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September 30, 2008


William Greider:

The political bedlam in Washington is as real as it gets...

In all of elected Washington, representatives are closest to the people and they know a vote for this outrageous measure is going to end the careers of some colleagues--maybe many of them. This time, the dissenters can claim principle and say they are voting with the folks, while also voting to save their own hides.

It adds another deep shock to the system, both in politics and economics, but what an invigorating moment for democracy.

David Cay Johnston:

Whether you favor the $700 billion bailout or not, the House vote today should make you cheer--loudly.


Because the majority vote against it shows that Washington is not entirely in the service of the political donor class, by which I mean Wall Street and the corporations who rely on it for their financing.

Dean Baker:

[T]he public refused to send their tax dollars to Wall Street banks run by incompetent bankers, and they insisted that their representatives in Congress listen to their wishes.

While the editorialists are busy denouncing members of Congress for surrendering to the vulgar masses, it's a good time to quickly check the score card. The United States is in a recession and facing the worst financial crisis in almost 80 years because the folks currently in charge were out to lunch.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at September 30, 2008 02:26 PM

As anticipated, this is being sold as a victory for democracy, not the Republican hissy fit it was. A bells & whistles version will pass, and then we can return to the much denounced but never challenged "business as usual." The system will have worked, one more time. But, for whom?

Posted by: donescobar at September 30, 2008 03:03 PM

...Wall Street banks run by incompetent bankers...

I object to this characterization, I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that the bankers are incompetent. Don't hate the player - hate the game, as they say.

Posted by: abb1 at September 30, 2008 03:54 PM

David Cay Johnston, not David Kay Johnston.

By the way, his book "Perfectly Legal" is very good. I haven't checked out his new book yet.

Posted by: a.l. at September 30, 2008 04:11 PM

But abb1, they chose to play that game, and they knew the objectives and rules of the game, or they found out what those were. And they continued to play. They coulda gone to Social Work School. Instead, they came to embody the game.

Posted by: donescobar at September 30, 2008 04:14 PM


I was a teller for wamu these past 6 months. let me assure you bankers are the least sophisticated people to make up a profession ever. A banker's main ingredient to success is obtuseness - bankers are but glorified salespeople. So what kind of a system is borne from an illiterate, obtuse people solely interested in making the sell?

Posted by: A Different Matt at September 30, 2008 04:14 PM

Well, naturally different games attract different people; some play chess, some poker, and some prefer kick-boxing or dogfighting. And as long as it's legal, you have no good reason to blame them. And whatever it takes to succeed - connections, salesmanship, ruthlessness, whatever else - that's who you'll find at the top. Natural process.

Posted by: abb1 at September 30, 2008 04:39 PM

A Different Matt, if you were a teller (which I also was, for two godawful years), I doubt you were interacting with the types of bankers who made this situation. They don't tend to work in branches.

Posted by: ethan at September 30, 2008 04:43 PM

Gotta go along with ethan here. Some of the boys and girls at Goldman Sachs et al are pretty savvy navigators of financial games and schemes, not unlike their lawyer fellow graduates from Ivy who excel at finding tax loopholes for the rich. They sell, and their skills are part of the package. You do not find their likes at the neighborhood branch bank.
And, why is banking a "profession?" Medicine and law are, exams are required and licenses are issued. Banking is a business. Or a trade, like that of a greengrocer, as Oxbridge types gleefully used to point out.

Posted by: donescobar at September 30, 2008 05:35 PM

The bells & whistles version is what failed. 107 pages of them were added, all - to exaggerate very little - toothless.

Posted by: buermann at September 30, 2008 05:39 PM

As in the defense industry, not enough bells & whistles, I suppose. Toothless is a given, as is expensive. You pay for the packaging--it's the American way.

Posted by: donescobar at September 30, 2008 05:43 PM

"As anticipated, this is being sold as a victory for democracy, not the Republican hissy fit it was."

Garbage, donescobar. You usually have more sense than that. If some characters did the right thing for the wrong reasons, or at best muddled reasons, it's a whole lot better than the usual result.

The reason Barney Frank and Atrios and others are labeling this as a "hissy fit" is to prevent people from looking more closely at the collusion of the democrats in helping to bring us to the present state of affairs, or even lookiing at specific reasons that the opposition may have for opposing the present bill.

Whether or not a better bill actually emerges is another matter, and I'll admit I suspect it's unlikely. Nevertheless, in the short term, putting the brakes on Monday was the best result possible.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at September 30, 2008 08:09 PM

Freezing all forclosures for AT LEAST 90 days would give a breathing space for homeowners and FORCE lenders to think about renegotiation.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 30, 2008 09:36 PM

Ok, heres what I see.

We the bankers have messed up with your retirement accounts and so on. They have lost X trillion in value. That money is gone, to a magical place, never mind it cause it don't exist no mo'. Also, never mind the loads of cash we made using your (ex) money, it isn't part of the equation. Oh yeah we also need new quantities of your money, because when we lost the old stuff, we threatened your economy with disaster. So you should be real scared n stuff, and also we are here to help you and protect you from that scary complicated economic sorcery we have created!

Really the biggest disaster for these scum would be the People realizing what is going on. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week

And that friends is the reason that the democracy being hailed here (and any democracy except for the very limited form we are supposed to have) is a crock of shit.
Even though it works out in this case, if you think about it, the problem is caused and perpetuated because We da' People don't know jack about jack.

Posted by: tim at September 30, 2008 09:38 PM

Freezing foreclosures IS easily done, read The Patriot Act.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 30, 2008 09:47 PM

I've said it over and over. The world would be a different place if Matt Gonzalez had run against Pelosi instead of for Veep as Nader's runningmate.

Gonzalez was the president of San Francisco's board of supervisors and came within a few percentage points of beating Cali Dem wonderboy Gavin Newsom a couple election cycles back. He was pretty well-respected among liberals in SF, and considering the compact nature of the district I think he could have run a strong campaign for very little money as a Green Party candidate. Whether he could have defeated Pelosi and her backers is questionable (but not out of the question). Still, during the FISA debacle and the current bailout crap he could have made things very uncomfortable for her.

Would have made for interesting watching, to see Pelosi attacked from the left.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at September 30, 2008 10:03 PM

Jonathan Versen, you say putting the brakes on the bailout was the best possible result in the short term. I say it simply prepares us for another phony "victory" -- in the long term. A bad Act I, leading, most likely, to a bad Act II. But the Republican opponents can claim they acted in the interests of their poor schmuck constituents. A plague on both houses. or sides of the House.

Posted by: donescobar at September 30, 2008 10:44 PM

YESTERDAY WE did not BORROW 700billion dollars, of course that's good.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 1, 2008 12:25 AM

Exactly Mike. And the market regained more than half of Monday's loss, without a bill. The trend is still negative, but a dousing of cold water is helpful when somebody is intent on making you freak out and wants you to lose contact with your common sense.

Hell, maybe we won't even get a bailout bill before the election. To paraphrase Mister T, I pity the fool who wants to vote for the bailout in October and face his constituents in November.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 1, 2008 12:35 AM

YESTERDAY WE did not BORROW 700billion dollars, of course that's good.

Well, for that tomorrow, perhaps, we will not only borrow 700billion but also cut capital gains tax rate to zero.

Posted by: abb1 at October 1, 2008 01:53 AM

abb1 is the winner:

Leaders of the Senate, where most members have indicated support for the plan, said they would seek a vote on a revised rescue package tonight that would include a one-year increase in Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. caps for bank and credit union accounts, extensions of numerous business tax breaks that have expired and a fix to the alternative minimum tax for individual taxpayers.

That this monstrosity failed its first time around doesn't mean it's going to get better; it almost certainly means it's going to get worse. The only question is how much worse it'll get before it passes.

Posted by: John Caruso at October 1, 2008 01:18 PM

I, for one, support this new environment of standing up to wealthy capitalists. And if that means our happy-go-lucky BernieMac-rich paradise happens to go down the shitter, and the rest of the world realizes that the U.S. economy is brittle as fuck and stops buying T-bills because nobody can conduct business here anymore because the banks don't even trust loans to each other...

Then obviously both the people and the politicians will spontaneously realize the truth: Our Century is Over, and we must go quietly into the Social Democracy, just like Europe did starting a few years after the Great Depression.

I shall call this slide...

The Method of A Hundred Million Heads.

Posted by: James Cape at October 1, 2008 10:11 PM