22 September 2008

Bailout needs Major Strictures, or no deal

Secretary Paulson, who let's not forget is a former chairman of Goldman Sachs and thus one of the foxes, wants a "clean bill" on the proposed 3/4 trillion bailout. Democrats need to say, "Your plan, as is, is DOA, sir, fuhgeddabout it!"

The bill, at minimum, needs to have the following provisions:

• Any company applying for bailout must turn over substantial equity, to be sold later to pay down the debt, and must agree to be bound by strictures.

• Among those strictures must be:
- Strict caps on executive compensation and severance
- Right of government oversight, including audit and dismissal of executives found to have breached fiduciary duties.
- Mandatory refinancing of principal home mortgages up to a certain amount (say $750,000) held by securities instruments
- Preferential treatment of small investors in any liquidations
- Cap individual capital loss write-offs over a certain amount; those who profited before should bear the loss now; no more privatization of profit and socialization of loss
- [I'm sure there are other things that will come up; the main point: Paulson says this shouldn't be punitive: like hell. This should hurt those who caused it.]

• Some of the $700 billion needs to come not from just raising the debt ceiling, but taxing the richest. I would say a tax surcharge on the top 1% would be in order, with a fixed duration, of ten years or something. (Mainly because the richest segment will be getting a tax increase soon anyway to help get the Federal Government on something resembling a sound footing going forward).

• Britain has a small tax on securities transfers, and it hasn't exactly gone belly up as a result; we should impose one too, to help pay for this.

• Some of the $700 billion needs to come from offsets. This can't practicably be in the bill itself, but at least the principle should be. (I would target unnecessary large weapons systems. This is especially important because the Bush administration has been saying for years that there's no money for infrastructure or health care reform, but suddenly there's $700 billion for this. So, if there is going to be infrastructure development and health care reform as well, we need to restructure spending to find the money for all this.)

• Some of the $700 billion needs to come from windfall profits tax on oil profits for three years. This could be in the bill itself, since otherwise it might be impossible to pass.

• No bailout of sovereign wealth funds.

• Understanding that major reregulation is part of the quid pro quo. The Gramm Leach Bliley Act will be repealed, the Glass-Steagall Act will be reimposed; etc. (Not literally, perhaps, but the laissez faire system that caused this debacle will be trashed).

Again, I'm sure there are other provisions that need to be put in the mix, but these will do for starters.

Why, when we can't bailout individual families losing their homes, or small businesses, or manufacturing, do we always seem to have plenty of socialism to save Wall Street? The reason is simple: they have us over a barrel, and the barrel is fear. Fear that the whole house of cards will collapse. OK, that's the reality. But the interests of those other than in the financial sector need to be front and center now.

16 September 2008

Enough of Sarah Palin Already: Hit McCain and Use Direct Approach

A friend at work sent me yet another e-mail cataloging the faults and inexperience of Sarah Palin, some of them, like the "book banning" accusation, actually not even true. Nothing disarms an attack on integrity like using falsehoods yourself.

I think it's time for those of us who don't want to see McCain elected to pretty much ignore Sarah Palin. Her nine-day wonder has run its course. She's their VP candidate, so she will be mentioned here and there. There is a debate coming up, of course, which will call attention, but I think most of the attempts to portray her as a lunatic and a vindictive, retributive, parochial hick, however much some of them may be justified, have backfired. Better to ignore her, and shift focus to their presidential candidate, attack his lack of any real plans to do anything about the myriad problems that face us, and his willingness to betray principles and integrity to get elected. At the same time, and, even more forcefully: hit hard on the direct approach: promise specific program changes, and ask the voters for their support, in ads featuring Obama personally. I really think this is the path to victory, and I sure hope the O. campaign gets busy and starts spending their considerable warchest on this approach soon.

15 September 2008

My Barack Obama Ad Script

George Lakoff has talked about how the Democrats need to change the frames in order to redirect the focus of politics. Obama needs to change the whole frame of the political conversation. Here's my suggested ad. Picture Obama in a chair, fireside chatlike, talking directly to the camera. (See Anonymous comment below for a suggested rewrite... the commenter makes good suggestions).

«I'm Barack Obama. The Republicans have done everything they could in this election to bring our national discourse down into the gutter, with outright lies, nonsense about celebrities and phony outrage about every turn of phrase. The reason for this is simple: in order to win this election, they have to distract the American people from the real issues, because they have no programs to benefit the American people on these issues. John McCain voted over 90% with George Bush, and a McCain administration would be more of the same for America: continued tax cuts for the very rich, a so-called health care 'plan' that would end up costing ordinary people more for their health insurance, if they have it at all; an impulsive go-it-alone attitude towards foreign policy that's been a disaster for our country; continued record deficit spending even while they call themselves conservatives; and continued disrespect for the very foundation of our country, the Constitution of the United States.

I want to run a different kind of campaign, but I need your help to do it. I want to talk about our plan to reduce taxes for 95% of Americans while asking those who are truly fortunate to pay more of their fair share. I want to talk about our plan to bring access to quality health insurance to all Americans. I want to talk about our plan to reduce the deficit, over time. I want to talk about not only how we will end the war in Iraq, which is not serving our nation's interests but has cost and continues to cost our nation dearly in the lives of its young men and women and in treasure, but also about how we will rethink our whole foreign policy, to restore prestige and respect to America. We will use force, when necessary, but only as a last resort, not as a doctrine of preemptive war, which has failed us so badly under the Bush administration. America used to lead the world through cooperation and negotiation through strength, it will again. I want to talk about how we will bring jobs to America, and stop giving breaks to companies that send jobs overseas. I want to talk about how we can renew our infrastructure and develop the technologies to free America from its dependence on Middle Eastern oil, within ten years, and develop renewable energy resources over time to help solve the worldwide climate crisis and at the same time end our nation's energy dependence permanently. We can do all of these things. We are a can-do country, and I believe the American people are tired of all the negativity coming from the other side. We can make our nation a better partner in the world, and a better place to live for all its citizens. But I need your help to get there. That's why I'm asking for your support in this presidential election. Thank you.

I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message. »


And here's another comment I received via e-mail. These are good points, too:

As a somewhat objective observer, I think it would be a serious misstep for Obama to talk about what he wants to talk about. One of his perceived problems is that he's mostly talk and little action. But I get your drift. With some wordsmithing to address the 'talk' part, and a little more statistical content, you're absolutely correct. Although I think I would leave out or greatly shorten the opening. The contrast to the Repub style would be clear if O just actually adhered to a much more substantive and less reactionary direction. No need to call them out on it to such a degree. And don't remind people of any GOP message that has worked well, like the Britney/Paris spot. A more general statement would suffice.

A coupla things I've learned after 30 years in advertising....

12 September 2008

My suggestions to David Pouffle, Obama Campaign Mgr

USE this video from Portland, ME.
Contrast Biden's sensible statements, intercut.

READ E. J. Dionne 9/11/08 on truthdig. HE has it exactly right.

RUN ADS making each of the points Dionne mentions:
McCain's "tax cut" is far smaller than Obama's for 95% of Americans! Plus, his health care plan will almost certainly result in higher overall costs for most working people, more than offsetting any tax cut!
Obama would guarantee everyone access to health care or that McCain's health plan might endanger coverage many already have!
Obama will create new jobs from major infrastructure to create renewable energy resources and get US off foreign oil!
These are positive points that McC CANNOT RESPOND TO!

We need MUCH MORE AGRESSIVE ADVERTISING, both positive and negative, and ....
Get them on the news everyday! Somehow!
Thank you.

08 September 2008

McCain leading in tracking polls

I can’t really say I’m surprised that McCain is now running slightly ahead in tracking polls. Democrats, again, are failing to appreciate and effectively counter the Big Lie propaganda being put out by the Republican smear machine.

The fact that so many American voters are apparently responsive to the snide derision of something so ridiculous as community organizing for the benefit of people affected by a steel plant closing, coming from a right wing extremist who thinks global climate disruption is not man made and that creationism should be taught in the schools, is disheartening but not surprising. After all, more Americans vote for American Idol than vote for president. A woman who 20 months ago was literally the mayor of a village can stand up there and deride Barack Obama, with snide contempt; a man who’s been proven right about the disastrous turn of American foreign policy, the completely disastrous mismanagement of the economy by the Republicans in power, and the total failure to do anything about either climate change or dependence on foreign oil, by this same party in power, and people eat it up, because propaganda works. People don’t vote issues, they vote sound bites and images. Democrats must get better at this, or in this year, where 80% will say they realize America is heading off on the wrong track, too many will once again ignore their own self interests and vote for the better marketed feel good message of the very people who got us into this mess, and who, if you take the trouble to actually read what they say, intend to dig us in deeper as vigorously and as quickly as possible if they take office.