Andrew Sullivan ♥Ron Paul. Why? They do have a few things in common, racism being the primary commonality. And now that Sullivan has made his move, he is very self-righteously angry at FOXNews's Chris Wallace, because the Republican Media Establishment mentioned Rep. Paul's racist past. Close to home, Sully?
Notice how Wallace is entirely of the Republican Media Establishment. They (and his boss, Roger Ailes) have decided quite consciously to erase Ron Paul from coverage, or have discussion of him (as with Hannity's dredging up the old racist newsletters as the first item when discussing Paul last night) loaded immediately with scorn, and derision.
After all, racism disappears w/ time. Indeed, anything that may have been said or reported way back there in the '90s is over & should be forgotten. How dare they bring up someone's past, as if it had meaning? Like that Bell Curve stuff, which Andy has completely forgotten. Oh, he hasn't? He's still beating that horse? (Perfectly OK when Andy brings it up himself, of course. Because then it's not racism, it's sciencism!)
The misdirection is blindingly obvious. The claim is that the Administration needs new tools to get tough on banks. No, it has plenty of tools, starting with Sarbanes Oxley. As we’ve discussed at length in earlier posts, Sarbox was designed to eliminate the CEO and top brass “know nothing” excuse. And the language for civil and criminal charges is parallel, so a prosecutor could file civil charges, and if successful, could then open up a related criminal case. Sarbox required that top executives (which means at least the CEO and CFO) certify the adequacy of internal controls, and for a big financial firm, that has to include risk controls and position valuation. The fact that the Administration didn’t attempt to go after, for instance, AIG on Sarbox is inexcusable. The “investigation” done by Andrew Ross Sorkin in his Too Big To Fail (Willumstad not having a good handle on the cash bleed, the sudden discovery of a $20 billion hole in the securities lending portfolio, the mysterious “unofficial vault” with billions of dollars of securities in file cabinets) all are proof of an organization with seriously deficient controls.
But more broadly, it’s blindingly obvious this Administration has never had the slightest interest in doing anything more serious than posture.
Finally, a blood pressure-reducing video:
UPDATE: Here's a couple of items I forgot to include yesterday, and one from today.
I was planning to post about Matty Yglesias, using a column Thers referenced and one other. Only just now did I notice that the 'other one' was written by Ezra Klein instead. Go figure!
In my defense, Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein wrote essentially the same post within a half hour of each other. Knowing that Yggy was moving to the Washington Post corporation (albeit Slate), I searched WaPo for the topic. Eventually I noticed the authors were different people, thanks to Pinko's entry in the latest Three Bulls! Header Contest. They don't look the same. In any case the WaPo now owns 100% of the hive mind.
The question is what, if anything, comes next for Occupy Wall Street. The movement has already scored some big wins. As this graph by Dylan Byers showed, they have changed the national conversation. Income inequality is now a top-tier issue. Before Occupy Wall Street, it wasn’t.
Shorter: "OMG, Bloomberg could have ignored OWS, and then we could have done the same!"
Income inequality has been increasing for some time. It isn't some cat that is alive or dead depending on whether or not the likes of Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, or anyone else in the press is forced by OWS to write about it.
Having said that, I don't think 'income inequality' comes close to describing the issues that have created OWS. All that says is some people get a lot less, others get a lot more. This is true, but it leaves the door open for the counterclaim that the OWS is "just jealous of the job creators." (More discussion of the semantics in this thread.)
For 30 years, people who make money with their money have had the government tilt the table in their favor. Everyone else has gotten the short end of the stick. This has happened through tax policy, deregulation and approval of merger after merger, trade policy, and through chipping away at the the social safety net. And of course, our government comes to the rescue of the Randroid Masters of the Universe when the bets they've made with their too-big-to-fail banks turn out the the wrong way.
DOJ has obtained ten convictions of senior insiders of mortgage lenders (all from one obscure mortgage bank) v. over 1000 felony convictions in the S&L debacle. DOJ has not conducted an investigation worthy of the name of any of the largest accounting control frauds. DOJ is actively opposing investigating the systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs).
The elections of 2006 and 2008 did not change this in any way. Banks still own the place, and both parties curry their favor. But we have plenty of law enforcement focused on peaceful members of OWS attempting to exercise their rights to free speech.
I see plenty of skepticism around the innertoobz as to what OWS will eventually accomplish. I have a lot more faith in OWS than I have in Obama and the Democrats.
UPDATE: At Naked Capitalism, Andrew Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, Bank of England and Vasileios Madouros, Economist in the Financial Stability directorate of the Bank of England:
In fact, high pre-crisis returns to banking had a much more mundane explanation. They reflected simply increased risk-taking across the sector. This was not an outward shift in the portfolio possibility set of finance. Instead, it was a traverse up the high-wire of risk and return. This hire-wire act involved, on the asset side, rapid credit expansion, often through the development of poorly understood financial instruments. On the liability side, this ballooning balance sheet was financed using risky leverage, often at short maturities.
There is a second, equally important, reason why the measured value-added of the financial sector in the national accounts may be seriously over-stated. We now know that the risk being taken by banks was not in fact borne by them, fully or potentially even partially. Instead it has been borne by society. That is why GDP today lies below its pre-crisis level. And it is why government balance sheets, relative to GDP, are set to double as a result of the crisis in many countries.
Elsewhere, we have sought to estimate those implicit subsidies to banking arising from its too big-to-fail status. For the largest 25 or so global banks, the average annual subsidy between 2007-2010 was hundreds of billions of dollars; on some estimates it was over $1 trillion (Haldane 2011). This compares with average annual profitability of the largest global banks of about $170 billion per annum in the five years ahead of the crisis.
Especially the fucking creep at (4:00): "Capitalism requires winners & losers, & we get uncomfortable w/ the losers." Virtually everything recited by these clowns is boilerplate bullshit ("Created" wealth, my ass!) but Oklahoma City mayor & lazy loser gov't. employee Mick Cornett should be thrown on the lazy loser pile & made to experience just a bit of "losing" until he dies in pain in a gutter. This reporter would be more than comfortable w/ that.
Pelley: Big corporations in this country at this moment are sitting on a trillion dollars in cash, that they could invest in jobs and plant and equipment. But they're not doing it.
Mick Cornett: There's no customers. I mean, you're not going to expand your inventory if you can't sell the product. And you're not going to hire people if you can't get people to employ those services.
It is a conundrum how this could be solved, isn't it?
Pelley: Mick, your city has the lowest unemployment rate of any major city in America.
Cornett: That's correct.
Pelley: How do you create jobs in this country? In the rest of the country?
Cornett: Well, from a long-term perspective, I think the comments about education are right on. But from a shorter-term perspective nationally, we've got to understand that government has gotten too big. We take on the welfare of all mankind as a practical objective. And it's just not. Capitalism requires winners and losers. And we get uncomfortable with the losers.
Talk about a non-answer to the question. Mayor Mick's defense of class warfare reduces workers to disposable, replaceable units who can go fuck themselves because, after all, they're the required "losers." Fuck him & the voters of OKC sideways. W/ a splintery broomstick.
That's a nice, neutral headline isn't it? No surprise coming from The Plain Dealer, which not only endorsed Ohio Governor (and Koch-pawn) John Kasich, but has recommended approval of his union-busting SB-5 in the upcoming referendum.
Joseph Marinucci, president and chief executive of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, said his organization will arrive about 6 a.m. Saturday to begin putting up Christmas lights and other holiday displays around Public Square. The group will need unrestricted access to the decorations until the beginning of the year, he said. Demonstrators are willing to help decorate. "They don't have to pay us," (Erin) McCardle said. Responded Marinucci: "We already use volunteers."
I suppose those merchants need to advertise earlier and earlier for the annual spendathon when most people have less and less cash for presents. In any case, Occupy Cleveland had its day in court and won (note: The Plain Dealer had a far different headline).
Here are some pics from Occupy Columbus on Saturday. No one has threatened their space in front of Capitol Square (home of Ohio's Statehouse) thus far.
As noted by Wonkette, "The White House pretty much launched the project noting that they would not actually pay any attention to proposals they didn’t like..."
I forgot a line I was going to put in there, "And keep pretending it's the mean Republicans and stubborn Blue Dog Democrats that make you do it." Anyways, I need 4,999 more signatures for my official White House review:
Thank you for creating a petition on We the People! You now have 30 days to get 5,000 signatures in order for your petition to be reviewed by the White House. Until your petition has 150 signatures, it will only be available from the following URL:
So if you're sitting around with too much time on your hands, please go sign my petition.
I know this isn't how Blog Time works, but I've been stewing for more days than I should about this New York Times piece by Rebecca Traister. Stewing while I drive, and garden, and work, because honestly, I just don't know what I think.
The empirical choice between Clinton and Obama was never as direct as those on either side made it out to be; neither was obviously more equipped or more progressive than the other. The maddening part, then and now, is that they were utterly comparable candidates. The visions — in 2008, of Obama as a progressive redeemer who would restore enlightened democracy to our land and Hillary as a crypto-Republican company man; or, in 2011, of Obama as an appeasement-happy crypto-Republican and Hillary as a leftist John Wayne who would have whipped those Congressional outlaws into shape — they were all invented. These are fictional characters shaped by the predilections, prejudices and short memories of the media and the electorate. They’re not actual politicians between whom we choose here on earth.
Now, our blogfriends have already weighed in here, of course:
Matt Yglesias points out that in the spring and summer of 2008, the world looked very different: "Our experience of the Obama administration has been dominated by the fallout of events that mostly happened after the election. So when people say that they thought Obama would be like this or thought he would be like that, in many ways they’re misremembering. If you’re honest with yourself, three years ago you just weren’t thinking much at all about how Obama would respond to persistent 9 percent unemployment."
