Thursday, October 9, 2008

* The tenor of the presidential race is off key, again - At one will find questionable and misleading claims made by both presidential campaigns. In the case of McCain-Palin, it is a ticket in desperation mode carrying the scurrilous standard of Bush and Rove to even lower standards. It is negative, toxic and hate-tinged. Like the Republican candidates themselves it is not something that America needs now or at any other time. Flush and plunge rhetoric belongs in the outhouse, not the White House. It is the worst that a democracy has to offer. The Obama campaign has manipulated some facts in presenting its case but it has not lost its soul. At the same time, the relatively minor indiscretions by Obama-Biden are unnecessary and regrettable. McCain’s history, voting record and proposed policies provide a cornucopia of material for demonstrating the differences between the candidates. Americans are desperately looking for leadership they can believe in. Give us reason to do so.

* Legislative Alert - I would like to suggest that the next congress enact legislation that requires federal election advertising be reviewed for accuracy by an independent body before the ad can be released. What does it say about our country that candidates continually seek office through intentional, unmitigated dishonesty? There is good reason why the word “trust” is rarely used to describe an elected official. It is quite a sorry state in which “the greatest democracy in the history of the world” finds itself.

* Silence on reparations – Much has been written about the obscene salaries and bonuses taken by Wall Street financial executives as they allowed their companies to reach bankruptcy. While the taxpayers are being asked to fork over $700 billion to bail out these icons of modern finance there is almost no mention about recouping the executive compensation that was “earned” through incompetence and fraud. Reading about bankrupt Lehman Bros. this week only added to my conviction that significant amounts of Wall Street compensation in recent years should be recouped.

Lehman CEO Richard S. Fuld, Jr. testified before congress on Monday. Mr. Fuld said that he “took full responsibility” for the actions that led to the nation’s largest bankruptcy ever but, he conceded no errors or judgments. I had to smile when Committee Chairman Henry Waxman noted that Mr. Fuld had received $484 million in compensation since 2000 and Mr. Fuld retorted that the amount was in the range of $250 million. What was not questionable during the hearing was that internal Lehman emails showed that the company was not “overwhelmed by forces outside its control” as Fuld claimed. After realizing the company was in trouble it “continued to squander millions in executive compensation.” It ignored its money-management subsidiary suggesting “significant expense reduction” and, most egregiously, “Lehman recommending to its compensation committee four days before the bankruptcy filing that three departing executives receive more than $20 million in special payments.” This occurred at the same time that Mr. Fuld was pleading with Secretary of the Treasury Paulson for federal rescue.

It is my opinion that taking compensation during fraudulent and incompetent behavior is cause for reparation of that compensation. As America teeters on an economic cliff it is time for all parties concerned to be accountable – the President, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the congress and the bloated and beached whales of finance.

* Syllogisms on steroids ~ conservative convoluted cogitation - Republican members of the House Oversight Committee released a report in which they concluded that deregulation is not to blame for the current trouble in the financial system. As notes “House Republicans argue that there should be no such rule, because bankers will just find ways around it.” At least this mental mendacity explains why George W. Bush and his Republican cohorts had no misgivings over the last eight years side-stepping the Constitution and avoiding oversight. The American flag pin lapel wearers were just being “logical.”

* When you throw dirt, be the first to duck – In response to the negative ads and absurd claims being regurgitated by the McCain campaign the Obama campaign has decided to forcefully respond. The difference being that the Obama claims about McCain’s ethical lapses on behalf of Charles Keating during the Savings and Loan scandals in the late 1980s is factual. The Obama campaign has produced a 14-minute video titled “Keating Economics – John McCain and the Making of a Financial Crisis” with commentary by William Black, Ph.D., Federal Banking Regulator, 1984 – 1994. In a counter-move McCain trotted out his lawyer John Dowd to make the claim that McCain was a scapegoat in the Keating Five scandal and that his relationship with Keating was purely social. This is true only if “major financial contributor” is a synonym for “social.” It is interesting that in his 2002 autobiography McCain refers to this incident as "the worst mistake of my life." Not precisely the words of a scapegoat?

