Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The "Wall Street coup" and other fallacies

Washington D.C.--I stayed offline yesterday assuming there would be hysteria, hyperbole, totally irrational debating over what's actually happening, and so on. I was correct.

Even Michael Moore was in on the whole "it's a coup" beat, but he means well and I understand the passions running riot at the moment. It's all understandable, but it's time to get a grip.
Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door. ...


Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.

The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone. ("The Rich Are Staging a Coup This Morning...," MichaelMoore.com, 09.29.2008)

Yeah, I wasn't missing much, and I love Michael Moore. Then, there are wack-jobs like Len Hart and Sherry Clark (both of whom might mean well, but...) over at OpEd News, a site whose demise couldn't come soon enough. Why? Exactly. Why give a wack-job a really big soapbox to stand on and raise all kinds of alarmist bells? Why not? Let these hysterical-types write on their own little sites only:

It is official. [Ed.--Says you.] The Constitu[t]ion has been suspended. Martial Law has been declared by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (before the market fell 800 points). This declaration of martial law is presumably in response to the [manufactured] financial crisis at hand.This may still be a "secret,"[Ed.--Ok, if it's a "secret" how do you know? You don't know, you're just grandstanding for attention.] but if Representative Michael Burgess is telling the truth, there are no longer three equal branches of government. [Ed.--It seems you place too much faith in the words of Republicans.] The United States is now under dictatorship. The 'Decider' is now the Dictator. ("Martial Law Declared in the United States?" Sherry Clark, OpEd News, 09.30.2008)
That's funny, since the president has obviously become ineffectual, afraid, and hardly looks like he has the support of anybody. Not from the military, not the media, and not from his own party. And yes, you noticed--as most Americans have--that Congress still passed the military budgets Bush wanted (but really, they all wanted it all along) as they usually do. But they weren't going to pass his bailout bill, undermining Clark's and others assertions of "a coup."It isn't just Michael Moore who's acting alarmist, he's got real competition from the likes of Ms. Clark, but at least Moore has calmed-down since the 29th, while Clark clearly has not.

In 1989, I saw his "Roger and Me" twice, but sometimes we are simply wrong. No, he's not wrong about the original Bush/GOP bailout plan being a ripoff that allows for things to stay the same and that these crooked firms and investors will walk away with a lot of money, that's accurate.

What he's wrong about is that it would be "a coup," which has been a foregone conclusion in this country for many decades. The truth is that America is a process, and an ideal to strive for. Liberty must be attained and held-onto tightly. The American public actually did act on this--belatedly--yesterday, calling and e-mailing their representatives over Monday's version of the bailout bill and that they didn't want it to pass. Not many do. The problem is significantly deeper.

The fact is, the free-market system doesn't work in America or anywhere else, which is why many of these firms were allowed to engage in the criminal behavior in the first place. The corruption is inherent to the system itself. But let's take it to a more understandable level: American businessmen at the upper-echelons simply aren't good at business and finance, have traditionally relied on government support if not bailouts, and can barely see past the financial quarter they're currently inhabiting. That's right, they're shortsighted. But don't tell that to the eternally greedy or paranoid, those who would bestow these current clowns on Wall Street--and Karl Rove--with the mantle of "genius," when times are good. That's as reactionary and shortsighted a response as you would expect from an investment banker.

There is no coup. It happened a long time ago--after the Civil War--when both parties sold themselves lock, stock, and barrel to concentrated banking and industrial might. Welcome to the real America--uh, Americans--you're finally figuring it out. You've lost your cherry.

Oh yes, yes, there's going to be yet another ridiculous version of a bailout plan coming this week. It won't do much for the public, and it's going to hand-over too much to Wall Street and all the other dirty lenders and investors...and it won't work. The reasons should be obvious: no fundamental change in the way things are done. This means a massive economic downturn as well.

You cannot expect criminals to charge and arrest themselves. Congress aided and abetted the current mess, and they're going to take the hit eventually, regardless of what gets passed. On September 24th, 2008, two hundred noted American economists sent this letter to Congress, meaning it was addressing "the Bush plan":

To the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate:

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.

