Senate Approves Bailout Plan

By an overwhelming majority vote of 74-25 the Senate approved a massive economic bailout plan last evening.   Both Casey and Specter voted for the plan.  Laden with additional features designed to get passed in the House it now is $100 billion more expensive than the rescue voted down by the House Monday.  How ironic is it that Republicans like Joe Pitts and Jim Gerlach’s actions have resulted in an additional $100 billion in spending?  

So much for any fiscal responsibility.  This plan is NOT paid for and that concerns me.  Taxes on the rich, especially the ultra rich who cashed in big time, should be raised to cover this effort.  New taxes on large scale securities transactions, 100 shares or more (small investors rarely trade that many) would also produce revenues.

People on Main Street are wondering why we have to shoulder this burden and that’s a fair question.  There’s little time to fix this so bankruptcy rights for people are restored and the bailout for banks isn’t seen by voters as one more Congressional bailout of banks at their expense.

We aren’t going to get a perfect bill but let’s not pass a bad one.

Outsourcing Cost PA 228,900 Jobs in 2007

Pennsylvania lost 228,900 jobs due to outsourcing last year according to the Economic Policy Institute.  These were due to non-oil related deficits.  That means our trade deficit based on oil revenues wasn’t taken into account.

The industries hit hardest nationally were automobile manufacturing and parts, computer and electronics, apparel, and metals.  Overall the  nation lost 5.6 million jobs, the result of globalization, Republican and corporate Democrat free trade policies, and GOP tax incentives for companies who outsource jobs.

Instead of basing your vote next month on whether gays can marry, whether women have control of their own bodies, or whether you think common sense gun safety is a radical idea, perhaps you should stop and wonder if your job will be one those lost next year.

Just say NO!

I think we need to hearken back to some saged wisdom of Nancy Reagan and the National Drug Control Policy’s famous line of “Just Say NO!” campaign to help kids stay away from drugs.

Well, Congress needs to just say NO!  and let this thing fall where it may.  Bring down the haughty, the greedy, the reckless, bring low everything, globally, if needed.  It is time for the ugly reality check and the bunch of grandstanding swindlers, frauds and ace-holes that occupy Congress refuse to truly stand and deliver for the American people who put them there.  

I’ve got to start to truly wonder why the hell we even bother to keep going as a country, in the form we have now, if this is how our leaders are going to keep treating us.  Yes, regime change may be needed, if idiotic nonsense like this barge of crapola of a “bail out” continues to stream forth from the votes of those who we’ve elected to represent us.  I know it sounds extreme, yes, but honestly, what will we be left with, when they’ve bailed out everything only to have the value of dollar and the U.S. economy still hit a long recession.  It will happen, mark my words now.  This is the back storyline that you won’t hear from a lot or nearly any, but if we do end up bailing out all this and still trying to fund all we need to fund, and keep the Bush tax cuts permanent, it will devalue our dollar so low we’ll be in a worse recession than if we do nothing, which is the right thing to do.  

The American should take their protest of this to the ballot box in November and honestly toss these frauds, party be damned out on their tin ears.  Every American who is not part of the problem of Wall Street should be livid and hold their reps to account with their votes.  

Early Voting

Ohio voters began going to the polls yesterday.  Early voting is here and I’m not sure if its a good thing.  Opening polls more than a month before election day is risky.  A lot can happen between now and November 4th and a lot still could happen to change people’s minds.

I suspect most of these early voters are Party hacks who will vote a straight Party line regardless of whatever happens.  Others are likely better off waiting until after all the debates.  Many local elections are just gearing up and they’ll have more day to day impact on you than a presidential contest.

I’ll be voting early due to being an absentee ballot voter and I’m still mulling over some of the down ticket races on my ballot.  Honestly it occurred to me this morning I may wind up undervoting the entire ballot.  I can think of no one on there I want to vote FOR.  I have serious problems with most of the Democrats on the choice issue, including the statewide candidates.  I’m not a one issue voter however so I may choose to hold my nose and vote for the lesser of the evils.

