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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Wall Street: The Biggest Threat to the U.S. Economy

Posted by msrb on February 1, 2009

The Moderators and contributors of this blog have identified Wall Street as the No. 1 threat to the U.S. economy and therefore its  national security. Our colleagues at EDRO have argued that the “ten-trillion-dollar bailout-stimulus-Wall-Street-Monopoly-money plan” won’t work unless Wall Street is eliminated and the Federal Reserve system is abolished and replaced with a nationalized central banking system.

In the following essay, Ralph Nader, citing from Why Wall Street Can’t Be Fixed and How to Replace It: Agenda For a New Economy by David C. Korten, asks:

“First, do Wall Street Institutions do anything so vital for the national interest that they justify trillions of dollars to save them from the consequences of their own excess?

“Second is it possible that the whole Wall Street edifice is built on an illusion of phantom wealth that carries deadly economic, social, and environmental consequences for the larger society?

“Third, are there other ways to provide needed financial services with greater results and at lesser cost?”

Wither Wall Street

by Ralph Nader [Received Sat 1/31/2009]

Soon after the passage in 1999 of the Clinton-Rubin-Summers-P. Graham deregulation of the financial industry, I boarded a US Air flight to Boston and discovered none other than then-Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers a few seats away. He was speaking loudly and constantly on his cell phone. When the plane took off he invited me to sit by him and talk.

After reviewing the contents of this Citibank-friendly new law called the Financial Modernization Act—I asked him: “Do you think the big banks have too much power?”

He paused for a few seconds and replied: “Not Yet.” Intrigued by his two word answer, I noted the rejection of modest pro-consumer provisions, adding that now that the banks had had their round, wasn’t it time for the consumers to have their own round soon?

He allowed that such an expectation was not unreasonable and that he was willing to meet with some seasoned consumer advocates and go over such an agenda. We sent him an agenda, and met with Mr. Summers and his staff. Unfortunately, neither his boss, Bill Clinton, nor the Congress were in any mood to revisit this heavily lobbied federal deregulation law and reconsider the blocked consumer rights.

The rest is unfolding, tragic history. The law abolished the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial banking from investment banking. This opened the floodgates for unwise mergers, acquisitions and other unregulated risky financial instruments. Laced with limitless greed, casino capitalism ran wild, tanking economies here and abroad.

One champion of this market fundamentalism was Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve. Last October before a House Committee, Greenspan admitted he was mistaken and expressed astonishment at how corporations could not even safeguard their own self-interest from going over steep speculative cliffs.

Greenspan and Summers were deemed “brilliant” by the press and most of Congress. Summers’ predecessor at Treasury—Robert Rubin—was also a charter member of the Oracles—those larger-than-life men who just knew that the unfettered market and giant financial conglomerates would be the one-stop shopping mart consumers were assumed to be craving.

Now the world knows that these men belong to the “oops oligarchy” that bails itself out while it lets the companies collapse into the handcuffed arms of Uncle Sam and bridled taxpayers who have to pay for unconditional megabailouts. Instead of the Wall Street crooks being convicted and imprisoned, they have fled the jurisdiction with their self-determined compensation. Corporate crime pays, while pensions and mutual fund savings evaporate.
Now comes the next stage of the Washington rescue effort in a variety of stimulus packages which every vendor group imaginable wants a piece of these days. When trillions are offered, many come running.

As the public focus is on how much, when and where all this money should be spent, there are very serious consequences to be foreseen and forestalled. First, consider how much more concentrated corporate power is occurring. Forced or willing mergers, acquisitions and panic takeovers of big banks by bigger banks along with bankruptcies of companies further reduce what is left of quality competition for consumer benefit.

Remember the anti-trust laws. Obama needs to be their champion. The fallout from the Wall Street binge is likely to lead to a country run by an even smaller handful of monopolistic global goliaths.

In the stampede for stimulus legislation, there is a foreboding feeling on Capitol Hill that there is no proposal on the table to pay for it other than by the children and grandchildren. Just the opposite is raining down on them. Everybody including the private equity gamblers, Las Vegas casinos and Hollywood studios along with the banks and auto companies are looking for tax breaks.

So with the economy deteriorating and taxes being cut, where is the enormous money coming from? From borrowing and from printing money. So look out for big time inflation and decline in the dollar’s value vis-à-vis other currencies.