Signed (updated at 9/27/2008 6:00PM CT)Acemoglu Daron (Massachussets Institute of Technology)
Ackerberg Daniel (UCLA)
Adler Michael (Columbia University)
Admati Anat R. (Stanford University)
Ales Laurence (Carnegie Mellon University)
Alexis Marcus (Northwestern University)
Alvarez Fernando (University of Chicago)
Andersen Torben (Northwestern University)
Baliga Sandeep (Northwestern University)
Banerjee Abhijit V. (Massachussets Institute of Technology)
Barankay Iwan (University of Pennsylvania)
Barry Brian (University of Chicago)
Bartkus James R. (Xavier University of Louisiana)
Becker Charles M. (Duke University)
Becker Robert A. (Indiana University)
Beim David (Columbia University)
Berk Jonathan (Stanford University)
Bisin Alberto (New York University)
Bittlingmayer George (University of Kansas)
Blank Emily (Howard University)
Boldrin Michele (Washington University)
Bollinger, Christopher R. (University of Kentucky)
Bossi, Luca (University of Miami)
Brooks Taggert J. (University of Wisconsin)
Brynjolfsson Erik (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Buera Francisco J.(UCLA)
Cabral Luis (New York University)
Camp Mary Elizabeth (Indiana University)
Carmel Jonathan (University of Michigan)
Carroll Christopher (Johns Hopkins University)
Cassar Gavin (University of Pennsylvania)
Chaney Thomas (University of Chicago)
Chari Varadarajan V. (University of Minnesota)
Chauvin Keith W. (University of Kansas)
Chintagunta Pradeep K. (University of Chicago)
Christiano Lawrence J. (Northwestern University)
Clementi, Gian Luca (New York University)
Cochrane John (University of Chicago)
Coleman John (Duke University)
Constantinides George M. (University of Chicago)
Cooley, Thomas (New York University)
Crain Robert (UC Berkeley)
Culp Christopher (University of Chicago)
Da Zhi (University of Notre Dame)
Darity, William (Duke University)
Davis Morris (University of Wisconsin)
De Marzo Peter (Stanford University)
Dubé Jean-Pierre H. (University of Chicago)
Edlin Aaron (UC Berkeley)
Eichenbaum Martin (Northwestern University)
Ely Jeffrey (Northwestern University)
Eraslan Hülya K. K.(Johns Hopkins University)
Fair Ray (Yale University)
Faulhaber Gerald (University of Pennsylvania)
Feldmann Sven (University of Melbourne)
Fernandez, Raquel (New York University)
Fernandez-Villaverde Jesus (University of Pennsylvania)
Fohlin Caroline (Johns Hopkins University)
Fox Jeremy T. (University of Chicago)
Frank Murray Z.(University of Minnesota)
Frenzen Jonathan (University of Chicago)
Fuchs William (University of Chicago)
Fudenberg Drew (Harvard University)
Gabaix Xavier (New York University)
Gao Paul (Notre Dame University)
Garicano Luis (University of Chicago)
Gerakos Joseph J. (University of Chicago)
Gibbs Michael (University of Chicago)
Glomm Gerhard (Indiana University)
Goettler Ron (University of Chicago)
Goldin Claudia (Harvard University)
Gordon Robert J. (Northwestern University)
Greenstone Michael (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Gregory, Karl D. (Oakland University)
Guadalupe Maria (Columbia University)
Guerrieri Veronica (University of Chicago)
Hagerty Kathleen (Northwestern University)
Hamada Robert S. (University of Chicago)
Hansen Lars (University of Chicago)
Harris Milton (University of Chicago)
Hart Oliver (Harvard University)
Hazlett Thomas W. (George Mason University)
Heaton John (University of Chicago)
Heckman James (University of Chicago - Nobel Laureate)
Henderson David R. (Hoover Institution)
Henisz, Witold (University of Pennsylvania)
Hertzberg Andrew (Columbia University)
Hite Gailen (Columbia University)
Hitsch Günter J. (University of Chicago)
Hodrick Robert J. (Columbia University)
Hollifield Burton (Carnegie Mellon University)
Hopenhayn Hugo (UCLA)
Hurst Erik (University of Chicago)
Imrohoroglu Ayse (University of Southern California)
Isakson Hans (University of Northern Iowa)
Israel Ronen (London Business School)
Jaffee Dwight M. (UC Berkeley)
Jagannathan Ravi (Northwestern University)
Jenter Dirk (Stanford University)
Jones Charles M. (Columbia Business School)
Jovanovic Boyan (New York University)
Kaboski Joseph P. (Ohio State University)
Kahn Matthew (UCLA)
Kaplan Ethan (Stockholm University)
Karaivanov Alexander (Simon Fraser University)
Karolyi, Andrew (Ohio State University)
Kashyap Anil (University of Chicago)
Keim Donald B (University of Pennsylvania)
Ketkar Suhas L (Vanderbilt University)
Kiesling Lynne (Northwestern University)
Klenow Pete (Stanford University)
Koch Paul (University of Kansas)
Kocherlakota Narayana (University of Minnesota)
Koijen Ralph S.J. (University of Chicago)
Kondo Jiro (Northwestern University)
Korteweg Arthur (Stanford University)
Kortum Samuel (University of Chicago)
Krueger Dirk (University of Pennsylvania)
Ledesma Patricia (Northwestern University)
Lee Lung-fei (Ohio State University)
Leeper Eric M. (Indiana University)
Letson David (University of Miami)
Leuz Christian (University of Chicago)
Levine David I.(UC Berkeley)
Levine David K.(Washington University)
Levy David M. (George Mason University)
Linnainmaa Juhani (University of Chicago)
Lott John R. Jr. (University of Maryland)
Lucas Robert (University of Chicago - Nobel Laureate)
Ludvigson, Sydney C. (New York University)
Luttmer Erzo G.J. (University of Minnesota)
Manski Charles F. (Northwestern University)
Martin Ian (Stanford University)
Mayer Christopher (Columbia University)
Mazzeo Michael (Northwestern University)
McDonald Robert (Northwestern University)
Meadow Scott F. (University of Chicago)
Meeropol, Michael (Western New England College)
Mehra Rajnish (UC Santa Barbara)
Mian Atif (University of Chicago)
Middlebrook Art (University of Chicago)
Miguel Edward (UC Berkeley)
Miravete Eugenio J. (University of Texas at Austin)
Miron Jeffrey (Harvard University)
Moeller, Thomas (Texas Christian University)
Moretti Enrico (UC Berkeley)
Moriguchi Chiaki (Northwestern University)
Moro Andrea (Vanderbilt University)
Morse Adair (University of Chicago)
Mortensen Dale T. (Northwestern University)
Mortimer Julie Holland (Harvard University)
Moskowitz, Tobias J. (University of Chicago)
Munger Michael C. (Duke University)
Muralidharan Karthik (UC San Diego)
Nair Harikesh (Stanford University)
Nanda Dhananjay (University of Miami)
Nevo Aviv (Northwestern University)
Ohanian Lee (UCLA)
Pagliari Joseph (University of Chicago)
Papanikolaou Dimitris (Northwestern University)
Parker Jonathan (Northwestern University)
Paul Evans (Ohio State University)
Pearce David (New York University)
Pejovich Svetozar (Steve) (Texas A&M University)
Peltzman Sam (University of Chicago)
Perri Fabrizio (University of Minnesota)
Phelan Christopher (University of Minnesota)
Piazzesi Monika (Stanford University)
Pippenger, Michael K. (University of Alaska)
Piskorski Tomasz (Columbia University)
Platt Brennan C. (Brigham Young University)
Rampini Adriano (Duke University)
Ray, Debraj (New York University)
Reagan Patricia (Ohio State University)
Reich Michael (UC Berkeley)
Reuben Ernesto (Northwestern University)
Rizzo, Mario (New York University)
Roberts Michael (University of Pennsylvania)
Robinson David (Duke University)
Rogers Michele (Northwestern University)
Rotella Elyce (Indiana University)
Roussanov Nikolai (University of Pennsylvania)
Routledge Bryan R. (Carnegie Mellon University)
Ruud Paul (Vassar College)
Safford Sean (University of Chicago)
Samaniego Roberto (George Washington University)
Sandbu Martin E. (University of Pennsylvania)
Sapienza Paola (Northwestern University)
Savor Pavel (University of Pennsylvania)
Schaniel William C. (University of West Georgia)
Scharfstein David (Harvard University)
Seim Katja (University of Pennsylvania)
Seru Amit (University of Chicago)
Shang-Jin Wei (Columbia University)
Shimer Robert (University of Chicago)
Shore Stephen H. (Johns Hopkins University)
Siegel Ron (Northwestern University)
Smith David C. (University of Virginia)
Smith Vernon L.(Chapman University- Nobel Laureate)
Sorensen Morten (Columbia University)
Spatt Chester (Carnegie Mellon University)
Spear Stephen (Carnegie Mellon University)
Stevenson Betsey (University of Pennsylvania)
Stokey Nancy (University of Chicago)
Strahan Philip (Boston College)
Strebulaev Ilya (Stanford University)
Sufi Amir (University of Chicago)
Tabarrok Alex (George Mason University)
Taylor Alan M. (UC Davis)
Thompson Tim (Northwestern University)
Troske Kenneth (University of Kentucky)
Tschoegl Adrian E. (University of Pennsylvania)
Uhlig Harald (University of Chicago)
Ulrich, Maxim (Columbia University)
Van Buskirk Andrew (University of Chicago)
Vargas Hernan (University of Phoenix)
Veronesi Pietro (University of Chicago)
Vissing-Jorgensen Annette (Northwestern University)
Wacziarg Romain (UCLA)
Walker Douglas O. (Regent University)
Walker, Todd (Indiana University)
Weill Pierre-Olivier (UCLA)
Williamson Samuel H. (Miami University)
Witte Mark (Northwestern University)
Wolfenzon, Daniel (Columbia University)
Wolfers Justin (University of Pennsylvania)
Woutersen Tiemen (Johns Hopkins University)
Wu Yangru (Rutgers University)
Yue Vivian Z. (New York University)
Zingales Luigi (University of Chicago)
Zitzewitz Eric (Dartmouth College)


