Easter Lemming Liberal News

Monday, September 29, 2008

Eventful couple days


Both for the nation and me.

The economy - I was one of the very few blogs predicting this and I now call Rep. Lampson and others heroes for voting No Deal. We should now get a temporary fix until a more Democratic Congress and President get in. Remember that FDR refused to negotiate with Hoover until he and a Democratic Congress were sworn-in in March to write new deals that he and the Democrats would be responsible for. Tell Obama we need new Democratic new deals, not the Bush undemocratic bailout.

Me - I decided to upgrade the memory on my old main PC to cure some of the problems. I installed the memory and no display. There is no way memory affects the display. I reinstall the old memory no display. I check if I had managed to disconnect something - not that I can find. After about three hours I give up and take it into a place I distrust for an evaluation. "You're not outputing a video signal, do you want us to find out why for $70?" "Go ahead." "We'll call you in a day or two."

Blogging will be light.


Hurry Up and Register


The last day to register to vote in Texas is next Monday, October 6th.

Are you registered? Are your friends and family?

If you only forward one email or one link to your friends, family, and neighbors today -- make it this one.

Each and every vote in Texas is absolutely crucial to victory on Election Day.

Visit VoteForChange.com, our one-stop voter registration website, and register before the Texas deadline.

Supporters like you have built the biggest grassroots movement in the history of American politics.

But in just 8 days, the time for bringing new voices into the political process will be over.

You need to be certain that you, your friends, and your family are registered by the deadline -- it's a small step that will have a huge impact on our Election Day results.



Not so fast with our $700 billion


I really should have more to write about this from an excellent election site but I think it speaks for itself.
How to Bail Out Wall St. at No Cost to the Taxpayers

Thom Hartmann wrote an interesting piece on how to bail out Wall St. without costing the taxpayers a dime. The idea is to create a new government agency to manage the bailout. The treasury would then loan it money to bail out Wall St. firms that are in trouble. The government would then institute a Securities Turnover Excise Tax of 0.25% on stock trades with revenues going to the new agency. For long-term investors who buy stock in companies they believe in and keep it for years adding a quarter of 1% to the cost hardly matters, and even to speculators it is not huge. It is estimated that such a tax would generate at least $150 billion a year, so the $700 billion load would be paid off in 5 years. The US has had such a tax in the past and used it to finance the Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI and WWII. Many other countries have a similar tax. This proposal is clearly a viable alternative to either giving Wall St. $700 billion as a freebie or even getting stock in return for the money. Wall St. managers might even prefer it to a plan that limited their future compensation. Mother Jones lists yet five more alternative bailout plans.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

SNL - Palin and Couric


[]

Find the exact quotes from the Palin interview.



Kucinich says not enough votes for bailout

I think it'll be close and they better have a compromise bill with more limited funding to push it to the next Congress.
Kucinich was about to enter a Capitol building meeting room with fellow House Democrats who have been critical of the $700 billion relief measure for the Wall Street crisis.

The meeting was organized by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and has been termed the “Skeptics Caucus.” Lawmakers were meeting with well-known economists, such as James Galbraith, economics professor at the University of Texas, and William Isaac, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission.

Speaking before the meeting, Sherman equated the Treasury Department proposal to a power-grab by the Bush administration as well as a gift to failing financial services firms.

“This is greatest shift of power to the imperial presidency and the greatest shift of wealth to a still wealthy Wall Street that anyone could imagine,” said Sherman. In addition, the California Democrat also began distributing Sunday a “Dear Colleague” letter highly critical of the relief package.

Kucinich called for more hearings on the bailout despite Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaking about the proposal before lawmakers last week.

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Texas Round-Em-Up and Shoot-em for September 28


The Texas Progressive Alliance had another great week discussing the politics of Texas and the nation. Here are some of the best of those posts:

The Texas Cloverleaf has the new Palin plan for foreign experience:
sitting pretty with puppets.

CouldBeTrue of
South Texas Chisme says welcome to the United States of Corporate Greed.

Dembones at
Eye On Williamson posts on the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) and their status quo endorsements for the November election, TAR needs to be tarred and feathered.

The past week has been one filled with brilliant people trying desperately to accomplish what is extremely difficult (namely, keeping the US out of a depression) and some exceptionally (some might say BREATHTAKINGLY) stupid people who are narrowly focused on the last shreds of a failed ideology. And their own egos. We at McBlogger have done our best to keep up with all the ups. And downs. First up are the always cretinous folks from the American Enterprise Institute who decided to blame the wrong people for the failures of their own plans. Then there was Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R -unfortunately from Texas) who decided his supercharged ego and underpowered little rat-brain had something useful to add. No, he didn't.

Off the Kuff projects what the Houston Chronicle endorsements for November will look like.

A majority of voters thought Obama won the first debate, but all the media pundits could talk about was what a great job McCain did.
jobsanger wonders what debate the "Talking Heads" were watching.

North Texas Liberal led an interesting discussion on John McCain's brief campaign suspension.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has refused to answer whether or not the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts should be subject to the Texas Public Information Act and discusses why that was a really stupid move.

Neil at Texas Liberal did not allow the dent in his car to be fixed
by the guy who solicited him for the work in a parking lot. That's just the type of post-hurricane scam people are being warned about.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News does not like
Bush and McCain's response to the Wall Street crisis. He has some items he wants included in a bailout bill and not bags of money thrown at the problem.

