Archive for September, 2008

Dear Obama for America, 9-15-08

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Dear Obama for America,

I sent you a letter re: Sarah Palin;  information I thought you should see.  Is it factual?  Couldn’t say.  It’s for you to vet.

Evidently  the NYT thought it was interesting material  and  it has been published on McClatchy wires.
Your response indicated you Democrats hold yourselves above smear tactics and family attacks and you declined to use the info provided.

Palin is a right wing conservatrix with strong religious fundamentalist leanings. She has little experience and has displayed little interest in acquainting herself with crucial issues pertaining to  leadership in any office.   She would bomb Iran.  She considers war w/ Russia to be a distinct possibility. She vacillates on earmarks.   She is a book burner!  The church she belongs to routinely burns books that are offensive to them.

A book burning president?

God forbid!

I don’t want Sarah Palin to in a position of leadership in our country.  We have had too much of right wing religious extremism in the leadership of this country.   We do not need another ‘hot line to God’  in the White house!

McCain is 72 yrs old and has had 3 bouts w/ cancer.   A real possibility looms that Palin would become president before 4 or 8 years is up.   That would be an outrage the country might not recover from after 8 years of Bush malignancy.  That is why I sent the Kilkenny letter to you.  For purposes of informing.  You don’t need to smear – just tell the facts.

I do not want her to be President!  What a travesty that would be.  She backs the AIPAC position with regard to Israel/Palestine.  Of course, so does Obama.  Over 70% of American people do not.   Voters want the US to be neutral on the Israel/Palestine issue!

We know smears and spin work.   The evidence is there.  but you don’t need to resort to that to pin the tail on this donkey.   All you need to do is tell the truth.   Point out the facts, repeatedly.   The more the Repubs talk the more they fault themselves.  Letting this pass in order to appear ‘pure’ is a losing proposition.    Attacking family is as pointless as a pig with lipstick. And it is totally unnecessary.

May I remind you, this is a 9% Congress.  Only 9% of voters give Congress a positive rating.  That means  over 90% believe Congress is failing!

Positive ratings were somewhere around 45% in 2002, still appalling, but worlds better. And it’s not all due to Republican efforts.   The Dems were complicit in supporting much of the legislation that brought us to these straights.   And of course we apathetic voters certainly did not help the situation by voting the miscreants back into office over and over.  So when you say the Dems will not sully their hands by offering slurs and smears as do the Repubs,  I applaud.   I don’t like smears and spin and lies. They have no place in the landscape of *real*leadership of my country.

But is this such a landscape of *real* leadership?

No, it is not.  Dems and Repubs on both sides represent failed leadership and are asking for another chance under a banner of ‘Change’ that seems, at this point, to have taken on a sadly lesser meaning.

Your leadership is substantially divergent from the wishes of voters.    Read the polls on major issues!  The polls will tell you real change looks nothing like what you leaders seem to believe.

Polls show voters want special interests out of government!  We want clean air and water,  They do NOT want to drill for oil in ANWR.  Voters want The US out of Iraq and want dialog with Iran.   Voters want nuclear weapons eliminated and strongly support the UN.  Americans support due process for terrorism suspects.   Americans do NOT support torture!  We do not want to leave behind a failed legacy our kids have to pay for.

Call them out on real issues.   Make them answer for their past indiscretions.   Of course it would help if the Dems were not complicit in many these issues.   But, unfortunately, they are, and only future actions can repair that.

This country needs a literate, intelligent leader.   Obama could be such a leader.

Earlier this Spring, I heard Obama declare he could no more dump Pastor Wright, his friend and mentor of 20 years,  than he could dump his white grandmother who raised him and who feared black people so much she referred to them in racist terms, in his presence!  Obama seemed to realize and embrace the frustrations of both,  and rise above that with his message of Change and Hope.

At the time I heard him speak, I was backing Ralph Nader.   I thought  Finally, FINALLY!   A Democrat who puts his job on the line and says what’s right!   Someone with integrity.  Someone with understanding.   And, unlike Nader, Obama has a chance!

Here’s someone I could vote FOR!  It’s hard to remember when I last voted FOR a president.  It’s always been a matter of voting AGAINST the other guy!  But here was a guy who seemed to understand the fears of a white woman and the rage of a black man who served his country as a marine and still was regarded a second class citizen!

That racism is by no means behind us.  This week a federal judge released a white KKK member that was involved in the murder of 2 black teenagers in 1964 on the grounds that his conviction occurred after the statute of limitations had expired.

Statute of limitations!  5 years!   I didn’t know there was a statute of limitations for murder.   Even as a white man I can understand the rage of a black man who says ‘God damn America’.

We’re not stupid, out here in the grassroots.  After all, we see what is happening in our country and we’re the ones that have given you, our leaders, your deservedly low ratings.

We’re also the ones that are not in control of our country as we should be.  That makes us complicit too.
Blame whatever you want, fraud, corruption, special interests, lax media.   All those things and more, are waiting to plunder the keep in the presence of voter apathy.

But Obama could have changed that!  His ‘Promise’ could have brought to life a tsunami of disenfranchised and frustrated voters.

I thought I understood why he finally dumped Wright.  Even when he decided to dump public funding.   But for me he lost it when he backed the FISA bill .   It was unnecessary!  That’s old school politics and it wasn’t supposed to be a part of the Obama Promise.   And that disgusting play for AIPAC.   And then the choice of Biden for Veep.   Old school!   Where’s the change.

Hey! how about Jamie Dimon for veep?   CEO of JP Morgan-Chase. Young, progressive Democrat.  Passionate speaker.  Able to think on his feet.  Head of one of the largest commercial banks in the world.   Being a banker himself,  you can bet Dimon knows something about bringing an economy to its knees.  Think he doesn’t have the political experience?  Hell, his company buys politicians every day of the week.   Seriously, how about Barbara Boxer?   Henry Waxman?
Those people fought for real change when it wasn’t healthy nor popular to do so.

McCain wants to protect us from terrorism by bombing Iran. Palin is willing to take on Russia.
How do they plan to bring this off? And how much suffering are they willing to hand the other guy in order to carry out their kinked policies?

Our dollars have been squandered by fools and criminals.  Trillions of dollars if you believe Joseph Steiglitz.  The economy is in shambles and is tanking as we speak.

We entered 2000 with a $5.7T national debt and $1.3T surplus.  The debt now stands at $10T and interest on that debt each year is nearly  $400B –  money that could have been used in so many ways to strengthen our country, and instead it strengthens offshore creditors who don’t like us very much.
Militarily?   We are not *winning* in Iraq.  And, according to Joint Chief’s Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen,  we’re not *winning* in Afghanistan either.   After all, what would *winning* look like?   Would we have to kill them all?
Morally? What would the people of this country become if we were to *kill them all*?

Why not give terrorism its real name. Poverty!

Poverty is the real face of terrorism.  The absence of opportunity.  Parents watch their children die of starvation in an obese world.  Their kids go without an education that could pick them out of squalor and slums and you Democrats want to be pure and not offend.  People die from easily treatable disease and the drug industry enjoys a position of profit on Wall Street second only to the record profits of the oil companies.

And what about the carnivals in Denver where ATT sponsors feasted and partied the backers of the FISA bill that immunized them, and in St. Paul where police clubbed and jailed journalists covering the RNC.

Where is the outrage?  The Dems should be livid!   Instead it’s biz as usual.  Or should I say ‘complicity’ as usual.  Change that!   That would be real change!

Speak up on the crucial issues:
Public funding of elected officials.  The ridiculous, criminal access to the highest levels of public office by special interests. Change that!  Where is  accountability for corrupt officials.   Change is certainly needed there.  Poverty, education, offshored jobs.  Decaying infrastructure.  Global warming, degraded environment.  Polarization of wealth in America.   Fraudulent vote counts – only silence on these issues.
Provide *real* information to people, not VNR’s, so we may vote as informed citizens.  Information should be part of the commons, not traded on the New York Stock Exchange.   This is where real change could be made and where real change would make a difference.

David Lightman of McClatchy newspapers offers this on the economy;

“September 9, 2008

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before the government’s fiscal year ends Sept. 30, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday projected a near-record federal budget deficit of $407 billion, sharply higher than White House projections six weeks ago and more than double last year’s figure.

Mammoth federal-budget deficits feed inflation, make America dependent on foreign lenders, cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments on the growing national debt and drain capital savings from more productive investments.

The widening gap between what the government spends and the revenue it brings in is sure to weigh on the next president and impede his efforts to spend on new or larger programs or to cut taxes.

Yet John McCain and Barack Obama show few signs that they’re ready to take tough steps to curb deficits, according to budget analysts.”

I thought Obama offered a real answer to economic problems with his plan for renewable energy.  Pour $500B into a real search for answers to sustainable energy.  His plan would provide jobs allowing families to pay their bills and provide federal tax revenues allowing our country to pay its bills.  And, in addition, would get us out from under our need to import foreign oil and markedly decrease our trade deficit.   Seems like  a great idea though I haven’t heard much about it lately.

Democrats have lost the constituency that gave them the nomination.  You went from a dozen percentage points over McCain to 5 points under.  Las Vegas odds still have the Dem ticket as the winner but that could change – there are 2 months to go!  It should have been a sweeping victory for the Dems after the Bush debacle.  A rout!  And you’re now behind in the polls.   But Be Nice To Palin.  Don’t attack.   Don’t be rude!

You’re no different than the Repubs you denigrate for smears and lies.  You let it happen.  Nancy Pelosi called her party ‘Rollover Democrats’   (and then asked for a contribution….&^&^%&^%!!!).   Not from this former Democrat.  The differences between Dems and Repubs, at this point, appear to be small enough to be drowned in a bathtub to use a neocon phrase.  What a shame!  Many of us had hope for Obama.   I still do… Naively.  If you’re running on ‘Change’  You’d better get behind real  ‘Change’  because right now your claim to ‘Change’ rings hollow.  You had better take on the Palins for all you are worth.   You had better exhibit the fortitude that gave you the nomination, and you’d better do it loudly and leave the goody-two-shoes attitude behind.

Obama could do it.   But will he?  Quit shaking hands with the scumbags and nail them.   They’ve sold out the country.   Being nice to them makes you appear complicit.  But then you are…   Looks to me as if it’s about time for a third party.

Great bumper sticker;   FREE OBAMA!

The Greenbacker


Monday, September 15th, 2008

If Memory serves me, Fannie Mae’s  CEO received $19.2M annual salary.

Freddie Mac’s  CEO received $19.8M.

Seem excessive?   They were the overseers of the loss of their companies who now require taxpayer bailouts.

Shareholders?   They took it in the shorts.   Shares of both companies, once trading at well over $50, are now less than $1.00  Our government must see to it that foreign investor’s holdings in these companies are not lost, otherwise, these investors will be unwilling to fund our enormous federal deficit – $ 0.6T, or our obscene trade deficit – $0.8T.  Hence, the bailout.    Who pays for this?

These dollars could have gone for infrastructure; schools, roads etc.   But no.  They’ll go for interest on the federal debt ~ $400B.   No wonder we can’t afford a National Health Insurance, and entitlements are under attack.

Fannie and Freddie are the overseers of ~ $5T of mortgage debt, not all of which is subprime.  Numbers I have heard range around 20% subprime…

The Greenbacker


Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Sure, decreased taxation always sounds good, on the surface.

Most of us are not economists and are therefore at the mercy of the ‘wonks’ who are.
Witness the last 40 years of Milton Friedman economics.

That does not mean we cannot read and become informed on what a particular axeman has in store for us.
In fact it means we MUST.   Or we become some predator’s lunch!

Read Mankiw’s  ‘5 ways….’  carefully and see what you think of his reasoning.
I’m not saying he’s wrong, I’m saying read Mankiw and come to your own conclusion.

You might not have heard of N. Gregory Mankiw. The Harvard economics professor and former adviser to George W. Bush is one of the most gifted economists of our generation. He is also one of the most effective and talented propagandists of our times. His target: young economics students. His field of operation: the world’s universities. His weapon: the best-selling textbook in the world. It includes 36 chapters and 800 pages of color illustrations, graphs, stories and interesting asides. Don’t worry if you or your kids don’t speak English, Mankiw’s text surely exists in your language.

What is most worrisome is that Mankiw’s text presents economics as a unified discipline, one entirely committed to the neoliberal agenda. Mankiw believes that markets are the solution to everything – and he would like students to believe likewise. According to Mankiw, if a problem persists, it can only be for one of two reasons: the market is imperfect, or it is nonexistent. No other explanation for persisting economic or social problems is permitted.

While unemployment is an example of an imperfect market for Mankiw, pollution is an example of the nonexistent market. He admits that, in some cases, markets do not ensure that the environment is clean, and the result is excessive pollution (what economists call a “negative externality”). But what is the solution to pollution? According to Mankiw, it is to define property rights to pollute. Public authorities would issue “pollution permits” to polluting companies (who then cannot pollute more than the amount covered by the permits they hold). Companies then buy and sell these permits on the market, depending on how much they will pollute in a year. The fewer the permits, the higher their price and the higher the incentives for firms to reduce their pollution. This system is not stupid. Indeed, there are instances where such permit systems might work to solve simple pollution problems. But the problem is that, to the amazement of his students, Mankiw never mentions self-restraint, and he downplays government regulation as a way to regulate production and diminish consumption or waste. Nor does he bring up the imperative to use renewable sources of energy. In fact Mankiw even insists in his textbook that we are not running out of resources because if that were the case, the price of oil would be much higher than it is now. Climate change is a critical issue, caused by ever-growing economic activity – but it doesn’t even merit an index entry in Mankiw’s book.

Does Mankiw’s article present all sides of the issue indiscriminately?   (Does ANY article?)
What is left out and how does that affect you and me?
If the dividend tax is so onerous why do people invest so heavily in the stock market? We don’t have to be experts to ask these questions, and, for the most part, we can find the answers ourselves.  Who benefits by decreasing dividend taxation?

Who pays increased taxes to make up the difference in lost tax revenues?
We do.  Middle income taxpayers do.

It’ll be a very small squeeze.   We’ll hardly feel it.   Much like we hardly felt any of the tiny squeezes that ultimately led to the obscene polarization of the wealth of this country.

Corporate taxes made up over 30%  of federal tax revenues in the ’50’s and ’60’s (max  32%!).  Today they account for less than 8%.   Don’t believe me? Google it, I did!  Who has made up the difference in lost taxes?  We, the middle income taxpayers.

Recall    ‘…government, by the people, of the people and for the people…’?   Lincoln – Gettysburg…  Government!  That’s us!  Many free market experts like Mankiw want to decrease taxes by dumping government ‘…until it’s ‘small enough to drown in a bathtub’.   Dumping government means dumping us – eliminating our own involvement in the governance of our country.  Then who would run things?  Can we stand  another bout of unregulated free markets?  Lifeless.  Without ethics without longterm vision.   Who would benefit by that.   The same ones that always benefit from free markets – not us.

And some of them propose to dump the IRS  (sound good?)  and install a flat tax or excise taxes on consumer goods. That means no more graduated taxation

Middle income people need to be more involved in the governance of the country.   And to do it right they need to be an informed electorate.  And it is expensive.  But if we don’t run our country then someone else will.   And who will pay for it?  We will.  The middle income  taxpayers.  Ultimately, we pay.

Remember Milton Friedman?  Nobel laureate!  Celebrated  by the world’s upper classes and throughout the media since the ’60’s.   This countrywas fed his Chicago School economics for 40 years which led to polarized wealth, large federal debt, and volatile markets.

Paul Volker implied in an interview  w/ Charlie Rose, recently, that the Chicago School had their models wrong causing markets to cycle every couple of years rather than in planned 20 year cycles.   That’s not all they had wrong but it’s taken 40 years for free market ideology to become  discredited.

These were the most educated, the best minds and most experienced and celebrated of experts.  And they were wrong!  Perhaps one can say  ‘being wrong is a justifiable process of evolution’ however it is not justifiable to continue this way.  Free marketeers screamed for 40 years for deregulation of markets.  Imagine where we’d be now without emergency regulation of the banks.  Catastrophic depression.   Like the ’30’s only there are 5  billion more of us on the planet to suffer.  Hopefully, we won’t have to face that though the economy is tanking under our feet as we speak.

We can’t all be economists, or lawyers , or politicians, but we can be informed and we had damn well better be in order to protect ourselves from predatory ‘experts’.  Or we’re lunch!

The Greenbacker