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understandinglife's Journal
Posted by understandinglife in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Mar 01st 2009, 12:23 AM
Letter to President Obama via 27 February 2009:

Good evening Mr President,

Thank you, once again, for your leadership.

Mr President, it is time for you and the Justice Department to halt the use of tired tactics to prevent the American people from seeing every aspect of the Bush/Cheney crime machine.

Mr President, it is time for you to bring the full force of your office to the support of Senators Leahy and Whitehouse.

To wit, Sir, I want to be certain you have read the following and to also be certain that the vast majority of Americans want the TRUTH:

Senator Whitehouse on Wed., 25 February 2009, on the floor of the US Senate - "Democracy is not a static institution, it is a living education - an ongoing education in freedom of a people. As Harry Truman said addressing a joint session of Congress back in 1947, "One of the chief virtues of a democracy is that its defects are always visible, and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected." We have to learn the lessons from this past carnival of folly, greed, lies, and wrongdoing, so that the damage can, under democratic processes, be pointed out and corrected.

If we blind ourselves to this history, we deny ourselves its lessons - lessons that came at too painful a cost to ignore. Those lessons merit disclosure and discussion. Indeed, disclosure and discussion make the difference between this history being a valuable lesson for the bright and upward forces of our democracy, or a blueprint for those darker forces to return and someday do it all over again.

As we work toward a brighter future ahead, to days when jobs return to our cities, capital to our businesses, and security to our lives, we cannot set aside our responsibility to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired.

We also have to brace ourselves for the realistic possibility that as some of this conduct is exposed, we and the world will find it shameful, revolting. We may have to face the prospect of looking with horror at our own country's deeds. We are optimists, we Americans; we are proud of our country. Contrition comes hard to us.

But the path back from the dark side may lead us down some unfamiliar valleys of remorse and repugnance before we can return to the light. We may have to face our fellow Americans saying to us, "No, please, tell us that we did not do that, tell us that Americans did not do that" - and we will have to explain, somehow. This is no small thing, and not easy; this will not be comfortable or proud; but somehow it must be done.

Chairman Leahy has embarked on the process of considering a new commission; one appropriate to the task of investigating the damage the Bush Administration did to America, to her finest traditions and institutions, to her reputation and integrity. The hearing he's called in coming days will more thoroughly examine this question, to help us determine how best to move forward. I stand with him. Before we can repair the harm of the last eight years, we must learn the truth."

Mr President, please echo Senator Whitehouse and urge the Senate and House to bring into the light of day every sordid detail, every inhumane act.

If you do not, you paint EVERY American with the brush of crimes against humanity; you make us complicit in both the acts and the actions to conceal and failure to hold accountable those whom are responsible.

Associate Justice Robert Jackson warned every American on November 20, 1945 - "We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well."

Sir, the "Nuremberg Chalice" is now at our lips. We will be a poisoned Nation if those responsible are not held accountable by you, Mr President, and your colleagues in Congress.

Thank you.
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Posted by understandinglife in Latest Breaking News
Fri Nov 28th 2008, 11:55 AM
One of the hottest recent discoveries by investigative journalists is the sleazy practice known as "dead peasants’ insurance," which is allegedly used by some of our best known big corporations — such as Wal-Mart and Enron. Officially called Corporate-Owned Life Insurance (COLI), this practice has been going on below the radar since the 1980s, and P&J were turned on to it by our favorite lefty in the bullpen, Dick Walton. P&J agree with Dick Walton when he says, "Just when you thought corporate America could sink no lower, you find that your imagination cannot equal that of these fiends."

Here’s how it works. Big companies with a number of low-paid employees (the practice is also known as "dead janitors’ insurance") buy life insurance on those low-ranking employees — sometimes without their knowledge — to get tax breaks, as well as to collect benefits when a covered employee died. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, "Corporations gain not merely from the tax-free life insurance benefits they receive when current or former employees die, but also can borrow money against these policies. Many companies even deducted the interest on these loans from their taxes." It is legal in some states, but not in others (which have emerged from the ghoulish Dark Ages of squalid business dealings). For some of these companies, death benefits go to pay for executive bonuses and perks.

<clip>Enough already. There is not anything for sale in Wal-Mart even free that is worth a human life. We should be ashamed of ourselves as a country for lapsing into such mindless consumerism. Even in a time of economic trouble, too many amongst us would rather mindlessly consume than reflect on what the most important things are in life.

Indeed. Enough.

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Posted by understandinglife in Latest Breaking News
Sat Nov 15th 2008, 05:20 PM

Saturday, November 15, 2008 04:32pm EST / in Press Releases

WASHINGTON – President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden today announced the following key White House staff, Valerie Jarrett, Phil Schiliro and Ron Klain. Valerie Jarrett will serve as Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison, Phil Schiliro as Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs and Ron Klain to be the Chief of Staff to the Vice President.

"These individuals will be essential members of our team as we work to bring Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen our struggling economy and make Washington work for all Americans. I have the utmost confidence that their broad and diverse experience will serve my administration and the American people well in the challenging months," said President-elect Barack Obama.

"Ron Klain has been a trusted advisor of mine for over 20 years. He brings extraordinary judgment, a deep understanding of the important policy issues facing our nation, a wide range of experience in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, as well as a unique understanding of how the Vice President's office works. He will be an important addition in helping the Obama-Biden Administration bring the change we need to America," said Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison

Valerie B. Jarrett became the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company on January 31, 2007. From November 1995 through January 31, 2007, she was the Executive Vice President of The Habitat Company. The Habitat Company is one of the nation’s premier developers and managers of residential apartments and condominiums. Habitat has developed more than 17,000 housing units and currently manages more than 20,000 units. Before joining The Habitat Company in 1995, Ms. Jarrett served for eight years in the City of Chicago government; first as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development, then as Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley and finally, as Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. Prior to her City government service, Ms. Jarrett practiced law with two private law firms.

Ms. Jarrett currently serves as a co-chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team and as a Director of USG Corporation, Inc., Navigant Consulting, Inc. and RREEF America II. She is Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees. She is also Vice Chairman of The University of Chicago Board of Trustees, the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee, and Metropolis 2020. She is a Director of the Local Initiative Support Corporation, The Joyce Foundation, The Metropolitan Planning Council and the Central Area Committee. She is a Trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry.

From 1995-2003, Ms. Jarrett also served as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board. Ms. Jarrett served as Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc, from April 2004 through April 2007, and Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange Holdings, Inc., from February 2005 through April 2007. She also served as a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from January 2006 through April 2007. Ms. Jarrett served as Finance Chair for the 2004 U.S. Senatorial Campaign for Barack Obama, the first Treasurer of the Senator’s PAC, the Hopefund, and served as a Senior Advisor to the Obama for America Presidential Campaign. Ms. Jarrett received a J.D. degree from The University of Michigan Law School in 1981 and an A.B. degree from Stanford University in 1978.

Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs

Philip M. Schiliro is currently the Director of Congressional Relations for the transition team of President-Elect Barack Obama. Schiliro was a senior advisor to Senator Obama's presidential campaign. He has worked in the United States Congress for more than 25 years. Schiliro served as the Chief of Staff to Representative Henry Waxman and the House Oversight Committee in the House, and the Policy Director for Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and Staff Director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Committees in the Senate.

Ron Klain, Chief of Staff to the Vice President

Ronald A. Klain has served in all three branches of the federal government. Mr. Klain previously worked for Senator Biden as Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee; during his tenure, the Committe acted on significant anti-crime legislation and two Supreme Court nominations. Mr. Klain later served as Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Leadership Committees under Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). In the executive branch, Mr. Klain served as Chief of Staff to Vice President Al Gore for four years; he also served as Chief of Staff to Attorney General Janet Reno, and Associate Counsel to President Clinton in charge of judicial selection. Mr. Klain began his legal career as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Byron White, after graduating from the Harvard Law School magna cum laude.

Ron Klain has played a role on the debate preparation teams of every Democratic Presidential nominee since Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign. In 2008, he took an unpaid leave of absence from his post as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Revolution LLC, to serve on the debate preparation teams for both Senators Obama and Biden.

Mr. Klain is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana. He now lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his wife Monica Medina, Senior Environmental Counsel at the Pew Charitable Trusts, and their three children, Hannah, Michael and Daniel.

Read more:

BTW, for the past few days I have encouraged folk to reflect on the past 22 months and realize they witnessed not merely an exceptional campaign but an exceptional team.

Obama intends to change, at the core, how government is done -- big focus on US being critical to the doing.

Each step, during the past 22 months, and each day since the evening of 4 Nov 2008 -- when Obama is ready for us to know something, he tells us.

His team does not leak.

They do not play games.

They shut down the Hillary organization.