* Curiouser and curiouser – In Tuesday’s debate John McCain said, “I'll get Osama bin Laden, my friends. I'll get him. I know how to get him.” It causes one to wonder why he has not shared this expertise with the President and the Secretary of Defense. Perhaps he is waiting to advise Sarah Palin.

* True to form – The other day someone asked if I found it unusual that Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin was being used by the McCain campaign almost exclusively as an attack dog against Obama. No, I was not surprised. There is nothing else she is prepared to do.

* “Trusting” the McCain campaign – John McCain asks us to groundlessly believe in the soundness of his health. This is a 72-year old man with a history of serious skin cancer who refuses to release his medical records. I agree that your and my medical records are no one’s business. That is not the situation with someone who aspires to be the leader of the free world. Are voters entitled to know the status of his health given that if he were elected his replacement is as prepared to be president as I am to be an oncologist?

* Missing Persons Alert – If anyone runs into Bill and Hillary Clinton please remind them that their Democratic Party is involved in the most important presidential campaign in our lifetime. It is time that the Clintons get over Hillary’s loss in the presidential primary and at least pretend that they care about the future of America.

* Is there a doctor in the house? – A new report by Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services says that “more than 90 percent of nursing homes were cited for violations of federal health and safety standards last year, and for-profit homes were more likely to have problems than other types of nursing homes… Problems included infected bedsores, medication mix-ups, poor nutrition, and abuse and neglect of patients.” This is not a report on a third world country. This report is about the United Sates of America. The inspector general said he had found some cases in which nursing homes billed Medicare and Medicaid for services that "were not provided, or were so wholly deficient that they amounted to no care at all." Presently we are focused on the dishonesty in the presidential race and Wall Street. The sad reality is that dishonesty, disinterest and self-centeredness have infected our society to such a degree that triage is now appropriate. Where does one begin?

* Speaking of medical care – The economic brain trusts advising John McCain are generally well-heeled and not critically dependent upon health insurance for their well-being. They have no clue as to what the average American faces and they could not care less. They are full-fledged members of the ruling class in America, the class that has been taking us toward developing country status. On Tuesday we learn from The Wall Street Journal that McCain plans to pay for his health care plan by cutting $1.3 trillion dollars from Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years. A campaign spokesman said “that the campaign has always planned to fund the tax credits, in part, with savings from Medicare and Medicaid. If anyone believes this gibberish I have some Lehman Bros. stock to sell them. If these programs are cut to the degree McCain proposes it will be lights out for many of the elderly. There is no where else to turn. You might suggest they turn to private health plan insurers but under McCain’s plan health insurers would not have to accept pre-existing conditions. Show me an elderly person without a pre-existing condition and I will show you Jack Lalanne. After that we are looking at fiscal and physical euthanasia for the elderly. For the record, the well-respected Center for American Progress explains that there is no Social Security crisis.

* Tip for the Obama campaign - Florida has 27 Electoral Votes and 3.2 million citizens covered by Medicare.

* “The law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business.”
Clarence Darrow (1857 – 1938) American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union


Anonymous said...

Many of your always astute observations would make good talking points at the last presidential debate.

Particularly outrageous in our increasingly outrageous times is McCain's plan on how to finance health care, which incidentally, as you say, outrageously does not allow for pre-existing conditions. Partially funding the plan by chipping away at Medicare? Who does he think he's kidding? The man is outrageously out of touch, all the more reason for intensifying our volunteer work for Obama.

I heard on some program last nite that when it came time to vote for the first black mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley had a 20-point lead up until voting day. However, when it came time to pull the lever on Election Day, he lost!

I too wondered Where have the Clintons gone? Turns out that today, Saturday Oct 11, Hillary will be in nearby Horsham, PA.

Rufus Deming

Anonymous said...

Oops! Hillary will appear on Monday, October 13, at Graeme Historic Park, County Line Road, in Horsham. Doors open at 11:30, she'll appear at 12:30.