Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned Books Week

From Viva Banned Book Week by Nicole Belle:

That there is actually a week reserved for the championing of banned books, in America of all places, both saddens and heartens me. Saddens me because of the necessity, heartens me because it fights back against narrow-minded intolerance. This, then, the last week of September, from September 27th to October 4th, is Banned Books Week, a time when libraries and bookstores in every state put up displays of books to highlight the problem of censorship and celebrate our nation’s right to the freedom to read whatever we damned well please. Since Banned Book Week was launched in 1982, more than a thousand books have been under pressure by those who would suppress the works of my fellow novelists and writers, because of sexual content, or slang, or violence, or profanity, or racial or religious objections, or political issues; from time-honoured classics to trashy airport novels. In the top ten books to be challenged last year alone, it is absolutely ludicrous that one of them should be The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Some of the books challenged bugger belief: An illustrated edition of Little Red Riding Hood was banned in two California school districts in 1989, because the book shows the heroine taking food and wine to her grandmother, the school board citing concerns about alcohol consumption by children. Roald Dahl’s wonderful classic James and the Giant Peach was removed from a school in Florida because it contained the word ‘ass’, and placed in restricted access in libraries in Virginia because the book encouraged children to ‘disobey their parents’. In Eureka, Illinois, Geoffrey Chaucer’s 600-year-old masterpiece, Canterbury Tales, was dropped from an advanced literature course in a senior preparatory high school class for… get this… objectionable ‘sexual content.’ How insane is that?

In Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia, the Chestatee Public Library board hadn’t even taken a final vote on whether or not to remove Nancy Friday’s Women on Top from the shelves when someone decided to take the matter into their own hands, borrowed it and ‘accidently’ destroyed it. The board did, however, vote not to replace it. Me, I’m tempted to send them a replacement copy, gratis.

It’s not just schools and libraries; bookstores are also deciding what you, the customer, should and should not be allowed to read. Tim C. Leedom’s The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You To Read was banned from Barnes & Noble in San Diego in 1995 because it was ‘too controversial for the bookstore’s conservative clientele.’


Which Is It?

No there isn’t a god:

I spent hours on a post that lists all of the billionaires in the world that are United States citizens. It is a royal pain to try to post a table in Blogger. Table this, mono-space font that, tab this, preformat that. Nothing I tried worked. My readership had been trending down lately, so I figured I’d post it anyway, even if it did look like crap, no one is going to see it. A commenter calls me a fool.

Yes there is a god:

My billionaire post is responsible for more readers coming to my site than I have seen in months. And the day isn’t even half over. A commenter calls me a fool.


I remain a faithful atheist dog.

"Neither" Makes No Sense:

Yet, I remain a faithful atheist dog.

Why Are We In A Financial Crisis?

We have had tax cuts, economic stimulus packages galore, and rebate checks. All from the Bush administration and Congress. So, why are we hurting?

From Economic policy of the George W. Bush administration:

During his first term, George W. Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for tax cuts: the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. These acts decreased all tax rates, reduced the capital gains tax, increased the child tax credit and eliminated the so-called "marriage penalty", and are set to expire in 2011.
President Bush tried to calm turmoil in financial markets on March 17, 2008, by saying that his administration is "on top of the situation" in dealing with the slumping Economy of the United States. Bush and Congress had responded to signs of a slowing economy with the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 on February 13.
Since he first took office President Bush has been working on the economy. How’s he doing so far?

Should anyone pay attention to Bush anymore? Does he have any credibility left at all?

Let’s not forget his little wars.

From Bush Economic Policy Caused Crash:
…for every $400 spent worldwide, $1 of it was spent by the US on the Iraq war. I'm not sure anything personifies waste more than that statistic.
“…we, alongside the mujahedin, bled Russia for ten years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat... So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy." Osama bin Laden

Could it be possible that President Bush has been wrong about the economy for eight years?

Perhaps the solution to the financial crisis is under Bush’s desk. Has he looked under there recently?

Language And Grammar

After eight years of listening to George W. Bush trying to speak English, I’m not sure that I could take four years of listening to Sarah Palin trying to speak English.

From Palin Responds to Federal Bail Out by Shushannah Walshe:

Palin responded to a question about the economic recovery plan, which was hashed out overnight. She answered, but she made it clear that she was then going to concentrate on the Blue Star Moms, “Bailout? Ok? Then I’m going to talk to these gals whose sons are also in the service. But, thankful that John McCain is able to have some of those provisions implemented in that Paulson proposal to have more sound oversight,” Palin said. “Taxpayers aren’t going to be assumed to be called upon to bail out so I’m glad that John McCain’s voice is heard and his leadership too.”
And there is always this.

Perhaps the real reason the far right despises Noam Chomsky has more to do with his being a linguist and less to do with his political views.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ramblin' Man

“Lord, I was born a ramblin' man,
Tryin to make a livin and doin the best I can.
And when it's time for leavin',
I hope you'll understand,
That I was born a ramblin' man.” Dickey Betts

Last Friday, John McCain gave us some of his patented “straight talk.” Straight talk? The mind boggles at the number of stops and starts and twists and curves from the ramblin’ mind of John McCain.

From Transcript of presidential debate:

McCain: Sure. But -- but let me -- let me point out, I also warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and warned about corporate greed and excess, and CEO pay, and all that. A lot of us saw this train wreck coming.

But there's also the issue of responsibility. You've mentioned President Dwight David Eisenhower. President Eisenhower, on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letters.

One of them was a letter congratulating the great members of the military and allies that had conducted and succeeded in the greatest invasion in history, still to this day, and forever.

And he wrote out another letter, and that was a letter of resignation from the United States Army for the failure of the landings at Normandy.

Somehow we've lost that accountability. I've been heavily criticized because I called for the resignation of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. We've got to start also holding people accountable, and we've got to reward people who succeed.

But somehow in Washington today -- and I'm afraid on Wall Street -- greed is rewarded, excess is rewarded, and corruption -- or certainly failure to carry out our responsibility is rewarded.

As president of the United States, people are going to be held accountable in my administration. And I promise you that that will happen.
I agree with the accountability part. I’ll start by holding McCain partially responsible for all of the problems we now face. I won’t be voting for him in November.

He actually said that he would fire the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, not call for his resignation. But, that’s a minor quibble. What I don’t understand is the logic of this. The SEC regulates the stock market. Does McCain think that short selling is the only cause of everything that is wrong? I suppose that the SEC could have banned short selling earlier than they did (after first saying it was OK in 2007), however Congress could have written a law banning short selling, period. (I’m not saying they should, just that they could have.) McCain supported The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (Many say this is a contributing factor to the sub-prime mortgage melt-down), but didn’t vote on it. (He was too busy campaigning. “Country First” and all of that, you know.) Should McCain fire himself?

What does short-selling have to do with mortgage loans and the current credit crisis? Wouldn’t threatening the head of the Office of Thrift Supervision make more sense? Or maybe the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency? Or the head of the United States Department of the Treasury? Or the head of the Federal Reserve? Since these organizations deal with banks and mortgages, these threats make more sense to me than threatening the head of the SEC. One of the purposes of the Federal Reserve is "To address the problem of banking panics." How's Ben been doing with that?

I do believe McCain was correct when he said he doesn’t know much about the economy. I also believe he doesn’t know much about the United States government.

I have left out a lot of the details concerning short selling. What is meant by short selling can be confusing. It becomes more confusing when put into the context of the current financial situation. The confusion is multiplied even more when the politicians start talking about it. For some clarification you could read Short (finance) and Uptick rule.

How Patriotic Is Your Average Billionaire?

One billion is a thousand millions.

Sometimes I think that the financial crisis we are supposed to be facing is all a big Bush hoax. Like the WMD’s. I have no way of knowing for sure, of course. I just have zero faith in our political “leaders.”

If things are as bad as they say, and an infusion of $700 billion is really needed. I know a place to find all that money.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Billionaires of the United States of America (By my rough estimate, I’d say that there is about a billion of them). I’d say they could afford contributing a little bit toward saving the nation from financial collapse. I’d even support giving them a tax break for a charitable contribution. After all, think of how much money our financial system has given to them. Bush's tax breaks probably didn't hurt them, as well. Shouldn’t they give something to help save it? Maybe they could organize really huge bake sales.

If things are as bad as they say, why are most of these people virtually silent about “our” crisis? (Rank refers to their ranking in the list of "The World's Billionaires.")

