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David Graham just accused on the eve of the Republican State Convention, governor draftee Bill Lee, of being an alcoholic.
Alas, like most things being said by Republicans these days, it probably isn’t true.
There is scrambling by all parties to shift the blame of “who is responsible” for the collapse of our financial institutions.
Republican operatives who just returned to Congress this week, had to tighten their reins over their membership which had just spent their Easter Break mingling among their constituents. Republicans, after hearing first hand from real voters, truly fear they are to be wiped off the face of the planet by November 5th.
And for once, they may be right.
For today, Americans of every economic strata feel betrayed, and naturally possess the anger that goes along with it. Ask any of those holding Bear Stearns stock just how happy they are with Republicans right now.
We all know that emotions are scurrilous things. They occur even when there is little factual evidence to support them. So it has been, with the blame being placed on Republicans for placing our once great prized economy on the auction block……Just fuzzy associations but as of yet there have been no direct links, provable in a court of law, that puts Republican philosophy in the Defendant’s chair.
Those of us who have ever been betrayed, remember well those moments when the scales fall from our eyes, and our denial can no longer continue its walk on air. I could not believe my ears as I listened to this radio interview with Michael Greenberger when he spoke on NPR. The conversation is 39 minutes, but it provides a smoking gun that hinges Bear Stearns failure and subsequent bailout, onto the very backs of the Republican party itself……
Michael Greenberger, in a voice that is a good mimic of Peter Coyote, the voice over in almost every campaign ad or television documentary, describes in plain language exactly what went down. He should know. For during the Clinton years…..(those golden years)…he served as Director of the Division of Trading and Markets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In that capacity, he was responsible for supervising exchange traded futures and derivatives. He also served on the Steering Committee of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, and as a member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions’ Hedge Fund Task Force.. One can hear sadness in his voice as he describes, step by step, the dismantling of all the security devices which were once placed to insure what just happened, would never happen.
To understand what derivatives are and how they caused the current crises, one needs to understand that these OTC derivative markets are nothing more than “bets”. One bets that the housing market will continue to rise, or bets that it won’t, when buying into these plans. The underlying assumption being that the market would rise, so even if a homeowner were to default, his home would have increased its value more than enough to pay for the loan is what pushed this bubble farther than it would under its own power…….But if the markets fell, there was no bottom, since there was no underlying collateral to be gathered in its place. Once again we entered the realm of the 1920′s, where one could buy stock for 10% down. Back then we learned our lesson because of the Great Depression, and said “never again”. We regulated both the banks, and financial markets. And up until this administration, we regulated the OTC markets as well.
But then, late one December night, while America’s attention was fixed on the Supreme Court decision affecting the outcome of the 2000 election, a 262 page rider (Commodity Futures Modernization Act (“CFMA”)) was surreptitiously slipped into an 11,000 page Omnibus bill just as Congress was to leave on Christmas break, written in language that only a corporate lawyer could decipher, by one Senator Phil Gramm. (R-Tx). Not only did this rider wipe out all Federal oversight of this very speculative market, but it subsequently wiped out each and every state and local ordinance that up to that point, had regulated this commodity.
So started this shadow market. Instead of buying stocks and bonds, banks could place bets. The equivalent would be instead of buying a sports team, and investing in all the paraphernalia required that could subsequently pump money back into the economy, one could simply bet on them, and make much more money that way. Just as the sports betting economy, even though iit is huge, is totally below the economic radar, so was this market in dreivitives. There was no one overseeing it, thanks to Phil Graham.
As banks and major institutions began utilizing this new market, they came to the conclusion that they should place those very valuable assets on their books. So what is happening now, is nothing more than removing those questionable assets…..off the books. Since there was never any regulation, and since banks wanted to keep their financial pages attractive, there was no law that said losses had to be counted, and so they weren’t. Thus, even though this problem begin to turn sour years ago, no one except those whose position itself depended on their keeping that information quiet, even had a clue.
Basically what happened with Bear Stearns, was that one day, the bookie’s collector showed up at the door. “Uh…We’re here to collect.” Bear Stearns could hide it no longer.
Not all financiers fell like Bear Stearns. Some, like Goldman and Sachs to their credit, realized the housing market was about to deflate, and switched. They begin betting the other way; they bet the market would fall, and when it did, they weathered the financial storm better than most.
