Sunday, September 28, 2008

Are politicians moving too slowly to accomplish too little?

Cross-posted from

From an article by John Browne at Asia Times:

Last week, US Treasury secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke faced congressional leaders with a reported forecast that we are "literally days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system". Apparently, the politicians were stunned into a long silence.

If citizens across the country could glimpse the horror seen by the congressmen (of which we have long warned), then widespread panic would truly be the order of the day. In particular, people will be shocked to see how Paulson’s seemingly vast request to congress for some $1 trillion is utterly dwarfed by the likely problem.

Later in the article:

If the economy moves into a severe recession and then depression, default rates will explode. These, in turn, will cause stock markets to implode, as they did in 1929. In addition, the US dollar is likely to plummet, driving up the trade deficit in the longer term. Considering these factors, many of which the government prefers to hide, things look bad - very bad.

The thing is, most Americans seem to oppose any bailout of Wall Street whatsoever. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein was inundated with communications from constituents demanding that she vote against giving any of their tax dollars to Wall Street, according to the Kansas City Star:

Feinstein's office has heard from about 50,000 constituents since Congress began considering a financial rescue plan about a week ago - and "only one of a thousand supports it - whatever it is," the California Democrat said.

Lawmakers from both parties reported similar confusion and concern among constituents as they spent their Saturday painstakingly, and sometimes painfully, trying to craft a still-elusive compromise package.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell aimed to have a final plan ready by 6 p.m. Sunday, in time for the opening of markets around the world.

But House Republicans, whose objections derailed a deal reached last week, warned they did not want any rush to judgment.


The senator tends to side on most issues with Democratic liberals and moderates, but her feedback from home was similar to what conservatives were hearing. "People call us and say they're really against bailing out fat-cats. That's a big issue," she said.

"We've heard from hundreds of people who say, 'We pay our bills. Why can't Wall Street pay theirs?' " said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said his office had received 3,500 calls in recent days "and just 95 said they supported what we've done so far."

Republicans have apparently been revolting against their own party's dictator in the White House, seemingly out of a desire to finally look as though they oppose big government interference in the market system — earlier this month, the feds took lending giant Fannie Mae back under their control and also seized its counterpart, Freddie Mac.

Whether this is really the case is up for debate; it could all be a ploy to extend the financial crisis so as to force Democrats in Congress to cave in and write another blank check. My gut, however, tells me there's genuine fear that a bailout not crafted to give taxpayers at least partial ownership of the financial institutions in return for a bailout would create a massive backlash at the polls come November.

At any rate, once the bailout does go through (no matter what form it takes), shall it be enough? According to at least one American economics writer and the foreign press, we're already in the throes of an economic depression that began months ago. Considering the massive U.S. debt already being passed on to an incalculable number of future generations, adding another trillion or so dollars to it doesn't seem as though it'll solve the problem we now face.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Looking at America's Police State

Here we are, all primed and pumped for the Republican Convention. This has given the Democrats lots to talk about and also an opportunity to skewer McCain and his new running mate. This doesn’t surprise me, nor does it anger me, every demeaning thing that is said about GOP has this writer’s endorsement, they couldn’t pick on a more deserving target. The only thing that bothers me is their total lack of objectivity when they criticize what the GOP stands for. It hardly influences the masses when they harp on McCain’s war drum beating skills when everyone can observe that Barack Obama’s own predilection for blasting out a great beat on his own set of drums with a talent that has greatly improved over the past few months.

Political analysts and strategy advisers have grossly underestimated the American people this time. It has been painfully obvious that most Americans have let Bush and his henchmen in Congress get away with murder, and I mean that literally, while so many have been silent and complicit. Our leaders have no conscience, and hatch their schemes and plan for conquest, while millions of us wait for a chance to change this nation’s direction. Sadly, for all of us that are truly paying attention, we see that real change is only a mirage.

Just as hope cannot be instilled in society by the hopeless, honesty can not be taught by thieves, and justice can not be administered by criminals, change will not come from those locked into the status quo. The American people however, hoping against reason, tried desperately to believe that one of them would morph into one of us. It may have been just another time in the history of man when good would actually triumph over evil and when reason would replace insanity and we would have a fairytale ending to this national tragedy we have been witnessing during the last decade. The facts are, we have been offered two roads to travel, but they both take us to the same destination; war for resources and empire for profit.