BossKitty at TruthHugger notes: This is where you and I must take a crash course in the money structure of this country and how to avoid loosing everything down to our underpants, because Bush Sold US Another PONZI Scheme.

nytexan at BlueBloggin worries that McCain's Health Could Mean President Palin.

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The economic nightmare will only get worse


Oh, I am not suppose to say that because this is a crisis of confidence.

No it isn't. It is the chickens coming home to either roost or peck eyeballs out. Houston and Texas may seem a safe haven now but next year the energy companies will be taxed hard to fund government.

Special Midyear Update The Great American Nightmare: What Washington Won't Tell You About This Unfolding Financial Debacle
Martin Weiss: This is the first stage of the dangerous bear market we've been warning you about. And just as we've warned, the market is being driven down by the single most important sector: Financial companies, the heartbeat of our economy.

Nearly every major bank, brokerage and lender you can name is up to its eyeballs in leveraged investments whose value is going up in smoke. They're borrowing hundreds of billions from the Fed. They're raising billions more from investors, diluting their shares. They're selling massive amounts of assets — scrambling any way they can to raise cash to survive.

Merrill Lynch, America's largest brokerage firm, has lost more than two thirds of its stock value. Citigroup, once America's largest bank by market cap, has lost even more. Washington Mutual has given up nine tenths of its value. On average, even including the strongest of the banks, half of the wealth of bank shareholders has been wiped out.

This is the first stage of the deep recession we've been warning you about. Banks have no choice but to deny loans to all but the most highly qualified borrowers; and as a result, corporations and consumers have no choice but to cut back on their spending.

Consumer confidence is the worst since 1980. Mortgage default rates are the worst since the 1970s. Even the government's highly suspect official numbers show that the growth of the U.S. economy is grinding to a halt.

This is also bringing the runaway inflation we've been warning you about, with oil and energy leading the way. This time, unlike the 1970s when we had artificial energy shortages created by OPEC or by Iran, the planet is confronting chronic, long-term energy shortages.

But at each step of the way, what truly angers me is that our government leaders — the very people we elect to protect our interests — continually minimize, downplay and sugarcoat this crisis.

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Friday, September 26, 2008


Possibly the biggest players responsible - Moody's and Standard and Poors


The rating agencies rated AAA a lot of debt that their former employees acknowledge was junk or not reviewed to drive profits. A must read from Bloomberg.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bush and McCain's response to Crisis



There is a growing grassroots opposition to this current "emergency bailout" crisis. I don't trust any Republican expert to tell me his banker friends need billions of our taxpayer dollars. Yes, capital is freezing up because no one believes the lies about the assets anymore but the DC politician liars aren't to be believed in regards to this bailout.

Contact your Washington representatives now and tell them NO to an emergency $700 billion bailout. This economic act funded by taxpayers to rescue Wall Street must include tough regulation, severe consequences, action on behalf of American homeowners who face foreclosure, and oversight by Congress and the Courts. It must also include a gradual transparent mechanism to write down assets to their true market value without rewarding the players who have driven up the price of the hidden assets.





Harris County Early Voting Locations


Vote early anywhere in Harris County. Here is a great map of the locations.

What to Bring — Any one of these will allow you to vote:

Your Voter Registration Card OR
The pink copy you kept from your voter registration application OR
Personal Identification (driver’s license, government ID, bank statement or utility bill)

This will start soon - get ready.
First Week Monday – Friday Oct. 20 – 24 8am – 4:30pm
Weekend Saturday Oct. 25 7am – 7pm
Sunday Oct. 26 1pm – 6pm
Second Week Monday – Friday Oct. 27 – 31 7am – 7pm

Check your voter registration here.




Thought for Today


NPR has Dick Meyer on Wall Street's Moral Rot:
I am now even more firmly convinced that there really is a predator class. The people responsible for creating and bingeing on the mortgage junk bonds, derivatives and financial insurance scams that are now being bailed out are our society's most educated, highly trained and wealthiest professionals. The Meltdown of '08 was not caused by con men, crazed moguls and panicked masses. It was caused by financial bureaucrats of the baby boom generation who were paid megabucks for office jobs, who wear Patagonia fleece, $12,000 Brioni suits and read books about "reinventing the Self."

There is a basic and indelicate question about the unfolding financial crisis that, to my mind, has not been asked loudly enough: Is the ethical and prudential rot so clearly on display in this historic episode confined to Wall Street and the world of high finance, or are other institutions, vocations, professions and commercial cultures similarly infected?




Tabloid News


US Magazine - McCain uses American Idol make-up artist. Britney Spears tour designer designed McCain's nomination stage.

National Enquirer with more details on Sarah Palin's affair - it is with her goateed husband's look-alike but more rugged and more interested in talking and politics.

Sarah Palin had a witch and demon fighter minister bless her campaign at her spirit-filled church.

This sure is more entertaining that Biden.




McCain Latest Lie - "I am rushing back to Washington to deal with this crisis"


In a sane universe this election would be over. The McCain camp announces it will stop campaigning to deal with economic crisis. Ben Smith: “But in terms of the timing of this move: The only thing that’s changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling.”

McCain seeks to cancel the debate on Friday. Then seeks to cancel the VP debate. The small college where the debate is to be held has spent millions. Then phones David Letterman right before the show that McCain won't be on because he is rushing back to Washington.