Essentially our great economy that has been hailed by the Bush administration as proving the wisdom of cutting taxes, has instead been driven by individuals huddled over their computers……staring at screens and making bets. Instead of building factories, extending the manufacturing base, driving new technologies, hiring and training real people, creating products that can be bought and sold, our economy is driven by a very few people…..making bets……
Our fortunes are being made…….or ruined…..by people making bets.
And this was accomplished by the sneaky tactic of one Republican, on the floor of the Senate in December of 2000., with no disclosure, no debate, and no reckoning.
That one person……Phil Graham (R-Tx) is currently serving as the Republican contender John McCain’s financial adviser. As we all know, John McCain by his own admission, does not know economics as well as he should. If he did, he most certainly would not have the single one person responsible for America’s economic fall from grace……..as his most trusted senior adviser…….
The Republican party is entirely to blame for our current economic problems. They shoulder the blame alone for creating this shadow economy that may still yet……………………..destroy us all.
I wasn’t looking for the answer, but found it anyway. If you really want to understand America, you find it in its true essence, stripped naked to its core, at a rest stop on I 95 Easter weekend.
As you get out of your car and walk to the facilities, in twenty feet you see the entire human genome pool from all five continents. Indonesians, Africans, Arabians, Indians, South and Central Americans, Europeans, both Eastern and Western, American Indians, and Eastern Asians. And one hasn’t even stepped into the building yet.
There are senior citizens, nursing babies, traveling groups of kids, parental escorts, young lovers, newlyweds, toddlers, and the generic middle agers in jeans.
Obviously some are wealthy…..and just as obvious, some are dirt poor. But most fit in the general category where no one can tell by a quick glance.
Some well dressed, some in hoodies, some in jeans, others in caridgans, some wearing coats, some rushing through the cold with their interior clothes still on….
Some in sandals, some in thongs, some in flip-flops, some wearing Timberlands, others in Nikes, an occasional high heel, some open toe shoes, many with non skid soles……race their way up and down ramps, stairs and in and out metallic doors.
This wealth of diversity, made equal by one thing:………the pressing urge to urinate or defecate or do both simultaneously. Standing in the cavernous hallway, the flow is obvious through the doors, turning to the left, and into the inner sanctums where one finds the toilets. Then minutes afterwards, they wander out randomly, meander until they get their bearings, then once decided, head either to food or out again to their waiting vehicles.
If you want to understand America, this is where you see us up close. Here you see the bigness that other countries can’t match. Here you see diversity, an amalgamation of everything, again a trait no other country can equal. Here you see our nations purposefulness, each person attending to their individual need, focused on their own self fulfillment, generally oblivious to the diversity surrounding them, driving our economic engine forward to the tune of 2000 dollars every 60 seconds.
Here you see some waffling at price, others worried about time, and yet the money changes hands at each of the cash registers, twice every 60 seconds.
America is about individuals, intent on achieving dreams in a timely manner, doing what is best for them, and coming from everyplace on the globe to do it. America is about human energy. Moving resolutely, making subtle economic decisions that no algorithm can predict. And seconds after they step out through those doors, their spot is taken by another, who is then replaced by another, all portraying the same manner as did each one before them.
That is the closest broad band definition of America that one can make, and even still, it fails to capture the energy, buzz, and full economic implication of what America truly is. For the spirit of America is too broad to fit one definition. Conservative? No. Liberal, absolutely not. Just a mess of individuals each carrying his own values, who occasionally can unite behind a single issue, and with a force incomparable upon this planet, drive forward any necessary changes.
America is not one color, race, gender, age or economic strata. It is the combination of all of the above.
It is not always pretty. With 200o gallons of raw sewage entering the filtration plant every second, all that energy, drive, and determination has some dire consequences.
But somehow, the aggregate of 2000 individual decisions being made every second……..works.
And that metaphorically speaking, is exactly what America is.
A body of individual cells, each intent on its own survival, working side by side, to make this exquisite and wondrous body politic, one that still all the world holds in awe, and furtively still struggles to emulate.
America is still…..a force to be reckoned with………………….
The clock is ticking down……less than forty hours remain. Friends….that is only 2400 minutes! Or even worse, just 144,000 seconds. The countdown continues…..
Remember when the General Assembly was sworn in early in January, At that time the 1st of July seemed a long way off.
But in 2359 minutes, it will be here! January to June, let us see…..six months? we should be tidying up by now with just a few knick knacks left to finalize…..Right?