Amanda notes that Hillary was a Kenyanmuslimsocialist long before it was cool: "The Republican base not only hates Clinton, but they've hated her for decades now. The paranoid base really cut their teeth constructing elaborate conspiracy theories about her. Before Obama was accused of faking his birth certificate, remember that Clinton was accused of murdering Vince Foster, a good friend of her family's. Republicans would have ambushed and stonewalled her, too. Don't forget that they impeached her husband after basically dogging him for years, looking for any tiny thread they could cling to to rationalize it." The Tea Party wouldn't be the Tea Party, of course--"the nickname and the costuming of the base uproar" would be different, as Amanda says--but it would be something just as noxious and obstructionist.
And Scott notes what many of us realized at the time: "in policy terms the 2008 Democratic primary was about almost nothing." Which was, after all, one of the most frustrating things about the 2008 primary: I was routinely called a racist corporatist centrist by people I had thought were my friends, simply because I thought Clinton was a viable candidate. Hell, in policy terms, I liked John Edwards. What the hell did I know?
And so I don't feel the need to weigh in on those points: they're well covered. But I think the fact that I was a Clinton supporter has made me generally less frustrated with Obama: since I never thought he was the Liberal Savior anyway, the fact that he has not turned out to be is just less, well, personal for me.
(I'm reminded of a review I once read on Pitchfork--back when I thought I needed to read Pitchfork to be cool--of Weezer's 2005 album Make Believe. The reviewer didn't like it, but that wasn't enough. Instead, he had to go back and smear all of the back catalog, in a comical "I break with thee!" moment of adolescent angst. A lot of Obama-hate feels like that to me.)
I've been out of political blogging a while now--partly disenchanted, partly working on a book--but I'm not such a big person that I don't remember the pain of that personality contest. At the time, I flashed a lot on the Reese Witherspoon-Matthew Broderick movie Election, and suspected that, like Tracy Flick, Hillary was being castigated for seeming to want the nomination so much. Female desire for power--like all female desire--was unseemly and kind of icky and had to be smacked down.
But I'm curious, as a feminist, how often the metaphor of Obama's strength or weakness is expressed in terms of sexual potency. The Daily Beast piece Traister cites gives several quotes, it assures us, from lots of otherwise nice little old ladies impugning Obama's manhood, particularly in comparison to Hillary.
At a luncheon in the members’ dining room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday, a 64-year-old African-American from the Bronx was complaining about Obama’s ineffectiveness in dealing with the implacable hostility of congressional Republicans when an 80-year-old lawyer chimed in about the president’s unwillingness to stand up to his opponents. “I want to see blood on the floor,” she said grimly.
A 61-year-old white woman at the table nodded. “He never understood about the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy,’” she said.
Looking as if she were about to cry, an 83-year-old Obama supporter shook her head. “I’m so disappointed in him,” she said. “It’s true: Hillary is tougher.”
Among Clinton fans, particularly older women, the language was frequently far more caustic. “Obama has no spine and no balls,” said a 67-year-old New Yorker.
Jeez, when the grandmas have the long knives out, look out!
But of course, our go-to person for all psychosexual attacks on Democratic men does not fail us. No one does the "Democratic men are secretly women! Or pussy-whipped! Or something!" trope better than Maureen Dowd: it's the one medium she truly understands.
President Obama was on the way to Alpha when a plea came for him to be, well, more alpha.
LuAnn Lavine, a real estate agent from Geneseo, a rural town just up the road from Alpha, Ill., the last stop on the president’s Midwestern bus tour, told The Times’s Jeff Zeleny: “Everyone was so hopeful with him, but Washington grabbed him and here we are. I just want him to stay strong and don’t take the guff. We want a president who is a leader, and I want him to be a little bit stronger.”
For Dowd, Obama's weakness is clearly demonstrated by the D after his nme, and the fact that he, uh, took a vacation in August, like all Americans who can afford to. "The truth is, he doesn’t want [Congress] back in the capital any more than they want to be back. It would have screwed up his vacation and upset Michelle, who already feels trapped in the Washington bubble." Dowd doesn't quite quote Bill Murray in Ghostbusters--"It's true: this man has no dick."--but it's pretty damn close.
I wanted to end on a decisive note, but I find I don't have one. Obama is dealing with a level of obstruction I have not seen in my lifetime, and is in the position of trying to defend programs against a raft of Neitzschean, Randian ideologues who are interested in nothing but corporatist hegemony for the people who elected them, and third-world anarchy for everyone else. They do not care if they drive the whole bus over a cliff.
Obama is standing between us and them. Ineffectively, maybe, but he's there. Hillary may have played it differently, but the cliff would still be there, and they'd still be determined to drive off it. And things would be just as fucked.