March 14th, 2008

Book Cover

Good Morning!



The sun is out in this moment after morning rain.   Jane and I had a good talk and I am busily organizing and creating new files.  We begin a new step, how now to bring forth the book.

I come across these words.


Eckhart Tolle in  Stillness Speaks

"Wisdom is not a product of thought.  The deep knowing that is wisdom arises through the simple act of giving someone or something your full attention.  Attention is primordial intelligence, consciousness itself.  It dissolves the barriers created by conceptual thought, and with this comes the recognition that nothing exists in and by itself.  It joins the perceiver and the perceived in a unifying field of awareness.  It is the healer of separation.”

 

May we live wisely today, with attention.   I have a full day.  I feel full, like a bicycle tire pumped up with air.   I am happy to go round and round feeling connected with all that surrounds.




Book Cover

The economy -




I have purposely not mentioned the economy because it is so depressing but I follow it in the paper and in Calenorn's posts, and I think to myself, no, stay away from it.  Let this be a place of break, of soft morning and evening light, not the harsh noonday sun of exposure without shadow, but when I read this, this morning in the Chronicle, I do not understand how we continue to let Bush destroy this world.   What is going on?

This man not only thinks he is a dictator but acts and influences like one.   He speaks of Freedom.  He has not a clue what the word means. I continue to try to open myself up to the belief  that everyone has a purpose, and we are meant to learn, respect, and respond.  I know that anger is not good for my health,  but I am angry in this moment, and if it is aimed at one man, well, then, this man deserves the hatred that he continues to stir.  I don't know one person who can believe what this man is doing, and that includes people all across the political board.  How can he not be stopped?


Bush intervention led EPA to scale back ozone limits

Friday, March 14, 2008

(03-14) 04:00 PDT Washington --

The Environmental Protection Agency weakened one part of its new limits on smog-forming ozone after an unusual, last-minute intervention by President Bush, according to documents released by the EPA.

EPA officials initially tried to set a lower seasonal limit on ozone to protect wildlife, parks and farmland, as required under federal law. While their proposal was less restrictive than what the EPA's scientific advisers had proposed, Bush overruled EPA officials Tuesday and ordered the agency to raise the limit, according to the documents.

"It is unprecedented and an unlawful act of political interference for the president personally to override a decision that the Clean Air Act leaves exclusively to EPA's expert scientific judgment," said John Walke, clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The president's order prompted a scramble by Bush administration officials to rewrite the regulations to avoid conflicting with past EPA statements on the harm caused by ozone.



The article goes on ..... though our environment may not, thanks to Bush.   What can be his motivation?

I do not understand.  It makes absolutely no sense.   I look up at a cloud now moving, arms flung.  It looks like a Macy's Thanksgiving day float.  What is the message and how do we now respond?

The word "economy" has many definitions.  Here are two from Dictionary.com.

"The management of the resources of a community, country, etc. esp. with a view to its productivity."

"The disposition or regulation of the parts or functions of any organic whole; an organized system or method."

We need to address the economy and organize for the function of an organic whole.  We need to get rid of  Bush.    We keep saying we are almost rid of him, counting the days.  Look at the damage he is doing in the meantime.  He is insane.  He is a cancer, and one does not wait to begin cancer treatment until the host is dead.   









ashes and snow - wings

Great Natural Peace!



I put on a peaceful CD and look out at the Maple trees with their little baby leaves.   They look like little wings,  tiny feathers, little flags, wrinkled crescent moons.

It is spring!

Peace,

Peace,

Peace!!

Book Cover

Rest in Natural Great Peace!!



I have a wonderful teeny-tiny CD called Natural Great Peace.  Sogyal Rinpoche reads the following words inspired by a poem by Nyoshul Khen Rninpoche.


Settle in:



    Rest in natural great peace

    This exhausted mind

       Beaten helpless by karma
             and neurotic thought,

    Like the restless fury of the
             pounding waves,

    In the infinite ocean of samsara.



calder mobile miniature

Poem by Stephanie Anagnosan!



Here is a poem that says it all.



Standards

“Students should know the state standards,”
state officials say, always indignantly,
as if children have simply been playing.

But then I go to the department of education’s web site,
finally finding standards eight clicks in,
and the pdf files are corrupt.



    - Stephanie Anagnoson


egg stone

The Bush Politics -



We all know the mortgage crisis is mighty fishy, and we continue to see the super-rich adding to their riches.  Here is more depressing news.  


The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked 

By Greg Palast
Reporting for Air America Radio’s Clout

Listen to Palast on Clout at www.GregPalast.com

While New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was paying an ‘escort’ $4,300 in a hotel room in Washington, just down the road, George Bush’s new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was secretly handing over $200 billion in a tryst with mortgage bank industry speculators.

Both acts were wanton, wicked and lewd. But there’s a BIG difference. The Governor was using his own checkbook. Bush’s man Bernanke was using ours.

This week, Bernanke’s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.

Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers’ bordello: Eliot Spitzer.

Who are they kidding? Spitzer’s lynching and the bankers’ enriching are intimately tied.

How? Follow the money.

The press has swallowed Wall Street’s line that millions of US families are about to lose their homes because they bought homes they couldn’t afford or took loans too big for their wallets. Ba-LON-ey. That’s blaming the victim.

Here’s what happened. Since the Bush regime came to power, a new species of loan became the norm, the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage and it’s variants including loans with teeny “introductory” interest rates. From out of nowhere, a company called ‘Countrywide’ became America’s top mortgage lender, accounting for one in five home loans, a large chuck of these ‘sub-prime.’

