Archive for September, 2008


Shakedown Breakdown

(Above: Just Like Us)

This morning, on the subject of the Congressional bailout of Wall Street, I read the following:

Q: Isn’t all this just a bailout for the high-rollers on Wall Street?

A: It’s fun to kick the fat cats, but remember, most Americans are investors.  They have a vested interest in the values of their homes.  They have bank accounts, nest eggs, stocks and bonds.  Consider it this way, and Wall Street looks like us.

Amazingly, this was not an blog entry from a Palos Hills mother of four typing from her rumpus room after dropping off the kids at school.  Nor was it formulated in a weekend copywriting marathon inside a Madison Avenue or Beltway PR firm toiling away on Goldman Sachs’ dime.  Instead, this piece, titled “What This Deal Means To You” was the chirping of one David Roeder, putative journalist for the Chicago Sun-Times, published on page 23 of this morning’s edition.

I’m not sure how long Mr. Roeder has been on the job, but if he has been covering Wall Street for longer than six days, I’m calling for his resignation on grounds of gross incompetence.

On what basis can there be any suggestion that the Wall Street investment banking community saw the world from the perspective of the 401(k) account holder?  Is Mr. Roeder aware the largest chunk of their bad debt is in credit derivatives  – bets on the bad mortgages as opposed to the bad mortgages themseves?  Does he know these securities, of very recent invention and staggeringly difficult valuation – CDOs and CDSs that vanishingly few on the Street knew how to value but traded happily anyway, pocketing commissions all the way – these are what we are discussing when we talk about this credit crisis?

And if he does know this, how can Mr. Roeder suggest the small investor and the cleaned-out casino socialists on the Street “look like us”?  Did the bottom line on anybody’s mutual fund statement read “valuation pending” instead of a number of dollars?  Of course not – because what small investor would keep their money in such a endless game of Keno?

Fun or not (and I maintain it isn’t very fun at all) the aforementioned fat cats need a very serious kicking: out of the casino and to the curb.

And they need to take Mr. Roeder with them.


House Democrats: Only Most Of Them Are Gutless

The order of things is laid bare, if not plain.

As Wall Street plays chicken with Capitol Hill, both presidential candidates drop everything and bend to kiss the ring of the plutocracy.  Both candidates pledge support to the aristocracy’s shiftless, broke offspring, booted from the blackjack tables and looking for a handout. The public speed-dials its AM radio moral-minstrel shows and parrot that poor people are to blame for the financial crisis, not the hucksters that cynically sold them a middle-class dream time-bomb mortgage and pocketed the commission.  And in a week of struggle on the Hill over suburbanite Cubs fan Henry Paulson’s $1 Trillion protection-racket pitch, the prime interference has been run not by Democrats, but by moderate Republicans, long burned by their own simplistic party line-toeing yet fully aware that Wall Street is as deserving of a blank check as a jabbering bag lady is of watching your kid for a couple of hours.

So where are the Dems?  Pantsless, supine and prone to business interests. As the great Buffalo Beast once put it so succinctly: Nanci Pelosi literally has no balls. No Iraq pullout. No impeachment articles.  And now, no real resistance to The Shakedown.

But is every Dem at a loss for words?  Of course not.  Certainly not enough of them are rising to their hind legs, but the ones that are deserve a spotlight.  It’s going to make a big difference to everybody in the future to know who in the poor’s party stood up and who rolled over this month.

Dennis Kucinich from Ohio knows what a class war looks like:

Jack McDermott from Washington State: Not rolling over

Brad Sherman from California: Justifiedly dubious

Peter DeFazio of Oregon: Not born yesterday


Kucinich “Casino Socialism” Bailout Blast Cut Off On House Floor

Class war remains a forbidden subject even as business interests continue to not only wage it, but step it up.  In the following C-SPAN clip, Cleveland’s US Rep. Dennis Kucinich requests five minutes to speak on the matter of the Wall Street bailout, and is gaveled off the lectern in 90 seconds.


Why Do Republicans Hate The Republic?

(Left: 1931 USA Shantytown.  Right: 2008 Homeless Tent City, Reno NV.)

