Palin shows her animosity towards Mother Earth

NFIC Columnists Doug George Kanentiio

By Doug George-Kanentiio©
News From Indian Country 9-08

georgedoug-for-web.jpgWhen Skennenrahowi walked among the Iroquois 850 years ago he sought not only to bring an end to war through the creation of the Great Law of Peace but also created a society in which women were assured of their natural liberties as free human beings.

He acknowledged that women were the lifegivers of the planet and as such carried a great responsibility to nurture and protect our sacred mother earth for all time to come. Along with this status came great political and spiritual powers for it was the women who cultivated the land and it was they who determined how its resources were to be distributed.

Along with this came the task of overseeing all of our political activities for it was they who selected our leaders and when necessary impeached them for breach of duty.

The world of the Haudenosaunee was decidedly feminine. The original being was a female and from her came all subsequent humans. The spiritual lives of the Iroquois revolved around grandmother moon and much of our music celebrated women.

Skennenrahowi was wise enough to see that men, as lifetakers, needed balance so he created a system whereby Iroquois women held veto authority over war and peace. It was they who decided on all issues involving the taking of human life.

Iroquois women were, and are, strong in their defense of this heritage.

They have become advocates for the protection of other species as well for they know we exist only insofar as we are sensitive to our dependency on plants, animals, wind and water – all of which have spiritual substance and the right to exist beyond human designs.

So it comes as a great sorrow to see many Americans celebrate the rise of the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to a position of unique power.

This person has largely discarded her feminine duties as a lifegiver so she may “succeed” in a masculine oriented society.

As a governor she has endorsed the murder of animals such as wolves and bears by shooting them from airplanes as a depraved type of “sport.” Her administration has offered $150 for the limb of a wolf, much as Americans used to give rewards for the scalps of Native men, women and children.

Palin believes that wolves are effecting the number of “game” animals such as moose and elk. Her big game hunter supporters hate wolves and are ready to slaughter them by the thousands using airplanes, poison bait or traps.

Anyone who has seen film as to how wolves are pursued by airplanes to the point of exhaustion then shot with a high caliber rifle has to be sickened by this practice just as they must be when they learn the State of Alaska wants to apply the same methods to bears including cubs. This so the “hunters” can affix the heads of their trophy catches on rec room walls.

Palin is also an advocate for drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge so Americans may have a few days worth of oil for their cars and trucks. Such drilling will enrich the very oil companies she boasts of having defeated for control of the Alaskan legislature.

She derides government officials in Washington but eagerly seeks federal funds for projects ranging from a sports complex to the massive construction of a natural gas pipeline from the north shore of Alaska to the port of Valdez. This will be paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars even while she claims that, if elected, the Republicans will curtail this kind of spending.

Palin also supported the infamous “bridge to nowhere” in which U.S. Senator Ted Stevens sought $250,000,000 from the federal government to connect an island of 50 residents with the town of Ketchikan. Palin only dropped her endorsement when the bridge became the object of ridicule.

Another example of environmental callousness at odds with her duties as a lifegiver is her support for open pit mining, in particular one to be built near Bristol Bay. Opponents maintain the mine will pollute the waters which feed into the Bay and bring great harm to the coastal fishing regions.

Then there is her denial that human beings are the primary cause of global warming. She acknowledges there is climate changes but adheres to the radical Republican stance that this event is not urgent enough to require immediate action such as protecting species which will be greatly effected by the warming of Alaska. She has opposed laws which will place the polar bear on the endangered species list.

Palin has also sought to interfere in the rights of Alaskans to read what they will by seeking to ban books she considers offensive to her political and spiritual beliefs.

She seeks an absolute ban of the right of women to choose except in instances when the survival of the mother is at stake. If you are the victim of rape or incest you will have the bear the fetus regardless of the trauma of such an experience.

Under Haudenosaunee procedures Palin would be excluded from leadership not only for her callousness towards the earth but her violations of natural law. She demonstrates self righteousness and anger, promotes fear and distorts the truth.

Governor Palin is no friend of those Indigenous peoples who retain their sensitivity towards a world in need of healing, to those who seek to address the ecological threats under which we all live.

