Friday, September 26, 2008

Michelle Obama: Why Racists fear her Intelligence, Independence, Integrity, Strength, and Beauty


If you get a chance please check out this September 2008 issue of RADAR magazine and read a very interesting article about the wonderful Michelle Obama and white America's very bizarre reaction to her and then check out the magazine's expose of the ton of absolutely murderously racist stuff that the magazine's staff actually downloaded from the internet viciously attacking Barack and Michelle in the most vile, DANGEROUS, and disgusting terms imaginable. It's FAR WORSE than anything you could imagine in your worse case scenarios about just how deeply rooted and widespread this racist poison is and how much the Obamas (and especially Michelle) are despised...


The Psychosis That Rules America, Part III: Obama Confounds Racist Expectations

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Barack Obama, after his meeting at the White House on Thursday. A supporter said of him, “People don’t want theatrics here, they want steadiness.”


See how truly insidious the American psychosis of racism really is? Notice how Obama is being attacked for not foaming from the mouth and for actually maintaining a cool, calm, clear eyed, intelligent, emotionally mature, and statesmanlike demeanor in the face of crisis while many truly demented whitefolks in the media and the general society demand from him a "visceral" display of anger as in a viciously stereotypical demonstration of the crazed, irrational black man who they think (would? should? could?) beat his chest 'King Kong' style so they can then vicariously cop their utterly psychotic and even bizarrely sublimated "sexual" thrill of watching the "hot nigger" act a fool for them in public? You KNOW that's what is behind all these outrageously idiotic desires don't you? OF COURSE YOU DO.

You see, the major problem with all clinical psychotics (and that is essentially what all racists ARE) is that they are largely UNCONSCIOUS (or "act"/pretend like they are) of the fundamental fact that they ARE psychotic. They think that being violently irrational and full of insecurity, hatred, desire, envy, fear, and ironically INFERIORITY COMPLEXES) is only reserved for the object-people that they insanely think they are "superior" to (look it up in your Psychology 101 texts folks--I'm sure there's a little section marked "PROJECTION AND DISPLACEMENT" there somewhere)...

Thus we have and will continue to have this ongoing racist spectacle of these morons damning and condemning Obama both for being who he actually is AND for who they "want" him to be--especially if it's negative behavior. That's their racist desire and expectation (and thus demand). They can't stand the fact that the brother is intelligently "beyond" all that. After all exactly what kind of Uppity Nigger does he think he is?


In a Time of Crisis, Is Obama Too Cool?
Published: September 25, 2008
New York Times

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Where many politicians would have aspired to show anger, Senator Barack Obama spoke in a soft, even tone as he reached the crescendo of his speech Wednesday about government mismanagement of the economy.

“At this defining moment, we have the chance to finally stand up and say, enough is enough,” Mr. Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, told a ballpark packed with 11,000 people here.

Two hours later, after Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, said he would temporarily stop campaigning because of the economic crisis, Mr. Obama looked downright unflappable at a news conference. Referring to this week of economic peril — and tweaking his Republican rival — Mr. Obama said flatly, “Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time.”

However forceful and passionate Mr. Obama can be, his speeches and public appearances this week have underscored how he is sometimes out of sync with the visceral anger of Americans who are losing their jobs and homes. He often talks about growing up on food stamps and about having paid off his student loans only recently, yet his tone and volume, body language, facial expressions and words convey a certain distance from the ache that many voters feel.

“People want presidents who lead and relate to them — they don’t want presidents who analyze and seem above it all,” said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. “Obama still comes across as dispassionate to the point of coolness. He is so comfortable in his own skin, he can be hard to connect with for people who are struggling.”

Discussing the Iraq war earlier in the campaign, Mr. Obama did not need to come across as livid because many voters saw him as right: he was the only top-tier presidential candidate who opposed the war from the start. Now the economy is the issue of the day, and Mr. Obama has largely been delivering Mr. Fix-It speeches and pointed critiques.

“For the candidates, it’s show, not tell,” said Ruth Sherman, a political communications consultant. “Saying you understand is not enough, you have to be able to show it. Obama’s dispassionate approach on the economic crisis fails him on this front because his delivery contradicts his words.”

Whereas former Vice President Al Gore and Senator John Kerry struck populist tones during their presidential bids, Mr. Obama is having none of it. For better or worse, his performance in this time of financial peril goes to the heart of who he is. Mr. Obama may have looked subdued as he arrived at the White House on Thursday for a meeting on the economy, but he also stayed calm and ultimately prevailed at a similarly urgent point in his primary campaign against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose turn toward populism helped her win the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries.

“I think it would be more popular in the short term politically to be more populist on the bailout and Wall Street,” said Gov. Michael F. Easley of North Carolina, a Democrat, “but people know in their gut that a populist approach won’t solve the problem.”

Indeed, Mr. McCain has come under criticism from some voters — and from conservatives in his own party, like George F. Will — for railing against Wall Street and proposing to fire people and enact economic policies that conflict with his record.

For Mr. Obama, the financial crisis poses different risks. He wants to appear fired up over the economy, but he has written before about wanting to avoid appearing like a stereotypical angry black man. Unlike Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other black leaders whose fulminations could scare white voters, Mr. Obama is not from and of New York, Detroit, or the segregated South; he grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. To some degree Mr. Obama faces the opposite challenge from fiery black leaders who came before him: Is he too cool for a crisis like this one?

(Notice the incredibly patronizing, condescending, and insidiously racist non-sequitur comparisons in this clearly racist paragraph?--Kofi)

“He may not be everything to everybody on the bailout, and he may not be a barnstorming speaker on this issue, but he is speaking credibly and seriously and honestly,” said Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, who joined Mr. Obama at a rally on the economy in Green Bay on Monday. “People don’t want theatrics here, they want steadiness.”

If voters in Michigan and Ohio do not demand stemwinding speeches from Mr. Obama, they may be left wondering where the passion is in his signature line, delivered at a fund-raiser in Chicago on Monday night: “We don’t get too high when we’re high, we don’t get too low when we’re low, we just try to do the job.”

Reba Younce, who attended Mr. Obama’s rally here on Wednesday, came away with just that impression of him. A 61-year-old independent voter and a former deputy in law enforcement, Ms. Younce said she would vote for Mr. Obama, in part because of his temperament.

“His way of approaching things may not work for everyone who’s angry nowadays, but I sense some anger just below the surface,” Ms. Younce said. “Though if things keep getting worse, he may need to turn it up a little, to show passion some more.”


Meanwhile the far more visceral traditional forms of racist attack continue as a complement for the so-called "more refined" or "subtle" expressions advocated by media and (cough!) many "white intellectuals."


Obama Effigy Hung From College Tree

NEWBERG, Ore. (Sept. 25) - Officials of a small Christian university say a life-size cardboard reproduction of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was hung from a tree on the campus, an act with racial undertones that outraged students and school leaders alike.