On the show Letterman talks about McCain, whom he has great respect for, for most of the show but makes fun of his suspending his campaign because he can't deal with more than one thing at a time and evidently doesn't trust his VP to fill in for him.
"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"
Later in the show he finds out McCain hasn't rushed off to Washington but is doing an interview with Katie Couric down the street.
"Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?"


Obama:
With respect to the debates, it’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess. And I think that it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.
McCain aides laughing in the face of a national crisis that "forces" them to suspend the campaign.

McCain and Obama issue joint statement on economy - it is pure meaningless platitudes. Then Marc Ambinder discovers Obama had proposed some meat for the statement and McCain said no. These are the principles McCain could not agree to.
First, there must be oversight. We should not hand over a blank check to the discretion of one man. We support an independent, bipartisan board to ensure accountability and complete transparency.

Second, we need to protect taxpayers. There should be a path for taxpayers to recover their money, and to turn a profit if Wall Street prospers.

Third, no Wall Street executive should profit from taxpayer dollars. This plan cannot be a welfare program for CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility has contributed to this crisis.

Fourth, we must help families who are struggling to stay in their homes. We cannot bail out Wall Street without helping millions of families facing foreclosure on Main Street.

Fifth, we both agree that this financial rescue package should move on its own without any earmarks or other measures. We have different views about the need for other action, but this must be a clean bill.

This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. This is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem - this is an American problem. Now, we must find an American solutions.
It turns out McCain might have dashed over to Katie Couric to make up for the not-ready-for-prime-time interview Sarah Palin had just given her.

The wheels off the bus go round and round - McCain campaign accidentally sends talking points about campaign and debate suspension to the media instead of campaign staff.

After McCain suspends his campaign he still meets with the Illuminati representative Lady Lynn de Rothschild.

With McCain rushing back to Washington would you suspect he is the most absent U.S. Senator missing 64%, 412, of the votes so far this year?



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Martial Law for the Election?


Army Unit to Deploy in October for Domestic Operations
Beginning in October, the Army plans to station an active unit inside the United States for the first time to serve as an on-call federal response in times of emergency. The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent thirty-five of the last sixty months in Iraq, but now theunit is training for domestic operations. The unit will soon be under the day-to-day control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The Army Times reports this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The paper says the Army unit may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The soldiers are learning to use so-called nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.


Greenwald: Why is a U.S. Army brigade being assigned to the "Homeland"?


For the first time in 100 years, and contrary to a legal and constitutional prohibition, an active duty military unit is permanently assigned inside the U.S. just in time for the elections.
What possible rationale is there for permanently deploying the U.S. Army inside the United States -- under the command of the President -- for any purpose, let alone things such as "crowd control," other traditional law enforcement functions, and a seemingly unlimited array of other uses at the President's sole discretion? And where are all of the stalwart right-wing "small government conservatives" who spent the 1990s so vocally opposing every aspect of the growing federal police force? And would it be possible to get some explanation from the Government about what the rationale is for this unprecedented domestic military deployment (at least unprecedented since the Civil War), and why it is being undertaken now?
Naomi Wolf believes Sarah Palin was picked to be America's Evita Peron.
In McCain-Palin's America, citizens who are protesting are being charged as terrorists. This means that a violent war had been declared on American citizens. A well known reporter leaked to me on background that St Paul police had dressed as protesters and, dressed in Black -- shades of the Blackshirts of 1920 -- infiltrated protest groups. There were also phalanxes of men in black wearing balaclavas, linking arms and behaving menacingly -- alleged "anarchists." Let me tell you, I have been on the left for thirty years and you can't get three lefties to wear the same t-shirt to a rally, let alone link arms and wear identical face masks: these are not our guys. Agent Provocateurs framing protesters and calling protest "terrorism" constitutes step ten of a police state...




Faking Letters to the Editor for the McCain Campaign


One of McCain's secret advertising weapons is the fake letters to the editor.

Here is what someone who volunteers for political campaigns found when the McCain put her to work making up letters to the editor. If she makes up a letter to the editor that the campaign approves of it will be sent to state and local party headquarters to find someone local to sign their name to it. The secret to success in the McCain campaign is getting their talking point in, appealing to the heart, and lies. The assignment is simple: We are going to write letters to the editor and we are allowed to make up whatever we want -- as long as it adds to the campaign. After today we are supposed to use our free moments at home to create a flow of fictional fan mail for McCain.
"Your letters," says Phil Tuchman, "will be sent to our campaign offices in battle states. Ohio. Pennsylvania. Virginia. New Hampshire. There we'll place them in local newspapers."

Place them? I may be wrong, but I thought that in the USA only a newspaper's editors decided that.

"We will show your letters to our supporters in those states," explains Phil. "If they say: 'Yeah, he/she is right!' then we ask them to sign your letter. And then we send that letter to the local newspaper. That's how we send dozens of letters at once."

No newspaper can refuse a stream of articulate expressions of support, is the thought behind it. "This way, we will always get into some letters column."
----------------
Now playing: The Black Eyed Peas - Don't Lie
Yeah uh huh
La da da da la da
Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry

Hey, baby my nose is getting big
I noticed it be growing when I been telling them fibs
Now you say your trust's getting weaker
Probably 'coz my lies just started getting deeper




Another Washington Bailout is Needed - For Houston


Houston Chronicle STEWART M. POWELL and BENNETT ROTH:
Mayor Bill White of Houston described the potential range of costs to both the federal government and insurance companies in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. He then joined Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas and Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Capitol Hill to testify before a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee on disaster recovery.

FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency — has not completed damage estimates that would be submitted to the federal government. "But," White said, "I would not be surprised if the total figures (for the federal government) weren't in the $20 billion to $40 billion range. We're going to be enormous."

Latest insurance industry estimates compiled by the Insurance Information Institute of New York foresee privately insured losses ranging from $7 billion to $12 billion. The tally of private insurance losses, coupled with White's, provides the range of all losses of $27 billion to $52 billion.

Some of the federal money is likely to come soon. Late Tuesday, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., unveiled details of a catch-all spending bill that includes between $23 billion and $24 billion for natural disaster relief.
This bailout will benefit the people and there is transparency in the financing. If this was the Paulson plan the head of FEMA would be demanding $30 billion right now to dole out as he saw fit to crony contractors he picked with no oversight to make good the losses of large corporations in the Houston area.





Have some bailout news with your coffee


You might want to spike that latte. Bilmon was one of the best bloggers from Wall Street but who had retired from blogging until recent events forced him back.

It is pretty bad when the only responsible sensible thing for a private citizen to do is to buy gold and horde oil and food and hold no dollars.

I wouldn't invest in oil stocks now - whoever is in charge of government in 2009 will need lots of money and taxing oil companies will be the politically easiest way to get it.

The FBI is investigating Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and American International Group Inc. in its probe of the collapse of the subprime-mortgage market, according to a senior law-enforcement official.

The fix appears to be in for the Democrats to be responsible and approve something to bailout these crooks while half the Republicans do the same thing. Still questions and a list of responsible things needed in any plan.

Naomi Klein
-Socialism for the rich:
But the bomb has yet to detonate. The bomb is the debt that has now been transferred to the taxpayers.

"So it detonates when/if John McCain becomes president in the midst of an economic crisis, and says, 'Look! We're in trouble. We've got a disaster on our hands. We have to privatize social security. We can't afford health care. We can't afford food stamps. We need more deregulation, more privatization.'

"You know the thesis of the Shock Doctrine is that you need a disaster to rationalize pushing through these very unpopular policies.

"So, the real disaster has yet to come. The real disaster is the debt that is going to explode on the American taxpayers. And then they do economic shock therapy."
Andrew Sullivan, and the recent trumpeting from many small elephants, is wrong, workers did not cause this crisis. The spreading racist rants in the conservative media is that this crash is caused by minorities taking loans they can't pay back. This is crap. This is just the racist stuff you here from the right everyday but will strike a chord among angry taxpayers.

I don't have the links now for the following but watch in the coming weeks. The real damage has moved beyond sub-prime mortgages and into the unregulated trillions of dollars in the hedge funds and swap markets and the falling confidence in the US government, financial institutions, and the US dollar. Only when the dollar crashes hard will we know the extent of the damage. Perhaps it will be better to let the Dow fall to 8000 before any major intervention. That is what brought on this proposal - unless we inject a trillion dollars into Wall Street the market will crash. I think the money might be better spent on rescues or whatever the people decide after the crash when we know the real values of some of these firms and assets. It is ironic too that the bankruptcy laws designed to stick it to the less well off are hurting corporations who aren't now given enough time for orderly sales of assets but must make immediate decisions when they are most vulnerable.

Should the Democratic majority in Congress stall until they get a good bill that pushes most of the decisions on to the next president? To do otherwise allows the Republican conservatives to claim Democrats are responsible both for the depression and the bailout of the fat cat millionaires. Of course, they will claim that if Obama wins anyway. There are economic decisions that need much more time than this administration is willing to give to push through their terrible plan.

Remember- tell your representative to just say NO to Bush and Bernanke and Paulson proposals.




Bill Clinton and Chris Rock


Damn, Bill Clinton didn't want to praise Barack Obama and Chris Rock noticed.
After repeatedly invoking his vanquished wife Hillary, Clinton said the typical American voter will recall John McCain's heroic torture in a Vietnamese prison camp before deciding to "go the other way" and vote for... whoever that other candidate for president might be. In an inspired feat of booking, Letterman had comedian Chris Rock lined up to follow Clinton and, uh, remind him who won the primary. Video
Milestone - this is post 15,000 in this blog. My main other blog stands at 2002 posts now. I think I could use one of those hurricane drinks about now.



Monday, September 22, 2008

The Five Worst Problems with the bailout bill


This seems a good summary.

Here will give you Seven reasons to vote NO.

Ok, here is my nine combining those two. It provides no oversight, gives unchecked power, is unfair toward homeowners, rewards irresponsibility, uses money we need for other programs, won't solve anything, assumes expertise the government doesn't have, there are way better solutions, and gives this tremendous power to people who haven't handled power well.





Texas Round-Up


It's Monday, and that means it is time for another edition of the Great Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly roundup. This week's roundup is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notices cronies are number #1 in Texas from insurance companies to power companies

jobsanger points out
the blatant racism at the "Values Voters Summit" sponsored by the Family Research Council, and wonders if John McCain's "senior moments" are indicative of a more serious psychological problem.

The Texas Cloverleaf spots State Senator Kim Brimer at a union hall. Unfortunately as they say, you can't put lipstick on a pig.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the lawsuit filed by Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr to force John McCain and Barack Obama off the ballot in Texas.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the real world effects of the TRCC in Williamson County, Builder protection agency "hits home" in Williamson County

Neither the authorities nor the media have found any bodies hanging from the trees in Galveston or on Bolivar Peninsula -- mostly because there aren't any trees high enough to catch one -- but that didn't
stop PDiddie from posting the rumors at Brains and Eggs.