Americans are a people that are slow to anger; in this case I am not describing the people, not their government. The people did not want to enter World War II until we were attacked directly, and once provoked; the people were willing to sacrifice all to ensure victory. We are not a nation of cowards, nor are we a nation of pawns. The mistake that those in power have made is the mistake of underestimating a cultures resolve. Once a certain line is crossed, once boundaries have been overstepped, it is impossible to undo the damage it has done. I believe that this is what’s happening to both political parties in America. The two corporate-led political parties have stepped over the line, both parties have asked Americans to accept the unacceptable, and both parties have lied to the people and both have been, unfortunately for them, caught in their lies.

While the Democrats have been decrying the war in Iraq, and have portrayed Senator John McCain as the “war candidate”, Senator Obama has tried to keep the focus on the economy while moving steadily in the same direction as McCain. The impassioned speech he gave in Denver was looked at skeptically by many, not because of what he said, but for what he failed to say. There was no mention of restoring what we had lost during the Bush Administration, things such as habeas corpus and the end of electronic surveillance of citizens or warrantless searches of homes and property. There was no mention at all of reviewing the draconian laws put in place by Bush and Cheney, or the torture that they have been accused of practicing. There were however, veiled threats against Iran and Russia, and proposals that the military should grow by 65,000 combat soldiers, 10,000 to be sent to Afghanistan so that we can prosecute the “right war” there while leaving tens of thousands of troops in Iraq. This in a time of economic uncertainty when this country spends more on its military than almost all other nations on Earth combined.

Obama didn’t skip a beat when he talked about “Russian aggression”, apparently supporting the lies from the government and the western corporate-owned media that Russia was the aggressor in Georgia when the truth was that Georgia initiated hostilities to regain the autonomous regions. He has supported Bush and his quest to put nuclear medium range missiles in Poland as Russia rightly declares that this would put them in an indefensible position and warned that they would take military action if this comes to pass. This threat by the Russians is completely understandable; it is the American government that is unreasonable. In 1963 we almost went to war over the same type if missiles being installed in Cuba. When JFK finally promised we would take out our medium range missiles in Turkey, war was averted. Now we must sit idly while Bush and Cheney orchestrate another nuclear crisis, this time America plays the villain.

We postulate that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable and that we will embark on a military solution to make sure that it doesn’t happen. The facts are that the United States over 18,000 nuclear warheads, most of them multiple warheads’ (MIRV’s). Iran’s most immediate threat, Israel, has according to most sources, over 300 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. This is a prime example of total hypocrisy. If Israel would agree to dismantle its nuclear weapons and its nuclear programs, would Iran follow suit? Nobody knows, as this line of thought has never been vocalized or written about. Do the majority of American citizens feel that Israel is so important in the scheme of things that they would rush into a situation that could very well provoke World War III? Would American mothers and fathers be willing to sacrifice the lives of their children to insure that Israel has military superiority over Iran? I hardly think so, but if you canalize the rhetoric coming from both political parties in this country, you would think that we would. The truth is that this nation seems to be willing to do anything in order to protect Israel, even if it means starting a thermo-nuclear war.

When it comes to civil liberties and foreign policy, the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans seem negligible. When it comes to domestic policy, we hear Obama say that he will not outsource our industries and pay workers a fair wage, but when will we hear about support for the unions? What about stopping the “privatization” of our resources that has become the mantra of the corporate world, and when will he propose doing something about the corporate influence of the media? In this country, where a handful of corporations control the bulk of newspapers, television and radio outlets in almost all of our major cities, when will we hear about a return to Federal regulation? Why do we allow this?

The truth is that we won’t hear about it. How can we when our media is so thoroughly controlled by so few corporate interests? Propaganda does not necessarily mean that governments are the only ones that put it out. This is corporate propaganda and it is just as detrimental to a free society as its government cousin. Benito Mussolini once remarked that “fascism could be called corporatism”. This is nothing new. When corporations and the government control the media and the resources in a nation, and the people have no voice, that’s simply fascism. This is where we find ourselves today.

The people of this country are finding that out. We have all heard of the police raids on protesters that occurred Sunday morning in St. Paul before any protests took place. We have heard about how the police went into houses occupied by college students, guns drawn, and how they handcuffed the “suspects” and made them lie face-down for hours. We have read about the warrantless searches and the confiscation of computers and other personal items. This was done by police that didn’t even come from St. Paul!

There were arrests of demonstrators in Denver also. Some of the same heavy-handed techniques were used there. Since when do peaceful protesters deserve this kind of treatment? what’s happening in this country? When did we lose the right to dissent?

The American people are simply fed-up with both the Republicans and the Democrats. We are tired of the wars and the lies. We are tired of the fear tactics and the police state we are evolving into. The thought of a third-party candidate winning this election is not so far-fetched as it once was. It’s about time.