Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Audacity of Critique: Barack Obama, American Muslims, and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East

By Rayfield A. Waller

The Arab American News
August 29, 2008

African Americans should pressure Senator and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to change U.S. policy toward the occupation of Palestine. Despite the warm response Obama enjoys from American Muslim and Arab American voters, we should stand for the right of our Muslim and Arab brothers and sisters to critique Obama. We should in fact lead the way in that critique.

Obama's summer tour of eight European and North African countries proved two things. One is that he's stunningly popular worldwide; the other is that he's moving from the left to the center in order to win conservative and pro-Israeli votes he thinks he needs here in the U.S.

African Americans are proud of Obama's universal popularity, but we must remember that after eight years of war, political strife and economic ruin fueled by a felonious Republican regime in Washington, the citizens of Europe and North Africa would likely welcome the rise of anyone who seems, like Obama, to be articulate, diplomatic, ethical and reasonably sane; all the things now lacking in the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.

African Americans should be less proud of Obama's move rightward, especially where America's anti-Arab racism and American foreign policy toward Muslim nations are concerned.

To wit: Obama's recent visit to Israel signals his acceptance of a persistent litmus test for American politicians by his dutifully demonstrating to the U.S. Jewish electorate that he will support the continuance of Washington's support for Israel's security; but by implication and symbolism, it also signals his acceptance of the Israeli lobby and Israel's occupation of Palestine.

We African Americans, in solidarity with Muslims everywhere and with Palestinian victims of the occupation, should demand, despite his fade to the right to cater to constituencies and to win votes, to know that Obama will be a president who seeks justice and seeks to amend the errors, crimes, and offenses of American foreign policy lately made even more egregious by the Patriot Act and the so-called "War on Terror" (from the Muslim point of view indistinguishable, certainly, from a neo-crusade).

The War on Terror has created mischief with human rights, from America's criminal treatment of Iraqi and other Arab and Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo and inside Abu Ghraib, to the brutality of indiscriminate violence unleashed against Fallujah by American forces, to the illegal State Department and CIA participation in the crime of "rendition" (the kidnapping, assault against, torture and murder of dozens of citizens of sovereign nations, many of those citizens Muslims). There is much for the future President Obama to amend in U.S. behavior in the world.

Here at home in the U.S., growing anti-Muslim racism is reflected in dozens of offenses such as recent NYC media attacks on Debbie Almontaser, acknowledged "builder of bridges between Muslims, Christians, and Jews" and founding principal of the NYC Khalil Gibran school. Almontaser was coerced into resigning after she refused to denounce NYC Arab girls wearing t-shirts bearing the word "Intifada."

Xenophobic criticisms of the school include objections to its featuring halal dining, while NYC newspapers have denounced the school as a "madrassa": a haven for "terrorism" (madrasah of course means not a facility to teach violence but literally "a place where learning and teaching is done"). Almontaser has sued NYC to expose what she calls the "new McCarthyism" of this kind of treatment of prominent Arab and Muslim community leaders.

In light of these national and international events, images of Obama in yarmulke with President Shimon Peres and at Yad Vashem are designed to appeal to AIPAC, and meant in his words, to reaffirm the "special relationship" between the U.S. and Israel. But if Obama is truly to be a president representing the "audacity of hope," we should unabashedly pressure him, indeed demand of him that he support Palestinian hopes for an end to occupation and an end to the building of a Berlin-style wall to turn Palestinian territories into Bantustans. If "we are the change we have been waiting for," as Obama says, then we should demand a change: the Palestinians' right of return, their basic human right to water, and their right to control their own land, resources, and public utilities, must be respected.

Support by President Obama for tolerance of Muslims and Arabs here in the U.S. and for a new peace process that seeks a negotiated settlement in Palestine and respects the legitimacy and the interests of both Israel and Palestine is needed, not just candidate Obama's photo ops with President Mahmoud Abbas on a quick spin through Ramallah.