Mike Thomas at would fight for San Antonio's share of federal funding based on his latest ad blasting all Congressional earmarks as wasteful "pork".

McBlogger takes a moment to demystify what's going on in financial markets. And call some people really bad names.

North Texas Liberal unveils the second installment of their Sarah Palin series.

nytexan at BlueBloggin wonders how John McCain cleans up Washington and Wall Street of the lobbyist when 177 Lobbyists Work For John McCain “The Reformer”

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News urges all to contact your Congress people now about this bad, very bad $700 billion taxpayer funded bailout of the financial industry. Otherwise, for the next three months, and then an additional six months after that, the Treasury Secretary can do anything "appropriate" with your money without anybody anywhere looking it over.

WhosPlayin
took a moment to pin that pesky "redistribution of wealth" meme back on the Republicans, where it originated and operates today.

BossKitty at TruthHugger still expects the Bush Administration to pull a fast one, because the Pakistan Meltdown Offers Bush More Opportunities To Create Crisis, the dogs of war are still salivating ...

Vince at Capitol Annex tells us that State Rep. John Davis is up to his same old tricks down in HD 129. This time, he's holding a fundraiser in Austin while his district is without power, and his constituents are without water. He's clearly addicted to campaign cash. Someone throw this guy a roll of quarters before he has a stroke.




Local Assistance Numbers

American Red Cross 800-435-7669
Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline 800-252-3439
Texas Department of Insurance Fraud Hotline 888-327-8818
FEMA 800-462-7585
Transitional Housing Assistance (FEMA) 800-621-3362
Emergency Food Stamps 211
Emergency Downed Power Lines or Gas Leaks 713-207-2222
Army Corps. Engineers Blue Tarp Program Locations 888-766-3258
National Flood Insurance Program 800-638-6620
Mailing Issues 800-275-8777
Salvation Army 800-725-2769
Debris Hotline 800-207-2325
Environmental or Chemical Spills 800-424-8802
Attorney General Price Gouging Hotline 800-621-0500


I've Been Expecting This


Conservatives like Michelle Malkin turn against bailout plan. The reason is my last post - why would anyone trust $700 billion with Henry Paulson? Although Malkin somehow manages to complain about Paulson's "Democratic DNA."

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Why would you give a $700 billion blank check to someone who is always wrong?


When the serious condition of the markets were explained to the leaders of Congress they were shocked. Of course. They have been listening to the one guy, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has been consistently wrong and who kept reassuring them he had a handle on the problems.

Dean Baker - Paulson Missed the Bubble and Understated the Financial Crisis at Every Point.

Of course Paulson is not the worst - how about one of McCain's economic advisors who one week ago wrote in an article criticizing Obama and the media: "we're on the brink not of recession, but of accelerating prosperity... anyone who says we're in a recession, or heading into one -- especially the worst one since the Great Depression -- is making up his own private definition of "recession." And probably for his own political purposes... when it comes to the economy, we have surely become a nation of exaggerators." He is also the incredibly stupid economic writer at the National Review. Donald L. Luskin is also a liar or a fool or both. He once included in a speech attacking Krugman, and about meeting Bush and agreeing with his tax cuts, that "I'm not a Republican and I don't think of myself as a conservative."

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ethnic Cleansing Stopped Iraq Violence Before Surge Arrived


What surge? In Baghdad, they just turned out the lights and left. According to a team of scientists studying satellite imagery:
To hear President Bush tell it, there is one reason, overall, that violence has fallen in Baghdad: The surge....

Not so quick, according to a team of UCLA researchers.

Studying satellite imagery of night light in Baghdad neighborhoods dominated by Sunni residents, they came up with an alternative conclusion: The Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims had largely stopped killing each other by the time the "surge" of U.S. troops arrived in 2007.

In other words, the remaining Sunnis, defeated, turned out the lights and left. And then the U.S. troops came in.

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Contact Congress NOW!


My suggestion of an email or phone call to stop the United States from appointing an economic dictator. It is nice they made the proposed trillion dollar bailout law so clear: 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.

Dear Congressman or Senator,

Vote NO on this trillion dollar taxpayer bailout in its present form.

This $1 trillion bailout of the financial industry shouldn't be pushed through a blindsided Congress. This economic act funded by taxpayers to rescue Wall Street must include tough regulation, severe consequences, action on behalf of American homeowners who face foreclosure, and oversight by Congress and the Courts.

Companies that make a comeback must PAY BACK the taxpayer for this bailout. The institutions that brought us taxpayers and voters this mess are in no position to make any demands.

The present bill gives the Treasury Secretary more power than the President over the economy with no restraints or oversight on how he uses his power.

This is not how a Democratic Republic works. Vote NO.

Sincerely, etc.
Find out how to e-mail your House representative here:
http://www.house.gov

Find out how to e-mail your two US Senators here:
http://www.senate.gov

Contact Speaker Pelosi here:
http://speaker.house.gov

Contact Senate Majority Leader Reid here:
http://reid.senate.gov

Do it Sunday or early Monday - Bush is trying to ram through this unconstitutional takeover Monday.

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Scratch a Conservative - Find a Coward


I have been saying that for years. When you look at the macho arguments of all these conservatives you really see frightened children, yellow-bellied cowards.