In all the hundreds of pages of stimulus bills, there is nothing that would facilitate the banding together of consumers and investors into strong advocacy groups. We have long proposed Financial Consumer Associations, privately and voluntarily funded through inserts in the monthly statements of financial firms.

If this bailout—stimulus—Wall Street funny money waste, fraud and abuse sounds confusing, that is because it is. A brand new paperback “Why Wall Street Can’t Be Fixed and How to Replace It: Agenda For a New Economy” by long-time corporate critic, David C. Korten will explain some of the wheeling and dealing.

You don’t have to agree with all or many of Korten’s nostrums. Just read Part II—The Case For Eliminating Wall Street. He considers three central questions:

First, do Wall Street Institutions do anything so vital for the national interest that they justify trillions of dollars to save them from the consequences of their own excess?

Second, is it possible that the whole Wall Street edifice is built on an illusion of phantom wealth that carries deadly economic, social, and environmental consequences for the larger society?

Third, are there other ways to provide needed financial services with greater results and at lesser cost?  END.

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Posted in bailouts, phantom wealth, stimulus plan, tax breaks, U.S. National Security | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

Democracy: Freedom within a 2-party system

Posted by msrb on December 22, 2008

Political Science 101: Democracy means political freedom within the confines of a two matching party political system

In the Public Interest: Schooltime for Candidates

by Ralph Nader

Earlier this year, while speaking in Fargo, North Dakota, Colleen Donley brought her nine year old son, Adam, from Perham, Minnesota, to the gathering to complain about the curriculum materials on the presidential race produced by Scholastic Magazine. Adam wanted to vote for me but their mock paper ballots had only two choices picturing John McCain and Barack Obama.


Roman bust of Janus, Vatican Museums
In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. His most prominent remnants in modern culture are his namesakes: the month of January, which begins the new year, and the janitor, who is a caretaker of doors and halls.

A “meet the candidates” again pictured only the Republican and Democratic candidates. Ms. Donley noted that it would not have been difficult to add the four other presidential candidates who were on enough state ballots to theoretically gain an Electoral College majority. There was extra room on the page to do so.

Pursuing her inquiry she noticed that only the Democratic and Republican options were available for research, games, posters and issues. For example, the game “Be a Candidate” had two party choices but only “their” issues and views.

Scholastic News Online did interview me on educational issues on March 3, 2008. But the students and their families in these public schools obviously pay greater attention during the autumn when mock elections and other interactive modes are produced by Scholastic Magazine to teach the children about presidential politics—past and present.

Exclusion of third party and independent candidates goes hand in hand with the failures to educate the children about the pioneering contributions of candidates and their parties that challenged the two-party domination in American history.

This continuing limitation of voter choice has been entrenched in exclusionary ballot access laws, a largely partisan judiciary, denial of being on the national debate stage by a corporation controlled by the two major parties and other obstructions unknown in other democracies.

Scholastic Magazine is published by a private corporation. For many years its reach into the public schools has been enormous—up to 18 million children. Its “educational” materials are colorful, easy to read and very often uncritically adopted by teachers and administrators.

Whether there are subjective political motivations by the top executives is something for further inquiry. Suffice it to say that children should know how alternative presidential candidates and their parties pioneered the anti-slavery, women’s right to vote, worker and farmer justice movements in the 19th century before either of the larger parties ever did.

The children should learn the connection between unobstructed candidate’s rights to be on ballot lines and voter rights to have a choice beyond one party gerrymandered districts or only two parties offering candidates sharing establishment political agendas.

Reducing the harbingers of advances in justice in America such as social security, Medicare, regulation of business abuses to minor footnotes or designations called “the other” is accepting the power structure’s mauling of a competitive democracy.

The public school teachers and parents should have the intellectual curiosity and democratic value systems of Ms. Donley and the outraged parents who contacted her with similar blackouts on their children’s alternative choices for president.

Year after year of these blackouts results in millions of children growing up to passively accept the two party “duopoly” and the restriction of voter choice. That there is another political world out there that they can help cultivate is not at their level of expectation. So nearly half of the voters stay home and many citizens reluctantly vote for the least-worst of the two big-party candidates.

Mock presidential elections, following classroom study and discussion, occur in October before the real voting in November. Children do take their exciting experiences in school home and spark conversations with their parents. To indoctrinate them in the inevitability of the two parties offering the only winners and the only agendas and the only debaters is to defeat the opportunities to recognize and support other political initiatives.

The very opportunity to build alternative politics from election year to election year is rooted significantly in such early age.

