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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

September 16, 2008

 

More Money Down the Investment Toilet

Another $85 billion bites the dust. In yet another record bailout from President Bush's bailout government, $85 billion was loaned or given to Insurance giant AIG in order to keep them from going belly-up.

When one adds up the $85 billion going to AIG to keep them in business; the $70 billion thrown at the market by the Federal Reserve Bank yesterday and the $125 billion annually spent on the Iraq war (not to mention another $1 billion spent on two bridges to nowhere in Sarah Palin's Alaska), one has to ask isn't there anything better we could be doing with all of that money.

The grand total of spending to keep the rich richer over the past two days is $155 billion. When we add the $125 billion price tag of Iraq and the $1 billion gift to Sarah Palin so the good people of Wasilla, Alaska won't have to drive an extra nine miles to get to Fairbanks, the wasted money price tag adds up to a whopping $281 billion. That's more than a quarter of a trillion dollars of US middle-class taxpayer money spent on things we shouldn't be paying money for.

To put that in perspective, the money we're now spending on investor bailouts, the Iraq war and bridges to nowhere would pay for approximately two-and-a-half years of medical care coverage for every man, woman and child in the United States, according to some Universal health care proponent plans.

Some of you will remember the big insurance company bailout of the insurance industry after the 2004 hurricane season decimated parts of Florida. The reason the bush administration parted with our middle-class tax dollars back then was to make sure that those large premiums collected by the insurance companies stayed in their coffers and were available to purchase low-confidence mortgages made to less-than-liquid borrowers.

How did we get into this investor class mess anyone, you may ask? The Fed, President Bush and the out or control greed seekers did it to us, make no mistake about it. When the Bush economy, led by tax cuts for the rich and an outsourcing of American jobs overseas resulting in a net job loss over the first four years of this Bush administration, left our dollar kind of worthless, the Fed's answer, led by then Chairman Alan Greenspan, was to lower interest rates. The lowering of the interest rates allowed lenders to borrow money at cheaper and cheaper rates. When a bank (or similar lending company) borrows money, they then need to lend it out to people so that they can charge more money in interest to make a profit.

So people started borrowing money which resulted in houses being bought. The lenders realized that there were many people out there who didn't have great credit and they decided to lend them money to purchase homes they couldn't afford. With all of these people buying homes, housing prices shot up. People bought homes they couldn't afford thinking that they could turn them around for huge profits before they had to pay the lion's share of the loan.

Now, the reason the lion's share of the loan didn't have to be paid at the beginning of the loan payment cycle was because the lenders gave these less than qualified borrowers balloon payment loans known as "Interest Only Mortgages". These loans required the borrower to pay only the interest for the first few years of the loan's term. The investor class saw that backing these loans could be a huge windfall and they invested money into blocks of them, even rating these questionable loans as Triple-A.

Then the bubble burst, as so many real economists agreed that it would. And when that happened, people whose home was worth twice what it was just a year or two prior to its purchase were left holding large mortgages on properties worth less than their home. Coupling the bubble with the loss of good paying jobs and the increase in price of gas (and just about everything else); and having the US dollar continue to slide on the world market had people not being able to meet their home loan payment requirements. Homes were foreclosed; people moved out; and home values, the main investment in most every American family's lives, were drastically lowered.

POP!

And while this all was happening, our modern day version of Nero (Bush) and his GOP-controlled Congress fiddled away their days saying the market will take care of itself.

It isn't and it's costing us, the US middle-class more and more each and every day.

The money we could be using to finance health care coverage for every family in America, or fixing our infrastructure while which creates more good-paying jobs right here at home is, instead, being given to those who invested in making a quick buck on bad investments.

And John McCain and the Republican Party wants us to believe that staying this course is the way to go forward.

Amazing.

-Noah Greenberg



More on The Bailout

Another 85 billion dollar bailout for AIG. All these bailouts and none of the dollars trickle down to the little guy. Now we face high gas prices, higher than ever prices for heating our homes, one home owner after another facing foreclosure with little, if any assistance from the government due to Republican blocks of legislation, credit card companies gouging and abusing consumers with obnoxious, ever ending fees and higher and higher interest rates (again with Republicans holding up legislation to correct this abuse), the little guy gets screwed while Wall Street and the big bankers and corporations that can file bankruptcy time after time march on. Welcome to the remnants of for the most part a Republican controlled House and Senate and the Bush Administration. Hopefully we will not have another McBush era and will change the makeup of Congress enough to make a difference for the lower class people since there is no middle class to speak of any more.

-Denise



A New Socialism: Bushism

Eureka!!! I have found it, the guiding principle for the Bush administration: stealth socialism. By manipulating the financial markets and causing panic in the streets, the administration has justified a nationalizing a brokerage firm, two mortgage firms and now the worldís largest insurance company. Socialism is the economic system in which the government owns the principal manufacturing and other systems in the nation. Since manufacturing is now a minor component of the American economy after the outsourcing of recent years, the financial system is now the key pressure point. By its recent actions, it would appear that Bush socialism is well on its way. My guess is that it will stop short of nationalizing the oil companies.

-Anonymous



RIPPING DOWN A CURTAIN OF LIES

TO THOSE WHO FEEL LIKE THEIR COUNTRY HAS LOST ITS MIND.

PREMISE: The Democrats still yearn to apply the old campaigning principles of logic and reason: they operate in the domain of CONVINCING.

The Republicans operate in the domain of CONDITIONING.

Oneís a bicycle, the other a motorcycle. Guess which is which.

There are now about 7 weeks left to the election and Thomas Friedman of the NY TIMES is concerned that Obama seems to be losing his steam. Even more peculiar is that McCain is running with two monster disadvantages: the Bush legacy and the flagging economy. Should be an easy win, right?

Friedman lays most of the blame at Obamaís feet, saying the guy no longer is connecting with people emotionally. The premise is that voters are moved by getting a feeling in their gut, and itís up to the candidates to connect with them in such a way. And that darn Obama was doing it so well in the primaries, and so now itís all his fault that heís failing to do it now. Címon Barak, what the hellís with you? You falling asleep on the job?

Here was my response to Friedman:

Dear Editor:

I would agree with Thomas Friedman's ďFrom the GutĒ premise that Obama seems to be losing steam, but do we lay the blame solely on his campaign or are there other factors at work here ?

When Obama was capturing the people's gut during the primaries, he was playing to the Democratic Party: now he's playing to the general populace-a very different audience. For eight years the Republican machine has been working two powerful mind altering factors on the American Public: The Magic of Fear ("only Republicans can keep out the terrorist enemy at our gates"), and the Miracle of Media conditioning (simple repeated messages that have numbed and dumbed our once-thinking electorate.)

Like you said, McCain has two fifty pound balls : Bush and the economy -- and yet he's got the momentum.

If the Democrats can't win against that, does it say more about the party or something far darker about what has been at work on the American mindset?

-Ken Kraus

Am I the only person (other than Al Gore) that feels that Americans are losing their ability to apply reason and logic?

Letís look at several myths that mysteriously crept into American consciousness, and consequently, Mr. Friedman, into their very GUT:

1. Democrats ruin things fiscally by taxing and spending us into a hole. Despite that fact that Republicans have presided over the bankrupting of our treasury and a crumbling economy AND that in the eight years before that the Democrats presided over great prosperity and a building treasury; many of us cannot even consider handing the helm over to a Democratic administration as it is widely believed that they can only make a disaster of fiscal management.

2. Democrats are cowards who canít stand up to any enemy. Despite the fact that in the last century Democrats and Republicans administrations have both waged / fought wars equally (we had FDR all through WWII, Truman got us into Korea, Kennedy and Johnson into Vietnam), most of us are too afraid to allow a Democrat to manage the current anti-Terror campaign as itís obvious that Democrats are sniveling, frightened weenies who canít stand up to anyone, right? (Forget the fact that Congress is replete with Democrats who are war veterans.)

Sure Democrats questioned the premise for Iraq, it did turn out false after all: no WMDís. Yet they support the Afghanistan war, always did, that was logical. The Taliban were a clear and present danger to the US as evidenced by their plans and connection with Osama Bin Laden. Saddam H. hated us, but was not a clear and present danger, had no connection to 9-11, this even backed up by the 9-11 commission. Yet Democrats now bear the stigma of spineless cowards. How did that happen?

The myths donít stop there.

3. Republicans are the keepers of family values, religious principle and moral rectitude, while the Democratic Party is the den of iniquity. Forget the fact that many Republicans (including McCain) also cheated on their marriages, and that while Sarah Palin was in the Alaska statehouse working for Christian values, her underage daughter was in some nearby parking lot doing the wild thing with a boyfriend who calls himself a blanking redneck on his my space page. And if sheís not to be held accountable for her daughterís ( a minorís) actions, then what do they mean by family values?

4. Democrats are flighty tree huggers who look to take away your jobs and grind us to a halt, while Repubs care about keeping this countryís energy supplies going along with jobs. Forget the fact that while Clinton/Gore presided over strict environmentalism the economy thrived and that Bush, who denied Global Warming has been the one to grind us to a near halt.

4a: It comes out in the news a few months back that in 2004, the Bush administration issued (by law) an environmental report that confirmed global warming and warned of the hardships to come (even his own scientists could no longer deny it) Ė and then they suppress the report, only releasing it under court order. In other words, while campaigning against global warming action in 2004, heís hiding his own report that it exists. Lying to us about a danger weíre in. Knowing it.

And hereís the kicker: most of us donít seem to care much. In other words: we must spare no bullet, no expense to keep out a terrorist with a bomb; but as for our oceans rising and our coasts flooding: Shrug.

Do you see now why Obama, even with a crippled economy and a sour Bush legacy, has an uphill battle? (Letís not even start on the race thing.) Heís playing to an audience whose minds have been seriously messed with over the last eight years. Whose acquired beliefs are more powerful than the clear evidence in front of their faces.

WHATíS HAPPENED TO US?

I propose that these several myths above are NOT the fault of the Democratic Party, nor have crept into our consciousness by accident. They were carefully engineered, put there in our minds on purpose. Sounds like a grade-B sci-fi plot, doesnít it ?

Refer back to my letter to the editor, in which I cite two factors that I call:
-The magic of fear
-The miracle of media conditioning (not by the media, I mean paid-for media)

If we look at third world regimes and propaganda led dictatorships (especially the communists), these two factors are always present. Thereís always an outside enemy, and itís only our fearless leader who can keep out this enemy ready to trample our gates. Thereís always repeated slogans, sayings that work their way into the populationís mindset, so that even as they suffer and struggle, they remain loyal to the very leaders that trample them.


PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN:

I say Rove and Company discovered these principles and have been steadily applying them for the past eight years (even before.)

With extra focus on how to feed the so-called People of Faith of the heartland, specially tailored myths to make them wretch at even the thought of a heathen-liberal-Democrat getting within miles of the presidency.

And so now, we arrive at the 2008 election in third-world condition, our reason compromised, weighed down by the failures of our leadership yet unable to seriously consider an alternative anymore. We ascended from lowly reason to lofty third-world thought. Welcome to Iron Curtain America.

How do you stand up to this? What chance does Obama have against a poisoned mindset? In a time where the country would at least partially use logic and consider the failed economics, the protracted war with a lie behind it, Obama would have a cakewalk to the White House. But we are no longer the country of logic.

The Democrats still yearn to apply the old campaigning principles of logic and reason: they operate in the domain of CONVINCING. The Republicans operate in the domain of CONDITIONING. Oneís a bicycle, the other a motorcycle. Guess which is which.

The Republicans also understand that our intellectual level has descended to that of a TABLOID NATION. A new governor with a sassy mouth and a pretty face has more draw than the substantive issues of the Democratic Convention. The minute they flash Sarah Palin at the nation, all memory and thought of what the Democrats discussed in Denver was obliterated. If Brittany and Brangelina has more draw than Iraq, then heyÖ. ** see my new ironic note at the end of the article.

So what hope do the Democrats have? . No matter the circumstances, we are beginning this 100 yard dash behind an opponent that is already at the 50 yard line in the minds of voters.

WHAT TO DO? PAGING TOTO.

The knee jerk reaction here might be: so, letís start a conditioning smear response back. Letís get our own five phrases to repeat. Itís a good start, but then weíd have to do in 7 weeks what theyíve been doing hard for eight years.

I believe our best hope lies in taking a page from the Wizard of Oz and the moment when a little dog that could see the obvious was wiser than the cluster of humans who were deluded. I know Iím citing a folksy fantasy tale, but the allegory is a powerful one, and itís amazing that itís about a mind altering experience of a little girl from our heartland, where people were taught to take things at face value.

We have to do something fast and dramatic and relevant to show what theyíve really been up to. And thatís where Toto comes in: RIP DOWN THE CURTAIN, expose the phony wizard behind. Only when Dorothy sees clearly the measly old man pulling the levers to work the illusion does she finally, and in one moment, GET IT about how sheís been fooled. (And all of Oz for that matter.)

What makes the city of Oz in the thrall of the Wizard similar to present day America?
1. The Wizardís power and judgment are never to be questioned. The Conditioning Part.
2. Oz has an outside enemy, whom the Wizard exploits to solidify his followerís devotion to him. The Magic of Fear.

Up until Dorothyís revelation at the end, the Wizardís larger-than-life image and platitudes have awed her. Sheís heard and accepted from all around her how all-powerful he is. All inhabitants of Oz mindlessly repeat the phrases of devotion to their master. Dorothy spends the first half of the story yearning for an audience, and the second half doing his bidding (against the Wicked Witch- who really is wicked, but not the only one to blame for all of Ozís misery. Sound like the Terrorists? What would the Wizardís status be if there were no Wicked Witch?). The Wizardís thundering outrage when Dorothy finally questions his motives causes her to quake and ask forgiveness. No matter how badly things go in Oz, it canít be the Wizardís fault, and he is never to be challenged.

Thereís another connection to our current America: failure to see the obvious. Think back to the setting in the Wizardís throne room. Dorothy and company are mesmerized by the smoke and fire image of the Great Oz, and FAIL to see the curtained enclosure just slightly off to the side, in pretty plain sight.

Only when the curious little dog, the only one left in the group who can actually see and question whatís in front of him,--
Only when this mutt pulls aside the curtain, does Dorothy have her moment of real education.

How do we bring America to that moment?

I am not a master political strategist, but I believe the Obama would do well to LEVEL with the American people about the gravity of how Grand Wizard Rove has done a head job on us. Cite several of the myths, come out about the CONDITIONING and how it works. Sure it will spark outrage, but then after initial anger, people sometimes start to think again.

Our plight is even more serious than Dorothyís.
For at least in The Wizard of Oz, the old flim flam man pulling the levers had that part of him that still wanted to help, even after he was exposed as a fraud. ďIím a good man, just a bad wizard.Ē

But in our case, the scam has been perpetrated for a much darker cause.

In my next section, Iíll speculate on what the head-job is really all about, what Core Directive it really serves.

**: A possible ironic twist to the saga of Sarah, the new darling of the Tabloids. Or so they hoped.

Yes, she was chosen because on a superficial soap star level, she can quickly grab Americaís attention. Itís as if Rove and Co said: go on, you of the shallow media, hereís our hot starlet [ Our moral-and religious-and family values starlet at that!]. Gather round her, love her and make much of her.

But if any of you have seen the recent National Enquirer expose on poor Sarah, the full implications of offering your babe candidate to such media begin to dawn:

The Tabloids are like piranhas. Throw them a tasty good looking morsel and yes, they will swarm around and attract much attention. But then when theyíve completed their initial circling and sniffing, they close in and feed.

 

-Ken Kraus


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-Noah Greenberg