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September 23, 2008

$700 Billion: Bail-out, Evasion or Trickery?

  Seven hundred billion dollars – that’s ‘11’ zeros.  It’s almost incomprehensible to me.  I had to write it out – $700,000,000,000. This is the amount of money George Dubya wants us to entrust Henry Paulson with.

This so called “bailout” of America’s failed financial institutions seems to me to be the greatest heist in America ever; this will be the greatest highway robbery in broad daylight, in the middle of day with everyone watching with our eyes wide open.

How can anyone with any common sense give $700,000,000,000 of American citizens’ money; of middle class American’s money to ONE person to ‘handle’ with virtually no oversight?

According to a draft of the bailout proposal, all decisions by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, “are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” What the heck!!!

I don’t care if anyone tells me that I have to trust the ‘experts’.  This just doesn’t sound right to me.  Not at all.  I don’t trust this solution. Not me, not today, not tomorrow. No way.

One thing that bothers me is that the very executives who destroyed their companies are going to get to put a share of hundreds of billions in their ‘pockets’. Plus they will get this money practically hassle free. Less hassle than it would take for you or me to get an unemployment check after working years and making a contribution to the system. These CEOs get to evade their responsibilities. That just doesn’t sit right with me.  Not at all.

I am one of those people who believe that this ‘bailout’ has to be inspected and dissected with a fine tooth comb with little or no room no trickery and thievery. There is just way too much of your dollars and my dollars at stake. Accountability and oversight has got to be paramount!  The current proposal only requires one oversight report to Congress every 6 months. What kind of crap is that?  This has to be the worst business decision ever…ever!

Dubya Bush is saying, just give us the money and trust us, we’ll handle it. Yeah, right, just like we trusted him with the WMD and the Iraq war. To quote George W. Bush, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”  You get the idea, right?

The Bush administration is urging Congress to quickly stabilize the financial system by temporarily transferring the bad debts of American financial institutions to taxpayers. The proposed plan would give the Treasury Secretary Paulson sole power to manage the funds and the buying and reselling of mortgage debt. “This is something that has to work. I very much believe it will work”, said Paulson.

So we should trust Paulson (who said 2 weeks ago that the economy was strong!) because he simply believes it will work?!  Where are the spreadsheets, economic forecasts, market analyses and scientific formulas?  I want to see credible reports and projections!  I want more than ‘I believe’ from Paulson.

I believe that I am going to come up with one of the most innovative business idea ever and become a billionaire overnight – that’s what I believe.  Will a bank give me a loan based on what I believe???  I think not!

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September 22, 2008

First Presidential Debate – (9pm EST/CNN) Friday, September 26: What Obama Needs to Do in the Debates

 Unfortunately a four-point lead means little at this point in the game especially for a black candidate who needs to be up by 10 points in battleground states to be safe, the game isn’t over yet. 

 

The next potential game-changer is his first debate with John McCain, and what he needs to do in the debates is precisely what he has not done thus far in that format, and what no Democrat other than Bill Clinton has done effectively in decades: to connect with voters in a way that makes them feel like they know and share his values, feel confident that he will keep them and their families safe, and will do right by people like them.

How does he do that? By following some basic principles, many of which Democrats would do well to follow in every debate at every level of government:

1. Think of your answers as sandwiches, with emotionally evocative and values-driven language at the beginning and end and with the “meat” in the middle. Emotionally evocative opening and closing statements serve three functions: they draw voters’ attention (one of the major function of emotions from an evolutionary standpoint), they signal voters what you are passionate about, and they provide the sound bites that will be replayed over and over on television. The emotional “bread and butter” at the beginning and end can elicit or address voters’ anger, hope, concerns, sense of patriotism, faith, or whatever informs your position and moves voters, or it can be a story from your own life or the lives you’ve encountered on the campaign trail. That is the bread and butter of what voters will remember. Follow it with the “meat”: first, how we got here (indicting the GOP for what it has done and making the causal link to the pain people are experiencing and our moral standing in the world), and second, a very brief bulleted description of what you plan to do (no more than three points, which is the most voters will remember). For example, on health care, start with something like, “I believe in a family doctor for every family. Right now, 50 million working Americans and their families can’t take their kids to the doctor, and the rest of us are watching our co-pays shoot through the roof and our security disappear as insurance companies are raking in record profits.” Then compare McCain’s “you’re on your own, pal” plan that would knock 150 million people off their employer-provided insurance (which would scare the hell out of most voters if they only knew about it — and for good reason) with your own, emphasizing the most central points of your plan: if you’re happy with your doctor or health plan, you will be able to stay with what you have; if you’re not, you’ll have choices, including not only an array of private plans that will have to compete for your dollar but the same plan members of Congress get. End with something that again inspires emotion, “If that plan is good enough for people like me in the Senate, its good enough for the people who pay my salary — the American taxpayer.”

2. Clearly enunciate your principles in virtually every response. Why do you take the position you do, and how does that principle reflect mainstream American values? Get to the specifics after you’ve established the principle, because it cues voters that you’re a person of conviction. The usual Democratic statements such as “I’m for the Second Amendment but for limited regulation of x,y,z” is not a principle, any more than was Al Gore’s debate response in 2004, that he supported regulation of new handguns but not old ones. (What’s the principle? That old guns are rusty? Voters saw through it and thought he wanted to support gun control but didn’t want to say it.) Here’s a principle, and one that distinguishes him clearly from McCain and the GOP: “My basic principle on guns is this: I believe in the rights of law-abiding Americans. That’s why I support the rights of law-abiding Americans to own firearms to hunt and protect their families, and why I support the rights of parents to send their kids to school in the morning and know they’ll come home safely.” That sets the framework for a principled position; for example, against assault weapons (e.g., “If you’re hunting with an M-16, you’re not bringing that meat home for dinner”).

3. Look at the audience and know where the camera is at all times. In his Saddleback performance, Obama split his eye contact between his interviewer, Rick Warren, and his shoelaces. He rarely turned to the camera and his broader television audience. Eye contact and body posture are crucial nonverbal cues in primates including humans, and voters unconsciously process those cues about dominance, sincerity, and so forth. Downcast eyes readily suggest shame, low status, or evasiveness. McCain had been coached by a good media coach to respond to his interview with direct eye contact, often using his name, and then to pivot away toward the audience within one to two seconds. Democrats routinely fail to make use of people who can help them enunciate their positions with strength, conviction, and humor.

4. Avoid dispassionate, meandering, intellectualized answers. Nuance and emotional appeal are not mutually exclusive. Sure, it’s harder to enunciate a principle that recognizes ambiguity than one that emanates from a Manichean worldview of the good guys vs. the bad guys. But people are often relieved when someone speaks to their ambivalence. It isn’t hard to say that business is the engine of our prosperity but that leadership is about keeping that engine on the right track. Nor is it hard to say what most people feel in their gut, that government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing one person to live by another person’s faith, which is why Sarah Palin has no right to plan our families for us, but that you ought to have a very good reason (e.g., the mother’s life or health is seriously in danger) to abort a late-term fetus.

5. Inspire and indict. As I argued in The Political Brain, and in multiple posts here, you can’t win a campaign with one story (about why you should be elected), and no one has ever won the presidency by saying only nice things about himself and his opponent. You have to control the dominant story of who you are (and answer attacks on that story directly and immediately) and the story of who your opponent is and why he’s not the right person for the job or the times.

6. Don’t run from any issue. State your principles clearly and with conviction, and if you worry that the public isn’t with you, turn that into a virtue (by making it a mark of genuineness and courage). The failure to state a clear position on hot-button issues has been a standard Democratic error for decades. Republicans never make this mistake. They’ve been running on a position on abortion that’s at 30% in the polls for years–that life begins at conception, and there’s no room for compromise–and this year they’ve even taken the more extreme position that every rapist has the right to choose the mother of his child. If Democrats don’t run on abortion and contraception this year, when Republicans have governed or threaten to govern with positions so far to the right that you can’t find them on a map of America (e.g., forcing teenagers to have their rapists’ babies, perpetuating the cycle of poverty by making contraceptives unavailable to poor women, teaching only abstinence when it’s nearly impossible to name a Republican who ever practiced it–they deserve another 3 Alitos and a Scalia for good measure.

