30 September 2008

Richard C. Cook has admirably embarked on a Clifford Hugh Douglas Social Credit revival while commenting on the financial crisis of recent months in Global Research, which has led to his celebration of the mostly Republican defeat of the bailout bill and a castigation of the Democrats. As I’ve said, the difference in support of the bill between the two parties is a result of closer races for Republican incumbents.

That last point is important because the public outcry of both parties is not related to the ideology of the electorate, except to the extent conservatives oppose national debt despite the Republican record deficits of the last 30 years in the executive branch (which always picks the amount of the federal budget even if Congress changes what it’s spent on), and the extent that liberals view this as asking the public to finance the political interests in Wall Street that have counteracted their wishes. I’m not going to speak for the public but it the backlash seems tied more to general anger towards the inequalities inherent in consumer credit and the act of asking the public to finance the maintenance of this system by paying off the lenders and not the borrowers.

I agree that inaction would cause a credit crunch and recession, and I agree that the reaction by Wall Street and the corporate media to the views of the public has been arrogant and uncompromising. Uncompromising, because deference to the public structurally contradicts the mantra that money for purchasing power should be extended to the poor at a greater cost than money extended to the rich, the mantra that consumer identity through ‘credit worthiness’ for the purchase of housing, cars, and health care is sustainable. So we are being asked to prop up the status quo while the public is given the psychological concession of lower executive salaries and questionably effective congressional oversight.

The question of whether to castigate Obama from a Douglasite prism is similar to the question of whether to support him despite disagreeing with him on important issues like health care, the war on terror, etc. Major Douglas would certainly say that we are financing a flawed system but didn’t see national debt as being a breach of doctrine.

Douglas (pictured) viewed profit and consumer credit as part of the same problem. An economy based on profit presupposes that the purchase power of the corporate employee is less than the cost of the product produced, and charging interest exacerbates the inequality, so workers should be compensated based on their real value of production through companies and the national credit office.

What’s happened in recent years is that profit-taking and interest has been so indulged that a structural imbalance has taken place. The Iraq War raised the price of oil due to centralized corporate control of the Middle East shipping routes, has shifted public expenditures overseas, and has so exploded the national debt that there’s less capital available for lending. The deference paid to the profits of Big Oil by Bush has crippled the rest of the economy. Meanwhile, the higher interest of sub-prime credit which covers the higher default rates has understandably raised default rates, since higher interest decreases the likelihood of repayment.

So ending or reducing the wars, diversifying energy sources, and regulating consumer credit create a more moderate application of the Laws of Douglas through a belief in effectively ‘sustainable profit and credit.’ Of course, the concept of sustainable profit and credit is an anathema to Douglasites, as capitalism is inherently based on expansion and accumulation, but one way or another, the perceptions of Douglas and others that ring true are not going to be applied by a legislative faction that supports expanded wars and opposes consumer protection and regulation. Douglasite analysis can cut different ways and policies can be applied with differing degrees of purism.
There's been a talking point for McCain supporters for about two weeks that has led to a commercial, saying that McCain had warned about Fannie Mae in 2005. That's factually true. What isn't true, which McCain and other right-wing pundits have attempted to claim, is that the bill in question, the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act, was squashed by Democrats. Just with the info you have now, you see it doesn't make sense: Democrats won the Senate majority and committee chairmanships in 2006. Republican Richard Shelby was the chair of the Banking Committee where the legislation gathered dust. The MSM hasn't picked up the story and scrutinized it so the reportage has been left to McCain propagandists.

The bill was authored by Chuck Hagel who was on the Banking Committee along with co-sponsor Elizabeth Dole. Hagel and McCain, who wasn't on Banking, had a working relationship which may be frayed by the Iraq War and Chuck no doubt contacted McCain about a co-sponsorship, which McCain obliged to do, and afterwards he released a statement in support of it. At that time, Fannie and Freddy were run by Republican appointees as were the Senate committees.

It's one thing to use this published statement of 2005 in support of McCain, but for McCain to blame the Democrats for squashing Hagel's bill is dishonest and indicative of the lack of accountability that caused all these problems, right up to the ridiculously one-sided blank check that Paulson publicized and tried to ram through Congress this month.

Note: Of the many problems the events of the week have caused McCain, a notable one is the grassroots fervor of the bailout opposition which will drive conservative Republicans to vote for Bob Barr in Virginia, North Carolina, and possibly Indiana, Ohio, and Colorado. Nader has focused on adding transparency to the bill and so far can't be accused of opportunism over this issue.

29 September 2008

The reason why the Republicans voted against the bailout more than Democrats is because they have more incumbents in close reelection races, not because of the yarn by Republican leaders that they voted against Bush’s wishes upon being offended by Pelosi’s criticisms of Bush. This isn’t a case of one side demagoging the matter at the House level though Mr. Country First is up to his usual garbage.