This is all extremely serious. But hey, these academics were part of the creation of this mess too having helped provide the theoretical-basis for such unscrupulous economic policies and practices (note that they went to the troubled to defend the entire doctrinal underpinning of the economic order in their statement), but a little CYA doesn't hurt.

With the public angry--and getting angrier every day--you have to have all your bases covered. As we should all know, any given country is just three meals away from insurrection, but what if the cable goes out? What if there's no electricity? Americans tend to explode over these things, nevermind losing all of their savings, their jobs, and any other form of income. That's more than just a crisis, it's a threshold moment where things are never going to be quite the same again. The opportunities for substantial change are immense, but...

This contention of a "coup" just seems to be coming from out of nowhere, it makes no sense, and frankly stinks of panic and misinformation.

If you have working eyes, ears, and the ability to comprehend, you can hear the fear in the voices of the politicians and see it in their eyes. Sec. of the Treasury Henry Paulson shows every sign of the hunted man or someone who knows that bookie is coming to collect. President George W. Bush shows every sign of being absolutely terrified and worn-down by the potential of all of this--namely impeachment hearings, prosecutions, no more media protection, no more backing on Capitol Hill (already a fait accompli), and so on.

No, if anything, "the coup" is dying a very rapid death at its own hands. "The coup" began long before 2000, well before the disastrous tenure of George W. Bush, having its roots in the sale of poisoned whiskey to Native Americans, the swindling of their lands, and the exploitation of Black Americans and the rest of the working-class for generations. This took-on a very strong inertia after the American Civil War, turning former slaves and yeoman farmers into "wage-slaves" for an industrialized North, chaining us all through the shortsighted machinations of Wall Street and Washington to consumer products.

Welcome to reality, Americans, it's been waiting for you. "It doesn't affect me," won't float anymore, and that's a good thing. Now it does "affect you," and there's nothing anyone can do except to confront it. Both parties made this mess, but the GOP pushed for no oversight into our financial markets, and they still are. That should tell everyone how to vote on November 4.

Postscript, 11.17.2008: Naomi Klein was also putting-out those "coup rumors" at the same time. Get a grip people. Klein's cute, and I'm sure some of what she writes in her best selling paranoia tomes is right, and she's from Toronto, so I'm predisposed to like her. Still, this shit is wrong, it's reactionary, and it makes me wonder if these folks are turning-into Father Coughlin and Huey Long, it's wacky.

Hey, Klein's been on Alex Jone's radio show, so she must have something wrong with her. She's cute like a lot of Canadian women are, though, and she's got a cute ass, and I have a yen for Jewish girls. Take Jones seriously? You gotta be kiddin' me, man. Even when he's right, he's wrong, and when he's really right, it's a statistical error and basically on-accident. Money--that's what it''s all about, so go do the hokey-pokey and throw Alex some dough. You ain't got any in the "new economy"? At least he and his ilk lose. "Schadenfreude"? Ja, schadenfreudengasm.

Postscript and correction 02.18.2009: The actual offender here was Naomi Wolf, not Klein! However, Klein's own recent writings support this kind of contention, and I disagree with her overall analysis on "disaster capitalism," one could apply it to numerous other forms of economy and civilization at various points in human history. When things are destroyed, you rebuild, or you don't have a civilization or a system left anymore.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

$700 Billion bailout plan online!

