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Saundra Hummer
September 21st, 2008, 10:50 AM

Richard Viguerie:
‘Cranky Conservatives’ Behind Palin Pick
Leading conservative activist Richard A. Viguerie credits “cranky conservatives” like himself for compelling what he calls John McCain’s “brilliant, game-changing selection of Sarah Palin” as his running mate.

He said conservatives pushed McCain into choosing Palin by making it clear they would not actively support the GOP campaign without a strong, principled conservative on the ticket.

“Those who backed John McCain as the ‘lesser of two evils’ did no favors to themselves, their movement, or to Senator McCain,” said Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHG.com.

According to Viguerie, the “cranky” conservatives include:
Those who refused to endorse McCain until he announced his vice presidential candidate.

Conservatives who “went nuclear” in their criticism of McCain when talk emerged that he might choose as his running mate Joe Lieberman, Tom Ridge, or someone else “nearly as disastrous” for the McCain campaign.

Talk-show hosts and bloggers who chronicled conservatives’ dissatisfaction with McCain.

Republicans who declined to vote in the GOP primaries because there was no “real top-tier conservative contender.”

Conservatives who ignored GOP fundraising letters and “gave Republican telemarketers a piece of their mind instead of their money.”

Viguerie, who pioneered political direct mail and is credited as one of the creators of the modern conservative movement, added, “Some folks raise questions about John McCain’s health. But we know one thing about his health: His hearing works just fine.

“Across this country, conservatives and Republicans at every level let John McCain know what he needed to do to get them fired up and excited and ready to go door-to-door and make phone calls and do all the things that have to be done.

“They told him, and he listened, and his selection of Sarah Palin has completely turned his campaign around.”

Saundra Hummer
September 21st, 2008, 11:30 AM

Alaska town opens 'road to nowhere'
Associated Press Writer
Sat Sep 20, 10:15 PM ET

Alaska now has a Road to Nowhere going to what would have been the Bridge to Nowhere.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's transportation department has completed a $25 million gravel road leading to the site of a bridge that Palin, as John McCain's vice presidential candidate, now boasts that she stopped, so as to save taxpayers money. The road was built with federal tax dollars.

Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein said the 3.2-mile road will be useful for road races, hunters and possibly future development. But with no bridge to serve it, that's probably about it.

"I think it will be good for recreational things like a 5K and a 10K," Weinstein said. "And instead of people walking through brush, it may be used for hunting in the area."

Palin repeatedly tells campaign crowds she said "thanks but no thanks" to Washington when it came up with $400 million for a bridge linking Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport. In fact, she turned against the bridge only after it became a national symbol of wasteful spending and Washington had backed off financing the project.

Roger Wetherell, speaking for the state Transportation Department, said the road opened several days ago might someday get people to and from Gravina Island after all, if cheaper designs for a bridge become a reality. Meantime, it opens access to land development, he said.

McCain opposes the pet projects that lawmakers in Washington wring out of the federal budget for their constituents in the form of special spending, or earmarks. He's railed for years against the bridge, doing more than anyone to make the nickname Bridge to Nowhere stick. And as his running mate, Palin talks about how she killed the bridge project and "championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress."

She supported the bridge during her campaign for governor in 2006, then pulled back state money for it a year later, after Washington had pulled the plug.

Alaska received about half the bridge money anyway, on condition it be used for other things. Palin's predecessor and the Legislature redirected all but $60 million in 2006 to other projects, and Palin has left the remainder untouched, to be used eventually to improve access to the island, her spokeswoman has said.

The airport is separated from its users by a quarter-mile-wide channel of water, forcing travelers to catch either a ferry or a water taxi for a 15-minute ride. Ketchikan, seven blocks wide and eight miles long, is Alaska's entry port for northbound cruise ships that bring more than 1 million visitors yearly.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2008 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.


Saundra Hummer
September 21st, 2008, 12:17 PM
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Poll: Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama

Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them "lazy," "violent," responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, (Go on-site to view graph and results)conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

Certainly, Republican John McCain has his own obstacles: He's an ally of an unpopular president and would be the nation's oldest first-term president. But Obama faces this: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.

More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can't win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.

Such numbers are a harsh dose of reality in a campaign for the history books. Obama, the first black candidate with a serious shot at the presidency, accepted the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, a seminal moment for a nation that enshrined slavery in its Constitution.

"There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots," said Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman who helped analyze the exhaustive survey.

The pollsters set out to determine why Obama is locked in a close race with McCain even as the political landscape seems to favor Democrats. President Bush's unpopularity, the Iraq war and a national sense of economic hard times cut against GOP candidates, as does that fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

The findings suggest that Obama's problem is close to home — among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.

The survey also focused on the racial attitudes of independent voters because they are likely to decide the election.

Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren't voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn't vote for any Democrat for president — white, black or brown.

Not all whites are prejudiced. Indeed, more whites say good things about blacks than say bad things, the poll shows. And many whites who see blacks in a negative light are still willing or even eager to vote for Obama.

On the other side of the racial question, the Illinois Democrat is drawing almost unanimous support from blacks, the poll shows, though that probably wouldn't be enough to counter the negative effect of some whites' views.

Race is not the biggest factor driving Democrats and independents away from Obama. Doubts about his competency loom even larger, the poll indicates. More than a quarter of all Democrats expressed doubt that Obama can bring about the change they want, and they are likely to vote against him because of that.

Three in 10 of those Democrats who don't trust Obama's change-making credentials say they plan to vote for McCain.

Still, the effects of whites' racial views are apparent in the polling.

Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice.

But in an election without precedent, it's hard to know if such models take into account all the possible factors at play.

The AP-Yahoo News poll used the unique methodology of Knowledge Networks, a Menlo Park, Calif., firm that interviews people online after randomly selecting and screening them over telephone. Numerous studies have shown that people are more likely to report embarrassing behavior and unpopular opinions when answering questions on a computer rather than talking to a stranger.

Other techniques used in the poll included recording people's responses to black or white faces flashed on a computer screen, asking participants to rate how well certain adjectives apply to blacks, measuring whether people believe blacks' troubles are their own fault, and simply asking people how much they like or dislike blacks.

"We still don't like black people," said John Clouse, 57, reflecting the sentiments of his pals gathered at a coffee shop in Somerset, Ohio.

Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word "violent" strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with "boastful," 29 percent "complaining," 13 percent "lazy" and 11 percent "irresponsible." When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.

Among white Democrats, one third cited a negative adjective and, of those, 58 percent said they planned to back Obama.

The poll sought to measure latent prejudices among whites by asking about factors contributing to the state of black America. One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that "if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites."

Those who agreed with that statement were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn't.

Among white independents, racial stereotyping is not uncommon. For example, while about 20 percent of independent voters called blacks "intelligent" or "smart," more than one third latched on the adjective "complaining" and 24 percent said blacks were "violent."

Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they "try harder."

The survey broke ground by incorporating images of black and white faces to measure implicit racial attitudes, or prejudices that are so deeply rooted that people may not realize they have them. That test suggested the incidence of racial prejudice is even higher, with more than half of whites revealing more negative feelings toward blacks than whites.

Researchers used mathematical modeling to sort out the relative impact of a huge swath of variables that might have an impact on people's votes — including race, ideology, party identification, the hunger for change and the sentiments of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's backers.

Just 59 percent of her white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton's white backers plan to vote for McCain.

Among white Democrats, Clinton supporters were nearly twice as likely as Obama backers to say at least one negative adjective described blacks well, a finding that suggests many of her supporters in the primaries — particularly whites with high school education or less — were motivated in part by racial attitudes.

The survey of 2,227 adults was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 5. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

Associated Press writers Nancy Benac, Julie Carr Smyth, Philip Elliot, Julie Pace and Sonya Ross contributed to this story.

On the Net: (Go on-site to view data graph.)



Polling site: http://news.yahoo.com/polls
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Saundra Hummer
September 21st, 2008, 01:26 PM
..... ..... .....

The Russian bear in America's backyard

Bernd Debusmann
Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:10am EDT
Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist.
The opinions expressed are his own.

Bernd Debusmann
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As insults to national pride go, it was a classic -- the American response to Russian plans to send a nuclear battle cruiser and other ships to the Caribbean for exercises with the navy of U.S. enemy Hugo Chavez.

"We'll see if they actually make it there," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told a news conference questioner.

"Somebody told me they had a tugboat accompanying them in case they break down along the way ... It was very interesting that they found some ships that could actually make it that far down to Venezuela."

Public diplomacy at its finest? It was in line with the Bush administration's generally dismissive attitude towards Russia and conjured up images of ageing rust buckets, not the flagship of Russia's Northern Fleet, the Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great), which entered service 10 years ago.

It would be the first time since the Cold War that Russian vessels enter the Caribbean, traditionally part of the U.S backyard. They are scheduled to arrive in November, a week after Americans elect a new president.

Their presence might help the president-elect focus on how to deal with Russia more effectively than President George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, his tutor on Russian affairs, first as national security adviser and later as secretary of state.

Rice has a doctorate in Soviet studies and speaks fluent Russian but judging from the way U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated over the past 7-1/2 years, that gave her no more insight into the Kremlin than Bush. He famously said, after his first meeting with Vladimir Putin in 2001, that he had looked him in the eye and "was able to get a sense of his soul."

His soul, perhaps, but not a ruthless mind set on restoring Russia, a country with a 1,000-year history, to the status of a Great Power, an ambition Washington did not take particularly seriously. "The United States has viewed Russia through the prism of the 1990s, when the Russian military was in shambles and the government paralyzed," according to George Friedman, head of the private intelligence service Stratfor.

Or, as President Dmitry Medvedev put it to a meeting of political scientists this month: "In the 1990s ... we were weak and sickly."

Russia recovered, its economy boosted by oil, its military slowly rebuilt. The new Russia made its debut on the world stage on August 8, with a massive counter-attack in response to an attempt by Georgia, Washington's closest ally in the Caucasus, to seize control of the pro-Russian breakaway province of South Ossetia.

The Russian thrust extended well into Georgia and in the Washington version of events, this was an unprovoked attack by big bad Russia on poor little Georgia.

Since then, Medvedev has spelt out what amounts to a Russian version of the Monroe Doctrine, the 19th century U.S. assertion that European powers must not interfere in the Americas. Russia, Medvedev said, "has regions where it has privileged interests." In other words: you stay out of our region, we stay out of yours. If you stage naval maneuvers in the Baltic, we can do so in the Caribbean.

The United States has moved steadily into Russia's sphere of influence since the Soviet Union collapsed, breaking a promise by two American presidents, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, not to expand NATO into the territory of the former Soviet Union.

Today, St. Petersburg is 60 miles from NATO member Estonia. Under the Soviets, the nearest NATO member was more than 1,000 miles away. The word "paranoia" regularly crops up in inside-the-beltway conversations about Russia but it is not difficult to see why the Russians feel encircled. Six former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe and three former Soviet republics are now members of NATO.

Enter Venezuela, and the opportunity for Russia to poke Uncle Sam in the eye. Chavez has courted the Kremlin assiduously, paying six visits to Moscow (without a single corresponding return visit), buying $4 billion worth of Russian arms, trying to enlist Moscow's support for his "Bolivarian revolution" of 21st century socialism. The response has been lukewarm.

Chavez terms Russia a "strategic ally" but the Caracas-Moscow relationship is a far cry from the Havana-Moscow axis that brought the Soviet Union and the United States to the brink of nuclear war in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. For one, the ideological confrontation between communism and capitalism that then pitted the Soviet empire against the West is gone.

Perhaps more importantly, the Russians appear to be wary of the unpredictable Chavez and see him as a useful tool rather than a Western Hemispheric cornerstone of Russian foreign policy. The Latin leader's unconventional behavior during some of his Moscow visits has widened what one diplomat delicately described as a "considerable culture gap."

Among Chavez visit anecdotes: an occasion when the Russian air force scrambled fighter jets because the visitor had failed to communicate that he and his entourage were arriving in three planes, not the two previously agreed; a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier when the Venezuelans forgot the wreath; and the time Chavez issued a Kung Fu cry and jumped at a stony-faced Putin.

But while Chavez and the Kremlin have little in common, they share the belief that America's days as the world's dominant power are coming to an end. That is an idea many Americans find difficult to embrace.

You can contact the author at:


Editing by Sean Maguire

© Thomson Reuters 2008. All rights reserved.

Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

Go on-site to gain access to this article:http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersComService4/idUSLH39192920080917

Reader comments:
Posted by ajeh2063
September 17, 2008 8:56 PM
jmre5357:The fact that the US sacrificed her citizens lives (and a great deal of money and material) in the Second world war and even her actions during the cold war can hardly be used as an excuse for the US's current mishandling of its foreign policy. You appear to be Ignoring the fact that Russia lost much more than any other nation during the second world war and did not benefit from the reconstruction loans the US made to the rest of Europe, but lets set that aside.

Russia is currently in a very dangerous place, she has the potential to regain much of the status she lost in the last 50 years, her economy should do well based on the resources available to her and with that comes the potential for Russia to rebuild relationships with the rest of the world. The west, led by the US, in its reaction to the caucuses war, its position on the Missile shield in Eastern Europe, the expansion of NATO, and in all its comments with regard to Russia show a striking disregard to what should be a potentially great ally.

Russia is currently taking defensive positions, positions that directly conflict with perceived US interests precisely because Russia is being sidelined and its interests and wishes are ignored. Worst of all is the apparent double standard seen in the press and in the language of Western governments toward Russia, how can the US hope to justify the 'Bush doctrine' but deny that right to others? How can the US claim that Russia is in breach of international law at a time when it is engaged in two questionable wars, operates a rendition program, openly admits to using torture and still supports repressive regimes in various parts of the globe? I am not saying that Russia is innocent of all criticism, indeed much of it is probably fair, it just seems foolish for the US to try to claim the moral high ground, a position it does not occupy and has not for some time.

As to the US's position as a superpower, well obviously the US spent more money on military hardware than anyone else, the US economy is, or at least was, the strongest in the world, as such the US is unlikely to lose its superpower status. But the US, even as a superpower is not able to pick fights at will, nor can it afford conflict with another nation, especially not with Russia.

What concerns me most is whether the next US administration, (especially if the Republican party win) will do to address the situation. I can easily see the US trying to take a harder line, continue to arm Georgia, continue to attempt to expand NATO and continue with its other misguided actions. If it does and continues to ignore Russia the chances of an incident that could act as a precursor to conflict are very real, especially if Russia continues to rebuild its military and use it to project its power abroad and exercise with its new found allies. I really would rather not see a new bi-polar (or more likely multi-polar world) arise with the US on one side and Russia, China, possibly Europe and parts of Latin America on the other. Especially not if the US is under the leadership of either a temper prone John McCain, (or even an ultra-religious Sarah Palin) or a newly arrived Barrak Obama, both needing to show strength to their electorates.

In short the US needs to think about how their actions impact on Russia and work with Russia to avoid friction rather than raise the tension by being intentionally antagonistic.Recommend (20)
Posted by jmre5357
Report Abuse September 17, 2008 5:27 PM Correction to my previous post. I was all fired up about how many do not seem to appreciate what the U.S. has done in the past and continues to do in terms of charitable work. They bash the U.S. and then apply for U.S. immigration and citizenship papers. I saw this same thing where I was born - - the Philippines. I meant to say that the world had better hope the U.S. DOESN'T cease to be a super power.Recommend (0)
Posted by jmre5357
Report Abuse September 17, 2008 5:23 PM Let's see, considering America sacrificed its citizens' lives to defend France in both World Wars, China and other Asian countries in World War II, and it was willing to fight the Soviets to defend Europe, the world had better hope America ceases to become a Super Power. It's apparent not many other nations, including some of the European ones have the stomach to fight evil. The U.S. continues to deal with a Communist Cuba, thanks in part to Europeans supporting its tourism industry, so a Loud-mouthed Chavez (who looks more like a bully than President Bush) frankly doesn't scare me as a citizen. Chavez acts tough, but if push came to shove, if it were just him and us, I would bet all I have on us. He accuses the U.S. of interfering in the affairs of others and at the same time he is making himself into some self-appointed "ruler" of the Latin American world.Recommend (0)

Saundra Hummer
September 21st, 2008, 02:01 PM
* * * * *
Singers for Obama release “Yes We Can” album

You’ve heard them at the Obama campaign rallies and speeches for months, and now all those Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, John Mayer and Los Lonely Boys songs that warm up the Democratic Party crowds have been put together on one album.

Billed as the first-ever presidential campaign compilation, the 18-song disc “Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement” also includes excerpts from speeches given by Barack Obama and goes on sale exclusively on the campaign’s official Web site on Friday.

All proceeds from digital downloads ($24.99) and the old-fashioned CD ($30) will go to the Obama-Biden campaign, said Hidden Beach Recordings, which is behind the project.

Hidden Beach CEO Steve McKeever said the diverse artists contributing “underscores how deeply inspiring this campaign has been across boundaries.”

The recording includes Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, Mayer’s “Waiting on the World To Change,” and Los Lonely Boys’ “Make It Better”, as well as new material by Lionel Richie and John Legend.

Absent from the list however is Barbra Streisand, one of Obama’s biggest singing supporters.

Presumably “The Way We Were” doesn’t have the right vibe for “Change We Can Believe In.”

Tags: Fan Fare, Barack Obama, Barbra Streisand, Presidential campaign, Sheryl Crow, stevie wonder
* * *
September 19th, 2008
10:49 pm GMT I just bought the CD and downloaded it from


What impressed me was the player you can preview the tracks thru. I haven’t seen anything like it before. By the way, what is MagNet?

- Posted by Andrei McQuillan
Post a comment on-site

* * *

Saundra Hummer
September 21st, 2008, 02:32 PM
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Buffett's "time bomb" goes off on Wall Street

James B. Kelleher
Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:42pm EDT

CHICAGO (Reuters) - On Main Street, insurance protects people from the effects of catastrophes.

But on Wall Street, specialized insurance known as a credit default swaps are turning a bad situation into a catastrophe.

When historians write about the current crisis, much of the blame will go to the slump in the housing and mortgage markets, which triggered the losses, layoffs and liquidations sweeping the financial industry.

But credit default swaps -- complex derivatives originally designed to protect banks from deadbeat borrowers -- are adding to the turmoil.

"This was supposedly a way to hedge risk," says Ellen Brown, the author of the book "Web of Debt."

"I'm sure their predictive models were right as far as the risk of the things they were insuring against. But what they didn't factor in was the risk that the sellers of this protection wouldn't pay ... That's what we're seeing now."

Brown is hardly alone in her criticism of the derivatives. Five years ago, billionaire investor Warren Buffett called them a "time bomb" and "financial weapons of mass destruction" and directed the insurance arm of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to exit the business.

Recent events suggest Buffett was right. The collapse of Bear Stearns. The fire sale of Merrill Lynch & Co Inc (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). The meltdown at American International Group Inc (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). In each case, credit default swaps played a role in the fall of these financial giants.

The latest victim is insurer AIG, which received an emergency $85 billion loan from the U.S. Federal Reserve late on Tuesday to stave off a bankruptcy.

Over the last three quarters, AIG suffered $18 billion of losses tied to guarantees it wrote on mortgage-linked derivatives.

Its struggles intensified in recent weeks as losses in its own investments led to cuts in its credit ratings. Those cuts triggered clauses in the policies AIG had written that forced it to put up billions of dollars in extra collateral -- billions it did not have and could not raise.

When the credit default market began back in the mid-1990s, the transactions were simpler, more transparent affairs. Not all the sellers were insurance companies like AIG -- most were not. But the protection buyer usually knew the protection seller.

As it grew -- according to the industry's trade group, the credit default market grew to $46 trillion by the first half of 2007 from $631 billion in 2000 -- all that changed.

An over-the-counter market grew up and some of the most active players became asset managers, including hedge fund managers, who bought and sold the policies like any other investment.

And in those deals, they sold protection as often as they bought it -- although they rarely set aside the reserves they would need if the obligation ever had to be paid.

In one notorious case, a small hedge fund agreed to insure UBS AG (UBSN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the Swiss banking giant, from losses related to defaults on $1.3 billion of subprime mortgages for an annual premium of about $2 million.

The trouble was, the hedge fund set up a subsidiary to stand behind the guarantee -- and capitalized it with just $4.6 million. As long as the loans performed, the fund made a killing, raking in an annualized return of nearly 44 percent.

But in the summer of 2007, as home owners began to default, things got ugly. UBS demanded the hedge fund put up additional collateral. The fund balked. UBS sued.

The dispute is hardly unique. Both Wachovia Corp (WB.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Citigroup Inc (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) are involved in similar litigation with firms that promised to step up and act like insurers -- but were not actually insurers.

"Insurance companies have armies of actuaries and deep pools of policyholders and the financial wherewithal to pay claims," says Mike Barry, a spokesman at the Insurance Information Institute.

Another problem: As hedge funds and others bought and sold these protection policies, they did not always get prior written consent from the people they were supposed to be insuring. Patrick Parkinson, the deputy director of the Fed's research and statistic arm, calls the practice "sloppy."

As a result, some protection buyers had trouble figuring out who was standing behind the insurance they bought. And it put investors into webs of relationships they did not understand.

"This is the derivative nightmare that everyone has been warning about," says Peter Schiff, the president of Euro Pacific Capital at the author of "Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse."

"They booked all these derivatives assuming bad things would never happen. It was like writing fire insurance, assuming no one is ever going to have a fire, only now they're turning around and watching as the whole town burns down."

(Editing by Andre Grenon)

© Thomson Reuters 2008. All rights reserved.
Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

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Saundra Hummer
September 21st, 2008, 02:59 PM
When al Qaida destroyed the Twin Towers September 11, I felt such a sense of despair and had the thought, and was saying, "The Barbarians are at the gates".

The problems, however, were and are, it was our ownselves we had to fear. We just didn't realize it; that it would be our ownselves destroying our way of life. It would be us destroying our own country, and it had started well before September 11th. had even happened.

It began fullbore with the Supreme Court appointing these interlopers, Cheney and Bush. They were the ones who ended up shoving us all off of the precipice, just to fulfill their own agenda. It was allowed to happen, it was allowed to go on. We, the American people as well let it happen, to our never ending shame, we let it go on. Our downfall wasn't engineered by a foreign country, a foreign people, or a foreign radical group who would do us harm. No. It was we, the American people, and our elected officials as well, who, out of power games, greed and fear, allowed these terrible days to come about.

A lot of us fought against times such as these being able to come about, but they happened anyway, and I, for one, resent those who didn't have the foresight or the wherewithall to delve a bit deeper, to have an open mind, to inform themselves as to the type of people who were, and are, in control; starting at the top.

I resent being dragged down by and with them. It's more than just a little disheartening, disconcerting, and it brings out anger as well. We, in a combined effort could have stopped them, or so I believe, but and this is the crux of the matter, too many of us were all too willing to lap up the spin put out by the administration and those seeking their own agenda. They certainly didn't have our own best interests at heart, not the American peoples best interest. No way, no how, as Hillary said.

I still see where a few diehards believe Cheney is a good guy. 73% think nothing ill of him, so there's a 27% fringe out there who just don't get it; even with numbers so low, it's a disgusting figure to learn of. So, with all the news and the revelations in it, a lot of someone's out there aren't capable of rational thought.

We've, by our apathy, by our not being informed, by our willingness to be led by the goat, caused our own demise, which has come about with the war, and the economy with it's collapse. By the way, who's crying the loudest?

September 21st, 2008, 03:40 PM

The states are still young but in their mid-age crisis in my opinion.

I never been there but always had its culture around me and always wanted to live there until i became an adult and decided that i can't afford to for a lot of reasons.

When i think more closely, the situation is not bad for you guys there. The momentum have simply died out, the hopes for something that nobody really visualized are now almost gone and you as a nation realize which of the "good things" that you wanted for yourself will not happen.

Maybe USA is somewhat imploding under its own weight but i just think that its strengths are no longer as significant as they used to be.

It will never be young and dynamic again, it might try to have a new youth many times like my own home country but i believe that this is somewhat deemed to fail although it does provide a new perspective on things and a never ending set of goals for its people to think about.

For me, everything is connected to art so i view it from this particular hill.

I think that, at many time-points lately, the leaders of USA made a big miscalculation when it comes to potential, same miscalculation that the average person made when supporting them.

The last few years i think is sadly filled with cruel realizations about that potential.

I must say that it makes me sad. Certainly if born at a different time i would be there, living the american dream in the 60ties, right in the vortex and then exploring new territories after the wave have finally broken in the 70ties.

You need some fresh momentum there, loads of it.


Saundra Hummer
September 21st, 2008, 03:52 PM

The states are still young but in their mid-age crisis in my opinion.

I never been there but always had its culture around me and always wanted to live there until i became an adult and decided that i can't afford to for a lot of reasons.

When i think more closely, the situation is not bad for you guys there. The momentum have simply died out, the hopes for something that nobody really visualized are now almost gone and you as a nation realize which of the "good things" that you wanted for yourself will not happen.

Maybe USA is somewhat imploding under its own weight but i just think that its strengths are no longer as significant as they used to be.

It will never be young and dynamic again, it might try to have a new youth many times like my own home country but i believe that this is somewhat deemed to fail although it does provide a new perspective on things and a never ending set of goals for its people to think about.

For me, everything is connected to art so i view it from this particular hill.

I think that, at many time-points lately, the leaders of USA made a big miscalculation when it comes to potential, same miscalculation that the average person made when supporting them.

The last few years i think is sadly filled with cruel realizations about that potential.

I've always been an optimist, too much so others say, but I can't help but believe it's a good way to be, however, I'm thoroughly disgusted with the turn of events with the "War on Terror", our foreign policy, post Katrina aid, our infrastructure being ignored, and now, this latest event with the economy; our economy collapsing, it being allowed to happen when those in the know warned and warned Cheney and Bush and their appointee's; warning all of us as to where their policies were going to take the country and thus us. It's happened, and now there's this Palin woman, Mooselini some call her. She's not anyone I would ever want anywhere near a shiny desk in any government office, regardless of where; Alaska or Washington DC. This is who sinks any optimism, any I might still have. Just the thought of her being in power is where my optimism sinks. If she should hold federal office, whew! She is a scary thought.

September 21st, 2008, 04:05 PM
I've always been an optimist, too much so others say, but I can't help but believe it's a good way to be, however, I'm thoroughly disgusted with the turn of events with the "War on Terror", our foreign policy, post Katrina aid, our infrastructure being ignored, and now, this latest event with the economy; our economy collapsing, it being allowed to happen when those in the know warned and warned Cheney and Bush and their appointee's; warning all of us as to where their policies were going to take the country and thus us. It's happened, and now there's this Palin woman, Mooselini some call her. She's not anyone I would ever want anywhere near a shiny desk in any government office, regardless of where; Alaska or Washington DC. This is who sinks any optimism I might still have, where my optimism sinks, if she should hold federal office, whew! She is a scary thought.

Yeah but those things did not happen yesterday.

Only that there was other stuff to catch peoples imagination that did not make the outlook so bad.

Imagine that USA would be in the process of colonizing a new planet.

That would change the outlook.

Saundra Hummer
September 21st, 2008, 07:08 PM
Yeah but those things did not happen yesterday.

Only that there was other stuff to catch peoples imagination that did not make the outlook so bad.

Imagine that USA would be in the process of colonizing a new planet.

That would change the outlook.

Or we could just live in our real world, "The Twilight Zone". Remember that old TV show with Rod Searling?

We're living in such odd times; so odd it's sureal.

Here's another take on the "Road to 'The Bridge to Nowhere'".

The Road to the Bridge to Nowhere
By David Knowles
Sep 21st 2008 4:34PM
Filed Under:
John McCain,
Breaking News,
Sarah Palin

Sticking with the motor vehicle theme for a moment. There's news out of Alaska about that Bridge to Nowhere, you know, the one that Sarah Palin was for building before it became a national disgrace. The money, as we now know, was not sent back to U.S. taxpayers, but kept by Palin's government. What did they do with it? Well, part of it was spent to build the road to the bridge to nowhere. And now that road is finished.

From the Associated Press:

JUNEAU, Alaska - Alaska now has a Road to Nowhere going to what would have been the Bridge to Nowhere.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's transportation department completed a $25 million gravel road leading to the site of the bridge that Palin, as John McCain's vice presidential candidate, now boasts that she stopped so as to save taxpayers money. The road was built with federal tax dollars.

If you're scratching your head about now, and asking, what purpose will this new $25 million dollar gravel road serve if it doesn't link up with the fabled bridge, here's your answer:

Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein said the 3.2 mie road will be useful for road races, hunters and possible future development. But with no bridge to serve it, that's probably about it.

"I think it will be good for recreational things like a 5K and a 10K," Weinstein said. "And instead of people walking through brush, it may be used for hunting in the area."

Ah, good. I'm glad $25 million of our federal tax dollars didn't go to support some useless earmark pork. Cue the Talking Heads.


::: ::: :::

Saundra Hummer
September 22nd, 2008, 11:57 AM

Can you trust a Wall Street veteran with a Wall Street bailout?

By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Making the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson repeatedly said today's financial problems were long in the making. He should know. He was part of the Gold Rush that has brought the global financial system to the brink of collapse.

Paulson presided over one of the most profitable runs on Wall Street as chairman and chief executive officer of investment banking titan Goldman Sachs & Co. from 1999 until President Bush nominated him on May 30, 2006 to take over the Treasury Department.

Back then, Bush saw Paulson's Wall Street experience as a plus. "Hank will follow in the footsteps of Alexander Hamilton and other distinguished Treasury secretaries who used their talents and wisdom to strengthen our financial markets and expand the reach of the American Dream," Bush said at the time.

But with Paulson now seeking virtually unfettered authority to administer the largest bailout of the financial industry in U.S. history, many are wondering whether Paulson also doesn't come with enormous potential conflicts of interest.

That was one reason Democrats on Sunday expressed reluctance to approve the administration's draft legislation that would leave to Paulson virtually all authority over the proposed $700 billion bailout. The legislation would allow him to decide which securities to buy, from whom to buy them, and which outside companies and people to hire to help him do so.

"If we grant the Treasury broad authority to address the immediate crisis, we must insist on independent accountability and oversight," said Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barrack Obama. "Given the breach of trust we have seen and the magnitude of the taxpayer money involved, there can be no blank check."

In recent days, there've been few outward expressions of distrust of Paulson in particular. In fact, many said his long reign on Wall Street make him uniquely qualified to deal with today's problems.

"Hank is the right guy," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made his millions providing information to Wall Street traders, told NBC's Meet the Press. "If I had to have one person at the helm today I would pick Hank Paulson."

But the conflicts are also visible. Paulson has surrounded himself with former Goldman executives as he tries to navigate the domino-like collapse of several parts of the global financial market. And others have gone off to lead companies that could be among those that receive a bailout.

In late July, Paulson tapped Ken Wilson, one of Goldman's most senior executives, to join him as an adviser on what to about problems in the U.S. and global banking sector.

Paulson's former assistant secretary, Robert Steel, left in July to become head of Wachovia, the Charlotte-based bank that has hundreds of millions of troubled mortgage loans on its books.

The administration's draft law also would preclude court review of steps Paulson might take, something Joshua Rosner, managing director of economic researcher Graham Fisher & Co. in New York, said could be used to mask previous illegal activity.

"The Treasury's ability to, without oversight, determine (that) a financial institution (is) an agent of the government seems like it could be used to serve several purposes, including limiting the potential liabilities of an institution or its executives," he wrote in a note to investors late Sunday.

The Treasury proposal sent to Congress also offers no process to hire asset managers in an open and competitive process. That's particularly questionable given that Wall Street players are now hiring Wall Street players, Rosner said.

"This seems to invite a risk of collusion between sellers and buyers to the detriment of the taxpayer," he wrote.

At a minimum, there's irony in Paulson being in charge of so large a bailout.

In the last annual report at Goldman that Paulson signed off on in November 2005, a year in which he received $38 million in compensation, investors were clearly told that the federal government wouldn't be there to save them from bad investments.

"Goldman Sachs, as a participant in the securities and commodities and futures and options industries, is subject to extensive regulation in the United States and elsewhere," the report said.

But those regulations are designed to protect the interests of clients in the market, it said. "They are not . . . charged with protecting the interest of Goldman Sachs shareholders or creditors," it said.

That's a different tune from the one Paulson was singing Sunday.

"Last week there were times when the capital markets or credit markets were frozen," Paulson said on NBC's Meet the press. "American companies weren't able to raise financing. That has very serious consequences. So what we need to do right now is stabilize the markets, and this is for the, for the benefit of the taxpayers we're doing this, the American public. Then, once we get behind this and get this stabilized, there's a lot we can talk about in terms of reform."

What Paulson didn't say is that the excesses that led to the frozen credit markets couldn't have happened without Wall Street. Lenders weakened their standards because loans were sold to investment banks, which didn't much care about the loan quality since they then pooled the loans with thousands of other loans and sold them as bonds to investors. If the whole thing collapsed, it would be the investors who lost out.

Those bonds, called mortgage-backed securities, are precisely the bad assets taxpayers will now be buying back from Paulson's colleagues on Wall Street.

During Paulson's tenure, Goldman was not as big a player in issuing mortgage bonds as two other investment banks that have gone under this year, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.

But the 2005 annual report shows that Goldman was still a significant player. Its trading division, which included the mortgage bonds and complex financial instruments called derivatives, reported pre-tax earnings of more than $6.2 billion, up sharply from $3.5 billion in 2003.

The report also shows that Goldman benefited greatly from the wave that is now being deemed a wave of excess.

Goldman's pre-tax earnings rose from $4.4 billion in 2003 to almost $8.3 billion in 2005. Similarly, its investment banking division had pre-tax earnings leap from $207 million to $413 million.

Paulson's personal fortunes also zoomed in those years.

In 2002, Paulson received $12.1 million in compensation, including a $6.3 million bonus — an improvement over the previous three years when Wall Street accounting scandals unsettled investment banks, including a $1.5 billion settlement Goldman and other banks paid for issuing overly bullish research reports that promoted deals the banks themselves were involved in.

Published reports said Paulson received $30 million in compensation and salary in 2003.

After Paulson left Goldman and mortgage bonds began losing money, the investment bank erased those loses and then some by betting against the very products it had sold, Fortune magazine reported last year.

Fortune Magazine article on Goldman's sub-prime business


Treasury Secretary Paulson earns praise for calming markets

Who is Henry Paulson?

A Q and A with Henry Paulson

McClatchy Newspapers 2008

More on this Story

Story | Taxpayer relief is flashpoint in bailout debate
Story | $700 billion loan bailout could include non-mortgage assets
Story | Financial uncertainty goes beyond home loans
Story | Federal billions for Wall Street will handcuff next president
Story | Bank of America chief: half of banks won't exist in 5 years
Story | Will latest bailout plan work? No one actually knows
Story | Congress' fiscal conservatives declare free market 'dead'
Story | Wall Street crisis is culmination of 28 years of deregulation
Video | ABC's interview with Henry Paulson and Michael Bloomburg
PDF | Goldman Sachs 10-K
On the Web | NBC's Meet the Press with Henry Paulson and Michael Bloomburg
On the Web | The Economy in Turmoil
Go on-site to gain access to links to view more of this story

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/52856.html?mi_email=McClatchy%20Washington%20Burea u_DC+Newsletter

Saundra Hummer
September 22nd, 2008, 04:34 PM
. . . . . . . . . . . . .


September 21, 2008
Frank Rich: "But McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it."

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

Buy or Contribute to the BuzzFlash September Fund Drive. For Eight 1/2 Years, You Have Made BuzzFlash a Leader in the Development of the New Progressive Media. Keep the Dream of Non-Corporate Journalism Alive!

Taxpayer-Financed Bailout Out of Wall Street Would Give Paulson Economic "Dictatorial" Powers to Spend Our Money
Joe Klein: Following the lead of his buddy, and probable Secretary of the Treasury, Phil Gramm, McCain has been a vehement deregulator. Here is the deathless quote: "Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."


Truthiness Stages a Comeback

Op-Ed ColumnistSeptember 21, 2008
NOT until 2004 could the 9/11 commission at last reveal the title of the intelligence briefing President Bush ignored on Aug. 6, 2001, in Crawford: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” No wonder John McCain called for a new “9/11 commission” to “get to the bottom” of 9/14, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off another kind of blood bath in Lower Manhattan. Put a slo-mo Beltway panel in charge, and Election Day will be ancient history before we get to the bottom of just how little he and the president did to defend America against a devastating new threat on their watch.

For better or worse, the candidacy of Barack Obama, a senator-come-lately, must be evaluated on his judgment, ideas and potential to lead. McCain, by contrast, has been chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, where he claims to have overseen “every part of our economy.” He didn’t, thank heavens, but he does have a long and relevant economic record that begins with the Keating Five scandal of 1989 and extends to this campaign, where his fiscal policies bear the fingerprints of Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina. It’s not the résumé that a presidential candidate wants to advertise as America faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. That’s why the main thrust of the McCain campaign has been to cover up his history of economic malpractice.

McCain has largely pulled it off so far, under the guidance of Steve Schmidt, a Karl Rove protégé. A Rovian political strategy by definition means all slime, all the time. But the more crucial Rove game plan is to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness. All campaigns, Obama’s included, engage in false attacks. But McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it.

When a McCain spokesman told Politico a week ago that “we’re not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say” about the campaign’s incessant fictions, he was channeling a famous Bush dictum of 2003: “Somehow you just got to go over the heads of the filter.” In Bush’s case, the lies lobbed over the heads of the press were to sell the war in Iraq. That propaganda blitz, devised by a secret White House Iraq Group that included Rove, was a triumph. In mere months, Americans came to believe that Saddam Hussein had aided the 9/11 attacks and even that Iraqis were among the hijackers. A largely cowed press failed to set the record straight.

Just as the Bushies once flogged uranium from Africa, so Palin ceaselessly repeats her discredited claim that she said “no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. Nothing is too small or sacred for the McCain campaign to lie about. It was even caught (by The Christian Science Monitor) peddling an imaginary encounter between Cindy McCain and Mother Teresa when McCain was adopting her daughter in Bangladesh.

If you doubt that the big lies are sticking, look at the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. Half of voters now believe in the daily McCain refrain that Obama will raise their taxes. In fact, Obama proposes raising taxes only on the 1.9 percent of households that make more than $250,000 a year and cutting them for nearly everyone else.

You know the press is impotent at unmasking this truthiness when the hardest-hitting interrogation McCain has yet faced on television came on “The View.” Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word “lies” to his face. The McCains are so used to deference from “the filter” that Cindy McCain later complained that “The View” picked “our bones clean.” In our news culture, Behar, a stand-up comic by profession, looms as the new Edward R. Murrow.

Network news, with its dwindling handful of investigative reporters, has barely mentioned, let alone advanced, major new print revelations about Cindy McCain’s drug-addiction history (in The Washington Post) and the rampant cronyism and secrecy in Palin’s governance of Alaska (in last Sunday’s New York Times). At least the networks repeatedly fact-check the low-hanging fruit among the countless Palin lies, but John McCain’s past usually remains off limits.

That’s strange since the indisputable historical antecedent for our current crisis is the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal of the go-go 1980s. When Charles Keating’s bank went belly up because of risky, unregulated investments, it wiped out its depositors’ savings and cost taxpayers more than $3 billion. More than 1,000 other S.&L. institutions capsized nationwide.

It was ugly for the McCains. He had received more than $100,000 in Keating campaign contributions, and both McCains had repeatedly hopped on Keating’s corporate jet. Cindy McCain and her beer-magnate father had invested nearly $360,000 in a Keating shopping center a year before her husband joined four senators in inappropriate meetings with regulators charged with S.&L. oversight.

After Congressional hearings, McCain was reprimanded for “poor judgment.” He had committed no crime and had not intervened to protect Keating from ruin. Yet he, like many deregulators in his party, was guilty of bankrupt policy-making before disaster struck. He was among the sponsors of a House resolution calling for the delay of regulations intended to deter risky investments just like those that brought down Lincoln and its ilk.

Ever since, McCain has publicly thrashed himself for his mistakes back then — and boasted of the lessons he learned. He embraced campaign finance reform to rebrand himself as a “maverick.” But whatever lessons he learned are now forgotten.

For all his fiery calls last week for a Wall Street crackdown, McCain opposed the very regulations that might have helped avert the current catastrophe. In 1999, he supported a law co-authored by Gramm (and ultimately signed by Bill Clinton) that revoked the New Deal reforms intended to prevent commercial banks, insurance companies and investment banks from mingling their businesses. Equally laughable is the McCain-Palin ticket’s born-again outrage over the greed of Wall Street C.E.O.’s. When McCain’s chief financial surrogate, Fiorina, was fired as Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive after a 50 percent drop in shareholders’ value and 20,000 pink slips, she took home a package worth $42 million.

The McCain campaign canceled Fiorina’s television appearances last week after she inadvertently admitted that Palin was unqualified to run a corporation. But that doesn’t mean Fiorina is gone. Gramm, too, was ostentatiously exiled after he blamed the economic meltdown on our “nation of whiners” and “mental recession,” but he remains in the McCain loop.

The corporate jets, lobbyists and sleazes that gravitated around McCain in the Keating era have also reappeared in new incarnations. The Nation’s Web site recently unearthed a photo of the resolutely anticelebrity McCain being greeted by the con man Raffaello Follieri and his then girlfriend, the Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway, as McCain celebrated his 70th birthday on Follieri’s rented yacht in Montenegro in August 2006. It’s the perfect bookend to the old pictures of McCain in a funny hat partying with Keating in the Bahamas.

Whatever blanks are yet to be filled in on Obama, we at least know his economic plans and the known quantities who are shaping them (Lawrence Summers, Robert Rubin, Paul Volcker). McCain has reversed himself on every single economic issue this year, often within a 24-hour period, whether he’s judging the strength of the economy’s fundamentals or the wisdom of the government bailout of A.I.G. He once promised that he’d run every decision past Alan Greenspan — and even have him write a new tax code — but Greenspan has jumped ship rather than support McCain’s biggest flip-flop, his expansion of the Bush tax cuts. McCain’s official chief economic adviser is now Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who last week declared that McCain had “helped create” the BlackBerry.

But Holtz-Eakin’s most telling statement was about McCain’s economic plans — namely, that the details are irrelevant. “I don’t think it’s imperative at this moment to write down what the plan should be,” he said. “The real issue here is a leadership issue.” This, too, is a Rove-Bush replay. We want a tough guy who will “fix” things with his own two hands — let’s take out the S.E.C. chairman! — instead of wimpy Frenchified Democrats who just “talk.” The fine print of policy is superfluous if there’s a quick-draw decider in the White House.

The twin-pronged strategy of truculence and propaganda that sold Bush and his war could yet work for McCain. Even now his campaign has kept the “filter” from learning the very basics about his fitness to serve as president — his finances and his health. The McCain multihousehold’s multimillion-dollar mother lode is buried in Cindy McCain’s still-unreleased complete tax returns. John McCain’s full medical records, our sole index to the odds of an imminent Palin presidency, also remain locked away. The McCain campaign instead invited 20 chosen reporters to speed-read through 1,173 pages of medical history for a mere three hours on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. No photocopying was permitted.

This is the same tactic of selective document release that the Bush White House used to bamboozle Congress and the press about Saddam’s nonexistent W.M.D. As truthiness repeats itself, so may history, and not as farce.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

An eyeopener into the inner workings of what is wrong with our country. SRH

Pact on Debates Will Let McCain and Obama Spar
September 21, 2008
The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates, which begin Friday, but the McCain camp fought for and won a much more structured approach for the questioning at the vice-presidential debate, advisers to both campaigns said Saturday.

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

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

The wrangling was chiefly between the McCain-Palin camp and the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which is sponsoring the forums.

Commission members wanted a relaxed format that included time for unpredictable questioning and challenges between the two vice-presidential candidates. On Wednesday, the commission unanimously rejected a proposal sought by advisers to Ms. Palin and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee, to have the moderator ask questions and the candidates answer, with no time for unfettered exchanges. Advisers to Mr. Biden say they were comfortable with either format.

Both campaigns see the four debates as pivotal moments in a presidential race that is not only extraordinarily close but also drawing intense interest from voters; roughly 40 million viewers watched the major speeches at the two parties’ conventions. The upheaval in the financial markets has recast the race in recent days, moreover, which both sides believe will only heighten attention for the debates.

A commission member said that the new agreement on the vice-presidential debate was reached late Saturday morning. It calls for shorter blocks of candidate statements and open discussion than at the presidential debates.

McCain advisers said they were only somewhat concerned about Ms. Palin’s debating skills compared with those of Mr. Biden, who has served six terms in the Senate, or about his chances of tripping her up. Instead, they say, they wanted Ms. Palin to have opportunities to present Mr. McCain’s positions, rather than spending time talking about her experience or playing defense.

While the debates between presidential nominees are traditionally the main events in the fall election season, the public interest in Ms. Palin has proved extraordinary, and a large audience is expected for her national debate debut.

Indeed, both the McCain and Obama campaigns have similar concerns about the vice-presidential matchup in St. Louis: that Ms. Palin, of Alaska, as a new player in national politics, or Mr. Biden, of Delaware, as a loquacious and gaffe-prone speaker, could commit a momentum-changing misstep in their debate.

The negotiations for the three 90-minute debates between the men at the top of the tickets were largely free of brinksmanship. Neither side threatened to pull out, and concerns about camera angles and stagecraft were minor.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the Democratic nominee for president, and Mr. McCain did not intercede personally to settle any disputes. They agreed to one substantive change to the format originally proposed by the debate commission, giving them two minutes apiece to make a statement at the beginning of each segment on a new topic.

Mr. Obama successfully sought to flip the proposed topics for the first and third debates, so foreign policy is now coming first and economic and other domestic issues come last. There is a second debate, in the format of a town hall meeting, in which the candidates will sit on director’s chairs and take questions from the audience and Internet users on any topic.

The debate commission had proposed that the first debate be on economic issues and the third on foreign policy — in part, people involved in the process said, because the first debate is usually the most watched, and many voters rank the economy as their top concern.

Mr. Obama wanted foreign policy first to show viewers that he could provide depth, strength and intelligence on those issues, his advisers said, given that Mr. McCain consistently wins higher ratings in opinion polls as a potential commander in chief.

Mr. Obama wanted domestic issues to come last; advisers said that they believed even before the start of the financial crisis that the election was most likely to turn on the state of the economy and that he wanted the final televised exchange to focus on those concerns. He has argued that Mr. McCain would continue the economic policies of President Bush.

Mr. McCain also wanted foreign policy topics to come first in the debates, his aides said, in the hope of capitalizing on his positive reputation on national security issues across party lines.

He wanted limits on the original format for the first and third debates, which had been nine topics with nine minutes of free-flowing debate on each one. Mr. Obama went along, though his aides did insist that at least several minutes of open-ended debate occur in each block of questioning, because they believe he does well in that format.

Now the candidates will be asked a question, each will give an answer of two minutes or less, and then they will mix it up for five additional minutes before moving on to the next question in the same format.

Obama aides also agreed to use lecterns at the first event, which Mr. McCain preferred; at the third debate, the two men will be seated at a round table, in the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions, with the moderator at 6 o’clock.

McCain aides said that they were conscious of the fact that Mr. McCain has a prominent scar on one side of his face, and that they could not predict how prominent it would appear with the camera angles, lighting and make-up.

The debate formats were negotiated by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, representing the McCain campaign, and Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, for the Obama camp. A handful of aides from both camps were also involved, hammering out issues between themselves and then holding conference calls with members of the commission to reach final agreements, people involved in the process said.

Mr. Obama plans to begin debate camp on Tuesday with a tight circle of advisers at a site in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, his aides say, with a prominent Democratic lawyer, Greg Craig, playing the part of Mr. McCain in mock debates.

The Obama campaign has been studying Mr. McCain’s debate performances from the Republican primary as well as in his 2000 race for president. Each debate has been rated and scored, with briefing points and highlights sent to Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama’s advisers have been studying in particular Mr. McCain’s temperament and mood and looking for potential flash points of anger.

Mr. McCain, his advisers say, has yet to spend much time watching the dozens of primary debate performances of Mr. Obama over the last two years. But they said that a small staff of aides had been reviewing them and that Mr. McCain would see some highlights next week.

McCain aides refused to say when his debate camp would be or where, or who was playing Mr. Obama or Mr. Biden. (Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, Democrat of Michigan, is playing Ms. Palin for Mr. Biden’s preparations.)

Mr. Obama plans to sequester himself and a few advisers at his debate camp. The attendance is limited to a small group of foreign policy advisers, each rotating in for separate sessions with Mr. Obama and Mr. Craig.

The choice of Florida, particularly the politically critical region near Tampa, was selected with a dual purpose in mind. While Mr. Obama will have few public events from Tuesday through Friday, aides said, his presence could draw considerable local news media attention in a state where he hopes to fiercely challenge Mr. McCain.

While the intense portion of debate training begins on Tuesday, Mr. Obama has been preparing for weeks, in part by drawing upon his experience debating Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in the Democratic primaries. His aides have been studying those debate performances to address one of his biggest shortcomings: his ability to deliver a tight answer. Already, his campaign is trying to diminish expectations for Mr. Obama’s performance.

“Despite the fact that we got the chance to do this a lot during the primaries, these debates are not by any stretch of the imagination his strong suit,” said Robert Gibbs, a senior strategist to Mr. Obama. “He likes to talk about a problem, give some examples that addresses some solutions and oftentimes that doesn’t fit into the moderator’s allotted time.”

The campaigns had no say over the choice of moderators — Jim Lehrer of PBS, Tom Brokaw of NBC and Bob Schieffer of CBS for the presidential debates, and Gwen Ifill of PBS for the vice-presidential debate.

“Everything matters and issues can always come up, such as the size of podiums — like for Carter and Ford in 1976 — to the timer lights if the candidate doesn’t like them,” said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who advised Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. “There hasn’t really been a ‘debate about the debates’ this year, but that can change in a minute.”

Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting from Miami.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Treasury Seeks Authority to Buy $700 Billion Assets

Alison Fitzgerald and John Brinsley
Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The Bush administration asked Congress for unchecked power to buy $700 billion in bad mortgage investments from U.S. financial companies in what would be an unprecedented government intrusion into the markets.

The plan, designed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is aimed at averting a credit freeze that would bring the financial system and economic growth to a standstill. The bill would bar courts from reviewing actions taken under its authority.

``It sounds like Paulson is asking to be a financial dictator, for a limited period of time,'' said historian John Steele Gordon, author of ``Hamilton's Blessing,'' a chronicle of the national debt. ``This is a much-needed declaration of power for the Treasury secretary. We can't wait until the next administration in January.''

As congressional aides and officials scrutinized the proposal, the Treasury late today clarified the types of assets it would purchase. Paulson would have authority to buy home loans, mortgage-backed securities, commercial mortgage-related assets and, after consultation with the Federal Reserve chairman, ``other assets, as deemed necessary to effectively stabilize financial markets,'' the Treasury said in a statement.

The Treasury would also have discretion, after discussions with the Fed, to make non-U.S. financial institutions eligible under the program.

Bigger Than Pentagon
The plan would raise the ceiling on the national debt and spend as much as the combined annual budgets of the Departments of Defense, Education and Health and Human Services. Paulson is asking for the power to hire asset managers and award contracts to private companies. Most provisions of the proposal expire after two years from the date of enactment.

A failure by the government to support the U.S. financial system could lead to ``a depression,'' Senator Charles Schumer told reporters in New York. ``To do nothing is to risk the kind of economic downturn this country hasn't seen in 60 years.''

The Treasury is seeking authority to step in as buyer of last resort for mortgage-linked assets that few other financial institutions in the world want to buy, following government takeovers of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and insurer American International Group Inc.

``Democrats will work with the administration to ensure that our response to events in the financial markets is swift,'' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

Fast Track
The majority party will seek to reduce mortgage foreclosures and create ``fast-track authority'' for an overhaul of financial regulation, Pelosi said. Democrats will ensure ``the government is accountable to the taxpayers in any future actions under this broad grant of authority, implementing strong oversight mechanisms.''

The proposal will include curbs on executive pay for the companies whose assets the government will be buying, Steve Adamske, a spokesman for Representative Barney Frank, said today in an interview.

Democrats also will include a plan to stem foreclosures, which may involve tapping the loan-modification abilities of the Federal Housing Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, Adamske said. Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

``The consequences of inaction could be catastrophic,'' Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement.

`Serious Issues'
``While the Bush proposal raises some serious issues, we need to resolve them quickly,'' he said. ``I am confident that, working together, we will.''

House minority leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said today he is reviewing the proposal but didn't say whether he was inclined to support it.

``The American people are furious that we're in this situation, and so am I,'' Boehner said in a statement. ``We need to do everything possible to protect the taxpayers from the consequences of a broken Washington.''

Congress, which may pass legislation as soon as Friday, needs to ``make sure there are protections built in for taxpayers,'' said Schumer, a New York Democrat on the banking committee. Lawmakers should ensure ``taxpayers who gave the money will be put ahead of the stockholders, bondholders and others.''

Paulson is seeking an expansion of federal influence over markets that hasn't been seen since the Great Depression, said Charles Geisst, author of ``100 Years of Wall Street'' and a finance professor at Manhattan College in New York.

Hoover Era
Geisst likened the plan to the Reconstruction Finance Corp., which was chartered by Herbert Hoover in 1932 with the goal of boosting economic activity by lending money after credit markets seized up.

President George W. Bush said he called leaders in both houses of Congress and ``found a common understanding of how severe the problem is and how necessary it is to get something done quickly.''

``This is going to be a big package because it's a big problem,'' Bush said following a meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at the White House. ``We need to get this done quickly, and the cleaner the better.''

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said in a radio address that he ``fully supports'' Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's efforts to stabilize the financial system. The plan, however, should benefit both main street and Wall Street, he said.

Republican Presidential nominee John McCain ``looks forward'' to reviewing the proposal while focusing at least in part on ``minimizing the burden on the taxpayer,'' said Jill Hazelbaker, communications director for the McCain campaign.

Ban Legal Challenges
The ban on legal challenges of actions by Treasury is ``distasteful, it's unfortunate and it's bad precedent, but this is an emergency and you have to act,'' said Jerry Markham, a law professor at Florida State University and author of ``A Financial History of the United States.''

``What you don't want happen is to have lawsuits that will slow things down and cause problems,'' he said.

The proposal would raise the nation's debt ceiling to $11.315 trillion from $10.615 trillion and require the Treasury secretary to report back to Congress three months after Treasury first uses its new powers, and then semiannually after that.

Paulson would gain discretion to act as he ``deems necessary'' to hire people, enter into contracts and issue regulations related to a revival of U.S. mortgage finance, according to a three-page proposal. The Treasury would ``take into consideration'' protecting taxpayers and promoting market stability.

Hiring Authority
The Treasury plans to hire managers to purchase the assets through so-called reverse auctions, seeking the lowest prices, a person briefed on the proposal said yesterday. The document specifies that Treasury may buy only assets from U.S.-based financial institutions issued or originated on or before Sept. 17.

The House will pass legislation to implement the plan by the end of next week, and the Senate will act soon after, Frank said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television's ``Political Capital with Al Hunt.''

Bush today said he's unconcerned that the price tag on the package may seem high.

``I'm sure there are some of my friends out there that are saying, I thought this guy was a market guy, what happened to him,'' the president said. ``My first instinct was to let the market work, until I realized, while being briefed by the experts, how significant this problem became.''

The Bush administration seeks ``dictatorial power unreviewable by the third branch of government, the courts, to try to resolve the crisis,'' said Frank Razzano, a former assistant chief trial attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission now at Pepper Hamilton LLP in Washington. ``We are taking a huge leap of faith.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Alison Fitzgerald in Washingtont ; John Brinsley in Washington at jbrinsley@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: September 20, 2008 21:14 EDT
__________________________________________________ ______________

The Truth Will Out
Posted by
Joe Klein
September 20, 2008 10:50

Let it be recorded, as Paul Krugman and Josh Marshall have noted, that John McCain's various camouflages, smokescreens and flummeries regarding the subject of government regulation have been exposed in Contingencies, the magazine of the American Association Academy of Actuaries. Following the lead of his buddy, and probable Secretary of the Treasury, Phil Gramm, McCain has been a vehement deregulator. Here is the deathless quote:

"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."

Now, I believe politicians--and journalists, for that matter--should be allowed to change their positions, given new circumstances. Everyone gets it wrong sometimes. But when a politician does change his or her position, the statement should be accompanied by an acknowledgment of a previous mistake: "I used to believe in the deregulation of banking and health care, but I was wrong about that." (This applies to Barack Obama on Iraq: "I was right to oppose the war and to favor a timetable for withdrawal of our troops, but I was wrong about the effect that counterinsurgency tactics would have on violence in Baghdad.")

One of the big differences between the old John McCain and the current edition is that the old one (1) would admit error and (2) would admit there were things he didn't know. That was a good part of his charm. The current edition--a parody of the worst sort of political flim-flam artist--not only lies about his own positions, but attempts to camouflage those lies by mischaracterizing his opponent's positions. It is appropriate, then, that the American Association Academy of Actuaries--a group devoted to the precise calculation of death rates--has exposed McCain's extravagant fraudulence of the past week for what it was.



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
September 22nd, 2008, 05:01 PM
. . . . . . . . . . .

Los Angeles Times Editorial Says Election Should Not Be About Abortion, Other Issues Important To 'Values' Voters

22 Sep 2008
The "electorate would be the loser" if issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and the relationship between church and state "play as significant a role this year as they have in recent presidential races," a Los Angeles Times editorial says. According to the Times, the most "significant" difference between Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) on social issues is on abortion rights -- McCain likely would appoint Supreme Court justices who "would rein in, or even reverse, Roe v. Wade," while Obama would "do the opposite."

McCain "energized" attendees of the Values Voters Summit -- an annual meeting of religious conservatives in Washington, D.C. -- by selecting Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who opposes abortion rights "even in cases of rape and incest," as his vice presidential running mate, the editorial says. However, emphasizing abortion as a voting issue could be a "risky focus for McCain" that could "hurt his prospects by flaunting his pro-life position because many of the centrist women whose votes he covets are pro-choice," according to the Times.

Some of the attendees at the Values Voters Summit "hope that the 2008 election will be a referendum on 'values'-- as defined by them," the editorial says, adding, "We hope they're wrong. ... Decades of arguing about abortion, an issue that turns on matters of personal faith, have produced only tiny shifts in policy. Can we talk about something else this time?" (Los Angeles Times, 9/18).

Reprinted with kind permission from http://www.nationalpartnership.org. You can view the entire Daily Women's Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery here. The Daily Women's Health Policy Report is a free service of the National Partnership for Women & Families, published by The Advisory Board Company.

© 2008 The Advisory Board Company. All rights reserved.

Article URL: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/122272.php
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
September 22nd, 2008, 05:32 PM

Party Favors: Land Handouts Are a Gas

A late-term ploy by the Bush team and its consultants is giving oil and gas developers right-of-way on millions of acres of public land."

Keith Kloor
September 02 2008

"I just want you to know that I'm not here representing blm," archaeologist Blaine Miller reminds me as we drive along the coarsely graded road through central Utah's Nine Mile Canyon. Nestled into the rugged, sparsely populated Tavaputs Plateau, the canyon is a virtual museum of prehistoric art, with an estimated 10,000 images pecked and painted on its towering sandstone walls. I've come to view the dazzling millennium-old renderings of hunters, shamans, and animals before, as Miller fears, they vanish under a coating of dust and grime, thanks to decisions made by his superiors at the Bureau of Land Management, the Interior Department division that oversees some 262 million acres of federal land.

Miller has been with the bureau 33 years, but he hasn't worked on Nine Mile issues since 2004, the year he publicly griped that his bosses wouldn't let him adequately investigate a proposed gas-drilling project. Four years and some 200 wells later, this once-serene canyon has become an industrial corridor, and Miller, who wears large aviator glasses and speaks in a lazy cadence, is up in arms over a new blm-approved plan that would bring 600 more gas wells and up to 1,000 truck trips a day through Nine Mile. Although he's an expert on the canyon's history and the sole archaeologist in the bureau's local field office, Miller wasn't able to view his office's environmental impact statement for the drilling expansion prior to its public release in February, something Kevin Jones, Utah's state archaeologist, calls "incredible."

But Miller has agreed to meet with me as a "private citizen," and so we spend the day scrambling up to cliff ledges and examining art panels 100 feet above the valley floor—several as clear as the day they were etched, others barely recognizable. "I know this one is fading from all the dust, because I've seen it hundreds of times since 1982," Miller says, pointing to a faint image of figures with splayed hands, triangular bodies, and hunting bows. While his superiors discount his observations as "anecdotal," a recent blm-commissioned study concluded that dust raised by the trucks is indeed damaging the rock art. The Environmental Protection Agency also has raised concerns about the "physical integrity" of the art due to dust and unchecked ozone pollution in the canyon.

But what incenses Miller most is his office's new Tavaputs Plateau resource management plan, the master blueprint that dictates how the bureau will oversee the area for the next 15 to 20 years. Normally, these "rmps" take years to complete as myriad competing interests weigh in, but Interior has stamped as "time sensitive" nearly a dozen such plans in six resource-rich Western states—Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, and Alaska—and is rushing to finalize them before Bush leaves office.

Foes of the fast-tracking say it's a ploy to open federal lands to energy firms in a way the next president won't be able to undo. "There are so many deficiencies—the cultural resources get such short shrift—that the only viable alternative is to go back and start over," says archaeologist Jerry Spangler, who heads an antiquities preservation group in Utah.

Federal law stipulates that the blm thoughtfully balance land uses including recreation, grazing, environmental protection, and historic preservation. But the new, hastily completed plans stray far from this mandate. In Vernal, Utah, for example, the bureau knew it could save large swaths of prime habitat in the ecologically rich Uintah Basin by scaling back a proposed gas-drilling project from 6,342 wells to 6,117. "They had the science, all the info, to show that a 3 to 4 percent reduction would provide the most benefit to wildlife," says Wilderness Society lawyer Nada Culver. But the bureau went with the marginally bigger development.

Utah's six new rmps, covering more than 11 million acres, designate 16,000 miles of new roads for all-terrain vehicles, a change that could unleash atvs on seldom-traveled areas containing sensitive riparian corridors and archaeological sites. And, notes David Alberswerth, an adviser to the Wilderness Society, "Some of these plans make over 95 percent of the lands available for oil and gas development." The bureau is already on an energy binge: This spring in Wyoming, where studies blame expanded gas drilling for plummeting wildlife populations, it sold new drilling leases covering some 630,000 acres, a move conservationists say will destroy some of the state's last and richest sagebrush habitat. More sales are expected.

blm staffers attribute the problems, in part, to outsourcing. All of Utah's resource plans were researched by consultants—Tavaputs' and another plan for Colorado's Little Snake River region went to Booz Allen Hamilton, a gop-connected firm that also does intelligence work. Traditionally, rmps had been researched in-house, since field staffers are experts on local land issues, but the Bush Interior Department has farmed out dozens in energy-rich Western states. This worries Steve Madsen, a blm wildlife biologist based in Salt Lake City—especially, he points out, since the bureau determined several years ago that "some of the contractors weren't up to the task of doing a real analysis."

In Colorado, the blm's White River field office even let oil and gas companies pay for creation of an rmp "amendment" that paves the way for about 22,000 new gas wells. "That's a little weird," admits Archie Reeve, a wildlife biologist the bureau often hires for energy-related work. "That private interests would pay for it is really unusual. It would beg the question whether there is a conflict of interest." blm field office manager Kent Walter defends the deal. "If you look at the way the [agreement] is written, you'll see that we took extra lengths to make sure that industry has no special treatment," he says.

He'd be hard pressed to make that claim in Utah, where the outsourcing has cost taxpayers millions of dollars in consulting fees, and wildlife groups are preparing to take the bureau to court. "If they go forward as is," cautions Kristen Brengel, a Wilderness Society lobbyist, "these six plans will be money down the drain."

Keith Kloor teaches magazine writing at New York University.

And still no impeachment? Why not for heaven's sake? Too much work? Or is it that they fear losing funding from their main contributors? A whole lot of both I believe!

We need rid of Cheney and Bush once and for all. We can't afford any less.

They are a blight on all they come in contact with, that is all except their pet projects, a few of which are: Oil and Energy: Arms and Munnitions.

I find it unbelievable that there isn't a march on every state capital in the country, as well as on Washington D.C., with all of us demanding Cheney and Bush be impeached. That it didn't happen during the first term, is mind boggling, as they started their balogny even before 9/11. Remember the phony energy crisis? To let them finish out their terms without every law available to us being used to rid ourselves of them and to punish them is totally disgusting and not something I find easy to swallow.

To let this administration continue as they have and as they plan to, is utter insanity, if for no other reason it will errode any faith we might still have in our country. I keep looking for a reason to still believe in it, and it's becoming harder and harder with each passing day. Think promises of better things to come will stand a chance with Cheney and Bush still in power? With them not having suffered the consequences?

I don't care if it is only a hundred days or so that they have left, their are so destructive that we know the damage they're capable of in just the blink of an eye.

Saundra Hummer
September 22nd, 2008, 05:33 PM

Party Favors: Land Handouts Are a Gas

A late-term ploy by the Bush team and its consultants is giving oil and gas developers right-of-way on millions of acres of public land."

Keith Kloor
September 02 2008

"I just want you to know that I'm not here representing blm," archaeologist Blaine Miller reminds me as we drive along the coarsely graded road through central Utah's Nine Mile Canyon. Nestled into the rugged, sparsely populated Tavaputs Plateau, the canyon is a virtual museum of prehistoric art, with an estimated 10,000 images pecked and painted on its towering sandstone walls. I've come to view the dazzling millennium-old renderings of hunters, shamans, and animals before, as Miller fears, they vanish under a coating of dust and grime, thanks to decisions made by his superiors at the Bureau of Land Management, the Interior Department division that oversees some 262 million acres of federal land.

Miller has been with the bureau 33 years, but he hasn't worked on Nine Mile issues since 2004, the year he publicly griped that his bosses wouldn't let him adequately investigate a proposed gas-drilling project. Four years and some 200 wells later, this once-serene canyon has become an industrial corridor, and Miller, who wears large aviator glasses and speaks in a lazy cadence, is up in arms over a new blm-approved plan that would bring 600 more gas wells and up to 1,000 truck trips a day through Nine Mile. Although he's an expert on the canyon's history and the sole archaeologist in the bureau's local field office, Miller wasn't able to view his office's environmental impact statement for the drilling expansion prior to its public release in February, something Kevin Jones, Utah's state archaeologist, calls "incredible."

But Miller has agreed to meet with me as a "private citizen," and so we spend the day scrambling up to cliff ledges and examining art panels 100 feet above the valley floor—several as clear as the day they were etched, others barely recognizable. "I know this one is fading from all the dust, because I've seen it hundreds of times since 1982," Miller says, pointing to a faint image of figures with splayed hands, triangular bodies, and hunting bows. While his superiors discount his observations as "anecdotal," a recent blm-commissioned study concluded that dust raised by the trucks is indeed damaging the rock art. The Environmental Protection Agency also has raised concerns about the "physical integrity" of the art due to dust and unchecked ozone pollution in the canyon.

But what incenses Miller most is his office's new Tavaputs Plateau resource management plan, the master blueprint that dictates how the bureau will oversee the area for the next 15 to 20 years. Normally, these "rmps" take years to complete as myriad competing interests weigh in, but Interior has stamped as "time sensitive" nearly a dozen such plans in six resource-rich Western states—Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, and Alaska—and is rushing to finalize them before Bush leaves office.

Foes of the fast-tracking say it's a ploy to open federal lands to energy firms in a way the next president won't be able to undo. "There are so many deficiencies—the cultural resources get such short shrift—that the only viable alternative is to go back and start over," says archaeologist Jerry Spangler, who heads an antiquities preservation group in Utah.

Federal law stipulates that the blm thoughtfully balance land uses including recreation, grazing, environmental protection, and historic preservation. But the new, hastily completed plans stray far from this mandate. In Vernal, Utah, for example, the bureau knew it could save large swaths of prime habitat in the ecologically rich Uintah Basin by scaling back a proposed gas-drilling project from 6,342 wells to 6,117. "They had the science, all the info, to show that a 3 to 4 percent reduction would provide the most benefit to wildlife," says Wilderness Society lawyer Nada Culver. But the bureau went with the marginally bigger development.

Utah's six new rmps, covering more than 11 million acres, designate 16,000 miles of new roads for all-terrain vehicles, a change that could unleash atvs on seldom-traveled areas containing sensitive riparian corridors and archaeological sites. And, notes David Alberswerth, an adviser to the Wilderness Society, "Some of these plans make over 95 percent of the lands available for oil and gas development." The bureau is already on an energy binge: This spring in Wyoming, where studies blame expanded gas drilling for plummeting wildlife populations, it sold new drilling leases covering some 630,000 acres, a move conservationists say will destroy some of the state's last and richest sagebrush habitat. More sales are expected.

blm staffers attribute the problems, in part, to outsourcing. All of Utah's resource plans were researched by consultants—Tavaputs' and another plan for Colorado's Little Snake River region went to Booz Allen Hamilton, a gop-connected firm that also does intelligence work. Traditionally, rmps had been researched in-house, since field staffers are experts on local land issues, but the Bush Interior Department has farmed out dozens in energy-rich Western states. This worries Steve Madsen, a blm wildlife biologist based in Salt Lake City—especially, he points out, since the bureau determined several years ago that "some of the contractors weren't up to the task of doing a real analysis."

In Colorado, the blm's White River field office even let oil and gas companies pay for creation of an rmp "amendment" that paves the way for about 22,000 new gas wells. "That's a little weird," admits Archie Reeve, a wildlife biologist the bureau often hires for energy-related work. "That private interests would pay for it is really unusual. It would beg the question whether there is a conflict of interest." blm field office manager Kent Walter defends the deal. "If you look at the way the [agreement] is written, you'll see that we took extra lengths to make sure that industry has no special treatment," he says.

He'd be hard pressed to make that claim in Utah, where the outsourcing has cost taxpayers millions of dollars in consulting fees, and wildlife groups are preparing to take the bureau to court. "If they go forward as is," cautions Kristen Brengel, a Wilderness Society lobbyist, "these six plans will be money down the drain."

Keith Kloor teaches magazine writing at New York University.

And still no impeachment? Why not for heaven's sake? Too much work? Or is it that they fear losing funding from their main contributors? A whole lot of both I believe!

We need rid of Cheney and Bush once and for all. We can't afford any less.

They are a blight on all they come in contact with, that is all except their pet projects, a few of which are: Oil and Energy: Arms and Munitions.

I find it unbelievable that there isn't a march on every state capital in the country, as well as on Washington D.C., with all of us demanding Cheney and Bush be impeached. That it didn't happen during the first term, is mind boggling, as they started their balogny even before 9/11. Remember the phony energy crisis? To let them finish out their terms without every law available to us being used to rid ourselves of them and to punish them is totally disgusting and not something I find easy to swallow.

To let this administration continue as they have and as they plan to, is utter insanity, if for no other reason it will errode any faith we might still have in our country. I keep looking for a reason to still believe in it, and it's becoming harder and harder with each passing day. Think promises of better things to come will stand a chance with Cheney and Bush still in power? With them not having suffered the consequences?

I don't care if it is only a hundred days or so that they have left, they're so destructive that we know the damage they're capable of in just the blink of an eye. SRH

Saundra Hummer
September 22nd, 2008, 06:00 PM

Mushroom Cloud over Wall Street
Mike Whitney

"One bank to rule them all;
One bank to bind them..."

. . . . . . . .
21/090/08 "ICH " -- - These are dark times. While you were sleeping the cockroaches were busy about their work, rummaging through the US Constitution, and putting the finishing touches on a scheme to assert absolute power over the nation's financial markets and the country's economic future. Industry representative Henry Paulson has submitted legislation to congress that will finally end the pretense that Bush controls anything more than reading the lines from a 4' by 6' teleprompter situated just inches from his lifeless pupils. Paulson is in charge now, and the coronation is set for sometime early next week. He rose to power in a stealthily-executed Bankster's Coup in which he, and his coterie of dodgy friends, declared martial law on the US economy while elevating himself to supreme leader.

"All Hail Caesar!" The days of the republic are over.

Section 8 of the proposed legislation says it all:

"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

Right; "non-reviewable" supremacy.

Congress, of course, is more than eager to abdicate whatever little authority they have left. They're infinitely grateful for their purely ceremonial role, the equivalent of Caligula's horse, albeit, with considerably less dignity. Has even one senator spoken out against this madness, which--according to informal internet polls--is resoundingly rejected by the voters? Does it concern the members of congress at all, that the present financial crisis was brought on by the proliferation and sale of trillions of dollars of mortgage-banked garbage which were fraudulently represented as Triple A rated bonds by the very same people who now claim to need unprecedented and dictatorial powers to fix the problem? Or are they more worried that the steady torrent of contributions which flows from Wall Street to congressional campaign coffers will be inconveniently disrupted if they fail to ratify this latest assault on democratic governance? The House of Representatives is one big steaming dungheap that should be leveled and turned into an amusement park instead of a taxpayer-funded knocking shop. What a pathetic collection of cowards and scumbags.

Bloomberg News: "

"The Bush administration sought unchecked power from Congress to buy $700 billion in bad mortgage investments from financial companies in what would be an unprecedented government intrusion into the markets. Through his plan, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson aims to avert a credit freeze that would bring the financial system and the world's largest economy to a standstill. The bill would prevent courts from reviewing actions taken under its authority.

"He's asking for a huge amount of power,'' said Nouriel Roubini an economist at New York University. ``He's saying, `Trust me, I'm going to do it right if you give me absolute control.' This is not a monarchy." (Bloomberg)

The banksters own this country, always have; only now they've decided to strip away the curtain and reveal the ghoulish visage of the puppet-master. It ain't pretty.

Paulson decided that the financial markets needed an emergency trillion dollar face-lift just weeks before his former business partners at G-Sax were dragged off to the chopping block. Was that the reason? Everyone on Wall Street knew that the bulls-eye had already been ripped from Lehman's bloody back and was about to be fastened on Goldman's. Now, it looks like they will escape their day of reckoning due to Paulson's eleventh-hour reprieve. Nice touch, eh?


"(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them."

Market Ticker's Karl Denninger summed this up best:

"This is the de facto nationalization of the entire banking, insurance and related financial system..That's right - every bank and other financial institution in the United States has just become a de-facto organ of the United States Government, if Hank Paulson thinks they should be, and he may order them to do virtually anything that he claims is in furtherance of this act.....The bill gives Paulson the ability to nationalize unlimited amount of private debt and force you and your children to pay for it."

Denninger again:

"The claim is that this is intended to 'promote confidence and stability' in the financial markets.
It will do no such thing. It will instead strike terror into the hearts of investors worldwide who hold any sort of paper, whether it be preferred stock, common stock or debt, in any financial entity that happens to be domiciled in the United States, never mind the potential impact on Treasury yields and the United States sovereign credit rating.

I predict that if this passes it will precipitate the mother and father of all financial panics." (Market Ticker)

Amen. The transformation from a free market to a centralized, Soviet-style economy run by men whose judgment and credibility is already greatly in doubt; does not auger well for the markets or the country. Anyone with a lick of sense would cash in their chips first thing Monday and look for capital's Elysium Fields overseas or as far as possible from the circus sideshow now run by G-Sax ringleader, Colonel Klink.

Paulson's Chicken Little routine might might have soiled a few senatorial undergarments, but let's hope the American people are made of sterner stuff and will reject this charade. The conversation should be shifted from conceding more authority to hucksters in pin-stripes to indictments for securities fraud. Even the most economically-challenged nation ought to be able to afford a few sets of leg-irons and a couple hundred jail cells. That's all it will take. That, and a couple brisk dunks on the waterboard. Glub, glub.

Paulson's plan to revive the banking system by buying up hundreds of billions of dollars of illiquid mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and other equally poisonous debt-instruments; ignores the fact these complex bonds have already been "marked to market" in the recent firesale by Merrill Lynch. Just weeks ago, Merrill sold $31 billion of these CDOs for roughly $.20 on the dollar and provided 75 percent of the financing, which means that the CDOs were really worth approximately $.06 on the dollar. If this is the settlement that Paulson has in mind, than the taxpayer will be well served. But this will not recapitalize the banks balance sheets or mop up the ocean of red ink which is flooding the financial system. No, Paulson intends to hand out lavish treats to his banker buddies, while interest rates soar, pension funds collapse, the housing market crashes, and the dollar does a last, looping swan-dive into a pool of molten lava. Thanks, Hank.

Economist and author Henry Liu summarized the current maneuvering like this: "The Fed is merely trying to inject money to keep prices not supported by fundamentals from falling. It is a prescription for hyperinflation. The only way to keep price of worthless assets high is to lower the value of money. And that appears to be the Fed unspoken strategy."

Indeed. The Fed and Treasury have decided to backstop the entire global financial system (foreign banks can access the Fed's facilities, too!) with paper money which is rapidly losing its value. Watch the greenback tumble tomorrow in currency trading.

Congress is getting steamrolled and the American people are getting snookered. Consumer confidence--already at historic lows--is headed for the wood-chipper feet-first. Something has got to give.

One minute everything is hunky-dory; the subprime meltdown is "contained" and "the fundamentals of our economy are strong".(Paulson) And, less than a week later, congress is forced to surrender their constitutionally-mandated right to oversee spending in order to forestall economic Armageddon. Which is it? Or is the real objective just to keep the country on an emotional teeter-totter long enough for all state-power to be subsumed by the Wall Street Politburo?

No one knows what will happen next. We are in uncharted waters. And no one knows what the political landscape will look like after the dust settles from this outrageous power grab. According to Paulson, things are so dire, the entire nation will be reduced to smoldering rubble and twisted iron. But can we trust him this time after his long litany of lies?

Isn't it about time to send the cockroaches scuttling back to their hideouts and bring in the cleaning crew to hose the whole place down? It sounds like a job for Ralph Nader, a man of vision and unshakable integrity. Give Ralph a badge and let him deploy his Raiders to Wall Street armed with bullwhips and tasers. Let them post a guard in every CEOs and CFOs office and every boardroom on the Street---and if even one decimal is accidentally moved to the right or left on the corporate ledger; clap them in leg-irons and drag them off squealing to Guantanamo. That's how you clean up Wall Street!

Don't let the prospect of a national crisis trick you into giving up your freedom, America. The people behind this scam are the same landsharks and flim-flam men who polluted the global marketplace with their snake oil and toxic sludge. These are the fraudsters who manufactured the crisis to begin with. This is just the latest installment of the Shock Doctrine; engineer a crisis, and then, steal whatever is left behind. Same sh**, different day. Be resolute. Don't budge. Our economic foundations may be crumbling, but or determination is not. This is our country, not Goldman Sach's. The people who destroyed America must be held to account. Their time is coming. Justice first.

Go on-site to gain access to this article by clicking on the following URL"



Saundra Hummer
September 22nd, 2008, 06:10 PM

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget. "

Arundhati Roy


"The chains of military despotism once fastened upon a nation, ages might pass away before they could be shaken off."

William Henry Harrison
American 9th US president (1841)

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless."

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln
Nov. 21, 1864 -
Letter to Col. William F. Elkins
Ref: The Lincoln Encyclopedia
Archer H. Shaw
Macmillan, 1950, NY


"Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience... therefore have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."

Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal
1950 [I]

Saundra Hummer
September 22nd, 2008, 06:47 PM

Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq "


Number of U.S. MilitaryPersonnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged)

In America'sWar On Iraq 4,168

The War And Occupation Of Iraq Costs



See the cost in your community



"The chains of military despotism once fastened upon a nation, ages might pass away before they could be shaken off."

William Henry Harrison
American 9th US president
1841). 1773-1841

. . .

Saundra Hummer
September 22nd, 2008, 09:09 PM
. . . . . . . . . . .

Read The Seattle Times editorial endorsing Obama
The Seatle Times on Sunday became the first major U.S. paper to endorse Barack Obama for president. Read what the paper had to say.

:clap: :thewave :clap:

Barack Obama

Sunday, September 21, 2008 - Page updated at 09:44 AM

Barack Obama for president
An economic Katrina is shattering the confidence of hardworking, middle-class Americans. The war that should never have been in Iraq is dragging on too long. At a time of huge challenge, the candidate with the intelligence, temperament and judgment to lead our nation to a better place is Sen. Barack Obama.

Obama should be the next president of the United States because he is the most qualified change agent. Obama is a little young, but also brilliant. If he sometimes seems brainy and professorial, that's OK. We need the leader of the free world to think things through, carefully. We have seen the sorry results of shooting from the hip.

As our country lurches from one financial or energy crisis to the next, American taxpayers remain burdened with the cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan — to the tune of $12 billion a month.

Consider the banking and financial morass. Neither Obama nor his opponent, Sen. John McCain, offers a perfect solution. But McCain is all over the map, veering from statements such as "The fundamentals of our economy are strong" to the more obvious "Wall Street is threatened by greed."

McCain is at heart a deregulator. But it is the hands-off and ineffective federal regulatory system that allowed this mess to fester. Obama offered a more coherent approach months ago when he called for regulating investment banks, mortgage brokers and hedge funds and streamlining overlapping regulatory agencies.

Our country is on the wrong track. Average, middle-class citizens have lost confidence that if they work hard, they can improve their lives, afford to send their kids to college and not be tossed out of their homes.

American optimism has been wracked by President George Bush and a previous Republican Congress. If you want change, you do not keep what is essentially the same team in power. You try something different. You vote for the stronger matchup, Obama and Sen. Joseph Biden, a smart and steady hand on foreign policy and other matters.

On the issues:

• The economy: The Good Ship America is listing in turbulent waters. Sinking mortgage and banking institutions are wreaking havoc at home and abroad. The problem is in the private sector, but it has been made worse by a federal policy favoring big corporations. The Bush administration has not regulated these companies effectively or done what it takes to curb their wants.

Obama understands this better than McCain and makes clear he would do more to correct it. Obama's assistance to the middle class in the form of tax cuts and college-tuition breaks is a centerpiece of his campaign.

• Energy: The energy crisis is zapping our economic well-being. What does McCain want to do? "Drill, baby, drill," to quote the mindless chant at the Republican National Convention. That is not an energy policy. It is a cheap, shortsighted slogan.

Obama has a coherent plan that includes some drilling, as a stopgap, but he looks to a mix of renewable resources. He is more likely to move America off its dependence on foreign oil. McCain has been in office for 26 years and done little to change this dynamic.

• The Iraq war: Many Americans will cast their vote on this one issue alone. Past performance is the best indicator of future conduct. Obama opposed the war, McCain supported it full-bore. Obama has a plan for moving the troops out; McCain seeks "victory," whatever that actually means. The net effect will be more time and money wasted in a country that did not participate in 9/11.

Afghanistan harbors the key culprits, and the situation there is worse than it has been in eight years. Afghanistan is where our bigger effort should be, as Obama has articulated.

• Education: Obama is more practical than ideological on education. He wants merit pay for good teachers and extra training or firing for lousy ones. He wants to double federal funding for charter schools, but not in a way that cuts into the heart of public schools. Obama recently gave a major speech on education. McCain is too low-key on an important issue.

On numerous other issues, from media consolidation to health care, Obama has the stronger take. He makes up for a thin résumé with integrity, judgment and fresh ideas. Obama can get America moving forward again.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company


:clap: . . . :clap: . . . :clap: . . . :clap: . . . :clap:

Saundra Hummer
September 23rd, 2008, 12:55 PM

Hammering Home the Keating Five Message

David Sirota


Campaign for America's Future,

I went on Fox News on Monday to discuss the financial meltdown. After
taking a sober look at the bipartisan nature of Wall Street
deregulation, I forced the discussion to focus on John McCain's
Keating Five past. It was actually a pretty incredible debate. You
can watch it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9tHEUJOyn4Both the Fox News anchor and the GOP spokesman basically freaked out in a desperate attempt to hide the undebatable fact that McCain was rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee for intimidating regulators on
behalf of one of his biggest campaign donors, Charles Keating.

Just for historical reference, here is the CBS News on 3/23/08:

"In his early days as a freshman senator, McCain was known for
accepting contributions from Charles Keating Jr., flying to the
banker's home in the Bahamas on company planes and taking up
Keating's cause with U.S. financial regulators as they investigated
him...Keating and his associates raised $1.3 million combined for the
campaigns and political causes of all five. McCain's campaigns
received $112,000. The investigation ended in early 1991 with a
rebuke that McCain 'exercised poor judgment in intervening with the

Now it's true, the Ethics committee didn't go farther than that. But
to try to deny that McCain's formative economic experience was
intimidating banking regulators - and that he was rebuked for doing
that - is trying to perpetrate a fraud on the American people.

Judging by the reaction of both the Fox News anchor and the GOP
spokesperson, the conservative Establishment sees the Keating Five
issue as a major weak point, which is one of the reasons I hammered
it home (the other being that McCain's behavior during the S&L crisis
is very important considering the current crisis is very similar). As
you can see, I didn't relent on making sure that the facts got out in
this interview, and I've been pounding away at the issue everywhere I

I hope every branch of the progressive movement similarly forces the
issue into the presidential debate.

To update your preferences visit


To forward this message to a friend visit



Saundra Hummer
September 23rd, 2008, 03:34 PM

Gingrich urges vote against 'stupid' Paulson plan
Sam Youngman
Posted: 09/23/08
01:47 PM [ET]
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that any lawmaker who votes for the Bush administration's $700 billion bailout package, which he called a “dead loser,” will face defeat in November.
Gingrich (R-Ga.) said he thinks Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is trying to scare lawmakers into passing the bailout plan quickly and without thorough study.

“I think what Paulson hopes to do is say, ‘If you don’t do exactly what I want you to do, the whole world’s going to collapse on Tuesday’,” Gingrich said.

The former Speaker, talking to reporters at a lunch, added that he expects Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) to back the plan. He predicted that, if Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) ends up opposing the administration proposal, there will be an overnight “emergence of a McCain/reform wing of the Republican Party.”

Gingrich said that occurrence would turn the election on its head, with Republicans running ads that feature Obama with President Bush on the same team in pushing for a “nightmare” bailout plan.

The former Speaker said that by November, the flaws in the plan will be apparent, and voters will “break against anyone who votes for it.”

Gingrich said he came out against Paulson's plan after looking at the absence of specifics and the focus the plan puts on giving such an enormous amount of money to the federal bureaucracy.

“I thought if [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin had written that, I’d understand it,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich predicted that, if the plan does not pass through Congress by Friday night, it will fail because the weekend will give Republican lawmakers and voters enough time to look at the plan that they will come to oppose it.



Saundra Hummer
September 23rd, 2008, 06:24 PM


10 Things You Should Know About Bush's Trillion Dollar Fleecing Plan

AlterNet Staff,
Posted on September 23, 2008,
Printed on September 23, 2008


The Bush administration's proposal to bail out some of Wall Street's biggest players with an unprecedented transfer of public wealth to the private sector sent shock-waves throughout the nation.

Already deep in deficit, the administration wants to borrow $700 billion dollars -- in addition to the $900 billion already spent this year to prop up troubled lending institutions and deal with the fall-out from the housing crisis -- and entrust it to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, fresh from a long run on Wall Street himself. He'd then buy up worthless paper from struggling banks.

Who would get the money? Nobody knows. Paulson says he wants to hire Wall Street firms to oversee the process.

Under Bush's plan, the taxpayer would get little, if anything, in return. The whole thing would happen without Congressional oversight, save for a semi-annual report on the process, and Paulson's actions would be beyond challenge in the courts.

It is an economic coup d'etat in the making. And people are talking about little else. Here's 10 things that have been on our radars ...

1. Shock Doctrine: Profiting from Crisis

Robert Borosage of Campaign for America's Future invokes Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine in asking whether we're going to "get fleeced in this crisis" ...

Call it extortion. Every American is told to ante up $2,000--an estimated $700 billion in all--to bail out the banks from their bad bets, or they'll bring down the entire economy.

In a speculative frenzy that allowed the Masters of the Universe to pocket millions personally, the banks filled their coffers with toxic paper that no one wants to buy. Now they sensibly don't want to lend money to each other, since no one knows if the other is solvent. So they go on strike, and threaten to trigger a global depression, if they don't get rescued.

The bailout will happen simply to avoid that depression. But depressions have some salutary effects - the scoundrels go belly up, the weakest get purged, and in the wake of the disaster, people demand strict regulation of the money lenders to keep their greed and predatory behavior in check, and government spends money on the real economy to put people back to work.

2. Has a "Consensus" Really Formed Around the Idea That Something Must Be Done?

Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press reports that "economists" -- implying, troublingly, all economists -- see the Bush Bailout as "Necessary."

But Atrios -- economist Duncan Black's blog handle -- has some questions about how everyone got on the same page so quickly ...

It's fascinating to watch how easily consensus is manufactured. A few days ago elite opinion seemed to be cheering Paulson's "no bailout" line, and now they're cheering a trillion bucks thrown down the crapper ...

It's unrealistic to imagine that I'd be able to really get enough honest information to have an informed opinion, but I spent some time thinking about what question all the Very Serious People should, at a minimum, want answered before they start cheering on [any] plans. This is what I came up with:

What changed between Monday and Friday? What new information did you have at the end of the week that you did not have at the beginning of the week which caused you to go from $0 to $1 trillion?

And, no, tumbling stock prices or babble about "deteriorating credit conditions" don't count.

3. Is This Even Legal?

The Constitutionality of the plan is being hotly debated, according to Frank James, writing on the Chicago Trib's blog:

Troubling to many critics is the breathtaking extraconstitutionality of the proposal which would give the Treasury secretary unusual powers that couldn't be countermanded by Congress or the courts.

That appears on its face to violate the Constitution's assertion of a balance of powers where no one branch is unchecked by the others.

James goes on to quote Alan Blinder, "former Federal Reserve vice chair and normally a mild-mannered, live-and-let-live Princeton University economics professor," who said Paulson should be booted out of office for his proposal ...

"I'm speaking now as one of the earliest advocates of creating an institution like this, many, many months ago. And it's a crying shame to see the way the Treasury has written this. I think the secretary of the Treasury should be dismissed, frankly. ... Asking for the authority to buy anything, with no review, with no court review, with no limits practically as to quantity or scope, with almost no congressional oversight. We have something more precious at stake than our precious financial system and that's our precious Constitution. And frankly, if I were a member of Congress, having advocated for this for nine or ten months, I would vote against this unless it's changed, dramatically..."

What's Blinder talking about? Section 8 of the draft legislation released on Saturday reads, in its entirety:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Sounds pretty like some pretty unbalanced powers to us.

And who'd be the new Emperor of the U.S. economy? McClatchy's Kevin Hall explains:

Making the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson repeatedly said today's financial problems were long in the making. He should know. He was part of the Gold Rush that has brought the global financial system to the brink of collapse.

Paulson presided over one of the most profitable runs on Wall Street as chairman and chief executive officer of investment banking titan Goldman Sachs & Co. from 1999 until President Bush nominated him on May 30, 2006 to take over the Treasury Department.

With Paulson now seeking virtually unfettered authority to administer the largest bailout of the financial industry in U.S. history, many are wondering whether Paulson also doesn't come with enormous potential conflicts of interest.

That was one reason Democrats on Sunday expressed reluctance to approve the administration's draft legislation that would leave to Paulson virtually all authority over the proposed $700 billion bailout. The legislation would allow him to decide which securities to buy, from whom to buy them, and which outside companies and people to hire to help him do so.

4. Some Lawmakers Are Angry

The reality is that there's less than a consensus that the "Paulson" plan is the way to go. Over at Open Left, Matt Stoller quotes an angry but (safely) anonymous Democratic Representative venting some spleen ...

Paulsen and congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can't be any "add ons," or addition provisions. **** that. I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother fuckers.

Nancy said she wanted to include the second "stimulus" package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don't want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few fucking bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible.

5. Opposition Across the Political Spectrum

And the New York Times' Paul Krugman's not sure if it'll work ...

So, here's my problem: what we have now are a bunch of financial institutions in trouble, because they're highly leveraged, and have mortgage-related assets on their books. And they can't raise cash because nobody wants to buy those assets. The Paulson plan will in effect create a market for toxic paper, thereby supposedly unfreezing the markets.

But what if the institutions are fundamentally broke, even if the liquidity squeeze is relieved? ...

...Suppose that Hank Paulson does his reverse auction, and it turns out that the Treasury's price for toxic waste is 40 cents on the dollar. Even so, still underwater. So what does Treasury do then?

One answer, I suppose, is that we think that there aren't too many firms in that position -- and that those that will still fail, even with the Paulson Plan, aren't going to disrupt the markets too much when they go down. But do we know that?

In a subsequent column, Krugman says that he agrees that doing something to prop up the financial sector is necessary, but he opposes the "blank check" -- the lack of oversight built into the plan. In a rare instance, William Kristol agrees with Krugman. After saying that this is no time for ideological devotion to the "free markets," Kristol asks ...

...is the administration's proposal the right way to do this? It would enable the Treasury, without Congressionally approved guidelines as to pricing or procedure, to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of financial assets, and hire private firms to manage and sell them, presumably at their discretion There are no provisions for -- or even promises of -- disclosure, accountability or transparency. Surely Congress can at least ask some hard questions about such an open-ended commitment.

And I've been shocked by the number of (mostly conservative) experts I've spoken with who aren't at all confident that the Bush administration has even the basics right -- or who think that the plan, though it looks simple on paper, will prove to be a nightmare in practice.

6. Do Joe and Jane Tax-Payer Really Have to Foot the Bill?

There's lot's of talk about how the legislation can be improved if it is passed. The WaPo's Sebastian Mallaby thinks it unnecessary to use public dollars to boost ailing banks' liquidity:

Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago suggest ways to force the banks to raise capital without tapping the taxpayers. First, the government should tell banks to cancel all dividend payments. Banks don't do that on their own because it would signal weakness; if everyone knows the dividend has been canceled because of a government rule, the signaling issue would be removed. Second, the government should tell all healthy banks to issue new equity. Again, banks resist doing this because they don't want to signal weakness and they don't want to dilute existing shareholders. A government order could cut through these obstacles.

7. What Would a More Progressive Bailout Look Like?

Economist Dean Baker offers up some "Progressive Conditions for a Bailout" at TPM:

Principles to Guide the Bailout

1) Financial institutions should be forced to endure the bulk of the losses with taxpayer funds only used where absolutely necessary to sustain the orderly operation of the financial system.

2) The bailout must be designed to minimize the opportunity for gaming.

3) The bailout should be designed to minimize moral hazard.

4) In the case of delinquent mortgages that come into the government's possession, there should be an effort to work out an arrangement that allows the homeowner to remain in her house as owner. If this proves impossible, then former homeowners should be allowed to remain in their homes as renters paying the market rent. This should be done even if it leads to losses to the government.

5) There should be serious efforts to severely restrict executive compensation at any companies that directly benefit from the bailout.
He also offers up some ideas for restructuring the financial system so, as they say, read the rest.

8. Could the Plan Get Better Through Negotiation?

It appears to us that the first draft of the bill was so extreme, that it veered so far towards Mussolini's definition of fascism -- a perfect blend of state and corporate power -- that it was intended as a starting point from which the administration could offer its opponents some concessions and still end up with something that's terrible for Main Street.

Along those lines, the Wall Street Journal reports ...

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Monday, "we will not simply hand over a $700-billion blank check to Wall Street and hope for a better outcome." But we've heard that before ... we'll see.

Of course, there is a chance that a wave of resistance coming from across the political spectrum could stop the deal, or that it might get mired in partisan bickering -- sometimes "gridlock" is good.

[B]9. Foreign Banks Can Cash in Too

Or perhaps the fact that U.S. tax-payers look like they might also end up bailing out foreign banks will end up being a fly in the ointment.

Now, the U.S. bailout looks as if it is going global, too, a move that could raise its cost and intensify scrutiny by Congress and critics.

Foreign banks, which were initially excluded from the plan, lobbied successfully over the weekend to be able to sell the toxic U.S. mortgage debt owned by their American units to the Treasury, getting the same treatment as U.S. banks.

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson indicated in a series of appearances on TV talk shows that an original proposal introduced Saturday had been widened. "It's a distinction without a difference whether it's a foreign or a U.S. one," he said in an interview with Fox News.

He's right, in a way. There are no U.S. or foreign mega-banks -- just multinational financial institutions with headquarters at home or somewhere abroad. If one accepts the logic of the plan at all, it might as well extend to multinationals with foreign-sounding names. The rabbit hole is only so deep, and we're already way down it.

10. Is This Signaling a Decline in American Power?
According to Reuters, this all seems to be making the Chinese think that a A Different World is Possible ...

Threatened by a "financial tsunami," the world must consider building a financial order no longer depend
ent on the United States, a leading Chinese state newspaper said on Wednesday.

The commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily said the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., "may augur an even larger impending global 'financial tsunami'."

"The eruption of the U.S. sub-prime crisis has exposed massive loopholes in the United States' financial oversight and supervision," writes the commentator, Shi Jianxun.

"The world urgently needs to create a diversified currency and financial system and fair and just financial order that is not dependent on the United States."

Also, the Markets Reaction ...

A lot of people expected the markets to respond positively to the bailout plan, at least over the short-run, but they, too had a thing or two to say on Monday ...

Stock prices and the dollar plunged today -- and oil and other commodities soared -- on growing anxiety about the effect of the government's proposed $700-billion rescue of the financial system.

The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 372.75 points, or 3.3%, to 11,015.69, erasing the index's 368-point gain Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3.8%, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 4.2%.

It was the Dow's sixth triple-digit increase or decrease in a row, and its fifth 350-point-plus move in six trading days.

Some investors who pulled money out of stocks poured it into commodities.

Oil futures shot up $16.37 a barrel to settle at $120.92 on the New York Mercantile Exchange after spiking as high as $130 in the last hour of trading. An index of 19 major commodities soared 3.9%.

The dollar posted its biggest decline on record against the nearly decade-old euro, and yields on Treasury bonds rose over concerns about the large amount of new debt that the government could take on to fund the bailout plan.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute.
All rights reserved.

View this story online at:


[INDENT]Go onsite to view any links if provided and to access other topical issues. There's even a campaign button or two. They can't keep the Polar Bears for Obama/Biden in stock, they keep selling out. SRH


Saundra Hummer
September 23rd, 2008, 06:42 PM

"What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever widening gap. . .between the government and the people. . . And it became always wider. . . the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway . . . (it) gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about . . .and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . .. by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. . .

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'. . . must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. . . .Each act. . . is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. . . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' . . .But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. . . .You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father. . . could never have imagined." :

From Milton Mayer
They Thought They Were Free
The Germans, 1938-45
University of Chicago Press



"Our real enemies are the people who make us feel so good that we are slowly, but inexorably, pulled down into the quicksand of smugness and self-satisfaction."

Sydney Harris

Saundra Hummer
September 23rd, 2008, 09:34 PM
. . . . . . . . .
Mother Jones


We know what Mother Jones would ask if we were running the debate on Friday.

Join us
Follow along as we live blog the debate on Friday and provide the kind of commentary and questions that will keep you informed (and even entertained).

Play along at home with Mother Jones Debate '08 Buzzword Bingo. We know what questions we'd like to hear at the debate but here's a list of what we're more likely to hear. Play along: if we're right then bottoms up. If we're wrong, well maybe we've won a bigger prize.
Join us for the debate - click here! (I believe you have to buy into this event. SRH)


Mother Jones



In a few short days, McCain and Obama will face off in the first debate of the presidential campaign. The question is...well, the questions.

Will the debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, ask the two Senators the hard questions? Like, "Should we really be sending troops into Pakistan without authorization?" Or, "If you could kill one major weapons system, what would it be?"

Asking the hard questions of our candidates this year is pretty damn critical. Will Jim Lehrer do the job? It's anyone's guess. What I can tell you is that I WILL ask the hard questions, just as Mother Jones has been doing for more than 30 years. And I'll be doing it live on our blog on the 26th beginning at 6:00 PM (PDT). For those of you who'd like to play along at home, we've put together the Mother Jones Debate '08 Buzzword Bingo. Print it out and play to win!

I'm doing all of this for two reasons: First, it's my job. Second, I'm kicking off a campaign for Mother Jones that will last through debate season. Because when it comes to asking questions of our leaders every day—not just during the election—you can count on Mother Jones.

And Mother Jones counts on you. Especially right now, when we're producing in-depth, up-to-the-minute coverage of the elections with investigative stories you'll find nowhere else. Real independent journalism ain't cheap, and we need your support to keep it up.

You see, unless you're, say, People, subscriptions just don't keep a publication like ours afloat. You do. Your contributions to Mother Jones are the fuel that keeps the lights on, the blogs live, the journalists digging, and the questions asked. And that's never been more important than it is right now. As a journalist covering politics daily, the role of the media just can't be overestimated this year. And in particular, the role of a publication that is as brave and unrelenting as Mother Jones has never been more important. I'm proud to work here.

So join us for blogs, bingo, and the debate this Friday.


You can wait 'til then to make your contribution if you like, but why? Every single day matters, and every little bit helps. Thank you in advance. See you Friday.


Kevin Drum
Mother Jones

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
September 23rd, 2008, 09:50 PM

Poll: Voters prefer McCain on security, Obama on economy
Steven Thomma | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: September 23, 2008 08:34:23 PM
WASHINGTON — John McCain approaches his first debate with Barack Obama with a decided advantage among voters on the issues of national security and foreign policy, the subjects of their showdown Friday night, according to a new Ipsos-McClatchy poll.

McCain is at a disadvantage with voters, however, on the issues of jobs and the economy, where Obama is viewed as stronger. With the country's financial system in crisis, those concerns are dominating voters' minds by a large margin, the poll found.

Yet neither candidate had an advantage on the crisis in the mortgage and financial system; voters split almost evenly over which one was best suited to manage the mess. Neither had majority support. McCain was judged "qualified" to resolve the crisis by 46 percent of registered voters and Obama by 45 percent.

The net effect: The two men remain neck and neck for the third week in a row. Obama was supported by 44 percent of registered voters, McCain by 43 percent. The poll of registered voters had an error margin of 3.2 percentage points. It was taken from Thursday through Monday.

Independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian candidate Bob Barr each were supported by 2 percent. Another 5 percent supported none of the four, and 4 percent said they didn't know whom they supported.

"Republicans have historically done better on the issues of national security and foreign policy," said Clifford Young, a senior vice president at Ipsos Public Affairs, which conducted the poll of 923 registered voters nationwide.

"But the key issue, the 1,000-pound gorilla in the room, is the economy. And Obama is trending better on that. That could be indicative of things to come."

The poll was conducted days before McCain and Obama face off for the first of three one-on-one debates. Friday's event, a 90-minute debate devoted to foreign policy and national security, will be at the University of Mississippi and televised nationally starting at 9 p.m. EDT.

Their second debate, on Oct. 7 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., will be a town-hall format covering domestic and foreign-policy questions.

The third, on Oct. 15 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., will focus on domestic issues and the economy.

The only vice-presidential debate will be Oct. 2 at Washington University in St. Louis.

Overall, 36 percent of voters ranked jobs and the economy their top concern, followed by 16 percent saying national security, 12 percent leadership, 9 percent change, 8 percent health care, 8 percent family values, 5 percent foreign policy and 2 percent taxes.

Voters preferred McCain over Obama on national security by 60-32 percent. They preferred McCain over Obama on foreign policy by 53-39 percent, and they give McCain the nod on leadership by 50-42 percent.

Voters said their top issue now is jobs and the economy, however, and they preferred Obama over McCain to handle that by 48-40 percent.

Subgroups that were more likely to side with Obama as stronger on jobs and the economy include 18- to 34-year-olds, who break 59-31 percent for Obama over McCain; those in households that make less than $25,000 a year, who break 56-34 percent for Obama over McCain; Hispanics, who break 64-28 percent in Obama's favor; and non-Hispanic blacks, who tilt to Obama by 88-9 percent on this issue.

McCain is seen as stronger than Obama on jobs and the economy by Southerners, 49-41 percent, and non-Hispanic whites, by 48-39 percent.

Overall, registered voters see Obama as representing change more than McCain by 57-32. And they prefer Obama over McCain to handle health care by 50-36 percent.

In a bit of a surprise, voters say Obama is stronger than McCain on taxes by 47-41 percent. Obama would cut taxes for most taxpayers in part by extending the Bush tax cuts for most people, but he'd raise taxes for those who make more than $200,000. McCain would make the expiring Bush tax cuts permanent for all taxpayers.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted Thursday through Monday. For the survey, Ipsos interviewed a nationally representative, randomly selected sample of 1,068 adults across the United States. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within plus or minus 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would've been had the entire adult population in the U.S. been polled. Within this sample, Ipsos interviewed 923 respondents who identified themselves as registered voters. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. All numbers in the news story reflect the survey of registered voters only. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. population according to U.S. Census figures. Interviews were conducted with respondents on land-line telephones and cellular phones. Respondents had the option to be interviewed in English or Spanish.


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Obama concedes bailout costs may force him to adjust plans

McCain, Obama health vetting the result of Eagleton fiasco

Poll: Obama, McCain supporters agree on alternative energy

Check out McClatchy's expanded politics coverage

McClatchy Newspapers 2008


Had John F. Kennedy listened to his military and other seasoned advisors the Cuban missile crisis could have exploded into a full blown war. Truly.

Frankly, a country which is strong economically, one led by those with a country's best interests at heart, not by front men for the worlds largest corporations, is safer and more secure. My belief anyway. Finances are key it's said. That, and a level head; a love of country, not all puffed up with their own overwhelming hubris.

The game playing and unbridled greed by those in seats of power have put us in a precarious position and whomever wins this election had best be prepared to do our work; working for the betterment of our country and it's people, not just their crony's in the back rooms. If they don't, we all will suffer enormously.

We should take up the old flag and it's saying: "Don't Tread on Me". We've just about had all we can take. Our tolerance is wearing thin. SRH

Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 12:02 PM

McCain Loses His Head

By George F. Will
Tuesday, September 23, 2008; A21

"The queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said without even looking around."

-- "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked the Wall Street Journal to editorialize that "McCain untethered" -- disconnected from knowledge and principle -- had made a "false and deeply unfair" attack on Cox that was "unpresidential" and demonstrated that McCain "doesn't understand what's happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does."

To read the Journal's details about the depths of McCain's shallowness on the subject of Cox's chairmanship, see "McCain's Scapegoat" (Sept. 19). Then consider McCain's characteristic accusation that Cox "has betrayed the public's trust."

Perhaps an old antagonism is involved in McCain's fact-free slander. His most conspicuous economic adviser is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who previously headed the Congressional Budget Office. There he was an impediment to conservatives, including then-Rep. Cox, who, as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, persistently tried and generally failed to enlist CBO support for "dynamic scoring" that would estimate the economic growth effects of proposed tax cuts.

In any case, McCain's smear -- that Cox "betrayed the public's trust" -- is a harbinger of a McCain presidency. For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are "corrupt" or "betray the public's trust," two categories that seem to be exhaustive -- there are no other people. McCain's Manichaean worldview drove him to his signature legislative achievement, the McCain-Feingold law's restrictions on campaigning. Today, his campaign is creatively finding interstices in laws intended to restrict campaign giving and spending. (For details, see The Post of Sept. 17; and the New York Times of Sept. 19.)

By a Gresham's Law of political discourse, McCain's Queen of Hearts intervention in the opaque financial crisis overshadowed a solid conservative complaint from the Republican Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the RSC decried the improvised torrent of bailouts as a "dangerous and unmistakable precedent for the federal government both to be looked to and indeed relied upon to save private sector companies from the consequences of their poor economic decisions." This letter, listing just $650 billion of the perhaps more than $1 trillion in new federal exposures to risk, was sent while McCain's campaign, characteristically substituting vehemence for coherence, was airing an ad warning that Obama favors "massive government, billions in spending increases."

The political left always aims to expand the permeation of economic life by politics. Today, the efficient means to that end is government control of capital. So, is not McCain's party now conducting the most leftist administration in American history? The New Deal never acted so precipitously on such a scale. Treasury Secretary Paulson, asked about conservative complaints that his rescue program amounts to socialism, said, essentially: This is not socialism, this is necessary. That non sequitur might be politically necessary, but remember that government control of capital is government control of capitalism. Does McCain have qualms about this, or only quarrels?

On "60 Minutes" Sunday evening, McCain, saying "this may sound a little unusual," said that he would like to replace Cox with Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic attorney general of New York who is the son of former governor Mario Cuomo. McCain explained that Cuomo has "respect" and "prestige" and could "lend some bipartisanship." Conservatives have been warned.

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?


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Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 12:17 PM
:: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Ben Stein almost lets out the Big Secret

Tue Sep 23, 2008
10:48:49 AM PDT
Ben Stein, a man whose character and politics I find to be despicable, has a column today that I noticed on Yahoo Finance. A good buddy of mine, who stays closely abreast of these kinds of financial shenanigans, told me the other day that Ben Stein, in spite of his character flaws, had some really astute observations on this whole mess. So out of curiosity today, I clicked on the link.

And I have to admit, I am astounded by what he said. And even more by what he didn't say. The Big Question he leaves unanswered. It's seriously mind-blowing.

Inky99's diary :: ::
Here is the article:

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Credit Crisis But Were Afraid to Ask And here is the meat of his article, which leads to the huge gaping hole which he leaves unfilled:

The crisis occurred (to greatly oversimplify) because the financial system allowed entities to place bets on whether or not those mortgages would ever be paid. You didn't have to own a mortgage to make the bets. These bets, called Credit Default Swaps, are complex. But in a nutshell, they allow someone to profit immensely - staggeringly - if large numbers of subprime mortgages are not paid off and go into default.

The profit can be wildly out of proportion to the real amount of defaults, because speculators can push down the price of instruments tied to the subprime mortgages far beyond what the real rates of loss have been. As I said, the profits here can be beyond imagining. (In fact, they can be so large that one might well wonder if the whole subprime fiasco was not set up just to allow speculators to profit wildly on its collapse...)

These Credit Default Swaps have been written (as insurance is written) as private contracts. There is nil government regulation of them. Who writes these policies? Banks. Investment banks. Insurance companies. They now owe the buyers of these Credit Default Swaps on junk mortgage debt trillions of dollars. It is this liability that is the bottomless pit of liability for the financial institutions of America.

Did you see that bolded section?

In fact, they can be so large that one might well wonder if the whole subprime fiasco was not set up just to allow speculators to profit wildly on its collapse...
Many of us have already said that, including a LOT of prominent economists like Michael Hudson. These people knew the loans they were making were bad loans. They knew the money wouldn't be paid back. Which has always bothered me -- why did they make bad loans on purpose? For short term gain? Well, yes, at least as far as some of the people involved go, like mortage agents in banks who worked on commission. But the people in charge were letting them make these loans. Why?

Now that is what leads to the real meat of what he's saying, the "Elephant in the Room", That Which Shall Remain Unspoken:

They now owe the buyers of these Credit Default Swaps on junk mortgage debt trillions of dollars. It is this liability that is the bottomless pit of liability for the financial institutions of America.
Somebody, somewhere, is blackmailing the economy. Because somebody, somewhere, is owed these TRILLIONS of dollars. And it is THEY who are holding a gun to the economy and demanding payment, and all of Wall Street, and even the Fed, cannot pay this debt.

So WHO is this Tony Soprano-like world figure? Who are these people? Why are we not identifying them, and talking to them, and negotiating with THEM, whoever they are, to keep from bankrupting the American economy in their favor?

Somebody, somewhere, is blackmailing the entire United States economy. Somebody, somewhere, has a gun to our head. And to the head of the American government.

I want to know who they are. I want them identified.

Who are they? And why are we willing to bankrupt the entire country in order to pay them off?

Somebody, somewhere, has way more power than they should have. Who?


:: :: :: :: ::

Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 12:29 PM
:: :: :: :: ::

I'm An Exceptional Thief!

Wed Sep 24, 2008
07:54:58 AM PDT
Are you old enough to remember the iconic Bruce Willis film Die Hard? In one famous line, bad guy Hans Gruber, played by the always brilliant Alan Rickman, is accused of being a common thief. Gruber replies hotly something to the effect of, "but I'm an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. I'm stealing 640 million dollars ... and since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite." As ambitious a thief as the fictional Gruber was, he was a piker compared to all too real TreasSec Henry Paulson who spent yesterday jacking the American taxpayer for $700 billion, and seemed to be moving up to extortion. But as Barb pointed out yesterday, the man who would be King tipped his hand a little to far with this whopper:


Go on-site for video:
Get that folks? When Paulson wrote in the three page bailout plan, "Sec. 8. Review. Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." What he really meant was "I believe these actions should be completely transparent and open to review as is the role of Congress, and it would be presumptuous of me to presume otherwise!"

Over the weekend, Paulson could have been portrayed as an exceptional thief. Yesterday, he is revealed as the most common, archtypical conservative liar: the kind who lies through his teeth to the entire nation without shame or remorse, even though his own words completely expose his lie. Will Congress play the sleazy yuppie who tries to sell out his peers only to be whacked an example?

Permalink :: Discuss (292 comments)
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Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 12:53 PM

Saving the wealthy with socialism, conservative-style
Thomas F. Schaller
September 23, 2008
Like it or not, we're all socialists now. You can thank those free-market conservatives and their deregulatory idol, George W. Bush, for that.

Conservatives love to wield the word socialism like some all-purpose, liberal-slaying sword. Redistribution to the poor, the right to unionize and affirmative action are decried as anti-market, unfair advantages for filthy socialists who can't compete and fail to appreciate the almighty, equalizing power of self-determination and an unfettered market.

To social conservatives, Darwinism is merely an unproven "theory" about how our species evolved. But "social Darwinism" is an ineluctable fact: The smart and hardworking prosper, while the stupid and lazy fail.

Yet notice how those same chest-thumping capitalists of talk radio and at the corporate-funded think tanks often fall silent in the face of fixed markets, no-bid contracts, bailouts and subsidies for the very corporations that demand less government oversight when things are going well, then turn to Washington when things go horribly wrong.

Thomas F. Schaller Bio | E-mail | Recent columns
The hypocrisies abound.

If unionized teachers were given 15 percent annual raises, regardless of performance, that would be socialist. But when easily repaired military equipment in Iraq is discarded so no-bid defense contractors can charge the automatic 15 percent overhead for replacements (watch Iraq for Sale, a documentary exposing Defense Department contracting), that's the cost of doing business during wartime.

If Congress proposes legislation to extend leniency to Americans who, because of unexpected medical expenses or a job recently shipped overseas, go bankrupt, Republicans fret about governmental dependency. But when Chrysler, insurance giant AIG or the airlines after 9/11 take Beltway bailouts, executives such as Lee A. Iacocca are still esteemed as corporate masters of the universe.

If affirmative action provides a minority or female applicant the inside track for a job or college admission, conservatives lecture us about the power of competition. But when the pharmaceutical companies and the Bush administration collude in passing a Medicare Part D prescription drug bill that expressly prohibits the government from using its competitive buying power to negotiate the best price for those taxpayer-funded drugs, Fox News cues the video for the latest Paris Hilton scandal.

Propose a national health care program to cover everyone, or invest a mere $7 billion per year over five years to expand the children's health insurance program? Sounds like "each according to need" Marxism. But spend several times that amount to bail out AIG, the nation's largest insurance company? That's, um, market stabilization.

While we're debunking myths, now is a good time to revisit those free-market, tax-cutting promises that economic conservatives have been feeding us for years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently dropped to the level it was back in summer 2001, when Mr. Bush signed the first of his four income-tax cuts. That means that if you put $5,000 into blue chip stocks seven years ago, and rolled another $5,000 into sweat socks and hid them under your mattress, your socks and your stocks would have about the same value today.

And you may have to break those socks out now, because the government's proposed $700 billion bailout of the mortgage and finance industries will translate into $4,000 from the pocket of every employed American. (Plus interest, since the money is all borrowed, and Mr. Bush will soon retire as the fifth straight Republican president to leave office without submitting a single balanced budget.)

Meanwhile, rising unemployment means those who are working will continue to shoulder a larger share of our mounting national debt.

The U.S. economy must generate about 150,000 net new jobs each month just to employ Americans entering the work force from high school, college or the military; in a seven-year period, that requires 12.6 million new jobs just to keep pace. The Bush administration's job creation record these past seven years: 4.7 million.

Those of us who work hard and pay our taxes are getting screwed. Our Christmas bonus this year? The privilege of covering the tab for greedy executives in the deregulated insurance and mortgage industries who scoff at safety nets for you but demand a safety trapeze for themselves.

As I said, we're all socialists now. Too bad all that filthy, pinko socialist redistribution is moving up, rather than down, the economic food chain.

Thomas F. Schaller teaches political science at UMBC. His column appears regularly in The Sun. His e-mail is schaller67@gmail.com.


Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 01:39 PM

We Can Stop Paulson's Plunder

David Swanson
24 September, 2008

There does not seem to be any way we are going to avoid shelling out a major amount of money to save banks from the unregulated greed of bankers. Dean Baker and Doug Henwood and every person with any economic expertise whom I find credible predicts disaster if we don't.

But, as Baker pointed out on Democracy Now! this morning, the bailout can punish those responsible rather than rewarding them. It can also be done without creating new dictatorial powers for the executive branch of our government.

Congress must reject Paulson's Plunder and enact a plan with these progressive principles from the Backbone Campaign:

A. The people who caused the problem or profited most should pay for it
1. Highly compensated executives total compensation should be capped or taxed heavily as a condition for being bailed out.

2. Tobin tax on all transactions in Finance, Insurance and Real Estate including currency transactions.

3. Government takes an equity stake, proportionate to the size of the bailout

4. Tax hedge fund managers' income

5. Accountability - fire executives of failed companies as done in the UK, and abrogate their severance packages.

6. Impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers.

B. Re-regulate to prevent this from happening again
1. Direct the Federal Reserve to intervene to prevent asset bubbles.

2. Extend reserve requirements to new security categories

3. Regulate the packaging of loans so they can be evaluated, rated, and priced rationally.

4. Regulate hedge funds and private equity funds in a way comparable to banks

C. Include Main Street in the bailout and invest in a new productive economy 1. Establish a moratorium on foreclosures, renegotiating mortgages or institute a rent-to-own plan to keep people in homes.

2. Create a major economic recovery package which puts Americans to work at decent wages, in productive jobs that add value to homes and communities.

3. Invest the taxes on speculation, executive compensation, and the surtax on the wealthy in clean energy, infrastructure, education, and health care.

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Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 04:18 PM
This just in, SRH:

Breaking News from The Hill:

McCain suspending campaign, wants to postpone debate - By Sam Youngman

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Wednesday he is suspending his campaign, and he is asking Democratic rival Barack Obama to join him in trying to postpone Friday night's debate so that both candidates and both parties can focus on a solution to the Wall Street crisis.

> Read More



Paris Says: No Pardons!

Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney stand accused of 39 grave and impeachable offenses.
Most of these offenses, including war crimes, are felonies for which Bush and Cheney can be criminally prosecuted after they leave office, even if they are not impeached by Congress.

Obviously Bush and Cheney do not want to be prosecuted. So to protect themselves, George Bush's last official act will likely be pardons for himself, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, and everyone else who committed crimes as part of the Bush Administration.

While most lawyers assume pardons cannot precede convictions, Gerald Ford set a powerful precedent by pardoning Richard Nixon in 1972 before he was even indicted, let alone convicted. If Ford could legally pardon Nixon, then George Bush can legally pardon himself.

So there is only one way to stop George Bush from pre-emptively pardoning himself, Cheney, and everyone else in his administration: Congress must impeach Bush and Cheney before Bush can issue such pardons.

The Founding Fathers clearly anticipated a corrupt President might pardon his co-conspirators, and specified impeachment as the remedy.

George Mason, the father of the Bill of Rights (1791-2002), argued at the Constitutional Convention that the President might use his pardoning power to "pardon crimes which were advised by himself" or, before indictment or conviction, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection."

James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution (1788-2007), added that "if the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter [pardon] him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty."

As your constituent, I urge you to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney before they pardon themselves.

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September 24th, 2008, 04:52 PM
They Want Mama To Make It All Better (http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/09/they-want-mama-to-make-it-all-better.html)

Inquiring minds are listening to Rep. Marcy Kaptur D-Ohio 9th District Toledo. It is one of the best rants you will ever hear in your life.

Please Play It. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Click Here To Play They Want Mama To Make It All Better (http://tw.youtube.com/watch?v=mbD62gNi9WE)

Here is a partial transcript:

Taxpayers did not get their fair share of the upside, but they are getting all of the downside and a huge IOU. While Wall Street is made whole, the folks on Main Street are getting the bill. What has mama given us here? Are Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson giving them any bet on the upside? They're not even helping them on the downside.

I feel sorry for our country, I feel sorry for this Congress, that we can't do a better job of standing up for the people today. Where's the Federal Reserve, Where's the Treasury?

Why do they only help the rich people? What about the rest of the people who have to work for a living?

Wake Up America. Wake Up America. Contact your member of Congress.

Contact Your Member Of Congress

Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 05:13 PM

Old-growth Sierra junipers felled amid warming debate

Tom Knudson -
- tknudson@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PDT
Sunday, September 21, 2008

ALTURAS – Moments after he saw the centuries-old junipers on the ground, Glenn Fair felt sick to his stomach.

A 60-year-old fishing guide from rural Lassen County, Fair has nothing against thinning forests to protect them from fire and disease. But the barren, dusty swath of stumps and downed junipers logged from public land last year and the adjacent house-high pile of wood chips was not that kind of cut.

Not only were trees mowed down across nearly 300 acres, they were leveled under a banner of ecological restoration, energy independence and climate-friendly power. It was portrayed as a win-win by the federal government, which was paying for the removal to undo the legacy of poor land management.

But to Fair, burning old-growth junipers in a wood-fired power plant to battle global warming just doesn't make sense.

"These trees are our carbon collectors," he said. "It's no different than if you went into a rain forest and cut it down."

The government's so-called "stewardship project" here in rugged, remote northeast California is a lens through which to view the changing nature of forestry. No longer is managing woodlands in California just about balancing jobs and the environment. These days, carbon, climate and restoration are part of the equation.

Juggling that mix is no easy task.

"There are no simple, formulaic answers," said Laurie Wayburn, president of the Pacific Forest Trust, which manages North Coast redwoods for lumber and carbon. "Climate change is challenging us to think more quickly and deeply at the same time."

Even government officials acknowledge that the Modoc County job – designed to restore the land to its more open, range-like pre-settlement condition – was botched.

"That cut was heavier than we wanted," said Peter Hall, a forester with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. "We're learning from our mistakes and moving on."

New plan covers 1.2 million acres
This spring, the bureau and the U.S. Forest Service announced plans to dramatically expand the scope of the cutting. According to a more than 500-page environmental impact statement, the two agencies propose to use cutting and burning to eradicate junipers across 1.2 million acres – an area more than 11,000 times larger than Arco Arena and its parking lots.

The reason for such dramatic action, they say, is to address historic land management mistakes, including heavy livestock grazing and fire suppression, that have allowed juniper woodlands to expand. That expansion has choked out grass and brush that support wildlife such as mule deer and sage grouse.

"We're all in favor of forests," said Tim Burke, manager of the Bureau of Land Management's field office in Alturas. "However, what's happening here is not natural."

Others question the wisdom of cutting so many trees on the arid Modoc plateau at a time when rising global temperatures are increasing the risk of desertification – the spread of desert-like conditions.

"Almost anywhere else in the semi-arid world, forest cover of any density is viewed as an environmental asset," said Ronald Lanner, a retired Utah State University forestry professor who lives in Placerville.

What's more, some scientists say restoring the terrain to conditions that existed during the cooler 19th century – before global warming began to push temperatures higher – might not work.

"As a generalization, you really can't go back to the way it was," said John Helms, a retired University of California, Berkeley, forestry professor and former president of the Society of American Foresters. "In restoration, one should identify what vegetation best suits the land and society today, and ... the future, rather than 100 years ago."

Even within the Forest Service, not everyone agrees with the project's premise. Connie Millar, a research scientist with the agency's Sierra Nevada Research Center, said junipers are proliferating partly because of higher temperatures.

"I do believe there is a climate aspect," she wrote in an e-mail. And if that's the case, she added, trying to weed them out will prove costly, perhaps futile. "Removal may be a defensible socially desired goal. Nonetheless, I believe that it will take increasing effort, time, money. Eventually this may become a 'paddling upstream' practice.

"I find a similar situation in Yosemite where the park service continues to remove lodgepole pine seedlings from Tuolumne Meadows as fast as they colonize," she continued. "Every time the meadow is cleared (i.e., clear-cut) of the young pines, they re-seed rapidly."

Western junipers' proud history
Junipers might bounce back for another reason, too.

"We are talking about trees that are regenerated by seeds dispersed by animals, by birds that eat the fruits and excrete the seeds and also by coyotes," said Lanner, author of "Conifers of California" and an authority on junipers.

"So as long as you have junipers around, you are going to have a source of seed. And unless you eradicate the animals, you are going to get junipers back again."

Jade-green, burlier than a sumo wrestler and 15 to 60 feet tall, western junipers thrive in the arid reaches of Nevada, eastern Oregon, northeast California and parts of the Sierra Nevada.

They are known for their hardiness and longevity – some live to be 2,000 years old. Near Carson Pass, junipers flourish "in great beauty and luxuriance," John Muir once wrote, adding:

"Two of the largest, growing at the head of Hope Valley, measured 29 feet, 3 inches and 25 feet, 6 inches in circumference, four feet from the ground. The bark is of a bright cinnamon color, beautifully braided and reticulated, flaking off in thin, lustrous ribbons that are sometimes used by Indians for tent-matting. Its fine color and odd picturesqueness always catch an artist's eye."

According to a 1996 article in the Journal of Range Management, their expansion across the region over the last century is hardly unique.

Thousands of years ago, "the range of western juniper expanded and contracted several times in response to increasingly (wet and dry) conditions," the article states. "Western juniper therefore should not be referred to as an invasive weed that is threatening natural communities."

Some see 'juniper desert'
Nonetheless, that is much the way federal officials see it. Bouncing down a gravel road in a government vehicle, Edith Asrow looked out at a stand of younger junipers and did not appreciate the verdant view.

"I see a sort of wasteland," said Asrow, an ecosystem staff officer for the Modoc National Forest. "As the junipers thicken, we lose all the grasses and flowering plants. So all you have left is one species. It's a juniper desert."

Up ahead was a stand of junipers that had been heavily cut for firewood, leaving a snarl of rust-colored branches, stumps and other woody debris.

"Seeing this to me is beautiful because we are on the path of balancing an ecosystem," Asrow said. "I look at this as my kid in braces. In other words … this is a temporary state."

Lanner scoffed at her assessment. "Junipers are part of our biodiversity, as much as sagebrush," he said.

Like all trees, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it as carbon, helping combat global warming. Nationwide, forests sequester 200 to 280 million tons of carbon per year, offsetting up to 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

"The wholesale removal of trees can only result in the loss of a lot of carbon sequestration capacity," Lanner said.

Federal officials disagree, saying grass and sagebrush actually store more. "For us to trade off an intellectual concept about carbon sequestration … and leave juniper trees to turn into a monoculture doesn't make any sort of prudent sense to me," Asrow said.

Such carbon quarrels are bound to become more common as California scrambles to shrink greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 – as mandated by its 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act.

"For every ton of wood consumed to make power, you have at least a 1-ton net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to natural gas," said Steve Brink, vice president of public resources with the California Forestry Association.

Turning wood into megawatts
Two years ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the executive order requiring that 20 percent of renewable energy purchased by public utilities be generated by "biomass" – a catch-all term for trees, sawmill waste, construction debris and so on. Currently, California gets just 1 percent of its power – 550 megawatts – from such sources.

In a state blanketed with crowded, unhealthy forests, many say turning spindly fire-prone conifers into kilowatts makes sense.

"If we can produce domestic energy and restore an ecosystem and stabilize a local economy all at the same time, that could be a win, win, win," said Sean Curtis, a resource analyst for Modoc County.

One thing on which all sides agree is that old-growth trees should not be a part of the mix. But on the cut near Bayley Reservoir in Modoc County, they were toppled anyway.

A contract for the job, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, states that only younger junipers were to be harvested. "Junipers containing … old-growth characteristics will not be cut," it says.

When Hall – the government forester and contract officer – toured the area this spring, he discovered that instruction had not been followed. "When cutters finished … the project, there were no old growth left," he wrote in his project diary.

"There was a break in the communication between the contractor and the cutters," Hall told The Bee. "It's definitely a black mark on his record."

No fine was assessed because the contract had no teeth, Hall said. In fact, the government paid the contractor $76,000 to cut the area, a common practice for forest products with low economic value.

Today, Hall said, new contracts contain penalty clauses.

"We really don't want to cut any old growth juniper," he said.

Many remain skeptical, including Glenn Fair's 84-year-old father and fishing partner, Jay, who said: "If we're not careful we're going to do everything we can to get energy and just destroy the planet."

I read somewhere, that Oregon has the largest Juniper forest outside of the Holy Land. The US Forestry Department is in the process of thining them out, and at one time we were told they were going to cut them all down. They were saying they aren't native, that they had taken over the grass lands, and so they are getting rid of them.

We prefer it for firewood. We rely on firewood for most of our heating during the year, and to keep expenses down and to make sure we get what we want, we go out and get it ourselves. The past couple of years the goverment's been cutting down large swaths of it, and letting it age a year or so and then letting the public go in with a paid for permit which allows a few cords for personal use only. The problem is, they've been cutting on such steep hill sides it's almost impossible to get to some of it safely. They also have a commercial permit; it costs a bit more, but it allows you to sell what you cut. This year, they were asking for us not to cut down the old growth junipers, stating that they're around 1000 years old. So how is it that they aren't natural to our area? Those are old trees, so how is it that they are an import? Did they come across with the first immigrants from Asia?

The eco system is dependent on these trees, and with them gone, the winds here will be like living in Kansas. Without them as a buffer, we will be blown away. I believe what they're doing is a big mistake. SRH



Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 05:55 PM
They Want Mama To Make It All Better (http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/09/they-want-mama-to-make-it-all-better.html)

Inquiring minds are listening to Rep. Marcy Kaptur D-Ohio 9th District Toledo. It is one of the best rants you will ever hear in your life.

Please Play It. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Click Here To Play They Want Mama To Make It All Better (http://tw.youtube.com/watch?v=mbD62gNi9WE)

Here is a partial transcript:

Contact Your Member Of Congress

Wish I could. still haven't hooked up the audio.

I just remember how a lot of us were saying the same, "Wake up People", "Wake up America", and we were told we were un-American, traitors, and pessimists. Say what? What are we being called now? Visionary's? No, but still we warned everyone and no one wanted to believe us, instead they thought the worst of all of us "naysayers", it was a pathetic waste of our time, our trying to make a difference, as their name calling and insults were endless.

We can stand back today and say "We told you so", but that's no comfort, not at all; other than us realizing we weren't so easily fooled, nor so easily led.

It didn't take a brainiack to see what lay ahead, we were just the ones who took the time to find out what was in store; judging our future by past history and new facts.

Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 06:17 PM
They Want Mama To Make It All Better (http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/09/they-want-mama-to-make-it-all-better.html)

Inquiring minds are listening to Rep. Marcy Kaptur D-Ohio 9th District Toledo. It is one of the best rants you will ever hear in your life.

Please Play It. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Click Here To Play They Want Mama To Make It All Better (http://tw.youtube.com/watch?v=mbD62gNi9WE)

Here is a partial transcript:

Contact Your Member Of Congress

jazz_man, I don't have my audio hooked up and all I see is Oriential script, I think it's Japanese, but not up on it.

I'm hoping that the whole speech has a printed transcript. Does it?

Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 07:24 PM


September 24, 2008

Dear Saundra R.,

Doesn't it seem all too familiar? Last time, it was a terrorist attack that was used to push through the Patriot Act and to launch an illegal and immoral war that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Now the Bush Administration announces that we are on the verge of a financial meltdown and the only solution is to fork over $700 billion-with no oversight, no accountability, no transparency, no nothing-to the very people and institutions who got us into this mess. And who is going to foot the bill for this experiment? The American taxpayer. We know this bailout is bull sh*t-- we need accountability and transparency NOW.

Congress needs to feel the heat from people in the streets, not Wall Street-join or create an emergency rally against the bailout in your community tomorrow, Thursday, September 25th. In NYC, we've been working with a coalition of peace and justice groups and will create an enormous pile of junk down by the Wall Street "Bull" and demand "Bail Out my JUNK too!"

>>To find a local action click here or create your own click here

>>Call your Senators and take to the streets tomorrow to say NO to corporate welfare at the expense of our communities.
Tell them: No more blank checks for war. No blank check for Wall Street. Ask them: What about an emergency tax on the wealthy for the bailout and a citizen commission to oversee the bailout? What about an ongoing tax, where every Wall Street transaction gets taxed? The future of our country-our environment, our health care, our education, our roads and bridges-depends on your action NOW. Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

CODEPINK was in Tuesday's Senate Banking Committee hearing declaring "No welfare for the wealthy" and "Stop bailing out billionaires and bail out our troops!"- and we will continue to raise a ruckus to protest this economic highway robbery.

Thank you for standing up and calling "bull" sh*t when you see it! Let's take the bull by the horns together!
Dana, Deidra, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jean, Jodie, Liz, Lori, Medea, Nancy, and Rae

P.S. This Saturday, September 27th, join tens of thousands of Americans to stand up for REAL solutions to our military, climate, and economic crisis by joining a Green for All event. Find an action near you or plan one! It's as simple as taking a photo in your community with a sign that says "I'm Ready for Green Jobs" to show the candidates, the Congress, and the public that America is ready for Green Jobs Now. Full details at www.greenjobsnow.com


Attend an emergency rally against the bailout Thursday


Call your Senators NOW and tomorrow at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to oppose the Bush bailout and No cash for trash!


Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 07:37 PM


"For in a Republic, who is 'the country?' Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them."

Mark Twain
[Samuel Langhornne Clemens]


"A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years."

Lysander Spooner
Political theorist, activist, abolitionist
Source: The Constitution of No Authority
Boston: 1870, p. 28.


"Confronted with such a tight regulation, can man pretend to be free because the tyranny he is subjected to derives from the law? Of course, the legal power is not called "tyranny" since it appears to be established by the general will in the common interest, and since, in any event, occurrences of arbitrary power are infrequent. But a master's equity does not mean that his subjects are not slaves. ... And when their servitude lasts and their thoughts follow their behavior, the state becomes totalitarian and subjection is complete. Since it is legal servitude, the regime is still said to be democratic. Such is the hypocrisy of political language."

Georges Ripert
- Source:
Le Déclin du Droit.
Etude sur la législation contemporaine
(Paris: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence,
1949), p. 69

Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 07:43 PM

Goldman Sachs Socialism

By William Greider

24/09/08 "The Nation" -- -Wall Street put a gun to the head of the politicians and said, Give us the money--right now--or take the blame for whatever follows. The audacity of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's bailout proposal is reflected in what it refuses to say: no explanations of how the bailout will work, no demands on the bankers in exchange for the public's money. The Treasury's opaque, three-page summary of plan includes this chilling statement:

"Section 8. Review. Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." In other words, no lawsuits allowed by aggrieved investors or American taxpayers. No complaints later from ignorant pols who didn't know what they voted for. Take it or leave it, suckers.

Both political parties may submit to this extortion because they don't have a clue what else to do and bending over for Wall Street instruction, their usual posture, seems less risky than taking responsibility. Paulson and Bernanke evoked intimidating pressure for two reasons. The previous efforts to restore investor confidence had all failed as their slapdash interventions worsened the global panic. Besides, the Federal Reserve was running out of money. Nearly three-fifths of the Fed's $800 billion portfolio is now loaded down with junk--the mortgage securities and other rotten assets it took off Wall Street balance sheets. The imperious central bank is fast approaching its own historic disgrace--potentially as discredited as it was after the 1929 crash.

Despite its size, the gargantuan bailout is still designed for the narrow purpose of relieving the major banks and investment houses of their grief, then hoping this restores regular order to economic life. There are lots of reasons to think it may fail. The big boys are acting, as usual, in self-interested ways since the government allows them to do so. Washington's money might pull firms back from the brink--at least the leaders of the Wall Street Club--but that does not guarantee the banks will resume normal lending, much less capital investing. The financial guys may well hunker down, scavenge the wreckage for cheap profits and wait for the real economy to get well. Likewise, global investors--China, Japan and other major creditors--have been burned and may step back from pumping more capital in the wobbly house of US finance.

Secrecy and opacity are crucial to achieve Wall Street's purposes. It could allow Paulson to overpay his old pals for near-worthless assets and slyly recapitalize the damaged banks while telling public and politicians the money is to save the system. To achieve this, Wall Street needs to keep control of the process whoever is elected president (the Wall Street Journal recommends John Thain, ex-chief of the New York Stock Exchange to succeed Paulson). Not everyone will be saved, of course, but high on the list of endangered nameplates is Goldman Sachs, Paulson's old firm. The high-flying investment house looks doomed by these events. The Fed quickly agreed to convert Goldman and Morgan Stanley into banks. Think of Paulson's solution as Goldman Sachs socialism.

The most hopeful comment I heard from an astute economist was by Nouriel Roubini of NYU, who has been darkly prescient during this crisis. The bailout should help, he told the Times. "The recession train has left the station, but it's going to be 18 months, instead of five years," he said. Hope he's right, but voters are unlikely to regard this as fair return on their $700 billion. The bandits will be back in business and partying, while the victims are still gasping for air.

If Paulson's gamble fails--just as possible--then maybe government will finally undertake forceful intervention rather than friendly solicitude for Wall Street. Washington should literally take control of the banking and finance sector and employ its emergency powers to oversee and direct these private, profit-making enterprises. If any bankers do not wish to play, cut them off from any public assistance (and wish them good luck). Then government can exercise temporary supervisory powers that force banking to cooperate with economic recovery by sustaining lending and investment to the real economy. Washington can put profit on hold.

Order full stop to the many financial gimmicks and accounting illusions that led to inflated lending and falsified asset valuations. Unwind the complicated time bombs known as credit derivatives and shut down this lucrative line of business. Meanwhile, instead of throwing millions of homeowners and debtors out of their homes and into bankruptcy, hold them harmless temporarily so people can work out reasonable terms for recovery. Finally, force-feed new life into the real economy with government spending on public projects and capital formation. How much spending? Rescuing America from irresponsible Wall Street is worth whatever it costs to save the bloodied bankers.

National affairs correspondent William Greider has been a political journalist for more than thirty-five years. A former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, he is the author of the national bestsellers One World, Ready or Not, Secrets of the Temple, Who Will Tell The People, The Soul of Capitalism (Simon & Schuster) and--due out in February from Rodale--Come Home, America.

Copyright © 2008 The Nation
Go on-site for links within this article.


Saundra Hummer
September 24th, 2008, 08:05 PM

Half a Trillion Bailout For The Creators of the Market Crisis

US Mortgage bailout at half a trillion, Loss of confidence means end of credibility in the markets. Phony wars, phony values in real estate will cost all of you, financial companies bought out, power consolidated in financial markets, Gold on the rise, stock markets as volatile as a drunken sailor, why are the markets rallying after the big bailout

Bob Chapman

24/09/08 "International Forecaster" -- - We recoil in disgust at the way these arrogant sociopaths, the henchmen of the Illuminati at the Fed and in our Treasury Department, led by Bernanke and Paulson, respectively, are taking the toxic waste losses of the Wall Street fraudsters and dumping them on the taxpayer sheople, while short-squeezing savvy investors by selectively prohibiting and prosecuting shorts of any kind for the stocks of about 800 financial institutions through early October, which all deserve to be shorted. Between the Byzantine dollar rally, the Saudi crude oil assassination, the peppering of precious metals by pernicious paper-hangers (wasn't Adolf Hitler a paper-hanger at one time?) and the short-squeeze on financials, we wonder how many more hedge funds are going to go under, and take everyone else with them in the process, as Lehman gets cannibalized just in time to rack up mark-to-market losses for the sheople to eat in the latest bailout bonanza for the fraudsters, soon to be revealed as the Resolution Trust Company II solution?

Bailing out the toxic mortgages found among the half of US real estate mortgages held or guaranteed by Phonie and Fraudie, some 5+ trillion worth, was not enough for them. Now, they want to pawn the rest of the toxins from the other half of US mortgages, which they estimate will be about a half a trillion. Gee, didn't they tell us the Iran War would cost 60 to 200 billion, only to find out later that when you add in future costs for veteran's disabilities and pensions, the cost could top 3 trillion? And didn't Bernanke tell us that the fallout from the subprime situation was contained? Of course, that was before we saw fraudsters around the world eat $350 billion and counting. And didn't all the fraudster CEO's keep telling us that their walking dead zombie companies were sound and liquid right up to the time that their shareholders got vaporized? Aren't you starting to get a little tired of all the lies? Can we trust even a single word spoken by anyone from Wall Street, the Fed or our "beloved" Treasury Department anymore? The Street, the Fed and our government now have ZERO credibility. This loss of confidence is going to take the markets down no matter what these reprobate and sociopath elitists do.

You will eat multiple trillions of dollars from each of the following: (1) The phony War on Terror; (2) the loss in real estate values caused by record inventories that will be created by defaults and foreclosures resulting from rampant unemployment, loan fraud, over-leveraged consumers and ARM and Option ARM resets; (3) the combined bailout of Fannie's and Freddie's share of the toxic waste contained in the approximately half of all US mortgages which these cess pools have made or insured, plus the losses from the Resolution Trust Company II bailout of the toxic waste from the remaining half of US mortgages; (4) the shortage in the FDIC's insurance reserves that will be generated by losses incurred on account of what will be anywhere from 1,000 bank failures, as suggested by billionaire Wilber Ross, to perhaps as many as half of all banks in the US, as recently suggested by Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America; (5) the PBGC's funding shortage to cover losses suffered by pension plan beneficiaries on account of pension under-funding caused by what will be the loss of as much as half of the value of all US equity shares; (6) the bailouts likely to occur when the credit default swaps and interest rate swaps, along with the entire bond market, go under in what will be the greatest bear market of all time in both bonds and derivatives, which are guaranteed to occur based on the hyperinflation that will be caused by all the other bailouts just listed, as well as by our continually burgeoning budget and trade deficits, the resulting double digit interest rates which will become necessary in order to combat inflation and to properly reward risks, which are about to escalate in astronomical fashion, and to attract foreign investment, which will soon drop to nil based on negative rates of return; (7) the loss in purchasing power due to hyperinflation generated by 1 through 6 above; and (8) the new wars for profit that will be started in order to restart our vaporized economy in the wake of the death and destruction caused by 1 through 7, above, and you can also add in the costs associated with potential social unrest and revolution that are almost certain to occur. When number 6 above comes to fruition, the entire world economy will implode and go into deep depression. None will escape the coming juggernaut of losses when the glowing, quadrillion dollar Derivative Death-Star goes supernova. The entire world economy will get sucked into the resulting financial black hole.

The Resolution Trust Company II will be rammed down the throats of Congress, just like (1) the Federal Reserve Act that has been used to inflate the middle class out of its wealth by imposing a stealth tax which is used to fund profligate government spending and enrich private banker's with their debt-based fractional reserve system of banking; (2) the passage of the US Income Tax, which is used to enslave and impoverish US citizens and to ensure payment of the US Treasury's debt to the Federal Reserve on its treasury paper; (3) the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act by the Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act, which is what paved the way for the speculation, fraud and conflicts of interest that always arise when commercial banks and investment banks are allowed to be merged under one entity, as we just saw happen with Bank of America when it bought out Merrill Lynch, and this poisonous piece of legislation is what allowed the Illuminist bankers to pawn off the toxic waste which their investment banking division created for its investment banking clients, after getting fraudulent AAA ratings from the ratings agencies, on their hapless, sucker-dupe commercial banking clients; (4) the passage of the toxic Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which freed the then fledgling OTC derivatives market, including credit default swaps and interest rate swaps, from the regulatory power of both the SEC or the CFTC, leading to an out-of-control, unregulated, under-collateralized, quadrillion dollar volcano of smoldering, molten risk that no one understands in terms of its scope, its interrelationships and its counterparty risks, and now these financial weapons of mass destruction threaten the worldwide financial system; (5) the passage of the Iran War resolution based on Bush Administration lies regarding Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction and involvement in 911, which has led us into yet another bloody war for profit under the guise of security, democracy and freedom, and which has resulted in the killing of millions of Iraqi civilians and thousands of our soldiers (move over Hitler, Mao and Stalin, the Illuminati and their neocon henchmen are just getting warmed up as they take their shenanigans to the Balkans); (6) the approval of both Patriot Acts to help us fight the evil Osama Bin Laden and the phony "War on Terror" while dismantling our Constitutional rights; (7) the approval of the Military Commissions Act which makes all dissenters into "enemy combatants" and takes away their right to habeas corpus; (8) the passage of the John W. Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2006, which repeals Posse Comitatus, meaning that our military forces can now be used against our own citizens for the first time in our history, and contrary to our Constitution; and (9) the Fannie and Freddie bailout, which was just authorized so the fraudsters can dump their slime on taxpayers in a futile attempt to save their precious system of Ponzi-schemes and insider trading which is becoming unraveled right before their eyes. This is why all incumbents, except for Ron Paul, must be voted out in November.

The House Finance Committee, headed by Rep. Barney Frank, and the Senate Finance Committee, headed by Sen. Christopher Dodd, will give it their usual Boo-Boo, response: "I don't know, Yogi," in order to give the clueless sheople the appearance that they are going to protect taxpayers from the slimy bankers, when the reality is, it is already a done deal and has been planned long in advance, probably for many months, if not years, just like the Patriot Acts. What you are seeing happen right before your eyes is the revenge of the Illuminati for the passage of the Glass-Steagall Act. Not only have they repealed that act, but now they have reverted our system back to the way it was when the Stock Market Crash of 1929 occurred. This is why Bank of America jumped all over Merrill Lynch, and why you are hearing continual overtures for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to do the same, with claims that their business models are flawed. The fane-stream media now tells us that we need such combinations to give our financial institutions greater strength and staying power in the face of a crisis, when it is such combinations that are responsible for creating the crisis in the first place. This is the classic Hegelian Dialectic on steroids: first create the crisis, and then propose the predetermined solutions, stuffing them down everyone's throats, if necessary. If you want to see institutions that will automatically be deemed to be too big to fail the next time they defraud the public, just check out the gargantuan financial behemoths that will emerge out of the current crisis!

Note how this was all set up. First, all the legislation was put into place. Then the system is brought into a crisis situation, which was easily accomplished through deregulation, in order to propel us into a situation where the Illuminists are allowed to consolidate their power with the full blessing of the dopey sheople. Note how Bear Stearns was assassinated just before the Fed opened up its Primary Dealer Credit Facility and its Term Securities Lending Facility, which could have saved BS. They arranged to have BS's clients abandon them and withdrew BS liquidity and credit, and down they went, payback for not helping in the LTCM bailout and for not joining the Illuminist club. Then they string out all the other big commercial and investment banks, to see which ones would turn out to be the keepers, because the carnage was so bad and so widely spread that no one could tell which of the big commercial and investment banks might survive, if any. They needed time to figure out who the survivors would be. Hence, all the desperate bailouts dripping with moral hazard were made to keep them all afloat while they were attempting to make this determination. They decide to let Lehman fail because their condition is irredeemable and it looks like criminal charges may come up at some point due to shenanigans that management committed against their employee's pension money, making them a hot potato. They pair up Bank of America with Merrill Lynch, and we see JP Morgan Chase and possibly Wachovia pairing up with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, respectively. Wachovia and Morgan Stanley are already in talks for a merger. AIG is being preserved to see if they can be fit into the consolidation scheme once all their problems have been sorted out.

To support the survivors, they then announce the Resolution Trust Company II bailout, kill all shorting of over 800 financial companies, and then spew out money and credit throughout the international banking system in amounts that are nothing short of spectacular. This is an outrageous, unbelievable, unprecedented consolidation of power, which flies in the face of free markets and paves the way for an ever-burgeoning corporatist, fascist police state. Hanky Panky wants to give the Fed sweeping regulatory power over this new group of behemoths who will control everything, while occasionally allowing crumbs to fall off their table for the little guys to gobble up. And there will be far fewer of the little guys to worry about after the carnage in the banking sector has finally ceased.

This is not a sure thing for them. The fraudsters remaining, even the big guys, could still fail, that is how bad this situation has become. The Illuminati are quaking with terror that they have overdone things and that they could end up destroying the whole system irreparably. That is why we are having all these bailouts stuffed down our throats.

Gold and silver went on a moon shot this week, with gold setting a new all-time record for a one-day increase in value. That is what happens when you keep pressing on the lid of a pressure cooker, trying to keep boiling, molten precious metals from escaping. Aiding gold and silver was the unraveling of longs in the USDX futures market, who were forced to cover because they had pushed the dollar up as far as it could go. Suddenly, the 93,701 contracts of open interest on Tuesday were reduced to 52,872, being cut virtually in half. That means the dollar rally is over and the ever more desperate bailouts are going to undermine confidence in the dollar. Soon, all these trillions in bailouts may lead to a downgrade of our treasuries, as our debt load will soon reach unsustainable levels, no matter how much the PPT tries to manipulate the markets. The stupidest dolt should be able to figure out that much.

The stock markets are shooting up and down with unprecedented volatility, bobbing and weaving like a drunken sailor as the PPT tries to fight the gravity created by the financial black hole created by the collapse of the Bailout Death-Star and the total lack of confidence of market players who are finally starting to realize that CEO's, Treasury Secretaries and Fed Chairmen are little more than pathological liars, and that the markets are rigged in ways that make China and Russia green with envy. Look at the condition of the Russian and Chinese stock markets, which are being vaporized, compared to ours, which has been placed in a state of suspended animation by the PPT anti-gravity machine. Hey Russia, and China, take some notes. We'll show you what it means to be a died-in-the-wool Marxist/Communist state! And we lead by example, so pay attention. Remember, the satanic trillionaires that run our command economy from behind the scenes are the ones who set you up and financed you. They are the true masters of Communism and Marxism! You guys are amateurs!!!

Do you really think the markets are rallying because everyone is impressed with the new string of bailouts? All the pros know where this is leading us, and they are de-leveraging. If you want to know why the markets are rallying, besides tens of billions of dollars being unleashed from the repo pool for insidious and in-your-face manipulations, check out the yen. At 9 am on the 16th, it was super yen, at 103.650 yen per dollar and 147.592 yen per euro. Now suddenly, despite the dollar crash, the yen has wimped out, and as of 2:25 pm on Friday, it stood at 107.065 against the dollar, and at 154.653 against the euro. Rally mystery solved. Let's get ready to rumble!!!

The members of Pink Floyd become prophets for America. Thanks to all the Illuminist lies the sheople have been injected with, the Goldilocks Matrix remains in tact. Yes indeed, you have all become "comfortably numb.

Just a little pinprick.

There'll be no more aaaaaaaaah! But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up? I do believe it's working, good. That'll keep you going through the show

Come on it's time to go.

There is no pain you are receding

A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.

You are only coming through in waves.

Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.

When I was a child

I caught a fleeting glimpse

Out of the corner of my eye.

I turned to look but it was gone

I cannot put my finger on it now

The child is grown,

The dream is gone.

I have become comfortably numb."

Group: Pink Floyd; Album: The Wall; Song: Comfortably Numb
We hope and pray that the dream is not yet gone, and that Americans get a fleeting glimpse of our former glory and greatness, and that they wake up and stop allowing these scum-bags to have their way with them.

RIP Richard Wright

$ $ $ $ $

Saundra Hummer
September 25th, 2008, 01:09 PM

Has Deregulation Sired Fascism?

By Paul Craig Roberts
24/09/08 "ICH" -- - -- Remember the good old days when the economic threat was mere recession? The Federal Reserve would encourage the economy with low interest rates until the economy overheated. Prices would rise, and unions would strike for higher benefits. Then the Fed would put on the brakes by raising interest rates. Money supply growth would fall. Inventories would grow, and layoffs would result. When the economy cooled down, the cycle would start over.

The nice thing about 20th century recessions was that the jobs returned when the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates and consumer demand increased. In the 21st century, the jobs that have been moved offshore do not come back. More than three million U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost while Bush was in the White House. Those jobs represent consumer income and career opportunities that America will never see again.

In the 21st century the US economy has produced net new jobs only in low paid domestic services, such as waitresses, bartenders, hospital orderlies, and retail clerks. The kind of jobs that provided ladders of upward mobility into the middle class are being exported abroad or filled by foreigners brought in on work visas. Today when you purchase an American name brand, you are supporting economic growth and consumer incomes in China and Indonesia, not in Detroit and Cincinnati.

In the 20th century, economic growth resulted from improved technologies, new investment, and increases in labor productivity, which raised consumers’ incomes and purchasing power. In contrast, in the 21st century, economic growth has resulted from debt expansion.

Most Americans have experienced little, if any, income growth in the 21st century. Instead, consumers have kept the economy going by maxing out their credit cards and refinancing their mortgages in order to consume the equity in their homes.

The income gains of the 21st century have gone to corporate chief executives, shareholders of offshoring corporations, and financial corporations.

By replacing $20 an hour U.S. labor with $1 an hour Chinese labor, the profits of U.S. offshoring corporations have boomed, thus driving up share prices and “performance” bonuses for corporate CEOs. With Bush/Cheney, the Republicans have resurrected their policy of favoring the rich over the poor. John McCain captured today’s high income class with his quip that you are middle class if you have an annual income less than $5 million.

Financial companies have made enormous profits by securitizing income flows from unknown risks and selling asset backed securities to pension funds and investors at home and abroad.

Today recession is only a small part of the threat that we face. Financial deregulation, Alan Greenspan’s low interest rates, and the belief that the market was the best regulator of risks, have created a highly leveraged pyramid of risk without adequate capital or collateral to back the risk. Consequently, a wide variety of financial institutions are threatened with insolvency, threatening a collapse comparable to the bank failures that shrank the supply of money and credit and produced the Great Depression.

Washington has been slow to recognize the current problem. A millstone around the neck of every financial institution is the mark-to-market rule, an ill-advised “reform” from a previous crisis that was blamed on fraudulent accounting that over-valued assets on the books. As a result, today institutions have to value their assets at current market value.

In the current crisis the rule has turned out to be a curse. Asset backed securities, such as collateralized mortgage obligations, faced their first market pricing in panicked circumstances. The owner of a bond backed by 1,000 mortgages doesn’t know how many of the mortgages are good and how many are bad. The uncertainty erodes the value of the bond.

If significant amounts of such untested securities are on the balance sheet, insolvency rears its ugly head. The bonds get dumped in order to realize some part of their value. Merrill Lynch sold its asset backed securities for twenty cents on the dollar, although it is
unlikely that 80 percent of the instruments were worthless.

The mark to market rule, together with the suspect values of the asset backed securities and collateral debt obligations and swaps, allowed short sellers to make fortunes by driving down the share prices of the investment banks, thus worsening the crisis. With their capitalization shrinking, the investment banks could no longer borrow. The authorities took their time in halting short-selling, and short-selling is set to resume on October 3 or thereabout.

If the mark to market rule had been suspended and short-selling prohibited, the crisis would have been mitigated. Instead, the crisis intensified, provoking the US Treasury to propose to take responsibility for $700 billion more in troubled financial instruments in addition to the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG bailouts. Treasury guarantees are also apparently being extended to money market funds.

All of this makes sense at a certain level. But what if the $700 billion doesn’t stem the tide and another $700 billion is needed? At what point does the Treasury’s assumption of liabilities erode its own credit standing?

This crisis comes at the worst possible time. Gratuitous wars and military spending in pursuit of US world hegemony have inflated the federal budget deficit, which recession is further enlarging. Massive trade deficits, magnified by the offshoring of goods and services, cannot be eliminated by US export capability.

These large deficits are financed by foreigners, and foreign unease has resulted in a decline in the US dollar’s value compared to other tradable currencies, precious metals, and oil.

The US Treasury does not have $700 billion on hand with which to buy the troubled assets from the troubled institutions. The Treasury will have to borrow the $700 billion from abroad.

The dependency of Treasury Secretary Paulson’s bailout scheme on foreign willingness to absorb more Treasury paper in order that the Treasury has the money to bail out the troubled institutions is heavy proof that the US is in a financially dependent position that is inconsistent with that of America’s “superpower” status.

The US is not a superpower. The US is a financially dependent country that foreign lenders can close down at will.

Washington still hasn’t learned this. American hubris can lead the administration and Congress into a bailout solution that the rest of the world, which has to finance it, might not accept.

Currently, the fight between the administration and Congress over the bailout is whether the bailout will include the Democrats’ poor constituencies as well as the Republicans’ rich ones. The Republicans, for the most part, and their media shills are doing their best to exclude the ordinary American from the rescue plan.

A less appreciated feature of Paulson’s bailout plan is his demand for freedom from accountability. Congress balked at Paulson’s demand that the executive branch’s conduct of the bailout be non-reviewable by Congress or the courts: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion.” However, Congress substituted for its own authority a “board” that possibly will consist of the bailed out parties, by which I mean Republican and Democratic constituencies. The control over the financial system that the bailout would give to the executive branch would mean, in effect, state capitalism or fascism.

If we add state capitalism to the Bush administration’s success in eroding both the US Constitution and the power of Congress, we may be witnessing the final death of accountable constitutional government.

The US might also be on the verge of a decision by foreign lenders to cease financing a country that claims to be a hegemonic power with the right and the virtue to impose its will on the rest of the world. The US is able to be at war in Iraq and Afghanistan and is able to pick fights with Iran, Pakistan and Russia, because the Chinese, the Japanese and the sovereign wealth funds of the oil kingdoms finance America’s wars and military budgets. Aside from nuclear weapons, which are also in the hands of other countries, the US has no assets of its own with which to pursue its control over the world.

The US cannot be a hegemonic power without foreign financing. All indications are that the rest of the world is tiring of US arrogance.

If the US Treasury’s assumption of bailout responsibilities becomes excessive, the US dollar will lose its reserve currency role. The minute that occurs, foreign financing of America’s twin deficits will cease, as will the bailout. The US government would have to turn to the printing of paper money as did Weimar Germany.

For now this pending problem is hidden from view, because in times of panic, the tradition is to flee into “safety,” that is, into US Treasury debt obligations. The safety of Treasuries will be revealed by the extent of the bailout.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at:




Saundra Hummer
September 25th, 2008, 06:38 PM

The Whoppers of 2008
September 25, 2008

Where McCain and Obama have misled voters. A partial tally.
Normally we post a "Whoppers" compilation the week before Election Day. This time we've already seen such a large number of twisted facts, misleading claims and outright falsehoods that we are doing that now.

It's not just Sarah Palin's claim about killing the bridge project that she had supported until it became a national laughingstock and Congress turned against it. That's just the whopper that got the attention of many news orgaizations earlier this month. There have been lots of others.

McCain has made multiple false representations of Obama's tax proposals. Obama has made false claims about McCain's stance on Social Security. Both McCain and Obama have traded some whoppers about their energy policies, about Iraq, and about Iran, and about supporting troops.

For our full sampler of the campaign distortions we've seen so far, please read on to our Analysis section. There we provide summaries and links to extensive articles on each. This is a partial tally. We still have more than five weeks to go before Nov. 4.

Both candidates are flinging rather a lot of political poppycock, and some serious deceptions, too. We've gone after them in our regular articles and also in our new feature, The FactCheck Wire. Here are the lowlights – thus far.

McCain: Obama will raise your taxes.
It's a pretty standard Republican theme: "Democrat X favors higher taxes and wasteful spending." But the McCain-Palin campaign has repeatedly pushed this line far beyond what the facts will support. Among the whoppers: that Sen. Barack Obama has voted to raise taxes on families earning as little as $32,000 per year, that Obama wants to tax your electricity and your heating oil, that he has voted for "higher" taxes 94 times, and that he will raise taxes for 23 million small-business owners. Each of these claims is false. Sen. John McCain also claims Obama will raise taxes on your investments, which is untrue for all but those at the top of the income scale.

Obama has not proposed new taxes for electricity or for home heating oil. McCain likes to point to a budget resolution for which Obama voted, which would have raised the marginal tax rate on a single individual earning $41,500 per year or a couple earning $83,000 per year. But that isn't part of Obama's tax plan, which would raise rates (including capital gains and dividend rates) only for couples earning at least $250,000 per year, or singles earning $200,000 or more. Any investments held in Individual Retirement Accounts, 401(k) plans or other tax-deferred retirement accounts would remain just that, tax-deferred. Nor would Obama's plans affect 23 million small-business owners; most, in fact, would see a tax cut. At most, a few hundred thousand of the most affluent business owners would see rates go up. And those 94 votes for "higher" taxes? We count 23 that would not have raised taxes at all, but were merely votes against tax cuts. Seven of them would have lowered taxes for many. As for Obama's actual plan: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says that 81.3 percent of all American workers and families would see a tax cut.

Tax Tally Trickery July 3

The $32,000 Question July 8

McCain's Small-Business Bunk July 14

More Tax Deceptions August 12

A New Stitch in a Bad Pattern September 2

There He Goes Again September 18

Obama: McCain will cut your Social Security.
Democrats aren't without a classic theme of their own: "Republican Y wants to cut Social Security benefits for our seniors." John Kerry used something like that against George W. Bush in 2004. It wasn't true then and it hasn't gotten any more true in the past four years. But that hasn't stopped Obama from claiming that McCain wants to cut benefits in half.

McCain did support Bush's Social Security plan. But that plan would not have cut benefits at all. Everybody who gets a check now, or who is nearing retirement, would have remained in the current system. For younger workers who retire in the future, Bush proposed to slow the rate at which benefits grow – keeping pace with the rise of prices but not with the faster rise in wages, as is now the case. Compared with what today's retirees get, that's a smaller increase, not a reduction.

Obama also claimed that if McCain had his way, "millions" who rely on Social Security would have seen their investments disappearing in the recent stock market turmoil. He referred to "elderly women" at risk of poverty and said families would be scrambling to support "grandmothers and grandfathers." Balderdash. The Bush plan, which McCain embraced, would not have allowed anybody born before 1950 to have private accounts, so nobody retired on Social Security today could possibly be relying on private accounts for even a small portion of his or her benefit check. For younger workers, the accounts would have been voluntary anyway.

Scaring Seniors September 19

Obama's Social Security Whopper September 20

The "Bridge to Nowhere"
Both McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, have portrayed Palin's supposed opposition to that infamous Bridge to Nowhere as a major feather in her cap. The claim that Palin told Congress "thanks, but no thanks" on the bridge is a serious distortion of the record. In fact, Palin supported the Gravina Access Project (the formal name of the Bridge to Nowhere) during her run for governor, even as McCain was denouncing it repeatedly as pork-barrel spending. When she finally changed her position in 2007, it was only after Congress had removed the earmark. She complained at the time that there was too little money for the bridge and griped about "inaccurate portrayals." She didn't say who was making these portrayals, but the portrayer-in-chief was, well, you know who. As for saying "no thanks," Palin still received all of the funds originally earmarked for building the bridge but was free to spend them as she wished.

GOP Convention Spin, Part II September 4

One Bridge, Two Bridge September 12

What's the full story on the Bridge to Nowhere? September 22

McCain's Energy Errors
McCain has puffed up his own energy plan while offering a few falsehoods about Obama's. Economists from across the political spectrum scoffed at McCain's claim that a summer-long "gas tax holiday" would save motorists money. And McCain has released several ads promising support for renewable energy. His energy plan, however, contains a number of provisions for expanded oil drilling, "clean coal" and nuclear power, while his proposal for supporting renewable energy is limited to re-shuffling existing tax credits in some yet-to-be-specified way. McCain also claims that Obama doesn't support "the electric car" or nuclear power. In fact, Obama proposes lots of new spending on alternative energy and vehicles, and says, at least, that he's open to building new nuclear plants if safety issues are addressed. Then there's McCain's July ad that preposterously claims that Obama is personally responsible for higher gas prices, even though McCain himself has said that the problem was "30 years in the making."

Gas Price Fixes that Won't May 2

McCain's Power Outage June 20

Distorting Obama June 26

A Full Tank of Nonsense July 22

Wind Power Puffery August 8

Obama's Energy Errors
Obama has committed his share of energy-related misleads, too. In July, we caught him saying that his plan will "fast track alternatives" to imported oil. In reality, Obama's offers a 10-year research and development fund, which doesn't sound all that "fast" to us. Obama also claimed that if Americans properly inflated their tires, we could save as much oil as offshore drilling would produce. That's true in the very short term, but not over the long haul. And Obama, too, has distorted McCain's energy claims. He accused McCain of receiving $2 billion from the oil and gas industry; that figure was $700 million too high at the time. And Obama continues to claim that McCain will give $4 billion in tax breaks to oil companies. But these tax cuts are the result of an across-the-board decrease in corporate tax rates, which would also benefit companies that provide alternative energy.

Straining a Point July 17

Obama's Overstatement August 4

The Truth About Tire Pressure August 14

McCain: Obama doesn't take Iran seriously.
McCain has launched two different deceptive attacks on Obama's Iran policy. Back in June, McCain implied that Obama did not support naming Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. And more recently, McCain blasted Obama for saying that Iran was "tiny" and "didn't pose a serious threat." Both claims are seriously misleading. It's true that Obama voted against an amendment that would have named the IRGC a terrorist organization. But Obama opposed the bill for other reasons and had earlier cosponsored a different bill that would have named the IRGC a terrorist group. And as for Obama's assessment of the Iranian threat: He actually said that Iran is tiny compared with the Soviet Union and doesn't pose a serious threat the way the Soviet Union and its thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles did. McCain left that qualifier out.

