Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill said President Bush is “in a panic” over the financial crisis and isn’t well-equipped to deal with it. “I don’t think he understands or knows much about any of this and it shows,” O’Neill told ABC News. In his 2004 book, The Price of Loyalty, O’Neill revealed that Dick Cheney argued in a White House meeting that “deficits don’t matter.” O’Neill also said that he was disturbed that Bush was so disengaged on domestic issues.
Reader T.L. writes in with some important advice that’s relevant to this morning’s exhortations against Internet Explorer:
Important issues of the day. As one commenter noted, I bet many of your IE users are people at work without admin rights. Likely not an issue for the free-wheeling journalist types but many don’t get to choose. But, there is a solution you can post for you readers:FIREFOX PORTABLE. I installed it on a USB drive and ran Firefox on my admin computer at my last job. Link below:
Do yourself a favor.
Not only does it seem to me that it would be dumb for the United States to ruin our relationship with Russia over issues related to Georgia, but it seems that the population of Georgia has no particular desire to align with the United States in a conflict with Russia:
The Gallup team cautions that “It remains to be seen how the 2008 South Ossetian War will change Georgians’ views of Russia and the United States and their perceptions of the importance of maintaining relations with either country.” Either way, though, it seems that Mikhail Saakashvili’s vision of strong Georgian nationalism in alignment with US neoconservatives and in conflict with Russia is not broadly popular in his country.
As Congress considers a $700 billion way out of the current economic crisis, it’s hard not to notice that this sum closely resembles the amount that the U.S. has spent so far in Iraq. (We will have spent far more than that by the time we withdraw.)
Many will remember Osama bin Laden’s November 2004 straight-to-video release where he discussed Al Qaeda’s stratey against the United States, saying it was “easy for [Al Qaeda] to provoke and bait this administration“:
All that we have to do is to send two Mujahedin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qa’ida in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human economic and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits to their private companies. [...]
So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. [...]
And even more dangerous and bitter for America is that the Mujahedin recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan with Allah’s permission… And it all shows that the real loser is… you. It’s the American people and their economy.
Anticipating the likely release of a new Al Qaeda video starring either bin Laden or Ayman al Zawahiri — both of whom remain at large, more than seven years after George W. Bush promised to bring them in “dead or alive” — we should remember that, as Ron Suskind reported in The One Percent Doctrine, the CIA’s strategic assessment that “bin-Laden’s [Nov. 2004] message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection“:
At the five o’clock meeting, [deputy CIA director] John McLaughlin opened the issue with the consensus view: “Bin-Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President.”
McLaughlin’s comment drew nods from CIA officers at the table. Jami Miscik, CIA deputy associate director for intelligence, suggested that the al-Qaeda founder may have come to Bush’s aid because bin-Laden felt threatened by the rise in Iraq of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; bin-Laden might have thought his leadership would be diminished if Bush lost the White House and their “eye-to-eye struggle” ended.
But the CIA analysts also felt that bin-Laden might have recognized how Bush’s policies – including the Guantanamo prison camp, the Abu Ghraib scandal and the endless bloodshed in Iraq – were serving al-Qaeda’s strategic goals for recruiting a new generation of jihadists.
“Certainly,” the CIA’s Miscik said, “he would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years,” according to Suskind’s account of the meeting.
John McCain has been very clear that when it comes to national security, he would like to keep doing what Bush has been doing for a few more years. That is, he would like to keep jumping at the bait. Remember that when that new AQ video drops.
Sanders Schools Kudlow: ‘You’ve Become A Socialist — Your Version Of Socialism Is To Bail Out The Rich’
Appearing on CNBC’s Kudlow and Company on Tuesday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dismantled host Larry Kudlow’s proclaimed support for unfettered free market enterprise.
Sanders told Kudlow that after all the “ranting and raving” he had done “against government intervention and [extolling] the virtues of the free market,” he must surely be against the bailout. “No, I’m in favor of the bailout,” Kudlow said. “You’ve become a socialist overight!” Sanders responded, telling Kudlow, “Your version of socialism is to bail out the rich.”