Washington D.C.
--Now quick kids, go get your Dick Tracy decoder-ring, some 3-D glasses, and some very strong hallucinogens, or the plan won't make any sense.

Listen to what the critics are saying about this exciting new motion picture:

"This is the same politics of fear we're hearing from the financial fat cats on Wall Street."
--Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tx.)

"The $700 billion bailout is driven by fear, not fact."
--Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.)

"We've made great progress."
--House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.)

"These criminals have so much political power they can shut down the normal legislative process."
--Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Oh.)

"I think we're there."
--Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson

"This morning we should be very much alarmed."
--Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.)

"I think the devil is in the details."
--Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.)

That's right, there is no fucking deal on the Wall Street bailout. In just moments, the Asian markets will open with no solid deal in either house of Congress because you have both parties throwing the hot-potato back at each other, back-and-forth. This makes sense when you understand that both parties are to blame for the mess. Meanwhile, the effect on global markets will continue unabated. Belgium's financial giant Fortis is soon to go the way of WaMu, Merrill-Lynch, Wachovia, Ameribank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and all the others coming soon to a theater near you.

But you have to hand it to the GOP, they pushed for all of this deregulation so that we could all be Socialists sooner, though the wealthy in America were the first on the block with one. And boy, aren't the McProgressive ™ sites becoming shriller and shriller as they sink? Hey, would-be power brokers who wanted to be Henry Kissinger or Ari Emanuel aren't going to have their day.

Sad, I know, but perhaps some of them will finally understand that the internet, the blogs, e-mail are replacing them--it's all a push towards a democratization of information that they all despise and loathe. And why would academics be quiet on this front either?

Now, the public can easily find-out and access most of the same information they had almost exclusively at their fingertips not so long ago. Yes, it's sad to come to the realization that it's not about ourselves--dummy--but the entire human family. Not the career, not the moronically narrow lifestyles, not the greed, not the "stuff," or even how many people you had sex with. No, not even that, tricks are for kids of every age.

But what is all of this...really?

That's right: it's that proverbial "invisible-hand of the marketplace" shoving itself up your conceited asses, free marketers, right where it belongs. It's come home to roost. All hail the Great God Pan.

The High Cost of Deregulation:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The bailout negotiations, sex-for-contracts, and getting laid in D.C.

Washington D.C.--Why would anyone expect the people who created this mess in the first place to act otherwise? One of the things to appreciate in all of this is that apathetic Americans are finally all affected by the corruption in Congress, the White House, and in the judiciary. There's nowhere left to run and hide, responsibility is coming. Lies won't do it. Threats won't work. Everyone sees-through the manipulations now. For all these reasons, the Spitzer scandal deserves a radical reappraisal in the context of our current economic crisis.

As New York's state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer went a very long way indeed in apprehending white collar criminals on Wall Street. In fact, he was so good that these same individuals and institutions pulled-strings in Washington D.C. to see if someone was already surveilling the attorney general, then known as "the Sheriff of Wall Street." Ah, but they almost always are, as Senator David Vitter discovered in the summer of 2007. Yet, Vitter escaped Spitzer's fate. Why is that? Besides the fact that he's an obvious egomaniac with delusions of adequacy, someone had his back. That doesn't speak well of New York Democratic Party leadership and their own relationship with Wall Street, not at all. What you have here is a bipartisan form of political corruption with numerous compromised players, just everywhere.

Yet it's worse than that for those hoping for some real solution to the problem of corruption on Wall Street. The perpetrators want to blame those who discovered the bad investments in the first place:
"It's easy to blame accounting because it doesn't fight back," said Jack Ciesielski, author of the Analyst's Accounting Observer, a financial newsletter. "Now that there's somebody out there putting some light on the financials, it's shoot the messenger."

Lynn E. Turner, a former SEC chief accountant, said he remembered fielding questions about the accounting provision six months ago from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

"What the banks are telling everyone is that the accounting has caused the problem," Turner said. "The only thing fair-value accounting did is force you to tell investors you made a bunch of very bad loans."("Wall St. Points to Disclosure As Issue," The Wall Street Journal, 09.23.2008)

But these same elements--again, we'll say that they're "bipartisan" in their corruption--couldn't get Spitzer on anything until his own sexual indiscretions got caught on the FBI's radar. One could even imagine the taps were done as part of the war on terror, a catch-all excuse to spy on one's political enemies, and practiced by both major political parties. When you're doing these things when you're in power, oversight is not desirable, hence we get none with the FBI and other police agencies.

And so finally, someone did answer-back to these unknown business and finance criminals from their field outpost that they had Spitzer on some surveillance logs, cherry-picked with tenderness and care so that the GOP's own wouldn't be caught-up in the net and the inevitable press coverage. Hey, wouldn't you? Why sure you would, quit shitting yourself. So, they--some of whom must surely populate the ranks of the now-dead financial institutions these days, some still standing--got their man, namely Eliot Spitzer. Why? Spitzer wasn't going to stop the investigations into Wall Street, naturally, and he was now governor. Who needs rules? That's for the public. As we know, former Governor Spitzer had a problem over "getcha little somethin' that you can't get at home," like the aforementioned Sen. David Vitter, a Republican. We've had a lot of selective investigation and prosecution under the Bush II administration, but knowing this takes some deduction and investigation on-the-part of the public, never mind the press's coverage and their take on these stories, which was absurdly narrow. None of this is news to this writer.

My own experience with the Palfrey scandal has taught me the hard lesson that the press often don't want to know the details about corruption and that they're being leaned-on heavily not to look too closely into such stories by editors and ownership. In the context of all of this, it should be crystal-clear these days that the prosecution of Deborah Jeane Palfrey was damage control by an already embattled political and economic establishment. The Bush administration were merely the expediters for someone else, and it all could have happened under a Democratic presidential administration that controlled the Justice Department. That's how entrenched the corruption is, and has been for some time.