George Fox University President Robin Baker said a custodian discovered the effigy early Tuesday and removed it. University spokesman Rob Felton said Wednesday that the commercially produced reproduction had been suspended from the branch of a tree with fishing line around the neck.

George Fox University Robin Baker, president of George Fox University, described himself as "disheartened and outraged" by the effigy of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Taped to the cardboard cutout of the black senator from Illinois was a message targeting participants in Act Six, a scholarship program geared toward increasing the number of minority and low-income students at several Christian colleges, mostly in the Northwest.

The message read, "Act Six reject."

The disturbing image found near the heart of the campus recalled the days of lynchings of blacks and was all the more incongruous at a university founded by Quaker pioneers in 1891. Felton said he had been at the school since he enrolled two decades ago, and "I've never experienced or heard of any type of overt racial act."

At the end of the college's regular chapel service Wednesday, Baker told students he was "disheartened and outraged."

"It has been my dream to establish a university that more adequately represents the kingdom of God," he said. "This act causes some to question our commitment."
Baker added, "What I've learned is we still have work to do."

Administrators at the university said Wednesday they do not know who hung the effigy, which Felton said few people saw before it was taken down.

Newberg police Sgt. Tim Weaver said officials are working with the university to find out who was responsible. He also said the police department has notified the U.S. Secret Service, although it's not clear yet whether the act was a crime.

"It doesn't fit as a hate crime and it doesn't fit in as intimidation, necessarily," he said. "If it's not a crime, we're not going to be involved."

Brad Lau, a university vice president, said school officials have been questioning students to find out who was responsible. He and other school officials wouldn't say what action it might take.

The school has 17 students in the Act Six program, whose name derives from the New Testament book of Acts. All but one are members of minority groups, Felton said.

Students in the program receive full scholarships and are selected on the basis of leadership potential.
Several students in the program said they are angry but do not feel threatened.

"To me, I just felt like they weren't ready to have a black person be president," said Courtney Greenidge, a sophomore. "We're trying to bring change. Obama's trying to bring change." She described herself, like Obama, as biracial: half black, half white.

She also said that overall, the campus has a welcoming and positive environment, but that she has heard comments along the lines of, "Oh, I wish I was black. Then I could get a scholarship like that."

Obama spokeswoman Sahar Wali said the effigy hanging was "an unfortunate incident but you know we have had a very positive response from Oregonians across the state."

Obama is widely considered to be ahead in Oregon. In the run-up to the state's May primary, he drew a crowd of about 75,000 people in Portland.

George Fox University's campus is in Newberg in the Willamette Valley south of Portland. About 1,800 students are enrolled. It also has centers in Portland; Salem; and Boise, Idaho.

Felton said that about 2 percent of the students are black and about a quarter of the freshman class belongs to minority groups. That number includes international students, largely from Asia and Africa.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Bitter Lessons of American History & Barack Obama

"Of all our studies History is the one that will most reward all research"
--Malcolm X (1925-1965)

September 22, 2008


Barack Obama, John McCain and the Language of Race

New York Times

It was not that long ago that black people in the Deep South could be beaten or killed for seeking the right to vote, talking back to the wrong white man or failing to give way on the sidewalk. People of color who violated these and other proscriptions could be designated “uppity niggers” and subjected to acts of violence and intimidation that were meant to dissuade others from following their examples.

The term “uppity” was applied to affluent black people, who sometimes paid a horrific price for owning nicer homes, cars or more successful businesses than whites. Race-based wealth envy was a common trigger for burnings, lynchings and cataclysmic episodes of violence like the Tulsa race riot of 1921, in which a white mob nearly eradicated the prosperous black community of Greenwood.

Forms of eloquence and assertiveness that were viewed as laudable among whites were seen as positively mutinous when practiced by people of color. As such, black men and women who looked white people squarely in the eye — and argued with them about things that mattered — were declared a threat to the racial order and persecuted whenever possible.

This obsession with black subservience was based in nostalgia for slavery. No sane person would openly express such a sentiment today. But the discomfort with certain forms of black assertiveness is too deeply rooted in the national psyche — and the national language — to just disappear. It has been a persistent theme in the public discourse since Barack Obama became a plausible candidate for the presidency.

A blatant example surfaced earlier this month, when a Georgia Republican, Representative Lynn Westmoreland, described the Obamas as “uppity” in response to a reporter’s question. Mr. Westmoreland, who actually stood by the term when given a chance to retreat, later tried to excuse himself by saying that the dictionary definition carried no racial meaning. That seems implausible. Mr. Westmoreland is from the South, where the vernacular meaning of the word has always been clear.

The Jim Crow South institutionalized racial paternalism in its newspapers, which typically denied black adults the courtesy titles of Mr. and Mrs. — and reduced them to children by calling them by first names only. Representative Geoff Davis, Republican of Kentucky, succumbed to the old language earlier this year when describing what he viewed as Mr. Obama’s lack of preparedness to handle nuclear policy. “That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button,” he said.

In the Old South, black men and women who were competent, confident speakers on matters of importance were termed “disrespectful,” the implication being that all good Negroes bowed, scraped, grinned and deferred to their white betters.

In what is probably a harbinger of things to come, the McCain campaign has already run a commercial that carries a similar intimation, accusing Mr. Obama of being “disrespectful” to Sarah Palin. The argument is muted, but its racial antecedents are very clear.

The throwback references that have surfaced in the campaign suggest that Republicans are fighting on racial grounds, even when express references to race are not evident. In a replay of elections past, the G.O.P. will try to leverage racial ghosts and fears without getting its hands visibly dirty. The Democrats try to parry in customary ways.

Mr. Obama seems to understand that he is always an utterance away from a statement — or a phrase — that could transform him in a campaign ad from the affable, rational and racially ambiguous candidate into the archetypical angry black man who scares off the white vote. His caution is evident from the way he sifts and searches the language as he speaks, stepping around words that might push him into the danger zone.

These maneuvers are often painful to watch. The troubling part is that they are necessary.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Venus & Serena Go To Africa!-- November 10-12, 2008


Like I've said many times in the past Venus and Serena Williams continue to be my favorite athletes on the Planet. I really wish there were many more like them...


Tennis stars Williams sisters to make first joint visit to Africa

Lagos, Nigeria - Global tennis sensations Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, are due in Nigeria in November 2008 in what will be their first-ever joint visit to Africa, according to the organisers of the visit. ''The Williams sisters, in a meeting at the Plaza Athenee Hotel in Manhattan (New York) confirmed their visit for Nov. 10 to Nov 12,'' the coordinator of the visit, Mr. Godwin Kienka, told PANA Tuesday.

Mr. Kienka, who runs the International Tennis Academy in Lagos and publishes a tennis magazine - Tennis Africa, said the sisters would be coming with their mother, Oracene, as well as sister and manager Isha Price, trainers and other staffers.

He said the sisters would fly to the commercial city of Lagos directly from Doha, the capital of Qatar, after playing in the last tournament on the WTA calendar in that city

Mr. Kienka said the final confirmation of the visit was made during the New York meeting this week, and that Serena's clothing sponsor Nike, as well as Wilson racquet and bag sponsors for both, are also interested in supporting the project.

The theme of the historic visit will be ''Touching 1000 lives'', adding that in addition to the sisters adopting an orphanage for sports programmes, ''they will play an exhibition, run a short clinic and impact (on) 1000 youths.''

It would be Venus' first visit to Africa, whereas Serena had been to Ghana and Senegal.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kienka said a committee to plan the visit had been set up, with Chief A.K. Horsefall, former boss of the Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as chairman.

Lagos, Nigeria

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Serena Williams wins 2008 U,S. Open and Returns to the Number One Ranking


I've been so wrapped up in the ongoing political psychodrama of the presidential race I stupidly neglected to send you all a celebratory message about one of my two favorite athletes on Planet Earth (hint: The other one is her older sister who I believe is named 'Venus', if I'm not mistaken), Ms. Serena Williams (known affectionately to me as "Da Gunslinger"). Talking about the miraculous: it's truly astonishing that Serena has now been ranked the Number One player in the world in women's tennis on two separate record-breaking occasions five years apart! Coupled with her and Venus together winning the Olympic Gold Medal in doubles just last month in Beijing and Venus's 5th Wimbledon singles title in July (note: the sisters were ALSO the winners in doubles at this year's Wimbledon as well), this has been yet another extraordinary banner year for these two living sports legends! This is Serena's 9th Grand Slam title in her storied career.

Now winners of 16 Grand Slam singles titles between them in their careers Serena and Venus (who have now won an incredible 43% of all the Grand Slam singles titles played since September 1999!), the sisters and their equally amazing family (father and mentor Richard, mother Oracene, and their two other sisters, Isha & Lyndrea) continue to confound the overwhelmingly white tennis world with their elegance, dominance, skill, grace, power, charm, integrity, and beauty. May these two iconic African American wunderkind continue to reign and may we all be fortunate enough to continue to enjoy and appreciate their work for years to come...


P.S. I was so glad to see the sisters finally shut the insufferable Chris Evert up! (see article below for details). It's really the icing on a big fat beautiful cake for me.

Serena Williams Wins U.S. Open, Retaking No. 1

Published: September 7, 2008
Correction Appended
New York Times

No world No. 1 in women’s tennis has slogged through so desolate a valley between peaks than Serena Williams. After relinquishing the top spot in August 2003, Williams fell so far that she wasn’t within echoing distance of the summit two years ago.

Outside the top 125 at this time in 2006, Williams completed her climb back to No. 1 Sunday night with a 6-4, 7-5 victory against Jelena Jankovic to claim her third United States Open title.

The 23-year-old Jankovic, who was appearing in her first final in her 21st Grand Slam event, fought gamely to the end, extending points with her dogged defense. Her nerves, which were indiscernible at the start, surfaced in the 20th game, serving at 5-4, when she squandered four set points.

“I gave her a lot of gifts when it was crucial,” Jankovic said, adding: “I had a lot of chances, so many set points, so many things to win that second set and go into a third. I let my opportunities go away.”

After breaking her with a forehand passing shot, Williams won 10 of the final 16 points to secure her ninth major singles championship. Williams converted her second match point with a backhand that fell as softly as a tissue, then she dropped her racket and hopped up and down. When at last she made it to the net, she apologized to Jankovic for getting so excited.

The second-ranked Jankovic, who was No. 1 for a week last month, might have lost the match but she won over the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd during the award presentation. She started off by thanking everyone and her drivers. While accepting the runner-up trophy, she said: “I lost my No. 1 ranking. It’s not fair.”

Then, as Williams was being presented with her $1.5 million check, Jankovic asked, “How much did I get?”

The answer, as she would soon find out, was $750,000. “So now I have a lot of money to spend,” she said, laughing, in her news conference. “Tomorrow is my day to go shopping.”

The match had tense rallies and dizzying momentum swings. Jankovic had 15 winners and 22 unforced errors. Williams finished with 44 winners, offsetting her 39 unforced errors. Emboldened by her Olympic gold medal in doubles with her older sister Venus, Williams came to the net 22 times in the second set and won 20 of the points.

It was little wonder that the match was high on drama. Williams is a card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild, and Jankovic, who has battled a host of injuries from head to toe this year, has said she probably would have gone to school and studied theater if she hadn’t become a professional tennis player.

“I got the trophy here,” Jankovic said, “and I thought, you know, I should have gotten an Oscar for all this drama throughout the week. Despite, you know, getting a trophy, I should have gotten, you know, a trophy for the acting, for my drama. I think I’ve done a great job.”

No woman has gone so long between stints at the top as Williams, who came into the tournament ranked No. 3 and will overtake Ana Ivanovic, who lost in the second round. “I can’t believe I’m No. 1,” she said. “It’s been so long.”

Williams did not drop a set in the tournament and lost 40 games. It was a performance reminiscent of 2002, when she did not drop a set and beat Venus in the first women’s prime-time final (Please note: The NY Times really need a reliable fact-checker: It was Venus who beat Serena in the "first women's primetime final at the U.S. Open" in 2001--not 2002)

As ecstatic as she was after match point, Williams made it clear in her news conference 90 minutes later that nine was not enough. “I’m pushing the doors to double digits, which I obviously want to get to,” she said, adding, “I feel like I can do it.”

Williams’s place in the pantheon of American luminaries was secure no matter what happened Sunday. That it had been five years since she held the No. 1 ranking did not preclude the two men behind the recent HBO documentary “The Black List” from including her in their portraits of 22 of the most fascinating and influential black Americans.

The 26-year-old Williams joined, among others, the Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and the former Secretary of State Colin Powell in pulling back the curtain to reveal the challenges and rewards of black life in the United States.

“I felt honored that they wanted me to speak on it and to be a part of it,” Williams said. “I was so excited to do it.”

Morrison talked about how writing was her only “free place,” an unfiltered outlet for her expression. The tennis court is that place for Williams, an entertainer inexorably drawn to the spotlight. Her flair for drama makes each of her matches an improvisational play in two or three acts.

While Morrison and Williams would appear to have much in common, Williams said she found Powell’s interview the most illuminating. “I was really struck by his story,” she said, “and everything he was saying.”

That is Williams in a sound bite, running around the obvious answer the way her opponents might a ball hit to their weak sides. In interview rooms, as on the court, Williams is famous for keeping her antagonists off balance.

When it comes to tennis, Williams has steadfastly adhered to her own script. Along with Venus, she began playing on public courts in Compton, a Southern California community that never will be confused with a tennis hotbed.

She was not a fixture on the junior circuit, and when she and Venus turned professional, as teenagers, they continued to take classes toward fashion degrees, and, in Serena’s case, to pursue acting roles.

