Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Financial Fat Cats Paid for the Yes Votes on Bailout

Finance Sector Gave 51 Percent More to House Bailout Backers



Monday, September 29, 2008

The Bailout: King Paulson gets to control every aspect of the bailout and reward the wildest speculators

New York Times- Treasury Would Emerge With Vast New Powers
- Sold to US taxpayers for $700B: banks' bad assets
LA Times-
Banks love bailout, hate credit card curbs
Bloomberg -
Asian Stocks Fall on Concern U.S. Rescue Won't Bolster Growth

New York Times- House Rejects Bailout Package, 228-205; Stocks Plunge

McCain takes credit for bill before it loses
TomDispatch.org - Pentagon Bailout Fraud

Specific Details of The Bailout

The term ‘‘financial institution’’ means any institution, including,
but not limited to, any bank, savings association,
credit union, security broker or dealer, or insurance

TROUBLED ASSETS.—The term ‘‘troubled assets’’ means—
(A) residential or commercial mortgages
and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such
mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before March 14, 2008
, the
purchase of which the Secretary determines promotes financial market stability; and
(B) any other financial instrument that the Secretary, after consultation with the Chairman
of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, determines the purchase of which
is necessary to promote financial market stability, but only upon transmittal of such determination,
in writing, to the appropriate committees of Congress.

AUTHORITY.—The Secretary is authorized
to establish a troubled asset relief program (or ‘‘TARP’’) to
purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase,
troubled assets from any financial institution, on such terms
and conditions as are determined by the Secretary
, and in
accordance with this Act and the policies and procedures
developed and published by the Secretary.

(c) NECESSARY ACTIONS.—The Secretary is authorized to
take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary
to carry out the authorities in this Act
, including, without
, the following
(1) The Secretary shall have direct hiring authority with
respect to the appointment of employees to administer this Act.
(2) Entering into contracts, including contracts
for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5,
United States Code.
(3) Designating financial institutions as financial agents
of the Federal Government, and such institutions shall
perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act
as financial agents of the Federal Government as may
be required.
(4) In order to provide the Secretary with the
flexibility to manage troubled assets in a manner designed
to minimize cost to the taxpayers, establishing vehicles
that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary,
to purchase, hold, and sell troubled assets and issue obligations.

(5) Issuing such regulations and other guidance
as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms
or carry out the authorities or purposes of this Act.

Secretary shall publish program guidelines, including the
(1) Mechanisms for purchasing troubled assets.
(2) Methods for pricing and valuing troubled
(3) Procedures for selecting asset managers.
(4) Criteria for identifying troubled assets for

purchases under the authority of this Act, the Secretary
shall take such steps as may be necessary to prevent unjust
enrichment of financial institutions participating in
a program established under this section, including by preventing
the sale of a troubled asset to the Secretary at
a higher price than what the seller paid to purchase the
asset. This subsection does not apply to troubled assets
acquired in a merger or acquisition, or a purchase of assets
from a financial institution in conservatorship or receivership,
or that has initiated bankruptcy proceedings
under title 11, United States Code.

(2) GUARANTEES.—In establishing any pro- gram under this subsection, the Secretary may develop guarantees of troubled assets and the associated premiums for such guarantees. Such guarantees and premiums may be determined by category class of the troubled assets to be guaranteed. (3) EXTENT OF GUARANTEE.—Upon request of financial institution, the Secretary may guarantee timely payment of principal of, and interest on, troubled assets in amounts not to exceed 100 per- of such payments. Such guarantee may be on terms and conditions as are determined by the Secretary, provided that such terms and conditions consistent with the purposes of this Act.

(b) MANAGEMENT OF TROUBLED ASSETS.—The Secretary shall have authority
to manage troubled assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio

risks therefrom.

may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at a
price determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities
loans, repurchase transactions, or other financial
transactions in regard to, any troubled asset purchased
under this Act.

(c) CONSENT TO REASONABLE LOAN MODIFICATION REQUESTS.—Upon any request arising under existing investment contracts, the Secretary shall consent, where appropriate, and considering net present value to the taxpayer, to reasonable requests for loss mitigation measures, including term extensions, rate reductions, principal write downs, increases in the proportion of loans within a trust other structure allowed to be modified, or removal of other limitation on modifications.

