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Barry Crimmins

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He wasn't Ole Miss Congeniality Tuesday, September 30, 2008

 He wasn039t Ole Miss Congeniality
NOTE: I went up on the roof Saturday to take a look at the chimney prior to heating season and hammered my wrist (Steep roof, sudden increase of gravity, quick grab of chimney with hand at extreme angle = YEOW!). It's pretty painful and makes typing rather difficult. It makes typos rather easy so please accept my preemptive apologies.

I had most of the following written before my imprudent ascension and although it isn't exactly hot out of the oven, I did manage to finish cleaning it up this morning by typing with my good hand and so for posterity....

Living in/under a political system that's all but limited to two parties that represent views spanning from the center-right to the far right (when measured by international standards) makes foreign policy debates between those two parties sure to be disputes about where the United States should concentrate on killing people. Dennis Perrin corroborated this sad truth with a brilliant piece of satire concerning Friday night's John McCain/Barack Obama clash at the University of Mississippi.

Outside of reiterating that our economy would be fine if we would simply face up to our national addiction to foreign wars and if we'd acknowledge that militarism is poison to our country and even more lethal to uncounted innocents around the globe, there isn't much for me to say, except to analyze how it may have influenced voters.

So here's what I took from McCain v. Obama re: foreign policy.
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Considering how quickly he seems to be losing his grip on reality, McCain was wise to reverse his announced plan to skip the Mississippi debate to focus on economic grandstanding. Because he showed up Friday night, he doesn't have to run the risk of having the debate rescheduled for a few weeks from now when it might not be necessary for him to pretend he doesn't recognize Barack Obama, as he did throughout the evening at Ole Miss. After attempting to excuse his antisocial behavior with his calcified, never funny admission that he isn't "Miss Congeniality," McCain spent the night illustrating that he could be as twisted physically as he is politically. His profane body language caused him to appear to be possessed by a unique blend of fascism and autism. While twisting and turning ever further away each time his opponent spoke, McCain couldn't have looked any more ready to blow up had he a lit fuse burning on top of his scrotum-faced head.

According to pollsters, this hurt him badly with the crucial undecided simpleton demographic. Up until Friday, these folks hadn't shown the good sense to run in the other direction when they saw a cranky old men who employs devices so trite, cliched and emotionally manipulative that Lee Greenwood would reject them out of hand. Throughout the debate, McCain unwittingly demonstrated his approach to foreign policy with his aversive treatment of Sen. Obama by ignoring his enemy until he attacked him.

Relentless attempts to guilt us into supporting him because he was shot down and captured during America's imperialistic assault on Southeast Asia (allegedly fighting for your freedom from Ho Chi Minh) were sewn into the lining of his every assertion that he alone is moral enough to put the snarl on the puss of the USA's carnivorous foreign policy. The foggily furious Republican came off as just another shattered old vet, responding poorly to the latest course of meds the VA is testing on him for Big Pharma.

Still, John McCain is one of two people who could take the oath of office come January. (OK, three if you consult actuarial tables) So if you're droolingly stupid, horrendously ill-informed and bubbling with self-contempt, Whispering Johnny is probably your man. This means you should ring the bell or ask your attendant about how to either get an absentee ballot or arrange for a field trip to the polling place on November 4.
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The rest of you understand that McCain is as dim as he is impatient and angry. Only a sap would celebrate (as he did Friday night) a bunch of American soldiers who re-upped while still in Iraq, believing that they signed back on because of a deep and altruistic patriotism. McCain, who spent the night saying "What Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand is...," doesn't understand the main reasons why American soldiers in Iraq would re-enlist. First, some of them surely choose to stay on out of survivor guilt and so they remain at the table to play another round of Deer Hunter Russian roulette. But many more, when given the choice between a back door draft (via stop-loss) or re-signing the dotted line and getting a cash bonus, know which end of the gun to point away from themselves. The fact that these soldiers are coerced in this fashion only underscores what a dismal failure this war occupation has been, and how horrendously wrong McCain's jingoistic of this disaster continues to be.

Friday night the Arizona senator presented himself as a grumpy incumbent with nothing but knowing disdain for Washington and all that it stands for, himself excluded. His failure to pull off this charade conveniently leaves Obama as the earnest but slightly naive student council candidate who is visiting the White House for a day and dreams what things look like from behind the President's. After Friday's debate, American political fence-sitters are much more likely to say, "Take a look, young man."

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This and that.... I'm no more freaked out by the shifty economy this morning than I have been for years. We will get nowhere until American workers stop investing their life savings in corporations whose "profitability" hinges on fucking over workers. The market plunge? Big traders punished us for ordering Congress not to pay the fat cat extortion demand. They will buy back the stocks they dumped at a bargain and profit twice from their seedy manipulations. Along the way, they'll provoke panic and break the resolve of the House to say "Not so fast!" and get their bailout ransom, as well. This is what you call having things tilted in your favor. No matter what happens, things are rigged for the Robber Barons and against us serfs.)

Sam Smith of the Progressive Review followed the money down the drain on this fiasco and makes it clear that if we don't look at "bottom-up" solution, taxpayers will, um, take it up the bottom.

Smith writes:
The most recent owner, Phyllis High Jones, refinanced the house through Countrywide Home Loans in 2006, taking out a $208,000 mortgage that would gradually inflate to $226,000. That same year, Fannie Mae bought the loan from Countrywide. Then the housing market collapsed in Prince William County. Jones defaulted this year. The townhouse went up for auction, but there were no takers. Fannie Mae had no choice but to become the buyer of record -- sale price $226,000. This summer, Fannie Mae tried to sell the townhouse for $149,000. Still no reasonable offers. The price has now been lowered to $69,900."

By current bookkeeping, that is a $226,000 loss added to the federal books. But did it have to be? Unless she was trying to sell her home, the fact that the housing market collapsed doesn't explain Jones' default. More likely the increase in the mortgage and/or some personal problems made it impossible for her to cover it. Thus what appears to be a $266,000 loss may in reality only have been one as small as $18,000 (the change in her mortgage) or the $266,000 minus whatever she still able to pay.

Instead of buying the mortgage for $226,000, Fannie Mae could have become a passive equity partner with Jones in the amount of whatever Jones couldn't handled. Let's say Jones could have supported all but $69,900 of her mortgage; Fannie Mae would assume that portion. Today, Jones would still have her house, Fannie Mae would have saved itself $156,100 plus whatever profit it makes on its equity when the house is sold down the road, and there would be no fire sale going on - lowering other house prices in the neighborhood.

Multiply this approach by the 54,000 foreclosed homes Fannie Mae had last June, and the national story changes dramatically.


More essential reading on this from Michael Hudson via Counterpunch

updated: 10 years ago