Shame on Scholastic Magazine, Incorporated for restricting these visions and understandings. Bravo to mothers like Colleen Donley and youngsters like her son Adam who strive to wake up the public school curriculum choosers and the boards of education.
End.

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Posted in democratic, exclusionary ballot access laws, political “duopoly”, Republican, two-party | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Obama: The compassionate, environmentally conscious

Posted by msrb on December 15, 2008

Ecosystems stretched to the breaking point, unemployment soaring, poverty line beckoning …

The compassionate, environmentally conscious President-elect Obama will have orchids flown in from half away across the world for his inauguration!

The cost of Obama inauguration may exceed $50million dollars; however, the government will have spent millions more on security!

For Original Entry Click here >> Orchids from ‘Hell’ for Obama Inauguration

President-elect Obama, who has vowed to adopt an aggressive approach to global warming and the environment …


U.S. President-elect Barack Obama (L) speaks during a meeting with former Vice President Al Gore in Obama’s transition office in Chicago December 9, 2008. Obama said on Tuesday attacking global climate change is a “matter of urgency” as he talked about the problem with Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the issue. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES). Image may be subject to copyright.

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Posted in hope and change, jobless total, Obama inauguration, poverty line | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Riding The Presidential Trojan Horse

Posted by msrb on November 7, 2008

submitted by a reader

Who will be in charge: Obama or Emanuel?

Who is Rahm Israel Emanuel?

Israel First Rahm Israel Emanuel (born 1959) is/was a dual Israeli/US citizen [Israeli paper Haaretz calls him an Israeli citizen] and a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 2003, representing Illinois’s 5th congressional district.

On November 6, 2008, Emanuel accepted an offer from President-elect Obama to become the White House Chief of Staff in Obama’s administration, which begins on January 20, 2009.

Rahm Emanuel was reportedly born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, the Jerusalem-born Benjamin M. Emanuel, a former member of the Irgun (Etzel or IZL), a  Zionist terrorist group active in the British Mandate of Palestine between 1931 and 1948.

Rahm Emanuel was a volunteer in the Israel Occupation Forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Open Secrets reports that Rahm Israel Emanuel “was the top House recipient in the 2008 election cycle of contributions from hedge funds, private equity firms and the larger securities/investment industry”.

Following the end of the Clinton presidency, Emanuel went into investment banking, reportedly earning $18 million in just over 2 years at Wasserstein Perella & Co./Dresdner Kleinwort.

During his original 2002 campaign, Emanuel “indicated his support of President Bush’s position on Iraq …”

Emanuel is said to have “mailed a rotting fish to a former coworker after the two parted ways.” On the night after the 1996 election, “Emanuel was so angry at the president’s enemies that he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting ‘Dead! … Dead! … Dead!’ and plunging the knife into the table after every name.” His “take-no-prisoners attitude” earned him the nickname “Rahm-bo”.

Emanuel held a seat on the quasi-governmental Freddie Mac board, which paid him $231,655 in director’s fees in 2001 and $31,060 in 2000… During the time Emanuel spent on the board, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandal involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities…”

A 2006 Chicago Tribune article raised speculation regarding a possible connection between Emanuel’s Congressional election success and convicted former Chicago water department boss Don Tomczak.

USA Today reported in late January 2007 that Emanuel failed to disclose that he was an officer of a family charity, a violation of law requiring members of Congress to report non-profit leadership roles. The charity does not ask for outside donations and is funded by Emanuel and his family.

Emanuel, whose father was in Irgun (a Zionist terrorist group), is a strong supporter of AIPAC, and personally introduced fellow Chicagoan President-elect Barack Obama to the organization’s directors during the 2008 presidential campaign. (Source: Wikipedia)

What other people say about Israel Rahm Emanuel

Christine Cegelis. Cegelis is an IT professional in the Chicago area who ran as the Democratic nominee for Congress against longtime incumbent Henry Hyde in 2004, winning an unexpected 44 percent of the vote. After Hyde announced he would be retiring, she attempted to run again in 2006, but Emanuel—then head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—backed a Democrat less critical of the Iraq war, Tammy Duckworth, who defeated Cegelis in the primary. Duckworth ended up losing in the general election.

