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Showing posts from September 21, 2008

The new world war - the silence is a lie, John Pilger

In an article for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the 'great silence' over the annual British party conferences as politicians and their club of commentators say nothing about a war provoked and waged across the world the responsibility for which lies close at hand.

Britain’s political conference season of 2008 will be remembered as The Great Silence. Politicians have come and gone and their mouths have moved in front of large images of themselves, and they often wave at someone. There has been lots of news about each other. Adam Boulton, the political editor of Sky News, and billed as “the husband of Blair aide Anji Hunter”, has published a book of gossip derived from his “unrivalled access to No 10”. His revelation is that Tony Blair’s mouthpiece told lies. The war criminal himself has been absent, but the former mouthpiece has been signing his own book of gossip, and waving. The club is celebrating itself, including all those, Labour and Tory, who gave the war crimi…

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Journalists, start your skepticism.

In covering the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street don't repeat the failed lapdog practices that so damaged our reputations in the rush to war in Iraq and the adoption of the Patriot Act. Don't assume that Congress must act instantly, as so many news stories state as if it was an immutable fact. Don't assume there is a case just because officials say there is.

The coverage of the Paulson plan focuses on the edges, on the details. The focus should be on the premise. And be skeptical of what gullible Congressional leaders, most of them up before the voters in a few weeks, say after being given a closed-door meeting on supposed horrors.

The Administration has scared the markets and some key legislative leaders, but it has not laid out a coherent, specific and compelling need for this enormous proposal, which is the equivalent of a one-time 55 percent income tax surcharge. (Instead the money will be borrowed, so ask from whom and how this much can be raised so quickly …

Ted Rall Sums Up McBama

The Law of the Conservation of Violence, Edward Herman, Z Magazine

It is interesting and depressing to see that as Obama calls for some kind of withdrawal or at least substantial cutbacks of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, at the same time he calls for escalation in Afghanistan. By doing this he hopes to ease the threat of vulnerability to accusations of weakness on "national security" and an un- or anti-American "cut and run" perspective. This has long been a problem for the Democrats, who have a mass populist constituency that would like some transfer of government resources to their pressing civilian needs.

The establishment, including the mainstream media, therefore, keeps the pressure on to assure that the Democrats stay in line and the Democrats often compensate, even overcompensate, to demonstrate their integration into an imperialist worldview and weapons culture. Both Gore and Bush wanted a bigger military budget in 2000 (Nader, who wanted cuts, was marginalized). Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the campaign trail ca…

As Bush Admin Pushes $700B for Wall Street, Ralph Nader Asks, “Why Is There Need for a Bailout?”

Nader on Democracy Now! this morning....

More here:

Some excellent questions not really being asked on the Hill, even by Mr. Frank. As per usual, the Democrats will cave, having already conceded the terms of the argument, the framework of action, and their institutional rights and responsibilities. To say nothing of their responsibility to their constituencies.

As usual, the plan seems to be: let things fail, pin it on the GOP, gain power. As in Iraq, FISA, you name it.

I don't see Obama doing much of anything, either, except being "bipartisan."

Still doubt that we have a one-party state with two wings? I've been reading a lot in the business press, economists, etc. -- there is very little consensus that this plan, what is known about it, will work. Funny, that. Money for the financial services industry (ie, the rich); nothing for everyone else.

One criticism of the left (such as it is): there is no double standard in Bush's policies. The rich want protection…

Congressional Backbone Needed, Ralph Nader

Congress needs to show some backbone before the federal government pours more money on the financial bonfire started by the arsonists on Wall Street.

1. Congress should hold a series of hearings and invite broad public comment on any proposed bailout. Congress is supposed to be a co-equal branch of our federal government. It needs to stop the stampede to give Bush a $700 billion check. Public hearings should be held to determine what alternatives might exist to the four-page proposal advanced by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson.

2. Whatever is ultimately done, the bailout plan should not be insulated from judicial review. Remember there is a third co-equal branch of government – the judiciary. The judiciary does not need to review each buy-and-sell decision by the Treasury Department, but there should be some boundaries established to the Treasury Department's discretion, and judicial review is needed to ensure that unbridled discretion is not abused.

3. Sunlight is a good disinfe…

Bailout plan won't be end of Wall Street bailouts, Nomi Prins

Sunday night meetings in Washington produce startling announcements: In March, there was the Fed's $30- billion backing of Bear Stearns' bad assets, as it was given to JPMorgan Chase; last week we had Lehman Brothers' declaration of bankruptcy; this week it's Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, changing their status to one equivalent to neighborhood banks, with all the emergency capital perks thrown in.

The shifting tides of Wall Street aren't over, and neither are the government bailouts. If Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's request for a $700 billion bailout is approved, it will bring the total government tab for saving Wall Street from itself to $1.25 trillion.

But, reading the fine print, that huge chunk of cash is just for one-time purchases. If the government buys $700 billion worth of assets whose value goes to zero, we could be on the hook for another bailout round before you know it.

Paulson considers this latest plan, "decisive action to fundamental…

The Paulson-Bernanke Bank Bailout Plan, Michael Hudson, Counterpunch

With some bracketed edits by yours truly; badly written and/or edited, but on the money.
By MICHAEL HUDSON Saturday’s $700 billion junk mortgage bailout is the largest and worst giveaway since a corrupt Congress gave land grants to the railroad barons a century and a half ago. If it goes through, it will shape the coming century by giving finance unprecedented power over debtors – homebuyers, industry, state and local government, and the federal government as well. But what threatens to be even worse is the government’s move to let the financial sector make even higher, unprecedented gains[.] by [The Paulson plan allows the financial sector to] working its way out of negative equity to “make taxpayers whole” by repaying the government’s bailout by bleeding the economy at large. [A]nticipating congressional capitulation in this license to engage in predatory credit, the latest Sunday evening surprise is that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s own firm, Goldman Sachs, is to become bank h…

Those Wonderful CEOs....

Essay: The Faces of the Financial CrisisExecutive Pay: The 9/11 Factor [from 2006]As stocks sank after the attacks, scores of companies rushed to issue options to top officials. Some reaped millions.By CHARLES FORELLE, JAMES BANDLER and MARK MAREMONT On Sept. 21, 2001, rescuers dug through the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center. Across town, families buried two firefighters found a week earlier. At Fort Drum, on the edge of New York's Adirondacks, soldiers readied for deployment halfway across the world.Boards of directors of scores of American companies were also busy that day. They handed out millions of bargain-priced stock options to their top executives.Awarding at a LowA Wall Street Journal analysis shows how some companies rushed, amid the post-9/11 stock-market decline, to give executives especially valuable options. The grants set recipients up for millions of dollars in profit if the shares recovered. Here are examples of some grants made in September 2001. The t…