March 24, 2008

I would sell my belongings
In the mountains where she's living
Just to be there when she comes every morning

Margherita Manzelli, The City Loves You, 1999

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

7. George W. Bush

"On March 19, 2003, the day he sent troops into Iraq, George W. Bush gave a speech to the world in which he spelled out his goal for the invasion:

"Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.

"In 2003, 'our purpose' was to prevent Saddam Hussein from attacking America and its allies with weapons of mass destruction.

"Last week, on March 19, 2008, George W. Bush gave another speech. Despite the fact that 'our purpose' turned out to be based entirely on lies and propaganda, he was upbeat. 'Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision -- and this is a fight America can and must win,' he said.

"The rest of the speech was equally insane.

"BUSH: Because we acted, Saddam Hussein no longer fills fields with the remains of innocent men, women and children. Because we acted, Saddam's torture chambers and rape rooms and children's prisons have been closed for good. Because we acted, Saddam's regime is no longer invading its neighbors or attacking them with chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. Because we acted, Saddam's regime is no longer paying the families of suicide bombers in the Holy Land. Because we acted, Saddam's regime is no longer shooting at American and British aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones and defying the will of the United Nations. Because we acted, the world is better and the United States of America is safer.

"Wow, and just think - all it cost us was our dignity, our moral authority, our standing in the world, the lives of 4,000 troops, and more than half a trillion dollars.

"So far."

-- related -- Death toll in Iraq surpasses 4,000.

* Krugman. excerpt:

"We’re now in the midst of an epic financial crisis, which ought to be at the center of the election debate. But it isn’t.

"Now, I don’t expect presidential campaigns to have all the answers to our current crisis — even financial experts are scrambling to keep up with events. But I do think we’re entitled to more answers, and in particular a clearer commitment to financial reform, than we’re getting so far.

"In truth, I don’t expect much from John McCain, who has both admitted not knowing much about economics and denied having ever said that. Anyway, lately he’s been busy demonstrating that he doesn’t know much about the Middle East, either.

"Yet the McCain campaign’s silence on the financial crisis has disappointed even my low expectations.

"And when Mr. McCain’s economic advisers do speak up about the economy’s problems, they don’t inspire confidence. For example, last week one McCain economic adviser — Kevin Hassett, the co-author of 'Dow 36,000' — insisted that everything would have been fine if state and local governments hadn’t tried to limit urban sprawl. Honest."
"America came out of the Great Depression with a pretty effective financial safety net, based on a fundamental quid pro quo: the government stood ready to rescue banks if they got in trouble, but only on the condition that those banks accept regulation of the risks they were allowed to take.

"Over time, however, many of the roles traditionally filled by regulated banks were taken over by unregulated institutions — the 'shadow banking system,' which relied on complex financial arrangements to bypass those safety regulations.

"Now, the shadow banking system is facing the 21st-century equivalent of the wave of bank runs that swept America in the early 1930s. And the government is rushing in to help, with hundreds of billions from the Federal Reserve, and hundreds of billions more from government-sponsored institutions like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.

"Given the risks to the economy if the financial system melts down, this rescue mission is justified. But you don’t have to be an economic radical, or even a vocal reformer like Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, to see that what’s happening now is the quid without the quo.

"Last week Robert Rubin, the former Treasury secretary, declared that Mr. Frank is right about the need for expanded regulation. Mr. Rubin put it clearly: If Wall Street companies can count on being rescued like banks, then they need to be regulated like banks."

"But will that logic prevail politically?

"Not if Mr. McCain makes it to the White House. His chief economic adviser is former Senator Phil Gramm, a fervent advocate of financial deregulation. In fact, I’d argue that aside from Alan Greenspan, nobody did as much as Mr. Gramm to make this crisis possible.

"Both Democrats, by contrast, are running more or less populist campaigns. But at least so far, neither Democrat has made a clear commitment to financial reform.

"Is that simply an omission? Or is it an ominous omen? Recent history offers reason to worry.

"In retrospect, it’s clear that the Clinton administration went along too easily with moves to deregulate the financial industry. And it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that big contributions from Wall Street helped grease the rails.

"Last year, there was no question at all about the way Wall Street’s financial contributions to the new Democratic majority in Congress helped preserve, at least for now, the tax loophole that lets hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

"Now, the securities and investment industry is pouring money into both Mr. Obama’s and Mrs. Clinton’s coffers. And these donors surely believe that they’re buying something in return.

"Let’s hope they’re wrong."

* "Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact." -- William S. Burroughs


Anonymous cara said...

that's a will oldham quote at the top. did you catch mine in the painting? funny.

1:01 AM  

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