New Friends of the Earth Ad Ties Nuclear Loan Guarantees to Bush Bailout

New Friends of the Earth Ad Ties Nuclear Loan Guarantees to Bush Bailout

Loan guarantees sought by nuclear industry for reactor construction amount to ‘preemptive bailout,’ with expected default rate of 50 percent or higher

WASHINGTON – September 29 – A new ad from Friends of the Earth accuses nuclear industry lobbyists of seeking a “preemptive bailout” from Congress in the form of risky, taxpayer-backed loan guarantees from Congress.

“First the government bails out the banks, now all of Wall Street, at a cost of over 1 trillion dollars.  So why would taxpayers ever risk billions to build nuclear power plants?” the ad asks.  “With cheaper, safer alternatives, why is Congress even considering a preemptive bailout for nuclear power?”

Nuclear industry executives admit that nuclear power is so financially risky that federal loan guarantees are the only way new plants will get built.  For example, Michael J. Wallace, the co-chief executive of UniStar Nuclear, told the New York Times last year that “without loan guarantees we will not build nuclear power plants.”  Unfortunately, the Congressional Research Service says such guarantees could leave taxpayers with “potentially large losses.”  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the risk of default on a nuclear loan guarantee is “very high-well above 50 percent.”

“The fact that we’re already looking at a trillion-dollar bailout for the financial services industry ought to take an additional bailout for the nuclear industry off the table,” Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder said.  “There are cleaner, safer, more affordable ways to address the energy crisis.  A multibillion-dollar preemptive bailout for the nuclear industry in the form of risky loan guarantees is not the answer.”

Friends of the Earth is encouraging Americans who don’t want billions of their tax dollars to be spent bailing out the nuclear industry to join our campaign at http://www.foe.org.

The ad can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK_cOCu1hrQ

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2008/09/29-5

Native Cigarettes

NYC Targets Smoke Shop Sales to Bootleggers

September 29, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City is suing eight smoke shops that have been selling tax-free cigarettes on an Indian reservation.

The lawsuit accuses the small cluster of shops on the Poospatuck (POOS’-puh-tuhk) Indian Reservation of breaking state and federal law by selling massive quantities of cigarettes to bootleggers, who then smuggle the cartons off the Long Island reservation and resell them throughout the metropolitan area.

The practice has existed for years, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration says it costs the city and state hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost tax revenue.

Tribal authorities have long acknowledged that smuggling is a problem, but they defend the right of the shops to sell cigarettes without collecting state tobacco taxes.

http://reznetnews.org/article/smoke-shops/nyc-targets-smoke-shop-sales-bootleggers

TransCanada must prove it respects Lubicon rights

TransCanada must prove it respects Lubicon rights

September 29, 2008 |

Chief Bernard Ominayak of the Lubicon Cree Nation has (once again) informed TransCanada that the Lubicon are “prepared to consider talking with TransCanada about [their] proposal to build a major new gas pipeline across unceded Lubicon Territory,” in a letter dated September 9, 2008.

However, Chief Ominayak states that such a meeting depends on the Crown corporation respecting Lubicon rights, something that must begin with the “suspension of TransCanada’s application [...] to build that pipeline without first obtaining Lubicon agreement.”

These words come in response to an August 29th letter by Eric Mohun, TransCanada’s Aboriginal Relations spokesperson. In his letter, Mohun attempts to assure Chief Ominayak that “TransCanada [...] recognizes and respects Lubicon Land, and with this recognition, we are sincerely interested in meeting with Chief and Council, hear of the issues and needs of the community and to arrive at a mutually acceptable decision that will be in accordance with Lubicon Nation interests.”

Mohun’s words sound promising, but then it’s easy to say one thing and then do the exact opposite.

If the company is truly prepared to sit down with the Lubicon, they first have to respect the Lubicon’s request and pull back from the pipeline.

Then they will have to engage in a meaningful process of consultation and consent.

If TransCanada fails to do this — if instead they continue to undermine, infantilize, and ignore the Lubicon while pushing forward with the pipeline, then as the Friends of the Lubicon have just pointed out, TransCanada is headed toward an imminent confrontation with the Lubicon Nation.

Recent history surrounding indigenous rights in Canada shows us that, if it comes to a confrontation, the Crown corporation is ultimately going to lose.

To read Eric Mohun’s letter and Chief Ominayak’s response, please see: TransCanada proceeding toward confrontation with Lubicon?. I also recommend you have a look at: Lubicon response to outrageous propaganda masquerading as newspaper reporting.