I may elect to write in several names in place of some of the more noxious Democrats from which I may choose.  I’m leaning more and more in that direction, especially in my State House race.  In that I can choose to vote for the Democrat who supports replacing a progressive tax with a regressive one or a Republican who supports the most progressive solution.  What to do on that issue?  I cannot vote for a Republican so that provides a dilemma.  Any suggestions?

Update:  I voted today (Oct. 20th) and cast my presidential ballot for Cynthia McKinney.

Redefining the Bailout

President Bush and Congressional leaders are trying to redefine the government bailout of the economy following their failure Monday.  Suddenly aware that Americans though this was a taxpayer funded $700 give away to Wall Street they inundated DC offices with their protests.

Now it’s being called an “investment.”  Pardon me but doesn’t imply the potential for some sort of return?  We keep hearing this massive expenditure has the capability of returning a profit.  Sure and you have a chance to win Powerball AND Mega Millions too.  You might be better off investing in lottery tickets.

The derivatives and toxic securities the government is going to buy with your money are the worst, most toxic, most worthless scraps of paper ever devised by Wall Street.  The odds these will ever have any value make Powerball a good bet.

Perhaps we should insist we allow these most toxic of debts simply go away, out of the market forever and invest in the mortgage derivatives which provide some semblance of profit long term.  The banks still get new liquidity and the taxpayers aren’t sold a bill of goods.

I think Bush and some Congressional leaders are making snake oil salesmen look honest.

Stampeded by Fear, Scammed by Lies: Why the Bailout Failed

This is a guest column by Walter Brasch:

Stampeded by Fear, Scammed by Lies:

Why the Bailout Failed



by Walter Brasch

           The Republican leaders of the House of Representatives grabbed a half dozen bags of sincerity, looked directly into every TV camera they could find, and lied.

           The House had just defeated, 228?-205, a bipartisan $700 billion bailout bill. But it was the Democrats who were the subject of vicious rhetoric.

           Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “poisoned our conference,” screeched Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Republican minority leader. He said the House would have voted for the bill “had it not been for the partisan speech the Speaker gave on the floor of the House.” Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) specifically said that Pelosi’s speech changed the minds of about a dozen Republicans who voted against the bill. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), waving a copy of Pelosi’s speech, screamed out, “Here is the reason I believe why this vote failed!” The speech, he said, “frankly struck the tone of partisanship that frankly was inappropriate in this discussion.” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a senior advisor to Sen. John McCain, was equally blunt and equally wrong. The bailout failed, he said, because “Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.”

But it wasn’t the Democrats who brought about the bill’s defeat. The Democrats voted 140?-95 for the bill; the Republicans voted 133-?65 against the bill. Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain reluctantly supported the bill. Nevertheless, the viciously partisan Republican leadership, eager to paint anything Democratic as vicious partisanship, couldn’t even get a majority of their own members to agree to the bailout, one that now had added protections for the taxpayer.

           What infuriated the Republican leaders was Pelosi’s accurate portrayal of the Bush-Cheney Administration’s economic policies as “built on recklessness, on an anything-goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision and no disciple in the system.” While driving America into the deepest deficit in its history, the Administration had usurped its own campaign lies that breathlessly panted the fear that the enemies of American consumers are “tax-and-spend liberals,” as if it was one word.

There are several reasons why this version of the bailout failed. Every member of the House is facing re-election in less than six weeks, and their constituents are angry. They’re angry at the government’s lack of oversight and regulation, supported and encouraged by Bush and McCain, that helped bring about the crisis. They’re angry at the failing mega-mammoth financial institutions that sacrificed the middle class to a horde of unbridled greed and incompetence. They’re angry at corporate executives who make millions while their companies are failing, and then get multi-million dollar “golden parachutes” that let them float into retirement, while the average taxpayer’s 401(k), with only a few thousand dollars may now be worth only half what it once was. They’re angry at “house flippers,” aided by easy-to-get mortgages and some unscrupulous real estate brokers, who made minor fortunes and helped raise housing prices to the point where middle-class families could no longer afford to own a home in an economy that was being held up by toothpicks.