Soft on Iran June 5

Context Included: Obama on Iran August 27

Obama: McCain wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years.
We first caught the DNC distorting McCain's remarks all the way back in February. But that didn't stop the DNC or the Obama campaign from continuing to say that McCain wanted to keep troops in Iraq for 100 years. In fact, McCain is referring to a peacetime presence in Iraq, as the full context of McCain's remarks makes clear. Here's what McCain actually said, in a Jan. 3 town hall meeting:

McCain, town hall meeting, Jan. 3: Maybe a hundred. ... We’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as Americans, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. It’s fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world.

Smear or Be Smeared February 8

DNC vs. McCain April 29

He's Against the Troops
We've caught both candidates distorting their opponent's record on support for military personnel and veterans:

.In July, McCain released an ad saying that Obama "made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops" when the Pentagon "wouldn't allow him to bring cameras." Although the individual claims are all true, the implication is false. Obama had previously visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed and in Baghdad – both without cameras in tow. He did cancel a visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany after the Pentagon told him that Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Jonathan Scott Gration, an Obama foreign policy adviser, would not be permitted to accompany him. Obama said afterward that he had "a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political."

Snubbing Wounded Troops July 28
.McCain released a July ad accusing Obama of "voting against funding our troops." The ad refers to a single 2007 vote against a war funding bill. Obama voted for a version of the bill that included language calling for withdrawing troops from Iraq. President Bush vetoed it. (McCain supported that veto, but didn't call it "vetoing support for our troops.") What Obama voted against was the same bill without withdrawal language. And he had voted yes on at least 10 other war funding bills prior to that single 2007 no vote.

The Truth on Troop Support July 22
.In his convention acceptance speech, Obama twisted McCain’s words about Afghanistan, saying, “When John McCain said we could just 'muddle through' in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources.” Actually, McCain said in 2003 we “may” muddle through, and he had recently called for more troops there himself.

FactChecking Obama August 29

.In May, McCain claimed that Obama is the chair of a subcommittee with oversight over the war in Afghanistan but has failed to hold a single hearing on the subject. But while Obama's subcommittee does have jurisdiction over NATO, which is supplying about half of the troops in Afghanistan, his subcommittee does not have jurisdiction over Afghanistan proper.

Does Obama Chair a Senate subcommittee that oversees the war in Afghanistan? June 20

.In September, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden accused McCain of calling a GI Bill McCain voted against "too generous." Biden's line was similar to an earlier AFL-CIO ad that accused McCain of voting against increasing health care benefits for veterans. McCain actually voted for an increase in health care funding for vets, though the version he supported contained smaller increases than some Democratic-sponsored alternatives. And McCain did refer to Sen. Jim Webb's proposed GI Bill as "more generous" than the version he supported, but "more generous" is not the same as "too generous."

AFL-CIO Falsely Attacks McCain July 10
Stretching with Biden September 18

More Misleads and Factual Fumbles

.McCain and Palin have both falsely claimed that Alaska produces 20 percent of the U.S. domestic energy supply and/or 20 percent of the U.S. domestic oil and natural gas supply. Both claims are false. Alaska produces about 3.5 percent of the U.S. domestic energy supply and about 7.4 percent of the U.S. domestic oil and gas supply.

.McCain released an ad claiming that Obama's "one accomplishment" in education was "legislation to teach 'comprehensive sex education' to kindergarteners." That's false. The bill was hardly Obama's accomplishment as he was not even a cosponsor, and in any case, the bill didn't make it out of the state Senate.

Obama quotes McCain as saying he wants to apply "Wall Street deregulation" to health care. That's a distortion of McCain's words. McCain actually limited his comparison just to the idea of allowing people to purchase health care policies across state lines.

.McCain claims that U.S. oil imports send $700 billion per year to countries that don't like us very much. That's an exaggeration. In fact, we actually pay more like $536 billion for the oil we need, and one-third of those payments go to Canada, Mexico and the U.K.

.Obama has misrepresented some of McCain's votes on school funding as votes for cutting education spending. In fact, of the five votes the Obama ad lists, one was for an increase in school funding (just a smaller one than Democrats wanted) and four others were against increases and not for spending cuts.

.McCain has promised that he will balance the budget by 2013. That's unlikely. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says that without serious spending cuts, McCain's tax proposals will actually increase the size of the debt between $5.1 trillion and $7.4 trillion over the next 10 years. So balancing the budget would require cutting federal spending by 25 percent. McCain, however, has proposed very few specific spending cuts.

Go on-site for the numerous links within this article, just click on the following URL:


– by Joe Miller, with the staff of FactCheck.org

Saundra Hummer
September 25th, 2008, 08:33 PM

From Brewster's Millions to Paulson's Billions


David Sirota

Campaign for America's Future, 9/25/08
Just to get our heads around how absurd this bailout proposal is, let's use movies as our metaphor.

First, is the metaphor of Brewster's Millions (which, incidentally, I discussed in a recent newspaper column about political movies, and whose original story was - unsurprisingly - written during the Gilded Age). That film was hilarious because Montgomery Brewster was asked to spend $30 million in one month without accruing a single asset of value.

Now, the political and media elite would have us believe it is possible to responsibly spend $700 billion dollars not in a month like Montgomery Brewster, but in one week, potentially without accruing a single (mortgage-backed) asset or equity stake of value. Incredibly, we are expected not to laugh hysterically, but actually think this is a serious idea. We've gone from Brewsters Millions to Bush's Billions. Here's a graphic that you can send around to your friends to lampoon this bailout travesty:

Just on this basis alone, how can any legislator vote for this? Do you really believe Congress can craft a bill responsibly spending $700 billion in five days? I've worked in Congress - these people can't spend that much money responsibly in a 12-month budget process. And now we are expected to believe that the smartest and shrewdest way to avert a crisis - rather than exacerbate one - is to spend $700 billion in one week? I don't care what kind of weak "oversight" or executive pay language is in there - taking less than a week to authorize the spending of 5 percent of our entire GDP is criminally

Brewsters Millions was funny because it was fiction. This isn't funny at all. Anyone who votes for this bill in its current fashion is engaging in gross economic negligence that drove us into the crisis. Wall Street speculators got themselves into a mess by betting big and losing. Now political speculators in Washington are betting 5 percent of our entire economy on one spin of the roulette wheel - and will charge the loss to average taxpayers.

Yet, Congress, the presidential campaigns and the national media are all espousing what we might call the Princess Leia message from Star Wars. "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope," Leia pleaded - and its the same thing our ruling class is saying. Help us taxpayers, bailing us out with no strings attached is the economy's only hope.

But is it? Last I checked, the Treasury Department pushing the plan is on the record acknowledging that it made up the $700 billion number, not basing it on any data or substantive plan at all. In fact, the only substantive plan I've seen is the one put forward by James Galbraith, one of the most respected economists in the country.

Under the heading "A Bailout We Don't Need," the University of Texas
professor takes to the Washington Post today to outline an alternative economic rescue package - one that doesn't involve handing over almost a trillion dollars to the corporate campaign contributors who created this crisis in the first place.

Here are some excerpts:

With banks, runs occur only when depositors panic, because they fear
the loan book is bad. Deposit insurance takes care of that. So why not eliminate the pointless $100,000 cap on federal deposit insurance and go take inventory? If a bank is solvent, money market funds would flow in, eliminating the need to insure those separately. If it isn't, the FDIC has the bridge bank facility to take care of that.

Next, put half a trillion dollars into the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. fund -- a cosmetic gesture -- and as much money into that agency and the FBI as is needed for examiners, auditors and investigators. Keep $200 billion or more in reserve, so the Treasury can recapitalize banks by buying preferred shares if necessary...Review the situation in three months, when Congress comes
back... could be resolved in three years, rather than 10, by a new Home Owners Loan Corp., which would rewrite mortgages, manage rental conversions and decide when vacant, degraded properties should be demolished. Set it up like a draft board in each community, under federal guidelines, and get to work...

Reenact Richard Nixon's great idea: federal revenue sharing. States and localities should get the funds to plug their revenue gaps and maintain real public spending, per capita, for the next three to five years. Also, enact the National Infrastructure Bank, making bond revenue available in a revolving fund for capital improvements... Here's another problem: the wealth loss to near-retirees and the elderly from a declining stock market as things shake out. How about taking care of this, with rough justice, through a supplement to Social Security? If you need a revenue source, impose a turnover tax
on stocks.

A while back, Barack Obama listed Galbraith as one of his economic advisers. Sadly, Galbraith was left out of the emergency meeting Obama convened about the crisis. Evidently, the Illinois senator believed it was more important to have people who created the crisis like Citigroup's Bob Rubin nearby than an expert like Galbraith who has been sounding the alarm for years - and who has a rational plan to get us out of this mess.

But just in case you actually believed Washington's Princess Leia message of desperation - that the $700 billion bailout is our only hope - think again. There are plenty of other ways to address this challenge.

The problem, of course, is that this isn't about the American economy. It's about disaster capitalism and enriching the people who engineered this crisis to begin with. Bush is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the shock doctrine, both parties in Congress who are helping him push this bailout are akin to Darth Vader - and the circle is now complete. When those legislators capitulated to him on the Patriot Act and the Iraq War back in the post-9/11 fearmongering days, they were but the learner. Now sadly, they are the master.


. . . . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
September 25th, 2008, 09:37 PM
Exposing Corruption Exploring Solutions

Project on Government Oversight
Dear Saundra,

Last week, POGO released a report on the Department of Interior's (DOI) controversial Royalty-In-Kind (RIK) program. In our report, we detailed the cozy relationship between officials at DOI's Minerals Management Service (MMS) and employees of the oil and gas industry, and we recommended phasing out the RIK program, which has evidently been set up to benefit industry rather than taxpayers.

Now some Members of Congress have also decided that enough is enough. This week, Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Nelson (D-FL) introduced legislation to provide much-needed reforms to the RIK program. The Integrity in Offshore Energy Resources Act (S. 3543) would ban MMS employees from accepting gifts from the oil and gas industry, and would suspend the RIK program until MMS conducts a comprehensive review to certify that it has been accurately collecting oil and gas royalties.

I've included the letter, SRH.

September 24, 2008

The Honorable Robert Menendez
317 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Fax: 202.228.2197

The Honor Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Fax: 202.228.2183

Dear Senators Menendez and Nelson,

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) strongly supports every effort to promote ethical conduct and accountability in the management of the taxpayers' natural resources, which is why we wish to express our gratitude to for your hard work on S. 3543.

Oil and gas royalty collections from drilling on federal lands and waters are the second largest source of revenue for the federal government.1 Investigations conducted by the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Inspector General (IG) and POGO revealed gross misconduct in DOI’s Royalty-In-Kind (RIK) program. Instances of misconduct included reports of RIK personnel receiving inappropriate gifts from industry and performing outside work that clearly conflicted with the ethical performance of their duties for the RIK program. POGO is pleased that S. 3543 addresses these problems by establishing clear provisions that prohibit the acceptance of these gifts, and that more clearly defines what outside work presents a conflict of interest. Most importantly, by making violations of the gifts provision a felony, this bill clearly establishes the accountability desperately needed in the RIK program.

In POGO’s most recent report, Drilling the Taxpayer: Department of Interior’s Royalty-In-Kind Program, POGO tracked the history of the program to demonstrate how it was industry-created, industry-supported, and industry corrupted. In the report, POGO points to how the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly found that the RIK program cannot prove that it benefits taxpayers. Additionally, DOI IG Devaney recently told the House Natural Resources committee that he also could not verify the profitability of the program, since RIK contracts were “unauditable” by the IG’s forensic accountants. Given these significant failures to verify the most basic effectiveness of this program, POGO applauds S. 3543 for suspending the RIK program until DOI conducts a comprehensive review that certifies to Congress that the program is accurately measuring the royalty amounts owed to taxpayers.

Finally, auditing is one of the most basic tools for financial accountability. POGO and others have frequently criticized the RIK program for being overly reliant on superficial oversight through “compliance reviews” in lieu of audits. POGO believes that by clearly prohibiting DOI from using compliance reviews instead of audits, S. 3543 takes a significant step toward restoring fiscal responsibility to the RIK Program.

There are too many concerns and too much money at stake to allow DOI to expand RIK as a method for collecting billions of dollars owed to taxpayers. POGO urges the House and Senate to support S. 3543 to restore accountability and ethics to the collection of the taxpayers’ royalties.


Danielle Brian
Executive Director

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1 Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service. Interim Report on the History of the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry in Southern Louisiana . July 2004. p. 30. http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/regulate/environ/studies/2004/2004-049.pdf

. . . . . . . . . . .
As Members of Congress weigh the pros and cons of the Treasury Department's plan to spend up to $700 billion absorbing troubled mortgage-based assets from private firms, POGO has joined a coalition of over 50 organizations from across the political spectrum in opposing certain sections of the plan that would allow the Treasury Secretary to make sweeping decisions while hiding behind a veil of secrecy.

I've included the letter. SRH:

September 23, 2008

Any Federal Financial Industry Rescue Package Must Be Transparent
The Honorable Christopher J. Dodd The Honorable Richard Shelby
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Banking, Senate Committee on Banking,
Housing and Urban Affairs Housing and Urban Affairs
534 Dirksen Senate Office Building 534 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Dodd and Ranking Member Shelby:
We the undersigned, as advocates for open and transparent government, strongly oppose section 2(b)(2) and section 8 of the Legislative Proposal for Treasury Authority to Purchase Mortgage-Related Assets. While we hold many different views on the causes of and remedies for the current turmoil in financial markets, we are united in the belief that the legislation confers unacceptably broad powers upon the Treasury to conduct activities without transparency and accountability to the public. As written, the proposal would make any decisions by the Secretary non-reviewable by courts or administrative agencies – a certain prescription for the very kind of opacity that has contributed to the financial policy woes we face today. Equally troubling, public contracts associated with the proposal could be created outside of existing laws normally governing such actions.
Few proposals in the 110th Congress can match this one for its impact on the American people. For the sake of democratic discourse, citizens deserve vigorous, timely, and accessible disclosure of all details surrounding any government decisions in response to financial market problems. Congress should respect this vital civil right by rejecting section 2(b)(2) and section 8 of the proposal now before you.
At a minimum, any credible solution must address one of the current crisis’ fundamental causes – corruption and other abuses of power sustained by secrecy. Otherwise, the taxpayers could end up giving $700 billion more to repeat the same disasters. Congress must prove it has learned this lesson. Any genuine solution must be grounded in transparency, with all relevant records publicly available and best practice whistleblower protection for all employees connected with the new law. Secrecy worsened this crisis, and taxpayers will not accept a law for secret solutions. What happens to our money is our business.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. If you have any questions, please contact Patrice McDermott, OpenTheGovernment.org, at 202 332 6736, or Pete Sepp, National Taxpayers Union, at 703-683-5700.
Access Info Europe
Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington

to read the coalition letter, which was sent to the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. And be sure to check out our web alert to learn more.
. . . . .
Last week, POGO's Scott Amey testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Management, Investigations, and Oversight. His testimony focused on long-term management and contracting problems at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an agency that is notorious for wasting taxpayer dollars. The Subcommittee has calculated approximately $15 billion worth of waste in 11 DHS programs, which probably represents a mere fraction of the cost of failed homeland security contracts.

Click here to read Scott's testimony, or click below to to watch an archived video of the hearing/

Print transcript:




Warm regards,

Danielle Brian
Executive Director
Project On Government Oversight

. . . . .

Click here to view our most recent press alerts.


Follow the link below to tell your friends about POGO.

Be sure to check out their blog post to learn more. (I've included it as well. SRH)

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POGO Urges Congress to Pass S. 3543
Yesterday, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced legislation to provide much-needed reforms to the Minerals Management Service's (MMS) Royalty-In-Kind (RIK) Program (S. 3543). Today, POGO released a letter in support of the legislation.

In addition to providing much-needed ethical reforms to prevent Greg Smith-style conflicts of interest from happening in the future, the bill also calls for the suspension of the expansion of the RIK Program until DOI conducts a comprehensive review that certifies to Congress that the program is accurately measuring the royalty amounts owed to taxpayers.

This bill acknowledges that the problems in RIK are more than just sex and drugs. This program has systemic resource management issues, particularly in its poor use of auditing, the most basic financial accounting tool available to the government. Under S. 3543, unauditable oil and natural gas drilling leases end, since MMS can no longer use superficial compliance reviews in place of audits. POGO is hopeful that this bill--which recognizes the need to give reforms teeth through provisions like making an illegal gratuity a felony punishable by 2 years in prison--will begin to restore ethical conduct and accountability to resource management.

-- Mandy Smithberger


Saundra Hummer
September 25th, 2008, 10:16 PM

"We never see the smoke and the fire, we never smell the blood, we never see the terror in the eyes of the children, whose nightmares will now feature screaming missiles from unseen terrorists, will be known only as Americans."

Martin Kelly

"They tell us that we live in a great free republic; that our institutions are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people. That is too much, even for a joke. ... Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder... And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles."

Eugene Victor Debs

"Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that The State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied."

Arthur Miller playwright


"For most Americans the Constitution had become a hazy document, cited like the Bible on ceremonial occasions but forgotten in the daily transactions of life."

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.


Saundra Hummer
September 25th, 2008, 10:53 PM

Israel Asked US for Green Light to Bomb Nuclear Sites in Iran


US president told Israeli prime minister he would not back attack on Iran, senior European diplomatic sources tell Guardian

By Jonathan Steele
25/09/08 "The Guardian" -- - Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran's nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.

The then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, used the occasion of Bush's trip to Israel for the 60th anniversary of the state's founding to raise the issue in a one-on-one meeting on May 14, the sources said. "He took it [the refusal of a US green light] as where they were at the moment, and that the US position was unlikely to change as long as Bush was in office", they added.

The sources work for a European head of government who met the Israeli leader some time after the Bush visit. Their talks were so sensitive that no note-takers attended, but the European leader subsequently divulged to his officials the highly sensitive contents of what Olmert had told him of Bush's position.

Bush's decision to refuse to offer any support for a strike on Iran appeared to be based on two factors, the sources said. One was US concern over Iran's likely retaliation, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and other personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The other was US anxiety that Israel would not succeed in disabling Iran's nuclear facilities in a single assault even with the use of dozens of aircraft. It could not mount a series of attacks over several days without risking full-scale war. So the benefits would not outweigh the costs.

Iran has repeatedly said it would react with force to any attack. Some western government analysts believe this could include asking Lebanon's Shia movement Hizbollah to strike at the US.

"It's over ten years since Hizbollah's last terror strike outside Israel, when it hit an Argentine-Israel association building in Buenos Aires [killing 85 people]", said one official. "There is a large Lebanese diaspora in Canada which must include some Hizbollah supporters. They could slip into the United States and take action".

Even if Israel were to launch an attack on Iran without US approval its planes could not reach their targets without the US becoming aware of their flightpath and having time to ask them to abandon their mission.

"The shortest route to Natanz lies across Iraq and the US has total control of Iraqi airspace", the official said. Natanz, about 100 miles north of Isfahan, is the site of an uranium enrichment plant.

In this context Iran would be bound to assume Bush had approved it, even if the White House denied fore-knowledge, raising the prospect of an attack against the US.

Several high-level Israeli officials have hinted over the last two years that Israel might strike Iran's nuclear facilities to prevent them being developed to provide sufficient weapons-grade uranium to make a nuclear bomb. Iran has always denied having such plans.

Olmert himself raised the possibility of an attack at a press conference during a visit to London last November, when he said sanctions were not enough to block Iran's nuclear programme.

"Economic sanctions are effective. They have an important impact already, but they are not sufficient. So there should be more. Up to where? Up until Iran will stop its nuclear programme," he said.

The revelation that Olmert was not merely sabre-rattling to try to frighten Iran but considered the option seriously enough to discuss it with Bush shows how concerned Israeli officials had become.

Bush's refusal to support an attack, and the strong suggestion he would not change his mind, is likely to end speculation that Washington might be preparing an "October surprise" before the US presidential election. Some analysts have argued that Bush would back an Israeli attack in an effort to help John McCain's campaign by creating an eve-of-poll security crisis.

Others have said that in the case of an Obama victory, the vice-president, Dick Cheney, the main White House hawk, would want to cripple Iran's nuclear programme in the dying weeks of Bush's term.

During Saddam Hussein's rule in 1981, Israeli aircraft successfully destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak shortly before it was due to start operating.

Last September they knocked out a buildings complex in northern Syria, which US officials later said had been a partly constructed nuclear reactor based on a North Korean design. Syria said the building was a military complex but had no links to a nuclear programme.

In contrast, Iran's nuclear facilities, which are officially described as intended only for civilian purposes, are dispersed around the country and some are in fortified bunkers underground.

In public, Bush gave no hint of his view that the military option had to be excluded. In a speech to the Knesset the following day he confined himself to telling Israel's parliament: "America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.''

Mark Regev, Olmert's spokesman, tonight reacted to the Guardian's story saying: "The need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is raised at every meeting between the prime minister and foreign leaders. Israel prefers a diplomatic solution to this issue but all options must remain on the table. Your unnamed European source attributed words to the prime minister that were not spoken in any working meeting with foreign guests".

Three weeks after Bush's red light, on June 2, Israel mounted a massive air exercise covering several hundred miles in the eastern Mediterranean. It involved dozens of warplanes, including F-15s, F-16s and aerial refueling tankers.

The size and scope of the exercise ensured that the US and other nations in the region saw it, said a US official, who estimated the distance was about the same as from Israel to Natanz.

A few days later, Israel's deputy prime minister, Shaul Mofaz, told the paper Yediot Ahronot: "If Iran continues its programme to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The window of opportunity has closed. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear programme."

The exercise and Mofaz's comments may have been designed to boost the Israeli government and military's own morale as well, perhaps, to persuade Bush to reconsider his veto. Last week Mofaz narrowly lost a primary within the ruling Kadima party to become Israel's next prime minister. Tzipi Livni, who won the contest, takes a less hawkish position.

The US announced two weeks ago that it would sell Israel 1,000 bunker-busting bombs. The move was interpreted by some analysts as a consolation prize for Israel after Bush told Olmert of his opposition to an attack on Iran. But it could also enhance Israel's attack options in case the next US president revives the military option.

The guided bomb unit-39 (GBU-39) has a penetration capacity equivalent to a one-tonne bomb. Israel already has some bunker-busters.

Map showing nuclear activity in IranClick on "comments" below to read or post comments


. . . . . . .

So if GW Bush isn't going to back Israeli air strikes, why on Gods earth did he sell them 1000 Bunker Busters? One thousand "BUNKER BUSTER BOMBS" were sold to them just a few days ago.

What was the administration expecting? That the bombs were only for display in a May Day type parade?

The elections are almost upon us, and look at the mess they've shoved us into and I don't see it getting any better.

Now they're training our own troops for crowd control, to be used against us in the event we finally revolt. Where will Blackwater be in this scenario?

What a crew the packed Supreme court has foisted on us, and it just continued on with yet another election being stolen.

What is it that they'll be doing this election? Dreadful to contemplate isn't it? SRH

Saundra Hummer
September 25th, 2008, 11:38 PM

When Ignorance Meets Arrogance

Palin on Iran’s Ahmadinejad: ‘He Must Be Stopped’

(Full Text of Planned Remarks)

In a speech prepared for the Jewish sponsored Anti-Iran rally during Ahmadinejad’s visit to the UN on September 22 2208, Palin promised that she would do everything possible to “stop” the danger of a nuclear Iran — even beyond sanctions

Sarah Palin
The New York Sun

25/09/08 --- - 22/09/08 -- I am honored to be with you and with leaders from across this great country — leaders from different faiths and political parties united in a single voice of outrage.

Tomorrow, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will come to New York — to the heart of what he calls the Great Satan — and speak freely in this, a country whose demise he has called for.

Ahmadinejad may choose his words carefully, but underneath all of the rhetoric is an agenda that threatens all who seek a safer and freer world. We gather here today to highlight the Iranian dictator’s intentions and to call for action to thwart him.

He must be stopped.

The world must awake to the threat this man poses to all of us. Ahmadinejad denies that the Holocaust ever took place. He dreams of being an agent in a “Final Solution” — the elimination of the Jewish people. He has called Israel a “stinking corpse” that is “on its way to annihilation.” Such talk cannot be dismissed as the ravings of a madman — not when Iran just this summer tested long-range Shahab-3 missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv, not when the Iranian nuclear program is nearing completion, and not when Iran sponsors terrorists that threaten and kill innocent people around the world.

The Iranian government wants nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is running at least 3,800 centrifuges and that its uranium enrichment capacity is rapidly improving. According to news reports, U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Iranians may have enough nuclear material to produce a bomb within a year.

The world has condemned these activities. The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend its illegal nuclear enrichment activities. It has levied three rounds of sanctions. How has Ahmadinejad responded? With the declaration that the “Iranian nation would not retreat one iota” from its nuclear program.

So, what should we do about this growing threat? First, we must succeed in Iraq. If we fail there, it will jeopardize the democracy the Iraqis have worked so hard to build, and empower the extremists in neighboring Iran. Iran has armed and trained terrorists who have killed our soldiers in Iraq, and it is Iran that would benefit from an American defeat in Iraq.

If we retreat without leaving a stable Iraq, Iran’s nuclear ambitions will be bolstered. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons — they could share them tomorrow with the terrorists they finance, arm, and train today. Iranian nuclear weapons would set off a dangerous regional nuclear arms race that would make all of us less safe.

But Iran is not only a regional threat; it threatens the entire world. It is the no. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. It sponsors the world’s most vicious terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah. Together, Iran and its terrorists are responsible for the deaths of Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, and in Iraq today. They have murdered Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, and other Muslims who have resisted Iran’s desire to dominate the region. They have persecuted countless people simply because they are Jewish.

Iran is responsible for attacks not only on Israelis, but on Jews living as far away as Argentina. Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are part of Iran’s official ideology and murder is part of its official policy. Not even Iranian citizens are safe from their government’s threat to those who want to live, work, and worship in peace. Politically-motivated abductions, torture, death by stoning, flogging, and amputations are just some of its state-sanctioned punishments.

It is said that the measure of a country is the treatment of its most vulnerable citizens. By that standard, the Iranian government is both oppressive and barbaric. Under Ahmadinejad’s rule, Iranian women are some of the most vulnerable citizens.

If an Iranian woman shows too much hair in public, she risks being beaten or killed.

If she walks down a public street in clothing that violates the state dress code, she could be arrested.

But in the face of this harsh regime, the Iranian women have shown courage. Despite threats to their lives and their families, Iranian women have sought better treatment through the “One Million Signatures Campaign Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws.” The authorities have reacted with predictable barbarism. Last year, women’s rights activist Delaram Ali was sentenced to 20 lashes and 10 months in prison for committing the crime of “propaganda against the system.” After international protests, the judiciary reduced her sentence to “only” 10 lashes and 36 months in prison and then temporarily suspended her sentence. She still faces the threat of imprisonment.

Earlier this year, Senator Clinton said that “Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is in the forefront of that” effort. Senator Clinton argued that part of our response must include stronger sanctions, including the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization. John McCain and I could not agree more.

Senator Clinton understands the nature of this threat and what we must do to confront it. This is an issue that should unite all Americans. Iran should not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Period. And in a single voice, we must be loud enough for the whole world to hear: Stop Iran!

Only by working together, across national, religious, and political differences, can we alter this regime’s dangerous behavior. Iran has many vulnerabilities, including a regime weakened by sanctions and a population eager to embrace opportunities with the West. We must increase economic pressure to change Iran’s behavior.

Tomorrow, Ahmadinejad will come to New York. On our soil, he will exercise the right of freedom of speech — a right he denies his own people. He will share his hateful agenda with the world. Our task is to focus the world on what can be done to stop him.

We must rally the world to press for truly tough sanctions at the U.N. or with our allies if Iran’s allies continue to block action in the U.N. We must start with restrictions on Iran’s refined petroleum imports.

We must reduce our dependency on foreign oil to weaken Iran’s economic influence.

We must target the regime’s assets abroad; bank accounts, investments, and trading partners.

President Ahmadinejad should be held accountable for inciting genocide, a crime under international law.

We must sanction Iran’s Central Bank and the Revolutionary Guard Corps — which no one should doubt is a terrorist organization.

Together, we can stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Senator McCain has made a solemn commitment that I strongly endorse: Never again will we risk another Holocaust. And this is not a wish, a request, or a plea to Israel’s enemies. This is a promise that the United States and Israel will honor, against any enemy who cares to test us. It is John McCain’s promise and it is my promise.

Thank you.


'Information Clearing House

~ ~ ~

It's as if Sarah Palin is rabidly inviting the end of times as we know them. Does she know that the "Rapture" is a somewhat rather recent belief?

One thing we do know is that war is hell and with radiation loaded bombs the PNAC have on the table, a war can end up being hell for the victor as well as the defeated. I know, I had a great friend who was near Bikini on a US Navy ship when they bombed Bikini. He suffered for years.

We know from tests that a radio-active cloud can reach all the way around the world and we know full well radiations harmful effects and the damage it does, especially to children. Is this what we all want for all of our children? Not just our own? All of our children?

With Israel, or us, using radio active bunker busters which will end up contaminating all of us, we risk our own health. The weapons they plan on using have the potential to harm us all, depending on which way the winds blow. We know where the jet stream goes and we are right in it's path. We even get coal contamination all the way from China, and it isn't nearly as insidious as radio active microscopic dust.

Now we learn Pakistan is firing on our helicopters, as we, the U.S. States, invade Pakistans sovereign air space; actually firing on suspected terrorists in al Qaida strongholds.

When push comes to shove, who will the victor be? None of us it seems, as there is so much involved. The whole world is turning into a tinder box due to a lack of diplomacy; a ready to explode tinder box, due to the saber rattling that educated men, and this ambitious woman are partaking in.

What a fine mess we're all in due to their power struggles, their unbridled greed, and their total lack of common sense. SRH

Saundra Hummer
September 26th, 2008, 02:56 PM
* * * * * * *

Kissinger Instructs Palin On Finer Points Of Clandestine Carpet Bombing

September 24, 2008 | Issue 44•39 WASHINGTON—In preparation for her debate with Sen. Joe Biden next week, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin met with seasoned statesman and Nobel Peace Prize–winner Henry Kissinger yesterday to take advantage of his extensive foreign policy knowledge and expertise in carpet-bombing innocent civilians in nations with which the U.S. is not officially at war.

"Dr. Kissinger has given Gov. Palin thorough instructions for launching deadly covert military operations in tiny Southeast Asian countries in blatant disregard for human life and international law," said McCain campaign spokesperson Tracey Schmitt of Palin's brief consultation with the Nixon and Ford administrations' former secretary of state and national security adviser. "In addition, the governor now feels completely confident that, if she is ever required to step in for Sen. McCain to mastermind the toppling of a democratically elected but left-leaning South American government without congressional consent, she will be fully prepared."

Sources close to the campaign said that Palin's meeting with Vice President Cheney about how to claim executive supremacy for the purpose of bypassing constitutional limits on torture has been canceled since advisers feel she already has enough personal experience with the subject.

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* * * * *

Saundra Hummer
September 26th, 2008, 06:44 PM
* * * * * * *


Palin should step down, conservative commentator says

September 26, 2008
Posted: 06:20 PM E*
From CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Palin was in New York City Thursday.
Go on-site for photo.

(CNN) – Prominent conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, an early supporter of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin, said Friday recent interviews have shown the Alaska governor is "out of her league" and should leave the GOP presidential ticket for the good of the party.

The criticism in Parker's Friday column is the latest in a recent string of negative assessments toward the McCain-Palin candidacy from prominent conservatives.

It was fun while it lasted," Parker writes. "Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who is clearly out of her league."

Palin's interview with Couric drew criticism when the Alaska governor was unable to provide an example of when John McCain had pushed for more regulation of Wall Street during his Senate career. Palin also took heat for defending her foreign policy credentials by suggesting Russian leaders enter Alaska airspace when they come to America. Palin was also criticized last week for appearing not to know what the Bush Doctrine is during an interview with Charlie Gibson.

“If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself," Parker also writes. "If Palin were a man, we’d all be guffawing, just as we do every time Joe Biden tickles the back of his throat with his toes. But because she’s a woman — and the first ever on a Republican presidential ticket — we are reluctant to say what is painfully true."

Parker, who praised McCain's "keen judgment" for picking Palin earlier this month and wrote the Alaska governor is a "perfect storm of God, Mom and apple pie," now says Palin should step down from the ticket.

“Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves," Parker writes. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first. Do it for your country."

Parker's comments follow those by prominent conservatives David Brooks, George Will, and David Frum who have all publicly questioned Palin's readiness to be vice president.

"Sarah Palin has many virtues," Brooks wrote in a recent column. "If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she'd be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness."

* * * * *

Saundra Hummer
September 26th, 2008, 07:03 PM
. . . . . . .

Exclusive September 26, 2008

Sources say Alberto Gonzales now claims that President Bush personally directed him to John Ashcroft's hospital room in the infamous wiretap renewal incident—and that in another instance the President asked him to fabricate fictitious notes

Murray Waas

What Did Bush Tell Gonzales?

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

The hospital visit is already central to many contemporaneous historical accounts of the Bush presidency. At the time of the visit, Ashcroft had been in intensive care for six days, was heavily medicated, and was recovering from emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder. Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey has said that he believes that Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who accompanied Gonzales to Ashcroft’s hospital room, were trying to take advantage of Ashcroft’s grievously ill state—pressing him to sign the certification possibly without even comprehending what he was doing—and in the process authorize a government surveillance program which both Ashcroft and the Justice Department had concluded was of questionable legality.

Gonzales has also told Justice Department investigators that President Bush played a more central and active role than was previously known in devising a strategy to have Congress enable the continuation of the surveillance program when questions about its legality were raised by the Justice Department, as well as devising other ways to circumvent the Justice Department’s legal concerns about the program, according to people who have read Gonzales’s interviews with investigators. The White House declined to comment for this story. An attorney for Gonzales, George J. Terwilliger III, himself a former deputy attorney general, declined to comment as well.

Although this president is famously known for rarely becoming immersed in the details—even on the issues he cares the most about—Gonzales has painted a picture of Bush as being very much involved when it came to his administration’s surveillance program.

In describing Bush as having pressed him to engage in some of the more controversial actions regarding the warrantless surveillance program, Gonzales and his legal team are apparently attempting to lessen his own legal jeopardy. The Justice Department’s inspector general (IG) is investigating whether Gonzales lied to Congress when he was questioned under oath about the surveillance program. And the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is separately investigating whether Gonzales and other Justice Department attorneys acted within the law in authorizing and overseeing the surveillance program. Neither the IG nor OPR can bring criminal charges, but if, during the course of their own investigations, they believe they have uncovered evidence of a possible crime, they can seek to make a criminal referral to those who can.

In portraying President Bush as directly involved in making some of the more controversial decisions about his administration’s surveillance program, Gonzales may, intentionally or unintentionally, be drawing greater legal scrutiny to the actions of President Bush and other White House officials. And what began as investigations narrowly focused on Gonzales’s conduct could easily morph into broader investigations leading into the White House, and possibly leading to the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Dan Richman, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan and professor at Columbia Law School, told me that Gonzales appears to be attempting to walk the thin line of taking himself out of harm’s way while at the same time protecting the president, a strategy that very well could work: “I think he is serving his own purposes and the White House’s purposes,” Richman says.

According to Richman, by invoking Bush’s name and authority, Gonzales and his legal team are making it more difficult for investigators to seek a criminal investigation of his actions, or for other investigators to later bring criminal charges against him: “The clearer it is that Gonzales did what he did at the behest of the president of the United States, the safer that he [Gonzales] is legally,” says Richman. At the same time, by saying that he is advising the president, Gonzales also makes it easier for those at the White House to claim executive privilege if they do indeed become embroiled in the probe.

Moreover, according to one senior Justice Department official, Gonzales, his legal team, and the White House also know that Justice’s IG and OPR are unlikely to press senior White House officials, let alone the president, to answer their questions.

But this legal strategy could also backfire.

One scenario feared by the White House is that the IG or OPR could send a public report to Congress concluding that Gonzales or some other official may have committed a crime. At a minimum, that would make the conduct of Gonzales, or of any other official deemed to be under suspicion, the subject of a criminal investigation.

If the report also raised unanswered questions about possible misconduct by other senior administration officials, or even the president, that could lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor. Some consider this unlikely; Attorney General Mike Mukasey has said that he is not an advocate of special prosecutors, and his critics in Congress have said that Mukasey tends to use his position for the political benefit of the White House. But in the hands of congressional Democrats, a public report accusing Gonzales and other administration officials of misconduct could make it difficult for Mukasey to resist their calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Inside the White House, this is what is called the “nightmare scenario.” White House Counsel Fred Fielding, who served in the Nixon White House during Watergate and as a White House counsel during the Reagan administration, has told others in the White House that although he does not consider this a likelihood, it should not be ruled out, and Bush and his staff should be ready for such a contingency. In addition to the Justice Department’s IG and OPR investigations regarding the surveillance program, Gonzales is also under investigation by the IG as to whether he lied to Congress about the politicized firings of nine U.S. attorneys. Fielding has told White House colleagues that there is an outside possibility that a special prosecutor could be appointed to conduct a broader investigation.

In the meantime, however, it will be increasingly difficult for the president to claim he was detached from the major decisions regarding his surveillance program. One fiction that has been set aside is that the regrettable incident in Ashcroft’s hospital room was the work of overzealous or insensitive staff.

The narrative of a detached Bush delegating to his staff and to his vice president continues to be the predominant one. Gonzales and Vice President Cheney have been only too happy to serve as lightning rods for criticism of the administration, drawing fire away from many of President Bush’s most controversial decisions on national-security policy.

Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman’s recently published book on Cheney, The Angler, once again implies that it was Cheney who was running the show. An excerpt published in The Washington Post about the president’s role in pressing for the surveillance program was headlined “Cheney Shielded Bush From Crisis.” The article was also summarized as follows on the newspaper’s Web site: “President was nowhere in the picture as Cheney fought to keep surveillance program on track.”

But seemingly contrary to the book’s broader conclusions was a story corroborating Gonzales’s account to investigators that Bush ordered him and Card to go visit Ashcroft in the hospital. Indeed, if Gellman is correct, Gonzales and Card would never have been admitted to Ashcroft’s hospital room without the president’s intercession in the first place. Gellman wrote:

The phone started ringing in the makeshift command center next to John Ashcroft’s hospital room. Janet Ashcroft had been at her husband’s side for six days. He was in intensive care, sedated, recovering from emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder. Mrs. Ashcroft’s orders were unequivocal: no calls, from anyone, for any reason. According to two people who saw the FBI’s handwritten logs, the White House operator—on behalf of Gonzales or Card, it was unclear which—asked to be connected to the attorney general. The hospital switchboard, following orders, declined.

That evening, the FBI logged a call from the president of the United States. No one had the nerve to refuse him. The phone rang at Ashcroft’s bedside. Bush told his ailing cabinet chief that Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card were on their way.

Tipped off by Ashcroft’s chief of staff, Acting Attorney General Comey and other Justice Department officials raced to the hospital so they would be there when Gonzales and Card arrived. It will never be known whether Ashcroft would have been competent to understand what they were telling him and whether they would have persuaded him to sign.

Had he gone ahead and done so, he would be have been signing a document facilitating a program that he and his top aides had only recently concluded was of questionable legality.

As Gonzales and Ashcroft made their way to the George Washington University Medical Center, where Ashcroft was recovering from surgery, an upset Mrs. Ashcroft called her husband’s chief of staff to tell him that Gonzales and Card were on their way to the hospital. He in turn called Comey.

Comey’s account of what transpired next is now well known. Comey, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Jack Goldsmith, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, whose office had recently written a legal opinion concluding that the surveillance program was of questionable legality, have all testified about what transpired just before and during the showdown in Aschcroft’s hospital room. But it bears some repeating, if only to show what we now know President Bush set in motion.

Comey was on his way home the evening of March 10, 2004, when he received the call. He ordered his security detail to get him to the hospital immediately.

Comey later told the Senate Judiciary Committee: "I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that.”

Careening down Constitution Avenue at high speed and with sirens blaring, Comey arrived only minutes before Gonzales and Card did. Similarly alerted, Goldsmith had also raced to the hospital and run up the steps to arrive, out of breath, at Ashcroft’s bedside.

On the way, Comey had frantically called FBI Director Robert Mueller. Mueller was so concerned about what Gonzales and Card were attempting to do, according to Comey, that he instructed FBI agents who constituted Ashcroft’s and Comey’s security details that Comey was not “to be removed from the room under any circumstance.”

Within minutes after Comey and Goldsmith reached Ashcroft’s bedside, Gonzales and Card also arrived. Comey would later recall to Congress that Gonzales was “carrying an envelope” with him. The envelope contained the certification that President Bush so badly wanted him to sign.

"I was angry," Comey testified. "I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me."

Gonzales, in an attempt to persuade Ashcroft to sign the certification, simply misled Ashcroft. Gonzales told Ashcroft he had met earlier that day with congressional leaders who, he claimed, supported the continuation of the program without Department of Justice approval, and were determined to find a legislative remedy that would address the legal concerns of Comey and others. Several of the legislative leaders who had been at that meeting with Gonzales and Vice President Cheney say that Gonzales’s account of what transpired was simply not true.

In response to Gonzales’s and Card’s gambits, Ashcroft, according to Comey, “stunned me … lifted his head off the pillow,” and then told Gonzales and Card, “I’m not the attorney general.” Mustering all the energy he had left, he pointed toward Comey and resolutely said, “There is the attorney general.”

Even in the face of Ashcroft’s refusal to certify the program as being within the law, President Bush initially reauthorized the surveillance program on his own. In The Angler, Barton Gellman suggests that this move “may have been the nearest thing to a claim of unlimited power ever made by an American president, all the more radical for having been issued in secret. Not only would the will of Congress be flouted, but if the White House had its way, Congress would never know.”

Learning of the reauthorization, Ashcroft, Comey, and more than a dozen officials at the highest levels of government became concerned that if the surveillance program was allowed to continue on as it had been, the government could be engaging in an illegal activity at the direction of the president, and they quietly spoke of resigning en masse.

The mass resignation of so many senior officials of the government would have been all but unprecedented in modern American political history.

One former Justice Department official personally involved in the events said that the only historical precedent would have been the Saturday Night Massacre, when Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigned rather than carry out an order from President Nixon to fire the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. With Richardson out of the way, Nixon ordered the new acting attorney general, William Ruckelshaus, to fire Cox; Ruckelshaus also refused and resigned as well. The next in line for succession as acting attorney general was the solicitor general, Robert Bork, who finally fired Cox and ordered the FBI to seal and seize Cox’s office.

The former Justice Department official says that the Saturday Night Massacre would have “been nothing compared to what almost came to be … I mean, it would have been poof! and the attorney general would have been gone. The deputy attorney general would have been gone. Goldsmith—he would have been gone. The FBI director would have resigned.”

If all those men had resigned, top aides to each of them would have resigned as well. Ashcroft’s chief of staff and two deputy chiefs of staff said they would go with their boss. Comey’s top aides would have resigned with him. The general counsels of the CIA and FBI said they were going to resign as well.

Adding to this constitutional spectacle would have been the fact that the administration’s warrantless surveillance program was considered one of the most closely held national-security secrets in government at the time. There would have been no immediate explanation of why a portion of the government just up and resigned at once.

Ultimately, confronted with the possible resignations of his own top aides, Bush backed down. The president agreed to address the concerns of the Justice Department and to make significant changes in the program so that it would be conducted within the law. But the president did not do so without first defiantly telling Comey, “I decide what the law is for the executive branch.”

Bush’s change of heart apparently had little to do with the rule of law, but rather more to do with political pragmatism and his fear that the entire affair might become public.

Before Gonzales and Card met with Ashcroft in the hospital, Gonzales and Cheney met with congressional leaders so as to enlist their possible aid in finding a legislative means for continuing the eavesdropping program if Comey and others continued to disagree about its legality. Bush personally instructed Gonzales to write notes of what was said at the meeting, according to a report released on September 2, 2008, by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The disclosure came because the IG was investigating whether Gonzales had mishandled classified information while attorney general.

A single sentence in the report says: “Gonzales told the OIG [Office of Inspector General] that President Bush directed him to memorialize the March 10, 2004 meeting.”

Among those present at the meeting besides Gonzales and Cheney, according to the IG report, were National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the House minority leader, the Senate majority and minority leaders, and the chairmen and vice chairmen of the congressional intelligence committees.

Regarding the notes that Gonzales made about the meeting, the IG report went on to say:

Gonzales stated that he drafted notes about the meeting in a spiral notebook in his White House Counsel’s Office within a few days of the meeting, probably on the weekend immediately following the meeting. Gonzales stated that he wrote the notes in a single sitting except for one line, which he told us he wrote within the next day.

A congressional source familiar with the meeting said in an interview that he believed it was significant that Bush personally directed Gonzales to write notes as to what occurred at the meeting. Ordinarily members of Congress don’t take notes at briefings concerning such highly classified issues. Very likely, Gonzales’s notes are the only ones that exist. [The Justice Department is investigating whether former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales created a set of fictitious notes so that President Bush would have a rationale for reauthorizing his warrantless eavesdropping program. For that story click here. . . .Go on site with URL at bottom of article]
The September 2 report by the IG narrowly focused on the question of whether Gonzales “mishandled classified documents” during his tenure as attorney general. The report concluded that Gonzales “violated Department security requirements and procedures” in handling 18 documents, classified as Top Secret or higher. Several were marked as SCI, or “sensitive compartmented information,” a category for the most highly classified records in government.

Among the most sensitive of those documents mishandled were the notes that Gonzales made of his March 10, 2004, meeting with congressional leaders.

It is unclear, based on what Gonzales wrote in his notes, what exactly he was told by the congressional leaders during the White House’s meeting with them.

But on July 24, 2007, when questioned before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the events of March 10, 2004, Gonzales testified that the members of Congress he met with that day had told him that “despite the recommendation of the deputy attorney general,” the government should still “go forward with very important intelligence activities.”

Several of the members of Congress who were at the March 10 meeting—House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle among them—have said they said no such thing.

Shortly before Gonzales resigned from office in August 2007, the Justice Department’s inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, wrote to inform Congress that he was investigating whether statements made by Gonzales under oath during congressional testimony were “intentionally false, misleading, or inappropriate.”

Among the statements that Fine is apparently investigating is one in which Gonzales claimed that the congressional leaders had wanted him to move forward with the program despite Comey’s refusal to certify it as legal.

Gonzales is also in legal jeopardy for having earlier told the Senate Judiciary Committee that there had never been any “serious disagreement” about the legality of the administration’s surveillance program: “There has not been any serious disagreement about the program the president has confirmed,” he testified in February 2006.

At the time Gonzales made that statement, the public had no idea about his late-night hospital-room visit with John Ashcroft—and he apparently had no expectation that it would ever come to light.

In one additional instance, President Bush was the person responsible for a controversial decision regarding his surveillance program.

This involved an effort to prevent his very own Justice Department from investigating the surveillance program in the first place. During 2006 and 2007, I wrote a series of stories for National Journal about how the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility wanted to investigate the administration’s surveillance program, but was unable to because its investigators were being denied security clearances to do their work. (Those articles can be found here, here, and here.) Over time, it was revealed that Gonzales had denied those security clearances, and later that Bush himself had made the decision disallowing them.

The story that I wrote for the March 15, 2007, edition of National Journal began as follows:

Shortly before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales advised President Bush last year on whether to shut down a Justice Department inquiry regarding the administration's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, Gonzales learned that his own conduct would likely be a focus of the investigation, according to government records and interviews.

Bush personally intervened to sideline the Justice Department probe in April 2006 by taking the unusual step of denying investigators the security clearances necessary for their work.

It is unclear whether the president knew at the time of his decision that the Justice inquiry—to be conducted by the department's internal ethics watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility—would almost certainly examine the conduct of his attorney general.

At the time the story was published, Gonzales was fighting for his political life. Republicans in Congress had joined Democrats in sharply criticizing Gonzales for his role in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. A whole new controversy might make his resignation from office imminent.

Gonzales immediately fought back. On March 22, 2007, a senior Justice Department official wrote Congress on his behalf, saying not only that it was President Bush who had made the decision to deny security clearances to the OPR investigators, but also that Gonzales had advised the president that the investigation should be allowed to move forward, and that Bush had overruled that advice.

A senior Justice Department official told me that the letter was approved in advance by the White House: “It was decided that in this instance the attorney general could no longer take the heat for the president … This time the president was going to take responsibility and deflect criticism for [his attorney general] instead of the other way around.”

At the time, it appeared that the president had halted the Justice Department’s probe in order to protect his attorney general, whose conduct was going to be a central focus for investigators. But as more information continues to come to light, the president’s denial of the security clearances raises an important question: Were the president’s actions designed to protect his attorney general—or himself?

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Related story:

The Case of the Gonzales Notes
Did Alberto Gonzales create a set of fictitious notes to justify the reauthorization of Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program? By Murray Waas

. . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
September 26th, 2008, 07:18 PM
. . . . .


On BuzzFlash.com,

George Lakoff Offers Some Last Minute Debate Advice to Obama

September 26, 2008
George Lakoff and Kathleen Frumkin

John McCain knew that there would be no bailout agreement before he announced that he would go to Washington, supposedly to help promote such an agreement in the spirit of bipartisanship. We smell a trap. Bush, Paulson, and the Congressional Republicans lure the Democrats (and Obama) into supporting a proposal based on a taxpayer bailout of Wall Street.

The Congressional Republicans then come out as apparent populists riding the wave of a taxpayer revolt against Wall Street and they identify the Democrats and Obama as supporters of Wall Street. McCain can then come to the debate and say:

*that he is a maverick for not supporting the Bush proposal,
*that he is a populist for being against a bailout by taxpayers,
*that real populism is cutting taxes and getting rid of regulation, which is the Republican proposal, and that this is "real reform"

If Obama just says the Republican proposal won’t work (following Paulson and Bernanke), he will still be tagged as an elitist friend of Wall Street. The debate will not have time to go into the details of why economists say it won’t work, and McCain can emerge smelling like a populist rose.

Of course, Obama is the real populist here, insisting on conditions to help homeowners and to return the money to taxpayers by giving the government equity in the corporations. McCain can simply call this socialism and more big government.

Obama has to undercut this possibility from the start. He has to come out with the populist proposals as central and the question of who pays and how as a technical economic question that cannot be solved by partisan ideology. He also has to characterize the Republican proposal to cut regulation and corporate taxes as even more as more of what got us into this mess. And he has to say out loud that McCain knew about the breakdown of negotiations before he went to Washington, and that the trip was an attempt to revive a failing campaign.

In the foreign policy segment, Obama has to avoid helping McCain. McCain will claim that "the surge worked." Obama should come out calling the surge from the start of the discussion "a political failure", and later mention that it has been only a partial security success — partial because, in any other country, over 100 attacks a month would be called impermissible violence, and that’s how many attacks the surge has resulted in. Given that we have 12 times the population of Iraq, that would be like having 1200 bombings a month in America. Would you call that "working" if it occurred here?

Obama needs a response to McCain’s call for "victory." A possible response is "Victory over who?" "What enemies would you sign a peace treaty with?" The people of Iraq? They mostly want us to leave, as does the elected government.

Obama also has to take the foreign policy debate out of the purely military arena, and talk about the hardest problems in the world that cannot be solved by military means: global warming, global economic issues and poverty, hunger, the oppression of women, ethic cleansing, water, and so on. Our troops, as great as they are, cannot solve most foreign policy problems. Foreign policy requires president with vision in all these areas.


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Saundra Hummer
September 26th, 2008, 07:26 PM

"To preserve their [the people's] independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude"

Thomas Jefferson


"When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do."

William Blake


"The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles."

Mahatma Gandhi
Indian leader

"We kill at every step, not only in wars, riots, and executions. We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, suffering, and shame. In the same way all disrespect for life, all hard-heartedness, all indifference, all contempt is nothing else than killing. With just a little witty skepticism we can kill a good deal of the future in a young person. Life is waiting everywhere, the future is flowering everywhere, but we only see a small part of it and step on much of it with our feet."

Hermann Hesse
German poet and novelist.

"...most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Self Reliance -
From 'Essays", First series

Saundra Hummer
September 26th, 2008, 07:34 PM
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Should We Fear Iran?

The Peter Principle Playoffs

Sheila Samples

We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men
George Orwell

So here we sit, our heads jerking back and forth so rapidly most of us are suffering severe whiplash. Will the US attack Iran? Will Israel attack Iran? Or will the two war-mongering bullies join forces and "bomb, bomb, bomb" that belligerent twit-nation into subservience?

It's a great game. A deadly game. The momentum to attack Iran has been building for so long that we're conditioned to watching it like some grotesque international tennis competition. It's the Peter Principle Playoffs, with neoconsters and ziomonsters out on the court milling around, working at their highest "levels of incompetence," feverishly plotting Iran's destruction. Foul lines mean nothing to them. There are no rules, no officials, no scores, no accountability.

Bolton's Law
Immediately before Bush invaded Iraq, the criminally insane John Bolton, then Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, made a personal trip to Israel to assure Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that as soon as we destroyed Iraq, we'd "deal with threats" from Syria, Iran and North Korea. However, it's obvious Iran has always been at the top of the list.

Since 2003, both US and Israeli governments, the corporate media, especially Fox News, and the US Congress have been unrelenting in their campaign to convince the world that Iran is an immediate nuclear threat, although Iran insists it is seeking nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In August 2003, the UK Guardian's Simon Tisdall wrote, "They call it a trap. But we call it Bolton's first law of international power politics; keep the other guy guessing; wear him down. When he gives a little, demand a whole lot more. Then zap him anyway."

Bolton's Law: Make wild accusations. Escalate terror and confusion. Kill. Repeat.

It's no laughing matter, but the sight of this tousle-headed, "got milk?" maniac running in circles, warning of -- demanding -- a nuclear holocaust is good for a grin, albeit a grim one. Even as he was being forced onto the United Nations over national and international objections, Bolton was hot on Iran's trail. He insisted that Iran is the most dangerous critter out there -- harboring terrorists, arming terrorists, training terrorists -- sending bombs, IEDs, weapons to Iraq to kill Americans. If it weren't for Iran, there would have been no 9-11 attack because Iran provided safe haven for the box-cutting killers headed our way. Bolton warned if Iran managed to produce a single nuclear weapon, Israel, the United States -- the world -- was toast. He promised that Iran will come after us. "That's the threat," Bolton barked, "that's the reality whether you like it or not. And it will be just like Sept. 11, only with nuclear weapons this time."

Bolton keeps showing up for work even though his paycheck is now signed by the second most powerful Israeli Lobby, the American Enterprise Institute . He's determined that Iran is going down and, if he can't goad the US into action, he will whip Israel into a frenzy. Like the Batman's Joker, Bolton leaps from the pages of the Wall Street Journal in catastrophic convulsions on a regular basis. On July 15, Bolton insisted "we should be intensively considering what cooperation the U.S. will extend to Israel before, during and after a strike on Iran. We will be blamed for the strike anyway," Bolton reasoned, "...so there is compelling logic to make it as successful as possible. At a minimum, we should place no obstacles in Israel's path, and facilitate its efforts where we can."

Who's On First?
Bolton is surrounded by fellow psychopaths like Norman Podhoretz who insists our only choice is to bomb Iran before Iran gets the bomb and bombs us. Podhoretz is a key figure in the Playoffs with his constant drumbeat that Iran is the "leading sponsor of terrorism in the world," and once it achieves nuclear technology, we're all gonna die!

And National Review's Larry Kudlow, who swooned ecstatically when Israel cluster-bombed Lebanon two years ago. Israel was "doing the Lord's work," defending freedom against the "Iranian cat's-paw" of terrorism. Kudlow says Israel must not stop, but furiously attack "all the terrorist sanctuaries, training camps, weapons caches, and missile systems it can find." Scary Larry enthusiastically supports at least half of Bolton's Law -- the last half.

Others joining Bolton for whom the destruction of Iran is a political game include Bill Kristol, virtuous "bookie" Bill Bennett, Joe Lieberman, and Daniel Pipes, whose harsh and raucous predictions center around whether Bush will attack Iran before or after the upcoming election. If McCain wins, most say that Bush will pass the nuclear baton to him while sprinting to the finish line to pardon his fellow war criminals. However, if McCain should lose, they agree that Bush will get his war on and leave the mess for Obama to clean up.

Those who continue to beat the drums of war trust that we will believe what they say without considering the obvious. Just last week, to coincide with President Ahmadi-Nejad's visit to the UN, former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former CIA director James Woolsey, former Clinton Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross, and former UN representative for management and reform Mark Wallace wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal regurgitating rigid neoconservative talking points.

Channeling Cheney, they wrote that we shouldn't believe Iran when it says it "needs nuclear energy and is enriching nuclear materials for strictly peaceful purposes." Hey, Iran has "vast supplies of inexpensive oil and natural gas," so there's no "legitimate economic reason for Iran to pursue nuclear energy."

Then, unable to resist an unsubstantiated "Bushism" or two, these heavy hitters warned that "Iran is a deadly and irresponsible world actor," and should it get the bomb, Iran would "sponsor terror, threaten our allies, and support the most deadly elements of the Iraqi insurgency."

Finally, they whipped out Bolton's Law with the wild -- and discredited -- accusation that "President Ahmadinejad specifically calls for Israel to be 'wiped from the map,' while seeking the weapons to do so."

The constant discordant barrage of accusations and demands is so outrageous we attempt to shrug it off as mostly ideological clatter-babble, yet we sit paralyzed with fear. We are unable to recognize the real danger that looms just beyond the shadows.

But we know he's there. When Dick Cheney emerges, we are bewitched by the horror he evokes as he piles lie upon bloody lie about Iran's nuclear activities -- in spite of international findings and US intelligence lack of evidence. He accuses Iran of smuggling weapons of mass destruction into Iraq to kill Americans. Iran is training insurgents, is joined at the hip with Al-Qaeda, is the world's most dangerous sponsor of terrorism, and if it can get its hands on just one nuclear weapon, it will immediately lob it in Israel's direction.

In 2005, Cheney instructed the Pentagon to draw up a plan for a nuclear attack on Iran should another 9-11-type terrorist attack on the U.S. occur, even if Iran had nothing to do with it. To provoke a war, Cheney suggested dressing up Navy Seals as Iranians, putting them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shooting at them. Murdering Americans in cold blood, exterminating 60-70 million innocent Iranians and contaminating millions more throughout the region is a small price for Cheney to pay. Iran must face the consequences for having the audacity to possess two-thirds of the world's oil.

Bad, Bad Ahmadi-Nejad
Since being elected in June 2005 as Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad has rhetorically stepped in it and tracked it all over the Persian rug. Scarcely in office four months, he gave a speech in which he quoted the Ayatollah Khomeini who had said years earlier -- "This regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad)." That comment was transcribed as Ahmadi-Nejad threatening to wipe Israel off the map, and despite repeated efforts to get the correct translation out, the world's media went into a shrieking frenzy that has yet to abate.

Ahmadi-Nejad has made numerous public and private diplomatic overtures to the United States in the last three years, and all have been rejected -- with insults, sneers, and threats. It is critical to the outcome of the Playoffs that spectators see Ahmadi-Nejad as a criminally insane killer who is a threat to the entire world. He is sort of cocky, and his arrogance at insisting that Iran has the same rights and privileges under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as the other members, that Iran has the right to pursue nuclear power for peaceful purposes, and that George Bush is not Iran's "Decider" is driving guys like Bolton over the edge.

Which -- when you think about it -- is not necessarily a bad thing...
So, who is this guy? Few know that Ahmadi-Nejad is an Engineer with a Ph.D on transportation engineering, a university professor, a working member on the Iran Civil Engineering Society, and the Islamic Association of Students in the Science and Technology University, as well as others. He is an accomplished journalist and former managing director of the Hamshahri newspaper. He was the mayor of Tehran before running for president. Even fewer know that, in reality, he wields no power other than that allotted to him by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader. He's deeply religious, stubborn and reckless. He's unpredictable and, at times, dangerous. Ohmigod -- when you think about it -- Ahmadi-Nejad is "Bush with Brains!"

Should We Fear Iran?
Iran's nuclear ambitions for other than peaceful purposes are as elusive as Iraq's WMD, which defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld said were "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." Yet we are in danger of being swept up in the propaganda catapulted by the Bush administration and the corporate media once again. Perhaps we should take a deep breath and apply a bit of logic here, pay close attention to the obvious. If Iran is truly a threat to the entire world, then we should be afraid. However, demanding that Iran either prove a negative or face extermination of millions of its citizens does not, and should not, pass the terror smell test.

It is obvious that, in this unstable era, we should be aware of, and even fear, those countries bristling with nukes. For starters, the United States has more nuclear weapons than any other nation. Then there's Russia, China, France, Britain, India, Pakistan, North Korea and...shhhhh...Israel. Currently, Pakistan is in turmoil and threatening to shoot down US planes that fly across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and kill civilians, Russia refuses to back off from its Georgia stance no matter how vigorously Condi Rice wags her finger in its face, China has abruptly cut off financial deals with the US because of the plummeting dollar, and North Korea is restarting its Yongbyon nuclear reactor because Bush broke his promise to remove it from Washington's list of state sponsors of terror.

Yet, amidst all this fury and instability, we are obsessed with destroying Iran -- a nation that, in modern history, has never attacked another country -- and which has repeatedly maintained it seeks nuclear power primarily for generating electricity for its growing population. In 2005, Ayatollah Khamenei issued a Fatwa that "the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons."

What is obvious to anyone familiar with the timeline of Iran's nuclear program from the 1950s is that Iran has never sought nuclear energy for anything other than peaceful purposes. In 1957, the Shah opened the American Atoms for Peace in Tehran, and signed an agreement with the US for cooperation in research on peaceful uses of nuclear technology. And, in 1968, Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on the first day it opened for signature. In the late 70's, the US supplied Iran with two nuclear power reactors and enriched uranium fuel, and granted Iran the "most favored nation" status so it would not be discriminated against when seeking permission to reprocess US-origin fuel.

To restate the obvious -- if we are to fear Iran, it is not because, as Bush said in June -- "They refuse to abandon their desires to develop the know-how which could lead to a nuclear weapon" -- it is because Iran threatens to defend itself if attacked. It is because other nations, such as Russia, refuse to stand idly by as Iran is "wiped off the map."

We need to get our minds around who is the aggressor here. Because if we continue to passively watch the evil unfold; if Dick Cheney wins the behind-the-scenes, off-court power struggle, the Peter Principle Playoffs will be over and the entire Middle East will explode in nuclear flames.

Sheila Samples


is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at rsamples@wichitaonline.net


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Saundra Hummer
September 26th, 2008, 09:02 PM

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Palin meets the press, and the reviews aren't good

David Goldstein | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: September 26, 2008 08:29:34 PM

WASHINGTON — Sarah Palin finally fielded some off-the-cuff questions from the media this week _ a campaign first _ but it was her interview with CBS's Katie Couric that drew the attention, and the reviews weren't good. One conservative columnist suggested she should do what's best for the country and resign from the campaign.

The media exposure was a long time coming — 28 days and not a single news conference since John McCain plucked the first-term Alaska governor out of relative obscurity to be his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.

McCain's campaign has been trying to talk up her resume, but the reviews from a variety of quarters of the Couric interview — the latest of her three television interviews — were less than stellar.

In the CBS interview, Palin claimed that the U.S. had gained "victory" in Iraq.

Explaining her earlier comment that living close to Russia gave her foreign-policy experience, she needed translation. "As Putin rears his head," she said, referring to Russian prime Minister Vladimir Putin, "and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right next to, they are right next to our state."

Her campaign later explained to The New York Times what she meant: "Russian incursions near Alaskan airspace have occurred, and when they do, she is briefed on them by the adjutant general of the Alaska NG (National Guard). Jets scrambled would likely be active duty, possibly Guard."

And after Couric asked repeatedly for examples of when McCain pushed for more regulation, not less, over the financial industry, Palin said, "I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you."

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wrote, "No one hates saying this more than I do," but Palin's "clearly out of her league" and should "bow out."

Broadway shows close after friendlier reviews.

The McCain campaign's kept Palin in a bubble and has been slamming the news media. It claims coverage has been unfair. The strategy plays well with the Republican base.

But with Election Day little more than a month away, a cultural war might not be the best political strategy when the economy is in meltdown and voters believe Democrat Barack Obama would handle it better.

Two publications suggested the McCain campaign might be part of Palin's problem.

"The fact that Palin's responses to questions are becoming increasingly incoherent rather than rapidly more polished is interesting," Ezra Klein wrote on the Web site of The American prospect. "Rote memorization should have all but eliminated the overlay of nonsense in her answers by now. Matt Yglesias offers a decent hypothesis, saying, 'It's possible that all this cramming is causing Palin to become less coherent — instead of just parrying questions she knows she doesn't have good answers to, she's trying to remember canned lines but it's too much all at once to actually get right.' "

The New Republic's Christopher Orr offered this take on the interview: "The obvious implicit message her preppers and coddlers and protectors in the campaign are giving her is: You're not ready. We don't trust you. You have no idea what you're talking about. Don't ever open your mouth unless you've cleared it with us or you might destroy the whole campaign. . . . When I compare Palin's performance with Gibson to her performance with Couric, the biggest difference I see is confidence."

The cocoon around the Alaska governor has become so tight that the some reporters, unable to get answers to the questions they lobbed at her, would chronicle the questions anyway.

Late-night comedians weighed in, too.

"And all this week, the McCain campaign is trying to prevent Sarah Palin from talking to reporters covering the news, you know?" said Jay Leno. "They said, 'You can take her picture, but you can't ask her any questions.' What is she running for, vice president or 'America's Next Top Model?'"

CNN anchor Campbell Brown got so frustrated that she accused the McCain campaign of sexism.

"Free Sarah Palin," she proclaimed, as if marching with a bullhorn.

Some Democrats apparently liked the sound of that. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a prominent Obama ally, jumped to Palin's defense, blaming McCain for keeping her under wraps.

Suddenly belittling Palin was out. Empowering her was in.

"Why is it that every man who has ever run for president or vice president can go out and give speeches and talk to the press and handle themselves?" McCaskill said in an interview. "I think the men have decided they have got to keep her under wraps. Well, how insulting to women. I think she's plenty capable of doing this.

"If she's strong enough to go toe to toe with Putin or (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad . . . she needs to go toe to toe with John McCain and say, 'Set me free.'"

Janice Crouse, senior fellow at Concerned Women for American, a conservative public-policy group, dismissed it as an "obvious" ploy.

"At first they thought, 'Who is this yahoo from Alaska and religious right extremist?'" Crouse said. "The backlash was so strong. Now, 'These men around her won't let her go. She can handle herself. Let her be her.' It's laughable."

However, Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said, "It's challenging Palin to be the maverick. It's very clever."

Lost in all this, perhaps, is Obama's running mate, Joe Biden. In the tradition of most running mates, the veteran Delaware senator draws few headlines, content to ply the political backroads in battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Except, of course, when he makes news, as he does with his penchant for the occasional verbal blooper. Like when he said that Franklin Roosevelt was president when the stock market crashed in 1929. He meant Herbert Hoover.

Or that it was "patriotic" for the rich to pay higher taxes as he defended Obama's plan to raise taxes only on people earning more than $250,000 a year.

If McCain's campaign in his more media-friendly days deserved the tag "Straight Talk Express," Biden's road show might be called the "Nonstop Talk Express." He's done nearly 90 interviews since he joined the Democratic ticket.

"It's hard for the press to . . . appear even-handed," said Jay Rosen, a media critic who's author of the blog "PressThink" and teaches journalism at New York University. "Biden is constantly available."

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Economy in turmoil: America confronts the crisis

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Saundra Hummer
September 27th, 2008, 01:06 PM

McClatchy Washington Bureau

McCain displays feisty charm,
Obama cool precision

David Lightman | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: September 26, 2008 11:51:41 PM
WASHINGTON — The old John McCain was back Friday — and that's good news for the Republican presidential nominee.

McCain brought his plain-spoken, wise-guy ways that work well in town-hall meetings to the presidential debate, while Barack Obama countered with his own trademark style — crisp point-by-point analyses of issues, answers in well-crafted paragraphs, little emotion.

The verdict: McCain did better than expected, because he was often the 2000 vintage McCain who dazzled voters with his give-'em-hell manner. Obama was Obama, and anyone who likes him was reminded why.

Expectations had been low for McCain, who in many eyes — including those of some Republicans — threw a wrench into delicate Washington negotiations this week by inserting himself into efforts to craft a financial rescue plan. He said he'd skip the debate to work on the deal, then participated very little in negotiations and reversed his decision Friday morning, flying to Mississippi.

However, none of that confusion was evident Friday night, as viewers sometimes saw stark differences between the candidates.

Foremost was the distinct difference in style.

McCain painted himself as the candidate of experience, who made it a point to note that he first came to Congress in 1983 "when the person I admired the most and still admire the most, Ronald Reagan" was president.

The Arizona senator also was quick with quips and human touches. He started the debate by offering his "thoughts and prayers" to Sen. Edward Kennedy, the liberal Democratic lion, who was hospitalized earlier Friday evening.

He used a story about Gen. Dwight Eisenhower the night before the Normandy invasion to make a point about responsibility. He called the failures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a "train wreck."

And he repeatedly suggested that Obama, a first-term senator, was naive and didn't understand the subtleties of whatever foreign challenge they were discussing.

Obama didn't try to match the zingers and the heart tugs. He was more lawyerly, armed with data and fleshed-out positions. He often listed his proposals by enumerating his points. For every assertion, he offered evidence.

North Korea, for instance, "quadrupled their nuclear capacity. They tested a nuke. They tested missiles. They pulled out of the non-proliferation agreement. And they sent nuclear secrets potentially to countries like Syria."

Viewers who see Obama as the night's winner are likely to point to his technique of highlighting key policy differences with McCain, notably on foreign affairs.

The Iraq war remains highly unpopular, and though McCain was resolute in insisting that "we came up with a great general and a strategy that has succeeded," that gave Obama an opening.

"The first question is whether we should have gone into the war in the first place," he said. He recalled that six years ago, "I stood up and opposed this war, at a time when it was politically risky to do so . . ." Not so risky in Obama's liberal home base on Chicago's South Side, however.

Obama also tried to paint McCain as too cozy with corporate executives, oil barons and President Bush.

The current financial turmoil, Obama said, "is a final verdict of eight years of failed economic policies — promised by George Bush, supported by Senator McCain."

But in some ways, the more Obama hammered away at McCain's ties to Bush, the more he gave McCain an opening to remind the audience of the political style that got him this far.

McCain eight years ago was Bush's Republican primary rival, surging to victory in the New Hampshire primary by holding dozens of town hall meetings and railing against corporate special interests.

He opposed Bush's signature 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and pushed campaign-finance legislation that Bush hated.

"It's well known that I have not been elected Miss Congeniality in the United States Senate," McCain said, "nor with the administration."

And he added, "I have a long record, and the American people know me very well."


The debate transcript


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Saundra Hummer
September 27th, 2008, 01:36 PM
*~ *


Public perception, pure and simple

A Service of FHC Research Inc.

Independents give Obama a hand up.

Click below to gain access to graph of poll results.

* * *

Saundra Hummer
September 27th, 2008, 03:11 PM
. . . . . . . . .


FactChecking Debate No. 1
September 27, 2008

Facts muddled in Mississippi McCain-Obama meeting.
McCain and Obama contradicted each other repeatedly during their first debate, and each volunteered some factual misstatements as well. Here’s how we sort them out:

.Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.

.Obama denied voting for a bill that called for increased taxes on “people” making as little as $42,000 a year, as McCain accused him of doing. McCain was right, though only for single taxpayers. A married couple would have had to make $83,000 to be affected by the vote, and anyway no such increase is in Obama’s tax plan.

.McCain and Obama contradicted each other on what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said about troop withdrawals. Mullen said a time line for withdrawal could be “very dangerous” but was not talking specifically about “Obama’s plan,” as McCain maintained.

.McCain tripped up on one of his signature issues – special appropriation “earmarks.” He said they had “tripled in the last five years,” when in fact they have decreased sharply.

.Obama claimed Iraq “has” a $79 billion surplus. It once was projected to be as high as that. It’s now down to less than $60 billion.

.McCain repeated his overstated claim that the U.S. pays $700 billion a year for oil to hostile nations. Imports are running at about $536 billion this year, and a third of it comes from Canada, Mexico and the U.K.

.Obama said 95 percent of “the American people” would see a tax cut under his proposal. The actual figure is 81 percent of households.

.Obama mischaracterized an aspect of McCain’s health care plan, saying “employers” would be taxed on the value of health benefits provided to workers. Employers wouldn’t, but the workers would. McCain also would grant workers up to a $5,000 tax credit per family to cover health insurance.

.McCain misrepresented Obama's plan by claiming he'd be "handing the health care system over to the federal government." Obama would expand some government programs but would allow people to keep their current plans or chose from private ones, as well.

.McCain claimed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had drafted a letter of resignation from the Army to be sent in case the 1944 D-Day landing at Normandy turned out to be a failure. Ike prepared a letter taking responsibility, but he didn’t mention resigning.

The first of three scheduled debates between Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama took place Sept. 26 on the campus of the University of Mississippi at Oxford. It was sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. It was carried live on national television networks and was moderated by Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor of the PBS "NewsHour" program.

We noted these factual misstatements:

Did Kissinger Back Obama?
McCain attacked Obama for his declaration that he would meet with leaders of Iran and other hostile nations "without preconditions." To do so with Iran, McCain said, "isn't just naive; it's dangerous." Obama countered by saying former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – a McCain adviser – agreed with him:

Obama: Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who's one of his advisers, who, along with five recent secretaries of state, just said that we should meet with Iran – guess what – without precondition. This is one of your own advisers.

McCain rejected Obama's claim:

McCain: By the way, my friend, Dr. Kissinger, who's been my friend for 35 years, would be interested to hear this conversation and Senator Obama's depiction of his -- of his positions on the issue. I've known him for 35 years.
Obama: We will take a look.
McCain: And I guarantee you he would not -- he would not say that presidential top level.
Obama: Nobody's talking about that.
So who's right? Kissinger did in fact say a few days earlier at a forum of former secretaries of state that he favors very high-level talks with Iran – without conditions:

Kissinger Sept. 20: Well, I am in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it. And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level so that we -- we know we're dealing with authentic...

CNN's Frank Sesno: Put at a very high level right out of the box?

Kissinger: Initially, yes.But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.
Later, McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, was asked about this by CBS News anchor Katie Couric, and Palin said, "I’ve never heard Henry Kissinger say, ‘Yeah, I’ll meet with these leaders without preconditions being met.'" Afterward Couric said, "We confirmed Henry Kissinger’s position following our interview."

After the McCain-Obama debate, however, Kissinger issued a statement saying he doesn't favor a presidential meeting:

Kissinger: Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain.

$42,000 per year?
McCain said – and Obama denied – that Obama had voted to increase taxes on "people who make as low as $42,000 a year." McCain was correct – with qualification.

McCain: But, again, Senator Obama has shifted on a number of occasions. He has voted in the United States Senate to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year.
Obama: That's not true, John. That's not true.
McCain: And that's just a fact. Again, you can look it up.
Obama: Look, it's just not true.

Yes, as we’ve said before, Obama did in fact vote for a budget resolution that called for higher federal income tax rates on a single, non-homeowner who earned as little as $42,000 per year. A couple filing jointly, however, would have had to earn at least $83,000 per year to be affected. A family of four with income up to $90,000 would not have been affected.

The resolution actually would not have altered taxes without additional legislation. It called generally for allowing most of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts to expire. McCain is referring to the provision that would have allowed the 25 percent tax bracket to return to 28 percent. The tax plan Obama now proposes, however, would not raise the rate on that tax bracket.

Timetable Tiff
Obama contradicted McCain about what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen's said regarding "Obama's plan" for troop withdrawals.

McCain: Admiral Mullen suggests that Senator Obama's plan is dangerous for America.
Obama: That's not the case.
McCain: That's what ...
Obama: What he said was a precipitous...
McCain: That's what Admiral Mullen said.
Obama: ... withdrawal would be dangerous. He did not say that. That's not true.

Admiral Mullen did say in a Fox News interview that having a time line for withdrawal would be dangerous.

Mullen (July 20): I think the consequences could be very dangerous in that regard. I'm convinced at this point in time that coming – making reductions based on conditions on the ground are very important.

However, interviewer Chris Wallace had just told Mullen to take Obama out of the equation.

Wallace (July 20): But I'm asking you in the absence – forget about Obama. Forget about the politics. If I were to say to you, "Let's set a time line of getting all of our combat troops out within two years," what do you think would be the consequences of setting that kind of a time line?

So strictly speaking Mullen was not talking specifically about "Obama's plan." He did say a rigid timetable could have dangerous consequences.

Earmarks Down, Not Up
McCain was way off the mark when he said that earmarks in federal appropriations bills had tripled in the last five years.

McCain: But the point is that – you see, I hear this all the time. "It's only $18
billion." Do you know that it's tripled in the last five years?

In fact, earmarks have actually gone down. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, there was $22.5 billion worth of earmark spending in 2003. By 2008, that figure had come down to $17.2 billion. That's a decrease of 24 percent.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, another watchdog group, said in 2008 that "Congress has cut earmarks by 23 percent from the record 2005 levels," according to its analysis.

$3 million to study the DNA of bears?
And while we're on the subject of earmarks, McCain repeated a misleading line we've heard before.

McCain: You know, we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue, but the fact is that it was $3 million of our taxpayers' money. And it has got to be brought under control.

McCain's been playing this for laughs since 2003. The study in question was done by the U.S. Geological Survey, and it relied in part on federal appropriations. Readers (and politicians) may disagree on whether a noninvasive study of grizzly bear population and habitat is a waste of money. McCain clearly thinks it is – but on the other hand, he never moved to get rid of the earmark. In fact, he voted for the bill that made appropriations for the study. He did propose some changes to the bill, but none that nixed the bear funding.

Iraqi Surplus Exaggerated
Obama was out of date in saying the Iraqi government has "79 billion dollars," when he argued that the U.S. should stop spending money on the war in Iraq.

Obama: We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus.

As we've said before, there was a time when the country could have had as much as $79 billion, but that time has passed. What the Iraqis actually “have” is $29.4 billion in the bank. The Government Accountability Office projected in August that Iraq’s 2008 budget surplus could range anywhere from $38.2 billion to $50.3 billion, depending on oil revenue, price and volume. Then, in early August, the Iraqi legislature passed a $21 billion supplemental spending bill, which was omitted from the GAO’s surplus tally since it was still under consideration. The supplemental will be completely funded by this year’s surplus. So the range of what the Iraqi’s could have at year’s end is actually $47 billion to $59 billion. The $79 billion figure is outdated and incorrect.

$700 billion for oil?
McCain repeated an exaggerated claim that the U.S. is sending $700 billion per year to hostile countries.

McCain: Look, we are sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don't like us very much. Some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

That's not accurate. McCain also made this claim in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. He's referring to the amount of money the U.S. spends in importing oil. But the number is inflated. In fact, we actually pay more like $536 billion for the oil we need. And one-third of those payments go to Canada, Mexico and the U.K.

(Note: A few of our readers messaged us, after we first noted McCain's mistake, with the thought that he was referring to foreign aid and not to oil. If so he's even farther off than we supposed: The entire budget for the State Department and International Programs works out to just $51.3 million.)

Tax Cut Recipients
Obama overstated how many people would save on taxes under his plan:

Obama: My definition – here's what I can tell the American people: 95 percent of you will get a tax cut. And if you make less than $250,000, less than a quarter-million dollars a year, then you will not see one dime's worth of tax increase.

That should be 95 percent of families, not 95 percent of "American people." An analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that Obama's plan would decrease taxes for 95.5 percent of families with children. Overall, 81.3 percent of households would get a tax cut under his proposal.

Health Care Hyperbole
Obama and McCain traded incorrect statements on each other's health care plan.

Obama: So you may end up getting a $5,000 tax credit. Here's the only problem: Your employer now has to pay taxes on the health care that you're getting from your employer.

As we said before, McCain’s plan doesn’t call for taxing employers on health care benefits; it would instead tax employees. As the law stands now, employees don’t pay taxes on the dollar value of their health insurance benefits. Under McCain’s plan, they would.

McCain also misrepresented Obama's plan when he said that his opponent favored "handing the health care system over to the federal government."

McCain: Well, I want to make sure we're not handing the health care system over to the federal government which is basically what would ultimately happen with Senator Obama's health care plan. I want the families to make decisions between themselves and their doctors. Not the federal government.

McCain made a similar claim in his acceptance speech, when he said that
Obama's plans would "force families into a government run health care
system." We called it false then and we stand by that. Obama's plan mandates coverage for children, but not for adults, and it does not require anyone to be covered by a nationalized system. Obama's plan expands the insurance coverage offered by the government, but allows people to keep their own plans or choose from private plans as well.

Ike Was No Quitter
McCain mangled his military history:

McCain: President Eisenhower, on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letters.

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

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

The story is widely circulated in military circles but not entirely true. Eisenhower (then a general, not yet a president) did in fact write a letter taking responsibility should the D-Day invasion fail. But Eisenhower's letter does not mention resigning. Here's the full text:

Eisenhower (June 5, 1944): Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

No mention of quitting the Army, or his command.

A Longer Timetable
Obama stretched out his schedule for withdrawing troops from Iraq. During the debate, Obama said we could "reduce" the number of combat troops in 16 months:

Obama: Now, what I've said is we should end this war responsibly. We should do it in phases. But in 16 months we should be able to reduce our combat troops, put – provide some relief to military families and our troops and bolster our efforts in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al Qaeda.

But in Oct. 2007, Obama supported removing all combat troops from Iraq
within 16 months:

Obama (Oct. 2007): I will remove one or two brigades a month, and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months. The only troops I will keep in Iraq will perform the limited missions of protecting our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on al Qaeda. And I will launch the diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives that are so badly needed. Let there be no doubt: I will end this war.

The quote appears in "Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Defense Issues" – a
position paper that was still available on the campaign's Web site as Obama spoke.

Still Soft on Iran?
McCain repeated the false insinuation that Obama opposed naming Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

McCain: There is the Republican Guard in Iran, which Senator Kyl had an amendment in order to declare them a sponsor of terror. Senator Obama said that would be provocative. ...

Obama: Well, let me just correct something very quickly. I believe the Republican Guard of Iran is a terrorist organization. I've consistently said so. What Senator McCain refers to is a measure in the Senate that would try to broaden the mandate inside of Iraq. To deal with Iran.

Obama has in fact said that the IRGC should be named a terrorist group. He was a cosponsor of the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, which, among other things, named the IRGC a terrorist organization. What he voted against was the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which also called for the terrorist group distinction. But Obama said that he opposed the amendment on the grounds that it was "saber-rattling."

