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Think of this as the month when Fannie and Freddie entered everyday speech as something other than friendly names, when Americans realized that WaMu wasn't an over-performing Orca at SeaWorld but a massive failing savings bank, and that Wachovia wasn't a watch brand, but a finance group, as well as the fourth largest bank holding company in the U.S.
And the faster we learned those names, the faster they disappeared into the dustbin of history. First, Bear Stearns hit the skids, then Lehman Brothers vanished into the ether just as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were being absorbed by the U.S. government. Merrill Lynch headed directly down the gullet of Bank of America. Just behind was a desperate American International Group (A.I.G.), the world's largest insurer, in a state of financial collapse, only to be bailed out by the Bush administration. Next, Washington Mutual (or WaMu) fell into the clutches of JP Morgan Chase, and
Free-market extremists brought us this needless economic collapse. Here's a rundown of the mistakes we've made and the reforms we need now.
The current carnage on Wall Street, with dire spillover effects on Main Street, is the result of a failed ideology -- the idea that financial markets could regulate themselves. Serial deregulation fed on itself. Deliberate repeal of regulations became entangled with failure to carry out laws still on the books. Corruption mingled with simple incompetence. And though the ideology was largely Republican, it was abetted by Wall Street Democrats.
By Bob Sommer, Kansas City Star
The year is 2019. It’s Sunday evening. Eighty-eight-year-old Morley Safer’s special guest on “60 Minutes” is an expert on national security, an elder statesman.
The image of former President George W. Bush fills the screen. His hunched shoulders quiver in a chuckle as Morley asks whether he’s finally cleared the last of the brush from his ranch.
Bush’s wartime presidential expertise is needed. War rages from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas, while newly drafted U.S. troops mass along the Canadian border.
Now in her second term, President Sarah Palin never blinked when she stared down the Canadian prime minister, who muttered in French, something about moose poaching.
The Defense Department will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to "engage and inspire" the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government.
The new contracts -- awarded last week to four companies -- will expand and consolidate what the U.S. military calls "information/psychological operations" in Iraq far into the future, even as violence appears to be abating and U.S. troops have begun drawing down.
Blackwater Machine Gun Found in Raid on Iraqi Insurgents
Incident Was Kept Secret and Raises More Questions About the Firm's Iraq Operations
By Brian Ross | ABCNews.com
An M4 machine gun sent to Iraq by the Blackwater private security firm somehow disappeared from the company's storage facility in Baghdad and was later discovered during a US military operation, apparently against suspected insurgents, people familiar with the situation have told ABC News.
The incident, in 2006, has been kept secret until now but it raised more questions about Blackwater's operations in Iraq.
Allegations that Blackwater shipped weapons and silencers to Iraq without proper licensing are already under investigation by a federal grand jury in North Carolina, according to people familiar with the case.
Blackwater says all of its weapons "are shipped in accordance with U.S. export control regulations."
New Hampshire State Representative Betty Hall Sends You an Update
You may remember my efforts to compel the US Congress to consider impeachment. I introduced this past spring a petition HR 24 in the New Hampshire House to Commence Impeachment Proceedings in the United States Congress. I was grateful for your support in that effort. I received thousands of e-mails from all over the country.
The Petition was “tabled” - the speaker of the New Hampshire house followed our national leaders by sweeping accountability under the rug. But in NH, it’s a little harder to avoid the citizenry: any member of the House may move to bring it back to consideration at any time before the end of the legislative session.
HR 24 is still alive, and may (will) be brought up again any session day, if there is one, before the last day of the session. It will have added importance because we are now in the middle of an election.
Does the Bailout Bill Mark the End of America as We Know It?
Richard C. Cook
What seems to be happening is that the Bush administration is engineering a massive raid on the Federal treasury to pay off the people within the financial industry who have been operating the housing scam because the politicians told them to do it. This is hush money.
OCTOBER 1, 2008—Tonight the Senate passed the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill by a vote of 74-25. This follows the rejection of the bill by the House on Monday. In an MSNBC poll, 62 percent of Americans oppose the giveaway, but the lobbyists are doing everything possible to assure the rejection is overturned. According to Bob Borosage, co-director of The Campaign for America’s Future, House leaders “are bringing in the small business lobby and the banking lobby to buy the twelve Republican votes they need.”
The lobbyists and corporate lawyers, the heads of financial firms and the crooks who control Wall Street, all those who spent the last three decades assuring us that government was part of the problem and should get out of the way, are now busy looting the U.S. treasury. They are also working feverishly inside the Democratic and Republican parties to blunt any effective regulatory reform as they pass on their distressed assets to us. The process is stunning in its hubris and mendacity, and two of the most potent enablers of this unprecedented act of corporate welfare are John McCain and Barack Obama.
The federal government, reeling backward from the meltdown of financial markets, is now considering taking responsibility for the bad assets of numerous financial companies. But if that intervention does not include robust new mechanisms of regulation, accountability and control we will see nothing more than a massive taxpayer-funded bailout of stockholders and the financial industry.
Atlanta GA: Say "No" to Paulson's Plunder at "Cash for Trash" Sale at Fed Reserve, Tomorrow, 6 PM - 7:30 PM
Say "No" to Paulson's Plunder at "Cash for Trash" sale at Fed Reserve
October 02, 2008
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
JOIN IN A LIVELY "TRASH FOR CASH" sale in front of the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta help us say "NO BUSH BAILOUT.""
Date: Thursday, October 2, 2008.
Location: Federal Reserve Bank, 1000 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA, 30309).
Time : 6 pm - 7:30 pm.
If you want, bring some garbage / plastic bags with something in them so they look sorta full. We will hand our Wall St. "trash" (junk bonds / hedge funds / derivatives) to a "Federal Reserve officer" (one of us in a suit). Bring your own slogans on signs or here are some suggestions, "Honk if you want trash for cash," "Say NO to Paulson's Plunder," "Bailout Main St, not Wall St." "We don't want Wall Street's trash." Press may attend.
Psst - pass the word! Let's show these folks emough is enough!
Fed Reserve Bank, 1000 P'tree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
Bush Wants To Bankrupt America: There is Method To His Madness
By Sam Hamod | InformationClearingHouse.com | 07/01/03
Some have wondered if GW Bush knows what he's doing with his tax cut that benefits the corporations and the very rich, and cuts away the remaining money of the poor and the middle class. I say yes, he does know what he'd up to, as do his corporate advisors and his neo-con economist friends and theorists, chief among them Grover Norquist. Norquist has been the chief architect behind the dismantling of the American federal financial structure in terms of benefits for the common citizen, but has helped to create the superstructure of tax breaks for the very rich and the corporatocracy that now has a choke-hold on America.
New evidence from former U.S. officials reveals that the George W. Bush administration failed to adopt any plan to block the retreat of Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders from Afghanistan to Pakistan in the first weeks after 9/11.
That failure was directly related to the fact that top administration officials gave priority to planning for war with Iraq over military action against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
As a result, the United States had far too few troops and strategic airlift capacity in the theatre to cover the large number of possible exit routes through the border area when bin Laden escaped in late 2001.
Senate Moves to Pressure House to Agree to Bush's Bailout Plan - It's His Legacy, After All - But Is It Your Final Fleecing?
President Bush's plan to rescue U.S. financial markets is headed for a Senate vote Wednesday night after leaders there agreed to add tax breaks for businesses and the middle class and increase deposit insurance in an attempt to revive the legislation rejected by the House.
The surprise move by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared likely to win a big vote in the Senate that would put pressure on the House to go along and send the measure to the White House.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and his GOP rival, John McCain, planned to fly to Washington for the Senate vote, as did Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Adding a set of popular business tax breaks and legislation to prevent more than 20 million middle-class taxpayers from feeling the bite of the alternative minimum tax promised to win House GOP votes for the plan even as it angered moderate "Blue Dog" Democrats concerned about the tax cuts adding to the deficit.
Neoconservatives plan Project Sarah Palin to shape future American foreign policy
Neoconservatives whose influence had been waning in Washington have hitched their colours to rising star Sarah Palin in a bid to shape US foreign policy for another decade.