Kucinich notes a letter from an law professor saying that because the government is buying minority shares of mortgages, they wouldn’t actually have the legal authority to renegotiate the mortgage with the homeowner.

I hold to my conviction that things need to get better to get better, on account of my sentimentality for surprising people with depression-era theoretical approaches during an economic boom. Poetry, however, needs to get worse to get better, lest anyone think I have abandoned commentary on the art form here.

27 September 2008

Had to be there to be condescending

Obama: And the problem, John, with the strategy that's been pursued was that, for 10 years, we coddled Musharraf, we alienated the Pakistani population, because we were anti-democratic. We had a 20th-century mindset that basically said, "Well, you know, he may be a dictator, but he's our dictator."

McCain: I -- I don't think that Senator Obama understands that there was a failed state in Pakistan when Musharraf came to power. Everybody who was around then, and had been there, and knew about it knew that it was a failed state.

FACT: The Musharraf coup was immediately condemned by the U.S. State Department, The European Union, Great Britain, and Germany, all of whom called for a "return to consititutional order" to a nation whose recent development of nuclear weapons was not met with major international concern.

10 September 2008

Anyway, I don’t decide for the unwritten. Dream journey: The poetic treatise was along the lines of the MoMA exhibition on the war on terror, so I thought, but I thought, ‘whoever that kid is is okay,’ turning the page to find it was Donald Justice, who wrote the excepted poem, not the treatise. Just reportin’.

08 September 2008

Dream journey: A co-worker asked me to pick him up a Cheese Shake from a local deli.

06 September 2008

More talk about politics and religion

As you may have gathered from the news, McCain picked a hardcore evangelical for VP and Obama picked a hardcore Catholic.

If this matters state by state, this is how it will likely do so in crucial states:

An evangelical could help in: Virginia (32.7% evangelicals to 14% Catholics as a percentage of overall Christians), North Carolina (40% e, 11c), Georgia which may end up close (32.7e, 8.9c), OR, SC and AK which lean McCain.

Missouri has plenty of both (27e, 19c) but where it's close keep in mind that Catholics are more likely to be undecided while evangelicals are mostly counted already in the Republican base, but with potentially increased turnout and mobilization. We can also presume that evangelicals are more inclined to vote for their own than Catholics.

Florida's Latinos put Catholics slightly over the top (26c, 24.6e). Ohio is 25e 19c, Colorado 25e 23c about 10% Mexican, Michigan 25e, 23c.

A Catholic could help in: New Mexico (40.2c, 30% Mexican, 18e), New Hampshire (35c, 22.3e), North Dakota (30c, 16.2e), Pennsylvania (27.4c, 21.5e), and Nevada (23c, 20e). The 5.9% Mormons in Nevada like others there may resent Palin calling out their senior Senator Harry Reid.

What percentage of evangelicals will say "Sarah Palin is a cheap attempt to get me to vote for a dangerously unqualified potential president"? We'll see...

This analysis suggests that if Palin conducts herself perfectly and communicates a command of the issues, she could take a few votes from Obama in Virginia and force him to win it in other states. This is a minor effect on a race that represents the best case scenario for the Alaska governor. Obama's position looks very strong even if this happens.

Source: Beliefnet

03 September 2008

I remember in 2000 when McCain would camp out with the media, perhaps, as some say, trying to win them back after the Keating scandal amid his campaign finance speeches. Reagan and Clinton both had those early phases when they would relish frequent press conferences as a bully pulpit. They all enter a later phase when scandal keeps them from interfacing with the press: Reagan during Iran-Contra while suffering from Alzheimer’s, Clinton after Starr investigated the Monica cover-up. The disinfo for the Iraq War made Bush and Cheney largely off limits long ago. The week that McCain has accepted the Republican nomination, he is already slipping into the second phase after they fear press questions about the vetting process of Sarah Palin, and Ms. Palin is likewise unlikely to be the ubiquitous surrogate talking head that Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney auditioned for as they fear her responses to policy questions.

McCain chief Steve Schmidt has now said there will be no further information about his vetting process and has declared open war on the media. This comes at a time when Rupert Murdoch seems to have become a Obamacan and The O’Reilly Factor, which may be expected to have a Sarah Palin pep rally for the night McCain speaks, is hosting Obama in what Obama is hoping will be a congenial exchange. The best response to comparisons of Obama’s and Palin’s experience is having Obama do a lot of interviews to force Palin out to the cameras herself. The week when the GOP traditionally slams the Democratic nominee they are defending their own VP nominee and the judgement of McCain.

Update 9/4: Palin handler Nicole Wallace has now said that Palin will not do interviews: