Here is the full text (PDF) of the proposed bailout of the mortgage industry. It isn’t very long, take the time to read it.
In essence, it permits the federal government to purchase mortgage and mortgage-related assets from any US financial institution.
The first question you should be asking is this: What are mortgage-related assets? That would be a good question. Mortgages are easy enough to define. They’re loans secured by the equity in a piece of real estate. But what are mortgage-related assets? Does that definition extend to the mortgage funds that have created the havoc in the marketplace that we already see?
And then this: What are the rights of the borrower? Note that the act grants the government the authority to designate financial institutions as government agents, acting on behalf of the government. Which financial institutions? What benefit will they derive? I’m thinking specifically about banks like Bank of America, which has made what I consider to be incredibly imprudent decisions to buy Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch. To what end? If designated as an agent of the government, do they then become responsible for the servicing and collection of government-acquired mortgages?
And the best for last. Spending and debt caps: What are they and what do they mean? Under Section 6, the amount allocated to the purchase of mortgage-related securities is $700 billion. However, Section 10 increases the statutory limit on public debt (yes, that’s our National Debt) to 11.3 trillion from 8.2 trillion. That’s an increase of 3.1 TRILLION, even though the authorized limit for mortgage purchases is 700 billion.
Tired of numbers? Me too. But what is the purpose of increasing our debt limit in relation to this particular piece of ‘emergency legislation’ if not to pad the balance sheet to make the Bush administration look better than it should? My own theory is that the increase in the debt limit is a way to get the cost of the Iraq war onto the balance sheet without debate.
The Patriot Act taught me not to trust anything put before the taxpayers with the “urgent that we do this RIGHT NOW” admonition. That’s how we signed away part of our Constitutional rights. And just like now, it was done in a climate of fear and uncertainty.
Fear and uncertainty is the tool by which Bush, Cheney, McCain and Palin browbeat everyone into being forced to accept their point of view. Because so much of what they do would not stand up to public debate, they invoke fear-based ‘emergency legislation’, and then slide in provisions that don’t make much sense unless they’re considered in the larger context of world events.
For some perspective, here’s a chart of the growth of our national debt since 1940:
For extra credit, you can map out the increases to the party in power for some real eye-popping madness, but for purposes of this post, consider the end point of the graph – years 2000-2007.
Increasing the debt cap by 3 trillion dollars means a weaker dollar — weaker than it was even before this disaster. Now that may be inevitable, given the credit gorge we’ve been on. According to some, the alternative was a complete collapse of the dollar. However, what I take away from it is a promise that higher taxes are inevitable, no matter who is in office. So there remains only one lingering question: Who will spread the tax burden more fairly?
The answer can be found easily enough in the candidates’ tax proposals. One gives relief to those earning 6 figures; the other gives relief to 95% of taxpayers. While I’m not a huge fan of either proposal, I’ll opt into the one that lessens the burden for the majority wherever possible.
Paul Krugman has some questions about the bailout, too. Go read it here.
- Appeals Court Invalidates Detainee’s ‘Enemy’ Status
A federal appeals court in Washington has invalidated the Bush administration’s finding that a detainee held for more than six years in the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba is an “enemy combatant,” and has ordered the government to release him, transfer him or offer him a new hearing.
Oh, and the White House pooh-poohed legal advice saying he risked judicial scrutiny of detention policies.
- Report Says Partisanship Reigned in Justice Department Hiring Program
High-ranking political appointees at the Justice Department labored to stock a prestigious hiring program with young conservatives in a five-year-long attempt to reshape the department’s ranks, according to an inspector general’s report to be released today.
Wow, there’s a surprise. After firing US Attorneys that didn’t toe the Bushies’ line, who’s surprised by this?
- McCain: No Habeas for Bin Laden, Right to the Gallows John McCain says:
…After enthusiastically embracing the Supreme Court decision granting habeas in U.S. civilian courts to dangerous terrorist detainees, he is now running away from the consequences of that decision and what it would mean if Osama bin Laden were captured. Senator Obama refuses to clarify whether he believes habeas should be granted to Osama bin Laden, and instead cites the precedent of the Nuremburg [sic] war trials…There was no habeas at Nuremburg [sic] and there should be no habeas for Osama bin Laden.
..Let me be clear, under my administration Osama bin Laden will either be killed on the battlefield or executed.