Professor Waller is on the adjunct Faculty of Wayne State University's Department of Africana Studies in Detroit, Michigan and is a freelance journalist. A longer analysis of Obama's campaign can be found on Waller's weblog at

The Struggle between Labor and Capital and the 2008 American Presidential Election



Still more stark evidence of precisely what's at stake in this pivotal election and why all progressives and radicals throughout this country had better take heed now and act accordingly--which means to relentlessly educate, organize, and mobilize American workers to not only win the election but exert real massive political pressure on corporations and the government to deal justly with the political rights and economic power of Unions. Capital is out to destroy Labor as it always is, and ESPECIALLY in the present climate of major economic and political crises. If the often clueless American Left is to make any genuine headway in addressing the deeply rooted need for fundamental structural changes in American society, culture, and political economy in the immediate future here is our major opportunity---as dangerous, confused, and unstable as it is. If we fail-- in both the short and long term-- we'll only have ourselves to blame...


P.S. Thanks Amiri...

Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win
Wall Street Journal

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies -- including Wal-Mart.

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized.

According to about a dozen Wal-Mart employees who attended such meetings in seven states, Wal-Mart executives claim that employees at unionized stores would have to pay hefty union dues while getting nothing in return, and may have to go on strike without compensation. Also, unionization could mean fewer jobs as labor costs rise.

The actions by Wal-Mart -- the nation's largest private employer -- reflect a growing concern among big business that a reinvigorated labor movement could reverse years of declining union membership. That could lead to higher payroll and health costs for companies already being hurt by rising fuel and commodities costs and the tough economic climate.

The Wal-Mart human-resources managers who run the meetings don't specifically tell attendees how to vote in November's election, but make it clear that voting for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama would be tantamount to inviting unions in, according to Wal-Mart employees who attended gatherings in Maryland, Missouri and other states.

"The meeting leader said, 'I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether you want a union,'" said a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor from Missouri. "I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote," she said.

"If anyone representing Wal-Mart gave the impression we were telling associates how to vote, they were wrong and acting without approval," said David Tovar, Wal-Mart spokesman. Mr. Tovar acknowledged that the meetings were taking place for store managers and supervisors nationwide.

Wal-Mart's worries center on a piece of legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act, which companies say would enable unions to quickly add millions of new members. "We believe EFCA is a bad bill and we have been on record as opposing it for some time," Mr. Tovar said. "We feel educating our associates about the bill is the right thing to do."

Other companies and groups are also making a case against the legislation to workers. Laundry company Cintas Corp., which has been fighting a multiyear organizing campaign by Unite Here, relaunched a Web site July 14 called CintasVotes. The site instructs visitors to take action by telling members of Congress to oppose the legislation.

"We feel it's important that our employee partners fully understand the implications that the Employee Free Choice Act could have on their work environment and benefits," said Heather Trainer, a Cintas spokeswoman.

Business-backed organizations are also running ads aimed at building opposition to the bill, including the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which counts several hundred industry associations as members. Another group, the Employee Freedom Action Committee, is run by former tobacco lobbyist Rick Berman. The groups, which aren't affiliated with each other, say they have a total of $50 million in funding. Neither will disclose which companies or individuals have provided funding.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made defeat of the legislation a top priority. In the past six months, it has flown state and local Chamber members to Washington to lobby members of Congress. On Thursday, the Chamber began airing a television ad in Minnesota and plans to run ads in other states as part of a broader campaign.

The bill was crafted by labor as a response to more aggressive opposition by companies to union-organizing activity. The AFL-CIO and individual unions such as the United Food and Commercial Workers have promised to make passage of the new labor law their No. 1 mission after the November election.

First introduced in 2003, the bill came to a vote last year and sailed through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but was blocked by a filibuster in the Senate and faced a veto threat by the White House. The bill was taken off the floor, and its backers pledged to reintroduce it when they could get more support.

The November election could bring that extra support in Congress, as well as the White House if Sen. Obama is elected and Democrats extend their control in the Senate. Sen. Obama co-sponsored the legislation, which also is known as "card check," and has said several times he would sign it into law if elected president. Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, opposes the Employee Free Choice Act and voted against it last year.

Wal-Mart's labor-relations meetings are led by human-resources managers who received training from Wal-Mart on the implications of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Fine Legal Line

Wal-Mart may be walking a fine legal line by holding meetings with its store department heads that link politics with a strong antiunion message. Federal election rules permit companies to advocate for specific political candidates to its executives, stockholders and salaried managers, but not to hourly employees. While store managers are on salary, department supervisors are hourly workers.

However, employers have fairly broad leeway to disseminate information about candidates' voting records and positions on issues, according to Jan Baran, a Washington attorney and expert on election law.

Both supporters and opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act believe it would simplify and speed labor's ability to unionize companies. Currently, companies can demand a secret-ballot election to determine union representation. Those elections often are preceded by months of strident employer and union campaigns.

Under the proposed legislation, companies could no longer have the right to insist on one secret ballot. Instead, the Free Choice, or "card check," legislation would let unions form if more than 50% of workers simply sign a card saying they want to join. It is far easier for unions to get workers to sign cards because the organizers can approach workers repeatedly, over a period of weeks or months, until the union garners enough support.

Employers argue that the card system could lead to workers being pressured to sign by pro-union colleagues and organizers. Unions counter that it shields workers from pressure from their employers.

On June 30 the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Wal-Mart illegally fired an employee in Kingman, Ariz., who supported the UFCW and illegally threatened to freeze merit-pay increases if employees voted for union representation. The decision came eight years after the organizing campaign failed, and four years after the case was originally heard.

"We've always maintained the termination was not related to the union and that there was nothing unlawful about an answer provided an associate about merit pay," said Mr. Tovar, the Wal-Mart spokesman. "Following the decision, we were considering offering reinstatement, but that is on hold, since the [union] appealed the decision."

Unions consider the Employee Free Choice Act as vital to the survival of the labor movement, which currently represents 7.5% of private-sector workers, half the percentage it did 25 years ago. The Service Employees International Union said the legislation would enable it to organize a million workers a year, up from its current pace of 100,000 workers a year.

The Underdogs

The business-backed lobbying groups are running ads in states where a win by a Democratic Senate candidate would boost support for the legislation in the Senate, saying the loss of secret ballots exposes workers to bullying labor bosses. In one, they use an actor from the "Sopranos" TV series about mob life to hammer home their point.

Business groups say they're the underdogs since they will be outspent by unions by a wide margin. Labor has pledged to spend $300 million on the election and securing passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, compared with under $100 million by business groups, according to Steven Law, chief legal officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber's strategy is to focus on the Senate, where labor needs eight more supporters of the legislation to reach the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

"This is a David-and-Goliath confrontation, but we believe we'll have enough stones in the sling to knock this out," said Mr. Law.

Wal-Mart is a powerful ally. Through almost all of its 48-year history, Wal-Mart has fought hard to keep unions out of its stores, flying in labor-relations rapid-response teams from its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters to any location where union activity was building. The United Food and Commercial Workers was successful in organizing only one group of Wal-Mart workers -- a small number of butchers in East Texas in early 2000. Several weeks later, the company phased out butchers in all of its stores and began stocking prepackaged meat. When a store in Canada voted to unionize several years ago, the company closed the store, saying it had been unprofitable for years.

Labor has fought back with a campaign to portray Wal-Mart as treating its workers poorly. The UFCW helped employees file a series of complaints about the company's overtime, health-care and other policies with the National Labor Relations Board. Dozens of class-action lawsuits were filed on behalf of workers, many of which are still winding their way through the courts.

Wal-Mart has been trying to burnish its reputation by improving its worker benefits and touting its commitment to the environment. On the political front, it's hedging its bets, spreading its financial contributions on both sides of the political divide.

Twelve years ago, 98% of Wal-Mart's political donations went to Republicans. Now, as the Democrats seem poised to gain control in Washington, 48% of its $2.2 million in political contributions go to Democrats and 52% to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks political giving.

Write to Ann Zimmerman at and Kris Maher at

Massive Floods & Tiny Buckets: The Grim Political Reality of the American Economic Crisis


Imagine trying to stop the massive flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina with a hundred buckets and we had to collectively pay for all the damage of the flooding that was not absorbed or stopped by the buckets--that's what this utterly contemptible bailout plan is actually akin to. The simple fact of the matter is that the worse is yet to come and it will be far sooner than anyone presently thinks....


