September 22, 2008

every thousand years
this metal sphere
ten times the size of Jupiter
floats just a few yards past the earth

Tim Rollins, Rollercoaster Reflection #2, 2008

* New York Times. excerpt:

"The nation’s financial mess was caused to a great degree by a culture of lax regulation and even less oversight, in which ordinary Americans were told to trust the government and Wall Street to do the right thing.

"President Bush’s proposed solution, which he wants Congress to authorize immediately, tells taxpayers to write a check for $700 billion and trust the government and Wall Street to do the right thing — with inadequate regulation and virtually no oversight.

"We agree with Senator Barack Obama that the administration’s plan lacks regulatory muscle, and we agree with Senator John McCain when he said: 'When we’re talking about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money, ‘trust me’ just isn’t good enough.'
"To protect the American taxpayer, Congress must ensure that the bailout comes with clear ground rules and vigilant oversight. In an appalling, though familiar fashion, the ground rules proposed by the Bush administration are wholly unacceptable — as are its tactics.

"At 1 o’clock in the morning on Saturday, the Treasury Department released its 'Legislative Proposal for Treasury Authority to Purchase Mortgage-Related Assets.' The witching hour timing seemed designed to underscore the urgency of the effort.

"The proposal, which is now being negotiated with Congressional leaders, would give the Treasury secretary the authority to buy any assets from any financial institution at any price that he deemed necessary to provide stability to the financial markets. And it asserts that neither the courts nor any administrative agency would be allowed to question or review those decisions.

"We’ve seen this kind of over-reaching from the Bush administration before. It has usurped far too many powers under a banner of urgency — think wiretapping — and abused those powers. Now, Congress and the American people are being told that unless they quickly approve sweeping executive powers for the bailout, capitalism may collapse. Even if this administration weren’t so untrustworthy, rushing ahead would be a bad idea.

"No one is saying the financial crisis is not serious and urgent. We know that it will be hard for lawmakers to resist White House pressure — especially if the Dow continues to drop. But it is essential that Congress takes the time to get the bailout right, even if it cuts into lawmakers’ campaigning."
"The only way to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest is for Mr. Paulson to welcome full and transparent legislative and judicial review.

A counterproposal now being developed by the Democrats would require firms that sell their troubled assets to the Treasury to give the government stock — an idea that has populist appeal but also needs to be vetted carefully. It also would try to help homeowners, who are left out of the administration’s plan entirely, allowing them to have their mortgages modified under bankruptcy court protection. That step that should have been taken long ago to avert the foreclosures and house price declines that are at the root of the crisis.

"Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is also calling for an oversight board of federal officials and other experts. We believe that is still not enough. But all of the competing proposals provide interesting starts for a serious debate."

* Two excellent snippet videos of the Silver Jews in Atlanta. Check them out.

* "Time plays a role in almost every decision. And some decisions define your attitude about time." -- John Cale


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