           But, most of all, consumers and members of Congress are furious at President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and their Neocon gaggle who no longer have credibility. For seven years, the Bush-Cheney Administration has used fear as a bargaining weapon.

           Six weeks after 9/11, the U.S. had the PATRIOT Act, a 342-page law, which few members of Congress read before voting for it, that pretending to stop terrorists essentially stripped much of our constitutional protections. And the people and their elected leaders agreed to it.

           Using the tactics of fear, the Bush-Cheney Administration lied to the people, almost abandoned the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, and invaded Iraq, which had no connection to 9/11. And the people and their elected leaders agreed to it.

           For the morally bankrupt Bush Corp., dissent is unpatriotic, un-American, and maybe even treasonous. “You’re either with us or against us,” President Bush told Americans. Because the people didn’t want to be seen as opposed to America, they and their leaders agreed to being bullied. “Support the troops,” Bush told Americans, but meant “Support me and my policies.” And Americans didn’t want to be seen as not supporting America’s soldiers, even if the Bush-Cheney Administration, didn’t give the troops pay raises, adequate body armor or medical care.

           The Bush-Cheney Administration said they were “compassionate conservatives.” But, Katrina put an end to that lie.

           This is an Administration that believes the environment is important only if it doesn’t interfere with private business. For years, Bush said he believed global warming doesn’t exist, and if it does it wasn’t caused by mankind. Only under the crushing weight of scientific evidence did Bush reluctantly have to modify his beliefs.

           Almost eight years of incompetence and lies, with the President’s credibility lower than that of Three-Card Monty dealers in New York City, led Americans to finally realize they have been scammed. Bush had cried out “fear” once too often.

           But, it wasn’t the PATRIOT Act, the Iraq War, or the destruction of the environment that brought about the people’s anger. It was their self-interest. In Bush’s Wild West economy, Americans have seen inflation, increased unemployment, foreclosures, and bankruptcies; they have seen their retirement plans dwindle in the vapors of economic chaos. The vote against the bailout was simply political reality by members of Congress who no longer were about to be stampeded by fear, scammed by lies, and whose own self-interest is to be re-elected.

[Walter Brasch’s latest book is the second edition of Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush (November 2007), available through amazon.com, bn.com, and other bookstores. You may contact Brasch at brasch@bloomu.edu or through his website at: www.walterbrasch.com]  

The Vindication of Naomi Klein

The current economic crisis is the vindication of Naomi Klein.  The writer and author has taken a lot of grief for her book “Shock Doctrine” about disaster capitalism.  Klein recites the long, disgraceful legacy of American foreign and economic policy based on the “Chicago School” fundamentals of a completely free market economy.

Her list of chapters starting with the American overthrow of Chile’s government by Augusto Pinochet to Russia, China, Britain (under Thatcherism) and many other failed economies and coups, is chilling.

I lived through all of these disasters and recall them well.  Argentina, Brazil, and other South American economies were simply destroyed by American multinationals and our foreign policy.  This is why so many of these people fled here trying to survive.  Now people like Lou Dobbs and Lou Barletta want to punish them anew.

We wonder why they hate us.

The beginning of Klein’s book is difficult to get through as she delves into the history of electroshock treatment for mental illness.  Its important to the theme of the book however because we need to comprehend the effect of shock on people.

America is now experiencing the effects of deregulated and unregulated business practices.  We shouldn’t have had to do this after witnessing similar failures in every chapter of Klein’s book but, somehow we did.

Unfettered Chicago School economics is based on Milton Friedman’s philosophy.  Beware of anyone who embraces this failed agenda.  It is the main reason I am not supporting Barack Obama.

I attended a forum by his foreign policy team last spring to gauge what sort of experts he’s leaning on considering his lack of extensive, intensive experience in Washington.  I came away quite dismayed.  I listened while Susan Rice and Paul Bucha described our actions in Iraq as destroying the social fabric, economy and culture of that country so George W. Bush and his GOP allies in Congress could impose a Chicago School style shock treatment on these Arabs and Kurds.

