Posted in post

Fascinating Discussion on Bill Moyers’s Journal

A quote from the discussion:

Well, I’ve been troubled by the course of U.S. foreign policy for a long, long time. And I wrote the book in order to sort out my own thinking about where our basic problems lay. And I really reached the conclusion that our biggest problems are within.

I think there’s a tendency on the part of policy makers and probably a tendency on the part of many Americans to think that the problems we face are problems that are out there somewhere, beyond our borders. And that if we can fix those problems, then we’ll be able to continue the American way of life as it has long existed. I think it’s fundamentally wrong. Our major problems are at home.

This is not an election story. It’s a “let’s face reality” story – click here to go to the video or podcast – the video is in two parts. This discussion will make you pause and reassess what’s important – looking at yourself in the mirror may be a little more difficult – I urge you to take time to sit down, with no interruptions, and watch or listen to this entire discussion – it’s well worth it

Posted in post

Thoughts on the Debates

Okay, I’ve talked some about how we needed to have the debate this evening between McCain and Obama.

Although, we should get some sense of the candidates positions on certain issues from tonight’s festivities, it’s a far cry from the kind of debate it should be.

An excerpt from OpenDebate.org:

The Presidential debates — the single most important electoral event in the process of selecting a President — should provide voters with an opportunity to see the popular candidates discussing important issues in an unscripted manner. But the Presidential debates fail to do so, because the major party candidates secretly control them.

Presidential debates were run by the civic-minded and non-partisan League of Women Voters until 1988 [read their letter withdrawing sponsorship], when the national Republican and Democratic parties seized control of the debates by establishing the bi-partisan, corporate-sponsored Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Posing as a nonpartisan institution committed to voter education, the CPD has continually and deceptively run the debates in the interest of the national Republican and Democratic parties, not the American people.

Every four years, negotiators for the Republican and Democratic nominees secretly draft debate contracts called Memoranda of Understanding [view the 2004 version] that dictate precisely how the debates will be structured; co-chaired by the former heads of the Republican and Democratic parties, the CPD obediently implements the contracts, shielding the major party candidates from public criticism.

Such deceptive major party control severely harms our democracy. Candidates that voters want to see are often excluded; issues the American people want to hear about are often ignored; the debates have been turned into a series of glorified bipartisan news conferences, in which the candidates exchange memorized soundbites; and debate viewership has generally dropped, with twenty-five million fewer people watching the 2000 presidential debates than watching the 1992 presidential debates. Walter Cronkite called CPD-sponsored presidential debates an “unconscionable fraud.”

Open Debates has helped establish a truly nonpartisan Citizens’ Debate Commission comprised of national civic leaders to sponsor presidential debates that are rigorous, fair, and inclusive of important issues and popular candidates. The higher values of democracy and voter education will be restored to the presidential debates by the Citizens’ Debate Commission.

Posted in post

Embarrassing…

Have you watched any of the Sarah Palin interview with Katie Couric? I’ve watched some excerpts, although maybe today or tomorrow I can watch it in its entirety.

I was embarrassed during parts of the interview – embarrassed I guess for Palin – when I get a good link to the interview I’ll post it here. Please take some time to watch – I think you’ll want to ask yourself, “do I want this person a heartbeat away from the presidency?” This interview isn’t funny – it’s kinda scary.

Posted in post

A Bailout We Don’t Need – by James K. Galbraith

From the Washingon Post:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Now that all five big investment banks — Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — have disappeared or morphed into regular banks, a question arises.

Is this bailout still necessary?

The point of the bailout is to buy assets that are illiquid but not worthless. But regular banks hold assets like that all the time. They’re called “loans.”

With banks, runs occur only when depositors panic, because they fear the loan book is bad. Deposit insurance takes care of that. So why not eliminate the pointless $100,000 cap on federal deposit insurance and go take inventory? If a bank is solvent, money market funds would flow in, eliminating the need to insure those separately. If it isn’t, the FDIC has the bridge bank facility to take care of that.

