we could build a shit load of guillotines for $700 billion

Michael Moore came out this morning calling the $700 billion bailout package “the biggest robbery in the history of this country.” I guess there’s no way of knowing whether or not our elected leaders in the House of Representatives agreed with him, but, for whatever reason, a majority of them chose to vote “no” to the massive emergency funding package this morning, despite cries from every corner that, if it didn’t pass, all hell would break loose and our economy would go into a death spiral.

Here’s a clip from Michael Moore, who makes a great point about healthcare:

…Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies — who must soon vacate the White House — are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door…

And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Falling for whom? NOTHING in this “bailout” package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What’s this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?
It has everything to do with it. This so-called “collapse” was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people’s home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it’s because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn’t afford. Here’s the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage “crisis” may never have happened…

Ultimately, the bill was defeated 205-228. (The “Wall Street Journal” analysis of the bill can be found here.) My Congressman, John Dingell, voted for it, as did 139 other Dems. On the other side of the aisle, only 65 Republicans voted for it. (You can see how your member of Congress voted here.) John McCain, who had suspended his campaign to focus on the problem, had tried wielding his considerable power to make it happen, but he couldn’t convince enough of his fellow Republicans to join him. In the end, 133 Republicans voted against it, essentially killing it dead. McCain, who staked everything on getting the bill to pass, had failed miserably.

And, speaking of McCain’s rapidly fading Presidential prospects, I thought that you might enjoy this note from my bankruptcy attorney friend in New Jersey, Mike Busche:

…I find polls on the presidential election a little hard to follow. However, people who put their money where their mouth is, are speaking loud and clear — and the clear edge is in favor of Barack Obama.

For the last several months I’ve been tracking two web sites.

The British William Hill betting site currently has a one dollar bet on Obama paying $0.40; a one dollar bet on McCain pays $1.75. This is the smallest payout on Obama and highest payout on McCain since I’ve been keeping track. Just before last Friday’s debate the site was paying $0.66 on Obama and $1.10 on McCain. The trend has been an increasing spread making Obama a clear favorite.

The other site is from the University of Iowa. On that site people buy shares in the candidate they think will win. The site graphs offering prices for both candidates. Obama’s shares have been selling for more than $50 for the entire period. McCain’s shares have never sold for more than $50.00. In May of this year both were pretty close to $50.00 each. However, since then, even after a bump in McCain’s price right after the Palin selection, the trend is up for Obama and down for McCain. Today you can buy Obama shares for $65 and McCain shares for $35.

Gambler’s favor Oboma. Let’s see if the concept of the wisdom of the betting crowd is valid…

Given McCain’s affinity for gambling, I’m sure none of this is news to him.

Back to the financial crisis, I’m not sure what the best course of action is. I can see the appeal of just yelling, “No Bailout for Wall Street Assholes,” but I’m not willing to go quite that far. I’m not completely convinced that some kind of intervention isn’t necessary. I will say, however, that if we do use taxpayer dollars to bail these companies out, we need to nationalize the financial institutions like they did in Sweden, and aggressively pursue legal action against those individuals responsible in the first place. (And, just so you don’t make the mistake I made and head off a very pleasant, but ultimately non-informative, Google tangent looking for the details of the “Swedish model,” here’s a link.) One thing is certain – the House will again try to pass legislation later this week to address the issue. The question is, how will it be different from what was proposed today? Some are suggesting the Democrats band together, stop making concessions and pass a truly progressive bill, even though they know that Bush would veto it. I don’t know that it would be a productive use of time, but it might help erode even more of McCain’s support. If it weren’t so serious of an issue, I might be inclined to agree.

One thing I do know is that McCain isn’t the right man to see us through this. On that point, I’m in total agreement with Paul Krugman, who said the following in today’s “New York Time“:

…We’ve known for a long time, of course, that Mr. McCain doesn’t know much about economics — he’s said so himself, although he’s also denied having said it. That wouldn’t matter too much if he had good taste in advisers — but he doesn’t.

Remember, his chief mentor on economics is Phil Gramm, the arch-deregulator, who took special care in his Senate days to prevent oversight of financial derivatives — the very instruments that sank Lehman and A.I.G., and brought the credit markets to the edge of collapse. Mr. Gramm hasn’t had an official role in the McCain campaign since he pronounced America a “nation of whiners,” but he’s still considered a likely choice as Treasury secretary.