By Tim Shipman | TelegraphUK.com
"In choosing Palin, McCain may also have changed the course of history," he said. "Should this ticket win, Palin will eclipse every other Republican as heir apparent to the presidency and will have her own power base, wholly independent of President McCain."
"Our investigation found significant evidence that political partisan considerations were an important factor in the removal of several . . . U.S. attorneys."
An internal Justice Department investigation concluded Monday that political pressure drove the firings of several federal prosecutors in a 2006 purge, but said that the refusal of major players at the White House and the department to cooperate in the year-long inquiry produced significant “gaps” in its understanding of the events.
At the urging of the investigators, who said they did not have enough evidence to justify recommending criminal charges in the case, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey appointed the Acting United States Attorney in Connecticut, Nora Dannehy, to continue the inquiry and determine whether anyone should be prosecuted.
The 356-page report, prepared by the department’s inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility, provides the fullest picture to date of an episode that opened the Bush administration up to charges of politicizing the justice system. The firings of nine federal prosecutors, and the Congressional hearings they generated, ultimately led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last September.
Let's start with the money the Bush administration has already thrown at the war in Iraq. According to the June congressional testimony of William Beach, director of the Center for Data Analysis, the war has cost $646 billion so far. The new defense budget for 2009 tacks on another $68.6 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming year. However, military expert Bill Hartung of the New America Foundation puts a conservative estimate of the costs of a single week of the Iraq War at approximately $3.5 billion (or about $180 billion a year).
U.S. efforts to revive a $700 billion bank bailout bill with some new provisions offered hope for battered markets on Tuesday, and economists warned of a long and deep recession if efforts to resuscitate it fail.
The defeat of the bill on Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives left two likely scenarios -- the plan gets tweaked enough to win passage, or Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke return to a limited tool box and piecemeal approach to dealing with the financial crisis.
A complete rewriting of the bill appears unlikely.
"For the near-term, we're going to get some modification on the Paulson plan and pass it or we're not going to get anything," said Michael Mussa, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.
"The worry is that if we don't pass the Paulson plan, we could have a steep recession that is among the worst we've seen in the post-War era," said Mussa, now a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
Senate Democrats, Republicans Agree on Bailout Vote Tomorrow
By Brian Faler and James Rowley | Bloomberg.com
Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Senate Democrats and Republicans have agreed to hold a vote tomorrow on a $700 billion financial- rescue plan amid evidence voters and lawmakers regretted yesterday's U.S. House vote to kill the bailout.
``This is an important accomplishment and a way forward,'' Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Senators also agreed to include a provision that would raise the limit on federal insurance for bank deposits to $250,000 from the current $100,000, a move demanded by some of the rescue plan's critics.
Click here to find contact information for your Senators.
Call your Representatives and Senators at 800-473-6711 or 202-224-3121 and say No Bailout!
MORE VIDEOS BELOW
Grand Theft America
By Stephen Lendman
The crime of the century. The greatest one ever. Author Danny Schechter calls it "Plunder." The title of his important new book on the subprime and overall financial crisis. Economist Michael Hudson and others refer to a kleptocracy. A Ponzi scheme writ large. Maybe an out-of-control Andromeda Strain. An economic one. Deadly. Unrecallable. Science fiction now real life. Potentially catastrophic. World governments trying to contain it. Trying everything but not sure what can work. Maybe only able to paper it over for short-term relief. Buy time but in the end vindicate the maxim that things that can't go on forever, won't.
The world as we know it is changing. Industrial capitalism. The entire global economic system. Interconnected. What affects one nation touches others. If the troubled country is America it reaches everywhere, and if the crisis is great enough, the disease may be fatal and human wreckage catastrophic. Precisely the current dilemma that world leaders and financial experts are scrambling to figure out. Desperate to contain, and not sure what, if anything, can work. How did this happen and why?
A Memo Found in the Street: Uncle Sam the Enabler
By Barry L. Ritzholtz | Barron's Online.com
Former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales will not be referred to a federal grand jury for his role in the 2006 firings of nine U.S. attorneys, but a long-awaited report to be released today will recommend that a prosecutor continue to probe the involvement of lawmakers and White House officials in the episode, according to two people familiar with the case.
