Saturday, September 20, 2008

Obama Speech in Daytona, Florida: Transcript (9-20-08)

Read the full transcript.

I know how hard the women of this country are working. I know the anxiety so many of you are feeling right now, as we stand in the midst of the most serious financial crisis of our time. We've seen three of America's five largest investment banks fail or be sold off in distress. Our housing market is in shambles, and Monday brought the worst losses on Wall Street since the day after September 11th.

Everywhere you look, the economic news is troubling. But for so many of you, it isn't really news at all. You've seen your home values falling, gas prices rising, and bills piling up month after month. So you're working longer hours, or working more than one job just to get by. And then there are the jobs you do once the workday ends. Jobs like paying the bills, buying the groceries, making the dinner, doing the laundry, enforcing the bedtimes - the jobs you don't get paid for, but that hold our families together. Jobs that still, even in the year 2008, too often fall to women.

So I know these are difficult days. But here's what I also know. I know we can steer ourselves out of this economic crisis. That's who we are. That's what we've always done as Americans. Our nation has faced difficult times before. And at each of those moments, we've risen to meet the challenge because we've never forgotten that fundamental truth - that here in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us.

But another thing I know is that we can't steer ourselves out of this crisis by heading in the same, disastrous direction. We can't change direction with a new driver who wants to follow the same old map. And that's what this election is all about.

Yesterday, my opponent, Senator McCain, gave a speech in which his big solution to this worldwide economic crisis was to blame me for it. This is a guy who's spent a quarter century in Washington. And after spending the entire campaign saying I haven't been in Washington long enough, he apparently now is willing to assign me responsibility for all of Washington's failures. I think it's pretty clear that Senator McCain is a little panicked, and that at this point, he is willing to say anything, do anything, change any position, violate any principle to try and win this election. And that is sad to see. That's not the politics we need.

So let's be clear.

There's only one candidate who - just this week - said a line he's repeated 16 times on this campaign - quote - "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."

There's only one candidate who's called himself "fundamentally a deregulator" when deregulation is part of the problem. My opponent actually wrote in the current issue of a health care magazine - the current issue - quote - "Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."

So let me get this straight - he wants to run health care like they've been running Wall Street. Well, Senator, I know some folks on Main Street who aren't going to think that's a good idea.

There's only one candidate whose choice for Treasury Secretary is a man who thinks we're in a "mental recession" and has called the United States of America a "nation of whiners."

There's only one candidate whose campaign is being run by seven of Washington's most powerful lobbyists.

And folks, it isn't me.

I don't take a dime from Washington lobbyists and special interests. They do not run my campaign. They will not run my White House. And they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I'm President of the United States.

So when John McCain says that lobbyists "won't even get past the front gate" at his White House, my question is - who's going to stop them?

Those seven lobbyists?

His campaign manager?

The economic advisor, who got a $40 million golden parachute when she was fired as a CEO?

Or maybe the 26 advisors and fundraisers who lobbied for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

I mean, give me a break.

The same day my opponent attacked me for being associated with a Fannie Mae guy I've talked to for maybe 5 minutes in my entire life - the same day he did that - the head of the lobbying shop at Fannie Mae turned around and said wait a minute - "when I see photographs of Senator McCain's staff, it looks to me like the team of lobbyists who used to report to me."

Folks, you can't make this stuff up.

Bush Wall Street Bailout will Cost U.S. $1 Trillion

While most Americans are left to fend for themselves after the current financial collapse, powerful Wall Street investment bankers and big business get saved. This proves once and for all that a government that is supposed to represent us doesn't. And despite the rhetoric to the contrary, the corporations aren't against socialism as long as they are the beneficiaries.

FEDERAL OFFICIALS and congressional leaders will hash out a bailout of the nation's financial system this weekend that, with measures already taken, could add $1 trillion to the national debt, by some estimates.

The plan, under which the government would buy defaulted mortgages from distressed lending institutions, is intended to help prevent a financial services industry meltdown, improve the availability of credit and stave off further deterioration of the overall economy.

"This needs to be big enough to make a real difference and get to the heart of the problem," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Friday.

