Saturday, November 29, 2008
Bailout Looks Like Giving Jeffrey Dahmer Steak Knives
I sent the following letter to my senators, congressman, the speaker of the house, and senate majority leader:
Dear (Insert Congress Stumblefuck's name),
Please do everything in your power to stop further bailouts to Wall Street and corporate America.
The money given to Secretary Paulson to distribute as he sees fit has been spent on lavish parties, dividends, executive bonuses that exceeded the amount the firm received in bailout money and worst of all, bank mergers.
If a bank is too big to fail, it flies in the face of reason that getting BIGGER will somehow solve the problem.
Frankly, Congress going along with this bailout with only token squeaks at accountability reeks of Third World levels of corruption.
There is a real problem, but the solution should not be a reason for those who caused the problem to celebrate. They are literally economic terrorists threatening and doing real harm to most Americans.
Instead, they should be wondering how to pay their bills on the part of their bank accounts that aren't frozen, whether the forensic accountants will find all their off-shore accounts, and if they are cooperating with federal prosecutors enough to avoid serious prison time.
Secretary Paulson himself and those in the Bush administration who put together the initial proposal and those who benefit from this most should be subject to a RICO investigation not handling more taxpayer money than the cost of the Iraq War.
The solutions we need are far tougher regulation, oversight, and most importantly, welding shut the revolving door between corporations and elected office.
Further, given the epic scale of this corrupt handout to Wall Street, Congress cannot return in January and say you can't afford programs for the middle class and poor.
The Republicans have just suffered an epic defeat, but if Democrats think they can hold power by being just 5% less corrupt than the GOP, you will join them in the ash heap of history.
To write your Congressmen & Senators and tell them to stop the open corruption and draining of our tax dollars to make the rich richer, click Uncle Sam:
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Iraqis democracy has beaten Bush
& represented Americans better than our own Congress
While lately the news has mostly been about nothing and maybe some trivia about the boring establishment types Obama has picked for his cabinet, Bush has quietly been finishing up losing the war in Iraq.
Ironically, he is losing the real agenda, installing a regime obedient to the US and international oil companies, because he succeeded at what he thought was a purely propaganda goal, establishing a democracy.
The cabinet of the Iraqi government has been sufficiently compliant to Bush's wishes, approving a hydrocarbon law that would have given 88% of Iraq's oil income to international oil companies and leaving just 12% for Iraqis. However, the parliament as a whole refused to approve it even after they were offered millions in bribes each by the oil companies.
As a consequence of that law not passing, when Iraqi opened up bidding on some oil concessions recently they set the floor for bids at 49% royalties for Iraqis, which means they will likely get significantly more than that, and closer to what their neighbors with easily accessible oil like theirs get. The closer Iraq's royalties get to their neighbors, the more it looks like oil companies could have gotten to the same place in Iraq without us spending three-quarters of a trillion dollars invading and occupying Iraq, killing a million Iraqis, and wasting the lives of thousands of our troops who thought they enlisted to protect their country not expand oil company profit margins.
Now the cabinet has negotiated a withdrawal treaty with Bush that would pull US troops out of Iraqi cities by this summer, and out of Iraq altogether by 2011. It is unclear whether the Iraqi parliament will pass it since there is tremendous public pressure on them to end the occupation as soon as possible. If this agreement does not pass, a UN resolution allowing US forces to stay in Iraq will expire December 31, making the mere presence of our troops there a war crime, and requiring a quick withdrawal.
Even if the treaty is passed, it will be a crushing defeat for Bush. It allows no permanent bases in Iraq, Iraq may not be used as a base to invade neighboring countries, and US forces may no longer kick in doors in the middle of the night and take Iraqis prisoner indefinitely. Best of all, Bush's Blackwater and other mercenary army will no longer be immune from Iraqi law, which destroys the only argument for continuing to use them since they cost far more than regular US military and are far more hated by Iraqis because they commit atrocities with impunity.
Either way, the Iraqis win, Bush loses, and the Iraqi parliament will have done for America what our own elected representatives have refused to do in spite of overwhelming public support: end the war in Iraq.
This is no sop. It is a vote to end the occupation of Iraq
The total defeat of the US plan to install a supine ally in the Middle East is likely to be confirmed today in Baghdad
guardian.co.uk, Thursday November 27 2008 00.01 GMT
The agreement stipulates that "all US forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31 2011". More remarkably, all combat troops will leave Iraqi towns and villages and go back to base by the end of June next year. Pause for a moment and take that in. Six years and three months after the invasion, Iraqi streets will be a US-free zone again.