You can expect to see that one word, FAIL, at lots of street protests.
That's the second big thing bubbling up online. Activists spread the word of a big rally to be staged near Wall Street last Thursday at 5pm. One email that was forwarded to me came from a group called "Picture the Homeless":
When poor and homeless people ask the government for help, they're told that low-income housing and living wage jobs are not a government priority because this country is built on "personal responsibility" and people need to "make better decisions."
When giant banking corporations are on the brink of total collapse because they have made a systematic series of bad business decisions - because they can - the government gives them a trillion dollars. The Administration even wants to include multi-million dollar "golden parachutes" for the corporate executives who MADE those bad decisions.
Click here to watch a half-hour video on how the US almost went fascist in the Great Depression.
In 1934, Marine Major General Smedley Butler told Congress, according to Wikipedia, that a group of wealthy industrialists had plotted a military coup known as the Business Plot to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In a 1995 History Today article Clayton Cramer argued that the devastation of the Great Depression had caused many Americans to question the foundations of liberal democracy. "Many traditionalists, here and in Europe, toyed with the ideas of Fascism and National Socialism; many liberals dallied with Socialism and Communism." Cramer argues that this explains why some American business leaders viewed fascism as a viable system to both preserve their interests and end the economic woes of the Depression.
Prescott Bush is George Bush's grandfather. Wikipedia continues:
On July 23, 2007, the BBC Radio 4 series Document reported on the alleged Business Plot and the archives from the McCormack-Dickstein Committee hearings. The program mentioned Bush's directorship of the Hamburg-America Line, a company that the committee investigated for Nazi propaganda activities, and the alleged 1933 attempt, supposedly
Perhaps this rout, too, will stop at the gates of Rome
Avner Mandelman | GlobeandMail.com
After Hannibal had crossed the Alps and beaten the Roman army twice, the alarmed Roman Senate spent the nation's treasure and sent eight legions against the invader. Up to then, Rome had rarely thrown more than two legions into battle. But when the state was in danger, there was no limit to what the authorities would do.
A Shattering Moment in America's Fall From Power
The global financial crisis will see the US falter in the same way the Soviet Union did when the Berlin Wall came down.
The era of American dominance is over
by John Gray | GuardianUK
Our gaze might be on the markets melting down, but the upheaval we are experiencing is more than a financial crisis, however large. Here is a historic geopolitical shift, in which the balance of power in the world is being altered irrevocably. The era of American global leadership, reaching back to the Second World War, is over.
What's Good for Wall Street Is Only Good For Wall Street
By David A. Love, JD | BlackCommentator.com
One trillion dollars. Now that’s some money. When all is said and done, that is roughly the amount it will take to save that shining beacon for all the world to follow, American predatory capitalism.
What could $1 trillion buy you? Well, you could buy a failed war in Iraq for about that much. In contrast, it would cost $55 billion a year to wipe out child poverty in the U.S. And not doing anything about child poverty costs us $500 billion a year.
Bailout Would Come In Stages That Congress Could Halt
by Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy.com
Congress and the Bush administration reached tentative agreement early Sunday on a sweeping $700 billion rescue plan to take bad assets off the books of banks and other financial firms. The deal is expected to be put on paper in the course of the day and sent to legislators for debate and a vote later in the week.
The two sides were racing a self-imposed deadline to get a deal by 6 p.m. Eastern time before Asian financial markets opened for business. A deal was announced in the wee hours by tired, puffy-eyed lawmakers that had been working almost around the clock to reach accord.
As lawmakers neared the tentative deal, staff members had their phones confiscated to prevent leaks in what had become a heavily politicized negotiation. Lawmakers pledged to post a copy of the deal online later Sunday for an angry American public to take a look at the compromise ahead of a congressional vote.
A tentative deal had been announced last Thursday, only to have House Republicans balk. The new compromise gives Democrats more restrictions on the pay of Wall Street execs and a taxpayer stake if the program actually makes money. Republicans tacked on a parallel insurance plan that can work as an alternative to taxpayer funding and killed provisions that would have let federal judges modify distressed mortgages.