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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 Fear of imaginary bogeymen has been replaced by fear of real bogeymen — those political crooks who have spent the past 8 years not only raping the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but our economy — and,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

John McCain and the Snake-Oil Express Take Wall Street by Storm

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Or, 10 Reasons Why Dr. McCain’s Economical Cures Could Very Well Kill the Patient

Settling on just the 10 was a bit tricky. I’m sure some of you will wonder why I left some out and put others in. My approach was much like playing a game of 52-card pickup. These were the first ten cards I found.    

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ONE

More than a few economists were taken aback when John McCain made his January 2008 prognostication: “I don’t believe we’re headed into a recession. I believe the fundamentals of this economy are strong and I believe they will remain strong.” The economists were taken aback because McCain’s words sharply contradicted on-the-ground reality: America had just seen an unprecedented year of tragedy for many American homeowners, with 1.3 million homes in various stages of foreclosure during 2007 — up 75% from 2006.  

To McCain’s credit, he’d also recently said, “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” but then added, as if this made everything all right, “I’ve got Greenspan’s book.” Greenspan is, of course, the Federal Reserve Chairman who bull-headedly refused to regulate sub-prime lending — a system designed to “grow” the economy by putting money into the pockets of realtors, developers, lenders, and all the businesses who feed off these hosts — but at the eventual expense of the millions of homeowners who have, since, lived to see the tragic folly of buying homes they couldn’t afford to pay for. Congratulations if you live in Nevada, Florida, Michigan, California, Colorado, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Illinois or Indiana. You made the top ten list for the highest number of home foreclosures, leaving your states to enjoy double the catastrophe of trickle-down Republican economics. 

TWO

Early this week, the aforementioned Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan (still a staunch McCain supporter) gave McCain’s economic tax plan an emphatic thumbs-downOuch. Greenspan says the U.S. cannot afford the big tax cuts proposed by John McCain — that we cannot affort to finance “tax cuts with borrowed money.” Greenspan went on to describe our current economic crisis, in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage collapse, to be a “once in a half-century, once in a century crisis,” that will lead to the failure of more firms.

This is a marked contrast with the statement of McCain’s other economic mentor and (now former) financial adviser, Phil Gramm, who just 2 months ago described our economic troubles and recession as being only in our minds, saying that we’d become “a nation of whiners.” It is also a marked contrast with McCain’s own words this week (see more on this in #8, below) when he said that despite “fears” over the “turmoil” on Wall Street, “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” This is, in turn, a marked contrast between Obama’s words yesterday, when he described the upheaval on Wall Street as “the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.” **

Wealth Creates Wealth — John McCain, 2007

THREE

In August 2007, the non-profit tax advocacy group, Citizens for Tax Justice, released their report, titled, “The Presidential Candidates on Taxes,” which assessed the candidates’ tax proposals, breaking them down into two lists: “bad ideas” and “better ideas.” McCain scored 5 out of 7 on the “bad ideas” list, and scored zero on the “better ideas” list. Among McCain’s “bad ideas” were (1) making Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans pemanent, (2)  sharp cuts in corporate taxes to “grow” the economy, (3) repealing the estate tax, (4) a national sales tax, which many say would benefit the wealthy and hit lower income families hardest, (5) healthcare tax breaks that, again, many say would disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while doing nothing, at best, to help lower income families.

FOUR

In April 2008, McCain jumped on board with the gas-tax holiday, a plan to suspend the federal excise tax for the summer to give Americans a break at the pumps. Sounded great, until economists pointed out that, by summer’s end, the plan would have added billions to our already staggering debt to China and transferred more wealth to Saudi Arabia, for a mere 3-month savings total of $35 for the average family. Worse, still, it would have caused a $10 billion dollar deficit to the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for roads and bridges throughout the country. Most economists called the gas tax holiday, in so many words, a bad idea, with Thomas Friedman describing it as “so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away.”  Most understood it for what it was — election year pandering, since there was nearly a zero chance for actual approval for such a plan. Good political play, bad economics. While this was minor, as economic infractions go, it did open a window into the motives of a politician who would propose such a reckless plan.

FIVE

McCain is apparently confused over the duties of the Senate Commerce Committee, on which he once served. This week, he offered his experience as chairman on this committee as credentials for knowing “how to fix this economy.”  McCain said in an interview, while discussing the crisis on Wall Street. “I understand the economy. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversights every part of our economy.” (listen, below)

The fact is, the Senate Commerce Committee does NOT oversee every part of our economy, nor does it oversee the specific areas in crisis. (Perhaps McCain was confused with the Senate Banking Committee, which DOES oversee these duties — a committe on which McCain never served.) The committee on which McCain served oversaw 13 areas, beginning with the Coast Guard and continuing through regulation of consumer products and services — EXCEPT for credit, financial serices and housing (the very areas in crisis).

SIX

Another entry in the “your slip is showing” department…. Yesterday, McCain made a double-gaffe when speaking about the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), a corporation that returns customers’ cash, stock and other securities in the event of a brokerage firm bankruptcy. For one thing, McCain repeatedly referred the company as SPIC, which is, if you’ll recall, a racial epithet. For another thing, McCain called this corporation a regulatory agency, which was heard among economic know-hows as an unintentional admission that economics are indeed foreign to McCain. This is the risk taken when memorizing talking points vs. owing a true understanding of what those talking points actually mean. (listen, below)

SEVEN

During one of the Republican presidential debates this year, in a Q & A segment between candidates, Ron Paul asked John McCain about the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets. Anyone running for president should know this group, as it works directly under the president, its stated role to prevent a stock market crash. To anyone who knows even the most rudimentary economic terms, the Working Group is a staple item. Its activities controversial in some circles, the Working Group is the economic equivalent of the war room. Specifically, the Working Group’s role is to gather it members (the President, the Secretary of Treasury, Federal Reserve chairmen, the Securities & Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission) in the event of a “sudden, stomach churning drop in stock prices,” such as the one we saw earlier this week. The Working Group’s role is to keep the markets operating and to avoid the sort of panic-run that would lead to a full market collapse.

In the presidential debate, Ron Paul asked McCain (1) his opinion on the group, (2)  whether he would keep it in place or get rid of it, and (3) if he did decide to retain the group, would he be in favor of making their activities transparent. McCain’s answer only made transparent that he was without a boat and paddle to offer any knowledge of this group. His answer — a loosely strung recitation of whatever economic terms (tax cuts) and names (Gramm, Rudman, et al) he could conjure — sounded more like Miss Teen USA South Carolina’s infamously embarassing speech of last year, than a presidential candidate with an inkling of the duties of the job for which he is applying, much less on economics. (listen, below, starting at 0:45)

Worst Financial Crisis Since ’30s, with No End Yet in Sight –– Wall Street Journal Headline, Sept. 18, 2008

This has been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, no doubt about it. – Mark Gertler, NYU Economist, Sept. 17, 2008

This is the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression — Barack Obama, Sept. 15, 2008

The fundamentals of our economy are strong — John McCain, Sept. 15, 2008

EIGHT

Just this week, McCain again asserted that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong,” a claim he has repeatedly made througout this campaign — even as the most recent figures show bank repossessions have jumped 184% from last year, and even as unemployment rates have jumped to the highest rate in five years at 6.1%, and even as our countries oldest and most enduring financial institutions are falling like giant dominoes. It only makes sense that McCain would continue adhering to this claim, as he also continues to adhere to the economic architects (Greenspan and Gramm) of the very policies that caused the economic crisis we are in. 

Yesterday, after receiving repeated criticisms for his claim that our economy is strong, and with demands to explain his rationale, McCain attempted to defend his position. Rather than speaking on the topic, however, he evaded the topic entirely by giving a pep talk on American workers — a non-answer disguised as an answer. Here’s what he said: “The economic crisis is not the fault of the American people. Our workers are the most innovative, the hardest working, the best skilled, the most productive, most competitive in the world. That’s the American worker. And my opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals, the America worker, their innovation, their entrepreneurship, the small business, those are the fundamentals of America, and I think they’re strong. But they are being threatened today, those fundamentals are being threatened today because of the greed and corruption that some engaged in in Wall Street, and we have got to fix it.” (see the video here)

No one, to my knowledge, has blamed the American worker for our economic crisis, nor has anyone criticized the integrity of the American worker — most especially in conjunction with our economic crisis. Nonetheless, McCain used this pep talk as an opportunity to smear the Democrats, by suggesting that they somehow “disagree” on the integrity of the American workers, and somehow “disagree” that the American worker is a fundamental part of our economy. 

McCain’s speech was designed not to answer the question, but to stir patriotic fervor over the America worker, while simultaneously calling into question the Democrats’ loyalty to the American worker  (a false flag if ever I saw one). That this is a devious tactic is not the point. The point is that McCain continues to be just as out-of-touch with the daily reality of these hardworking Americans, as he is of the bigger economic picture that has plunged so many of these hardworking Americans into hard times. Here, McCain seems to be showing a greater deference for self-serving his political campaign than engaging in the straight talk necessary to addressing the real issues and real solutions to our economic crisis.  

Unions all over the country are calling McCain out on his record — a record which utterly and deplorably contradicts the campaign promise he is making:  specifically, a promise to put the interests of American working families ahead of special interests. For some real straight talk on these issues from the perspective of hardworking Americans, see the 8-minute  video, below, produced by the AFL-CIO Building & Constructions Trades. 