It failed miserably.  After losing $13 billion in taxpayer funds to greed and corruption amid a climate in which no one was safe to walk the streets and even American multinationals pulled out, even Bush abandoned his grandiose plan.  It failed again.

Now it is failing America.  Unbridled greed and unregulated hedge funds created $45 trillion in worthless assets which are now seizing the American economic engine.  If you think of our economy as an engine, an apt analogy, credit is the oil in the engine.  We’re out of oil folks and the engine is about to seize up.  It’s already shaking and spitting.  

GM cannot get new line sof credit.  McDonalds has had to cease renovation and expansion of restaurants, the Libor bank loan rate hit 6.88% today, and local, county and state governments are unable to raise money by selling bonds.  Corporations cannot sell bonds.  These all mean lost jobs, good jobs in construction and on assembly lines.  No school construction, expansion of business facilities, no new stores and restaurants.  The economy is grinding to a halt.

Naomi Klein exposed all these risks in “Shock Treatment.”  She reviewed exactly how these same policies failed all over the globe.  Even Barack Obama’s so called “experts” rejected her theory by calling her “a whackjob.”

My conclusion:  Obama’s experts are whackjobs and I cannot vote for someone who will be taking their advice.

Jonathan Freedland of the UK newspaper The Guardian

wrote:

“If Sarah Palin defies the conventional wisdom that says elections are determined by the top of the ticket, and somehow wins this for McCain, what will be the reaction? Yes, blue – state America will go into mourning once again, feeling estranged in its own country. A generation of young Americans – who back Obama in big numbers – will turn cynical, concluding that politics doesn’t work after all. And, most depressing, many African – Americans will decide that if even Barack Obama – with all his conspicuous gifts – could not win, then no black man can ever be elected president.

“But what of the rest of the world? This is the reaction I fear most. For Obama has stirred an excitement around the globe unmatched by any American politician in living memory. Polling in Germany , France , Britain and Russia shows that Obama would win by whopping majorities, with the pattern repeated in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America . If November 4 were a global ballot, Obama would win it handsomely. If the free world could choose its leader, it would be Barack Obama.

“The crowd of 200,000 that rallied to hear him in Berlin in July did so not only because of his charisma, but also because they know he, like the majority of the world’s population, opposed the Iraq war.. McCain supported it, peddling the lie that Saddam was linked to 9/11. Non – Americans sense that Obama will not ride roughshod over the international system but will treat alliances and global institutions seriously: McCain wants to bypass the United Nations in favour of a US – friendly League of Democracies. McCain might talk a good game on climate change, but a repeated floor chant at the Republican convention was “Drill, baby, drill!”, as if the solution to global warming were not a radical rethink of the US’s entire energy system but more offshore oil rigs.

“If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush – Cheney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.

“Until now, anti – Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti – Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once – in – a – generation chance for a fresh start – a fresh start the world is yearning for.

“And the manner of that decision will matter, too. If it is deemed to have been about race – that Obama was rejected because of his colour – the world’s verdict will be harsh. In that circumstance, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg wrote recently, international opinion would conclude that “the United States had its day, but in the end couldn’t put its own self – interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race”.

“Even if it’s not ethnic prejudice, but some other aspect of the culture wars, that proves decisive, the point still holds. For America to make a decision as grave as this one – while the planet boils and with the US fighting two wars – on the trivial basis that a hockey mom is likable and seems down to earth, would be to convey a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality, that does indeed suggest a nation in, to quote Weisberg, “historical decline”. Let’s not forget, McCain’s campaign manager boasts that this election is “not about the issues.”

“Of course I know that even to mention Obama’s support around the world is to hurt him. Incredibly, that large Berlin crowd damaged Obama at home, branding him the “candidate of Europe ” and making him seem less of a patriotic American. But what does that say about today’s America , that the world’s esteem is now unwanted? If Americans reject Obama, they will be sending the clearest possible message to the rest of us – and, make no mistake, we shall hear it.”

—Sometimes it’s good to get a view from elsewhere in the world. As always, you are welcome to disagree…