I opine

From My Senator on the Bailout of Wall Street

Posted in economy, politics by jaeminuf on September 27, 2008

Senator Feinstein‘s veeeeeeeery long response to a letter I submitted to her office. Her key points are:

  • Necessity for a bailout
  • Phased funding of bailout
  • Paulson plan thumbs down because too much power in one person. Entrust responsibility not just to one person. More oversight/accountability necessary.
  • Legislative reform of the financial system in the first quarter of 2009
  • Protection for tax payers in the form of warrants/stock/etc. Learn from the Swedes.
  • Cap on executive compensation for firms that participate in bailout. If executives balk, let them sink or swim on their own.
  • Mortgage relief

Dear Ms. XXX:

Thank you for your letter expressing concern about Congress’ consideration of a plan to meet our Nation’s credit crisis with financial help from the Federal Government. This is a difficult situation for which there are no perfect solutions, and I would like to share my thoughts and concerns about this issue with you.

On September 19, 2008, Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson, Jr. announced a legislative proposal to use $700 billion to purchase illiquid mortgage-related assets from ailing financial institutions. Secretary Paulson’s three-page proposal was a non-starter, and without critical changes it has no chance of approval from Congress.

This proposal would have given a blank check to an economic czar who would have been empowered to spend it without administrative oversight, legal requirements, or legislative review. Decisions made by the Treasury Secretary would be non-reviewable by any court, agency, or Congress. The proposal also lacked a requirement for regular reports to Congress on the status of the program. This was simply untenable.

Since this announcement, my offices have received thousands of comments from Californians like you concerned about how this action will affect them. Yet, I believe prudent action must be taken. The bill should include the following principles: a phase-in of funding; oversight, accountability and transparency; a mechanism allowing the Secretary of the Treasury to modify mortgages to prevent additional foreclosures; and a precise cap on executive compensation.

The current credit crisis affects all Americans. If action is not taken to stem the crisis, Americans risk losing their homes, jobs, personal savings, life insurance and more. Banks will cease to lend to businesses and homeowners, and credit will be increasingly difficult to come by for average Americans. I strongly believe that the consequences of failing to act now would be greater than not acting at all.

Attached please find a statement I recently made on the floor of the Senate expressing my feelings on this issue. Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind as this situation unfolds.

Once again, thank you for writing. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (more…)

Free Radio!

Posted in politics by jaeminuf on September 27, 2008
  I don’t listen to Pandora much. However, I do listen to:

  • Last.fm,
  • Songza,
  • and other platforms that can be construed as internet radio.

The idea of Clear Channel – clear because it’s vacuous – quashing internet radio deserves a major thumbs down. Save internet radio! Contact your congressional representatives or call John Campbell: 202-225-5611!

Last.fm logo

 

Hi, it’s Tim from Pandora;

After a yearlong negotiation, Pandora, SoundExchange and the RIAA are finally optimistic about reaching an agreement on royalties that would save Pandora and Internet radio. But just as we’ve gotten close, large traditional broadcast radio companies have launched a covert lobbying campaign to sabotage our progress.

Friday, Congressman Jay Inslee, and several co-sponsors, introduced legislation to give us the extra time we need but the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which represents radio broadcasters such as Clear Channel, has begun intensively pressuring lawmakers to kill the bill. We have just days to keep this from collapsing.

This is a blatant attempt by large radio companies to suffocate the webcasting industry that is just beginning to offer an alternative to their monopoly of the airwaves.

Please call your Congressperson right now and ask them to support H.R. 7084, the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 – and to not capitulate to pressure from the NAB. Congress is currently working extended hours, so even calls this evening and over the weekend should get answered.

If the phone is busy, please try again until you get through. These calls really do make a difference.

Representative John Campbell: 202-225-5611

Thanks so much for you ongoing support.

Tim

Nigerian Scam?

Posted in economy, ethics, politics by jaeminuf on September 23, 2008

Forwarded to me today.

>Dear American:
> I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship
> with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.
>
> I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My
> country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer
> of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this
> transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
>
> I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my
> replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator,
> you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation
> movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.
>
> This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need
> the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these
> funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly
> under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look
> for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin
> so the funds can be transferred.
>
> Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund
> account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to
> wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your
> commission for this transaction. After I receive that information,
> I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will
> be used to protect the funds.
>
> Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Wall Street on the Dole

Posted in economy, ethics, politics by jaeminuf on September 23, 2008

Someone tell me why that $700 billion can’t be put to actually helping out individuals rather than Wall Street.

The Feds will need to create some administrative infrastructure that will handle doling out – yes, I am using the rhetoric of welfare intentionally here – $700 billion to Wall Street. There will be some wrangling over how many cents to each dollar of debt to be acquired. Blah blah blah.

How much more difficult would it be to set aside that money, create the administrative infrastructure by which mortgage owners who are suffering can apply for re-financing from that pot of money? The banks will get their loans back, homeowners would be able to keep their homes (presuming that a majority will be able to afford discounted mortgage rates), and the fed will get its money back over time, and bankruptcy laws wouldn’t need to be changed?

And really, I can’t be the only person who thinks this may be feasible and far preferable than what Paulson, Bernancke, and the Bush administration are demanding, oops, “proposing as necessary to avoid financial meltdown, global economic crisis, a recession, Armageddon (choose your pick).” Other than that this may be impolitic, why can’t this work?

And tell me again, why ought the US Treasury include foreign investors in the bailout? Nevermind why Wall Street can’t pull itself up by its bootstraps.

I’m asking, not being rhetorical. Sarcastic, but not rhetorical.

Words of Advice from President Bartlet

Posted in ethics, politics by jaeminuf on September 22, 2008

What if Barack Obama turned to former President Jed Bartlet of the “West Wing” for some fatherly wisdom?

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

Aaron Sorkin Conjures a Meeting of Obama and Bartlet
Maureen DowdThe New York Times

Oh my god, my god (note, I used “god” in lower caps) is Aaron Sorkin! I love Aaron Sorkin. I LLLUUUUUUUUUV Aaron Sorkin. And I love President Bartlet. And oh my god, let righteous anger speak!

I loved that Biden said it would be patriotic for the wealthy to do their part at this time. Thank you, Biden, for having balls

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves!

Posted in gender, politics by jaeminuf on September 16, 2008

I chanced upon this firsthand account of the Alaskan women’s rally against Palin’s nomination. It was heartening.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage.  The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators).  This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state.  I was absolutely stunned.  The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by.  And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute.  This just doesn’t happen here. – ‘Alaska Women Reject Palin’ Rally is HUGE!

Alaska Women Say She Be Failin’

Posted in gender, politics by jaeminuf on September 16, 2008

Born Again But Not For Palin

A couple of hours after Gov. Sarah Palin returned to the Outside, as Alaskans call the Lower 48, her local critics swarmed an Anchorage intersection to correct the widespread impression that the whole of the Last Frontier endorses her candidacy.

“The whole thing grew out of frustration,” said Charla Sterne, one of the organizers, who like several people at the rally declined to say where they worked (several said they were state employees and feared retribution). – In Anchorage, an Anti-Palin ProtestWashington Post

I couldn’t resist including a sample of the signs:

  • Bush In A Skirt
  • Palin: She Be Failin’
  • Jesus Was a Community Organizer
  • Palin: Thanks But No Thanks
  • Smearing Alaska’s Good Name One Scandal @ a Time
  • Candidate To Nowhere
  • Rape Kits Should Be Free
  • Voted For Her Once: Never Again!
  • Community Organizers are the Real Patriots
  • Barbies for War
  • I Shall Not Be Pandered To
  • Give Palin Your Vote AND Your Draft Age Child
  • Sarah Palin: So Far Right She’s Wrong
  • Coat Hangers for McCain
  • Sarah Palin, Undoing 150 Years of American Feminism
  • Hockey Mama for Obama (on a hockey stick)

 

Fear and Loathing – Let Us Not Indulge

Posted in politics by jaeminuf on September 16, 2008

I hadn’t realized until yesterday that some Obama supporters have been regarding HRC to be conspicuously absent from the campaign because, in large part, my political radar had been tuned to pick up Obama‘s presence. Although now I can’t find the specific Salon.com article through which I became aware of this acrimony, the eagerness and vehemence with which some Salon.com‘s readers thrashed HRC with charges of being a selfish saboteur and traitor were alarming. Especially in light of the fact that HRC has been out there campaigning on Obama‘s behalf:

While I too share the anxieties resulting from the past two weeks’ surreality, it does no good to to cast unfounded aspersions on HRC, insisting she isn’t doing enough to win it for Obama. Besides the fact that winning this election is the responsibility of Obama, his campaign, and his supporters (by which I mean me and you, that is if you want to see Obama in the office), we can do better. We can start by stepping back so that we can get a better view of what actually is happening and what needs to happen.
(more…)

Alternate Reality

Posted in ethics, politics by jaeminuf on September 13, 2008

I’ve been very gloom and doom. Fretting over the election. Fretting about many things. Doesn’t help that I’m reading text after text on neo-Confucian ethics, including the memoirs of a Korean noblewoman whose husband, the crown prince, was sealed into a rice chest by his father, the king, and left to die: The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng, translated by JaHyun Kim Haboush. So, yes, I’ve been fretting about the moral/ethical failings of our world.

Then, I read this article.

The Year of the Cloned Candidates

By GAIL COLLINS
Published: September 13, 2008

We have been approaching this presidential race the wrong way. It’s not political science. It’s science fiction. Something is amiss in the space-time continuum.

The presidential candidates running now are not the same ones we started out with. It’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” all over again. We’re watching the clash of the pod people. – The New York Times

 

Theyre here already! Youre next!

They're here already! You're next!

 

And I laughed. Lots. Gaffawing laughter.

Methinks I need to schedule in regular doses of the Daily Show with John Stewart.

If this were indeed a sci-fi horror flick, the kicker I’d like to add is this: the final scene takes us to a facility where the Republicans, unbeknownst to the American public, have been conducting secretly cloning experiments from stem cell lines. The final shot pans across glass pods of clones and zooms in slowly on the pod containing the protagonist’s clone. Mwahahahahahah.

 

David Frum on Equality – “Never Can Be or Should Be a Conservative Goal.”

Posted in class, economy, education, ethics, politics by jaeminuf on September 8, 2008

Question to David Frum. Do you really want to assert the following on record?

Equality in itself never can be or should be a conservative goal.

The Vanishing Republican Voter: Why income inequality is destroying the G.O.P. base.
– David Frum,
The New York Times

WTF?

I reread it and the surrounding passage repeatedly to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood that the author was asserting that conservatives should not prioritize equality in itself as a worthwhile objective. I didn’t misread it.

Wow, really? Somebody needs to brush up on his civics lessons:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal…”

The Declaration of Independence, 2nd paragraph