I've discussed something similar with Delta a little while ago and he subscribes to the idea of "Assumed vs. Real value in Real Estate" prices.
Basically, when only one or two houses are on the market, there is one or two people with enough interest to pay these assumed prices. You put enough properties up and reality sinks in.
Simple supply and demand.
Correction....The "REAL ESTATE" bubble now in existence is totally INFLATED.REASONS: greed, insanity, corruption, basically HUMANITY. therefore, the 'fragile economy'
must correct itself and begin to "COLLECT DEBTS" which means CRISIS!!!!!All planned of course.
:hammer: (start stocking ammo and food!) :-?
<!-- end standing head --><!-- head -->Guess again who's to blame for U.S. mortgage meltdown
<!-- end head --><!-- deck -->Analysts point not to greed, but to social activist politics
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<HR SIZE=1>Posted: September 19, 2008
6:19 pm Eastern
September 2008 will be remembered as the time when Socialism really, really took hold in this country.
Unfortunately these politicians are running for the hills because they do not want to take responsibility for what is going on, and I mean BIG TIME.
So I want to tell you a little story about your government; I want to tell you a little story about how it works and doesn't work. I want to tell you a little story about how things go on in the shadows in this country and the massive bureaucracies of this country that you don't know about, and yet they affect your lives every single day.
We have a massive Administrative State....and we have this massive bureaucracy, that's utterly unelected, and unaffected by what you want or what you believe. It's part of the Washington elite management system that controls so much of what goes on in this country.
...And I want to tell you a little bit about how the liberals in government whether they be elected or appointed, whether they be bureaucrats or politicians, how they work together and bring us to this point. And then tell YOU the problem is free markets, the problem is Capitalism, the problem is greed.
The Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA - is a federal law that requires banks and thrifts to offer credit throughout their entire market area. And it prohibits them from NOT giving loans to poorer areas within the reach of their communities. They call this redlining. They call violations of this redlining.
The purpose of this Act is to provide credit, including home ownership opportunities to what they call "under-served populations" and commercial loans to small businesses.
The law was passed by Congress in 1977 under Carter as a result of national grassroots pressure from groups like ACORN (an ultra-Left wing criminal enterprise in my humble opinion) which brought pressure for affordable housing for the poor. It was opposed significantly and aggressively by the banking community. But they had no choice. It became law 31 years ago.
The law mandates that "each banking institution be evaluated to determine if it has met the credit needs of it's entire community" - that is, if it has given loans to enough poor people, or people who can't really afford them.
And then that record is taken into account by the federal government when it considers an institution's application for mergers and acquisitions.
And so the law is enforced by the federal government and in 1995, as a result of interest from Bill Clinton's Administration - particularly Janet Reno and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the implementing regulations for the law were strengthened by focusing the financial regulator's attention on institution's performance in helping to meet community credit needs.
So they really, really pushed them. They used the FORCE OF LAW to compel these private institutions to make bad loans.
These changes were very controversial.
...The Clinton Administration's regulatory revisions with an effective starting date of January 31 1995, were credited with substantially increasing the number and aggregate amount of loans to small businesses and to low and moderate income borrowers for home loans. Clinton used to brag about this.
Part of the increase in home loans was due to increased efficiency in the genesis of lenders like Countrywide that DID NOT mitigate loan risk with savings deposits, which traditional banks do. They were using the new SUBPRIME AUTHORIZATION, of 1995. Are you listening to me? This is known as the secondary market for mortgage loans. The revisions in the law allowed the securitization of CRA loans containing subprime mortgages. In other words, they had to figure out how to give loans to people who do not qualify for the loans under traditional procedures. So they changed the procedures.
The loans were not capitalized. So you have No Down Payment loans, No Interest loans, Low Interest loans that turn into higher interest loans over time (ARMs), and on and on. They were trying to be creative in what they could do, and they HAD TO BE under the threat of losing business practices and activities as compelled by the Federal Government.
The Federal Government compelled this activity and compelled this behavior.
The first securitization of CRA loans, started in 1997 with Bear Stearns (remember them?)
