The Blue Raccoon

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wall Street Mushroom Cloud
Overshadows other negative advances

Wall Street Rap: From Rob Roberts.

Billion-eyed audience, the present predicament needs to come to a crashing halt. The bailout bill before the stymied and dazzled Congress doesn't address the foreclosure crisis and gives a blank check of almost a trillion to Hank Paulson who has nothing but a list of failures behind him: rescue AIG, save my buddies on Wall Street, on and on.

Do nothing, yes, some banks will fail. But they probably need to. That's why FDIC is there. Right? Excuse my financial ignorance, billion-eyed audience; however, the thing is, just because we can watch the digital numbers of the market plummet like some impossible elevator, and it's dramatic and causes teevee hosts to sound a little frightened, that's not the whole story.

The bond market is the big problem, and that's, as a trader acquaintance of mine described to me, is in the shitter. "It's a mess," he said. "It's going to take...a long time to clean it up." Which means there will be credit crunch; banks are shut up like hurt faces right now around the world. Ireland nationalized its banks almost overnight. Germany has nationalized three of its banks. This means money going to small businesses is on the verge of drying up.

Why you can't restructure the mortgages, and have that part of this enormous plan, I don't know. But just because the arrow points up one day, and down the next, doesn't mean we're OK. No. We're not. Another Great Depression is not likely -- we're a richer society now. But things are going to get tougher -- layoffs will increase, and where those people will get assistance, or for how long, that's going to strain the system even more.

So this cockamamie notion that we won't be able to go tour ATMs next week is a scare tactic. People getting kicked out of their houses is a major problem, because of the real estate taxes needed by municipalities. These go, the cities go, then there'll just be more panic. In fact, what we get for our lousy trillion dollars is a tourniquet on a wound that may staunch the trauma until the next President takes office -- the poor SOB, whoever that is.

And if things are as bad as Congress was saying, why take off for the Jewish holidays? That was an excuse to pull the plug on an overheated situation and to allow deals to get made away from staring news cameras.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich yesterday on Democracy Now!:

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: This is a copy of the bill which will provide for a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. It has provisions in it where it talks about helping homeowners, but when you read the fine print, you see it has language like “may” instead of “shall” and “encouraging” instead of “mandating” help for the millions of homeowners who are worried right now about whether they’re going to lose their home. There’s no help for them in this.

So what we have here is a rescue plan that essentially gives all the speculators a bailout and puts the bad debts in the custody of the government. The president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank has said that this plan could create a fiscal chasm, says that the problem isn’t tight monetary policy, it’s the reckless behavior of some of these investors who have now found themselves in a position where a government bailout is going to help reward their bad behavior.

AMY GOODMAN: Is it any better than when it was first introduced by the Treasury Secretary, by Henry Paulson?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, you know, that implies that you would accept the underlying premise. I reject the underlying premise that we needed this bill. And as a matter of fact, that we’re putting this up before an adjournment in an election season shows that Congress is being put under extraordinary pressure to bail out Wall Street. We haven’t looked at any alternatives, Amy. This is—you know, it isn’t as though, if you had a liquidity crisis, that—you know, a real one—that you’d start to look at all the alternatives. We haven’t done that. We have a bill here, a bill of more than a hundred pages, that we haven’t had a single hearing on the bill, you know—on the concept, yes, on what Paulson and Bernanke asked for initially. But, you know, we need to have hearings on this. There’s 400 economists and three Nobel Prize-winning economists who have said, “Whoa, wait a minute! What are you doing? Why are you rushing this?” You know, this thing doesn’t smell right, frankly.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think has to happen right now?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, you know, Congress better get ready with a plan B. If this thing goes down, we need to find a way to help Wall Street pay for its own problems. You can do that with a 20—.25 percent stock transfer tax, cancellation of dividends. You know, make the shareholders and the investors have to pay for the funny business that was going on on Wall Street. Why make the taxpayers pay? You know, the very underlying idea of this needs to be challenged, and frankly, there hasn’t been enough of that going on.

Well, what we have is a transfer of wealth, actually. It’s a continuation of a transfer of wealth. This whole government has become nothing more than a big machine that transfers the wealth upwards with our tax policies, our energy policies, with this fiscal policies, with the war. All the wealth of the country goes from the pockets of the people into the hands of a few. This is a very dangerous moment. You know, it’s the biggest amount of injection of capital by the government in a single time since the New Deal. And frankly, there is no trickle down here. There’s just rewarding bad behavior.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

While we weren't looking, really, Congress passed a massive bailout bill for the automotive industry just a few days ago -- to the tune of $35 billion to Detroit auto makers. The undertaking is bigger than the controversial 1980 Chrysler bailout, undergirds private companies, and further fuses private enterprise with the government. Worse, this isn't an "all the sudden" notion, but has been on the drawing board for 18 months.