Next, put half a trillion dollars into the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. fund — a cosmetic gesture — and as much money into that agency and the FBI as is needed for examiners, auditors and investigators. Keep $200 billion or more in reserve, so the Treasury can recapitalize banks by buying preferred shares if necessary — as Warren Buffett did this week with Goldman Sachs. Review the situation in three months, when Congress comes back. Hedge funds should be left on their own. You can’t save everyone, and those investors aren’t poor.

With this solution, the systemic financial threat should go away. Does that mean the economy would quickly recover? No. Sadly, it does not. Two vast economic problems will confront the next president immediately. First, the underlying housing crisis: There are too many houses out there, too many vacant or unsold, too many homeowners underwater. Credit will not start to flow, as some suggest, simply because the crisis is contained. There have to be borrowers, and there has to be collateral. There won’t be enough.

In Texas, recovery from the 1980s oil bust took seven years and the pull of strong national economic growth. The present slump is national, and it can’t be cured that way. But it could be resolved in three years, rather than 10, by a new Home Owners Loan Corp., which would rewrite mortgages, manage rental conversions and decide when vacant, degraded properties should be demolished. Set it up like a draft board in each community, under federal guidelines, and get to work.

The second great crisis is in state and local government. Just Tuesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced $1.5 billion in public spending cuts. The scenario is playing out everywhere: Schools, fire departments, police stations, parks, libraries and water projects are getting the ax, while essential maintenance gets deferred and important capital projects don’t get built. This is pernicious when unemployment is rising and when we have all the real resources we need to preserve services and expand public investment. It’s also unnecessary.

What to do? Reenact Richard Nixon’s great idea: federal revenue sharing. States and localities should get the funds to plug their revenue gaps and maintain real public spending, per capita, for the next three to five years. Also, enact the National Infrastructure Bank, making bond revenue available in a revolving fund for capital improvements. There is work to do. There are people to do it. Bring them together. What could be easier or more sensible?

Here’s another problem: the wealth loss to near-retirees and the elderly from a declining stock market as things shake out. How about taking care of this, with rough justice, through a supplement to Social Security? If you need a revenue source, impose a turnover tax on stocks.

Next, let’s think about what the next upswing should try to achieve and how it should be powered. If the 1960s were about raising baby boomers and the ’90s about technology, what should the ’10s and ’20s be about? It’s obvious: energy and climate change. That’s where the present great unmet needs are.

So, let’s use the next few years to plan, mapping out a program of energy conservation, reconstruction and renewable power. Let’s get the public sector and the universities working on it. And let’s prepare the private sector so that when the credit crunch finally ends, we’ll have the firms, the labs, the standards and the talent in place, ready to go.

Some will ask if we can afford it. To see the answer, don’t look at budget projections. Just look at interest rates. Last week, in the panic, the federal government could fund itself, short term, for free. It could have raised money for 30 years and paid less than 4 percent. That’s far less than it cost back in 2000.

No country in this situation is broke, or insolvent, or even in much trouble. For once, Wall Street’s own markets speak the truth. The financially challenged customer isn’t Uncle Sam. He’s up on Wall Street, where deregulation, greed and fraud ran wild.

James K. Galbraith is the author of “The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.”

Posted in post

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

From CNN:

McCain supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham tells CNN the McCain campaign is proposing to the Presidential Debate Commission and the Obama camp that if there’s no bailout deal by Friday, the first presidential debate should take the place of the VP debate, currently scheduled for next Thursday, October 2 in St. Louis.

In this scenario, the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin would be rescheduled for a date yet to be determined, and take place in Oxford, Mississippi, currently slated to be the site of the first presidential faceoff this Friday.

Graham says the McCain camp is well aware of the position of the Obama campaign and the debate commission that the debate should go on as planned — but both he and another senior McCain adviser insist the Republican nominee will not go to the debate Friday if there’s no deal on the bailout.

These are the lengths McCain will go in order to avoid debating Obama and to shield Palin from any substantive, unscripted questioning and answering.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…if you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention!