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Politics and Media Headlines 3/23/09

Caro's picture

That didnt' take long (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
The unhinged Right, egged on by hate bloggers and AM talkers, let their true feelings out at an anti-Obama rally in Orlando.
Remember when we couldn’t nominate Hillary because she’d be attacked by the right, but Obama wouldn't be? I remain, as always, the bad guy for reminding the bots how wrong they were—about almost everything.—Caro

The Big Takeover (by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerilla)
People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they're not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d'état. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations…

The mistake most people make in looking at the financial crisis is thinking of it in terms of money, a habit that might lead you to look at the unfolding mess as a huge bonus-killing downer for the Wall Street class. But if you look at it in purely Machiavellian terms, what you see is a colossal power grab that threatens to turn the federal government into a kind of giant Enron — a huge, impenetrable black box filled with self-dealing insiders whose scheme is the securing of individual profits at the expense of an ocean of unwitting involuntary shareholders, previously known as taxpayers.

Obama: destroyer of the Left… (by J –SOM at Liberal Rapture)
Cannonfire hits at a point I have been throwing into posts - sometimes at random - for a year. Obama will destroy the Left. “The country thinks that Obama is some sort of lefty. He isn't one, but that's what people think. If his plan fails - and it will - all left-ish solutions (real left and faux left) will be discredited.”

New rescue effort called key to resuming lending (AP)
The Obama administration says it hopes a new bank rescue initiative will generate $500 billion in purchasing power to buy up toxic assets and get them off the books of the nation's banks.
But wasn’t the last rescue effort called the key to resuming lending? And the one before that? And the one before that?—Caro

Worthless Shit For Sale (by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
As far as I can tell from the description, Geithner’s plan is the following:
1) We have big honkin’ piles of worthless shit.
2) Rather than admit that, we will pay other people to buy the worthless shit - while pretending it isn’t worthless. (Because, as my nana used to say, the fishmonger doesn’t yell, “Rotten fish for sale!”)
3) To entice them, we will guarantee they will not lose any money while buying the worthless shit - or at least, none to speak of. So who’s taking the bath? Let me guess: We, the People.

Obama and the Altar of Greed (by David Michael Green at Counter Punch)
Barack Obama is dumber than a bag of hammers. I never thought I'd say that about the guy… But if you're willing to risk the entirety of a potentially great presidency on making sure that a handful of already wealthy sociopaths who got rich destroying the global economy are not denied massive taxpayer-funded bonuses to keep them in jobs they've already completely mishandled, despite the fact that many of them took the money and left the job anyhow -- if that's you, and you're the new president of the United States with a load of challenges and lots of public good will solidly behind you -- well, then, you're dumber than a bag of hammers.

Despair over financial policy (by Paul Krugman)
[I]t’s immediately obvious, if you think about it, that these funds will have skewed incentives. In effect, Treasury will be creating — deliberately! — the functional equivalent of Texas S&Ls in the 1980s: financial operations with very little capital but lots of government-guaranteed liabilities. For the private investors, this is an open invitation to play heads I win, tails the taxpayers lose. So sure, these investors will be ready to pay high prices for toxic waste. After all, the stuff might be worth something; and if it isn’t, that’s someone else’s problem…

This plan will produce big gains for banks that didn’t actually need any help; it will, however, do little to reassure the public about banks that are seriously undercapitalized. And I fear that when the plan fails, as it almost surely will, the administration will have shot its bolt: it won’t be able to come back to Congress for a plan that might actually work. What an awful mess.

James K. Galbraith Reponds to Geithner’s Toxic Asset Plan (thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
If I’m right and the mortgages are largely trash, then the Geithner plan is a Rube Goldberg device for shifting inevitable losses from the banks to the Treasury, preserving the big banks and their incumbent management in all their dysfunctional glory. [Emphasis added.] The cost will be continued vast over-capacity in banking, and a consequent weakening of the remaining, smaller, better-managed banks who didn’t participate in the garbage-loan frenzy.

A piece of tape (by Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire)
Galbriath keeps repeating the phrase INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION OF THE LOAN TAPES… The term is a holdover from the days when computerized information was stored on tape. A "loan tape" offers a precis of the relevant data for each loan; if you're looking for signs of fraud, start with the tapes. Examining that data is the only way to determine how much each asset is truly worth. Otherwise, you are relying on the word of someone who may be a con artist. Geithner refuses to do that kind of investigation… Why does Geithner refuse to EXAMINE THE LOAN TAPES? Why does he refuse to do the necessary Sherlock Holmesing?

Because Holmes caught bad guys, and Timmy does not want to do that. Geithner is of the Street, and he wishes to protect his Street brethren. The Geithner solution encourages bankers to loot the system, because Uncle is paying the bills and no-one will hold the miscreants accountable for past or present misdeeds.
Of the Street, by the Street, and for the Street.—Caro

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Carolyn Kay

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pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

Did you hear that Tammy Bruce (a democrat in the Sean Hannity vein) called the Obamas "trash in the White House"?

Quarantine her, too. I never thought they would leave them alone, but I am always shocked at the slimy depths to which these assholes go.

It's going to be a very long four years. Reminds me of the same feeling about another democratic president.

Liberal media. Hilarious.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

as far as the bail-out scenario goes, I'm not an Obama fan. At all.

Almost no one in the media called Bush out for seven-and-a-half effing years.

Worst president Ever.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Dehumanizing nicknames (sheeple, for another example) do little to advance understanding.

I'm all for being critical of the bullying groupthink that made a sham of a mockery of the primaries, but please allow for the possibility that the folks who were part of all that might belong to our species.

Submitted by lambert on

That epithet always gave me the creeps, and now I know why.

Caro's picture
Submitted by Caro on

And like Bushbots?

Or must I call them Obama supporters, no matter what vile crap they've thrown at ME?

May I abbreviate it? But if I start calling them OS, is that dehumanizing?

Correctness above all, of course, except for certain people.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

It's called maturity. Dog knows there was little enough of that for such a long time.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

"Obama Fan Base" suggests the rah-rah nature of the support, without suggesting the people are not human.

Calling certain behavior "robotic," for example, is a perfectly legitimate description. Calling the people "robots," OTOH, is name-calling. We have the merits on our side, no need to cheapen our argument.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

WRT this:

Or must I call them Obama supporters, no matter what vile crap they've thrown at ME?

There are different types of Obama supporters* and that distinction is important, just as the distinction between Obama critics* is important.

I can think of three or four types of Obama supporters:

1.) Those who were fooled by the billion dollar marketing campaign but don't like much of what Obama has been doing lately.

2.) The True Believers. These will make up the majority of Obama's 25-30%. Nothing Obama does will ever be bad.

3.) Those who were involved in selling us Obama the brand (knowing he wasn't everything he was sold as) as well as lying about his opponents (those that pushed the darkened photo, racist Hillary supporter, etc. memes). These are the astroturfers and what not.

The fourth possible type are those who were likely part of the first group but upon realizing they were wrong and admitting it, morphed into either the second or third group. Its not hard to pick these folks out. I don't really find the first two groups so bad, even the true believers. They may be dramatically wrong, but they are wrong on good faith. The third group is where I aim my scorn, those who know they are wrong but don't care.

The same can probably be said of every person who was ever a "supporter".

* I don't really like to use "supporters" because that leads to a "with us or against us" dichotomy. I probably can't be considered a "supporter" per se, but I want, no need, Obama to succeed as a liberal. That's one type of critic--one who wants to pressure Obama to do what's best. The other type of critic are the Malkin/Limbaugh brigade who want Obama to fail (and wanting his policies to fail is the same as wanting him to fail, sorry).

Submitted by jawbone on

in this perceptive piece.