This is an excerpt from that noted left-wing pinko newsweekly, US News & World Report:

"Exact details will come later, but the loans would probably amount to at least $5 billion for each of the Detroit 3, plus smaller amounts for suppliers. That would allow them to borrow money at interest rates as low as 4 percent—a steep discount compared with the double-digit rates they're paying now. Over several years, the automakers could save hundreds of millions in financing costs. Plus, they'll have five years before they have to start repaying the loans.

It might seem like a stealth rescue, but the plan has been in the works for at least 18 months. Approval for the loans was first included in last year's Energy Independence Act. Earlier this year, the automakers sought a first installment of loans totaling about $6 billion. But the nationwide credit crunch severely crimped their ability to borrow, and besides, next to bailouts like $200 billion for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a mere $6 billion started to seem unduly modest. So Detroit raised the ante to $25 billion, the most allowed under current law."

You can read the whole pathetic thing here.

Papers? May I see your papers?

Attorney General Mukasey is behind legislation that makes "usual suspects" of us all.

From Wired:

"U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Saturday denied that the Bush administration -- in conjunction with the nation's telecommunication companies -- devised a "dragnet" electronic surveillance program that funneled Americans' communications to the National Security Agency without court warrants.

But the attorney general also insisted that defending his claim in court would harm national security.

"Specific information demonstrating that the alleged dragnet has not occurred cannot be disclosed on the public record without causing exceptional harm to national security," Mukasey wrote in a federal court filing in San Francisco. "However, because there was no such alleged content-dragnet, no provider participated in that alleged activity."

It was the first time Mukasey, as the nation's top law enforcement official, provided an emphatic and wholesale written courthouse denial of allegations contained in lawsuits accusing the Bush administration of widescale domestic spying in the years following the 2001 terror attacks. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, issued a similar courthouse denial in a 2007 court document (.pdf).

Despite Mukasey's denial, contained in a court filing (.pdf) made public Saturday, Mukasey asked a federal judge to grant immunity to the nation's telecommunications companies accused of assisting with the alleged surveillance dragnet. It is the first time the government has invoked the immunity legislation (.pdf) Congress approved July 9, which was signed by President Bush the next day."

Following this, further description from the American Civil Liberties Union, which, I know, members of the billion-eyed audience consider traitorous fifth columnists. Tough.

der new FBI guidelines proposed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey, all the FBI has to do to put anybody they want under prolonged physical surveillance is assert an “authorized purpose” such as detecting or preventing crime or protecting “national security."

These kinds of Bush/Cheney/Gonzales/Mukasey “just trust us” policies have been eroding our rights for the past eight years. After illegal spying and top-level torture policies coming from the White House, this is absurd. Enough is enough!

These new guidelines would allow the FBI to interview you, your friends and family under a false pretext. The FBI could recruit secret informants, and have them infiltrate peaceful protest groups. And the FBI to could initiate investigations based on little more than race, ethnicity or religion.

The FBI could also search commercial databases for personal details about your life with no real reason.

And all of this would be allowed without an ounce of evidence that you or anyone else has done anything wrong.

These guidelines represent one step closer to a police state. And the worst part is that there is good reason to believe the FBI has been violating its internal guidelines all along.

Fortunately, there is something we can do about this before the new regulations are implemented.

Demand that the Inspector General at the Department of Justice launch an investigation to determine if the FBI has been violating its own guidelines. The Inspector General’s office at the Department of Justice has proven to be an unbiased, internal watchdog that has consistently exposed wrongdoing. We need to urge the IG to do it again. Take action now at:

Shiver Me Timbers!

And then there's Sudanese pirates who've hijacked a freighter with 33 Russian tanks aboard. And the thing is, while extreme, this isn't unusual for those waters.

A U.S. destroyer and several other warships have been dispatched to deal with this. French commandos have learned one way to interrupt the pirates is to shoot out the outboard motors of their boats from helicopters.

This'll be a movie, before too long.

You see stuff like this, and start thinking about the availability of fissile material...and..well.

Read about it here. And here.

This Music Is In My Head

I've been hearing this tune, Serious And Purposeful String Mood by Peter Howard Morris on the public service advert "To Our Leaders" where it is used with arresting affect paired with dramatic images of alternative energy and the glum, intense faces of people who ostensibly are saying: get us off the foreign oil.

You can hear the whole song on the De Wolfe site, Track 8, here.

In my fantasy, this music is the featured music bed for the documentary "2008" that covers the span from January to January; we got floods, fires, famines, wars, this Presidential race with the potential for either an historic victory or a crippling loss, economic shudders, the Olympics, all this, and yes, pirates.

This doco would not be narrated but use news and found footage, YouTube, private material, and some damn fast and acute editing to take us through the rollercoaster ride this has been -- this is supposing that the species is going to survive past Janaury 2009.

I was listening to this music while watching the market plummet yesterday and it just seemed appropriate.

Hope all of you are well.

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