They shut down the Rove/McCain organization.

They are relentlessly on message.

They use the corporate media to the extent they consider it necessary.

They communicate via an ever expanding, truly vast social network, the day to day duties and expectations required to get the job done - win the primaries, win the general election, respectively.

Why anyone remains willing, other than for sheer entertainment, to listen and observe the various spin, slander, hate, conventional wisdom .... -mongers, is much more a statement of the cluelessness of those doing so than any reflection on the reality of the Obama system.

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Yes. The whole of humanity are watching, America. One important example is cogently summarized by Ambassador Ginsberg.

McCain/Palin - R.I.P. Courtesy of the Middle East

Having just gotten off the plane from the Middle East, one thing is for certain: whether you are pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian or pro-whatever, there is hardly a soul who is not rooting for a big Obama victory on Tuesday (except for extremist settlers and extremist Islamists) .

The obsession with our election is genuine and genuinely welcome. Israelis anticipate an Obama administration that will be back in the business of untying the gordian knot that characterizes a peace process on life support (remember Bush promised at the Annapolis Summit to produce an Israeli-Palestinian agreement before his term ends...yep, just another broken pledge on the resume of Condi's Rice's shattered legacy that has left the region even deeper in a hole).

Palestinians (and dare I say most Israelis) are hopeful that even if the next Israeli election produces another Likud government under Netanyahu, that just the sheer velocity of Obama's positive policy changes in the Middle East will compel Netanyahu to succumb to the urgent need to put a two-state solution onto the express rails. Indeed, an Obama election has the capacity to positively impact, however indirectly, the outcome of both Israeli and Palestinian elections early next year. What wonderful tonic for a region where extremists on both sides will try to influence the election to their own worst devices.


Surely, the list of challenges and obstacles the a new American president faces in the Middle East are daunting, and too numerous to go through here: Iraq, Lebanon, Hamas, Al Qaeda, oil exports, Iran, etc. after chilling etc. But there is considerable room to change the dynamics of a region caught in neoconservative hell.

Yes. We. Will.

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Posted by understandinglife in Political Videos
Sun Oct 26th 2008, 10:46 PM

An amazing recreation of that exceptional moment of leadership. If only ALL America had listened and acted to restrain Bush and the neoconsters.

Digg link --
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Posted by understandinglife in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Oct 17th 2008, 10:41 PM

For the sake of your family.

As much as I want you to be President, I vastly want that your two daughters and wife have you as their loving father and partner for decades.

McCain and Palin are instigating hate, massive hate. They and all those associated with them need to be charged for the hate and civil rights crimes they are inciting, and STOPPED.

Please Senator Obama - protect yourself. Your life and the time you have with your family is more important than anything.

I was called within moments of the assassination of RFK by my closest friend at the time. I will never forget how all I could think of was his wife and his children - one yet to be born. The loss I excruciatingly felt was for his family, not for our Nation or humanity.

Please Senator Obama - demand that the hate and violence being driven by McCain and Palin - STOP.

For the sake of your family and your life.

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Posted by understandinglife in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Oct 03rd 2008, 12:42 AM
Remember, it was Bush who sent the thugs to threaten Congress -- to do the brinkmanship diddy, big time.

Congress has not been knee-jerk in its response.

That is not just because of Pelosi and Reid's leadership. It has been because of Obama's.

The position the Dems now have Bush and the Republicans is better than any outcome we could have imagined two weeks ago.

A no vote tomorrow in the House, with the majority of no votes coming from Republicans would be devastating to not merely Bush, but McCain.

Pelosi is certainly skilled enough to have told the Dems that if the necessary number of Republican votes is not available then she will either not allow the vote or make it clear that she knows the Republicans do not support BUSH's 'bailout' and she is not going to urge her colleagues to save a failed administration's economic mis-management.

What happens when either no vote happens or the current version of the bill is defeated is only good for the Dems and Americans.

Congress will have to stay in session given the gravity of the situation - as brinks-man Paulson represented it.

Or, if in a day or two it becomes obvious it was brinkmanship but no moose, the Republicans get called out, less than a month before an election, as intentionally stoking fear and anxiety.

Bush painted his buddies in the House and Senate into a Pollock chaotic scene ... no one will want to attend the opening of that show.
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Posted by understandinglife in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Oct 02nd 2008, 07:06 PM
I've been watching the House Rules Committee meeting, and am now listening to Rep Kaptur ... all on CSPAN ... and, I gotta tell you folks, I see very little indication that "government by Dow" is having much impact on many Members in the House.

