Saturday, September 20, 2008

Billions for Bailouts! Who Pays?

Senator Bernie Sanders

The current financial crisis facing our country has been caused by the extreme right-wing economic policies pursued by the Bush administration.  These policies, which include huge tax breaks for the rich, unfettered free trade and the wholesale deregulation of commerce, have resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy. 
The middle class has really been under assault.  Since President Bush has been in office, nearly 6 million Americans have slipped into poverty, median family income for working Americans has declined by more than $2,000, more than 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance, over 4 million have lost their pensions, foreclosures are at an all time high, total consumer debt has more than doubled, and we have a national debt of over $9.7 trillion dollars.
While the middle class collapses, the richest people in this country have made out like bandits and have not had it so good since the 1920s.  The top 0.1 percent now earn more money than the bottom 50 percent of Americans, and the top 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.  The wealthiest 400 people in our country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion while Bush has been president.  In the midst of all of this, Bush lowered taxes on the very rich so that they are paying lower income tax rates than teachers, police officers or nurses.
Now, having mismanaged the economy for eight years as well as having lied about our situation by continually insisting, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” the Bush administration, six weeks before an election, wants the middle class of this country to spend many hundreds of billions on a bailout.  The wealthiest people, who have benefited from Bush’s policies and are in the best position to pay, are being asked for no sacrifice at all.  This is absurd.  This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.
In my view, we need to go forward in addressing this financial crisis by insisting on four basic principles:
(1) The people who can best afford to pay and the people who have benefited most from Bush’s economic policies are the people who should provide the funds for the bailout.  It would be immoral to ask the middle class, the people whose standard of living has declined under Bush, to pay for this bailout while the rich, once again, avoid their responsibilities.  Further, if the government is going to save companies from bankruptcy, the taxpayers of this country should be rewarded for assuming the risk by sharing in the gains that result from this government bailout.
Specifically, to pay for the bailout, which is estimated to cost up to $1 trillion, the government should:
a)  Impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers.  That would raise more than $300 billion in revenue;
b) Ensure that assets purchased from banks are realistically discounted so companies are not rewarded for their risky behavior and taxpayers can recover the amount they paid for them; and
c) Require that taxpayers receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies so that the assumption of risk is rewarded when companies’ stock goes up.
(2) There must be a major economic recovery package which puts Americans to work at decent wages.  Among many other areas, we can create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and moving our country from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.  Further, we must protect working families from the difficult times they are experiencing.  We must ensure that every child has health insurance and that every American has access to quality health and dental care, that families can send their children to college, that seniors are not allowed to go without heat in the winter, and that no American goes to bed hungry.
(3) Legislation must be passed which undoes the damage caused by excessive de-regulation.  That means reinstalling the regulatory firewalls that were ripped down in 1999.  That means re-regulating the energy markets so that we never again see the rampant speculation in oil that helped drive up prices.  That means regulating or abolishing various financial instruments that have created the enormous shadow banking system that is at the heart of the collapse of AIG and the financial services meltdown.
(4) We must end the danger posed by companies that are “too big too fail,” that is, companies whose failure would cause systemic harm to the U.S. economy.  If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.  We need to determine which companies fall in this category and then break them up.  Right now, for example, the Bank of America, the nation’s largest depository institution, has absorbed Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and Merrill Lynch, the nation’s largest brokerage house.  We should not be trying to solve the current financial crisis by creating even larger, more powerful institutions.  Their failure could cause even more harm to the entire economy.

One of The Better Anti-McCain Ads?

  With McCains own words, this ad brings John McCain back down to reality.

  Watch it. Listen. Think about it.



Republican Election Theft

Published on Thursday, September 18, 2008 by Common Wonders

Goo-Goo America

by Robert C. Koehler

Say you've got a global agenda that's far too important to leave to chance -- wars to fight, quagmires to feed, interests to protect, secrets to hide.

Staying in power is crucial.

This presents a big problem in an election year -- heart-stopping, even -- for the Republican Party. Consider the basic numbers, as compiled recently by the Associated Press: In the 28 states that register voters according to party affiliation, more than 2 million Democrats have been registered, in highly energized get-out-the-vote drives, over the last two years, while, simultaneously, Republicans have lost nearly 344,000 voters in those same states. Nationwide, AP informs us, there are about 42 million registered Democrats right now and about 31 million Republicans.

