"Where's Kenny Rogers When You Need Him?: The Big Boys Got Their Bailout, But the Elected Leadership and the Voters Meet at the Election Day Showdown"
At the precise moment when we couldn't imagine it getting worse, it does. After all, the Democrats, since they acquired majority status in the Congress, delivered funding for George Bush's wars several times. They authorized retroactive immunity for telecoms that helped Bush's Administration illegally spy on us. And they never really considered any alternatives to the basic bailout wish list given to them by Bush and his Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson.
Sadly, I must say that this failure on the part of the Democratic leadership is by far the greatest perfidy of the Democrats yet. I shudder to think what betrayal of the Constitution and the people of this country yet awaits us. I am forced to ask, "What do they stand for?"
I think they have shown us time and time again what they stand for, what their values are, and that they are willing to leave the people behind in their quest to acquiesce to what Bush's base asks for. And remember, Bush told us that his base were the haves and the have mores! So, if the Democratic leadership is more loyal to them than they are to the working people in this country, then a new political alignment of historical proportions is taking effect that the working people of this country must recognize. By their policy choices, it should now be clear that the Democratic leadership in Congress must be removed and a political party that reflects the people's values must be built. Not only do the people need a party of their own, it should now be clear to a vast number of people that the people in this country need a movement that places our values on the political agenda. This was what I said in my remarks accepting the Green Party's nomination as their candidate for President of the United States.
In 2000, when there was clear evidence that the election had been tampered with, and that particularly, black voters had been disfranchised, the Democratic leadership did nothing to recognize and correct this fact. Criminal behavior was met with de facto acceptance, a failure to investigate, and ultimate acquiescence by the Democratic leadership.
Through my Congressional office, on my own initiative, I investigated and discovered one of the mechanisms used to disfranchise voters and put my findings on the Congressional Record. Sadly, because of inaction by the Democratic Congress, the basic mechanism used by the Republicans to steal the vote in 2000 could, in fact, be used today to further disfranchise voters. Further, one million black votes across our country were not even counted, 78,000 of them in Florida alone.
What kind of election is it when the votes don't get counted!
In addition, in the late 1990s, electronic voting machines were introduced into the U.S. election architecture. From that time until today, where they are used, voters and inexperienced or untrained election staff have had to cope with machine meltdowns; screen freezes; dead and dying batteries in the middle of the voting process; deployment of untested machines, particularly in the South, that failed repeatedly due to heat; vote flipping (usually in only one direction); ballots that don't list all the candidates without manipulation of the machine-which could be problematic for some voters; incorrect ballots being displayed on the machines so that voters are allowed to vote in elections for which they are not eligible; machine sleepovers in insecure places where they could be tampered with; meaningless recounts in the absence of a paper trail where only bits and bytes previously entered can be counted; and the absence of a paper ballot that allows for accountability and transparency during and after an election.
Later, it was learned that these machines were not only hackable, but that the instrument used by the voter, the PCMCIA card, could be programmed to change the outcome of the election! Some of the machines were found to have wireless adaptations that opened the election to an additional level of insecurity due to wireless capabilities in everyday blackberries, treos, and other handheld devices.
With all of these defects known, electronic pollbooks were allowed to become an additional part of the election architecture and they produced an additional layer of disfranchisement when incorrect voter information was loaded into them and voters had no means to contest it. In too many cases that took place in my own 2006 election, voters were turned away from the polls only because the pollbooks contained incorrect information!
Elections in this country are now firmly in the grips of electronic voting machine technicians, inexperienced and poorly trained official poll workers, and computer companies using secret software. Sadly, the Democratic leadership has done nothing to eliminate this potential source of fraud, even in this-an election year!
In 2004, the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, promised that the black vote was not going to be disfranchised as it had been in 2000. John Kerry conceded the election the day after Election Day, even as reports were coming in of massive black voter disfranchisement. It was the Green Party and the Libertarian Party that went to Ohio and sorted out exactly what happened and pressed for criminal prosecution of those guilty of election fraud. Sadly, in 2004, after the experience of 2000, an estimated three million votes were not counted.
The Green Party's Bob Fitrakis in Ohio is sounding the alarm again for this year's election. Some blogs like Bradblog, and organizations like Black Box Voting continue to sound the alarm now, even more urgently, and press for election integrity.
Last week I became the first Presidential candidate to sign the StandingForVoters.org pledge to not concede the election unless all votes are counted, and all challenges to the results have been adequately made. We really need the Democrats to sign such a pledge because they have caved in the past two Presidential elections.
In addition to that, the Democrats now have the power of the majority. They are in control of the Congress. And the way the Constitution is written, power flows up from Capitol Hill to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue-not the other way around. But even while in control, the Democrat leadership has done nothing to prepare the way for election integrity in this election. Even in the face of massive preparations for theft again by the Republicans through the use of the same techniques used in 2000 and in 2004 and adding to them voter caging (removing targeted voters from the voter rolls) and enforcement of new voter ID laws. Even judges appointed by Democrats have helped to thwart citizen legal action on behalf of election integrity!