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September 20, 2008

Vice Presidential Debate Shenanigans – Thursday, October 2 at 9pm EST

 The McCain campaign has insisted that the Thursday, October 2 debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees. With this format there will be much less occasion for impromptu direct exchanges between Palin and Biden.

 McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

The bickering and power struggle was chiefly between the McCain-Palin camp and the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates which is sponsoring the forums.

Commission members wanted a relaxed format that included time for follow-up questioning and challenges between the vice-presidential candidates. Last week, the Commission rejected a proposal from advisers to Palin and McCain for few if any free flowing or flexible interactions. Advisers to Biden say they were comfortable with either format.

 A commission member said that the new agreement on the vice-presidential debate was reached late morning Saturday. It calls for shorter blocks of candidate statements and open discussion than at the presidential debates.

Both campaigns see the four debates as pivotal moments in a presidential race that is not only extraordinarily close but also drawing intense interest from voters; roughly 40 million viewers watched the major speeches at the two parties’ conventions.

 While the debates between presidential nominees are traditionally the main events in the fall election season, the public interest in Palin has proved extraordinary, and a large audience is expected for her debate debut.

The negotiations for the three 90-minute debates between Obama and McCain were largely free of any power struggle. The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates which begin this Friday, September 26. Teams Obama and McCain agreed to one substantive change to the format originally proposed by the debate commission, giving them two minutes apiece to make a statement at the beginning of each segment on a new topic.

Schedule of debates:

Friday, September 26, 2008: Presidential debate with foreign policy focus, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

 Thursday, October 2, 2008: Vice Presidential debate, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

 Tuesday, October 7, 2008: Presidential debate in a town hall format, Belmont University, Nashville, TN

 Wednesday, October 15, 2008: Presidential debate with domestic policy focus, Hofstra University, Hempstead (L.I.), NY

 

 

 

September 17, 2008

Economy – Washington Mutual To Be Auctioned? Is Your Money Safe?

 Washington Mutual, the struggling savings and loan, has been working on several efforts to save itself, including a potential sale.

Among the potential bidders that Goldman has talked to are Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC. But no buyers may materialize. That could force the government to place Washington Mutual into conservatorship, like IndyMac, or find a bridge-bank solution, which was extended to thrifts in the new housing regulations.

Citigroup is also considering an offer, but would likely be able to buy Washington Mutual only if it emerged from a receivership, according to a person close to the situation. JPMorgan is maintaining its posture that it will not bid unless it receives government support.

The announcement comes as the bank, which has suffered badly from losses on mortgages it had made, continues to stumble. Shares in Washington Mutual fell nearly 10 percent on Wednesday to $2.09; they have plunged 94 percent over the last 12 months. This week alone, investors have been frightened by Standard & Poor’s cutting of the bank’s debt rating to junk.

TPG, the private equity firm that led a $7 billion cash injection into Washington Mutual in April, said Wednesday afternoon that it would waive its right to be compensated if the bank sold more shares to raise capital. “Our goal is to maximize the bank’s flexibility in this difficult market environment,” TPG said in a statement.

While the bank has a strong deposit base, the uncertainty of the markets and the increasingly poor housing market have increased concerns about Washington Mutual’s outlook.

Since the FDIC doesn’t release the names of banks that are in trouble, but you can check the health of your own bank. Check out bankrate.com. This site will have a safe & sound rating system that can help you get a picture of your bank’s health.

If you want more detailed information about your bank’s financials, you can go to ambest.com.

Some signs to look for:

Pay attention to massive job layoffs or cutback in services at your bank.

1.    If your bank doesn’t accept new loan submissions that’s a HUGE red flag.

2.    If you start to see generous CD yields advertised – that could be a sign that the bank is in trouble so it’s trying to entice people to keep their money at the bank and get new deposits. 

Are your deposits insured?  Find out by going to: http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/index.html

 

September 14, 2008

Wow! Alaska Women Reject Palin Rally Is HUGE! Where Was The MSM Coverage?

Yes.  The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage!  So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. 

Feel free to spread the pictures around (links are appreciated) to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans.  The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say.

Go to Mudflats for the entire story and pictures:

http://mudflats.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/alaska-women-reject-palin-rally-is-huge/

September 8, 2008

57 Days to Election – What YOU Can Do

 The RNC so far has NOT talked about issues that Americans want to talk about that are important to us: health care, education, finance, energy solutions, etc.  They don’t have a plan and are not interested in any plan other than continuing George W. Bush’s FAILED plans of the last 8 years – and you KNOW where that has gotten us.

Even if your income increased, are you better today than you were 8 years ago?  Do you have more money saved? Is your 401K account growing? Did you loose your job? Do you have good health care? Is your child’s school operating effectively – do they have enough books and supplies?

We are NEAR the end of this election cycle.  In 57 days this will ALL be overWe’ll either have President Obama or McCain (God forbid!!!).

We ALL have to re-energize our self so we can win this race.  Don’t be discouraged by the polls.  In Electoral College polls Obama is leading (Electoral College votes in what counts in the general elections).

 The Electoral College is a body of 538 popularly elected representatives who formally select the President and Vice President of the United States. In America we really have an indirect election.

Rather than directly voting for the President and Vice President, we cast votes for electors who in turn cast formal votes for the President and Vice President.

 This is what you can do starting today: please volunteer with Team Obama in your community (Florida for Change, Georgia for Change, California for Change, Texas for Change, NY for Change, etc). 

You don’t have to be a citizen or need to be over 18 to volunteer.  Even if YOU personally can’t vote you can volunteer and help to register people to vote and that’s VERY important. I am encouraging EVERYONE reading this to personally register a least 5 people and make sure your 5 get to the polls on Tuesday, November 4. 

It’s been reported that 1/3 of Americans who are eligible to vote are NOT even registered!!!  That means every one of us knows a couple of people we can register to vote.  EVERY vote counts!!!

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Are Americans Stupid, Gullible or Prejudice?

 “They must think you are stupid.” Stupid to believe that McCain/Palin are “change agents.” Change is becoming this campaigns’ ping pong ball and we are missing the point. Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Be it. Don’t talk about it, don’t pontificate about it. Be It. Action word. Demonstrative. Maybe Nike just drafted off that great statesman and made us all “Just do it.”

Whatever, the call to action is now. Be it.

Jung said “Only that which changes, remains true.” Truth — unvarnished, well-vetted and precise.

My favorite quote is from The Princess Bride by William Goldman. In it, a street savvy young man hardened by the realities of the world, tells the princess…” Life is pain and anyone who tells you different is selling something.”

Life is pain, hard, unfair and yet also achingly beautiful and transformative when we are walking toward truth.

When the Republicans had their convention and there were signs held high with the monikers….”G.I. John and Superwoman” I knew we were in trouble. They were selling a fantasy!

 See, we are not stupid, we are humans, we can think and listen and learn. But if what we are taught is corrupt lies and if we are fed the “family truth” then we are not stupid, we are brainwashed.

G.I. John and Superwoman take them away from being mortal humans and put them in to the comic book hero status, Teflon coated, impenetrable and as we are seeing today, in the case of Mrs. Palin, not even held accountable in an interview.

We are not stupid, but we are gullible, to fear, lies, misinformation and calculated deceit and that is what we are now up against and where we need to demonstrate the real change.

Meaning of prejudice:

(1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b: an instance of such judgment or opinion c: an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race or their supposed characteristics

Read article by Jamie Lee Curtis at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-lee-curtis/do-you-think-im-stupid_b_124635.html

 

  EIGHT YEARS of republican rule IS ENOUGH!!!

 

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