However, in applied, as opposed to merely theoretical, democracy, there are things you can do about a numbers problem like this - legal, quasi-legal and blatantly, wildly, desperately (but undetectably) illegal. And the GOP, in its virulent neocon incarnation, is going to do all of them. In impolite, non-mainstream-media circles, it's called cheating.

Indeed, "this is an all out Republican war on democracy in which we will be witnessing an unprecedented 'troop surge' between here and November," Brad Friedman, whose blog sounded one of the earliest and most clarion voices of warning about election fraud, wrote recently in the U.K. Guardian. Friedman quoted conservative guru Paul Weyrich, who back in 1980 mocked the idea of democracy and good government as "goo-goo syndrome," and bluntly stated: "As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Keeping the voting populace down -- among target groups, of course (African-Americans, students, Native Americans, Hispanics, the poor, the young) -- has been core Republican strategy throughout the Rove-Bush era, from the bogus ex-felon purges of voting rolls in 2000 that disenfranchised thousands of mostly African-Americans in the South and gave Florida to George W. Bush, to a dizzying array of dirty tricks in 2004 (check out "Fooled Again" by Mark Crispin Miller or the documentaries "Uncounted" and the just-completed "Stealing America Vote by Vote"), to . . .

Well, they're at it again, of course, targeting the most vulnerable and the most Democratic-leaning populations, such as, in a stunning display of cynicism, people whose homes were recently foreclosed on, but this time they don't have a free hand. The most crucial news of the 2008 election season is that "Goo-Goo America," if you will -- good-government, democracy-committed America -- is up and out of its complacency in growing numbers.

"In 2004, we were blindsided," long-time voting-rights activist Harvey Wasserman told me. But this year, no way. People are starting to feel a deeper cry of citizenship, to get involved in the process in a new way, whether it be by signing up as election judges or poll watchers, or by becoming indie media types and videotaping what they see going on.

"We think it is actually within reach to get a fair election in 2008," said Wasserman, who is one of the organizers of the Ohio Election Protection conference, in Columbus Sept. 26-28 (see for details).

This is a rallying cry, not a reassuring bedtime story. We can't go back to sleep about the mechanics of our elections any more than we can give up on the issues of war and peace, the national direction and America's relationship with the rest of the world. The stakes are far too high.

"There are many problems in American democracy," writes Kevin Zeese in Op-Ed News, in a comprehensive roundup of disenfranchisement attempts around the country. "But, if we are unable to get these two basic things right -- registering voters and counting the vote accurately -- then not much else matters because the democracy is a farce and a fraud on the most basic fundamentals."

The problems and potential problems with hackable electronic voting machines, sloppy ballot chain-of-custody procedures and other matters related to the voting process itself are enormous and troubling, and I will address them as the election nears. For now, I focus on the basic fact of power. Its tendency to corrupt is known, documented and filed away under "history."

But history is occurring right now, as the election season progresses, mostly under the mainstream media radar, and it often looks like latter-day, de facto racism. For instance, in Macomb County, outside Detroit in the swing state of Michigan, Republicans have gotten ahold of foreclosure lists to challenge the addresses of (mostly African-American) registered voters, even as the GOP sits on an anti-predatory lending bill in the state legislature. Lose your home, lose your vote.

Goo-Goo America has to rouse itself and rise to the challenges of this election season, because power doesn't bow to principle unless it has to -- unless principle itself has a power base.

                         © 2008 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can respond to this column at or visit his Web site at

Barack Obama Speaking In Miami

September 19,2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

John McCains Wall Street Lobbyist:83 Working for His Campaign

  McCain can run around all day long talking about how he and Palin will reform both Washington and Wall Street, but, that does not change the fact that McCain has many of those Wall Street lobbyist now helping to get him elected as President of the United States.

   From MotherJones

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. Their clients have included AIG, the newest symbol of corporate excess; Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy on Monday sending the stock market into a tailspin; Merrill Lynch, which was bought out by Bank of America this week; and Washington Mutual, the banking giant that could be the next to fall. Among these 83 lobbyists are McCain's chief political adviser, Charlie Black (JP Morgan, Washington Mutual Bank, Freddie Mac, Mortgage Bankers Association of America); McCain's national finance co-chairman, Wayne Berman (AIG, Blackstone, Credit Suisse, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac); the campaign's congressional liaison, John Green (Carlyle Group, Citigroup, Icahn Associates, Fannie Mae); McCain's veep vetter, Arthur Culvahouse (Fannie Mae); and McCain's transition planning chief, William Timmons Sr. (Citigroup, Freddie Mac, Vanguard Group).

  John McCrook as our next president? I hope not!

New Obama Ad On John McCains Advisors

  So let us hear a word on the advisors to McCain who think that the economy is " fundamentally " strong.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mars Pet Food Launches A Recall


Mars Pet Food is recalling 14 brands of dry dog and cat food made between February and July of this year, after two people who may have had contact with some of the food became infected with Salmonella. If you feed your dog or cat any of the brands listed below, here's how to check the package code.

Recalled brands:

* Pedigree * Ol' Roy * Retriever * Paws & Claws * Member's Mark * Natural Dog Food * Natural Cat Food * Doggy Bag * PMI Nutrition * Red Flannel * PetPride * Special Kitty * Country Acres * Wegman's Bruiser * Wegman's Buju & Ziggie

To check whether the package you have is part of the recall, look at the code under the "Best Before" date.

For Pedigree brand food:

Consumers should look for "PAE" on the bottom line – the sixth, seventh and eighth digits. Sample:
Best Before 02/2009
808G1PAE01 12:00

For all other brands:

Consumers should look for "17" as the first two digits of the second line. Sample:
Best By Feb 18 09
17 1445 1

If you find a match, wrap up the product according to FDA guidelines and take it back to the store where you purchased it for a refund.

More in this article.

Barack Obama's Smackdown Of John McCain Continues

  Another great Obama video for your viewing pleasure!

Cuts like a knife!

John McCain On Social Security

  Mr. flip-flop has said at one time that he has never said that he was for privatizing Social Security, which we all know by know is a lie.

  I bring this up because of the problems this past week with Lehman and the other investment firms who have gone bankrupt or have been bailed out by the government recently.

  Just suppose that you had one of those private accounts which was being managed by Lehman or whoever. What do you think that account would be worth now with the company having no cash?  would you really like to see your 401k plan reduced to pennies, if that much, because some greedy brokers pissed away your money on risky investments? I would think not. I know that I wouldn't like it.

  Also keep in mind that the financial sectors problems are showing up now due to some of the deregulation laws which John McCain supported.


Barack Obama's new ad on McCains Social Security votes. McCain gets ran over on this one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Barack Obama Speaks On McCain's " Old Boy Network "

     But first, this tidbit.

Republicans lowered my taxes, and will keep them low. But the value of my home has dropped 20%, my health insurance costs have doubled, gas costs $4 a gallon, and my investments are in the tank. Please, tax me.

Congress Approves Drilling Off Coasts

WASHINGTON - The House voted late Tuesday to open waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to oil and gas drilling but only 50 or more miles out to sea and only if a state agrees to energy development off its shore.

Democratic leaders called it a step toward energy independence, but Republicans labeled it a "sham" because most of the estimated 18 billion barrels of oil believed to lie below off-limits coastal waters are within 50 miles of land and will remain out of bounds.  Yahoo

   Do you hear those Republican oil barons crying in their soup because they did not get what they wanted out of this deal? How about ExxonMobile?

   The thing with this deal is that the GOP will cry and kick and scream for a bit and then the Democrats will decide to come to some sort of compromise tp quiet them down. The Dems will give in and change those 50 miles limits to something closer to the Republicans ( oil company's ) liking. We've seen this kind of crap from the Democrats to many times to believe that they will actually hold their ground on anything important to you and I.

  Even before the House vote, the White House said President Bush was prepared to veto the measure should it reach his desk. An administration statement said the bill would "stifle development" of offshore energy resources by essentially making permanent drilling bans within the 50-mile coastal buffer, while imposing new taxes on the largest oil companies.

  New taxes on the largest oil companies? WTF? They already get some $18 billion in tax breaks. Bush must be worried that those extra taxes will cut into his kickbacks or free vacations.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obama Returns Fire At McCain

Obama saw it coming

by free speech zone @ DKos  Tue Sep 16, 2008

Obama this morning threw down the gauntlet  on McCain. He called McCain out for his lack of leadership on the current economic crisis. he skewers McCain with his own words.