Let us see what is on the agenda’s of today’s General Assembly.
In the Senate: as of 12:00 (yesterday) only one thing: Tony De’Luca’s bill to have various organizations within the state, look for extra money and report back on 12/21/07 on what they find. I find this a little confusing. Why do we need to tie up the remaining 2398 minutes with a bill that does nothing but say “we need to do this”. On the surface, when you first hear it, it seems sound good. “I, Tony DeLuca, got tough with our bureaucrats and demanded they look for other ways to fund our government.” But isn’t that naturally what happens when you, your business, your government runs out of money? Your first priority becomes to find “where you can get more”……….Since there is no funding within the bill, and there is really nothing new in the bill, this bill, as it says from the outset, it is just a proclamation……..A commission, proposed within this bill, could just as easily be appointed by the governor to find revenue streams and report back.
If someone could get back to me on why this bill is important, I would like to hear. But in reading it, it sounds like ‘much ado about nothing.” One would think with only 2397 minutes left, we could find something far more worthwhile to debate……………..
On the house side more is going on. You have Senate Bill 36 which quietly sells government employees down the river. AFSCME may still be around for years, but as for saving pension plans or bargaining for better insurance, forget it. This bill would forever remove those items from the collective bargaining table:
Position classification, health care and other benefit programs established pursuant to Chapter 52 of Title 29, workers compensation, disability programs and pension programs shall not be deemed to be compensation for purposes of this section;
So if in the future if it becomes necessary for the state to economize by cutting benefits to minimize costs, the unions will be unable to protest it. This appears to be the first quiet, hidden attempt to cut state employee’s benefits. This Rubicon, if crossed, will forever diminish labor’s effective voice. Due to the lack of outcry, I doubt if most of them know……….or will know with only 2396 minutes left.
Next comes HB 177, the fusion bill. This would eliminate candidates who may have lost the primary, from running as a third party candidate in any general election aka Joe Lieberman or Connecticut. As Delaware Watch points out this bill would force organized labor to support just one of the two major parties. And you know they won’t support Republicans. Obviously this is one Democrat’s attempt to keep its rank and file from trickling away, aka the Berlin Wall. Thanks to the watchfulness of Dana this bill became public knowledge. But with only 2395 minutes left it had a good shot at going through.
Next comes HB 208, which says that a person has committed burglary as soon as they enter a building without permission. They do not have to steal anything, just be there. This would effectively cut down on the solid American tradition of checking on elderly neighbors, just to see if they might need medical attention. But most likely this issue will not be raised with just 2394 minutes left.
House Bill 251 prevents convicted criminals from becoming volunteer fireman. Perhaps this is ok, but I think there is no harm in letting Freeberry fight fires if she wants to. But these ramifications will go unnoticed with only 2393 minutes left.
The Senate Joint Resolution 3, organizes a leviathan task force to see what can be done with Wilmington’s schools. The makeup of this monstrous 33 member task force, will be big on names, but seriously short on talent. It will pass on the feeling of “lets do something nice for Wilmington” because no one will have time to look too hard at it with only 2392 minutes left.
House Concurrent Resolution 32 creates another task force, this time of 23 people, to look at new assessment possibilities instead of the current DSTP used in schools today. 3 of those will be on the above task force as well. (I hope they have daytimers). This report is due late May 2008, too late for serious action by the second half of this General Assembly. But it should generate plenty of controversy for the upcoming election. 2391 minutes and counting.
Senate Bill 119 seeks to insert this clause into the Delaware code: “(1) The amount to be raised by taxation shall not exceed 20.97 cents on each $100 value of real property in Sussex County for the tax year 2008, 22.23 cents for 2009, and 23.50 cents for 2010 and all years thereafter.” This is to fund Vocational Schools only. And with only 2390 minutes left, no one will even know……..
Senate Bill 123 further seeks to streamline and professionalize the educational process by controlling who those parents are on the advisory boards, which used to be siphoned from the Delaware Congress of Parents, but now are to be hand picked by the Secretary of Education.
Senate Bill 126 finally does some good. This bill alone should save the state billions over its lifetime if enacted. This bill returns the determination of fines back to the discretion of the judge, by eliminating the predetermined amounts, which unfortunately sent many people into our correctional system, who really did not need to be there. Let’s hope there is enough time, with only 2388 minutes left.
House bill 189 removes one more roadblock that stands in the way of remaking Sussex County into a sea of aluminum sided houses. This obsolete law, which on its surface makes sense to update, will, by its removal, allow many developments to go forward which have been so far held back. This bill still is stuck in committee. It may not see light in the next 2387 minutes left. Oops just passed the House.
HS 1 for HB146 seeks to mandate stateside recycling. Unlike most bills before the House this time, this one has the means to pay for itself. However constant vigilance and discipline need to be exercised to insure the recycling fund is not pilfered by Republicans whose modus operandi has always been: “see it, spend it” despite their political rhetoric to the contrary. Oh! Just got shot down…………..
House bill 241 seeks to make this change which will affect 5 employees of the state………all well known to every legislator.
Section 1. Amend §5201(b), Title 29 of the Delaware Code by adding the following sentence at the end thereof:
“An Individual qualifying for a service pension under §5522(e) of this Title shall not be an ‘eligible pensioner’.”.
Section 2. Amend § 5501(d), Title 29 of the Delaware Code, by inserting therein a new paragraph to read as follows:
“(22) Service as a per diem employee with the House or Senate of this State.”.
Senate bill 133 seeks to mandate the separation of children from sex offenders. This is a good bill. Let’s us hope it gets a hearing with only 2384 minutes left.
HB 220 could with tongue- in- cheek, be called the John Atkins bill. Should he ever return to political notoriety at a whim, he could be hauled in and tested. This bill extends alcohol monitoring indefinitely instead of ending in one year. This could be a good thing for those repeat offenders, but more than likely, knowing how most legislators can put down several very stiff drinks in a very short span of time, it could also be used for intimidation and control once an arrest was made. But in their stupor, there is no time to consider this, with only 2383 minutes left.
House Bill 172 seeks to impose the monitoring of uninsured motorists driving upon the road. It tightens reporting requirements on those who get insurance to buy a car, then let it lapse with no payment. Within ten days the state will know. But, to those who like to hold public officials accountable for their actions, this warning is appropriate: you had better make sure your insurance gets paid on time…….
HB 240 seeks to clarify criminal offenses by switching many minor ones over to civil offenses where they belong. This bill is an interesting read for it includes a list of minor infractions that should be civil in nature. Check out for yourself how many times you were a criminal, and because you did not get caught, you never knew it? This bill is overdue. The cost savings from tying down courts, the AG’s office, and law enforcement, over the life of this bill, should save billions.
HB 212 widens the area sex offenders cannot be seen in to include parks, playgrounds, daycare centers.
SB 160, again by DeLuca, provides one more slap in the face specifically to those American workers who get HURT ON THE JOB. They are being asked to incur at least 15% of the medical costs that occurred from accidents while they were on the job. Currently, they receive medical attention at no cost to themselves for employer mandated accidents. Considering that most current Americans do not have enough money to pay for gas , electric, ARM mortgages, car insurance, or car payments,….. their answer to the question “Do you want to go to the hospital for that?” will turn into an emphatic “no,” a decision that may perhaps kill them a few months later from its complications, but save them from paying their part of the 4000 dollar medical bill, which if paid, would push them into bankruptcy. This is just one more example of how a leadership position, removes a thoughtful person away from reality.
Senate Bill 111 seeks to move one offense the other way, towards a felony. Violation of a Domestic violence protection order, will be upgraded from a Class A misdemeanor, to a Class F felony. Knowing how those to violate these orders, are under passionate emotional influences, and immune from normal rational thought , this bill falls into that feel-good status, (look, we did something) just as mandatory sentencing did, and not into effective control. The only effective difference will be the charge presented to the court, long after the women and children are dead.
House bill 266 attempts to standardize the definitions of abuse thought the state’s governmental system. However, based on their definition of “emotional abuse” that definition could be in a thesaurus under “marriage”.
SB150 will give those medical professionals who help out during emergencies, freedom from any liability for any action occurring as a result of their involvement, the same way state emergency responders are protected.
HB 207 seeks to give the same penalties for selling counterfeit drugs, as for the drugs themselves. No more getting off because the actual drug sold, acetaminophen, was not on the controlled substance list……… but was being sold as something that was……..
SB 35: Section 1. Amend Subsection 1014(a) of Title 26 of the Delaware Code by striking the figure “$0.000178” in the first sentence thereof and replacing it with the figure “$0.000356”. This extra money goes into the Green Energy fund at the residential electrical cost of .18 cents per household. This is to generate home grown energy projects on a person’s own property.
