Reflections On A Failed Bailout


Fascinating bit of blame being tossed around for today’s failure of the House of Representatives to pass the bailout measure. Prominent GOP strategist, Ed Rollins, had this to say:

“To a certain extent, I think John [McCain] gets hurt by this. He obviously, at the end of the day, said he was for it. But more important than that, he said he was the one who would bring them to the table and to a certain extent he will be viewed now as not being able to do that… I think the reality is, he made a big show coming in and at the end of the day it really wasn’t realistic for him.”

As for Rollin’s opinion of George Bush’s role in all this?

“Bush is finished as far as the House Republicans are concerned.”

Meanwhile, House Republicans blamed Speaker Nancy Pelosi for giving a “partisan” speech earlier today, as described by House Republican Leader John Boehner:

“I do believe that we could have gotten there today, had it not been for this partisan speech that the Speaker gave on the floor of the House. I mean, we were — we put everything we had into getting the votes to get there today, but the Speaker had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference, caused a number of members who we thought we could get to go south.”.

To judge for yourself, I have included the text on Nancy Pelosi’s speech at the bottom of this post.

In response to Republican accusations against Pelosi, Rep. Barney Frank made these comments at a press conference today, getting big laughs:

“We have come together on a bill to alleviate the crisis, and because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country? I mean, I would not have imputed that degree of pettiness and hypersensitivity. … There were 12 Republican members who were ready to stand up for the economic interests of America, but not if anybody insulted them. I’ll make an offer. Give me those 12 people’s names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they’ll now think about the country.”

Interestingly, National Review editor Rich Lowry claimed to have gotten this e-mail today:

Rich – I’m afraid Rep. Frank has a point on this one. Some feelings on the GOP side were hurt, so they voted against the economic well-being of the country?

Sincerely,

A very concerned GOP staffer.

On MSNBC, David Schuster openly challenged McCain’s economic advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin‘s ridiculous version of events:

But what of the Republicans and Democrats who voted against this proposal? What are they saying? Here’s a quick speech by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, always outspoken, always underrated:

There are a lot of people out there vehemently opposed to bailing out Wall Street. Michael Moore, never one to shy away from voicing his opinion, wrote this:

The presidential race may still be close in the polls, but the Congressional races are pointing toward a landslide for the Democrats… Up to 30 Republican House seats could be lost in what would be a stunning repudiation of their agenda… 

The Republican reps are so scared of losing their seats, when this “financial crisis” reared its head two weeks ago, they realized they had just been handed their one and only chance to separate themselves from Bush before the election, while doing something that would make them look like they were on the side of “the people.”… 

There they were, one Republican after another who had backed the war and sunk the country into record debt, who had voted to kill every regulation that would have kept Wall Street in check — there they were, now crying foul and standing up for the little guy! One after another, they stood at the microphone on the House floor and threw Bush under the bus… 

The 95 brave Dems who broke with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd were the real heroes, just like those few who stood up and voted against the war in October of 2002… 

The Dems who voted for the giveaway did so mostly because they were scared by the threats of Wall Street, that if the rich didn’t get their handout, the market would go nuts and then it’s bye-bye stock-based pension and retirement funds…

Here’s my guess: The Democratic leadership in the House secretly hoped all along that this lousy bill would go down. With Bush’s proposals shredded, the Dems knew they could then write their own bill that favors the average American, not the upper 10% who were hoping for another kegger of gold…

On his web site, Moore goes on to point out some interesting facts about the proposed bill:

1. The bailout bill had NO enforcement provisions for the so-called oversight group that was going to monitor Wall Street’s spending of the $700 billion;

2. It had NO penalties, fines or imprisonment for any executive who might steal any of the people’s money;

3. It did NOTHING to force banks and lenders to rewrite people’s mortgages to avoid foreclosures — this bill would not have stopped ONE foreclosure!;

4. It had NO teeth anywhere in the entire piece of legislation, using words like “suggested” when referring to the government being paid back for the bailout;

5. Over 200 economists wrote to Congress and said this bill might actually WORSEN the “financial crisis” and cause even MORE of a meltdown.

Many believe that we were being pushed too quickly into this decision through the same fear rhetoric that allowed us to prematurely enter into a preemptive war for which we are still paying in lives and cash.

Take a listen to both Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Rep. Marcy Kaptur as they address Congress regarding this bill:

The following is a transcript of Nancy Pelosi’s speech:

“Madam Speaker, when was the last time someone asked you for $700 billion?

“It is a number that is staggering, but tells us only the costs of the Bush Administration’s failed economic policies–policies built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system.

