Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our big day (did democracy win?)

Much is being made of the 'popular revolt' staged by the taxpaying public. Perhaps because - unlike anything congress has managed to patch together over the last 20-30 years - this revolt was truly bipartisan. It was a mass outcry of anger, disgust and deep mistrust.

Some interesting and reflective essays have been written in the wake of the congressional rejection of the government bailout plan; all musing on the 'historical meaning' of the pressure we put on congress, and the fact that they actually listened to us.

Did democracy actually win yesterday? Only time will tell. I'm sure the lobbyists are in full swing.

Here are a few slices of the victory pie:

Celebrating The Bailout Bill's Failure--And Looking Ahead

Whether you favor the $700 billion bailout or not, the House vote today should make you cheer--loudly.


Because the majority vote against it shows that Washington is not entirely in the service of the political donor class, by which I mean Wall Street and the corporations who rely on it for their financing. These campaign donors, a narrow slice of America, have lobbied and donated their way into a system that stacks the economic rules in their favor. But faced with as many as 200 telephone calls against the bailout for every one in favor, a lot of House members decided to listen to their constituents today instead of their campaign donors.

The GOP members voted overwhelmingly against the bill, while two-thirds of the Democrats favored it. Right now you can be sure that cajoling and arm twisting is underway in an effort to persuade 16 GOP members (or perhaps a dozen Republicans and a few Democrats) to vote the public largesse for Wall Street.

None of this is to say that we need, or do not need, some government intervention in the markets. Rather it is to say that the administration has failed to make its case, instead assuming that just as with the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act, it could stampede Congress into thoughtless action and terrify the public into going along.

Also, do not get stampeded by the awful, ill-informed, and heavily one-sided coverage on cable TV, which I have been monitoring. Several friends have emailed me in a panic asking if they should sell their holdings. Politicians and cable news deserve a lot of blame for fostering fear.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a measure of just 30 companies out of millions, closed down just under seven percent. Back in 1987 the Dow fell 22 points in a single day, and it was not the end of Western Civilization or even investing.

The stock markets may fall more. They also may rise. After all, Goldman Sachs shares were in a free fall just before the Bush administration declared a crisis, and even with today's 12.5 per cent drop, they are trading at more than $30 per share higher than at the low point eleven days ago.

Questions abound: Do we believe in markets, which can be volatile--or only in managed markets biased by government policy to the upside? Or do we believe in corporate socialism?

Michael Scherer, writing in Time Magazine about the 'popular revolt:'
A Failure Of Leadership

There was a lack of trust, a loss of confidence, a popular revolt.

Nearly every major political leader in America supported the bailout bill. The President of the United States. The Vice President. The Treasury Secretary. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Democratic and Republican nominees for president. The Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and the Senate. All of them said the same thing. Vote yes.

But the leaders anointed by the U.S. Constitution to most reflect the will of the people voted no. This is a remarkable event, the culmination of a historic sense of betrayal that the American people have long felt for their representatives in Washington D.C. Roughly 28 percent of the Americans approve of President Bush. Roughly 18 percent of Americans approve of Congress. These numbers have been like that for years.

Now those bad feelings have manifested themselves in the starkest of terms. Not enough of the American people believed their leaders. And so the politicians that were most exposed ran for cover. With an election on the horizon, 95 House Democrats and 133 House Republicans opposed the bill. Now, there is significant potential for grave effects on the nation.

By George (no pun intended) I think we got their attention. At least for a day.

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Indiana congressmen vote 6-3 against bailout bill

Indiana congressmen voted 6-3 yesterday - across party lines - against the bailout plan.

Voting in favor of the bill were Joe Donnelly(D), Brad Ellsworth(D) and Mark Souder(R).

The following Indiana congressmen voted against the bill: Andre Carson(D), Baron Hill(D), Pete Visclosky(D), Dan Burton(R), Steve Buyer(R) and Mike Pence(R).

In their own words:

Voted NO: "It is now imperative that Congress come together and develop a response to the crisis facing our financial markets that reflects the American people's belief in personal responsibility and fiscal discipline." -- Rep. Mike Pence, Republican.

Voted NO: "I have been rushed to judgment by the Bush Administration before. There hasn't been enough time to evaluate the impacts this legislation would have if enacted, or to consider alternatives. Congress deserves time to weigh the benefits and the potential pitfalls of borrowing this money." -- Rep. Baron Hill, Democrat.

Voted NO: "We are now in the golden age of thieves. And where I come from we put thieves in jail, we don't bail them out." -- Rep. Pete Visclosky, Democrat.

Voted NO: "I am bothered that Secretary Paulson offered an immediate government solution rather than taking the time to explore effective private sector and market based solutions. The Paulson plan was an unprecedented infusion of government power into the private financial sector." -- Rep. Steve Buyer, Republican.

Voted YES: "When there are serious people discussing the possibility of another economic depression, it is time to act. The rescue plan was not perfect, but it was necessary. And while no one took any pleasure in voting for it, the alternative -- doing nothing -- is potentially disastrous and therefore unacceptable." -- Rep. Joe Donnelly, Democrat.

Voted NO: "I believe this particular bill would be devastating to the economy and create an inflationary nightmare. We must also ensure that we are not inadvertently purchasing bad debt from China or other countries." -- Rep. Dan Burton, Republican.

Voted YES: "Ultimately this is about that worker in Vincennes who is wondering if his pension will be there in the future; the single mother in Greencastle who dreams of sending her children to college; or the small business owner in Boonville who is trying to meet payroll. These are the Americans that have everything to lose if Congress fails to act." -- Rep. Brad Ellsworth

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Kucinich tells it like it is

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CNN rewrites history: No longer "America's most trusted news source?"

Another news alert from CNN, this time the "AMERICAN MORNING QUICKNEWS:"



Investors continued to dump shares Tuesday after U.S. lawmakers unexpectedly rejected a Wall Street bailout plan, triggering the largest point drop in U.S. market history.



Stocks skidded Monday, with the Dow slumping nearly 778 points, in the biggest single-day point loss ever, after the House rejected the government's $700 billion bank bailout plan.



Oh please.

First problem - CNN - is that we have other news sources, so there is a difference of opinion as to whether this was the worst drop in history. The New York Times - and they are in fact right there in Wall Street land - compares it to 1987's Black Monday, but doesn't scream "panic!" at us.