And most importantly, with ramifications greatly affecting all Delawareans, is the Dick Cathcart sponsored HB 245. This bill will change history by changing the method moist snuff is taxed within the state of Delaware.
UPDATE: JUST LAID ON SPEAKERS TABLE
Keeley HJR 7 establishes yet another task force, again devoid of funding, to look into statewide recycling. I guess she doesn’t have the necessary votes to pass HB 146.
Then there is the HB 250, the appropriations bill for 2008: all 256 pages of it. But no worries, mate, there still are 2377 minutes left. (9.28 minutes to read and absorb each page, that is if so choose not sleep.)
Hopefully they are taking amphetamines. Because if they decide to get a good night’s rest over the next couple of working days, they will squander 480 minutes of that time left. One must assume that they will sleep on the floor of the offices, because commuting times will bite into 120 more of those minutes. Unless they eat while working they will use up 120 minutes and estimated bathroom time should fall between 100 and 120 minutes. So if we are willing to forgive these personal indulgences (a whopping 820 minutes), they have only 1577 minutes left……a little over twenty six hours to do all of the above and the bond bill as well, which as of yet, has not arrived out of committee…
There is a lot for our legislators to absorb in the next several minutes. To make it even tougher, our lobbyist’s contingent insists… that our legislators follow the Dr. Pepper rule these last few days……..
Dr. Pepper rule? Don’t know that one? That is a classic. It stands for having two drinks by ten, two drinks by 2, and two drinks by 4. Is it any wonder that our citizens get the short end of the deal at the end of every legislative session?
For true insight on how democracy works, show up at legislative hall on Saturday night.It is free and open to the public…… And bring a camera phone.
Our bodies lie throughout this world,
Returned from where we came.
In honesty without our loss,
Life could not be the same.
by “k” , a Delaware poet
It is important for all to know what is going on in their State Legislature. The link to Delaware’s is posted to the left side of my blog, if you wish to access it.
I accessed it and was surprised to see that several bills have been offered this first week. I was most impressed by the “Poop” bill, originated by Booth and co-sponsored by Senator Adams.
This poop bill insures that when you go into a retail outlet, that they will let you use the employee’s bathroom if you ask. For if they refuse you twice, they can be fined up to $100.
At first glance, one says “fine, stick it to ‘em. Those high tootin’ retailers have gotten too uppity lately.” How dare they deny me access to their bathrooms. But as you start looking at its “cons”, this “poop” bill has some serious implications, some so severe, that only someone who has never run a business could consider this bill seriously.
Let’s start with this scenario. In you home, you hear a knock, and at your door is a smelly man or woman, unkempt, asking if he could come in and use your bathroom.
“No, sorry can’t do it.” The answers are obvious as to why. So why does a retailer, have to allow a stranger into his inner sanctum? Because Booth and Adams want it so?
These two “Poop” sponsors need to address these issues or their bill will be laughed off the floor, if it get’s laughed out of the House Administration Committee.
Issues that need to be addressed:
Retailers security: with back of house access to anyone, how does one protect his assets from a “poop”er with a gun?
Retailers reputation: with the possibility of a “poop”er showing up, extra care must be made to protect the retailer from liability. Boxes on the floor during deliveries, areas that are safe for employees with special non skid shoes, may be quite dangerous to casual “poop” candidates.
Retailers employees: quite often, personal effects are stored in and around employee restroom area. Who will patrol the area while the “pooper” does his deed?
Who cleans up the mess? I won’t go into detail, but…………….has anyone else walked into a “public” restroom stall and gone “eughhh………….”? Is the boss responsible or can he mandate to a retail specialist, hired to sell, that she needs to clean the mess, with what,…………..does he even carry gloves?
All I know, is if I am a competitor, and I need to get some “soft” intelligence on my competition, I just have to feign menstral cramps and I am in.
Now if Britney Spears asked to use my bathroom, I would say “sure”, even if it went against my better judgement. I don’t know why I would let her, I just know I would. But should Donald Rumsfeld stop by, provided he wasn’t escorting Britney Spears, I would say “no”, and we all know why.
Who we let into our private areas is our most private choice. It is probably one that the two “poop” legislators, should leave alone.
But, in both of their defense, with all the serious shit floating around government these days, it is nice to know that there is someone who actively cares and is legislating against those retailers who are “poop” party poopers. Our tax dollars are finally paying off.