Obama press release (Sept. 26, 2007): Senator Obama clearly recognizes the serious threat posed by Iran. However, he does not agree with the president that the best way to counter that threat is to keep large numbers of troops in Iraq, and he does not think that now is the time for saber-rattling towards Iran. In fact, he thinks that our large troop presence in Iraq has served to strengthen Iran - not weaken it. He believes that diplomacy and economic pressure, such as the divestment bill that he has proposed, is the right way to pressure the Iranian regime. Accordingly, he would have opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment had he been able to vote today.

Who's Naive on Georgia?
McCain called Obama's initial statement on the conflict in Georgia "naive." It's worth noting Obama's words echoed those of the White House.

McCain: Well, I was interested in Senator Obama's reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia. His first statement was, "Both sides ought to show restraint."

Again, a little bit of naivete there. He doesn't understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia.

It's true, as McCain said, that during the conflict between Georgia and Russia, Obama said, "Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war" in his first statement on the conflict. But so did the White House. Press secretary Dana Perino said on Aug. 8, “We urge restraint on all sides – that violence would be curtailed and that direct dialogue could ensue in order to help resolve their differences.” We pointed this out when New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani mischaracterized Obama's response to the crisis during the GOP convention.

Boeing Boasts
McCain was went too far when he said, "I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion by fighting a contract that was negotiated between Boeing and DOD that was completely wrong. And we fixed it and we killed it."

McCain certainly did lead a fight to kill the contract, and the effort ended in prison sentences for defense contractors. But the contract isn't exactly "fixed" yet. In fact, questions have been raised about the role McCain has played in helping a Boeing rival secure the new contract.

After the original Boeing contract to supply refueling airliners was nixed in 2003, the bidding process was reopened. And in early 2007, Boeing rival EADS/Airbus won the bid the second time around. But Boeing filed a protest about the way the bids were processed, and the Government Accountability Office released a report that found in Boeing's favor. In the summary of GAO's investigation, the organization said there were "significant errors" with the bid process and that the directions given to Boeing were "misleading."

Further, the New York Times reported that "McCain’s top advisers, including a cochairman of his presidential campaign, were lobbyists for EADS. And Mr. McCain had written to the Defense Department, urging it to ignore a trade dispute between the United States and Europe over whether Airbus received improper subsidies." A liberal campaign finance group ran an ad hitting McCain on the connections back in July and our colleagues at PolitiFact found their attacks to be true, saying: "Center for Responsive Politics prepared a report for PolitiFact that backs [the charge] up. U.S. employees of EADS/Airbus have contributed $15,700 in this election cycle to McCain’s campaign."

Nuclear Charges
McCain said Obama was against storing nuclear waste. That's not exactly his position.

McCain: And Senator Obama says he's for nuclear, but he's against reprocessing and he's against storing.

Obama: I -- I just have to correct the record here. I have never said that I object to nuclear waste. What I've said is that we have to store it safely.
Obama's official position is that he does support safe storage of nuclear waste:

Obama fact sheet: Obama will also lead federal efforts to look for a safe, long-term disposal solution based on objective, scientific analysis. In the meantime, Obama will develop requirements to ensure that the waste stored at current reactor sites is contained using the most advanced dry-cask storage technology available. Barack Obama believes that Yucca Mountain is not an option. Our government has spent billions of dollars on Yucca Mountain, and yet there are still significant questions about whether nuclear waste can be safely stored there.

But the McCain campaign has attacked Obama before on this issue, going as
far as to claim Obama did not support nuclear energy at all, which was false. Obama has said he supports nuclear as long as it is "clean and safe."

Against Alternative Energy
Obama said that McCain had voted 23 times against alternative energy:

Obama: Over 26 years, Senator McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy, like solar, and wind, and biodiesel.

Here's the Obama campaign's list of the 23 votes. We find they're overstating the case. In many instances, McCain voted not against alternative energy but against mandatory use of alternative energy, or he voted in favor of allowing exemptions from these mandates. Only 11 of the 23 votes cited by the Obama campaign involve reducing or eliminating incentives for renewable energy.

Meanwhile, McCain was indignant at the suggestion that he'd voted against alternative energy at all.

McCain: I have voted for alternate fuel all of my time. ... No one can be opposed to alternate energy.

But McCain's record says differently. As we say above, he has voted against funding for alternative energy on 11 occasions. He may be in favor of alternative energy in theory, but he has declined opportunities to support it.

In McCain's energy plan, he supports nuclear power and "clean" coal, which are alternative energies. But they don't qualify as renewable energy, such as hydro,
solar and wind power. McCain's plan makes a vague promise to "rationalize
the current patchwork of temporary tax credits that provide commercial
feasibility." The experts we talked to weren't sure what exactly that meant.

Committee Oversight
Both candidates were right in talking about Obama’s NATO subcommittee.

McCain: Senator Obama is the chairperson of a committee that oversights NATO, that's in Afghanistan. To this day he's never had a hearing. …

Obama: Look, the -- I'm very proud of my vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, who's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And as he explains and as John well knows, the issues of Afghanistan, the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that don't go through my subcommittee because they're done as a committee as a whole.

As we've already reported Obama's subcommittee on Afghanistan does have jurisdiction over NATO, which is supplying about half of the troops in Afghanistan. His subcommittee does not have jurisdiction over Afghanistan proper.

Getting the Dates Wrong
We also caught McCain getting his congressional history a little wrong.

McCain: Back in 1983, when I was a brand-new United States congressman,
the one -- the person I admired the most and still admire the most, Ronald
Reagan, wanted to send Marines into Lebanon. And I saw that, and I saw the
situation, and I stood up, and I voted against that because I was afraid
that they couldn't make peace in a place where 300 or 400 or several
hundred Marines would make a difference. Tragically, I was right: Nearly
300 Marines lost their lives in the bombing of the barracks.

This isn’t quite right. Marines were initially deployed to Lebanon in August 1982. McCain, however, was not elected to the U.S. House until November 1982, more than three months after Marines had already landed.

McCain is referring to a 1983 vote to invoke the War Powers Act. That bill, which Ronald Reagan signed into law on October 12, 1983, authorized an 18-month deployment for the Marines. On October 13, a suicide bomber destroyed the Marine barracks in Beirut. McCain did in fact break with most Republicans to vote against the bill.

–by Brooks Jackson, Lori Robertson, Justin Bank, Jess Henig, Emi Kolawole and Joe Miller.

"Statement Regarding the Bid Protest Decision Resolving the Aerial Refueling Tanker Protest by The Boeing Company" Government Accountability Office. 18 June 2008.
Isikoff, Michael, "McCain’s Boeing Battle Boomerangs," Newsweek. 30 June 2008.
Laurent, Lionel, "Boeing Boomerangs on McCain," Forbers Magazine. 4 March 2008.
Wayne, Leslie, "Audit Says Tanker Deal Is Flawed," New York Times. 19 June 2008.
Tax Policy Center. "Individual Income Tax Brackets, 1945 - 2008." 4 November 2007. Tax Policy Center, 7 July 2008.
"U.S. Imports by Country of Origin." U.S. Energy Information Administration, accessed 5 Sept. 2008.
"Spot Prices, Crude Oil in Dollars per Barrel." U.S. Energy Information Administration, accessed 5 Sept. 2008.
"S. 970: Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007." 8 April 2008.
Thomas.gov. 2 June 2008.
"Sec. 1538 of H.R. 1585." National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. Thomas.gov. 2 June 2008
U.S. Senate. "Roll Call Vote on Senate Amendment 3017." 26 Sept. 2007. U.S. Senate: Legislation and Records. 2 June 2008.
Grimmett, Richard F. "Congressional Use of Funding Cutoffs Since 1970 Involving U.S. Military Forces and Overseas Deployments." Congressional Research Service. 10 January 2001.
Daggett, Stephen. Costs of Major U.S. Wars. 24 Jul. 2008. Congressional Research Service.
Adair, Bill. Obama "suggested bombing Pakistan". Politifact.com.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Defense Issues. Obama for America.
Barack Obama's Plan to Make America A Global Energy Leader. Obama for America.

Related Articles

The Whoppers of 2008
Where McCain and Obama have misled voters. A partial tally.
FactChecking McCain
He made some flubs in accepting the nomination.
FactChecking Obama
He stuck to the facts, except when he stretched them.
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Not bad, considering all the cramming and prep work. I would have thought that there might have been more misstatements, if not down and out twisting of facts. They leave that to ads one sees over and over in print and in on the air media I suppose. SRH

. . .

Saundra Hummer
September 27th, 2008, 07:48 PM

Fact Checking John McCain On Rachel Maddow's MSNBC Show

By David Sirota

Campaign for America's Future, 9/27/08

I'm was on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show last night to fact check some of John McCain's statements during the presidential debate. You can watch the clip here:


At the bottom, I have a claim vs. fact breakdown that you can read through. My overall thoughts: Obama won, but not as handily as I think he could have. He missed a huge opportunity to deliver the zinger of the night when McCain said "a lot of people might be
interested in Senator Obama's definition of 'rich.'" I was waiting for Obama to hit that softball out of the park by responding that McCain's definition was people making over $5 million


. But Obama seemed to shy away at times from drawing that kind of really stark contrast.

But again, I do think Obama won. McCain was clearly uncomfortable with economic issues, desperate to try to ramrod a debate over a global financial crisis into a completely unrelated discussion about earmarks. And I thought McCain's condescension repeatedly claiming Obama doesn't "understand" things made McCain look petty. My hope is that in the coming debates Obama takes it up one more notch.

MCCAIN CLAIM: "American business pays the second-highest business
taxes in the world..."

FACT: Page 42 of this Bush Treasury Department report


found that America has the second lowest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, as a percentage of our GDP (ie. the real way to measure this). Last month, Congressional Quarterly


reported: "Most corporations, including the vast majority of foreign companies doing business in the United States, pay no income taxes, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday."

MCCAIN CLAIM: "We've got to start also holding people accountable."

FACT: What about the lobbyists in McCain's own campaign? What about
Phil Gramm, the guy who passed all this deregulation?

MCCAIN CLAIM: "We have to do is get spending under control in Washington...How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs"

FACT: Non-defense discretionary spending is at its lowest levels as a share of GDP in a generation


, and are projected to be the lowest since the Hoover administration in coming years


MCCAIN CLAIM: "We need very badly to understand that defense spending is very important and vital, particularly in the new challenges we face in the world, but we have to get a lot of the cost overruns under control."

FACT: Minutes later he said we need "a spending freeze on EVERYTHING BUT DEFENSE, veteran affairs and entitlement programs."

MCCAIN CLAIM: "I have opposed the president on torture of prisoner - Guantanemo Bay..."

FACT: The Los Angeles Times


reported in February that "McCain squandered some of his moral authority by supporting the Bush administration's position that the CIA should have more leeway than military interrogators" in torturing prisoners. The Boston Globe


reported that McCain "had a choice between his principles and propping up a failed president. He chose the latter...McCain, a Vietnam prisoner of war, has long condemned waterboarding as torture, making him more sensitive than President Bush on an issue that stained America's image. But the Arizona senator and virtual Republican nominee to replace Bush voted against the bill."

MCCAIN CLAIM: "If we drill off-shore and exploit a lot of these reserves, it will help, at temporarily, relieve our energy requirements. And it will have, I think, an important effect on the price of a barrel of oil."

FACT: The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency has


that the benefits from such drilling would be too small to have any significant effect on oil prices.

MCCAIN CLAIM: "America is safer today than it was on 9/11."

FACT: The New York Times


reported in 2007: "On Tuesday, in a dark and strikingly candid two pages, the nation's intelligence agencies offered an implicit answer, and it was not encouraging. In many respects, the National Intelligence Estimate suggests, the threat of terrorist violence
against the United States is growing worse, fueled by the Iraq war and spreading Islamic extremism."

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Saundra Hummer
September 28th, 2008, 02:34 AM

"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."

Adam Smith
The Wealth Of Nations


"When troubles come, they come not single spies, but in battalions."


"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group or any controlling private power."

Franklin D. Roosevelt
32nd US president


"Our economy is facing a moment of great challenge. ... We're in the midst of a serious financial crisis."

George W. Bush
September 24, 2008


"No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority."

Thomas Jefferson
American 3rd US President

Saundra Hummer
September 28th, 2008, 12:02 PM
For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling

September 28, 2008
Senator John McCain was on a roll. In a room reserved for high-stakes gamblers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, he tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table. When the marathon session ended around 2:30 a.m., the Arizona senator and his entourage emerged with thousands of dollars in winnings.

A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party’s evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain.

The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to Mr. McCain’s campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world’s second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s current campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just Mr. McCain’s affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.

As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America’s casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.

“One of the founding fathers of Indian gaming” is what Steven Light, a University of North Dakota professor and a leading Indian gambling expert, called Mr. McCain.

As factions of the ferociously competitive gambling industry have vied for an edge, they have found it advantageous to cultivate a relationship with Mr. McCain or hire someone who has one, according to an examination based on more than 70 interviews and thousands of pages of documents.

Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe’s planned casino in 2005, Mr. McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with Mr. McCain.

In Connecticut that year, when a tribe was looking to open the state’s third casino, staff members on the Indian Affairs Committee provided guidance to lobbyists representing those fighting the casino, e-mail messages and interviews show. The proposed casino, which would have cut into the Pequots’ market share, was opposed by Mr. McCain’s colleagues in Connecticut.

Mr. McCain declined to be interviewed. In written answers to questions, his campaign staff said he was “justifiably proud” of his record on regulating Indian gambling. “Senator McCain has taken positions on policy issues because he believed they are in the public interest,” the campaign said.

Mr. McCain’s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, would not discuss the senator’s night of gambling at Foxwoods, saying: “Your paper has repeatedly attempted to insinuate impropriety on the part of Senator McCain where none exists — and it reveals that your publication is desperately willing to gamble away what little credibility it still has.”

Over his career, Mr. McCain has taken on special interests, like big tobacco, and angered the capital’s powerbrokers by promoting campaign finance reform and pushing to limit gifts that lobbyists can shower on lawmakers. On occasion, he has crossed the gambling industry on issues like regulating slot machines.

Perhaps no episode burnished Mr. McCain’s image as a reformer more than his stewardship three years ago of the Congressional investigation into Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican Indian gambling lobbyist who became a national symbol of the pay-to-play culture in Washington. The senator’s leadership during the scandal set the stage for the most sweeping overhaul of lobbying laws since Watergate.

“I’ve fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes,” the senator said in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination this month.

But interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator’s longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.

Mr. McCain’s campaign said the senator acted solely to protect American Indians, even though the inquiry posed “grave risk to his political interests.”

As public opposition to tribal casinos has grown in recent years, Mr. McCain has distanced himself from Indian gambling, Congressional and American Indian officials said.

But he has rarely wavered in his loyalty to Las Vegas, where he counts casino executives among his close friends and most prolific fund-raisers. “Beyond just his support for gaming, Nevada supports John McCain because he’s one of us, a Westerner at heart,” said Sig Rogich, a Nevada Republican kingmaker who raised nearly $2 million for Mr. McCain at an event at his home in June.

Only six members of Congress have received more money from the gambling industry than Mr. McCain, and five hail from the casino hubs of Nevada and New Jersey, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics dating back to 1989. In the presidential race, Senator Barack Obama has also received money from the industry; Mr. McCain has raised almost twice as much.

In May 2007, as Mr. McCain’s presidential bid was floundering, he spent a weekend at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip. A fund-raiser hosted by J. Terrence Lanni, the casino’s top executive and a longtime friend of the senator, raised $400,000 for his campaign. Afterward, Mr. McCain attended a boxing match and hit the craps tables.

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain’s patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We were always concerned about appearances,” one former official said. “If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter.”

The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.”

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

A Record of Support

In one of their last conversations, Representative Morris K. Udall, Arizona’s powerful Democrat, whose devotion to American Indian causes was legendary, implored his friend Mr. McCain to carry on his legacy.

“Don’t forget the Indians,” Mr. Udall, who died in 1998, told Mr. McCain in a directive that the senator has recounted to others.

More than a decade earlier, Mr. Udall had persuaded Mr. McCain to join the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Mr. McCain, whose home state has the third-highest Indian population, eloquently decried the “grinding poverty” that gripped many reservations.

The two men helped write the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 after the Supreme Court found that states had virtually no right to control wagering on reservations. The legislation provided a framework for the oversight and growth of Indian casinos: In 1988, Indian gambling represented less than 1 percent of the nation’s gambling revenues; today it captures more than one third.

On the Senate floor after the bill’s passage, Mr. McCain said he personally opposed Indian gambling, but when impoverished communities “are faced with only one option for economic development, and that is to set up gambling on their reservations, then I cannot disapprove.”

In 1994, Mr. McCain pushed an amendment that enabled dozens of additional tribes to win federal recognition and open casinos. And in 1998, Mr. McCain fought a Senate effort to rein in the boom.

He also voted twice in the last decade to give casinos tax breaks estimated to cost the government more than $326 million over a dozen years.

The first tax break benefited the industry in Las Vegas, one of a number of ways Mr. McCain has helped nontribal casinos. Mr. Lanni, the MGM Mirage chief executive, said that an unsuccessful bid by the senator to ban wagering on college sports in Nevada was the only time he could recall Mr. McCain opposing Las Vegas. “I can’t think of any other issue,” Mr. Lanni said.

The second tax break helped tribal casinos like Foxwoods and was pushed by Scott Reed, the Pequots’ lobbyist.

Mr. McCain had gotten to know Mr. Reed during Senator Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign, which Mr. Reed managed. Four years later, when Mr. McCain ran for president, Mr. Reed recommended he hire his close friend and protégé, Rick Davis, to manage that campaign.

During his 2000 primary race against George W. Bush, Mr. McCain promoted his record of helping Indian Country, telling reporters on a campaign swing that he had provided critical support to “the Pequot, now the proud owners of the largest casino in the world.”

But Mr. McCain’s record on Indian gambling was fast becoming a difficult issue for him in the primary. Bush supporters like Gov. John Engler of Michigan lambasted Mr. McCain for his “close ties to Indian gambling.”

A decade after Mr. McCain co-authored the Indian gambling act, the political tides had turned. Tribal casinos, which were growing at a blazing pace, had become increasingly unpopular around the country for reasons as varied as morality and traffic.

Then came the biggest lobbying scandal to shake Washington.

Behind an Inquiry

At a September 2004 hearing of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain described Jack Abramoff as one of the most brazen in a long line of crooks to cheat American Indians. “It began with the sale of Manhattan, and has continued ever since,” he said. “What sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit.”

Over the next two years, Mr. McCain helped uncover a breathtaking lobbying scandal — Mr. Abramoff and a partner bilked six tribes of $66 million — that showcased the senator’s willingness to risk the wrath of his own party to expose wrongdoing. But interviews and documents show that Mr. McCain and a circle of allies — lobbyists, lawyers and senior strategists — also seized on the case for its opportunities.

For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.

The Abramoff saga started in early 2003 when members of two tribes began questioning Mr. Abramoff’s astronomical fees. Over the next year, they leaked information to local newspapers, but it took the hiring of lobbyists who were competitors of Mr. Abramoff to get the attention of Mr. McCain’s committee.

Bernie Sprague, who led the effort by one of the tribes, the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan, hired a Democratic lobbyist who recommended that the tribe retain Scott Reed, the Republican lobbyist, to push for an investigation.

Mr. Reed had boasted to other lobbyists of his access to Mr. McCain, three close associates said. Mr. Reed “pretty much had open access to John from 2000 to at least the end of 2006,” one aide said.

Lobbyist disclosure forms show that Mr. Reed went to work for the Saginaw Chippewa on Feb. 15, 2004, charging the tribe $56,000 over a year. Mr. Abramoff had tried to steal the Pequots and another tribal client from Mr. Reed, and taking down Mr. Abramoff would eliminate a competitor.

Mr. Reed became the chief conduit to Mr. McCain’s committee for billing documents and other information Mr. Sprague was digging up on Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Sprague said, who said Mr. Reed “did a great to service to me.”

“He had contacts I did not,” Mr. Sprague said. “Initially, I think that the senator’s office was doing Reed a favor by listening to me.”

A few weeks after hiring Mr. Reed, Mr. Sprague received a letter from the senator. “We have met with Scott Reed, who was very helpful on the issue,” Mr. McCain wrote.

Information about Mr. Abramoff was also flowing to Mr. McCain’s committee from another tribe, the Coushatta of Louisiana. The source was a consultant named Roy Fletcher, who had been Mr. McCain’s deputy campaign manager in 2000, running his war room in South Carolina.

It was in that primary race that two of Mr. Abramoff’s closest associates, Grover Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, and Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition, ran a blistering campaign questioning Mr. McCain’s conservative credentials. The senator and his advisers blamed that attack for Mr. McCain’s loss to Mr. Bush in South Carolina, creating tensions that would resurface in the Abramoff matter.

“I was interested in busting” Mr. Abramoff, said Mr. Fletcher, who was eventually hired to represent the tribe. “That was my job. But I was also filled with righteous indignation, I got to tell you.”

Mr. Fletcher said he began passing information to John Weaver, Mr. McCain’s chief political strategist, and other staff members in late 2003 or January 2004. Mr. Weaver confirmed the timing.

Mr. McCain announced his investigation on Feb. 26, 2004, citing an article on Mr. Abramoff in The Washington Post. He did not mention the action by lobbyists and tribes in the preceding weeks. His campaign said no one in his “innermost circle” brought information to Mr. McCain that prompted the investigation.

The senator declared he would not investigate members of Congress, whom Mr. Abramoff had lavished with tribal donations and golf outings to Scotland. But in the course of the investigation, the committee exposed Mr. Abramoff’s dealings with the two men who had helped defeat Mr. McCain in the 2000 primary.

The investigation showed that Mr. Norquist’s foundation was used by Mr. Abramoff to launder lobbying fees from tribes. Ralph Reed was found to have accepted $4 million to run bogus antigambling campaigns. And the investigation also highlighted Mr. Abramoff’s efforts to curry favor with the House majority leader at the time, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, a longtime political foe who had opposed many of Mr. McCain’s legislative priorities.

Mr. McCain’s campaign said the senator did not “single out” Ralph Reed or Mr. Norquist, neither of whom were ever charged, and that both men fell within the “scope of the investigation.” The inquiry, which led to guilty pleas by over a dozen individuals, was motivated by a desire to help aggrieved tribes, the campaign said.

Inside the investigation, the sense of schadenfreude was palpable, according to several people close to the senator. “It was like hitting pay dirt,” said one associate of Mr. McCain’s who had consulted with the senator’s office on the investigation. “And face it — McCain and Weaver were maniacal about Ralph Reed and Norquist. They were sticking little pins in dolls because those guys had cost him South Carolina.”

Down on the Coushattas reservation, bills related to the investigation kept coming. After firing Mr. Abramoff, the tribe hired Kent Hance, a lawyer and former Texas congressman who said he had been friends with Mr. McCain since the 1980s.

David Sickey, the tribe’s vice chairman, said he was “dumbfounded” over the bills submitted by Mr. Hance’s firm, Hance Scarborough, which had been hired by Mr. Sickey’s predecessors.

“The very thing we were fighting seemed to be happening all over again — these absurd amounts of money being paid,” Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance’s firm billed the tribe nearly $1.3 million over 11 months in legal and political consulting fees, records show. But Mr. Sickey said that the billing statements offered only vague explanations for services and that he could not point to any tangible results. Two consultants, for instance, were paid to fight the expansion of gambling in Texas — even though it was unlikely given that the governor there opposed any such prospect, Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance and Jay B. Stewart, the firm’s managing partner, defended their team’s work, saying they successfully steered the tribe through a difficult period. “We did an outstanding job for them,” Mr. Hance said. “When we told them our bill was going to be $100,000 a month, they thought we were cheap. Mr. Abramoff had charged them $1 million a month.”

The firm’s fees covered the services of Mr. Fletcher, who served as the tribe’s spokesman. Records also show that Mr. Hance had Mr. Weaver — who was serving as Mr. McCain’s chief strategist — put on the tribe’s payroll from February to May 2005.

It is not precisely clear what role Mr. Weaver played for his $100,000 fee.

Mr. Stewart said Mr. Weaver was hired because “he had a lot of experience with the Senate, especially the new chairman, John McCain.” The Hance firm told the tribe in a letter that Mr. Weaver was hired to provide “representation for the tribe before the U.S. Senate.”

But Mr. Weaver never registered to lobby on the issue, and he has another explanation for his work.

“The Hance law firm retained me to assist them and their client in developing an aggressive crisis management and communications strategy,” Mr. Weaver said. “At no point was I asked by Kent Hance or anyone associated with him to set up meetings with anyone in or outside of government to discuss this, and if asked I would have summarily declined to do so.”

In June 2005, the tribe informed Mr. Hance that his services were no longer needed.

Change in Tone

After the Abramoff scandal, Mr. McCain stopped taking campaign donations from tribes. Some American Indians were offended, especially since Mr. McCain continued to accept money from the tribes’ lobbyists.

Resentment in Indian Country mounted as Mr. McCain, who was preparing for another White House run, singled out the growth in tribal gambling as one of three national issues that were “out of control.” (The others were federal spending and illegal immigration.)

Franklin Ducheneaux, an aide to Morris Udall who helped draft the 1988 Indian gambling law, said that position ran contrary to Mr. McCain’s record. “What did he think? That Congress intended for the tribes to be only somewhat successful?” Mr. Ducheneaux said.

Mr. McCain began taking a broad look at whether the laws were sufficient to oversee the growing industry. His campaign said that the growth had put “considerable stress” on regulators and Mr. McCain held hearings on whether the federal government needed more oversight power.

An opportunity to restrain the industry came in the spring of 2005, when a small tribe in Connecticut set off a political battle. The group, the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, had won federal recognition in 2004 after producing voluminous documentation tracing its roots.

The tribe wanted to build Connecticut’s third casino, which would compete with Foxwoods and another, the Mohegan Sun. Facing public opposition on the proposed casino, members of the Connecticut political establishment — many of whom had received large Pequot and Mohegan campaign donations — swung into action.

Connecticut officials claimed that a genealogical review by the Bureau of Indian Affairs was flawed, and that the Schaghticoke was not a tribe.

The tribe’s opponents, led by the Washington lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, turned to Mr. McCain’s committee. It was a full-circle moment for the senator, who had helped the Pequots gain tribal recognition in the 1980s despite concerns about their legitimacy.

Now, Mr. McCain was doing a favor for allies in the Connecticut delegation, including Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a close friend, according to two former Congressional aides. “It was one of those collegial deals,” said one of the aides, who worked for Mr. McCain.

Barbour Griffith & Rogers wanted Mr. McCain to hold a hearing that would show that the Bureau of Indian Affairs was “broken,” said Bradley A. Blakeman, who was a lobbyist for the firm at the time.

“It was our hope that the hearing would shed light on the fact that the bureau had not followed their rules and had improperly granted recognition to the Schaghticoke,” Mr. Blakeman said. “And that the bureau would revisit the issue and follow their rules.”

Mr. McCain’s staff helped that effort by offering strategic advice.

His staff told a lobbyist for the firm that the Indian Affairs Committee “would love to receive a letter” from the Connecticut governor requesting a hearing, according to an e-mail exchange, and offered “guidance on what the most effective tone and approach” would be in the letter.

On May 11, 2005, Mr. McCain held a hearing billed as a general “oversight hearing on federal recognition of Indian tribes.” But nearly all the witnesses were Schaghticoke opponents who portrayed the tribe as imposters.

Mr. McCain set the tone: “The role that gaming and its nontribal backers have played in the recognition process has increased perceptions that it is unfair, if not corrupt.”

Chief Richard F. Velky of the Schaghticokes found himself facing off against the governor and most of the state’s congressional delegation. “The deck was stacked against us,” Mr. Velky said. “They were given lots of time. I was given five minutes.”

He had always believed Mr. McCain “to be an honest and fair man,” Mr. Velky said, “but this didn’t make me feel that good.”

Mr. Velky said he felt worse when the e-mail messages between the tribe’s opponents and Mr. McCain’s staff surfaced in a federal lawsuit. “Is there a letter telling me how to address the senator to give me the best shot?” Mr. Velky asked. “No, there is not.”

After the hearing, Pablo E. Carrillo, who was Mr. McCain’s chief Abramoff investigator at the time, wrote to a Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbyist, Brant Imperatore. “Your client’s side definitely got a good hearing record,” Mr. Carillo wrote, adding “you probably have a good sense” on where Mr. McCain “is headed on this.”

“Well done!” he added.

Cynthia Shaw, a Republican counsel to the committee from 2005 to 2007, said Mr. McCain made decisions based on merit, not special interests. “Everybody got a meeting who asked for one,” Ms. Shaw said, “whether you were represented by counsel or by a lobbyist — or regardless of which lobbyist.”

Mr. McCain’s campaign defended the senator’s handling of the Schaghticoke case, saying no staff member acted improperly. The campaign said the session was part of normal committee business and the notion that Mr. McCain was intending to help Congressional colleagues defeat the tribe was “absolutely false.”

It added that the senator’s commitment to Indian sovereignty “remains as strong as ever.”

Within months of the May 2005 hearing, the Bureau of Indian Affairs took the rare step of rescinding the Schaghticokes’ recognition. A federal court recently rejected the tribe’s claim that the reversal was politically motivated.

Making an Exception

That spring of 2005, as the Schaghticokes went down to defeat in the East, another tribe in the West squared off against Mr. McCain with its bid to construct a gambling emporium in California. The stakes were similar, but the outcome would be far different.

The tribe’s plan to build a casino on a former Navy base just outside San Francisco represented a trend rippling across the country: American Indians seeking to build casinos near population centers, far from their reservations.

The practice, known as “off-reservation shopping,” stemmed from the 1988 Indian gambling law, which included exceptions allowing some casinos to be built outside tribal lands. When Mr. McCain began his second stint as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee three years ago, Las Vegas pressed him to revisit the exceptions he had helped create, according to Sig Rogich, the Republican fund-raiser from Nevada.

“We told him this off-reservation shopping had to stop,” Mr. Rogich said. “It was no secret that the gaming industry, as well as many potentially affected communities in other states, voiced opposition to the practice.”

In the spring of 2005, Mr. McCain announced he was planning a sweeping overhaul of Indian gambling laws, including limiting off-reservation casinos. His campaign said Las Vegas had nothing to do with it. In a 2005 interview with The Oregonian, Mr. McCain said that if Congress did not act, “soon every Indian tribe is going to have a casino in downtown, metropolitan areas.”

Prospects for the proposed California project did not look promising. Then the tribe, the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians, hired a lobbyist based in Phoenix named Wes Gullett.

Mr. Gullett, who had never represented tribes before Congress, had known Mr. McCain since the early 1980s. Mr. Gullett met his wife while they were working in Mr. McCain’s Washington office. He subsequently managed Mr. McCain’s 1992 Senate campaign and served as a top aide to his 2000 presidential campaign. Their friendship went beyond politics. When Mr. McCain’s wife, Cindy, brought two infants in need of medical treatment back to Arizona from Bangladesh, the Gulletts adopted one baby and the McCains the other. The two men also liked to take weekend trips to Las Vegas.

Another of Mr. McCain’s close friends, former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, was a major investor in the Guidivilles’ proposed casino. Mr. Cohen, who did not return calls, was best man at Mr. McCain’s 1980 wedding.

Scott Crowell, lawyer for the Guidivilles, said Mr. Gullett was hired to ensure that Mr. McCain’s overhaul of the Indian gambling laws did not harm the tribe.

Mr. Gullett said he never talked to Mr. McCain about the legislation. “If you are hired directly to lobby John McCain, you are not going to be effective,” he said. Mr. Gullett said he only helped prepare the testimony of the tribe’s administrator, Walter Gray, who was invited to plead his case before Mr. McCain’s committee in July 2005. Mr. Gullett said he advised Mr. Gray in a series of conference calls.

On disclosure forms filed with the Senate, however, Mr. Gullett stated that he was not hired until November, long after Mr. Gray’s testimony. Mr. Gullett said the late filing might have been “a mistake, but it was inadvertent.” Steve Hart, a former lawyer for the Guidivilles, backed up Mr. Gullett’s contention that he had guided Mr. Gray on his July testimony.

When asked whether Mr. Gullett had helped him, Mr. Gray responded, “I’ve never met the man and couldn’t tell you anything about him.”

On Nov. 18, 2005, when Mr. McCain introduced his promised legislation overhauling the Indian gambling law, he left largely intact a provision that the Guidivilles needed for their casino. Mr. McCain’s campaign declined to answer whether the senator spoke with Mr. Gullett or Mr. Cohen about the project. In the end, Mr. McCain’s bill died, largely because Indian gambling interests fought back. But the Department of Interior picked up where Mr. McCain left off, effectively doing through regulations what he had hoped to accomplish legislatively. Carl Artman, who served as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary of Indian Affairs until May, said Mr. McCain pushed him to rewrite the off-reservation rules. “It became one of my top priorities because Senator McCain made it clear it was one of his top priorities,” he said.

The new guidelines were issued on Jan. 4. As a result, the casino applications of 11 tribes were rejected. The Guidivilles were not among them.

Kitty Bennett and Griff Palmer contributed to reporting.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Saundra Hummer
September 28th, 2008, 12:12 PM
:: :: :: :: ::

Breakthrough Reached in Negotiations on Bailout

September 28, 2008
. . .WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders and the Bush administration reached a tentative agreement early Sunday on what may become the largest financial bailout in American history, authorizing the Treasury to purchase $700 billion in troubled debt from ailing firms in an extraordinary intervention to prevent widespread economic collapse.

Officials said that Congressional staff members would work through the night to finalize the language of the agreement and draft a bill, and that the bill would be brought to the House floor for a vote on Monday.

The bill includes pay limits for some executives whose firms seek help, aides said. And it requires the government to use its new role as owner of distressed mortgage-backed securities to make more aggressive efforts to prevent home foreclosures.

In some cases, the government would receive an equity stake in companies that seek aid, allowing taxpayers to profit should the rescue plan work and the private firms flourish in the months and years ahead.

The White House also agreed to strict oversight of the program by a Congressional panel and conflict-of-interest rules for firms hired by the Treasury to help run the program.

The administration had initially requested virtually unfettered authority to operate the bailout program. But as they moved toward clinching a deal, both sides appeared to have given up a number of contentious proposals, including a change in the bankruptcy laws sought by some Democrats to give judges the authority to modify the terms of first mortgages.

Congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. emerged from behind closed doors to announce the tentative agreement at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, after two days of marathon meetings.

“We have made great progress toward a deal, which will work and be effective in the marketplace,” Mr. Paulson said at a news conference in Statuary Hall in the Capitol.

In the final hours of negotiations, Democratic lawmakers, including Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois and Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, carried pages of the bill by hand, back and forth, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, where the Democrats were encamped, to Mr. Paulson and other Republicans in the offices of Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader.

At the same time, a series of phone calls was taking place, including conversations between Ms. Pelosi and President Bush; between Mr. Paulson and the two presidential candidates, Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama; and between the candidates and top lawmakers.

“All of this was done in a way to insulate Main Street and everyday Americans from the crisis on Wall Street,” Ms. Pelosi said at the news conference. “We have to commit it to paper so we can formally agree, but I want to congratulate all of the negotiators for the great work they have done.”

In a statement, Tony Fratto, the deputy White House press secretary, said: “We’re pleased with the progress tonight and appreciate the bipartisan effort to stabilize our financial markets and protect our economy.”

A senior administration official who participated in the talks said the deal was effectively done. “I know of no unresolved open issues for principals,” the official said.

In announcing a tentative agreement, lawmakers and the administration achieved their goal of sending a reassuring message ahead of Monday’s opening of the Asian financial markets.

Lawmakers, especially in the House, are also eager to adjourn and return home for the fall campaign season.

Among the last sticking points was an unexpected and bitter fight over how to pay for any losses that taxpayers may experience after distressed debt has been purchased and resold.

Democrats had pushed for a fee on securities transactions, essentially a tax on financial firms, saying it was fitting that they contribute to the cost.

In the end, lawmakers and the administration opted to leave the decision to the next president, who must present a proposal to Congress to pay for any losses.

Officials said they had also agreed to include a proposal by House Republicans that gives the Treasury secretary an additional option of issuing government insurance for troubled financial instruments as a way of reducing the amount of taxpayer money spent up front on the rescue effort.

The Treasury would be required to create the insurance program, officials said, but not necessarily to use it. Mr. Paulson had expressed little interest in that plan, and initial cost projections suggested it would be enormously expensive. But final details were not immediately available.

Saturday’s intense negotiating effort followed a tumultuous week, including a contentious meeting at the White House with President Bush and the two presidential candidates.

That meeting had moments of drama, including a blunt warning by President Bush. “If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” he said. It ended with angry recriminations after House Republicans scotched a near-agreement from earlier in the day.

Mr. Paulson scrambled to revive the talks, and they resumed almost immediately. Congressional and Treasury staff then worked all of Friday and through the night, ending in the predawn.

Mr. Paulson and Congressional leaders stepped in at 3 p.m. Saturday and were in direct negotiations for most of the rest of the night. And immediately after the news conference, staff members began efforts to finalize the language.

Even then, their work is hardly over.

Congressional leaders who want the bailout to pass with solid bipartisan support had already begun to anxiously court votes, mindful of the difficulty they could face in a high-stakes election year.

Public opinion polls show the bailout plan to be deeply unpopular. Conservative Republicans have denounced the plan as an affront to free market capitalism, while some liberal Democrats criticize it as a giveaway to Wall Street.

Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the chief negotiator for House Republicans, who have been among the most reluctant to support the plan, expressed some satisfaction but did not commit his members’ support.

“We need to look and see where we are on paper tomorrow,” Mr. Blunt said. “We have been talking about how we can make these things work in a way that our conference can come together.”

Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the lead negotiator for the House Democrats, said that there was no expectation of making anyone smile.

“This was never going to be a bill that was going to make people happy,” he said. “No solution to a problem can be more elegant than the problem itself. We are dealing with a very difficult problem.”

“Given the dimensions of the problem, I believe we have done a good job,” he added. “It includes genuine compromises.”

Aides described a tense meeting on Saturday afternoon that included Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, shouting at Mr. Paulson about executive pay caps.

Outside, stunned tourists visiting the Capitol watched as camera operators shoved one another to get footage of lawmakers talking outside of the meeting room.

At one point, when too much information was leaking out, staff members’ BlackBerrys were confiscated and collected in a trash bin.

While Congressional Republicans sent only their chief negotiators, Mr. Blunt and Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, at least nine Democrats with competing priorities piled into the meeting, surprising the Republicans but apparently not unsettling them.

The centerpiece of the rescue effort remains the plan for the government to buy up to $700 billion in troubled assets from financial firms as a way to free their balance sheets of bad debts and to help restore a healthy flow of credit through the economy.

The money will disbursed in parts, with an initial $250 billion to get the rescue effort under way, followed by another $100 billion upon a report by Mr. Bush to Congress.

The president could then request the balance of $350 billion at any time. If Congress disapproved, it would have to act within 15 days to deny the Treasury the money.

Early in the day, the two presidential nominees were active from the sidelines. Mr. McCain telephoned Congressional Republicans to sound them out, and Mr. Obama got regular updates by phone from Mr. Paulson and top lawmakers.

Some lawmakers have made clear that they will not vote for the bailout plan under virtually any terms. “I didn’t want to be in the negotiations because I object to the basic principles of this,” said Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the banking committee, who would normally be his party’s point man.

Pressed about his role, Mr. Shelby replied, “My position is ‘No.’ ”

Officials, including Mr. Bush, stepped up efforts to sell the plan to the American public, which, according to opinion polls, is deeply skeptical.

“The rescue effort we’re negotiating is not aimed at Wall Street; it is aimed at your street,” Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address. “There is now widespread agreement on the major principles. We must free up the flow of credit to consumers and businesses by reducing the risk posed by troubled assets.”

In a brief speech on the Senate floor, Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, said: “It’s not just going to be Wall Street. The chairman of the Federal Reserve has told us if the credit lockup continues, three million to four million Americans will lose their jobs in the next six months.”

The ultimate cost of the rescue plan to taxpayers is virtually impossible to know. Because the government would be buying assets of value — potentially worth much more than the government will pay for them — there is even a chance the rescue effort would eventually return a profit.

Some Democrats had sought to direct 20 percent of any such profits to help create affordable housing, but Republicans opposed that and demanded that all profits be returned to the Treasury.

Robert Pear contributed reporting.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company


:: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Saundra Hummer
September 28th, 2008, 02:14 PM


McCain’s Suspension Bridge to Nowhere

September 28, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

WHAT we learned last week is that the man who always puts his “country first” will take the country down with him if that’s what it takes to get to the White House.

For all the focus on Friday night’s deadlocked debate, it still can’t obscure what preceded it: When John McCain gratuitously parachuted into Washington on Thursday, he didn’t care if his grandstanding might precipitate an even deeper economic collapse. All he cared about was whether he might save his campaign. George Bush put more deliberation into invading Iraq than McCain did into his own reckless invasion of the delicate Congressional negotiations on the bailout plan.

By the time he arrived, there already was a bipartisan agreement in principle. It collapsed hours later at the meeting convened by the president in the Cabinet Room. Rather than help try to resuscitate Wall Street’s bloodied bulls, McCain was determined to be the bull in Washington’s legislative china shop, running around town and playing both sides of his divided party against Congress’s middle. Once others eventually forged a path out of the wreckage, he’d inflate, if not outright fictionalize, his own role in cleaning up the mess his mischief helped make. Or so he hoped, until his ignominious retreat.

The question is why would a man who forever advertises his own honor toy so selfishly with our national interest at a time of crisis. I’ll leave any physiological explanations to gerontologists — if they can get hold of his complete medical records — and any armchair psychoanalysis to the sundry McCain press acolytes who have sorrowfully tried to rationalize his erratic behavior this year. The other answers, all putting politics first, can be found by examining the 24 hours before he decided to “suspend” campaigning and swoop down on the Capitol to save America from the Sunnis or the Shia, or whoever perpetrated all those credit-default swaps.

To put these 24 hours in context, you must remember that McCain not only knows little about the economy but that he has not previously expressed any urgency about its meltdown. It was on Sept. 15 — the day after his former idol Alan Greenspan pronounced the current crisis a “once-in-a-century” catastrophe — that McCain reaffirmed for the umpteenth time that the “fundamentals of our economy are strong.” As recently as Tuesday he had not yet even read the two-and-a-half-page bailout proposal first circulated by Hank Paulson last weekend. “I have not had a chance to see it in writing,” he explained. (Maybe he was waiting for it to arrive by Western Union instead of PDF.)

Then came Black Wednesday — not for the stock market, which was holding steady in anticipation of Washington action, but for McCain. As the widely accepted narrative has it, his come-to-Jesus moment arrived that morning, when he awoke to discover that Barack Obama had surged ahead by nine percentage points in the Washington Post/ABC News poll. The McCain campaign hastily suited up its own pollster to belittle that finding — only to be drowned out by a fusillade of new polls from Fox News, Marist and CNN/Time, each with numbers closer to Post/ABC than not. Obama was rising most everywhere except the moose strongholds of Alaska and Montana.

That was not the only bad news raining down on McCain. His camp knew what Katie Couric had in the can from her interview with Sarah Palin. The first excerpt was to be broadcast by CBS that night, and it had to be upstaged fast.

But even that wasn’t the top political threat McCain faced last week. Bigger still was the mounting evidence of the seamless synergy between his campaign and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage monsters at the heart of the housing bust that set off our current calamity. Most of all, it was the fast-moving events on that front that precipitated his panic to roll out his diversionary, over-the-top theatrics on Wednesday.

What we were learning — through The New York Times, Newsweek and Roll Call — was ugly. Davis Manafort, the lobbying firm owned by McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, had received $15,000 a month from Freddie Mac from late 2005 until last month. This was in addition to the $30,000 a month that Davis was paid from 2000 to 2005 by the so-called Homeownership Alliance, an advocacy organization that he headed and that was financed by Freddie and Fannie to fight regulation.

The McCain campaign tried to pre-emptively deflect such revelations by reviving the old Rove trick of accusing your opponent of your own biggest failings. It ran attack ads about Obama’s own links to the mortgage giants. But neither of the former Freddie-Fannie executives vilified in those ads, Franklin Raines and James Johnson, had worked at those companies lately or are currently associated with the Obama campaign. (Raines never worked for the campaign at all.) By contrast, Davis is the tip of the Freddie-Fannie-McCain iceberg. McCain’s senior adviser, his campaign’s vice chairman, his Congressional liaison and the reported head of his White House transition team all either made fortunes from recent Freddie-Fannie lobbying or were players in firms that did.

By Wednesday, the McCain campaign’s latest tactic for countering this news — attacking the press, especially The Times — was paying diminishing returns. Davis abruptly canceled his scheduled appearance that day at a weekly reporters’ lunch sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, escaping any further questions by pleading that he had to hit the campaign trail. (He turned up at the “21” Club in New York that night, wining and dining McCain fund-raisers.)

It’s then that Angry Old Ironsides McCain suddenly emerged to bark that our financial distress was “the greatest crisis we’ve faced, clearly, since World War II” — even greater than the Russia-Georgia conflict, which in August he had called the “first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the cold war.” Campaigns, debates and no doubt Bristol Palin’s nuptials had to be suspended immediately so he could ride to the rescue, with Joe Lieberman as his Robin.

Yet even as he huffed and puffed about being a “leader,” McCain took no action and felt no urgency. As his Congressional colleagues worked tirelessly in Washington, he malingered in New York. He checked out the suffering on Main Street (or perhaps High Street) by conferring with Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the Hillary-turned-McCain supporter best known for her fabulous London digs and her diatribes against Obama’s elitism. McCain also found time to have a well-publicized chat with one of those celebrities he so disdains, Bono, and to give a self-promoting public speech at the Clinton Global Initiative.

There was no suspension of his campaign. His surrogates and ads remained on television. Huffington Post bloggers, working the phones, couldn’t find a single McCain campaign office that had gone on hiatus. This “suspension” ruse was an exact replay of McCain’s self-righteous “suspension” of the G.O.P. convention as Hurricane Gustav arrived on Labor Day. “We will put aside our political hats and put on our American hats,” he declared then, solemnly pledging that conventioneers would help those in need. But as anyone in the Twin Cities could see, the assembled put on their party hats instead, piling into the lobbyists’ bacchanals earlier than scheduled, albeit on the down-low.

Much of the press paid lip service to McCain’s new “suspension” as it had to its prototype. In truth, the only campaign activity McCain did drop was a Wednesday evening taping with David Letterman. Don’t mess with Dave. Picking up where the “The View” left off in speaking truth to power, the uncharacteristically furious host hammered the absent McCain on and off for 40 minutes, repeatedly observing that the cancellation “didn’t smell right.”

In a journalistic coup de grâce worthy of “60 Minutes,” Letterman went on to unmask his no-show guest as a liar. McCain had phoned himself that afternoon to say he was “getting on a plane immediately” to deal with the grave situation in Washington, Letterman told the audience. Then he showed video of McCain being touched up by a makeup artist while awaiting an interview by Couric that same evening at another CBS studio in New York.

It’s not hard to guess why McCain had blown off Letterman for Couric at the last minute. The McCain campaign’s high anxiety about the disastrous Couric-Palin sit-down was skyrocketing as advance excerpts flooded the Internet. By offering his own interview to Couric for the same night, McCain hoped (in vain) to dilute Palin’s primacy on the “CBS Evening News.”

Letterman’s most mordant laughs on Wednesday came when he riffed about McCain’s campaign “suspension”: “Do you suspend your campaign? No, because that makes me think maybe there will be other things down the road, like if he’s in the White House, he might just suspend being president. I mean, we’ve got a guy like that now!”

That’s no joke. Bush has so little credibility he can govern only through surrogates (Paulson is the new Petraeus). When he spoke about the economic crisis in prime time earlier that same night, he registered as no more than an irritating speed bump en route to “David Blaine: Dive of Death.”

It’s that utter power vacuum that gave McCain the opening to pull his potentially catastrophic display of economic “leadership” last week. He may be the first presidential candidate in our history to risk wrecking the country even before being voted into the Oval Office.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Readers' Comments

"Senator McCain, where have you gone? It's sad to see a man I admire - still - brought so low by whatever forces have driven him so madly, so destructively, these past weeks.... Whatever he has become, it certainly is not the stuff of which Presidents are made."
wdb, Pennsylvania

Read Full Comment » http://www.buzzflash.com

Saundra Hummer
September 28th, 2008, 02:29 PM
. . . . . . .

Leading The News

Obama offers support for bailout deal

Ian Swanson
Posted: 09/28/08 11:50 AM [ET]
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in his first interview since Friday's debate offered support for the Wall Street bailout package quickly forming on Capitol Hill and continued to link GOP rival Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to President Bush.

Obama said the country on Friday had a chance to listen to two highly different views on the country's direction, and repeatedly cast McCain's debate statements as showing he would continue the economic and foreign policy positions of President Bush.

The Democratic presidential candidate also said he expects to support the bailout package congressional negotiators and the Bush administration appear poised to strike.

Obama told "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer that Congress needs to get something done to help the economy, and that he agreed with Bush that the situation is grave.

“I agree this is probably the most serious financial crisis we've faced since the Great Depression, and what we can't do is do nothing,” Obama said.

He said he was pleased that the package forming in Congress appears to include principles that Obama said he's stressed to congressional negotiators and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Obama said those principles included a body that would provide oversight over Treasury's plan to buy up troubled mortgage-backed assets from banks; restrictions on the compensation of executives of companies taking part in the program; additional relief for homeowners struggling with their mortgages; and rules that could allow taxpayers to share in the profits if Treasury is ultimately able to sell off the assets it buys.

Obama noted that none of these provisions was in the initial proposal from Treasury.

How the public views Obama's and McCain's positioning on the package could be vital in their presidential contest. McCain briefly suspended his campaign and called for Friday's debate to be postponed so that he could take part in negotiations, before quickly reversing course. Democrats scolded McCain for upsetting delicate talks.

Obama on Sunday appeared to be trying to suggest that he had played an important role in forming the package. Republicans, for their part, have tried to play up McCain's role, and McCain on Sunday said the deal now forming is better than the one that was shaping when he announced his campaign suspension on Wednesday.

Congressional negotiators announced early this morning they had reached a breakthrough and that a deal on the package was close. The hope is that the news of a deal will brighten prospects on the markets when they open Monday morning in Asia, and that a House vote on the package can take place sometime Monday.

Obama said the country never should have got into the position where a $700 billion bailout package was necessary, and he criticized McCain for supporting deregulation that led to a lack of oversight over the financial system. McCain and Obama have both called for more regulation this week.

On the debate, Obama said McCain did not show that his administration would be significantly different from Bush's on foreign policy.

Schieffer noted that McCain worked to cast Obama as not ready to be president in the debate, and said at several different points that Obama lacked an understanding of economic and foreign policy issues.

“Well, the interesting thing is he kept on asserting I didn't understand, but beyond repeating the line never indicated what exactly I didn't understand,” Obama said. “It's true that I don't understand Sen. McCain's positions on a whole host of issues.”

Asked whether he though McCain was condescending, Obama said McCain used a debating trick “which is to essentially just keep on saying that because of my vast years in Washington, somehow I'm more qualified to be president.”

Obama suggested that voters are interested in change, and that McCain's experience could work against him.

Asked repeatedly whether Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate and Alaska's governor, had the experience to be president, Obama dodged a direct answer and said that was up to the American public to decide. He said he was more concerned that Palin agrees with Bush on foreign policy issues.

McCain appeared to score a point in Friday's debate by questioning Obama's past statements that he would be willing to meet with foreign leaders of countries such as Iran and Cuba with no pre-conditions. Asked about this, Obama said he has repeatedly said he'd reserve the right to meet with any leaders if he believed it would help keep the U.S. safe.

. . . . .

Saundra Hummer
September 28th, 2008, 05:53 PM
. . . . .

From all I've read, Kissinger is stretching this one. Specifics added when there were none?

This from a man who has been caught up in "lies" which were about the deaths of political dissidents in South America under their cruel dictators, ones who's operative were schooled in "The School of the America's". (A new one is being built somewhere in a country under British control or in England, we've been told.)

Graves are now being excavated, and DNA processesed pointing to the cruel regimes that Henry Kissinger helped stay in control.

"He lied." Henry Kissinger himself did lie, and documents have recently surfaced proving as much.

It's my belief, that he needs to butt out of politics as he has hands which are too dirty to continue on.

Here's a bit from Annenburg's FACTCHECK.ORG:
Facts muddled in Mississippi McCain-Obama meeting.

McCain and Obama contradicted each other repeatedly during their first debate, and each volunteered some factual misstatements as well. Here’s how we sort them out:

.Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.

Kissinger: Obama Was Wrong

September 28, 2008
11:06 AM
During Friday night's presidential debate, Barack Obama claimed that one of John McCain's advisers, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, supported his view that the U.S. president should meet with Iran's president and other rogue dictators without preconditions.

The point made McCain livid, as he repeatedly pointed out that Kissinger, his friend of 35 years, would never back such a dangerous position.

McCain turned out to be right.

Kissinger released a statement immediately after the debate. It read:

"Sen. McCain is right. I would not recommend the next president of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the presidential level."

"Look, I'll sit down with anybody, but there's got to be preconditions," McCain said during the debate. He painted Obama's previously stated position as reckless and naive.

© 2008 Newsmax. All rights resered

. . .

Saundra Hummer
September 28th, 2008, 06:51 PM
is reporting that
1. Ahmadinejad Feted at Obama Fundraiser’s Hotel
(An overtly Neo Con biased web site)

OK, that's not something any of us are happy to hear, but I don't fear it happening. Ahmadinejad will be on the next plane out of here, shooting off his mouth while fearing that Obama might be elected, as he will then be drawn into negotiations, ruining his plans for his own self agrandizement. Maschismo Mouse with his venom. We have no reason to like him, and very little reason to actually fear him. ........

However, since many of those in the KKK wear their foolish garb, oftentimes we aren't quite certain who they are and whose rallies they attend, looking like your every day average Joe, your local PTA leader, the church deacon, the community leader, they are shadowy, secretive figures in bed sheets. We might not know just which candidates campaigns they're pumping their own money into. Some ardent KKK followers even rob others to further their cause.

We know of people like these, and we also know many of the ones who belong to exclusionary clubs, and it's a given that they aren't about to support Barack Obama either. God, what overt racism. It's gut wrenching. And we know what they're all capable of. We know what it is they spew, each type, each group, with many being more educated and insidious. Regardless of method, of style and of smarts, it's all just another case of ugly.

Silly move on Obama supporters parts, however, that's all it is, silly, however, after me thinking a bit about it, you can thrown in a big dose of dumb.

Saundra Hummer
September 28th, 2008, 08:18 PM

Obama Moves Up, McCain Down in Poll
By Gallup.com

posted: 36 MINUTES AGOcomments: 102filed under: Election News, Barack Obama, John McCain (Sept. 28) - Barack Obama leads John McCain, 50% to 42% among registered voters in the latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking update for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday -- just one point shy of his strongest showing of the year.

These results, from Sept. 25-27, span the time period since John McCain made the announcement that he was temporarily suspending his campaign and returning to Washington to work for a bipartisan solution to the financial crisis, and since Congressional leaders first announced progress towards the resolution of a financial bailout bill. Results since March are shown here.
Latest From the TrailAFP/Getty Images500 photos US Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama shares a light moment with his campaign communication director upon landing at Midway airport in Chicago, Illinois, September 28, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Go on-site to gain access to images, graphs, charts, a poll, with it's immediate results, etc. Just click on the following link:

The results also include one complete day (Saturday) after the first presidential debate on Friday night. McCain had reached a point where he was tied with Obama earlier in the week, but Obama has gained steadily in each of the last three days' reports. Overall, Obama has gained four percentage points over the last three days, while McCain has lost four points, for an eight-point swing in the "gap" or margin.

The full impact of the debate and its aftermath will not be reflected in the tracking data until Tuesday's report, which will be based on interviewing conducted Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Still, Gallup's one-day read on the standing of the two candidates on Saturday suggests that Obama held the lead over McCain among registered voters that night, just as he had for the two previous nights.

Obama reached an eight-point lead or higher twice before, once after his highly publicized foreign tour to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Europe in July, and once after the Democratic National Convention. In both of these instances, Obama's relatively large lead was short-lived; McCain came charging back to tie the race in both cases. Thus history would suggest the potential for future shifts in voter preferences and for McCain to bounce back once again.
Additionally, major news events relating to the campaign will be forthcoming over the next several weeks -- including the final resolution of Congress' efforts to pass a financial bailout bill and three more debates (two presidential, and one vice presidential), all of which could have the potential for future shifts in voter preferences. Obama has held at least a moderate edge over McCain for the vast majority of the days of Gallup Poll Daily tracking since June, and overall has led by an average of about three points in the over 100,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during this time period.

Survey Methods

For the Gallup Poll Daily tracking survey, Gallup is interviewing no fewer than 1,000 U.S. adults nationwide each day during 2008.
The general-election results are based on combined data from Sept. 25-27, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,719 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

2008-09-28 18:29:47

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* * *

Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 11:22 AM
. . . . .

A Book Review

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

Tim Wise
. . . . . . .

Can anyone with common sense and fairness doubt that if Sara Palin or George W. Bush were black, they would have been pilloried and forced from the political arena within a day or two of their first public statements?

Palin recently was parodied on Saturday Night Live for a second time by Tina Fey. One of the most hysterical statements of the "Tina Fey Palin" was an actual answer Palin gave in her now infamous interview with Katie Couric. It was so incoherent that viewers thought that it was part of the comic script.

A key subtext to the presidential elections since Nixon have been the Republicans corraling much of the white vote through demagoguery. The effort of appealing to white "tribalism" has paid off with the economic pickpocketing of the white middle class (along with minorities)-- and the diminution in the quality of white Republican candidates to the point that Bush was the ultimate white affirmative action symbol of mediocrity. Ironically, the less skilled and knowledgable Republican candidates have become, the more they represent the right of the last stand of the "white power" cult to assert that a dumb white person is more entitled to run America than a savvy, knowledgeable minority. This is the ultimate -- and self-destructive -- assertion of white privilege and feeling of entitlement.

It's the ultimate deleterious impact of racism, leading to a form of national self-immolation. Stupid is as stupid does, and racism's stupidity (despite its strong emotional tug of tribal identity and feelings of superiority) has descended into the pit of Bush/Cheney rule and a McCain/Palin possibility. If any of the four were black, they would have been stalked, mocked and hounded from the political arena by the national corporate media (although Cheney would have been dismissed for his evilness; McCain for his erratic, reckless, non-sensical behavior; and Bush and Palin for their profound ignorance and limited intelligence.)

That brings us to Tim Wise's classic book, "White Like Me, Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son." Recently, BuzzFlash ran an op-ed by Wise that was one of our most popular pieces this election season: White Privilege, White Entitlement and the 2008 Election.

Read the commentary and you won't be able to resist reading his hard-hitting, thought provoking book on the poison of racism, overt and subconscious -- and the personal responsibility we have to stand up and speak out against affirmative action for mediocre, uninformed white candidates, and against racism in general.

If George W. Bush or Sarah Palin were black, Rush Limbaugh would have crushed them into dust by now, as would Hannity, as would Ann Coulter, as would Bill O'Reilly.

It's the white double standard, and it is a cancer upon our society, because it has self-cannibalized the white working class and led to the usurpation of the rule of law under Bush and Cheney.

McCain and Palin would have never made it beyond the starting gate if they were black.

Out nation's greatness, sense of justice, and economic well-being are imperiled as a result, because racism is just a fire stoked by the GOP to loot 95% of us to make the rich, richer.

That's the legacy of the lure of racism.

We will soon be offering another book by Wise, "Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections from an Angry White Male."

. . .

Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 11:39 AM
* * *

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama—as prepared for delivery

Detroit, Michigan
Sunday, September 28th, 2008

We meet here at a time of great uncertainty for America. The era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led us to a financial crisis as serious as any we have faced since the Great Depression. They said they wanted to let the market run free but they let it run wild, and in doing so, they trampled our core values of fairness, balance, and responsibility to one another.

Everywhere you look, the economic news is troubling. But for so many Americans, it isn’t really news at all.

600,000 workers have lost their jobs since January. Home values are falling. Your paycheck doesn’t go as far as it used to. It’s never been harder to save or retire; to buy gas or groceries; and if you put it on a credit card, they’ve probably raised your rates. In so many cities and towns across America, it feels as if the dream that so many generations have fought for is slowly slipping away.

I know these are difficult days. But here’s what I also know. I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that’s who we are. Because that’s what we’ve always done as Americans. Our nation has faced difficult times before. And at each of those moments, we’ve risen to meet the challenge because we’ve never forgotten that fundamental truth – that here in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us.

There are many to blame for causing the crisis we are in, and that starts with the speculators on Wall Street who gamed the system and the regulators in Washington who looked the other way. It is an outrage – an outrage – that we are now being forced to clean up their mess.

But we have no choice. We must act now. Because now that we’re in this situation, your jobs, your life savings, and the stability of our entire economy are at risk.

This Administration started off by asking for a blank check to solve this problem. I said absolutely not. I said it was unacceptable to expect the American people to hand this Administration or any Administration a $700 billion check with no conditions and no oversight when a lack of oversight in Washington and on Wall Street is exactly what got us into this mess. If the American people are being asked to help solve this crisis, then you have a right to make sure that your tax dollars are protected. That’s why I laid out a few a conditions for Washington when this began:

First, I said we needed an independent board to provide oversight and accountability for how and where this money is spent at every step of the way.

Second, if American taxpayers are financing this solution, I said that you should be treated like investors. That means that Wall Street and Washington should give you every penny of your money back once this economy recovers.

Third, I said that we cannot and will not simply bailout Wall Street without helping the millions of innocent homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes. They deserve a plan too.

Finally – and this one is important – I said that I would not allow this plan to become a welfare program for the Wall Street executives whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess.

And today, thanks to the hard work of Democrats and Republicans, it looks like we have a rescue plan that includes these taxpayer protections. And it looks like we will pass that plan very soon.

But our job is far from over. Because now that we’re fixing the mess on Wall Street, we need to move with the same sense of urgency to help families on Main Street. We don’t just need a plan for bankers and investors, we need a plan for autoworkers and teachers and small business owners. I will continue to fight for an economic stimulus plan for working families – a plan that will help folks cope with rising food and gas prices, save one million jobs by rebuilding our schools and roads, and help states and cities avoid budget cuts and tax increases. A plan that would extend expiring unemployment benefits for those Americans who’ve lost their jobs and cannot find new ones.

And I will fight every day of this campaign and every day of my presidency to make sure a crisis like this never, ever happens again. That means taking on the lobbyists and special interests in Washington. That means taking on the greed and corruption on Wall Street. That means putting in place the rules of the road and common-sense regulations for our finance system that I’ve been calling for since last March. It is time to reform Washington.

Now, my opponent, John McCain, talks about getting tough on Wall Street now, but he’s been against the common-sense rules and regulations that could’ve stopped this mess for decades. He says he’ll take on the corporate lobbyists, but he put seven of the biggest lobbyists in Washington in charge of his campaign. And if you think those lobbyists are working day and night to elect my opponent just to put themselves out of business, well I’ve got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska.

The truth is, for twenty-six years in Washington, Senator McCain has followed an out-of-touch philosophy he’s followed for decades in Washington – the idea that if we give more and more to those with the most, prosperity will trickle down to everyone else; the idea that no harm will be done if we let lobbyists shred consumer protections and fight against every regulation as unwise or unnecessary.

Well what we have seen over the last few weeks is nothing less than the final verdict on this failed philosophy. And I am running for President of the United States because the dreams of the American people cannot be endangered anymore.

On Friday, we had a debate. And on issue after issue – from taxes to health care to the war in Iraq – you heard John McCain make the case for more of the same policies that got us into this mess. But just as important as what we heard from John McCain was what we didn’t hear.

We talked about the economy for forty minutes, and not once did Senator McCain talk about the struggles that middle class families are facing every day right here in North Carolina and around the country.

He defended his plan to give $300 billion in tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, but he had nothing to say about the fact that wages have flat-lined and jobs are being shipped overseas.

He railed against some study of bears in Montana, but he had nothing to say about the fact that more and more Americans can’t afford to pay for college; can’t afford health care for their families; and can’t afford a retirement that is dignified and secure.

Senator McCain spoke again and again about the need to keep spending $10 billion a month in Iraq, but he said nothing about the need to end this war so that we can invest in good jobs, and rebuild our roads and bridges and broadband lines right here in America.

The truth is, through ninety minutes of debating, John McCain had a lot to say about me, but he had nothing to say about you. He didn’t even say the words “middle class.” Not once.

You see, I think Senator McCain just doesn’t get it – he doesn’t get that this crisis on Wall Street hit Main Street a long time ago. That’s why his first response to the greatest fiscal meltdown in generations was to say that the “fundamentals of the economy are strong.” That’s why he’s been shifting positions these last two weeks, looking for a photo-op, and trying to figure out what to say and what to do.

Well I know what we need to do. We need to stop giving those tax cuts to corporations and CEOs on Wall Street, and start standing up for families out on Main Street. We need to turn the page on the failed policies of the last eight years, and finally put working people first. That’s why I’m running for President of the United States.

We don’t need any more out-of-touch, on-your-own leadership in Washington. We need a President who will change this economy so that it finally works for your family. We need a President who will fight for the middle class every single day, and that’s exactly what I’ll do when I’m President of the United States.

We have a different way of measuring the fundamentals of our economy. We know that the fundamentals that we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great –that America is a place where you can make it if you try; that everyone should have the chance to live their dreams.

I know I wouldn’t be standing here today without that promise. And I know that’s the promise we must keep once more.

When I talk to those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton’s Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country.

And when I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep the promise of America alive as President of the United States.

That’s the change we need right now. And that’s the kind of change I’ll bring to Washington when I’m President of the United States of America.

Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups – that’s how we’ll grow our economy and create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. My opponent doesn’t want you to know this, but under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan. If you make less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increase one single dime. In fact, I offer three times the tax relief for middle-class families as Senator McCain does – because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

I will finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

I will also create the jobs of the future by transforming our energy economy. We’ll tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool and get the loans they need so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in Detroit, right here in Michigan, right here in the United States of America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced

And now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. But in exchange, I will ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

This is the change we need – the kind of bottom up growth and innovation that will advance the American economy by advancing the dreams of all Americans.

Times are hard. I will not pretend that the change we need will come without cost – though I have presented how we can achieve these changes in a fiscally responsible way. I know that we’ll have to overcome our doubts and divisions and the determined opposition of powerful special interests before we can truly reform a broken economy and advance opportunity.

But I am running for President because we simply cannot afford four more years of an economic philosophy that works for Wall Street instead of Main Street, and ends up devastating both.

I don’t want to wake up in four years to find that more Americans fell out of the middle-class, and more families lost their savings. I don’t want to see that our country failed to invest in our ability to compete, our children’s future was mortgaged on another mountain of debt, and our financial markets failed to find a firmer footing.

At this defining moment, we have the chance to finally stand up and say: enough is enough!

We can do this because Americans have done this before. Time and again, we’ve battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success. That’s why our economy hasn’t just been the world’s greatest wealth generator – it’s bound America together, it’s created jobs, and it’s made the dream of opportunity a reality for generation after generation of Americans.

Now it falls to us. And I need you to make it happen. If you want the next four years looking just like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change – if you want an economy that rewards work, and that works for Main Street and Wall Street; if you want tax relief for the middle class and millions of new jobs; if you want health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, make some calls, talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you – we will win Michigan, we will win this election, and we will change America together.


Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 11:49 AM
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Sarah Palin's Foreign Policy Follies

Romesh Ratnesar
Saturday, Sep. 27, 2008

It takes a hard heart not to like Sarah Palin. She has a winning personal story. She can be poised, charming and funny. As she showed at the Republican National Convention, her ability to deliver set-piece speeches — a big part of the job for all politicians, but especially Presidents — is considerable. On balance, she's probably an asset to John McCain. But we should stop pretending that she is ready now or anytime in the forseeable future to be Commander-in-Chief.

I reached this conclusion after watching the foreign-policy portion of her disastrous Sept. 25 interview with Katie Couric. A number of commentators, including The Atlantic's James Fallows and Slate's Christopher Beam, have said that Palin resembled, in Beam's words, "a high-schooler trying to BS her way through a book report," which is an insult to both high-schoolers and B.S. Palin's answers were hesitant, convoluted and at times — like when she appeared to suggest that Vladimir Putin might be preparing a one-man airborne invasion of Alaska — downright loony.

But the more worrisome responses were the ones that betrayed her lack of curiosity about current events and reliance on bumper-sticker wisdom over complex thoughts. There were moments, in fact, in which you wondered whether she had been paying any meaningful attention to the world outside Alaska before McCain picked her as his running mate a month ago. (See photos of Sarah Palin on the campaign trail here.)

Set aside her strange imagining of Putin's flight path and her failure to remember that her tutor Henry Kissinger actually supports talking to Iran (which McCain also forgot during Friday's Presidential debate). Though less YouTube-able, two other moments in the CBS interview stood out as even more troubling. The first was when Couric asked Palin whether she believes "the Pakistani government is protecting al-Qaeda within its borders." This was Palin's response:

I don't believe that new President Zardari has that mission at all. But no, the Pakistani people also, they want freedom. They want democratic values to be allowed in their country, also. They understand the dangers of terrorists having a stronghold in regions of their country, also. And I believe that they, too, want to rid not only their country, but the world, of violent Islamic terrorists.

There's nothing inherently incorrect about that answer: Zardari, whose wife was assassinated by al-Qaeda, isn't in league with Osama bin Laden, and the vast majority of Pakistanis oppose terrorism. The trouble is that the same could be said about nearly every country in the world. But anyone who has picked up a newspaper in the last few months knows that Pakistan is now home to al-Qaeda's top leaders and is the staging ground for the dramatic increase in suicide bombings in Afghanistan — and that elements of its security services are indisputably aiding that cause. Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, said this week that "the murder, killing, destruction, dishonoring and insecurity in Afghanistan is carried out by the intelligence administration of Pakistan, its military intelligence institutions." Just last month, the top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, David McKiernan said, "Do I believe there has been some complicity on the part of organizations such as the ISI over time in Pakistan? I believe there has been." In fact, it's precisely the Pakistani government's unwillingness to go after militants along the Pakistan-Afghan border that has prompted the Bush Administration to authorize raids by U.S. commandos into Pakistani territory.

In short, most foreign-policy hands — including members of the current Administration — would have given Couric the exact opposite answer that Palin did. If U.S. officials once praised Pakistan's cooperation in the war on terror, they almost never do now. But Palin doesn't seem to have noticed.

Then there was her pained, and painful, response to Couric's questions about the Bush "freedom agenda" — the goal of spreading democracy in the Islamic world. Predictably, Palin repeated standard Bush platitudes about making "every effort possible to help spread democracy for those who desire freedom, independence, respect for equality. That is the whole goal here in fighting terrorism. It's not just to keep the people safe, but to be able to usher in democratic values and ideals around this, around the world." That theory, though, has been discredited by the debacle in Iraq and years of inconvenient outcomes in the Middle East, in which elections have brought to power parties that are more extreme, not less. As a result, the Bush Administration abandoned the lofty talk about transforming the region roughly, oh, three years ago. Couric pressed Palin on this:

Couric: What happens if the goal of democracy doesn't produce the desired outcome? In Gaza, the US pushed hard for elections and Hamas won.

Palin: Yeah well especially in that region, though, we have to protect those who do seek democracy and support those who seek protections for the people who live there. What we're seeing in the last couple of days here in New York is a President of Iran, Ahmadenijad, who would come on our soil and express such disdain for one of our closest allies and friends, Israel ... and we're hearing the evil that he speaks and if hearing him doesn't allow Americans to commit more solidly to protecting the friends and allies that we need, especially there in the Mideast, then nothing will.

Couric's question was beyond difficult — it's the most vexing question that has faced US policymakers over the last seven years. What do you do when democracy produces results you don't like? There's no good answer, but there are many ways to grasp at one. Palin could have said that elections are only one component of democracy; that bringing extremist groups into the political process helps to moderate their behavior; that extremists tend to lose support once in power, because they don't know how to govern. She could even have said, Those are the breaks — we don't get to choose.

Instead, she changed the subject to the threat Iran poses to Israel. Why did she do this? Was it because she didn't want to acknowledge that democracy sometimes produces undesired results? Did she calculate that, since Gaza shares a border with Israel, she could use it as an opportunity to turn the discussion to Iran, where McCain and Obama disagree? Or did she just not know what Couric was talking about?

If she didn't, that's understandable. Most Americans are not particularly interested in the nuances of politics in Pakistan or the Middle East. But we should expect our leaders to be fluent in at least the basics of foreign policy. So far Palin is still struggling for words.

(See photos of Sarah Palin's rise to power here.
Just click the following URL:)

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Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 03:36 PM

HOUSE VOTE: The Uprising Comes to Wall Street and Washington

By David Sirota
Campaign for America's Future,

I'm scheduled to appear on CNN at 3:30pm EST to discuss the House's
extraordinary vote just moments ago to reject the $700 billion Wall Street bailout. What I'm going to say is pretty simple: the Left-Right make up of the "no" vote in Congress proves that Washington is facing a full on transpartisan revolt - the very revolt that I predicted in my book, The Uprising. No longer is this a populist revolt merely scaring Wall Street and Washington - this is a populist revolt that has, to quote Markos, crashed the gate, and it represents a real victory for the progressive movement and voices who aid Hell No. For once - and hopefully not for only a fleeting moment - democracy made an appearance in the halls of power.

Those who are surprised by this turn of events just haven't been paying attention to what's going on out in the country - they haven't been paying attention to, for instance, the social survey research showing rising rage against both our corrupt government and Corporate America. During my 3 month book tour, I faced a wave of skepticism from the Establishment media about my thesis. This earthquake on the floor of the U.S. House should end that skepticism once and for all.

Just as I said in the book that it's not clear what is going to come out of the Left-Right grassroots uprising throughout the country, it's not clear what is going to come out of this uprising in Congress. Will Democratic leaders tack to the hard right, load the bill up with corporate tax cuts and pass this bill with only Republican votes? Or will they actually be leaders of the Democratic
Party, make this bill a vehicle for the kind of New Deal-style investments and regulations that are necessary to start rebuilding this country, and pass this bill with full Democratic Party support?

This is the question moving forward. Attached is my article from yesterday laying out the top 5 reasons to vote against this bill and go back to the drawing board. That article outlines what should be the basic conditions for any bailout, including a speculators tax, re-regulation, economic stimulus, bankruptcy law reform and aid to homeowners. No amount of tinkering with Paulson's atrocity is going do the trick. They have to go back and start from scratch.

The Uprising is waiting for a serious response - will Congress step up to the plate? Contact your member of Congress right now and demand they go back to the drawing board.

Top 5 Reasons to Vote Against Paulson's $700 Billion Bailout
David Sirota
Campaign for America's Future
9/28/08There's news this hour of a congressional deal to bailout Wall Street fatcats with $700 billion of taxpayer cash. Though the deal is better than what Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson originally proposed early last week, it remains an insulting atrocity. Based on the outlines of the deal as reported in the press


, here are the top 5 reasons (in no order) why every single member of
Congress - Democrat and Republican - should vote this sucker down. Please feel free to copy and paste this post into an email to your congressperson:

1. BAILOUT'S INHERENT FISCAL INSANITY COULD MAKE PROBLEM WORSEWhen an individual consumer uses a new credit card to pay off astounding debt from an old credit card, it's called kiting, and in many cases, it is illegal. Apparently, though, when the government does it, it's billed as Serious Public Policy. Because that's what this supposedly prudent bailout bill would do: Force taxpayers toborrow $700 billion from foreign banks to pay off the bad debt of Wall Street banks. During a crisis that is aimed at preventing interest rates from skyrocketing, nobody has been able to explain how adding almost a trillion dollars to the interest rate-exacerbating national debt would do anything other than undermine the plan's underlying objective. Worse, the U.S. Treasury Department itself


admits that the $700 billion number is "not based on any particular data point" - that is, they created it out of thin air because "We just wanted to choose a really large number." Slapping that amount of money onto the national credit card when our government can't even justify the amount is beyond absurd - it is insane.

It didn't have to be this way, of course. As I noted in my newspaper
column this week

, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a temporary tax on millionaires to finance part of this bailout. Similarly, Blue Dog Democrats proposed

http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0908/Blue_Dogs_seek_recoupment_provision_in_Wall_Street _bailout_package.html
a future tax on financial firms if and when taxpayers lose cash on the deal. These proposals were discarded in favor of language asking the government to "submit a plan to Congress on how to recoup any losses," according to the Associated Press. Not only is that language toothless, but it opens up the possibility of a plan being submitted that says we should raise middle-class taxes or slash middle-class social programs to pay for Wall Street's misbehavior.

Primum non nocere is the latin phrase for "first do no harm" - the priority principle for any EMT working on a sick patient. It should be the same priority for Congress at this moment - and a growing group of esteemed experts on both the Right and Left are insistingthat this bailout bill could make things worse. Here's a review:

The Washington Posthttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/25/AR2008092504531.html

reported on Friday, almost 200 academic economists "have signed a petition organized by a University of Chicago professor objecting to the plan on the grounds that it could create perverse incentives, that it is too vague and that its long-run effects are unclear." NYU's Nouriel Roubini

http://www.rgemonitor.com/roubini-monitor/253762/rge_conference_call_on_the_economic_and_financial_ outlookand_why_the_treasury_tarp_bailout_is_flawed

, the visionary who had been predicting this meltdown, says "The Treasury plan (even in its current version agreed with Congress) is very poorly conceived and does not contain many of the key elements of a sound and efficient and fair rescue plan." Harvard's Ken Rogoff

, a Former Federal Rerserve and IMF official, insists that the prospect of this bailout is, unto itself, taking a manageable problem and making it into a more intense crisis. He says that credit is frozen primarily because banks want to avoid dealing with other banks that might drive a hard bargain, and instead would rather wait for free money from the government. Without the prospect of that free money, Rogoff suggests that credit would probably begin moving again, if slowly. Dean Baker of the Center on Economic and Policy Research


says that spending so much cash so quickly on such a poorly conceived plan could have the effect of making it impossible to fund economic stimulus that is the real way out of this mess. "Suppose the Paulson plan goes through," he writes. "It is virtually certain that the economy will weaken further and the number of foreclosures and people without jobs will continue to rise. This is the fallout from a collapsing housing bubble...When families respond to their loss of home equity by cutting back their consumption it will deepen the
recession. In this context it might prove very important to have the resources needed to provide a substantial stimulus. there is no doubt that this bailout will make further stimulus much more difficult to sell politically."

Meanwhile, it's not even close to clear that this is a problem that requires such an enormous response. As mentioned above, the Treasury Department admits it has absolutely no factual basis for requesting $700 billion - an amount equivalent to about 5 percent of our entire economy. Additionally, the Washington Post


reports that "Banks throughout the United States carried on with the business of making loans yesterday even as federal officials warned again that their industry is on the verge of collapse, suggesting that the overheated language on Capitol Hill may not reflect the reality on many Main Streets." Indeed, "many smaller banks said they were actually benefiting from the problems on Wall Street" and "even some of the nation's largest banks, which have pushed hard for a federal bailout, deny that the current situation is forcing them to reduce lending."

The questions, then, are simple: In the face of this bipartisan opposition from objective experts, why should a lawmaker instead believe the same Bush officials who helped create this crisis with their deregulation, the same Bush officials who just months ago said everything was AOK? Shouldn't there be almost complete unanimity among both objective and partisan observers before spending 5 percent of our entire economy after just one harried week of White House demands? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It's time, as The Who said, that we "don't get fooled again."

The mantra throughout the week has been that America has "no choice" but to pass Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion giveaway - that, in effect, there are no alternatives. But that's an out-and-out lie - one with a motive: Making it seem as if the only thing we can do is hand the keys to the federal treasury over to both parties' corporate campaign contributors.

The truth is, there are a number of alternatives. Here are just a
few: In the Washington Post last week, Galbraith outlined a multi-pronged


shoring up and expanding the FDIC, creating a Home Owners Loan Corporation, resurrecting Nixon's federal revenue sharing, and taxing stock transactions (a tax that would fall mostly on speculators) to finance the whole deal. The Service Employees International Union


has drafted a plan based around a massive investment in public services and national health care, and regulatory reforms preventing foreclosures and forcing banks to renegotiate the predatory terms of their bad mortgages.
For those in the mindless, zombie-ish "someone has to do something!" camp, consider the possibility that you are under the spell of the same kind of White House fear that led us to invade Iraq because of Saddam's supposed WMD. Consider, perhaps, that there may not even be a compelling basis for doing anything just yet (or at least not anything nearly so huge), and that the whole reason there is this urgent push right now has nothing to do with the financial situation, and everything to do with creating the political dynamic to pass a wasteful giveaway - one that couldn't be passed otherwise without a sense of emergency. In two separate posts (here


and here


), CEPR's Baker says that letting the problem play out could be the best path, because Treasury and the Fed may already have the tools they need. Following this path, the worst thing that happens is "The Fed and Treasury will have to step in and take over the banks is exactly what many economists argue should happen anyhow," Baker writes. "So the outcome of the worst case scenario is a really frightening day in which the whole world financial system is shaken to its core, followed by a government takeover of the banks. Eventually the government straightens out the books and sells them
off again. But the real threat here is not to the economy, it is tothe banks."

Then there is the idea of simply taking the $700 billion and simply give it to struggling homeowners to help them pay off part of their mortgages. This hasn't even been discussed but the thought experiment it involves is important to understanding why there is, indeed, an alternative to the Paulson plan. If the root of this problem is people not being able to pay off their mortgages, and those defaults then devaluing banks' mortgage-backed assets, then simply helping people pay their mortgages would preserve the value of the mortgage-backed assets and recharge the market with liquidity. That would be a bottom-up solution helping the mass public, rather than a
top-down move helping only financial industry executives.

On this latter proposal, some may argue that giving any relief to homeowners is "unfair" in that those homeowners created their problems, so why should taxpayers have to help them? But then, is helping homeowners any less fair than simply giving all the money away to Wall Street, no strings attached? I'd say no - and helping homeowners also serves a second purpose: namely, keeping people in their homes, which not only helps them, but helps an entire neighborhood (as any homeowner knows, nearby properties can be devalued when foreclosures hit).

As a preface, let me state that I think we live in a country where politicians too often listen to their donors and to the Establishment rather than their constituents, not the other way around. America is a country where our leaders dishonestly invoke the concepts of "Statesmanship" and "Seriousness" and their supposed hatred of "pandering" to justify ignoring what the public wants (as if giving the public what it wants is somehow not the objective of a democratic republic). So, in short, I don't think there's anything wrong with
this bill being "politicized" by coming down the pike right before an election - in fact, I think it's a good thing because the election - and the fear of being thrown out of office forces our politicians to at least consider what the public wants. I mean, really - would we rather have this decision made after the election, when the public can be completely ignored?