Cegelis said today: “Emanuel has never backed off from his initial support of the invasion of Iraq; he says even knowing everything we know now, he’d still back it. I fear that slating Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff in a sense cancels out the message from Barack Obama that the Iraq war was something we should not have fought in the first place.” See “Democratic House Officials Recruited Wealthy Conservatives.”  (Source)
See also:  http://www.truthout.org/article/special-report-democratic-house-officials-recruited-wealthy-conservatives

David Swanson. Swanson [http://www.afterdowningstreet.org, http://www.democrats.com]

Swanson is co-founder of After Downing Street and Washington director of Democrats.com [not affiliated with the Democratic Party.]

He said: “Reuters quoted Republican strategist John Feehery happily predicting that Emanuel ‘is going to spend most of his time cracking Democratic heads, getting them to move from the left to the middle.’ It’s a reasonable prediction, because Emanuel has spent the past two years doing that on various issues, most notably Iraq. As chair of the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] in 2006, Emanuel directed campaign funding overwhelmingly to the more pro-war Democratic candidates and recruited opponents to run against promising anti-war candidates like Christine Cegelis and Jerry McNerney.

“In January 2007, as chair of the Democratic Caucus when the 110th Congress took office with the clearest anti-war mandate in national history, Emanuel spoke to the Washington Post, which reported: ‘Don’t look to Emanuel’s Democrats for solutions on Iraq. It’s Bush’s war, and as it splinters the structure of GOP power, the Democrats are waiting to pick up the pieces.’ For two full years, ‘Emanuel’s Democrats’  maintained that ending the war on Iraq would require passing legislation, when in truth they could have simply stopped funding it, a conclusion reached by a hearing chaired by Senator Russ Feingold. Their pretense that legislation was needed, allowed the Democrats to blame the war on Republican senators’ filibuster power and presidential vetoes.

“Those excuse may be gone now, but my concern is what we’ve learned about Emanuel’s priorities.” (Source)

John V. Whitbeck. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel, is author of “The World According to Whitbeck”.

Whitbeck said: “Obama repeatedly pledged unconditional allegiance to Israel during his campaign, most memorably in an address to the AIPAC national convention which Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery characterized as ‘a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning’, and America’s electing a black president has always been more easily imagined than any American president’s declaring his country’s independence from Israeli domination.”

“A further contemptuous message is widely rumored to be forthcoming—the naming as “Special Envoy for Middle East Peace” of Dennis Ross, the notorious Israel-Firster who, throughout the 12 years of the Bush the First and Clinton administrations, ensured that American policy toward the Palestinians did not deviate one millimeter from Israeli policy and that no progress toward peace could be made and who has since headed the AIPAC spin-off “think tank”, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.” (Source)

Paul Craig Roberts

Roberts said: “In ‘Hail to the Chief of Staff,’ Alexander Cockburn describes Emanuel as ‘a super-Likudnik hawk,’ who as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 ‘made great efforts to knock out antiwar Democratic candidates.'”

“Obama’s election was necessary as the only means Americans had to hold the Republicans accountable for their crimes against the Constitution and human rights, for their violations of US and international laws, for their lies and deceptions, and for their financial chicanery. As an editorial in Pravda put it, ‘Only Satan would have been worse than the Bush regime. Therefore it could be argued that the new administration in the USA could never be worse than the one which divorced the hearts and minds of Americans from their brothers in the international community, which appalled the rest of the world with shock and awe tactics that included concentration camps, torture, mass murder and utter disrespect for international law.'”

“But Obama’s advisers are drawn from the same gang of Washington thugs and Wall Street banksters as Bush’s. Richard Holbrooke …” (Source)

Ralph Nader

In A Letter to Senator Obama, Nader said: “You know quite well that only when the U.S. Government supports the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements, that years ago worked out a detailed two-state solution (which is supported by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians), will there be a chance for a peaceful resolution of this 60-year plus conflict. Yet you align yourself with the hard-liners, so much so that in your infamous, demeaning speech to the AIPAC convention right after you gained the nomination of the Democratic Party, you supported an ‘undivided Jerusalem,’ and opposed negotiations with Hamas– the elected government in Gaza. Once again, you ignored the will of the Israeli people who, in a March 1, 2008 poll by the respected newspaper Haaretz, showed that 64% of Israelis favored ‘direct negotiations with Hamas.’ Siding with the AIPAC hard-liners is what one of the many leading Palestinians advocating dialogue and peace with the Israeli people was describing when he wrote “Anti-semitism today is the persecu  tion of Palestinian society by the Israeli state.”

Posted in Dennis Ross, Iraqi invasion, militant Zionist, pro-war Democratic candidates, Zionist terrorist | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »