Tales of the Sausage Factory

Guest Post: Bailout Or Bust

I’m pleased to post a guest blog posting from Professor Alan L. Feld of Boston University School of Law. Two disclaimers are in order. First, the views expressed herein by Prof. Feld are his own, and not those of B.U. Second, he is my Dad — a matter on which I am quite pleased and proud.

For his position on the proposed auto industry bail out, see below . . . .

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Econoklastic

A Recovery Plan Which Would Actually Work (and which isn't designed by the ex-chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs for his buddies)

I have watched with a combination of amazement and horror at the way the Democratic leadership has caved in to demands that Congress enact the Paulson Plan. There are many reasons for opposing this ill-conceived plan, including the facts that it aims only at rescuing the shareholders and unsecured creditors of financial institutions and it was crafted by a former chairman of Goldman Sachs to bail his banker buddies out while leaving the rest of us with a bill for as much as $700 billion. But the worst of it is that it will do very little to address the fundamental credit contraction arising from deflation of a massive housing bubble which underlies the current crisis, as evidenced by the continued worsening of money markets even after the Senate’s adoption of the revised plan.

I have nearly laughed myself silly at Republican claims that the Paulson Plan amounts to socialism (in fact, it’s far closer to the Mefo Bill scheme that Hjalmar Schacht designed than anything the left would come up with). So I offer a plan designed by a left social democrat that would actually address the economic basis of the current credit crisis (and, thus, a socialist way to really pull capitalism’s chestnuts out of the fire). The plan is heavily influenced by Nouriel Roubini’s excellent analysis — I heartily recommend his blog for extremely insightful discussion of the credit crisis — but goes much further in remedying the underlying flaws in the financial system.

More below….

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Posted in Econoklastic, General | Also tagged , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Final FISA Sellout and My One Last Desperate Push for Sanity

The capacity of the Democratic Leadership to destroy the party will never cease to amaze me. In 2006 the Dems ran to take over Congress on a platform that included, among other things, ending illegal wiretaps on Americans. Now, the same Democrats propose to grant immunity to the telcos who cooperated with the Administration on a theory that — and I kid you not — if we don’t immunize the telcos for breaking the law this time, they might not break the law for us next time. Alternatively, some argue we should not “punish” companies whose only crime was that they cared so deeply about the safety and security of the United States that they “stepped up to the plate” when the President asked them to break the law and spy on people for their own good. Of course, these same selfless, patriotic, noble companies refused to implement judicially authorized wiretaps because the DoJ neglected to pay the fees. But it appears that Republicans, and now a sufficient number of Democrats, understand that we cannot expect patriotism to extend to things that actually cost megacorporations money. You can read this shameful betrayal of everything the Democrats pledged in ’06 here, with EFF’s analysis here.

What makes this more astounding is that there is not a single, rational reason for the Democrats to do this, and every reason not to do it. The Republicans tried to scare monger and make this an issue for them. That tactic failed miserably. You may recall how back last winter when the Republicans pulled out all the usual stops about how this was about national security and blah blah blah. No one bought it. The magic deadlines lapsed and nothing happened.

So either the Democratic Leadership continues to suffer from a pre-11/06 mentality, or they think they can continue to abuse their active base and collect corporate contributions as well. After all, the thinking goes, it’s not like the mainstream electorate cares about this and its not like the netroots are going to vote Republican. So why not treat them the way we’ve treated unions, African Americans, and unions over the years? i.e., talk tough, but cave when it counts because we know there are no consequences for it.

I’ve already made my impassioned plea based on the ideal of the Rule of Law. Now, in a last desperate effort, I shall make my plea based on practicality and — in what is apprently the universal language of party leadership — cash.

Democrats, meet me below . . . .

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Posted in How Democracy Works, Or Doesn't, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Is Nancy Pelosi Possessed By A Demon Trying To Sabotage The Democratic Party? Or Is The “SAFE Act” A Big Yawn?

That’s the question I’m trying to figure out today.

It all has do with the passage last night of yet another bill written by luddites who see Internet access as the work of Satan and don’t care if they are screwing up the lives of actual women and children who depend on cheap access for their education, health care and livelihoods. While such things were a routine election year stunt under the Republicans, it is somewhat shocking to see Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pull something like this. As the Dems used a special parlimentary manuever reserved for “noncontroversial” bills to bring a fresh bill to the floor without any consideration by relevant committees or debates, (let us savor the irony of this happening the same day as the House Commerce Committee hearing labeling Martin’s FCC processes as “broken” for pushing items through in the dead of night without allowing debate or time for consideration) it is clear Pelosi and the House Democratic Leadership view this as something positive and important.

As I discuss below, however, according to the report by Declan McCaluagh, the bill is a potential disaster of epic proportions for poor women and children, minority inner city neighborhoods, and rural areas — all of whom benefit from the growing availability of community-based wifi and municipal wifi projects. And, as a political matter, it will create serious headaches for the Democrats among tech voters, younger voters who actually understand and rely on these servcies, and civil libertarians. Because just as these voters were finally starting to shake the long-standing stereotype of the Dems as the “Nanny State” party and regard the Republicans as the party that is generally anti-tech, anti-civil liberties, and far too obsessed about sex for its own good, in steps Ms. Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership to alienate these guys in time for the ’08 election.

So is Pelosi possessed by a demon out to destroy the Democratic Party’s chances in ’08? Or — as equally Libertarian but usually more careful George Ou suggests — has famed Libertarian and generally anti-Democratic Party reporter (of “Al Gore Claims He Invented the Internet” fame, and, more recently, “Net Neutrality Is Dead and Buried — Thank God”) once again let his prejudices run away with him ad get in the way of accurate reporting? Although frankly, even if Ou is right, I think Pelosi and the Democratic leadership that rushed this through last night have done themselves no favors and — as is so often in the case with bills writen by a cobination of sincere ignoramaces with deep feelings and no sense with cynical political grandstanders — the proposed SAFE Act doesn’t actually do much to solve the real problem of trafficking in child pornography.

More below . . . .

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