And CNN -- its fine that you decided to round up from 777 -- but lose the 'biggest single-day point loss ever' unless you intend to back it up. Now you're trying to trump the Great Depression. Get over it. We're not afraid. We now know there are greater things to fear than fear itself: we fear the collapse of the dollar which would be far, far worse than this Wall Street tantrum.

Another questionable assertion in this CNN alert: "U.S. lawmakers unexpectedly rejected a Wall Street bailout plan"....?

I'm sorry, but the passing of the bill was always questionable and in no way expected. The stock market should have known this well in advance.

Perhaps to CNN's cynical ownership - and even the cynical stock market - the fact that congress actually listened to the people and to their collective consciences was indeed unexpected. But anyone who was paying attention realized that there was quite a bit of doubt yesterday morning as to whether the bill would make it through both the angry progressive Democrats demanding greater protection for the taxpayers (Republicans as well,) and the conservative Republicans demanding that the market regulate itself - and that includes paying for its own bailout.

This breaking news alert is total hogwash, designed by its wording to strike fear into our rebellious, unrepentant hearts.

Obviously CNN is no longer the most 'trusted news source' they claim to be. They received their talking points memo from the White House, and are going full 'fear tactic' in their reporting.

I'll stick with the New York Times, thank you. Americans and the brightest economists in the nation are all greatly relieved today. CNN can go sit in the corner and sulk.

Here is a more calm and reflective (not to mention informative) news release from the New York Times:

For Stocks, Worst Single-Day Drop in Two Decades

Even before the opening bell, Monday looked ugly.

But by the time that bell sounded again on the New York Stock Exchange, seven and a half frantic hours later, $1.2 trillion had vanished from the United States stock market.

What had started 24 hours earlier, with a modest sell-off in stock markets in Asia, had turned into Wall Street’s blackest day since the 1987 crash. The broad market, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, plunged almost 9 percent, its third-biggest decline since World War II. The Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 778 points, or 6.98 percent, to 10,365.45.

Across Wall Street, no one could quite believe what was happening on the floor — the floor of the House of Representatives, not the New York Exchange.

As lawmakers began to vote on a $700 billion rescue for financial institutions, the Voyageur Asset Management trading desk in Chicago went silent. Money managers gaped at a television screen carrying news that seemed unthinkable: the bill was not going to pass. Shortly after 1:30 p.m., the rescue was rejected.

Once again, the New York Times (with perhaps a greater grasp of history) reminds us that this has happened before, 20 years ago. Most of us are old enough to remember that day. The world didn't end, and neither did the stock market. It does appear that Wall Street expected the bill to pass... but anyone listening to the congressmen themselves wouldn't have been anywhere near as convinced.

Considering the alternative risk of 'crushing' the dollar itself -- I think most Americans will allow Wall Street this temper tantrum. Because of course that is exactly what this is: a temper tantrum.

Anyone who has had a small child knows the only solution is to let the baby cry and scream and stamp its feet until completely spent; not coddle and give them whatever they want, virtually guaranteeing a repeat performance whenever they want something new.

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Bail out Mainstreet, not Wall Street

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Daily Show: Last week's classics

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Excellent Essay: The Power of 'No'

An excellent essay, "The Power of No," has been posted to Common Dreams by Dave Lindorff. Without any more yapping from me (I've ranted enough today,) here is an excerpt:

As Nobelist economist Joseph Stiglitz has written of this outrageous rip-off, there are four problems facing the financial system, and the bailout proposal only addresses one--getting the toxic mortgages off the banks' books and onto taxpayers' hands. Left unsolved is the gaping hole in banks' balance sheets in the form of loans made to people and companies which cannot be repaid, which will mean they still won't start lending money again. Left unaddressed too is the continuing collapse of housing prices, which will inevitably lead to more bank collapses even after the bailout. Finally, Stiglitz says there is the general loss of faith in the financial system--a major crisis which the bailout will also not solve.

Stiglitz doesn't even address a fifth problem which is that this trillion-plus-dollar boondoggle (and when you add in the bailouts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Bear Stearns, the multiple mega-bank failures and the pending auto-industry bailout, you're already talking $1.5 trillion and counting), all of it with borrowed money, the stage is being set for a collapse in the US dollar, with consequences that will reverberate through the economy. Consider: if the dollar collapses, as many experts say is almost inevitable with this kind of huge addition to the national debt, oil prices (which are set in dollars) will soar to compensate, the price of all the other goods that Americans import--more than half of everything we use in daily life thanks to the decimation of American manufacturing--will rise dramatically, and ultimately, in an effort to stem the bleeding, interest rates will have to be raised, thus bringing what's left of the economy to a grinding halt.

All of this is readily predictable--and indeed a group of over 200 prominent economists has written Congress joining Stiglitz in opposing the bailout plan--but that doesn't matter to the proponents of the bailout in Washington. What they want is to get past Election Day, and the bailout may do that, unless the public gets really aroused.

The tsunami of calls and emails to Congress, and last week's nationwide demonstrations against the bailout suggest that the public is waking up to this looming disaster and to the fact that they are being sold a bill of goods.

Ron Paul mentioned (quite heatedly) the impending collapse of the dollar. Lindorff goes into much greater detail about the fallout of such a collapse, in our manufacturing-free US economy. Think the price of gas is high right now? Imagine struggling even to afford food.

And yet good ol Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were up there on the stage again last night, grinning and hugging each other (and that jackal Paulson;) as though they had just saved the world. Once again, to no one's surprise, they sold us out to the Neocons. (It is my fondest wish for our nation that they both find themselves without jobs after election day this November. Traitors... both of them. Its not like they need the employment; they can each live out their days in luxury on their lobbyist kickbacks alone.)

Could it really be true, that this time... congress is actually listening to us?

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Dueling News Alerts

Interesting. It appears that CNN has a much shorter grasp of history than the New York Times; either that or a much more aggressive 'BE AFRAID' agenda.

(File this under 'reading between the lines.')

First, the CNN 'Breaking News' Alert:

-- Dow suffers biggest point drop in history, falling nearly 778 points in reaction to House vote rejecting economic rescue.

The biggest drop in history, eh? Not according to the New York Times News Alert:

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Monday, September 29, 2008 -- 4:49 PM ET

Dow Closes Down 777 Points

The Dow Jones industrials closed 777.68 points lower on Monday -- a 6.97% drop, the biggest loss since 2001 -- after the government's bailout was defeated in the House.

The broadest measure of the American stock market, the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, fell 8.77 percent, its biggest drop since October 1987. The Nasdaq composite index fell by more than 9 percent, after the House defeated the bill by a vote of 228-205.

Notice that CNN rounded up to 778 and called it the 'biggest drop in history' which apparently is not true. The New York Times has the Dow down 777 points, and described the drop as the biggest loss since 2001. Big difference, wouldn't you say?

Apparently New York is a little less hysterical than Atlanta.

And as for Wall Street... sorry guys. No free ride. Not today, and not on our dime.

People are losing their houses, not just their yachts. Our sympathy is a little worn right now. That, and your robber baron in chief has cried wolf so many times that we're sick and tired of being afraid. We are - in fact - more inclined to anger right now.

By the way, no diss towards wolves intended by the use of the 'cry wolf' idiom -- I have a lot more respect for the intelligence and integrity of wolves than I ever will for our robber in chief.

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What we're saying

Loved the foreign traders in their white shirts and ties. Nice accents, but the facts are a bit shaky.

My favorite quote was the very last: "When the financial guys win, they win alone."

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Ron Paul: Corporatism not Free Market

Ron Paul, today on the House floor

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Kucinich: This is not the plan

Kucinich expresses his reservations

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The bailout plan and the roll call

Inquiring minds want to know:

The actual text of the Government Bail Out Plan -- by the way I just tried to open this file, as linked from The New York Times, and received the message "the file is damaged and cannot be repaired." Needless to say I burst out laughing. Apparently the file and the bill have a lot in common!

The congressional roll call (the tally of votes and how your representative voted.) I noticed that both Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul were listed in the 'Nays' column, along with my own representative. If Kucinich and Paul together are against it - and Bush actually liked it - I know all I need to know about it's ramifications for the taxpayer, our economy and for democracy.

Good coverage in the New York Times:

House leaders pushing for the package kept the voting period open for some 40 minutes past the allotted time, trying to convert “no” votes to “yes” votes by pointing to damage being done to the markets, but to no avail.

Supporters of the bill had argued that it was necessary to avoid a collapse of the economic system, a calamity that would drag down not just Wall Street investment houses but possibly the savings and portfolios of millions of Americans. Opponents said the bill was cobbled together in too much haste and might amount to throwing good money from taxpayers after bad investments from Wall Street gamblers.

I am starting to wonder if my interest in this drama is based solely on financial (and democratic) considerations, or because it is history-in-the-making. A peculiar side effect of being a history buff: the ongoing fascination, even when the ship is sinking (and you're on it.)

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House rejects $700B bailout plan

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

House rejects $700B bailout plan


WASHINGTON -- The House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue package, ignoring urgent pleas from President Bush and bipartisan congressional leaders to quickly bail out the staggering financial industry.

Stocks started plummeting on Wall Street even before 228-205 to reject the bill was announced on the House floor.Voting no were 132 Republicans and 66 Democrats. Voting yes were 141 Democrats and 94 Republicans.

Even as the electronic roll call began, Democratic and Republican leaders were uncertain about having enough votes to pass the politically unpopular plan. It's the most sweeping government intervention in markets since the Great Depression.

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... and now for a little blackmail

CNN Breaking News:

-- Dow industrials fall more than 600 on fears bailout package vote will fail.

I have the strongest mental image: Wall Street holding congress upside down by its feet outside an office window - 30 floors above the street - and shaking until money falls out of its pockets, saying "If you don't pass that bill, I'll drop you."

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Taxation without representation

From the New York Times:

Treasury Would Emerge With Vast New Power

During its weeklong deliberations, Congress made many changes to the Bush administration’s original proposal to bail out the financial industry, but one overarching aspect of the initial plan that remains is the vast discretion it gives to the Treasury secretary.

The unelected Treasury secretary.

The draft legislation, which will be put to a House vote on Monday, gives Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and his successor extraordinary power to decide how the $700 billion bailout fund is spent. For example, if he thinks it wise, he may buy not only mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, but any other financial instrument.

Without any input - whatsoever - from the generations of taxpayers footing the bill. This amounts to taxation without representation. Care to see what our forefathers thought of this idea?

Spurred by Patrick Henry, the Virginia Assembly passed a set of resolutions denouncing taxation without representation as a threat to colonial liberties. A few days later, the Massachusetts House invited all the colonies to appoint delegates to a Congress in New York to consider the Stamp Act menace. This Congress, held in October 1765, was the first intercolonial meeting ever summoned on American initiative. Twenty-seven men from nine colonies seized the opportunity to mobilize colonial opinion against parliamentary interference in American affairs. After much debate, the Congress adopted a set of resolutions asserting that "no taxes ever have been or can be constitutionally imposed on them, but by their respective legislatures" and that the Stamp Act had a "manifest tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the colonists."

For a full breakdown of the vast new powers congress is bestowing on this unelected Treasurer, keep reading.

There is brief mention of 'congressional oversight.' Hopefully this is a serious attempt to keep the robber barons in check.

From what I've seen in the past... pardon me if I am feeling zero trust right now.

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I read the news today - oh boy (Monday edition)

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Monday, September 29, 2008 -- 8:29 AM ET

Citigroup Buys Banking Operations of Wachovia

Citigroup has agreed to buy Wachovia's banking operations for $1 a share, a move that that would concentrate power within the nation's banking industry in the hands of a few giant lenders.

A friend once predicted that the consolidation of American business would one day result in exactly three of everything; three banks, three drug companies, three internet providers, three phone companies... three choices, with little if any competition.

I wish this triad philosophy also included political parties.

From the New York Times:

The sale would further concentrate Americans’ bank deposits in the hands of just three banks: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.

Together, those three would be so large that they would dominate the industry, with unrivaled power to set prices for their loans and services. Given their size and reach, the institutions would probably come under greater scrutiny from federal regulators. Some small and midsize banks, already under pressure, might have little choice but to seek suitors.

Greater scrutiny... from our government? Federal regulators. Do we still have those? I thought they had all been outsourced to the banks and companies they were regulating.

Yes, I'm sure the prices will soon be set; undoubtedly well above our puny heads. Welcome to the new Gilded Age.

