"I DID REAL GOOD, LAST NIGHT, REAL GOOD," SENATOR SWEETIE BARACK OBAMA INSISTED TO THESE REPORTERS.
ASKED TO DEFINE REAL GOOD, HE DECLARED, "I REMAINED STANDING. YEAH, I WAS ON MY FEET THE WHOLE TIME."
WHEN WE POINTED OUT THAT HE APPEARED TO CALL FOR THE REF AT SEVERAL POINTS, BARACK WHINED, "THAT'S BECAUSE THE QUESTIONS WEREN'T ABOUT IMPORTANT STUFF. I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT THE SIGNATURE ISSUE."
THE SIGNATURE ISSUE?
"ME! DID YOU NOTICE, IN THE END, I DELIVERED A KNOCK OUT BLOW. I TALKED ABOUT MY DADDY. JOHN MCCAIN DOESN'T HAVE A DADDY FROM KENYA. I WAS ALL IN THE ZONE THEN. WHEN IT COMES TO TALKING ABOUT ME, NOBODY DOES IT BETTER. I'M GOING TO INSIST THAT THE NEXT DEBATE REVOLVE AROUND WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE THE EDITOR OF A COLLEGE PUBLICATION AND WHAT IT'S LIKE TO POSE FOR THE COVER OF MEN'S VOGUE. IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE PLAY TO MY STRENGTHS. WAIT AND SEE, I'M GOING TO WIN!"
Turning to TV, check your local listings. NOW on PBS explores the bailout and attempts to answer for "Americans: How will this affect me? This week, NOW on PBS goes inside the round-the-clock efforts in Washington to craft a bailout plan of monumental proportions." Meanwhile, tonight's debate is on -- for both of the corporatist candidates at any rate. PBS' Washington Week is going to do two live broadcasts on Friday. One before the debate and one after. Gwen's guests will include Michele Norris (NPR), Michael Duffy (Time), David Wessel (Wall St. Journal) Dan Balz (Washington Post), and a scribe for the New York Times.
Four presidential candidates are shut out of tonight's debate. Two are Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. The other two? Cynthia McKinney is the Green presidential candidate and she notes on the economic meltdown:
Last week, I posted ten points (that were by no means exhaustive) for Congressional action immediately in the wake of the financial crisis now gripping our country. At that time, the Democratic leadership of Congress was prepared to adjourn the current legislative Session to campaign, without taking any action at all to put policies in place that protect U.S. taxpayers and the global community that has accepted U.S. financial leadership. Those ten points, to be taken in conjunction with the Power to the People Committee's platform available on the campaign website at (http://votetruth08.com/index.php/resources/campaignplatform), are as follows:
1. Enactment of a foreclosure moratorium now before the next phase of ARM interest rate increases take effect;
2. elimination of all ARM mortgages and their renegotiation into 30- or 40-year loans;
3. establishment of new mortgage lending practices to end predatory and discriminatory practices;
4. establishment of criteria and construction goals for affordable housing;
5. redefinition of credit and regulation of the credit industry so that discriminatory practices are completely eliminated;
6. full funding for initiatives that eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in home ownership;
7. recognition of shelter as a right according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which the U.S. is a signatory so that no one sleeps on U.S. streets;
8. full funding of a fund designed to cushion the job loss and provide for retraining of those at the bottom of the income scale as the economy transitions;
9. close all tax loopholes and repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% of income earners; and
10. fairly tax corporations, denying federal subsidies to those who relocate jobs overseas repeal NAFTA.
In addition to these ten points, I now add four more:
11. Appointment of former Comptroller General David Walker to fully audit all recipients of taxpayer cash infusions, including JP Morgan, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG, and to monitor their trading activities into the future;
12. elimination of all derivatives trading;
13. nationalization of the Federal Reserve and the establishment of a federally-owned, public banking system that makes credit available for small businesses, homeowners, manufacturing operations, renewable energy and infrastructure investments; and
14. criminal prosecution of any activities that violated the law, including conflicts of interest that led to the current crisis.