Paulson would only say that the cost of the rescue plan could run into the hundreds of billions. Some in Congress and on Wall Street are concerned that the new plan and other recent financial industry rescues could add alarmingly to the national debt - now $9.7 trillion.

We have to pay for the excesses of the financial industry and the failure of the lap-dogs-of business to regulate them.
Sen. Richard Shelby, the senior Republican member of the Banking Committee, talked about the overall pricetag this morning on ABC's Good Morning America.

"I figure it'll be at least a half a trillion," Shelby says. "But when you look at what the Fed has already done, and the extension of power to Treasury to deal with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, I believe we're talking about a trillion dollars."

But it is not clear whether the "rescue plan" will even work. Remember how the government response to the housing collapse was to give the public a tax rebate check. That obviously didn't amount to much while driving up the debt/deficit even further. This from a British perspective.
This is what we might call the $1trillion question. That's $1,000,000,000,000, by the way. It is a little like surgery. The US government has amputated the gangrenous leg of the banking system to save the patient. But it is now preparing to graft the infected limb on to the body politic of America. The US taxpayers will be lucky if they do not feel distinctly unwell as a result of this little experiment.

The truth is that simply buying the banks' worthless securities has been an option, if an unpalatable one, for the authorities since the credit crunch began a year ago. All the plans to lend against these assets, such as the Bank of England's Special Liquidity Scheme, and other "injections of liquidity", were temporary solutions, born out of a hope, if not an expectation, that the crisis would not be prolonged.

We know better now. What the American authorities have done is the only sure way to protect the banking system against further destabilisation. Short-selling or not, left to their own devices, the markets would sooner or later force more banks into the arms of the taxpayer anyhow. It is a sad day when hard-pressed citizens find themselves subsidising private banks for their stupid mistakes. But that is what's happening in the US, and it will surely be done here. The Bank of England hates the notion; but Gordon Brown may well feel that he has no choice.

So for the banks and their shareholders and staff, the US rescue plan is already working, and it will save the wider economy from yet more damage. It is less clear whether it will end the credit crisis or preserve America's fast disappearing economic hegemony.

Vermont Candidate Would Prosecute Bush for Murder, War Crimes

There are some out in government who have the integrity and guts to call for Bush's punishment for his war crimes. This President attacked a country without provocation (it's called the Bush Doctrine) and caused the deaths of 10s of thousands, including 4 thousand American troops. He is a criminal who should be prosecuted by the World Court just like other war criminals. It won't happen but it is the right thing to do.

Lots of political candidates make campaign promises. But not like Charlotte Dennett's.

Dennett, 61, the Progressive Party's candidate for Vermont Attorney General, said Thursday she will prosecute President Bush for murder if she's elected Nov. 4.

Dennett, an attorney and investigative journalist, says Bush must be held accountable for the deaths of thousands of people in Iraq — U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. She believes the Vermont attorney general would have jurisdiction to do so.

She also said she would appoint a special prosecutor and already knows who that should be: former Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, the author of "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder," a new book.

"Someone has to step forward," said Dennett, flanked by Bugliosi at a news conference announcing her plan. "Someone has to say we cannot put up with this lack of accountability any more."

Dennett and two others are challenging incumbent Attorney General William Sorrell, a Democrat, in the Nov. 4 election.

Even some prominent conservatives like Andrew Sullivan agree (he is quoting a writer):
Conservative commentators have already warned against any future US prosecution, arguing that—reprehensible as the treatment of some detainees was—those responsible did not have criminal intent. The argument is unpersuasive on the facts, because Secretary Rumsfeld and others were warned by senior Pentagon civilian and military lawyers, including the navy general counsel, Alberto Mora, that their policies would violate the law.

Of course there are plenty on the left who agree that Bush should be held responsible.
Any attempt to hold high U.S. officials responsible for war crimes likely “will require time and effort but is nevertheless of urgent importance,” an authority on international law said today.

Amy Bartholomew, an associate professor of law at Carleton University , Ottawa , Canada , told a conference seeking prosecutions of President George W. Bush and his aides for war crimes that aggression by "the world's most powerful state" must be punished just as less powerful countries are punished.