It should be clear that even in an election year, there are serious issues that should be on the table; the Democrats control the Congress and can make public policy to their liking-reflecting their values.
And that's where I want to begin my discussion of the bailout.
Nancy Pelosi is the third most powerful individual in the United States government as Speaker of the House-third in line for the Presidency of the United States. She controls when bills are scheduled for consideration in the House of Representatives, or even whether they are considered or not. The people of this country and her colleagues in the House gave her this position because the people hunger for change and they thought that the Democratic Party would deliver that change to them.
The people of this country want peace, not war and occupation; justice, not fraud; community, not hooliganism. And so, the people of this country voted the Democratic Party into majority status to attain all of that, public policy that reflects their values. Nancy Pelosi, by virtue of her position, has been dealt a royal flush.
By now, Nancy Pelosi could have used that winning hand to stop the funding for war and occupation--$720 million every day-and decided, instead, to subsidize education so no university student graduates one hundred thousand dollars in debt just because he or she wanted an education.
Pelosi could have insisted on reflecting the people's values and our Constitution by repealing the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, and the Military Commissions Act. But she did not.
She could have used that royal flush to provide a single-payer, Medicare-for-all, type of health care system for this country, consistent with the wishes of the Democratic Party's base, particularly organized labor and an increasing number of health care professionals. But she did not.
In light of the tremendously important election this year, she could have insisted on enacting some measure of election integrity to prevent another election being held where the announced outcome is truly in doubt. But she did not.
She could have taken her seat at the table as the one player in the room with the winning hand, but she did not.
Instead, she assumed the position of the beautiful girl in the short skirt holding the platter of drinks, serving the men at the table. She could have been the leader and spokesperson for us all, but she is not.
It is clear that our country is at a financial crossroad, and the times call for courageous, daring acts on behalf of the people from those gifted with leadership positions. That, too, is not happening.
From the myriad writings that I have read, including those of former Comptroller General David Walker, it is clear that the financial status of our country is subject to get worse before it gets better. The Bush-Pelosi-Reid bailout exacerbates the situation because the fundamentals of the economy were not dealt with in what is perhaps the most massive transfer of wealth in our modern history. And while the money could have gone to people in need and for programs contributing to the public good, preparing our country for the future, it did not.
I published two papers outlining fourteen points that the Congress could have implemented even without a bailout, but most certainly should have implemented with one. The second paper, written on my son's birthday, was entitled, "A Birthday Gift for a Generation: A U.S. Financial System of Our Own."
Taken in conjunction with the Power to the People Committee's platform available on the campaign website at (http://votetruth08.com/index.php/resources/campaignplatform), those fourteen points are as follows:
1. Enactment of a foreclosure moratorium now before the next phase of ARM interest rate increases take effect;
2. elimination of all ARM mortgages and their renegotiation into 30- or 40-year loans;
3. establishment of new mortgage lending practices to end predatory and discriminatory practices;
4. establishment of criteria and construction goals for affordable housing;
5. redefinition of credit and regulation of the credit industry so that discriminatory practices are completely eliminated;
6. full funding for initiatives that eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in home ownership;
7. recognition of shelter as a right according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which the U.S. is a signatory so that no one sleeps on U.S. streets;
8. full funding of a fund designed to cushion the job loss and provide for retraining of those at the bottom of the income scale as the economy transitions;
9. close all tax loopholes and repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% of income earners; and
10. fairly tax corporations, denying federal subsidies to those who relocate jobs overseas repeal NAFTA;
11. Appointment of former Comptroller General David Walker to fully audit all recipients of taxpayer cash infusions, including JP Morgan, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG, and to monitor their trading activities into the future;
12. elimination of all derivatives trading;
nationalization of the Federal Reserve and the establishment of a
federally-owned, public banking system that makes credit available for small
businesses, homeowners, manufacturing operations, renewable energy and
infrastructure investments; and
14. criminal prosecution of any activities that violated the law, including conflicts of interest that led to the current crisis.
Michael Ruppert recently wrote on his blog (http://www.mikeruppert.blogspot.com/):
"There is no victory until the paradigm is broken. Until we change the way money works, we change nothing. Right now, the entire economic paradigm of infinite growth is vulnerable, weak, and exposed. The dribble being offered by Obama and McCain only exposes the fact that everything is broken; that the system itself is the enemy."
Everyone can see that the system is broken: a system that was not created to serve the people of this country. It was totally within Pelosi's purview and that of the Democratic Party to change all of that, but they didn't. In fact, I'm shocked by some of my former colleagues who voted for this bill, particularly the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus who supported this. With this vote, and the failures of the Democratic Party up to now, it should be patently clear that the Democratic Party cannot reflect our values because it is in complete obeisance to someone else's.
The elected leadership of both the Democratic and Republican parties should resign.
That's why I can hear Kenny Rogers's sweet voice wafting through the air now:
"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.
Now ev'ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
Cause ev'ry hand's a winner and ev'ry hand's a loser,
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep."
However strong the Big Boys might appear after the October 3rd bailout vote, they still have a "leak" in their game: the people get to vote on November 4th. And that's the biggest "scare card" in the entire deck!
Power to the People!