With the recent revelations of sex-for-contracts at offices of the Interior Department in Colorado and in Washington D.C., Palfrey's stories about Brent Wilkes, Randy Cunningham, and even Shirlington Limo don't seem so wild any more. While it's true that she didn't know exactly what was in her phone records, she did make what I believe was a valid claim to have spoken with Brent Wilkes on a few occasions over the telephone. He's hardly the only shady government contractor in her phone records, however, and there are many others waiting to be discovered.

Some researchers have probably already found all of the realtors that pepper the phone records of Pamela Martin & Associates, making for a charming snapshot of a totally corrupt boom period. The bailout, the bailout, I know. It's the coda to all of this. Had Palfrey waited long enough, she might have lived to see the system that had judged her collapse. What I find surprising is that some of the other members of the Palfrey defense team from the Sibley period are so silent about these possible connections to the financial scandal, and others. I question their sincerity in these areas. Perhaps they're biding-their-time for that big book with HarperCollins, Knopf, Time-Warner (TV rights! coffee table books, Amway product tie-ins!), or some other gargantuan conglomerate that threatens to topple in the current economic climate anyway. Who knows? Better spend that money while it's worth something, a certainty.

The need for a bailout came from this whole mess of corruption surrounding the political process and its intersections with the business and financial world.That's right, the world of lobbying.
Some Democrats still want a provision allowing bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgages to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Thune said that would be "a deal-breaker" for Republicans.

The compromise legislation that seemed to be emerging Saturday "is not the proposal that we got from Secretary Paulson," Reid said. But lawmakers said it would be much closer to Paulson's original plan than to the alternative offered by House Republicans several days ago. ("Senate leader: Significant progress on bailout," AP, 09.27.2008)

Why should the public get something for nothing when that's the traditional role of corrupt American business? It's all about the lobbying, and as Brent Wilkes showed, many of these government contractors do their own lobbying which often includes getting people laid.

We need to start asking the question: How widespread are these corrupt practices in the halls of Congress, in the bureaucracy itself in the form of crony appointees, and the White House? The intersections are everywhere in this, and yes, even in the sexual ones. A bailout isn't going to fix entrenched-corruption or a political culture rife with it. This opens-up terrifying implications that most of us suspected all-along about American civilization.

If the system isn't run on merit--something most of us likely knew a long time ago--what holds it all together? It doesn't appear to be business acumen, so what is it? These are the same kinds of issues that appeared in the collapse of the Soviet system. After this kind of connections-based crony-capitalism proliferates to a point, does it implode? How do you "fix" such a system if it's just going to keep perpetuating the same old mistakes over-and-over as part of how it's able to exist at all? At the end, then, it's all based on the belief of the public in that order, and that belief is eroding rapidly. There's every good reason for it to do this, namely from a lack-of-accountability in the halls of business and government. All they're trying to do in Washington is to bail themselves out, ultimately. Being mostly criminals, they will fail in this endeavor, the crisis will deepen, and objective-reality will correct things. The public is part of that reality.

Eventually, certain mechanisms of law and order are likely to kick-in. If this doesn't occur, then the chances of insurrection are substantial, and there is no military force on this earth that's capable of pacifying even half of the American public if they are up-in-arms over the way things are bound to be headed. The examples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and just about every popular uprising prove that it's an unwinnable situation. Welcome back history, we missed you.

"Wall St. Points to Disclosure As Issue," The Wall Street Journal, 09.23.2008: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/22/AR2008092202688.html

"Senate leader: Significant progress on bailout," AP, 09.27.2008:

Friday, September 26, 2008

The joy of watching the politicians (and pundits) frightened

Washington D.C.--Yes, the bailout is utter bullshit. Yes, we've all been had. No, it's not a "coup d'etat," but that's the message I'm getting from much of the reactionary left as well as the right.

A message to you all: you couldn't me more off-the-mark, but that's because of your ignorance of American history, a result of our wonderful consumer culture where we only fixate on one thing at a time, living in an eternal present without any past or future. How many times do I and others have to tell you that this economic system doesn't work? But on to other irrational notions held by those who should know better...

This absolutely idiotic, baseless notion that we're experiencing a "coup" (too late! that was 2000, you seem to have missed it) is more than a little belated. What it has to do with the fact that the GOP, the White House, and congressional Democrats have wrecked the economy because they could and now don't know how to fix it without giving the public something in-return, escapes me. When you see those in power losing control of things and you start shouting "coup," it obvious you get nothing about our history or the political situation anywhere. It suggests no viable framework of thinking, assuming there's one there.

One thing is certain--most of you out there just don't get it at all. This--I believe--comes from buying into various hollow values that come with having some kind of a stake or a perceived share in this irrational mess of an economy. Luckily, I don't share in this, and have never wanted a stake in what can only be described as a festering pile of bullshit and lies. Fine, continue lying to yourselves that "they're taking over" and that you don't own a share of this stinking-mess. You do. Panicking: It's not going to change anything or what happens next. It will only make matters worse. There are alternatives...

The first is to admit that the free market system doesn't work anymore and that a new day is dawning in America where "business as usual" won't cut it. This means a new work ethic where work is meaningful, not wasteful, and has some logical use for people. It means "ownership" of commodities, agricultural-tracts, mineral wealth, and all the others means of production in America, need to truly be owned by the "little guy," not corporations. It means an end to letting corporations exist legally as "private individuals."

Additionally, it's time that Americans were finally paid a living-wage, had a single-payer health care system, progressive taxation where the rich finally pay their share (or get out), and a nationalization of the major business, banking, and financial industries who cannot be trusted any longer in the same role in our economy. They have all been irresponsible for too long, and it's over. Reform is coming if you want it. If not, panic with the rest of the morons out there and accomplish nothing, be demoralized, give-up. You must be used to it, so why change now?