Just to be clear here, does anyone seriously believe bin Laden would set foot on American soil. Pulease! Meanwhile, Al Qaeda grows more vocal online.
- The new FISA bill now in the Senate gives “wholesale approval for NSAt o conduct bulk monitoring of electronic communications.
- Bush Administration shoots down plan to overhaul army contract oversight. After all, why be accountable for nearly 5 billion charged in fraud or another 5 billion spent without documentation?
- Wexler points out how the McClellan testimony points to the Bush Administration crimes, and calls for accountability
This is really why the American electorate should not be so dumb about their constitutional rights. I have just listed six separate stories published in one day, all pointing to the utter disregard this administration has for basic civil rights guaranteed by our Constitution.
While the mainstream media stokes the fear that Iran will attack, participating once again in the administration’s plan to keep us in line by keeping us afraid, no one is paying attention to the true goal of Bush and the neocons: To erode civil rights and the constitution so deeply that Americans will not understand what they have surrendered through ignorance, nor what they have lost.
Silent, that’s where. On a day where he announces (wisely) that he will decline public funding, the Democrats in Congress bow backwards to the GOP and say ‘put it right here’. Not only that, but they ‘compromise’ on FISA in such a way that telecoms will receive their immunity according to the bought-and-paid for agreement.
The agreement would settle one of the thorniest issues in dispute by providing immunity to the phone companies in the Sept. 11 program as long as a federal district court determines that they received legitimate requests from the government directing their participation in the warrantless wiretapping operation.
With some AT&T and other telecommunications companies now facing some 40 lawsuits over their reported participation in the wiretapping program, Republican leaders described this narrow court review on the immunity question as a mere “formality.”
“The lawsuits will be dismissed,” Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 Republican in the House, predicted with confidence.
The proposal — particularly the immunity provision — represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute. “I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get,” said Senator Christopher Bond, the Missouri Republican who led the negotiations.
The White House immediately endorsed the proposal, which is likely to be voted on in the House on Friday and in the Senate next week.
They’re going to let impeachment die, they bow low and scrape before Lord Bush while selling us down the river for the price of a few lawsuits and the 4th amendment.
And Obama says…nothing? Time for some leadership. Especially if you want those grassroots contributors to keep contributing.
Is this a case of moving to the center? Triangulation? What happened to CHANGE?
I am perfectly willing to retract everything I’ve just written if someone — anyone — can offer me a reasonable explanation for this. I see several other alternatives including renewing the Protect America Act, not allowing telecom immunity, or tightening the provisions for requesting warrants, since it’s been PROVEN over and over again that there is a complete abuse of discretion in how these are requested.
C’mon, let’s have some transparency. Tell us why you feel compelled to subvert the US Constitution.
The horsemen of the apocalypse are on the hunt. Here’s the latest news on the pale horses of death: ExxonMobil, Total, Chevron, Shell, et al who have been given preferential treatment and no-bid contract opportunities to service Iraq’s oil fields. (Remember this?)
The NY Times reports:
The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.
The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.
By now there’s probably very little doubt in anyone’s mind about the evil living in the White House. But this should make us all choke on our $4.50/gallon gas.
And the Bush/McCain diversion? Offshore domestic drilling, endorsed by flip-floppers Bush and McCain.
Here’s a rhetorical question. After George W. Bush and his merry band of neocons have raped us all for the last 8 years and now do it again without the benefit of even a kiss, do you think it wise to allow them to rape our natural resources here in the US for…oh…another 50 years or so? 100 years? 1,000 years? 10,000 years?
Just like McCain’s fake gas tax holiday, the call for domestic offshore drilling is just another invitation for the American people to bend over and take it quietly.
Seriously, there is much more to say about this, but for now, just let the brazen, wanton greed of our current Administration and their chosen successor to sink in. Breathe the stench. Be as disgusted as you want, and then feel free to copy this and email it to your friends with the title “Bush/Cheney into rape and incest. Will McCain follow suit?”
Let it go viral.
I. George W. Bush equates diplomacy and appeasement in a cheap effort to smear Barack Obama abroad.
Of course, diplomacy is not the same as appeasement at all, no matter how hard the gaseous and despicable George W. Bush may twist it. Literacy matters. Bush must have been the child left behind. Here are some definitions, for clarity’s sake:
The distinction in that last definition is worth highlighting. In order for there to be appeasement, there must first be peace. Appeasement is the act of offering concessions to maintain peace.