I would be asked was whether "the Left" -- meaning liberals and progressives -- would continue to embrace these principles with a Democrat in the White House, or whether they would instead replicate the behavior of the Right and uncritically support whatever the Democratic President decided. Though I could only speculate, I always answered -- because I believed -- that the events of the last eight years had so powerfully demonstrated and ingrained the dangers of uncritical support for political leaders that most liberals would be critical of and oppositional to a Democratic President when that President undertook actions in tension with progressive views.

Two months into Obama’s presidency, one can clearly conclude that this is true. Even though Obama unsurprisingly and understandably remains generally popular with Democrats and liberals alike, there is ample progressive criticism of Obama in a way that is quite healthy and that reflects a meaningful difference between the “conservative movement” and many progressives.

Over the last month, the Obama administration has made numerous decisions in the civil liberties area that are replicas of some of the most controversial and radical actions taken by the Bush administration, and the most vocal critics of those decisions by far were the very same people – ostensibly on "the Left" -- who spent the last several years objecting to the same policies as part of the Bush administration’s radicalism. Identically, many of Obama's most consequential foreign policy decisions -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan -- have been criticized by many on the Left. Opposition to Obama’s bank bailout plan is clearly being driven by liberal economists, pundits and bloggers, and much of the criticism over the AIG debacle came from liberals as well. There was pervasive liberal criticism over some of Obama's key appointments, including Tom Daschle, John Brennan and Tim Geithner. That's more independent progressive thinking in two months than the "conservative movement" exhibited with regard to Bush in six years.

It’s certainly true that one has no difficulty finding cult-like liberal veneration for Obama – those who invoke Bible-like "he’s-a-master-of-11-dimensional-chess" clichés to justify whatever he does (the Lord works in mysterious ways but even when we don't understand what He does, we Trust that He is Supremely Good and more Wise than us and knows best); who declare, in Bush-like "with-me-or-against-me" fashion, all critics of Obama to be the Enemy; who pay homage to Kim Jong Il-like imagery such as this and this; who believe that "trust" -- a sentiment appropriate for family and friends but not political leaders -- should be vested in Obama and thus negate any concerns over how he exercises power. Some overly-eager journalists and bloggers are devoted to carrying forth the administration's message (usually delivered anonymously) in exchange for favorable treatment and/our due to a painfully excessive sense of devotion, and there's a Democratic establishment with a built-in machinery to defend Obama no matter what he does.


A rational citizen, by definition, praises and supports political leaders only when they do the right thing (regardless of motive), and criticizes and opposes them when they don’t. It's just that simple. Cheerleading for someone because they're on "your team" is appropriate for a sporting event, not for political matters. Political leaders deserve support only to the extent that their actions, on a case-by-case basis, merit that support, and that has largely been the behavior of progressives towards Obama.

The nice well-reasoned, exquisitely well-worded, impermeable to argument, and utterly brilliant comment I wrote on this last night got wiped out (there's this button I've never used on my fancy-schmancy keyboard with a little "x" on it, lurking on the left side of the keyboard--and I just ran my fingers along the left side while proofing and -- poof!-- gone! Lost to the ages! Alas. So, make do with Greenwald.... Heh.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

contra-convention, but I have no problem with it because it captures the qualities of #2s and partially the #1s quite succinctly; it is the relentlessly mindless quality of 1s and 2s that is so dangerous and frightening. The Kool-Aid tag is actually more accurate on a couple of levels and not dehumanizing, but I don't see it around as much, perhaps because overuse has dulled the impact.

Isn't the quality of groupthink that makes it a negative phenonmenon exactly because it causes individuals to act in ways opposite to what we'd like to think of as human? Mob pile-ons to dissenters (or even to tiny variants) and repetition without thought? Groupthink produces a sort of multicellular organism that is not-human more than is-human. OFB doesn't quite capture the #2s -- eg, I'm a Springsteen fan, but I wouldn't open up my wallet and hand over all my money to his rich friends while drooling with rapture just because he told me to. Heck, I wouldn't even roam the internet viciously attacking non-fans and brownshirting Stones fans just because he told me to.