mess and some serious explaining to the taxpayer, us. What I don’t like is being rushed.

Remember how the 2000 election fiasco was rushed? Or how the Patriot Act was rushed? Or the Authorization for Military Action against Iraq was rushed? See a pattern yet, or am I rushing you?

Something Stinks

September 24, 2008

And it ain’t my old tin foil hat. I think Marcos makes some good points: (go read the post for all the links)

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1. Transparency. Release the presentation Paulson gave to congressional leaders that supposedly has them all spooked. Give us the data and information, and let outside economists pore over the numbers and reach independent conclusions. The Bushies lie and have zero credibility. We can’t trust anything they say.

2. Timing. Why the sudden rush, when the administration has been working on this plan for months? Seems more than a little suspicious.

3. Solution. We don’t know what the problem is, so we really don’t know if this solution addresses that problem. What we do know is that it’s targeted not just at failing institutions, but any old financial firm on Wall Street that wants a piece of our money. Even those that “are very successful banks and investment houses that have done very well”. Heck, did I say “on Wall Street”? I almost forgot. Any foreign bank can apply!

4. Details. Why $700 billion? Why not start off with, say, $75 billion. Is the emergency so dire that Treasury will spend all $700 billion next week? Doubtful. So put in what would amount to a bridge loan until people have had a chance to full understand the magnitude and severity of the problem. If it’s truly as bad as people say it is, further moneys can be appropriated.

5. Motives. Given that the administration wants to give money to solvent financial institutions, is this just another component of the long-running conservative effort to bankrupt the government to destroy government’s ability to improve people’s lives?

6. Incentives: The administration is really concerned that solvent banks may not take the bailout, so it has to be as condition-free as possible. Why is the administration desperate to force taxpayer funds into these private Wall Street institutions? If they don’t want our money, everyone wins, best of all, the taxpayers.

7. Politics. The American people hate this thing, and those approval numbers are only getting worse. Given all the points listed above, whoever votes for this thing, even an “improved” version, will face a world of hurt this November, and if not this year, in primaries and general elections through 2010.
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While I hate conspiracy talk in general, we are talking about an administration that lied their asses off to get us into a war. I’m not convinced this whole thing can’t be dealt with in a calmer manner, one that allows for far more discussion and planning. Like say till at least November 4th. In the mean time we cover what absolutely has to be covered to fend off a depression and our Congress critters give up any notion of a recess until this crisis is fully explained to the people, you know, us.

As for the election cycle, they have all had months, and in some cases years now, to make their cases for election or re-election. It’s time for some actual governing. It’s time to sit in those fancy chambers and do their fucking jobs. Which means actually talk this thing through. And if you don’t feel like joining in, then you don’t get to come back after the election.

And just to be clear, we the people are the ones who elected them, so don’t think we are off the hook. Maybe it’s time we started taking our part of the democratic bargain seriously and started holding our elected officials accountable. Plus, we bought houses we knew we couldn’t afford, we kept applying for more credit cards, and we kept refinancing ourselves into deeper and deeper debt; there is a much bigger narrative going on here.

Our government is nothing more than a representation of ourselves. It’s time we all woke up to that fact. As for this bailout, if in fact that’s what it really is, we need to slow the fuck down and take a deep breath and not just react. We didn’t get in this mess in a week, and we aren’t going to fix it all in a week either.

My New Home

September 23, 2008

I am in the process of transfering all the posts from my old site to this one, so it may look a little bare around here at the moment.

In the meantime, educate yourself a little by reading these posts on the current economic, oh what should we call it, bowel movement:

First, read this post by devilstower over at DKos.

Then this one by McBlogger, who is smarter than all of us, and who has a penchant for ass-raping the stupid.