“Democrats believe in the free market, which can and does create jobs, wealth, and capital, but left to its own devices it has created chaos.

“That chaos is the dismal picture painted by Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke a week and a half ago in the Capitol. As they pointed out, we confront a crisis of historic magnitude that has the ability to do serious injury not simply to our economy, but to the American people: not just to Wall Street, but to everyday Americans on Main Street.

“It is our responsibility today, to help avert that catastrophic outcome.

“Let us be clear: This is a crisis caused on Wall Street. But it is a crisis that reaches to Main Street in every city and town of the United States.

“It is a crisis that freezes credit, causes families to lose their homes, cripples small businesses, and makes it harder to find jobs.

“It is a crisis that never had to happen. It is now the duty of every Member of this body to recognize that the failure to act responsibly, with full protections for the American taxpayer, would compound the damage already done to the financial security of millions of American families.

“Over the past several days, we have worked with our Republican colleagues to fashion an alternative to the original plan of the Bush Administration.

“I must recognize the outstanding leadership provided by Chairman Barney Frank, whose enormous intellectual and strategic abilities have never before been so urgently needed, or so widely admired.

“I also want to recognize Rahm Emanuel, who combined his deep knowledge of financial institutions with his pragmatic policy experience, to resolve key disagreements.

“Secretary Paulson deserves credit for working day and night to help reach an agreement and for his flexibility in negotiating changes to his original proposal.

“Democrats insisted that legislation responding to this crisis must protect the American people and Main Street from the meltdown on Wall Street.

“The American people did not decide to dangerously weaken our regulatory and oversight policies. They did not make unwise and risky financial deals. They did not jeopardize the economic security of the nation. And they must not pay the cost of this emergency recovery and stabilization bill.

“So we insisted that this bill contain several key provisions:

“This legislation must contain independent and ongoing oversight to ensure that the recovery program is managed with full transparency and strict accountability.

“The legislation must do everything possible to allow as many people to stay in their homes rather than face foreclosure.

“The corporate CEOs whose companies will benefit from the public’s participation in this recovery must not benefit by exorbitant salaries and golden parachute retirement bonuses.

“Our message to Wall Street is this: the party is over. The era of golden parachutes for high-flying Wall Street operators is over. No longer will the U.S. taxpayer bailout the recklessness of Wall Street.

“The taxpayers who bear the risk in this recovery must share in the upside as the economy recovers.

“And should this program not pay for itself, the financial institutions that benefited, not the taxpayers, must bear responsibility for making up the difference.

“These were the Democratic demands to safeguard the American taxpayer, to help the economy recover, and to impose tough accountability as a central component of this recovery effort.

“This legislation is not the end of congressional activity on this crisis. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will continue to hold investigative and oversight hearings to find out how the crisis developed, where mistakes were made, and how the recovery must be managed to protect the middle class and the American taxpayer.

“With passage of this legislation today, we can begin the difficult job of turning our economy around, of helping those who depend on a growing economy and stable financial institutions for a secure retirement, for the education of their children, for jobs and small business credit.

“Today we must act for those Americans, for Main Street, and we must act now, with the bipartisan spirit of cooperation which allowed us to fashion this legislation.

“This not enough. We are also working to restore our nation’s economic strength by passing a new economic recovery stimulus package–a robust, job creating bill–that will help Americans struggling with high prices, get our economy back on track, and renew the American Dream.

“Today, we will act to avert this crisis, but informed by our experience of the past eight years with the failed economic leadership that has left us left capable of meeting the challenges of the future.

“We choose a different path. In the new year, with a new Congress and a new president, we will break free with a failed past and take America in a New Direction to a better future.”

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Reflections On A Failed Bailout

Erasing Clouds Compares two PLAGUES


The web site Erasing Clouds describes itself as collected scribblings on music, film and other obsessions. It’s a fascinating site full of articulate reviews and cogent thoughts and I highly recommend a visit. Writer J.D. Lafrance wrote an article for his segment Cinematic Pleasures about my film THE PLAGUE. Lafrance not only discusses the troubled history behind the film, but compares the two different cuts: the producers’ cut known as CLIVE BARKER’S THE PLAGUE, and my cut known as THE PLAGUE: WRITERS & DIRECTOR’S CUT

To read Mr. Lafrance’s article, go HERE

To read more articles written about THE PLAGUE and its history, download this pdf file, or go directly to the official site, spreadingtheplague.com.

You can also read my earlier blog, SPREADING THE PLAGUE: THE PERFECT HOLLYWOOD ENDING.

Thanks again to J.D. Lafrance and Erasing Clouds for their interest and support.

Erasing Clouds Compares two PLAGUES

Do Veterans Actually Believe John McCain Will Take Care Of Them?


Recently I wrote about Sydney Schanberg’s article in THE NATION suggesting that John McCain sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about POWs left behind in Vietnam buried as classified documents. Last night, during the debate, John McCain made this comment:

“I know the veterans, I know them well, and I know that they know that I’ll take care of them, and I have been proud of their support and their recognition of my service to the veterans, and I love them, and I’ll take care of them, and they know that I’ll take care of them.”

Here’s a video put together by a group who call themselves “Vietnam Veteran’s Against McCain“. They discuss, in great detail, the circumstances behind the federal classification of these documents:

Add to this the organization “Veterans For Peace“, a large national organization made up of veterans of every war, from Korea to Vietnam and Iraq, who led a protest in the streets of St. Paul against the Republican National Convention.

Then there’s the organization known as “Iraq Veterans Against the War” who claim that:

A formation of 60 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans marched in uniform to Xcel Energy Center… to deliver a briefing on veterans’ issues to Senator McCain on the opening day of the Republican National Convention.

IVAW member Wes Davey led the march and attempted to deliver the briefing to Senator McCain’s staff. Despite numerous mailed, faxed, and in-person invitations to meet, McCain’s office refused to send anyone to receive the briefing. When Davey, a retired Army First Sergeant and former St. Paul police officer, attempted to deliver the briefing, he was escorted off the premises.

On the other hand:

Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) marched to the Pepsi Center in Denver on Wednesday, August 27 where they were met by Phil Carter, Senator Obama’s Senior Veterans’ Liaison. Carter is negotiating the terms of a meeting with IVAW representatives. IVAW has requested a meeting with Senator Obama himself and his Senior Foreign Policy Advisor.

“Iraq Veterans Against the War” also stated the following about McCain on its Website:

Senator McCain has consistently voted against veterans interests. In a recent report, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Senator McCain a “D” rating to Senator Obama’s “B+.” Disabled American Veterans reports that Senator McCain only voted for legislation that benefited veterans 20% of the time while Senator Obama supported veterans’ needs 80% of the time.

USMC veteran Adam Kokesh, also a member of IVAW, held up a two-sided sign at the RNC that read: “You Can’t Win An Occupation” and “McCain Votes Against Vets.” He ended up getting tossed out of the convention. Here’s the video:

Here’s yet another video, a joint project of Brave New Films, VoteVets.org, and General Wesley Clark’s WesPAC, urging Senator McCain to support modernizing the GI Bill. For the record, Mr. McCain refuses to support a bipartisan effort to modernize the GI Bill and has voted against nearly every effort to increase funding for health care and disability benefits for wounded soldiers. This video was put out earlier this year:

And once again, Senator Barack Obama has openly supported the bipartisan effort to improve the G.I. Bill.

And finally, here is footage of John McCain belittling Delores Alfond, head of the National Alliance of POW/MIA whose brother went missing in action in Vietnam. His denigrating attitude here is eerily similar to his tone toward Senator Obama in moments from last Friday night’s debate:

I can’t say for sure if all the accusations against Mr. McCain are valid or not, but what I can say with some certainty, is that there are a large number of veterans out there who would disagree with Mr. McCain’s comment that “I know the veterans, I know them well, and I know that they know that I’ll take care of them.”

Do Veterans Actually Believe John McCain Will Take Care Of Them?

Farewell, Mr. Newman


Paul Newman passed away yesterday at his home in Connecticut. He was 83. Newman always fought against his “pretty boy” image, taking roles that often worked against type. He became the ultimate anti-hero in films like COOL HAND LUKE, THE HUSTLER and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. But one of my favorite Newman roles was that of the unprincipled title character in HUD

As for his image as a sex symbol, take a look at this screen test from EAST OF EDEN where Newman holds his own alongside James Dean. 

Farewell, Mr. Newman

And The First Debate Comes To A Close…


So how does one figure out who won? Well, from what I can tell, most of the pundits are declaring this a tie with Obama having the upper hand since he was the frontrunner and McCain needed to knock him off his seat. He did not. That means Obama didn’t lose ground. That means McCain didn’t get any closer to being the frontrunner. Obama has the wind at his back. McCain has a small breeze. But the winds can change in the blink of an eye. And if we learned anything from the last election, no matter how crazy something might seem, no matter how absurd, there are still a large percentage of Americans who will embrace it. Even fight for it. 

Pardon me while I digress for a moment. I was listening to THIS AMERICAN LIFE the other day and host Ira Glass was talking with two guys who spend part of each day running elaborate cons on internet scammers. You know, the guys who email you and tell you their inheritance is tied up somewhere and they need your help (by way of financial support) to get their money and for your good deed you will get a substantial percentage? Well, these two guys scam those guys. One of the most fascinating questions that came up was why these internet scammers don’t eventually recognize when they themselves are being scammed. As one of the men who cons scammers suggests:

They don’t really have an option BUT to believe. It’s the same mentality that some of these victims have. They’ve spent so much, they’ve gone this far, that they can’t really turn back at this point. 

Ira Glass then comments on postings he’d read about “victim mentality”:

Once you’ve given up some money or some time, to actually believe that it’s a scam, it’s just too horrible to think about, and it’s just easier to think, “Oh, this is gonna work out.”

Strangely enough, I think this same “victim mentality” is at play in this election. The past eight years have been an American disaster story culminating in the current financial crises we now face, the two wars we are heavily invested in and the strong anti-American sentiment that is rising daily across the globe. But people are still ready to latch on to a presidential candidate who is supported by the same people and ideologies that gave us the Bush Administration, who has voted with Bush 90% of the time, and who has selected the single most inexperienced running mate in history who isn’t even prepared to do a talk show, no less help run the country (or, god forbid, be its president). And yet almost half the country still supports them, thinks they’re wonderful and will happily vote for them. Even though those same voter’s livelihoods, health, homes and loved ones may be endangered. 

Victim Mentality. 

So, back to the debate. I would love to have seen Obama sweep the floor with McCain, but McCain is a practiced debater. He’s not George W. and he’s not Dan Quayle. He can talk the talk and sound like he knows his stuff. Especially to those not very familiar with the issues or the ins and outs of politics. It’s gonna be hard, even amidst the disaster that is our current government, to convince those that want to believe McCain, to jump ship and support Obama. 

But IF Obama can maintain his lead in the polls, IF he can continue to show himself as a man at LEAST as presidential as McCain, then he might just win this race. But either way, barring any unforeseen events, this race is gonna be close. 

I think 64th United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright summed it up perfectly:

Tonight was a breakthrough for Senator Obama, who showed himself truly ready to be president. He responded knowledgeably, thoughtfully and confidently to the toughest questions on the economy, Iraq, and terror. Meanwhile, Senator McCain spent so much time attacking his opponent, he neglected to show how a McCain-Palin administration would differ from Bush-Cheney. As a result, Obama answered the threshold question about his candidacy; McCain did not.

Add to that two focus groups, one by GOP pollster Frank Luntz and another by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, both declared Obama the winner. Here’s video of Luntz:

According to Ben Smith at Politico:

The mild consensus in the press file was that McCain won, if not in particularly dramatic fashion. The two insta-polls out — from CBS and CNN — found the opposite: That Obama won by a wide margin. CBS had it 39% to 25% for Obama, CNN 51% to 38%.

In addition, Independents in the MediaCurves focus group gave the debate to Obama 61-39. They also think he won every individual segment. 

Time‘s Mark Halperin’s breakdown: Obama A-, McCain B-.

It seems that both candidates made some factual errors during the debate, but Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay of McClatchy Newspapers stated that “McCain made the most notable misstatements,” and then proceeded to list them.

Obama spokeman, Bill Burton, points out these little facts of interest:

Number of times John McCain mentioned:
CHANGE: 1 time
MIDDLE CLASS: not once

After Barack Obama and John McCain stop talking on the debate stage Friday night, their surrogates will start spinning. But one high-profile supporter of Mr. McCain will be missing: his running mate Sarah Palin.

Spinning on behalf of the Democrats on Friday night will be Joe Biden, Mr. Obama’s running mate. He is expected to appear live on NBC, CBS, and CNN immediately following the debate.

And so Joe Biden did:

 

Sarah Palin, however, was nowhere to be seen. And her absence speaks volumes.

So I’ll leave you now with clips of two of my favorite moments from tonight’s debate. Enjoy:

 

And The First Debate Comes To A Close…

Who Else Can McCain Alienate? Today, David Letterman, Tomorrow…


John McCain has managed to alienate much of the American media. And if we’re lucky, perhaps even some Republicans. Today, he cancelled his appearance on the David Letterman Show at the last minute which, well, gave Mr. Letterman some unplanned opportunities to fill the sudden gap in his show with a whole lot of talk about… You guessed it,  John McCain.

Who Else Can McCain Alienate? Today, David Letterman, Tomorrow…