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

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.


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.

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.”


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!

McCain Wants to Suspend Campaign?

Methinks McCain is playing political games. I just read that McCain wants to suspend campaigning and postpone Friday’s debate so he can focus on the current historic financial crisis. He’s waiting on a response from the Obama camp as to whether they’ll agree. McCain is trying to play the statesman now.

I don’t think the debate should be postponed. Campaigning – yes, debate – no. The first debate on Friday, September 26 is covering the topics of foreign policy and national security – these are McCain’s strongest areas – at least that’s what he’s been saying this election cycle – so, it’s not like he has to cram for the questions.

We have just over one month until the election – I think we can all agree that this is one of the most important elections in our lifetime. Taking a few hours to debate some important issues isn’t going to adversely affect the handling of the financial crisis.

Our country needs this debate, Mr. McCain.

If I was Obama, I would say yes to suspending the campaigning, but NO to postponing the debate.

Bridge to Nowhere…gag…more…

CNN headlines: “Biden, Obama helped keep ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ alive”

Here’s the thing that irritates me about politicians – they don’t get it. All congress people (Representatives and Senators) are always trying to get money for their states – everyone does it – some better than others – if you don’t bring money home to the state, your constituents are asking what you’re doing in Washington.

Here’s my irritation – in an earlier blog I talked about the “bridge to nowhere” – you’ll note that I didn’t question the merits of the bridge, I didn’t question if the money appropriated was too much or not enough…the entire point of my post was that Sarah Palin was lying when she said that she had not supported the bridge. Rightly or wrongly, she had supported it and then lied about it later. That’s the point I’m trying to make – and I wish the candidates would pursue it- they can all throw stones regarding earmarks, pork, graft, etc. Instead of talking about the amount of dollars that might have been spent on the bridge, Joe Biden should have been talking about Palin’s honesty and integrity when answering questions about her past positions.

An Open Letter to Tina Fey

by Suzy Shuster, The Huffington Post

Dear Ms. Fey,

We, the people, need you.

We need you to be Sarah Palin each and every Saturday night, live from New York.

How else to explain the sudden about face of Governor Palin’s popularity in the polls just days after your brilliant spot-on impersonation on one of the highest rated Saturday Night Live’s in the show’s history? The hair, the glasses, all perfect, but truly it was the flat mid-western accent, the lip-lick, and the insipid comments which did seem like they came directly out of Palin’s mouth (“I can see Russia from my house!”) made you question whether it was real or was it Memorex.

Frighteningly, it was too real.

From the Friday before the skit on SNL aired to the following Tuesday, Palin’s approval rating dropped ten points. Coincidence? I think not. After all, people in this country are tending to be more influenced by who or what they see on entertainment television, more so than on broadcast news or in print. Americans tune into Jon Stewart for their political appetites more than ever ( and why not). So when you, Ms. Fey, don your Palin wig, you influence millions of voters more than Charles (“Charlie”) Gibson or Brian Williams, Paul Begala or that anorexic blond McCain spokeswoman ever could.

And I think its your responsibility to do so, or else we face the consequence of a woman in the White House who would strive to take away your daughter Alice’s right to choose along with every other woman’s in this country.

Most of us who read the Post are already scared out of our wits of what this woman could “accomplish,” should she reach the Vice Presidency or beyond. Abortion outlawed even in the case of incest or rape. Global warming research dismissed. Polar bears left unprotected, not to mention moose murder celebrated. But you, Ms. Fey, have the ability, with just a wink and a smirk, to change the minds of millions of casual viewers and even more casual voters, to educate them as to what this woman stands or doesn’t stand for. These viewers don’t react to a radical move like Republican Senator Chuck Hagel coming forth to question Palin’s credentials or credibility, or really care about what political pundits prognosticate on cable news shows. Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, many swing-state voters get their information and cue from you, Ms. Fey, and you need to provide as much of it as one woman possibly can, before the election is upon us and it is too late.

Comedy can cure and comedy can enlighten, but it must be a constant to reach enough ears to change the hearts and minds of this country, Ms. Fey, and not a minute more can afford to be wasted. So smear on your lipstick, get that slightly crazy look on your face, sharpen your No. 2 shotgun and get to work.

When you won your three Emmy awards the other night (congrats on that, by the way) you wondered aloud:

“I want to be done playing this lady Nov. 5. So if anybody can help me be done playing this lady Nov. 5, that would be good for me.”

Well, I think it’s obvious. That person is you.

Save us, Tina Fey. You may be our only hope.