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Politics and Media Headlines 3/31/09

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The Rich are not different from you and me… (by Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors)
…they eat ramen noodles too. Harrod’s Pot Noodles ($43) come in a hand-flocked gold leaf cup.

America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout (by Chris Hedges at TruthDig, thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerilla)
We live in an age of moral nihilism. We have trashed our universities, turning them into vocational factories that produce corporate drones and chase after defense-related grants and funding. The humanities, the discipline that forces us to stand back and ask the broad moral questions of meaning and purpose, that challenges the validity of structures, that trains us to be self-reflective and critical of all cultural assumptions, have withered. Our press, which should promote such intellectual and moral questioning, confuses bread and circus with news and refuses to give a voice to critics who challenge not this bonus payment or that bailout but the pernicious superstructure of the corporate state itself. We kneel before a cult of the self, elaborately constructed by the architects of our consumer society, which dismisses compassion, sacrifice for the less fortunate, and honesty. The methods used to attain what we want, we are told by reality television programs, business schools and self-help gurus, are irrelevant. Success, always defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. The capacity for manipulation is what is most highly prized. And our moral collapse is as terrifying, and as dangerous, as our economic collapse.
Click through to read more. Moral decay is what destroyed the Roman Empire, and I don’t mean sexual moral decay. We have to address this problem, and we have to address it now. NOW NOW NOW, as Lambert would say.—Caro

Can Democrats Govern? (Political Wire)
Jonathan Chait: "George W. Bush came to office having lost the popular vote, with only 50 Republicans in the Senate... [Nonetheless,] Bush managed to enact several rounds of tax cuts that substantially exceeded those in his campaign platform, along with two war resolutions, a Medicare prescription drug benefit designed to maximize profits for the health care industry, energy legislation, education reform, and sundry other items… Obama has come into office having won the popular vote by seven percentage points, along with a 79-seat edge in the House, a 17-seat edge in the Senate, and massive public demand for change. But it's already clear he is receiving less, not more, deference from his own party."
Some Democrats did their best to help right wingers derail the Bill Clinton presidency. They pushed him as far as they could to the right. Oddly enough, many of those anti-Clinton folks were early Obama supporters. But now Obama has his own set of Blue Dogs to deal with. Remind me again why it’s supposed to be a good thing to have conservatives in the Democratic Party?—Caro

Will the Grassroots Drop their Anti-Blue Dog Campaigns? (by Brian Beutler at TPMDC)
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid laid the smackdown on progressive grassroots groups that are marshaling their efforts against a group of conservative Democrats. But did the grassroots get the message?... AUC has been running ads in the states of conservative Democrats urging constituents to "call congress" and "tell them to support President Obama's budget". Late Friday, they sent me a statement saying, "we agree with Senator Reid that Democrats should not be impeded from moving forward on this transformative budget and this is not a fight between Democrats."…

CAF, meanwhile, declines to comment on Reid's remarks altogether. Last week, the group featured their "Dog the Blue Dogs" campaign prominently on their website's home page, but today it's nowhere to be seen. For their part, MoveOn did not respond to a request for comment. They've been running similar ads in many of the same districts as AUC, though MoveOn calls out the targeted senators and congressmen by name.

Financial Rescue Approaches GDP as U.S. Pledges $12.8 Trillion (Bloomberg)
The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or guaranteed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year, to stem the longest recession since the 1930s. New pledges from the Fed, the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. include $1 trillion for the Public-Private Investment Program, designed to help investors buy distressed loans and other assets from U.S. banks. The money works out to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. and 14 times the $899.8 billion of currency in circulation. The nation’s gross domestic product was $14.2 trillion in 2008.
Why don’t they just give us (well, why don’t we lend ourselves) the $42,105? Oh, I know. We’re not BANKERS.—Caro

Obama and Wall Street, Part 2 (by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
Thomas Ferguson: [“Obama should save the banks, not the bankers.”]
Click through to watch the video.—Caro

Would thou were living at this hour (by Owen Paine at Stop Me Before I Vote Again)
"The Bank is trying to kill me -- but I will kill it." And Old Hickory did just that, unlike someone kooling it up in the White House now. President Jackson took on the financial octopus of his era, and despite the bank's aura of invincibility, he did kill it, after getting re-elected over the bank's peacock, Henry Clay, by a rampant 18-point margin and running off two money-stooge Treasury secretaries. He stood against it and its invisible fortune, its circle of bought men, and the London banks behind it; dared it "take your best shot," then after the bank did its damnedest, took steady aim -- bang! Made of adamantine stuff, that towering bastard.

Hey, he gave 'em fair warning. During his first year in office, king Andy set the bank's president -- the soft-handed fork-tongued slickster Nicholas Biddle, shown left -- straight: "I never trusted banks -- not after I read about the South Sea bubble." Words to live by.

Obama's Banking Rescue: O for Opaque (by Robert Kuttner, Co-Founder and Co-Editor of The American Prospect, writing at the Huffington Post)
It's possible that the Geithner plan will "work" in the sense of re-starting the Wall Street bubble machine, this time with a limitless line of direct credit from the Federal Reserve. If that happens, it will defer an even more serious day of reckoning, as the cost of the Fed's immense credit creation comes due. But the greater likelihood is that the plan will merely enrich some speculators, but neither bring zombie banks back to life, nor get a normal banking and credit system operating again. And then the administration will need to come back to Congress, this time with less credibility, with the economy in even worse shape, having burned through more than a trillion dollars.

We were promised unprecedented openness. In the most momentous area of policy for getting the economy functioning again for ordinary Americans, we have instead unprecedented secrecy, designed by and for Wall Street. We expected better of Obama.
Some of the Obamaphiles are finally waking up, and Joe Cannon wants apologies—from Bob Fertik of Democrats.com and from Robert Kuttner, quoted above. Me, I want them to crawl on their bellies like reptiles and THEN beg forgiveness.—Caro

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Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

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