Polls overwhelmingly show a public that sees voting for this bill as an act of economic treason whereby the bipartisan Washington elite robs taxpayer cash to give their campaign contributors a trillion-dollar gift. As just two of many examples, Bloomberg News' poll


shows "decisive" opposition to the bailout proposal, and Rasmussen
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/general_business/opposition_to_bailout_plan_grows_but_still_expecte d_to_pass

reports that their surveys show "the more voters learn about the proposed $700 billion federal bailout plan for the U.S. economy, the more they don't like it."

Any sitting officeholder that votes for this - whether a Democrat or a Republican - should expect to get crushed under a wave of populist-themed attacks from their opponents. We've already seen it start. In Oregon, Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley (D) is airingscathing television ads


hammering Republican incumbent Gordon Smith for potentially supporting the deal. Similarly, this morning on Meet the Press, we saw Republican Senate challenger Bob Schaffer (CO) dishonestly papering over his own votes for deregulation and ripping into his opponent Rep. Mark Udall (D) for potentially supporting the deal. Incumbents, get ready for that kind of election-changing heat in your face if you vote "yes."

This, by the way, could play out in the presidential contest. Barack Obama has been taking the advice of the Wall Street insiders in his campaign in endorsing this bailout. McCain has endorsed the vague outline, but he may ultimately back off once he sees the details, allowing him to then run the last month of the campaign as the economic populist in the race. I'm not saying it would work, considering McCain's 26-year record of supporting the deregulatory agenda that created this crisis. But such a move could end up help him flank Obama on the defining economic issues of the race.

The amount of brazen corruption and conflicts of interest swirling around this deal is odious, even by Washington's standards - and polls suggest the public inherently understands that. Consider these choice nuggets:

Warren Buffett


is simultaneously advising Obama to support the deal, while he himself is investing in the company that stands to make the most off the deal.

McCain's campaign

http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/09/9753_mccain_campaign_lobbyists_wall_street_aig.htm l

is run by lobbyists from the companies that stand to make a killingoff a no-strings government bailout. The New York Times


reports that the person advising Paulson and Bernanke on the AIG bailout was the CEO of Goldman Sachs - a company with a $20 billion stake in AIG. The Obama campaign's top spokesman pushing this deal is none other than Roger Altman, who Bloomberg News


reports is simultaneously "advising a group of investors who are trying to prevent their shares from being diluted in the U.S. takeover of American International Group Inc." - that is, who have a direct financial interest in the current iteration of the bailout.

Add to this the fact that the negotiations over this bill have been largely conducted in secret, and you have one of the most sleazy heists in American history.


If this bill passes, it will be a profound referendum on the dominance of money over democracy in America. That - and that alone - would be the only thing an objective observer could take away from the whole thing.

Money will have compelled politicians to not only vote for substantively dangerous policy, but vote for that policy even at their own clear electoral peril. Such a vote will confirm that the only people these politicians believe they are responsible for representing are are the fat-cat recipients of the $700 billion - thesame fat cats who underwrite their political campaigns, the same fat-cats who engineered this crisis, and want to keep profiteering off it. Any lawmaker who takes that position is selling out the country, as is any issue-based political non-profit group - liberal or conservative - that uses its resources to defend a "yes" vote rather than demand a "no" vote. This is a bill that forces taxpayers to absorb all of the pain, and Wall Street executives to reap all of the gain. It doesn't even force the corporate executives (much less the government leaders) culpable in this free fall to step down - it lets them stay fat and happy in their corner office suites in

Even if they believe that something must be done right now, lawmakers should still vote no on this specific bill, and force one of the very prudent alternatives to the forefront. They shouldn't just vote no on Paulson's proposal - they should vote hell no. Our economy's future depends on it.

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Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 04:38 PM
Zip It, Soldier!
What happens to Iraq veterans who speak out against the war?"

Justine Sharrock"
News / Update
September 29, 2008 On the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, in March 2007, Marines Adam Kokesh and Cloy Richards joined a group of other Iraq Veterans Against the War in a mock combat patrol in Washington, DC. Wearing fatigues, a uniquely powerful symbol at a war protest, they pretended to arrest fellow protesters, throwing them to the ground, zip tying them, and leading them away. Other IVAW members passed out fliers explaining the guerrilla theater and noting that it wasn't sanctioned by the military.

Not long after, the two Marines, both of whom had served tours in Iraq, were notified that they were under investigation for potential violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The code mandates that soldiers who wear uniforms at political events may be penalized with an "other than honorable" discharge, one step above a dishonorable discharge; they can lose health benefits and be forced to repay grants, including GI bill assistance.

The probe came even though technically, Kokesh and Richards weren't bound by the UCMJ at the time of the protest: They were part of the Individual Ready Reserves, a group of soldiers who've left active duty but still have time remaining on their eight-year military contracts. IRR status is mostly unpaid, and legally civilian.

Kokesh promptly fired off an email to his deputy commander, refusing to cooperate with an investigation he viewed as "political harassment." He wrote, "I am deeply offended by the attempt to keep me under the thumb of the organization to which I pledged my life and served so devotedly." The commander responded that Kokesh was being recommended for discharge; Kokesh, in turn, demanded a public hearing. At the hearing, in June 2007, with throngs of supporters and media standing outside the Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City, a panel of officers imposed a general discharge—the military equivalent of a C-minus report card, but with benefits intact.

For Richards, events unfolded differently. He had too much at stake to fight, having been recently diagnosed with 80 percent combat disability: He had sustained a brain injury during a mortar attack, was on the waiting list for knee surgery after an accident involving a cannon, and had attempted suicide multiple times due to severe PTSD. Upon learning of the investigation, he stopped wearing his uniform at protests.

The number of vocally anti-war soldiers appears to be growing. The IVAW alone signs up 12 to 15 new members each week; one-third of their 1,300 members have joined since February. Appeal for Redress, an online petition to end the war, has gathered more than 2,200 soldiers' signatures since late 2006. "You take an average group of soldiers and ask them, 'Is the war worth it?' and you get close to a majority saying it is not really necessary or viable," says David Cortright, author of Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War, who has been touring and speaking at bases. "The anti-war sentiments are much more pervasive now in Iraq."

As a result, soldiers say, the military is increasingly trying to silence them with formal threats as well as less official intimidation techniques: At their own discretion, commanders can enact "non-judicial punishments," such as imposing a diet of bread and water, enforcing longer work hours, and requiring intensive physical activity like hauling sandbags back and forth or running for hours in full gear.

"There has definitely been an uptick in complaints," according to Mike Lebowitz, Kokesh's lawyer and a National Guard officer, who receives up to five emails per week from soldiers or their families seeking legal advice related to anti-war activities. He specializes in military free speech. "The military is infamous for punishing people for expressing political beliefs," he says. "The intimidation or threat of ramifications to soldiers is very pronounced."

In the heyday of the GI protest movement during the Vietnam War, draftees might have been thrilled to be threatened with a discharge; a popular underground cartoon depicted a soldier refusing to fight, with the caption, "What are you going to do, fire me?" In today's volunteer force, many enlistees are career soldiers who can be fiercely protective of their benefits, pensions, and wages—which, advocates say, makes them more vulnerable to intimidation.

Even some historically conservative veterans' organizations say limits on speech have gone too far. "I may disagree with [these soldiers'] message, but I will always defend their right to say it," says VFW head Gary Kurpius. In the Kokesh case, he says it's clear that the military is "trying to hush up and punish" the reservist, via "a form of first-amendment-rights suppression."

To be sure, when they enlist, soldiers knowingly forfeit some of the freedoms they enjoyed as citizens. The military is required to maintain political neutrality; political activity is allowed only when soldiers are off duty and out of uniform, and if they make it clear they are not speaking on behalf of the military. But enforcement of these rules, soldiers say, is haphazard, with charges such as "disloyalty, contempt, and unbecoming behavior" applied disproportionately for anti-war activities. (The UCMJ's Article 134 gives the brass a great deal of leeway, allowing punishment for any activity that "threatens good order and discipline" or brings "discredit upon the armed forces.")

In February, the Pentagon reissued its official directive regarding soldiers' political activities, as is common during election years, with a few additional restrictions. Soldiers, it said, can write letters to the editor, but they can't participate in organized letter-writing campaigns; nor can they display political signs larger than bumper stickers on their cars. While on duty or in uniform, they can't use "contemptuous words" when describing high-ranking government officials or participate in partisan campaigns. Most notably, the rules for the first time apply to National Guard and Reserve soldiers, who are being deployed at unprecedented levels.

"It's hard to explain how much the military has control over your entire life," says Sargeant Selena Coppa, a career Army soldier and single mom. She faced retaliation starting in 2007 after criticizing the war to fellow soldiers and at an IVAW protest. The Army launched an inquiry, but she was never formally charged. "The investigation was seamless and easy," says Coppa. "It was the informal retaliation that was severe." According to Coppa, one superior officer threatened to have her committed to Walter Reed's psych ward. He also claimed he'd provide her ex-husband, against whom she had a restraining order, with her address. Fearing reprisal, Coppa didn't report the threats, which means there is no paper trail of the incident. But, she says gravely, "It is not unreasonable for a soldier to not want to speak out against the war."

Army spokesperson Lt. Colonel Anne Edgecomb says her office is unaware of instances of informal retaliation and states that such behavior "would undermine good order and discipline" among the ranks. But, she adds, "If someone is unwilling to operate within the prescribed limitations, he or she should not join in the first place." Aside from appearing before a discharge review board, there are few avenues for recourse in disciplinary matters. Filing a report with the Pentagon's inspector general's office leads to an investigation involving unit command, which many believe will instigate more harassment. According to Lebowitz, "The public won't hear about 95 percent of these cases because soldiers just want to quietly resolve them and move on, with as few repercussions as possible."

Under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act soldiers may take their grievances to Congress, but that involves risks as well. The Appeal for Redress site explains in great detail that soldiers who sign are protected by the Whistleblower statute. Even so, founder Jonathan Hutto says many are still too scared to sign. Seemingly with good reason: After signing the appeal last year, Air Force Sargeant Tassi McKee was suspended from her work assignment, stripped of her security clearance, and interrogated by superiors. Her complaint to the IG earned her back her military assignment, but her reputation among superiors remained tarnished.

Since his hearing, Kokesh, who now studies political management at George Washington University's graduate school, has received scores of emails from soldiers and veterans thanking him for speaking up. He testified before Congress last May about his experience and has participated in numerous IVAW events—in uniform. Even Richards, inspired by Kokesh, has found a way to keep protesting, but through poetry, and much farther from the limelight.

This article has been made possible by the Foundation for National Progress, the Investigative Fund of Mother Jones, and gifts from generous readers like you.

© 2008" The Foundation for National Progress


. . . . .

Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 04:57 PM

Five Alternative Bailout Plans
The Bush administration is pushing its bailout plan by claiming the only way to save the economy is by having the federal government buy $700 billion worth of bad paper from big financial firms that screwed up. Conservatives should hate this because it is a massive federal intervention in the market. Liberals should hate this because it’s a handout to the richest people and companies in America. But the Bush administration and Wall Street are insisting it's the end of the world and this is the only choice. Well, is it this or nothing? Many on Capitol Hill—especially Democrats—are buying the general premise of the White House plan but insisting on lipstick-on-a-pig modifications involving CEO compensation, taxpayer protection, and oversight and transparency. But are there other approaches to the problem besides putting the Treasury in charge of a $700 billion fire sale? Yup. Here's a quick roundup.

(1) The Planners: The Republican Study Committee, a group of some of the most conservative Republicans in Congress. The Plan: Two-year suspension of the capital gains and dividend taxes to "encourag[e] corporations to sell unwanted assets." The Problem: It won't work. Over at Time, Justin Fox says the RSC plan "seems to be a joke," and explains that it would just make matters worse by actually discouraging banks from unloading bad mortgage-backed securities.

(2) The Planners: Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and some House Republicans. The Plan: Instead of having the Treasury buy mortgage-backed securities outright, insure them and charge premiums, paid to the government. The Problem: It almost certainly won't work. Marc Ambinder has a great explanation of why, but a commenter at Time sums most of it up in a sentence: "Writing insurance requires either a long history of past events or, at a minimum, knowledge of present market prices." There is neither a long history of past events nor a knowledge of present market prices in this case. In fact, as Ambinder points out, there's not even a market for the products that would be insured. That's the fundamental problem, and insuring them wouldn't fix it.

(3) The Planner: Our own James K. Galbraith, an economist. The Plan: Prop up the FDIC. Eliminate the "pointless" $100,000 cap on deposit insurance, put a half-trillion dollars in the FDIC fund, give it extra funding for more employees, and keep another $200 billion in reserve. (There's more in Jamie's article, but the FDIC part is the heart of the plan.) The Problem: It may good policy, but so far, there are few takers in Washington. And there's no major political constituency advocating for it in the way that Wall Street is calling for a buy-me-out bailout.

(4) The Planner: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Ver.). The Plan: Make the rich pay for the bailout. Impose a temporary surtax on incomes over $1 million. Pass an economic recovery package that puts people back to work. Then re-regulate and break up any companies that are "too big to fail." The Problem: See #3.

(5) The Planner: Hedge Fund Gazillionaire John Paulson. The Plan: Buy Wall Street. No, seriously: Paulson thinks taxpayers (or, more specifically, the Treasury) should buy huge amounts of senior preferred stock in banks. Kevin has more on this, which he points out essentially means nationalizing troubled banks. The Problem: This plan essentially means nationalizing troubled banks. Conservatives will be queasy about it; even Kevin Drum, a liberal, is queasy about it.

Posted by Jonathan Stein on 09/29/08 at 12:45 PM | Comments (0) | Email | Print



Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 06:21 PM

Black Monday?
Global Investors vote "No" on Paulson's Bailout
Mike Whitney

29/09/08 "ICH" -- - The wrangling continued on the floor of the House of Representatives all weekend, but it is still unclear whether there's enough support to pass Treasury Secretary Paulson's $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Paulson says he has the votes, but Paulson has been wrong before. The bigger question, is whether buying up the illiquid mortgage-backed assets from the nation's banks will be enough to save the financial system from an impending meltdown. The jury is out on that question, too. Professor Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics, summed it up like this, "You're not resolving the two fundamental issues: You still have to recapitalize the banking system, and household debt is going to stay high". A large number of economists believe Roubini is right. The bill will not solve the underlying problems.

Still, senators and congressmen are expected to hold their noses and pass Paulson's bailout anyway, fearing that if they don't, the country's financial system will come crashing down around them. They could be right, too. The banking system is undercapitalized, the credit markets are frozen, and foreign creditors are beginning to slow their purchases of US debt. It's all bad. At the same time the number of casualties among the financial giants--Bear Stearns, Indymac, AIG, Lehman, Washington Mutual--continues to grow. Three more struggling European banks were added to the list of financial institutions that needed emergency government assistance this past weekend. It's no wonder Congress feels like they have to do something to stop the bleeding.

Before the stock market opened on Monday, the futures markets had slumped heavily into negative territory, while the TED spread, an indicator of stress in interbank lending, had widened to 3.19, a level that suggests another rocky week of trading ahead. Could this be another Black Monday?

Paulson's bill is designed to avert a system wide crash by clearing the banks' balance sheets so they can resume extending credit to consumers and businesses. The hope is that massive infusion of capital will "turn back the clock" to the happy days of low interest speculation and bubble economics. Paulson is a "one trick pony" who firmly adheres to the belief that wealth creation depends on maximum leverage and an ever-weakening currency. But that world view is no longer applicable after reaching Peak Credit, where consumers are no longer able to make the interest payments on their loans and businesses and financial institutions are forced to curb their spending and dump their toxic assets at firesale prices. The system is deleveraging and nothing can stop it. Paulson has yet to accept the new reality.

Besides, there's no guarantee that the banks will use the money in the way that Paulson imagines. As one Wall Street veteran explained to me, "I don't see one penny of that $700 billion ending up helping the broader economy. I see it being used to prop up share prices so the insiders can salvage as much as possible when dumping their shares".

Indeed, the $700 billion is just part of a massive "pump and dump" scheme engineered with the tacit approval of the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Once the banksters have offloaded their fraudulent securities and crappy paper on Uncle Sam, they will do whatever they need to do pad the bottom line and drive their stocks up. That means they will shovel capital into hard assets, foreign currencies, gold, interest rate swaps, carry trade swindles, and Swiss bank accounts. The notion that they will recapitalize so they can provide loans to US consumers and businesses in a slumping economy is a pipedream. The US is headed into its worst recession in 60 years. The housing market is crashing, securitzation is kaput, and the broader economy is drifting towards the reef. The banks are not going to waste their time trying to revive a moribund US market where consumers and businesses are already tapped out. No way; it's on to greener pastures. They'll move their capital wherever they think they can maximize their profits. In fact, a sizable portion of the $700 billion will likely be invested in commodities, which means that we'll see another round of hyperbolic speculation in food and energy futures pushing food and fuel prices back into the stratosphere. Ironically, the taxpayers largess will be used against him, making a bad situation even worse.

Then again, if the bill isn't passed, no one can predict with certainty what will happen. Here's how Tim Shipman summed it up in "Bailout Failure Will Cause US Crash", in the UK Telegraph:

"Officials close to Paulson are privately painting a far bleaker portrait of the fragility of the global economy than that advanced by President George W Bush in his televised address last week.

One Republican said that the message from government officials is that 'the economy is dropping into the john.' He added: 'We could see falls of 3,000 or 4,000 points on the Dow [the New York market that currently trades at around 11,000]. That could happen in just a couple of days.
'What’s being put around behind the scenes is that we’re looking at 1930s stuff. We’re looking at catastrophe, huge, amazing catastrophe. Everybody is extraordinarily scared. It’s going to be really, really nasty.'”

The fear on Capital Hill is palpable, especially among the Democrats who have led the effort to pass Paulson's boondoggle ASAP. Speaker of the House, Madame Botox, and fellow Democratic Party leaders, Chris Dodd, Harry Reid and the blabbering blowhard from Massachusettes, Barney Frank, have done everything in their power to sandbag dissenters, quash resistance, and rush the bill to a vote without the usual deliberation and debate. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-ohio) was one of many angry congressman who lashed out at Pelosi's highhandedness. It's all caught on a one minute video on you tube:

Rep. Marcy Kaptur: "The normal legislative process that should accompany a monumental proposal to bail out Wall Street has been shelved. Yes, shelved! Only a few insiders are doing the dealing. These criminals have so much power they can shut down the normal legislative process of the highest lawmaking body in this land. All the committees that should be scanning every word that is being negotiated have been benched. And that means the American people have been benched. We are constitutionally sworn to protect this country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and yes, my friends, there are enemies....The people who are pushing this bill are the very same one's who are responsible for the implosion on Wall Street. They were fraudulent then; and they are fraudulent now.We should say No to this deal".

( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAADyc6t4nY )
Republicans were equally furious at the way the Pelosi Politburo kept the rank and file out of loop as much as possible. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) summarized the feelings of a great many congressmen who felt they were being railroaded by Pelosi and Co: "We have seen no bill. We have been here debating talking points ...House Republicans have been cut out of the process and derided by the leaders of the House Democrats as "unpatriotic" for not participating in supporting the bill. Mr. Speaker, I have been thrown out of more meetings in the last 24 hours than I ever thought possible as an elected official of 800,000 citizens of N. Texas....Since we didn't have hearings, since we didn't have markup, let's at least put this legislation up on the Internet for 24 hours and let the American people see what we have done in the dark of night. After all, I have never gotton more mail on a single issue than on this bill that is before us tonight."


Predictably, Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) gave the best speech of the day railing against the financial industry and defending the interests of working class Americans.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: "The $700 bailout bill is being driven by fear not fact. This is too much money, in too short of time, going to too few people,while too many questions remain unanswered. Why aren't we having hearings...Why aren't we considering any other alternatives other than giving $700 billion to Wall Street? Why aren't we passing new laws to stop the speculation which triggered this? Why aren't we putting up new regulatory structures to protect the investors? Why aren't we directly helping homeowners with their debt burdens? Why aren't we helping American families faced with bankruptcy? Isn't time for fundamental change to our debt-based monetary system so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks? Is this the US Congress or the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs?

Watch the whole speech:

There is greater opposition to the Paulson bill than any legislation in the last half century. The groundswell of public outrage is unprecedented, and yet, Congress--completely insulated from the demands of their constituents--continues to blunder ahead following the same pro-industry script as their ideological twins in the White House. There's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties. Not surprisingly, neither Pelosi nor any of the Democratic leadership has even met with any of the more than 200 leading economists who have stated unequivocally that the bailout will not address the central problems that are wreaking havoc on the financial system. Instead, they have caved in to Bush's demagoguery and the spurious claims of G-Sax bagman Henry Paulson, a man who has misled the public on every issue related to the subprime/financial fiasco so far.

There are parts of Paulson's Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 that every US taxpayer should understand, even though the media is attempting to keep the details obscured. In sections 128 and 132; the proposed bill will suspend "mark to market" accounting. This means that the banks will no longer be required to assess the worth of their assets according to what similar assets fetched on the open market. For example, Merrill Lynch just sold $31 billion of mortgage-backed securities for $6 billion, which means that similar bonds should be similarly priced. Simple; right? The banks need to adjust the value of those assets on their balance sheet accordingly. This gives investors and depositors the ability to know whether their bank is in bad shape or not. But Paulson's bill lifts this requirement and allows the banks to assign their own arbitrary value to these assets, which is the same old Enron-style accounting bullsh**.

Paulson bill also proposes the "Elimination of FASB 157 and 0% reserves". This is just as sketchy as it sounds. FASB or Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act reads:"Federal Reserve Banks are authorized to pay banks interest on reserves under Section 201 of the Act. In addition, Section 202 permits the FRB to change the ratio of reserves a bank must maintain relative to its transaction accounts, allowing a zero reserve ratio if appropriate. Due to federal budgetary requirements, Section 203 provides that these legislative changes will not take effect until October 1, 2011."

Blah, blah, blah. It's all legal mumbo jumbo to conceal the fact that the banks can continue to operate with insufficient capital, which is why the system is currently blowing up. It all get's down to this: The reason the system is exploding is because the various financial institutions have been allowed--via deregulation--to act as banks and create as much credit as they choose without a sufficient capital base. When one reads about massive deleveraging; this relates directly to the fact that under-capitalized businesses were operating with too much debt in relationship to their capital. That's it in a nutshell; forget about the CDOs, the MBSs, the CDS and the whole alphabet soup of derivatives garbage. They were all inserted into the system so greedy Wall Street landsharks could expand credit without supervision and balance trillions of dollars of debt on the back of a one dollar bill. This is why Paulson wants to suspend the rules which would bring credibility and trust back to the system. After all, that might impinge on Wall Street's ability to enrich itself at the public's expense.

Finally, Nouriel Roubini sites a study by Barry Eichengreen, "And Now the Great Depression", which points out why Paulson's $700 billion plan is likely to fail:
"Whenever there is a systemic banking crisis there is a need to recapitalize the banking/financial system to avoid an excessive and destructive credit contraction. But purchasing toxic/illiquid assets of the financial system is NOT the most effective and efficient way to recapitalize the banking system....

A recent IMF study of 42 systemic banking crises across the world provides evidence of how different crises were resolved.

First of all only in 32 of the 42 cases there was government financial intervention of any sort; in 10 cases systemic banking crises were resolved without any government financial intervention. Of the 32 cases where the government recapitalized the banking system only seven included a program of purchase of bad assets/loans (like the one proposed by the US Treasury). In 25 other cases there was no government purchase of such toxic assets. In 6 cases the government purchased preferred shares; in 4 cases the government purchased common shares; in 11 cases the government purchased subordinated debt; in 12 cases the government injected cash in the banks; in 2 cases credit was extended to the banks; and in 3 cases the government assumed bank liabilities. Even in cases where bad assets were purchased – as in Chile – dividends were suspended and all profits and recoveries had to be used to repurchase the bad assets. Of course in most cases multiple forms of government recapitalization of banks were used."

Nouriel Roubini's Globl EonoMonitor:

In short, it won't work. Nor is it designed to work. The bill is just Paulson's way of carving a silver canoe for he and his brandy-drooling investor buddies so they can paddle away to some island paradise while the rest of us drown in a bottomless ocean of debt.



Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 06:29 PM

"One of the world's greatest problems is the impossibilty of any person searching for the truth on any subject when they believe they already have it."

Dave Wilbur

"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

Albert Einstein
Physicist and Professor
Nobel Prize 1921

"Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about his religion. Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place. Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."

Shawnee Chief


Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 06:49 PM
. . .

The Paulson Plan

The Rise Of The American Oligarch Class

Robert Wenzel
29/09/08 "ICH' -- - The word oligarchy dates back at least to the time of Aristotle and comes from the Greek words for "few" (ὀλίγον olígon) and "rule" (ἄρχω arkho). An oligarchy is generally considered any form of government where a small elite segment of society, be they from royalty, wealth, family or military, rule. The most current day popular meaning associates an oligarch with an extremely wealthy person who acquires his wealth, or increases it significantly, by incorporating the use of government influence. Oligarchs are not the only ones who become rich, but their success and secretive influence over governments put them into a separate class.

A recent example of a major grab of power and wealth in this type of oligarch fashion comes from the period of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the confusion during the collapse, and the rise of Boris Yeltsin as president of Russia, the oligarchs made their move. With relatives or close associates as government officials, sometimes even government officials themselves, they achieved vast wealth by acquiring state assets very cheaply during the so-called "privatization" process controlled by the Yeltsin government.

The current $700 billion Paulson bailout plan has brought to the forefront a new class of what must be called American Oligarchs and oligarch wannabes. Some may have originally earned their wealth by supplying consumers with desired goods, but at some point they crossed over to the dark side to use government as a vehicle to take from the poor and the middle class to give to themselves. Others, never produced an honest product and have been career long parasites on the working classes.

It is instructive that outside of this small group of oligarchs and wannabe oligarchs, few appear to have been in favor of the Paulson "bailout". (Note: The use of the word "bailout" to describe the Paulson Plan is a misnomer, see my column: THE BIG LIE: The Supposed Paulson 'Bailout' Plan).

A letter circulated and signed by many academic economists was sent to Congressional leaders objecting to the plan. The Austrian economists, who are the only ones who understand the business cycle, as would be expected also objected to the plan (See Rockwell: Stop the Bailout and Murphy: The Government Is Not Promoting Stability ).

Even some bankers have objected:
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's proposed $700 billion bank rescue aims to help ``poorly run'' companies and the primary beneficiaries would be Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, said BB&T Corp. Chief Executive Officer John Allison in a critique of the plan.

Treasury ``is totally dominated by Wall Street investment bankers'' and ``cannot be relied on to objectively assess'' the impact of government policy on the financial industry, Allison wrote in a Sept. 23 letter to Congress...

Allison, 60, said Congress should ``hear from well-run financial institutions'' as lawmakers consider the plan, which seeks to ease the credit crunch by buying troubled mortgage- related assets. Under Allison, Winston-Salem, North Carolina- based BB&T avoided the subprime mortgage market, whose collapse led to the credit crisis. BB&T has risen 26 percent this year, the best showing in the 24-company KBW Bank Index.

From the right, Newt Gingrich has called the plan "stupid." From the left, Paul Krugman opposed the plan, calling it "Cash for trash."

Most noteworthy is the fact that the notoriously pro-Bush FOX television network carried this AP report:

There is scant public support for President Bush's $700 billion federal rescue plan for the U.S. financial industry and little expectation it would solve the crisis that has roiled the markets and hobbled some of the country's largest investment firms, according to a poll released Friday.

Just 30 percent of Americans say they support Bush's package, according to an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll released as White House and congressional leaders struggled to rescue the plan after House Republicans rebelled against it. Despite the president's pleas that the package is urgently needed to prevent an economic meltdown, 45 percent say they oppose Bush's proposal while 25 percent said they are undecided.

Yet, despite the extremely limited support for the plan, the Oligarchs prevailed and Paulson's Plan will become law. Indeed, the Oligarchs were out in full force to support the legislation. As I have pointed out before, Paulson with his Goldman Sachs connections must be considered an oligarch, but there are others.

Billionaire David Rubenstein, co-founder of the politically connected Carlyle Group, has come out in favor of Paulson's Plan. Rubenstein told CNBC that he hopes Congress will move quickly to approve the rescue of the U.S. financial system.

Carlyle Group almost has too many ways to benifit from Paulson's Plan to count. They ran a mortgage securities firm that went under. Those securities will be coming up for sale under a reorganization, just in time for purchase by the Treasury.

The Federal Reserve has changed regulations which will allow them to buy larger stakes in bank stocks. And Rubenstein wants to buy some of the paper the Treasury acquires. "Private equity can help by buying these assets," he told CNBC. "Private equity can be among the most significant buyers of assets."

Billionaire Warren Buffett is in favor of the plan, and he just bought, through Berkshire Hathaway, a $5 billion stake in Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs just received approval from the Fed to become a bank holding company, so that they can buy up troubled banks (And then sell the troubled mortgages of the banks to the Treasury?). Buffett called Paulson's plan "absolutely necessary'' and said that "I am betting on the Congress doing the right thing for the American public and passing this bill,''

Billionaire Wilbur Ross , through a firm controlled by Ross, bid $435 million last September to buy the service unit of American Home Mortgage, which collects payments from homeowners. He is in favor of Paulson's Plan and penned a column published at the New York Post to say so, "...we need this passed, and passed quickly...,"wrote Ross.

There are likely other oligarchs who maintain a low profile and keep their names out of the headlines, and there are oligarch wannabes like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani . Giuliani has put out a press release advising that his firm has formed a "task force" to "guide financial institutions, private investment funds, institutional investors and other market participants through the legislative, regulatory and enforcement challenges posed by the" Paulson Plan.

Clearly, the new oligarchs have arrived in America. It will mean a lower standard of living for the rest of us as it is clear by the Paulson Plan that they are not afraid to think big when grabbing money from the populous at large. Further, they have the political skill and influence to get the legislation passed that will benefit themselves even when there is virtually non-existent popular support. Be scared, very scared. The new American Oligarchs now rule financial America and there is no such thing as enough with them. They will be back for another big bite from our wallets and income streams, all too soon.

Update: Word has reached me (HTrpm) that snuck into Paulson's plan are changes that will make it easier for the Fed to inflate the money supply. So is the play for the Oligarchs to grab the banks, the assets and the mortgages and then inflate the money supply boosting the value of all these assets by trillions, while the rest of us simply get to deal with the price inflation as higher prices at the grocery store, the gas pump and everywhere else?

Robert Wenzel is an economic consultant and Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com. He can be reached at rw@economicpolicyjournal.com.

. . . . .

Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 06:57 PM

The Rich Are Staging a Coup This Morning

Michael Moore
29/09/08 --


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.

No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:

"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.

"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."

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.

And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?

It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.

This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!

I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:

1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.

2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).

3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.

When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!

Michael Moore

P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.

P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.


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Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 07:33 PM
:: :: :: :: :: ::

Bush Wants To Bankrupt America:
There is Method To His Madness

By Sam Hamod

So, we know this was being said. That this was the plan years before everything became so obvious, During this time frame, the here and now as our economy came crashing down, it was known that this was in the works over 5 years ago.

They got their's and we are paying for it in these end times of us being a solvent world power.

Why on earth were these men left to stay in office? Especially when it was so obvious where they were taking us? It boggles one's mind to the max.

Blinder than bats when it came to what they were doing to us, this is how I see those who bit, taking the bait, hook, line and sinker. Some prayed for it, dreaming of the the rapture. Insanity pure and simple.

When you've fought against such happening all along, even before the Supreme Court stole our way of life by giving Cheney and Bush the White House, even before any of this, even before Requinst and Scalia gave them the keys to the mint, to see this all come about is disheartening to say the least. They gave them the country, and with this stolen gift we've lost our way, we've lost our dignity, not just our money, thanks to their policies. We've lost too much with these men. Besides, we know that with them, it's the Constitution be damned.

We want our country back, but let's hope the old Nursery Rhyme "Humpty Dumpty", isn't a long term object lesson when it comes to our stability, our strength.

You know, it makes it even harder to take, knowing you've worked hard to make a difference, while seeing how they were getting away with just about anything they set their minds to. SRH

07/01/03: "ICH" -- -Some have wondered if GW Bush knows what he's doing with his tax cut that benefits the corporations and the very rich, and cuts away the remaining money of the poor and the middle class. I say yes, he does know what he's up to, as do his corporate advisors and his neo-con economist friends and theorists, chief among them Grover Norquist. Norquist has been the chief architect behind the dismantling of the American federal financial structure in terms of benefits for the common citizen, but has helped to create the superstructure of tax breaks for the very rich and the corporatocracy that now has a choke-hold on America.

The plan is very simple, but not obvious on first blush. Make sure that all the money is gone from the U.S. treasury, make sure the deficits are so great that all social and educational programs are cut, increase the military and security budgets to "protect our nation" with all these monies going to corporations and security firms who are extra-national (not tied to any country, but actually more than multi-national in that they are outside the purview of any nation at any single moment) and stave in the social security fund by allowing it to go to private corporations for "investment"-and you have the perfect scenario for saying, "only the private sector can save us-we're broke and they have the money to run every program, fund every program, but of course, at huge costs and profits for the private corporations." Our only resource will be the corporate lenders, especially the large extra-national corporations who will have loyalty to no one except their corporate coffers and large share owners throughout the world.

This plan is so obvious at this point that it is hard to believe because it is happening so fast and the Democrats and even conservative non- neo-con Republicans don't realize what Bush and his neo-con buddies are up to.

Of course, this is easier to accomplish with all of our attention being focused on 9/11 matters, Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the WMDs, threats to our nation, threats to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (where we lose troops everyday to Iraqis and Afghans fighting against our occupation), but we keep sending in more troops to basically protect Bechtel and Halliburton. Soon, we'll also hire private contractor troops, some from other countries and others from selected American security firms. All the time we are occupied with this, just as Orwell predicted in his novel, 1984, the Bush team will be destroying our civil liberties and taking away our social and educational programs in order to fund "security measures" and will keep blinking yellow, orange, and red codes at us.

I want to make this article short so that you have time to think about this and alert your congressperson and senator as to what's really going on. Bush has already started pushing for privatization in Iraq and Afghanistan and in America-it's only a short step from this huge debt he has created from the great surplus he inherited. *God only knows what kind of deficit he's going to create as he lets the dollar drop freely, so that consumers have to pay more for goods and our balance of trade goes to hell, the national debt at its current rate will take over 100 years to pay off-if we can even then get a hold on it according to some economists who are upset (see articles by Paul Krugman and others)sat the Bush team's actions. But they fail to see the real motive behind all this seeming disaster. Yes, it's a disaster for us, but it's a windfall for Bush and his corporate friends who will soon be running everything. *Actually, through their lobbying, they are running most things at this point-simply see the astounding inflation in drug prices compared to the low national inflation rate, the false "shortage of natural gas"-a commodity that is endless in the world and in its supply in America-the artificial shortage of electricity (as done by Enron and others to jack up prices and now FERC saying that though California did sign contracts with utilities under duress, they are still bound by the contracts even though they were lied to when signing the contracts-which is fraud in any honest person's mind, but not in the mind of FERC) and now our need for added security that is endless because it will not be long before Bush brings terrorists to our shores by either his behavior, or allows some actors within the Republican camp to fake terrorist raids so that possibly martial law will follow.

Friends, we are in a mess of catastrophic proportions on so many fronts that it will be difficult to unravel all the various strains of this explosive Bushian virus. I use the term virus, because Bush is trying to pack the courts with his appointees from the neo-con right, placing government officials in corporations and in some cases, in law schools so that the neo-con approach to the destruction of the federal government may have academic credentials and blessings. Yes, this is an artificially created virus intended to kill the patient-namely, our democracy and our formerly free and decent lives.

:: :: ::

Saundra Hummer
September 29th, 2008, 08:06 PM
. . .



If implemented, new guidelines will allow the FBI to interview you, your friends and your family under a false pretext.

The FBI could recruit secret informants and have them infiltrate peaceful protest groups.

Investigations based on little more than race, ethnicity or religion would be allowed.

The worst part is that we have good reason to believe the FBI has been violating its internal guidelines all along.

Act now. Sign our petition to the Department of Justice Inspector General.

Dear ACLU Supporter,

Bush and Mukasey are at it again. They’ve announced dangerous new FBI guidelines that will severely jeopardize the personal privacy of innocent Americans. These regulations need no congressional approval and are terrifying.

Just how far can the FBI go without any factual basis for suspecting improper -- let alone illegal -- activity?

Under far-reaching new guidelines proposed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the answer is frightening. All the FBI has to do to put you or any American under prolonged physical surveillance is assert an “authorized purpose” such as detecting or preventing crime or protecting “national security.”

Sound familiar?

It’s the same Bush/Cheney/Gonzales/Mukasey “just trust us” policies that have been eroding our rights for the past eight years.

And like with Bush’s government spying and torture programs, there’s a belief that government officials can ignore the law. In fact, we have good reason to suspect that the FBI has been violating its own internal guidelines all along and is now pushing these new guidelines to cover up past wrongdoing.

That’s why we need to demand an investigation now, before these outrageous guidelines are implemented. The Inspector General’s office at the Department of Justice has proven to be an unbiased, internal watchdog that has consistently exposed wrongdoing. We need to urge the IG to do it again.

Act now. Sign our petition to the Department of Justice Inspector General. Urge an immediate investigation into whether the FBI has been engaging in out-of-control investigative activities.

These new guidelines would allow the FBI to interview you, your friends and your family under a false pretext. The FBI could recruit secret informants and have them infiltrate peaceful protest groups. And the FBI could initiate investigations based on little more than race, ethnicity or religion.

The FBI could also search commercial databases for personal details about your life with no real reason.

And all of this would be allowed without an ounce of evidence that you or anyone else has done anything wrong.

Act now. Sign our petition to the Department of Justice Inspector General.

The last thing we can afford is to let the FBI claim out-of-control investigative powers in the closing months of the Bush administration.

Please act today to help us challenge this dangerous plan to put your personal privacy at risk.

In defense of freedom,

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

The most secretive government since Nixon and they want to spy on us?, when we, the American public, are the ones getting the shaft? Hardly fair is it? Besides, it sets a dangerous tone for the country. SRH

Click below to access petition site.

Saundra Hummer
September 30th, 2008, 01:34 PM

The Creation Of The Second
Great Depression

By Ron Paul
30 September, 2008

Whenever a Great Bipartisan Consensus is announced, and a compliant media assures everyone that the wondrous actions of our wise leaders are being taken for our own good, you can know with absolute certainty that disaster is about to strike.

The events of the past week are no exception.

The bailout package that is about to be rammed down Congress’ throat is not just economically foolish. It is downright sinister. It makes a mockery of our Constitution, which our leaders should never again bother pretending is still in effect. It promises the American people a never-ending nightmare of ever-greater debt liabilities they will have to shoulder. Two weeks ago, financial analyst Jim Rogers said the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made America more communist than China! “This is welfare for the rich,” he said. “This is socialism for the rich. It’s bailing out the financiers, the banks, the Wall Streeters.”

That describes the current bailout package to a T. And we’re being told it’s unavoidable.

The claim that the market caused all this is so staggeringly foolish that only politicians and the media could pretend to believe it. But that has become the conventional wisdom, with the desired result that those responsible for the credit bubble and its predictable consequences – predictable, that is, to those who understand sound, Austrian economics – are being let off the hook. The Federal Reserve System is actually positioning itself as the savior, rather than the culprit, in this mess!

* The Treasury Secretary is authorized to purchase up to $700 billion in mortgage-related assets at any one time. That means $700 billion is only the very beginning of what will hit us.

* Financial institutions are “designated as financial agents of the Government.” This is the New Deal to end all New Deals.

* Then there’s this: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” Translation: the Secretary can buy up whatever junk debt he wants to, burden the American people with it, and be subject to no one in the process.

There goes your country.

Even some so-called free-market economists are calling all this “sadly necessary.” Sad, yes. Necessary? Don’t make me laugh.

Our one-party system is complicit in yet another crime against the American people. The two major party candidates for president themselves initially indicated their strong support for bailouts of this kind – another example of the big choice we’re supposedly presented with this November: yes or yes. Now, with a backlash brewing, they’re not quite sure what their views are. A sad display, really.

Although the present bailout package is almost certainly not the end of the political atrocities we’ll witness in connection with the crisis, time is short. Congress may vote as soon as tomorrow. With a Rasmussen poll finding support for the bailout at an anemic seven percent, some members of Congress are afraid to vote for it. Call them! Let them hear from you! Tell them you will never vote for anyone who supports this atrocity.

The issue boils down to this: do we care about freedom? Do we care about responsibility and accountability? Do we care that our government and media have been bought and paid for? Do we care that average Americans are about to be looted in order to subsidize the fattest of cats on Wall Street and in government? Do we care?

When the chips are down, will we stand up and fight, even if it means standing up against every stripe of fashionable opinion in politics and the media?

Times like these have a way of telling us what kind of a people we are, and what kind of country we shall be.

$ $ $

Saundra Hummer
September 30th, 2008, 02:28 PM

Rory O’Connor on Trust and Truth

Adam Reilly
Boston Phoenix
Sep 29 2008

This week’s Phoenix included a short excerpt of a Q-and-A I did with Rory O’Connor, the media critic and author of Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio. Here–finally!–is a full transcript of my chat with O’Connor, who recently returned to Boston as a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics & Public Policy.

Q. Why come to the Shorenstein Center at this particular point in time?

A. Very specifically, to look into what I think is one of the key issues in journalism right now, which is the issue of trust, or accountability, or credibility–i.e., how do we know that what we see and hear is really true? Obviously, that goes both ways. As you know, there’s a high level of distrust between the citizenry and the professional priesthood, whether on the right or on the left. On the right it’s the drive-by media, on the left it’s the corporate media, but they share some sort of distrust, if not a critique. And of course the professionals are very up in arms: they don’t trust the citizen journalism at all; they’re afraid of people getting their news and information from viral emails; but at the same time, they also know things are changing rapidly. Particularly in the newspaper business, but throughout the mainstream media, they feel–and they’re quite right–like they’re under assault. Something new is happening; they don’t know what it is; they’re trying to figure it out. This goes all the way back to the question whose heart we can’t seem to drive a stake through: can bloggers be journalists? I think it’s all the same issue. So this is an opportunity for me to come here and really try to dig down into it.

What I’m going to be looking at, quite simply, is trust, journalism, and social networks, and the role that they are playing and that they can play in enabling people to get news and information that they can trust–because obviously, that’s really vital to having a fully functioning democracy. And one could argue we don’t have one at the moment, or that we’re right on the edge of not having one. I think it’s a really central issue for media, but it’s also a central issue for democracy, and my interest lies at the convergance of media and democracy.

Q.–So how, in a best case scenario, do you envision social networks being used to get people trustworthy information?

A.–I already know how I’m beginning my research paper, and it’s anecdotally. There were two emails that almost everybody got in the first week of September; I got them, I’m sure you got them. One was from a woman named Anne Kilkenny in Wasilla, Alaska. And it was very good information–if true–about Sarah Palin from somebody who knew her and had worked with her. Wasn’t a screed, wasn’t angry. And I said Wow, if this is true–and I’ll have to check it out–this is better information than I’ve seen from the 15,000 journalists that are in St. Paul for the Republican National Convention [laughs]. Subsequently, not only did it check out, but then it became very meta, because the mainstream media started reporting on the Internet phenomenon and all that.

Three days later, another email arrived; it was a list of the books that Sarah Palin banned. Completely untrue. So this, in a nutshell, is what I’m looking at. Because if you look at the provenance of the emails, the information came through entirely new distribution channels, through social networks. I got the emails five or six times, each time from someone I knew well, so it was a trusted social network. One really good bit of information, one completely scurrilous bit of information about the same person. And I just thought those encapsulated everything I’m talking about, which is new mechanisms of getting news and information.

If you look at the Pew Survey from January, the rate is doubling, like every two years, of people getting their information from nontraditional sources. Obviously, the lower you go down in age, the higher the acceptance is. So, 18 to 24 year olds are getting 30 percent, as of January 2008, of their information first from social networks. People in the 50 to 60 category, the overall number was much less–but the rate was the same; it was essentially doubling every two years. Just project that out.

Q.–So are John McCain and the GOP being savvy in telling people: Don’t get your information from the media because they’re not trustworthy. Get it from the social network we’re going to provide for you?

A.–We know attacking the media is a time-honored tradition, and it hasn’t worked so well in the past. But I think it’s working better now because of personalization — my Yahoo, my news, my Republican Party, my Democratic friends. And as people move away from the mainstream transition belts, everything becomes media. You’re getting pushed directly from the campaign, or seeing their information on YouTube — that’s media. You’re mashing it up and making something new: photoshopping and putting Sarah Palin’s head on top of somebody in a red, white, and blue bikini, holding a giant gun, which also wasn’t true. That’s media.

The other thing I want to look at is the mainstream media playing in fields of Facebook and MySpace. What are they doing? YouTube just partnered with the Pulitzer Center; CNN has a new thing going with Digg; everybody and their mother is on Facebook trying out things; Reuters built a bureau in Second Life. Nobody knows what if any of this stuff’s going to work, but they know something’s happening.

Q.–Are we approaching a point, in the media and across the broader culture, where the very notion of truth is in trouble? Is this a point of peril?

A.–I think it’s a big point of peril. But I also think that social networks are potentially the answer to that and the antidote to that, which is the other reason I’m really interested in them. As you probably know, I was pretty involved in the start of the social news network NewsTrust for that very reason. And it was great for me to be able to try out some of my ideas and see what works and what doesn’t. But that was exactly the genesis of NewsTrust, just saying that with the crazed partisan nature–that’s the other factor in the 21st century, the last 10 years, is that the partisanization of political debate has also fed into having your blinders on and only talking to people that you agree with, only getting that news, because after all [the others] are the enemy, and they couldn’t have any good ideas or information because we’ve dehumanized them, whoever it is, right or left. And I just felt like a lot of likeminded people, whether they were on the right or the left or whatever, started saying, Look, this is really bad for our democracy. It’s not working anymore. And I think we can all agree that that’s bad. We may disagree on Sarah Palin or medical marijuana or whatever the issues are. Okay; reasonable people can disagree. But we all agree that without trustworthy news and information–yeah, we’re at a point of peril.

Q.–If you get to a point where people can’t even agree on what the basic facts are, let alone to have a conversation across party lines–

A.–You really have no community, you have no comity, you have no common ground. Yeah, then the essence of what a democracy is about, the country itself…. I don’t want to overstate it. But the answer is yes, actually.

On the other hand, there are some good aspects of it, because people have recognized the problem and they’re starting to deal with it. They’re saying, Are there mechanisms that can combat this? Nobody knows the answer yet.

With NewsTrust, I went in being a big believer in the wisdom of the crowd. And now I think it’s the wisdom of the community, ironically, and the crowd is like a mob; you get this partisan bleed-in from the crowd. It’s hard to get that reptilian brain to step aside. Or people are trying their experiments on Facebook, or partnering with the Youtubes of the world.

So I also think this [Shorenstein Fellowship] will be a great launching pad to reach out to Mark Zuckerberg, for example, who started Facebook so long ago right here at Harvard. We’ve got a brown-bag lunch coming up with one of the YouTube fellows. I’m going to talk to them and see what their perspective is, and then I’m going to talk to at ABC News, who’s in charge of what they’re trying to do with Facebook. What are you trying to do? What does it all mean? How do the big boys think?

Because look: whether it’s Jayson Blair in the New York Times, or Matt Drudge online, or the second Sarah Palin email that came from your trusted friend–if you’re getting bad information it’s a bad thing for you; it’s a bad thing for society; it’s a bad thing for democracy. Because that’s what the whole thing is founded on. You’ve got the information; go out and exercise your choice. But people are making choices based on made-up information, sponsored columns, information dominance.

It’s all about the media now; this is what I tell people. For years Danny [Schechter, with whom O’Connor founded the Media Channel and Globalvision) have been going out talking to church groups, NGOs, unions, whatever they are, and we say look; whatever your story is, the second story, the other story, is always the media story. And if your story isn’t being covered by the media–of course the media’s important. We don’t just say that because we’re media people; we say it because it’s become absolutely central to every aspect of our lives and what we’re doing. So if you’re a union, you need to understand the media, and you need to control your own message. We’re all now media makers, we’re all media distributors, and we have these unparalleled tools–including tools that can make things appear to be as they are not very easily.

At the beginning of the Internet, the first response was, Look at all this information–this is great! And then the second wave was like, Oh my God, look at all this information; this is horrible! I’m deluged! What’s the filtering mechanism? One of the things about NewsTrust–high quality organizations like AP or Fact Check, they’re high quality because they closely monitor the content. But it doesn’t scale, because they need humans to do it. Fact Check can only fact check ten articles a day; the AP can only put out the AP and get it right. On the other hand, Digg scales because you’ve got free labor, millions of people. But what are they doing? They’re saying I like it, or I don’t like it. But there’s no quality; it’s scaleable but there’s no quality. So we’re trying to get to a middle ground where we can take “ordinary” people, people who want to be informed, give them a little bit of information, a little bit of training, a little bit of media literacy, and then have them volunteer, or do it for fun online. Rate stuff, but rate it according to the quality–not just I like it or I don’t like it.

Which is essentially what NewsTrust is doing right now.

That’s what it’s attempting to do, exactly. Some people have said it’s Digg for grownups in a way. What Digg is trying to do in some respects is very powerful. On the other hand, it’s often silly; it gets very easily gamed. You like it? Why do you like it? Because it’s good information, or because you agree?

Q.–What if anything has been disappointing about the News Trust model? Or are you totally pleased with it?

A.–I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed or pleased. It’s a learning experiment. If you try something and it doesn’t work, are you displeased? No, you learn something. What I will tell you is that I think for this thing to work, it has to work for young people, and NewsTrust still skews old. It skews old for a variety of reasons. One is that it’s very text-oriented, still, and young people want rich media. So I was pushing them to move in that direction. But there’s also a tension between the ease of use and the degree that you can get into the quality. I actually had a woman who shall remain unnamed, but who writes for the New York Times, who said, I don’t like to do it because I actually have to read the articles. Of course you do! It takes a little bit of time commitment, and we’re in this ADD culture. But quality also demands a bit of investment on the part of the user. But I think it’s not too much to ask for democracy. If you want to be a citizen, you have to be an informed citizen. That also requires a little bit of work and effort on your part.

Q.–Has the McCain campaign been less respectful of the Truth, with a capital T, than the Obama campaign?

A.–I wouldn’t want to compare the two. I will tell you what I see as being a sea change, and this is a point I heard Jack Nelson making on NPR, so I should credit him. Politicians have always fudged the truth in their ads; they want to get elected. Someday we should take a look at the fact that the qualities necessary to get elected may not be the best qualities to govern. But anyway: that’s time-honored; it’s not going to change. What has changed is, it used to be that in the past, if you fudged the truth and the press came along and said, well, not quite right, or this isn’t accurate, then you retreated. Now they just continue to repeat what’s already been judged inaccurate over and over again.

That’s the sea change on the part of the politicians, but do I blame them? No. I blame the media and the citizenry that let them get away with it. The information is out there; enough people are now saying it’s lies, it’s not even inaccuracies. As I said, people need to work; that information is available, so if you go out and get it, you can make your own judgement. This is why people need to get trustworthy news and information, so they can make their own decisions. Now, if their decision is, the McCain camp was lying in that ad, because I saw four articles that told me this isn’t true–that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Or if they catch Obama?

This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s not a right-left issue. It’s a democracy issue. Let’s get real facts in people’s hands and let them decide. If they decide McCain’s a better president, so be it. I don’t have a problem with that as long as it’s based on good information, and not on the crazy stuff that’s out there, whether it’s coming from the McCain camp or not. There’s a lot of bad information. I don’t want people voting against Barack Hussein Obama because they got an email saying he’s a Muslim. He’s not a muslim, for God’s sakes! Remember that crazy Christian pastor of his? How can he be a Muslim who’s got a crazy Christian pastor?

Q.–You’re very eloquent on the dangers of the current media landscape. Do you ever get a little nostalgic for the era when we had Walter Cronkite giving us the voice of God, telling us what we needed to know?

A.–No, I don’t. At Global Vision, we’re all about diversity; we’re about more voices and more choices. I’m a great admirer of Mr. Cronkite; he’s been an advisor and a supporter of ours; I love the man and I love his analysis of the media. But do I long to go back to the days when there were only three networks, and you had to have your news appointment at night, and one person like Walter Cronkite had so much power? No, absolutely not.

We were fortunate in those days that the person who had that much power was Walter Cronkite. Today it’d probably be Bill O’Reilly. I don’t want that much power concentrated in one person’s hands; I don’t want it concentrated in three networks’ hands.

I am not at all nostalgic. I actually think this is one of the most exciting times to be alive and involved in the media in history. I deal with a lot of young people all the time, and that’s what I tell them. A lot of them hear the doom and the gloom: Newspapers are going out of business, don’t go into journalism, it’s all cutbacks. But in fact, it’s just changing. It’s changing rapidly; it’s very dynamic; there’s a lot going on. There are a lot of great jobs to be had, maybe not at newspapers. It’s a time of ferment, which means it’s a time of great opportunity. If we seize it.

Go on-site for photo, etc., by clicking on the following URL:



http://www.roryoconnor.org/blog/2008/09/29/rory-oconnor-on-trust-and-truth/ [I]

Saundra Hummer
September 30th, 2008, 03:04 PM

House limits constituent e-mails to prevent crash

Jordy Yager
01:16 PM [ET]

The House is limiting e-mails from the public to prevent its websites from crashing due to the enormous amount of mail being submitted on the financial bailout bill.

As a result, some constituents may get a 'try back at a later time' response if they use the House website to e-mail their lawmakers about the bill defeated in the House on Monday in a 205-228 vote.

“We were trying to figure out a way that the House.gov website wouldn’t completely crash,” said Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the Chief Administrative Office (CAO), which oversees the upkeep of the House website and member e-mail services.

The CAO issued a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday morning informing offices that it had placed a limit on the number of e-mails sent via the “Write Your Representative” function of the House website. It said the limit would be imposed during peak e-mail traffic hours.

“This measure has become temporarily necessary to ensure that Congressional websites are not completely disabled by the millions of e-mails flowing into the system,” the letter reads.

Ventura likened the problem to a bottleneck scenario on a highway, where multiple lanes of traffic converge into a smaller set of lanes. In that situation, some cars get to move forward while others have to remain at a standstill.

“What we had to do was basically install the digital equivalent of a traffic cop,” Ventura said. “It was a question of inconveniencing everybody or inconveniencing some people some of the time, while servicing other people the other half of the time.”

Member offices began to notice an overwhelming number of e-mails last week as the economy roiled and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, or “bailout package,” became of interest to millions of Americans. All the clogs in the traditional e-mail service have since been resolved, according to the CAO.

However, Ventura ventured that the problems on the House website might not be resolved until the economic package was finalized.

“We think we will see this spike [in Web traffic] until when and if another bill is hammered out,” Ventura said. “There’s going to be a lot of interest in this all week.”

The error message in its entirety reads:
“The House of Representatives is currently experiencing an extraordinarily high amount of e-mail traffic. The Write Your Representative function is therefore intermittently available. While we realize communicating to your Members of Congress is critical, we suggest attempting to do so at a later time, when demand is not so high. System engineers are working to resolve this issue and we appreciate your patience.”


Saundra Hummer
September 30th, 2008, 03:27 PM

Investigating Our Economic Calamity
and the
Subprime Scandal


Danny Schechter

Danny Schechter directed an extremely informative documentary, "In Debt We Trust," on how the financial industry lured Americans into a debt crisis, by offering loans as if they were cotton candy, without clearly revealing the hidden usorious rates.

Most Americans have a difficult time understanding the complex underpinnings of the current financial crisis, but Schechter cuts to the chase in his title: we were plundered by greedy and ravenous Wall Street sharks, the reptilian products of GOP de-regulation carried to an insatiable economic implosion.

"Plunder" reminds us that this was about vultures descending on our society without any significant regulatory restraints. And the results have been disastrous. What they did was criminal. People get life sentences for bouncing three checks, but Wall Street CEOs get millions, sometimes billions of dollars in pocket change for their acts of piracy.

Stephen Lendman writes:
Schechter's book is timely, important, and frightening. He does a masterful job deconstructing a complicated subject. One covered up in the mainstream. Its dark side papered over suppressed.

Schechter explains it fully and clearly for lay readers to understand. It's essential they do it because it touches everyone. No one knows how bad it may get, but the current crisis has legs. The worst of it may be ahead, and before it ends millions may feel it painfully. "Plunder" provides ammunition. A blueprint of what's unfolding. Explaining that government help won't be forthcoming, so we're responsible for making the best of a very bad situation.

It begins with understanding the scandalous dilemma unfolding. The complicity of government and Wall Street behind it. The dominant media promoting it. What author Kevin Phillips calls the "rise of big finance" and "global crisis of American capitalism;" "Frankenstein finance;" and a problem so potentially grave that "there may no longer be a plausible way out."

Schechter calls it "financialization" to describe "the kind of control (a Credit and Loan Complex) exert(s) over society every bit as insidious as the Military-Industrial Complex." Made up of Wall Street; big banks; an array of finance, credit card and related companies preying on middle-America and the poor and transferring enormous wealth to the rich. A regulatory environment allowing it. Creating an open field for fraud. Taking full advantage because so-called "watchdogs" are part of the problem. The administration and Federal Reserve as well. The entire power structure allied against working people. A shameful and potentially disastrous situation as a result.

Schechter envisions a different future and dedicates his book to one "free of debt and a world where markets serve the public interest." Light years from what "Credit Card Nation" author Robert Manning writes in the Preface:

-- industrial employment ravaged by neoliberal "free trade" and corporate outsourcing;

-- malls replacing factories as the economy's engine;

-- declining wages in the face of soaring expenses;

-- most families dependent on credit to survive;

-- the calamitous effects of banking deregulation;

-- a corrupted "symbiotic financial-industrial complex" called "financialization;"

-- a new Gilded Age exalting greed;

-- turning consumers into debt slaves; and

-- making the country "perilously dependent" on foreign capital sources for economic security.

Schechter continues in his prologue:

-- sinking markets from a "full-blown credit/debt crisis;"

-- "waves of layoffs," bankruptcies and foreclosures;

-- distorted media coverage on causes and solutions;

-- fear that the worst is ahead;

-- the infectious effect of the spreading "subprime crisis;"

-- trillions of dollars being lost;

-- millions of homeowners at risk; millions of working people also;

-- a Ponzi scheme writ large; the bigger they are, the harder they implode; what PIMCO's Managing Director and economist Paul McCulley calls a "Minsky Moment" that derives from economist Hyman Minsky's analysis; the unwinding of excess exuberance; deflating euphoria; proving market bubbles always burst, and their downward momentum is far more severe and faster than their upside; and

-- a "calculated crime" putting America and the global economy at risk; Schechter says "This is an angry book (because) so many of us are in denial or unaware of the importance of economic forces in shaping our future;" he also rails at his colleagues who've done "such a poor job reporting on the run-up to this disaster."

Schechter chronicles what happened. The threat of depression. Alerting people to the possibility. Highlighting concern about the victims. Challenging the media and chastising their ignoring and distorting the story. Telling us that "democracy must have an economic underpinning and a commitment to fairness." Offering ways to achieve it. Explain how debt restructured the economy and created "a burden that many will never crawl out of." Exposing "shameless profiteers" and calling for an investigation of their crimes and prosecution. Asking for debt relief for Americans. "Urging citizens to get involved and (demand) politicians respond." Getting upset and aroused enough to act.



^ ^ ^

Saundra Hummer
September 30th, 2008, 03:57 PM


Tuesday, 30th September 2008

In your 378th newsletter today:

An Excerpt

The Financial Hurricane Hits Home. Our new "Declaration of Financial Independence."

WeLoveCostaRica.com is all about Costa Rica however, having been a professional, Wall Street trained/tainted investment advisor for over 20 years and the father of two American teenagers, you will have to please forgive me if I comment today on the current financial situation/meltdown in the USA.

With the proposed bailout, we have every right to be angry about what's going on and rest assured that you are alone feeling that way. Although the 'popular' media has not shown any, there have been protests against the bailout.

On March 31, 2008, Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. spoke on the Blueprint for Regulatory Reform (Ha!) saying: "I have the greatest confidence in the resiliency, flexibility and strength of our economy and our capital markets. We are focused on maintaining stable, orderly and liquid financial markets and ensuring that our banks continue to support the economy by making credit available to consumers and businesses."

So here's Henry 'Hank' Paulson, an 'expert' who clearly did not see what was happening only six months ago - even though our VIP Members who have been reading our articles like 'Protect Your Assets - The 'Perfect Storm' may be about to wipe them out...' saw this coming and Hank wants you to give him free reign over $700 billion of taxpayer's money.

Of course, Henry Paulson is personally worth about US$700,000,000 and he probably already has most of that invested in non US$ investments so this meltdown will not affect him too much... And don't feel too sorry for him with his new low paying government job because in accepting this government job, Hank saved himself over US$100,000,000 in capital gains taxes...

And by the way, do you know the complex calculations they went through to arrive at that US $700 billion number?

"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number."

Hello? Are you serious?

Doesn't that give you a boatload of confidence? Don't you feel better now that they really do know what's going on?

Most people, like the experts themselves fail to see the big picture here, although $700 billion is a monumental sum of money, it's actually the tip of the iceberg... The Paulson Plan will probably start with $700 billion, and probably end up being $7 trillion (plus) as they extend the bailout to include not only real estate derivatives but credit default swaps and interest rate swaps as well.

Someone should inform Congress that there are approximately $1.4 quadrillion (notional) of derivatives floating around this planet of ours. If only 1% is bad, that's $14 trillion. If we are fortunate - and I don't think we are - and only 1/10 of one percent is bad, that would be $1.4 trillion. The derivative numbers (BIS) are as of the end of Q2 2008.

"Swiss investor Marc Faber, known for a long track record of good calls (he was a commodities bull until late this spring, for instance, when he reversed his view) and a fine grasp of financial markets history, confirms the estimate earlier in the week by Ken Ohmae that the US needs a salvage operation much bigger than the one envisaged by the Treasury plan, and the damage may come to $5 trillion. "The $700 billion is really nothing,' Faber said in a
television interview. "The treasury is just giving out this figure when the end figure may be $5 trillion."

According to Bill Gross, who manages the world's biggest bond fund, the cost of the government rescue package to taxpayers "will run into the trillions," Gross added. "I'm forecasting three years from now we'll see our first trillion-dollar budget."

Nouriel Roubini is a brilliant economist who has been far more correct about the market than our Henry Paulson says that: "Thus the claim by the Fed and Treasury that spending $700 billion of public money is the best way to recapitalize banks has absolutely no factual basis or justification. This way of recapitalizing financial institutions is a total rip-off that will mostly benefit -- at a huge expense for the US taxpayer - the common and preferred shareholders and even unsecured creditors of the banks."

Nouriel Roubini has no hidden agenda, he is telling the economic story as he sees it. While Henry Paulson is a public servant (Yeah! Right...) trying to suck US$700 billion out of your collective pockets ... Who do you think is more likely telling us the truth?

After everything that we have gone through over the last decade, why oh! Why would anyone believe what these people are saying anyway?

In the months before the March 2003 Iraq invasion, the Bush administration estimated the Iraq war would cost no more than $50 billion. As of the end of September 2008, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost more than twelve times as much - $604 billion, the Congressional Budget Office says.

One of the country's leading economists Nobel laureate and former chief World Bank economist, Joseph Stiglitz has just published a book 'The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict' (Paperback) that puts an estimated price tag on the war in Iraq at $3 trillion.

When you and I screw up in life and make a bad investment or experience a catastrophic medical problem, nobody will come to our rescue so why is it when the Wall Street fat cats screw up and lose billions of dollars do we have to help them?

You can read the full article and Scott's new "Declaration of Financial Independence" at:


Hasta luego from your 'amigo' in Costa Rica
Perhaps your new home of stunning scenery, sunshine and smiles.

Scott Oliver - Founder of WeLoveCostaRica.com
Author of 'How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa' (Shirt) and 'Costa Rica's Guide To Making Money Offshore in Bull & Bear Markets.'

The Financial Hurricane Hits Home - Our family's new "Declaration of Financial Independence."



Financial Crisis Causing More Americans to Consider Living Abroad

Scott Oliver is British and worked on Wall Street as a licensed investment advisor for over ten years and now has 22+ years experience in professional financial services. He has lived in and loved Costa Rica since 1999.

Saundra Hummer
September 30th, 2008, 05:50 PM
"And so long as they were at war, their power was preserved, but when they had attained empire they fell, for of the arts of peace they knew nothing, and had never engaged in any employment higher than war."


"It would be some time before I fully realized that the United States sees little need for diplomacy. Power is enough. Only the weak rely on diplomacy ... The Roman Empire had no need for diplomacy. Nor does the United States."

Boutros Boutros-Ghali

"The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his [or her] deception, the one who lies with sincerity."

Andre Gide


Saundra Hummer
September 30th, 2008, 06:06 PM
:: :: :: :: ::

The Free Market Preachers
Have Long Practised State Welfare For The Rich

Bailing out banks seems unprecedented, but the US government's form in subsidising big business is well established

George Monbiot

30/09/08 "The Guardian" -- - According to Senator Jim Bunning, the proposal to purchase $700bn of dodgy debt by the US government was "financial socialism, it is un-American". The economics professor Nouriel Roubini called George Bush, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke "a troika of Bolsheviks who turned the USA into the United Socialist State Republic of America". Bill Perkins, the venture capitalist who took out an ad in the New York Times attacking the plan, called it "trickle-down communism".

They are wrong. Any subsidies eventually given to the monster banks of Wall Street will be as American as apple pie and obesity. The sums demanded may be unprecedented, but there is nothing new about the principle: corporate welfare is a consistent feature of advanced capitalism. Only one thing has changed: Congress has been forced to confront its contradictions.

One of the best studies of corporate welfare in the US is published by my old enemies at the Cato Institute. Its report, by Stephen Slivinski, estimates that in 2006 the federal government spent $92bn subsidising business. Much of it went to major corporations such as Boeing, IBM and General Electric.

The biggest money crop - $21bn - is harvested by Big Farmer. Slivinski shows that the richest 10% of subsidised farmers took 66% of the payouts. Every few years, Congress or the administration promises to stop this swindle, then hands even more state money to agribusiness. The farm bill passed by Congress in May guarantees farmers a minimum of 90% of the income they've received over the past two years, which happen to be among the most profitable they've ever had. The middlemen do even better, especially the companies spreading starvation by turning maize into ethanol, which are guzzling billions of dollars' worth of tax credits.

[ETHANOL is destroying engines as it binds with water, and it also eats up rubber, plastic and fiber glass, it has been shown to cause engines to erupt in flames. It is a costly product due to the damage it's doing. We know from experience as it has destroyed much of our equipment.

Wait until you have to have valve jobs on your expensive cars, boats and other pieces of equipement which use gasoline powered motors --- that is if the engines are even salvagable. And remember, it won't be just a one time fix. SRH]

Slivinski shows how the federal government's Advanced Technology Program, which was supposed to support the development of technologies that are "pre-competitive" or "high risk", has instead been captured by big businesses flogging proven products. Since 1991, companies such as IBM, General Electric, Dow Chemical, Caterpillar, Ford, DuPont, General Motors, Chevron and Monsanto have extracted hundreds of millions from this programme. Big business is also underwritten by the Export-Import Bank: in 2006, for example, Boeing alone received $4.5bn in loan guarantees.

The government runs something called the Foreign Military Financing programme, which gives money to other countries to purchase weaponry from US corporations. It doles out grants to airports for building runways and to fishing companies to help them wipe out endangered stocks.

But the Cato Institute's report has exposed only part of the corporate welfare scandal. A new paper by the US Institute for Policy Studies shows that, through a series of cunning tax and accounting loopholes, the US spends $20bn a year subsidising executive pay. By disguising their professional fees as capital gains rather than income, for example, the managers of hedge funds and private equity companies pay lower rates of tax than the people who clean their offices. A year ago, the House of Representatives tried to close this loophole, but the bill was blocked in the Senate after a lobbying campaign by some of the richest men in America.

Another report, by a group called Good Jobs First, reveals that Wal-Mart has received at least $1bn of public money. Over 90% of its distribution centres and many of its retail outlets have been subsidised by county and local governments. They give the chain free land, they pay for the roads, water and sewerage required to make that land usable, and they grant it property tax breaks and subsidies (called tax increment financing) originally intended to regenerate depressed communities. Sometimes state governments give the firm straight cash as well: in Virginia, for example, Wal-Mart's distribution centres receive handouts from the Governor's Opportunity Fund.

Corporate welfare is arguably the core business of some government departments. Many of the Pentagon's programmes deliver benefits only to its contractors. Ballistic missile defence, for example, which has no obvious strategic purpose and is unlikely ever to work, has already cost the US between $120bn and $150bn. The US is unique among major donors in insisting that the food it offers in aid is produced on its own soil, rather than in the regions it is meant to be helping. USAid used to boast on its website that "the principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States. Close to 80% of the USAid's contracts and grants go directly to American firms." There is not and has never been a free market in the US.

Why not? Because the congressmen and women now railing against financial socialism depend for their re-election on the companies they subsidise. The legal bribes paid by these businesses deliver two short-term benefits for them. The first is that they prevent proper regulation, allowing them to make spectacular profits and to generate disasters of the kind Congress is now confronting. The second is that public money that should be used to help the poorest is instead diverted into the pockets of the rich.

A report published last week by the advocacy group Common Cause shows how bankers and brokers stopped legislators banning unsustainable lending. Over the past financial year, the big banks spent $49m on lobbying and $7m in direct campaign contributions. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac spent $180m in lobbying and campaign finance over the past eight years. Much of this was thrown at members of the House financial services committee and the Senate banking committee.

Whenever congressmen tried to rein in the banks and mortgage lenders they were blocked by the banks' money. Dick Durbin's 2005 amendment seeking to stop predatory mortgage lending, for example, was defeated in the Senate by 58 to 40. The former representative Jim Leach proposed re-regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Their lobbyists, he recalls, managed in "less than 48 hours to orchestrate both parties' leadership" to crush his amendments.

The money these firms spend buys the socialisation of financial risk. The $700bn the government was looking for was just one of the public costs of its repeated failure to regulate. Even now the lobbying power of the banks has been making itself felt: on Saturday the Democrats watered down their demand that the money earned by executives of companies rescued by the government be capped. Campaign finance is the best investment a corporation can make. You give a million dollars to the right man and reap a billion dollars' worth of state protection, tax breaks and subsidies. When the same thing happens in Africa we call it corruption.

European governments are no better. The free market economics they proclaim are a con: they intervene repeatedly on behalf of the rich, while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves. Just as in the US, the bosses of farm companies, oil drillers, supermarkets and banks capture the funds extracted by government from the pockets of people much poorer than themselves. Taxpayers everywhere should be asking the same question: why the hell should we be supporting them?


:: :: ::

Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 12:25 PM

NORAD: Sarah Palin has no role in guarding U.S. airspace despite claims in Katie Couric interview


Tuesday, September 30th 2008, 5:21 PM
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin talks to CBS news anchor Katie Couric in their interview last Wednesday.
WASHINGTON - When Russian bombers approach American airspace and U.S. Air Force fighters are scrambled, Sarah Palin's phone doesn't ring.

The Alaska governor has no command authority over the guardians of U.S. airspace despite her recent suggestion otherwise.

"She doesn't have any role in that process," Air Force Maj. Allen Herritage, spokesman for the Alaska North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the Daily News.

"The authority to launch and respond to a Russian incursion lies with the Alaska NORAD Region commander" - Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, he said.

Palin said last week that her foreign policy experience includes facing the Russians.

"It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia, as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America - where do they go? It's Alaska," Palin told CBS' Katie Couric.

RELATED NUDE PAINTING OF SARAH PALIN IN CHICAGO TAVERN "It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation," she said.

Moscow's bombers have skirted Alaskan airspace 20 times, thugh they have not violated it, during Palin's governorship, officials said.

When F-15 and F-22 interceptors scrambled from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage in response, John McCain's running mate was not speed-dialed with the news.

"The commander does not call the governor," Herritage said.

Steven Biegun, a McCain foreign policy adviser, said Palin is informed of the fly-bys by her National Guard commander.

The Alaska Air Guard, which Palin oversees, performs airspace-watching missions only under NORAD command, and does not fly interception sorties.

Palin did get an annual Air Force briefing in February.

"She asked a lot of questions and seemed generally curious," recalled Herritage, who was there. "She was very interested in Russian long-range aviation."
. . .

200 comments so far. Add your comment below!. [Discussion Guidelines]
thall999 Oct 1, 2008 10:40:31 AM Report Offensive Post
brads77, Yep I agree on Sarah Palin too. It goes to show how dumb the Main campaign has been. You should be able to teach any Governor how to answer questions in a basic way that does not invoke disaster. Sarah Palin couldn't even answer what newspapers she read (NOt one). If if she couldn't name one, there a better way to answetr that question when stuck. You're right, there NO reason to lie ot trump up her experience. Her experience was not why she was chosen in the first place. Hillary made this mistake and she had light years more experience that Sarah Palin and she had more than Obama. But Hillary took it too far as though she was running against Master Expereince. It was McCain and Obama that she had to contend with and her far out stories was not necessary. Hillary was d-a-m-n good on the issues and her campaign allowed her to act like a lying male when it was not needed. In any event, McCain has proven that he can't lead others and he surely can't lead women.

bdbone Oct 1, 2008 10:40:38 AM Report Offensive Post
Really, in all that is said, Mc Cain is really quite good. He has missed managed like Obama has. Hey Barack wher did the $49 million go that you managed? What can he do withall the FED money? Come on people wake up!!!!

landa412002 Oct 1, 2008 10:43:38 AM Report Offensive Post
CONT'D...I think between the two of them they can do this. We just need to give them the time to do it. Remember this: COMMON SENSE IS NOT SO COMMON ANYMORE!* thall99...olefan has been going off the deep end since McSame said the economy was sound. He is losing his grip. He started out ok but now.... Arizonarick... I almost forgot about you...can't let you go just yet....Sarah Palin doesn't need the Dems to embarrass her she does a very good job all on her own. All she has to do is open her mouth. So far as her unwed pregnant daughter is concerned; she was brought up because Sarah believes one thing for her family and another for the country. What's good for one should be good for all. She gave her daughter a choice about having her baby but she wants to take the same choice away from the women of this country. She needed to called out about that. Let's not forget the woman is a crook. Remember the bridge to nowhere, she never returned the money for that failed program i bel

thall999 Oct 1, 2008 10:44:07 AM Report Offensive Post
bdbone, I asked for someone that can speak honestly on McCain's behalf. Go SIT your little braced shoe a-s-s back down on the little yellow bus. Who asked you to get up while it's moving anyway! You're NOT helping McCain dumba-s-s! lol

thall999 Oct 1, 2008 10:48:00 AM Report Offensive Post
landa412002, True but Sarah did build the ROAD to NOWHERE on those funds. So be careful when your significant other ask you where you're going and you say "NOWHERE!". That can cause some issues of abandonment! lol

landa412002 Oct 1, 2008 10:54:43 AM Report Offensive Post
CONT'D... Let's not forget the woman is a crook. Remember the bridge to nowhere, she never returned the money for that failed program i believe to the toon of $27m. Oh, and another project she is for is the TransCanada Pipeline. She already appropriated $500m in state taxes for that one. They may not ever be able to build that pipeline because it goes thru tribal lands for which permission was never given. The legal process will be a lengthy one. The tribes can tie it up in the courts for years( and the law is on their side). At least 7yrs for one project thru tribal land & 11yrs for another one. If that happens will she give the money back or will she keep it the way she did before? What say you? Hey Brads77...stop giving the opposition ideas...someone in their camp might read this blog and give them ideas...let them come up with their own...Steimy1 we will just ignore you...not worth the energy...THINK CONSERVATION!!! ;0)

brads77 Oct 1, 2008 10:56:31 AM Report Offensive Post
The real problem the GOP has is that the talking points given out to pro-McCain folks don't make sense or change too frequently. The Strategy team is changing their positions too much, and not showing any real thought to positioning the election on issues that McCain can win on. Without supporting arguments, GOP fans are left to spout lies and throw mud at Obama. That may have worked in prior years, but the last 8 years have changed the playing field. Voters have learned to check facts, and stand up to lies. McCain's team need to stop the rapid change of focus, and get out plausible arguments about how McCain wants to improve ("reform") the government process---which is clearly broken. He should shift the argument to "Change you can't believe in versus reforms we need."

Greenchik Oct 1, 2008 10:57:06 AM Report Offensive Post
Palin has single-handedly turned McCains run for the White House into a "fierce hot mess." Hmm This worries me .. NOT!. LMAO

landa412002 Oct 1, 2008 11:02:58 AM Report Offensive Post
LOL... thall999...as i recall, she build something thru private lands that she DID NOT PURCHASE with the money? If so, I still say... WHERE'S THE MONEY???? what did she do with it???? Can anyone say LAWSUIT? LAWSUITS excuse me... ;0)

thall999 Oct 1, 2008 11:02:59 AM Report Offensive Post
brads77, LOL Yep, But Great Grandpa McSame can't stay on pt on one issue and running for President means having to multitask and that creates many problems for him where his one talking pt on issue #2 will contradict his talking pt on issue #1 and so forth. You have to remember, McSame only crashed one plane at a time years back. McSame is a serial disaster maker and asking him to do that in multiples simultaneously is a BIIIIIG challenge! That's is why he had to suspend his campaign just to go f-u-c-k up the Financial Bailout. He still plays to his strength! lol


Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 12:39 PM

Courts Allow Early Voting Week in Ohio

September 30, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — In a defeat for Republican challenges, state and federal courts have cleared the way for a weeklong period in which new voters can register and cast an absentee ballot on the same day in Ohio.

The early voting begins Tuesday and runs through Oct. 6. The Ohio Supreme Court and a federal judge in Cleveland on Monday upheld the weeklong voting period. Later in the day, Judge George Smith of Federal District Court in Columbus declined to rule, deferring to the Ohio Supreme Court decision.

But Judge Smith ruled that counties must allow party poll observers during early voting.

The disputed voting window results from an overlap between Tuesday’s beginning of absentee voting 35 days before Election Day, and the Oct. 6 end of voter registration.

The decisions were a victory for Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat whom Republicans had accused of interpreting state law to benefit her party.

The early voting window became a partisan battle in this swing state where President Bush narrowly clinched re-election in 2004.

In a 4-to-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court said Ms. Brunner was correct in ruling that voters do not need to be registered for at least 30 days before receiving an absentee ballot, as Republicans had argued.

Although both the campaign of the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama, and the Republican National Committee have urged supporters in Ohio to use the early voting, Republican-backed lawsuits were filed against it.

Earlier Monday, Judge James S. Gwin of Federal District Court in Cleveland issued a temporary restraining order forcing Madison County to follow Ms. Brunner’s instructions. The county had said that on the advice of its county prosecutor it was not going to allow same-day voting.

The Ohio Supreme Court has six Republicans and one Democrat.

Judge Gwin was appointed by President Bill Clinton.

In the day’s last courtroom battle, the Ohio Republican Party filed a statewide challenge in Columbus before Judge Smith, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

The ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court was a defeat for two voters who had sued and were backed by the state Republican Party. Republicans argue that Ohio law requires voters to be registered for at least 30 days before they cast an absentee ballot and does not allow same-day registration and voting. But Ms. Brunner interpreted the law correctly, Judge Gwin ruled.

The Obama campaign plans to get college students around the state to register and vote during the window. Other groups, including the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, have plans to drive voters who are homeless, low income or members of minority groups to the polls.

Despite the Republican legal action against the window, Senator John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have encouraged voters to prepare for it.

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Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 01:27 PM
* * *

Food And Markets: A Crisis Of Faith

Adam W. Parsons
01 October, 2008
In the wake of a food crisis that gripped the media’s attention during the summer of 2008, a new set of questions is beginning to surface. As analysts predict that the era of cheap resources is finally over, that the food emergency is no blip but a situation that could last indefinitely, the international community is being forced to re-examine the basic direction of world development.

Could it be that the interlinked crises in food, energy and financial markets indicate the commencement of a terminal decline in the export-led, free market development model that has defined the past few decades of globalisation? Or will the emergency in food provision, as previously happened in 1974, reinforce the same policies in favour of large-scale industrial farming that have already devastated rural communities throughout the developing world?

The inability of world leaders to face up to the root causes or policy contradictions of a food crisis is nothing new. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, mass protests over a recurring food crisis in developing countries were popularly known as “IMF riots”, although the solutions – as today – were handed to the very structures that caused those crises.

The Ethiopian famine during the 1980s led not to initiatives that helped sustain poor rural dwellers, but rather the dedication of good land to export crops under the tutelage of the World Bank, thus further exacerbating food insecurity and storing up a repeat of the famine situation that is surfacing today. In Peru in August 1990, following the dictats of the IMF, fuel prices increased 30 times overnight, and bread prices increased 12 times within a day. In Caracas, 1989, after a 200 percent increase in the price of bread, anti-IMF riots led to the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children.[1]

More examples could be repeated ad infinitum. Compared to the last major food and fuel crisis of 1973/4, which culminated in similarly vain promises from the FAO’s first World Food Conference to end hunger and prevent a repeat occurrence, the needed lessons after 34 years are far from being acknowledged.

The main difference today is in the parting of extremes, or the deepening polarisation between alternative paradigms, narratives and solutions. On one side of the court stand the impassioned NGOs and hardened campaigners who have long opposed large-scale agribusiness in place of food sovereignty, bottom-up development, and the empowerment of small farmers through local and regional markets. The food price crisis, they say, has exposed the disaster of global agricultural production and the conclusive failure of a market fundamentalist ideology left unchecked for far too long.

On the other side of the court, supported by Gordon Brown, George W. Bush, Bill Gates’ pockets and the most powerful financial institutions in the world, stand the Green Revolutionaries led by chemical technologies and multinational corporations from the E.U and U.S.A. One path, say almost all of the NGOs, will lead to social justice, the strengthening of local communities and food security for all, while the current path is inherently unsustainable, responsible for continued hunger in a world of plenty, and incapable of ending poverty.

By 2008 it should be a platitude to state that the escalating global food crisis, which some NGO’s are pointedly distinguishing as the “food price crisis”, is the inevitable long-term consequence of misguided economic policies and a disastrous free market restructuring of agricultural land. The official version of history over the past few decades as interpreted by G8 governments, however, could not be more different. In the World Bank’s latest World Development Report 2008 on agriculture, the same model of development that has created a global crisis in food production in the first place – import liberalization, elimination of tariffs, a dependency on cash crops, GMO seeds and fertilizers, and all other measures that work in favour of agribusiness and against the millions of small-scale farmers struggling against poverty and hunger - is being promoted as the only solution.[2] The $1.2 billion of extra loans as part of the World Bank’s ‘Global Food Crisis Response Facility’ will be handed out with the same underlying conditions of further trade liberalisation and market reforms.

Likewise, the IMF used the crisis to augment its existing arrangements under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), attaching the same conditions requiring structural adjustment to the 10 countries, mostly in Africa, already forced to make new agreements.[3] The World Trade Organisation similarly tried to capitalise on the crisis by working to increase its mandate through the Doha Round of trade agreements, alongside a push to persuade developing countries to further liberalise their financial sectors under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).[4] Between the expert rhetoric and analysis by international financial institutions on the catastrophic extent of the crisis, with even the IMF declaring that some countries are at “tipping point”,[5] their proffered medicine is still being mixed with the same deep-seated poisons.

This basic contradiction of agreeing to increase agricultural production in developing countries to address the plight of small and poor farmers, while promoting policies that achieve the opposite ends, was set in stone after the UN’s emergency food summit held in Rome. The final declaration made no attempt to address the structural problems and deeper causes of the crisis, as evidenced in key paragraph 7(e) that concluded: “We encourage... efforts in liberalizing international trade in agriculture by reducing trade barriers and market distorting policies.”[6] A rare mention of small farmers was only made in reference to international markets, underlining the continued prioritising of market fundamentalism and trade over food security. [7] A renewed commitment was made to reduce by half the number of undernourished people by 2015, but after 45 years of similar promises one NGO called this “the big lie” that no-one at the Summit believes will happen.[8]

Despite both Ban Ki-moon and Jacques Diouf’s impassioned speeches and articles over the period of the Summit, neither of them sought to address the entrenched structural origins of the food crisis. Most worrying was Ban’s simplistic prescriptions for improved market efficiency and a 50 percent rise in food production by 2030 to meet rising demand,[9]thus playing into the hands of politicians who seek to divert political debate away from the role of agribusinesses in the current food crisis, as well as the corporations who wish to accelerate a “Doubly Green Revolution” in agriculture as propounded by Bill Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The inevitable result, without a critical re-examination of the unsustainable manner in which food is produced and distributed, will be more of the same; more privatization, more corporate monopolization of food systems, more GMO crop initiatives, more displacement of poor farmers, more migration into cities and slums, more hunger, more poverty, more overconsumption and obesity. And all this without even considering the environmental footprint of producing more food on less available land, or transporting more food through international markets which contradicts the urgent need of reducing CO2 emissions. The search for technical fixes to produce cheap and abundant food may have made sense in the 1940s, but 70 years of the “productionist” model has led to the vital challenge of defining a sustainable diet – one that recognises the central crisis of distribution and overcomes the co-existence of under-, over- and mal-consumption in a world defined by extremes of inequality.[10] Not even Ban Ki-moon, it seems, was able to acknowledge the most basic contradiction of all: that already we are producing more than enough food.

There are signs, however, that the world direction is changing course. As a knee-jerk response to skyrocketing food price inflation, those developing governments fortunate enough to have export stocks began pulling out of the global market to safeguard their domestic prices. The failure of the Doha round of trade negotiations, which sought to further liberalise agricultural markets, was widely interpreted as recalcitrance on the part of developing countries – and the issue of agriculture, in the light of the food crisis, was cited by most accounts to have provoked the collapse.

The only source of good to emerge from spiralling food price inflation is the resultant crisis of faith amongst poorer and developing countries in neoliberal economic orthodoxy. Unlike the crisis of 1970s stagflation that signalled the end for the Keynesian social-democratic model, 2008 could be marked down in history for setting in motion an opposite trend. A notable example of this gradual shift in economic thinking is set down in the UN’s latest World Economic and Social Survey (WESS), released a week before the G8 Summit. A belief in the self-regulating market is no longer credible, was the Report’s message, noting that “John Maynard Keynes, until recently persona non grata in policy circles, is once again the ‘defunct economist’ to consult.”[11]

Such an acknowledgement of the redistribution agenda is no longer confined to renegade economists exempt from mainstream discussion. Although the food price crisis has failed to serve as a wake-up call to world leaders, a crucial international debate has started to emerge on the whole theology of food security. For now, the redundant model of export-led agriculture and import dependency has won through, but the calls for people-led social change are rapidly achieving a long-awaited consensus.

Adam W. Parsons is the editor for Share the World's Resources (stwr), an NGO that advocates for essential resources such as food, water and energy to be shared internationally under the agency of the United Nations. He can be reached at editor@stwr.org.
[1] Examples taken from Michel Chossudovsky. The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order (Global Research, 2003)

[2] World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development (World Bank, 19 October 2008)

[3] World Bank and IMF Emergency Loans: A Cure or a Curse for the Food Crisis? (Eurodad, 17 June 08)

[4] Myriam Vander Stichele. Ignoring the crises? How further GATS liberalisation impacts the financial and food crises (South Centre Bulletin, 18 June 2008)

[5] IMF fears food prices may stir economic mayhem (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 July 2008)

[6] Declaration of the High-Level Conference on World Food Security: The challenges of climate change and bioenergy (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 5 June 2008)

[7] Ibid, see paragraph 6(a).

[8] Ciao FAO: Another “Failure-as-Usual” Food Summit (Action group on erosion, technology and concentration - etc. Translator. Volume 5, No.1 June 20008)

[9] Ban Ki-moon. The New Face of Hunger (Washington Post, 12 March 2008)

[10] Interview with Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University in London (GRAIN, Seedling Magazine, July 2008)

[11] World Economic and Social Survey 2008: Overcoming Economic Insecurity (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2 July 2008) p 6.

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Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 02:42 PM

The Palin Fear Factor

Commentary: Some voters are scared of the prospect of a black president. Can Obama convince them that they really should be petrified of a Palin vice presidency?
James Ridgeway
September 30, 2008
In times of economic crisis, voters become risk averse. This doesn't mean that they won't vote for political change, especially if it means a change in the policies that caused the financial mess in the first place. But when the future seems uncertain and frightening, above all voters want a candidate who makes them feel safe. Such a theory would seem to favor the avuncular John McCain over the inspirational Barack Obama—the old, white, conservative man with the military bearing, over the brash young newcomer who, as Obama himself has said, "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

These days, however, it isn't Obama who's looking like the risky choice in November's election. McCain's erratic behavior and high-profile stunts alone are spooking some voters, and making the unflappable Obama seem all the more solid in comparison. But the scariest thing about McCain is the person on the other half of his ticket.

On Monday, Sarah Palin was whisked away to McCain's Sedona, Arizona, estate with his top campaign advisors where, as The Nation's Katha Pollitt described it, "She's prepping for her debate with Joe Biden like a student jock cramming for a test." The McCain campaign has also negotiated a less-challenging debate format, with shorter answer periods and little time for follow-up or free exchange between the candidates. But none of this is likely to obscure the increasingly glaring truth about Palin.

In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released last Wednesday, only 40 percent of Americans said they believed Palin was qualified to be vice president, while 49 percent said she was not qualified. In comparison, 64 percent said that Joe Biden was qualified, and just 21 percent said he was not. An earlier Associated Press/Yahoo News poll found that 61 percent did not think Palin had the right experience to be president. Those polls were done before the Dow dropped 700-plus points in a single day—and before the airing of Palin's disastrous interview with Katie Couric last week, where Americans saw just who it was they could be placing on the threshold of the oval office.

After running an excerpt from that interview, in which Palin answered Couric's question about the economic bailout package with a rambling and incoherent response, CNN's Jack Cafferty commented: "If John McCain wins, this woman will be one 72-year-old's heartbeat away from being president of the United States. And if that doesn't scare the hell out of you, it should… I'm 65 and have been covering politics...for a long time. That is one of the most pathetic pieces of tape I have ever seen for someone aspiring to one of the highest offices in this country." (A commenter on Cafferty's blog wrote that he felt "sorry and embarrassed for Sarah" because "McCain has sucked her into an 'opportunity' akin to a sub-prime mortgage situation on a house she cannot afford.")

The Cafferty piece has joined an assortment of eyebrow-raising Palin videos that are making the rounds on YouTube. Others include various scenes from Palin's former church, the Wasilla Assembly of God Church: Palin praying for a natural gas pipeline and a pastor at her church asking God to finance her campaign for governor and protect her from witchcraft.

A notable addition comes from the pre-show green room conversation among several guests on Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos . Asked what he thought of Palin's interview with Couric, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—a longtime admirer of the Alaska governor—replied, "They shouldn't have scheduled it" while she was still in "training." The conversation continued:

Robert Reich: "When is she ready for prime time?"
George Will: "When is she ready to be president, that's the question."
Gingrich: "If you want to ask me which gamble do I prefer—I prefer the gamble of Palin to the gamble of either Obama or Biden..."
Will: "Life is full of gambles that are unavoidable. This surely was an avoidable gamble."
George Will is no fan either of Palin or of McCain, who he accused accused last week of "behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high" under the pressure of the financial crisis. But he is just one of a growing number of conservative commentators who have joined the mainstream press in questioning Palin's qualifications, including Kathleen Parker, David Brooks, and David Frum, who recently commented that Palin had "pretty thoroughly—and probably irretrievably—proven that she is not up to the job of being president." Frum added, "this is a moment of real high anxiety, a little bit like 9/11, when people look to Washington for comfort and leadership and want to know that people in charge know what they are doing."

Apparently, members of the McCain campaign team might be feeling the same way. Palin is being kept away from the press while she undergoes her pre-debate tutorial. And while Biden made the rounds on the networks last Friday doing Obama's post-debate spin, Palin remained sequestered in Pennsylvania with a small gathering of debate-viewers and a "limited group of reporters." The spin for McCain was instead done by Rudy Giuliani.

The Obama campaign seems to have picked up on the growing anxiety about the Republican ticket. Campaigning in Colorado on Monday, Obama explicitly introduced the theme into his stump speech:
I read the other day that Senator McCain likes to gamble. He likes to roll those dice. And that's ok. I enjoy a little friendly game of poker myself every now and then. But one thing I know is this—we can't afford to gamble on four more years of the same disastrous economic policies we've had for the last eight.

I know that when Senator McCain says he wants to bring the same kind of deregulation to our health care system that he helped bring to our banking system—his words—well, that's a bet we can't afford. We can't afford to roll the dice by privatizing Social Security, and wagering the nest egg of millions of Americans on Wall Street. We can't afford to gamble on more of the same trickle down philosophy that showers tax breaks on big corporations and the wealthiest few.

If Obama succeeds in depicting the McCain-Palin team as risky and threatening on the basis of their policies as well as their persons, it might surmount another kind of fear that has plagued this presidential race: the fear and mistrust that some white voters harbor for African American candidates. This kind of fear has produced racially polarized voting in this country since Reconstruction, and it is a factor in the so-called Bradley Effect, in which white voters express their intention to vote for a black candidate, but get cold feet in the voting booth (as they did in the 1982 California gubernatorial race, defying polls that had predicted a win for African American candidate Tom Bradley).

The fact that McCain is a loose cannon and Palin is an empty shell may not have much effect on hard-core racists or Christian fundamentalists. But it just might tip the scales for some Independents and for white working-class Clinton voters in swing states, who displayed mistrust of Obama through the primary races. If this is Obama's strategy, he would do well to continue in the reserved, statesmanlike mode that has some supporters yearning for his earlier soaring rhetoric. If the economy continues to implode, the Democratic candidate will need to project some of the gravitas that FDR showed in 1932, convincing American voters that the only thing they have to fear is fear itself—and Sarah Palin.

James Ridgeway is Mother Jones' senior Washington correspondent.



Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 05:00 PM
. . . . .

Why Is Congress Even Listening To Those Who Caused The Wreck On How To Fix It?
Isn't it a miracle what can happen when the people actually speak out. Votes change in Congress. And please take careful note of this fact -- the stock market was down 600 points BEFORE Congress even voted, and reason is that investors KNOW that Paulson's plunder plan does not address any of the real problems, and were as afraid it might pass as not. It was a non-starter, it needs to be torn up and we need to draft a new plan from scratch.

Now it is up to us, we the people, to provide the real leadership that is so lacking in Congress, to push for real and substantial progressive policy change, and the underlying principle must be this, and this is what we need to tell them, with our newfound vocal power.

No More Bailout Votes Until Congress Hears From Some Real Economists.

Action Page:


And here are the tollfree numbers for Congress again, 800 828-0498, 800-473-6711, now that we know that they WILL actually listen, at least enough of them, when we DO actually speak out in greater and greater numbers and loudly enough. They need to hear from us again now, more that EVER, to tell them what they need to do instead. Please make your calls and send your emails. And if your representatives voted for the bailout the first time, lambast them, and if they voted "No", thank them profusely.

And we again thank Cindy Sheehan, who is so seriously challenging Nancy Pelosi for the congressional seat in San Francisco right now, for her own leadership in making this action page happen.

Before Congress does anything else they MUST take the time to hear from some real economists, like Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz, who offers real wisdom in this article from his article last week in the Nation magazine. Here are some excerpts:

With lack of oversight and transparency the cause of the current problem, how could they make a proposal so short in both? If a quick consensus is required, why not include provisions to stop the source of bleeding, to aid the millions of Americans that are losing their homes? Why not spend as much on them as on Wall Street? Do they still believe in trickle-down economics, when for the past eight years money has been trickling up to the wizards of Wall Street? Why not enact bankruptcy reform, to help Americans write down the value of the mortgage on their overvalued home? No one benefits from these costly foreclosures.

The Scandinavian countries showed the way, almost two decades ago. By issuing preferred shares with warrants (options), one reduces the public's downside risk and insures that they participate in some of the upside potential. This approach is not only proven, it provides both incentives and wherewithal to resume lending. It furthermore avoids the hopeless task of trying to value millions of complex mortgages and even more complex products in which they are embedded, and it deals with the "lemons" problem - the government getting stuck with the worst or most overpriced assets.

Finally, we need to impose a special financial sector tax to pay for the bailouts conducted so far. We also need to create a reserve fund so that poor taxpayers won't have to be called upon again to finance Wall Street's foolishness.

-- End Stiglitz Excepts --

We need open, public and TRANSPARENT hearings so the American people can hear from REAL experts like Joseph E. Stiglitz, and decide in the clear light of day what is to be done with OUR economic destiny, and not in secret back rooms like it's been done so far, where they confiscate all the Blackberrys to keep us all in the dark.

And THEN they write the legislation. And they don't leave town until they do it, because we're not going to reelect any of them anyway unless they do.

Edited out: a plea for donations for Cindy Sheehan, and a short brief about her running against Nanci Pelosi for her seat.

What Congress is being stampeded into doing, again, is EXACTLY backwards. Would you buy a "hen protection plan" from one of the foxes? There is a real simple solution to this whole mess. These institutions are in trouble mostly because they were looted by their own corporate executives. We march an army of forensic accountants in there, and tell those Wall Street pigs that if they don't find the money fast they are all going to jail.

And then we file negligence and breach of fiduciary duty lawsuits against them all, to recoup every dime that disappeared. Our dear Secretary of the Treasury Paulson pulled down hundreds of millions all by himself. And now he wants the American people to make up the difference out of OUR pockets? He can practically finance the bailout PERSONALLY. And if there were any justice in the world he would.

And let them all know, that their job description is NOT ignoring the will of the American people.

Paid for by Cindy Sheehan for Congress

Donations to Cindy Sheehan for Congress are not tax-deductible

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible.

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Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 05:17 PM
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Not One Dime!
Mike Whitney
01/10/08 - "ICH" - -- The mystery has been solved.
For nearly a year, we have been asking ourselves why the investors and foreign banks that bought up hundreds of billions of dollars of worthless mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from US investment banks have not taken legal action against these same banks or initiated a boycott of US financial products to prevent more people from getting ripped off?

Now we know the answer. It's because, behind the scenes, Henry Paulson and Co. were working out a deal to dump the whole trillion dollar mess on the US taxpayer. That's what this whole $700 billion boondoggle is all about; wiping out the massive debts that were generated in the biggest incident of fraud in history. Rep Brad Sherman explained it like this last night to Larry Kudlow: "It (The bill) provides hundreds of billions of dollars of bailouts to foreign investors. It provides no real control of Paulson's power. There is a critique board but not really a board that can step in and change what he does. It's a $700 billion program run by a part-time temporary employee and there is no limit on million dollar a month salaries....... It's very clear. The Bank of Shanghai can transfer all of its toxic assets to the Bank of Shanghai of Los Angeles which can then sell them the next day to the Treasury. I had a provision to say if it wasn't owned by an American entity even a subsidiary, but at least an entity in the US, the Treasury can't buy it. It was rejected.

The bill is very clear. Assets now held in China and London can be sold to US entities on Monday and then sold to the Treasury on Tuesday. Paulson has made it clear he will recommend a veto of any bill that contained a clear provision that said if Americans did not own the asset on September 20th that it can't be sold to the Treasury. Hundreds of billions of dollars are going to bail out foreign investors. They know it, they demanded it and the bill has been carefully written to make sure it can happen."

So, why hasn't the Treasury Secretary explained the real purpose of the bailout to the American people? Could it be that he knows that his $700 billion bailout would end up like the Hindenburg, vanishing in sheets of flames?

This is a terrible bill, and it confers absolute authority on one of the central players in the scandal, Henry Paulson, who was the Chairman of Goldman Sachs at the time this MBS garbage was being peddled around the planet to credulous investors. Now Paulson will be in a position to buy up any "troubled asset" he that he believes could pose a threat to "financial market stability". That's just great! It is clear that Paulson will use his unchecked powers to wipe the slate clean and remove any possibility that foreign investors will take legal action against the real perpetrators; the giant Wall Street investment banks.

So, how do the American people like paying off Paulson and Co. future legal bills? Is that how taxpayer revenue should be spent instead of on education, health care and infrastructure?

There's another reason why Paulson is working so hard to pass the Bailout for Tycoons Bill; it's a windfall for the banking giants. Citi did not simply pick up Wachovia by happenstance nor did JP Morgan purchase Washington Mutual because it wanted to perform its civic duty and prevent a full-system meltdown. No way; they were clearly aware of the way the wind was blowing. In fact, neither case manages to pass the smell test.

This is from AP's Sara Lepro:

"Citigroup agreed Monday to purchase Wachovia's banking operations for $2.1 billion in a deal arranged by federal regulators, making the Charlotte-based bank the latest casualty of the widening global financial crisis.

The deal greatly expands Citigroup's retail franchise—giving it a total of more than 4,300 U.S. branches and $600 billion in deposits—and secures its place among the U.S. banking industry's Big Three, along with Bank of America Corp. and JP Morgan Chase & Co.

But it comes at a cost: Citigroup Inc. said it will slash its quarterly dividend in half to 16 cents. It also will dilute existing shareholders by selling $10 billion in common stock to shore up its capital position.

In addition to assuming $53 billion worth of debt, Citigroup will absorb up to $42 billion of losses from Wachovia's $312 billion loan portfolio, with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. agreeing to cover any remaining losses. Citigroup also will issue $12 billion in preferred stock and warrants to the FDIC.

(Ed; Here's the punch line) "The government's proposed $700 billion rescue plan for financial institution, being voted on Monday by the House of Representatives, likely will prove of added benefit to Citi.

While the plan broadly aims to prevent banks from profiting on the sale of troubled assets to the government, there is an exception made for assets acquired in a merger or buyout, or from companies that have filed for bankruptcy. This could allow Citigroup to sell toxic mortgages and other assets it gained from Wachovia for a higher price than the bank actually paid for them." ("Citigroup to buy Wachovia banking operations"

Huh?!? So Citi not only gets an army of depositors (the cheapest capital available!) but, at the same time, is going to be able to dump it's mortgage-backed junk on the taxpayer? And, guess what? The JP Morgan deal looks nearly identical.

Is this "insider baseball" or not?

Does anyone want to wager that G-Sax will also get a privileged spot at the public trough sucking up billions of taxpayer dollars to patch together its tattered balance sheet?

And what will the net result of Paulson's Bailout for Fraudsters be; more consolidation of the financial industry and the utter annihilation of local and regional banks. That's a sure thing. The mom and pop banks across the country are going to take it in the stern sheets if this bill is passed. Bet on it.

The country has no time for this cynical scavenger-hunt. The system is listing badly and we have ONE chance to get this emergency bill right. There is no way an industry rep like Henry Paulson, who has spent his entire career feathering his own nest and handing out plums to his buddies, can operate in the best interests of the American people. Paulson has got to go!

According to Bloomberg News , Sept 29:

"The Federal Reserve will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system, flooding banks with cash to alleviate the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression. The Fed increased its existing currency swaps with foreign central banks by $330 billion to $620 billion to make more dollars available worldwide. The Term Auction Facility, the Fed's emergency loan program, will expand by $300 billion to $450 billion. The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan are among the participating authorities.

The crisis is reverberating through the global economy, causing stocks to plunge and forcing European governments to rescue four banks over the past two days alone." (Bloomberg)

Get it? The Fed has ALREADY brushed aside Congress's "No" vote and pumped money into the system; and look what happened.


Libor is still at historic highs, the Ted spread has widened to record levels and interbank lending is grinding to a standstill. There's a run on the money markets that is reducing the ability of businesses to turn over short term debt. The system is shutting down, folks, and Paulson's snake oil won't help. Why throw another $700 billion down a rathole? 400 reputable economists--not the "faith based" industry hacks that work for the Bush administration--are opposed to this bailout. It has to be stopped.

This is a "real time" meltdown and it requires real solutions, not bailouts for foreign creditors and Wall Street Goliaths. (Foreign victims of this scam will have to sue the perpetrators not the US taxpayer) As Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics, points out, we are on the verge of the "mother of all bank runs", a cross-border savaging of reserves that would crash the entire financial system. Here's Roubini on the next shoe to drop:

"The next step of this panic could become the mother of all bank runs, i.e. a run on the trillion dollar plus of the cross border short-term interbank liabilities of the US banking and financial system as foreign banks as starting to worry about the safety of their liquid exposures to US financial institutions; such a silent cross border bank run has already started as foreign banks are worried about the solvency of US banks and are starting to reduce their exposure. And if this run accelerates - as it may now - a total meltdown of the US financial system could occur. We are thus now in a generalized panic mode and back to the risk of a systemic meltdown of the entire financial system. And US and foreign policy authorities seem to be clueless about what needs to be done next. Maybe they should today start with a coordinated 100 bps reduction in policy rates in all the major economies in the world to show that they are starting to seriously recognize and address this rapidly worsening financial crisis." (Nouriel Roubini's EconoMonitor)

We have no time for Paulson's self serving shenanigans. This is not how one goes about recapitalizing the banking system or bringing stability to the financial system. It's time to get rid of the lobbyists and banking vermin and bring in the economists and the people with real experience. Paulson's plan is loser. Not one dime should go to this latest Wall Street swindle. No bailout!

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Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 05:45 PM

Lipstick on a Bailout

Ron Paul
01/10/09 -"ICH" -- - This time last week, the biggest bailout in the history of the world seemed to be a fait accompli. Last weekend, the Fed Chairman and the Secretary of the Treasury had harsh words of doom and gloom for Congressional leaders, with the rest of the administration parroting along, and by last Monday it seemed both parties were about to fall in line and vote our Republic away by socializing the banking industry through this bailout.

Foolish business behavior was about to be rewarded, and propped up a little longer, the bubble blown a little bigger, and our coming Depression made that much greater, but then something happened on the way to the House floor.

Citizens made their voices heard.

The real story behind the story in Congress this week was the thousands of calls and emails sent to Representatives, clogging up inboxes and even slowing down the House internet system. Slowly, like the Titanic turning around, sentiments on the Hill shifted, and we heard Congressmen capitulating and changing their tune a little, desperately trying to find ways to salvage the bailout without completely enraging their constituencies.

Now we hear about taxpayer protections, about golden parachutes, and about other nuances that hardly cover up the fact that we would be creating more money out of thin air and further devaluing the dollar! The problem is not HOW the government is spending this money; it’s the fact that the government is spending this money. We don’t have it. We are already nearly $10 trillion in debt, not including unfunded liabilities. We already spend about $1 trillion a year we don’t have on our overseas empire. Now nearly $1 trillion more is somehow supposed to magically appear and solve all our problems! No – creating more money might delay the inevitable for some well-connected banks on Wall Street, but in a few weeks we will find ourselves right back in this same position, but much poorer.

The unfortunate thing is that we’ve already spent at least $700 billion on other bailouts that did not solve the problem. And while all this negotiation was taking place, the auto industry was quietly bailed out, with no controversy, no discussion, to the tune of $25 billion.

Inevitably, it appears Congress will call their constituents’ bluff and the bailout will pass, because that is the habit Wall Street and Washington have fallen into. People are right to be concerned about our financial future. I’ve been talking for 30 some years about reasons we need to be concerned and change our ways. We find ourselves now in a position of no good options, and no silver bullets. But the worst thing we can do is to compound our problems by intensifying the mistakes of the past. We do have tough economic times ahead, no doubt, no matter what we do, even if we do nothing. The question, is will we have the courage to take our medicine now and get it over with, or will we prolong the misery for many years to come? I’m less and less optimistic about the answer to that question.

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas

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Date tongue in cheek?


Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 06:00 PM

Government Assistance

Bailing Out The Oil Market

William Pentland

01/10/09 "Forbes" -- - 09.23.08, 11:35 AM ET -- While everyone knows the U.S. government is looking to bail Wall Street banks, few people realize that it's also bailing out speculative oil and commodities traders in the process, fueling a sharp rise in energy prices. Lehman Brothers (nyse: LEH - news - people ) and AIG (nyse: AIG - news - people ) held enormous trading positions in commodities markets. If those positions had been liquidated suddenly, the price of everything from wheat to oil would have collapsed. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the main regulator of U.S. commodity markets, allowed Wall Street's investment banks and trading companies to take control of massive positions in commodities markets called swaps held by Lehman Brothers and AIG.

The result: Oil prices spiked by a whopping $16 per barrel on Monday, the largest single-day rise in oil prices ever.

"If speculators were forced to liquidate their positions, oil would easily be $65 to $75 per barrel by the time the liquidation was complete," said Michael Masters, the founder of Atlanta-based hedge fund Masters Capital Management. Tuesday, oil was trading at $108.74 in midday trading in New York.

For all the talk of OPEC, the biggest threat to high oil prices in the short term might be the implosion of Morgan Stanley (nyse: MS - news - people ) or Goldman Sachs (nyse: GS - news - people ), which would trigger a massive number of low-priced oil-futures contracts to flood the market all at once in search of buyers to liquidate those contracts.

"If either of these entities were to collapse, we believe the downside for commodities would be tremendous as these companies unwind positions," Valerie Wood, president and owner of Energy Solutions, told Platts on Monday. "In particular, we know Goldman Sachs has large investments in crude oil and natural gas commodities because its own Goldman Sachs Commodity Index fund [comprises] about 39% crude oil commodities and about 6% natural gas commodities. A liquidation of GSCI shares would directly result in the selling of these commodities, and selling pushes prices lower."

Ironically, the biggest losers turned out to be the traders who bet that at least one of the victims from this month's financial chaos would be forced to liquidate a major long position in oil prices. When they avoided that fate, the race to unwind those bets that oil prices would fall before the end of the trading month caused a massive rally in oil prices.

The market meltdown has revealed the full extent of Wall Street's influence on commodities prices and, especially, their role in energy markets. More than $40 billion in cash has poured into commodity markets since the start of 2008, according to a report by Standard & Poor's. The total amount of investments in commodity indexes is estimated at between $150 billion and $270 billion. In other words, new investments in the market have climbed by 15% to 25% in less than a year.

In 2006, the U.S. Senate's Subcommittee for Permanent Investigations had already reported "there is substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that the large amount of speculation in the current market has significantly increased prices." The trouble is that so much of the trading happens in so-called "dark markets," unregulated over-the-counter electronic exchanges where trading companies buy and sell energy derivatives, that this role is hard to document.

Investment banks make money off commodities speculation, but are just conduits for hedge funds and institutional investors that have taken large positions in commodities markets as a long-term investment.

"The market dynamics induced more and more financial players to move into commodities markets," said Fadel Gheit, a senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. "It was a perfect storm. The Federal Reserve was cutting interest rates and people were running away from the dollar as it lost value. Hedge funds, pension funds and mutual funds started pumping money into commodities because they were the safest place and the safest of them all was crude oil. There were too many dollars chasing too few physical assets. That's the bottom line."

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Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 06:24 PM

Candidates, Media Wage War of Words, Ignoring Ongoing Attacks in Waziristan

Meg White

Submitted by meg on Wed,
10/01/2008 - 11:54am.

Cross-border raids really make strange bedfellows, don't they?

At the presidential debate last Friday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) said he would allow U.S. troops to cross Afghanistan's ill-defined border with Pakistan to fight insurgents who are attacking them from Pakistan.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admonished Obama for not understanding (this coming from the guy who recently referenced the non-existent Iraq/Pakistan border,) saying he would not support the cross-border attacks.

"You don't do that, you don't say that out loud," McCain said at the debate. "We have to get the cooperation of the Pakistani people."

Then, at a campaign stop in Philadelphia last weekend, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin stopped for a cheesesteak and a couple of questions. One customer asked whether she thought they ought to allow cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Waziristan, Pakistan, Palin said, "Absolutely, we should."

McCain said in a CNN interview Tuesday that his running mate's comments were mischaracterized by the media, an opinion that CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby finds serious fault with in an online article on the incident.

Whether Palin's comments were mischaracterized or not, and whether it's Obama's position or McCain's that is naïve about Pakistan and the nature of the insurgency in the border region of Waziristan, the media and the candidates are missing one, undeniable fact:

This is not a hypothetical question. The U.S. military has been waging cross-border attacks into Pakistan for months.

Activity in the border regions by the U.S.-led force in Afghanistan has increased since Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was elected this fall. He replaced a long-time ally of the U.S., Pervez Musharraf, who was disparaged as dictator-like by critics around the world and within his own country.

As early as June of this year, the newly-elected president of Pakistan accused the U.S. military of cross-border strikes that killed around one dozen of their soldiers. Though the Pentagon denied it at the time, the U.S. has since admitted crossing the Pakistani border with Afghanistan to fight insurgents. In fact, in July, President George W. Bush signed a secret order approving unannounced U.S. incursions into Pakistan for the purpose of fighting terrorists.

Shortly after the order was made public, Zardari said in his first major address as president that he would not tolerate foreign countries crossing Pakistani borders to attack insurgents.

U.S. military officials have confirmed that Pakistani and American troops exchanged fire in the border region last Thursday. As in the alleged incident this summer, though, Washington insisted that U.S. troops had stayed on the Afghan side of the border, while statements from Islamabad said they had crossed over.

On Wednesday, local security officials said a U.S. spy drone bombed a home in Waziristan. Reports of damages vary; anywhere from three to four people were reported killed and six to nine wounded. Prior to the bombing, one unnamed Pakistani official said Pashtun tribal leaders had been shooting at the drone.

Both former President Musharraf and current President Zardari have been criticized for not working hard enough to fight terrorists. It is widely thought that Osama bin Laden and other high-level terrorists are hiding in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama is taking a hard line against terrorists, saying he wants troops to be able to get bin Laden, even if the cave he's hiding in happens to be in Pakistan. McCain's negation seems almost opportunistically contrarian, opposing Obama merely because they are opponents. Which is why Palin must have been so confused. Palin knows the Bush Doctrine, whether she can articulate it or not, and she can see where chasing bin Laden to the gates of hell (much less to a country adjacent to Afghanistan) fits right in.

Whatever one's foreign policy bent, it's shocking that the corporate media hasn't put these two stories together. Jim Lehrer could have pushed the point at the debate, asking the two candidates whether they supported President Bush's actions in Pakistan, instead of framing the question like a hypothetical. The dozens of reporters writing woodenly about casualties in Waziristan need to talk to the political pundits covering the elections, and vice-versa.


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Submitted by codypup on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:59pm.
Nancy Pfotenhauer, a senior campaign strategist for Mr McCain, has asked for fewer questions than might be expected on foreign policy in the debate. Pointing out that Mr Biden – chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations – would have an advantage on such issues, she said that the clash should at least be evenly balanced with domestic concerns. “The moderators will have some questions to answer themselves if they do go so heavy [on] foreign policy.” SO THE DEBATE WILL NOW INCLUDE A TALENT SECTION, A SWIM SUIT COMPETITION, AND POSSIBLY A BAKE OFF
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Saundra Hummer
October 1st, 2008, 08:41 PM
. . . . . . .

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Wed, Oct. 01, 2008

No kitchen sink in bailout bill, but there's lots of other stuff

Tish Wells | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: October 01, 2008 05:25:48 PM

This is a list of the headings of major items in H.R. 1424, the Senate bail out bill. You can find the bill here.


Page 6 — Troubled Assets Relief Program

Page 15 — Financial stability oversight board

Page 25 — Foreclosure mitigation efforts

Page 27 — Assistance to homeowners

Page 30 — Executive compensation

Page 68 — Increase in the statutory limit on the Public Debt

Page 89 — Mark to mark accounting

Page 91 — Increase in the FDIC

Page 99 - 112 — Preferred stock - Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae

Page 113 - 180 — Energy - refrigerators

Page 181 - 234 — Transportation - bicycles,

Page 234 - 261 — Oil

Page 264 - 267 —AMT

Page 269 — Tax-free distributions from IRAs for charities

Page 270 — Extensions of business tax provisions for corporations

Page 275 — Cost recovery for certain improvements to retail space

Page 278 — Tax treament of certain payments to controlling exempt organizations

Page 279 — Rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

Page 280 — Mine rescue / mine safety

Page 281 — Qualified Zone Academy Bonds

Page 288 — Depreciation for business property on Indian Reservations

Page 280 — Railroad track maintenance

Page 290 — Motorsports racing track facility

Page 290 — Hurricane Katrina and Gulf opportunity zone

Page 293 — Enhanced charitable deductions for contributions of food inventory
Page 295 — Wool modifications

Page 296 — Permanent authority for undercover operations

Page 297 — Child tax credit

Page 298 — Motion pictures

Page 300 — Children and wooden arrows

Page 301 — Exxon Valdez

Page 307 — Farming business machinery

Page 310 — Mental Health Parity Act

Page 352 — Secure payments for states and counties containing Federal Land

Page 364 — Special Projects on federal land

Page 387 — County funds

Page 394 — Disaster relief

Page 442 — Spending reductions and appropriate revenue raisers for new tax relief policy

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/53339.html?mi_email=McClatchy%20Washington%20Burea u_DC+Newsletter
. . . . .

Saundra Hummer
October 2nd, 2008, 09:04 PM

What's in the Senate Financial Rescue Plan

By CNBC staff and wire reports

02/10/09 "CNBC" -- - The bailout bill approved late Wednesday by the Senate not only provides $700 billion for rescuing financial markets but extends billions more in tax breaks for renewable energy, businesses and middle class workers.

There's help for film and TV producers, motorsports and the wool trust fund. There's even a tax break for makers of wooden practice arrows for children.

The roughly $150 billion cost of the tax package is partially offset by some revenue raising measures, including one that would change the tax treatment of deferred compensation paid through offshore tax haven accounts.

The sweeteners were added by the Senate to help it get through the House, though some members are already grumbling about all the add-ons.

Here are some of the major provisions of the bill:
—The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp's current insurance limit on bank deposits would rise to $250,000 per account from $100,000. The FDIC also would receive temporary unlimited borrowing authority from the Treasury under the bill. The measure is intended to boost banking system confidence and could be well-received in wealthier Republican congressional districts.

—The Securities and Exchange Commission would get the authority to suspend "mark-to-market" accounting standards, which require companies to value assets at their current market value instead of their projected value. Wall Street firms have complained that the rule is impractical because it forces them to value billions of dollars of bad mortgage debt at "fire sale" prices.

—Millions of middle-class taxpayers would get a one-year delay from higher tax rates under the Alternative Minimum Tax. The issue comes up every year and temporary fixes routinely win broad support in Congress.

—The bill extends a provision allowing homeowners who do not itemize their taxes to take a deduction up to $1,000 for state and local property taxes.

—Extends a tax break for certain higher education expenses for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions.

—Includes a provision that would require insurance plans that offer mental health benefits to offer those benefits at the same level as medical-surgical benefits.

—Provides tax exempt private activity bonds for Texas, Louisiana and Midwestern states hit by natural disasters.

—Other tax benefits to those areas to help develop low income housing and help businesses.

—Extends the research and development tax credit through 2009.

—Provides $18 billion in tax breaks for clean energy by continuing production tax credits for wind and refined coal and allowing facilities that generate electricity from waves and tides to qualify. Also extends tax breaks for solar energy.

—Provides new tax credits for carbon capture and sequestration demonstration projects for advanced coal electricity generation.

—Creates a new category of tax credit bonds to finance state and local government initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

—Creates new tax credit of up to $7,500 for plug-in electric drive vehicles.

—Extends tax credit for biodiesel production through 2009.

—Extends tax credits for homeowners who update with energy efficient products. Energy efficient biomass fuel stoves for the first time would qualify for a $300 credit.

—The bill includes extension of favorable business tax provisions, such as tax credits related to new markets and research and development as well as the tax treatment of costs for retail and restaurant improvements.

—Exemption for excise taxes of certain wooden arrows designed for use by children.

—Tax break for Puerto Rican and Virgin Island rum producers.

—More favorable tax treatment of income from litigation over the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. The latter provision is aimed squarely at Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican who voted against the bill on Monday
Off to watch the debate.

Saundra Hummer
October 3rd, 2008, 02:25 AM
Her talking points, Sarah Palins, had been learned. Here she was again, hitting us with her well received GOP convention rhetoric, shucks, I'm just a mom from Alaska bit, her talking points filled with Maveric this and Maveric that, along with the much talked about fact that she was a mayor and a governor from such a huge state, a Washington outsider, with her patronizing us, and everyone listening, ad nauseum.

Her "expertise is energy", she would have us believe. How is that? What kind of expertise does one get in Alaska, other than having to know where the loading facilities, pipelines, and proposed pipe lines are to be built. Even knowing production rates doesn't make one an expert in energy. How does this make her an expert in this field? What kind of power grids are in Alaska? Where are the refineries to keep up and running for oil alone? How do the large power companies involve her? How does she keep herself informed on energy here in the United States, and around the globe? Let's hear from her on this, off the cuff, just off the top of her head, her own personal knowledge of what energy in this country is all about. Her actual thoughts, not after two weeks to over a month of cramming sessions.

Her "pointing the finger backwards" bit was a dirty shot, her big zinger for the night with her doing the Reagan "Well" bit to belittle Joe Biden. Shades of Ronald Reagan, her using his manerisms to draw everyone in, which you have to know, didn't work on me. Didn't when Ronnie used it either. Another irritant. It may have others, but it was a well planned and rehearsed ploy, as were most of her answers, along with her evasions. She didn't win my vote with such antics.

Have to admit, even though she was light on substance, and easily shown to be wrong in many instances, she did put on a good face and delivered her talking points rather well. Not an out of the park performance on facts, but a decent job of it. Same for Joe Biden, they both had their better moments but neither one did a bang up job of selling their candacy. Not all the time.

The format, though better than some, it's time restraints didn't allow for deep serious discussions. Still I give it to Joe as he had his facts down better I believe, and his manner of delivery wasn't irritating, or patronizing.

Fact Check.org will let me know who was right on, and who wasn't.

I have to think Joe Biden was holding back. It had to have taken an enormous amount of restraint on his part. He could have ripped into her, and chose not to.

His denial of John McCain's "Maveric" status was much needed and Sarah Palin opened up that door for Joe more than enough times. Glad Joe responded with the truth of the matter. It's about time someone called both of them on that description. It has long since left John McCain.

Saundra Hummer
October 3rd, 2008, 12:15 PM


FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate
October 3, 2008

The candidates were not 100 percent accurate. To say the least.

Biden and Palin debated, and both mangled some facts.

. Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned to “pre-surge” levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early next year, at least.
. Biden incorrectly said “John McCain voted the exact same way” as Obama on a controversial troop funding bill. The two were actually on opposite sides.

. Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount, but a family of four would not have been affected unless they made at least $90,000 a year.

. Biden wrongly claimed that McCain “voted the exact same way” as Obama on the budget bill that contained an increase on singles making as little as $42,000 a year. McCain voted against it. Biden was referring to an amendment that didn't address taxes at that income level.

. Palin claimed McCain’s health care plan would be “budget neutral,” costing the government nothing. Independent budget experts estimate McCain's plan would cost tens of billions each year, though details are too fuzzy to allow for exact estimates.

. Biden wrongly claimed that McCain had said "he wouldn't even sit down" with the government of Spain. Actually, McCain didn't reject a meeting, but simply refused to commit himself one way or the other during an interview.

. Palin wrongly claimed that “millions of small businesses” would see tax increases under Obama’s tax proposals. At most, several hundred thousand business owners would see increases.

For full details on these misstatements, and on additional factual disputes and dubious claims, please read on to the Analysis section.

Vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin met for their one and only debate Oct. 2 in St. Louis, Missouri. The event was broadcast nationally. Gwen Ifill of PBS was the debate moderator.

We noted the following:

Palin Trips Up on Troop Levels
Palin got her numbers wrong on troop levels when she said "and with the surge that has worked, we're now down to pre-surge numbers in Iraq."

The surge was announced in January 2007, at which point there were 132,000 troops in Iraq, according to the Brookings Institute Iraq Index. As of September 2008, that number was 146,000. President Bush recently announced that another 8,000 would be coming home by February of next year. But even then, there still would be 6,000 more troops in Iraq than there were when the surge began.

Biden Fudges on Troop Funding
Biden defended Obama's vote against a troop-funding bill, claiming that McCain voted "the exact same way."

Palin: Barack Obama voted against funding troops there after promising that he would not do so…He turned around under political pressure and he voted against funding the troops. ...

Biden: John McCain voted the exact same way. John McCain voted against funding the troops because of an amendment he voted against had a timeline in it to draw down American troops. And John said I'm not going to fund the troops if in fact there's a time line.

As we've pointed out before, the squabble refers to a pair of 2007 votes on war funding. Obama voted for a version of the bill that included language calling for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Biden is simply wrong to say that McCain voted against that bill; he was absent and didn’t vote at all. McCain did oppose the bill, and he urged President Bush to veto it. Bush did. Obama then voted against the same bill without withdrawal language. He had voted yes on at least 10 other war funding bills prior to that single 2007 no vote.

Palin's False Tax Claims
Palin repeated a false claim about Barack Obama's tax proposal:

Palin: Barack Obama even supported increasing taxes as late as last year for those families making only $42,000 a year. That's a lot of middle income average American families to increase taxes on them. I think that is the way to kill jobs and to continue to harm our economy.

Obama did not in fact vote to increase taxes on "families" making as little as $42,000 per year. What Obama actually voted for was a budget resolution that called for returning the 25 percent tax bracket to its pre-Bush tax cut level of 28 percent. That could have affected an individual with no children making as little as $42,000. But a couple would have had to earn $83,000 to be affected and a family of four at least $90,000. The resolution would not have raised taxes on its own, without additional legislation, and, as we've noted before, there is no such tax increase in Obama's tax plan. (The vote took place on March 14 of this year, not last year as Palin said.)

Palin also repeated the exaggeration that Obama voted 94 times to increase taxes. That number includes seven votes that would have lowered taxes for many, while raising them on corporations or affluent individuals; 23 votes that were against tax cuts; and 17 that came on just 7 different bills. She also claimed that Biden and Obama voted for "the largest tax increase in history." Palin is referring here to the Democrats' 2008 budget proposal, which would indeed have resulted in about $217 billion in higher taxes over two years. That's a significant increase. But measured as a percentage of the nation's economic output, or gross domestic product, the yardstick that most economists prefer, the 2008 budget proposal would have been the third-largest since 1968, and it's not even in the top 10 since 1940.

Biden's False Defense
Biden denied that Obama supported increasing taxes for families making $42,000 a year – but then falsely claimed that McCain had cast an identical vote.

Biden: Barack Obama did not vote to raise taxes. The vote she's referring to, John McCain voted the exact same way. It was a budget procedural vote. John McCain voted the same way. It did not raise taxes.

Biden was correct only to the extent that the resolution Obama supported would not by itself have increased taxes; it was a vote on a budget resolution that set revenue and spending targets. But he's wrong to say McCain voted the same way. The Obama campaign attempted to justify Biden's remark by pointing to a different vote, on a Senate amendment, that took place March 13. The amendment passed 99-1, with only Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold dissenting. It would have preserved some of Bush's tax cuts for lower-income people. The vote on the budget resolution in question, however, came in the wee hours of March 14 and was a mostly party-line tally, 51-44, with Obama in favor and McCain not voting.

Palin's Health Care Hooey
Palin claimed that McCain's health care plan would be "budget-neutral," costing the government nothing.

Palin: He's proposing a $5,000 tax credit for families so that they can get out there and they can purchase their own health care coverage. That's a smart thing to do. That's budget neutral. That doesn't cost the government anything ... a $5,000 health care credit through our income tax, that's budget neutral.

The McCain campaign hasn't released an estimate of how much the plan would cost, but independent experts contradict Palin's claim of a cost-free program.

The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that McCain's plan, which at its peak would cover 5 million of the uninsured, would increase the deficit by $1.3 trillion over 10 years. Obama's plan, which would cover 34 million of the uninsured, would cost $1.6 trillion over that time period.

The nonpartisan U.S. Budget Watch's fiscal voter guide estimates that McCain's tax credit would increase the deficit by somewhere between $288 billion to $364 billion by the year 2013, and that making employer health benefits taxable would bring in between $201 billion to $274 billion in revenue. That nets out to a shortfall of somewhere between $14 billion to $163 billion – for that year alone.

Palin also said that Obama’s plan would be "universal government run" health care and that health care would be "taken over by the feds." That's not the case at all. As we’ve said before, Obama’s plan would not replace or remove private insurance, or require people to enroll in a public plan. It would increase the offerings of publicly funded health care.

McCain in Spain?
Biden said that McCain had refused to meet with the government of Spain,
but McCain made no such definite statement.

Biden: The last point I'll make, John McCain said as recently as a couple of weeks ago he wouldn't even sit down with the government of Spain, a NATO ally that has troops in Afghanistan with us now. I find that incredible.

In a September 17 interview on Radio Caracol Miami, McCain appeared confused when asked whether he would meet with President Zapatero of Spain. He responded that "I would be willing to meet with those leaders who are our friends and want to work with us in a cooperative fashion," but then started talking about leaders in Latin America. He did not commit to meeting with Zapatero, but it wasn't clear he'd understood the question.

But the McCain campaign denied that their candidate was confused.
According to our colleagues at PolitiFact.com, campaign adviser Randy Scheunemann e-mailed CNN and the Washington Post the next day, saying that McCain's reluctance to commit to a meeting with Zapatero was a policy decision.

Scheunemann, September 2008: The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero — and id'd him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred. Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview.
That's not a refusal to meet with Zapatero, as Biden said. It's simply a refusal to commit himself one way or the other.

Palin's Small Business Balderdash
Palin repeated a falsehood that the McCain campaign has peddled, off and on, for some time:

Palin: But when you talk about Barack's plan to tax increase affecting only those making $250,000 a year or more, you're forgetting millions of small businesses that are going to fit into that category. So they're going to be the ones paying higher taxes thus resulting in fewer jobs being created and less productivity.

As we reported June 23, it's simply untrue that "millions" of small business owners will pay higher federal income taxes under Obama's proposal. According to an analysis by the independent Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, several hundred thousand small business owners, at most, would have incomes high enough to be affected by the higher rates on income, capital gains and dividends that Obama proposes. That counts as "small business owners" even those who merely have some sideline income from such endeavors as freelance writing, speaking or running rental properties, and who get the bulk of their income from employment elsewhere.

Defense Disagreements
Biden and Palin got into a tussle about military recommendations in Afghanistan:

Biden: The fact is that our commanding general in Afghanistan said today that a surge – the surge principles used in Iraq will not – well, let me say this again now – our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan, not Joe Biden, our commanding general in Afghanistan. He said we need more troops. We need government-building. We need to spend more money on the infrastructure in Afghanistan.

Palin: Well, first, McClellan did not say definitively the surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. Certainly, accounting for different conditions in that different country and conditions are certainly different. We have NATO allies helping us for one, and even the geographic differences are huge but the counterinsurgency principles could work in Afghanistan. McClellan didn't say anything opposite of that. The counterinsurgency strategy going into Afghanistan, clearing, holding, rebuilding, the civil society and the infrastructure can work in Afghanistan.

Point Biden. To start, Palin got newly appointed Gen. David D. McKiernan's name wrong when she called him McClellan. And, more important, Gen. McKiernan clearly did say that surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. As the Washington Post reported:

Washington Post: "The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge,' " McKiernan stressed, saying that what is required is a "sustained commitment" to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.
However, it is worth noting that McKiernan also said that Afghanistan would need an infusion of American troops "as quickly as possible."

Killing Afghan Civilians?
Palin said that Obama had accused American troops of doing nothing but killing civilians, a claim she called "reckless" and "untrue."

Palin: Now, Barack Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.

Obama did say that troops in Afghanistan were killing civilians. Here’s the whole quote, from a campaign stop in New Hampshire:

Obama (August 2007): We’ve got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.

The Associated Press fact-checked this one, and found that in fact U.S troops were killing more civilians at the time than insurgents: "As of Aug. 1, the AP count shows that while militants killed 231 civilians in attacks in 2007, Western forces killed 286. Another 20 were killed in crossfire that can’t be attributed to one party." Afghan President Hamid Karzai had expressed concern about these civilian killings, a concern President Bush said he shared.

Whether Obama said that this was "all we're doing" is debatable. He said that we need to have enough troops so that we're "not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians," but did not say that troops are doing nothing else.

Out of Context?
Biden claimed a comment he made about "clean coal" was taken out of context:

Biden: My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology. A comment made in a rope line was taken out of context. I was talking about exporting that technology to China so when they burn their dirty coal, it won't be as dirty, it will be clean.

Was it really taken out of context? Here’s the full exchange, which took place while Biden was shaking hands with voters along a rope line in Ohio.

Woman: Wind and solar are flourishing here in Ohio, why are you supporting clean coal?

Biden: We’re not supporting clean coal. Guess what? China’s building two every week, two dirty coal plants, and it’s polluting the United States. It’s causing people to die.

Obama-Biden campaign spokesman David Wade later said that “Biden’s point is that China is building coal plants with outdated technology every day, and the United States needs to lead by developing clean coal technologies.”

Whatever Biden meant or didn’t mean to say on the rope line, he has supported clean coal in the past. When the McCain camp used this one remark from Biden as the basis for a TV ad saying that Obama-Biden oppose clean coal, we said the claim was false. Obama’s position in favor of clean coal has been clear, and pushing for the technology has been part of his energy policy.

McCain in the Vanguard of Mortgage Reform?

Palin said that McCain had sounded the alarm on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago.

Palin: We need to look back, even two years ago, and we need to be appreciative of John McCain's call for reform with Fannie Mae, with Freddie Mac, with the mortgage-lenders, too, who were starting to really kind of rear that head of abuse.

Palin is referring to a bill that would have increased oversight on Fannie and Freddie. In our recent article about assigning blame for the crisis, we found that by the time McCain added his name to the bill as a cosponsor, the collapse was well underway. Home prices began falling only two months later. Our colleagues at PolitiFact also questioned this claim.

And There's More...
A few other misleads of note:

. Palin said, "We're circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign countries" for imported oil, repeating an outdated figure often used by McCain. At oil prices current as of Sept. 30, imports are running at a rate of about $493 billion per year.

. Biden claimed that McCain said in a magazine article that he wanted to deregulate the health care industry as the banking industry had been. That’s taking McCain’s words out of context. As we’ve said before, he was talking specifically about his proposal to allow the sale of health insurance across state lines.

. Biden said five times that McCain's tax plan would give oil companies a "$4 billion tax cut." As we’ve noted previously, McCain’s plan would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent — for ALL corporations, not just oil companies. Biden uses a Democratic think tank's estimate for what the rate change is worth to the five largest U.S. oil companies.

. Palin threw out an old canard when she criticized Obama for voting for the 2005 energy bill and said, “that’s what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks.” It’s a false attack Sen. Hillary Clinton used against Obama in the primary, and McCain himself has hurled. It’s true that the bill gave some tax breaks to oil companies, but it also took away others. And according to the Congressional Research Service, the bill created a slight net increase in taxes for the oil industry.

. Biden said that Iraq had an "$80 billion surplus." The country was once projected to have as much as a $79 billion surplus, but no more. The Iraqis have $29 billion in the bank, and could have $47 billion to $59 billion by the end of the year, as we noted when Obama used the incorrect figure. A $21 billion supplemental spending bill, passed by the Iraqi legislature in August, knocked down the old projection.

. Biden said four times that McCain had voted 20 times against funding alternative energy. However, in analyzing the Obama campaign's list of votes after the first presidential debate, we found the number was actually 11. In the other instances the Obama-Biden campaign cites, McCain voted not against alternative energy but against mandatory use of alternative energy, or he voted in favor of allowing exemptions from these mandates.

-by Brooks Jackson, Viveca Novak, Lori Robertson, Joe Miller, Jessica Henig and Justin Bank

Correction Oct. 3: In the summary of this story we originally referred to the "president" of Spain. Biden actually used the word "government" and we have corrected the reference.


Belasco, Amy. "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11." 14 July 2008. Congressional Research Service. Accessed 2 October 2008.

Pickler, Nedra. "Fact Check: Obama on Afghanistan." The Associated Press. 14 Aug. 2007.

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "Promises, Promises: A Fiscal Voter Guide to the 2008 Election." U.S. Budget Watch. 29 Aug. 2008.

Williams, Roberton and Howard Gleckman. "An Updated Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans." Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. 15 Sep. 2008.

"Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf." 2007. Energy Information Administration. 8 Aug. 2008.

Petroleum Basic Statistics. The Energy Information Administration, 3 Oct. 2008.

NPC Global Oil & Gas Study. “Topic Paper #7, Global Access to Oil and Gas,” 18 July 2007.

Clarke, David and Liriel Higa, "Blueprints Gain Narrow Adoption," Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 15 March 2008.

"Iraq Index," Brookings Iraq Index.

Baldor, Lolita C, "General: Urgent need for troops in Afghanistan now," Associated Press. 2 Oct 2008.

"Bush: 8,000 Troops Coming Home By Feb," CBS/AP. 9 Sept 2008.

Tyson, Ann Scott, "Commander in Afghanistan Wants More Troops," Washington Post. 2 Oct 2008.

Barnes, Julian N., "More U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan 'quickly,' general says," Los Angeles Times. 2 Oct 2008.

Table T08-0164 "Distribution of Tax Units with Business Income by Statutory Marginal Tax Rate, Assuming Extension and Indexation of the 2007 AMT Patch, 2009" Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, 20 May 2008.

Related Articles

FactChecking Debate No. 1
Facts muddled in Mississippi McCain-Obama meeting.
Who Caused the Economic Crisis?
MoveOn.org blames McCain advisers. He blames Obama and Democrats in Congress. Both are wrong.



. . . . . . . . . .




Dear Subscriber:

We have retracted a portion of our article, "FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate," and have posted the following correction:

Correction Oct 3: This article originally faulted Biden for saying that McCain had voted "the exact same way” as Obama on a controversial troop funding bill. We said that McCain was absent for the vote and so didn't vote at all. Biden was however correct.

McCain did vote against the troop-funding bill in question, H.R. 1591, on March 29, 2007, when it originally cleared the Senate. The vote to which we referred, and which McCain missed, was a later vote on the House-Senate compromise version of the same bill, on April 26, 2007. McCain opposed the bill, which Obama supported, because it contained language calling for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Biden was responding to Palin's accusation that "Obama voted against funding troops." Obama voted for the bill March 29 and April 26, then on May 24, 2007, following a veto by President Bush, Obama voted against a similar troop-funding bill, H.R. 2206, that lacked any withdrawal language.

Please accept our apology for our error.

-Brooks Jackson

Go on-site to gain access to the links within this email.

. . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
October 3rd, 2008, 12:37 PM
. . . . . . .

Rain Woman Palin -- I Bet She Knows that Waitress' Phone Number

Submitted by pmcarpenter on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 5:25am. P.M. Carpenter

P.M. CarpenterHi there, me here, and it was almost worse than expected there, doggone it. You betcha. (I'm just asking, I really don't know: Is it a common Alaskan colloquial habit to randomly add "here" and "there" -- also "also" -- to sentences?)

We're only a bit over 30 days into the governor's unexpected prance onto the national political stage, and already we're treated to the new, new Palin. Somewhere, Richard Nixon is turning admiringly.

Actually, make that the new, new, new Palin.

The first model was the programmed automaton of artificial intelligence, propped behind a podium. The second was the real thing, which quickly obviated her marketing department's further demonstrations. The third model -- October's model -- is a reprise of the first, which, although it now operates without a teleprompter, still requires batteries.

In other words, all we learned last night was that Sarah Palin is capable of memorizing note cards. OK. She can memorize note cards. I'll grant that. But just as one of Dustin Hoffman's film characters could memorize the New York City phone directory, he couldn't have begun to explain what the directory was actually for, or what the purpose of a phone number is.

It was, repeatedly, that critical second stage of questioning we were denied last night. And for that, credit goes to the McCain camp's debate negotiators. The affair was, in a sense, rigged, permitting Ms. Palin to reel off, every two minutes, another 90 seconds of saccharine, platitudinous pleonasm, and then mentally move on to filing through other note cards.

A typical example: "Let's commit ourselves -- just everyday American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation -- I think we need to band together and say, 'Never again.' Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars. We need to make sure that we demand from the federal government strict oversight of those entities in charge of our investments and our savings and we need also to not get ourselves in debt."

That, right then, was the logical time for Joe Biden to pause and ask: Just who are "those"? In what specific ways were "they" mismanaging our money? Hey, you brought it up, I'm just asking. What, for example, was leverage's role? Doesn't "debt" fuel this market economy? Wouldn't, let's say, Detroit completely fold without it? What are your thoughts on mortgage-backed securitizations? What was their role, which your boss more than once said was a good and helpful thing for our economy? How did that role evolve? Was it a mindful repudiation of New Deal regulation? -- that is, of the New Deal spirit of regulation, which has had to overcome conservatism's egregious forays into our lives, again and again? Why, oh why, Ms. Palin, did "those" conservatives in the federal government -- your conservatives -- do that to us? Why can't you people ever learn? And why is it we have to pay for your mistakes? Again and again?

Take your time. We'll wait.

But, as we learned, sadly, there was no time allotted for such follow-ups. Joe Biden, of course, could have fielded like questions, sans note cards. He could casually do it while showering, and probably does. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, would have frozen -- like a moose in the headlights, like Katie Couric's facial reactions to Sarah's stumblings, like today's credit markets.

To me, the most revealing and therefore tawdriest moment came within Palin's first few minutes, in which she proudly announced that she was not, in fact, going to answer any questions. "And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear" -- did she mean "that either the moderator or you want to ask"? -- "but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also." Translation: You're in for 90-second speeches often wholly unrelated to any matter before us. But hey, they're all I've got.

Their Pavlovian nature was, however, entertaining. I'll give them that much. Did she hear "Iran"? Ding-ding-ding. She's got an answer for ya, you betcha. Climate change? Ding-ding-ding. She's got another. Health care? Ding-ding-ding.

I don't know that I had ever witnessed such a mechanical hemorrhaging of conditioned behavior. I realize that these "debaters" must commit to memory and then hustle their talking points, but generally there's some independent knowledge behind that talk and beneath those points.

In short, they usually understand what they're saying, and, if pressed, can drill, baby, drill at least a little deeper. Palin's performance belied that capability -- and her forewarning about not answering questions only served to spotlight the shallowness.

She also served notice that we'd hear no more of a Sarah Palin unscripted: "I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they've just heard. I'd rather be able to just speak to the American people like we just did."

But just prior to that came eight little words that were, perhaps, regretfully unscripted -- and possibly haunting: "And I would like more opportunity for this."

Bingo. There's Sen Biden's post-debate mantra to dominate the 24-hour post-debate media cycle. Let's have another. Let's sit down, throw away the notes and take off the gloves and go at it again. Gov. Palin herself suggested another "opportunity" for just that. So let's do it.

And then watch the backpedaling.

Please respond to P.M.'s commentary by leaving comments below and sharing them with the BuzzFlash community. For personal questions or comments you can contact him at fifthcolumnistmail@gmail.com


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Sara Palin agreed to debate
Submitted by sulphurdunn on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 10:09am.
Sara Palin agreed to debate rules prior to last night's debacle. The agreement was that the moderator would ask questions and she would answer them. When she stated her refusal to do that, and then began delivering stump speech talking points, the moderator should have gaveled her down. Her failure to do that leads me to conclude that this whole so-called debate was nothing but a cynically disguised platform for Sara Palin to polish her image.
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Sara Palin agreed to debate
Submitted by sulphurdunn on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 9:54am.
Sara Palin agreed to debate rules prior to last night's debacle. The agreement was that the moderator would ask questions and she would answer them. When she stated her refusal to do that, and then began delivering stump speech talking points, the moderator should have gaveled her down. Her failure to do that leads me to conclude that this whole so-called debate was nothing but a cynically disguised platform for Sara Palin to polish her image.
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Low Expectations
Submitted by Jess Wundrun on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 9:38am.
The headlines all read that she exceeded expectations. Yes, she did. Only because expectations were that she'd puke on herself, pass out or go to blue screen mode. I think Bush said it: 'the soft bigotry of low expectations'. Well, America you've now set your expectations about as low as you possibly can. Now all that's left is to ask what the hell happened to us.
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Palin's Delivery
Submitted by neoconned on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 8:51am.
As I was watching the "debate" last night, I was suddenly struck by the idea that something was very familiar. Then it came to me. Palin's media experience was gaining her a visual advantage.

Looking into the camera (as she was trained when she reported sports) "connects" her to the viewers, and her visage and confident dispensing of vapid verbiage makes her appear to know what she's talking about. Few will read the debate transcript to verify that she still doesn't know much, but they will report that she did because their lyin' eyes told them so.

Another famous Republican did this - Ronald Reagan. His delivery covered a multitude of linguistic shortcomings, and so does Palin's. Still, some 40% of the people are of the opinion that her empty positions are worthy of support. It would serve them right if McCain-Palin won.

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Lots of water, no substance.
Submitted by Malgoska on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 8:21am.
As I've listened to Palin blathering her head off while "answering" questions - I realized that after we put those answers through a dehydrator and evaporate all the unnecessary words, there will be very little left to listen to, if anything at all.

Palin can take a one word answer, for example "yes", and she can water it down with a 55 gallons of confusing saliva. She will totally omit the "yes" in the process. The saliva will be flowing freely for 5 minutes. Finally she will be out of breath "answering" - but there still will be NO answer to a simple question. Only lots of water.

If American sheeple think that if they don't understand someone, that someone must be smart; then if they vote for McPalin ticket, they receive all that they richly deserve.

Can we please vote for someone else and secede?

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The spin is disgusting
Submitted by Popozuda on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 8:00am.
Mechanical hemorrhaging of conditioned behavior. Well put. That's all it was. She didn't answer questions! The worst part is the spin and the pundits saying that she performed well! Give me a break! I'm scared to get too hopeful and say we got this thing(the election). But it certainly looks that way. What do you want to bet there's gonna be some terror coming our way before Nov!
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Submitted by waltercito on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 6:32am.
The overall impression I took from the "debate?" It was more like a debacle (if you accept the general definition of the term "debate"); apparently, the premptive strike against Gwen Ifill by the McSame campaign was effective; not once did she interrupt Palin's programmed diversions with, "I'm sorry, Governor; with all due respect, please repond to the question and refrain from simply repeating your stump speech." My Colombian wife - still adjusting to US politics after 5 years here - jumped up, threw up her hands, saying "This isn't a debate! It's a joke! What's wrong with that lady (Ifill)? Why doesn't she do her job?," and went to bed. The whole process was disgusting to me.
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Not a debate
Submitted by Gregory Lynn Kruse on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 11:20am.
I agree with you. This was not a debate. A debate allows two people who disagree about something to argue until one or the other wins the argument. If one wins most of the arguments, they win the debate. Ifil was obviously affected by the propaganda from the McCain campaign about her book and possible favoritism of Biden. Moderate, don't pander!
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. . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
October 3rd, 2008, 01:43 PM
. . . . . . .


October 3, 2008 by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ali Frick, and Ryan Powers


Palin's Debate With The Facts
Last night's match-up between Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) was one "most highly anticipated vice-presidential debates in history." The event at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, capped off one of Palin's most high-profile weeks, in which she completed a series of interviews with CBS's Katie Couric and various right-wing radio hosts. The picture that emerged was of a candidate struggling to grasp complex issues outside of her narrow right-wing worldview. At times, her positions not only went against what the majority of the American public believes, but also against scientific facts. Even conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer admitted after yesterday's debate that he "wasn't impressed by the depth of her answers or the breadth of her knowledge." Palin kept repeating that she wanted to move away from the past and look ahead, but at no point was she able to demonstrate how, going forward, a McCain-Palin administration would be anything but a third Bush term.

ECONOMIC CLUELESNESS: As Congress is in the middle of approving a $700 billion financial bailout, yesterday's debate appropriately kicked off with a discussion of economic issues. Palin repeatedly stressed the reform that she and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) would bring to the government. "Now, John McCain thankfully has been one representing reform," Palin said. "Two years ago, remember, it was John McCain who pushed so hard with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform measures. He sounded that warning bell." This claim, however, is an exaggeration. This morning, NPR fact-checked Palin's claim and found that in 2005, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) was actually the one who led the effort to tighten regulations. NPR said that the only piece they could find from McCain was a press release co-sponsoring Hagel's measure. Additionally, in an interview in November 2007, McCain admitted that he was clueless about the economic mess: "So, I'd like to tell you that I did anticipate it, but I have to give you straight talk, I did not." In an interview that aired on Sept. 24, Couric pressed Palin to name "specific examples" of McCain pushing for more regulation. Palin failed, however, and simply replied, "I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you." Palin was similarly confused and overwhelmed by her memorized talking points in a CBS interview that aired the next day, when she inexplicably claimed that the bailout is needed to "help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy," a position that no experts have taken.

DANGEROUS DECLARATIONS: Yesterday, Palin aggressively criticized anyone advocating withdrawal from Iraq, even though it is a position held by the majority of the American public. Palin claimed that a timeline for redeployment -- now also embraced by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki -- would be "a white flag of surrender." Of course, Palin failed to note that before adopting the talking points of the McCain campaign, she held a similar view. In March 2007, Palin told the Alaska Business Monthly, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. ... [W]hile I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place." Last night and during her CBS interviews, Palin made repeated references to "victory" and "winning" in Iraq while also praising Gen. David Petraeus. Petraeus, however, has disavowed such terms, wanting to avoid "premature declarations of success." The McCain campaign continues to tout Palin as a foreign policy expert. This week on NPR, McCain claimed that he has "turned to her advice many times in the past" on these issues. Defending the claim that Alaska's proximity to Russia constitutes national security experience, the campaign told CBS News this week that "Russian incursions...inside the air defense identification zone have occurred." However, a spokesman for the Alaska region of the North American Aerospace Defense Command has confirmed that "no Russian military planes have been flying even into that zone" during Palin's tenure.

EMBRACING DARTH VADER: In yesterday's debate, Biden called Dick Cheney "one of the most dangerous vice presidents" in history. Palin, however, had a very different view of "Darth Vader." "I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate," she said in last night's debate. Palin also stuck up for Cheney's claim that he's not part of the executive branch, saying that the Constitution allowed for "flexibility there in the office of the vice president." When asked what Cheney's biggest mistake has been while in office, Palin refused to name any of his official actions to Couric. "Worst thing, I guess that would have been the duck hunting accident, where you know, that was an accident," she said. "And that I think that was made into a caricature of him." Trying to paint herself as a reformer, Palin bragged that as governor, she has appointed people "regardless of party." However, high school affiliation has been very important. As the New York Times noted, "The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government." Palin has appointed her former junior high band-mate, among others.

ECONOMY -- NATIONAL DEBT HITS A 50-YEAR HIGH: Six years after Vice-President Cheney said that "defics don't matter" in a meeting with the Bush administration's economic team, the national debt has exceeded $10 trillion dollars. This is the highest dollar amount ever, and pushes the debt to 69 percent of the gross domestic product, the highest percentage since 1955. When Bush took office, "the national debt stood at $5.727 trillion," and in eight years there has been an increase of over 70 percent, which is the largest increase in the debt of any president in history. The Center for Budget Policy and Priorities attributes 42 percent of the "fiscal deterioration" under Bush solely to his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. The fiscal year 2009 budget also has a near-record deficit of $407 billion, which was calculated before the administration spent $900 billion rescuing troubled financial institutions and proposed a $700 billion economic bailout. One facet of the economic bailout bill that passed the Senate and is being voted on in the House today increases the federal debt ceiling -- the amount to which the debt is legally allowed to go -- to $11.3 trillion.

CIVIL RIGHTS -- VON SPAKOVSKY CLAIMS OBAMA WOULD HAVE A 'PARTISAN AND POLITICALLY-BIASED' JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: In May, controversial former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky withdrew his name from consideration for the Federal Election Commission, following months of opposition from lawmakers and civil rights groups. Since then, Spakovsky has busied himself by writing opinion pieces for conservative news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and National Review. In an article for the right-wing Human Events yesterday, Spakovsky criticized efforts by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to get attack ads by the American Issues Project off of TV, saying that the "actions should cause every American to ask, can Obama be trusted with the powers of the Justice Department." Spakovsky claimed that the Justice Department under Obama would be "partisan and politically-biased." Spakovsky's complaints are ironic given that six of his former Justice Department colleagues wrote to the Senate Rules Committee in June 2007, to say that he "injected partisan political factors into decision-making" when he ran the Voting Section of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division. Critics said Spakovsky used every opportunity "to make it difficult for voters -- poor, minority and Democratic -- to go to the polls," including pushing through Texas re-districting that violated the Voting Rights Act.

MILITARY -- U.S. MILITARY SPENDING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS TO LURE NEW RECRUITS: According to data recently obtained by the Associated Press, "the Army and Marine Corps doled out nearly $640 million in the fiscal year that ended Tuesday to entice recruits to join up." Enlistment bonuses have run as high as $40,000 and "[a]ll told, the enlistment incentives coupled with the promise of thousands more for education, increased the costs of Army and Marine bonuses by 25 percent over last year's totals." The incentives played a major role in helping all branches of the U.S. armed forces meet recruiting goals for the year. The active-duty Army also boosted its recruitment numbers by "a new program that allows the Guard to bring in recruits, and then allow them to switch to the active Army for a few years before returning to the Guard." However, the Army has also lowered standards for new recruits, accepting more high school drop-outs and those with felonies, misdemeanors, and a history of drug and alcohol abuse. A RAND study found that having fewer "high-quality" recruits not only hurts military performance, it is also costly.

At least eight lawmakers who voted against bailout legislation earlier this week "now say they would support the measure." "Four others say they may switch their ballots before the House votes again, at about 12:30 p.m. today on the bill, which failed by a dozen votes on Sept. 29." Additionally, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) says "he's talked to some lawmakers he didn't name who've agreed to change their votes."

The Pentagon "will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to 'engage and inspire' the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government." Contracts are part of the U.S. military's "information/psychological operations" in Iraq for the future.

According to data obtained by the AP, "the Army and Marine Corps doled out nearly $640 million" to entice recruits in the fiscal year. Recruits were buoyed by incentives that can be as high as $40,000 each, which in total, "increased the costs of Army and Marine bonuses by 25 percent over last year."

Yesterday, an Alaska judge "refused to block a state investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power when she fired her public safety commissioner this summer" and "denied the Alaska attorney general's challenge of legislative subpoenas." Chief legislative investigator Steve Branchflower, is scheduled to present his report on Palin in one week.

Yesterday, a federal judge refused to dismiss charges against Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). The judge explained that while "prosecutors had violated a rule requiring the sharing of exculpatory evidence," that he was "'not persuaded' that the violations were serious enough to declare a mistrial."

Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) is seeking a 10th term in the U.S. House this Saturday "even though he was indicted last year on multiple federal corruption and bribery charges and is preparing to stand trial in December."

And finally: Bill O'Reilly flipped out and did it live last night. The vituperative Fox host screamed and cursed at Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), hurling all sorts of personal insults and name-calling in his direction. Frank told O'Reilly his "stupidity gets in the way of rational discussion." Watch O'Reilly's screed here [Go on-site to gain access to links, there are several in this newsletter.]. "Be sure to strap on your helmet and elbow pads before watching this one," says the Swamp.

"Congress has given final approval to a bill that could nearly double Amtrak’s annual subsidy, which in recent years has been just over $1 billion, and that would require new safety equipment on rail lines around the country."

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger warns Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that the state might need a federal bailout of as much as $7 billion.

ENERGY: "Kansas mayor wins prize for dressing in blackface drag: 'All this PC is bullsh*t.'"

ECONOMY: State workers face a bleak budget picture

THINK PROGRESS: Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) defends vote for bailout, but admits it's "not necessarily the best proposal."

Representatives announce legislative principles to "save the planet from calamitous global warming."

YGLESIAS: PBS's Gwen Ifill "didn't ask any follow-ups or challenge either candidate to address the questions she was asking last night's debate.

VALLEY WAG: Right-wing group boycotts Google for supporting gay marriage in California.


"I do not complain about the media."
-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), 10/2/08

"I love to bash the media all the time."
-- McCain, 10/2/08

* * * * * * *

The research team that brings you The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org needs fall interns! Click here for more information.




The links are numerous, and informative. Have to be funny as well with that jerk O'Reilly doing his hysterical woman act. Constraint isn't his strong suite now is it? SRH
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
October 3rd, 2008, 02:27 PM
the call
Weekly hits, bits and buzz from the Credo Community

October 3, 2008
a voting machine that works
CREDO has come up with an electronic voting machine that truly delivers results: your computer. Our online voter-registration technology has already helped over 1.75 million people. Want to give it a try? It only takes a couple of minutes. Just go to credomobile.com/registertovote, fill out the form, print, sign, stamp and mail it in. Remember, voter registration deadlines for some states are as early at Oct. 6. Or, if you're already registered, tell others about the site. With your help, we can deliver the result we all want on November 4: a free, fair and popular

what's going on
what we're doing:
Attending Green Festival™. A joint project of Global Exchange and Co-op America, Green Festival™ brings together 125 renowned authors, leaders and educators, 350 eco-friendly businesses, workshops, live music, and organic vegetarian cuisine — all in an effort to educate attendants on socially, economically and environmentally sustainable lifestyles. Check it out in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Denver or Chicago in the coming months: www.greenfestivals.org/

— Diane S., CREDO Action member

what we're watching:
Republican Right's War on Science. What does religious fundamentalism have to do with the economy? More than you might think. Watch as Laura Flanders of GritTV and her guest panelists discuss the strong connection between religion, the environment, the free market and American politics, particularly in light of the current financial crisis and upcoming presidential election. lauraflanders.firedoglake.com/2008/09/25/can-we-afford-the-republican-rights-war-on-science/

— Mark F., CREDO Mobile member

what we're reading:
"Can rubber ducks help track a melting glacier?" They're cute, they're fun, and they're not just for bath time anymore. U.S. rocket scientist Alberto Behar deployed 90 rubber ducks, each labeled with an e-mail address and placed onto Greenland's glacial ice. If someone comes across a floating duck and reports the discovery to the e-mail address, it will tell scientists where the glaciers and melting ice travel during the summer. Ernie would be proud. www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE48M12B20080923

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. . .

Saundra Hummer
October 3rd, 2008, 06:58 PM
. . . . .


A DCCC.org James Carville newsletter to me, about a Fundraiser.
An Excerpt from it on Sarah Palin.

Dear Saundra R.,

Joe Biden said it best last night when he called Dick Cheney "the most dangerous Vice President we've had in American history."

But how's this for outrageous? Last night Sarah Palin upped the ante by saying she'd try to amass even more power than Dick Cheney if she gets that chance. If we let that happen, then we'll soon be calling Dick Cheney the second-most dangerous Vice President in history.
. . . . .
It not only seems money needs to be raised to win these races, but we need a grass roots movement to overhaul how it is the supreme court is selected, and then, in how it can act. They stole an election and our country has never been the same. How was this even close to being legal? Due to a stacked court playing favorites? How was this allowed and not challanged to the high heavens?

It's true that we as a country need to have protections in place to prevent another Cheney or Bush type from running out to the ash heap of history with all we stand for. Our Constituition is in grave danger. We need and crave the protections and laws within our Constitution, we prayed that they be held to. That wonderful document that has worked so wonderfully all these long years was trampled on by the Cheney/Bush administration, not just a few times here and there, but over and over.

Our Constitution is what made us the country we once were. It's what the Cheney/Bush gang refers to as just a "God damn piece of paper."

Our Constitution has held us in good sway for all these years. Once we let those in power take the right to chose what it was they would follow in it, and what they would ignore, we for the most part, complacently let our country's leaders downgrade themselves to nothing more than has beens (albeit wealthy ones), with no moral authority whatsoever. They left us in their dust and we feel the shame just the same. In actuality, they have acted as criminals, and have done so with impunity. Shame on those who let it all come about.

Make sure that no one ever again usurps the powers invested in us by this grand old document. It need never happen again, as we are the power behind it's words. We hold it within our own selves; it's not in anyone, not in men like Cheney and Bush who do and would illegally hold office; it's not in those who don't have the country as a wholes' best interest at heart; had they had a belief in country and a conscience, a stolen election wouldn't have worked, they would have turned it down. However, we know as fact, morality is lost on them. SRH

. . .

Saundra Hummer
October 3rd, 2008, 08:29 PM
. . . . . . . . . .




Dear Subscriber:

We have retracted a portion of our article, "FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate," and have posted the following correction:

Correction Oct 3: This article originally faulted Biden for saying that McCain had voted "the exact same way” as Obama on a controversial troop funding bill. We said that McCain was absent for the vote and so didn't vote at all. Biden was however correct.

McCain did vote against the troop-funding bill in question, H.R. 1591, on March 29, 2007, when it originally cleared the Senate. The vote to which we referred, and which McCain missed, was a later vote on the House-Senate compromise version of the same bill, on April 26, 2007. McCain opposed the bill, which Obama supported, because it contained language calling for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Biden was responding to Palin's accusation that "Obama voted against funding troops." Obama voted for the bill March 29 and April 26, then on May 24, 2007, following a veto by President Bush, Obama voted against a similar troop-funding bill, H.R. 2206, that lacked any withdrawal language.

Please accept our apology for our error.

-Brooks Jackson

Go on-site to gain access to the links within this email.

. . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
October 4th, 2008, 11:59 AM

Palin Challenges McCain on Michigan

SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 3) - Sarah Palin questioned Republican presidential candidate John McCain's decision to abandon efforts to win Michigan, a campaign move she only learned about Friday morning when she read it in the newspapers.
In an interview with Fox News Channel Friday, the Alaska governor said she was disappointed that the McCain campaign decided to stop competing in Michigan. In an indication that the vice presidential candidate had not been part of the decision, she said she had "read that this morning and I fired off a quick e-mail" questioning the move.

McCain-Palin PhotosAP500 photos GO on-site to gain access to them and the chart of red and blue states and the candidates standings in them.
Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signs a few autographs as she leaves Landmark Aviation at San Antonio International Airport. Oct. 3, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Tom Reel) ** MAGS OUT, NO SALES, SAN ANTONIO OUT **(Note:
McCain and Palin Photos
** FILE ** In this Sept. 16, 2007, file photo Tina Fey is seen in Los Angeles. Fey, already the busiest of stars thanks to her Emmy-winning role in "30 Rock" and definitive impersonation of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is working on a book. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signs a few autographs as she leaves Landmark Aviation at San Antonio International Airport. Oct. 3, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Tom Reel) ** MAGS OUT, NO SALES, SAN ANTONIO OUT **
APTexas Gov. Rick Perry directs Willow Palin who is carrying infant Trig Palin to vehicles as Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, arrives at Landmark Aviation at San Antonio International Airport. Oct. 3, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Tom Reel) ** MAGS OUT, NO SALES, SAN ANTONIO OUT **
Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signs some hats as she leaves Landmark Aviation at San Antonio International Airport at San Antonio International Airport. Oct. 3, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Tom Reel) ** MAGS OUT, NO SALES, SAN ANTONIO OUT **
APRepublican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, walks ahead of her husband, Todd Palin, before boarding her campaign plane at Love Field in Dallas, Friday, Oct. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reach out to shake his hand at the conclusion of a town hall style campaign stop in Pueblo, Colo. Friday, Oct. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) delivers a statement on the tarmac in Flagstaff, Arizona October 3, 2008 about the passage of the Wall Street bailout bill. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)

Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, center, talks with her daughter Piper and her husband, Todd Palin before boarding the campaign plane to leave Dallas, Friday, Oct. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

A fire fighter shows his support for Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, before she departed Love Field in Dallas, Friday, Oct. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks about the House passage of the economic rescue bill after landing in Flagstaff, Ariz. Friday, Oct. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
*"Todd and I, we'd be happy to get to Michigan and walk through those plants of the car manufacturers," Palin said, referring to her husband. "We'd be so happy to get to speak to the people in Michigan who are hurting because the economy is hurting."

Palin acknowledged the GOP ticket's lackluster poll ratings in the state, but said: "I want to get back to Michigan and I want to try."

Word of the McCain campaign's decision to move staff out of Michigan and stop advertising in the state broke around midday Thursday — the same day as Palin's vice presidential debate against Democrat Joe Biden. The campaign had decided Wednesday night that the $1 million a week it was spending in Michigan wasn't worth it with internal polls showing Democratic nominee Barack Obama approaching a double-digit lead.

On Friday, Palin sought to re-establish herself as an asset for Republican John McCain's struggling presidential candidacy, branding their Democratic rivals as liberals not ready to lead in a time of crisis.

Fresh off an upbeat debate performance, Palin told a ballroom full of $1,000 donors in Dallas that McCain advisers warned her that Biden was "a skilled debater."

"Now I know what they meant," she said. "He did his best to convince us that the two most liberal members of the Senate belong in the White House. But that was a tough sell, and especially in a time of crisis for our country."
The Alaska governor's fiesty tone came as she eased back into the campaign trail. She attended two fundraisers Friday in Texas and also meet privately with Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens to discuss energy policy. Pickens, once a major Republican Party donor, is sitting out this campaign to promote a plan to expand wind power.

As a governor of Alaska, Palin has dealt with a variety of oil and gas issues. She told the Dallas donors that as vice president, "one issue I will be leading is energy independence."

The campaign has planned a series of rallies for Palin in other battlegrounds. Among the stops scheduled for the days ahead are Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. She will also be in California this weekend for a fundraiser and rally.

Based on the schedule, the campaign appears to be relying on Palin to invigorate Republican voters in Colorado and North Carolina, states that have reliably voted Republican in past presidential elections. Obama leads in polls in Florida and Pennsylvania.

Palin is hitting the road after being sequestered for three days of debate preparation at McCain's Sedona, Ariz., compound and after interviews with ABC and CBS where she stumbled over foreign and domestic policy issues.
Palin told Fox News that she would spend more time speaking to reporters, a switch from the tightly managed media relations during the past month.
"I look forward to speaking to the media more and more every day and providing whatever access the media would want," Palin said.

Palin said she had been "annoyed" in her interviews with CBS News anchor Katie Couric and had been caught off guard when asked what newspapers and magazines she read and to name Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with — questions Palin appeared not to be able to answer.

Her responses, Palin said, were "an indication of being outside that Washington elite, outside of the media elite also."
But Palin held her own in the debate with Biden, displaying facility with some issues such as energy and comfort as an advocate for McCain and as a hard-hitting critic of Obama.

Later, in San Antonio, she let on that she was breathing a little easier now.
"Last night was fun, the debate," she told donors at the Marriott Rivercenter. "I was glad it was over when it ended."

Associated Press writer Beth Fouhy in New York contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.


Saundra Hummer
October 4th, 2008, 12:42 PM

Biden Wins Debate As Palin Avoids Answering Questions

POSTED: Friday, October 03, 2008

FROM BLOG: Liberal Values - Defending Liberty and Enlightened Thought

The following blog post is from an independent writer and is not connected with Reuters News. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not endorsed by Reuters.com.
The second debate resulted in another win for the Obama/Biden ticket but it will probably not have much effect on the race. The major accomplishment of this debate was to put an end to the idea that to beat expectations is to win. Sarah Palin did beat expectations, thanks to a combination of extremely low expectations and the lack of follow up questions, but still lost the debate.

The preliminary poll results show a win for Biden. CNN found that Biden won 51% to 36%. CBS News found that among independents Biden won 46% to 21%. Both candidates improved their overall opinion among those responding. Media Curves showed independents thought Biden won 69% to 31%.

As predicted before the debate Palin spend most of the evening avoiding answering questions and therefore avoided winding up in the position of obviously not knowing an answer as occurred in her recent interviews. This tactic helped in terms of allowing her to beat expectations but failed to help win the debate for two reasons. First, while it is common for politicians to avoid answering some questions, she did this to the point of absurdity so that most viewers would notice. Secondly, in the event that some viewers might not notice, she even announced her intentions, saying early in the debate, “And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.”

During the debate the American people might have had some interest in her track record, but they did expect her to answer some questions.

Biden won a number of key points. Palin repeated the same lies which have been debunked numerous times before regarding Obama’s record on taxes, such as the claim that Obama had voted to increase taxes 94 times. This number is calculated by counting a wide variety of measures as a tax increase, and someone in the Obama/Biden campaign realized that it was inevitable that McCain, having been in Congress longer, would have voted for even more tax increases than Obama using their logic. Biden responded to Palin’s attack by responding that, “using the standard that the governor uses, John McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes.” Biden made an error on the specifics of his defense of the claim that Obama voted to increase taxes on those earning $42,000 a year, but this claim has previously been debunked. More importantly, Obama’s tax plan would give a far larger tax cut to such individuals than McCain’s.

Biden also had a strong answer to cut through Palin’s strategy on global warming (which was my immediate reaction the first time I heard an argument from Palin along these lines). Palin has been trying to downplay her denial of the scientific consensus on the human role in global warming with evasions such as, “I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?” Biden easily showed the weakness of her approach in arguing, “If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade.”

As would be expected, Biden was especially strong on foreign policy. While Palin tried various strategies to obfuscate the issue, Biden cut through her distortions on Iraq with a clear statement of how Obama and McCain differed on the war:
this is a fundamental difference between us, we’ll end this war. For John McCain, there’s no end in sight to end this war, fundamental difference. We will end this war.

Biden also showed that John McCain has been wrong on the Iraq war and responded to accusations that Obama had voted to cut off funding to the troops:

John McCain voted to cut off funding for the troops. Let me say that again. John McCain voted against an amendment containing $1 billion, $600 million that I had gotten to get MRAPS, those things that are protecting the governor’s son and pray god my son and a lot of other sons and daughters.

He voted against it. He voted against funding because he said the amendment had a time line in it to end this war. He didn’t like that. But let’s get straight who has been right and wrong. John McCain and Dick Cheney said while I was saying we would not be greeted as liberators, we would not - this war would take a decade and not a day, not a week and not six months, we would not be out of there quickly. John McCain was saying the Sunnis and Shias got along with each other without reading the history of the last 700 years. John McCain said there would be enough oil to pay for this. John McCain has been dead wrong. I love him. As my mother would say, god love him, but he’s been dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war. Barack Obama has been right. There are the facts.

Biden responded to the attacks on Obama for supporting negotiations with enemies without preconditions, noting that our allies and five secretaries of state have supported this idea. He contrasted this with the policies of George Bush and the view of John McCain:

John McCain said as recently as a couple of weeks ago he wouldn’t even sit down with the government of Spain, a NATO ally that has troops in Afghanistan with us now. I find that incredible.

Palin was desperate to keep Biden from comparing McCain’s policies to those of George Bush, accusing him of “Just looking backwards, Senator?” This is an especially weak argument, showing the danger of how Palin and McCain would repeat the same mistakes of the past by failing to pay attention to history.

Palin tried to turn her outsider status into an advantage, but this is difficult when John McCain is heading the ticket. At one point Palin said, “I think we need a little bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street there, brought to Washington, D.C.” Does she mean bring the reality of the metamphetamine capital of Alaska to Washington, D.C.? The idea that “reality from Wasilla Main Street” is any substitute for actual knowledge of the issues contributed to Palin’s defeat in the debate.

Palin appeared to be following Dick Cheney in seeing the vice presidency as being outside the Executive Branch and in seeking more power for the position:
IFILL: Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?
PALIN: Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president’s agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.

I doubt that John McCain would give Sarah Palin much authority at all should they be elected. In any event, it would be safer for them politically if voters did not see Palin as having much power. Palin’s comparisons to Dick Cheney are especially unwise as many people would agree with Joe Biden that “Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history.” Their views on Dick Cheney was also the topic of an interview quesiton with Katie Couric which was released today.

Despite this comparison with Cheney, Palin generally tried to separate McCain from the failures of Republican rule by repeatedly bringing up the maverick line. Biden finally had enough of this and responded with his best statement of the night:
Look, the maverick — let’s talk about the maverick John McCain is. And, again, I love him. He’s been a maverick on some issues, but he has been no maverick on the things that matter to people’s lives.

He voted four out of five times for George Bush’s budget, which put us a half a trillion dollars in debt this year and over $3 trillion in debt since he’s got there.

He has not been a maverick in providing health care for people. He has voted against — he voted including another 3.6 million children in coverage of the existing health care plan, when he voted in the United States Senate.

He’s not been a maverick when it comes to education. He has not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college.

He’s not been a maverick on the war. He’s not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around their kitchen table.

Can we send — can we get Mom’s MRI? Can we send Mary back to school next semester? We can’t — we can’t make it. How are we going to heat the — heat the house this winter?

He voted against even providing for what they call LIHEAP, for assistance to people, with oil prices going through the roof in the winter.

So maverick he is not on the important, critical issues that affect people at that kitchen table.

As I wrote earlier, the only way Sarah Palin is a maverick is in her approach to the debate.

These debates often include a question where a candidate has to own up to a flaw and the trick is to answer without doing harm. The variation on this form of question was, “can you think of a single issue, policy issue, in which you were forced to change a long-held view in order to accommodate changed circumstances?” While Palin babbled without a good response, Biden was well prepared:Yes, I can. When I got to the United States Senate and went on the Judiciary Committee as a young lawyer, I was of the view and had been trained in the view that the only thing that mattered was whether or not a nominee appointed, suggested by the president had a judicial temperament, had not committed a crime of moral turpitude, and was — had been a good student.

And it didn’t take me long — it was hard to change, but it didn’t take me long, but it took about five years for me to realize that the ideology of that judge makes a big difference.

That’s why I led the fight against Judge Bork. Had he been on the court, I suspect there would be a lot of changes that I don’t like and the American people wouldn’t like, including everything from Roe v. Wade to issues relating to civil rights and civil liberties.

And so that — that — that was one of the intellectual changes that took place in my career as I got a close look at it. And that’s why I was the first chairman of the Judiciary Committee to forthrightly state that it matters what your judicial philosophy is. The American people have a right to understand it and to know it.

But I did change on that, and — and I’m glad I did.

This was an excellent answer on many levels. Biden managed to give an actual answer but had an example where no reasonable person would see it as a flaw to change his mind. I was also happy to see him bring up Roe v. Wade and civil liberties. While foreign policy and the economy have dominated the debate and the campaign, the differences between Obama and McCain on these issues are just as important. Biden’s concerns regarding Roe v. Wade and civil liberties apply to the election of John McCain as president just as mush as they did to the nomination of Judge Bork to the Supreme Court. It is a shame that other civil liberties concerns were not raised during the debate, such as Palin’s attempt at banning books in Wasilla.

Biden won a number of debate points but none of these will overshadow the main event between Barack Obama and John McCain. Most likely the race will continue just as it was prior to the debate, with Obama moving out to a significant lead, and with the vice presidential candidates no longer having a significant role.

Read more from this blogger at Liberal Values:


http://www.reuters.com/article/blogBurst/politics?type=politicsNews&w1=B7ovpm21IaDoL40ZFnNfGe&w2=B7tmRCRJt2YFzDsa7MJ1CblL&src=blogBurst_politicsNews&bbPostId=Cz1VeFnrO5fmhCz7sNEgkr6eaqB5VZ4XloveOqB57 EwVVXJ9g4&bbParentWidgetId=B7tmRCRJt2YFzDsa7MJ1CblL

Saundra Hummer
October 4th, 2008, 02:58 PM

Palin failed to pay taxes on her per diem payments

Friday, October 03, 2008

In an overview of Sarah Palin's tax returns for 2006 and 2007, which she has finally released, the Associated Press reports that Palin neglected to pay the taxes due on $17,000 she received in per diem payments as Governor of Alaska. A McCain campaign official claims, falsely, that Palin owed no taxes on those payments.
Sarah Palin makes $125,000 a year as Alaska governor. Plus, since she took the job in December 2006, she hasn't paid taxes on the more than $17,000 she received in controversial per diem payments for working out of the family's lakeside home in Wasilla...

Regarding the per diem dispute, [McCain-Palin spokeswoman Maria] Comella said Juneau is the governor's home base and therefore whenever she works elsewhere, she is entitled to charge the state. Comella contended the per diem payments are not taxable.

[Former IRS commissioner Sheldon] Cohen said it was fine for the state of Alaska to determine it was okay to reimburse Palin to work out of her home, but the state's decision didn't mean those benefits were not taxable by the federal government. "One has nothing to do with the other," said Cohen.

It's very clear that taxes were due on these per diems. This is tax evasion by Sarah Palin, pure and simple. It doesn't quite rise to the level of Richard Nixon's utter failure to pay any taxes for a few years while he was president. But what a standard to be flirting with.

Palin's per diems are themselves controversial. She billed the state of Alaska nearly $17,000 for 312 nights she spent at her house in Wasilla. Because the governor has a mansion in Juneau and is supposed to reside and work there (though she is in fact absent far more than she's present in the capital), she may be permitted technically under state regulations to claim a per diem for lodging while she's staying at her own home. But it looks pretty cynical to claim to be a reformer while seeking payments for living at home. That's particularly true since Palin also billed the state to fly her husband and children around the state, to the tune of more than $43,000. Once Palin brought one of her daughters with her at great expense to a Women and Leadership conference in New York City, where they stayed in an extremely luxurious hotel.

Asked Monday about the official policy on charging for children's travel expenses, [Alaska state finance director Kim] Garnero said: "We cover the expenses of anyone who's conducting state business. I can't imagine kids could be doing that."

But [Palin's spokeswoman Sharon] Leighow said many of the hundreds of invitations Palin receives include requests for her to bring her family, placing the definition of "state business" with the party extending the invitation.

The revelations about her per diems suggest that Palin plays fast and loose with rules in order to enrich herself. The same impression is given by the AP's analysis of Palin's tax returns. She and her husband have managed to take so many deductions, some seemingly dubious, that they've avoided paying taxes on much of their income.

For the 2007 tax year, Todd Palin's self-employment brought him $66,893 in gross receipts — $49,893 from fishing and $17,000 from snowmachine racing. But, the returns show, he claimed so many deductions that he reported only $15,513 net profit from the fishing operation and claimed a $9,639 loss from his racing, leaving him with an overall net income of only $5,874.

Those deductions enabled the Palins, who have four dependent children, to enjoy a 15 percent tax rate for 2007 and a rate of less than 10 percent for 2006.

This family, with assets worth between about 1 and 2 million dollars, is not struggling just to get by. Instead, it's working to figure out every angle it can exploit.

I have to say I've been awaiting the day when Palin's tax returns were released, expecting that it would turn out that she'd neglected to pay taxes on her controversial per diems. She did not fail to disappoint.

. Sarah-Palin
. tax-evasion
. Richard-Nixon
Posted by smintheus at 22:56:43. Filed under: politics

• Go ahead: say your piece •


Maybe cheating is how the Palins became millionaires in the first place:
"Estimates show Palin assets top $1 million" :
Posted by BobB at Saturday, October 04, 2008 07:14:09

I'm surprised that more has not been made of their being millionaires.
I'm sure that would shock many of her admirers who see her as one of them. If you asked the person on the street what they would estimate her net worth as, I'd guess they'd say, at most, $200,000.
Posted by shirah at Saturday, October 04, 2008 07:16:11

And, by the way, how did they amass millions of dollars from fishing, racing, and the various government jobs Sarah has held?
That's a lot of penny pinching. Or a lot of pennies to pinch.
Posted by shirah at Saturday, October 04, 2008 07:17:09

If this proves to be true, McCain will be in big trouble over his judgment.
All vetting includes tax statements and a five minute interview (even over the phone) would have revealed how dumb she is.
Oh well, this could get good.
Posted by coop at Saturday, October 04, 2008 09:19:01

What can you expect from someone who grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho, and took five years to graduate from six schools, finally securing a degree in journalism (never appearing on college radio or TV during that time)?
No offense to small towns, but she exemplifies a dumbed-down mentality that even a state with less than a million inhabitants shouldn't have to put up with. I feel sorry for the citizens of Alaska who actually have a clue; they must hate her fucking guts!
Posted by fltnsplr at Saturday, October 04, 2008 11:02:13

smintheus, congrats on the Buzzflash shout out to you.
Posted by shirah at Saturday, October 04, 2008 11:40:50

How much is she billing the State of Alaska for additional per diems for the time she's on the campaign trail with McShame?

Posted by Wendy at Saturday, October 04, 2008 11:46:46

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Saundra Hummer
October 4th, 2008, 03:12 PM

Like Putting Lipstick on a Cheney:
Palin's Vow to Continue Unitary Executive
and Lack of Accountability for VP Position

Submitted by meg on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 12:08pm. Be-Elected
by Meg White

Amid the folksy "doggone its," "you betchas," and "darn rights" that Gov. Sarah Palin dished out at the debate last night, she dropped a bombshell that was largely missed: She sees herself as the new Dick Cheney.

The conventional wisdom about vice presidential debates is that they don't really matter. We're voting for president in November, not VP. And in every election I can think of, that's been the case.

But to use a recent favorite in campaign lingo, Vice President Dick Cheney is a game-changer. Over the past eight years, Cheney has amassed more power than any other vice president in history.

Therefore, the fact that no one in the media seems interested in the "unitary executive" question has been troubling. I was pretty disappointed with Gwen Ifill's moderation of the debate, but I have to give her credit for starting a conversation about Cheney's assertion that he has a role in the executive and the legislative (and then, neither...):

"Governor, you said in July that someone would have to explain to you exactly what it is the vice president does every day. You, senator, said, you would not be vice president under any circumstances. Now maybe this was just what was going on at the time. But tell us now, looking forward, what it is you think the vice presidency is worth now."

Palin's response was somewhat difficult to parse out, so I don't necessarily blame the audience for missing her veiled threat, couched as it was in warm fuzzies such as energy independence and special needs children:

"No, no. Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are. John McCain and I have had good conversations about where I would lead with his agenda. That is energy independence in America and reform of government over all, and then working with families of children with special needs. That's near and dear to my heart also. In those arenas, John McCain has already tapped me and said, that's where I want you, I want you to lead. I said, I can't wait to get and there go to work with you."
And again, to credit Ifill, she asked a follow-up this time:

"Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe, as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?"

More clearly this time, Governor: Do you see things through Cheney's power-tinted glasses? Palin answers in the affirmative, this time using her extensive executive experience to soften the blow:

"Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also."

Hmm... seems like Gov. Palin misplaced her Cliffs Notes of the Constitution. Luckily, Sen. Biden seems to have read the document at one time or another. Let's hear what he has to say:

"Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history... The Constitution is explicit. The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous."
Thanks, Joe. Oh, by the way, is it O.K. if I call you Joe?

Palin's gaffe (yes, it is now officially a gaffe when a candidate screws up and tells the nation what s/he really thinks) wasn't totally missed. Joan Walsh pounced on the moment as a point at which "Sarah Palin blew it badly." One reader drew our attention to the remark with a subject line of "This scares the hell out of us!"

Tony Angelo writes on Kos that maybe she should have stuck with her plan to willfully ignore Ifill's queries:

"Buried within the standard Palinizing is the gem that she agrees with Dick Cheney's theory that the Vice President is a member of both the Executive and the Legislative branch, while also not being a member of either.

Maybe that was one of those questions she shouldn't have answered."

David Nather, writing in his Congressional Quarterly blog, called it "a bid for as few constraints as possible."

As scared as some are to have Palin "a heartbeat away from the presidency," the argument against her shouldn't hinge on Sen. John McCain's probability of mortality. The argument could be made that Cheney has more power than President George W. Bush. Putting a politician in Cheney's stead that has been described as vindictive, and who believes that dinosaurs and humans roamed the Earth together, is frightening enough as it is.

Palin told Katie Couric this week that the only bad thing Cheney did was shoot somebody in a duck hunting incident. But when she followed up to say that the best thing he did was support the troops, that was shown to be a line. She clearly likes what he's done to the office of the vice presidency.

When Couric asked Palin to name her favorite vice president, Palin responded with failed Democratic candidate Geraldine Ferraro. When Couric followed up to ask Palin for an actual answer to her question, she sighed and made a strange noise that sounded like her sucking her teeth.

"My goodness. Um, I think those who have gone on to the presidency , George Bush Sr., having kinda learned the ropes in his position as VP and then moving on up," she replied.

So the most important trait for a vice president is ambition for greater power? Well, that certainly fits the Cheney model. That "lipstick on a pit bull" line of hers makes more sense (and becomes more sinister) every time she opens her mouth.




Saundra Hummer
October 4th, 2008, 05:54 PM
This is from Ernie Woods! My personal favorite is Pedro!
> Marilyn
> SCHOOL - - 1957 vs. 2007
> I think probably the younger set who didn't live 50
> years ago will have a
> hard time believing that things actually were like that.
> While there is a
> certain amount of hyperbole here for impact, it's not
> that far off the
> truth. It's worth some thought to see what went wrong
> (if you think it did
> go wrong), where we're going, and whether this is
> sustainable or if we're
> approaching a point of discontinuity where we have total
> disfunctionality
> and collapse.
> SCHOOL--1957 vs. 2007
> Scenario:
> Jack goes quail hunting before school,
> pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
> 1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's
> shotgun,
> goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show
> Jack.
> 2007 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled
> off to jail
> and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors
> called in
> for traumatized students and teachers.
> Scenario:
> Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
> 1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins.
> Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
> 2007 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and
> Mark.
> Charge them with assault, both expelled even
> though Johnny started
> it.
> Scenario:
> Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other
> students.
> 1957 -Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by
> the Principal.
> Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt
> class again.
> 2007 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a
> zombie.
> Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from
> state
> because Jeffrey has a disability.
> Scenario:
> Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car
> and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
> 19 57 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal,
> goes to college, and becomes a successful
> businessman.
> 2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse.
> Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang.
> State psychologist tells Billy's sister that
> she remembers
> being abused herself and their dad goes to
> prison.
> Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.
> Scenario:
> Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
> 1957 -Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking
> dock.
> 2007 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug
> violations.
> Car searched for drugs and weapons.
> Scenario:
> Pedro fails high school English.
> 1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes
> to college.
> 2007 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper
> articles appear
> nationally
> explaining that teaching English as a requirement
> for graduation
> is racist.
> ACLU files class action lawsuit against state
> school system
> and Pedro's English teacher. English banned
> from core curriculum.
> Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up
> mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak
> English.
> Scenario:
> Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July,
> puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red
> ant bed.
> 1957 - Ants die.
> 2007 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called.
> Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI
> investigates
> parents,
> siblings removed from home, computers
> confiscated,
> Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list
> and is never allowed to fly again.
> Scenario:
> Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his
> knee.
> He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to
> comfort him.
> 1957 -In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on
> playing.
> 2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses
> her job.
> She faces 3 years in State Prison.
> Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.
> This should hit every e-mail to show how stupid we have
> become!
> Think about it!

Saundra Hummer
October 4th, 2008, 06:21 PM

From Gary and Marcia Schatan.

I haven't seen Gary since he was a little guy and Marica is his sister, we keep in touch, and have forever.

Date: Thursday, October 2, 2008, 9:54 AM

Fantastic Music for our guy Barak Obama


Saundra Hummer
October 5th, 2008, 11:19 AM

Palin accuses Obama of 'palling around with terrorists,' cites association with '60s radical

By JIM KUHNHENN , Associated Press

October 4, 2008

CARSON, Calif., - Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday accused Democrat Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists" because of an association with a former '60s radical, a harsh attack on his character that she repeated at three separate campaign events without substantiation.

Palin's reference was to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Its members were blamed for several bombings, including a pipe bomb in San Francisco that killed a police officer and injured another. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, has denounced Ayers' radical views and activities.

While it is known that Obama and Ayers live in the same Chicago neighborhood, served on a charity board together and had a fleeting political connection, there is no evidence that they ever palled around. And it's simply wrong to suggest that they were associated while Ayers was committing terrorist acts.

Nonetheless, Palin made the comments at three appearances in separate states.

"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," said told donors at a private airport in Englewood, Colo. Palin echoed the line later in Carson, Calif., and Costa Mesa, Calif.

Falling behind Obama in polls, the Republican campaign plans to make attacks on Obama's character a centerpiece of candidate John McCain's message in the final weeks of the presidential race. Coming late in the campaign, Palin's remark could be particularly incendiary, either backfiring on McCain or knocking Obama off his focus on the troubled economy — or both.

The campaign was clearly prepared to raise the Ayers' connection to Obama. In addition to Palin's comments at her appearances Saturday, the McCain campaign distributed Palin's comments to reporters.

"This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," Palin said. "We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism."

The Obama campaign called Palin's remarks offensive but not surprising in light of news stories detailing the campaign's come-from-behind offensive.

"What's clear is that John McCain and Sarah Palin would rather spend their time tearing down Barack Obama than laying out a plan to build up our economy," Obama campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement.

Palin's remarks come as e-mails circulate on the Internet with suggestions that the Democratic candidate is secretly a radical, foreign-born Muslim with designs against the U.S. Obama is a native of Hawaii who lived in Indonesia as boy. He is a Christian.

Palin, Alaska's governor, said that donors on a greeting line had encouraged her and McCain to get tougher on Obama. She said an aide then advised her, "Sarah, the gloves are off, the heels are on, go get to them."

The escalated effort to attack Obama's character dovetails with TV ads by outside groups questioning Obama's ties to Ayers, convicted former Obama fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko and Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He and Obama live in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood and served together on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based charity that develops community groups to help the poor. Obama left the board in December 2002.

Obama was the first chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school-reform group of which Ayers was a founder. Ayers also held a meet-the-candidate event at his home for Obama when Obama first ran for office in the mid-1990s.

In an interview with CBS News earlier in the week, Palin didn't name any newspapers or magazines that shaped her view of the world. On Saturday, she cited a New York Times story that detailed Obama's relationship with Ayers.

Summing up its findings, the Times wrote: "A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called 'somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.'"

Earlier Saturday, Palin spent 35 minutes at a diner in Greenwood Village where she met with Blue Star Moms, a support group of families whose sons or daughters are serving in the armed forces. Reporters were allowed in the diner for less than five minutes before being ushered out by the campaign.

Palin, whose 19-year-old son, Track, deployed last month as a private with an Army combat team, was overheard at one point commiserating with one of the mothers: "Any time I ask my son how he's doing, he says, 'Mom, I'm in the Army now.'"



On the Net:

McCain campaign:


Obama campaign: http://www.barackobama.com/index.php

© 2008 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

So traditionally VP picks are attack dogs. Granted, it's expected, but there are limits in my own mind.

This latest smear attack by Sic-Em Sarah has crossed a line. I would have had to respect an attempt to put down Obama had it had been an attack on issues, legitimate political issues, but she went after Barack Obama just like any Karl Rove driven hack would do. A shameless tactic and easy to see through. Desperation driven; and such a turn off. Playing to voters basest instincts, this tactic shows little respect for the American voter's grasp of issues, little respect for our intelligence. In this latest ploy, Sarah Palin is playing to those who will be happy to have any excuse dumped into their laps so they can righteously (ha!) believe Barack Obama is a real threat to them, not something only perceived in their bigoted minds.

Her latest stump speeches are shameful and I would have hoped that she could have had the back bone and the inner core strength to say, NO to this tactic; that she didn't think it right, and wouldn't be a part of such down and dirty politicing. Instead, Sarah Palin, the folksy good old girl from Alaska, to all appearance's, relished it, it fit her style and she ran with it. Now we have to hear this over and over, like the untruths about Obama's tax programs being burned into our brains. She has been told, over and over, after each stump talk, that her words about Obama's tax plans aren't true, but still she repeats the same untruth"s, over and over; egged on no doubt, by those who have Goebbels play book open to how to make truth out of a lie.

She herself is proving she herself can't be trusted, not trusted even in the most simple of issues. Shameful don't you think? SRH

Saundra Hummer
October 5th, 2008, 11:42 AM
+ + +

When campaign and cross unite

KEVIN DIAZ, Star Tribune
October 5, 2008

It's not every Sunday that the image of a major presidential candidate dwarfs the pulpit of a simple country church in southern Minnesota, but this was no ordinary sermon at Grace Christian Church in Albert Lea.

With 37 days to go before the election, the Rev. George Marin was taking part in a special calling, one shared by dozens of pastors across the nation, to preach what he sees as a biblical basis for voting.

So last Sunday, during a service that featured 50 rapturous congregants speaking in tongues, a YouTube video of Barack Obama appeared on a large overhead projection screen. In the video Obama told the Rev. Rick Warren in California that the question of when life begins is "above my pay grade."

"This does not fly," Marin bellowed into a wireless microphone. Castigating the Democratic candidate's abortion-rights stand, Marin exhorted his followers amid shouts and applause: "I am calling on you to reject this man as the next president of the United States."

Sermons like Marin's are a sign of growing fervor among Christian conservatives who see this year's presidential election as a watershed moment for their participation in political life.

Energized by Sarah Palin's selection as John McCain's running mate on the Republican ticket, voters across the nation who oppose abortion are rallying their forces in ways that sometimes challenge conventional strictures on the role of pastors and religion in public life.

In Minnesota, groups such as the Minnesota Family Council are trying to reach 400,000 to 500,000 voters -- potentially a sixth of the state's electorate -- with overtly Christian appeals that define support for "pro-family" candidates as a moral obligation.

"The bottom line is, we want people of faith to get out and vote their biblical values," says Chuck Darrell, the group's spokesman. "If they get out and vote, it's going to have an effect."

Back in the fold
In a small block building across from a shopping center in Eagan, KKMS-AM Christian talk radio hosts Jeff Shell and Lee Michaels are taking calls about the election. It's Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the vice presidential debate, and much of the conversation is about the reverse bigotry that many Christian conservatives feel when they venture out into the public square.

It's part religious battle cry, but also part of the political right's narrative of perceived media persecution of Palin, a kind of latter-day Joan of Arc who brought many alienated evangelicals back into the Republican fold.

"No question about it," says Shell, an elder at the Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, an evangelical church that counts Gov. Tim Pawlenty as a member. "She reinvigorated McCain's campaign, because a lot of people were lukewarm about him."

Shell and Michaels' show reaches as many as 50,000 listeners in the Twin Cities. But much of the evangelical ground-game involves traditional efforts to get out the vote: distributing voter guides, literature on the issues and voter registration cards.

As part of the Family Council's Mobilize 2008! campaign, some churches have called from the pulpit for people to vote. Among them is Pastor Jim Anderson of the Harbor Church in Hastings. "We're telling people to vote whichever candidate, but vote their values," he said.

'All areas of life'
Few evangelical pastors in Minnesota have crossed the same legal threshold as Marin at Grace Christian -- or the Rev. Gus Booth of the Warroad Community Church, who explicitly endorsed McCain from the pulpit last week, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules banning political preaching.

For many affluent suburban megachurches, no matter how conservative, the potential jeopardy to their nonprofit tax status is simply too great to risk. But a national campaign by the Alliance Defense Fund, dubbed "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," reflects a push to put faith into political action.

For Pastor Booth in tiny Warroad on the Canadian border, that means putting a lot of miles on his car, talking to as many as 60 pastors over the past few months.

"Scripture declares us to take the Gospel into all areas of life," he said on a recent morning drive across northern Minnesota. He was delivering pastor's guides for the Family Council's voter campaign, which is targeting 1,300 churches. "The Gospel is supposed to rally people unto itself."

Booth, who may have been the first pastor in the nation to endorse McCain during a sermon in May, is garnering headlines and appearing on TV.

But some Minnesota evangelicals are resisting the upswell of political activism, hewing to the more traditional idea that it cheapens religion.

"If they want to express their values, that's fine," said the Rev. Gregory Boyd of Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood. "I just wish they wouldn't call it Christian, like there's one Christian way to vote."

Others insist GOP candidates in general -- and abortion opponents in particular -- simply make for a better fit for "values" voters.

"McCain is going to be a lot closer, on the whole, to the value system I'm talking about," says David Watkins, pastor at the Heritage Baptist Church in Blaine and a leader in the Christian home-schooling movement.

'It was like, wow'
There is little doubt that in picking Palin, McCain tapped into a mother lode of voters that might not otherwise be there for him.

National polls conducted before Palin joined the ticket suggest that McCain attracted a little more than half of evangelical voters, far below the appeal of President Bush, who got about 70 percent of evangelical voters in 2000 and 80 percent in 2004 and whose efforts to turn out the evangelical vote has been cited as a factor in his reelection.

Christian conservatives have long maintained a mutual distrust of McCain, who has dubbed some of their leaders as intolerant in the past. That left McCain in an uneasy stalemate with Christian conservatives -- perhaps the GOP's single-biggest voting bloc -- until Palin came along, an abortion opponent with evangelical roots, a special-needs infant and a pregnant teenage daughter who's keeping the baby.

"It was like, wow," said Brian Gibson, of Pro-Life Action Ministries in the Twin Cities. "All of a sudden, it's time to do something, and that's when the energy jumped very strongly. And it's been there ever since."

While Palin has added energy, evangelicals say their voters aren't marching in lockstep. Some polls suggest many new evangelicals, particularly young evangelicals, trend increasingly independent and express concern not only about abortion but also about poverty and the environment.

Despite their numbers -- about a third of Minnesota's likely voters describe themselves as evangelical Christians -- it's also uncertain whether they will ultimately add to McCain's tally.

"It's a set of voters who have become so reliably Republican that it's hard to see a boost beyond what they've contributed before," said Gustavus Adolphus College political scientist Chris Gilbert.

So for activists who want to emphasize abortion and same-sex marriage, that brings the equation back to turning out the base on their issues.

"Pastors are starting to recognize that they have to do something," said abortion foe Gary Borgendale, a local ministry director at KKMS who attended Marin's "Pulpit Freedom" sermon in Albert Lea. "They recognize that there are differences between the candidates."

Kevin Diaz • 202-408-2753

© 2008 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/30456179.html?elr=KArks8c7PaP3E77K_3c::D3aDhUoaEaD _ec7PaP3iUiacyKUU
+ + + + + + +

Saundra Hummer
October 5th, 2008, 02:06 PM
^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Can the MARs save McCain?
Posted: October 03, 2008
1:00 am Eastern
© 2008

John McCain may have just let slip his last best chance to be president of the United States.

When he flew back to Washington to address the banking crisis, McCain could have seized the hottest issue in America by taking the side of his countrymen who were enraged by the Paulson Plan to bail out a power elite whose greed and stupidity had caused a financial disaster unequaled since the Crash of '29.

But rather than denounce the Bush-Paulson-Pelosi-Barney Frank plan as a rip-off of taxpayers, lacerate Obama and Co. for bedding down with the kleptocrats of Fannie Mae, and advancing his own McCain plan, McCain played the establishment man. He sought modest concessions for the Republican view, urged swift passage and left town.

Then the House, in an astounding act of defiance, voted to kill the bill, triggering a trillion-dollar run on Wall Street.

Working with Democrats rather than battling the establishment has ever been McCain's way. And, undeniably, his deserved reputation for bipartisanship helped him to get where he is.

He campaigns proudly on his capacity to work with liberals and has McCain-Feingold, McCain-Lieberman and McCain-Kennedy to prove it. But as George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford discovered, the politics of compromise and consensus does not always produce the best result.

The tax hike of 1990 may have destroyed Bush I's presidency, and Ford's choice of John Paul Stevens for the Supreme Court, who was approved unanimously, helped propel the Ronald Reagan challenge.

Philosophically and culturally, we are a divided people. Across the spectrum there are us-versus-them folks who see politics as a zero-sum game between Middle America and a global elite. Below the upper-income brackets and along the center-right are the folks the late columnist Sam Francis, citing sociologist Donald Warren's 1976 study, called Middle American Radicals.

Nixon brought the "MARs" to national attention when, as David Broder then wrote, the "breaking of the president" was under way in October 1969. Nixon went on television and called for the Great Silent Majority to stand with him against anti-war demonstrators and rioters in the streets, and for "peace with honor" in Vietnam.

When TV anchors trashed Nixon's speech, he unleashed Spiro Agnew on the establishment media.

No White House had ever before attacked the networks or national press for ideological and political bias.

In a month, Nixon hit 68 percent approval, the apogee of his presidency, and Agnew was the third-most admired man in America.

Reagan, by opposing the surrender of the Panama Canal to a leftist dictator, also rallied the MARs. He lost that battle, but his consolation prize was the GOP nomination and the presidency.

In recent years, we have seen the MARs rise again and again in roaring rebellion. But, invariably, when these rebellions occur, John McCain may be found inside the castle walls.

In 2007, McCain rushed to Washington to support George Bush, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post in the drive to grant amnesty to 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens. A national firestorm killed the bill and almost killed McCain's campaign.

A year earlier, a MARs uprising killed the Dubai ports deal.

The power elite was stunned by the explosion of outrage over the leasing of six U.S. ports to Arab sheiks. Nationalism remains a more potent force than globalism, and not only in America.

In Clinton's first term, McCain stood with the establishment for NAFTA, GATT, the WTO and the Mexican bailout. Middle America opposed them all.

In the past decade, the MARs have opposed free-trade deals, and lost, but won virtually every referendum on gay marriage, affirmative action or welfare for illegal aliens. Invariably, the MARs are portrayed as bigots, nativists, xenophobes, protectionists and isolationists, and their leaders as demagogues. In McCain's words from 2000, they are "agents of intolerance."

This is fine if you wish to be beloved in this city, but it may be a fatal impediment if you want to be president.

McCain's problem is that, in 2008, when his old press idolaters have found a new favorite, these are the people who hold his key to the presidency. They are the Democrats who voted against Barack Obama by wide margins in Pennsylvania and Ohio and landslide margins in West Virginia and Kentucky.

These Democrats can still win this race for John McCain. Many admire his war record. But not only is he not one of them, he has taken pride and pleasure in having been their great antagonist.

Could McCain win them back in five weeks? Perhaps. Is he willing to do what is necessary to win them back? Probably not. It would go against his instincts and his image of himself.

The issues that move these folks are not just the $700 billion bailout of Gordon Gekko's comrades, but the invasion of America from Mexico, the export of their jobs, factories and future to Asia, and the gnawing fear that the country they grew up in is being sacrificed for the benefit of an internationalist elite.


^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Saundra Hummer
October 5th, 2008, 02:23 PM
$ $ $ $ $

We Had Alternatives

by Dennis Kucinich
Published on Friday, October 3
2008 by CommonDreams.org
The following statement was presented on the floor of The House of Representatives after Congressman Kucinich voted against the Wall Street bail out plan, H.R. 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008:
The public is being led to believe that Congress has reconsidered its position because we have before us a better bill than we had a few days ago. It is the same bill plus hundreds of new pages for hundreds of millions of tax breaks. What does this have to do with the troubles of Wall Street?

Driven by fear we are moving quickly to pass a bill, which may produce a temporary uptick for the market, but nothing for millions of homeowners whose misfortunes are at the center of our economic woes. People do not have money to pay their mortgages. After this passes, they will still not have money to pay their mortgages. People will still lose their homes while Wall Street is bailed out.

The central flaw of this bill is that there are NO stronger protections for homeowners and NO changes in the language to ensure that the secretary has the authority to compel mortgage servicers to modify the terms of mortgages. And there are NO stronger regulatory changes to fix the circumstances that allowed this to happen.

We should have created a mechanism for our government to take a controlling interest in mortgage-backed securities and use our power to work out a new deal for the homeowners. We could have done this. We should have done this. But we didn't.

Now millions of Americans will face the threat of foreclosure without any help. And the numbers will soon rise for a number of reasons. Not only because of the Alt-A, jumbo mortgages which will soon be reset at higher interest rates, but because the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is pushing up rates on adjustable mortgages and more than half of the US adjustable mortgage rates are tied to LIBOR. Homeowner defaults will grow in significant numbers. Let's see if Congress will be as quick to help homeowners on Main Street as they were to help speculators on Wall Street.

Now the government will have to borrow $700 billion from banks, with interest, to give banks a $700 billion bailout, and in return the taxpayers get $700 billion in toxic debt. The Senate "improved" the bailout by giving tax breaks to people in foreclosure. People in foreclosure need help paying their mortgage, they do not seek tax breaks.

Across our Nation, foreclosures continue to devastate our communities, people are losing their jobs, and the prices of necessities are skyrocketing. This legislation, just like the one we defeated last week, will do nothing to solve the problems plaguing American families or help them to get out from underneath the oppressive debt they have been forced to take on.

Unfortunately, there has been no discussion of the underlying debt-based economy and the role of our monetary system in facilitating the redistribution of wealth upwards.

It is not as though we had no choice but to pass the bill before us. We could have done this differently. We could have demanded language in the legislation that would have empowered the Treasury to compel mortgage servicers to rework the terms of mortgage loans so homeowners could avoid foreclosure. We could have put regulatory structures in place to protect investors. We could have stopped the speculators.

This bill represents an utter failure of the Democratic process. It represents the triumph of special interest over the triumph of the public interest. It represents the inability of government to defend the public interest in the face of great pressure from financial interests. We could have recognized the power of government to prime the pump of the economy to get money flowing through out society by creating jobs, health care, and major investments in green energy. What a lost opportunity! What a moment of transition away from democracy and towards domination of America by global economic interests.

Years ago, in a Cleveland neighborhood, I saw a hand-scrawled sign above a cash register in a delicatessen. The sign said: "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash." The sign above the Speaker's rostrum reads "In God We Trust," but we are paying the cash to Wall Street.

It is not as if we had no other choice but to pass this bill.

Dennis Kucinich is a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Ohio.

$ $ $

Saundra Hummer
October 5th, 2008, 07:06 PM
. . . . .

Analysis: Palin's words may backfire on McCain

WASHINGTON -By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.

And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.

First, Palin's attack shows that her energetic debate with rival Joe Biden may be just the beginning, not the end, of a sharpened role in the battle to win the presidency.

"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain's ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.

"This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," she said. "We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism."

Obama isn't above attacking McCain's character with loaded words, releasing an ad on Sunday that calls the Arizona Republican "erratic" — a hard-to miss suggestion that McCain's age, 72, might be an issue.

"Our financial system in turmoil," an announcer says in Obama's new ad. "And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy."

A harsh and plainly partisan judgment, certainly, but not on the level of suggesting that a fellow senator is un-American and even a friend of terrorists.

In her character attack, Palin questions Obama's association with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground. Her reference was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were "pals" or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.

Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers' radical views and actions.

With her criticism, Palin is taking on the running mate's traditional role of attacker, said Rich Galen, a Republican strategist.

"There appears to be a newfound sense of confidence in Sarah Palin as a candidate, given her performance the other night," Galen said. "I think that they are comfortable enough with her now that she's got the standing with the electorate to take off after Obama."

Second, Palin's incendiary charge draws media and voter attention away from the worsening economy. It also comes after McCain supported a pork-laden Wall Street bailout plan in spite of conservative anger and his own misgivings.
"It's a giant changing of the subject," said Jenny Backus, a Democratic strategist. "The problem is the messenger. If you want to start throwing fire bombs, you don't send out the fluffy bunny to do it. I think people don't take Sarah Palin seriously."

The larger purpose behind Palin's broadside is to reintroduce the question of Obama's associations. Millions of voters, many of them open to being swayed to one side or the other, are starting to pay attention to an election a month away.

For the McCain campaign, that makes Obama's ties to Ayers as well as convicted felon Antoin "Tony" Rezko and the controversial minister Jeremiah Wright ripe for renewed criticism. And Palin brings a fresh voice to the argument.

Effective character attacks have come earlier in campaigns. In June 1988, Republican George H.W. Bush criticized Democrat Michael Dukakis over the furlough granted to Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who then raped a woman and stabbed her companion. Related TV ads followed in September and October.

The Vietnam-era Swift Boat veterans who attacked Democrat John Kerry's war record started in the spring of 2004 and gained traction in late summer.

"The four weeks that are left are an eternity. There's plenty of time in the campaign," said Republican strategist Joe Gaylord. "I think it is a legitimate strategy to talk about Obama and to talk about his background and who he pals around with."

Palin's words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee "palling around" with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn't see their America?

In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers' day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.

Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as "not like us" is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.

The fact is that when racism creeps into the discussion, it serves a purpose for McCain. As the fallout from Wright's sermons showed earlier this year, forcing Obama to abandon issues to talk about race leads to unresolved arguments about America's promise to treat all people equally.

John McCain occasionally says he looks back on decisions with regret. He has apologized for opposing a holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. He has apologized for refusing to call for the removal of a Confederate flag from South Carolina's Capitol.

When the 2008 campaign is over will McCain say he regrets appeals such as Palin's? —

EDITOR'S NOTE —Douglass K. Daniel is a writer and editor with the Washington bureau of The Associated Press.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press
. . .

Saundra Hummer
October 5th, 2008, 07:18 PM
. . . . . . .

Saintly surfers praise divine waves in California


HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -He may not be able to walk on water, but when the mood strikes, Father Matthew Munoz can ride one gnarly wave all the way into the beach.
So Sunday at dawn, on the white sands of the town where the U.S. Surfing Championships were born nearly a half-century ago, Munoz and some two dozen fellow wave riders paused to thank God for all the joy the oceans have provided them.

Then, after the surfer's ceremonial blowing of a conch shell for good luck, the pastor of Orange County's St. Irenaeus Catholic Church shouted out a hearty, "Let's surf!"

Clutching a board with an image of the Virgin of Guadeloupe inlaid into both sides, he led his flock and others in a race toward the water, diving in and paddling just as hard and as fast as he could toward the break.

The occasion was the Blessing of the Waves, a spiritual — but at the same time decidedly lighthearted — event organized by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

One of the event's organizers, Father Christian Mondor, helped kick off the proceedings by thanking God (or "The Big Kahuna," as he also addressed him) for righteous waves and a killer ride for all the surfer babes and dudes assembled before him.

"May they hang 10 on thy oceanic bounty and, if it be in accordance with thy gnarly plan, may they not wipe out," he concluded, reading from a tongue-in-cheek poem written by Los Angeles Times reporter Dana Parsons.
Meanwhile, the audience broke out laughing when Munoz began his blessing by announcing: "I'm not Jesus. I need a surfboard to walk on water."
(For the record, with brown hair that cascades well past his shoulders, a flowing beard, a beatific face and his priestly robes, Munoz does bear a striking resemblance to depictions of Jesus.)

But there were also moments of seriousness, as when Mondor, the 83-year-old vicar emeritus of St. Simon and Jude Parish, added his own prayer: "Praise be you, creator God, for the gift of sea and sand and endless surf that brings us joy of body and soul. Help us always care for this great ocean so that we and generations to come may enjoy its beauty and power and majesty."

He timed the amen to that prayer perfectly, allowing rock band The Wedge to segue seamlessly into a power-chord opening of the surf classic "Wipeout."
Then it was off to the water, where the waves, practically heaven-sent, were breaking 4 to 6 feet on a warm, sun-dappled day.

"I got one! A great wave! Rode it all the way to the beach!" 54-year-old surfer Gary Sahagen shouted as he emerged from the ocean dripping wet and looking delighted.

The blessing, Sahagen said, reminded him of the old days around Huntington Beach, when the legendary Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku would kick off the U.S. Surfing Championships with a prayer.

Kahanamoku is almost a saint himself in these parts, credited with bringing surfing in the 1920s to a beachfront town that now calls itself Surf City.
His annual prayers, meanwhile, have come to be carried out informally over the years by riders who hit the waves before heading off to church on Sunday. Mondor said that's what helped inspire Sunday's church-sponsored blessing.

"I've talked to a lot of surfers who have said, 'Yeah, that's my best prayer time,'" the longboard rider said of Sunday morning prayer circles on the beach.
As a result, the church decided to open the blessing up to everybody, and representatives of the Jewish, Islamic and Mormon faiths were also on hand to offer prayers. It is planned to be an annual event.

"The ocean is such an important part of our lives. We're all one planet, one world, we're one people, so I think this is a wonderful idea," said Fawad Yacoob of the Islamic Society of Orange County.

Of the approximately 400 people who witnessed the blessing, only a couple dozen came with boards and wet suits.

But many said they recognized what Munoz, the 43-year-old priest who has been riding the breaks up and down the California coast for more than 20 years, calls "real parallels to spirituality and surfing."

"It's not exactly like church," said Rob Briggs as he stood on the sand with his board. "But when you get out there past the break," he continued, "it clears your mind of anything troubling you. Worries of everyday life just go away."
. . .

Saundra Hummer
October 5th, 2008, 07:43 PM
:: :: ::
Obama allies warn McCain camp to back off attacks
Associated Press Writer
Posted: 2008-10-05 16:52:51

Barack Obama's allies warn that John McCain's attacks on the Democrat's character will lead to the political equivalent of mutual assured destruction: fire your big weapon at your own peril.

Several Obama surrogates said his supporters may start reminding voters of McCain's ties to Charles Keating, a convicted savings and loan owner whose actions two decades ago triggered a Senate ethics investigation that involved McCain as one of the "Keating Five."

The warnings of massive retaliation came as McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, took on the role of attacker and said that Obama sees America as so imperfect "that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." She was referring to an early Obama supporter, 1960s radical Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground whose members were blamed for several bombings when Obama was a child.

Obama has denounced Ayer's radical views and activities. But he's not above questioning McCain's character with loaded words.

On Sunday Obama unveiled a TV ad on the economy that paints McCain was "erratic in a crisis." Some see that as a reminder of McCain's age, 72.

Democrats were well-synchronized Sunday, using the word "erratic" and Keating's name in nearly-matching sentences across the talk show circuit.

"This is going to be a month, I think, of character assassination," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., an Obama supporter, said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Indeed, McCain adviser Greg Strimple predicted "a very aggressive last 30 days" of the campaign.

"We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama's aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans," he said in a recent conference call with reporters.

Obama, too, alluded to harsher tactics in a speech Sunday to thousands of people in Asheville, N.C.

McCain and his aides, Obama said, "are gambling that he can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance. They'd rather try to tear our campaign down than lift this country up. It's what you do when you're out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time."

Noting the nation's serious economic problems, Obama said: "Yet instead of addressing these crises, Senator McCain's campaign has announced that they plan to turn the page on the discussion about our economy and spend the final weeks of this campaign launching Swiftboat-style attacks on me."

Obama has denounced Ayers' radical views and activities. However, Ayers hosted a small gathering for Obama in 1995, early in his political career. Obama and Ayers live in the same Chicago neighborhood and served on a charity board together, but there is no evidence they have palled around.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a Chicago Democrat and Obama supporter, warned against McCain's strategy.

"If we are going to go down this road, you know, Barack Obama was eight years old, somehow responsible for Bill Ayers," he said. "At 58, John McCain was associating with Charles Keating."

"If we really want to talk who is associating with who, we will," Emanuel said. "The American people will lose in that transaction."

Just months into his Senate career, in the late 1980s, McCain made what he has called "the worst mistake of my life." He participated in two meetings with banking regulators on behalf of Keating, a friend, campaign contributor and S&L financier who was later convicted of securities fraud.

The Senate ethics committee investigated five senators' relationships with Keating. It cited McCain for a lesser role than the others, but faulted his "poor judgment."

In the new Obama ad, an announcer says: "Our financial system in turmoil. And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy."

The ad, slated to start running Monday on national cable, alludes to McCain's response to the nation's financial crisis. He briefly suspended his campaign, called for a White House summit meeting that ended chaotically, and showed varying degrees of support for the massive rescue bill Congress passed Friday.

Republicans say McCain's actions showed leadership.

"In the midst of it all, I think you saw Sen. McCain, unlike Sen. Obama, come off the campaign trail, because that's John McCain in the middle of a crisis," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent-Democrat who backs McCain.

Associated Press reporters Stephen Ohlemacher and Mike Baker contributed to this report.

On The Net: Obama ad:


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press

These latest attacks headed by Sic-Em Sarah Palin, are viscious and an insult to the intelligence of the American voter. Those of us who are interested and are seeking truths aren't as biased and illiterate as she would hope. (Typo's aside, spelling & punctuation aside, ha!)

She is talking down to us, believing that we will take this filth to the voting booth with us, and give her all she could ever hope for. Sorry, but with me, it's not about to happen.

She's delusional if she believes more than the fringe element will believe this filth she's constantly spewing, as she grins that weird plastered on smile of hers, which is pleasant enough, but we now know what is going on behind that facade; with her being so disingenuous that it now hurts to look at her, much less hear the made up tales she's telling us, this along with her proverbial tales about the taxes an Obama/Biden administration would heap on us. Not true the Annenberg Foundation and others tell us.

Her bile filled words are not worth listening to, they are after all only made up tales meant to defame and discredit. Destroy is another action which comes to mind. Not truths. We do need to listen to her, and carefully, however, so as to have them, her own words, to use as a weapon against her. Her own words are enough to paint her as someone not to be trusted. Are these words enough to make her worthy of the second highest office in the land? I don't think so. Far from it. Just the opposite. But then again, look at the destruction the less than honest Swift Boaters' caused. It was a pathetic exercise in dishonesty and how people believe what it is they want to believe. Truth doesn't always win out. Pity, but true. SRH
:: :: ::

Saundra Hummer
October 5th, 2008, 08:29 PM
:: :: :: :: ::

By Any Measure, Sarah Palin is a Radical Political and Religious Extremist

Submitted by mark karlin on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 10:31am. EditorBlog
By Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher of BuzzFlash.com

October 5, 2008
It’s hard to believe that the corporate media is headlining Sarah Palin’s warmed-over-from-the-primaries Sean Hannity smears against Obama. But then again, according to the site Think Progress, the Mainstream Media Stand To Receive $1.44 Billion From McCain’s Tax Cuts.
While Palin, as the aerial presidential campaign wolf hunter, retreads disproven slander that Obama was somehow in league with an act committed by Bill Ayers when Palin was in the second grade -- so to speak -- and Obama was also in elementary school, the mainstream press ignores Palin’s extremely radical ties to extremist political and religious movements.

The corporate media shot down the notion that Palin was affiliated and supportive of the Alaskan Independence (Secessionist) Party by accepting the McCain campaign excuse that she has always been a registered Republican. But then explain this video from this year – 2008 – in which Governor Palin welcomes and praises the secessionist party during their convention in Fairbanks. Watch it. You can’t wish reality away, although Palin is superb at trying to blink it away.

Also, you can support and be supportive or a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, as you would the John Birch Society (and there is a photo from the '90s of Palin with John Birch Society literature), without having to have them as your registered political party. That appears to be the route that Sarah and Todd Palin have taken (although Todd is actually documented as officially declaring the AIP as his political party for awhile a few years back.) . But you know that’s just too "subtle" a distinction for the mainstream corporate press to grasp, so they rather recycle disproven slander against Obama than expose Palin’s radical present, not just her fanatical past.

As we noted in a BuzzFlash headline this weekend: "Palin Who Pals Around with the Alaska Independence (Secessionist) Party, Gets Blessed by a Nutcase Minister Who Protects Her from Witch Doctors, Listens to Speakers Who Believe Jews are Damned, Calls the Iraq War Divinely Inspired (and More of Unacceptable Anti-American and Extremist Beliefs and Behavior) is Now Following the McCain Effort to Reawaken Old Discredited Smears on Obama. Palin is Just a Rabid Pit Bull. Forget the Lipstick." And that’s not even the half of her UnAmerican beliefs, not even a fifth of them.

But given the desperation of the McCain campaign because somehow – miraculously – reality has peaked through the crowds and many Americans are seeing the Grand Hypocrisy Party as the larcenous cabal that it is, Palin is being employed to resurrect the Obama slander that is only newsworthy because of the fact that the McCain campaign has run out of other lies to peddle.

Meanwhile, Palin – who is a believer in a renegade theology called "The Third Wave" that believes God has chosen certain people (her) to lead America into preparation for Armageddon, indeed that her ascension to the presidency is a prerequisite for End Times – is getting the kids gloves treatment from the national press (except for, unexpectedly, Katie Couric). Think of the billions of dollars that is spent on corporate news reporting and try to fathom that they covered the VP as a good "performance" on Palin’s part, without dealing with her complete deficiency in offering any plan or vision for America’s future. (Meanwhile, the "snap polls" that BuzzFlash received – admittedly unscientific – ALL showed that Biden won by at least 20% with the crucial Independent vote on every major issue.)

Remember that Palin was placed on the ticket, allegedly, because a rather secretive organization of far right evangelicals told the McCain campaign to appoint her V.P. or risk the formidable institutional backing and get out the vote support of the Armageddon crowd. McCain, seeing that he evoked all the enthusiasm of road kill, relented. This was the same group of radical evangelical "leaders" who anointed George W. Bush in a secret meeting (no media or taping equipment is allowed) in 2000. Remember, they didn't choose McCain; they chose to back Palin with the hope that she will soon succeed McCain.

Since then, Sarah Palin – in her own language of "Crack Barrel" expressions, scripted campaign slogans, and dropped sentences – has been running not for VP but for president.

As Frank Rich implies in another scintillating column on October 5, when the Governor accidentally said recently that she was running on the Palin-McCain ticket, she wasn’t kidding. Palin has said several things that contradict the McCain campaign message – and they don’t seem intentional to try and draw in a different group of voters.

In Colorado on Saturday, where she resurrected some slime against Obama -- from Sean Hannity and the gang -- she argued that the McCain campaign shouldn’t have given up on Michigan. Say what?

McCain is acting so petulantly and irascible of late, it is hard to take him seriously as a candidate. As Frank Rich notes, McCain is now relying on Palin, a radical extremist in the guise of a "down home" persona, to carry him across the finish line.

McCain appears to just want to cross the finish line, to show that he could be elected before he dies. How long he serves is of less importance to him than to feel validated by winning the presidential election. He is not putting the country first; he is putting himself first, a man with a fierce grievance that he wasn’t nominated by his party earlier in his youth, when he had the fire to do something. Now, he just wants his trophy presidency and then he’s ready to turn it over to Sarah Palin.

Those of you who doubt it should remember the below the radar comment that Palin made in the VP debate, one of the few substantive remarks she uttered. In essence, she said that she would model her role as VP after Cheney. BuzzFlash wrote a commentary on this horrifying power grab ("Like Putting Lipstick on a Cheney: Palin's Vow to Continue Unitary Executive and Lack of Accountability for VP Position") that doesn’t exist in the Constitution and to which Biden appropriately replied:

"Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history... The Constitution is explicit. The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous."

But Sarah Palin, to quote "The Blues Brothers," is on a mission from God.

And as Frank Rich notes, the ultimate game changer may be that if somehow the McCain-Palin tickets squeaks through (and it would have to be with voter suppression and stolen votes), expect Palin to assume the presidency right quick.

That’s the plan of the Anti-American extremist evangelical right wing. With Palin as president, it becomes their country, not ours. They are the ultimate terrorists against democracy and the Constitution, but you won’t read a word about it in the corporate press.



Go on-site for the numerous links within this article.

What is it that we've come to? I can't even beging to wrap my mind around someone like Sarah Palin getting the nod to run for VP, much less the probability that if the ticket wins, in all likelihood, she will end up in the Oval Office, nor can I grasp that she might end up in a nuclear bunker with her finger on the button.

This is more than ones mind can digest and think about in a rational manner. I'm going to join in banging my own head against the desk. My word. what a situation we're in Ollie.

Who in their right mind would vote for such a ticket? Pififully we know the answer. It also seems we do know where she's coming from and that none of this is anything we can quite understand. SRH
. . .

Saundra Hummer
October 5th, 2008, 08:43 PM
. . . . .

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Sun, 10/05/2008 - 1:17pm. Reader Contribution

By ProtectDemocracy Posting at http://www.buzzflash.net/

From the International Herald Tribune:

“Senator John McCain, in a provocative and politically risky speech, sharply criticized leaders of the religious right on Monday as agents of intolerance…Specifically, Mr. McCain singled out (certain) evangelists….as corrupting influences on religion and politics and said parts of the religious right were divisive and even un-American….”

"The political tactics of division and slander are not our values," Mr. McCain said. "They are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country."

"Neither party," Mr. McCain added, "should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance."

That was “Maverick” McCain during the 2000 primary campaign. Those paragraphs are excerpted from an article in the February 29, 2000 edition of the International Herald Tribune.

What happened to John McCain? When did he become the candidate of John Hagee and Rod Parsley? How could the candidate who called the religious right, “Agents of Intolerance,” attach himself and his campaign to the same religious leaders who he railed against 8 years ago? How did he select a running mate who is an adherent of the most extreme theocratic religious beliefs, and who has brought her beliefs into the political offices she has held?

The Third Wave or New Apostolic Reformation Movement; which includes the church in which Sarah Palin was baptized and spent more than 20 years, and the various churches she still chooses to attend, promote a theocratic world view, in which their particular brand of fundamentalism dominates all aspects of society, as a prelude to the return of Jesus. Their strategy for achieving domination includes infiltration and fracturing of traditional Christian churches. In his book, “Civil War in the Church,” Rick Joyner, one of the leading figures in the Third Wave Movement, claims that this war, like the American Civil War, will be fought between the “Grays” and the “Blues.” The Grays represent the institutionalized existing church which he claims is mired in legalism and lives by the power of their own brains, while the victorious Blues represent those joining in the new knowledge and supernatural outpouring of “signs and wonders.”

As a progressive and a non-Christian, I see the migration of the theocratic, dominionist Third Wave movement into national politics as a threat to our democracy and to the pluralistic nature of American society. But it is not only progressives who are threatened. Conservative evangelical Christian denominations see the Third Wave movement as a threat to their own beliefs, and to their very existence. Leaders of the Third Wave movement openly brag about their successes in attracting other Christian churches and ministers to its own theology and world view, in their online magazine.

The metamorphosis of John McCain, who opposed the influence of the Religious Right in Republican politics before he supported it, exposes McCain and the Republican Party for what they are, agents of big money interests, who will stop at nothing to retain power so that they can further their corporatist agenda. The desperate selection of an inexperienced, intellectual lightweight like Sarah Palin, was, to use McCain’s own words, “Pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance.” The Republican Party needed someone on the ticket to energize its base of evangelical voters. This time, through desperation and lack of understanding of the various theological movements of the Religious Rights, they may have overshot their target.


. . .

Saundra Hummer
October 6th, 2008, 04:35 PM
~ ~ ~

An Inspiring and wonderful remembrance.
Rest In Peace, Gil Rossellini

Rory O'Connor

My friend phoned last week, just to check in and say hello. I missed his call, and the message asked that I not return it immediately, as it was getting late in Rome. He sounded up, as usual, and I made a mental note to get back to him later - but soon. Sooner still, it was too late. Gil Rossellini was dead.

It was always inspiring to hear Gil's raspy voice rattling across the ocean, but never so much as in recent years, for whenever we would speak, he would inevitably punctuate his remarks by exclaiming, "Rory, every morning when I wake up, I thank God I'm alive!"

It's a lovely sentiment, but to grasp its true import, you first have to understand what Gil had gone through - and was still going through everyday. Four years ago, while getting off an airplane en route to a film festival in Sweden, he collapsed and fell into a coma. Beset by a drug-resistant bacterial infection that began eating away his skin and organs, he hovered between life and death for nearly a month. Twice doctors thought he wouldn't last the night. Finally they intervened with a desperate, dangerous operation that saved his life but cost him the use of his legs, leaving him weak and in a wheelchair. He then faced his infirmity head on, throwing himself with courage and vigor into an excruciating rehabilitation regime in Switzerland - while simultaneously documenting his recovery in two revelatory films, ironically and presciently entitled "Kill Gil," Volume 1 and 2.

It was through film making that we had met, back in the last decade of the last century. Gil had just produced "Enemy Mine," a series of six one-hour films examining contemporary European conflict zones. Although it was produced in association with Italy's RAI, and several other key European broadcasters also aired the series, he had unsurprisingly found little interest in the United States. At the time, Globalvision was producing its non-profit weekly series "Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television" in sixty-two countries - a program we had started out of frustration with an inability to get our own human rights-oriented work on air. A mutual friend, the film critic Gerald Peary, suggested that Gil contact me because our company was "one the few places around actually into films about human rights." Sure we were into Rossellini's series, I explained with a smile when we met -we just didn't have much money to license it…

In the end, we struck a deal and forged a friendship, one that grew after I purchased a house around the corner from his on Long Island. Soon Gil and his wife Edy - both generous and welcoming neighbors - became close family friends. Gil in particular was a huge hit with my two young sons, as he drove them giddily through the suburban streets in a tiny, exquisite, cherry red toy Ferrari convertible Gil had painstakingly restored, outfitted with a 100cc engine, and shipped to America. His famous father's famous friend Enzo Ferrari had personally bestowed it upon Gil decades earlier, when he was a little boy…

Ah, yes, his famous father… It's true that Gil came from that Rossellini family - at times both a blessing and a bane. One result was that people often seemed to come at him in order to go through him, intent on reaching his sister Isabella the famous actress, or commemorating his father Roberto, the genius filmmaker. It must have been painful at times for such a creative person to have his own work regarded so lightly and used as a pawn - "Inevitably, his own achievements pale in comparison with those of his father," one feature article thoughtlessly put it - and Gil was an extraordinarily creative person, adept at many forms of expression, from videography to filmmaking to music.

Yet there were advantages as well of being a Rossellini. Gil was a celebrity in New Delhi, for example - something the extraordinary circumstances of his birth had much to do with, of course. The story, at least as Gil told it, went like this: Facing India's tenth anniversary of independence, its leader Nehru invited Roberto Rossellini to make a film to commemorate the occasion. While there, he took up with a married woman, the mother of one child who was pregnant with her next. Despite the ensuing scandal, he left the country with her, and the baby was born soon thereafter. Arjun Das Gupta was then raised in Rome as Roberto Rossellini's son Gil.

As the Guardian noted in a 2004 profile:

"As childhoods go, Gil Rossellini's sounds idyllic. As he sits in the courtyard of a villa in Venice, the dapper Italo-Indian producer reminisces about long, lazy family holidays spent with his extended family. He was very close to his father. Both shared a passion for racing cars and machinery. At home, they built a special lab where they fooled around with lenses, movie cameras and Moviolas. 'There was this 60-year-old man and this 10-year-old boy, always tinkering together,' he says, evoking an image of a sorcerer and his apprentice.

In the summer, the entire Rossellini clan would decamp to a house by the sea - seven kids from three different marriages, various nannies and several of the kids' friends. Two of the wives would stay the whole time. There would be fleeting visits from Ingrid Bergman, film and theatre commitments permitting. Rossellini himself would turn up at weekends in his grand Ferrari.

Gil was aware that his father was a film-maker, but didn't know much about his work. When he was 12, he worked as a runner on one of his father's films, Acts of the Apostles. 'It was heaven on earth because it was shot in Tunisia in the middle of the school year,' he says. 'But when I was older, 16 or 17, I considered having to be on the set with my father as child abuse. It wasn't really fun.'

At home, though there was a constant stream of visitors from the movie world (Charlie Chaplin and Vittorio de Sica among them), no one talked much about cinema. When Gil started going to films himself, he'd see 'things like M*A*S*H or Easy Rider - films of my generation'. It was only two years after his father's death, when Gil and his sister Isabella were invited to a retrospective of his father's films in Charleston, South Carolina in 1979, that he realised that there was more to the old man's work than he had imagined. 'I saw all his films in a space of two weeks. And I thought, 'Oh, shit! He was a really great film-maker.'"

After those idyllic Italian years, however, Gil was suddenly uprooted and thrust into a completely alien environment - Texas! Despite his thick Italian accent and dark Bengali skin, he managed to fit in, mostly thanks to his skill at music. He performed frequently, playing anything with strings and everything from blues to Tex-Mex while attending Rice University, studying physics and mathematics and perfecting his English. Finally, in 1983, he found himself broke and in New York City. Martin Scorsese (then with his sister Isabella) offered him a job as a production assistant on "The King of Comedy." The following year, he worked with Sergio Leone on "Once Upon a Time in America," and his own career in the family business began.

Despite his famous pedigree and good connections, however, finding the resources to make documentary films was just as difficult for Gil as for the rest of us, a mutual fate we often bemoaned but never forswore. Instead, we began to collaborate, working as co-directors and traveling the world together. Our first co-venture, "Hear Our Voices: The Poor on Poverty" took us to from the slums of Patna, India to the favelas of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and the still war-torn landscape of Bosnia and the Republika Srpska, as poor people the world over voiced their fears, concerns and hopes for the future. A second, "The Hole in the Wall," took us back to India to chronicle efforts by cognitive researcher Sugata Mitra to bridge the digital divide - and culminated in a rare invitation to visit with Sir Arthur Clarke in Sri Lanka, whose brilliant work on "2001: A Space Odyssey" had inspired Mitra's efforts. I remember the days spent with Sir Arthur in Colombo as among the most memorable of my thirty-year career to date.

After "The Hole in the Wall," it became ever more difficult to finance documentary films on serious and important topics such as human rights - particularly here in the United States, where the independent media was receiving less and less support and commercial media was either increasingly obsessed with the trivial and meaningless or busy trading accountability for access. Gil looked back increasingly to his other homelands of India and Italy for work. He traveled the world incessantly, living mostly on airplanes and cigarettes while producing unlikely new projects such as the 15th-century romantic epic "The Princess of Mount Ledang," a feature that was the first Malaysian film ever to screen at an international film festival, distributing Miramax films in India, developing new series in Italy…

Then the illness struck, and years of pain and suffering ensued. He left Sweden for Switzerland, where he underwent extensive rehabilitation and endless operations, literally dozens of them. We spoke frequently, but it was difficult to meet. Then he was thankfully well enough to return to New York, for a triumphant screening of "Kill Gil, Volume 1" at the Tribeca Film Festival. Finally, I journeyed back to Rome to help celebrate his fiftieth birthday. It was the last time we ever saw each other - yet I still remember it like yesterday - the food, the fun, and of course the music, Gil playing well into the night, exhausted but not wanting any of it ever to end…

But end it has, and now I remember it all - but mostly I remember my friend: clambering like a mahout up the back of an elephant at Sri Lanka's Elephant Orphanage; eating fried fish in Maharashtra until we literally couldn't stomach any more; tanning on Ipanema beach while our camera was stolen virtually in front of our eyes; jamming on Eric Clapton songs with my son Ciaran in the backyard in Bellport; racing in four wheel drive over the Fire Island dunes; watching endless replays of the Star Wars trilogy in his carefully constructed basement home theatre, filled with every media playback format ever devised; working feverishly out of Globalvision's offices in the wake of 9/11, reporting for RAI and - furious at the terrorists who had struck his beloved adopted hometown of New York - at the same time writing, performing and recording in response a song called "The Towers of Love;"


which attempted to tell his own immigrant story and that of so many others like him:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"We came one at a time
from all over the globe
with a penny in cash
and millions in hope
we built our dream
with glass and with steel
with cement and with blood
and it took many years

the dream, the dream
you can't take it away
you can hate it
you can bomb it
but it'll always remain
the towers of love
the towers of life
will be back very soon
will again touch the sky

we came one at a time
from all over the place
white and black, yellow and brown
and of different faiths
we built our dream
with the sun in our eyes
and in hope that someway
it would work for mankind

the dream, the dream
you can't take it away
you can hate it
you can bomb it
but it'll always remain
the towers of love
the towers of life
will be back very soon
will again touch the sky…"

~ ~ ~

Farewell, my friend. Rest in peace at last - you deserve it. And you're right, of course; they, can't take the dream away. Those towers of life will be back very soon, and they will again touch the sky. I swear it…

Spread The Word: Please forward this to interested friends and colleagues >>

Media is a Plural -- October 6, 2008

Concerned about the media? TELL A FRIEND!

© 2008 MediaChanne


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
October 6th, 2008, 05:41 PM

Palin’s Problem With Facts

Greg Guma
06 September, 2008

We’re clearly in an era when facts have less value. Although many people blame the Bush administration, the irresponsibility of some media outlets has also played a part. Yet, when Sarah Palin debated Joe Biden last week she was promoting – perhaps inadvertently – a more extreme idea: facts really don’t matter at all anymore. Did she know that she was so often mistaken? That’s difficult to gauge, since she’s also not fond of questions and prefers to answer her own. Nevertheless, Palin’s performance suggests that, for some politicians, getting to talk to Americans “without a media filter” means constructing their own reality.

The following isn’t a complete list of Palin misstatements. It’s merely a=2 0start, covering 15 topics and 23 instances in which she strayed from reality in 90 minutes. Considering that Joe Biden was talking for half that time, it works out to about one distortion, factual error or lie every two minutes.

1. TAXES: Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He didn’t. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount. A family of four wouldn’t have been affected unless they made at least $90,000 a year. Palin also repeated the attack that Obama voted for higher taxes 94 times, which the New York Times calls “false,” CNN says is “misleading,” and FactCheck.org says is “inflated.” And she wrongly claimed that “millions of small businesses” would see tax increases under Obama’s tax proposals. At most, several hundred thousand business owners would see increases.

2. HEALTH CARE: Palin mis-characterized Barack Obama’s health plan when she said it would be “government-run,” according to the Congressional Quarterly, St. Petersburg Times and others. The charge has been widely debunked as a “canard.” Obama's plan doesn't provide for universal coverage and only mandates insurance for kids. The system wouldn't be turned over to the government. Meanwhile, she said taxes wouldn’t go up under the McCain health care plan, a fact even his campaign has acknowledged isn’t true. She also said that McCain's plan was "budget neutral" when independent budget experts estimate it would cost tens of billions each year. The details are too fuzzy to allow for exact estimates.

3. FANNIE MAE/FREDDIE MAC: “It was John McCain who pushed so hard with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform measures,” she said. But fact checkers say that’s “quite a stretch” and “barely true,” and that McCain was a “latecomer” to the discussion.

4. SPENDING INCREASES: Palin claimed that Obama is proposing “nearly a trillion dollars in new spending,” but didn’t mention that he has also proposed cuts to balance it out. CNN has debunked this attack as “misleading” and says it ignores the far larger cost of McCain’s tax cuts and spending hikes.

5. TOBACCO REGULATION: “Look at the tobacco industry” as an example of McCain pushing for even harder and tougher regulations, she suggested. Well, McCain opposed expanding the SCHIP children’s health insurance program for 5.8 million children because it would increase tobacco tax es.

6. EDUCATION: Palin said we need to make sure “that education in either one of our agendas, I think, absolute top of the line.” McCain has repeatedly favored tax cuts for the wealthy over funds for more teachers and class size reduction.

7. ENERGY: Palin claimed the US was sending "about $700 billon a year into foreign countries" for imported oil. The figure is actually $493 billion, according to the Department of Energy. She went after Biden on the 2005 energy bill, saying Obama voted in favor of legislation that provided millions of dollars in tax benefits for oil companies. Although Obama votes for the bill, which gave some tax breaks to oil companies, it cut other tax breaks and actually increased the tax burden on the industry by $300 million, according to the Congressional Research Service. The energy package also included tax credits for ethanol and clean coal that Obama wanted.

8. TROOP SUPPORT: She repeated what the Associated Press called the “highly misleading” attack that Obama opposed funding for the troops. Factcheck.org notes that the same methodology would lead to the same conclusion for McCain.

9. THE SURGE: In a response to Biden, Palin claimed that McKiernan, who she called McClellan, did not say a surge wouldn’t work in Afghanistan. The day before he said, “The word I don’t use for Afghanistan is ’surge.’” McKiernan stressed that what is required is a “sustained commitment” to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution. Palin also erroneously claimed the US is down to pre-surge levels in Iraq. The number of troops on the ground is still higher and the number of combat brigades is the same as at the start of the surge in January 2007, according to Pentagon figures. Iraq troop levels before the surge were at 133,500. While US troop levels in Iraq have been in the 142,000 range, they are currently at around 150,000 because of an ongoing troop rotation. In addition, she criticized Obama's opposition to the "surge” and said, "The surge worked. Barack Obama still can't admit the surge works." Actually, Obama has said the surge "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams" from a military perspective.

10. AFGHANISTAN: “Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan is air raiding villages and killing civilians and such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment again hurts our cause,” Palin said. “That's not what we are doing.” Unfortunately, the Associated Press says that Obama was right in discussing a critically important point about avoiding civilian casualties.

11. DARFUR DIVESTMENT: Palin claimed that “when I and others” found out that the state had money invested in Sudan that “we called for divestment.” In reality, Palin’s appointees worked to kill a Darfur divestment plan.

12. GLOBAL WARMING: “I don’t want to argue about the causes” for global warming, she said. But Palin has clearly taken the position that she doesn’t believe it is man-made. She also falsely claimed that she was the first governor to form a climate change subcabinet, when at least 28 states had already taken action.

13. MCCAIN’S CONSISTENCY: Palin said McCain” doesn't tell one thing to one group and then turns around and tells something else to another group.” But that’s what he has done on immigration, telling Hispanic leaders he was for comprehensive reform instead of the enforcement-focused approach he has taken with conservatives.

14. PARTISANSHIP: McCain is “known for putting partisan politics aside to just get the job done,” Palin claimed. Yet he has voted with Bush 90 percent of the time in the Senate and has bragged about his support for Bush on important issues.

15. APPOINTMENTS: “You do what I did as governor, she claimed. “And you appoint people regardless of party affiliation. Democrats, independents, Republicans, you walk the walk, don't just talk the talk.” Actually, she repeatedly appointed friends and supporters to positions for which they weren’t qualified.

Biden’s performance certainly wasn’t misstatement-free. For example, he wrongly claimed that McCain “voted the exact same way” as Obama on the budget bill that contained the increase on singles making as little as $42,000 a year. McCai n voted against it. Biden was referring to an amendment that didn't address taxes at that income level. He also wrongly claimed that McCain had said "he wouldn't even sit down" with the government of Spain. McCain didn't reject a meeting; he simply refused to commit himself one way or the other during an interview. Still, Palin may have set some sort of record. (Some of Bidens statements have been shown to be true by factcheck.com after a mistake on their part, they corrected it and I've posted it in another post. SRH)

Of course, her job as candidate has little to do with what she knows (or doesn’t). It’s to be the “barracuda” that McCain enjoys so much, a mindless fighting tool used to attack his opponent with any lines her handlers think will work. As she's told us herself, she reads anything people put in front of her.

Now that the Republican ticket is becoming truly desperate, the tactics will get increasingly vicious. The charge that Obama thinks so little of the country that he’s “palling around with terrorists who would target their own country,” leveled by Palin this weekend, is just the beginning. Truth? Facts? For Palin and McCain, they’ve become officially irrelevant.

Greg Guma, a Vermont editor and author, is a former Executive Director of Pacifica Radio. His writing on politics and media can be found on Maverick Media



Saundra Hummer
October 6th, 2008, 06:29 PM


Dear Saundra R.

I am Don Siegelman,


:: :: ::
I think that this will make Watergate look like childsplay:



a Democrat and I served as the Governor of Alabama until Karl Rove targeted me in a political prosecution. My story, as described in CBS’s 60 Minutes:


is just one example of how Karl Rove subverted our Constitution and corrupted the integrity of the Justice Department.

I was convicted of something that The New York Times said,”… has never been a crime.” A former Republican Attorney General of Arizona said on CBS’s 60 Minutes, that “they couldn’t beat Siegelman fair and square so they targeted him with this prosecution.” I was THE blue dot in a red state that became Karl Rove’s target.

My investigation was started by Karl Rove’s client, the Alabama Attorney General, and I was brought to trial one month before the election, by a U S Attorney who was the wife of my Republican opponent’s campaign manager- a thirty year friend and political associate of Rove’s. After the trial, a Republican lawyer gave sworn testimony to the House Judiciary Committee that Karl Rove was directing the DOJ to prosecute me.

My sentence was enhanced for speaking out against the political nature of the prosecution. Handcuffed and shackled, I was immediately removed from the courtroom and taken to a maximum security prison where I was put into solitary confinement.

Nine months later, I was released in an extraordinary ruling of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals saying there are “substantial questions of law and fact likely to result in reversal”.

Robert Wexler called for an investigation into my case, and has stood firm against those who prefer to run out the clock, and let those who committed the real crimes get off the hook. No one has fought harder for me or for bringing Karl Rove to justice than Robert Wexler.

But this fight is not about me, it’s about our country, restoring the law, and bringing Karl Rove to justice.

Robert Wexler has shown that strong Congressional leadership is our best insurance against the abuse of power that Karl Rove has waged against the American People.

Now it’s up to us to continue this fight for justice and to restore our democracy.

Now, we must fight for Robert Wexler. Please help me keep him in office by ....

We must send a message that it is un-American to have US Attorneys targeting people because of their party affiliation. If they can bring a Governor down, they can do it to you or a member of your family.

We must also send a message to Robert Wexler's challengers: “We will not let you will not remove our allies in Congress who stand with us in this fight against the subversion of our democracy.”

Please help Robert Wexler push back against his self-funded challengers.

If you are angry at what this administration has done to America and if you share my disappointment at the passiveness of some Members of our Democratic Congress, then we must reward and defend those, like Robert Wexler, who has never quit fighting on our behalf.

Click here to show the rest of Congress we will support those who support our ideals.

The tough work is left to be done. We must continue to fight until Karl Rove and others have been held accountable. It is now time for Rove and the others who abused power and used the DOJ as a political weapon to be brought to justice.

With your help, we can be certain Robert Wexler will be standing with us when we win our victory and return America to its best ideals.

Now it’s time for us to take action. (edit: fundraising request)

With every best wish, I am sincerely,

Don Siegelman

P.S. For more information on my case, go to www.donsiegelman.org

Saundra Hummer
October 6th, 2008, 07:08 PM
. . . . . . .

Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal?

NEW YORK, Feb. 24, 2008
(CBS) Is Don Siegelman in prison because he’s a criminal or because he belonged to the wrong political party in Alabama? Siegelman is the former governor of Alabama, and he was the most successful Democrat in that Republican state. But while he was governor, the U.S. Justice Department launched multiple investigations that went on year after year until, finally, a jury convicted Siegelman of bribery.

Now, many Democrats and Republicans have become suspicious of the Justice Department’s motivations. As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, 52 former state attorneys-general have asked Congress to investigate whether the prosecution of Siegelman was pursued not because of a crime but because of politics.

Ten years ago life was good for Don Siegelman. After he became governor, many believed he was headed to a career in national politics. In 1999, Siegelman’s pet project was raising money to improve education, so he started a campaign to ask voters to approve a state lottery. He challenged Republicans to come up with a better idea.

“You tell us how you’re going to pay for college scholarships. You tell us how you’re going to put state of the art computers inside every school in this state,” he said.

But now the applause has long faded. Today, Siegelman is at a federal prison camp in Louisiana. He’s doing seven years. The main charge against him was that he took a bribe, giving a position on a state board to businessman Richard Scrushy, who had made a big donation to that lottery campaign. There was a star witness, Nick Bailey, a Siegelman aide who had a vivid story to tell.

“Mr. Bailey had indicated that there had been a meeting with Governor Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy, a private meeting in the Governor's office, just the two of them,” says Doug Jones, who was one of Siegelman’s lawyers. “And then, as soon as Mr. Scrushy left, the governor walked out with a $250,000 check that he said Scrushy have given him for the lottery foundation.”

“Had the check in his hand right then and there? “ Pelley asks.

“Had the check in his hand right then,” Jones says.

“That Scrushy had just handed to him, according to Bailey's testimony?” Pelley asks.

“That's right, showed it to Mr. Bailey. And Nick asked him, ‘Well, what does he want for it?’ And Governor Siegelman allegedly said, ‘A seat on the CON Board.’ Nick asked him, ‘Can we do that?’ And he said, ‘I think so,’” Jones says.

The CON board regulates hospital construction, and Scrushy ran a healthcare company. Both Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted in federal court.

But, as 60 Minutes found out, the imprisonment of Don Siegelman is not nearly as simple as that.

“I haven't seen a case with this many red flags on it that pointed towards a real injustice being done,” says Grant Woods, the former Republican attorney general of Arizona.

Woods is one of the 52 former state attorneys-general, of both parties, who’ve asked Congress to investigate the Siegelman case.

“I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square. This was a Republican state and he was the one Democrat they could never get rid of,” Woods says.

Now a Republican lawyer from Alabama, Jill Simpson, has come forward to claim that the Siegelman prosecution was part of a five-year secret campaign to ruin the governor. Simpson told 60 Minutes she did what’s called “opposition research” for the Republican party. She says during a meeting in 2001, Karl Rove, President Bush’s senior political advisor, asked her to try to catch Siegelman cheating on his wife.

"Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman?" Pelley asks.

"Yes," Simpson replies.

"In a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides," Pelley clarifies.

"Yes, if I could," Simpson says.

She says she spied on Siegelman for months but saw nothing. Even though she was working as a Republican campaign operative, Simpson says she wanted to talk to 60 Minutes because Siegelman’s prison sentence bothers her conscience.

Simpson says she wasn’t surprised that Rove made this request. Asked why not, she tells Pelley, “I had had other requests for intelligence before.”

“From Karl Rove?” Pelley asks.

“Yes,” Simpson says.

Rove was a strategist in Alabama. Simpson says she worked with him on several campaigns.

60 Minutes contacted Rove. Through his lawyer, he denied Simpson’s allegations. One of Rove’s close Alabama associates was Republican consultant Bill Canary. Simpson says she was on a conference call in 2002 when Canary told her she didn’t have to do more intelligence work because, as Canary allegedly said, “My girls” can take care of Siegelman. Simpson says she asked “Who are your girls?”

“And he says, ‘Oh, my wife, Leura. You know, she's the Middle District United States Attorney.’ And he said, ‘And then Alice Martin. She is the Northern District Attorney, and I've helped with her campaign,’” Simpson says.

“Federal prosecutors?” Pelley asks.

“Yes, Sir,” she says.

Bill Canary denies the conversation ever happened. He told 60 Minutes he never tried to influence any government official in the case. His wife Leura Canary and Alice Martin are top federal prosecutors in the state. Both were appointed by President Bush, and their offices investigated Siegelman. Details of some of those investigations leaked to the press. And Siegelman lost his 2002 re-election campaign narrowly to Republican Bob Riley.

Two years later, as Siegelman geared up to run again, the Justice Department took one of its Siegelman investigations to trial-an indictment involving an alleged Medicaid scam.

“He’s indicted. He goes to trial. That's a pretty big deal to have your former governor on trial. Everybody's there. The government gives their opening argument. The judge says, ‘I want to see you in chambers because this case, there's no case here,’" Grant Woods says.

Woods says the judge threw the case out, without a witness testifying. “The case is so lame that he throws it out,” he says.

Vindicated, Siegelman focused on winning the 2006 election. And that’s when Jill Simpson says she heard the Justice Department was going to try again. She says she heard it from a former classmate and work associate Rob Riley, the son of the new Republican governor.

“Rob said that they had gotten wind that Don was going to run again,” she says.

“And Rob Riley said what about that?” Pelley asks.

“They just couldn't have that happen,” Simpson says.

Asked how they were going to prevent that from happening, she says, “Well, they had to re-indict him, is what Rob said.”

Simpson told this same story, under oath, to Congressional investigators in a closed session. Rob Riley told 60 Minutes he never talked to Jill Simpson about this.

Four months after Simpson says they spoke, Siegelman was indicted on new charges. Doug Jones, Siegelman’s lawyer, says one of the prosecutors told him that Justice Department headquarters in Washington had ordered a top to bottom review of the case. Today, the Alabama prosecutors deny that it was Washington - but whoever ordered it, there was a big boost to the investigation.

“They started over. People started getting subpoenas that had never gotten subpoenas before, for testimony, for records. The governor's brother, his bank records started getting subpoenaed. The net was cast much wider than had ever been cast before,” Jones says.

“You know, on the other hand, what's wrong with the Department of Justice vigorously investigating a case if they think there is an indictment to be made on public corruption charges?” Pelley asks.

“Well, you still have to investigate crimes, not people. It undermines the entire system of justice because at that point anybody can be a target. Any prosecutor can look across the table and say, ‘You know what? I just don't like you,’” Jones says.

The prosecution was handled by the office of U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, whose husband Bill Canary had run the campaign of Siegelman’s opponent, Gov. Riley.

“Why would you do it that way?” Woods asks. “Why wouldn't you say, ‘You know what? We're going to bring in someone from another jurisdiction to do it. There's a lot of United States attorneys around the country. We'll have somebody come in and do this case.’ That's not what happened in Alabama. Every time they had the chance to go the extra mile to be independent and objective, they didn't do it.”

Leura Canary handled the case for eight months. When defense attorneys objected, she turned it over to her assistants and says that she had nothing further to do with it.

In this new investigation, prosecutors zeroed in on that vivid story told by Siegelman’s aide, Nick Bailey, who said he saw the governor with a check in his hand after meeting Richard Scrushy. Trouble was, Bailey was wrong about the check, and Siegelman’s lawyer says prosecutors knew it.

“They got a copy of the check. And the check was cut days after that meeting. There was no way possible for Siegelman to have walked out of that meeting with a check in his hand,” Jones explains.

“That would seem like a problem with the prosecution's case,” Pelley remarks.

“It was a huge problem especially when you've got a guy who's credibility was going to be the lynch pin of that case. It was a huge problem,” Jones says.

And there was another problem with the prosecutor’s star witness: Nick Bailey was a crook. Unknown to Siegelman, Bailey had been extorting money from Alabama businessmen. Facing ten years in prison, Bailey agreed to cooperate with prosecutors to get a lighter sentence.

60 Minutes went to talk to Bailey. The Justice Department wouldn’t let our cameras into the prison, but we met with him for hours.

Bailey told 60 Minutes that before the Siegelman trial, he spoke to prosecutors more than 70 times, and he admitted that during those conversations he had trouble remembering details. He told 60 Minutes the prosecutors were so frustrated, they made him write his proposed testimony over and over to get his story straight.

If Bailey’s telling the truth, his notes, by law, should have been turned over to the defense. But Siegelman’s lawyers tell 60 Minutes they never saw any such notes and never had a chance to show the jury just how much Bailey’s story had changed.

No one at the Justice Department would be interviewed for this story, but they did send a statement which read, in part, "This case was brought by career prosecutors … based upon the law and the evidence alone. After considering that evidence … a jury of Mr. Siegelman's peers found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But Grant Woods, the former attorney general of Arizona, says the case should never have gone to trial. “The prosecutor's gotta look at it and say, ‘Hey, is this the sort of thing that we're really talking about when we're talking about bribery?’ Because what the public needs to know here is there is no allegation that Don Siegelman ever put one penny in his pocket,” he says.

Richard Scrushy did make donations totaling $500,000 to that education lottery campaign, and after serving on the hospital board under three previous governors, Scrushy was re-appointed by Siegelman.

But Woods says that’s politics, not bribery. “You do a bribery when someone has a real personal benefit. Not, ‘Hey, I would like for you to help out on this project which I think is good for my state.’ If you're going to start indicting people and putting them in prison for that, then you might as well just build nine or ten new federal prisons because that happens everyday in every statehouse, in every city council, and in the Congress of the United States,” he says.

“What you seem to be saying here is that this is analogous to giving a great deal of money to a presidential campaign. And as a result, you become ambassador to Paris,” Pelley remarks.

“Exactly. That's exactly right,” Woods says.

Siegelman was campaigning in the 2006 Democratic primary as he went to trial. “We’re going to turn this bus into what we call the night shift, because after the trial every day we’re gonna be hittin the trail every day,” he said.

But he lost in the primary. After two months, the jury deadlocked twice, then, voted to convict on its third deliberation. Many legal minds were shocked when federal judge Mark Fuller, at sentencing, sent Siegelman directly to prison without allowing the usual 45 days before reporting.

“He had him manacled around his legs like we do with crazed killers. And whisked off to prison just like that. Now what does that tell you? That tells you that this was personal. You would not do that to a former governor,” Woods says.

“Would you do that to any white collar criminal?” Pelley asks.

“No, I haven't seen it done,” Woods says.

“Help me understand something. You're blaming the Republican administration for this prosecution. You're saying it was a political prosecution. You are a Republican. How do I reconcile that?” Pelley asks.

“We're Americans first. And you got to call it as you see it. And you got to stand up for what's right in this country,” Woods says.

Karl Rove and others at the White House were subpoenaed to testify before Congress but they refused to appear. And the Justice Department has refused to turn over hundreds of documents in the case.

Don Siegelman has six years and eight months to go on his sentence.

© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved

Go on-site to read the comments, they're quite a revealation in themselves. SRH
This isn't a current article, it is an old one, and goes to show who and what type of people are running the Cheney~Bush administration. The cruelty and manipulation is unimaginable, but it's happening and could continue on if this Palin woman has her say; her way. She will fit right in it seems. Rove isn't out of it yet, even though formally he has resigned. Wonder if he and "The Exterminator", along with Newt, have adjoining offices? SRH
. . . . .



Urge Congress to Find Rove in Contempt
In July, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Karl Rove, demanding his testimony about his own role in the politicization of the Department of Justice and politically motivated prosecutions of Democratic leaders, including me. Karl Rove refused to even show up for the hearing, claiming that Congress has no power to compel senior White House officials to testify. That's outrageous.

Now that a U.S. District Judge has ruled that White House aides like Rove can't claim immunity in order to refuse to testify before Congress, there's no room for Karl Rove to hide any longer -- but our time is running out. If Congress adjourns in the coming days and nothing's been done, all of our effort goes down the drain. So now we must pull out the stops and turn up the heat.

Please urge the full House to vote Karl Rove in contempt, forcing him to show up and testify!

October 06, 2008


Dear Member of Congress,

I urge you to work with your House colleagues and vote to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress quickly, before the House adjourns in the coming days.

Karl Rove has thumbed his nose in the face of Congress, refusing to heed a Congressional subpoena and appear before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about his role in launching politically motivated prosecutions -- including the malicious, unfounded prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman -- and politicizing the Department of Justice.

Recently, the House Judiciary Committee voted to cite Rove for contempt after he refused to honor a subpoena and testify. Then, just one day later, a U.S. District Judge ruled that senior White House aides could not claim blanket immunity in order to refuse to testify before Congress.

The message is clear: There's no room for Karl Rove to hide any longer. It is time for him to come clean and tell the truth about what he has done. If Karl Rove really has nothing to hide, then he should show up, testify, and prove it to Congress and the country.

With Congress slated to adjourn in the coming days, it's time for the House to act. I urge you to vote to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress now -- and to encourage your colleagues to do the same.
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Saundra Hummer
October 6th, 2008, 07:25 PM
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October 6, 2008

McCain-Palin ad distorts Obama's remark on Afghanistan and support for troop-funding bills.

A McCain-Palin ad calls Obama "dishonorable," while distorting his words and votes on troop funding.

It accuses him of saying "our troops in Afghanistan" are just bombing villages and killing civilians. What Obama said, in context, was a criticism of U.S. military strategy, and not of American troops.

It accuses Obama and "Congressional liberals" of voting repeatedly to cut off funding for troops, "increasing the risk on their lives." In fact, the votes were for bringing the troops home, cutting off funding only if the president failed to comply.
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Saundra Hummer
October 6th, 2008, 11:19 PM

The Bush Bullydozer Strategy To Preempt His Successor

Danny Schechter.

The Bailout Scheme Sold As An “Emergency” Has Become “Hurry Up And Wait”
Go on-site to gain access to photo.

One of the tactics of high pressure selling is to set a deadline, and make it clear if you don’t chose the offer by the date set, you lose it. The strategy fuels a sense of urgency to get buyers to make decisions without seeking advice or doing too much thinking. Sometimes, a bribe or a threat adds pressure to reinforce a sense of disorientation. Recall President Bush’s ultimatum to Saddam Hussein and his sons. They were given 48 hours to get out of town. Or else! Does anyone really think that had they left they would have been left alone?

The strategy to get the bailout passed came from this same playbook. First, the President warned of an Armageddon. “This is the first time in the history of the United States that the president has sought to provoke a financial panic to get legislation through Congress,” says economist Dean Baker. “While this has proven to be a successful political strategy, it marks yet another low point in American politics. It was incredibly irresponsible for President Bush to tell the American people on national television that the country could be facing another Great Depression. By contrast, when we actually were in the Great Depression, President Roosevelt said that, ‘we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.’”

Then Secretary Paulson and the Federal Reserve Bank Chairman brought their power points to the hill in an unusually alarmist nighttime hush-hush “briefing” to “prove” that unless Congress acted immediately, the whole system would meltdown. They argued something had to be done and they just happen to have that “something” in hand: a three page EMERGENCY PLAN for a mere $700 billion that had to be passed now!

When Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to add a role for Bankruptcy courts to adjudicate foreclosures, she was shot down. Paulson, even went down on his knees to beg her to withdraw the idea because it was complicating his “clean” proposal.

Has anyone looked into who was pushing this, at the role of China which demanded to be “made whole” on its loans and investments, or who would benefit the most? Nah.

Did the media hold debates featuring the more than 400 top economists, including two Nobel Prize winners who opposed this hastily conceived “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.” Nope.

To add more anxiety to the process, it was suddenly announced that a military unit trained in crowd control was being brought back from Iraq to prepare to contain expected civil unrest. Congressman Brad Sherman of California’s 27th congressional district told the House that he personally knew of several Congressional representatives who have said they were threatened with the prospect of all out martial law should they vote in opposition to the $700 billion bailout.

Well, we know what happened the first time around. The House divided as the bill grew to l06 pages. Some Republicans characterized Wall Street’s own Hank Paulson as a secret Communist who wanted to socialize the economy. Some Dems raved at the injustice of it all. The bill went down in defeat.

Then the full court press was on. The White House and its political operatives went to work to find out what the “rebels” wanted to change their votes. The “Maverick” McCain was pressed into action to rope in his supporters. Obama was given the job of pacifying the Black Congressional Caucus. Favors were traded, and promises of generous earmarks followed.

The Senate then, in an unusual maneuver, was ordered to vote first to persuade the House. Their Bill suddenly grew to 451 pages with some $105 BILLION in tax cuts added and other subsidies.

Writing in New York’s Daily News, a disgusted Juan Gonzalez concluded “you can’t make this up.” He reported:

"senators packed the bill with scores of lavish goodies to please favored groups and win support from opponents in today’s House vote.

Take, for instance, Section 305 of the 450-page bill, ‘Modifications of Energy Efficient Appliance Credit.’

It runs several pages long and contains separate sections for ‘dishwashers,’ ‘clothes washers’ and ‘refrigerators.’

The bill says manufacturers of energy-efficient appliances will qualify for up to $250 in federal tax credits for each machine they produce over the next three years. Total cost to taxpayers: $322 million over 10 years.

In case your refrigerator is on the blink, you should note the bill says nothing about passing any savings on to the consumer.”

Now, members of Congress in tight races have goodies to brag about. Others said they voted while holding their noses, but only because they didn’t want to be accused of fiddling while Rome burned. You didn’t get a sense that most members believed the measure was needed or workable. But that didn’t stop them from voting as instructed. A few believed in the bailout; others knew they had sold out.

What an “emergency.” The House was persuaded, lobbied, cajoled and then bought to pass the bill. There were no hearings, no testimony. No sooner was it passed than President Bush signed it before sundown in his latest shock and awe maneuver. A day later, he acknowledged that nothing would happen immediately - despite the urgency that drove the process. In his weekly radio address, he admitted, “While these efforts will be effective, they will also take time to implement.” A few days earlier he was saying there was no time.

There was another reaction, and not the one we had been told to expect. The grateful markets did not go up as we had been led to expect they would. No, they went DOWN. A report showing another big job loss led to a 157 point drop. Banks in several European countries went bust.

So what happens now? Do the architects of Paulson’s panacea expect that we will move forward with all deliberate speed? Think again, as AP reports:

“Experts say the most important thing that needs to happen before the $700 billion bailout even has a chance of working: Home prices must stop falling. That would send a signal to banks that the worst has passed and it’s safe to start doling out money again.

The problem is the lending freeze has made getting a mortgage loan tough for everyone except those with sterling credit. That means it will take several months or longer to pare down the glut of houses built when times were good — and those that have come on the market because of soaring foreclosures — before home prices start appreciating.”

So, we have gone from hurry up to hurry up and wait. The rush is over. John McCain who threatened to veto all earmarks went along with the charade. Barack Obama said this is not the time to assess blame and played the role of a “responsible” leader – i.e. get along by going along. The tax payers are out a likely trillion dollars plus before this is done and there goes all the promises of new programs. The “Leave No Bankers Behind” Bill is now law.

Is the “emergency” over? No way! In fact, mortgages are not the only disaster even as the number of foreclosures grow with little relief in sight. There are a series of new crises threatening to implode: hedge funds, credit default swaps, credit card defaults, commercial real estate, the auto industry, etc.. The housing market is still melting down, unemployment is up along with inflation and our members of Congress are back on the campaign trail boasting that they “did” something.

This is supposed to be an exercise in building confidence, a word whose first three letters spell CON.

– Danny Schechter, editor of Mediachannel.org, wrote “PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity” (Cosimo) now at online book stores.

Comments to



Saundra Hummer
October 7th, 2008, 04:41 PM

Jeers at Anti-Obama Rallies:

'Terrorist!' 'Kill Him!'

Matt Negrin
Oct 7th 2008 1:10PM
Filed under:
US Elections, Politics, Boston UniversitySupporters of the McCain-Palin ticket yelled at two different rallies that Barack Obama is a terrorist and that he should be killed.
(This had to be a planned ahead event, both rallies hearing the same poison. This is wrong and needs to be addressed by the GOP, and it's candidates, both Palin and McCain. This is what causes those who are unstable or those who don't care how they promote their agenda to do the unthinkable. The untruths this Sarah Palin person is spewing is a dangerous mix and she and John McCain both know it and they should be saying so publically; saying it loud and clear. Such low grade actions on her part are uncalled for, and dangerous. Shame John McCain! You know this is true, just look at the words of Netanyahu in Israel. Yitzhak Rabin being assassinated goes to prove how deadly words can be. I remember how his grieving wife, Leah Rabin, was embittered by how it was being thought it was "Bibbi's" vitriol which caused a deranged assassin to shoot and kill Israels Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin." SRH)
John McCain asked supporters in New Mexico, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" A fanatic proclaimed, "Terrorist!" McCain squinted and furled his brow as the crowd cheered.

And in Florida, Sarah Palin attacked Obama as someone who "pals around" with terrorists, an embellished account of the Illinois senator's relationship with 1960s radical Bill Ayers. As she exaggerated their relationship, the crowd booed and one man shouted, "Kill him!"

The Associated Press has already noted that Palin's unsubstantiated attacks on Obama are "racially tinged." The Alaska governor also said of Obama, "This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America. We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism."

Doesn't leave much up to the imagination.

There is no doubt that race is a large factor in the election, perhaps even more so than it was during the primary. An AP/Yahoo! News poll underlined the inherent racism in many white voters who agreed with "negative adjectives" about blacks, making them unlikely to vote for Obama strictly because of his race.

And in case you missed it, Politico today unveiled a special report on the obstacles Obama is still facing among voters who can't see him past his black skin.

McCain spokespeople have said that the Arizona senator does not want a vote if it comes from a person voting on the basis of race. But in four weeks, that disgraceful voting bloc could make the difference between the first black president and, well, this:


Saundra Hummer
October 7th, 2008, 05:03 PM
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After Bailout, AIG Execs Head to California Resort

Rescued by Taxpayers, $440,000 for Retreat Including "Pedicures, Manicures"


October 7, 2008—

Less than a week after the federal government committed $85 billion to bail out AIG, executives of the giant AIG insurance company headed for a week-long retreat at a luxury resort and spa, the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California, Congressional investigators revealed today.

"Rooms at this resort can cost over $1,000 a night," Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said this morning as his committee continued its investigation of Wall Street and its CEOs.

AIG documents obtained by Waxman's investigators show the company paid more than $440,000 for the retreat, including nearly $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 in spa charges.

"They're getting their pedicures and their manicures and the American people are paying for that," said Cong. Elijah Cummings (D-MD).

"This unbridled greed," said Cong. Mark Souder (R-IN), "it's an insensitivity to how people are spending our dollars."

Appearing before the committee, Martin Sullivan, the AIG CEO until June, said the company was overwhelmed by a "financial global tsunami," and that "no simple or single cause" was to blame.

"I am heartbroken at what has happened," Sullivan said.

Robert Willumstad, the CEO from June to September, 2008, maintained AIG was a victim of a "crisis in confidence" and an "unprecedented global catastrophe." "Through the first week of September we were confident AIG could weather the crisis," Willumstad testified. He said the federal government offered its $85 million bail out on the afternoon it prepared for bankruptcy. Willumstad said the Federal Reserve demanded he resign, and will turn down his AIG retirement package of several million dollars.

But Congressional investigators raised question of "mismanagement" and whether AIG executives sought to "cook the books" and hide negative information from outside auditors.

On Dec. 5, 2007, Waxman said, CEO Sullivan told investors, "We are confident in our marks and the reasonableness of our valuation methods."

Documents obtained by the committee show that one week earlier, auditors Pricewaterhouse Cooper had "raise their concerns with Mr. Sullivan&informing him that PWC believed that AIG could have a material weakness relating to the risk management of these areas."

In March, 2008, the Office of Thrift Supervision wrote AIG, "We are concerned that the corporate oversight of AIG Financial Products&lacks critical elements of independence, transparency, and granularity."

Asked about the letter by the committee, the SEC's former chief accountant, Lynn Turner, said the letter reflects "a serious problem from the top down of management, that can bring an organization down."

Former AIG CEO Sullivan said accounting rules required AIG to mark down the value of its holdings, even though it had no plans to sell them, the "mark to market" provision.

AIG had to sell at "fire sale prices," he told skeptical members of Congress. "Suddenly a company with a trillion dollars in assets" was in trouble, said Sullivan.

Waxman questioned both former CEOs about a former AIG auditor who claimed he had been blocked from reviewing the books of a London-based division that has since been blamed for a large share of the company's downfall.

Former CEO Willumstad, chairman of the AIG board at the time, said "I honestly don't remember" the concerns raised by the former auditor.

"I find that very disturbing," said Congressman Waxman.

Waxman also said there is evidence the two men changed the bonus schedule once the company began to post losses, so that executives under the "Senior Partners Plan" would continue to make multi-million dollar salaries.

"Mr. Sullivan and the other top executives should have had their bonuses slashed due to poor performance," said Waxman.

Sullivan said it was "substantially reduced" by the board in 2007 due to poor performance.

Sullivan was given a $15 million "golden parachute" payment after being replaced as CEO in June.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Saundra Hummer
October 7th, 2008, 07:08 PM

Monday, October 06, 2008

"Kill him!", Palin supporter says of Obama in her presence. She says nothing.

John Aravosis (DC)
10/06/2008 07:17:00 PM ET

On the heels of a McCain supporter yelling that Obama was a "terrorist" today - and McCain said nothing in response to admonish the supporter - the Washington Post reports (via ThinkProgress) that a Palin supporter at one of her rallies today yelled for Obama to be assassinated after Palin, again, told the lie that some of Obama's best friends are terrorists:
"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.

"Boooo!" said the crowd.

"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.

"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Palin went on to say that "Obama held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers's living room, and they've worked together on various projects in Chicago."
Palin went on?

Just like she did when speakers at her church said that terrorist attacks against Israelis were "God's judgment" for Jews having the audacity not to embrace Christianity. Just like she did when a visiting witch doctor at her church lamented the fact that, as he claimed, Jews control the banking industry and that's why Wall Street is so corrupt. Not a word from Sarah Palin when her supporters talk of killing Barack Obama. Not a word from Sarah Palin when her own church talks of the propriety of launching terrorist attacks against Jews in Israel.

In one day, McCain's supporters are so enraged by McCain's new rhetoric, calling Obama an un-American terrorist sympathizer, that McCain's supporters are now labeling Obama himself a "terrorist" and calling for him to be killed.

And McCain has no problem with this. Nor does Sarah Palin.

recent comments
(follow comments)

Palin is my governor. I am wholly disgusted by the mean spirited rhetoric that she has been spewing since she was tapped for the vice president candidacy. It adds nothing to the debate or discourse on how to move this country forward. These are hard times right now and we need something more than someone that is looking for more power and their 15 minutes of fame. She has enough to answer for right here in Alaska after her very short stint as our governor. Send her home voters and end this ugly travesty concealed as a campaign. BTW, I'm a fiscal and social moderate, registered non-partisan voter but enough is really enough. Go on-site for contributors ID's
A question to republican voters. Has it ever occurred to you that your "leaders" are playing you? They tell you government is bad and should be virtually eliminated, and you just follow suit, helping to dismantle the greatest tool that the you and the regular "Joe Six Pack" guys COULD have at your disposal if you actually used it. Good government is necessary for the health of this country the same way good health insurance is necessary for the health of your family. Instead you just want to throw it all away because a bunch of self-serving, slime-ball liars have been telling you to. They're profiting by your acceptance to be dumbed down. McCain, Palin, Bush, Cheney, Rove - they don't give a crap about you. They just want you to vote for them so they can steal from you and I and everyone around us. You're being beaten up and robbed. How much of this are you going to take?
Here is how to make a difference. The American people need to call their local Secret Service office and tell them to put a stop to McCain - Palin inciting violence against Senator Obama:


The mainstream traditional media is going to do nothing but report it. It is the Secret Service's job to ensure these modern day Nazi brown shirts stop with the death threats. I'm also outraged at the obscenities being shouted at McCain - Palin rallies. Just goes to show ya what kind of "family values" those Republicans really hold, huh? They are the WORST of America. How dare they scream that kind of stuff so that our kids at home hear it through the teevee. It needs to stop, and the Secret Service needs to explain to McCain - Palin they can't incite their followers to violence against their opponent just because they are losing the election.

I just took my own advice and called my local Secret Service office. I told them I was concerned because of the violent verbal outbursts Sarah Palin is causing at her "campaign rallies" when she claims Obama pals around with domestic terrorists. I urge others to do the same. I told him I hope they found the guy shouting, "Kill Him!" and interviewed him and others shouting death threats / obscenities.

X .. X .. X .. X
The MSM may not pursue this unless they get inundated with requests to do so. I was so outraged by what I saw on the news last night that I let all of the MSM know how I felt, and that I expected them to address it. (And answer my question, "What will the Secret Service do about this?") It's not too hard to do this. Go to FAIR's media contact list at http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=111 and simply send your short, but concerned email to as many of the news outlets as you want.
Anyone know if this guy was actually picked up by the secret service? He directly threatened the life of a US presidential candidate, I'm pretty sure that's reason enough to at least slap him in a cell for some serious questioning. WTF is with the WaPo? They slap that in the story and then no followup about the guy that just suggested assassination of a US Senator???

The Nomination of Sarah P.

(a memorial for Robert W. Service 1874-1958, with apologies to “The Cremation of Sam McGee”


There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By Republicans seeking votes;
The campaign trails have their secret tales --
Indeed their own “Deep Throats.”
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night in the hall in old St. Paul:
They opted for Sarah P.

John McCain, of Vietnam fame, was handed his hat by the Bushes.
His gang changed its game, became McSame -- and fought to save their tushes.
Exxon John was shuffling on, his campaign was dull as Nebraska.
For Hillary’s votes, they donned fur coats and off they flew to Alaska.

The economy tanks, while old John banks -- on beer and big cuts in taxation.
As the gas price soars, corporate whores are buying and selling the nation.
Georgia’s got oil, attractive spoil; John’s guy knocks down hefty fee.
They need oil that’s clean, know what I mean? Voilà: there she is, Sarah P!

“We’ve got her!” they cried, “big win for our side -- a babe who hunts and fishes!”
The right wing crew confirms it’s true, the gal of all their wishes.
They shivered and shook, took one more quick look, and snuck her to Arizona.
As Rove assays “It’s all ‘God, guns, and gays’! You’ve found the ideal persona!”

John’s of an age. At his advanced stage he can’t remember his houses.
The moola is Cindy’s, that pisses the Indies. Perhaps he’s forgotten his spouses!
Up in Alaska no one’ll ask ya how many houses or just how few.
Freezing weather? Palins huddle together in their snuggly exurban igloo.

John McCain fiercely dreams he’s John Wayne -- he wants to bomb Iran.
With Sarah Palin, John aint failin’ his crusade on Islamastan.
“Shia and Sunni, they’re both kind of loony,” neither one can tell them apart.
“We’ll kill ‘em all fast, with a nu-cu-lar blast -- plus elitists who think they’re so smart!”

John used to say, in that bellicose way, “First priority: getting Al Qaida.
We need a guy of experienced eye – or a beauty queen snowmobile rider.”
Sarah P. on Iraq is not deep – but she never asked to be veep.
It was McCain, war on his brain, making the choice in his sleep.

Is there a scandal? One John can’t handle? You’ve heard of troopergate.
Sarah loves sister Palin, so she’ll give her ex a flailin’. An independent state?
“Let’s break away from the old USA, and its army of occupation.
Oil drilling is fine, as long as it’s mine, to hell with your forty-eight nation!”

What now GOP, grand oil oli-GOP-oly? Signs are that you’re ailin’.
Swift boats are sunk, no thoughts are thunk, just a family soap with Palin!
Asleep at the wheel, John’s lost his feel, the party sure is sinking.
But Sarah’s young, with a crazy tongue, let’s hear it for unthinking!

Her style: naughty librarian. Talk: libertarian. But are things what they seem?
She’d ban some books, belies her looks, plays for the GOP team.
Not a librarian, not libertarian, she’s a censoring barracuda.
She knows Jesus will do as she pleases; shut up with your crap about Buddha!

God’s will, Sarah knows, is to drill; she’s privy to His plan.
At end of days the good Lord pays – or is that Taliban?
“Pray away the gay” – her church says today. Alaska’s a “refuge state.”
When Judgment comes, her raptured chums throng Nome’s pearly gate.

“Country first”: it’s well rehearsed, at the post-disaster convention.
She’ll be a heartbeat away from holding sway-- watch your hypertension.
Creation’s in for guv Palin, and choice she’ll strictly ban.
And get this Pentecostal threat: no sex ed in Alaskastan.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By Republicans seeking votes;
The campaign trails have their secret tales --
Indeed their own “Deep Throats.”
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night in the hall in old St.Paul:
They opted for Sarah P.

Gary Shapiro


. . . . .
Whoa, there are so many kinds of wrong here and Palin is standing right in the middle of them - all glassy-eyed and fundamentally wondrous - leaving me aghast at her lack of conscience or sophistication. Simply aghast.

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She also was making disparaging remarks about Biden while he and his family are in mourning in the death of a loved one.

This woman is one cold fish and a fake.

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I am so disgusted by this. The Secret Service did not do their job - they should've found that man and took him in. After all, weren't protesters at the RNC pepper sprayed and arrested for much, much less?

I wouldn't expect Ms. You Betcha to do anything since she is a right wing radical filth pot, but the Secret Service has a duty to protect all Presidential nominees. I also saw the look on McCain's face when a someone yelled out "terrorist". He seemed quite pleased. The conspiracy theorist in me almost might wonder if both these vile beings were not actually planted by the campaign. I have noticed that Boos or words come out of the crowds well ahead of McCain or Palins statements on Obama. Would be interesting to see if they have that applause-like directional signage for the audience.

I certainly hope the Obama campaign (perhaps Michelle during her Larry King appearance on Wednesday) brings this up in the MSM. This can not be tolerated. But either way, we the intellectual public will bring it up on Nov 4th.

Do you already have an account? Log in and claim this comment.

Until that candidate starts putting herself in contact with reporters, the MSM should stop covering her comments. Cover where she was, how many people turned out, all the facts of the appearance -- but don't cover the lines of the speech. Not until she she starts answering questions like any other candidate.

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Sounds to me like McLame's got domestic problems of his own...

Dropping the "C' bomb on his wife...not sure whic one...follow the link

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/07/report... Domestic problems of his own ...
I was 9 years old when President Kennedy was killed and the thing I remember most about that dark day was watching every adult I knew cry and their tears lasted for weeks. I was older when Martin Luther King was murdered and watched helplessly as his dream seemed destined to burn in the streets. But the day Bobby Kennedy was executed was the day my faith in my country's political system ended. Were their deaths engineered by some shadowy cabal of greedy, paranoid, powermongers? Some people have believed for years that they were, that evil shades hiding in darkness may have ordered the deaths of these men who brought hope to millions of ordinary citizens.

Now, for the first time in decades I believe in a man who shines a light and dares me to hope and dream again. And the thing that scares me the most about McCain and Palin and their supporters is that their evil stands in broad daylight and shouts its filth against him. It will take all of our courage and resolve to face these smiling monsters down and take our country back. Do we have the strength and can we stand together? I pray with all my heart that "Yes, we can!"
stand tall, we must speak out and not let them slime their way to this election...dream on but fight back.Yes we can!!
Thank you - it's getting to where I can't sleep at night worrying about the
fate of my beloved country and the future of all our children and
grandchildren. The members of my family who are Republicans aren't even
voting this time, or so they say, because they are disgusted with having "to
choose between two evils." It goes without saying that the first time I
tried to talk with them about Obama was also the last time as I was shouted
down for my pie in the sky, head in the clouds thinking. Our country
wouldn't even exist and wouldn't have weathered so much if it weren't for
dreamers who were willing to fight for the dream. I am happy to have found
this place where it seems that hope still lives.
Please keep dreaming. I can scarcely sleep nights either -- and haven't, really, in a couple of weeks. But what we have are hopes and dreams that I still think will be reality come election day.

McCain and Palin's attacks are despicable. I still believe that our country is better than this.

And we'll see on election day.

Lighting candles!
XXXIn Sarah's defense though, the comment from the crowd might have been more than she could handle. I mean if a response is not written on an index card, she would not know how to handle it. Poor dear's head might explode.
Palin has turned out to be a rabid pitbull. She has no qualms about shooting moose, and wolves from an airplane. She is trailer trash, in her speech, and in her mindless attacks on Obama. She has no class, so how can you expect her to do the right thing, when her mindless supporters show low intellect, and say harmful things? She has become a rabble rouser. She is being used by that girly man, McCain, as an attack dog (make that a female dog), and they are inciting violence, by not nipping dangerous remarks from lunatics.
This definitely needs to be played up.

Palin has gone off the deep end and is now citing the Hannity playbook word for word.

We now have a golden opportunity to not only win the presidency by double digits but to pick up 10 Senate seats and 40 House seats.

She must be condemned for this.
Olbermann's special comment tonight on Palin....it's a good one


Yeah, I saw it and it was really good, but I just wish he would deliver it with a bit less sarcasm in his voice. They are good and viable points, but when he speaks with such a tone, I think he weakens the gist of the thrust of the commentary.
I agree with you. Olberman resorts to dramatics and sarcasm all too often; but, I also understand his outrage and disgust over right-wing excesses. It mirrors my own, but since I don't have his mass media platform with which to express it, I vicariously watch and listen to him speak for me with the same emotion that I feel.
You know, I adore Olbermann and simply love his Special Comments, but last night I found his snide tone to be too dismissive and actually annoying. I think it took away from the zingers he lobbed and made him appear a bit cheap. I really wish he would go back to the original tenor of Edward R Murrow instead of Mr. McSnotty McSnot-Pants.
He reads better in print than he does on the air.
Even knowing all I do about how LOW both McCain and Palin will go to get their ends, I have to say that I'm somewhat shocked at hearing this disgusting nonsense!

I hope the MSM picks this up tomorrow, because it is such crap like THIS that needs to force the media to slap them down hard and fast. Fostering lies and hate is bad enough, but encouraging assassination is more than any of us should ever tolerate!
It appears that the press is being kept from mingling with their supporters at these "events"... which could lend credence to the thought that the folks agitating to "Kill him" are hired goons trying to fire up the loons....
I agree that this is frightening. Americablog is one of the sites I turn to when things otherwise seem like Alice through the Looking Glass. It's my first comment here.

At some point, most Americans need to wake up and realize that a campaign that even subliminally suggests that the assassination of one's opponent is a viable election strategy is simply madness.

Most Americans do. The polls show that. The tightly vetted party kool-aid drinkers that comprise McCain/Palin's audience is something else. Something beyond the reach of demographics.

Something kind of sick. Not being such a God person, I have still prayed to whatever forces are out there that Obama will be safe to run his campaign without risk of being murdered for being who he is. The fact that these people seem to think that suggesting this, no matter how subtly, to their supporters, is insane. We cannot allow these people into the White House, and I believe (in part based on those wonderful poll numbers -- red to blue -- gotta love it!) that they will not. In the meantime, send some good thoughts to Senator Obama and his family.

These jerks and their inflaming rhetoric -- imagine how Michelle Obama must feel tonight. We can do this. Yes we can.
Yes, welcome to posting. As Polly_Tics said, we have a great group, occasionally a troll or two, but it's nothing we can't handle, lol.

Thank you for your good thoughts, I've done the same. This is a crazy time we are living in, but hopefully we are embarking on a new road, a good one, out of the darkness, here in about 29 days!
I would've returned earlier, but someone stole my name. "What's in yer wallet?"
Ditto to Polly_Tics' comment, and to your own -- I'm definitely sending out some prayers to the Obama family.

Note how classy (as in NOT!) the McCain/Palin campaign is being, what with Biden genuinely suspending his own campaigning for a few days due to a death in the family.

The million- and billionaires (latter for the McCains) calling Obama is an elitist was unfounded and ridiculous. But this is wrong and dangerous. Gack.
Welcome Ivee, it's always good to finally meet another reader turned poster! Post away, we are (usually) a friendly group and always are happy to hear from another in the choir.
Thanks. It's good to talk with people all over our country, to find out what we think and feel and hope. This is a great blogspot, and one I've been lurking on for quite some time. I only hope that the MSM will start running some articles and editorials about how "politically incorrect" it is to subliminally suggest to one's supporters that silently condoning violence against one's oppositions is even remotely appropriate.
Hi Ivee,
Thanks for the "virtual hug" last night. I yielded to the wine, again, and had to spend the rest of the night watching comedy on the boob tube to lift my spirits.
On to the debates tonight.
P.S. welcome to the conversation that our fine host provides.
Hopefully tomorrow someone will throw some questions about this to McCain in the town hall. The repugs' only way to win this is to get totally nasty- they are such losers! Hopefully we have enough Dems/Independents/reasonable others to win!
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Goddamned straight the Secret Service better get involved. What the fuxk!? All hell would be breaking loose if someone at the Obama 'pep rallies' said such a thing.

Do you already have an account? Log in and claim this comment.

OK, I've been away from the computer today and now I read this? WTF?

Sarah Pailin is a dangerous bitch...I hope this has all been reported to the Secret Service...
it is sickening to see how much Sarah Palin enjoys her pitbull assignment. she is nothing but ignorant white trash. blech.
McCrazyCain and Sarah are both LIARS.
Time to fight these 2 Bozo Liars and join the Pinnochio Posse!


"Folks all over the country who are fed up with McCain's lies are putting on Pinocchio noses and showing up at McCain/Palin events."

My dad's generation lost Dr. King and the Kennedy brothers to this fucking bullshit.

NOT THIS TIME! I would take part in a 1 day work stoppage.
Palin allowed the Assassination Card to be Played,did she stop her speech and demand the Secreat Service to arrest that man? NO SHE DIDN'T and bty that inaction she OK'ed Assassination of Presidential Candidates.
Oh I'm so pissed abut this I forgot to preview and spellcheck "Secret Service" not "Secreat Service"and "by" not "bty" sorry 'bout that.

Go on-site to see more of the comments being posted, there are several.


Saundra Hummer
October 8th, 2008, 02:45 PM
. . . . .

October 8, 2008 by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ali Frick, and Ryan Powers


Highlights From 'That One'

Last night, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL) participated in a town-hall style debate at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. The debate came after a week in which the financial crisis seemed to be worsening and on a day when the Dow lost over 500 points, despite the recent passage of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package. Given economic turmoil focused the two candidates primarily on domestic issues including the economy, safety net programs, and health care. McCain used the debate to seemingly abandon his previous opposition to mortgage relief for struggling homeowners and to play up false fears of crisis-level budget problems in federal entitlement programs. The AP notes that McCain's American Homeownership Resurgence Plan bears a striking resemblance to a plan proposed by the Center for American Progress, which has "been pushing a similar idea for some time." Unfortunately, McCain has spent the better part of the last few weeks working with his conservative allies to kill any effort to pass such a proposal.

A MODEST PROPOSAL: McCain's campaign said in a statement that the plan is designed "keep families in their homes" and "stabilize the housing market" by purchasing mortgages "directly from homeowners and mortgage servicers" and replacing them with "manageable, fixed-rate mortgages." It is still unclear exactly which homeowners would benefit from his plan, how he would pay for it, or why he had previously rejected similar mortgage relief efforts. But as the AP notes today, the few details of the plan McCain does provide suggest that he is now embracing an approach to alleviating the financial crisis put forward by CAP in December 2007. At the time, Andrew Jakabovics, the Associate Director of CAP's Economic Mobility Program, explained that while a variety of mortgage relief programs already exist at the federal level, there are a significant number of families with "decent credit" who don't qualify for mortgage relief because their mortgages are "under water" --in other words, the housing market decline has left them owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Jakabovics proposed reviving the New Deal-era Home Owners Loan Corporation in the form of a new institution, the Federal Foreclosure Rescue Corporation (FFRC). As CAP envisioned it, the FFRC would be empowered to buy "up the old adjustable-rate mortgages from lenders and investors and replacing them with new, tax-friendly government-rated bonds equal to the current value of these homes," while issuing "new fixed-rate mortgages to those borrowers facing default."

FALSE THREATS: As a segue into the social safety net portion of the debate, moderator Tom Brokaw claimed that "in a bipartisan way, everyone agrees" that entitlement programs are "a big ticking time bomb that will eat us up maybe even more than the mortgage crisis." McCain echoed Brokaw's sentiment saying with regard to Social Security, "We know what the problems are, my friends, and we know what the fixes are," but declined to name either the "problems" suggest any "fixes." Despite Brokaw's alarmism and McCain's empty rhetoric, there is no Social Security crisis. As economist Paul Krugman lamented recently, "No matter how many times you try to kill the mythical Social Security crisis, it just keeps coming back." With regard to Medicare, McCain said, "[W]e are not going to be able to provide the same benefit for future retirees that we have today." He called for a "commission...come up with recommendations" on how to address those declining benefits. Earlier this week, McCain's economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin admitted that the reason why McCain believes the United States will be "unable to provide" the same level of Medicare benefits in the future is because he needs to slash $1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for his radical health care plan.

FORTHRIGHTNESS IN FOREIGN POLICY: In the foreign policy portion of the debate, McCain distinguished himself by making several puzzling misstatements and false claims. He began by arguing that if U.S. forces had withdrawn from Iraq, Iranian influence would have increased and al Qaeda would have ballooned. In reality, both of these things happened because we invaded Iraq. McCain argued that the U.S. needs to execute the "same" surge strategy in Afghanistan as we've had in Iraq, but Gen. David D. McKiernan, the new top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, "stated emphatically that no Iraq-style 'surge' of forces will end the conflict there." McCain incorrectly referred to Gen. David Petreaus, the commander of Central Command, as the "chairman of the joint chiefs of staff." McCain also chastised Obama for "announcing" that he would strike Osama bin Laden in Pakistan without Pakistan's permission, if need be. Just recently, however, McCain defended his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), when she said essentially the same thing.

IRAQ -- SEN. KENNEDY REQUESTS RAND CORPORATION STUDY ON WITHDRAWING TROOPS FROM IRAQ: The Hill reports today that "a little-noticed earmark tucked into the 2009 defense-spending bill by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) would fund a $2.4 million independent study on withdrawing troops from Iraq." The RAND Corporation has been assigned to conduct the study, "which is expected to be completed within four months to coincide with the inauguration of a new president." Though the provision does not describe exactly what the study would entail, both Kennedy and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) "suggest the study would determine the impact of withdrawing troops from Iraq." "Sen. Kennedy believes that the best way to protect our troops and our national security is to set a realistic timetable that encourages Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future," Kennedy spokesman Anthony Coley told The Hill. "This analysis will provide an objective and independent perspective on how best to do that." "This new RAND study will publicly and independently help chart the responsible course ahead," said Byrd in a floor speech on Sept. 27. Though "the outcome of the study would not be binding," it could give ammunition to withdrawal proponents while putting "pressure on the Pentagon to accelerate its plans on withdrawing troops." Read the Center for American Progress's report on how to redeploy from Iraq here.

CIVIL LIBERTIES -- DOCUMENTS SHOW MILITARY WARNED PENTAGON ABOUT AMERICAN DETAINEES' SANITY: Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Yale Law School show that the military "warned Pentagon officials that an American detainee was being driven nearly insane by months of punishing isolation and sensory deprivation" while held in a military brig off the coast of South Carolina. The administration ordered the military to treat Yaser Hamdi, an American, the same way Guantanamo bay prisoners were treated -- outside the reach of the U.S. Constitution. "These documents are the first clear confirmation of what we've suspected all along, that the brig was run as a prison beyond the law. There was an effort to create a Gitmo inside the United States," Jonathan Hafetz of the ACLU's National Security Project in New York said. The documents show military officers growing increasingly uncomfortable with the treatment of the Hamdi. "I fear the rubber band is nearing its breaking point here and not totally confident I can keep his head in the game much longer," one officer wrote in 2003. Another requested an "an incentive program" to reward Hamdi's good behavior. The Bush administration had ordered these Americans held "indefinitely without charges, without bail and without access to lawyers." Defense lawyers for Guantanamo detainees have described the difficulty of defending someone driven "insane" by his captivity.

ETHICS -- AIG EXECUTIVES WENT ON LUXURIOUS RETREAT ONE WEEK AFTER RECEIVING $85 BILLION BAILOUT: Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee revealed that just one week after the federal government bailed out insurance giant AIG, company executives went on a retreat to a luxury resort. The executives spent nearly $500,000 on manicures, facials, pedicures, and massages, among other things. During a hearing today, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asked, “Have you heard of anything more outrageous?" "AIG spent $200,000 dollars for hotel rooms. Almost $150,000 for catered banquets. AIG spent $23,000 at the hotel spa and another $1,400 at the salon. They were getting manicures, facials, pedicures and massages while American people were footing the bill. And they spent another $10,000 dollars for I don't know what this is, leisure dining. Bars?" Cummings said. Earlier this week, Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld admitted to Congress that he has taken home over $300 million since 2000, "some $60 million in cash compensation." Furthermore, "executives who feared for their bonuses in the company’s last months were told not to worry," even as Lehman plead for a federal bailout. Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) revealed that "“the board give three departing executives over $20 million in ‘special payments.'"

The Congressional Budget Office's top budget analyst said that the prolonged downturn in the stock market "has wiped out about $2 trillion in Americans’ retirement savings in the past 15 months, a blow that could force workers to stay on the job longer than planned, rein in spending and possibly further stall an economy reliant on consumer dollars."

"The federal budget deficit hit a new record in the just-completed 2008 budget year under the latest estimates from the CBO. The record $438 billion shortfall for the budget year that ended last week is up from $162 billion posted last year. The previous record of $413 billion was posted in 2004." Next year's deficit was recently projected to be as high as $600 billion.

Nearly one in six American homeowners owe "more on a mortgage than the home is worth, raising the possibility of a rise in defaults -- the very misfortune that touched off the credit crisis last year." So many homeowners "under water" is "likely to mean more eventual foreclosures" and increased pressure on an economy already in a downturn.

Gen. David Petraeus, the soon-to-be commander of U.S. Central Command speaks at the conservative Heritage Foundation today at 11 a.m. ET. You can watch live online here.

A U.S. military investigation has concluded that American airstrikes on Aug. 22 in an Afghan village killed 30 civilians -- far more than the five to seven casualties that American commanders there has previously acknowledged. The Afghan government has insisted that 90 civilians died in that attack.

The Treasury Department is moving quickly this week to "start outsourcing the management of up to $700 billion in troubled securities, using special contracting authorities that enable it to retain private portfolio managers, custodians and other financial services consultants without following standard acquisition procedures."

Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte said Tuesday that "American and Iraqi negotiators were close to resolving issues” that have kept to two sides from an agreement “governing the continued presence of American troops in the country."

And finally: Let's learn judo with Vladimir Putin. After being pictured fishing shirtless and "shooting a tiger in the Siberian forest," the Russian Prime Minister has now released a 90-minute DVD instructing young people in the Japanese martial art of judo. In the video, Putin, a black belt champion, talks "about the history and philosophy of judo" and demonstrates "moves against a practice partner."

"Congress will give the American Red Cross $100 million in emergency funding to replenish its disaster relief reserves, which were depleted as the charity plunged into debt to provide shelter, food and other services during a string of hurricanes this summer."

OHIO: Roughly 94 percent of all eligible voters in Ohio are registered

TEXAS: New computer program to enroll low-income residents in state aid programs is in the works.

WEST VIRGINIA: Gov. Joe Manchin's (D) office "is working to start a secure social networking forum for West Virginia youth on the state's Web site."

THINK PROGRESS: U.S. debt grows too big for National Debt Clock.

WONK ROOM: There's no good way to sell an occupation.

YGLESIAS: Debate moderators and the Herbert Hooverism that seems to have taken over American journalism.

GRISTMILL: Analysis of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's draft of potential climate legislation.

Q Do you think the U.S. economy is in a recession?
PERINO: You know I don't think that we know."
-- White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, 10/7/08

"Two-thirds say the U.S economy is in recession or will be by the end of the year — up from a little over half of those surveyed in May."
-- MSNBC, 10/6/08, on a National Association of Business Economists poll


The research team that brings you The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org needs fall interns! Click here for more information.


. . . . . . .

Saundra Hummer
October 8th, 2008, 03:57 PM

Palin's (Functional Equivalent of an) Email Cover-up By using at least one private email account for state business, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has virtually guaranteed that most of the emails she sent as governor--which are subject to the state's Open Records Act--will not be publicly released before Election Day.

After Senator John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee, picked Palin to be his running mate, a number of news organizations, including Mother Jones filed Open Records Act requests for copies of emails Palin had received or sent. (For a comprehensive list of all the requests received by Palin's office, see here.)On September 22, in response to the Mother Jones request, Palin's office replied that it would cost $2,249.46 to conduct a search of her official email account. This did not include copying fees. The fee was later reduced to $590.06. But money was not the issue.

Palin has used at least two private email accounts in addition to her state account. That posed a serious challenge to the record-keepers in her office: how to find the emails to and from these accounts. The information managers had easy access to the emails she generated and received with her official account. But they did not have access to a Yahoo account she used for official communications and another private account she might have used for state business.

In a September 25 email to Mother Jones, Linda Perez, the administrative director of the office of the governor, noted:

We are unable to access records from the non-state email accounts as we are not the account owner or customer of the providers. My access to copies of emails sent from (or received by) private accounts would be through the state email accounts that sent or received emails to or from the private accounts.

To retrieve those email messages, we could expand our email search to include other state employees’ email accounts and run a sub-search on those email accounts’ incoming and outgoing emails to identify those that include particular words, i.e., particular private email addresses or individual names or subjects.

Perez noted there would be an additional charge of $960.31 for each state email account searched. And, she said, there were 68 email accounts within the executive offices of the governor. That meant Mother Jones would be charged $65,000 for a search seeking emails between Palin's private accounts and the official email accounts of officials and employees within the governor's office. In other words, Palin had essentially placed her emails beyond public scrutiny for anyone unable or unwilling to pay a large sum.

In response, Mother Jones replied, "This search is necessary only because the Governor decided to conduct state business on a private email account." It asked that these onerous search fees be waived in the public interest, as the Open Records Act allows. Ten days later, Perez informed Mother Jones that the governor's office was returning its initial check for $5690.06 and that there would be no fees at all for any of the searches regarding Palin's various accounts. It was not "appropriate," she said, to charge requesters for locating Palin's official emails: "It is our responsibility to get these collected in one location." And she said that her office had worked out a two-step plan for responding to the requests for Palin's emails.

First, the governor's IT team would search state accounts for emails sent to or from (or CC'ed to) Palin's private accounts, and these records, once found, would be lumped together with the easy-to-retrieve emails sent to and from Palin's state account. Next, all of these emails would be printed out and sent to the state's Department of Law, which would review each one and decide if any should be withheld. After that, the non-withheld emails would be released--with requesters being charged copying fees. (Palin's office says the rate will be 29 cents a page.)

How long might this take? Perez said the computer experts in the governor's office figure that they need about two weeks--starting this week--to conduct the search to find Palin's private account emails. And how much time will the subsequent legal review require? "I can't even begin to estimate," Perez said, with a sigh.

The math, though, is obvious. The search will likely produce thousands of emails. A review could easily--and justifiably--take two weeks or more. That would mean no release of any of Palin's emails until after all the votes are cast in the presidential election. (Palin's office presumably could begin a review of the emails to and from her official account right away and possibly finish that before the election.) And this process will not capture any emails relating to official business that may have zipped between Palin's private accounts and the private accounts of other state officials. "We don't have access to the stuff," Perez noted. She said that it may be possible to retrieve emails from a private vendor--such as Yahoo--but that she did not know what might be available and under what conditions such emails could be requested.

The bottom line is that Palin appears to have benefited from her decision to conduct state business using private channels. As governor, she has touted the need for accountability and transparency (even though she has withheld about 1100 emails involving her aides, citing dubious justifications). But because Palin used one or more non-state email accounts for official communications--perhaps improperly--she has created a costly mess for her administration's information officers and a situation in which emails from all her accounts will likely not become public before November 4. If her emails contain any information that might not reflect well upon Palin, the McCain-Palin campaign need not worry. Palin, wittingly or not, has engineered a delay that is the functional equivalent of a cover-up.

Posted by David Corn on 10/07/08 at 1:00 PM

:: :: ::

Saundra Hummer
October 8th, 2008, 05:28 PM
. . .

Desperately Seeking Sarah's Secrets
MotherJones.com News Commentary

MotherJones.com / washington_dispatch / 2008
Mother Jones Washington Bureau"

The state of Alaska has been snowed under with open records requests related to Governor Sarah Palin. Wanna know what the national press is looking for? "

October 07, 2008 Since Sarah Palin joined John McCain on the Republican ticket in late August, news outlets, as well as nonprofits and private citizens, have besieged her office with public records requests, seeking all sorts of documents related to her tenure as Alaska's governor. Some have requested access to her calendar and travel records. Others have asked for emails and memoranda concerning the firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan or a controversial ballot measure that would have placed new restrictions on mining companies, along with a number of other state matters.

One news outlet asked for documentation to the "remodeling and/or redecorating of the governor's offices and/or state-owned mansions in Anchorage" during Palin's governorship. Mother Jones filed several of its own public records requests (see David Corn's article for more on that), including one for all of the records requests that were submitted between August 29 and September 23, 2008. Wanna know what dirt the national press is after? Read on for an abridged list and see here [PDF] for all the requests sent to Palin's office.

Ian Urbina, New York Times
- "A copy of the Public Records database/log kept by your office that includes name of requester, date of request, summary of request made and/or title of request, and the status/determination of the request. We are only seeking the database that corresponds to June, 1,2008 through September 2, 2008."
Wesley Loy, Anchorage Daily News
- "All communications between Gov. Sarah Palin and U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. This should include all letters or other written correspondence, as well as e-mail, BlackBerry transmissions or any other form of communications."

- "All communications between Gov. Sarah Palin and any member of the McCain presidential campaign or vice presidential search committee. This should include all letters or other written correspondence, as well as e-mail, BlackBerry transmissions or any other form of communications."

- "All communications between any member of the governor's office or staff and John McCain or any member of the McCain presidential campaign or vice presidential search committee. This should include all letters or other written correspondence, as well as e-mail, BlackBerry transmissions or any other form of communications."
Kimberly Kindy, Washington Post
- "A copy of Gov. Sarah Palin's calendar for the time she has been in office as governor."

-"Copies of all e-mails sent from the governor or members of her administration in which Todd Palin was copied. I am specifically referring to over 1,000 e-mails in which the governor's office has asserted executive privilege, and Todd Palin was CC'd on the e-mails. Executive privilege cannot be claimed under the law if a private citizen is copied on the correspondence."
Dina M Cappiello, Associated Press
- "All documents pertaining to Alaska's ESA [Endangered Species Act] Working Group, including a list of the participants, and all correspondence between Working Group members and staff of local, state and federal entities."

- "Please be advised that I am prepared to pursue whatever legal remedy necessary to obtain access to the requested records. I would note that violation of the open records law can result in the award of court costs and attorney fees. In addition, state law imposes criminal penalties on those who knowingly suppress or conceal a public record. Alaska Stat. Sec. 11.56.815 and 820(2).
Rita Beamish, Associated Press
- "The Public Records Request Log(s) for the Palin administration, starting with when Gov. Palin came to office. If you separately have compiled statistics on the logs such as total requests, total responses, redacted responses, total fees charged, etc., I request any such statistics also."

- "A copy of Gov. Sarah Palin's daily calendar and/or schedule from the day she took office as governor until Sept. 1, 2008. I am seeking a record of her public schedule as well as all events, meetings and activities on her daily calendar that were not public events."

- "A copy of the Public Records Request Log for the Office of the Governor from Sept. 5, 2008, through today, or through the day that you fulfill this request if that day is later than today."

- "A copy of any contract or employment agreement relating to the appointment and hiring of Charles Kopp, the former commissioner of Public Safety; copies of communications, e-mails, and/or correspondance [sic] relating to his appointment for that position; and copies of any documents, agreements, severance arrangement or other documents related to his resignation."
Jillian Starr, "Stay At Home Mom"
- "After hearing Gov. Palin deliver such an amazing speech, I wanted to know more about her. I understand that she has drastically reduced her budgets within the governor's office, including eliminating a luxury jet and a private chef. As a stay-at-home mom, I wanted to know if any other similar services are provided to her through taxpayer monies, particularly any services that assist her in caring for her family (such as nannies or child care). Also, I want to know a breakdown of the following line items that appear on the Governor's House

Component Financial Summary for FY 2007, 2008, & 2009:
71000 Personal Services
73000 Services
74000 Commodities"
David Corn, Mother Jones
- "All emails sent and received by Governor Sarah Palin from December 4, 2006, until now. This includes emails written by her, emails sent to her, and emails cc'd to her. I realize there are "deliberative processes" and "executive" privileges that cover communications between the governor and her aides involving policy matters. Under law, these privileges are not absolute and must be balanced by the public interest of disclosure. I hope that any response to this request takes that balancing test into account and that these privileges are not unduly applied."

- "Copies of all of Governor Sarah Palin's schedules and calendars from her first day as governor to August 29,2008."

- "Copies of open records act requests the Office of the Governor has received from August 29, 2008, until today. This does not include material produced in response to those requests. This request covers only the open records act requests themselves."
Sarah Laskow, Center for Public Integrity
- "Records reflecting the names of any overnight guests who stayed at the Alaska Governor's Mansion during the administration of Governor Sarah Palin."
Anne Weismann, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
-"All documents relating to the firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan. CREW also seeks all documents that refer, relate to or reference in any way Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten."
Kay Brown, Alaska Democratic Party
-"The public request log for all State of Alaska Departments and Executive branch offices. This request covers all public requests made between the period 1/1/2007 - 9/9/2008."

- "All schedules, calendars, itineraries of Governor Sarah Palin between the dates of 1/1/2007 and 9/15/08."

- "Emails between Sarah Palin and John Coghill with the words "abortion" and/or "AGIA" from 1/1/07 through 9/17/08"

- "Emails between Sarah Palin and Fred Dyson with the words "abortion" and/or "AGIA" from 1/1/07 through 9/17/08."

- "All emails from Sarah Palin from 1/1/07 to 9/15/08, containing any of the following words:


- "All emails between Sarah Palin and Todd Palin from 1/1/07 through 9/18/08 with any of the following words:


- "All emails between Sarah Palin and Molly McCann between the dates of 1/1/2007 and 9/18/08"

- "Emails from Sarah Palin with the word "Tibbles" from 4/1/08 through 6/30/08."
Mark Thiessen, Associated Press
- "Public records and correspondence to, from and referencing Todd Palin, including emails, letters, memos and official documents from all state agencies, including the Office of the Governor."

- "Copies of all records pertaining to state-related travel for Gov. Sarah Palin, Todd Palin, Track Palin, Bristol Palin, Willow Palin, Piper Palin and Trig Palin. I would also like copies of all per diem expense claimed on behalf of all the aforementioned Palins."

- "All land-line and cell phone records (incoming and outgoing) for phones assigned to Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey from the time period of February 1,2008, to April 15, 2008; all text message records (incoming and outgoing) assigned to Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey from the time period of Feb. I, 1008, to Apri115, 2008; all emails for emails accounts assigned to Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey from the time period of February 1,2008, to April 15, 2008; and, all leave request records pertaining to Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey from the time period of February 1, 2008, to April 15, 2008."

- "Access to and copies of Gov. Sarah Palin's scheduling calendar during the entirety of her time in office as Alaska's governor."

- "Copies of any requests for ethics determination, notification of receipt of gift, grants/contracts/leases/loans notification, outside employment or services notification or notification of potential violation submitted to the Office of the Governor's Agency Designated Ethics Supervisors during Gov. Sarah Palin's administration."

- "A copy of a letter dated July 24, 2008, from Wevley William Shea to Gov. Sarah Palin, sent to the governor's Anchorage office with the subject: re: Grave Concern - Public Safety, Legal and Political Counsel."

- "A copy of a letter dated Aug. 4, 2008, from Wevley William Shea to Gov, Sarah Palin, sent to the governor's Anchorage office."

- "Copies of all emails and attachments sent to the Office of the Governor of Alaska from any these e-mail addresses: gov.sarah@yahoo.com, spalin@mtaonline.net, fek9wnr@yahoo.com, ivyfrye@yahoo.com. I also request any emails sent from the Office of the Governor of Alaska to any the same addresses."

- "Copies of all e-mails, correspondence and other documentation in the possession of the governor's office that discuss the firing, reassignment and/or performance issues with Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan between Dec. 4, 2006, and Aug. 1, 2008."

- "Copies of all e-mails and attachments sent to and sent by communication staff members and press secretaries for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin since Aug. 29, 2008.

- "Copies of all records reflecting contracts for purchases or expenditures signed by Gov. Palin or her designee in the governor's office, or records reflecting contracts for purchases or expenditures on behalf of Gov. Palin's office."

- "Copies of all records reflecting expenses, receipts, contracts, purchases and any other activity from the governor's contingency fund and the executive contingency fund since the election of Gov. Palin."

- "Copies of all e-mails and attachments sent to and received by all state employees from electronic mail (e-mail) addresses from the mccain08hq.com domain since Aug. 1, 2008."

- "Copies of all records associated with a state-issued BlackBerry or any other similar PDA device for Todd Palin."

- "Copies of all a-mails and attachments sent from or to anyone in state government from this email address: broadcast.sp4g@gci.net"
Aram Roston, NBC
- "All emails sent to or cc'd to Todd Palin, the governor's husband, as well as all emails from him to the governor's official email address.

- "Copies of all travel authorizations or reimbursements for Governor Sarah Palin or members of her family."
Leslie Wayne, New York Times
- "Copies of the "Actual Travel Authority Documents" for Gov. Sarah Palin for her term in office. The documents that I am requesting are the detailed receipts and back up documents used in the calculations for travel reimubursment [sic] and per diem payments. I understand that these documents are available in a spreadsheet form. This information formed the basis of a Washington Post article on Gov. Palin on Sept. 9, and these are public documents."
Anne Sutton, Associated Press
- "Public records relating to compensation for travel and other expenses for members of Gov. Palin's family."
Sharon Theimer, Associated Press
-"All e-mails, memoranda, phone records, letters or other records reflecting communications among any public officers or employee of the Office of the Governor of Alaska, including Gov. Sarah Palin, and the National Park Service between September 1, 2007, and the present, as well as any NPS replies."

- "All e-mails, memoranda, phone records, letters, or other records reflecting communications among any public officers or employees of the Office of the Governor of Alaska, including Gov. Sarah Palin, and the U.S. Justice Department, including the U.S. Attorney's Offices in Alaska, between September 1, 2007, and the present, as well as any Justice Department replies."
Scott Kendall, Alaskans for Clean Water
- "All documents and records including but not limited to emails, letters, correspondence, memoranda, messages, notes and communications. And records of communications to or from any State agency including, but not limited to, the Department of Natural Resources ("DNR"), the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Law, and the Governor's Office that in any way relate to the following:

The position of the Department of Natural Resources, the Governor or any other state officer or agency concerning Ballot Measure 4;
The website published by DNR on or about August 19, 2008, originally entitled "Ballot Measure #4, Information for Voters";
The Governor's decision to make, and ability to make, statements regarding the merits of ballot initiatives, including, but not limited to, her decision to make statements regarding Ballot Measure 4 on or about August 20, 2008;
The ability of any other state officials to make statements regarding the merits of ballot initiatives;
Any request by any person or entity for photographs, videos, or statements from any current state official for use in advertisements regarding Ballot Measure 4.
Jen Miller, Boston Herald
- "Access to and a copy of any and all documents, email, memoranda, requests, directives, submissions or any other information relating to remodeling and/or redecorating of the governor's offices and/or state-owned mansions in Anchorage and Juneau by Gov. Sarah Palin from Dec. 4, 2006, to date, including but not limited to receipts, payments, expenses, disbursements, reimbursements and any other relevant documentation for materials, labor, consulting or other expenses incurred. I also request the names and titles of any state of Alaska personnel, employees, contractors, vendors or agents involved in the aforementioned work for the aforementioned time period. I also request any and all documents, email, memoranda, requests, directives, submissions or any other records, communications or information relating to such work by the above-mentioned individuals, including but not limited to receipts, expenses, payments, disbursements, reimbursements and any other relevant documentation for such labor, materials or any other related costs."
Steve Quinn, Associated Press
- "All e-mails, memoranda, phone records, letters or other records reflecting communications among any public officer or employees of the Office of the Governor of Alaska, including Gov. Sarah Palin, and the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Treasury, U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs since 2006."

- "Copies of all travel and reimbursement records for Press Secretary Bill McAllister, Deputy Press Secretary Sharon Leighow, and state employee Beth Leschpur since their hiring dates."

- "Copies of all travel and reimbursement records for Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell since being sworn in."

- "Copies of all travel and reimbursement records for former Legislative Liaison John Bitney during his tenure with the administration."

- "Copies of all travel and reimbursement records and e-mails for former Press Secretary Meg Stapleton including her time of employment with the administration and her time as a contractor."
Steve Braun, Los Angeles Times
- "Copies of all of Gov. Sarah Palin's daily and weekly calendars and schedules between Dec. 5, 2006 and Sept. 1 2008, and any and all working papers prepared with those calendars and schedules."

- "Copies of all of Todd Palin's daily and weekly calendars and schedules between Dec. 5, 2005 and Sept. 1, 2008, and any and all working papers prepared with those calendars and schedules."
Lisa Demer, Anchorage Daily News
- "All e-mails from or to Gov. Palin on Wednesday, Aug. 27. The e-mails being requested include those from or to any of her e-mail accounts including her Yahoo account as well as any other e-mail accounts that she may be using. My request includes e-mails forwarded to Gov. Palin as well as those that she sent or received directly… If e-mail addresses are deleted as private information, please specify why that is allowed under state law. Also, please state which e-mail service is being used, for example Yahoo or Gmail or whatever it may be."

- "Information on who in the governor's office has state-provided cell phones and BlackBerries. Distinguish between cell phone and BlackBerry on the list, please. It's for a story on issues surrounding the use of private e-mail accounts. Just want to have as complete a picture as possible."
Jenny Small, Judicial Watch
- "Any and all records concerning or relating to the following:

Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) records (including correspondence) concerning Alaska's TransCanada Corp. pipeline and the U.S. federal government serving as a "bridge shipper" (i.e. shipping fees/ tariffs). (Time frame 2007- present.)
Correspondence with VeCOm Corporation and/or CH2M Hill.
Schedules and calendars indicating appointments/meetings with any individual associated with VECO Corporation and/or CH2M Hill.
Correspondence with Senator John McCain and/or any individuals associated with his Presidential campaign.
Schedules and calendars indicating appointments/meetings with any individual associated with Senator JoIm McCain's Presidential campaign."
William Yardley, New York Times
- "Can you please consider this email to be a public records request for the travel records and travel expense reports of Sarah and Todd Palin during the governor's time in office?"
Alan Suderman, Juneau Empire
- "Access to and copies of all e-mails between the governor's office and Todd Palin beginning when Gov. Sarah Palin took office."

- "Access to and copies of all job-related reimbursements that have been sought by, and paid to, Gov. Sarah Palin and her family."

- "Access to and copies of all Freedom of information act requests made of Gov. Sarah Palin's office."
- "By what means does the current Governor of Alaska get around the state? Is there a state owned plane available?"
Louise Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal
- "All records of expense claims made by Gov. Palin, including for travel, meals, family members and also for gift travel."

- "Gov. Palin's daily schedule, visitors list and calendar, and all records relating to it, since she began her term of office."
Michael Rey, CBS
- "Access to and copies of all travel and or business expense reports filed by or on behalf of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin from December 2006 to the present.
L. Bauer
- "A copy of Governor Palin's schedule for the time period of August 14, 2008 to August 29, 2008. Copies of any request for travel and/or expense reimbursement, or, for any charges incurred by Governor Palin for travel and/or expenses for the time period of August 14, 2008 up to, and including August 29,2008. Copies of cell phone or Blackberry expenses incurred by Governor Palin and paid for in-total or in-part by the State of Alaska, for the time period of time of August 14,2008 up to and including August 29, 2008. This request includes any document or electronic record that list the individual calls or messages.
Jacob Alperin-Sheriff, Huffington Post blogger
- "I am investigating the details surrounding the sexual assault funding sought by former Public Safety Chief Monegan given as the proximate cause for his being fired. Could you forward me those papers and e-mails filed that involve the sexual assault funding controversy?"
Elizabeth Bluemink, Anchorage Daily News
- "All state records pertaining to: Communication between the Governor's Office and any other party (excluding certain constituents; see note) on the topic of the "clean water intiatives" [sic] that occurred between June 2008 and the present. (Some examples of other parties include the mining industry, lobbyists, legislators, the Alaskans Against the Mining Shutdown and the supporters of Ballot Measure 4.); Any communication between the Governors office and any other party (excluding certain constituents; see note) on the topic of the Pebble Mine between June 2008 and the present."
Jo Becker, New York Times
- "All documents and records, including but not limited to, emails, letters, correspondence, memoranda, messages, notes and communications, and records of communication to or from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Law and the Governor's Office that in any way relate to the following:

The position of DNR, the governor or any other state officials or agencies concerning Ballot Measure 4.
The website information published by DNR on Ballot Measure 4.
The governor's decision to make, or her ability to make, statements regarding the merits of Ballot Measure 4 and/or the ability of any state official to make statements regarding the merits of ballot initatives [sic].
All communications or records of communications between the governor's office or any state department/agency or official with any member of the group Alaskans Against the Mining Shutdown, the council of Alaska Producers, Pebble Partnership or any other entitity [sic] related to the mining industry regarding Ballot Measure 4 or the Pebble Mine within the last year.
Documents, communications or records of communications relating to Todd Palin's trips aboard planes owned by mining companies and any documents, communications or records of communications mentioning or referring to Todd Palin and Ballot Measure 4, and/or the Pebble Parntership [sic], and/or the Council of Producers, and/or Alaskans Against the Mining Shutdown and/or the mining industry general, including, but not limited to, any email by the governor or any member of Ms. Palin's administration that was sent or fowarded [sic] Todd Palin's email address, which is or was fek9wnr@yahoo.com.
Communication between the Governor, members of her staff or state officials relating to Ballot Measure 4 and/or the mining industry in general with anyone associated with the McCain campaign in the last six weeks.

This request should be construed to cover not only Ms. Palin's government emails but also emails sent or forwarded to any and all of the governor's private email accounts, including but not limited to gov.sarah@yahoo.com and ngov.palin@yahoo.com."
Jessi Joseph, CNN
- "Access to and copies of any and all communication including e-mails that Governor Palin had regarding the proposed pebble mine project and Ballot Measure Number Four. Please include all communication and correspondence including e-mails from March 1,2008 through September 19, 2008."

- "Access to and copies of any and all communication including e-mails where Governor Palin mentioned or wrote about Senator John McCain. Please include all communication and correspondence including e-mails from February 1, 2008 through March 30, 2008."

- "Access to and copies of any and all communication including e-mails between Governor Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd Palin. Please include all communication and correspondence including e-mails from August 1, 2008 through September 19, 2008."
Charles Piller, Los Angeles Times

"Photo copies of all receipts for travel and related expenses of the governor
Correspondence between her office and BP, Exxon, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada regarding the gas pipeline plan, bidding, and related issues."
Kathleen Ferguson
- "Access to the more than 1,000 e-mails that Gov. Sarah Palin will not release to the press. They can be placed on a server to be accessed by everyone or emailed directly to me to avoid printing costs. I want to understand why they are not being released. Here in Florida, we operate under the Sunshine Law, and all emails are accessible to the public. All Americans have rights to these emails to judge for themselves where to place their confidence and vote during the upcoming Presidential election."
Bill Dedman, MSNBC
- "Any e-mails sent from December 4,2006, through September 17, 2008, to an email account for Todd Palin (at the e-mail address fek9wnr@yahoo.com or any other any e-mail addresses) from any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Fry, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4,2006, through September 17,2008, from an e-mail account for Todd Palin (at the e-mail address fek9wnr@yahoo.comor other any e-mail addresses) by any of the following employees of the Stale of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Fry, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4,2006, through September 17,2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Sarah Palin (at the e-mail address gov.paIin@yahoo.com, gov.sarah@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4, 2006, through September 17,2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Sarah Palin (at the e-mail address gov.palin@yahoo.com, gov.sarah@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Ivy Frye (at the e-mail address ivyfrye@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska email system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Ivy Frye (at the e-mail address ivyfrye@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska email system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Kris Perry (at the e-mail address krisandclark@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4, 2006, through September 17,2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Kris Perry (at the e-mail address krisandclark@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Sean Parnell (at the e-mail address sean.parnell@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Sean Parnell (at the e-mail address sean.parnell@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4,2006, through September 17, 2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Sharon Leighow (at the e-mail address sleighow@aol.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska email system) by any ofthe following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles.

- "Any e-mails received from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Sharon Leighow (at the e-mail address sleighow@aol.com or any other e-mail address outside ofthe State of Alaska email system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4, 2006, through September 17,2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Roseanne Hughes (at the e-mail address roseanne.hughes@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Roseanne Hughes (at the e-mail address roseanne.hughes@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Judy Patrick (at the e-mail address jpphoto@mtaonline.net or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Judy Patrick (at the e-mail address jpphoto@mtaonline.net or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any oftbe following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4, 2006, through September 17,2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Frank Bailey (at the e-mail address ftb907@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska email system) by any of the following employees of the State ofAlaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitoey, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Frank Bailey (at the e-mail address ftb907@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the Stale of Alaska email system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitoey, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Krei12er, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Mike Tibbles (at the e-mail address mike.tibbles@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Amlette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4,2006, through September 17,2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Mike Tibbles (at the e-mail address mike.tibbles@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Amlette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails sent from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, to any non-governmental e-mail account for Mike Nizich (at the e-mail address mike.nizich@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State ofAlaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any e-mails received from December 4, 2006, through September 17, 2008, from any non-governmental e-mail account for Mike Nizich (at the e-mail address mike.nizich@yahoo.com or any other e-mail address outside of the State of Alaska e-mail system) by any of the following employees of the State of Alaska: Sarah Palin, Frank Bailey, John Bitney, Ivy Frye, Diane Kiesel, Annette Kreitzer, Janice Mason, Nikki Neal, Mike Nizich, Kris Perry, Randy Ruaro, Brad Thompson and Mike Tibbles."

- "Any requests for public records received by Governor Palin, the Office of the Governor, the governor's administrative director, or any member of the governor's staff, whether by letter, fax, electronic mail or other means, from December 4, 2006, through September 23, 2008. If electronic mails were received, please provide any attachments to those e-mails, preferably in electronic form."

- "Any letters or responses sent to those requests. I am not requesting copies of public records that were provided in response to such requests, but only to the letters sent responding to (fulfilling or denying) those requests. If electronic mails were sent, please provide any attachments to those e-mails, preferably in electronic form."

E-mail article

This article has been made possible by the Foundation for National Progress, the Investigative Fund of Mother Jones, and .....

© 2008 The Foundation for National Progress

Think anyone will learn anything? Remember Dick Cheney not having to provide any information as to what went on with the energy moguls when they had extended energy policy meetings in his office? This information being requested after these very men and their companies shafted the American people. Just how crooked can you get and still not have to pay the consequences? They, Cheney's cronies, for the most part are in the counting room, rich as ever and not feeling the crunch. A few did pay for their crimes, but very few, and it just goes on and on. SRH

. . .

Saundra Hummer
October 8th, 2008, 06:28 PM
+ + +

This special news letter is to alert you of a disturbing development taking place in the US. Naomi Wolf of Alternet and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! report that combat troops deployed on US soil, ready to hit the streets for "crowd control"

Troops Deployed On U.S. Streets

Naomi Wolf

The First Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, three to four thousand soldiers, has been deployed in the United States as of October 1. Their stated mission is the form of crowd control they practiced in Iraq, subduing "unruly individuals," and the management of a national emergency

“Invasion Of The Sea-Smurfs”

Amy Goodman

3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team will be called the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive Consequence Management Response Force. Its acronym, CCMRF, is pronounced “sea-smurf.” These “sea-smurfs,” Gina Cavallaro of Army Times newspaper reports, have “spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle,” in a combat zone, and now will spend their 20-month “dwell time”—time troops are required to spend to “reset and regenerate after a deployment”—armed and ready to hit the U.S. streets

If you find this news letter useful, kindly forward it to your friends and encourage them to join this mailing list.

In Solidarity

It's not as if they didn't know long in advance where their policies were taking us. According to the PNAC, they are right on track, however there have been a few obstacles thrown in their path, but hardly enough to have stopped their Shermanesque March to oblivion.

They had wanted our dollar to collapse, enabling them to pick up the pieces. Did they believe it could happen so easily?

This is being discussed in another thread here on AAJ. It's happening as planned it seems.

What would impeachment and jail time do to those who plotted our demise? Could we then begin to save ourselves, and our country? SRH


Saundra Hummer
October 8th, 2008, 06:40 PM
* * * * * * *

Tell ABC to air the Repower America ad this Friday on 20/20.

Take Action!

Go here to sign letter:


Dear Saundra R,

Did you notice the ads after last night's presidential debate?

ABC had Chevron. CBS had Exxon. CNN had the coal lobby. But you know what happened last week? ABC refused to run our Repower America ad -- the ad that takes on this same oil and coal lobby.

I sent a letter asking ABC to reconsider their decision and put our ad on the air, but still we haven't heard back more than a week later. I think they need to hear from all of us. Can you help? Please send a message to ABC and tell them to air the Repower America ad this Friday on 20/20. Just click here:


We're working to get 100,000 public comments to ABC before 20/20's next airing.

Our Repower America ad has a clear and simple message -- that massive spending by oil and coal companies on advertising is a key reason our nation hasn't switched to clean and renewable sources for our energy.

Here's the script of the ad:

The solution to our climate crisis seems simple.
Repower America with wind and solar.
End our dependence on foreign oil. A stronger economy.
So why are we still stuck with dirty and expensive energy?
Because big oil spends hundreds of millions of dollars to block clean energy.
Lobbyists, ads, even scandals.
All to increase their profits, while America suffers.
Breaking big oil's lock on our government ...
Now that's change.
We're the American people and we approve this message.
You can view the ad on the ABC petition page, here.

As our country faces deep economic problems, we need to be able to have an honest debate about the root causes of our problems. As Al Gore has said, "We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the future of human civilization. And every bit of that has to change."

As oil and coal backed groups outspend even major party committees in this political year, it's outrageous that ABC would deny our ad. Let ABC know what you think. Just click here.

Thank you,

Cathy Zoi


Saundra Hummer
October 8th, 2008, 10:02 PM

Supreme Court shows little sympathy for whales beset by sonar

McClatchy Washington Bureau
Posted on Wed, Oct. 08, 2008
Michael Doyle | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: October 08, 2008
05:58:19 PM

WASHINGTON — Whales may simply have to pay the price as the Navy prepares for war, Supreme Court justices suggested Wednesday
In a closely watched environmental case, justices Wednesday morning repeatedly sounded sympathetic to Pentagon officials who want to run large-scale Navy exercises off the Southern California coast. While the resulting underwater sonar storm disturbs marine mammals, it also helps prepare sailors for combat.

"I thought the whole point of the armed forces was to hurt the environment," Associate Justice Stephen Breyer said, half-jokingly. "Of course they're going to do harm."

The Pentagon and environmentalists disagree over exactly how much mid-frequency active sonar injures marine mammals, and justices Wednesday couldn't resolve the conflict. An apparent majority of justices, though, did appear ready to defer to military expertise in matters of national security.

Chief Justice John Roberts raised the specter of an undetected "North Korean diesel submarine to get (closer) to Pearl Harbor" if sailors couldn't train with sonar, and Associate Justice Samuel Alito asked pointedly if a judge could be considered "an expert on anti-submarine warfare." Alito added that there is "something incredibly odd" about a trial judge making a decision "contrary" to the Navy's requirements.

Even Breyer, who at times has been skeptical about other claims of executive authority, suggested that "an admiral (who) comes along with an affidavit that seems plausible" might outrank a "district judge who just says" the training should stop.

"You're asking us (for a decision), who know little about whales and less about the Navy," Breyer told Los Angeles-based attorney Richard Kendall, who's representing environmental groups.

The technical but crucial legal question in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council is when a federal agency can sidestep conventional environmental protections by declaring an emergency. A Pentagon victory could make such emergency declarations more common, and on more than just military matters.

Even before the hour-long oral arguments Wednesday, legal scholars were predicting the conservative-led court was likely to defer to military necessity in time of war. The prediction is enhanced by the fact that Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council arises from the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which the Supreme Court reversed in eight out of 10 cases last year.

It's the conflict between whales and sailors, though, that gives the case its sizzle.

Underscoring the stakes — and perhaps as part of a bit of courtroom staging — an array of uniformed Navy officers sat prominently in the front row of the visitors section Wednesday.

The Navy needs the Southern California Operating Area for training exercises, which prepare naval strike groups for deployment to the Pacific Ocean and Middle East. Sailors use mid-frequency active sonar to detect otherwise hard-to-find submarines.

The Southern California coastal waters are also home to at least 37 species of marine mammals, including pygmy sperm whales, coastal bottlenose dolphins and endangered blue whales.

The Navy's sonar produces piercing underwater sounds that Kendall said was 2,000 times louder than a jet engine. Some scientists say sonar use can cause hearing loss, cranial bleeding, behavioral modifications and mass strandings.

A district court imposed additional safety measures on the Navy, including stopping sonar use when marine mammals were spotted within 2,200 yards and powering down the sonar under certain other conditions.

"The Navy is perfectly able to train under these circumstances," Kendall said.

The Bush administration's Council on Environmental Quality declared "emergency circumstances" existed, which the administration argues should dissolve the district court's training limitations. Administration officials also dispute the extent of harm, noting that Navy exercises have been taking place off the Southern California coast for the past four decades.

"No marine mammals will be killed as a result of these exercises," Solicitor General Gregory Garre told the court. "They hear the (sonar) sound, and they go in the op