Diplomacy, on the other hand, has no such restriction. Diplomacy is the art of intercession and negotiation. It can be a trade agreement or a peace agreement. It is not conditioned upon military victory, economic performance, or anything other than two parties coming together to negotiate a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Joe Lieberman, George W. Bush, and John McCain forgot to check their dictionaries before going off half-cocked today. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Bush is illiterate, but it’s a pity that it has infected Senators McCain and Lieberman with an infection as rapid as the rise of the SARS virus.
II. What they said:
George W. Bush
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
McCain takes it one step further:
“Yes, there have been appeasers in the past, and the president is exactly right, and one of them is Neville Chamberlain,’’ Mr. McCain told reporters on his campaign bus after a speech in Columbus, Ohio. “I believe that it’s not an accident that our hostages came home from Iran when President Reagan was president of the United States. He didn’t sit down in a negotiation with the religious extremists in Iran, he made it very clear that those hostages were coming home.’
(Note to John McCain: The hostage release was not anything that Reagan did or didn’t do. The hostages were released about an hour after Reagan’s inauguration, and was timed to humilate Carter, mostly because Carter would not engage in any form of discussion with them, choosing instead to launch a failed rescue operation and then ignore them.)
Finally, the pile-on by Joe “hawk-boy” Lieberman:
President Bush got it exactly right today when he warned about the threat of Iran and its terrorist proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah. It is imperative that we reject the flawed and naïve thinking that denies or dismisses the words of extremists and terrorists when they shout “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” and that holds that — if only we were to sit down and negotiate with these killers — they would cease to threaten us.
Because somehow, words become terrorism and war and diplomacy is appeasement.
III. John McCain was for diplomacy before he was against it.
Two years ago, when interviewed by James P Rubin, Senator McCain said this:
I asked: “Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?”
McCain answered: “They’re [Hamas] the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it’s a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.”
During a follow-up conference call with bloggers, he added the following embellishment:
In a reference to Obama’s declared willingness to meet with the leader of Iran, McCain said:
“I think [it] is an unacceptable position, and shows that Senator Obama does not have the knowledge, the experience, the background to make the kind of judgments that are necessary to preserve this nation’s security.”
Yet, I could find no references to McCain’s objection to Iran President Ahmadinejad’s visit to the US last year, nor any objection to Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University during that same visit. Not one press release. Not one public speech. Nothing. Was that visit not “talking”? Why isn’t Columbia held to the same standard?
Those are rhetorical questions, of course. The fact is that there was no political capital to be gained by giving attention to it. President Bush and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain are for democracy until they’re against it. In other words, they’re for democracy as long as the elected party is one they agree with. The Palestinians elected their government, which includes Hamas. It’s democratic, like it or not. The Iranians elected Ahmadinejad in a democratic election, like it or not. John McCain and George Bush do not get to pick and choose the democracies they like. Well, maybe they do, but it exposes the sock puppet argument about the conflict in Iraq being about making Iraq into a democracy. They’ll be for Iraq as long as they agree with the leadership, just like they were for Pakistan until the recent elections put people they don’t like into power.
The fundamental conflict here is not about appeasement. It is about how Republicans pervert ideas like diplomacy into appeasement. It’s about how they make democratic processes into wars.
Refresh your palate with a bit of Joe Biden, straight out of a Senate session and outraged at Bush’s illiteracy:
“This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset … and make this kind of ridiculous statement.”
Biden noted that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have both suggested that the United States ought to find a way to talk more with its enemies.
“If he thinks this is appeasement, is he going to come back and fire his own cabinet?” Biden asked. “Is he going to fire Condi Rice?”
As a final thought point, consider John McCain’s surrogate Joe Lieberman’s statement yesterday with regard to his feelings on bombing Iran:
BENNETT: Listen, I give her credit. She has found her…three things. She’s found her voice. He is very much in the background now, it’s not this, you know, ventriloquial thing, it’s definitely her voice.
LIEBERMAN: That’s true.
BENNETT: And Joe, you know, this is my style. This is a girl who puts on her pearls, goes down, throws down a shot of liquor and bombs Iran, you know. This is…lookout Mrs. Bennett, this is my kind of girl.
LIEBERMAN: Hehehe, it does have an appeal to it.
Diplomacy = Progress toward peace. Why doesn’t John McCain want peace?
Food for thought.