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Congratulations to Obama, but now is not the time to relax

November 6, 2008

Congratulation on Barack Obama’s monumental victory. I really look forward to seeing that this country will have a chance of putting its self back together again. Especially after Humpty “Bush” Dumpty has been pushing it off the wall for the last 8 years.

However, now is not the time to be patting our collective selves on the back. We the semi-rational, sub billionaire class need to keep a real close eye on what the Bushies are doing while they are still in control. Case in point, the economic “Bailout” that both Obama and McCain both voted for is really about the same greedy bankers and politicians pillaging what little money the United States still has and redistributing the wealth from the poor to the rich.

Wake up people, and let your political representatives know that we are not stupid enough to believe that the fools that have flushed our economy down the toilet are to be trusted with repairing the same economy.

Rolling stone has a great article from NAOMI KLEIN that clearly illustrates the point that Mr. C. is making:

The New Trough

The Wall Street bailout looks a lot like Iraq — a “free-fraud zone” where private contractors cash in on the mess they helped create

NAOMI KLEIN

Posted Nov 13, 2008 11:22 AM

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Editor’s note: The online version of this story has been amended to reflect developments since the publication of the print edition.On October 13th, when the U.S. Treasury Department announced the team of “seasoned financial veterans” that will be handling the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, one name jumped out: Reuben Jeffery III, who was initially tapped to serve as chief investment officer for the massive new program.

On the surface, Jeffery looks like a classic Bush appointment. Like Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, he’s an alum of Goldman Sachs, having worked on Wall Street for 18 years. And as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 2005 to 2007, he proudly advocated “flexibility” in regulation — a laissez-faire approach that failed to rein in the high-risk trading at the heart of the meltdown.

Bankers watching bankers, regulators who don’t believe in regulating — that’s all standard fare for the Bush crew. What’s most striking about Jeffery’s résumé, however, is an item omitted when his new job was announced: He served as executive director of Paul Bremer’s infamous Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, during the early days of the Iraq War. Part of his job was to hire civilian staff, which made him an integral part of the partisan machine that filled the Green Zone with Young Republicans, investment bankers and Dick Cheney interns. Qualifications weren’t a big issue back then, because the staff’s main function was to hand over stacks of taxpayer money to private contractors, who were the ones actually running the occupation. It was this nonstop cash conveyor belt that earned the Green Zone a reputation, in the words of one CPA official, as “a free-fraud zone.” During Senate hearings last year, when Jeffery was asked what he had learned from his experience at the CPA, he said he thought that contracts should be handed out with more “speed and flexibility” — the same philosophy he cited back when he was in charge of regulating Wall Street traders.

The Bush Administration has since reversed the Jeffery appointment, perhaps thinking better of giving a CPA alum such a central role in the Wall Street bailout. Still the original impulse underscores the many worrying parallels between the administration’s approach to the financial crisis and its approach to the Iraq War. Under cover of an emergency, Treasury is rapidly turning into an economic Green Zone, overrun with private companies collecting lucrative contracts. Fittingly, one of the first to line up at the new trough was none other than the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani — yes, that Giuliani. The firm’s chairman, Patrick Oxford, could scarcely conceal his glee over the prospect of cashing in on the bailout. “This one,” he told reporters, “is very, very big.” At least four times bigger, in fact, than the post-9/11 homeland-security bubble, from which Giuliani and his various outfits have profited so extravagantly. Even bigger, potentially, than the price tag for the Iraq War itself.

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In Iraq, the contractors were tasked with reconstructing the country from the mess made by U.S. missiles. After years of corruption born of no-bid contracts and paltry oversight, many Iraqis are still waiting for the lights to come back on. Today, a new team of contractors is lining up to reconstruct the U.S. economy — reconstruct it from the mess made by the very banks, brokers and law firms that are now applying for contracts. And it’s not at all clear that America can survive their assistance.

See if any of this sounds familiar: As soon as the bailout was announced, it became clear that Treasury officials would hire outsiders to perform their jobs for them — at a profit. Private companies wanting to help manage the bailout were given just two days to apply for massive, multiyear contracts. Since it was such a mad rush — after all, the entire economy was about to implode — there was no time for an open bidding process. Nor was there time to draft rigorous rules to make sure that those applying don’t have serious conflicts of interest. Instead, applicants were asked to disclose their conflicts and to explain — and this is not a joke — their “philosophy in fulfilling your duty to the Treasury and the U.S. taxpayer in light of your proprietary interests and those of other clients.” In other words, an open invitation to bullshit about how much they love their country and how they can be trusted to regulate themselves.

The first major contract to be awarded in the bailout was for legal advice — and the choice Treasury made was Halliburton-esque in its audacity. Six law firms were invited to bid, but four declined, either because they didn’t want the contract or because they had too many conflicts of interest. Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said the fact that so many law firms chose not to bid “shows that the guidelines are sufficiently rigorous.”

Or it may just show that the bidder who won the contract — Simpson Thacher & Bartlett — takes a more relaxed approach to conflicts than its colleagues. The law firm is a Wall Street heavy hitter, having brokered some of the biggest bank mergers in recent years. It also provided legal support to companies trading mortgage-backed securities — the “financial weapons of mass destruction,” as Warren Buffett called them, that detonated the banking industry. More to the point, it was hired to provide legal services to the Treasury in its negotiations to spend $250 billion of the bailout money purchasing equity in America’s banks. The first stage of the plan involves buying stakes in nine of the country’s top banks. Incredibly, Simpson Thacher has represented seven of the nine: JPMorgan, Bank of New York Mellon, Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

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According to its contract, Simpson Thacher has agreed not to represent any of the banks “against the U.S.” when they negotiate with Treasury for the equity money. However, the firm has retained the right to represent banks when they apply for other parts of the $700 billion bailout not covered by its contract. (It has promised to erect a “firewall” to stem the flow of “confidential information” to those clients.) The firm will also continue to work for the banks on a range of other lucrative deals — and that’s where the problem lies. Take Lee Meyerson, Simpson Thacher’s lead lawyer on the bailout negotiations, who is specifically named in the contract as “essential” to the project. As the company’s hotshot attorney, Meyerson has personally represented three of the nine banks that were bailed out in the first round, in addition to many others that will surely apply for cash injections. One of the bailed-out banks is Bank of New York Mellon, whose $29 billion merger Meyerson helped negotiate. Mergers like that can bill in the millions. Is Simpson Thacher able to put aside its loyalties to its biggest clients and negotiate deals for the taxpayer that could exact real costs from those very clients?

It might be possible to set aside concerns about divided loyalties if it were clear that Simpson Thacher is helping Treasury to wrangle the best deals possible for U.S. taxpayers. But the firm’s first test — the deal to give $125 billion to the nine big banks to ease the “credit crunch” that is crippling the economy — wasn’t exactly reassuring. Secretary Paulson promised that the banks won’t just “hoard” the money — they will quickly “deploy it” through the economy in the form of badly needed loans. There is just one hitch: Neither Paulson nor Simpson Thacher got that “deploy” part in writing — nor did they put in place any mechanism to require the banks to spend their taxpayer billions. Apparently, the part about lending the money to homeowners and small businesses was sort of implied.

“There is no obligation for banks to lend the money one way or the other,” Jennifer Zuccarelli, a Treasury spokeswoman, tells Rolling Stone. “But the banks have the understanding” that the money is intended for loans. “We’re not looking to control their operations.”

Unfortunately, many of the banks appear to have no intention of wasting the money on loans. “At least for the next quarter, it’s just going to be a cushion,” said John Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch. Gary Crittenden, chief financial officer of Citigroup, had an even better idea: He hinted that his company would use its share of the cash — $25 billion — to buy up competitors and swell even bigger. The handout, he told analysts, “does present the possibility of taking advantage of opportunities that might otherwise be closed to us.”

And the folks at Morgan Stanley? They’re planning to pay themselves $10.7 billion this year, much of it in bonuses — almost exactly the amount they are receiving in the first phase of the bailout. “You can imagine the devilish grins on the faces of Morgan Stanley employees,” writes Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Weil. “Not only did we, the taxpayers, save their company…we funded their 2008 bonus pool.”

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It didn’t have to be this way. Five days before Paulson struck his deal with the banks, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown negotiated a similar bailout — only he extracted meaningful guarantees for taxpayers: voting rights at the banks, seats on their boards, 12 percent in annual dividend payments to the government, a suspension of dividend payments to shareholders, restrictions on executive bonuses, and a legal requirement that the banks lend money to homeowners and small businesses.

In sharp contrast, this is what U.S. taxpayers received: no controlling interest, no voting rights, no seats on the bank boards and just five percent in dividend payouts to the government, while shareholders continue to collect billions in dividends every quarter. What’s more, golden parachutes and bonuses already promised by the banks will still be paid out to executives — all before taxpayers are paid back.

No wonder it took just one hour for Paulson to convince all nine CEOs to accept his offer — less than seven minutes per bank. Not even the firms’ own lawyers could have drafted a sweeter deal.

The day after it met with the nation’s top banks, Treasury announced that it had selected the firm that would receive the juiciest contract of all: that of “master custodian.” The winning company will be to the bailout what Halliburton is to the military: the contractor of contractors. It will purchase toxic debts from Wall Street, service them and auction them off in the future — a so-called “end-to-end process.” The contract is for a minimum of three years.