Now in 2003, The Bush Administration recommended what the New York Slimes (Times) called "The most significant regulatory overhaul in the Housing Financial Industry since the Savings and Loan crisis a decade ago". This change was to move governmental supervision of two of the primary agents guaranteeing subprime loans; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, under a wholly new agency created within the Department of Justice, which would give it more oversight power and more auditing power. It would require these two so-called "companies" to better capitalize their debt.
Even so, what remained was the implied guarantee that the American taxpayer, should anything go wrong, would back-up these loans.
But that legislation to strengthen these programs, to move the oversight to an independent separate agency WAS BLOCKED in 2003 by Congress. And it was blocked by the Democrats, because the Democrats were in bed with ACORN and these other "community activists grassroots groups", of whom Barrack The Hussein Obama is quite familiar.
These are the constituents of the Democrat party - that is these Left wing groups like ACORN.
(Barney) Frank (D-MA) was in bed with them; Chris Dodd (D-CT) was in bed with them; the Clinton Administration was in bed with them; and so they blocked the reforms the Bush Administration proposed in 2003.
Barney Frank said at the time "These two entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are NOT FACING ANY KIND OF FINANCIAL CRISIS. The more people exaggerate these problems...the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing".
So basically, the Socialists FORCED the private sector to behave in ways the private sector didn't want to behave but was forced to behave under threat of law. That is to give loans to people who were bad risks.
The two government run companies; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when the Bush Administration said in '03 "Look we got a problem here. They don't have enough capital, they're running wild over there. We don't have enough oversight and auditing activity. We want to break out that activity - make it independent so they can oversee it. Force them to capitalize against their loans better". They were BLOCKED.
Now I don't know about people who say we can't talk about party (blame) - We HAVE TO TALK ABOUT PARTY HERE because the only way you have accountability, and the only way you fix this situation, is to know WHO and WHAT is responsible, and what policies got us here!
Now these policies encouraged the development of the sub-prime debacle, through this CRA legislation, which forced banks to lend to uncreditworthy customers. Which they are now being criticized for having done. Before this debacle, while they are now attacking these huge financial institutions - they would praise them for all the uncreditworthy risky loans they were giving to 'certain' citizens (and non-citizens) in this country!
In 2003, the NY Slimes said of the Bush Administration's plan "The plan is an acknowledgment by the Administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together have issued more than 1.5 trillion in outstanding debt, is broken".
Former Treasury Secretary John Snowe from the Bush Administration, 2003 - "There is a general recognition, that the supervisory system for housing-related government-sponsored enterprise neither has the tools nor the stature, to deal effectively with the current size, complexity and importance of these enterprises."
Michael Oxley, Republican from Ohio, former House Finance Services Committee Chairman, he said: "The current regulator does not have the tools or the mandate to adequately regulate these enterprises. In recent months, we have seen the mismanagement and questionable accounting practices went largely unnoticed".
The Senate Republican Policy Committee, the Conservatives warned in 2003, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac threatened the U.S. economy and taxpayer "Although both firms seem to be performing well at the moment, it is far better for Congress to take pre-emptive action, instead of facing an enormously expensive corrective action after a destabilizing crisis strikes. Given how large these government companies have grown, and how much interest rate risk they retain, the risks posed by their current operations, should move Congress to increase their disclosure requirements, improve safety and soundness regulations, and examine how best to extricate the Federal Government from their operations. And through such steps, Congress could give regulators and investors a better sense of the risks that Fannie and Freddie's operations pose and reduce the likelihood of a bailout."
That was the Conservative Republican Policy Committee, Conservative Republican Senators.
What did the Democrats say? What did they say in 2003?
When the Bush Administration in 2003 was in fact, ringing the alarm bells, and did in-fact draft proposed legislation to address this, Republicans supported it and Democrats blocked it.
"These two entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are NOT FACING ANY KIND OF FINANCIAL CRISIS. The more people exaggerate these problems...the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing". - Barney Frank, 2003 (D-MA)
He told the AP a few weeks later: "I don't think we face a crisis. I don't think we have an impending disaster."
In 2004 Frank said "I think Wall Street will get over it", referring to the possible collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
In 2005, the Republicans in Congress offered legislation to basically do what the Bush Administration had proposed two years earlier, and here's what the Democrat Minority Leader in the Senate Harry Reid had to say: "The legislation from the Senate Banking Committee passed today on a party-line vote by the Republican majority, includes measures that could cripple the ability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to carry out their mission of expanding home ownership. While I favor approving oversight by our federal housing regulators, to ensure safety and soundness, we cannot pass legislation that could limit Americans from owning homes and potentially harm our economy in the process". That was UPI quoting Harry Reid in July '05.
This by the way is the same reason they won't address the other looming disasters like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They just won't do it. Until we're on the brink.
As recently as August 16, 2007 - a little over a year ago - Schumer and Dodd, the Chairman of the Banking Committee, called on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulators TO LIFT THE PORTFOLIO CAPS SO THEY COULD GIVE OUT MORE LOANS, to MORE people. They argued that allowing the two firms to buy more mortgages, and we're talking about these sub-prime mortgages, "at least temporarily" they said, "would inject much liquidity into the market and calm the financial markets."
That's what we're talking about.
In November 2006, Schumer in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "With the benefit of hindsight, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which imposed a new regulatory framework on all public companies doing business in the U.S., also needs to be re-examined. Since its passage, auditing expenses for companies doing business in the U.S. have grown far beyond anything Congress had anticipated. Of course, we must not in any way diminish our ability to detect corporate fraud and protect investors. But there appears to be a worrisome trend of corporate leaders focusing inordinate time on compliance minutiae rather than innovative strategies for growth, for fear of facing personal financial penalties from overzealous regulators."
They were arguing for REDUCING the regulations that had been passed after Enron!!!!
...We will be paying for all of this now and down the road because of Socialism. That's what I am trying to explain. That's why I am taking the time to slog though this. Because it all sounds so foreign - because it has all been going on, behind the curtain. So we really haven't been aware of it. It's like Illegal Immigration, been going on for 45 years, they have been passing these laws, and we really haven;t been aware of it. We're aware of it now, because we are on the hook for it.
What Chuck Schumer wrote in the WSJ Op-Ed in November 2006, is not what Chuck Schumer says today. Here's what he said on the senate floor
"8 years of de-regulatory zeal by the Bush Administration, an attitude of "The market can do no wrong" have led us down the short path to economic recession. From the unregulated mortgage brokers, to the opaque credit default swaps market, to aggressive Short Sellers who were driving down the price of even healthy financial institutions based on innuendo, this Administration has failed to take the steps necessary to protect both Main Street and Wall Street".
There may not be a silver bullet to fix what is currently dragging down the economy, but we can take steps to mitigate the costs and make sure that the impact of this crisis will be short-term. " - Schumer, (D-NY)
See, our nation would be far better off without charlatans like Chuck Schumer. We have you dead to rights here Chuck. We have you in writing where you demanded LESS regulation and less oversight. So the fact you go to the senate floor and spew your talking points doesn't work here.
We have you Barney - we have you dead to rights too. You're a liar. You fought the reforms the Administration tried to put in place in 2005.
Yet Frank had this to say today:
"The fundamental issue is we have got to put an end to this situation in which there is no sensible regulation, and irresponsible individuals in the private market, or unwise individuals in the private market can incur the kind of risks that put us in a threatening situation," said House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Barney Frank.
He's a liar.
Now Barrack Obama, Obama is allied with radical groups like ACORN. These radical Left wing front groups like ACORN which pushed hard for the legislation that Carter put in place - the CRA forcing private financial institutions to make the riskiest of loans.
We have the Clinton Administration dead to rights - including Janet Reno, who insisted that these banks and financial institutions would not be able to survive and expand unless they took a certain amount of their assets and applied them to the riskiest of loans. That's what they created in 1995 with this sub-prime market - of zero down loans. They were trying to come up with packages so they could meet their federal requirements. And they did.
Then step in the two government-run entities, Fannie and Freddie - and they are buying up these loans from the private sector as far as they can. Now that doesn't promote home ownership, yet that is what they were in existence to do. So why were they buying up these risky loans?? Because they appeared as assets on their books, even though they weren't. And the more assets they had, the bigger the bonuses for Franklin Raines, and Jamie Gorelick, and Jim Johnson - these three who are Obama's ECONOMIC ADVISORS - that's why they bought them up. It was in their OWN self-interest!!
This corrosive cronyism, has spread throughout the financial institutions in this country. That's why they are hustling to fix it! Their fingerprints are all over this dammit! Don't you see???!!! This wasn't the private sector that did this, this wasn't any individual company that did this, this is institutionalized corruption - we call it Socialism!!! Every effort to address it by the Bush Administration in '03, by the Republicans in '05, was rejected. Rejected by Chris Dodd, rejected by Chuck Schumer, rejected Barney Frank, rejected by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. This is why I rail against this! This is why I rail against the Left and the Socialists.
This isn't a joke! This is real life!
And now, over the weekend, the Treasury Secretary - who is a Liberal Democrat, and a Friend of Schumer's - has a plan that sticks us with a bill of over 1 TRILLION dollars!
We're nationalizing businesses, we're subsidizing businesses, now we're going to create a 1 trillion dollar trust??
I tell you what; Socialism Sucks.
Paulson plan could cost $1 trillion
Look what your government has done!!!!!! They have dragged us to the precipice!
You and I weren't overseeing Freddie and Fannie - you and I had nothing to do with this CRA law - with all these Left Wing grassroots groups - or forcing banks and thrifts to cough up money for risky loans - we had nothing to do with this!
This is what goes on behind the scenes.
"Oh it's Capitalism and Free Markets that are the cause" - no it's not - THAT'S the problem!
What kind of a businessman gives a loan to someone who cannot pay it back unless they have a gun to their head???
...So all this crap that is out there - all these bad loans that are out there - they are going to pass them off into this fund, so every business out there that is loaded with these is going to dump them on you and me - the American taxpayer. To save those businesses. And by the way, those businesses - in many cases were forced to make these crap loans by the very people who are going to save us!!!
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” said lawmakers were told last night “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications, here at home and globally.”
Why is Chris Dodd still chairman of the banking Committee?? Why isn't he spooning out slop at some federal prison? Why isn't he in charge of the soap at some Federal prison?
“What you heard last evening is one of those rare moments — certainly rare in my experience here — was that Democrats and Republicans decided we needed to work together, quickly,” Dodd said.
Funny how they want to work quickly to fix it now - but refused to do so in 2003 and 2005 BEFORE this collapse was triggered.
"Congressional leaders tell Politico that to expedite the rescue, Treasury plans to seek additional authority rather than creating a new entity. The plan involves buying up hundreds of billions of dollars in bad mortgages to take them off the books of financial institutions that otherwise might fail".
...Yeah let's hurry up (and fix this) let's set this thing up before the American people figure out what's going on. Let's set it up - because as all the experts keep telling us, "this is just too big to fail!" That's too big and this is too big - we have to nationalize everything! That'll fix it! That's because we know that whatever the government does is okay and whatever the private sector does is horrific.
I'm sick of these Socialists.</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
President Bush's Address on Bailout Plan WHAT COMPLETE RUBBISH!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Transcript of President Bush's nationally televised address on the ongoing financial crisis and his administrations proposed bailout for the financial industry:
Good evening. This is an extraordinary period for America's economy.
Over the past few weeks, many Americans have felt anxiety about their finances and their future. I understand their worry and their frustration. LIE#1 We've seen triple-digit swings in the stock market. Major financial institutions have teetered on the edge of collapse, and some have failed. As uncertainty has grown, many banks have restricted lending, credit markets have frozen, and families and businesses have found it harder to borrow money.
We're in the midst of a serious financial crisis, and the federal government is responding with decisive action.
BY ADDING MORE DEBT! We boosted confidence in money market mutual funds and acted to prevent major investors from intentionally driving down stocks for their own personal gain.
Most importantly, my administration is working with Congress to address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets.
Financial assets related to home mortgages have lost value during the house decline, and the banks holding these assets have restricted credit. As a result, our entire economy is in danger. BIG TIME! So I propose that the federal government reduce the risk posed by these troubled assets and supply urgently needed money so banks and other financial institutions can avoid collapse and resume lending.
This rescue effort is not aimed at preserving any individual company or industry. It is aimed at preserving America's overall economy. LIE#2 Its for BAILOUT YOUR NWO CRONIES! It will help American consumers and businesses get credit to meet their daily needs and create jobs. And it will help send a signal to markets around the world that America's financial system is back on track.
I know many Americans have questions tonight: How did we reach this point in our economy? How will the solution I propose work? And what does this mean for your financial future?
These are good questions, and they deserve clear answers.
First, how did our economy reach this point? Well, most economists agree that the problems we're witnessing today developed over a long period of time. For more than a decade, a massive amount of money flowed into the United States from investors abroad because our country is an attractive and secure place to do business. MOST "ECONOMIST ARE IDIOTS! This large influx of money to U.S. banks and financial institutions, along with low interest rates, made it easier for Americans to get credit. These developments allowed more families to borrow money for cars, and homes, and college tuition, some for the first time. They allowed more entrepreneurs to get loans to start new businesses and create jobs.
Unfortunately, there were also some serious negative consequences, particularly in the housing market. Easy credit, combined with the faulty assumption that home values would continue to rise, led to excesses and bad decisions.
Many mortgage lenders approved loans for borrowers without carefully examining their ability to pay. Many borrowers took out loans larger than they could afford, assuming that they could sell or refinance their homes at a higher price later on.
Optimism about housing values also led to a boom in home construction. Eventually, the number of new houses exceeded the number of people willing to buy them. And with supply exceeding demand, housing prices fell, and this created a problem.
Borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages, who had been planning to sell or refinance their homes at a higher price, were stuck with homes worth less than expected, along with mortgage payments they could not afford.
As a result, many mortgage-holders began to default. These widespread defaults had effects far beyond the housing market.
See, in today's mortgage industry, home loans are often packaged together and converted into financial products called mortgage-backed securities. These securities were sold to investors around the world.
Many investors assumed these securities were trustworthy and asked few questions about their actual value. Two of the leading purchasers of mortgage-backed securities were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. YOU MEAN THOSE 2 GOVERNMENT CORRUPT RUN COMPANIES??? Because these companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government. This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk.
The decline in the housing market set off a domino effect across our economy. When home values declined, borrowers defaulted on their mortgages, and investors holding mortgage-backed securities began to incur serious losses.
Before long, these securities became so unreliable that they were not being bought or sold. Investment banks, such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, found themselves saddled with large amounts of assets they could not sell. They ran out of money needed to meet their immediate obligations, and they faced imminent collapse.
Other banks found themselves in severe financial trouble. These banks began holding on to their money, and lending dried up, and the gears of the American financial system began grinding to a halt.
With the situation becoming more precarious by the day, I faced a choice, to step in with dramatic government action or to stand back and allow the irresponsible actions of some to undermine the financial security of all.
I'm a strong believer in free enterprise, so my natural instinct is to oppose government intervention. I believe companies that make bad decisions should be allowed to go out of business. LIE#3 Under normal circumstances, I would have followed this course. But these are not normal circumstances. The market is not functioning properly. There has been a widespread loss of confidence, and major sectors of America's financial system are at risk of shutting down.
The government's top economic experts warn that, without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold.
More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically.
And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs.
Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And, ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession. TELL ME ABOUT IT! Fellow citizens, we must not let this happen. I appreciate the work of leaders from both parties in both houses of Congress to address this problem and to make improvements to the proposal my administration sent to them.
There is a spirit of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans and between Congress and this administration. In that spirit, I've invited Senators McCain and Obama to join congressional leaders of both parties at the White House tomorrow to help speed our discussions toward a bipartisan bill.
I know that an economic rescue package will present a tough vote for many members of Congress. It is difficult to pass a bill that commits so much of the taxpayers' hard-earned money.