He is on fire!

Today in the battleground state of Colorado, Obama turned up the heat on McCain. Obama reminded us that in Febuary of 2006 he introduced legislation to stop mortgage transactions that promote fraud risk and abuse.

If you want to understand the difference between how Senator McCain and I would govern as President, you can start by taking a look at how we've responded to this crisis. Because Senator McCain's approach was the same as the Bush Administration's: support ideological policies that made the crisis more likely; do nothing as the crisis hits; and then scramble as the whole thing collapses. My approach has been to try to prevent this turmoil. In February of 2006, I introduced legislation to stop mortgage transactions that promoted fraud, risk or abuse. A year later, before the crisis hit, I warned Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke about the risks of mounting foreclosures and urged them to bring together all the stakeholders to find solutions to the subprime mortgage meltdown. Senator McCain did nothing.

Once again Obama shows he was on the right side of the issue. Like Iraq he shows he has the judgment to lead this country. He continues:

Last September, I stood up at NASDAQ and said it's time to realize that we are in this together -- that there is no dividing line between Wall Street and Main Street -- and warned of a growing loss of trust in our capital markets. Months later, Senator McCain told a newspaper that he'd love to give them a solution to the mortgage crisis, "but" -- he said -- "I don't know one."

Obama then turns McCains own words against him. These quotes need to be made into some devastating ads.

This March, in the wake of the Bear Stearns bailout, I called for a new, 21st century regulatory framework to restore accountability, transparency, and trust in our financial markets. Just a few weeks earlier, Senator McCain made it clear where he stands: "I'm always for less regulation," he said, and referred to himself as "fundamentally a deregulator."

The video of his comments are worth a look. There is some damaging info here and if enough people see the hypocrisy that the McCain camp is currently displaying, we can do some serious damage. Le us hope this is a sign of things to come.

Good bye lipstick, hello economy. If this keeps up McCain is in some serious trouble. Start your engines!

Markey Launches Investigation into Oil Companies’ Involvement in Interior Dept. Scandal

      The Gavel

From the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming:

Chairman Edward J. Markey has launched an investigation into the growing scandal involving members of the Bush administration’s Interior Department oil division. Chairman Markey sent letters late Friday to the heads of the oil companies involved in the scandal, probing the companies’ knowledge of the unethical dealings between oil company officials and the regulators.

“Sniffing out the bad actors in the Bush administration’s oil division is important, but we need to be just as vigilant with the companies involved in this crude distortion of government ethics,” said Rep. Markey, who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “It takes two to tango, and the oil companies appear to have danced over just as many ethical lines as the Bush administration officials.”

The letters were sent to Marvin Odum, President of Shell Oil; David O’Reilly, Chairman and CEO of Chevron; and Ronald Williams, President and CEO of Gary Williams Energy Corporation.

In the letters, along with asking for detailed records of lobbying expenditures, the following questions are asked, among others:

Did any senior executives at the companies have any knowledge, at any point in time, that employees were providing gifts to Interior Department employees or officials in violation of federal law?

Did any senior executives at the companies direct any employee to seek out inappropriately close relationships with Interior Department employees or officials?

Were any company funds used directly or on a reimbursable basis to provide prohibited gifts to Interior Department employees?

Did the oil companies allocate funds in advance for the purchase of gifts for Interior Department or any other Bush administration employees or officials?

“From funding global warming deniers to fighting the expansion of renewable energy, Big Oil has done America no favors,” said Rep. Markey. “In doing many unethical favors for Bush administration officials, and expecting reciprocation when oil is bought and sold, the oil companies are continuing a long-established, disappointing trend.”

The text of the letter:

September 12, 2008

Mr. Marvin Odum
Shell Oil Company
North America Headquarters
Two Houston Center, Plaza Level I
909 Fannin Street
Houston, Texas 77010

Dear Mr. Odum:

On September 9, 2008, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of the Interior issued the final results of three separate investigations into allegations of misconduct by current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which oversees the leasing and management of our nation’s oil and gas resources. The OIG investigation uncovered multiple instances of misconduct by MMS employees.