(1) IN GENERAL.—To the extent that the Federal property manager holds, owns, or controls mortgages, mortgage backed securities, and other assets secured by residential real estate, including multifamily housing, the Federal property manager shall implement a plan that seeks to maximize assistance homeowners and use its authority to encourage servicers of the underlying mortgages, and con- sidering net present value to the taxpayer, to take advantage of the HOPE for Homeowners Program under section 257 of the National Housing Act or other available programs to minimize foreclosures. (2) MODIFICATIONS.—In the case of a residential mortgage loan, modifications made under paragraph (1) may include— (A) reduction in interest rates; (B) reduction of loan principal; and (C) other similar modifications. (3) TENANT PROTECTIONS.—In the case of mortgages on residential rental properties, modifications made under paragraph (1) shall ensure— (A) the continuation of any existing Federal, State, and local rental subsidies and protections; and

Monday, September 22, 2008

Melancon Responds to Financial Crisis (unlike RalphHall)

Melancon: “Never Surrender to Financial Terrorism”

“The wizards of Wall Street are threatening the survival of our republic and the free market,” said Glenn Melancon, Democratic Candidate for US Congress in Texas’ Fourth Congressional District. “They want Congress to surrender budgetary authority to the President just like it surrendered War Powers during the debate over Iraq. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. We must have democracy, accountability and transparency.”

The Constitution is clear—Congress, not the President nor the Federal Reserve—is the “decider.” Congress decides how much to spend and what to spend it on. George Bush’s request for a blank check to bail out Wall Street strikes at the very heart of our Constitution.

“George Bush’s irresponsible plan to save Wall Street throws back the curtain on corporate hypocrisy and control,” said Melancon. “Every time average Americans demand a fair chance to compete in the global market place, large corporations spend billions of dollars to fight them. They’ve said “no” to affordable health care, clean energy, smaller class sizes, and fair trade.”

“We must never surrender to financial terrorism,” said Melancon. “Congress should demand a fair price, real security, transparency and accountability in exchange for check.”

Corporate Transparency and Accountability

1) Punishment for corporate executives: Any out-going executive asking for a government handout must agree to surrender all stock options, bonuses, and “golden parachutes.” Failed executives shouldn’t be rewarded with tax-payer dollars.

2) Require performance-based compensation packages: Stock holders must be the ultimate beneficiaries of a company. Executive pay must be directly tied to long-term stock performance.

3) Restore Independence of Directors: Corporate boards must be composed of individuals who are free of conflicts of interest. Large stock-holders shouldn’t sit on their own boards.

Marketplace Transparency and Accountability

1) Expose derivatives to public scrutiny: Secret derivatives are insecurities, not securities. Publicly traded companies must disclose all mathematical formulas used to calculate profits and risks.

2) Restore the firewalls between commercial and financial banks: In today’s market financial fires spread faster, not slower. Firewalls are essential to containing the disaster.

3) Require increased capital reserves: Banks and other financial institutions can’t function without real assets to back up their loans. Banks must have sufficient capital reserves to cover their losses.

“There are two basic requirements for representative government and free market capitalism—transparency and accountability,” said Melancon. “Neither can survive if secret deals allow a handful of people rig the system. We must have real changes to protect our hard-earned money.”


Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Daily Show

McCain, Palin and repubs in congress demand drilling based on research by the Dept of the Interior, the same group charged with sharing drugs and sex with oil company lobbyists.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sarah Palin the Alaska Disasta'

W o w!
Look at these pictures of a great bunch of people, carrying home-made signs…
Enjoy….pass it on!

[The] Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage . Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It's probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally "a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots," and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received some nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

I felt a bit apprehensive. I'd been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it's a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren't sent by Eddie Burke, we'll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing "socialist baby-killing maggot" haters.

It's a good thing I wasn't tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody's trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn't honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn't happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn't be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you've been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin's rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska , who know her best, have things to say.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's Official: The "War on Terrorism" is Stupid and Doesn't Work

John McCain continues to pound his chest about what a great commander-in-chief he would make. Like his war loving Siamese twin brothers Bush and Cheney his only tool is the hammer of the military and every problem looks like the nail of a war. Now one of the hawks favorite institutional friends the Rand Corporation (the folks who brought you the brilliant strategy of Vietnam) are saying that the "War on Terror" is a stupid concept because it doesn't

In a study released July 29th entitled
How Terrorism Ends: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida Seth Jones,Ph.D. and Martin C. Libicki make the case that the "War on Terror" has failed to curb the world wide terrorist activities of al Qa'ida. They examined 648 terrorist groups that existed between 1968 and 2006 looking for how they eventually ended their activities. What
their, dare I say it, scientific, study revealed is that the concept of
a military solution to the problem of terrorist activity has never worked. Instead,

most terrorist groups end either because they join the political process, or because local police and intelligence efforts arrest or kill key members."

Not that most of the readers of this site didn't already know it but they also found that the terrorist activities of al Qa'ida have only increased since 9-11 and that they also have expanded into Europe, Asia, Africa and of course the Middle East. So what did stop terrorist groups activities?
They found that the most common way (43%) that terrorist groups ended their activities was through the political (diplomatic) process. That is to say through negotiations, another forbidden term in the Bush/Cheney lexicon. Policing was the second most effective approach because police are permanently present in the area of terrorist activities and therefore are privy to better intelligence than the military. You may recall that in the run up to the 2004 election Sen. John Kerry was ridiculed for saying that terrorism was "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world — the very thing this [Bush] administration is worst at."