What You Can Do

  • If you would like to support the Lubicon, consider writing a letter to Harold Kvisle, Transcanada’s CEO, c/o his “Associate” Janna Laberge at: janna_laberge@transcanada.com
  • To learn more about the Lubicon and their struggle, please visit the Friends of the Lubicon Alberta website.

http://intercontinentalcry.org/transcanada-must-prove-it-respects-lubicon-rights/

US envoy heads to NKorea in bid to save nuclear deal

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill
©2008 Google – Map data ©2008 AND, NFGIS, ZENRIN, Europa Technologies – Terms of Use

US envoy heads to NKorea in bid to save nuclear deal

SEOUL (AFP) — US negotiator Christopher Hill headed Tuesday for Seoul and will travel on to Pyongyang in an attempt to save a North Korean nuclear disarmament deal that appears close to collapse.

Hill will visit the North Korean capital at the invitation of its leaders, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters.

It was unclear who Hill would meet in Pyongyang or how long he would stay there.

The United States and its partners are alarmed that a hard-won, six-nation disarmament agreement reached with the hardline communist regime in February 2007 is crumbling away.

The aid-for-disarmament deal has hit several roadblocks before — but this latest dispute, over US-led demands for strict procedures to verify the North’s nuclear disclosures, is seen as the most serious.

Rice’s deputy spokesman Robert Wood said Monday that Washington is “very concerned about some of the reversal of disablement activities that the North has been engaged in.”

North Korea, accusing Washington of breaking the pact, announced last week it would begin restarting its plutonium reprocessing plant within a week and ordered UN atomic inspectors to quit the building at Yongbyon.

The North, which tested an atomic weapon in October 2006, is estimated to have produced enough plutonium for around six bombs before Yongbyon was shut down last year.

Analysts believe it could produce enough material for one more bomb if it resumes reprocessing of spent reactor fuel rods.

Any breakdown in the disarmament deal would also rob the administration of US President George W. Bush of a foreign policy success before he leaves the White House in January.

“The secretary (Rice) obviously believes it’s important for Chris to go out to the region, particularly to go to Pyongyang, to get a sense on the ground as to what’s going on,” Wood told reporters.

Hill will have talks in Seoul with his South Korean counterpart Kim Sook, then go on to Beijing and Tokyo after his Pyongyang visit.

The six-party talks, which began in 2003, group the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, China and Japan.

The US embassy here could not say whether he would travel overland across the heavily fortified inter-Korean border, or fly from a US airbase.

Hill — who will be accompanied on his mission by the State Department’s Korea office director Sung Kim — will also “talk with North Korean officials about why they’ve taken the steps they’ve taken,” Wood added.

The North shut down Yongbyon in July 2007 and began disabling the plants in November that year. In return it was to receive one million tons of fuel oil or equivalent energy aid, and the United States was to remove it from a terrorism blacklist.

However Washington refuses to delist the North until the communist state accepts the verification protocol.

The North says that verification is not part of this stage of the deal and accuses the United States of violating its dignity by seeking “house searches” as in Iraq.

In an editorial Monday, The New York Times said hardliners such as US Vice President Dick Cheney were largely to blame for the current deadlock by trying to make the North accept a verification programme “that only a state vanquished in war might accept.”

Wood denied that US demands are excessive, saying the six-nation delegation chiefs in July had agreed verification principles.

“We’re talking about a standard verification package. This is not onerous. It’s not unusual in terms of trying to verify activities that may have taken place,” he said.

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gvd-1zugAuDBqrGZZxtswVOhRgdw

Better Radiation Protection for Patients

Better Radiation Protection for Patients

Radiation Exposure Growing from CT Scans, X-rays for Varied Reasons

IAEA General Conference

29 September 2008
WINS

The use of X-rays in medical care is growing in developing countries, and the IAEA is supporting efforts to strengthen quality assurance programmes for radiography at hospitals and clinics. (Credit: IAEA)

Say It!

Patients in many countries need better protection from unwanted exposure to radiation during medical exams and treatment, nuclear regulators and health practitioners are warning. In some countries, doses are not well controlled, while in others problems are linked to weak regulatory oversight or medical workers who lack training.

The topic was featured at the IAEA General Conference 29 September at a briefing organized by the French Presidency of the European Union.