When Ronald Reagan was swept into office in 1980 on the popular message “Government is the problem”, the gates were opened for almost thirty years of wholesale obliteration of the regulatory apparatus of government, an apparatus that, as it turns out, was the only thing opposing the economic cataclysm we today face. Thank you so much, Republican Revolution.

The interests of business have never taken a backseat since.  In the financial and economic areas of government, since Reagan the regulatory climate was scaled back, first to the dimensions of a token and then to that of a joke — a joke on us with a punchline being told today.  What else but a joke would you call it when the SEC was handed with a straight face over to Harvey Pitt, attorney for the accounting industry trade association?   How much gain to one’s career would a bureaucrat working in this regulatory agency expect if they turned their regulatory attention to wild book-cooking on Wall Street when the very white knight of the book-cooking industry was his boss?  If you arrive at the answer “little to none”, good for you.

And what about the Treasury Department?  What do you think the chances are that once that department was given by Bush II to former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson that Wall Street’s investment banking houses would receive any negative attention from DC?  Even as they one after another invented new credit derivative instruments on top of a corrupt housing bubble pushing a middle-class dream to people whose barely middle-class wages were being destroyed at the same time?  What chance would there be of anyone with any pull in Washington to rise up and slap these people for participating systemically in supremely reckless, if temporarily profitable gambling?

Zero is the answer.  And zero is what we got in terms of protection from these runaway capitalists as they spiraled the credit problem into what we see today, and what we will see tomorrow.

“Government is the problem”, we were told.  So seductive was that lie, it took nearly thirty years to make the truth crystal clear: not enough government is a much bigger problem.

The philosophy of government that disdains government is never again to be trusted.  Thirty years of that Republican philosophy has led directly to the disgusting spectacle we see today of its own greatest practitioners, of free-market fundamentalists now squirming to Congress with their hands out, sob stories much weaker than those you might read on the cardboard sign of a guy panhandling on a Lake Shore Drive exit ramp.  Two weeks ago, these captains of the financial industry would lecture on the “moral hazard” of tinkering with the almighty free market – while the whole time the cynical players knew that things that can’t last forever don’t – and that some of their own frat brothers were in Government and would give them a hand when the time came.

That time is now.

Never trust these cynical people again.  Don’t trust the Gingriches, the Norquists, the tin-pot Abramhoffs and DeLays. the Frists and the Dobsons, the Bernankes and the Paulsons.  Don’t trust the McCains and Bushes, the Hannitys and the Limbaughs, the Malkins and the Medveds.

These people gave us a new 1930s.  It’s time to make them answer for what they’ve done.


Mayor Palin’s Wasilla Rape Tests: Welcoming CNN to RW370 Readership, Wishing Obama Campaign Would Follow Suit

Well, gee whiz, what’s on CNN’s headline list this morning?  Why, it’s the same story about Mayor Palin charging Wasilla’s rape victims for their forensic tests that:

– I published at this blog ten days ago.

– the Boston Herald ran eleven days ago.

– the Obama campaign didn’t care about when I sent it to them the day I found it:

Sent to Obama campaign through webform Sept 11:

The Boston Herald is reporting that as Mayor of Wasilla, AK, Sarah Palin’s office was charging rape victims for the medical tests they needed.  Here is the link to the Herald story:

Please don’t let the McCain/Palin campaign and the political party that allows brutality like this to proceed in the name of combatting “Big Government” off the hook for this slap in the face to women.

Sadly, I got the following back Sept 13.  All I can say is: Obama campaign manager David Axelrod, you’re slipping.

Dear Friend,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the Republican vice-presidential nominee, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.  Senator Obama and Senator Biden have welcomed Governor Palin to the race and look forward to debating her and Senator McCain on the critical issues facing our country as the campaign proceeds through the fall.

Barack and Joe believe that we should not be distracted – this election is about big issues and who has the judgment and the independence to tackle America’s challenges.  That’s why Senator Obama has rejected personal attacks on Governor Palin, saying forcefully, “I have said before and I will repeat again: I think people’s families are off limits, and people’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics, it has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.”

Their records are clear.  Senator McCain has bragged about voting with President Bush over 90% of the time.  Governor Palin hired lobbyists and supported earmarks before she opposed them.  Behind their rhetoric, the McCain-Palin campaign is run and financed by lobbyists and special interests, and has no specific plans to change Washington and address the big issues America faces.  Barack Obama and Joe Biden will continue to focus on fixing the problems that hard working Americans face every day.


Obama for America


Greek Radio Announcers: Hard To Distract

Any Greek speakers out there who can translate what the hell was so all-fired important (sorry) about that copy?

(Link swiped from Electrical Audio Forum)


Treasury Department To Lehman Brothers: You Lost

The next time some suburban Republican mumbles in your direction about “the free market” and the “moral hazard” of handouts to the disadvantaged, please remind them of this week, when the US Treasury Department decided to raise the debt ceiling of this country to $11 Trillion in order to clean up the horrendous mess caused by Wall Street’s free-market-when-we’re-winning-handouts-when-we-lose sub-prime mortgage mania.  Remind them the only difference in the moral hazard of hundreds of billions in handouts to train car loads of Connecticut swells as opposed to a few bucks to the Lower Wacker drive homeless was that the the guy living in a cardboard box never had the balls to tell anyone he was essential to the economy.

Not every Wall Street firm finds its manicured fingers in our pockets this week.  Lehman Brothers, deemed small enough to fail, received no largesse from DC, even though negotiations were hot and heavy.  There’s YouTube video of the late-night proceedings showing the plucky bank, cleaned out by its losses, appealing to the Government for a bailout.


US Steps Up Attacks In Pakistan

More sterling statecraft courtesy of the Bush administration.  The Sept 3 hit by US Special Operations soldiers in South Waziristan (Pakistan)  is not a isolated incident, and as of today, US combat commanders are now the apparent prime movers of US foreign policy:

LAHORE: A new war could begin if Pakistan does not step up its fight against terrorists, Maj Gen Jeffrey J Schloesser of the US Army said in a report published in an American weekly on Sunday.

“If militants escape into Pakistani territory and Islamabad does not step up, a new kind of war could well begin,” he said.

According to the report, Gen Schloesser, who leads 19,000 US soldiers operating on the frontier, estimates that his forces are facing some 7,000-10,000 insurgents in eastern Afghanistan – a higher number than previously disclosed by any US commander.

He said he planned to keep his troops operating deep inside Taliban territory this winter. He hoped they would be able to take advantage of the mobility to seek out any safe havens and facilitation areas and any places the terrorists can go for ‘rest and recreation’ in Afghanistan. He said he would give terrorists the options to flee, get killed or captured, or reconcile.

Confidential to Governor Palin: this is the Bush Doctrine at work.  And by the way: back when it was called the McNamara Docitrine, and the countries were Cambodia and Laos, it didn’t work out that well. Next question for the Governor: is Pakistan a politically unstable nuclear-armed state?  Take your time.


Mayor Sarah Palin:No More Free Ride For Rape Victims

(Above: Another Big Government handout waiting to happen)

It’s one thing to pressure your local librarian about banning books in the 21st century.  But it’s something else entirely to charge the rape victims in your town for their own forensic tests.

You’d expect a provincial Republican to indulge their instinct against books, but it comes as a surprise that a mother – any mother – no matter what AM hate-radio show she got her ideas about Big Government from – could green-light the idea of billing sexual assault victims for the medical tests they need.

Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla [when Palin was that town’s mayor]  prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill — signed into law by Knowles — that banned the practice statewide.

“There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla,” Knowles said

A May 23, 2000, article in Wasilla’s newspaper, The Frontiersman, noted that Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies regularly pay for such exams, which cost between $300 and $1,200 apiece.

“(But) the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests,” the newspaper reported.

It also quoted Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon objecting to the law. Fannon was appointed to his position by Palin after her dismissal of the previous police chief. He said it would cost Wasilla $5,000 to $14,000 a year if the city had to foot the bill for rape exams.

In the past we’ve charged the cost of exams to the victims’ insurance company when possible,” Fannon told the newspaper. “I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer.”

An effort to reach Fannon by phone yesterday was not successful.


Audio Gear For Sale

Possessions: own them too long and they will own you.  Or something.

Audio and computer gear for sale. Check check check it out.



rob [at] warmowski [dot] com

@warmowski on twitter

Rob’s Bands

Rob Warmowski entry at Chicago Punk Database
1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende

Rob at Huffington Post

September 2008