Ellen Brown, author of "The Web of Debt" writes at http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/, "Such a public bank today could solve not only the housing crisis but a number of other pressing problems, including the infrastructure crisis and the energy crisis. Once bankrupt businesses have been restored to solvency, the usual practice is to return them to private hands; but a better plan for Fannie and Freddie might be to simply keep them as public institutions."
Too many times politicians have told us to support the "free market." The unfolding news informs us in a most costly manner that free markets don't work. This is a financial system of their making. It's now past time for the people to have an economic system of their own. A reading of the full text on the Congressional "Agreement on Principles" for the proposed $700 billion bailout reveals the sham that this so-called agreement truly is. Today our country faces an economic 9/11. The problem that is unfolding is truly systemic and no stop-gap measures that maintain the current bankrupt structure will be sufficient to resolve this crisis of the U.S. economic engine.
Today is my son's birthday. What a gift to the young people of this country if we were to present to them a clean break from the policies that produced this economic disaster, the "financial tsunami" that former Comptroller General David Walker warned us of so many months ago and instead offered them a U.S. economic superstructure that truly was their own.
Power to the People!
McKinney's running mate Rosa Clemente will be speaking at the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) Saturday, September 27th. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and he is also shut out of tonight's debate. Nader notes that, more than any cash infusion, the country needs leadership with spine:
Congress needs to show some backbone before the federal government pours more money on the financial bonfire started by the arsonists on Wall Street.
1.Congress should hold a series of hearings and invite broad public comment on any proposed bailout. Congress is supposed to be a co-equal branch of our federal government. It needs to stop the stampede to give Bush a $700 billion check. Public hearings should be held to determine what alternatives might exist to the four-page proposal advanced by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson.
2.Whatever is ultimately done, the bailout plan should not be insulated from judicial review. Remember there is a third co-equal branch of government: the judiciary. The judiciary does not need to review each buy-and-sell decision by the Treasury Department, but there should be some boundaries established to the Treasury Department's discretion. Judicial review is needed to ensure that unbridled discretion is not abused.
3.Sunlight is a good disinfectant. The bailout that is ultimately approved must provide for full and timely disclosure of all bailout details. This will discourage conflicts of interest and limit the potential of sweetheart deals.
4.Firms that accept government bailout monies must agree to disclose their transactions and be more honest in their accounting. They should agree to end off-the-books accounting maneuvers, for example.
5.Taxpayers must be protected by having a stake in any recovery. The bailout plan should provide opportunities for taxpayers to recoup funds that are made available to problem financial institutions, or to benefit from the financial institutions' rising stock price and increased profitability after being bailed out.
6.The current so-called "regulators" cannot be trusted. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), "the investigative arm of Congress" and "the congressional watchdog," must regularly review the bailout. We cannot trust the financial "regulators," who allowed the slide into financial disaster, to manage the bailout without outside monitoring.
7.It is time to put the federal cop back on the financial services beat. Strong financial regulations and independent regulators are necessary to rebuild trust in our financial institutions and to prevent further squandering of our tax dollars. The Justice Department and the SEC also need to scrutinize the expanding mess with an eye to uncovering corporate crime and misdeeds. Major news outlets are reporting that the FBI is investigating American International Group, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Lehman Brothers.
8.Cap executive compensation and stop giving the Wall Street gamblers golden parachutes. The CEOs who have created the financial disaster should not be allowed to leave with millions in hand when so many pensioners and small shareholders are seeing their investments evaporate. The taxpayers are bailing out Wall Street so that the financial system continues to function, not to further enrich the CEOs and executives who created this mess.
9.Congress should pass the Financial Consumers' Information and Representation Act, to permit citizens to form a federally-chartered nonprofit membership organization to strengthen consumer representation in government proceedings that concern the financial services industry. As the savings and loan disasters of the 1980s and the Wall Street debacles of the last few years have demonstrated, there is an overriding need for consumers and taxpayers to have the organized means to enhance their influence on financial issues.