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Stick em up, America

Michael Moore on the great new, bipartisan "Fleecing of America Bill:"


Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.

No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:
"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.

"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."

Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.

The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.

And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?

It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.

This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!

I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:

1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.

2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).

3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.

When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!

Michael Moore

P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.

P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.

Note to MM - we can't give them backbone. We have been trying ever since we elected them to stop the Neocon bleeding, and they have capitulated every single time, every single bill.

They didn't end the war, end warrantless wiretapping, or even penalize those who perpetuated it. They let the Republicans overturn a 25 year moratorium on offshore drilling when they should have been using their majority to pass new alternative fuel incentives. They refused to hold Bush accountable for lying, stealing, for allowing New Orleans to drown without assistance, or for breaking any of the countless laws he has laughed at. They didn't honor their oaths of office and defend our Constitution from the actions of a tyrant.

They haven't even tried to stop the bleeding! Pelosi lost her table, and her nerve. They couldn't even get Rove to appear before Congress. I hold them all in contempt.

They are toothless, compromised cowards; embedded with the Neocons. I'm sure this new fleecing bill will make their corporate owners quite happy. Meanwhile, witness the final gutting of America.

As Lincoln once said - and he was nothing if not prescient:

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Believe me - if congressional Democrats and Republicans think they can get away with this in an election year, they can and they will. They know damn well we have no alternative. We either vote (in our fake elections) for toothless, corporate idiots... or we're stuck with evil Neocons. Talk about voting for the least worst alternative...

But sure, I'll call my toothless, corporate idiots again.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008


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Democrats, Republicans both scorn their bases

From McClatchy New Bureau (real news for discerning thinkers:)

Lawmakers buck party bases on drilling, bailout
By James Rosen | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — In a dazzlingly short span of days, Democrats and Republicans each have caved on a core issue.

Bowing to pressure by Republicans, Democratic congressional leaders agreed this week to let the 26-year-old congressional ban on offshore oil- and natural-gas drilling expire Tuesday, when the federal fiscal year ends.

The move has angered environmentalists, a key constituency for Democrats.

"The environmental community is united in its opposition to drilling," said Anna Aurilio, who heads the Washington office of Environment America, which represents conservation groups in 26 states. "There is no need to open our coasts to drilling."

At the same time, President Bush, Republican presidential nominee John McCain and Republican congressional leaders are pushing their party peers to pass a massive financial-services bailout that would dwarf any government program since the New Deal.

That prospect is infuriating fiscal conservatives and small-government activists who underpin the Republican Party.

"This may be your last chance to protect taxpayers and our economy from what could be the greatest fiscal policy fiasco in our nation's history," Pete Sepp, a policy analyst with the National Taxpayers Union, a Washington group that tracks federal spending, wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

With elections less than six weeks away, is this any way for senators and representatives to treat their parties' most fervent loyalists?

I assume these politicians - of both parties - pander to lobbyist interests (and totally disregard their 'bases') because in our country, the lobbyists pay for election campaigns. McCain's campaign is actually being run by an active lobbyist for Freddie Mac.

That's right -- for all of his tough talk about lobbyists in Washington -- McCain's right hand man, Rick Davis, is still listed as an officer and lobbyist for Freddie Mac... and is still being paid by them. Talk about 'in our face...'

'We the people' simply vote in these staged elections, now rife with bogus regulations, bullying and electoral cheating.

That, and they know we have no choice. We have no alternative party. They have a political monopoly.

By the way - again - why don't we yet have a choice? What will it take for us to pull together and build a viable and strong third party in this country?

Nader is right in that regard; we'll never get our country back without one.

The Democrat and Republican machines have auctioned themselves to the corporate and banking behemoths that now run our government. The rest is simply a staged production to keep us all working and paying taxes.

Peaceful consumers
-- that's all we are. Although the consuming part is going to slow and eventually cease as we all lose our homes and our jobs. I suppose at that point they'll simply sell all of our food and goods overseas and patrol our streets with Star Wars police squads wearing black body armor.

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Saturday Night Live goofing on Palin

Tina Fey was back in the role of Gov. Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live" last night, interviewed by Amy Poehler as Katie Couric.

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Much ado about fleecing

Whoopee! Negotiators have very nearly settled on a blueprint for how they plan spend our great-grandchildren's money!

Hurray. Meanwhile, China returned triumphant from space; confident in the knowledge that we're about to borrow another $700 billion from them (which would pay for quite a few more trips to space and beyond.) Thank you W, for selling our entire country out from under us.

How long do you imagine it will be before Bush starts raffling off our National Parks and forests? Perhaps the Chinese and Saudis already own them. Its not like anyone would tell us.


Under the tentative deal being finalized, the rescue program would be overseen by a board including the treasury secretary, secretary of commerce, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and chairman of the Federal Reserve, said Sen. Kent Conrad, R-North Dakota, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.

What if we don't trust any of these people? I don't trust the three people in above photo - let alone a bunch of unelected government stooges. Do you?

Who exactly are... the secretary of commerce, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the chairman of the Federal Reserve? Who are these people? Undoubtedly Bushies. Isn't everyone in government a Bushie these days? Would you give $700 billion to Brownie?

If our money will be paying for this, shouldn't we get to decide who oversees the deal? I choose Tom Hanks, Jon Stewart and the Dalai Lama. What -- I don't get a say?

We have no trust left, guys. NONE. You have stolen, begged, borrowed and caved so many times now that we don't trust any of you lobbyist creatures.

I wouldn't trust my own 'representative' to oversee this deal. I sure as hell don't trust Paulson and his cronies. Not a single congressman watching over our money? Because congress is at least elected to watch out for our interests.


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Saturday, September 27, 2008

What would FDR do?

How often I think of FDR in these dark times, and wonder what he'd be doing - and especially what he would be saying - if he was here today. FDR: of the 'we have nothing to fear but fear itself,' rather than George Bush's endless 'BE AFRAID' speeches, designed to facilitate the fleecing of the people.

FDR cared... about more than merely getting re-elected or running off with the nation's wealth. People respond to humanity and compassion in high office.

We've had some terrific presidents in our history. Somehow I doubt, with our current media and (broken) election process, that we'll see any true leaders in our near or maybe even distant future.

Maybe Obama. Maybe. If can un-glue his mind from delusions of empire, and recall what it once meant to be a Republic.

