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McCain-Gramm Economics: Communism with a Capital “G”

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When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist. — Dom Helder Camara

It’s All the Rage!

As the failed Bill Ayers smear slowly fades into the annals of campaign-smear history, its replacement — red-baiting — is proving to be one of the more effective scare-tactics du jour  to be pulled from the McCain-Palin campaign’s arsenal of sleazy tactics. Can the McCain-Palin ticket really and truly convince enough voters that Obama’s campaign is nothing but a secret plot to turn America into a communist state? It’s unlikely, although many voters will, indeed, take that red bait and run ‘scairt’ straight to the polls. 

I’m a proponent of the axiom that states, “You can never underestimate the stupidity of the American voters.” By the same token, it’s safe to say that an overwhelming majority of American voters have glimpsed the light at the end of tunnel, and — having discovered that it’s not daylight they’re seeing, but the headlight of a runaway train barreling toward them — they’ve come to their senses. Fear of imaginary bogeymen has been replaced by fear of real bogeymen — those political crooks who have spent the past 8 years not only raping the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but our economy — and, along with it, undermined the incomes, jobs, health care and/or security of some 95% of Americans. 

G is for Gramm & Greenspan

If David Addington is the architect of the Bush-Cheney assaults on the U.S. Constitution (and he is), then McCain’s long-time economic advisers/gurus, Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan, are the architects of our collapsing economy. And John McCain, his finger ever on the pulse of what’s best for America, has approved — bill by bill, measure by measure — eight years worth of assaults on our economy.

The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should. I’ve got Greenspan’s book. — John McCain, December 2007

The folks at the helm of this mess — most of them, coincidentally, filthy rich Republicans — would like the American people to believe the financial crisis is so complex as to be inscrutable, unknowable, when the only real unknowable is how bleak the future. Epidemic poverty? Mass homelessness? Food shortages? Worse? Much, much worse?

As such, they’d like us to climb on board with their we’re-all-in-this-together mantra: “Now is not the time to play the blame game!” — even as they, themselves, have systematically heaped the blame at the feet of minorities and the poor. Here, their hope is to stir racism into the mix, to seduce Americans into swallowing the lie that it’s the fault of poor folks and minorities, and that whites, middle-class and upper crust Americans were not alternately victimized and party to the corrupt lending practices. The folks at the helm are banking on the surety that, if they confuse us enough, we’ll just throw up our hands and hope that someone “up there” knows what they’re doing.

Covering Their Asses & Assets

If you trust in nothing else, trust in this: These crooks know exactly what they’ve done and what they’re doing. That’s why they want to avoid close scrutiny to the blame game. But if Americans don’t start playing the blame game — and fast — these crooks, who have benefitted to the tune of millions and billions of dollars over the past 8 years, will only continue to rake in millions and billions more from the so-called bailout. They’re already doing it. To not play the blame game is to invite a second Trojan horse into the city, having not learned our lesson after the first Trojan horse — a gift carved by none other than McCain’s financial gurus, Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan.  

Ho-Ho-Ho and Merry Freaking Christmas

That first Trojan horse rolled onto Wall Street, via Capitol Hill, on Friday, December 15, 2000. With Christmas break only hours away, the U.S. Senate was rushing to pass an 11,000-page government-spending reauthorization bill. Tacked onto this bill — at the urging of Sen. Phil Gramm — was a 262 page amendment, called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. The amendment Trojan horse passed, without debate, in both houses. With this, our lawmakers paved the way for a practice called “credit default swaps” — a legalized form of gambling, whereby financiers could place bets on whether people defaulted on their mortgages.

Being such crackerjack economists, Greenspan and Gramm surely knew the bitter lesson history had taught Wall Street 100 years earlier, when credit default swaps (called “bucket shops” in the day) led to the Wall Street Panic of 1907. Surely, Greenspan and Gramm knew that, for nearly 100 years, the bucket shop industry had been outlawed as a felony. It is no giant leap, then, to say that their crime was one of foreknowledge.  

But what of our lawmakers on Capitol Hill? Was it ignorance, haste, inattention or blind trust that prompted them to legalize a felony, turning Wall Street into a giant betting parlor? Perhaps we’ll never know. But what we do know, is that John McCain embraced then — as he still embraces today — the financial giants whose policies erected these betting parlors, the same as he has embraced the policies of the Bush Administration, which has spent the past 8 years protecting this betting parlor industry, threatening to veto any attempt to regulate the credit default swap market. 

G is for Gambling  

Warren Buffet has called credit default swaps, “financial weapons of mass destruction.” True enough. But why not call a spade a spade? This bucket shop industry has made billionaires of gamblers who placed bets on the demise of mortgage holders and, ultimately, Wall Street, itself. And just who are the bookies in this gambling racket? The “insurance” industry, to which our government is now poised to roll our a second (or is it third?) gargantuan bailout package. You read that right: Our government is poised to bail out the bookies who operate (past and present tense) the betting parlors that have made multi-billionaires out of people who made a living from betting on the failure of our economy.

Of course, the official advisers to these government bailouts — the leaders at the helm — have been, and continue to be some of the biggest benefactors to this casino-style capitalism. The blame game is long overdue. It’s futile trying to stop a crime spree when the crooks are policing themselves.

G is for Greed: The Wall Street Collapse, in a Nutshell  

Last night, 60 Minutes ran a long-overdue segment on Credit Default Swaps, which is an excellent primer for those still scratching their heads over the inscrutable and seemingly unknowable facts about the Wall Street collapse. Check out the 12-minute video of this 60 Minutes segment. It’s easy enough to comprehend, and you’ll emerge substantially enlightened about what the hell’s going on. And if you also emerge seeing red, don’t be alarmed. That’s the color of McCain’s hypocrisy. 

Let Them Eat Cake

See, it’s not communism when the government spreads $750 billion dollars (and counting) to bail out and richly compensate the ka-jillionaires who continue to make a killing off the failure and misery of the millions of Americans who fell prey to their sleazy casino capitalism. No, it’s only communism when Barack Obama proposes to give a tax break to those hardworking Americans suffering the trickle-down effects of the Wall Street orgy. It’s only communism when Barack Obama calls for a tax plan that is more fair to those millions of hardworking Americans who will spend the coming months doing well to simply keep a roof over the heads and food on the table. It’s only communism when the wealthiest 5% of Americans are asked to part with some of their ill-gotten loot to heal our wounds they’ve inflicted in the biggest scam that has ever been perpetuated on the American people. 

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For more reading:

Mother Jones: Foreclosure Phil – Years before Phil Gramm was a McCain campaign adviser and a lobbyist for a Swiss bank at the center of the housing credit crisis, he pulled a sly maneuver in the Senate that helped create today’s subprime meltdown. Who’s to blame for the biggest financial catastrophe of our time? There are plenty of culprits, but one candidate for lead perp is former Sen. Phil Gramm.

Mother Jones: McCain Blasts Wall Street Failure, Neglects To Mention His Adviser Helped Cause It — As the news broke of the Lehman Brothers meltdown and the rest of the latest financial crisis, John McCain, speaking at a campaign rally in Florida on Monday, angrily declared, “We will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. This is a failure.” And 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.

The Texas Observer: John McCain’s Gramm Gamble – The GOP presidential nominee is relying on the ex-senator who helped bring you the mortgage crisis

Huffington Post: A Nation of Village Idiots – Don’t let them tell you this economic meltdown is a complicated mess. It’s not. Our national financial crisis is readily understood by anyone who has seen greed and hypocrisy. But we are now witnessing them on a profound, monumental scale.

LaRouche Political Action Committee: In the Senate: Ban Derivatives “Bucket Shops” – Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) opened up his hearing on derivatives and the financial crisis today, with some promise of sane action, asking, “Shouldn’t we just outlaw these things? The collapse owes a great deal to the traffic in credit default swaps (CDS), collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), etc. Shouldn’t we just ban them?” As his hearing went on, Harkin backed off and wondered whether the U.S. Senate was allowed to outlaw financial derivatives!

 Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel: McCain Defends Enron Loophole – Sen. John McCain says he opposes the $307 billion farm bill because it would dole out wasteful subsidies, but his chief economic adviser Phil Gramm also wants to stop its proposed regulation of energy futures trading, a market that was famously abused when Enron Corp. manipulated California’s electricity prices in 2001.

Newsday: State Federal Probe Investigating Credit Default Swaps – In an unusual move, the state attorney general and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan yesterday announced a joint investigation into credit-default swaps, those unregulated insurancelike contracts that have played a major role in the nation’s financial crisis.

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It’s October, and I’m surprised. Should I also be scared?

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Let’s see….  

1. Our economy — that venerable house of cards — is collapsing, and the architects show no signs that they intend to do anything but stack more cards into the rafters (to hell with the foundation, to hell with the people below).

2. The news media essentially serve as a 24-7 infomercial for McCain-Palin, and yet Obama is still ahead — by double digits, according to some polls —  which means that people aren’t lining up anymore to buy the Bush-Cheney line of bullshit.

3. And, lastly, according to a Sept. 30 article in Army Times, George Bush has officially done the utterly unprecedented: He ordered a brigade of troops to to begin patrolling U.S soil, beginning on Oct. 1st, as part of the new NorthCom force. Bush dispatched the brigade in case our country needs help with “civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE attack.”

Should I be scared? I am.

But it’s a safe bet that — since this post isn’t about Sarah Palin — no one will read it, which means that, on the topic of fearful things, I can plant my tin foil hat firmly on my head and talk without fear of reprimand.

According to the Army Times article, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team goes by the incredibly adorable name, “Sea Smurf” — which is the phonetically-correct moniker for it’s official name: CCMRF (the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force). Their mission is slated to last for a year, during which time we can all take comfort in the words of Sea Smurf commander, Col Roger Clouter: “We’re going in to help American citizens on American soil, to save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, restore normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it’s kind of a different role.”

Different, indeed. The brigade is equipped to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” which includes, “equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.”

If the idea of soldiers patrolling your neighborhood with shields, batons and rubber bullets makes you nervous, take comfort in this: The Army Times article did issue a correction in early October, regarding the use of their non-lethal package. Accordingly, “A non-lethal crowd control package fielded to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, described in the original version of this story, is intended for use on deployments to the war zone, not in the U.S., as previously stated.”

Rubber bullets aside, one strategic problem with the Sea Smurf’s NorthCom mission is that, according to an April 2008 GAO report, Northcom has not bothered to involve local and state officials and governments — much less the National Guard — in their emergency preparedness planning and coordination efforts. In other words, NorthCom appears set to go it alone, leaving legislators, governors, mayors, the National Guard and the media,  to — I don’t know — step in line? 

The unprecedented pre-emptive deployment of NorthCom military troops onto U.S. soil was paved in October 2006 when Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007.  A few lawmakers, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, protested — as did governors across the country, who saw blazing red flags in the bills provisions. The governors banded together and repeatedly petitioned leaders on Capitol Hill with letters of protest, which were met, one by one, with silence. One such letter, signed by every member of the National Governors Association, read, in part:

This provision was drafted without consultation or input from governors, and represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors . . .to the federal government….. We urge you to drop provisions that would usurp governors’ authority over the National Guard during emergencies from the conference agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act

So much for democracy. The bill passed like a hot knife through butter.

The roles of traditional emergency preparedness team workers seem to have been usurped by Air Force engineer and medical units, the Marine Corps Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy weather team and members of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Whatever that means.

On this topic, the bi-partisan group of legislators that released the aforementioned April 2008 GAO report had a few things to say:   

I remain convinced that almost seven years after 9/11, the U.S. Northern Command, as presently structured, serves no real purpose and is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The only hope to transform this sham command into a viable asset for the American people would require major changes.  — Gene Taylor, D-Mississippi 

The United States Northern Command is supposed to be out in front in the Pentagon’s efforts to support civil authorities in emergencies. It should be planning and identifying possible equipment shortfalls. Above all, it should be working closely with state and local communities. Instead, the command is doing very little of this core activity. — Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont

Clearly, a bias against playing a supporting role to civilian authorities has resulted in large gaps in NORTHCOM’s ability to fulfill its stated mission. The fact is, governors and their National Guard are and will continue to be our nation’s first domestic military responders. And until they and NORTHCOM can work together more seamlessly, NORTHCOM’s ability to be of assistance in homeland response will continue to face significant challenges. — Chris Shays, R-Connecticut

NORTHCOM’s duty is to provide military support to States and the Department of Homeland Security, but it hasn’t fully figured out this emergency support mission. Any crack in our emergency preparedness capability today will become a gaping hole in our catastrophic response tomorrow. — Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi

Instead of working with the governors, the National Guard Bureau and the State Adjutants General, Northern Command has held the country’s historic first military responders at arm’s length. Northern Command needs to accept its supporting role or get out of the way. — Tom Davis, R-Virginia
 

It is a curiosity. I mean, For more than 100 years – since the end of the Civil War – deployment of the U.S. military inside the U.S. has been prohibited under The Posse Comitatus Act (the only exceptions being that the National Guard and Coast Guard are exempted, and use of the military on an emergency ad hoc basis is permitted, such as what happened after Hurricane Katrina). Unless I missed something, a major hurricane has not hit the mainland in recent days, nor has a spate of riots broken out  in our major cities. And there’s no imminent threat of an impending chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high explosive. Is there?  

Not that there’s a damned thing we can do about it. But I’m just saying….

Of course, it’s my prerogative to speculate on such things. After all, I am part of the tin-foil hat brigade, and have been since falling prey to tertiary Lyme Disease in 2002. Ever since, I’ve been on the vanguard with those who have long-believed in such unspeakable things as a Wall Street catastrophe, not to mention bizarre theories about bio-warfare pandemics, a second (and maybe a third) stolen election, 9-11 as a false flag operation, the Patriot Act, Dick Cheney’s oil imperialism agenda, the ascent of mercenary armies, martial law, internment camps, government-controlled media, geophysical warfare and so on — complete with all the legislative frills and scary, terrorist-bullying jargon necessary to making these newworldorder-ish things alternately possible, invisible, overt, covert and, ultimately, unstoppable.

 

Granted, a single brigade of Sea Smurfs dispatched to the blood red soils of Georgia, USA hardly seems like an overwhelming threat. But it is unprecedented, and it is also, um, un-American. So it’s only natural that I’d jump on board, in full-tin regalia, fully unsurprised — yet as surprised as the next person — by the house of cards, the McCain-Palin infomercials and the Sea Smurf Brigade. Only, unlike the steadfast tin soldier, I don’t feel so brave. And my heart’s not doing so well, either.    

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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Army Times: (Sept. 30, 2008)  Brigade Homeland Tour Starts October 1st

Salon.com: (Sept. 24, 2008) Why is a U.S. Army Brigade Being Assigned to the “Homeland”?

Patrick Leahy: (April 16, 2008) GAO: NORTHCOM Failing in Civil Support Mission

CQ.com: (Dec. 1, 2006)  Fine Print in Defense Bill Opens Door to Martial Law

Global Research: (October 9, 2008) FEMA Sources Confirm Coming Martial Law

The Progressive: (October 7, 2008)  Leahy Concerned About NorthCom’s New Army Unit

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Having created the conditions that produced history’s biggest bubble, America’s political leaders appear unable to grasp the magnitude of the dangers the country now faces. Mired in their rancorous culture wars and squabbling among themselves, they seem oblivious to the fact that American global leadership is fast ebbing away. A new world is coming into being almost unnoticed, where America is only one of several great powers, facing an uncertain future it can no longer shape. — From Asia Times  (October 10, 2008)  Wall Street: A New Iraq War