I also understand the frustration of responsible Americans who pay their mortgages on time, file their tax returns every April 15th, and are reluctant to pay the cost of excesses on Wall Street.
But given the situation we are facing, not passing a bill now would cost these Americans much more later.
Many Americans are asking, how would a rescue plan work? After much discussion, there's now widespread agreement on the principles such a plan would include.
It would remove the risk posed by the troubled assets, including mortgage-backed securities, now clogging the financial system. This would free banks to resume the flow of credit to American families and businesses.
Any rescue plan should also be designed to ensure that taxpayers are protected. It should welcome the participation of financial institutions, large and small. It should make certain that failed executives do not receive a windfall from your tax dollars. JUST ADMIT WERE DAMM BANKRUPT! It should establish a bipartisan board to oversee the plan's implementation, and it should be enacted as soon as possible.
In close consultation with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and SEC Chairman Chris Cox, I announced a plan on Friday. THREE CROOKS WHO SHOULD BE IN JAIL! First, the plan is big enough to solve a serious problem. Under our proposal, the federal government would put up to $700 billion taxpayer dollars on the line to purchase troubled assets that are clogging the financial system.
In the short term, this will free up banks to resume the flow of credit to American families and businesses, and this will help our economy grow.
Second, as markets have lost confidence in mortgage-backed securities, their prices have dropped sharply, yet the value of many of these assets will likely be higher than their current price, because the vast majority of Americans will ultimately pay off their mortgages.
The government is the one institution with the patience and resources to buy these assets at their current low prices and hold them until markets return to normal.
And when that happens, money will flow back to the Treasury as these assets are sold, and we expect that much, if not all, of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back.
The final question is, what does this mean for your economic future? Well, the primary steps — purpose of the steps I've outlined tonight is to safeguard the financial security of American workers, and families, and small businesses. The federal government also continues to enforce laws and regulations protecting your money. YOU MEAN TOO PROTECT NWO MONEY! The Treasury Department recently offered government insurance for money market mutual funds. And through the FDIC, every savings account, checking account, and certificate of deposit is insured by the federal government for up to $100,000.
The FDIC has been in existence for 75 years, and no one has ever lost a penny on an insured deposit, and this will not change.
Once this crisis is resolved, there will be time to update our financial regulatory structures. Our 21st-century global economy remains regulated largely by outdated 20th-century laws.
Recently, we've seen how one company can grow so large that its failure jeopardizes the entire financial system.
Earlier this year, Secretary Paulson proposed a blueprint that would modernize our financial regulations. For example, the Federal Reserve would be authorized to take a closer look at the operations of companies across the financial spectrum and ensure that their practices do not threaten overall financial stability.
There are other good ideas, and members of Congress should consider them. As they do, they must ensure that efforts to regulate Wall Street do not end up hampering our economy's ability to grow.
In the long run, Americans have good reason to be confident in our economic strength. Despite corrections in the marketplace and instances of abuse, democratic capitalism is the best system ever devised.
It has unleashed the talents and the productivity and entrepreneurial spirit of our citizens. It has made this country the best place in the world to invest and do business. And it gives our economy the flexibility and resilience to absorb shocks, adjust, and bounce back.
Our economy is facing a moment of great challenge, but we've overcome tough challenges before, and we will overcome this one. WE SURE HOPE SO! I know that Americans sometimes get discouraged by the tone in Washington and the seemingly endless partisan struggles, yet history has shown that, in times of real trial, elected officials rise to the occasion.
And together we will show the world once again what kind of country America is: a nation that tackles problems head on, where leaders come together to meet great tests, and where people of every background can work hard, develop their talents, and realize their dreams.
Army deploys combat unit in US for possible civil unrest
By Bill Van Auken
25 September 2008
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For the first time ever, the US military is deploying an active duty regular Army combat unit for full-time use inside the United States to deal with emergencies, including potential civil unrest.
Beginning on October 1, the First Brigade Combat Team of the Third Division will be placed under the command of US Army North, the Army’s component of the Pentagon’s Northern Command (NorthCom), which was created in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks with the stated mission of defending the US “homeland” and aiding federal, state and local authorities.
The unit—known as the “Raiders”—is among the Army’s most “blooded.” It has spent nearly three out of the last five years deployed in Iraq, leading the assault on Baghdad in 2003 and carrying out house-to-house combat in the suppression of resistance in the city of Ramadi. It was the first brigade combat team to be sent to Iraq three times.
While active-duty units previously have been used in temporary assignments, such as the combat-equipped troops deployed in New Orleans, which was effectively placed under martial law in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, this marks the first time that an Army combat unit has been given a dedicated assignment in which US soil constitutes its “battle zone.”
The Pentagon’s official pronouncements have stressed the role of specialized units in a potential response to terrorist attack within the US. Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, attended a training exercise last week for about 250 members of the unit at Fort Stewart, Georgia. The focus of the exercise, according to the Army’s public affairs office, was how troops “might fly search and rescue missions, extract casualties and decontaminate people following a catastrophic nuclear attack in the nation’s heartland.”
“We are at war with a global extremist network that is not going away,” Casey told the soldiers. “I hope we don’t have to use it, but we need the capability.”
However, the mission assigned to the nearly 4,000 troops of the First Brigade Combat Team does not consist merely of rescuing victims of terrorist attacks. An article that appeared earlier this month in the Army Times (“Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1”), a publication that is widely read within the military, paints a different and far more ominous picture.
“They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control,” the paper reports. It quotes the unit’s commander, Col. Robert Cloutier, as saying that the 1st BCT’s soldiers are being trained in the use of “the first ever nonlethal package the Army has fielded.” The weapons, the paper reported, are “designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.” The equipment includes beanbag bullets, shields and batons and equipment for erecting roadblocks.
It appears that as part of the training for deployment within the US, the soldiers have been ordered to test some of this non-lethal equipment on each other.
“I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered,” Cloutier told the Army Times. He described the effects of the electroshock weapon as “your worst muscle cramp ever—times 10 throughout your whole body.”
The colonel’s remark suggests that, in preparation for their “homefront” duties, rank-and-file troops are also being routinely Tasered. The brutalizing effect and intent of such a macabre training exercise is to inure troops against sympathy for the pain and suffering they may be called upon to inflict on the civilian population using these same “non-lethal” weapons.
According to military officials quoted by the Army Times, the deployment of regular Army troops in the US begun with the First Brigade Combat Team is to become permanent, with different units rotated into the assignment on an annual basis.
In an online interview with reporters earlier this month, NorthCom officers were asked about the implications of the new deployment for the Posse Comitatus Act, the 230-year-old legal statute that bars the use of US military forces for law enforcement purposes within the US itself.
Col. Lou Volger, NorthCom’s chief of future operations, tried to downplay any enforcement role, but added, “We will integrate with law enforcement to understand the situation and make sure we’re aware of any threats.”
Volger acknowledged the obvious, that the Brigade Combat Team is a military force, while attempting to dismiss the likelihood that it would play any military role. It “has forces for security,” he said, “but that’s really—they call them security forces, but that’s really just to establish our own footprint and make sure that we can operate and run our own bases.”
Lt. Col. James Shores, another NorthCom officer, chimed in, “Let’s say even if there was a scenario that developed into a branch of a civil disturbance—even at that point it would take a presidential directive to even get it close to anything that you’re suggesting.”
Whatever is required to trigger such an intervention, clearly Col. Cloutier and his troops are preparing for it with their hands-on training in the use of “non-lethal” means of repression.
The extreme sensitivity of the military brass on this issue notwithstanding, the reality is that the intervention of the military in domestic affairs has grown sharply over the last period under conditions in which its involvement in two colonial-style wars abroad has given it a far more prominent role in American political life.
The Bush administration has worked to tear down any barriers to the use of the military in domestic repression. Thus, in the 2007 Pentagon spending bill it inserted a measure to amend the Posse Comitatus Act to clear the way for the domestic deployment of the military in the event of natural disaster, terrorist attack or “other conditions in which the president determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order.”
The provision granted the president sweeping new powers to impose martial law by declaring a “public emergency” for virtually any reason, allowing him to deploy troops anywhere in the US and to take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of state governors in order to “suppress public disorder.”
The provision was subsequently repealed by Congress as part of the 2008 military appropriations legislation, but the intent remains. Given the sweeping powers claimed by the White House in the name of the “commander in chief” in a global war on terror—powers to suspend habeas corpus, carry out wholesale domestic spying and conduct torture—there is no reason to believe it would respect legal restrictions against the use of military force at home.
It is noteworthy that the deployment of US combat troops “as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters”—in the words of the Army Times—coincides with the eruption of the greatest economic emergency and financial disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Justified as a response to terrorist threats, the real source of the growing preparations for the use of US military force within America’s borders lies not in the events of September 11, 2001 or the danger that they will be repeated. Rather, the domestic mobilization of the armed forces is a response by the US ruling establishment to the growing threat to political stability.
Under conditions of deepening economic crisis, the unprecedented social chasm separating the country’s working people from the obscenely wealthy financial elite becomes unsustainable within the existing political framework.
House GOP rises up against Cheney
By PATRICK O'CONNOR | 9/23/08 1:51 PM EDT
There was a time when Dick Cheney could turn back a Republican revolt on Capitol Hill.
That time is gone.
The vice president traveled to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to silence a chorus of GOP complaints about Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion plan. But House Republicans who walked into a closed-door meeting with Cheney steaming over the plan walked out just as angry, and they described what happened in between as both “a bloodbath” and “an unmitigated disaster.”
Texas Rep. Joe Barton took the unusual step of telling reporters gathered outside the Cannon Caucus Room that he had confronted Cheney “respectfully” about his concerns — a level of dissent Republicans once considered heresy under the Bush administration.
Another lawmaker present — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — said that Cheney, White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and economic policy adviser Keith Hennessey “were in worse shape when they left than when they came in.”
Cheney’s inability to turn around members of his own party said plenty about how congressional Republicans view the Bush White House these days — but maybe even more about their discomfort with a bailout plan many of them see as an attack on their free market principles.
“It’s a sad fact, but Americans can no longer trust the economic information they are getting from this administration,” South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint said in a comment posted on Politico’s Arena forum.
“There is tremendous unease over the federal government assuming the assets that these financial institutions cannot price or manage,” said Alabama Rep. Spencer Bachus, the ranking Republican on the committee drafting the legislation.
It wasn’t clear Tuesday whether Republicans were willing to take responsibility for killing the Paulson plan — but neither were they eager to take responsibility for passing it, either.
Republican leaders are now hoping Democrats load the legislation with unrelated measures that would give them the political cover to oppose it, members and aides said. At the same time, party leaders are using back channels in the business community to gauge member support for a “clean” bill.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) warned his former colleagues that they would pay a price in November for backing the bailout now — and that John McCain could ride to victory over Barack Obama by persuading voters that the bailout is really the “Obama-Bush plan.” While McCain seemed to move in the other direction Tuesday, Gingrich called the Paulson plan “stupid,” “a really bad idea” and “the kind of corrupt scheme that could have been designed by [Russian Prime Minister] Vladimir Putin.”
Despite the anxieties — and outright anger — expressed during the Republicans’ nearly two-hour exchange with Cheney and the other White House officials, lawmakers remained respectful enough to give the vice president two standing ovations.
Still, a lawmaker present said that Cheney and his team “were the wrong guys” to send to the Hill: “The problem is that they’ve used up a lot of goodwill.”
Hennessey and Bolten — who shares a Goldman Sachs pedigree with Paulson — faced a number of tough questions about why the bailout was necessary, how it would actually work and why this particular plan was the best response to the current crisis, according to notes circulated from the meeting.
Cheney and the others made policy arguments for the proposal instead of political arguments that would help lawmakers explain a vote for the plan to constituents. The meeting was almost an hour old when the vice president told the anxious Republicans, in response to a question, that failure to pass this would result in more foreclosures and cause grave hardship for their constituents.