Seventy firms applied for the gig; the winner was Bank of New York Mellon. Describing the scope of the megacontract, bank president Gerald Hassell said, “It’s the ultimate outsourcing — because the Federal Reserve and the Treasury do not have the mechanics to run the entire program, and we’re essentially the general contractor across the entire program. It’s going to cross our entire company.”

This raises an interesting point: Has the Treasury partially nationalized the private banks, as we have been told? Or is it the other way around? Is it Treasury that has been partially privatized by Wall Street, its massive rescue plan now entirely in the hands of a private bank it is directly subsidizing?

Shortly after receiving the contract, Hassell told investors that his institution is now well-positioned to profit from the market meltdown. “There’s a lot of new business that’s going on even in this chaotic marketplace,” he said, “and so some of those things have been very positive to us.” Just how positive, we don’t know, because Treasury has blacked out the 10 lines of the “master custodian” contract that reveal how much Bank of New York Mellon will be paid. Though Treasury says it will release the information eventually, the secrecy goes beyond anything the Bush administration attempted in Iraq. Even Halliburton’s dodgy contracts came with price tags attached.

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Still, when the terms of the contract do become public, they may turn out to be surprisingly modest. Goldman Sachs has apparently offered to fulfill at least one bailout contract for free. Altruism may not be their only motivation. The real money at stake in the bailout lies not in payment for the work but in how the work is done. Think about it: If you’re the one selling your debts to the government, wouldn’t you also want to help decide which debts are eligible and how much they’re worth? “The financial firms with assets to sell are in many instances the same firms the Treasury will rely on to value and manage the assets it is buying,” The New York Times observed. “That is an invitation for these firms to set the price too high or to indulge in other mischief at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Bank of New York Mellon has a bad record for mischief. It is embroiled in a $22.5 billion money-laundering lawsuit in Moscow and has been forced to pay out a $14 million settlement in a related case. Though the bank’s “master custodian” contract with Treasury prohibits unethical conduct, the arrangement seems rife with opportunities for abuse. According to its most recent earnings report, Bank of New York Mellon holds $1.2 billion in subprime mortgage securities. That means that in addition to the $3 billion it will receive as part of the equity program, it will also be eligible to apply for taxpayer money from the program it is being paid to administer. Neither the bank nor Treasury would comment on this direct conflict of interest.

On the same day that he allocated the first $125 billion to the banks, Secretary Paulson announced the largest federal budget deficit in U.S. history. Buried in his statement was a preview of the next phase of the financial disaster. The deficit numbers, he declared, reinforce the need to “pursue policies that promote economic growth and fiscal responsibility, and address entitlement reform.” He was referring to Americans who feel entitled to receive Social Security in their old age and Medicaid when they are sick. Those programs, Paulson implied, might not be able to survive the budget crisis he is currently creating for the next administration.

This is why the stakes of the bailout are so high: Unless we get a good deal, there will be nothing left over after the banks are done feeding to pay for the meager services now provided in exchange for taxation, let alone for the more ambitious initiatives promised on the campaign trail. The spiraling cost of saving Wall Street from its bad bets is already being used as an excuse for why we can’t solve our many other crises, from health care to climate change.

There is a better way to fix a broken financial system. Treasury’s plan to buy up the toxic debts never made sense and should be immediately scrapped — a move that would also handily get rid of most of the crony contractors. As for purchasing equity in banks, the next round of deals — and there will be more — has to start from the premise that the banks are bankrupt and will therefore accept whatever terms we choose to impose, including real regulatory oversight. The possibilities of what could be done if a chunk of the banking system were genuinely under public control — from a moratorium on home foreclosures to mandatory investment in green community redevelopment — are limitless.

Because here is what George Bush and Henry Paulson are hoping we won’t figure out: When a society no longer has enough money to pay for its most pressing needs, there are worse things than discovering you own the banks.

[From Issue 1065 — November 13, 2008]

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Bush’s Final Destruction of the Environment

October 31, 2008

You just can’t make this shit up. The following story is about as under the radar as you can get, especially with all the national election hype going on.

After posting about Bush’s final financial plunder of the American tax payer, it looks like the Washing Post is writing about Bush’s final Destruction of what is left of the environment. That is Bush is trying to and will probably succeed in pushing a truck load of new “regulations” that will basically turn most of the Clean Air Act on its head, and overturn a ton of other environmental protection laws.

One can only hope that Bush and his cronies are affected by polluted water, air and food as much as the billions of others will that will be affected by his rape of mother earth. One can only hope.