Here’s how it worked: The Grinning Family, with US average household income, gets a $200,000 mortgage at 4% for two years. Their $955 a month payment is 25% of their income. No problem. Their banker promises them a new mortgage, again at the cheap rate, in two years. But in two years, the promise ain’t worth a can of spam and the Grinnings are told to scram - because their house is now worth less than the mortgage. Now, the mortgage hits 9% or $1,609 plus fees to recover the “discount” they had for two years. Suddenly, payments equal 42% to 50% of pre-tax income. Grinnings move into their Toyota.

Now, what kind of American is ‘sub-prime.’ Guess. No peeking. Here’s a hint: 73% of HIGH INCOME Black and Hispanic borrowers were given sub-prime loans versus 17% of similar-income Whites. Dark-skinned borrowers aren’t stupid – they had no choice. They were ‘steered’ as it’s called in the mortgage sharking business.

‘Steering,’ sub-prime loans with usurious kickers, fake inducements to over-borrow, called ‘fraudulent conveyance’ or ‘predatory lending’ under US law, were almost completely forbidden in the olden days (Clinton Administration and earlier) by federal regulators and state laws as nothing more than fancy loan-sharking.

But when the Bush regime took over, Countrywide and its banking brethren were told to party hardy – it was OK now to steer’m, fake’m, charge’m and take’m.

But there was this annoying party-pooper. The Attorney General of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who sued these guys to a fare-thee-well. Or tried to.

Instead of regulating the banks that had run amok, Bush’s regulators went on the warpath against Spitzer and states attempting to stop predatory practices. Making an unprecedented use of the legal power of “federal pre-emption,” Bush-bots ordered the states to NOT enforce their consumer protection laws.

Indeed, the feds actually filed a lawsuit to block Spitzer’s investigation of ugly racial mortgage steering. Bush’s banking buddies were especially steamed that Spitzer hammered bank practices across the nation using New York State laws.

Spitzer not only took on Countrywide, he took on their predatory enablers in the investment banking community. Behind Countrywide was the Mother Shark, its funder and now owner, Bank of America. Others joined the sharkfest: Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup’s Citibank made mortgage usury their major profit centers. They did this through a bit of financial legerdemain called “securitization.”

What that means is that they took a bunch of junk mortgages, like the Grinnings, loans about to go down the toilet and re-packaged them into “tranches” of bonds which were stamped “AAA” - top grade - by bond rating agencies. These gold-painted turds were sold as sparkling safe investments to US school district pension funds and town governments in Finland (really).

When the housing bubble burst and the paint flaked off, investors were left with the poop and the bankers were left with bonuses. Countrywide’s top man, Angelo Mozilo, will ‘earn’ a $77 million buy-out bonus this year on top of the $656 million - over half a billion dollars – he pulled in from 1998 through 2007.

But there were rumblings that the party would soon be over. Angry regulators, burned investors and the weight of millions of homes about to be boarded up were causing the sharks to sink. Countrywide’s stock was down 50%, and Citigroup was off 38%, not pleasing to the Gulf sheiks who now control its biggest share blocks.

Then, on Wednesday of this week, the unthinkable happened. Carlyle Capital went bankrupt. Who? That’s Carlyle as in Carlyle Group. James Baker, Senior Counsel. Notable partners, former and past: George Bush, the Bin Laden family and more dictators, potentates, pirates and presidents than you can count.

The Fed had to act. Bernanke opened the vault and dumped $200 billion on the poor little suffering bankers. They got the public treasure – and got to keep the Grinning’s house. There was no ‘quid’ of a foreclosure moratorium for the ‘pro quo’ of public bail-out. Not one family was saved – but not one banker was left behind.

Every mortgage sharking operation shot up in value. Mozilo’s Countrywide stock rose 17% in one day. The Citi sheiks saw their company’s stock rise $10 billion in an afternoon.

And that very same day the bail-out was decided – what a coinkydink! – the man called, ‘The Sheriff of Wall Street’ was cuffed. Spitzer was silenced.

Do I believe the banks called Justice and said, “Take him down today!” Naw, that’s not how the system works. But the big players knew that unless Spitzer was taken out, he would create enough ruckus to spoil the party. Headlines in the financial press – one was “Wall Street Declares War on Spitzer” - made clear to Bush’s enforcers at Justice who their number one target should be. And it wasn’t Bin Laden.

It was the night of February 13 when Spitzer made the bone-headed choice to order take-out in his Washington Hotel room. He had just finished signing these words for the Washington Post about predatory loans:

“Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which he federal government was turning a blind eye.”

Bush, said Spitzer right in the headline, was the “Predator Lenders’ Partner in Crime.” The President, said Spitzer, was a fugitive from justice. And Spitzer was in Washington to launch a campaign to take on the Bush regime and the biggest financial powers on the planet.

Spitzer wrote, “When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners the Bush administration will not be judged favorably.”

But now, the Administration can rest assured that this love story – of Bush and his bankers - will not be told by history at all – now that the Sheriff of Wall Street has fallen on his own gun.

A note on “Prosecutorial Indiscretion.”

Back in the day when I was an investigator of racketeers for government, the federal prosecutor I was assisting was deciding whether to launch a case based on his negotiations for airtime with 60 Minutes. I’m not allowed to tell you the prosecutor’s name, but I want to mention he was recently seen shouting, “Florida is Rudi country! Florida is Rudi country!”

Not all crimes lead to federal bust or even public exposure. It’s up to something called “prosecutorial discretion.”

Funny thing, this ‘discretion.’ For example, Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, paid Washington DC prostitutes to put him diapers (ewww!), yet the Senator was not exposed by the US prosecutors busting the pimp-ring that pampered him.
Naming and shaming and ruining Spitzer – rarely done in these cases - was made at the ‘discretion’ of Bush’s Justice Department.

Or maybe we should say, 'indiscretion.'

************
Greg Palast, former investigator of financial fraud,