"And to the REPUBLIC for which it stands..." even our own flag doesn't recognize us anymore.

Here is an excerpt from "Franklin Roosevelt, a Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You," by Michael Winship:

The President has seemed underinformed, disconnected and not, you should excuse the word, invested. In his address to the nation Wednesday evening, he said that the government was blameless for the financial crisis; it had done what it was supposed to do but had been victimized by overseas lenders, greedy banks and Americans taking on more credit than they could carry. And as he has done too often before, he tried to make us afraid.

"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." President Bush said. "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."

Contrast what he had to say with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he was sworn into office for the first time, in 1933, during the Great Depression. Rather than foster anxiety and panic, FDR proclaimed, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," despite the fact that 13 million were unemployed, nine million had lost their savings and a quarter of the banks had closed. Wages had plummeted 60 percent. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" is the phrase that everyone remembers, but here's a little more of what FDR had to say:

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper ...

"In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunk to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income ... More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment ...

"The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit ... If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize, as we have never realized before, our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take, but we must give as well."

Read the rest

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Speaking of Carlin...

"They'll get it all from you sooner or later." (Apparently it will be sooner.)

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George Carlin: Garbage in, garbage out

No Jon Stewart today to lighten my mood. Time to pull out Carlin.

I'm sure Carlin would have approved this scathing and surreal commentary by Matt Taibbi, of The Rolling Stone:

Mad Dog Palin, by Matt Taibbi:

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

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

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

"She totally reminds me of my cousin!" the delegate screeched. "She's a real woman! The real thing!"

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

And none of it matters, so long as you remember a few months before Election Day to offer them a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne as part of your presidential ticket. And if she's a good enough likeness of a loudmouthed middle-American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his giant-size 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 the 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.


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President Carter's Address on Energy

Too bad we didn't listen. Carter made this speech 30 years ago.

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The greed within

I actually remember the famous 'Malaise' speech that President Jimmy Carter gave in 1979. I have thought about it from time to time in recent years, as it became obvious we were reaching peak oil. I haven't completely made up my mind about President Jimmy Carter's entire legacy, in regards to foreign policy; but I do know that he warned us that we would have to change our own expectations, or our future would be bleak.

Of course, we didn't want to change. We wanted everything, no strings attached. And so we embraced Reagan's promises of a joyful, prosperous future complete with military dominance, big cars and basically whatever we wanted. We ourselves... chose greed. The rampant greed we see today on Wall Street, in our corporations and in our government -- we chose this ourselves.

And now our own folly has come home to roost.

Even now we are blaming our government, Wall Street and the corporations (I know I have) for the economic mess in which we find ourselves. We are blaming everyone it seems but ourselves. But in the end... wasn't it 'we the people' who believed we deserved and should have it all? Just look around at the ridiculous number of wildly oversized SUVs still out there on the road - even though gas prices are skyrocketing to $4 a gallon. They are completely unsustainable, but their owners just won't give them up. Apparently they'd give up freedom... before their right to drive a tank.

This has led me to ponder when we Americans morphed from the 'Greatest Generation;' the generation that survived the Depression, fought World War II and then kicked off our productive boom years... into the greedy entitled consumers we are today. What the hell happened to us?

Maybe this is good for our nation. Maybe this is the only way we can learn, can wake up and join our neighbors in the entire rest of the world. Whether it is good for us or not -- it was predictable. Carter himself saw it coming, and was ridiculed and rejected by nearly everyone. Carter... who had solar panels installed on the White House roof. How symbolic that Reagan had them removed as soon as he moved in.

Personal responsibility was no longer 'in,' like it was during WWII and during the 1950s. And so we rejected Carter, rejected responsibility, and embraced the unsustainable dream. We can blame Wall Street all we want, but we'd better also look in the mirror.

Here it is - the famous 'Malaise' speech of 1979:

President Jimmy Carter, in a televised speech, July 15, 1979.

Good evening. This is a special night for me. Exactly three years ago, on July 15, 1976, I accepted the nomination of my party to run for president of the United States.

I promised you a president who is not isolated from the people, who feels your pain, and who shares your dreams and who draws his strength and his wisdom from you.

During the past three years I've spoken to you on many occasions about national concerns, the energy crisis, reorganizing the government, our nation's economy, and issues of war and especially peace. But over those years the subjects of the speeches, the talks, and the press conferences have become increasingly narrow, focused more and more on what the isolated world of Washington thinks is important. Gradually, you've heard more and more about what the government thinks or what the government should be doing and less and less about our nation's hopes, our dreams, and our vision of the future.

Ten days ago I had planned to speak to you again about a very important subject -- energy. For the fifth time I would have described the urgency of the problem and laid out a series of legislative recommendations to the Congress. But as I was preparing to speak, I began to ask myself the same question that I now know has been troubling many of you. Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?

It's clear that the true problems of our Nation are much deeper -- deeper than gasoline lines or energy shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession. And I realize more than ever that as president I need your help. So I decided to reach out and listen to the voices of America.

I invited to Camp David people from almost every segment of our society -- business and labor, teachers and preachers, governors, mayors, and private citizens. And then I left Camp David to listen to other Americans, men and women like you.

It has been an extraordinary ten days, and I want to share with you what I've heard. First of all, I got a lot of personal advice. Let me quote a few of the typical comments that I wrote down.

This from a southern governor: "Mr. President, you are not leading this nation -- you're just managing the government."

"You don't see the people enough any more."

"Some of your Cabinet members don't seem loyal. There is not enough discipline among your disciples."

"Don't talk to us about politics or the mechanics of government, but about an understanding of our common good."

"Mr. President, we're in trouble. Talk to us about blood and sweat and tears."

"If you lead, Mr. President, we will follow."

Many people talked about themselves and about the condition of our nation.

This from a young woman in Pennsylvania: "I feel so far from government. I feel like ordinary people are excluded from political power."

And this from a young Chicano: "Some of us have suffered from recession all our lives."

"Some people have wasted energy, but others haven't had anything to waste."

And this from a religious leader: "No material shortage can touch the important things like God's love for us or our love for one another."

And I like this one particularly from a black woman who happens to be the mayor of a small Mississippi town: "The big-shots are not the only ones who are important. Remember, you can't sell anything on Wall Street unless someone digs it up somewhere else first."

