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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 Fear of imaginary bogeymen has been replaced by fear of real bogeymen — those political crooks who have spent the past 8 years not only raping the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but our economy — and,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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Sarah Palin’s Reflection, as Seen from the Abyss

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Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you. — Friedrich Nietzsche

Many of us have been wishing for just a modicum of news coverage on Joe Biden, whose presence on the national stage has been dwarfed to near non-existence by the paparazzi-style coverage of Sarah Palin– our media’s latest flash-in-the-frying-pan darling, who has stepped into the shoes previously occupied by such notables as Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith. 

Be careful what you wish for. Joe Biden finally got some news coverage this past Thursday, as he was “interviewed” by Barbara West, an anchor for Florida station WFTV (see video, below), who regaled Biden with a series of classic “when did you stop beating your wife” questions on Marxism. 

This interview needs to be preserved in the annals of American history, so that future generations can see, firsthand, how fearmongering and demagoguery work. For historical perspective on how this has played out in America over the past 300+ years, read on. Otherwise, just vote. For cripe’s sakes, vote — and urge everyone you know to vote. And if, by chance, on November 4th, you find you’ve been caged or purged or challenged – call Election Protection at 1-(866) OURVOTE (1-866-687-8683). Click here for more info on protecting yourself from voter fraud.

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 316 YEARS?

From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials. Then, almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended. — “An Account of Events in Salem,” from the University of Missouri — Kansas City website

As years passed, apologies were offered, and restitution was made to the victims’ families. Historians and sociologists have examined this most complex episode in our history so that we may understand the issues of that time and apply our understanding to our own society. The parallels between the Salem witch trials and more modern examples of “witch hunting” like the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s, are remarkable. — from the Salem Witch Museum website

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 HAS IT BEEN ONLY 60 YEARS?

Below is a video with clips of various anti-communist footage, produced by the U.S. government during the McCarthy era, and designed to red-scare the bejeebers out of Americans. The Sarah Palin speech (see video at end of post) is a modern version of the same, just not yet whipped into the full frenzy that this sort of fearmongering ever-threatens to incite.  

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 7 YEARS?

In the wake of 9-11, the Bush Administration exploited our justifiable fear of terrorists to both squelch American dissent over their agenda, and to strong-arm Congress into approving all the legislation they enacted (e.g. the Patriot Act, FISA, extraordinary rendition and related torture laws), all of which were designed to sidestep both the spirit and letter of Constitutional law. Over the past 7 years this legislation has, word by word, dismantled our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents have yet to be restored to the former integrity they held for over two centuries. While these fundamental changes to our democracy affect each and every American, we’ve fortunately been spared, thus far, some of the worst outcomes potential to this legislation, even as this potential will continue to loom over us until our Constitution and Bill of Rights are restored to their pre-Bush Administration integrity. We’ve been fortunate. Some, such as Maher Arar have not been so fortunate: 

For more on this case, see the full Congressional hearing (1 hour, 28 minutes) on this case, held in October 2007, here, which includes Maher Arar’s testimony. Also, see footage here (7 minutes) from a related hearing, in which an outraged Sen. Patrick Leahy demands answers from Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales regarding the extraordinary rendition and torture-outsourcing in the Maher Arar case. 

  

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 1 DAY?

In the above video, Sarah Palin resurrects the ghosts of Salem and the McCarthy era, as she weaves a scary tale of lies to suggest that Obama’s tax plan will turn American into a nightmare communist state. Inherent to this accusation is a promise to carry the torch of the Bush-Cheney Administration’s legacy of fearmongering, persecution and lawlessness.  History bears this out: certain people in America live in a constant state of fear. All they need is someone to take the stage and tell them, exactly, what it is they’re so afraid of: Witches? Socialists? Blacks? Muslims? Communists? The McCain Palin campaign is telling them exactly what they want to hear. 

dem·a·gogue: One who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots — H.L. Mencken

  

WILL IT BE ONLY 9 DAYS?

Vote on November 4th. And do everything in your power to make sure that vote isn’t stolen from you. So much depends on this, with such a tremendous degree of voter fraud taking place by both Republicans and the Christian right. The extent of this fraud can only be known after the fact, when it’s too late to do anything about it.