The WALTHER REPORT
By Tony Walther
Bill Clinton has it 100 percent right this time. He said that Democrats should lay off taking personal jabs at Sarah Palin. They should just say they disagree with her positions.
Then again, once you elevate someone up to the status of they are worth disagreeing with, you have possibly given them status they don’t deserve. I said that. But, really, strategy wise, Bill has a point.
Also, there is no doubt she has caught the popular imagination as a down home folksy and gutsy woman (if a little vapid at times) who can handle the task given her, by golly.
But again, do we really want her to be (vice) president? (Worse yet, do you want McCain?)
Some folks seemed to think George W. Bush had that down home quality (I never did). Hard to see why. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and is more East Coast than Texas and is just not terribly bright and not terribly articulate, although he has come along well in his speech lessons over these past eight years – still stumbles a little, but much better. But I don’t care for the message.
… Meanwhile, it appears the rescue-bailout plan may not be a done deal, with congress and many voters saying “not so fast.” I know I personally have never gone for the high pressure sale, you have to make a decision now! Why?
And now a report on the network news says that McCain is in the driver’s seat on the rescue package because if he votes against it other Republicans will follow suit and the bill will go down to defeat (ouch! I hate when that happens!). Of course then if the economy goes down the tubes he takes the blame. But McCain is a gambler. I’ll bet he either wants to vote no and look like the hero who stood up not only to his commie captors in Hanoi but to the fat cats on Wall Street, or make a yes vote contingent on some high flyers doing a perp walk (or something tantamount to that). McCain smells blood. An FBI investigation has been announced already.
Obama has little choice but to vote yes, but insist that there is something for the people, mortgage help, etc., in it (well beyond keeping the business machine from collapsing).
And he is probably stuck with his cerebral and cool and just a little insistent pose. I think McCain has the ownership on the I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore stance.
Many of us are basically just watching in wonderment. Should we be mad? Should we be afraid?
And here’s something that bothers me. Why can’t we do this thing from the bottom up. If $700 billion or more can be handed over to Wall Street, why not instead take that same amount of money and use it to help people renegotiate their mortgages, stay in their homes and do the things homeowners do, buy all those consumer goods for the house. That would help more people and would do a far better job to stimulate the economy one would think.
Wall Street’s track record was to invest and reinvest and re-re-invest in real estate, wildly inflating the prices and then the bubble burst.
And now I heard on TV Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson admit that under the terms of the rescue plan foreign banks would be allowed to get American taxpayer money. That in and of itself seems wrong (even allowing foreigners pump a lot of money into our economy). But I have read that a lot of the capital in the mortgage market came from the Middle East. Those oil rich nations invest in housing here but don’t help their own people. No wonder there is so much unrest in the Middle East.
Oh those Arabs who say they care so much about Palestine. Why don’t they pump money into the Palestinian territory and make it a Garden of Eden that would rival Israel?
… And another plug for investing domestically into alternative energy. I read about a paper mill in Maine that may go out of business because of the cost of oil. A subsidiary paper plant uses wood debris left over from logging to power itself. But installing that capability at the larger plant is seen as too expensive. But what if the government didn’t pay for that outright but offered an incentive for investment? It would cut down on dependence on foreign oil and save jobs right here at home.
…. Just a thought: during the Bush administration there has been a convenient excuse for Republicans not to support social programs, besides the fact that is not in their nature, there is the costly war thing. Now with the need to spend a trillion dollars or more on corporate welfare, sorry guys just can’t afford all that military action (now of course no one would haggle over war funding if we were actually repelling invaders. Then again, we’d rather fight them over there than here. Maybe we should send up a star ship to mars with troops – the Martians might be plotting against us. Let’s invoke the Bush Doctrine – definition for you Sarah, that means we have a ready excuse to go to war anywhere anytime).
There’s a popular saying:
“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
That’s catchy, but I’d transpose it, you might say:
“If you’re part of the problem, you’re not part of the solution.”
Okay, what I mean is that it is hard to believe that the folks who got us into this financial crisis, at least some of them, are now the ones who are working on this historic, earth shattering plan for the U.S. government to gobble up untold Wall Street bad debts, to the tune of $1 trillion or more (first it was $500 billion, then 700 billion, and some suggest $1 trillion, which may include the most recent bailouts or may be beyond that – I really can’t keep track).
So virtually all of the players in this rescue scheme took part directly or were closely associated with the modern financial activity that got us into this mess. It all has to do with ever more clever and complex ways to slice and dice securities, especially mortgage securities, in order to sell and resell and sell and resell, and that’s all well and good until something happens to put a monkey wrench in to the works, such as adjustable rate mortgages adjusting too high and spikes in the cost of living and unemployment and finally foreclosures when the person at the bottom doesn’t pay. That triggers a chain reaction that in the past week or so has threatened to bring our whole economy down and even the world’s economy down, since everything is interconnected in this grand global market. Gee maybe that’s what they mean by the “new world order.”
All of this is so complex that no one really knows what will or could happen.
So now we know that all those hot-shot money experts that have been barking at us to do this and buy this and so on, are not so smart after all – that is unless some of them are telling us to do one thing but are doing the opposite behind our backs, selling us short, you might say. I wonder sometimes.
I continue to wonder in my non-economic mind what the cost would be to do nothing, to let risk takers lose. Would that be an end to risk takers? No, because there would be even more of a risk and probably more of a gain than bailing everyone out now but instituting even tighter regulation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
And in a previous blog I mentioned that you could call all this absorption of losses at public expense a form of socialism, but that it also resembles fascism.
Then I read in the San Francisco Chronicle today a piece that seemed to agree with me, and that always gives me a thrill when someone actually agrees with me or I think of something that someone else was thinking too. And now I can’t find the article…
At any rate, if the government assumes such a large direct stake in the economy as proposed, the action resembles both socialism or communism as practiced by the old Soviet Union with its state-owned and directed economy and fascism as it was practiced under Hitler by the Nazi party in Germany, with the state working hand in hand with business and exerting total control over the economy and the life of everyday individuals. As has been often noted, there is no difference between the far left and the far right, they both seek to use government to control people’s lives. And now I have answered my own earlier question as to how a Republican administration could be in the once inconceivable position of taking over a large part of our economy.
We could do little to nothing, or we could at least take the slow, but sure approach.
Congress has not blinked so far. One senator I saw on C-Span asked for an explanation, saying that he did not understand because he was just an “old dirt farmer.”
I guess he didn’t want to buy a pig in a poke.