In 1999, Serena won the Open for the first of 16 Williams family Grand Slam singles titles. From the beginning of 2002 through the end of 2003, Williams won five of the six majors she entered.

Then she went from nearly invincible to almost invisible. Between January 2005 and December 2006, she played 44 matches, five fewer than she has in 2008. Williams’s world ranking was inching toward 140 when Chris Evert, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, gently took Williams to task in an open letter in Tennis magazine for tarnishing her legacy by not maximizing her extraordinary tennis abilities.

“In the short term you may be happy with the various things going on in your life,” Evert wrote, “but I wonder whether 20 years from now you might reflect on your career and regret not putting 100 percent of yourself into tennis.” Evert, whose singular devotion to tennis stoked her success, added, “I don’t see how acting and designing clothes can compare with the pride of being the best tennis player in the world.”

Evert watched the final Sunday in the suite of Arlen Kantarian, the United States Tennis Association’s chief executive officer for professional tennis. Before the match, Evert conceded that in the long term the Williamses had proved her wrong.

Noting that the former Nos. 1 Justine Henin, Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters bowed out of tennis because of burnout while the Williamses have been playing as well as ever, Evert said: “Let’s put it this way. It’s opened my eyes not to be judgmental and to each his own. Whatever makes you happy. By having other interests, maybe you won’t get burned out as quickly.”

Williams’s fire once again is burning bright. “I feel like I have a new career, like I feel so young and I feel so energized to play every week and to play every tournament,” she said. “I feel like there’s just so much that I can do in my career yet.”

Asked for a one-word description of this year, Williams replied, “Magical,” and explained, “It was everything coming together.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 9, 2008
An article in some copies on Monday about Serena Williams’s United States Open championship misstated the name of a recent HBO documentary that included her among its portraits of fascinating and influential black Americans. It is “The Black List,” not “The Color List.”

Socialism for the Rich Or Welfare for Billionaires


So what exactly is this? Socialism for the rich? Welfare for Billionaires? A Safety net for the Ruling Class? Or just one more brazenly ruthless demonstration of massive fraud, exploitation, and felonious assault on this society and the rest of the world?

These are all merely rhetorical questions of course...As usual Capitalism=Capitulation=Criminality


September 17, 2008

Fed’s $85 Billion Loan Rescues Insurer
New York Times

This article was reported by Edmund L. Andrews, Michael J. de la Merced and Mary Williams Walsh and written by Mr. Andrews.

WASHINGTON — Fearing a financial crisis worldwide, the Federal Reserve reversed course on Tuesday and agreed to an $85 billion bailout that would give the government control of the troubled insurance giant American International Group.

The decision, only two weeks after the Treasury took over the federally chartered mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is the most radical intervention in private business in the central bank’s history.

With time running out after A.I.G. failed to get a bank loan to avoid bankruptcy, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, convened a meeting with House and Senate leaders on Capitol Hill about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to explain the rescue plan. They emerged just after 7:30 p.m. with Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke looking grim, but with top lawmakers initially expressing support for the plan. But the bailout is likely to prove controversial, because it effectively puts taxpayer money at risk while protecting bad investments made by A.I.G. and other institutions it does business with.

What frightened Fed and Treasury officials was not simply the prospect of another giant corporate bankruptcy, but A.I.G.’s role as an enormous provider of esoteric financial insurance contracts to investors who bought complex debt securities. They effectively required A.I.G. to cover losses suffered by the buyers in the event the securities defaulted. It meant A.I.G. was potentially on the hook for billions of dollars’ worth of risky securities that were once considered safe.

If A.I.G. had collapsed — and been unable to pay all of its insurance claims — institutional investors around the world would have been instantly forced to reappraise the value of those securities, and that in turn would have reduced their own capital and the value of their own debt. Small investors, including anyone who owned money market funds with A.I.G. securities, could have been hurt, too. And some insurance policy holders were worried, even though they have some protections.

“It would have been a chain reaction,” said Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of economics at Princeton University. “The spillover effects could have been incredible.”

Financial markets, which on Monday had plunged over worries about A.I.G.’s possible collapse and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, reacted with relief to the news of the bailout. In anticipation of a deal, stocks rose about 1 percent in the United States on Tuesday. Asian stock markets opened with strong gains on Wednesday morning, but the rally lost steam as worries returned about the extent of harm to the global financial system.

Still, the move will likely start an intense political debate during the presidential election campaign over who is to blame for the financial crisis that prompted the rescue.

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke had not requested any new legislative authority for the bailout at Tuesday night’s meeting. “The secretary and the chairman of the Fed, two Bush appointees, came down here and said, ‘We’re from the government, we’re here to help them,’ ” Mr. Frank said. “I mean this is one more affirmation that the lack of regulation has caused serious problems. That the private market screwed itself up and they need the government to come help them unscrew it.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly criticized the rescue, calling the $85 billion a "staggering sum." Ms. Pelosi said the bailout was "just too enormous for the American people to guarantee." Her comments suggested that the Bush administration and the Fed would face sharp questioning in Congressional hearings. President Bush was briefed earlier in the afternoon.

A major concern is that the A.I.G. rescue won’t be the last. At Tuesday night’s meeting. lawmakers asked if there was any way of knowing if this would be the final major government intervention. Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson said there was not. Indeed, the markets remain worried about the financial condition of major regional banks as well as that of Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest thrift.

The decision was a remarkable turnaround by the Bush administration and Mr. Paulson, who had flatly refused over the weekend to risk taxpayer money to prevent the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the distressed sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America. Earlier this year, the government bailed out another investment bank, Bear Stearns, by engineering a sale to JPMorgan Chase that left taxpayers on the hook for up to $29 billion of bad investments by Bear Stearns. The government hoped at the time that this unusual step would both calm markets and lead to a recovery by the financial system. But critics warned at the time that it would only encourage others to seek bailouts, and the eventual costs to the government would be staggering.

The decision to rescue A.I.G. came on the same day that the Fed decided to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2 percent, turning aside hopes by many on Wall Street that the Fed would try to shore up confidence by cutting rates once again.

Fed and Treasury officials initially turned a cold shoulder to A.I.G. when company executives pleaded on Sunday night for the Fed to provide a $40 billion bridge loan to stave off a crippling downgrade of its credit ratings as a result of investment losses that totalled tens of billions of dollars.

But government officials reluctantly backed away from their tough-minded approach after a failed attempt to line up private financing with help from JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, which told federal officials they simply could not raise the money given both the general turmoil in credit markets and the specific fears of problems with A.I.G. The complexity of A.I.G.’s business, and the fact that it does business with thousands of companies around the globe, make its survival crucial at a time when there is stress throughout the financial system worldwide.

“It’s the interconnectedness and the fear of the unknown,” said Roger Altman, a former Treasury official under President Bill Clinton. “The prospect of the world’s largest insurer failing, together with the interconnectedness and the uncertainty about the collateral damage — that’s why it’s scaring people so much.”

Under the plan, the Fed will make a two-year loan to A.I.G. of up to $85 billion and, in return, will receive warrants that can be converted into common stock giving the government nearly 80 percent ownership of the insurer, if the existing shareholders approve. All of the company’s assets are being pledged to secure the loan. Existing stockholders have already seen the value of their stock drop more than 90 percent in the last year. Now they will suffer even more, although they will not be totally wiped out. The Fed was advised by Morgan Stanley, and A.I.G. by the Blackstone Group.

Fed staffers said that they expected A.I.G. would repay the loan before it comes due in two years, either through the sales of assets or through operations.

Asked why Lehman was allowed to fail, but A.I.G. was not, a Fed staffer said the markets were more prepared for the failure of an investment bank. Robert B. Willumstad, who became A.I.G.’s chief executive in June, will be succeeded by Edward M. Liddy, the former chairman of the Allstate Corporation. Under the terms of his employment contract with A.I.G., Mr. Willumstad could receive an exit package worth as much as $8.7 million if his removal is determined to be “without cause,” according to an analysis by James F. Reda and Associates.

A.I.G. is a sprawling empire built by Maurice R. Greenberg, who acquired hundreds of businesses all over the world until he was ousted amid an accounting scandal in 2005. Many of A.I.G.’s subsidiaries wrote insurance of various types. Others made home loans and leased aircraft. The diverse array of companies were more valuable under a single corporate parent like A.I.G., because their business cycles offset each other, giving A.I.G. a relatively smooth stream of revenue and income.

After Mr. Greenberg’s departure, A.I.G. restated its books over a five-year period and instituted conservative new accounting policies. But before the company could really rebuild itself, it became embroiled in the mortgage crisis. Some of its insurance companies ended up with mortgage-backed securities on their books, but the real trouble involved the insurance that its financial products unit offered investors for complex debt securities.

Its stock tumbled faster this year as first the debt securities lost value, and then the insurance contracts, called credit default swaps, came under a cloud.

The Fed’s extraordinary rescue of A.I.G. underscores how much fear remains about the destructive potential of the complex financial instruments, like credit default swaps, that brought A.I.G. to its knees. The market for such instruments has exploded in recent years, but it is almost entirely unregulated. When A.I.G. began to teeter in the last few days, it became clear that if it defaulted on its commitments under the swaps, it could set off a devastating chain reaction through the financial system.

“We are witnessing a rather unique event in the history of the United States,” said Suresh Sundaresan, the Chase Manhattan Bank professor of economics and finance at Columbia University. He thought the near brush with catastrophe would bring about an acceleration of efforts within the Treasury and the Fed to put safety controls on the use of credit default swaps.

“They’re going to tighten the screws and say, ‘We want some safeguards on this market,’ ” he said of the Fed and the Treasury.

The swaps are not securities and are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. And while they perform the same function as an insurance policy, they are not insurance in the conventional sense, so insurance regulators do not monitor them either.

That situation set the stage for deep losses for all the countless investors and other entities that had entered into A.I.G.’s swap contracts. Of the $441 billion in credit default swaps that A.I.G. listed at midyear, more than three-quarters were held by European banks.

“Suddenly banks would be holding a lot of bondlike instruments that were no longer insured,” Mr. Sundaresan said. “They would have to mark them down. And when they marked them down, they would require more capital. And then they would have to go out and raise capital in these markets, which is very difficult.”

Mr. Sundaresan said that for a new market arrangement to succeed, it would have to create a clearinghouse to track swaps trading, and daily requirements to post collateral, so that a huge counterparty would not suddenly find itself having to come up with billions of dollars overnight, the way A.I.G. did.

Edmund L. Andrews reported from Washington. Michael J. de la Merced and Mary Williams Walsh reported from New York. David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting from Washington and Eric Dash from New York..

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
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The Psychosis That Rules America, Part II: Hatred, Hubris & Hypocrisy vs. Barack Obama


The clinical psychosis that rules the United Hates...and the hatred, hubris and hypocrisy that informs it...


September 21, 2008

The Push to ‘Otherize’ Obama

New York Times

Here’s a sad monument to the sleaziness of this presidential campaign: Almost one-third of voters “know” that Barack Obama is a Muslim or believe that he could be.

In short, the political campaign to transform Mr. Obama into a Muslim is succeeding. The real loser as that happens isn’t just Mr. Obama, but our entire political process.

A Pew Research Center survey released a few days ago found that only half of Americans correctly know that Mr. Obama is a Christian. Meanwhile, 13 percent of registered voters say that he is a Muslim, compared with 12 percent in June and 10 percent in March.

More ominously, a rising share — now 16 percent — say they aren’t sure about his religion because they’ve heard “different things” about it.

When I’ve traveled around the country, particularly to my childhood home in rural Oregon, I’ve been struck by the number of people who ask something like: That Obama — is he really a Christian? Isn’t he a Muslim or something? Didn’t he take his oath of office on the Koran?

In conservative Christian circles and on Christian radio stations, there are even widespread theories that Mr. Obama just may be the Antichrist. Seriously.

John Green, of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, says that about 10 percent of Americans believe we may be in the Book of Revelation’s “end times” and are on the lookout for the Antichrist. A constant barrage of e-mail and broadcasts suggest that Mr. Obama just may be it.

The online Red State Shop sells T-shirts, mugs and stickers exploiting the idea. Some shirts and stickers portray a large “O” with horns, above a caption: “The Anti-Christ.”

To his credit, Mr. McCain himself has never raised doubts about Mr. Obama’s religion. But a McCain commercial last month mimicked the words and imagery of the best-selling Christian “Left Behind” book series in ways that would have set off alarm bells among evangelicals nervous about the Antichrist.

Mr. McCain himself is not popular with evangelicals. But they will vote for him if they think the other guy may be on Satan’s side.

In fact, of course, Mr. Obama took his oath on the Bible, not — as the rumors have it — on the Koran. He is far more active in church than John McCain is.

(Just imagine for a moment if it were the black candidate in this election, rather than the white candidate, who was born in Central America, was an indifferent churchgoer, had graduated near the bottom of his university class, had dumped his first wife, had regularly displayed an explosive and profane temper, and had referred to the Pakistani-Iraqi border ...)

What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.

The result is this campaign to “otherize” Mr. Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there’s a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him.

Raising doubts about a candidate based on the religion of his grandfather is toxic and profoundly un-American, cracking the melting pot we emerged from. Someday people will look back at the innuendoes about Mr. Obama with the same disgust with which we regard the smears of Al Smith as a Catholic candidate in 1928.

I’m writing in part out of a sense of personal responsibility. Those who suggest that Mr. Obama is a Muslim — as if that in itself were wrong — regularly cite my own columns, especially an interview last year in which I asked him about Islam and his boyhood in Indonesia. In that interview, Mr. Obama praised the Arabic call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset,” and he repeated the opening of it.

This should surprise no one: the call to prayer blasts from mosque loudspeakers five times a day, and Mr. Obama would have had to have been deaf not to learn the words as a child. But critics, like Jerome Corsi, whose book denouncing Mr. Obama, “The Obama Nation,” is No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list, quote from that column to argue that Mr. Obama has mysterious ties to Islam. I feel a particular obligation not to let my own writing be twisted so as to inflame bigotry and xenophobia.

Journalists need to do more than call the play-by-play this election cycle. We also need to blow the whistle on such egregious fouls calculated to undermine the political process and magnify the ugliest prejudices that our nation has done so much to overcome.

I invite you to comment on this column on my blog,, and to join me on Facebook at

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

The Psychosis That Rules America: The Vicious Reality of Racism in U.S. Presidential Politics


I originally made the following statement on January 12, 2008 in this publication. It's repeated here because it obviously remains all too true of this society and of course this election. The Newsweek article below not only confirms our deepest fears but is also still more blatant evidence of our most ancient and historically reliable knowledge of what America actually is as opposed to what it tells itself it is...BTW: The ridiculous phrase "racial misgivings" from the Newsweek article below is just one more utterly feeble and dishonest example of typically American codespeak. What they "really meant to say" is RACISM...



I don't want to burst anyone's bubble by saying the following (or maybe I do) but in the interest of sheer accuracy there's a much larger truth that must be seriously acknowledged and dealt with here. And that is this: So long as AT LEAST 50% of the entire white voting population WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER VOTE FOR A BLACK CANDIDATE (whether he or she is the "best candidate" or not) we should not delude ourselves into thinking that this election doesn't have "anything to do with race." That's simply false based on the actual well documented historical record. There is no such thing as "color blind" politics in the United States and anyone who thinks there is, is either ignorant of the actual facts or engaging in self-delusional fantasy. Of course the color of a person's skin should not make a difference in how someone votes but it would the height of naivete to think for even a nanosecond that this is the actual case in a country where racial bloc voting is well established and still very prominent and important in the way American citizens (especially white Americans) perceive and act upon making the political choices they do...

Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama
AP-Yahoo News Poll: Racial prejudices steer some white Democrats away from Barack Obama
RON FOURNIER and TREVOR TOMPSON Associated Press Writers

Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

Certainly, Republican John McCain has his own obstacles: He's an ally of an unpopular president and would be the nation's oldest first-term president. But Obama faces this: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.

More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can't win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.

Such numbers are a harsh dose of reality in a campaign for the history books. Obama, the first black candidate with a serious shot at the presidency, accepted the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, a seminal moment for a nation that enshrined slavery in its Constitution.

"There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots," said Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman who helped analyze the exhaustive survey.

The pollsters set out to determine why Obama is locked in a close race with McCain even as the political landscape seems to favor Democrats. President Bush's unpopularity, the Iraq war and a national sense of economic hard times cut against GOP candidates, as does that fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

The findings suggest that Obama's problem is close to home — among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.

The survey also focused on the racial attitudes of independent voters because they are likely to decide the election.

Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren't voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn't vote for any Democrat for president — white, black or brown.

Not all whites are prejudiced. Indeed, more whites say good things about blacks than say bad things, the poll shows. And many whites who see blacks in a negative light are still willing or even eager to vote for Obama.

On the other side of the racial question, the Illinois Democrat is drawing almost unanimous support from blacks, the poll shows, though that probably wouldn't be enough to counter the negative effect of some whites' views.

Race is not the biggest factor driving Democrats and independents away from Obama. Doubts about his competency loom even larger, the poll indicates. More than a quarter of all Democrats expressed doubt that Obama can bring about the change they want, and they are likely to vote against him because of that.

Three in 10 of those Democrats who don't trust Obama's change-making credentials say they plan to vote for McCain.

Still, the effects of whites' racial views are apparent in the polling.

Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice.

But in an election without precedent, it's hard to know if such models take into account all the possible factors at play.

The AP-Yahoo poll used the unique methodology of Knowledge Networks, a Menlo Park, Calif., firm that interviews people online after randomly selecting and screening them over telephone. Numerous studies have shown that people are more likely to report embarrassing behavior and unpopular opinions when answering questions on a computer rather than talking to a stranger.

Other techniques used in the poll included recording people's responses to black or white faces flashed on a computer screen, asking participants to rate how well certain adjectives apply to blacks, measuring whether people believe blacks' troubles are their own fault, and simply asking people how much they like or dislike blacks.

"We still don't like black people," said John Clouse, 57, reflecting the sentiments of his pals gathered at a coffee shop in Somerset, Ohio.

Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word "violent" strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with "boastful," 29 percent "complaining," 13 percent "lazy" and 11 percent "irresponsible." When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.

Among white Democrats, one-third cited a negative adjective and, of those, 58 percent said they planned to back Obama.

The poll sought to measure latent prejudices among whites by asking about factors contributing to the state of black America. One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that "if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites."

Those who agreed with that statement were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn't.

Among white independents, racial stereotyping is not uncommon. For example, while about 20 percent of independent voters called blacks "intelligent" or "smart," more than one third latched on the adjective "complaining" and 24 percent said blacks were "violent."

Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they "try harder."

The survey broke ground by incorporating images of black and white faces to measure implicit racial attitudes, or prejudices that are so deeply rooted that people may not realize they have them. That test suggested the incidence of racial prejudice is even higher, with more than half of whites revealing more negative feelings toward blacks than whites.

Researchers used mathematical modeling to sort out the relative impact of a huge swath of variables that might have an impact on people's votes — including race, ideology, party identification, the hunger for change and the sentiments of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's backers.

Just 59 percent of her white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton's white backers plan to vote for McCain.

Among white Democrats, Clinton supporters were nearly twice as likely as Obama backers to say at least one negative adjective described blacks well, a finding that suggests many of her supporters in the primaries — particularly whites with high school education or less — were motivated in part by racial attitudes.

The survey of 2,227 adults was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 5. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

— — —

Associated Press writers Nancy Benac, Julie Carr Smyth, Philip Elliot, Julie Pace and Sonya Ross contributed to this story.


Still more rancid evidence of exactly what kind of racist political scum we are dealing with in the McCain campaign against Obama...


September 17, 2008
Troubling Phone Polls
New York Times

A Caucus reader in Florida tells us that she too was called by a research firm that has been telephoning other Jewish voters and delivering negative information about Senator Barack Obama.

After readers reported to various Web sites — including Politico , The New Republic, and Talking Points Memo — that they had received offensive calls, Politico reported that the poll was sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition, which is working on behalf of Senator John McCain.

Matt Brooks, executive director of the coalition, told Politico that the firm was trying to “understand why Barack Obama continues to have a problem among Jewish voters.”

Our reader, who is a 60-year-old Jewish woman and lives in Orlando, said she was furious about the call, which she received Sunday about 5 p.m. She said that the questions included being told things like Mr. Obama had a long relationship with pro-Palestinian leaders and that the church he attended had an anti-Israel slant (The New Republic lists the questions since its writer was on his computer at the time he received the call).

Our reader she said that while the questions angered her, she answered them because she was “curious to see where they were going.” At the end, she said she told the young-sounding woman who was asking the questions that she should be “ashamed of herself.” She said the woman agreed.

The calls were made by Central Research, based in New York. A recording on the company’s answering machine says: “This is Central Research. We are a political polling company.” She then leaves instructions for callers who want to be put on a do-not-call list.

Jewish Voters Receiving Anti-Obama Calls in Florida
By KELLI KENNEDY, Associated Press | September 15, 2008
New York Sun

MIAMI — Jewish voters in Florida and at least one other state are being targeted by a telephone survey tying Democratic presidential nominee Senator Obama to Palestinian Arab causes, an advocacy group alleged today.

The Jewish Council for Education in Research says at least two women in separate states were push polled, or asked questions intended to influence voters while pretending to take a poll, yesterday afternoon from a caller who said he was from Research Strategies.

Joelna Marcus says she became uncomfortable when the caller asked if she was Jewish, whether she was Orthodox, and how often she attends synagogue.

The caller then asked if Ms. Marcus would be influenced if she learned that Mr. Obama had donated money to the Palestine Liberation Organization. The caller also asked how she would vote if she learned that someone on the Illinois senator's staff had close ties to Palestine.

Ms. Marcus, a 71-year-old former college professor, said she was furious.

"I said you're not polling me. This is un-American. This is unacceptable," Ms. Marcus, a snowbird who lives in New Jersey and has a house in Key West, said. "And then this is the scary part. He said if you had not said that you were Jewish, you would have been disqualified."

Deborah Minden, who lives in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Pittsburgh received a similar call yesterday afternoon. After asking basic demographic information, Ms. Minden, 56, said the caller said, "I'm going to ask you some things about Senator Obama and you tell me if it would make you more or less likely to vote for him."

The poller then ticked off a list of accusations including that Mr. Obama's church had made anti-Semitic statements and that Mr. Obama had met with Hamas leaders.

A spokesman for Senator McCain, who is on a two-day swing in Florida, did not immediately comment tonight.

"We see this as a disturbing but not unexpected ratcheting up of the kind of misinformation and outright lies about Obama's record that we've literally seen since he declared his candidacy," the co-executive director of the Jewish Council for Education & Research, Mik Moore, said. The organization has endorsed Mr. Obama for president.

During the Republican presidential primaries, Mr. McCain alleged push polling had taken place and asked for an investigation into thousands of calls to New Hampshire voters that disparaged him and supported rival Mike Huckabee.

Capitalism, Racism, and the Looming Ghost of Fascism


Like the international slave trade and the institution of slavery (1500-1865), The Great Depression (1929-1940), the emergence and collapse of the Weimar Republic and the subsequent rise of the German Third Reich (1917-1945), and the history of European and American colonialism and Apartheid as well as the subsequent neocolonial systems in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean (1800-Present). the deadly,ominous signs are everywhere that the notorious "Western" ideological, economic, and political nexus of capitalism, racism, and right wing totalitarianism is on the verge of sweeping the world into the gutter of HIstory AGAIN. Think about Obama in this context (which I argue is the only context to accurately think about this election in) and it becomes crystal clear that all this --the immediate future of this planet-- is about FAR MORE than the election of any one man or survival of any one "system" as even Barack himself keeps pointing out but most people keep ignoring). The real question is: What Are We Going To Do About It?


Goldman, Morgan to Become Bank Holding Companies
SEPTEMBER 21, 2008
New York Times

In one of the most sweeping changes on Wall Street in decades, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the last two independent investment banks, will become bank holding companies, the Federal Reserve said Sunday night.

The move fundamentally changes one of the mainstay models of modern Wall Street, the independent investment bank. It heralds new regulations and supervisions of previously lightly regulated investment banks. It is also the latest signal by the Federal Reserve that it will not let Goldman or Morgan fail.

The move comes after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the near-collapses of Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch.

Now, Goldman and Morgan Stanley, which have been the subject of merger speculation in recent weeks, can become direct competitors to larger firms like Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Those firms combine investment-banking operations with the larger capital cushions that come with retail deposits, giving them a stability that pure investment banks lack.

JPMorgan acquired Bear Stearns this spring in a fire sale brokered by the federal government, while Bank of America has agreed to buy Merrill Lynch for $50 billion.

By becoming bank holding companies, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley gained some breathing room in the immediate term. But it likely lays the groundwork for additional deal making. Given the expected bank failures this year, it is possible Goldman and Morgan Stanley could seek to buy them cheaply in a “roll-up” strategy.

Prior to the move, federal regulations prohibited the two investment banks from pursuing such deals. Indeed, Morgan Stanley’s recent talks with Wachovia revolved around Wachovia buying Morgan Stanley.

Being a bank holding company would also give the two access to the discount window of the Federal Reserve. While they have had access to Fed lending facilities in recent months, regulators had planned to take away discount window access in January.

The regulation by the Federal Reserve brings a host of accounting rule changes that should benefit the two banks in the current environment.

In return, they will submit themselves to greater regulation, including limits on the amount of leverage they can take on. When it collapsed, Lehman had about a 30:1 debt-to-equity ratio, meaning it had borrowed $30 for every dollar in capital it held. Bank of America, on the other hand, currently has about an 11.7:1 leverage ratio.

Morgan Stanley had sought other ways to bolster its capital, and had been in advanced talks with China’s sovereign wealth fund and others about raising as much as $30 billion, people briefed on the matter said Sunday night.

–Vikas Bajaj, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Michael J. de la Merced

Truth & Consequences in American Politics: Frank Rich Speaks


Once again Frank Rich's analytical clarity, insight, depth of understanding, and sheer, expansive knowledge of the massive political scam transpiring right before our eyes makes his commentary absolutely invaluable. If only there were 100 more "mainstream" American journalists like him...


September 21, 2008
Truthiness Stages a Comeback
New York Times

NOT until 2004 could the 9/11 commission at last reveal the title of the intelligence briefing President Bush ignored on Aug. 6, 2001, in Crawford: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” No wonder John McCain called for a new “9/11 commission” to “get to the bottom” of 9/14, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off another kind of blood bath in Lower Manhattan. Put a slo-mo Beltway panel in charge, and Election Day will be ancient history before we get to the bottom of just how little he and the president did to defend America against a devastating new threat on their watch.