Rank    Name   Age Net Worth ($Bil)

1 Warren Buffett 77 62.0
3 William Gates III 52 58.0
12 Sheldon Adelson 74 26.0
14 Lawrence Ellison 63 25.0
26 Christy Walton 53 19.2
26 Jim Walton 60 19.2
26 S Robson Walton 64 19.2
29 Alice Walton 58 19.0
32 Sergey Brin 34 18.7
33 Larry Page 35 18.6
37 Charles Koch 72 17.0
37 David Koch 67 17.0
40 Michael Dell 43 16.4
41 Paul Allen 55 16.0
41 Kirk Kerkorian 90 16.0
43 Steven Ballmer 52 15.0
43 Abigail Johnson 46 15.0
46 Carl Icahn 72 14.0
46 Forrest Mars Jr 76 14.0
46 Jacqueline Mars 68 14.0
46 John Mars 71 14.0
46 Jack Taylor 85 14.0
56 Donald Bren 75 13.0
62 Anne Cox Chambers 88 12.6
65 Michael Bloomberg 66 11.5
68 George Kaiser 65 11.0
73 Philip Knight 70 10.4
77 Edward Johnson III 77 10.0
87 Charles Ergen 55 9.5
87 John Kluge 93 9.5
87 Ronald Perelman 65 9.5
97 George Soros 77 9.0
102 James Goodnight 65 8.7
104 Donald Newhouse 78 8.5
104 Samuel Newhouse Jr 80 8.5
109 Rupert Murdoch 77 8.3
110 Jeffrey Bezos 44 8.2
113 Leonard Blavatnik 50 8.0
117 Dan Duncan 75 7.9
120 Pierre Omidyar 40 7.7
125 Philip Anschutz 68 7.4
127 John Menard Jr 68 7.3
136 Harold Simmons 76 6.9
137 Steven Cohen 52 6.8
137 Sumner Redstone 84 6.8
142 Eric Schmidt 52 6.6
145 Eli Broad 74 6.5
145 Stephen Schwarzman 61 6.5
154 James Kennedy 60 6.3
154 Blair Parry-Okedon 57 6.3
158 Robert Rowling 54 6.2
164 David Geffen 65 6.0
164 Samuel Zell 66 6.0
177 Charles Schwab 70 5.6
178 Robert Bass 60 5.5
178 Henry Kravis 64 5.5
178 George Roberts 64 5.5
178 James Simons 70 5.5
189 Micky Arison 58 5.4
189 Steven Jobs 53 5.4
203 Robert Holding 81 5.0
214 Patrick McGovern 70 4.7
214 David Murdock 84 4.7
222 Lester Crown 82 4.6
227 William Cook 76 4.5
227 William Davidson 85 4.5
227 Charles Johnson 75 4.5
227 Stephen Ross 67 4.5
227 Paul Milstein 85 4.5
236 John Sall 58 4.4
236 Whitney MacMillan 79 4.4
236 Marion MacMillan Pictet 76 4.4
236 P.MacMillan Keinath 76 4.4
236 Cargill MacMillan Jr 80 4.4
236 John MacMillan III 80 4.4
236 Harold Hamm 62 4.4
247 Henry Ross Perot 77 4.3
253 Ralph Lauren 68 4.2
256 Leonard Stern 69 4.1
256 Ty Warner 64 4.1
260 Leon Black 57 4.0
260 Ray Dalio 58 4.0
260 Herbert Kohler 69 4.0
260 Joan Tisch 82 4.0
260 Ray Hunt 65 4.0
277 George Lucas 63 3.9
277 Stephen Wynn 66 3.9
284 John Simplot 99 3.8
284 Rupert Johnson Jr 66 3.8
288 Richard DeVos 82 3.7
288 Gordon Moore 79 3.7
288 Steven Udvar-Hazy 62 3.7
296 Bradley Hughes 74 3.6
296 Richard Schulze 67 3.6
296 Daniel Och 47 3.6
296 John Sobrato 68 3.6
307 Robert Ziff 41 3.5
307 Ray Dolby 75 3.5
307 Bruce Kovner 63 3.5
307 Ira Rennert 74 3.5
307 Dirk Ziff 43 3.5
307 Daniel Ziff 36 3.5
307 Patrick Soon-Shiong 56 3.5
307 Edward Lampert 45 3.5
307 Stanley Druckenmiller 54 3.5
307 Ronald Burkle 55 3.5
307 Riley Bechtel 55 3.5
307 Stephen Bechtel Jr 82 3.5
327 Haim Saban 63 3.4
327 Dennis Washington 73 3.4
334 David Bonderman 65 3.3
334 Paul Tudor Jones II 53 3.3
334 Peter Kellogg 65 3.3
334 Leonard Lauder 75 3.3
334 Evgeny Shvidler 44 3.3
349 Edgar Bronfman Sr 78 3.2
349 Ronald Lauder 64 3.2
349 George Mitchell 88 3.2
358 Min Kao 59 3.1
358 A Jerrold Perenchio 77 3.1
358 Carl Pohlad 92 3.1
368 Lee Bass 51 3.0
368 Richard LeFrak 62 3.0
368 T Boone Pickens 79 3.0
368 Donald Trump 61 3.0
368 Ronda Stryker 53 3.0
368 Steven Spielberg 61 3.0
368 Donald Schneider 72 3.0
368 Richard Rainwater 63 3.0
368 John Paulson 52 3.0
368 Henry Hillman 89 3.0
368 Sid Bass 65 3.0
368 Kenneth Griffin 39 3.0
368 Diane Hendricks 61 3.0
396 Richard Kinder 63 2.9
412 James Coulter 48 2.8
412 Ann Walton Kroenke 58 2.8
412 Aubrey McClendon 48 2.8
412 Tom Ward 48 2.8
412 T Denny Sanford 72 2.8
412 Mitchell Rales 51 2.8
428 David Gottesman 81 2.7
428 B. Piasecka Johnson 71 2.7
428 Roger Penske 71 2.7
428 E Stanley Kroenke 60 2.7
428 Thomas Pritzker 57 2.7
428 Glen Taylor 66 2.7
428 David Rockefeller Sr 92 2.7
446 Steven Rales 56 2.6
446 Amos Hostetter Jr 71 2.6
446 Melvin Simon 81 2.6
446 Mark Cuban 49 2.6
446 Clemmie Spangler Jr 75 2.6
446 Leslie Wexner 70 2.6
462 David Shaw 56 2.5
462 Oprah Winfrey 54 2.5
462 David Sun 57 2.5
462 Robert Rich Jr 67 2.5
462 Penny Pritzker 48 2.5
462 Michael Milken 61 2.5
462 Craig McCaw 58 2.5
462 Theodore Lerner 82 2.5
462 Malcolm Glazer 79 2.5
462 Victor Fung 62 2.5
462 David Filo 41 2.5
462 Charles Dolan 81 2.5
462 David Rubenstein 58 2.5
462 Jim Davis 64 2.5
462 Daniel D'Aniello 61 2.5
462 William Conway Jr 58 2.5
462 Charles Brandes 65 2.5
462 Franklin Booth Jr 84 2.5
462 Edward Bass 63 2.5
462 Leonore Annenberg 90 2.5
462 Lynn Schusterman 69 2.5
462 Wilma Tisch 80 2.5
462 John Tu 68 2.5
503 Frank Batten Sr 81 2.4
503 Gordon Getty 74 2.4
503 H Wayne Huizenga 70 2.4
503 Charles Munger 84 2.4
503 Daniel Pritzker 49 2.4
503 Jay Robert Pritzker 43 2.4
503 Linda Pritzker 54 2.4
503 Karen Pritzker 50 2.4
503 Jean (Gigi) Pritzker 46 2.4
503 James Pritzker 56 2.4
503 Anthony Pritzker 47 2.4
503 Nancy Walton Laurie 56 2.4
503 William R. Hearst III 58 2.4
503 Matthew Bucksbaum 82 2.4
524 William Hilton 80 2.3
524 Robert E "Ted" Turner 69 2.3
524 Jerry Yang 39 2.3
524 Charles Butt 70 2.3
524 Thomas Barrack 60 2.3
524 Mortimer Zuckerman 70 2.3
524 Albert Ueltschi 90 2.3
524 Edward Roski Jr 69 2.3
524 Martha Ingram 72 2.3
524 Carl Lindner Jr 88 2.3
524 John Pritzker 55 2.3
553 John Anderson 90 2.2
553 Imogene Powers Johnson 78 2.2
553 Marilyn Carlson Nelson 68 2.2
553 Alfred Mann 82 2.2
553 Mary A.Dorrance Malone 58 2.2
553 John Malone 67 2.2
553 Omid Kordestani 44 2.2
553 Winnie Johnson-Marquart 48 2.2
553 Helen Johnson-Leipold 51 2.2
553 S Curtis Johnson 52 2.2
553 H Fisk Johnson 49 2.2
553 Phillip Frost 71 2.2
553 Barbara Carlson Gage 65 2.2
553 Tom Gores 43 2.2
553 Jess Jackson 78 2.2
573 S Daniel Abraham 83 2.1
573 A. A. "Red" Emmerson 78 2.1
573 David Hearst Jr 62 2.1
573 Jon Stryker 49 2.1
573 Phillip Ruffin 73 2.1
573 Nicholas Pritzker II 64 2.1
573 Clayton Mathile 67 2.1
573 James Leprino 70 2.1
573 George Hearst Jr 80 2.1
573 Austin Hearst 55 2.1
573 Bennett Dorrance 59 2.1
573 Neil Bluhm 70 2.1
573 John Catsimatidis 59 2.1
573 Phoebe Hearst Cooke 81 2.1
605 J Christopher Flowers 50 2.0
605 Thomas Lee 63 2.0
605 Frederik GH Meijer 88 2.0