Iraq will have a veto over all US military operations. A clause added at the last minute after pressure from Iran says that Iraqi land, sea and air may not be used as a launch pad or transit point for attacks on other countries. The Iraqi government eagerly took up the point after US helicopters flew into Syria and attacked a compound there last month, claiming it was a base from which foreign fighters entered Iraq. Iraq joined Syria in protesting against the raid.
Under the withdrawal agreement, no Iraqi can be arrested by US forces except with permission from Iraqi authorities, and every Iraqi who is arrested in these circumstances must be handed to Iraqi forces within 24 hours. The tens of thousands of detainees in US custody must either be released or turned over to the Iraqis immediately. US troops may not enter or search any Iraqi house without an Iraqi judge's warrant, except if they are conducting a joint combat operation with the Iraqi military.
US contractors - the armed mercenaries in their SUVs whom Iraqis hate even more than the American military - will lose their immunity and be subject to Iraqi law, a development that is already prompting many security firms to start pulling out. US troops who rape Iraqi women or commit any other crime while off duty and off base will have to stand trial in Iraqi courts.
The deal gives Iraq's national resistance almost everything it fought for. How did Nouri al-Maliki's government achieve it? The main reason is that Iraqi nationalism and the occupation's unpopularity have become overwhelming. Opinion polls have long shown that a majority of Iraqis wanted the occupation to end. They found it humiliating and oppressive. Al-Qaida's infiltration, and the sectarian conflict which its supporters and recruits successfully provoked in 2006 and 2007, distracted many Iraqis for a time. Some saw the US as the lesser enemy. But al-Qaida's power has waned thanks to the Awakening movement of Sunni tribal leaders; and the primary issue, the US intervention, has returned to centre stage. Nationalist sentiment, articulated from the first weeks of the occupation by Sunni insurgents (many of whom later joined the Awakening movement) as well as Moqtada al-Sadr's Shia militia, has spread through the country's ruling elite. This summer Prime Minister Maliki began to realise that he had more to gain by posing as the man who achieved a US withdrawal than by trying to block it. It is a triumph for Iraq.
From the American point of view, the main thing the pact does is to allow the US to withdraw with dignity. No hasty Vietnam-style humiliation, but an orderly retreat from an adventure which was illegal, unnecessary, and a disaster from the moment of conception. Like most Iraqis, I am content with that. American neoconservatives will declare victory, as Frederick Kagan, one of the architects of the "surge", did this week. But the fact is that Bush and his ideologues wanted to make Iraq a protectorate and stay indefinitely so as to intimidate Iran and Syria. Now they have been forced to give up, and a newly confident Tehran has been helping its neighbouring Shia-led government in Baghdad to show them the door.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
All AIG execs FIRED, jobs outsourced to India
In a desperate move to restore public confidence in the giant Wall St. firm AIG, the board of directors fired all the executives and replaced them with executives from India.
"We thought the bailout would help," said a board member who wished to remain anonymous, "but when the top executives used the money to give themselves bonuses and go on multiple group vacations, we knew it was time for a more serious intervention."
The execs were fired while away on one of their retreats. Their company credit cards were cancelled, the corporate jet called home, and they were left stranded in Bali. When the resort realized they couldn't pay for their rooms and bar tab, they called the Indonesian authorities, who caned them and threw them in jail until family members wire the money for their bills. None have done so as of yet.
The board member went on to say that they realized their hiring practices were deeply flawed.
"Look, we pretend we hire these guys because they are the best and the brightest, the 'masters of the universe,' and sure they graduated from Ivy League schools, but they got into those schools for the same reason we hired them: their families are rich, and their dads called someone on the board who belonged to their frat or secret society in college. However, the fact someone's father had sex with a goat, spilled their seed on a cracker, or had prison sex in a coffin doesn't qualify their son to run a business that is so essential to the smooth running of the American economy."
Another incredible admission is that most of the hired executives never held a job in their lives below corporate vice president.
Despite their Ivy League educations, few had any real job skills they brought to the table. "Let's face it," the board member said, "these guys are trust fund babies like George W. Bush. They lived on an allowance from their parents until they were 26, and most of them still do in spite of the multi-million dollar salaries we pay them. One VP panicked when the bathroom attendant was out one day because he had never wiped his own ass. We had to call one of the janitors to do it."