This kind of summarized a lot of other statements: "Mr. President, we are confronted with a moral and a spiritual crisis."

Several of our discussions were on energy, and I have a notebook full of comments and advice. I'll read just a few.

"We can't go on consuming 40 percent more energy than we produce. When we import oil we are also importing inflation plus unemployment."

"We've got to use what we have. The Middle East has only five percent of the world's energy, but the United States has 24 percent."

And this is one of the most vivid statements: "Our neck is stretched over the fence and OPEC has a knife."

"There will be other cartels and other shortages. American wisdom and courage right now can set a path to follow in the future."

This was a good one: "Be bold, Mr. President. We may make mistakes, but we are ready to experiment."

And this one from a labor leader got to the heart of it: "The real issue is freedom. We must deal with the energy problem on a war footing."

And the last that I'll read: "When we enter the moral equivalent of war, Mr. President, don't issue us BB guns."

These ten days confirmed my belief in the decency and the strength and the wisdom of the American people, but it also bore out some of my long-standing concerns about our nation's underlying problems.

I know, of course, being president, that government actions and legislation can be very important. That's why I've worked hard to put my campaign promises into law -- and I have to admit, with just mixed success. But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can't fix what's wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.

I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.

The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.

The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.

The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July.

It is the idea which founded our nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else -- public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.

Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.

As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.

These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.

We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.

We remember when the phrase "sound as a dollar" was an expression of absolute dependability, until ten years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our nation's resources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil.

These wounds are still very deep. They have never been healed. Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our nation's life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You don't like it, and neither do I. What can we do?

First of all, we must face the truth, and then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this nation. Restoring that faith and that confidence to America is now the most important task we face. It is a true challenge of this generation of Americans.

One of the visitors to Camp David last week put it this way: "We've got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America."

We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.

We ourselves are the same Americans who just ten years ago put a man on the Moon. We are the generation that dedicated our society to the pursuit of human rights and equality. And we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of America.

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.

Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.

In little more than two decades we've gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries, at prices that are going through the roof. Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous toll on our economy and our people. This is the direct cause of the long lines which have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It's a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our nation. The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.

What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important.

Point one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now and then reversed as we move through the 1980s, for I am tonight setting the further goal of cutting our dependence on foreign oil by one-half by the end of the next decade -- a saving of over 4-1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day.

Point two: To ensure that we meet these targets, I will use my presidential authority to set import quotas. I'm announcing tonight that for 1979 and 1980, I will forbid the entry into this country of one drop of foreign oil more than these goals allow. These quotas will ensure a reduction in imports even below the ambitious levels we set at the recent Tokyo summit.

Point three: To give us energy security, I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel -- from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun.

I propose the creation of an energy security corporation to lead this effort to replace 2-1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day by 1990. The corporation I will issue up to $5 billion in energy bonds, and I especially want them to be in small denominations so that average Americans can invest directly in America's energy security.

Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war. Moreover, I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.

These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay. It will be money well spent. Unlike the billions of dollars that we ship to foreign countries to pay for foreign oil, these funds will be paid by Americans to Americans. These funds will go to fight, not to increase, inflation and unemployment.

Point four: I'm asking Congress to mandate, to require as a matter of law, that our nation's utility companies cut their massive use of oil by 50 percent within the next decade and switch to other fuels, especially coal, our most abundant energy source.

Point five: To make absolutely certain that nothing stands in the way of achieving these goals, I will urge Congress to create an energy mobilization board which, like the War Production Board in World War II, will have the responsibility and authority to cut through the red tape, the delays, and the endless roadblocks to completing key energy projects.

We will protect our environment. But when this nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.

Point six: I'm proposing a bold conservation program to involve every state, county, and city and every average American in our energy battle. This effort will permit you to build conservation into your homes and your lives at a cost you can afford.

I ask Congress to give me authority for mandatory conservation and for standby gasoline rationing. To further conserve energy, I'm proposing tonight an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems. And I'm asking you for your good and for your nation's security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel. Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense -- I tell you it is an act of patriotism.

Our nation must be fair to the poorest among us, so we will increase aid to needy Americans to cope with rising energy prices. We often think of conservation only in terms of sacrifice. In fact, it is the most painless and immediate way of rebuilding our nation's strength. Every gallon of oil each one of us saves is a new form of production. It gives us more freedom, more confidence, that much more control over our own lives.

So, the solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country. It can rekindle our sense of unity, our confidence in the future, and give our nation and all of us individually a new sense of purpose.

You know we can do it. We have the natural resources. We have more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias. We have more coal than any nation on Earth. We have the world's highest level of technology. We have the most skilled work force, with innovative genius, and I firmly believe that we have the national will to win this war.

I do not promise you that this struggle for freedom will be easy. I do not promise a quick way out of our nation's problems, when the truth is that the only way out is an all-out effort. What I do promise you is that I will lead our fight, and I will enforce fairness in our struggle, and I will ensure honesty. And above all, I will act. We can manage the short-term shortages more effectively and we will, but there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems. There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.

Twelve hours from now I will speak again in Kansas City, to expand and to explain further our energy program. Just as the search for solutions to our energy shortages has now led us to a new awareness of our Nation's deeper problems, so our willingness to work for those solutions in energy can strengthen us to attack those deeper problems.

I will continue to travel this country, to hear the people of America. You can help me to develop a national agenda for the 1980s. I will listen and I will act. We will act together. These were the promises I made three years ago, and I intend to keep them.

Little by little we can and we must rebuild our confidence. We can spend until we empty our treasuries, and we may summon all the wonders of science. But we can succeed only if we tap our greatest resources -- America's people, America's values, and America's confidence.

I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people. In the days to come, let us renew that strength in the struggle for an energy secure nation.

In closing, let me say this: I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Whenever you have a chance, say something good about our country. With God's help and for the sake of our nation, it is time for us to join hands in America. Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit. Working together with our common faith we cannot fail.

Thank you and good night.

Good night indeed. And good luck.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Rate the Debates yourself

Don't forget - tonight - sign up to rate the debates!

Rate the Debates

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Jon Stewart: Dive of Death

Clusterf#@k to the Poor House - Dive of Death

Absolutely... priceless.

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"Cash for Trash" protests break out all over U.S.