605 Gary Burrell 70 2.0
605 Herbert Allen Jr 68 2.0
605 William Wrigley Jr 44 2.0
605 David Tepper 49 2.0
605 R Allen Stanford 58 2.0
605 Jerry Speyer 67 2.0
605 Sheldon Solow 79 2.0
605 Frederick Smith 63 2.0
605 Peter Peterson 81 2.0
605 Alan Casden 62 2.0
605 Margaret Magerko 42 2.0
605 Leslie Lampton 83 2.0
605 Joshua Harris 43 2.0
605 James Jannard 58 2.0
605 William Koch 68 2.0
652 Thomas Frist Jr 69 1.9
652 Donald Hall 79 1.9
652 Joseph Mansueto 51 1.9
652 Pat Stryker 51 1.9
652 Thomas Siebel 55 1.9
652 Henry Samueli 53 1.9
652 Michael Jaharis 79 1.9
652 Maurice Greenberg 82 1.9
677 Stewart Rahr 62 1.8
677 Kenneth Fisher 57 1.8
677 Jon Huntsman 70 1.8
677 Henry Nicholas III 48 1.8
677 George Lindemann 71 1.8
677 Alexander Knaster 49 1.8
677 David Green 66 1.8
677 William Connor II 58 1.8
677 Kavitark Ram Shriram 51 1.8
677 Dean White 84 1.8
677 Amar Bose 78 1.8
707 John Sperling 87 1.7
707 Peter Sperling 48 1.7
707 A Alfred Taubman 84 1.7
707 Michael Krasny 54 1.7
707 James Kim 72 1.7
707 Timothy Headington 57 1.7
707 Philip Falcone 45 1.7
707 L John Doerr 57 1.7
707 Edward Debartolo Jr 61 1.7
707 Louis Bacon 52 1.7
707 George Argyros 71 1.7
707 Edmund Ansin 72 1.7
707 Wilbur Ross Jr 70 1.7
707 Michael Price 55 1.7
707 Robert McNair 71 1.7
707 Richard Marriott 69 1.7
707 John Marriott Jr 75 1.7
743 Roger Wang 58 1.6
743 Peter Buck 77 1.6
743 John Calamos 67 1.6
743 John J Fisher 46 1.6
743 Alan Gerry 78 1.6
743 Marguerite Harbert 84 1.6
743 Stanley Stub Hubbard 74 1.6
743 Irwin Jacobs 74 1.6
743 Phyllis Taylor 66 1.6
743 Walter Scott Jr 76 1.6
743 Bernard Saul II 75 1.6
743 Ernest Rady 70 1.6
743 Richard Peery 67 1.6
743 Igor Olenicoff 65 1.6
743 John Morgridge 74 1.6
743 Bernard Marcus 78 1.6
743 Randal Kirk 54 1.6
743 Brad Kelley 51 1.6
743 Michael Ilitch 78 1.6
743 Richard Hayne 60 1.6
743 B Thomas Golisano 66 1.6
743 Thomas Friedkin 72 1.6
743 Fred DeLuca 60 1.6
785 Trevor Rees-Jones 57 1.5
785 Fayez Sarofim 79 1.5
785 Todd Wagner 47 1.5
785 Andrew Beal 55 1.5
785 Ronald Baron 64 1.5
785 John Arrillaga 70 1.5
785 John Arnold 34 1.5
785 Roland Arnall 68 1.5
785 Dennis Albaugh 58 1.5
785 John Abele 71 1.5
785 Mark Zuckerberg 23 1.5
785 Theodore Waitt 45 1.5
785 Billy Joe McCombs 80 1.5
785 Thomas Marsico 53 1.5
785 Randolph Lerner 46 1.5
785 Norma Lerner 71 1.5
785 Nancy Lerner 47 1.5
785 Marc Lasry 48 1.5
785 Jerome Kohlberg Jr 82 1.5
785 Vinod Khosla 53 1.5
785 Hamilton James 56 1.5
785 Jorge Perez 58 1.5
785 William Moncrief Jr 87 1.5
785 Gary Michelson 59 1.5
785 Joseph Jamail Jr 82 1.5
785 Jeremy Jacobs Sr 68 1.5
785 Jeffrey Hildebrand 49 1.5
785 Alec Gores 55 1.5
785 Christopher Goldsbury 65 1.5
785 Israel Englander 60 1.5
785 Bharat Desai 55 1.5
785 John Brown 73 1.5
785 Joseph Steinberg 64 1.5
785 Tamir Sapir 60 1.5
785 David Rich 63 1.5
785 Marc Rich 73 1.5
785 Marc Rowan 46 1.5
843 Louis Gonda 59 1.4
843 Anne Windfohr Marion 68 1.4
843 Robert McLane Jr 71 1.4
843 Robert Day 64 1.4
843 James Clark 64 1.4
843 Carl Berg 70 1.4
843 Robert Friedland 57 1.4
843 Arthur Williams Jr 65 1.4
843 Sanford Weill 75 1.4
843 Richard Scaife 75 1.4
843 Patrick Ryan 70 1.4
843 Leandro Rizzuto 70 1.4
843 James France 63 1.4
843 William Fisher 50 1.4
843 Robert Fisher 54 1.4
843 Richard Egan 72 1.4
843 James Dinan 49 1.4
843 Howard Marks 61 1.4
843 Tracy Krohn 53 1.4
843 Jerral Jones 65 1.4
843 Bruce Karsh 53 1.4
843 Robert Kraft 66 1.4
897 George Steinbrenner III 77 1.3
897 Ernest Stempel 91 1.3
897 Henry Swieca 51 1.3
897 S Truett Cathy 87 1.3
897 Herbert Simon 73 1.3
897 Herbert Siegel 79 1.3
897 Walter Shorenstein 93 1.3
897 Steven Roth 66 1.3
897 Barry Rosenstein 49 1.3
897 Julian Robertson Jr 76 1.3
897 Nelson Peltz 65 1.3
897 Glenn Dubin 51 1.3
897 Barry Diller 66 1.3
897 Ian M Cumming 67 1.3
897 Scott Cook 55 1.3
897 Daniel Snyder 43 1.3
897 Margaret Whitman 51 1.3
897 Charlotte Colket Weber 65 1.3
897 Hope Hill van Beuren 74 1.3
897 Kenny Troutt 60 1.3
897 Robert Naify 86 1.3
897 Michael Moritz 53 1.3
897 Thomas Hicks 62 1.3
897 Michael Heisley Sr 71 1.3
897 William Gross 63 1.3
897 Mario Gabelli 65 1.3
897 Lorenzo Fertitta 39 1.3
897 Frank Fertitta III 46 1.3
897 David Duffield 67 1.3
897 Timothy Blixseth 57 1.3
897 Arthur Blank 65 1.3
897 Stephen Bisciotti 47 1.3
897 Thomas Bailey 71 1.3
962 Arturo Moreno 61 1.2
962 Michael Novogratz 43 1.2
962 J Joseph Ricketts 66 1.2
962 Thomas Steyer 50 1.2
962 O Bruton Smith 81 1.2
962 Rajendra Singh 53 1.2
962 Richard Perry 53 1.2
962 Joyce Raley Teel 77 1.2
962 Wesley Edens 46 1.2
962 Leon G Cooperman 64 1.2
962 Richard Chilton 50 1.2
962 Stephen Case 49 1.2
962 Peter Briger Jr 44 1.2
962 Marc Benioff 43 1.2
962 Jerry Zucker 58 1.2
962 Samuel Wyly 72 1.2
962 Peter Thiel 40 1.2
962 William Kellogg 64 1.2
962 George Joseph 86 1.2
962 Johnelle Hunt 76 1.2
962 Marvin Herb 71 1.2
962 Pincus Green 72 1.2
962 Thomas Flatley 75 1.2
962 John Edson 75 1.2
1014 Sidney Kimmel 80 1.1
1014 Peter Lewis 74 1.1
1014 Gary Magness 54 1.1
1014 Dwight Opperman 85 1.1
1014 Peter Nicholas 66 1.1
1014 Marc Nathanson 62 1.1
1014 Leonard Litwin 93 1.1
1014 Arthur Rock 81 1.1
1014 Michael Eisner 66 1.1
1014 Mary Anselmo 79 1.1
1014 Mary West 62 1.1
1014 Gary West 62 1.1
1014 Alfred West Jr 65 1.1
1014 Norman Waitt Jr 53 1.1
1014 Oakleigh Thorne 75 1.1
1014 Alexander Spanos 84 1.1
1014 Charles Simonyi 60 1.1
1014 Dorrance Hamilton 79 1.1
1014 Leslie Gonda 87 1.1
1014 Paul Fireman 64 1.1
1062 Lynne Pasculano 66 1.0
1062 Edward Watkins Jr 72 1.0
1062 Richard Farmer 73 1.0
1062 Theodore Forstmann 68 1.0
1062 Jeffrey Gendell 49 1.0
1062 Robert Johnson 61 1.0
1062 Teresa F Heinz Kerry 69 1.0
1062 John P Manning 60 1.0
1062 Joseph Benvenuti 87 1.0
1062 Carol Jenkins Barnett 51 1.0
1062 Lee Ainslie III 44 1.0
1062 Marvin L "Buzz" Oates 84 1.0
1062 Roger Milliken 92 1.0
1062 Lowell Milken 59 1.0
1062 L Lowry Mays 72 1.0
1062 Barbara Hall Marshall 84 1.0
1062 Donald Marron 73 1.0
1062 Richard Manoogian 71 1.0
1062 Stephen Mandel 52 1.0
1062 Stephen Karp 67 1.0
1062 Daniel Gilbert 46 1.0
1062 Paul Foster 50 1.0
1062 Stephen Feinberg 48 1.0
1062 Jim Thompson 68 1.0
1062 Elizabeth Ann Hall Reid 85 1.0