"What these guys are good at is stealing and hiding what they stole. In spite of their generous allowances, most of them would burn through that pretty quick and have to figure out how to steal from their parents to pay for their gambling, alcohol, cocaine, and hookers, without their parents noticing. We're not talking five bucks from mommy's purse here, but real money. Jeff Gannon is not a cheap date. That skill was very valuable to us for a while, but now that everybody is playing hide the pea with shell corporations, off shore accounts and the like, the whole thing is collapsing."
"We need people who actually know how to run a business."
While the Indians, who were brought to the US on H-1B visas, have only been in the states a few days, the board is already impressed with their work.
"These guys show up on time, they're good at math, they don't drink, they don't lounge around at the country club, hell, I don't even think any of them know how to golf. And the best thing is, none of them gets paid over a million dollars--NONE."
The board member added that if this move is as successful as he hopes it will be, it could set an example for other corporations. "We have been going about this outsourcing business all wrong," he said. "Everyone was trying to cut the fat by cutting workers, but it's pretty obvious that fat floats to the top, and needs to be skimmed off every once in a while and fed to the pigs."
Monday, November 17, 2008
After Gitmo, Obama to close Club Fed prisons for Wall St. economic terrorists
"We need to have one justice system for all Americans, even domestic terrorists who drain pension funds, break functioning businesses, destroy jobs, and corrupt our political process, all to enrich a very few."
"Instead of being sent to regular prisons with the Americans most effected by their crimes, they are sent to segregated prisons with carpet, tennis courts, pools, little threat of prison rape, and in general, little to distinguish the prison from the country clubs where they spend most of their time hatching terrorist plots to attack middle class Americans while they're playing a round of golf or sipping umbrella drinks by the pool."
"These gentlemen need a punishment that fits the magnitude of their crime."
"If a nineteen year old kid who sold a dime bag of pot has to go to the bathroom on a steel toilet with no privacy, that's where Wall Street scammers who stole hard-working Americans dreams of a safe retirement should have to go to the bathroom."
"If that nineteen year old kid is in danger of being raped by his roommate, forced to dress like Paris Hilton, and be bought and sold for cigarettes as a sex slave, that's where Wall Street terrorists belong who said they needed $700 billion of our tax dollars to keep our economy from collapsing then took the money and spent it on lavish parties, bonuses for execs and dividends. The only thing that's unfair about that is I can't imagine anyone giving up one cigarette for Henry Paulson's sorry, withered ass."
Critics of Obama's plan to put Wall Street economic terrorists in mainstream prisons argue that prison rape would not serve as a deterrent since it is very similar to the initiation ceremonies of fraternaties and secret societies the execs joined in college. An unnamed bald male escort said far from finding the experience unpleasant, many of them pay top dollar to relive it again and again.
Obama did hold out a fig leaf to Republicans and corporate-controlled Democrats:
"I have said that I wanted to reach out to my opponents, and I meant it. Many Republicans in Congress have said this proposal is too harsh, that we should have more compassion on these terrorists. They think we should just give them therapy and a hug instead and make them promise never to do it again."President-elect Obama went on to say that Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson would be an excellent first choice for the financier to cannon fodder program.
"I disagree, but in the spirit of bipartisanship, I am offering an alternative to these trust fund babies gone wild who have never contributed anything to society: they can avoid prison altogether in they join the Army and serve in the infantry anywhere our troops are in combat around the world for as long as their prison sentence would have been. "
"They would not be eligible for promotion or any leadership positions since they have shown that they cannot be trusted with the safety of anyone else. Instead, they could be used to clear IED's, as decoys to draw enemy fire, and as human shields for any troops with missing or defective body armor."
"If their parents and fraternity brothers want keep them out of harm's way, they would be free to lobby for any ongoing wars to stop, but given the love these people have for money, their relatives probably prefer to cry at their funerals than lobby themselves out of war profits."
"He put the deal together, his firm abused it, I think it's only fair that he be the guinea pig to see how this reform works."
Obama added that he couldn't comment on whether President Bush or Vice President Cheney would be joining Paulson until after the inauguration .
Friday, November 07, 2008
Questions Obama must ask intel briefers to separate bullshit from reality
I just read your article and had a couple of things that I would want the next president to know as well:
- How much of what we are doing in Central Asia is motivated by the "War on Terror" and how much is jockeying for control of the world's remaining oil reserves?
- To the extent that we are trying to monopolize the oil in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea Basin, how much of that is for our national security and how much is strictly for the benefit of oil companies?
- How could Russia potentially retaliate for our efforts to take over the export routes from the Caspian Basin? Would it hurt our national security to leave that to the Russians in exchange for their traditional posture of leaving us the Persian Gulf?
