Excerpted from CommonDreams
McCain Blasts Wall Street Failure, neglects to mention his advisor caused it
As the news broke of the Lehman Brothers meltdown and the rest of the latest financial crisis, John McCain, speaking at a campaign rally in Florida on Monday, angrily declared,
And in a statement released by his campaign, McCain called for greater “transparency and accountability” on Wall Street.
If McCain wants to hold someone accountable for the failure in transparency and accountability that led to the current calamity, he should turn to his good friend and adviser, Phil Gramm.
As Mother Jones reported in June, eight years ago, Gramm, then a Republican senator chairing the Senate banking committee, slipped a 262-page bill into a gargantuan, must-pass spending measure. Gramm’s legislation, written with the help of financial industry lobbyists, essentially removed newfangled financial products called swaps from any regulation. Credit default swaps are basically insurance policies that cover the losses on investments, and they have been at the heart of the subprime meltdown because they have enabled large financial institutions to turn risky loans into risky securities that could be packaged and sold to other institutions.
Lehman’s collapse threatens the financial markets because of swaps. From Bloomberg:
Bond-default risk soared worldwide as the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sparked concern than the $62 trillion credit-derivatives market will unravel….
Lehman, the fourth-largest securities firm until last week, has been one of the 10 largest counterparties in the market for credit-default swaps, according to a 2007 report by Fitch Ratings. The market, which is unregulated and has no central exchange where prices are disclosed, has been the fastest-growing type of so-called over-the-counter derivative, according to the Bank for International Settlements.
“The immediate problem is the derivative default swaps market, in which a plethora of institutional accounts and dealer accounts are at risk,” Bill Gross, manager of the world’s largest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio yesterday. “It induces a tremendous amount of volatility and uncertainty.”
Barclays Capital analysts have estimated that if a financial institution with $2 trillion in credit-default swap trades were to fail, it might trigger between $36 billion and $47 billion in losses for institutions that traded with the firm. So the Lehman fiasco–caused in part by the use of unregulated swaps–could lead to ruin elsewhere in the economy.
Gramm is responsible for the rise of the wild and woolly $62 trillion swaps market. And he was chairman of the McCain campaign and a top economic adviser for McCain–until he dismissed Americans worried about the economy as “whiners.” After that comment, McCain dumped Gramm. But was Gramm truly excommunicated from McCain land? Last month, he attended a meeting of McCain’s top supporters in Aspen, Colorado. And at a dinner that day, McCain singled out Gramm for praise. Last week, failed Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul revealed that Gramm, now an exec for Swiss banking giant UBS (which also lost billions of dollars due to subprime loans and swaps), had recently called him as part of a McCain effort to win Paul’s endorsement. Paul turned Gramm down. (Both Gramm and Paul are Texas Republicans.) Gramm’s Paul-courting effort seems to indicate that the fellow who has done much to cause the current financial troubles (and who was once considered a possible Treasury secretary should McCain win the White House) is back in the good graces of the McCain campaign.
Shortly after McCain promised he would “clean up” Wall Street, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, his running mate, appeared at a Colorado rally on Monday morning and proclaimed that “John McCain and I will put an end to the abuses in Washington and Wall Street that have resulted in this financial crisis.” She promised a McCain administration would “reform the way Wall Street does business.” (She was short on details and spent more time discussing Colorado sports stars from Alaska.) What neither she nor McCain has explained is how they plan to be able to reform Wall Street when they are being assisted by 177 lobbyists and the guy who greased the way to the current crisis with a backroom legislative maneuver. If McCain and Palin are serious about never putting America “in this position again,” they ought to consider seriously writing down any economic advice they get from Phil Gramm.
“The prisoner of war experience is not a good prerequisite for president of the United States,” says Butler, a fellow of John McCain during his PoW days. “He was known as a very volatile guy and he would blow up and go like a Roman candle. John McCain is not someone I would like to see with his finger near the red button.”
With worries over McCain’s gains soaring, the Obama campaign has (finally) decided to take on the issue head-on. Here’s an excerpt from an article at Washington Post:
With Democratic jitters mounting over the Obama campaign, the presidential candidate’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, released a memo trying to calm frayed nerves.
“In recent weeks, John McCain has shown that he is willing to go into the gutter to win this election. His campaign has become nothing but a series of smears, lies, and cynical attempts to distract from the issues that matter to the American people,” he wrote.
But, he assured supporters, “We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain’s attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people. We will not allow John McCain and his band of Karl Rove disciples to make this big election about small things.”
Plouffe said that with the selection of Palin, McCain had abandoned his core message of experience and moved to Barack Obama’s ground of change. With just two months to go, McCain will have to remake himself as the agent of change.
“That is a debate we welcome,” he concluded.
The full memo follows:
TO: Interested Parties
FR: David Plouffe, Campaign Manager
RE: Heading into the Final Stretch
DA: September 12, 2008
For the full Plouffe memo, click here
1) Bombard the airspace and webspace with ads. Put up webads, and upload a shitload of stuff on Youtube.
2) Make a passionate speech about winning the election. Rally and inspire the base once again. He won the primaries because the Democrats were energized and excited, willing to hope. Now they are tensed and worried, falling into McCain’s pack of lies and fear.
Say stuff like “This is a fight for the future of this nation. A fight for our children, for our future generations, for this earth. No matter how much games these Washington guys play, no matter how intense and dirty their attacks be, we will fight! This is a fight we’ll take to every city, every block, every village, every house in this country. We will reclaim this nation this November and carry on the dream and the spirit of America for generations to come…!”
Make a video of this speech and spread it virally, like the “Yes We Can” video.
3) Get a truck-load of Democrats to make public statements about support for Obama, like Bill Clinton did. Make a strong case for himself. Show the Democrat voters that the momentum is building, the wave is coming. Rally all the Democrat congressmen and Senators and Governors and make a massive display of support.
4) Rally up the women base. Get some popular women figures to go on air and say publicly why they wouldnt vote for Sarah Palin. Get ordinary women to go on air and critiscize Palin. Make a web-ad and put it up on YouTube.
5) Be more aggressive. He’s become very cold and passive. And wake up his attack dog – Joe Biden.
6) Change the focus from Palin to McCain. Be more pro-active than reactive, as he has been all this while. Attack the GOP and McCain and Palin from a thousand different directions, rendering them stunned. Give them a handful of stuff to do explaining for. Act, dont re-act.
+1 BONUS ARMCHAIR ADVICE
*** Make a case of how picking Sarah Palin has charged up Obama supporters, and how they are more charged up than ever before. Spread the news and embed reports on CNN and MSNBC to that end.
Just carrying the news forward…do your bit!
According to the Huffington Post, Palin opened her gaffe account in Colorado. I still dont get how McCain’s campaign got such a big bounce after putting this completely unqualified person on the ticket. How stupid can one be? Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Gov. Sarah Palin made her first potentially major gaffe during her time on the national scene while discussing the developments of the perilous housing market this past weekend.
Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” The companies, as McClatchy reported, “aren’t taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization.”
Economists and analysts pounced on the misstatement, which came before the government had spent funds bailing the two entities out, saying it demonstrated a lack of understanding about one of the key economic issues likely to face the next administration.
“You would like to think that someone who is going to be vice president and conceivable president would know what Fannie and Freddie do,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “These are huge institutions and they are absolutely central to our country’s mortgage debt. To not have a clue what they do doesn’t speak well for her, I’d say.”
For more: Click Here
Found this article at Daily Kos
Green Screen Mystery Solved
by Scout Finch
Fri Sep 05, 2008 at 09:15:38 AM PDT
A lot of RNCC viewers were perplexed last night when McCain appeared from the light of the Obama logo, strolled to the podium, and began his lackluster speech before an enormous green screen. We’d seen that lime green screen before and thought McGrinch had learned his lesson — it was not a good look for McCain and was widely panned by pundits and the public alike. So, why would he choose that hideous background for the biggest speech of his very long political career?
It turns out the green screen was only part of the story. The close-up at the podium made it appear to be a giant green screen, but the arena audience was treated to a much different image. [Image: Talking Points Memo]
Aaahhhhhh….much different. McCain standing in front of a grand building, not a green screen. And what building could possibly deserve such a prominent role as the main backdrop of McCain’s nomination speech? According to TPM Readers, , it is Walter Reed. As in Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, California.
Wait, what? Did they mean to have an image of Walter Reed Medical Center (an army hospital)? Ouch. If only they were a little better at “the google”, they might have recognized their mistake. Here is the Walter Reed Medical Center:
ABC News says says the McCain camp isn’t commenting. If they meant for the image to be Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, I’m sure we’d all love to hear why that fine school was selected for such an honor.
Between the lack of vetting on Sarah Palin and the botched presentation this
decade week to the American people, the McCain camp would be well-advised to “do the google” a little more often. Let’s hope they have plenty of time to explore the world wide web in November and beyond.
Go McCain-Palin ’08!!
I found this letter written in response to an article in The Washington Independent, and am reproducing it word-to-word.
So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the
last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .
Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in
common: their gender and their good looks.
You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts
with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on
any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .
ABOUT SARAH PALIN
I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a
first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the
residents of the city.
She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular
girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and
won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because
she is a “babe”.
It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She
kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents
for seven months.
She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby.
There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.
She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.
She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out
there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.
Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a
champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly
sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his
work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or
so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything
like that of native Alaskans.
Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.
Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000
(at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about
During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had
given rise to a recall campaign.
Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6
years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
(1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration
weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed
money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it
with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage
the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said
she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a
new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a
multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece
of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was
still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers
involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the
community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it
would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that
could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.
While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office
redecorated more than once.
These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.
As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus
in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will
make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she
proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.
In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she
recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while
she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s
surplus, borrow for needs.
She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas
or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by
her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the
basis of who proposed them.
While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected
City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from
the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents
rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s
attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew
her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the
Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.
Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for
Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin
fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as
Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people,
creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally
grateful and fiercely loyal–loyal to the point of abusing their power
to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the
case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).
As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated”
her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top
cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure
and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that
an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t
fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation
for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen
contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she
later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to
replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded
for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew
She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in
help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town
introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council
became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She
abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t
like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.
Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
publicly about her.
When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got
the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one
of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no
background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great
job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the
high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the
structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this
Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party)
engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some
undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all
her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and
garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a
gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit,
exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).
As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from
Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel
politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to
nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.
As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget
guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing
projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative
action restored most of these projects–which had been vetoed simply
because she was not aware of their importance–but with the unobservant
she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.
She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party
leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated
them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a
Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah.
They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and
predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly
stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made
point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s
mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and
experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.
As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package
of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march
to the beat of her drum.
Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to
global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state
initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from
pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the
state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s
lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar
bears as threatened species.
McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a
heartbeat away from being President.
There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more
knowledgeable and experienced than she.
However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are
CLAIM VS FACT
•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary
school, not since
•“NRA supporter”: absolutely true
•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill
that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
(said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to
•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby
BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life
•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has
residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on
supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city
administrator to run town of about 5,000.
•political maverick: not at all
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores
and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city
without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built
streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city
government in Wasilla’s history.
•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union
doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim
that she is pro-labor/pro-union.
WHY AM I WRITING THIS?
First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed
voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting
programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny +
Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local
government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.
Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen
when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because
few have gone to as many City Council meetings.
Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out
of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no
fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will
cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.
Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s
attempt at censorship.
Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.
I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in
spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor)
from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of
Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust
for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible
for a private person to get any info out of City Hall–they are
swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers.
You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the
population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000″, up to 9,000. The
day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the
current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was
5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to
2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.
August 31, 2008
Dunno if Anne Kilkenny is real or not, but if what she says is true, I am sure the investigative reporters out in Alaska will uncover all of this in no time.