If the financial crisis is real and actually exists, wouldn’t all of these billionaires want to help put a stop to it? How many have offered their services? Their money? None that I know of. If the financial crisis is real and actually exists, where will they put all of their money after the big collapse? Why, there will be nothing left but bargains for them to make even more money.

I’d be willing to bet my billions that Congress has been hoodwinked again (just like with Iraq) and that there is no real financial crisis. Bush just wants to shuffle money to some rich people. Either that or the man is insane, and he is just messing with us all.

What do you think? Would most of these people even miss a billion dollars?

From Let Risk-Taking Financial Institutions Fail by Ari J. Officer and Lawrence H. Officer:
Follow the money. Average Joes and Janes are not the holders of the other side of complicated, over-the-counter derivatives contracts. Rather, hedge funds are the main holders. The bailout will involve a transfer of wealth — from the American people to financial institutions engaging in reckless speculation — that will be the greatest in history.

A Sharecropper's Society

From Warren Buffett:

Buffett warned in 2003 that mortgage-backed derivatives were “financial weapons of mass destruction” and that, while the Federal Reserve system was created in part to prevent financial contagion, “there is no central bank assigned to the job of preventing the dominoes toppling in insurance or derivatives.”

In his letter to shareholders in March, 2005, Warren Buffet predicted that in another 10 years’ time the net ownership of the US by outsiders would amount to $11 trillion. “Americans … would chafe at the idea of perpetually paying tribute to their creditors and owners abroad. A country that is now aspiring to an ‘ownership society’ will not find happiness in - and I’ll use hyperbole here for emphasis - a ’sharecropper’s society’.”

Author Ann Pettifor has adopted the image in her writings and has stated: "He is right. And so the thing we must fear most now, is not just the collapse of banks and investment funds, or of the international financial architecture, but of a sharecropper society, angry at its downfall."

Financial Genius

Peter Brimelow takes a look at the 1998 Fed-orchestrated bailout of Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund, and sees some similarities to today.

From Another case of collusion? by Peter Brimelow:

LTCM was the current bailout in microcosm.

I was fascinated by the LTCM bailout. I couldn't figure out why the Fed needed to rescue a relatively small firm. But two excellent books "When Genius Failed" and "Inventing Money," respectively by Roger Lowenstein and Nicholas Dunbar (who really do deserve to be rich and famous) provided a lot of damning detail, albeit without drawing conclusions.

Bottom line: LTCM seems to have been bailed out because it was well-connected. Its connections were significantly to Goldman Sachs, which in turn was extremely well-connected to federal government. Its former CEO, Robert Rubin, was Treasury Secretary at the time.

By an amazing coincidence, another former Goldman CEO, Henry Paulsen, is orchestrating the current bailout.
You can find more information on When Genius Failed here.

Let’s take a look at John Meriwether. After graduating from college he worked as a bond trader at Salomon Brothers. He left Salomon in 1991 after being involved in a Treasury securities trading scandal. He was forced to pay a $50,000 civil penalty. Long-Term Capital Management (a hedge fund) was founded in 1994 by John Meriwether. For some reason his work at Salomon inspired Nobel Prize winners Myron Scholes and Robert C. Merton to join the board of directors of LTCM. They also found investors willing to part with $1,011,060,243. They did very well for awhile. They used highly leveraged positions and derivatives. Sound familiar? Then they tanked. They tanked so badly that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York organized a bailout of $3.625 billion to avoid a wider collapse in the financial markets. Sound familiar?

Are you wondering what became of John Meriwether? Did he go to jail? Was he banned from the financial markets?

John Meriwether runs another hedge fund called JWM Partners, LLC.

What is it they say about a fool and his money?

Are we now bailing out the financial system to keep it afloat so that the same people who got us into this mess can get us into another mess in the future?

For a system filled with accountants, where is the accountability?


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Murray Waas On Bush And Gonzales

From What Did Bush Tell Gonzales? by Murray Waas:

In March 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made a now-famous late-night visit to the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking to get Ashcroft to sign a certification stating that the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was legal. According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit.
Read the rest here.

From The Case of the Gonzales Notes by Murray Waas:
The Justice Department is investigating whether former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales created a set of fictitious notes so that President Bush would have a rationale for reauthorizing his warrantless eavesdropping program, according to sources close to the investigation.
Read the rest here.

Trade Is Not A Scary Thing, Sarah Palin Is

There are many Republicans (including John McCain) who support English as the national/official language of the United States.

“You should be able to have to read English, write English, and speak English if you want to become a citizen.” Rudy Giuliani

What language is Sarah Palin speaking here?

Katie Couric: Why isn't it better, Gov. Palin, to spend 700 billion dollars helping middle class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas, and groceries, allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

Sarah Palin: "That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in. Where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh, it's got to be all about job creation, too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade -- we have got to see trade as opportunity, not as, uh, uh, competitive, um, scary thing, but one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today. We've, we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation."

Thieving Welfare Queens

Bill Maher asks us to not judge people “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

From Real Time with Bill Maher: New Rules - Look Beyond The Candidates’ Skin Color by Nicole Belle:

…a candidate for President should not be judged by the color of his skin. And to…and to anyone who thinks differently, I say please do not reject John McCain just because he’s white. I think the recent news from Wall Street has made us all less tolerant and only reinforce the stereotype that white people are shiftless, thieving welfare queens.

Now, take a look at these pictures. Here are the CEOs of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and the Lehman Brothers. I know the first thing that jumps out about these faces is that they all happen to be white, and they all happen to be responsible for stealing. But what you have to understand is that these whites are a product of a society that made them that way. It was the neighborhoods and the schools they went to: Harvard, Yale, the Wharton School of Business. They never learned the value of doing real, actual work and the first step to fixing that is better role models, so kids growing up white today don’t think the only way out of Westchester is corporate crime. Or a government handout or sailing. So I get it, the temptation is to look at McCain and vote against him because you don’t see an individual, you just see another typical welfare whitey.

And it’s true, he’s spent his entire life shuffling from one low-paying government job to another. Well, except those years he spent in prison. Typical! And between you and me, he’s not very articulate. Oh, he may have some street smarts, but he’s not what you call an educated man. He freely admits he’s ignorant about the economy. And apparently the only thing his white running mate knows how to do is crank out one baby after another. And now of course, her teenage daughter is pregnant out of wedlock. Because she learns it at home! But that doesn’t mean we should assume all white people are like that, just because so many of them are. I believe there is hope. I believe even the stoopiest…stupidest, greediest, laziest whites can break the cycle of dependence like this November when we finally move George Bush out of public housing.
Read more and see the video here.

An Unbelievable Can Of Worms

From What $700B can't buy: a crystal ball by Michael Oneal and Mark Silva:

Global financial markets will open Monday morning likely with the knowledge that Congress and the Bush administration have come to terms on their slapdash $700 billion attempt to arrest the nation's economic crisis.

What they won't know—because nobody does—is whether the most dramatic government intervention since the Great Depression will solve the problem.

Few doubt that clear and decisive action by Washington is crucial to restoring a measure of confidence in frozen credit markets.

But even many of the math PhDs and finance whizzes who dreamed up arcana like "mortgage pass-through certificates" and "collateralized debt obligations" aren't sure how the government's plan can hack through the complexity of the 21st Century financial system.

"What's the government going to buy and what are they going to pay? There's no clarity on any of that," said Rich Berg, chief executive of Chicago-based Performance Trust Capital Partners LLC. "This thing is an unbelievable can of worms."
Read the rest here.

Bible Verse For Sunday 09-28-08

And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.

And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
What the hell?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Why Sarah Palin And Not Meg Whitman?

I suppose the obvious answer is the lack of political experience. In all other ways doesn’t Meg Whitman seem like a more logical choice? Doesn’t she seem to be more intelligent and competent than Sarah Palin? (Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean I like her political views.)

From Can Meg Whitman turn around California? by Therese Poletti:

Having been passed over as the running mate on the Republican presidential ticket, former eBay Inc. chief executive Meg Whitman seems to have now set her sights on the California state capitol.

Call it Meg 2.0.

Whitman has been increasingly active in the Republican party since retiring from eBay in January. She initially spent her time helping raise money for Mitt Romney, her former boss at Bain & Co., in his failed presidential campaign. More recently, she has been helping run Sen. John McCain's presidential bid. She was a contender for the VP slot before McCain selected Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Organized Theft

From I Dissent: An Essay Against A Government Bailout by Kenneth D. Peterson, Jr.

I will not go softly! There is a terrible, horrible crisis looming we are now told. But the Government will save us if only we will allow the most extravagant intervention into private affairs that this country has ever contemplated. The politicians and the media blare breathless sound bites about fear of collapse, fear of the future, fear of real estate, fear of failure. Have we forgotten that FDR said the only thing we need to fear is fear itself? Have we forgotten that six years ago when there was a similar full court press by the political and media elite to exploit our fears the reality in Iraq did not live up to the hype?

The political classes of both parties said that in the face of this unimaginable crisis they would take the weekend – imagine that, a whole weekend! – to create a Solution. The Solution must now be implemented immediately before we can even fully understand what it is. This is a classic “rush to judgment” so that we may not notice that the Solution aims to destroy the fundamental ideals of individual freedom, accountability and responsibility that our nation’s Constitution was meant to defend.

I dissent and ask that you communicate your own dissent.

Our financial situation has two issues: Liquidity and Solvency. If a bank lends money to someone and the person defaults and the collateral is not worth the outstanding loan we can call this a “bad loan.” Who should suffer the loss? Should we make the renter who lives next door absorb the loss? Should we make the shareholders of a bank that made good loans suffer the loss? This seems ridiculous! To suggest, as do our earnest politicians, that all the citizens of the United States should suffer the loss is literally nonsense. The one who must suffer the loss is the one who made the loan. Anything else is organized theft. If the bank did not inquire as to whether the borrower could repay the loan, or if it did not require an adequate equity cushion, then it must be responsible for such “stupid loans”. The same goes for those who bought those loans and thereby became the lender. The result of enough such loans should be insolvency. Moreover, a lender that leverages itself 30 to 1 and then pleads for a bailout when values fall 4% does not define a national emergency and should not be taken seriously.
Read the rest here.

Debating The Debate

From Why I feel like a vampire bit me by Avedon Carol:

However, I just about lost the will to live when they were talking about the surge. Since Obama bought into the whole lie about how the surge had worked, he was helpless. McCain just quoted Obama as saying the surge had worked beyond our wildest expectations even though he'd opposed it.

Then he pressed Obama to say that he'd changed his mind about whether there should have been a surge. When Obama wouldn't, McCain compared Obama's apparently stubborn refusal to support the right thing with Bush's similar behavior.

It was a breathtakingly clever bit of manipulation that Obama walked right into by playing along with the out-and-out lie that the surge had done anything to advance any goal other than escalated troop presence and PR for the Permanent Campaign.

It would have been completely avoidable if the Democrats had stuck to the facts on this issue from the beginning: The Anbar Awakening preceded the Surge and had nothing to do with it - it had to do with the fact that we've been paying The Enemy not to attack us. Dems should have been screaming about this, but it's a bit late to introduce this kind of new information on the fly. And the stated purpose of the Surge was that it was supposed to reduce violence so we could leave, but we show no sign of thinking of leaving; ergo, the surge has failed. Period.
McCain also reiterated the whole casting of the occupation as a war we must win rather than go home in defeat. Since the only definition of "win" we've ever been given sounds exactly like "never leave", it would have been good if that question had been put to him. It is claimed that we will leave when things are stable and peaceful, but we haven't been told how we get rid of that tiny little problem of how peace can't break out as long as we are there making war on them.
Read more about the Anbar Awakening (Sunni Awakening) here, here, and here.

The First Debate

Barack Obama won. He was the one wearing a flag pin in his lapel. John McCain was not. What else do you need to know?

Friday, September 26, 2008


Those fingers in my hair
That sly come hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
It’s witchcraft

And I’ve got no defense for it
The heat is too intense for it
What good would common sense for it do?

‘cause its witchcraft, wicked witchcraft
And although, I know, it's strictly taboo

From Pundits Slam Palin On Witchcraft:
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments today on news reports that an African minister once asked God to protect Sarah Palin from witchcraft:

“In 2005, Sarah Palin went to church and found that a visiting minister from Kenya, Bishop Thomas Muthee, was doing the service. He offered a prayer asking Jesus to keep her free from ‘every form of witchcraft.’ Palin said nothing—she simply kept her head bowed throughout the blessing. Why this is newsworthy is one issue, but why it has quickly become the subject of scorn is another.

“For the past two decades, Americans have been lectured by educators and the chattering class that we must respect cultural, religious, racial and ethnic diversity. It seems that exceptions to the creed of multiculturalism are only made when it suits the ideological agenda of the left. Enter Keith Olbermann: He exploited this incident last night as a club to paint Palin as an extremist. Moreover, he used this single blessing to unfavorably contrast the African minister to Barack Obama’s spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The MSNBC commentator incredibly said that Wright—who spewed hate speech before Obama for 20 years—‘seems pretty mainstream’ by comparison.

“Witchcraft is a sad reality in many parts of Africa, resulting in scores of deaths in Kenya over the past two decades. Bishop Muthee’s blessing, then, was simply a reflection of his cultural understanding of evil. While others are not obliged to accept his interpretation, all can be expected to respect it. More than that—Muthee should be hailed for asking God to shield Palin from harmful forces, however they may be manifested. And for this he is mocked and Palin ridiculed?

“We know that many cultural elites have a hard time embracing religion, but is it too much to ask that they at least show some manners when discussing subjects which most Americans hold dear?”
Manners? In this case I think that “manners” = “shut the fuck up!”

God is not real. Witches are not real. No problem there.

People who think that God is real, are real. People who think that witches are real, are real. These people like to tell other people what is real. Lots of problems there.

What about all the people who are not “cultural elites” that have a hard time embracing religion? I guess we don’t have to show any manners.

What about idiots that have a hard time embracing the concept of the separation of church and state? I guess they don’t have to show any intelligence.


From The Witch Fighter Anoints Palin by Max Blumenthal:

On September 20 and 21, I attended services at the church Sarah Palin belonged to since she was an adolescent, the Wasilla Assembly of God. Though Palin officially left the church in 2002, she is listed on its website as “a friend,” and spoke there as recently as June 8 of this year.