October 4, 2008

Bailout Plan Wins Approval; Democrats Vow Tighter Rules
New York Times

WASHINGTON — After the House reversed course and gave final approval to the $700 billion economic bailout package, President Bush quickly signed it into law on Friday, authorizing the Treasury to undertake what could become the most expensive government intervention in history.

But even as Mr. Bush declared that the measure would “help prevent the crisis on Wall Street from becoming a crisis in communities across our country,” Congressional Democrats said that it was only a first step and pledged to carry out a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system.

The final tally in the House was 263 to 171, with 91 Republicans joining 172 Democrats in favor. That was a wider bipartisan majority than vote-counters in both parties had expected, completing a remarkable turnabout from Monday, when the House defeated an earlier version of the bill by 228 to 205.

The financial markets, however, were not enthusiastic. Already weighed down by another round of bleak economic data, including a report showing that 159,000 jobs were lost in September, the Dow fell 157 points to close at 10,325, or nearly 818 points lower than when the week began, before the House’s initial rejection of the bailout.

Some measures of the credit markets improved after the bill was approved, but only modestly. Analysts said it was too soon to tell whether borrowing rates — the interest rates banks charge each other for loans, and a key indicator of the flow of credit — would fall.

The change in course by the House was prompted by fears of a global economic meltdown, and by old-fashioned political inducements added by the Senate: a portfolio of $150 billion in popular tax provisions, including credits for the production of solar, wind and other renewable energy, and an adjustment to spare middle-class families from paying the alternative minimum tax.

In the end, 33 Democrats and 24 Republicans who had voted no on Monday switched sides on Friday to support the plan. Both Mr. Obama and his Republican rival, Senator John McCain, voted for the measure when the Senate approved it on Wednesday, and both hailed Friday’s outcome.

Mr. McCain said that lawmakers had acted “in the best interests of the nation,” while Mr. Obama warned that “a long and difficult road to recovery” might still lie ahead.

In a sign of the urgency surrounding the economic rescue effort, Congressional staff rushed the newly printed legislation into a news conference where Democratic leaders gathered after the vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, signed it at 2 p.m., and it was sent to the White House for Mr. Bush’s signature.

Appearing in the Rose Garden, Mr. Bush praised Congress for acting just two weeks after the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., requested the emergency bailout legislation with a warning that the American economy was at risk of the worst economic collapse since the Depression.

“We have shown the world that the United States will stabilize our financial markets and maintain a leading role in the global economy,” Mr. Bush said.

But it was a hollow victory for the administration, which after long favoring a hands-off approach toward the financial industry has found itself interceding repeatedly this year to avert one calamity after another.

Ms. Pelosi and other Democrats, who expect to widen their majority in Congress in the November elections, said they intended to tighten controls.

“High-fliers on Wall Street will no longer be able to jeopardize that personal economic security of Americans,” Ms. Pelosi said, “because of the bright light of scrutiny, accountability and the attention given under regulatory reform.”

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said: “We will be back next year to do some serious surgery on the financial structure.”

The Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, had urged his colleagues to vote yes. “We know if we do nothing this crisis is likely to worsen and put us in an economic slump the likes of which we have never seen,” he said. “I am going to vote for this bill because I think it’s in the best interests of the American people.”

Opponents of the bailout called it a costly Band-Aid that did not address the core problems in the financial system. “Some things have changed in this bill but taxpayers will still be picking up the tab for Wall Street’s party,” said Representative Marilyn Musgrave, Republican of Colorado. “I am voting against this today because it’s not the best bill. It’s the quickest bill. Taxpayers for generations will pay for our haste and there is no guarantee that they will ever see the benefits.”

Among House Democrats as well as Republicans, many lawmakers facing the toughest challenges for re-election remained in the no column. Those with easier races were more likely to switch.

Many said they agonized over the decision amid a torrent of calls from constituents. Several who switched to yes cited a provision added by the Senate increasing the amount of savings insured by the Federal government to $250,000 per account, from $100,000.

Fears about the economy also motivated support. “Nobody in East Tennessee hates the fact more than me that I am going to vote yes today after voting no on Monday,” Representative Zach Wamp, a Republican, said.

“Monday I cast a blue-collar vote for the American people,” he continued. “Today I am going to cast a red, white and blue-collar vote with my hand over my heart for this country, because things are really bad and we don’t have any choice.”

Several Democrats in the Congressional Black Caucus said they were persuaded to support the bill by Mr. Obama.

Representatives Elijah E. Cummings and Donna F. Edwards, both of Maryland, said they had each spoken to Mr. Obama who helped persuade them to support the bill, in part by assuring them that he would work to achieve a goal that Democrats gave up during negotiations: a change in bankruptcy laws to let judges modify first mortgages.

Mr. Obama, speaking in Abington, Pa., said he had urged lawmakers from both parties to “not make the same mistake twice.” But he warned that passage of the measure should be just “the beginning of a long-term rescue plan for our middle class.”

Mr. McCain, speaking in Flagstaff, Ariz., warned that the bill was not perfect and there was more to be done. “It is an outrage that it’s even necessary,” Mr. McCain said. “But we must stop the damage to our economy done by corrupt and incompetent practices on Wall Street and in Washington.” Mr. McCain said he spoke to House Republicans before Friday’s vote and urged them to approve the bill.

Friday’s vote capped an extraordinary two-week final stretch for the 110th Congress. Lawmakers, eager to get home for the fall campaign season, had intended to wrap up by adopting a budget bill to finance government operations through early March.

Instead, after dealing with the budget, they found themselves still in Washington, just five weeks before Election Day, facing the most important vote of the year — the most important vote of their lives, many lawmakers said — and under extreme pressure by the White House, the presidential nominees, and Congressional leaders of both parties to make a quick decision.

Supporters said the bailout was needed to prevent economic collapse; opponents said it was hasty, ill conceived and risked too much taxpayer money to help Wall Street tycoons, while providing no guarantees of success. The rescue plan allows the Treasury to buy troubled securities from financial firms in an effort to ease a deepening credit crisis that is choking off business and consumer loans, the lifeblood of the economy, and contributing to a string of bank failures.

Officials say the final cost of the bailout will be far less than $700 billion because the government will resell the assets that it buys.

The final agreement disburses the money in parts, with Congress able to block the second $350 billion. It also provides for tighter oversight of the program by two boards, and requires the government to do more to prevent home foreclosures. Lawmakers also included efforts to restrict so-called golden parachute retirement plans for some executives whose firms seek help, and a provision allowing the government to recoup any losses after five years by assessing the financial industry.

Reporting was contributed by Robert Pear and Carl Hulse in Washington; Steven Lee Myers in Abington, Pa.; and Michael Cooper in Flagstaff, Ariz.


The very grim reality...and it's only going to get worse...


October 3, 2008


Edge of the Abyss
New York Times

As recently as three weeks ago it was still possible to argue that the state of the U.S. economy, while clearly not good, wasn’t disastrous — that the financial system, while under stress, wasn’t in full meltdown and that Wall Street’s troubles weren’t having that much impact on Main Street.

But that was then.

The financial and economic news since the middle of last month has been really, really bad. And what’s truly scary is that we’re entering a period of severe crisis with weak, confused leadership.

The wave of bad news began on Sept. 14. Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, thought he could get away with letting Lehman Brothers, the investment bank, fail; he was wrong. The plight of investors trapped by Lehman’s collapse — as an article in The Times put it, Lehman became “the Roach Motel of Wall Street: They checked in, but they can’t check out” — created panic in the financial markets, which has only grown worse as the days go by. Indicators of financial stress have soared to the equivalent of a 107-degree fever, and large parts of the financial system have simply shut down.

There’s growing evidence that the financial crunch is spreading to Main Street, with small businesses having trouble raising money and seeing their credit lines cut. And leading indicators for both employment and industrial production have turned sharply worse, suggesting that even before Lehman’s fall, the economy, which has been sagging since last year, was falling off a cliff.

How bad is it? Normally sober people are sounding apocalyptic. On Thursday, the bond trader and blogger John Jansen declared that current conditions are “the financial equivalent of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution,” while Joel Prakken of Macroeconomic Advisers says that the economy seems to be on “the edge of the abyss.”

And the people who should be steering us away from that abyss are out to lunch.

The House will probably vote on Friday on the latest version of the $700 billion bailout plan — originally the Paulson plan, then the Paulson-Dodd-Frank plan, and now, I guess, the Paulson-Dodd-Frank-Pork plan (it’s been larded up since the House rejected it on Monday). I hope that it passes, simply because we’re in the middle of a financial panic, and another no vote would make the panic even worse. But that’s just another way of saying that the economy is now hostage to the Treasury Department’s blunders.

For the fact is that the plan on offer is a stinker — and inexcusably so. The financial system has been under severe stress for more than a year, and there should have been carefully thought-out contingency plans ready to roll out in case the markets melted down. Obviously, there weren’t: the Paulson plan was clearly drawn up in haste and confusion. And Treasury officials have yet to offer any clear explanation of how the plan is supposed to work, probably because they themselves have no idea what they’re doing.

Despite this, as I said, I hope the plan passes, because otherwise we’ll probably see even worse panic in the markets. But at best, the plan will buy some time to seek a real solution to the crisis.

And that raises the question: Do we have that time?

A solution to our economic woes will have to start with a much better-conceived rescue of the financial system — one that will almost surely involve the U.S. government taking partial, temporary ownership of that system, the way Sweden’s government did in the early 1990s. Yet it’s hard to imagine the Bush administration taking that step.

We also desperately need an economic stimulus plan to push back against the slump in spending and employment. And this time it had better be a serious plan that doesn’t rely on the magic of tax cuts, but instead spends money where it’s needed. (Aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, which are slashing spending at precisely the worst moment, is also a priority.) Yet it’s hard to imagine the Bush administration, in its final months, overseeing the creation of a new Works Progress Administration.

So we probably have to wait for the next administration, which should be much more inclined to do the right thing — although even that’s by no means a sure thing, given the uncertainty of the election outcome. (I’m not a fan of Mr. Paulson’s, but I’d rather have him at the Treasury than, say, Phil “nation of whiners” Gramm.)

And while the election is only 32 days away, it will be almost four months until the next administration takes office. A lot can — and probably will — go wrong in those four months.

One thing’s for sure: The next administration’s economic team had better be ready to hit the ground running, because from day one it will find itself dealing with the worst financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Thursday, October 2, 2008

U.S. Government Sells Bogus Bailout Plan to American Public Or 'Welfare for Billionaires'


My response to my sister Regina's questions regarding the government's bailout bill for Wall Street or as I like to call it 'Welfare for Billionaires'...



You're quite right to raise these very important questions and certainly what you've outlined here (and what Obama has also openly acknowledged) is factually true as far as it goes. SOMETHING has to be done. No doubt about it...

HOWEVER, the bailout plan as presently constituted will not and cannot address the major and most important issue actually facing the American taxpayer/worker/citizen/consumer at this point and that is: Who's gonna pay for it and who is going to continue to suffer big time no matter what specific government bailout plan is adopted? And the ugly answer to both questions is you and me--NOT Wall Street, which is to say the greedy profiteering CEOs, corporations, banks, and financial investment houses that specifically determine 'policy' (as in the numbers racket) within the huge gambling casino called Wall Street at this point. This means that no matter what a very severe recession IS going to be the end result in this situation for at least the next 2-3 years in this country and quite possibly/probably 4-5 years at the very least. This means not only higher unemployment, but lower wages, higher prices, and a very stagnant and weak investment sector which will adversely affect education, healthcare, social and technological infrastructure, and taxes for the average worker and consumer.

Wall Street and their ever reliable opportunist and irresponsible protectors--the U.S. government-- is selling the American public a big fat LIE with this legislation. In other words the real problem is not what the stock market does or does not do day to day in terms of ever fluctuating world markets and the like but what happens to the American economy IN GENERAL if the bailout plan is approved. The average person (about 90% of the working public) doesn't have any control over what the stock market does regardless even under the best of financial circumstances, and of course 401K plans, 457 plans, IRAs and Social Security are all in immediate danger anyway because contrary to what both political parties and Wall Street has been telling the public the structural economy that protects these crucial 'safety net' provisions for millions of Americans is ALREADY DEAD.

Now that doesn't mean of course that these established provisions and protections will disappear overnight or that we can't continue to depend upon them in the short term (i.e. the next 2-4 years say) but in the long term (which let's not forget is the reasonably long range 'future'--5-20 years let's say--that we would all like to experience) these and many other social and economic programs will be adversely affected in a decidely negative and destructive way. Which is to say that if we don't collectively demand an entirely different political and economic relationship between corporations, banks, and ordinary working and middleclass citizens and families at the practical level of massive political regulation and nationalized control over wages, prices, pensions, and savings plans generally (and yes-- I'm talking about 'democratic socialism' for everybody--not just the rich, which is what this current bailout/welfare plan absolutely ensures) we will continue to be exploited and economically disenfranchised. In this light check out what the writer, documentary filmmaker, and political activist Michael Moore said in his open letter to his email list yesterday and that I forwarded to you and many others (see sample from Michael's analysis below). Moore is 100% correct and people really need to take what he says very seriously to ensure that we as a country of aware and responsible citizens, workers, and consumers organize to actually CHANGE the direction of this country which first and foremost means we all have to vigorously oppose the political, ideological, and economic domination of the wealthy over the rest of us. The only way to do that is to DEMAND democracy in ALL spheres of the government, the economy, and in our social and cultural institutions. The only way that can happen is through a conscious, well organized, and tenacious GRASSROOTS MASS MOVEMENT. It happened with Civil Rights, it happened with the fight for independent Unions, it happened with the fight for women's rights, it happened in the fight of Gays and Lesbians, it happened in the fights for Social Security, worker protection, tenants rights, and voters rights--hell it even happened to an extraordinary degree in Obama's presidential campaign-- and it MUST happen in the ongoing fight for economic democracy and the average citizen's political control over corporate and financial institutions. It's the next great fight for mass democracy throughout the world and especially here in the United States and it had better happen (much) sooner rather than later because if it doesn't we are ALL through. If corporate capitalism in its present form is allowed to continue we as citizens, workers, and consumers will be ultimately destroyed--no matter what happens on Wall Street...


PLEASE NOTE: This is an excerpt from Michael Moore's general statement on the bailout plan that as I mentioned above I forwarded to everyone yesterday:

"The 95 brave Dems who broke with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd were the real heroes, just like those few who stood up and voted against the war in October of 2002. Watch the remarks from yesterday of Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Dennis Kucinich. They spoke the truth.

The Dems who voted for the giveaway did so mostly because they were scared by the threats of Wall Street, that if the rich didn't get their handout, the market would go nuts and then it's bye-bye stock-based pension and retirement funds.

And guess what? That's exactly what Wall Street did! The largest, single-day drop in the Dow in the history of the New York Stock exchange. The news anchors last night screamed it out: Americans just lost 1.2 trillion dollars in the stock market!! It's a financial Pearl Harbor! The sky is falling! Bird flu! Killer Bees!

Of course, sane people know that nobody "lost" anything yesterday, that stocks go up and down and this too shall pass because the rich will now buy low, hold, then sell off, then buy low again.

But for now, Wall Street and its propaganda arm (the networks and media it owns) will continue to try and scare the bejesus out of you. It will be harder to get a loan. Some people will lose their jobs. A weak nation of wimps won't last long under this torture. Or will we? Is this our line in the sand?

Here's my guess: The Democratic leadership in the House secretly hoped all along that this lousy bill would go down. With Bush's proposals shredded, the Dems knew they could then write their own bill that favors the average American, not the upper 10% who were hoping for another kegger of gold.

So the ball is in the Democrats' hands. The gun from Wall Street remains at their head. Before they make their next move, let me tell you what the media kept silent about while this bill was being debated:

1. The bailout bill had NO enforcement provisions for the so-called oversight group that was going to monitor Wall Street's spending of the $700 billion;

2. It had NO penalties, fines or imprisonment for any executive who might steal any of the people's money;

3. It did NOTHING to force banks and lenders to rewrite people's mortgages to avoid foreclosures -- this bill would not have stopped ONE foreclosure!;

4. It had NO teeth anywhere in the entire piece of legislation, using words like "suggested" when referring to the government being paid back for the bailout;

5. Over 200 economists wrote to Congress and said this bill might actually WORSEN the "financial crisis" and cause even MORE of a meltdown.

Put a fork in this slab of pork. It's over. Now it is time for our side to state very clearly the laws WE want passed. I will send you my proposals later today. We've bought ourselves less than 72 hours."

Michael Moore

On Oct 1, 2008, at 8:21 PM, Regina

What's the alternative...does ANYONE have a better idea...the options seem slim to none to me...either we vote for the "plan" that's on the table or we "freefall" in the banking markets another 777 points.

How does either strategy really help us? It seems to me that Obama is saying..."this is not a perfect plan or not even the plan that we should be voting on, but it is the ONLY plan on the table right now...and since TIME is of the essence, we HAVE to do SOMETHING."

Is there enough time for "Americans" to convene on Washington D.C..and FIGHT the "plan"? If so, what happens to the stock market in the meantime (i.e., our 401K plans, 457 plans, IRA's and Social Security) while we are all heading to Washington D. C.?

I'm not the sharpest tack in the drawer, but I do have questions?????

"This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years"
--Barack Obama


Obama and McCain both are 100% wrong about this bill--there's absolutely no doubt about it. But the real question at this very latedate is: WHAT ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE GONNA DO ABOUT ALL THIS? If there was ever a moment in American history when millions of citizens should be extremely angry, literally up in arms, and organizing huge NATIONAL PUBLIC PROTESTS IN WASHINGTON D.C. against the corporate capitalists and the criminally codependent government who created this bill it is now...


October 1, 2008
Obama Sells Bailout Plan to Skeptics
New York Times

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Senator Barack Obama intensified his efforts to rally support for the $700 billion financial bailout package on Wednesday, selling the idea to skeptical voters – and members of Congress – as a plan to “safeguard the American economy.”

“This plan is not perfect. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have legitimate concerns about it,” Mr. Obama said. “I know many Americans share those concerns, but it is clear that this is what we must do right now to prevent a crisis from turning into a catastrophe.”

On a crisp fall morning in downtown Lacrosse, where thousands of people gathered not far from the Mississippi River, Mr. Obama sought to explain the need for the economic rescue plan. The light applause from the audience, though, underscored the challenge facing both Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain as they prepare to vote for the bill in on Wednesday night in Washington.

Mr. Obama said the plan had been “misunderstood and, frankly, poorly communicated.” For the second day in a row, he devoted nearly an entire speech to explaining the plan, casting it as essential to warding off a crisis from rippling through the economy. He barely mentioned Wall Street as he presented his argument for the plan, portraying it instead as a necessary challenge for all Americans.

“This is not a plan to just hand over $700 billion of your money to a few banks,” Mr. Obama said. “If this is managed correctly, we will hopefully get most or all of our money back – we might even turn a profit on the government’s investment – every penny of which will go directly back to you, the investor.”

Lacrosse, a city that sits along the western edge of Wisconsin, has long been one of the key battlegrounds in presidential campaigns. Back-to-back commercials from Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain filled morning television programming here, with each of the messages devoted to the economy.

But in a 36-minute speech, Mr. Obama only mentioned his Republican rival by name one time. While politics was hardly off the table, the sharp rhetoric that has defined the campaign took a momentary backseat to a bipartisan call to action on the economic rescue plan, which both candidates now share ownership of.

“Future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?” Mr. Obama said, steadily drawing his audience into applause. “Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success? “

As Mr. McCain made his way to Washington from Missouri on Wednesday, Mr. Obama also was flying back, where he was set to arrive on Capitol Hill in advance of the evening vote scheduled on the Senate floor.