A Last Push to Deregulate

White House to Ease Many Rules

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 31, 2008; A01

The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.

Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.

“They want these rules to continue to have an impact long after they leave office,” said Matthew Madia, a regulatory expert at OMB Watch, a nonprofit group critical of what it calls the Bush administration’s penchant for deregulating in areas where industry wants more freedom. He called the coming deluge “a last-minute assault on the public . . . happening on multiple fronts.”

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: “This administration has taken extraordinary measures to avoid rushing regulations at the end of the term. And yes, we’d prefer our regulations stand for a very long time — they’re well reasoned and are being considered with the best interests of the nation in mind.”

As many as 90 new regulations are in the works, and at least nine of them are considered “economically significant” because they impose costs or promote societal benefits that exceed $100 million annually. They include new rules governing employees who take family- and medical-related leaves, new standards for preventing or containing oil spills, and a simplified process for settling real estate transactions.

While it remains unclear how much the administration will be able to accomplish in the coming weeks, the last-minute rush appears to involve fewer regulations than Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, approved at the end of his tenure.

In some cases, Bush’s regulations reflect new interpretations of language in federal laws. In other cases, such as several new counterterrorism initiatives, they reflect new executive branch decisions in areas where Congress — now out of session and focused on the elections — left the president considerable discretion.

The burst of activity has made this a busy period for lobbyists who fear that industry views will hold less sway after the elections. The doors at the New Executive Office Building have been whirling with corporate officials and advisers pleading for relief or, in many cases, for hastened decision making.

According to the Office of Management and Budget‘s regulatory calendar, the commercial scallop-fishing industry came in two weeks ago to urge that proposed catch limits be eased, nearly bumping into National Mining Association officials making the case for easing rules meant to keep coal slurry waste out of Appalachian streams. A few days earlier, lawyers for kidney dialysis and biotechnology companies registered their complaints at the OMB about new Medicare reimbursement rules. Lobbyists for customs brokers complained about proposed counterterrorism rules that require the advance reporting of shipping data.

Bush’s aides are acutely aware of the political risks of completing their regulatory work too late. On the afternoon of Bush’s inauguration, Jan. 20, 2001, his chief of staff issued a government-wide memo that blocked the completion or implementation of regulations drafted in the waning days of the Clinton administration that had not yet taken legal effect.

“Through the end of the Clinton administration, we were working like crazy to get as many regulations out as possible,” said Donald R. Arbuckle, who retired in 2006 after 25 years as an OMB official. “Then on Sunday, the day after the inauguration, OMB Director Mitch Daniels called me in and said, ‘Let’s pull back as many of these as we can.’ ”

Clinton’s appointees wound up paying a heavy price for procrastination. Bush’s team was able to withdraw 254 regulations that covered such matters as drug and airline safety, immigration and indoor air pollutants. After further review, many of the proposals were modified to reflect Republican policy ideals or scrapped altogether.

Seeking to avoid falling victim to such partisan tactics, White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten in May imposed a Nov. 1 government-wide deadline to finish major new regulations, “except in extraordinary circumstances.”

That gives officials just a few more weeks to meet an effective Nov. 20 deadline for the publication of economically significant rules, which take legal effect only after a 60-day congressional comment period. Less important rules take effect after a 30-day period, creating a second deadline of Dec. 20.

OMB spokeswoman Jane Lee said that Bolten’s memo was meant to emphasize the importance of “due diligence” in ensuring that late-term regulations are sound. “We will continue to embrace the thorough and high standards of the regulatory review process,” she said.

As the deadlines near, the administration has begun to issue regulations of great interest to industry, including, in recent days, a rule that allows natural gas pipelines to operate at higher pressures and new Homeland Security rules that shift passenger security screening responsibilities from airlines to the federal government. The OMB also approved a new limit on airborne emissions of lead this month, acting under a court-imposed deadline.

Many of the rules that could be issued over the next few weeks would ease environmental regulations, according to sources familiar with administration deliberations.

A rule put forward by the National Marine Fisheries Service and now under final review by the OMB would lift a requirement that environmental impact statements be prepared for certain fisheries-management decisions and would give review authority to regional councils dominated by commercial and recreational fishing interests.

An Alaska commercial fishing source, granted anonymity so he could speak candidly about private conversations, said that senior administration officials promised to “get the rule done by the end of this month” and that the outcome would be a big improvement.

Lee Crockett of the Pew Charitable Trusts‘ Environment Group said the administration has received 194,000 public comments on the rule and protests from 80 members of Congress as well as 160 conservation groups. “This thing is fatally flawed” as well as “wildly unpopular,” Crockett said.

Two other rules nearing completion would ease limits on pollution from power plants, a major energy industry goal for the past eight years that is strenuously opposed by Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups.

One rule, being pursued over some opposition within the Environmental Protection Agency, would allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning a rule that more strictly limits such emission increases. According to the EPA’s estimate, it would allow millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, worsening global warming.

A related regulation would ease limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants near national parks.

A third rule would allow increased emissions from oil refineries, chemical factories and other industrial plants with complex manufacturing operations.

These rules “will force Americans to choke on dirtier air for years to come, unless Congress or the new administration reverses these eleventh-hour abuses,” said lawyer John Walke of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But Scott H. Segal, a Washington lawyer and chief spokesman for the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, said that “bringing common sense to the Clean Air Act is the best way to enhance energy efficiency and pollution control.” He said he is optimistic that the new rule will help keep citizens’ lawsuits from obstructing new technologies.

Jonathan Shradar, an EPA spokesman, said that he could not discuss specifics but added that “we strive to protect human health and the environment.” Any rule the agency completes, he said, “is more stringent than the previous one.”

Bush’s Final Plunder of the American worker!

October 31, 2008

The Bushtard administration has been the most successful presidency in the history of the United States of America. Yes, you heard Mr. C. correctly George W. Bush has been the most successful president the United States of America has ever known.

That is if you are a connected Wall Street banker, and Oil baron or some other parasitic “businessman” that need the government to take all of your risk and let you take all of the profits. Basically the Bush regime has been a great success for the underbelly of “Free Marketers” and corporate pirates of all types.

Bush's Last Raid on America

Bush's Final Plunder of The American Taxpayer!

The only question is with the Democrats try to put the breaks on Bush’s bailout / lootapalooza and try to clamp down on the pirates of Wall Street. Unfortunately Mr. C. believes that Obama, Reid and Pelosi will be back to cowering in the corner like they have done the last two years.

Naomi Klein spells it out in the Nation and also at Alternet. Thank God for people like Naomi.

Naomi Klein: Bailout = Bush’s Final Pillage

By Naomi Klein, The Nation
Posted on October 31, 2008, Printed on October 31, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/105452/

In the final days of the election, many Republicans seem to have given up the fight for power. But that doesn’t mean they are relaxing. If you want to see real Republican elbow grease, check out the energy going into chucking great chunks of the $700 billion bailout out the door. At a recent Senate Banking Committee hearing, Republican Senator Bob Corker was fixated on this task, and with a clear deadline in mind: inauguration. “How much of it do you think may be actually spent by January 20 or so?” Corker asked Neel Kashkari, the 35-year-old former banker in charge of the bailout.

When European colonialists realized that they had no choice but to hand over power to the indigenous citizens, they would often turn their attention to stripping the local treasury of its gold and grabbing valuable livestock. If they were really nasty, like the Portuguese in Mozambique in the mid-1970s, they poured concrete down the elevator shafts.

The Bush gang prefers bureaucratic instruments: “distressed asset” auctions and the “equity purchase program.” But make no mistake: the goal is the same as it was for the defeated Portuguese — a final frantic looting of the public wealth before they hand over the keys to the safe.

How else to make sense of the bizarre decisions that have governed the allocation of the bailout money? When the Bush administration announced it would be injecting $250 billion into America’s banks in exchange for equity, the plan was widely referred to as “partial nationalization” — a radical measure required to get the banks lending again. In fact, there has been no nationalization, partial or otherwise. Taxpayers have gained no meaningful control, which is why the banks can spend their windfall as they wish (on bonuses, mergers, savings…) and the government is reduced to pleading that they use a portion of it for loans.

What, then, is the real purpose of the bailout? I fear it is something much more ambitious than a one-off gift to big business — that this bailout has been designed to keep pillaging the Treasury for years to come. Remember, the main concern among big market players, particularly banks, is not the lack of credit but their battered share prices. Investors have lost confidence in the banks’ honesty, and with good reason. This is where Treasury’s equity pays off big time.

By purchasing stakes in these institutions, Treasury is sending a signal to the market that they are a safe bet. Why safe? Because the government won’t be able to afford to let them fail. If these companies get themselves into trouble, investors can assume that the government will keep finding more cash, since allowing them to go down would mean losing its initial equity investments (just look at AIG). That tethering of the public interest to private companies is the real purpose of the bailout plan: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is handing all the companies that are admitted to the program — a number potentially in the thousands — an implicit Treasury Department guarantee. To skittish investors looking for safe places to park their money, these equity deals will be even more comforting than a Triple-A rating from Moody’s.

Insurance like that is priceless. But for the banks, the best part is that the government is paying them — in some cases billions of dollars — to accept its seal of approval. For taxpayers, on the other hand, this entire plan is extremely risky, and may well cost significantly more than Paulson’s original idea of buying up $700 billion in toxic debts. Now taxpayers aren’t just on the hook for the debts but, arguably, for the fate of every corporation that sells them equity.

Interestingly, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both enjoyed this kind of unspoken guarantee. For decades the market understood that, since these private players were enmeshed with the government, Uncle Sam would always save the day. It was the worst of all worlds. Not only were profits privatized while risks were socialized but the implicit government backing created powerful incentives for reckless investments.

Now, with the new equity purchase program, Paulson has taken the discredited Fannie and Freddie model and applied it to a huge swath of the private banking industry. And once again, there is no reason to shy away from risky bets — especially since Treasury has not required the banks to give up high-risk financial instruments in exchange for taxpayer dollars.

To further boost confidence, the federal government has also unveiled unlimited public guarantees for many bank deposit accounts. Oh, and as if this wasn’t enough, Treasury has been encouraging the banks to merge with one another, ensuring that the only institutions left standing will be “too big to fail.” In three different ways, the market is being told loud and clear that Washington will not allow the country’s financial institutions to bear the consequences of their behavior. This may well be Bush’s most creative innovation: no-risk capitalism.

There is a glimmer of hope. In answer to Senator Corker’s question, Treasury is indeed having trouble dispersing the bailout funds. It has requested about $350 billion of the $700 billion, but most of this hasn’t yet made it out the door. Meanwhile, every day it becomes clearer that the bailout was sold on false pretenses. It was never about getting loans flowing. It was always about turning the state into a giant insurance agency for Wall Street — a safety net for the people who need it least, subsidized by the people who need it most.

This grotesque duplicity is an opportunity. Whoever wins the election on November 4 will have enormous moral authority. It can be used to call for a freeze on the dispersal of bailout funds — not after the inauguration, but right away. All deals should be renegotiated immediately, this time with the public getting the guarantees.

It is risky, of course, to interrupt the bailout. The market won’t like it. Nothing could be riskier, however, than allowing the Bush gang their parting gift to big business — the gift that will keep on taking.

Naomi Klein’s latest book is The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

© 2008 The Nation All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/105452/

Our Government has had the money all along, but we don’t deserve it!

October 14, 2008

A friend of Mr. C’s sent a recent rant from author Chris Floyd called “The God That Failed: The 30-Year Lie of the Market Cult“. Catchy title, but what really truck Mr. C right in the head is what Mr. Floyd pointed out, that government has had money for things like schools, health care, infrastructure all along.

The flase Idol of the "Free Market"

False Market Idol?

Mr. Floyd points out that the US government has had money to help the little people but they chose not to. This can be demonstrated by looking at how much money the US has pissed away on invading Iraq, on bailing out Wall Street and generally routing our tax dollars into the pockets of the rich and powerful. So why has Mr. and Mrs. Joe-Six pack been screwed out of their own tax money? Because Mr. C, along with the rest of the Six-pack clan do not deserve the benefits of our own tax money. According to the “Free Market” only the elites of the world that use fear, law and force to keep us in place deserve our money.

Still think that it doesn’t matter who runs our government? You will, we are not out of this financial devastation yet.

The God That Failed: The 30 Year Lie of the Market Cult

By Chris Floyd

Perhaps the most striking fact revealed by the global financial crash — or rather, by the reaction to it — is the staggering, astonishing, gargantuan amount of money that the governments of the world have at their command.

In just a matter of days, we have seen literally trillions of dollars offered to the financial services sector by national treasuries and central banks across the globe. Britain alone has put $1 trillion at the disposal of the bankers, traders, lenders and speculators; and this has been surpassed by the total package of public money that Washington is shoveling into the financial furnaces of Wall Street and the banks. These radical efforts are being replicated on a slightly smaller scale in France, Germany, Italy, Russia and many other countries.

The effectiveness of this unprecedented transfer of wealth from ordinary citizens to the top tiers of the business world remains to be seen. It will certainly insulate the very rich from the consequences of their own greed and folly and fraud; but it is not at all clear how much these measures will shield the vast majority of people from the catastrophe that has been visited upon them by the elite.

But putting aside for a moment the actual intent, details and results of the global bailout offers, it is their very extent that shocks, and shows — in a stark, harsh, all-revealing light — the brutal disdain with which the national governments of the world’s “leading democracies” have treated their own citizens for decades.

Beginning with Margaret Thatcher’s election in 1979, government after government — and party after party — fell to the onslaught of an extremist faith: the narrow, blinkered fundamentalism of the “Chicago School.” Epitomized by its patron saint, Milton Friedman, the rigid doctrine held that an unregulated market would always “correct” itself, because its workings are based on entirely rational and quantifiable principles.  This was of course an absurdly reductive and savagely ignorant view of history, money and human nature; but because it flattered the rich and powerful, offering an “intellectual” justification for rapacious greed and ever-widening economic and social inequality, it was adopted as holy writ by the elite and promulgated as public policy.

This radical cult — a kind of Bolshevism from above — took its strongest hold in the United States and Britain, and was then imposed on many weaker nations through the IMF-led “Washington Consensus” (more aptly named by Naomi Klein as the “Shock Doctrine”), with devastating and deadly results. (As in Yeltsin’s Russia, for example, where life expectancy dropped precipitously and millions of people died premature deaths from poverty, illness, and despair.)

According to the cult, not only were markets to be freed from the constraints placed on them after the world-shattering effects of the Great Depression, but all public spending was to be slashed ruthlessly to the bone. (Although exceptions were always made for the Pentagon war machine.) After all, every dollar spent by a public entity on public services and amenities was a dollar taken away from the private wheeler-dealers who could more usefully employ it in increasing the wealth of the elite — who would then allow some of their vast profits to “trickle down” to the lower orders.

This was the cult that captured the governments of the United States and Britain (among others), as well as the Republican and Democratic parties, and the Conservative and Labour parties as well. And for almost thirty years, its ruthless doctrines have been put into practice. Regulation and oversight of financial markets were systematically stripped away or rendered toothless. Essential public services were sold off, for chump change, to corporate interests. Public spending on anything other than making war, threatening war and profiting from war was pared back or eliminated. Such public spending that did remain was forever under threat and derided, like the remnants of some pagan faith surviving in isolated backwaters.

Year after year, the ordinary citizens were told by their governments: we have no money to spend on your needs, on your communities, on your infrastructure, on your health, on your children, on your environment, on your quality of life. We can’t do those kinds of things any more.

Of course, when talking amongst themselves, or with the believers in the think tanks, boardrooms — and editorial offices — the cultists would speak more plainly: we don’t do those things anymore because we shouldn’t do them, we don’t want to do them, they are wrong, they are evil, they are outside the faith. But for the hoi polloi, the line was usually something like this: Budgets are tight, we must balance them (for a “balanced budget” is a core doctrine of the cult), we just can’t afford all these luxuries, sorry about that.

But now, as the emptiness and falsity of the Chicago cargo cult stands nakedly revealed, even to some of its most faithful and fanatical adherents, we can see that this 30-year mantra by our governments has been a deliberate and outright lie. The money was there — billions and billions and billions of dollars of it, trillions of dollars of it. We can see it before our very eyes today — being whisked away from our public treasuries and showered upon the banks and the brokerages.

Let’s say it again: The money was there all along.

Money to build and generously equip thousands and thousands of new schools, with well-paid, exquisitely trained teachers, small teacher-pupil ratios, a full range of enriching and inspiring programs.

Money to revitalize the nation’s crumbling inner cities, making them safe and vibrant places for businesses and families and communities to grow.

Money to provide decent, affordable and accessible health care to every citizen, to provide dignity and comfort to the elderly, and protection and humane treatment for the mentally ill.

Money to provide affordable higher education to everyone who wanted it and could qualify for it. Money to help establish and sustain local businesses and family farms, centered in and on the local community, driven by the needs and knowledge of the people in the area, and not by the dictates of distant corporations.

Money to strengthen crumbling infrastructure, to repair bridges, shore up levies, maintain roads and electric grids and sewage systems.

Money for affordable, workable public transport systems, for the pursuit of alternative sources of energy, for sustainable, sensible development, for environmental restoration.

Money to support free inquiry in science, technology, health and other areas — research unfettered from the war machine and the drive for corporate profit, and instead devoted to the betterment of human life.

Money to support culture, learning, continuing education, libraries, theater, music and the endless manifestations of the human quest to gain more meaning, more understanding, more enlightenment, a deeper, spiritually richer life. The money for all of this — and much, much more — was there, all along. When they said we couldn’t have these things, they were lying — or else allowing themselves to be profitably duped by the high priests of the market cult. When they wanted a trillion dollars — or three trillion dollars — to wage a war of aggression in Iraq, they found it. Now, when they want trillions of dollars to save the speculators, fraudsters and profiteers of greed in the global market, they suddenly have it.

Who then can believe that these governments could not have found the money for good schools, health care, and all the rest, that they could not have enhanced the well-being and livelihood of millions of ordinary citizens, and helped create a more just and equitable and stable world — if they had wanted to?

This is one of the main facts that ordinary citizens around the world should take away from this crisis: the money to maintain, secure and improve the lives of their families and communities was always there — but their governments, and their political parties, made a deliberate, unforced choice not to use it for the common good. Instead, they subjugated the well-being of the world to the dictates of an extremist cult. A cult of greed and privilege, that preached iron discipline to the poor and the middle-class, but released the rich and powerful from all restrictions, and all responsibility for their actions.

This should be a constant — and galvanizing — thought in the minds of the public in the months and years to come. Remember what you could have had, and how it was denied you by the lies and delusions of a powerful elite and their bought-off factotums in government. Remember the trillions of dollars that suddenly appeared when the wheeler-dealers needed money to cover their own greed and stupidity.

Let these thoughts guide you as you weigh the promises and actions of politicians and candidates, and as you assess the “expert analysis” on economic and domestic policy offered by the corporate media and the corporate-bankrolled think tanks and academics.

And above all, let these thoughts be foremost in your mind when you hear — as you certainly will hear, when (and if) the markets are finally stabilized (at whatever gigantic cost in human suffering) — the adherents of the market cult emerge once more and call for “deregulation” and “untying the hands of business” and all the other ritual incantations of their false and savage fundamentalist faith.

For although the market cult has suffered a cataclysmic defeat in the last few weeks, it is by no means dead. It has 30 years of entrenchment in power to fall back on. And the leader of every major political party in the West has spent their entire political career within the cult’s confines. It has been the atmosphere they breathed, it has been the sole ladder by which they have climbed to prominence. They will be loath to abandon it, once the immediate crisis is past; most will not be able to.

So remember well the lessons of this new October crash: The money to make a better life, to serve the common good, has always been there. But it has been kept from you by deceit, by dogma, by greed, and by the ambition of those who have sold their souls, and betrayed their brothers and sisters, their fellow human creatures, for the sake of privilege and power.

oyd

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I get the “Bailout Blues” before and after.

October 10, 2008

Well it seems that when the Government tried to bail out the Wall Street Fucks that have created a mess of our economy it seems that nobody is listening. Have you seen the markets since the bailout has been approved?  Everyone is moving their money out of the markets, and away from the US dollar. And frankly I don’t blame them. Everybody knows what happens when you put the fox in charge of the hen house, after a while you don’t have a single hen.

Amazing, it seems that everybody knows that this bailout is essentially a corporate Welfare move to help perpetuate the global banking and multinational corporation elites. Even if the American public gets some “share” of the banks after they bail out the banks, what will Joe Six-Pack get? Most likely a layoff notice soon to be followed by an eviction notice from the same bank that is receiving Mr. Six-Pack’s tax funded welfare.

I would love to see a comparison of  what the government has spend on what Ronald Reagan would have called the “Welfare Queens” since that jerk took office in 1980 as compared to how much money we the taxpayer have basically funneled into the jaws of the Welfare Kings of the “Free Market System”. I’ll bet that corporations have swindled an order of magnitude more money out of our pockets than all of the “Welfare Queens” combined.

I just hope the hell that someone wakes up and saves this country before we go thru another Great Depression or worse another Corporate verions of WWII Nazi Germany. Either way, Mr. C. is not holding his breath!

Mr. C is back..again..

October 6, 2008

Well as usual, Mr. C. has been in isolation for the last 10 years or so, somewhere in an undisclosed Bush, Government detention location. Where Mr. C. learned how to land surf, otherwise know as “Water Boarding” and how to sit in uncomfortable positions for days without end.

Oh well, it seems that the good times cant last forever, so Mr. C. is back from his enforced vaccation and is ready to get back into sticking his foot in his mouth, and hopefully in some choice conservatard ass,  at any given chance.

It seems that a lot has gone on since Mr. C. has been away. It looks like Bush Co. has suceeded in allowing the American Ducket turn into worthless paper ( can anyone say Mexico or Post WWI Germany?). it also appears that  the American public is going to pay for Wall Street’s plunder to the tune of a trillion dollars. Can anyone say Iraq Occupation 2.0?

Well it seems that America can’t be left to its own devices without Mr. C, so Mr. C will be spouting something resembeling the truth at the Idiots in charge.

A big thanks to all of you that have kept on reading The C-Tard while Mr. C. was on vaccation and those of you who posted your comments. Keep of the fight and don’t let the Conservatards get you down.

Sincerely,

Mr. Conservatard

10-06-2008

Keith Olberman – Bush, Shut the Hell Up!

May 15, 2008

Olberman about says it all in last nights Special Comment.

Shut The Hell Up Bush!: Part 1

Shut The Hell Up, Bush!: Part 2

It kind of makes Mr. C. want to stand up and applaud!