I went specifically to see a pastor visiting from Kiambu, Kenya named Thomas Muthee. Muthee gained fame within Pentecostal circles by claiming that he defeated a local witch, Mama Jane, in a great spiritual battle, thus liberating his town from sin and opening its people to the spirit of Jesus.

Muthee’s mounting stardom took him to Wasilla Assembly of God in May, 2005, where he prayed over Palin and called upon Jesus to propel her into the governor’s mansion — and beyond. Muthee also implored Jesus to protect Palin from “the spirit of witchcraft.” The video archive of that startling sermon was scrubbed from Wasilla Assembly of God’s website, but now it has reappeared.
Read more and see the video here.

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Is Tony Alamo just another holier-than-thou hypocrite?

From Evangelist arrested in child porn case:

Evangelist Tony Alamo was arrested Thursday in Flagstaff, Arizona, on charges related to a child porn investigation, an FBI spokesman said.

The 74-year-old founder and leader of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries was arrested without incident at 2:45 p.m. (4:45 p.m. ET) as he was departing the Little America Hotel with his wife, said Manuel Johnson, spokesman for the FBI in Phoenix, Arizona.

The FBI, the Flagstaff Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety were involved in the arrest, he said.

Alamo was charged under a federal statute with having knowingly transported a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity, Johnson said.

Alamo, whose real name is Bernie Hoffman, was taken to Coconino County Jail in Flagstaff, where he is to have an initial appearance Friday in federal magistrate court, Johnson said.
Tony Alamo thinks that Jesus Christ was a child abuser.
Asked why authorities were searching the property, Alamo compared himself to Christ.

"Why were they after Jesus?" he asked. "It's the same reason. Jesus is living within me."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Short John McCain Timeline

"I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.” John McCain - November, 2007

“The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should. I’ve got Greenspan’s book.” John McCain - December 17, 2007

“I don’t believe we’re headed into a recession, I believe the fundamentals of this economy are strong and I believe they will remain strong.” John McCain - January 30, 2008

"I think we are better off overall if you look at the entire eight-year period, when you look at the millions of jobs that have been created, the improvement in the economy, et cetera.” John McCain - January 30, 2008

"You know that there's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street. And it is, it's - people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong but these are very, very difficult times.” John McCain - September 15, 2008

“America this week faces an historic crisis in our financial system. We must pass legislation to address this crisis. If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy. People will no longer be able to buy homes and their life savings will be at stake. Businesses will not have enough money to pay their employees. If we do not act, every corner of our country will be impacted. We cannot allow this to happen.” John McCain - September 24, 2008

“I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people.” John McCain - September 24, 2008

He doesn't know what he's doing, but he's going to do something.

McCain admits that economics is not his strong suit, flip-flops on his assessment of the economy, and now wants us to trust him to be able to fix everything wrong with the economy. How logical is that?

McCain’s campaign is not the only thing that has been suspended.

Do you have a favorite John McCain quote about the economy? Feel free to comment and add it to the list.

A Pit Bull Perhaps?

From Would You Believe ...? by Josh Marshall:

One of the advantages of running a presidential campaign is that roughly half the country is deeply committed to believing or at least saying that virtually anything you do or say makes sense. And so it is here. But, look, if you were living in the real world, if you were some hotshot young executive at a Fortune 500 company trying to rise in the ranks, and you pulled some whacked crap like this, it would probably get you blackballed permanently. People would think you were either deeply unreliable or maybe just had a screw loose. And yet here he is -- is he kidding? He can't debate Barack Obama because he's got to go to Washington and save the economy? It's like the biggest 'dog at my homework' in history.

2008 Republican Platform On The Economy

An excerpt:

We support energetic federal investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution of criminal wrongdoing in the mortgage industry and investment sector. We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all.
They say one thing and do the exact opposite. They are not prosecuting the wrongdoers, they are bailing them out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Multi-taskin' McCain

From McCain’s New Campaign Slogan by Greg Saunders:

The McCain campaign thinks his campaign strategy of “suspending” his campaign helps reinforce his “Country First” slogan, but it really just makes him look like an old man who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.


Is this what Bush really meant when he said he wanted faith-based initiatives?

From Salon Radio: Digby on the bailout:

And the interesting thing about that is that it was, we had an earlier scandal in the Bush administration, big one, too - not as big as this, but it was big - with Enron and the Worldcom. And one of the things about that was they had created an accounting system that was so obscure and impossible to understand, that people just - it was faith-based. And essentially that's the same thing that's happened with this, on a much larger scale, which is that nobody knew where this paper was, nobody knew where the risk was in these instruments, so they just kind of operated on the basis of faith and waited until the moment when the whole thing came crashing down.
And before Enron and Worldcom there was the Savings and Loan crisis (and bailout), with some familiar names involved. A Bush and a McCain, that’s who.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And the terrorists, and Saddam Hussein, and nukes, and Iran, and North Korea, and the Russians, and taxes, and the latest financial crisis…

It's like listening to Fred Sanford say "Oooo... Its the Big One..." over and over again.

I’m sick and tired of politicians using fear to sell their policies to the American people. I’m even more sick and tired of the American people who fall for this tactic. Why aren’t they ever afraid of the politicians?

Wanda Sykes On The Republican Convention

Comedienne Wanda Sykes:

Well, you know, I watched the convention. You know, watching the Democratic Convention, it felt like America. You know, it looked like America. It was hopeful and it was positive and, you know, everybody holding hands. And then I watched the Republican Convention. It was like watching a meeting in Dr. Evil's lair.

It was like all of the evil people got together, and they were having an evil board meeting.

And each of them, you know, at the board meeting all got up, and each one would tell their plan of how they're gonna, what they're going to do with the evil. And it was just so tense and scary. 'Cause you know those Dr. Evil board meetings, somebody gets it. You know, they usually --

Press the button and --

You go into a pile of alligators or something.

And I was tense, and it's usually the weakest one. And I figured that's why Bush didn't show up. He was -- Bush is, like, "I'm doing this via satellite," 'cause, you know, he was scared.

John McCain And Freddie Mac

From Rick Davis took lotsa money from FreddieMac. Where's the outrage? by HelenWheels:

So, now, after uber-slimy McLame has actually put out ads portraying Obama as having huge lobbying ties to FreddieMac, it turns out McLame's campaign manager, Rick Davis, DOES. The man has been paid $15K a month to do nothing by FreddieMac up until last month, when he suddenly 1) got a conscience (not bloody likely) or 2) realized perhaps it might not look good for McLame's presidential candidacy or 3) got caught and decided perhaps it was no longer a good idea to take money from the lender to stave off regulation since McLame is now 'Mr. Populist'.

Is there NO END to the hypocrisy and sleaze? Ok, yeah, I know the unfortunate answer to that.
Read the rest here.

From Freddie’s Friend by Michael Isikoff:
Since 2006, the federally sponsored mortgage giant Freddie Mac has paid at least $345,000 to the lobbying and consulting firm of John McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, according to two sources familiar with the arrangement.

Freddie Mac had previously paid an advocacy group run by Davis, called the Homeownership Alliance, $30,000 a month until the end of 2005, when that group was dissolved. That relationship was the subject of a New York Times story Monday, which drew angry denunciations from the McCain campaign. McCain and his aides have vehemently objected to suggestions that Davis has ties to Freddie Mac—an especially sensitive issue given that the Republican presidential candidate has blamed "the lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats" for the mortgage crisis that recently prompted the Bush administration to take over both Freddie Mac and its companion, Fannie Mae, and put them under federal conservatorship.

But neither the Times story—nor the McCain campaign—revealed that Davis's lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, based in Washington, D.C., continued to receive $15,000 a month from Freddie Mac until last month—long after the Homeownership Alliance had been terminated. The two sources, who requested anonymity discussing sensitive information, told NEWSWEEK that Davis himself approached Freddie Mac in 2006 and asked for a new consulting arrangement that would allow his firm to continue to be paid. The arrangement was approved by Hollis McLoughlin, Freddie Mac's senior vice president for external relations, because "he [Davis] was John McCain's campaign manager and it was felt you couldn't say no," said one of the sources. [McLoughlin did not return phone calls].
It is not unusual for major corporations to enter into consulting retainers so that individuals could be available if needed. And the two sources stressed that Davis at no time made any threats or demands on Freddie Mac. But the sources indicated that Freddie Mac seldom called on Davis or the firm. On one occasion, Davis was asked to attend a meeting of the firm's political-action committee during the 2006 campaign in order to give the Republican Party's perspective on the upcoming elections. In addition, Davis did meet with McLoughlin for breakfast on "one or two" occasions. Other than that, one source said, Davis "doesn't do anything" for Freddie Mac. The firm "doesn't even talk to him." In addition, Freddie Mac has had no contact with Davis Manafort other than receiving monthly invoices from the firm and paying them. But the money could be perceived as helping Freddie Mac ensure a good relationship with one of McCain's top aides in the event that he became president. The payments, along with other lobbying and consulting contracts, are expected to be terminated by the new federal overseers, the sources said.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Marcy Kaptur For President!

Screw Obama! Screw McCain! I want Marcy Kaptur to be president.

THE LATEST REALITY GAME--WALL STREET BAILOUT -- (House of Representatives - September 22, 2008):

Mr. Speaker, here is the latest reality game. Let's play Wall Street Bailout.

Rule one: Rush the decision. Time the game to fall in the week before Congress is set to adjourn and just 6 weeks before an historic election so your opponents will be preoccupied, pressured, distracted, and in a hurry.

Rule two: Disarm the public through fear. Warn that the entire global financial system will collapse and the world will fall into another Great Depression. Control the media enough to ensure that the public will not notice this.

Bailout will indebt them for generations, taking from them trillions of dollars they earned and deserve to keep.

Rule three: Control the playing field and set the rules. Hide from the public and most of the Congress just who is arranging this deal. Communicate with the public through leaks to media insiders. Limit any open congressional hearings. Communicate with Congress via private teleconferencing calls. Heighten political anxiety by contacting each political party separately. Treat Members of Congress condescendingly, telling them that the matter is so complex that they must rely on those few insiders who really do know what's going on.

Rule four: Divert attention and keep people confused. Manage the news cycle so Congress and the public have no time to examine who destroyed the prudent banking system that served America so well for 60 years after the financial meltdown of the 1920s.

Rule five: Always keep in mind the goal is to privatize gains to a few and socialize loss to the many. For 30 years in one financial scandal after another, Wall Street game masters have kept billions of dollars of their gain and shifted their losses to American taxpayers. Once this bailout is in place, the greed game will begin again.

But I have a counter-game. It's called Wall Street Reckoning. Congress shouldn't go home to campaign. It should put America's accounts in order.

To Wall Street insiders, it says ``no'' on behalf of the American people. You have perpetrated the greatest financial crimes ever on this American republic. You think you can get by with it because you are extraordinarily wealthy and the largest contributors to both Presidential and congressional campaigns in both major parties, but you are about to be brought under firm control.

First, America doesn't need to bail you out, it needs to secure the real assets and property, not your paper, that means the homes and properties of hardworking Americans who are about to lose their homes because of your mortgage greed. There should be a new job for regional Federal Reserve Banks. We want no home foreclosed if a serious work-out agreement can be put into place. And if you don't do it, we want a notarized statement by a Federal Reserve official that they tried and failed.

Second, taxpayers should directly gain any equity benefits that may flow from this historic bailout. We want the American people to get first priority in taking ownership of the institutions that want to pass their toxic paper onto the taxpayers.

Third, before any bailouts for Wall Street, America needs major job creation to rebuild our major infrastructure. America needs assets, not paper. We need working assets.

Fourth, the time for real financial regulatory change is now, not next year. A modernized Glass Eagle Act must be put in place. We need to reestablish locally-owned community savings banks across this country and create within the Justice Department a fully funded unit to prosecute every single high-flying thief whose fraud and criminal acts created this debacle and then forced their disgorgement of assets going back 15 years.

Fifth, any refinancing must return a major share of profits to a new Social Security and Medicare lockbox, where the monies can go to pay for a dignified and assured retirement for every American. This Member isn't voting for a penny of it. Those who created and profited from this game of games must be brought to justice. The assets they stole must be returned to the American taxpayers, right down to the tires on their Mercedes.

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in cosponsoring my bill to create an independent commission to investigate these well-heeled wrongdoers. Real reform now, or nothing.
She’s On Fire:

The United States Is Fighting In Pakistan

Why is the United States fighting and killing people in Pakistan? When was a war declared? Did Pakistan send a nicely embossed invitation asking us to come over and kill people? What is going on over there?

From Bush and Zardari in terror talks:

The two men will meet at the UN General Assembly in New York as anger grows in Pakistan at US forces in Afghanistan violating Pakistani sovereignty.

The US has launched several attacks on militant targets in Pakistan recently.
Pakistan and the United States have been in deep disagreement since 3 September when the US conducted its first ground assault in Pakistani territory on what it said was a militant target in the South Waziristan region.

The Pakistan government reacted with fury at the unauthorised incursion in which they said US troops killed 20 innocent villagers.

On two occasions since then Pakistani troops have opened fire to thwart US forces trying to cross the border. There have also been a succession of US drone missile attacks along Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
In a recent interview on American television, Mr Zardari again insisted that only Pakistani forces were authorised to operate on Pakistani soil.

Our correspondent says Mr Zardari cannot accept any military activities which will increase the mood of anti-Americanism in his country and from his perspective make the fight against militancy more difficult.

A little known group calling itself the Fidayeen-e-Islam said it carried out the bombing at the Marriott hotel. It has called for an end to all American involvement in Pakistan if further attacks are to be avoided.
The approach used by the United States government in its “war on terror” baffles me. We are told that our presence is not wanted in other countries. Sometimes the message is a violent one. We label this opposition as terrorist activity, and increase, rather than decrease our presence. We also increase the violence. From this we expect peace. Please allow me to visit George W. Bush, and punch him in the face. For peace.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What Exactly Did They Do?

Whatever investment banks do, (or did) it must not be that important. None of the big ones are around anymore. How will we ever live without them?

From In switch to banks, brokers eye thinner profits by Alistar Barr:

In less than a year, the five largest U.S. brokerage firms -- Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley -- have, in turn, collapsed, been acquired by a larger commercial bank or decided to become a bank.
I think that all they used to do was steal people's money. Let’s remember that the person supposed to be fixing all of this used to be the head of Goldman Sachs. I’ll leave it to you to put two and two together.

I'm considering calling George W. Bush "Fagin" from now on.

Think Progress has this on the “fixer.”

Think Progress has this on “Fagin.”

From Salon Radio: Notre Dame finance professor Richard Sheehan by Glenn Greenwald:
University of Notre Dame Professor of Finance Richard Sheehan has been one of the most incisive economist-critics of the Paulson plan since it was unveiled, and he's my guest today on Salon Radio. We discuss the ways in which the key fear-mongering claims of Paulson have been both misleading and exaggerated; the reasons the bailout plan won't work even if the best case scenario occurs; where and how the Federal Government will get $700 billion to fund it; and the role Paulson himself has played in the events that have caused this crisis. From Professor Sheehan in the interview:
Unfortunately, Mr. Paulson was among those that were creating the problem, rather than warning about the problem. In his role as CEO of Goldman Sachs, Goldman -- under his watch -- created a whole lot of CDOs [collateralized debt obligations] that now are under the heading of "toxic waste." So it's amusing in a twisted way to look at him now as the one who is going to save us from imminent financial collapse, when it was at least in part brought on by the actions of Goldman, in terms of being so liberal in their willingness to create new and improved CDOs.

Pit Bull Or Weasel?

Lipstick on a weasel?

From Pact on Debates Will Let McCain and Obama Spar by Patrick Healy:

The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates, which begin Friday, but the McCain camp fought for and won a much more structured approach for the questioning at the vice-presidential debate, advisers to both campaigns said Saturday.

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.
Read the rest here.

Why is Sarah Palin getting special treatment? Glenn Beck says that "Palin's career has been filled with executive experience. She's the only one of the four in this race who has run a business, town, and/or state (a state that gives her crucial energy experience in the middle of an energy crisis)."

Pit Bull Or Weasel? Or just bull?

"We've only been flipped off like twice"

From Atheists read religious texts for charity by Erin Rowley:

Nat Jackson read passages from the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Saturday to crowds walking past the Allen Street Gates.

Before reading verses about how the Spaghetti Monster created the universe, he put on a black eye patch, the required attire for the Spaghetti Monster's believers.

That text was one of more than a dozen religious books -- including the Bible and the Quran -- put on display by the Penn State Atheist and Agnostic Association, of which Jackson (senior-anthropology) is president. Passersby could donate money in return for hearing club members read aloud from the book of their choice.

The "Bible-A-Thon" raised about $503, which will go to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that brings medical care to people worldwide.

Club members manned their table of religious texts from 9 a.m. to about 7:15 p.m. Some of them held up signs that read, "Make atheists read the Bible."
Read the rest here.