None of this is to suggest that we shouldn't be bailing-out home owners--we should be, and it should be the first and tallest of orders in Washington right now. As we know, the Republicans are damned if they do and damned if they don't on this, and will vigorously fight any social agenda or social dividend. If they bailout the banks and the financial institutions, they get stuck with the socialism label. If they bailout home owners, their ostensible backers, bitter boot-straps conservatives, and the rest of the wacko right-fringe will hit them over abandoning conservatism.

Actually, in both cases, the GOP's representatives are going to be accused of abandoning conservatism, which is more than appropriate. They literally don't know what to do except to hand the windfalls of a bailout to the private sector...except that the public isn't having it, not even their normally supplicant voting base.

What they're up against in Washington--and everywhere in America--is something they haven't seen in 100 years: a broad-based Populism that knows no ideological boundaries rather than the usual division Washington's political elites are used to manipulating. The game has changed radically, and overnight. Thanks George, thanks GOP. Those of us on the genuine progressive-tip couldn't have done it without you.

A coup? They cannot agree on Capitol Hill exactly what the bailout is even going to look like. If it's anything, we're seeing the collapse of a political culture under it's own weight and paradoxes. At no point has anyone shown me anything of the remotest credibility to show that this current order is anything but on-the-ropes right now. Give me a break. Honestly, if you're that frightened, move to Sweden or Australian (somewhere soft), they've beaten you down with fear so much that you don't know any other reaction these days. There's only one word for this kind of thinking, and that's cowardice in the face of victory for the average person. You really do fear real liberty, and it's sad.

Yet, today, I'm watching the Republican minority leader surrounded by his posse, having their press conference on the Hill--and there's that same look of fear in their eyes. OK, the wackos are shitting themselves that "There's a coup, there's a coup!" and then we have these very frightened politicians who have that deer in the headlights countenance, saying that "The Democratic leaders ganged-up on us at the White House meeting [over the bailout agreement]," and you see that they're all part of the same cowardly American mindset.

This stance is reactionary, cowardly, irresponsible, and not constructive. At its core it's childish, as one would expect from the average pampered American asshole.

But I have to love it all too. Watching the congressional GOP's incumbents eying those used car lots that they're all going to be returning to is going to be worth 100,000 Hoovervilles. If you saw the potential of their return to permanent minority-status for another five decades as I and others do, you wouldn't be so "scared." I don't think it's going to end there, though.

Both major parties could take a major-hit over this, which offers an opening for third parties to come in. To waste that opportunity would be irresponsible, but it appears more of us are getting this point. Ralph Nader's popularity is constantly growing, and other third party candidates are going to benefit from the current political climate. This climate isn't going to end anytime soon. The real losers will be the Republicans.

What I'm saying is that the Republican Party is going to be destroyed by this economic crash. The best part is that they're going to take several notable Democratic Party incumbents who were involved with this extraordinary corruption down with them. We almost got this with "Hookergate" and the Palfrey scandal, but this time it's going to stick (and Palfrrey is going to continue to deliver from the grave). Why is that?

Because not one plan that they float out there is going to work. Why? Neither party wants the public to experience a real windfall from any of this, and that's what all of us are poised to do if they bailout the American homeowner. That would mean a very real "New Deal," which is the opposite of their and their wealthy backers' agenda.

There will be some minor-bailouts of homeowners and some judicial and exectuive revisions of mortgages statutes to buy them some more time. That's not going to be enough either. The only answer will be giving these homes to people and creating a new generation of American homeowners. That can only be good for the economy. Otherwise, there's no "disposable income," just a mass population of people who not only cannot fill their tanks to get to work, but tens of millions of them without any income at all. Sound sustainable?

The politicians know this. They know that no matter what they do, the public will benefit in some way from it. This is why the GOP won't commit to any version of the bailout legislation yet. Conversely, they have no real choice and have lost one of their most powerful rhetorical-weapons in the legislative process: that the Democrats are dragging the process out. We all know it's the GOP, they can't hide this fact anymore.

If you don't see the mess that the people with power and privilege are in right now, you cannot see the opportunities that are there, waiting to be exploited by a steady, committed, informed, and reasonable populace. My feeling is that this reactionary crowd who are crowing that "it's a coup" are in-the-minority. We had better hope so, because without cooperation, trust, and solidarity, we're lost. These folks will shoulder a lot of the blame of any failure. Democracy: it's not for cowards.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The AP: Defining Bush so you don't have to!

Washington D.C.--The hacks at AP just seem to want to anger me and the rest of America with their constant insults to our collective-intelligence (admittedly low). Today's movement came over Bush's legacy. But the AP's Ben Feller seems to have inhabited another world than the rest of us since 2000, making some odd observations that probably contain editorial distortions (his boss made him write other contradictory lines into it):
Yet there is time left to shape how Bush's tenure will be defined. No matter how much his administration raised warnings about risks in the financial system, no matter how much the private sector is the one that went off the rails, one of the biggest financial crises in generations still happened on Bush's watch.("Analysis: Bailout blues may help to define Bush term," AP, 09.24.2008)
We must have missed all of those warnings. Was it "code red" on Fridays? Who can remember? If this financial disaster spawned by changing financial regulations and laws and weakening government regulation of the market was the only thing that "happened on Bush's watch," we'd all be a lot freer, safer, and saner. But it isn't. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 should be viewed in the same light as the market crash that was fostered by other Bush II administration's inaction and negligence.

Add to this the warrantless surveillance program now legalized retroactively by Congress just a few-months-ago, all of the endless military appropriations by them for the pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the illegal kidnapping and torture of terrorism-suspects, Guantanamo Bay, Abu-Ghraib, ENRON, the still-classified 2001 Energy policy meetings, the Plame scandal, Mark Foley, Randall "Duke" Cunningham, "Hookergate,"David Vitter, Jack Abramoff...getting tired reading the list yet? The list of GOP wrongdoing is unimaginably long, twisted, and perverse in every sense.