Now scientists say they see a genetic link between how easily someone is scared or startled and how conservative politically they are. They are cowards and will give up quite a lot not to be scared.

You notice it in Republican political ads - they will play ads featuring ominous music, or wolves, or black men, or terrorists, or bombs and try to reinforce the FEAR! factor to get more votes. Conservatives don't want liberty and freedom - they want to be protected because they are scared.

UPDATE - Welcome Houston Chronicle readers. Over a year ago I recommended kicking out Sen. Cornyn as too cowardly to represent the Lone Star state.




Whoa, That Trillion Dollar Financial Bailout looks Very Bad


This is a bad deal, a very bad deal.

Image from Hullabaloo.

Paul Krugman says no deal:
It seems all too likely that a “fair price” for mortgage-related assets will still leave much of the financial sector in trouble. And there’s nothing at all in the draft that says what happens next; although I do notice that there’s nothing in the plan requiring Treasury to pay a fair market price. So is the plan to pay premium prices to the most troubled institutions? Or is the hope that restoring liquidity will magically make the problem go away?

Here’s the thing: historically, financial system rescues have involved seizing the troubled institutions and guaranteeing their debts; only after that did the government try to repackage and sell their assets. The feds took over S&Ls first, protecting their depositors, then transferred their bad assets to the RTC. The Swedes took over troubled banks, again protecting their depositors, before transferring their assets to their equivalent institutions.

The Treasury plan, by contrast, looks like an attempt to restore confidence in the financial system — that is, convince creditors of troubled institutions that everything’s OK — simply by buying assets off these institutions. This will only work if the prices Treasury pays are much higher than current market prices; that, in turn, can only be true either if this is mainly a liquidity problem — which seems doubtful — or if Treasury is going to be paying a huge premium, in effect throwing taxpayers’ money at the financial world.
Josh says taxpayers get nothing at a premium price:
I'm quite convinced that some drastic action needs to be taken to avoid a cascading and debilitating series of crises. But the more I look at this plan, the more wrongheaded it seems. But if I'm understanding this deal, the taxpayers are going to pony up close to a trillion dollars to take bad debts off the hands of financial institutions who were foolish enough to make the deals in the first place. And in exchange, I think the tax payers get nothing?
NPR Money blogger writes that it looks like a Fascist takeover:
I would guess that this has to be one of the biggest peacetime transfers of power from Congress to the Administration in history. (Anyone know?). Certainly one of the most concise.

The Treasury Secretary can buy broadly defined assets, on any terms he wants, he can hire anyone he wants to do it and can appoint private sector companies as financial deputies of the US government. And he can write whatever regulation he thinks are needed.

I understand that they wanted freedom to respond and an ability to move quickly, but to designate the Treasury Secretary full power to oversee the, uh, Treasury Secretary's decisions seems unusual.

This [para]graph really stands out:
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.
Whoa.

So, for the next three months, and then an additional six months after that, the Treasury Secretary can do anything he deems appropriate without anybody anywhere looking it over.
Larisa Alexandrovna writes THIS LOOKS LIKE A FASCIST TAKEOVER!!!
No time needs to be wasted on hearings as we already now have in writing, formally as presented to Congress, the intentions of this administration to nullify Congressional powers permanently, to alter Judicial powers permanently, and to openly steal public funds using as blackmail the total collapse of the US economy if these powers are not handed over. You do see how this is blackmail, do you not? You do see how this is a manufactured crisis precisely designed to be used as blackmail, do you not?

The other option, the one I have long prayed we would never need to even consider, is a total revolution. But, If Congress won't act in its own self-defense, in the defense of democracy, in defense of us - the people who have elected them to protect us from this very danger - then what is left for us to do? I don't want to see it come down to this, but I fear that it will.
The top financiers from Wall Street who wrote this bill say no compromises to allow oversight or protect consumers. Brad DeLong says this bill makes the next Treasury Secretary an economic Czar.

Luigi Zingale quoted at Grasping Reality:
The Paulson RTC will buy toxic assets at inflated prices thereby creating a charitable institution that provides welfare to the rich—at the taxpayers’ expense. If this subsidy is large enough, it will succeed in stopping the crisis. But, again, at what price? The answer: Billions of dollars in taxpayer money and, even worse, the violation of the fundamental capitalist principle that she who reaps the gains also bears the losses....
Wall Street Journal - Top Lobbyists pressure Congress for a quick deal now. (This may have been pulled from the WSJ.)

Sebastian Mallaby at the Washington Post:
With truly extraordinary speed, opinion has swung behind the radical idea that the government should commit hundreds of billions in taxpayer money to purchasing dud loans from banks that aren't actually insolvent. As recently as a week ago, no public official had even mentioned this option. Now the Treasury, the Fed and congressional leaders are promising its enactment within days. The scheme has gone from invisibility to inevitability in the blink of an eye. This is extremely dangerous.

The plan is being marketed under false pretenses.
Brookings Institution: Concerns about the Treasury Rescue Plan.