"Let these companies die"

From Mad as hell - taxpayers lash out by David Goldman:

"NO NO NO. Not just no, but HELL NO," writes Richard, a reader from Anchorage, Alaska.

"This is robbery pure and simple," Anna from Denver posted on CNNMoney.com's TalkBack blog this weekend.

"It's our money! Let these companies die," added Claudio from Plainville, Conn.

After President Bush petitioned Congress Saturday for the authority to spend up to $700 billion to to bail out a financial industry on the verge of collapse, he said the high price tag was not only justified, but essential.

"It is a big package because it's a big problem," Bush told reporters at a news conference. "The risk of doing nothing far outweighs the risk of the package."

But when asked what they thought of the government's proposal, most readers gave an overwhelming thumbs down.

"I'm tired of rewarding institutions and people for the bad decisions they have made," said Dean from Madison, Wis. "Sure, it will hurt tax payers if/when some of these institutions fail, but perhaps we need to let that happen. We do not need more big government involved in our lives. Enough is enough."

Don't hand me the tab

Readers focused most of their indignation on having to foot the bill for irresponsible lenders and borrowers.
Read the rest here.

This one is my favorite:
And John from Springfield, Va., said the government action actually hurts the people it is intended to help.

"The government does not have $700 billion dollars. WE have $700 billion, and it is being taken from us. If this is passed then the next administration and the next will be extracting this one from the people who are supposedly being protected by this bailout."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

McCain Wins

The score is 13 to 1.

From All the Candidates’ Cars by Keith Naughton and Hilary Shenfeld:

When you have seven homes, that's a lot of garages to fill. After the fuss over the number of residences owned by the two presidential nominees, NEWSWEEK looked into the candidates' cars. And based on public vehicle-registration records, here's the score. John and Cindy McCain: 13. Barack and Michelle Obama: one.
Read the rest here.

And Yet They Still Believe Him

Bush lies over and over and over… Yet they still believe him. It’s like some perverse version of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

From The complete (though ever-changing) elite consensus over the financial collapse by Glenn Greenwald:

Leave aside for the moment whether this gargantuan nationalization/bailout scheme is "necessary" in some utilitarian sense. One doesn't have to be an economics expert in order for several facts to be crystal clear:

First, the fact that Democrats are on board with this scheme means absolutely nothing. When it comes to things the Bush administration wants, Congressional Democrats don't say "no" to anything. They say "yes" to everything. That's what they're for.

They say "yes" regardless of whether they understand what they're endorsing. They say "yes" regardless of whether they've been told even the most basic facts about what they're being told to endorse. They say "yes" anytime doing so is politically less risky than saying "no," which is essentially always and is certainly the case here. They say "yes" whenever the political establishment -- meaning establishment media outlets and the corporate class that funds them -- wants them to say "yes," which is the case here. And they say "yes" with particular speed and eagerness when told to do so by the Serious Trans-Partisan Republican Experts like Hank Paulson and Ben Bernake (or Mike McConnell and Robert Gates and, before them, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell).

So nothing could be less reassuring or more meaningless than the fact that the Democratic leadership has announced that what they heard scared them so much that they are certain all of this is necessary -- whatever "all this" might be (and does anyone think that they know what "this" even is?). It may be "necessary" or may not be, but the fact that Congressional Democrats are saying this is irrelevant, since they would not have done anything else -- they're incapable of doing anything else -- other than giving their stamp of approval when they're told to.
Read more here.

From Thoughts On Sunday Bobbleheads by tristero:
The Republicans are also playing politics. They believed it is necessary, before actually addressing the crisis in real terms, to make sure they are carefully positioned as the "protectors of the American people" advocating a "clean" solution. Given the shared sense of imminent crisis requiring immediate action, the oversight, compensation limits, and "reciprocity" - whatever that is - put on this bill will be limited. In other words, Congress is about to hand the Bush administration the biggest blank check they have received to date.

And finally, I am confident that the American people will greatly benefit from this. Which American people? After 8 years of Bushism, you have to ask? Why, those who caused this crisis and who exploited this crisis, of course. They will slurp up the trillion dollars of our hard-earned money that's gonna be served up on a silver platter faster than you can say "Americans are suckers if they vote Republican."

Update from digby: I just have to add that when I heard Paulson say this bail out was actually going to make money for the government, I couldn't help but remember Paul Wolfowitz assuring us that the Iraq war would pay for itself.

Trust 'em?
Read more here.

From Before We Jump In by Josh Marshall:
There are subjects I know a lot about and others I know very little about. And the high-wire financial mess we're currently in falls clearly into the latter category. But I know enough to be troubled that we appear ready to give upwards of a trillion dollars in unfettered and unreviewable spending authority to the ... let's face it, the Bush administration, the folks who did such a bang up job in Iraq and New Orleans.

This morning a friend told me it's like the Iraq War all over again -- Shock & Awe, followed by an occupation of Wall Street, and all with no exit plan.

Family Values

I’ve been meaning to write more about this but haven’t gotten around to it. Mr. Nobody says it as well as anybody.

From Obama says families of politicians are off-limits and doubly so for their children by Jason Nobody:

Obama says families of politicians are off-limits and doubly so for their children. Clearly the conservatives have different plans.

Notes CNN:

...Sarah Palin's announcement Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant -- and she supports her daughter -- shows that the Alaska governor is steadfast in her support of family values, GOP loyalists and anti-abortion groups say.

So the wingnuts are not only using the daughter's decision as a political marker but lauding Palin for a decision she didn't actually make.

Well ...OK, we all know that the conversation didn't involve the phrase "whatever you decide, we support you."

Which makes me wonder how the wingnuts would respond if Bristol opted for an abortion and Mrs. Palin stood beside her?

Is abandoning your daughter a family value too?

Hot Air

It seems to me that we could solve our energy problems if we simply found a way to harness all the hot air that comes out of politicians’ mouths. And unlike oil, there seems to be a limitless and ever increasing supply of it.

From Science Questions for Would-Be Presidents by The Editors of Scientific American:

Both candidates oppose Yucca Mountain, the controversial proposed nuclear waste dump. McCain has advocated an “international repository” instead. What is the difference? Where does Obama propose to put the waste? The U.S. has spent 30 years studying Yucca; switching sites will restart the clock. What will nuclear plants do with all their spent fuel in the meantime?

Beyond these generalities, the candidates diverge. McCain would subsidize the construction of 45 new nuclear reactors, costing upward of $270 billion and taking 20 years to complete. Why invest that much public money in nuclear rather than solar or wind power, which could start pumping out watts much sooner? How would offshore oil drilling, which McCain has urged, help wean the nation off fossil fuels?

Obama has spelled out intermediate milestones for emissions reductions and specific targets for biofuels and other renewables. How would these goals be enforced? He has promised $150 billion over 10 years for energy research and development as well as a $10-billion-a-year venture capital fund. What would stop that money, as in so many past efforts, from being allocated by lobbyists rather than engineers? Does the energy industry really need more venture capital? Oddly, he has promised to “fight the efforts of big oil and big agribusiness to undermine” corn-based ethanol. How has agribusiness sought to undermine corn ethanol? If anything, it seems rather the opposite. And why sustain support for corn ethanol when it is the most ungreen of all biofuels?
Read more here.

Bible Verse For Sunday 09-21-08

And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
What the hell? A mere mortal changed God’s mind? All knowing indeed.

McCain - Part Of The Solution Or Part Of The Problem?

From McCain Attacks Wall Street Greed—While 83 Wall Street Lobbyists Work for His Campaign by David Corn, Jonathan Stein, and Nick Baumann:

McCain has been quick with fiery, populist-tinged speeches. But one thing has been missing: any acknowledgment that McCain's own campaign has been loaded with the type of people he's been denouncing. (The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment; we will update the post if they do.) As Mother Jones previously reported, former Senator Phil Gramm, McCain's onetime campaign chairman, used a backroom maneuver in late 2000 to slip into law a bill that kept credit default swaps unregulated. These financial instruments greased the way to the subprime meltdown that has led to today's economic crisis. Several of McCain's most senior campaign aides have lobbied for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And the Democratic National Committee, using publicly available records, has identified 177 lobbyists working for the McCain campaign as either aides, policy advisers, or fundraisers.

Of those 177 lobbyists, according to a Mother Jones review of Senate and House records, at least 83 have in recent years lobbied for the financial industry McCain now attacks. These are high-paid influence-peddlers who have been working the corridors of the nation's capital to win favors and special treatment for investment banks, securities firms, hedge funds, accounting outfits, and insurance companies.
Read more here.