Kudlow said that he’s in favor of government intervention “every 20 or 30 or 50 years.” Sanders responded:
Larry, if I ask you that the government should intervene like every other industrialized country does and provide health care for all people, you’d say ‘oh no!’ And if I ask you to support government intervention so that we don’t have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the world, you’d say ‘oh no!’ But when Wall Street screws up because of their greed, you say, ‘oh yes, it’s a great idea!’
Proving the Senator’s point, Kudlow ended the segment by stating: “You’re quite right, Mr. Sanders. Do we want a government-run health care system? I say no.” Watch it:
Sanders explained, “My own view is that it would be an obscenity for the middle class of this country – whose standard of living has gone down since Bush has been in office – to bail out Wall Street and the richest people in this country, who have seen a huge increase in their income and wealth.”
Sanders told ThinkProgress earlier this week that the “fiscally responsible way” to pay for the bailout is “through a progressive tax.” Sanders is proposing a “five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers,” which he says he would “yield more than $300 billion in revenue.”
Jamie Galbraith says we don’t need this bailout. Instead, he proposes:
With banks, runs occur only when depositors panic, because they fear the loan book is bad. Deposit insurance takes care of that. So why not eliminate the pointless $100,000 cap on federal deposit insurance and go take inventory? If a bank is solvent, money market funds would flow in, eliminating the need to insure those separately. If it isn’t, the FDIC has the bridge bank facility to take care of that.
Next, put half a trillion dollars into the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. fund — a cosmetic gesture — and as much money into that agency and the FBI as is needed for examiners, auditors and investigators. Keep $200 billion or more in reserve, so the Treasury can recapitalize banks by buying preferred shares if necessary — as Warren Buffett did this week with Goldman Sachs. Review the situation in three months, when Congress comes back. Hedge funds should be left on their own. You can’t save everyone, and those investors aren’t poor.
During the second half of her interview with Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), Katie Couric gave Palin a chance to defend her previous claims that Alaska’s proximity to Russia gives her foreign policy experience. Palin lamented the fact that the press had “mocked” the notion, adding, “Our next door neighbors are foreign countries — they’re in the state that I am the executive of.” Watch it:
After the interview concluded, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) canceled an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman to sit for an unscheduled interview with Couric.
Yglesias notes, “Moscow is closer to New York than it is to Anchorage. And yet nobody would say that David Paterson has extensive foreign policy experience thanks to his proximity to Russia.”
Accelerating Atmospheric CO2 Growth from Economic Activity, Carbon Intensity, and Efficiency of Natural Carbon Sinks
If you are in DC, don’t miss Friday’s American Meteorological Society seminar. For those who can’t attend, a video is usually put online days later (I’ll post it should that happen). Here is a program summary and the bios of the very impressive speaker list:
Nancy Pfotenhauer, a senior economic adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), is the former top lobbyist for Koch Industries, the right-wing corporate polluter. Her current husband, Kurt Pfotenhauer, is the CEO and top lobbyist of the American Land Title Association, “the national trade association and voice of the abstract and title insurance industry.” Until this year, Kurt was the senior vice president and top lobbyist of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), “the national association representing the real estate finance industry.”
Pfotenhauer, like his wife, is part of Washington’s revolving-door lobbyist culture. Prior to joining MBA in May 2002, Pfotenhauer was chief of staff to Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) for five years (in 2006, Smith received $14,000 in campaign contributions from the MBA PAC). Previously, Pfotenhauer was a lobbyist for United Parcel Service (UPS) for five years, and before that was chief of staff to Rep. Denny Smith (R-OR).
Kurt Pfotenhauer’s past and present clients are, of course, the real estate finance corporations that are at the center of the present financial crisis. Their predatory and deceptive lending practices in pursuit of irrational profit margins — in concert with hedge funds and investment banks who blew up toxic mortgages into towers of unregulated debt — have threatened the fiscal underpinnings of the global economy.
For years, they worked in concert with the Bush administration to block, weaken, and delay regulatory reform by Congress, such as the Predatory Mortgage Lending Practices Reduction Act of 2007, which died in the Senate. Last year, Pfotenhauer testified before Congress against the Emergency Home Ownership and Mortgage Equity Protection Act, a bill that would have allowed judges to restructure toxic mortgages to allow people to keep their homes — and would have helped prevent the current financial meltdown and bailouts. Read more