According to the OIG reports, nearly one-third of the employees in MMS’ Royalty in Kind (RIK) department “socialized with, and received a wide array of gifts and gratuities from, oil and gas companies with whom RIK was conducting official business” and received gifts “with prodigious frequency.” Given the fact that oil and gas royalties comprise one of the largest non-tax revenue streams for the federal government and that the RIK department oversees the collection of nearly $4 billion of per year rightfully owed to American taxpayers by oil and gas companies, the discovery of these sorts of “textbook example[s] of improperly receiving gifts from prohibited sources” is profoundly troubling.

According to the OIG, employees from Shell were involved in inappropriately close relationships with Interior Department employees, including providing gifts in violation of federal law, in what has the appearance of an attempt to illegally influence the management and oversight of your company’s oil and gas activities and collection of royalty payments owed to the federal government. Therefore, I request that you or your company provide answers to the following questions by close of business on Wednesday, September 17, 2008:

1. Did any senior executives at Shell Oil Company have any knowledge, at any point in time, that Shell Oil Company employees were providing gifts to Interior Department employees or officials in violation of federal law? If so, please identify the name and position held by those senior executives.

2. Did any senior executives at Shell Oil Company direct any Shell employee to establish unprofessional relationships with Interior Department employees or officials? If so, what was the reason for those relationships? Were they in any way in an attempt to influence the management and oversight of Shell Oil Company’s oil and gas activities?

3. Were Shell Oil Company funds used directly or on a reimbursable basis to provide prohibited gifts to Interior Department employees? If so, who within Shell Oil Company authorized the use of such funds and how much was authorized?

4. Did Shell Oil Company allocate funds in advance for the purchase of gifts for Interior Department or any other Bush Administration employees or officials?

5. Please detail Shell Oil Company’s expenditures from 2002 to 2006 on lobbying Interior Department or Bush Administration employees or officials concerning the RIK program.

I look forward to your response. Should you have any questions about this request, please have your staff contact my staff at (202) 225-4012.


Edward J. Markey

cc: Mr. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Ranking Member


Monday, September 15, 2008

Barack Obama: I've Got A Bridge To Sell You Up In Alaska

  Democrat Barack Obama was in Grand Junction Colorado on Monday and is as usual had some pretty good shot for the McCain/Palin corporation.

John McCain's Brilliant People

John McCain's List of Real Smart People

by Devilstower @ DKos Mon Sep 15, 2008

There are some lists that you just don't want to be on. The No-Fly List. The 10 Most Wanted List. The list of candidates so desperate they actually want George Bush to come out and campaign with them.

Then there's John McCain's List of Real Smart People. What does it take to be on this list? Well, Sarah Palin is there.

McCAIN: She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.

Who else makes the list? Try former Texas Senator, Phil Gramm.

McCAIN: one of the smartest people in the world on economics

As we watch the financial sector move into the next stage of melt down, here's a reminder of what Gramm did to earn himself a spot as not only a Real Smart Person, but McCain's top economic advisor.

[Gramm]was co-sponsor of the 1999 law that allowed commercial banks to get into investment banking. And the fact that Gramm was a prime architect of a 2000 bill that kept regulators' hands off of "credit default swaps," an exotic financial tool which helped enable the bundling and selling of crappy subprime mortgages to investors.

In other words, Gramm was at the top of the list of people rushing to give the banking industry "more flexibility" and relieve them of all those nasty regulations that kept them from showing the kind of constraint that Wall Street always shows when nobody is looking.

The value of the entire U.S. Treasuries market: $4.5 trillion.

The value of the entire mortgage market: $7 trillion.

The size of the U.S. stock market: $22 trillion.

The size of the credit default swap market last year: $45 trillion.

Phil Gramm saw to it that banks could not only become involved in risky investments, they could buy and sell those investments to each other, creating a speculative shadow economy many times larger than the real economy, and Gramm made sure that all this activity was completely unregulated.

Back to Dave Davies' of the Philadelphia Daily News and his July interview with McCain.

[McCain] said that Gramm and others thought that they were doing the right thing in the 2000 legislation.

But that's just the point.

Nobody thought that they were setting up a cataclysmic collapse in the nation's financial sector, but when you're restricting public oversight of private markets, you'd better give some serious thought to the downside.

Serious thought to the downside? That's surrender talk. Hell, boy, what kind of maverick are you?

That kind of thinking is never going to make McCain's list. Which is a very important reason why McCain shouldn't be on anyone's list of potential presidents.