10.The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, separating traditional banks from investment banks, helped pave the way for the current disaster. It is time to re-regulate the financial sector. The current crisis is also leading to even further conglomeration and concentration in the financial sector. We must revive and apply antitrust principles, so that banking consumers can benefit from competition and taxpayers are less vulnerable to too-big-to-fail institutions, which merge with each other to further concentration.
11.Congress should impose a securities and derivatives speculation tax. A tax on financial trading would slow down the churning of stocks and financial instruments, and could raise substantial monies to pay for the bailout.
12.Regulators should impose greater margin requirements, making speculators use more of their own money and diminishing reckless casino capitalism.
Ask your representative a few questions: "What should be done to limit banking institutions from investing in high-risk activities?" "What should be done to ensure banks are meeting proper capital standards given the financial quicksand that has spread as a result of the former Senator Phil Gramm's deregulation efforts?" And, "What is being done to protect small investors?"
P.S. Shareholders also have some work to do. They should have listened when Warren Buffett called securities derivatives a "time bomb" and "financial weapons of mass destruction." The Wall Street crooks and unscrupulous speculators use and draining of "other people's money" out of pension funds and mutual funds should motivate painfully passive shareholders to organize to gain greater authority to control the companies they own. Where is the shareholder uprising?
We've highlighted some of Jo Freeman's outstanding reporting on the 1976 political conventions recently. Freeman also covered this year's Democratic and Republican convention for Senior Women Web and you can find her articles here. We'll note this from her "Sarah Palin: A Risky Move and A Gift to the Women's Movement" (Senior Women Web):
Like Hillary's 2008 run for President, Ferraro's 1984 run for the second spot brought all sorts of sexism out of the closet. It was an eye-opener for everyone. In the end, this bold, risky choice didn't seem to affect the outcome. The exit polls showed that having a woman on the ticket was a prime concern for only a few. These voters about equally divided between those who told pollsters that they voted for a woman and those who said they voted against one.
Ferraro's candidacy had a bigger effect on those who answered the annual polling question (in a different poll): Would you vote for "a well-qualified woman of your own party for President"? After Ferraro a party gap appeared. Republicans were 50 percent more likely than Democrats to answer "No." Republicans have continued to say they would not vote for a well-qualified (but unnamed) woman for President at a much higher rate than Democrats.
Wonder what they will tell the pollsters this year?
Governor Sarah Palin is the v.p. nominee on the Republican ticket. Yesterday The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric aired the second part of Couric's interview with Palin. Excerpt:
Katie Couric: As we stand before this august building and institution, what do you see as the role of the United States in the world?
Sarah Palin: I see the United States as being a force for good in the world. And as Ronald Reagan used to talk about, America being the beacon of light and hope for those who are seeking democratic values and tolerance and freedom. I see our country being able to represent those things that can be looked to … as that leadership, that light needed across the world.
Couric: In preparing for this conversation, a lot of our viewers … and Internet users wanted to know why you did not get a passport until last year. And they wondered if that indicated a lack of interest and curiosity in the world.
Palin: I'm not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world. No, I've worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs all my life until I had kids. I was not a part of, I guess, that culture. The way that I have understood the world is through education, through books, through mediums that have provided me a lot of perspective on the world.
Part one aired Wednesday evening and both links have text and video. As Jo Freeman noted, Palin is following in Ferraro's footsteps (Palin has publicly acknowledged that and that she follows in Hillary Clinton's footsteps as well). Genevieve Roth (Glamour) spoke with Ferraro to get her tips for Palin and Ferraro offers many worthwhile reflections and suggestions but probably sums it up the best with this: "The bottom line is, Sarah Palin doesn't need advice from me or anyone. She wouldn't be in the position she's in if she wasn't able to deal with the campaign."
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