And last year, when the McCain campaign announced that the candidate had assembled “an impressive collection of economists, professors, and prominent conservative policy leaders” to advise him on economic policy, who was prominently featured? Kevin Hassett, the co-author of “Dow 36,000.” Enough said.

Now, to a large extent the poor quality of Mr. McCain’s advisers reflects the tattered intellectual state of his party. Has there ever been a more pathetic economic proposal than the suggestion of House Republicans that we try to solve the financial crisis by eliminating capital gains taxes? (Troubled financial institutions, by definition, don’t have capital gains to tax.)…

One wonders if McCain will suspend his campaign again, now the bill didn’t pass… I’m betting no.

Posted in Politics | 17 Comments

severed unicorn heads are depression proof

If I haven’t been blogging as much as usual these past few weeks, it’s because I’ve been busting my ass filling orders for Severed Unicorn Head merchandise. I’m not sure why it is, but the more the economic infrastructure of our country collapses, the more business we do. Today alone, we received close to 500 million orders. It’s absolutely incredible. Fortunately for us, people out there are losing their homes, and sending their sickly kids to bed hungry, but they still want to buy t-shirts emblazoned with bloody unicorn heads. The down side is that the more successful we are, the more others are trying to jump on the band wagon. First it was that no-good idea stealer Damien Hirst. And now I’m told there’s a skinny charismatic hippie dude that’s selling severed unicorn head overalls. Most of our vast accumulated fortune, I’m afraid, is going to be eaten up in legal fees in the coming months as we work to shut these evil doers down… More later.
Posted in Art and Culture | 11 Comments

john kerry wins back a little of my respect

And, if you’re looking for something else to watch on YouTube tonight, check out this BBC documentary on Smedley Butler.

Or, if you’re in the mood for something different, there’s this.

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

the believer

Sarah Palin makes me genuinely nervous. While Bush pandered to the fundamentalist Christian fringe, and painted our battles as ones between the forces of good and the forces of evil, I never got the sense from him that he actually really believed any of it. He, I think most of us knew, was just reading from a script. When he talked of praying to God for the wisdom to deal with world problems, he didn’t mean it any more than Eddie Haskell meant it when he told Mrs. Cleaver that she looked lovely. But Palin is a completely different animal. She doesn’t seem to know that it’s an act, that it’s all about power and manipulation. She really believes.

History will show that Bush was just a somewhat likable frat boy who happened to have the right family connections and a strategist who knew how to appeal to the reptilian brain in our less questioning neighbors. He may have let us think that he was a true born-again “believer,” but he never really thought that we were going to war because it would hasten the return of Jesus Christ. No, he did it for the oil men and military contractors who had been in bed with his family since his father ran the CIA. He was, without doubt, a terrible President, who did irreparable harm to our nation, but I still got the sense that he had a mind capable of rational thought. Yes, he was an empty suit put forward to push the corporate agenda, but he wasn’t stupid. Dangerous, yes. Stupid, not so much. Palin, in contrast, really seems to believe this nonsense. She’s the next generation of Republican leader. She actually grew up in their dumbed-down schools believing their garbage about science being bunk and Democrats wanting to turn boys gay. She’s a creature of Karl Rove. And that’s terrifying. Where those before her may have paid cynical lip service to the far right, she’s really right there with them. She doesn’t just pretend that global warming isn’t real because it wouldn’t be good for business. She really believes. And I find that even more terrifying.

Posted in Observations | 70 Comments

sexist jealous hack, jack cafferty, attacks respected stateswoman sarah palin

Watching a lilly white little girl running around an Ypsi Township park this morning in a “Palin” shirt while her sickly thin zombie of a mother in khaki sucked at her Starbucks Venti Mocha between screeches on her cell phone almost ruined my day. I turned things around, though, by putting in a few hours at the Obama campaign office, calling neighbors and talking with them about the election. One guy enthusiastically screamed “O-BAMA” so loud, when I told him why I was calling, that it nearly broke my eardrum, but it was cool to hear the enthusiasm of people in the City. Of all the calls that I made, I only got one person on the fence, and one who supported McCain. I talked with them both for quite a while, but I don’t know that I made much headway. Still, it was a worthwhile experience.

No time to write more now, but I did want to pass along this Fact Check page about last night’s debate. And, while we’re on the subject of lies, it’s worth pointing out that McCain was lying when he said that he’d warned us about the looming financial collapse. And, he was wrong when he said that his advisor, Henry Kissinger, agreed with him on not having high-level talks with Iran. Barack was right – he does.

Posted in Politics | 13 Comments


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