 

NINE

Sarah Palin. Why Sarah Palin? Because McCain is offering up Sarah Palin”s executive experience as a maverick Alaskan politician, ready to charge Washington and clean up corruption, cut out wasteful spending and bring transparency back to our government. Just like she did in Alaska. To be fair, it appears that Palin has been a shrewd manager of the Alaska oil coffers. Whether her methods were above-board, whether her policies fairly represented all the citizens of Alaska, and just what were the costs of these to the citizens of Alaska and the lower 48, are points that continue to be debated. That being said, it would be foolish to not take both her record and her integrity/honesty into account, when considering the economic credentials of the McCain-Palin ticket. Her record on both counts is well-documented:

Washington Post: Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home

Jack Bog’s Blog: Governor Palin, your tax return, please (outlines the tax problems Palin faces as a result of the above-mentioned per-diem payments received for nights spent at home)  

Anchorage Daily News: Palin denies Mat-Su bias in state budget

Daily Kos: Alaskanomics – How Palin’s State Sucks the Rest of the Country Dry

Gov. Sarah Palin’s September 2007 Press Release on the demise of the Bridge to Nowhere

The New York Observer: The Fairy Tale of Palin the Reformer

The Reality-Based Community: Evidence of Consciousness of Guilt

canarypapers: The Sarah Chronicles: A straight-poop compendium of questions & answers on Sarah Palin

LASTLY…. Shall our legal system also show “deference” to Madam Sarah?

Newsweek: Can He Stop Troopergate? A McCain lawyer scrambles to block a Palin ethics inquiry

TEN

John McCain’s economic policies have been shaped by lobbyists: the same lobbyists that are literally writing our laws on Capitol Hill, and the same lobbyists that are literally running McCain’s presidential campaign. Few would argue that the un-due influence of lobbyists on Capitol Hill has come to be a cancer on our politics and our politicians, the malignancy so infesting our economy, that we now find ourselves on the brink of economic collapse. When you think of McCain & lobbyists, think: Enron, home foreclosures, Jack Abramoff, Phil Gramm, Charlie Black, Tom Loeffler, Carlos Bonilla….

Rather than write an overlong exposition on this, it would be more clear-cut to simply link the many articles and op-eds written about the un-due influence of lobbyists on the McCain campaign’s economic policies and, by logical extension, the economic policies of a McCain presidency. 

TPM: John McCain’s Lobbyist Universe

McCainSource: McCain Tapped a Lobbyist to Head His VP Search

McCainSource: McCain Has Had at Least 133 Lobbyists Running His Campaign and Raising Money for Him

McCainSource: John McCain’s Iraq Policy is Good for Lobbyists and Defense Contractors

McCainSource: Lobbyists at the Helm: Bush & McCain Tap Lobbyists to Run the Show

MSNBC: McCain economic policy shaped by lobbyists — Swiss bank paid McCain co-chair to push agenda on U.S. mortgage crisis

Lastly: About those foreign policy credentials, Senator McCain….

Huffington Post: McCain’s Top Foreign Policy Advisor Got Money from Georgia 

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Enough is enough! — Barack Obama, September 2008

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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This has been the worst financial crisis since the great depression, no doubt about it. – Mark Gertler, NYU Economist 

John McCain and the Snake-Oil Express Take Wall Street by Storm

(or, 10 Reasons Why Dr. McCain’s Economical Cures Could Very Well Kill the Patient)

For related reading, check out these links:

NPR: ‘It’s the Economy, Stupid’: Ask the Advisers

Washington Post: McCain Embraces Regulation After Many Years of Opposition

Wall Street Journal: Worst Crisis Since ’30s, with No End Yet in Sight

Financial Times: Modern History’s Greatest Regulatory Failure

Bloomburg McCain’s tax plan would block a democratic Katrina (note: this pro-McCain op-ed doesn’t exactly dispel the critics’ versions of the facts on McCain’s economic platform)

Tax Policy Center (Urban Institute and Brookings Institution): An Updated Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Policies (pdf file)  

Tax Policy Center (Urban Institute and Brookings Institution): overview of the above document from their website, with related topics 

ABC News: Biden: McCain’s Economic stance a ‘political realization, not a policy conversion’

LA Times: John McCain tries to recover from comment on ‘strong’ economy

Economists for Obama: Got Questions on Obama’s stance on particular economic policy issues? The answers are here. If you don’t see your question, just ask, and they’ll find the answer for you.

** (Footnote from Item #2, above) Perhaps this is why Wall Street political donors favor Obama 56%  vs. 44% for McCain — an almost perfect inverse to the 2000 Democratic vs. Republican figures. It took them a few years and a few notable collapses (most recently Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch) but Wall Street seems to be understanding what the economists have been warning: each day spent under Bush-McCain style economics is one day closer to a total collapse of the American economy. It’s doubtful that anyone but McCain, Bush et al will find Alan Greenspan and Phil Gramm on an A-list of economic advisers anytime soon.  For his part, Obama claims an impressive list of economic supporters, including widely respected Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker, considered to be one of our greatest central bankers.