In fact, that 'pork' that got dumped into the Senate bill is providing more than a little cover for some whom voted yes in the House on the Monday.

The fact that 'regular order' is not being followed.

So, I suggest that we are in for more debate and Rep Kaptur is now definitely calling out the Treasury on the amount of our debt financed by foreign banks, particularly China and the mega-losses some of their banks have experienced because of the crash of Lehman.

Much more exciting and important to the future of America than watching Palin be dumb.

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Posted by understandinglife in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Sep 30th 2008, 11:50 AM
I posted the following on blog yesterday evening and decided to post it here with some additional comments.

The brilliance of Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Frank and their Democratic colleagues

Sep 30th, 2008 at 12:46 am EDT

Given the exceptional knowledge of detail that many, if not most of those reading this post have. I’m going to present it in outline form.

Imagine you are suddenly thrust into an entirely public, search lights full blast, blaring audio, moment in which you are told that unless you act the global economy collapses and America is the cause. Imagine some thug from Goldman Sachs shoves a terse document in your face and says ‘do this or the 2008 version of the great depression will happen and you caused it.’

Imagine millions of Americans are suddenly confronted with another dose of mega-fear. What do you do? Well, if you are both strategically brilliant and tactically skillful you do exactly what Obama, Pelosi, Reid & Frank have done during the past two weeks.

Firstly, you recognize the timing and the intended impact on the impending first debate between Obama and McCain.

You recognize that should you refuse to do everything you can to be responsive to the crisis, and explicitly open to dialogue with Republicans, as to reach a necessarily bi-partisan agreement you will be called everything from traitor to terrorist.

You recognize that if you immediately begin informing the public that the three page manifesto you had trust in your face amounts to nothing less than further ravage of the Constitution and poison to any hope of real economic recovery, you will likely see the vast majority of Americans being rambunctiously against “Wall St. welfare.’

You recognize that if you structure your responses as a transformation of Paulson’s trash into a framework of responsible containment of the supposed “crisis” you will have established the high-ground knowing full well that you have primed two critical responses.

One of those critical responses is that you recognized that the vast number of Republican incumbents would have very little chance of winning on 4 Nov 2008 if they supported the plan.

Knowing that, you would have realized that you could easily have a significant number of House Democratic members vote yes without risk, thus diffusing any claim that the Democratic Party was unwilling to support an albeit lame and dishonest Republican President.

Knowing that. you would have painted the Republican members of the House in exactly the picture the entire world saw – they, for the first time in eight years, broke with their President because they knew that if they voted yes – ostensibly the heroic action that the “crisis” demanded – they would be crucified on 4 Nov 2008. Politics trumped serving the good of Americans – and its all the Republican members of the House’s fault.

Now, all that Obama, Pelosi, Frank, Reid and their colleagues need to do is:

1. Incessantly state that they put party politics aside, even in an election year, and tried to support the President;

2. Incessantly state that now that the President’s plan has been rejected by his own party, a plan that was obviously deficient even after much effort on the part of Democratic members of both the Senate and the House working in a collaborative spirit with Republicans, they have decided to bring an even better solution to the vast greed, regulatory collapse, and national security-threatening behavior during the past eight years of Bush and his cronies in Congress.

Fact is, as I write this (2130 PDT – 29 Sept 2008) the Nikkei 225 is down 2.8% and the Hang Seng is down 1.7% -- i.e., the Asian markets aren’t happy but they are not collapsing.

Thus, we have some difficult moments ahead, but with an Administration and Congress that focuses on and enables all the real products and services that Americans can begin manufacturing and delivering in the next decade and thereafter, we have zero reason to cooperate with yet another scam from the greed and fear crowd, i.e., ‘the haves and have mores,’ whom have been Bush’s base these past ugly, immoral, and criminal eight years.

Time for real change, indeed.

I tracked the Asian markets during the night. The Nikkei had closed down, but the Hang Seng began to recover and closed up 0.76 %. As the Hang Seng swung positive, S&P Futures were moving up sharply ... correlated with early news that the Congress and White House were working on a new version of the legislation.

McCain has been resoundingly discredited for his behavior during the past 10 days.

Obama and the Democratic leadership have NOT been Rovered.

What was obviously a scam, meant to enable McCain to have a 'white horse save the world' moment hours before the debate failed. It failed because of elegant, calm, intelligent leadership.

We have a credit crisis. We have a trust crisis. We have vast debt.

These are facts that are undeniable and that require persistent, aggressive resolution. We need legislation now that begins to address the root problems and does so in a manner that does not compromise President Obama's ability to work with Congress to repair all the damage done since Reagan.

The fundamentals of why credit is in crisis involves the vast destruction of sensible regulation and fiscal management, launched by Reagan and owned by Gramm, Bush, McCain and all their neoconster, corporatist buddies.

Much work to be done, and based on Senator Obama's actions these past two weeks, we have reason for hope because he demonstrates every day he knows how to lead.

Thank you.

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Posted by understandinglife in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Sep 26th 2008, 12:03 AM
Many people on both the right and the left are outraged at the idea of using taxpayer money to bail out America’s financial system. They’re right to be outraged, but doing nothing isn’t a serious option. Right now, players throughout the system are refusing to lend and hoarding cash — and this collapse of credit reminds many economists of the run on the banks that brought on the Great Depression.

It’s true that we don’t know for sure that the parallel is a fair one. Maybe we can let Wall Street implode and Main Street would escape largely unscathed. But that’s not a chance we want to take.

So the grown-up thing is to do something to rescue the financial system. The big question is, are there any grown-ups around — and will they be able to take charge?


The bottom line, then, is that there do seem to be some adults in Congress, ready to do something to help us get through this crisis. But the adults are not yet in charge.

Senator Obama - TAKE CHARGE.
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The government-brokered sale of Washington Mutual is the latest sign of the perilous situation facing our financial system and our economy. Although Americans with deposits at Washington Mutual should rest assured that they are safe under this arrangement, the failures of our financial institutions threaten economic instability, jobs, and the incomes of American families. This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. This is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem – this is an American problem. Now, we must find an American solution.

Read more:

He is being Presidential every day.
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Posted by understandinglife in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Sep 25th 2008, 10:17 PM
... and intensifying.

You only need to links:

1. /


In summary:

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”

It was the very outcome the White House had said it intended to avoid, with partisan presidential politics appearing to trample what had been exceedingly delicate Congressional negotiations.

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Senate banking committee, denounced the session as “a rescue plan for John McCain” in an interview on CNN, and proclaimed it a waste of precious hours that could have been spent negotiating.

For the records, folk, McStunt and his cronies just created the 21st Century equivalent of a Category SIX disaster.

Friday, 26 Sept 2008, is going to be a very bad day unless some adults do something in the next few hours.

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Posted by understandinglife in Political Videos
Thu Sep 25th 2008, 02:59 PM

DIGG Link -

Just so very powerful!!! Thank you Senator Boxer, once again.
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Posted by understandinglife in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Sep 24th 2008, 10:04 PM
No wiggle room.

No bullshit.

If, and only if, each tax payer dollar is invested under terms that Buffett and any other savvy investor would consider reasonable risk/benefit, then ZERO tax payer dollars are invested.

Moreover, Buffett set the bar with Goldman shares as benchmark.

Nothing ambiguous about it.

That's why McCain is trying to run and hide and Bush wants to chat, tomorrow.

And, as Buffett and Obama warn - this is NOT A GAME.

We are in mega-serious moments.

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Posted by understandinglife in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Sep 24th 2008, 01:42 PM
And I might add, if they (the US Government) do it right, and I think they will do it reasonably right, they won't do it perfectly right, I think they'll make a lot of money.

Because if they don't -- they shouldn't buy these debt instruments at what the institutions paid. They shouldn't buy them at what they're carrying, what the carrying value is, necessarily.

They should buy them at the kind of prices that are available in the market. People who are buying these instruments in the market are expecting to make 15 to 20 percent on those instruments.

If the government makes anything over its cost of borrowing, this deal will come out with a profit. And I would bet it (the US Government) will come out with a profit, actually.

That's the point. That's what his investment in Goldman signals. And, the beneficiary of the INVESTMENT of Tax Payer money should be THE TAX PAYER.

If Congress legislates such an investment, as Obama indicates is the appropriate approach, on behalf of the tax payer, then we might not only prevent a dissolution of the economy, but create a reasonable return on investment.

As long as that return on investment is used for creating jobs, building US infrastructure, expanding access to health care, improving monthly social security income for those receiving it, ... then OUR representatives will have handled the mess Bush, McCain, Gramm and the neoconsters created in as good a way as possible.

Thank you,
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