The ostensible president will be attempting speech again tonight. He won't have anything of any substance to say. Watch porn. Watch Rocky Horror for the 100th time. Eat. Pick your teeth. It doesn't matter what he says, only what he's done. George W. Bush allowed this mess to become what it has, and now he wants us to let him off-the-hook. We likely will--being the cowards that we are as a nation--do just that.

The problem is, the bailout's not likely to work, though we're probably going to see some forestalled justice here as a result. Some frontier justice sounds good, but this all has to be aboveboard, otherwise we become like the criminals we're now witnessing the downfall of. Events have a way of their own, and not even corruption can stop the inevitable crashing of a hollow ideology against the real world.

This current economic chaos is reminiscent of the Soviet Union's system which collapsed because of similar distortions in its "core-tenets" (collectivization, but really an authoritarian forced-production based partly on Frederick Taylor's "scientific management") that had formerly--and barely--worked for a time. The same could be said of this system. The problem is more fundamental. Eventually, the anarchy of power pushes most systems to the brink, so they do end. Contrary to former belief, the men and women of Wall Street aren't gods. But forget those assholes--the aftermath is what's important, and it's up to the average person to do their best to ensure that we all stay within the law and to keep pushing for what helps the common good. Continued lying isn't going to help these scoundrels anymore, but they've had help in that area for ages.

Not even the media are going to put Humpty together again. Perception only goes so far until the reality on the ground corrects everything.

On that note, the press has done a terrible job in informing us about this corruption and protecting us from it by sounding the alarms. Rather, they have fed the misinformation of the public and still are. Yet, we were always going to find-out in the end, and keeping us in the dark won't work these days. It's one of those rare historical moments where the scales fall off of the eyes of the people. What we do with this knowledge is what counts the most. We weren't warned and accountability wasn't there.

Congress has also failed in this key area, and so has the Supreme Court. All the AP article today attempted to do was to limit the parameters of the debate and how George W. Bush is defined. They failed.

"Analysis: Bailout blues may help to define Bush term," AP, 09.24.2008: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080924/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush_bailout_blues

Songs from the Site Meter: Severna, Maryland...who are you?

Site Meter--Throughout the whole Palfrey affair, they were there. Who? Someone hitting this site from Severna, Maryland, over-and-over again. This has gone on for over one year.

Any guesses? One guess of mine is that it's the indefatigable Montgomery Blair Sibley, currently writing his account of his own extensive contact with the Palfrey case.

There's also the possibility that it's someone from Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe, one of the largest law firms in the world, a major government contractor...like most of the over 800 names found in the subpoenaed Verizon phone records of the late Jeane Palfrey. Like who?

As a matter of fact, kids, like ASRC Constructors Inc., connected to Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, now on trial for corruption charges, the subject that was searched on google by the visitor below. That's why it's probably Sibely, but could be other interested parties close to the Palfrey scandal. An added-note to this theme: I found other minority-owned contractors in the research we did for Ms. Palfrey, a pattern of it, and more, much more.

Current Palfrey Estate attorney Preston Burton is a partner in the firm, meaning he's virtually a co-owner, if not entirely so. But when is that ever enough? Some sources say that Mr. Burton wants to be appointed as a federal judge in the near future. Now, this wouldn't have affected his demeanor during the legal proceedings and trial of the late Ms. Palfrey, would it? I don't know, you tell me. Then, there's the fact that a number of Orrick's behind-the-scenes legal maneuvering does nothing less than to protect former clients of the deceased DC Madam. Why is that? Ah, but Mr. Burton's not very forthcoming or talkative. My own hunch is that that's a wise move on his part.

Domain Name
verizon.net ? (Network)
IP Address
71.179.98.# (Verizon Internet Services)
Verizon Internet Services
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Maryland
City : Severna Park
Lat/Long : 39.0735, -76.5654 (Map)
English (U.S.)
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Microsoft WinXP
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version 1.3
Resolution : 1024 x 768
Color Depth : 32 bits
Time of Visit
Sep 25 2008 3:27:37 am
Last Page View
Sep 25 2008 3:29:04 am
Visit Length
1 minute 27 seconds
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http://www.google.co...l ASRC&start=70&sa=N
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illegal asrc
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http://chickasawpick...RC Constructors Inc.
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"Daddy wants to fuck," by The Uncredible Duke

Ed.--Good to see you back, Duke!
Ladies, you can never be "one of the guys." We know it hurts, so just get over it, will ya? That's the point. Jesus. ;0)

Okay, so I promised to tell you this story. I hope it isn't too boring. This goes back to my days at Ball State University. I was always too smart for my own good, and not half as smart as I thought I was. I still am sometimes, but I'm trying a little harder to keep it in-check. I lived in an apartment with three other guys, and we were all very bohemian.

We wore black leather motorcycle jackets, even though none of us drove motorcycles. We were all intellectuals. But we were all sort of "bullyish" too. We didn't go around threatening people, but people THOUGHT we did. And we didn't really terrorize too many people, it was all just a pose, really. We were bullies in one respect: we were intellectual bullies. We were conversational bullies, if that makes any sense, and we loved to be shocking. We'd do things that would get reactions out of people.

So that's the first part of the story.

The next part is... I stopped buying text books about my third year of college. I was hitting the old man up of cash for text books one day, and he said, "I never had any of the books when I was in college. I just paid attention." And then I thought about it. The truth was, in my first two years of university, I had always BOUGHT the books. But, like Dad, I paid attention in class, and I never really used the books. (Note, I was a communications major, and liberal arts aren't all "facty" like science and medical fields), I had discovered that the Ball State Library had most of our textbooks in regular rotation, AND if you got there early enough you could just check the dang thing out for the semester. So I did this in classes which I absolutely needed the book. This leads us to...

Film Genres 301 (or some such) taught by Wes Goering. Goering was very odd. [Ed.--And he had an unfortunate last-name. Why do I think he was ugly as well?] In his late forties or early- fifties at the time. He had written a couple of books about the Marx Brothers, and he sort of resembled Groucho, but in a more Germanic sort of way. You would think he would be really wacky, but he was very very square. Or at least so eccentric as to come-off as being very square. A very "just the facts, ma'am." sort of professor, although he would utter a profanity from time to time. [Ed.--You gotta give him credit for this.]

Well, old Wes had produced and edited the textbook for Film Genres. He wrote the chapter on screwball comedies, and he had other people write the other chapters, but he was getting most of the cash. The college book stores sell used text-books, but only if they get permission from the author or a publisher. Guess who wouldn't give them permission? WES! AND it was the most expensive book I ever had for any of my classes. AND he made sure that the library's copy was reference-only and could not be checked out. [Ed.--I would have made 1,000-copies and distributed them to everyone with a pulse. Thank God for the internet--all I'm sayin.'] Whenever we would have a writing assignment, his only criticism of my work was always, "I would have liked to see more reference to the text." [Ed.--Right, HIS dumbass book. Why didn't this asshole marry himself?!] YEAH! Because I don't HAVE the text.

So we have to choose a film, and write a paper describing it the terms of a film genre. It didn't have to be something that was strictly, say, a western, or a horror. It just had to cross over into that genre enough for your analysis.

I chose to write about Blue Velvet, as a dark comedy. My paper was entitled "Daddy Wants to Fuck!" I got a C+, and got comments like "would've liked to see more from the text" and "I'm not really sure this fits."

I don't know if you've seen Blue Velvet. But it is somewhat disturbing. In fact, some find it very disturbing. It's...I guess you'd call it a psychological thriller. But here I was writing about how funny it is, throwing the f-word around fairly freely. I'm pretty certain Wes looked at me a little differently from then on. But I still think it's funny, especially the looks on the faces of my classmates when they saw the title of the paper I was turning in--AND the looks on their faces when they saw the graded paper returned. LOL

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Nader/Gonzales campaign on the current economic downturn, September 21, 2008

Ralph Nader for President 2008

September 21, 2008

William Greider put it best yesterday when he called Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's upcoming bailout of Wall Street: "All sugar for the villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims."

"As I have been saying for several months, this crisis has the potential to bring down one or both political parties, take your choice," Greider said.

And investment analyst Christopher Whalen chimed in:

"The joyous reception from Congressional Democrats to Paulson's latest massive bailout proposal smells an awful lot like yet another corporatist lovefest between Washington's one-party government and the Sell Side investment banks."

Strip aside the rhetoric of the two major parties.

And what is left is one party devoted to Wall Street.

Who represents Main Street?


So, why is that when the Presidential debates open this Friday, only Wall Street will be in the ring?

And the man who predicted the disaster of deregulation is out?

Because the Commission on Presidential Debates is controlled by the two parties and funded by the corporations.

That's why we're sponsoring a National Day of Action to Open the Debates.

This Thursday, September 25, 2008, the day before the first debate.

Once again the Commission intends to silence the majority of Americans by shutting out Nader/Gonzalez from the debates.

We're asking all of our supporters to get ready.

Because on Thursday, there are four ways you can take action to Open Up the Debates.

1. Write

Letters to the editor, to your friends, family and anyone in your address book, companies and corporations who sponsor the presidential debates.

2. Phone

The Commission on Presidential Debates, Obama and McCain Campaigns, Talk Shows, Newspapers, and National and Local Media Outlets.

3. Create

Posters, fliers and literature to pass out and hang up at college campuses and other high traffic areas and banners to display to morning and evening rush hour traffic -- Check out our "Open the Debates" section on the website for downloadable materials.

4. Protest

Outside the Democratic and Republican headquarters in your community, at corporations that sponsor the debates, at radio stations, newspapers and media outlets not covering Ralph Nader.

(Phone numbers, e-mails and addresses will be available tomorrow at votenader.org/debates.)

Many Americans believe they are getting the full story when they tune into the televised and highly publicized debates.

What people don't see is that behind the scenes the debates are controlled by a corporate funded entity.

Third party and independent candidates are arbitrarily required to be polling at 15% according to five national polls in order to participate in the debates, even though these third parties are forced to devote all resources to get on the ballot in all 50 states during the months leading up to the debates -- costing well over a million dollars!

Who decides who gets into the debates?

The so-called "non-partisan" Commission (as described by the New York Times today). Non-partisan? Headed by Paul Kirk and Frank Fahrenkopf, the former heads of the Democratic and Republican parties?

Since the media blithely adopts the framing of the corporate parties, we must take it upon ourselves to expose the Commission on Presidential Debates as the real spoiler of the democratic system in this country.

Just recently Green party candidate Elizabeth May was included into the debates in Canada.


Massive e-mailing, phone calls, and letters to the editor, including one from former Prime Minister Joe Clark, displaying public outrage prompted the debate commission to invite Elizabeth May to participate.

We can do it too!

So on Thursday, take action.

And then send us your videos and photos and we'll post them on our Open the Debates page.

And here is something you can do right now.

Donate to Nader/Gonzalez.

We're in the middle of our Three Way Race fundraising drive.

And we need to hit $150,000 by the end of the month.

And if you donate $100 now, we'll ship to you a copy of The Ralph Nader Reader, a 441-page collection of Ralph's writings on Wall Street vs. Main Street, the battle for democracy, the corporate state, and our hyper-commercialized culture. If you donate $100 now, we will send you this historic collection -- autographed by the man himself -- Ralph Nader. (This offer ends at 11:59 p.m. September 30, 2008.)

Onward to November

Emily Przekwas
The Nader Team