Tuesday Reads: Philippines Disaster, Economics News, and the Concern Troll MediaPosted: November 12, 2013 Filed under: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, morning reads, The Great Recession, The Media SUCKS, the villagers, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: Alex Bolton, Andrew Huszar, Bart Chilton, Ben Bernanke, Chris Cillizza, concern troll media, Elizabeth Warren, Gary Gensler, Janet Yellen, Noam Scheiber, Philippines, Politico, Rebecca Ruth Guy, T-Bogg, Timothy G. Massad, Typhoon Haiyan 72 Comments
Boy did I ever get a shock when I looked out my window this morning and saw a mix of snow and rain coming down outside. Noooooo! It’s way too early for winter weather. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.
Now that I’ve looked at this morning’s news from the Philippines, I’m ashamed to be complaining about a little bit of freezing rain. The disaster following Typhoon Haiyan is beyond belief. ABC News talked to a 19-year-old American woman who who survived the massive storm.
Rebecca Ruth Guy, 19, was living in the city of Tacloban, which bore the full force of the winds and the tsunami-like storm surges Friday. Most of the city is in ruins, a tangled mess of destroyed houses, cars and trees.
“When the storm hit, our apartment was flooding so we tried opening the door but the flooding was already rising up to our chest,” Guy told ABC News.
Faced with a life-and-death situation, Guy’s friend smashed the window so they could climb to the roof and escape the storm surge, which is being blamed for a large part of the destruction and death.
“We got out to the roof,” she said. “The rain was coming, the winds were crazy and it was getting cold. So we ended up sandwiching together and holding onto one another for warmth, praying for protection of the people.
“The most harrowing was when I saw women and children piled under tarpaulin, and when I saw dogs skewered on gates, cars thrown into buildings, people trying to find something to eat, water to drink,” she added.
According to the article, the U.S. sent planes to evacuate Americans living in the Philippines; other residents aren’t so fortunate.
CNN is reporting that 1,774 people are dead; but that number will continue to rise.
Cebu, Philippines (CNN) — Typhoon Haiyan has killed too many people to count so far and pushed to the brink of survival thousands more who have lost everything, have no food or medical care and are drinking filthy water to stay alive.
By Tuesday, officials had counted 1,774 of the bodies, but say that number may just be scratching the surface. They fear Haiyan may have taken as many as 10,000 lives.
The storm has injured 2,487 more since it made landfall six times last Friday, the government said. It has displaced at least 800,000 people, the U.N. said Tuesday.
Unfortunately a new storm and an earthquake have hindered rescue efforts.
As authorities rush to save the lives of survivors four days after Haiyan ripped the Philippines apart, a new tropical low, Zoraida, blew in Tuesday delivering more rain, the Philippine national weather agency PAGASA reported.
Zoraida is not a strong storm, but has dumped just under four inches of rain in some places, CNN meteorologists say….
An earthquake also rattled part of the affected area. The 4.8 magnitude temblor shook San Isidro Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
Here are a few more links about the storm and its aftereffects:
The Week: The terrible destruction of Typhoon Haiyan. This one has a number of shocking photos like the one to the left.
CNN: How it happened: Tracing Typhoon Haiyan’s havoc in the Philippines (lots more photos at this link)
NPR: WHO Rates Typhoon’s Medical Challenges ‘Monumental’
NPR: ‘It Looks Like A 50-Mile Wide Tornado’ Hit The Philippines
CTC News: Typhoon Haiyan: Before and after photos of storm’s damage
In other news, here’s one that will interest Dakinikat: Obama to Tap Treasury Official as Top Derivatives Regulator. From The New York Times Dealbook blog:
President Obama will nominate Timothy G. Massad as the new chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Tuesday, a White House aide said, choosing the senior Treasury Department official to run an agency that polices some of Wall Street’s riskiest activity.
If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Massad will succeed Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs banker who overhauled the agency in the wake of the financial crisis. Mr. Gensler, credited with turning one of Wall Street’s laxest regulators into one of its most aggressive, must leave office at the end of the year when his term officially expires.
Mr. Massad, an assistant secretary of the Treasury who oversaw the unwinding of the government’s bailout program stemming from the financial crisis, would join the agency as it undergoes a makeover.
Bart Chilton, the agency’s most liberal commissioner, announced last week that he would soon depart. David Meister, the enforcement director who led actions against some of the world’s biggest banks, departed the agency last month. And Jill E. Sommers, a Republican commissioner, left months ago.
The vacancies have raised the stakes for Mr. Massad’s nomination. If Mr. Chilton and Mr. Gensler depart before their successors are confirmed, the five-member commission will be down to just two members: one Republican, Scott D. O’Malia, and one Democrat, Mark Wetjen.
That would not be good. I know Dakinikat is busy today, but here’s another article for her to weigh in on if she has time: Confessions of a Quantitative Easer. From Andrew Huszar at the Wall Street Journal:
I can only say: I’m sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed’s first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.
Five years ago this month, on Black Friday, the Fed launched an unprecedented shopping spree. By that point in the financial crisis, Congress had already passed legislation, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, to halt the U.S. banking system’s free fall. Beyond Wall Street, though, the economic pain was still soaring. In the last three months of 2008 alone, almost two million Americans would lose their jobs.
The Fed said it wanted to help—through a new program of massive bond purchases. There were secondary goals, but Chairman Ben Bernanke made clear that the Fed’s central motivation was to “affect credit conditions for households and businesses”: to drive down the cost of credit so that more Americans hurting from the tanking economy could use it to weather the downturn. For this reason, he originally called the initiative “credit easing.”
Huzar claims that Janet Yellen will likely continue Bernanke’s policies.
Even when acknowledging QE’s shortcomings, Chairman Bernanke argues that some action by the Fed is better than none (a position that his likely successor, Fed Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen, also embraces). The implication is that the Fed is dutifully compensating for the rest of Washington’s dysfunction. But the Fed is at the center of that dysfunction. Case in point: It has allowed QE to become Wall Street’s new “too big to fail” policy.
More pundits are joining the anti-Hillary ranks. According to The Hill’s Alex Bolton:
Liberal leaders want Hillary Clinton to face a primary challenge in 2016 if she decides to run for president.
The goal of such a challenge wouldn’t necessarily be to defeat Clinton. It would be to prevent her from moving to the middle during the Democratic primary.
“I do think the country would be well served if we had somebody who would force a real debate about the policies of the Democratic Party and force the party to debate positions and avoid a coronation,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, an influential progressive group….
Clinton raised concern among the Democratic Party’s populist base when she recently accepted an estimated $400,000 from Goldman Sachs for two speeches.
Influential progressives wonder whether someone who accepted such a large sum from one of Wall Street’s biggest investment firms could be expected to hold corporate executives accountable if elected president.
They also wonder how aggressively she’d call for addressing income inequality, which many see as one of the biggest economic problems facing the nation.
That’s odd, since Obama ran to Hillary’s right in 2008 and received more contributions from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms than either Hillary or John McCain. But let’s not get caught up in facts…
Politico has taken up the suggestion from Noam Scheiber at The New Republic that Dakinikat wrote about yesterday that Elizabeth Warren should run against Hillary. Concern trolls Ben White and Maggie Haberman write:
There are three words that strike terror in the hearts of Wall Street bankers and corporate executives across the land: President Elizabeth Warren.
The anxiety over Warren grew Monday after a magazine report suggested the bank-bashing Democratic senator from Massachusetts could mount a presidential bid in 2016 and would not necessarily defer to Hillary Clinton — who is viewed as far more business-friendly — for the party’s nomination.
And the fear is not only that Warren, who channels an increasingly popular strain of Occupy Wall Street-style anti-corporatism, might win. That is viewed by many political analysts as a slim possibility. It is also that a Warren candidacy, and even the threat of one, would push Clinton to the left in the primaries and revive arguments about breaking up the nation’s largest banks, raising taxes on the wealthy and otherwise stoking populist anger that is likely to also play a big role in the Republican primaries.
So what does Warren think about all this?
A spokesperson for Warren declined to comment on whether she would consider a presidential bid against Clinton, though Warren has previously said she has no plans to run. People close to Warren note that she signed a letter from female Democratic senators urging Clinton to run in 2016. And Warren associates, mindful of any appearance of creating the narrative of a Warren-for-president campaign, have corresponded with Clinton associates to stress that they didn’t fuel the New Republic story by Noam Scheiber.
Assholes. Hey, I have an idea–why not get Kirstin Gillibrand to run against Hillary too? Of course Chris Cillizza is also rooting for Warren and Clinton to destroy each other’s chances to do anything positive about the economy:
Quick, name someone who would have a realistic chance of beating out Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential nomination. Martin O’Malley? Nope. Joe Biden? Maybe but probably not. Howard Dean. No way. There’s only answer to that question that makes even a little sense. And that answer is Elizabeth Warren.
And so on… bla bla bla… Don’t these idiots have anything important to write about? Like maybe jobs, children without food or health care, or the upcoming battle over the debt limit?
Thank goodness for TBogg at Raw Story: What if Elizabeth Warren went back in time and smothered Baby Hitler in his crib?
If you have been perambulating about the internet these past few days, the above is exactly the kind of linkbait bullshit narratives that are being peddled by people who have wearied talking about President of New Jerseymerica Chris Christie or whether Rand Paul was the real life inspiration for the J.L. Borges short story, Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote. It seems that frustrated writers lacking hobbies have turned their lonely eyes to the Democratic side of the 2016 presidential election which is just around the corner, if by corner, you mean: three years from now. But with Hilary “Killary” Clinton pretty much chillaxing with the nomination ripe for the taking (providing she doesn’t rehire Mark Penn, aka The Man Who Could Fuck Up A Baked Potato) there isn’t a whole lot of tension the likes of which you can find on a daily basis on the Republican Wingnut Flavor of the Week side.
So naturally, Noam Scheiber felt obligated to create some Democratic conflict. T-Bogg responds:
I love Elizabeth Warren. I would totally have her baby if she would have me. You love Elizabeth Warren. We all love Elizabeth Warren. Someday Elizabeth Warren t-shirts may very well become as ubiquitous as Che T’s. But, outside of the hazy crazy patchouli-scented fever palaces that are the comment sections of the manic progressive websites, nobody really thinks that Warren could, would, or should run an insurgent primary campaign against Clinton. And, to be quite frank, those who think Warren should run to in order to “start a conversation” are the kind of people who have attempted this kind of thing in the past and , as my grandmother used to put it, “don’t have dick to show for it”.
Read his replies to Politico and Cillizza at the link. BTW, I wrote comment before I discovered T-Bogg’s piece. Great minds think alike, but T-Bogg expressed my reactions so much better than I could.
That should be enough to get us started on the day’s news. What stories are you following? Please post your links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!
Thursday Reads: Bitter White Men, the Petraeus Affair, and GOP CluelessnessPosted: November 15, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Discrimination against women, Monsanto, morning reads, U.S. Economy, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: Benghazi attacks, David Petraeus, Diane Feinstein, Eric Cantor, Frederick W. Humphries III, GOP conspiracy theories, Jill Kelley, John Derbyshire, Kevin MacDonald, meritocracy, military and women, mind control, Noam Scheiber, Paula Broadwell, Rosa Brooks, White nationalist groups, White supremacists 55 Comments
Following on Dakinikat’s post about the bitter old white men who can’t handle four more years with a black president, I recommend you read a scary article by J.M. Berger at Foreign Policy on “Why white nationalists are thrilled with Obama’s victory.” Several white supremacist leaders are quoted in the piece; I’ll just give you a couple of examples.
Kevin MacDonald, a professor of psychology whose anti-Semitic writings make him a favorite of Neo-Nazis, penned a pro-secession piece for a prominent white identity site, The Occidental Observer, that might finally get him fired from California State University, where he inexplicably still works.
White males constituted only 34% of the electorate and this will continue to decline. It’s no accident that stocks of gun companies soared after the election, even though the stock market as a whole took a dive. What we have here is a situation in which around 70% of traditional American White men (correcting for the overly inclusive White’ category used by the media) are now pretty much officially disenfranchised in a country where they see themselves as the founding population. That’s a lot of angry White men….
It may take a while for this 70% to wake up to the reality that they are politically impotent. But it will happen. Separatist movements in the many states that are deeply red are certainly a possibility. … Is there any other realistic alternative? Apart from futile violence against the Leviathan, do White men really have any other choice?
The concept of a wake-up call articulated by MacDonald was widely echoed in posts on white nationalist blogs and forums. Some thought it would come sooner, others thought it might come later, but many agreed the writing was on the wall.
Then there’s John Derbyshire, who was fired from National Review earlier this year.
When you look at the overall picture, however, we are still fighting the Civil War. That is to say, the contest was mainly between two huge groups of white people who don’t much like each other, with the colored folk playing a marginal role. That’s how it was in the War Between the States, and that’s how it still is today.
He went on to suggest whites will ultimately have no choice but to unite as a race-based voting bloc. The current problem, Derbyshire explained, was that “Republicans are white, sure enough, but whites are not Republican.”
Berger concludes that when these groups finally realize that history and demographics are leaving them behind, they will have no choice but to turn to violence. I just hope the Secret Service and FBI are aware of and ready to deal with this threat from the right.
Disgraced General David Petraeus will testify before Congress on Benghazi today “behind closed doors,” according to the Washington Post.
He is likely to be asked — both by reporters on his way in and by lawmakers — about any possible intelligence breaches involving his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Law enforcement officials said Broadwell is the woman with whom the retired general has acknowledged having an affair….
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday that Petraeus has agreed to testify. After his sudden resignation, acting CIA Director Michael Morell had been tapped to appear in Petreaus’s place.
“Gen. Petraeus is willing to come before the committee and the details will be worked out,” Feinstein said.
Noam Scheiber has an interesting and thoughtful piece about the relationship between Paula Broadstone and David Petraeus: Paula Broadwell, a Hanger-On in King Petraeus’s Court. According to Scheiber, the people around Petraeus could not understand how Broadwell managed to get so close to this supposedly “intellectual” general.
Petraeus wasn’t just the Army’s most famous general. He was the military’s best-known and most accomplished intellectual. If he wanted an official biography, he could have had his pick of dozens of scholars and writers. “My gosh, if you are going to have someone interview everyone who has ever touched you in your life, choose someone who has written a biography or at least a history book,” Peter Mansoor, one of the general’s top aides, told The Washington Post.
Scheiber describes Petraeus as the “ultimate meritocrat–with his Ph.D. from Princeton and his reputation as a “brainiac.”
[T]he term “meritocracy”—a bit like its cousin, “the best and the brightest”—wasn’t actually intended to be complimentary. It entered the lexicon through a book, “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” by the British social thinker Michael Young, who imagined a dystopian world in which a small group of highly educated elites controls society. The meritocrats persuade themselves that, unlike the ruling classes that came before them, they are uniquely deserving of power because they earned it rather than inherited it. (And they have the SAT scores to prove it, by God!) And yet, over time, they somehow manage to become just as inbred, self-serving, and corrupt.
Over time, Petraeus went through that same transformation, surrounding himself with
…growing hoards of groupies who descended on his command posts, including conservative think-tankers from Washington, for whom he arranged office space and aircraft….Paula Broadwell, it turns out, was the kind of hanger-on whose arrival heralds a meritocracy in decline. Outwardly, she checked all the right sociological boxes: High school valedictorian, all-state basketball player, West Point alum, Harvard master’s degree. But, up close, she could be remarkably shallow. “There was no room for a conversation of shortcomings of the Petraeus theology. She wasn’t a reporter. She struck me as an acolyte,” a wonk who met her told the Post. “I was underwhelmed….
What Broadwell excelled at instead was leveraging credentials to impress fellow achievers. She didn’t stop at her own. When my friend met her, she was fond of pointing out that her husband was no mere radiologist but a special breed known as an “interventional radiologist.” (She would draw out the word “interventional” for emphasis.) Later, she would boast about hanging out with the glitterati on the panel-discussion circuit—“Heading 2 @AspenInstitute 4 the Security Forum tomorrow! Panel (media & terrorism) followed by a 1v1 run with Lance Armstrong,” she recently tweeted, according to the Times. She was a kind of successful-person trophy collector who made no apologies for her ambitions. (My friend remembers the Facebook appeal in which she asked, “Can anyone introduce me to Lance Armstrong?”)
It’s a fascinating article, and an antidote to all the trashy coverage of the Petraeus-Broadwell scandal in much of the corporate media.
Rosa Brooks has written another serious article on the Petraeus affair at Foreign Policy: Sex and the Modern Soldier. Brooks asks:
Does the U.S. military have an adultery problem? A woman problem? A generic, all-purpose craziness, sleaze, and corruption problem? A public-image problem?
Answering these questions in order, I can offer a definitive “sort of,” “kind of, “maybe,” and “very possibly.”
The article is too long and detailed to sum up quickly, but here’s an excerpt from the section on the military’s “woman problem.”
The military remains plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and a number of studies by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that women in the military face higher rates of sexual assault than do civilian women. Here again, no big surprise: The military remains an overwhelmingly male — and overwhelmingly macho — institution. Women are outnumbered and often rendered nearly invisible in a culture in which nearly all senior officers are male.
This extends to the home front, as well. In certain ways, the informal culture of military officers resembles the 1950s more than the 21st century. Military life isn’t just hard on marriage — it’s also hard on the careers of the (mostly female) civilian spouses of military personnel. Rising up the career ladder isn’t easy when you move from one military base to another every few years. One military friend of mine recalls a general telling junior officers — in a recent lecture at an official Army command training event — that they should actively discourage their wives from pursuing careers, because career women would be less supportive and flexible military wives. And though official publications now speak of officers’ “spouses” rather than “wives,” the military still produces etiquette guides for spouses, with a rather gendered focus on appropriate forms of address at social functions and the proper pouring of tea and coffee.
Yuck. Read all about it at the link.
Last link on the Petraeus clusterfu&ck: The NYT has learned the name of the mystery FBI agent who sent shirtless photos to Jill Kelley and disrupted the investigation by contacting Rep. Eric Cantor.
The F.B.I. agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a “hard-charging” veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.
The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the F.B.I. investigation involving Mr. Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons — a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified — he took his concerns to Congressional Republicans.
“Fred is a passionate kind of guy,” one former colleague said. “He’s kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he’d be a bulldog.”
Humphries says that the shirtless photos were sent to Jill Kelley long before the Petraeus investigation and were simply a “joke.”
I know everyone has probably heard already about how Mitt Romney spoke to donors yesterday on a conference call and insulted women, African Americans, Latinos, and young people by claiming that these groups voted to reelect Barack Obama because he <a showered them with “gifts” during his first term. But I can’t help including it, because it’s so typical of the cluelessness that Romney and his supporters showed throughout his campaign. Here’s how the NYT Caucus Blog reported on the call:
In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”
“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.” ….
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
Breathtaking, isn’t it? This man really needs to go away and never be heard from again. I certainly hope Obama won’t consult him on anything, including what the weather is like outside his window. Goodbye, Mitt. Please don’t ever come back.
Finally, this one is for JJ. Check out this article at Mother Jones: Top Georgia GOP Lawmakers Host Briefing on Secret Obama Mind-Control Plot.
President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as “Delphi” to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That’s according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.
On October 11, at a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus convened by the body’s majority leader, Chip Rogers, a tea party activist told Republican lawmakers that Obama was mounting this most diabolical conspiracy. The event—captured on tape by a member of the Athens-based watchdog Better Georgia (who was removed from the room after 52 minutes)—had been billed as an information session on Agenda 21, a nonbinding UN agreement that commits member nations to promote sustainable development. In the eyes of conservative activists, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot that includes forcibly relocating non-urban-dwellers and prescribing mandatory contraception as a means of curbing population growth. The invitation to the Georgia state Senate event noted the presentation would explain: “How pleasant sounding names are fostering a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to ‘save the earth.'”
There’s much much more insanity at the link.
Now what’s on your reading and blogging list for today?
Tuesday Reads: Tim Geithner in Control of Obama’s Economic Policy, and Other NewsPosted: February 15, 2011 Filed under: Bailout Blues, Barack Obama, Economic Develpment, Egypt, financial institutions, Foreign Affairs, Global Financial Crisis, Gulf Oil Spill, Iran, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics, unemployment, Yemen | Tags: Barack Obama, Financial Markets, Larry Summers, Noam Scheiber, The New Republic, Timothy Geithner, Wall Street 22 Comments
Good Morning!! The snow is slowly melting outside my house, and I’ve come down with Spring fever! No more snowstorms please, Mother Nature. Anyway, at least for this week, we are getting temperatures in the 40s and 50s. It is going to be chilly again tomorrow, but after that–springlike! After the frigid winter we’ve lived through, these temperatures feel amazing. Maybe this will make the bad news from DC a little more bearable. I hope so.
This morning I want to focus on an important article that comes via David Dayen at FDL. It’s a piece at The New Republic about Timothy Geithner, written by Noam Scheiber. First a little aside.
Back in November, I wrote a post about the axing of Obama’s economic team and noted that Geither was the last man standing.
In that post, I quoted Andrew Cockburn of Counterpunch:
If Barack Obama needed any help in guiding the Democratic Party over the cliff he certainly got it from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Voters have told pollsters that the state of the economy, their own in particular, was their principle concern. Though impelled by the specter of unemployment and homelessness, the image of Geithner, toady to the bankers, can only have encouraged them in their fury. A sensible president would therefore already be running out the plank prior to giving this disastrous financial overseer an encouraging shove between the shoulders. But in this case, we may not be that lucky. CounterPunch can reveal the crucial role played in these matters by a group close to the President but unknown to the outside world.
A knowledgeable insider told Cockburn that despite Larry Summers’ reputation as a corporate tool,
“Larry has some idea that there is more to the economy than just the welfare of large banks,” this official suggests. “He did push for a larger stimulus and more jobs programs, for example. Tim just cares about banks.”
I then went on to indulge in a little conspiracy theorizing based on Cockburn’s information. But that’s beside the point right now. The point is that after writing that post, I came to the conclusion that Geithner was running economic policy in the Obama administration.
Getting back to the article at TNR, Scheiber purports to explain how Geithner survived the massacre of the economists. One interesting tidbit in the lengthy article is about Geithner’s relationship with Larry Summers, who acted as Geithner’s mentor and patron early on.
In 1993, Geithner caught the attention of [a] prominent patron—Larry Summers—whom Bill Clinton had appointed as his treasury undersecretary. Summers took a personal interest in Geithner’s career and promoted him each time he rose through the Treasury ranks.
And then during the Obama administration, Geithner apparently stabbed his patron in the back, becoming President Obama’s primary economic adviser–even though Geithner isn’t an economist. (Neither is anyone else on Obama current “economic team,” as Dakinikat frequently points out.)
Geithner actually sounds a lot like Obama–he’s really good at sucking up and convincing people he’s on their side–until he slides in the knife. Regarding Geithner’s time at the IMF, Scheiber writes:
According to former co-workers, Geithner was deft at bringing skeptical colleagues on board. One technique involved homing in on possible dissidents and absorbing their suggestions into his proposals.
Sound familiar? A bit more:
Perhaps most important, Geithner was scrupulously attuned to the temperament of the boss. Like Obama, he evinced a strong aversion to blather. During meetings with the president, he would say little, and usually not until the end, when his opinion was solicited. “I thought [Geithner] got the president really well,” says a former administration official who interacted with him on nonfinancial matters. “When he was in trouble, I said to someone, ‘He just needs to hold on. He’ll be fine with Obama. Once they get to know each other, they’re like the same person.’”
Scheiber describes an epic struggle between Geithner and Summers over how to deal with the banks that had crashed the U.S. economy. Summers argued for some form of nationalization, while Geithner claimed the banks just needed more capital and they could recover.
If Geithner was right, the capital shortfall was much more manageable than Summers feared. The banks might be able to fill it with minimal government help, simply by selling shares to investors. But, if he was wrong, the banks would stumble along in a kind of vampire state, sucking credit from the economy and exacerbating the recession. In the worst case, fears of insolvency could trigger a modern-day version of Depression-era bank runs.
Hey, wait a minute. That sounds like what is happening to our economy right now. But, never mind, Geithner won the battle that counted–the battle for Obama’s favor.
Part of what Geithner convinced Obama of was “that it was ultimately better politics to risk a backlash with unemployment at 10 percent than to feed the backlash and watch the economy shrink further.” So it’s Geithner we have to thank for the new normal of high unemployment, poverty, and suffering among the middle, working, and lower classes.
Finally, what horrified David Dayen was Geithner’s out-front claim that–in Dayen’s words, “what’s good for Wall Street is good for America.” Geithner:
“I don’t have any enthusiasm for … trying to shrink the relative importance of the financial system in our economy as a test of reform, because we have to think about the fact that we operate in the broader world,” he said. “It’s the same thing for Microsoft or anything else. We want U.S. firms to benefit from that.” He continued: “Now financial firms are different because of the risk, but you can contain that through regulation.” This was the purpose of the recent financial reform, he said. In effect, Geithner was arguing that we should be as comfortable linking the fate of our economy to Wall Street as to automakers or Silicon Valley.
In response, Dayen writes:
I don’t even know what to say about this. We’re just a few years removed from the financial oligarchs destroying the global economy through their own greed and negligence. And the man put in charge of regulating them, who had a front-row seat to all this destruction and who has been given expanded powers under Dodd-Frank to see to it that never happens again, thinks that there’s a great “financial deepening” about to take place where the demand for sophisticated financial innovations will jump. Therefore, the financial sector will need to grow and become the most reliable spur of the US economy. That’s his feeling. And regulation can reduce the risk, even though the new regulations barely put a dent into Wall Street’s core business, and are being systematically defunded besides.
Financialization of the economy has led to practically nothing but pain for the average worker and risk for the taxpayer. It has turned the allocation of capital into the placing of bets at a casino, and the stock market into a particularly sophisticated video poker game. This territory was all covered before in the run-up to the Great Depression as well, and we know the precise causes and remedies involved. Geithner prefers not to address the plutocracy he’s really advancing here – where elites provide “financial deepening” services abroad and amass ridiculous profits that they wall off.
This incredibly amoral conman is partnering with our conman chief executive to sell out our country, our lives, and those of our children and grandchildren. There’s lots more of interest in the article, particularly the information about Geithner’s upbringing.
I’ll wrap this up with a few other stories, and then throw the floor open to your links and opinions. Did you hear that Stephen Baldwin is suing Kevin Costner over Costner’s oil-eating invention?
It seems Baldwin sold his shares in Costner’s company right before BP shelled out $50 million for the machines.
Jane Hamsher offers a flow-chart of the principle players in the scandal over US Chamber of Commerce’s attempts to discredit Wikileaks, Glenn Greenwald, Brad Friedman, David House, and others who have supported wikileaks and Bradley Manning. Joseph Cannon has also been covering this story.
Brad Friedman’s post especially is a must read. Get this, the Chamber paid 2 million dollars a month for dirt on Friedman, and got completely inaccurate information. And that inaccurate information came from corporations who are paid billions by our government “to target terrorists.” But Obama wants to cancel heating assistance for poor people to save money.
Mitt Romney is ahead in the latest NH poll, at 40%, for whatever that’s worth. Romney was always going to win NH. They always vote for New Englanders up there. The real test for Romney will be Iowa.
The Patriot Act extension has been passed by the House on the second try. I think the Egyptians will probably get rid of their emergency law before we get rid of ours.
There are “massive” protests in Iran, inspired by the dramatic events in Egypt. There have also been more protests in Yemen and in Bahrain. When will it happen here?
What are you reading and blogging about today?