Bloomberg Treasury Seeks Asset-Buying Power Unchecked by Courts -
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.
AFP:
Democrats and Republicans faced off Sunday over the US government's landmark request for 700 billion dollars to bail out financial institutions as Democratic lawmakers insisted that ordinary homeowners be offered relief, too.
I will echo many bloggers including Balloon Juice:
Every reader of this blog needs to wake up Monday and phone their Congressman and Senator about the frankly silly bailout proposal. We need serious solutions to an existential crisis, and the Bush administration offers up clown shoes. No to giving one appointed cabinet officer practically the entire federal budget without any chance of oversight. No to punishing ordinary people with punitive loans and taxes that will amount to over $5,000 for every taxpaying American* while bad actors in Wall Street get rewarded beyond their wildest fantasies. This proposal must be scrapped, and anybody who still serves finance lobbyists needs to sit down in shame, and then we can talk about what to do. Be polite but firm.
The media is starting to wake up. LA Times - The White House submits a proposal to Congress seeking unprecedented authority with no oversight.




Friday, September 19, 2008

Will Obama Raise My Taxes?


Let's Find Out. Input your tax info and find out how much he will raise your taxes!




Congressional Leaders Stunned At State of the Economy


Finally recognizing the size of the problem, Federal Reserve Chairman asks taxpayers to be on the hook for a trillion dollars to prevent economic collapse.
Congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”

Mr. Schumer added, “History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment.”

When Mr. Schumer described the meeting as “somber,” Mr. Dodd cut in. “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words,” he said. “We have never heard language like this.”

“What you heard last evening,” he added, “is one of those rare moments, certainly rare in my experience here, is Democrats and Republicans deciding we need to work together quickly.”

Although Mr. Schumer, Mr. Dodd and other participants declined to repeat precisely what they were told by Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson, they said the two men described the financial system as effectively bound in a knot that was being pulled tighter and tighter by the day.

“You have the credit lines in America, which are the lifeblood of the economy, frozen.” Mr. Schumer said. “That hasn’t happened before. It’s a brave new world. You are in uncharted territory, but the one thing you do know is you can’t leave them frozen or the economy will just head south at a rapid rate.”
Conservatives stunned - what happened to the free market? What is the difference between this solution and socialism? None.



Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rosenbergs - Guilty But....


Julius Rosenberg send non-atomic secrets to Russia but the government framed Ethel to get to Julius. The case seems almost closed - link includes podcast.

More from the Times


Timothy Egan - Sarah Palin as a fine example of the cronyism party.

Maureen Dowd - Barbies for war - another visit to Sarahtown.

Gail Collins - Who is McCain this week?

Some intelligent discussion on the financial crisis - it ain't over.




Power Outages and Damage


The big concern around her and other places near Houston is when is power coming back. Particularly as some people have it and some don't. Much of Harris County will not have power until after Monday. "It will take until Oct. 1 to fully restore CenterPoint's service area."

Here is the official CenterPoint Energy page with lists and Southeast Texas maps. The links on that page to the right are better than the center list of when zip codes will be 80% restored as it has actual percentages of restoration and even some maps.

I hadn't linked here the damage pictures at this house. Now you have it. How has your property fared?

Here are Baytown stories. They had it a bit worse than here.





The Business Media is Missing the Story


It wasn't the lazy crooked stupid customers buying homes they couldn't afford. It was much more the crooked greedy financial workers at all levels. This was done by crooked thieves in ties and white shirts who transferred billions in wealth from the poor many to the fortunate few - themselves. Now that this no longer works, see here for why, it is tax-payer funded bailouts for the elite. They may let some of the shareholders go under along with the worker's mortgages but they want to keep as many of those rich Republican jobs around as possible.

For more on this see
Boiler Room
The business press is missing the crooked heart of the credit crisis
By Dean Starkman in Columbia Journalism Review.





How many supporters has McCain lost?


Steve Benen has a partial literary list of former supporters who have had enough of the new McCain:
McCain is certainly losing friends fast, isn't he? [McCain's Biographer Elizabeth] Drew's condemnation comes just a couple of days after Richard Cohen's. Which came a couple of days after Stephen Chapman's. Which followed Michael Kinsley, Thomas Friedman, Sebastian Mallaby, Joe Klein, E.J. Dionne, Jr., Ruth Marcus, Mark Halperin, and Bob Herbert. Even David Brooks is getting there.



The Reign in Spain falls mainly on McCain


McCain's Latest Embarrassment

Doesn't know who the Spanish prime minister is, lumps him in with Latin American dictators who he will stand up to, may not know that Spain is in Europe.

McCain's spin doctors are out but the patient is hemorrhaging.

Maybe McCain should go back to telling us we need to pay more for health insurance so we would be more responsible in our choices.

(I may not be a good blogger. I assume that you all, except for my conservative commenters, are smart enough to read the links so I don't have to tell you the whole story again.)




Former National Review Publisher Endorses Obama


Wick Allison:
Today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.

This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.
Kos:
As he states clearly, Republicans are now the party of "abstract theories and utopian schemes". Witness the failure of deregulation currently costing taxpayers tens of billions and financially destroying countless people, or the failure of utopian schemes to "defeat evil" around the world, costing us thousands dead and closing on a trillion taxpayer dollars. Yet Republicans shrug off the painful lessons and insist on staying the course. The results are irrelevant, their ideology trumps all.

Remember, conservatism can't fail, only people can fail conservatism.

But when you get past ideological blinders, it's clear that modern-day conservatism has utterly failed. If reality-based conservatives want to claim Obama's pragmatism and realism are "conservative", then all the power to them.




Where the Economy is headed


I like charts and graphs. Easy way to see things - I'll send you to the links to look at them.

All you need to know -

Home Prices - inflation adjusted long term graph.

Real home values, real Dow and real savings rate.

More on the Real Dow

People should strongly consider TIPS - Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities.

A big caveat remains - how much is the BLS lying about the CPI? Quite a bit actually.

A second question - is the GOP even good for the wealthy - if you count wealthy as those with the top 5% of income? They look good for only the top 0.1%.

What does Houston's own Bonddad say? It's hit the fan and practically every American financial institution is struggling to avoid bankruptcy. I said a few weeks ago that those high CD rates from Washington Mutual and Wachovia was a desperate attempt by them to raise relatively low cost cash. Within two weeks I expect to see them merged or go under.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Looking at Galveston

Some good reporting at the Houston Chronicle, which has never been better than with covering Ike and recovery efforts. There has been no real investigative reporting but I have giving up expecting that from the Chronicle.
Cleveland Hendricks found his door already open when he got home. The hurricane had let itself in, knocked over chairs, drenched the carpet, coated laundry with mud and flipped the refrigerator onto its side.

The house was built in 1938, 20 blocks from the Seawall, and never flooded before, Hendricks said. It belonged to his grandmother, and he had expected it to be dry.

The 49-year-old musician brought a pickup to load with drums and studio equipment. Instead, he lifted a soggy sound card from the floor and let the water drain out. The equipment was ruined.

"I can salvage these," he said of his waterlogged drums.

Virtually every downtown business was flooded with more than 5 feet of water, leaving their first floors destroyed. Bill Doherty, who runs an environmental cleanup company and lives in downtown Galveston, said his teams have been working nonstop since the winds quieted Saturday.

"I want to concentrate on getting businesses cleaned up so they can open," said the 35-year-old Navy veteran. "If people have a place to work, this place can come back. If they don't, it simply will take too long."
Some have washed away.






Tax Cuts Compared - Update


I saw this handy little chart that shows the changes in tax rate by size of population.

Click to enlarge.

I don't support Obama for this reason, our household gets a slightly bigger tax cut from McCain but that is because we are relatively well-off, but it is simply fair that those who can afford it be asked to pay their fair share. The McCain plan is that as you make more we will cut your taxes more - which is always the Republican plan but sometimes they are not as open about it.

Ironic Question Time - Do you really think that Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a card carrying member of the Illuminati and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, is supporting McCain because Obama is too elitist? It's her pocketbook and prejudices she is supporting.

Update - Freakonomics looks at three charts with this same data.


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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Omar


Want to take a bet that we get to Omar and its a killer?



Message from Rick Noriega


Hurricane Ike's effects have been devastating. It's critical we get millions of Texans the help they need.

I reported to Camp Mabry, serving with the 36th Division Headquarters, Texas Army National Guard, with the G-3 section charged with operations and planning. During this time, I am canceling campaign events.

I encourage you to volunteer with your local Red Cross.

And please consider making
a donation to the Red Cross.


Together, we can make a difference.

For Texas,

Rick Noriega

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Some politics, some SF, some Ike


Elizabeth Bear needs at least a hug for posting this. May the funniest, most humane candidate win. Elizabeth is beating the writing system even with the self-induced death spiral of Borders and the cluelessness of B&N. Tobias tells about the writing business these days. FastFwd has more with lots of writer and reader comments at both. I had commented on the sad state of US publishing while waiting for another possible hurricane a month ago.

Meet the Stars - how to spread science.

While we were experiencing a touch of global climate change on the Gulf Coast the stock market got hit with a bit of the next economic tsunami - no more Merril Lynch and Lehman Brothers and the world's largest insurance company American International Group Inc. is tottering.

"In a statement released by his campaign, McCain called for greater "transparency and accountability" on Wall Street. If McCain wants to hold someone accountable for the failure in transparency and accountability that led to the current calamity, he should turn to his good friend and adviser, Phil Gramm." - David Corn at Mother Jones.

I've been using Live Journal to catch up with a bunch of friends regarding Ike. Nothing too bad. While I found nothing bad, Glenda did find someone, by email I think, at FRED who lost her house down at San Leon, ouch.

Escape Pod - Reparations. Mary Robinette won the Campbell award for best new SF writer. Elizabeth Bear above won her first Hugo Award.

What do you expect when you turn FEMA into a partisan spoils system for people who don't like government? How about incompetence, death and cover-ups? Is that what has happened on Galveston? Why is there a no fly zone over most of Galveston for the news media? I know FEMA has been sending 200 trucks back and forth to San Antonio each day - 95% empty. I know they forgot to supply their first responders with food and water. I know that the State of Texas, which all week said they were going to supply the food and water and said they were well prepared on the day after said no - local communities should do that. Now there is a media lockdown and there seems to be some confusion as to when to declare an Ike causualty. Are there really hundreds of floaters at sea as rumors have it?

Rescue from Gilchrist.

Here is what is known about Galveston. But hey, at least Galveston isn't important like New Orleans. And who even knows where Orange is was? Curfews and dark but civilization starting to return. But the Balinese Room is gone.

The Red Cross is doing a good job. Remember these are all volunteers. You don't pay their non-salaries. If you have a complaint you should just volunteer and do it yourself. They'll teach you how. FEMA is Bushed. Local governments are coping as best they can. Coordination, which would be FEMA and Homeland Security's job, is pretty poor. But heh, I got to be in the biggest damn eye of a hurricane eveh and we are doing OK even if without power. And Bush is going to be touring the area and maybe a bunch of us could get together and trickle down on him. Catch him and hold him for me.

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