From IPS International News:

ECONOMY-US: National Protests Erupt Over Bailout Plan

Haider Rizvi

NEW YORK, Sep 25 (IPS) - The George W. Bush administration's plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to rescue giant Wall Street firms from their current financial meltdown has unleashed a spontaneous wave of protests across the United States.

"Cash for trash," shouted activists who gathered near Wall Street to express their outrage at Bush's proposal to buy bad debts of financial institutions at the cost of 700 billion dollars of taxpayer money.

Protesters said they want the Congress to protect millions of U.S. citizens who are on the verge of losing their homes due to bad lending practices of creditors instead of doling out public money to big investment firms responsible for ruining the economy.

"People are up in arms about this," Matt Holland of the TrueMajority.org, an advocacy group comprising 700,000 members that played a major role in organising the protests, told IPS. "Our members are livid. They're hitting the streets."

According to the group, thousands of people in more than 190 cities and towns across the country took part in demonstrations against the corporate bailout bill proposed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson last Friday.

The four-page draft bill, which is currently under discussion on Capitol Hill, did not initially require any legal and financial measures to protect homeowners from possible foreclosures, nor did it put any limits on the salaries of the corporate executives -- although legislators say that has since been amended.

On Thursday, Democratic and Republican lawmakers declared they were close to reaching a deal on a modified version of the bill, but still there was no indication if it would pass the Senate and the House.

"While many are focused on providing relief to the Wall Street, millions of homeowners are at risk of being left behind," said Janet Murgula, president of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights group.

To Murgula, "it is irresponsible public policy to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a Wall Street rescue package while simultaneously denying them a sustainable response to the devastation the rising foreclosures rate is having throughout the country."

Independent presidential candidate and populist consumer advocate Ralph Nader agrees.

"The public outrage out there is really enormous," he said in an interview with the left-wing television programme Democracy Now!, calling the Bush proposal "a double standard between the guys at the top and the people who are going to have to pay the bills."


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I read the news today - oh boy (Friday edition)

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

- Queen (Another one Bites the Dust)

From the New York Times:

Government Seizes WaMu and Sells Some Assets

Washington Mutual, the giant lender that came to symbolize the excesses of the mortgage boom, was seized by federal regulators on Thursday night, in what is by far the largest bank failure in American history.

Regulators simultaneously brokered an emergency sale of virtually all of Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest savings and loan, to JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion, averting another potentially huge taxpayer bill for the rescue of a failing institution.

The move came as lawmakers reached a stalemate over the passage of a $700 billion bailout fund designed to help ailing banks, and removed one of America’s most troubled banks from the financial landscape.

Customers of WaMu, based in Seattle, are unlikely to be affected, although shareholders and some bondholders will be wiped out. WaMu account holders are guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation up to $100,000, and additional deposits will be backed by JPMorgan Chase.

By taking on all of WaMu’s troubled mortgages and credit card loans, JPMorgan Chase will absorb at least $31 billion in losses that would normally have fallen to the F.D.I.C.

How surreal... JP Morgan again, to the rescue.

It was J.P. Morgan himself who bought up stocks during the Great Crash of 1929:

Historians refer to October 24, 1929 as "Black Thursday." On this day, people began dumping their stocks as quickly as they could. Sell orders inundated market exchanges and the bull market suddenly shifted to a bear market. By that evening, J.P. Morgan and other financiers bought up stock to stop the panic and keep the market afloat. On Friday, October 25, the House of Morgan continued to keep the market stable and it seemed that the panic was over. Yet, many investors began to worry during the weekend. George and Martha and thousands of their friends decided to sell whatever stock they still had as soon as the market opened on Monday. As a result, on Monday, October 28, there was another wave of sell orders. The next day, October 29, 1929, "Black Tuesday," was the beginning of the Great Crash.

Time to learn the history and ramifications of the 'Great Crash of 1929.' It appears we're well on our way to reliving it.

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Jon Stewart: Awkward Loan Interview

Jon outdid himself last night. Grade for last night's show...? Emmy ++

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Verbal brawl in the White House

-- What - George didn't get his way?

It appears the Republicans want their party back! And not a moment too soon.

I'm sure Congress worked very hard to forge a bipartisan compromise; a solution to the financial crisis that was constitutional, and included protection for taxpayers. The very predictable and reoccurring problem is - of course - that compromise isn't (ever) what George and his buddies want. The Neocons want total control of the purse strings - a complete financial coup - and nothing less will ever satisfy them.

George won't be happy until he and his pals have stolen every last borrowed penny.

This was so predictable. That the Republicans fought back... that is a welcome surprise. It may just save our nation from crippling debt and bankruptcy.

Congress - both Republicans and Democrats - hammered out a compromise. But it was never going to fly with the Neocons. They (who created this mess) refuse all compromises, all oversight, all 'rights of man' -- and they spurn and scoff at our Constitution.

They came for our money, our children's money, and our grand children's money. I'm sure they planned to spirit it overseas, perhaps to Dubai.

Thank you Congress -- and especially to congressional Republicans -- for standing firm. Stick to your principles! Don't let up. We're counting on you.

Thank you to the real Republicans. I dream of a day when the Democrats can remember what they once stood for as a party; the party of Kennedy and Roosevelt (they can start by glancing over at Dennis Kucinich and Russ Feingold.) Perhaps then there will be balance again.

If not... its time to form a third party to represent the growing numbers of us that fall through the cracks. Honestly... I've always been something of a mix: fiscally conservative, socially progressive. And no, I don't mean 'liberal;' progressive... as in 'progress.'

Progress means alternate forms of energy that won't destroy our climate or cause endless wars for oil. Progress means protecting the environment for future generations and simply because it is the right thing to do. Teddy Roosevelt (Republican) created our National Parks Service. Eisenhower (Republican) created the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. Republicans have a tradition of preserving the land. They haven't always been greedy destroyers.

Progress means protecting our Constitution against tyranny and any hostile overthrow of our democracy. The Constitution is the only true guardian of our freedom. No foreign war is ever going to make or keep us free. That is our responsibility.

Progress means change from this rule of greed and elitism. Progress means a return to the days when we Americans believed in justice, honor, fair play, prosperity for all. Remember that American dream? Many of our ancestors went through hell to reach our shores so that their descendants could live well and prosper, in freedom and harmony. But they expect us to preserve this dream.

Fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I don't see why we can't live in a nation that succeeds economically and socially. I have never understood why our corporations couldn't be successful in a free market, while taxpaying Americans (and the poor, the down and out) also succeed or at least survive with good jobs, fair pay, good schools and affordable health care. It was only corporate greed that got in the way of balance and the 'good life' in our country, and around the world.

If the corporations - with Neocons promoting this irresponsible behavior - weren't so damn greedy, we'd never have gotten into this mess. We could have had a healthy society that all could live in and thrive.

I hear there are a lot of us who consider ourselves 'fiscally conservative and socially progressive.' Neither party wants us... we need our own representation.

From the New York Times:

September 26, 2008

Talks Implode During a Day of Chaos; Fate of Bailout Plan Remains Unresolved

WASHINGTON — The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.

It was an implosion that spilled out from behind closed doors into public view in a way rarely seen in Washington.

By 10:30 p.m., after another round of talks, Congressional negotiators gave up for the night and said they would try again on Friday. Left uncertain was the fate of the bailout, which the White House says is urgently needed to fix broken financial and credit markets, as well as whether the first presidential debate would go forward as planned Friday night in Mississippi.

When Congressional leaders and Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, the two major party presidential candidates, trooped to the White House on Thursday afternoon, most signs pointed toward a bipartisan agreement on a grand compromise that could be accepted by all sides and signed into law by the weekend. It was intended to pump billions of dollars into the financial system, restoring liquidity and keeping credit flowing to businesses and consumers.

“We’re in a serious economic crisis,” Mr. Bush told reporters as the meeting began shortly before 4 p.m. in the Cabinet Room, adding, “My hope is we can reach an agreement very shortly.”

But once the doors closed, the smooth-talking House Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, surprised many in the room by declaring that his caucus could not support the plan to allow the government to buy distressed mortgage assets from ailing financial companies.

Mr. Boehner pressed an alternative that involved a smaller role for the government, and Mr. McCain, whose support of the deal is critical if fellow Republicans are to sign on, declined to take a stand.

The talks broke up in angry recriminations, according to accounts provided by a participant and others who were briefed on the session, and were followed by dueling news conferences and interviews rife with partisan finger-pointing.

Friday morning, on CBS’s “The Early Show,” Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the lead Democratic negotiator, said the bailout had been derailed by internal Republican politics.

“I didn’t know I was going to be the referee for an internal G.O.P. ideological civil war,” Mr. Frank said, according to The A.P.Thursday, in the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”


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The Daily Show: McCain Returns to Washington

John McCain finally returns to Washington...

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Doh, part II.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sanders: Bailout Transfers Wealth Upwards

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was a member of the House Banking Committee before his election to the Senate. He is now a member of the Budget Committee.

As one of the few 'Independent' voices in the growing congressional din, I read his words with great interest.

Sanders, as quoted in The Nation:

For years, as a member of the House Banking Committee and now as a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I have heard the Bush Administration tell us how "robust" our economy was and how strong the "fundamentals" were. That was until a few days ago. Now, we are being told that if Congress does not act immediately and approve the $700 billion Wall Street bailout proposal these "free marketers" have just written up, there will be an unprecedented economic meltdown in the United States and an unraveling of the global economy.

This proposal as presented is an unacceptable attempt to force middle income families (and our children) to pick up the cost of fixing the horrendous economic mess that is the product of the Bush Administration's deregulatory fever and Wall Street's insatiable greed. If the potential danger to our economy was not so dire, this blatant effort to essentially transfer $700 billion up the income ladder to those at the top would be laughable.

Let us be clear. If the economy is on the edge of collapse we need to act. But rescuing the economy does not mean we have to just give away $700 billion of taxpayer money to the banks. (In truth, it could be much more than $700 billion. The bill only says the government is limited to having $700 billion outstanding at any time. By selling the mortgage backed assets it acquires -- even at staggering losses -- the government will be able to buy even more resulting is a virtually limitless financial exposure on the part of taxpayers.) Any proposal must protect middle income and working families from bearing the burden of this bailout.

I have proposed a three part plan to accomplish that goal which includes a five-year, 10% surtax on the income of individuals above $500,000 a year, and $1 million a year for couples; a requirement that the price the government pays for any mortgage assets are discounted appropriately so that government can recover the amount it paid for them; and, finally, the government should receive equity in the companies it bails out so that when the stock of these companies rises after the bailout, taxpayers also have the opportunity to share in the resulting windfall. Taken together, these measures would provide the best guarantee that at the end of five years, the government will have gotten back the money it put out.

Second, in addition to protecting the average American from being saddled with the cost, any serious proposal has to include reforms so that we end the type of behavior that led to this crisis in the first place. Much of this activity can be traced to specific legislation that broke down regulatory safety walls in the financial sector and allowed banks and others to engage in new types of risky transactions that are at the heart of this crisis. That deregulation needs to be repealed. Wall Street has shown it cannot be trusted to police itself. We need to reinstate a strong regulatory system that protects our economy.

Third, we need to address the needs of working families in this country who are today facing very difficult times. If we can bail out Wall Street, we need to respond with equal vigor to their plight. That means, for example, creating millions of jobs through major investments in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and creating a new renewable energy system. We must also make certain that the most vulnerable Americans don't freeze in the winter or die because they lack access to primary health care.

Finally, we need to protect ourselves from being at the mercy of giant companies that are "too big to fail," that is, companies who are so large that their failure would cause systemic harm to the economy. We need to assess which companies fall into this category and insist they are broken up. Otherwise, the American taxpayer will continue to be on the financial hook for the risky behavior, the mismanagement, and even the illegal conduct of these companies' executives.

These are the last days of the Bush Administration, the most dishonest and incompetent in modern American history. It is imperative that, at this important moment, Congress stand up for the middle class and for fiscal integrity. The future of our country is at stake.

If you like what Senator Sanders has to say, you can sign an online petition (posted on his Senate website) in the form of a letter to Paulson.

I believe I have posted every reasonable solution offered from the left, the right and middle; from Republican, Democrat and Independent. Any one of them is better by far then the swindle plan offered up by Bush and Paulson.

Now we wait.

It will be interesting to note what sort of compromise Congress can strike with our famously stubborn Neocon-in-chief; and the endless ripples this decision will cause long after the (first) check has been cut.

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