- If we were Russia or China, how would we respond to the United States trying to take control of the two major oil producing regions in the world? Why should we expect Russia or China to respond differently than we would in that position?
- Which business interests are using our foreign policy apparatus to enrich themselves while enflaming animosity in other countries toward the United States? What would our foreign policy look like and how much would we save if we didn't use our military and diplomats as their enforcers? How can we disentangle those business interests from our government and neuter their influence?
- What do we gain by leaving the Israel-Palestine conflict an open wound? Are we just the victims of the best lobbying effort ever, or are we getting something out of it like using Israel as the bad cop and possible having them as a scapegoat when things finally fall apart in the Persian Gulf?
- If a bipolar Cold War produced relative stability for decades, why can't we have a stable multi-polar peace, that gave us, Russia, China, and Europe spheres of influence?
- For you generals and intelligence analysts old enough to have lived through the Cold War, can you tell me with a straight face that Iran or any other country would be stupid enough to use nukes on us or give them to terrorists who might when we have 10,000 warheads to retaliate with and are the only country who has demonstrated the willingness to use them?
- The same question on a smaller scale applies to Israel: how exactly would a nuclear armed Iran be a threat to Israel when Israel has several hundred nukes to respond with, a handful of which could take out all the major cities in Iran?
- What was in those classified pages about Saudi Arabia in the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11's report? Even without those pages being released, there is far more evidence of Saudi government involvement in 9/11 than either of the two countries we invaded, Iraq and Afghanistan. Why did the Bush administration let them off the hook?
The frustration I have with all of these questions is that these are not part of the public debate, and instead we hear our elected leaders talk in childish terms of chasing terrorists, WMD (wasn't the old NBC acronym more precise and less alarmist?), or spreading democracy. We ignore each of those three things when it suits our perceived interests. We don't care about Saudi terrorists or their lack of democracy, and we clearly don't care about nukes in Pakistan, India, or Israel. So other interests are in play that aren't in the debate.
- What are the various "off the books" covert activities involving American business and government operatives, whose interests do they serve, and how can we keep them from creating incidents to steer our foreign policy?
I guess American politicians keep doing it because it works on the American public, but it makes us, and even the politicians themselves, look retarded in the eyes of the rest of the world.
I'm embarrassed to say I forgot to send Ray a pretty big one:
- To the extent that we have any real interest in strategic access to Iraq's oil, how has the Bush effort to gain favorable terms for US oil companies at the Iraqis expense hurt us there, and what can we do to gain the trust of Iraqis?
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
How would gov't have bailed out Wall St. if they were middle class or poor?
It is now clear that the decision to let Lehman Brothers fail — made the weekend of Sept. 13 and 14 — provided a stunning blow to investor and consumer confidence. The economic statistics coming out now show that car sales and other retail sales, already weak, fell off a cliff. Business orders from other businesses dried up. What had been a fairly mild recession — and one that many denied was a recession at all — became a sharp one.
History does not allow do-overs, so we will never know what would have happened if Lehman had been treated as Bear Stearns was, or as the American International Group soon would be.
He seems to miss the point of why the bailout proposal justly drew the wrath of ordinary Americans on the left AND right.
Here is the response I posted on his blog:
Bailing out Lehman might have staved off the other bailouts by mere weeks or days, but it was the impression of the bailouts, not the failures, that hurt McCain.
The public perception is one of profound conservative hypocrisy and corruption. They demand unregulated capitalism and draconian cuts in the safety net for the middle class and the poor, but them trip all over themselves to bail out their wealthy friends when their scams blow up in their faces.
Think of what we do to people who need medical help without insurance or whose insurance shows them the door. They have to sell their houses, bankrupt themselves, and sometimes get divorced to qualify for help. Their lives are ruined.
By contrast, Paulson specifically demanded no strings attached, no requirements for hardship, and we have seen the results: they took our money and partied like the spoiled, useless, sociopathic frat boy human filth that they are.
If we treated them the way we do the middle class and poor who need help, they would have to drain their bank accounts of the past decades’ bonuses, sell the BMW, and three houses, and be forced to work for minimum wage until taxpayers get our bailout money back. And just for the hell of it, they would have to get random drug tests to make sure they aren't using our money for coke or crystal meth.
But of course that is based on an assumption that they are merely incompetent rather the more likely scenario that they committed intentional fraud on borrowers and the US taxpayers. In which case, they should be held in jail without bail pending their RICO trials, and wondering when it's safe to go to sleep without another inmate doing to them what they have done to America--and the world.
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