For better or worse, the candidacy of Barack Obama, a senator-come-lately, must be evaluated on his judgment, ideas and potential to lead. McCain, by contrast, has been chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, where he claims to have overseen “every part of our economy.” He didn’t, thank heavens, but he does have a long and relevant economic record that begins with the Keating Five scandal of 1989 and extends to this campaign, where his fiscal policies bear the fingerprints of Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina. It’s not the résumé that a presidential candidate wants to advertise as America faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. That’s why the main thrust of the McCain campaign has been to cover up his history of economic malpractice.

McCain has largely pulled it off so far, under the guidance of Steve Schmidt, a Karl Rove protégé. A Rovian political strategy by definition means all slime, all the time. But the more crucial Rove game plan is to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness. All campaigns, Obama’s included, engage in false attacks. But McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it.

When a McCain spokesman told Politico a week ago that “we’re not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say” about the campaign’s incessant fictions, he was channeling a famous Bush dictum of 2003: “Somehow you just got to go over the heads of the filter.” In Bush’s case, the lies lobbed over the heads of the press were to sell the war in Iraq. That propaganda blitz, devised by a secret White House Iraq Group that included Rove, was a triumph. In mere months, Americans came to believe that Saddam Hussein had aided the 9/11 attacks and even that Iraqis were among the hijackers. A largely cowed press failed to set the record straight.

Just as the Bushies once flogged uranium from Africa, so Palin ceaselessly repeats her discredited claim that she said “no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. Nothing is too small or sacred for the McCain campaign to lie about. It was even caught (by The Christian Science Monitor) peddling an imaginary encounter between Cindy McCain and Mother Teresa when McCain was adopting her daughter in Bangladesh.

If you doubt that the big lies are sticking, look at the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. Half of voters now believe in the daily McCain refrain that Obama will raise their taxes. In fact, Obama proposes raising taxes only on the 1.9 percent of households that make more than $250,000 a year and cutting them for nearly everyone else.

You know the press is impotent at unmasking this truthiness when the hardest-hitting interrogation McCain has yet faced on television came on “The View.” Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word “lies” to his face. The McCains are so used to deference from “the filter” that Cindy McCain later complained that “The View” picked “our bones clean.” In our news culture, Behar, a stand-up comic by profession, looms as the new Edward R. Murrow.

Network news, with its dwindling handful of investigative reporters, has barely mentioned, let alone advanced, major new print revelations about Cindy McCain’s drug-addiction history (in The Washington Post) and the rampant cronyism and secrecy in Palin’s governance of Alaska (in last Sunday’s New York Times). At least the networks repeatedly fact-check the low-hanging fruit among the countless Palin lies, but John McCain’s past usually remains off limits.

That’s strange since the indisputable historical antecedent for our current crisis is the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal of the go-go 1980s. When Charles Keating’s bank went belly up because of risky, unregulated investments, it wiped out its depositors’ savings and cost taxpayers more than $3 billion. More than 1,000 other S.&L. institutions capsized nationwide.

It was ugly for the McCains. He had received more than $100,000 in Keating campaign contributions, and both McCains had repeatedly hopped on Keating’s corporate jet. Cindy McCain and her beer-magnate father had invested nearly $360,000 in a Keating shopping center a year before her husband joined four senators in inappropriate meetings with regulators charged with S.&L. oversight.

After Congressional hearings, McCain was reprimanded for “poor judgment.” He had committed no crime and had not intervened to protect Keating from ruin. Yet he, like many deregulators in his party, was guilty of bankrupt policy-making before disaster struck. He was among the sponsors of a House resolution calling for the delay of regulations intended to deter risky investments just like those that brought down Lincoln and its ilk.

Ever since, McCain has publicly thrashed himself for his mistakes back then — and boasted of the lessons he learned. He embraced campaign finance reform to rebrand himself as a “maverick.” But whatever lessons he learned are now forgotten.

For all his fiery calls last week for a Wall Street crackdown, McCain opposed the very regulations that might have helped avert the current catastrophe. In 1999, he supported a law co-authored by Gramm (and ultimately signed by Bill Clinton) that revoked the New Deal reforms intended to prevent commercial banks, insurance companies and investment banks from mingling their businesses. Equally laughable is the McCain-Palin ticket’s born-again outrage over the greed of Wall Street C.E.O.’s. When McCain’s chief financial surrogate, Fiorina, was fired as Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive after a 50 percent drop in shareholders’ value and 20,000 pink slips, she took home a package worth $42 million.

The McCain campaign canceled Fiorina’s television appearances last week after she inadvertently admitted that Palin was unqualified to run a corporation. But that doesn’t mean Fiorina is gone. Gramm, too, was ostentatiously exiled after he blamed the economic meltdown on our “nation of whiners” and “mental recession,” but he remains in the McCain loop.

The corporate jets, lobbyists and sleazes that gravitated around McCain in the Keating era have also reappeared in new incarnations. The Nation’s Web site recently unearthed a photo of the resolutely anticelebrity McCain being greeted by the con man Raffaello Follieri and his then girlfriend, the Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway, as McCain celebrated his 70th birthday on Follieri’s rented yacht in Montenegro in August 2006. It’s the perfect bookend to the old pictures of McCain in a funny hat partying with Keating in the Bahamas.

Whatever blanks are yet to be filled in on Obama, we at least know his economic plans and the known quantities who are shaping them (Lawrence Summers, Robert Rubin, Paul Volcker). McCain has reversed himself on every single economic issue this year, often within a 24-hour period, whether he’s judging the strength of the economy’s fundamentals or the wisdom of the government bailout of A.I.G. He once promised that he’d run every decision past Alan Greenspan — and even have him write a new tax code — but Greenspan has jumped ship rather than support McCain’s biggest flip-flop, his expansion of the Bush tax cuts. McCain’s official chief economic adviser is now Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who last week declared that McCain had “helped create” the BlackBerry.

But Holtz-Eakin’s most telling statement was about McCain’s economic plans — namely, that the details are irrelevant. “I don’t think it’s imperative at this moment to write down what the plan should be,” he said. “The real issue here is a leadership issue.” This, too, is a Rove-Bush replay. We want a tough guy who will “fix” things with his own two hands — let’s take out the S.E.C. chairman! — instead of wimpy Frenchified Democrats who just “talk.” The fine print of policy is superfluous if there’s a quick-draw decider in the White House.

The twin-pronged strategy of truculence and propaganda that sold Bush and his war could yet work for McCain. Even now his campaign has kept the “filter” from learning the very basics about his fitness to serve as president — his finances and his health. The McCain multihousehold’s multimillion-dollar mother lode is buried in Cindy McCain’s still-unreleased complete tax returns. John McCain’s full medical records, our sole index to the odds of an imminent Palin presidency, also remain locked away. The McCain campaign instead invited 20 chosen reporters to speed-read through 1,173 pages of medical history for a mere three hours on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. No photocopying was permitted.

This is the same tactic of selective document release that the Bush White House used to bamboozle Congress and the press about Saddam’s nonexistent W.M.D. As truthiness repeats itself, so may history, and not as farce.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company