Military action was only successful 7% of the time out of all of the groups they studied over 38 years but the terrorists won 10% of the time. Even within their own study the authors claim that military action should be used against large, well armed groups who form an insurgency. Sounds like they covered their asses on the Surge. But a closer look at the surge actually supports the authors major findings.

General Petraeus' work in Iraq has reduced violence but he did not use only military might to do it. What he actually did was to become the hard nosed diplomat in the country that Connie Rice refused to be. He negotiated with the Sunni terrorists that were killing so many of our troops and found that they too were angry at the foreign fighters that al Qa'ida had brought in to their country. With the help of generous donations of cash they agreed to help Petraeus and his troops root out and kill al Qa'ida fighters. Then he used the extra troops of the surge to police the streets and establish permanent placements within each neighborhood, which sounds like well fortified police stations to me. So let's get this straight. John McSame and King George would have us believe it was our military "winning" a "war" on the terrorists in Iraq that substantially slowed down attacks there. In fact, it was the diplomatic and policing efforts of a well educated General who focused on negotiations with local (terrorist) leaders that brought about the reduction in violence.

The difference between the way McCain and the neocons describe it and the reality of what Gen. Petraeus accomplished is not just semantic, but the semantics are important. In framing our efforts to end terrorism as a war we feed the war profiteers of the military-industrial complex, create new enemies, break our own laws and lose our standing in the world. By framing terrorism as a matter of diplomacy and using policing as a method of keeping the streets people live on safe, we engender friends, cooperation, progress and we enhance our standing in the world.

But don't expect any Democratic leaders to point
out these obvious facts because they suck at framing issues. They haven't even tried on Iraq, they seem to have just surrendered that issue to the Repubs. George Lakoff could write a thousand books and they still wouldn't get it. In the meantime you can bet that McCain will be touting the winning "military" strategy of the surge as though he thought it up.

For more information:

The General's Dilemma by Steve Coll NewYorker Sept.7th 2008

How Terrorist Groups End Rand Corporation

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Barbara Boxer KO's McCain's acceptance speech

From Meteor Blades at Daily Kos,

Last night at the Republican National Convention, John McCain used the word "fight" more than 40 times in his speech.

In the 16 years that we have served together in the Senate, I have seen John McCain fight.

I have seen him fight against raising the federal minimum wage 14 times.

I have seen him fight against making sure that women earn equal pay for equal work.

I have seen him fight against a woman's right to choose so consistently that he received a zero percent vote rating from pro-choice organizations.

I have seen him fight against helping families gain access to birth control.

I have seen him fight against Social Security, even going so far as to call its current funding system "an absolute disgrace."

And I saw him fight against the new GI Bill of Rights until it became politically untenable for him to do so.

John McCain voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time in 2007 and 100 percent of the time in 2008 -- that's no maverick.

We do have two real fighters for change in this election -- their names are Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

A Sarah Palin reminder

"Mrs. Palin needs to be reminded that Jesus was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor”

Monday, September 1, 2008

It's Not about Experience It's About Honesty

Michael Kinsley wrote an excellent column in today's Washington Post. In describing the contradictions of the Republican's framing of the debate about who would best govern he says:

"That's why the important point about Palin's lack of experience isn't about Palin. It's about McCain. And the question is not how his choice of Palin might complicate his ability to use the "experience" issue or whether he will have to drop experience as an issue. It's not about the proper role of experience as an issue. It's not about experience at all. It's about honesty. The question should be whether McCain -- and all the other Republicans who have been going on for months about Obama's dangerous lack of foreign policy experience -- ever meant a word of it. And the answer is apparently not. Many conservative pundits woke up this morning fully prepared to harp on Obama's alleged lack of experience for months more. Now they face the choice of either executing a Communist-style U-turn ("Experience? Feh! Who needs it?") or trying to keep a straight face while touting the importance of having been mayor of a town of 9,000 if you later find yourself president of a nation of 300 million.

We all know that modern political campaigns choose their issues from the cafeteria line, after market-testing them and then having them professionally framed. Rarely, though, are we offered such a clear and unarguable example. How could anyone truly believe that Barack Obama's background and job history are inadequate experience for a president and simultaneously believe that Sarah Palin's background and job history are adequate? It's possible to believe one or the other. But both? Simply not possible. John McCain has been -- what's the word? -- lying. And so have all the pundits who rushed to defend McCain's choice.

This is especially damning to McCain because his case for himself (besides not being Obama, a standard under which many of us might qualify) has rested on his honor and integrity. The North Vietnamese couldn't break him, and neither could the Brahmins of his own party in the Senate. He was a maverick who always told it straight.

So much for that.

The writer is a columnist for Time magazine and a contributor to The Post. Read more from Michael Kinsley at washingtonpost.com's new opinion blog, PostPartisan.