Medical care is the largest source of human exposure to ionizing radiation outside of nature. Exposures are increasing through advances in X-ray technologies and medical imaging systems – such as computerized tomography (CT) scans – and the growing complexity of procedures. Each year, for example, ionizing radiation is used worldwide in 4000 million diagnostic procedures, and up to 8 million radiotherapy treatments, notes Ms. Renate Czarwinski, an IAEA expert heading the section on Radiation Safety and Monitoring.

Adding to the picture are reports of accidental, unintended, or unnecessary exposures. In France, for example, health officials found that more than 100 patients were overexposed earlier this year. Elsewhere, oversight is often missing, or medical personnel are not properly trained.

Ms. Beatrice Mwape, a medical imaging specialist at Zambia´s Ministry of Health, told the briefing that the country is not equipped to manage or control radiation exposures because of poor equipment and inadequate dosimetry and radiation protection guidelines and training.

In Kenya, a main problem, and one which the IAEA is examining closely, concerns “second hand” or refurbished imaging equipment that lacks the software to control or manage the patient dose, says Ms. Jeska Wambani, who heads the Radiation Protection Board. She urged the establishment of a regional centre in Africa to support effective dose documentation and the training of medical personnel in best practices.

The briefing was opened by French Ambassador Francois-Xavier Deniau and moderated by Ms. Eliana Amara, Director of the IAEA Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety. It featured presentations by Ms. Czarwinski; Dr. Augustin Janssens of the European Commission, Prof. Michel Bourguignon of France, and Dr. Patrick Smeesters of Belgium.

Background:

The IAEA and partners have placed increasingly emphasis on the radiation protection of patients over the past decade. Partners include the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan-American Health Organization the European Commission, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), among others.

The IAEA General Conference last year emphasied the importance of progress in the implementation of an International Action Plan for the Radiological Protection of Patients, especially the development of training material for health personnel and guidance documents on radiation protection in newer imaging technology. The Conference revisits the topic this week.

Later this month, Argentina hosts the 12th International Congress of the International Radiation Protection Association.

See Story Resources for more information.

http://www.iaea.or.at/NewsCenter/News/2008/betterprotect.html

Controversy over unauthorized raises leads to downfall

Controversy over unauthorized raises leads to downfall

Nevada’s Nuclear Projects Commission accepted the resignation Monday of Bob Loux, the man who for 23 years led the state’s charge against federal plans to bury nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain and whose career now ends marred by controversy over unauthorized pay raises.

The seven-member commission, led by former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, decided unanimously to accept Loux’s resignation and allowed him to continue to serve as executive director of the State Nuclear Projects Agency until his replacement is chosen by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

That process is expected to take at least six weeks.

“It’s clear to me now this issue of my employment and other related issues have become too big of a distraction to the overall effort,” Loux, 59, said as he apologized to the commission and to the public for giving himself and other agency staffers unauthorized pay increases of up to 16 percent.

“I think it’s appropriate at this point in time that I do step down from this position,” he said.

Bryan acknowledged that Loux, the agency’s only executive director since it was created by state lawmakers in 1985, had “ably advised four governors.” He also said Loux has steered the state’s effort against the planned high-level nuclear waste repository, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, to a crucial point. The Department of Energy’s plans are now entering a lengthy licensing review by nuclear regulators.

But, Bryan said, Loux’s unauthorized pay raises to himself and his staff were “an indefensible lapse of judgment.”

“Obviously the actions that you’ve taken with respect to your own pay are things that have been greatly troubling to all of us,” Bryan said.

Loux has admitted that last year he gave his entire staff, including himself, salaries that exceeded what was authorized by Legislature. He told the commission he thought he had the latitude to do so because of a state employee classification created when Kenny Guinn was governor in 1999. Essentially, he said, he redistributed money to himself and his staff that would have been paid to an employee who left.

Loux contended the agency never exceeded the budget or salaries allowed by the governor’s chart.

But he sought permission a few weeks ago from the Interim Finance Committee to transfer money from the agency’s current budget to cover $500,000 he had overspent last year. The request included $72,000 for additional retirement and benefit expenses for himself and his staff that had not been factored in when he increased salaries beyond legal limits.

Upon learning that, Gibbons called for Loux’s resignation. The governor then sent a letter Thursday to Bryan and other commission members that said he had ordered that the salaries in question be corrected to the approved amounts and asked that the Department of Personnel obtain repayment of the excess salaries.

“This action will ensure that the general fund is reimbursed for any salary overpayments and will also ensure that any retirement benefits to employees of the Agency for Nuclear Projects are based on the correct salary levels,” Gibbons wrote.

Gibbons’ chief of staff, Josh Hicks, said Monday that Loux’s salary has been rolled back to the 2006 budgeted amount of $104,497. Loux’s retirement will be based on a percentage of his three highest pay years, excluding the unauthorized salary increases.

“We’re still in the process of ironing everything out,” Hicks said, referring to an audit Gibbons ordered. It will “determine how far back overpayments go; then we’ll determine any corrective action.”

In a statement, Gibbons said the commission’s action to accept Loux’s resignation “sends a strong message that fiscal accountability must be maintained.”

Before Bryan called for a vote to accept Loux’s resignation with the condition that he serve until his successor is hired, he said, “This is a sad day for all of us.”

After the meeting, Bryan said he had many conversations with Loux after the salary issue surfaced. “He recognized in light of the public outcry that existed that he needed to submit his resignation. He used the term, ‘stepping down,’ and we accepted his offer.”

Commissioner Steven Molasky was absent during the meeting at the Las Vegas City Council chambers. Commissioner Joan Lambert participated by telephone.

In public comments, several people praised Loux’s service but a couple of his critics, including Stuart Waymire, said that Loux, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nevada, Reno, did not have credentials for the job.

“There must be at least a thousand people in Nevada who have better expertise than Bob Loux,” Waymire said.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.

Millstone makes deal with environmental groups

Millstone makes deal with environmental groups

WATERFORD, Conn. – Two environmental groups say they have reached an agreement with the state and the Millstone nuclear power complex in Waterford to speed up plans to reduce the plant’s effect on Long Island Sound.

At issue is whether Millstone will install a water recycling system that would reduce the amount of water the plant pulls out of Long Island Sound to cool its reactors.

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment says Millstone now pumps more than 2 billion gallons out of the sound every day in a process that kills billions of fish and other sea creatures. The group says a recycling system would reduce the fish kill by up to 98 percent.

Millstone, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Soundkeeper Incorporated and the state agreed Monday to speed up the process for updating Millstone’s water discharge permit. Environmental activists say the deal will reduce what could have been a 15-year process to three years.

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/connecticut/ny-bc-ct–millstone-environ0930sep30,0,870499.story

Uranium fortress dedicated

Uranium fortress dedicated

Storage site at Y-12 is believed to be impenetrable

OAK RIDGE — Several congressional representatives were stuck in Washington to work on the Wall Street bailout dilemma and had to be scrapped from Monday’s program at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant.

But there was still a powerful turnout — nearly 1,000 people total, including many business and community leaders — to celebrate the government’s new fortress for weapons-grade uranium.

Ron Wantland, an engineer who heads Y-12’s operational security group, said he believes the storage site is impenetrable. “It’s one of the most secure places on the face of the Earth as far as … trying to enter,” he said.

Wantland said it’s also hardened enough to withstand an airplane crash.

“A general aviation crash for sure,” he said. How about the type of airline crash seen on 9/11? “It’s very possible, yes,” he said.

Construction of the $549 million Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility was completed recently, and attention now turns to installing and testing systems at the high-security site. Loading of the uranium stocks will begin around 2010, if the necessary approvals come as anticipated. The massive storehouse required 91,000 cubic yards of concrete and more than 5,800 tons of rebar to construct. It is designed to protect the large cache of U-235 against any type of terrorist assault, according to federal and contractor officials.

Y-12 historically has been called the Fort Knox of Uranium, but Ted Sherry, the federal manager at Y-12, said Monday it’s time to rethink that nickname. “I don’t think Fort Knox has anything that looks like this,” Sherry said.

Butch Clements, vice president for safeguards, security and emergency services at B&W Technical Services, the government contractor at Y-12, said the uranium storage facility can be modified as necessary in the future to meet any “credible” terrorist threats that develop.

“It ensures that our protective force goes home at the end of the day and the adversary doesn’t,” Clements said.

Caddell-Blaine, a construction partnership that includes Blaine Construction of Knoxville, built the facility over the past four years on the west end of Y-12.

The storage facility is considered a key part of the modernization program at Y-12, and Oak Ridge officials hope a proposed multibillion dollar production center — known as the Uranium Processing Facility — will be built next door to it.

Robert Smolen, a deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, confirmed Monday that Y-12 is the preferred site for the Uranium Processing Facility. The proposed facility received the endorsement of A.J. Eggenberger, chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, who attended Monday’s event in Oak Ridge.

Eggenberger has expressed strong concerns about nuclear safety conditions at Y-12’s Cold War-era production center, and he said the Uranium Processing Facility would have inherently safe systems and many features to protect nuclear workers.

Senior writer Frank Munger may be reached at 865-342-6329.

Now We Need Leadership

Now We Need Leadership

Tue Sep 30, 2008 at 07:00:05 AM PDT

Now that the first vote on the Paulson plan has failed, and barring alien invasion or other game-changer of planetary scope, it seems one of the following things will happen. We’ll assume from the outset that neither Bush nor the Republican leadership has control of their own caucus, and it seems a demonstrable fact that McCain does not. That leaves:
1. A Paulson Plan, But Miniaturized. It may be that a lot more people will sign off on a $200 billion dollar bailout than would sign onto a $700 billion dollar one. I’m not convinced that would actually work, however, and I’m presuming Paulson has been saying that too. The whole premise of the Paulson Plan is to ride in with so much freakin’ money that you can stabilize the entire mortgage-related marketplace: shock and awe for the financial sector. If you have much less money, it doesn’t follow that you’d stabilize squat. It might just create an initial rush, benefiting few, followed by the same systemic collapse when the initial money ran out.

I’m not one who’s been fond of the Paulson plan, and it’s not because I don’t understand or respect the (rather audacious) logic behind it: I just suspect it to be so obviously prone to corruption and corporate abuse as to be unworkable. There are some fixes that could be made, but likely the “easiest” shift would be for the House to simply cut the plan by two-thirds and declare their task done, saying they’re revisit it later. It’d be dumb and insincere and quite possibly futile or even harmful in practice, and absolutely none of those things would stop it from being considered.
2. Paulson Plan With Conservative Shift. The House can attempt to pass the bill by loading it up with things that the conservatives want, hoping to persuade them. This seems unlikely to work: if the Republicans really are against any bailout based on their (cough) conservative principles, that would seem a non-starter. And any substantive concession to them seems impossible, or at least deeply stupid: proposals like “suspend the capital gains tax” paint the conservatives as more interested in privateering for the rich than actually helping solve the situation. We’re not seeing class riots yet, but if the primary result of this Wall Street meltdown was that Wall Street got out of paying their taxes, I think the pitchfork and torch industries would see a banner Christmas.

So that seems a blind alley. The hardcore conservatives can’t bring themselves to vote for anything that smacks of “socialism”, which pretty much would kill any possible useful approach. And their own proposals are asinine money grabs that would do nothing to solve the problem — the Democrats would deserve whatever scorn the public dished out on them, if they went along with anything even approaching their “solutions.”
3. Paulson Plan With Leftward Shift. The House can attempt to pass the Paulson bailout plan by “owning” it, including strong measures to help homeowners and the general public, and telling the Republicans to get bent. (You know, like many of us were urging them to do, to little substantive effect.) That’ll lose them most Republican support, but the premise would be that it would gain them more Democrats. The House could fundamentally alter the rules of the bailout in order to much more forcefully demand taxpayers be treated as investors in the companies benefiting from the plan: something akin to the 1992 Swedish plan.

This would have the benefit of, you know, actually working. Or at least being more likely to, since it is a more tested solution, and would by design discourage abuse of the program. Including at least some economic stimulus would help boost the economy such that, in theory, less intervention would be needed. Getting rid of “help” for financially sound companies would make things more palatable. Instituting a minor market transaction tax seems an absolute no-brainer, and should have been done long before now. Executive compensation caps? Meh. Compared to other far more vital structural requirements, it pales in immediate importance. The bailout plan that failed was weak-kneed in the compromise areas, and even then didn’t get GOP support, which means the GOP support was never gettable in the first place.

As far as actually demanding taxpayer equity in the afflicted companies, yes: some Republicans would indeed scream “nationalization,” primarily because they are dunderheads. But if your financial sector manages to collapse into a black hole of incompetence, book-cooking or generally irrational behavior, and furthermore manages to foul things up so badly that it is threatening to take the entire world economy with it, a short-term nationalization or whatever-you-want-to-call-it of collapsed companies hardly seems a surprising or outrageous intervention. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. The CEO’s in question should instead thank heavens that this is the new millennium, and modern governments have no plan to place their severed heads on pikes as a warning to others. Viva progress!

The common assumption, however, is that Bush would veto any plan that either provided substantial economic stimulus or taxpayer equity. Quite possibly — though that’d be one hell of a gutsy veto, with the entire economy on the line. Certainly, if he vetoed it the Republicans would make sure the veto stuck, depression or no depression.
4) A New Damn Plan. The Congress can abandon the Paulson bailout plan entirely, and craft something different — radically different. A bottom-up economic stimulus plan coupled with some short-term liquidity boosts; a radical plan for failing financial companies; buying every American a puppy. Who knows.

What’s frustrating about this entire process is that it has been absolutely devoid of leadership. Bush is nothing but a paper doll standing in the background; nobody honestly expects he even understands the problem, much less has any confidence that he can rustle support for a workable plan. He has zero credibility left, even with his own party. Likewise, McCain has been, shall we say, unhelpful — jumping to and from positions like an over-caffeinated child who’s gotten into the coffee-flavored ice cream. He’s shown no leadership, only campaign bluster. The Republican leadership itself is clearly not in control of their own caucus — ironic indeed, given how often they have held their caucus in complete lockstep for years for even the most trivial and ridiculous of votes, only to have it fall apart now, when the economy of the nation is on the line.

And Democrats? Well, the Democrats haven’t displayed anything resembling leadership either. They accepted the Paulson plan at face value, content to use it as the base upon which they could attach minor changes. There has been no substantive discussion of other possible plans. There has been no attempt to come up with a “Democratic” solution. No economists have been queried in order to find out what an alternate plan might even look like.

That is a failure of leadership — and in a financial crisis, no less. Bush, the Republicans, the Democrats — in all of Washington, there seems not one damn group worthy of confidence. Paulson deserves some credit for even coming up with a plan for people to shoot arrows into, given that it’s a hell of a lot more than anyone else in power has done.

This is the same failure to lead that has marked this entire Congress. Time and time again, the Democrats have been content to let their opponents set the agenda, and have been reduced to constantly reacting to developments instead of controlling them. It is a dysfunction that seems in no hurry to self-correct; heaven help us, dealing with a financial crisis at a time when there seems nobody in the entire government up to the task.

This leads, alarmingly, to the fifth possibility for what’s next:
5) We Do Nothing. This seems the most likely of all the scenarios, and would be the most damaging one. As in, very, very bad. The financial sector does need an intervention: the only question is how it should be done. Given that a large segment of the Republican congress has absolutely no interest in such an intervention, it falls to everyone else to come up with one — and it’s not clear that, given the divisions, anything has the votes to pass.

That’s the key difficulty, here. I do not consider this first failure of the Paulson plan to be cause for alarm — far from it, it was a crappy bill, even with the “compromises” installed — but the dynamics surrounding the defeat may very well be alarming, because our capability for doing anything substantive has now run headlong into the functional and ideological divide that has paralyzed the Bush economy since Bush first seized control of it.

Let’s take the Republicans at their word, and presume they’re not going to vote for any “bailout”, nor any “nationalization”, or “socialism”, or anything else that would inject government into the crisis in a significant way. Well, that’s a problem, because without government intervention we’re all but assured the crisis is going to get much, much worse. Their ideas? Tax cuts. More tax cuts. That’s pretty much all they’re interested in.

The Democrats can attempt something without them, but a plan of their own making may very well run into the immobile object that is the Bush administration — an ideological hole so deep that nothing the slightest bit functional or non-reactionary can escape from it.

And Bush himself? Good God. I can’t imagine a worse time for The Worst President In History to be in office. You can practically hear the markets collapsing every time he speaks, at this point.
The precipitous drop of the markets, in the wake of the unexpected failure of this first vote, will certainly light a fire under all parties. What’s not clear, though, is that there’s any middle ground that can be reached, if the Republicans really are that determined to foil any government intervention.

In short, every truly useful option seems impossible, and every expected source of leadership has come up painfully dry. We may be completely screwed — at least until January. And that is much, much too long.

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