Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 24, 2009

Obama Needs To Walk His Talk

Barack Obama today has an OpEd in more than 30 international papers about the economic situation and on steps to take to better it. Headlined A time for global action Obama writes:

My message is clear: The United States is ready to lead, and we call upon our partners to join us with a sense of urgency and common purpose.

I am quite sure that people around the world do not want the U.S. to lead here. Why are those who essentially created the mess believe they are the best capable to solve it?

At home, we are working aggressively to stabilize our financial system. This includes an honest assessment of the balance sheets of our major banks, and will lead directly to lending that can help Americans purchase goods, stay in their homes and grow their businesses.

The Geithner plan is to subsidize the purchase of 'toxic assets'. That subsidy will lead to - again - miss-pricing of those assets. How can that further an honest assessment of balance sheets?

The G-20 should quickly deploy resources to stabilize emerging markets, substantially boost the emergency capacity of the International Monetary Fund and help regional development banks accelerate lending. Meanwhile, America will support new and meaningful investments in food security that can help the poorest weather the difficult days that will come.

Just what Africa and other poor areas need. More IMF pressure to 'open' their economies and more heavily subsidized U.S. agricultural products that destroy their local farming communities.

Rigorous transparency and accountability must check abuse, and the days of out-of-control compensation must end.

Then why does the Senate, under White House pressure, now stalls high taxes on bonuses in bailed out companies?

This G-20 meeting provides a forum for a new kind of global economic cooperation. Now is the time to work together to restore the sustained growth that can only come from open and stable markets that harness innovation, support entrepreneurship and advance opportunity.

"Open and stable markets ..." So why did the U.S. president just signed a law that will, against the letters and intend of an international agreement, no longer allow Mexican truck drivers to ferry loads inside the U.S.?

Obama has lots of great words in that well written OpEd. But where are the actions that support those shiny words? 

Unless Obama walks the talk on this, and there is no sign that intends to do so, the world will not take him seriously.

Posted by b on March 24, 2009 at 03:44 PM | Permalink

Comments

"Why are those who essentially created the mess assumed capable to solve it?"

that is not a bug that is a feature.

Posted by: outsider | Mar 24, 2009 3:54:09 PM | 1

the illusion of Obama--and the mists of rhetoric he shrouds his persona with--is a shared national hallucination that must end. the surreal step of visiting Jay Leno is a clear indication Obama knows his holographic projection is sometimes faulty, and that the more perceptive members of the herd are starting to formulate tough questions that are sure to have uncomfortable answers if pressed.

sparking a trade dispute with Mexico is strange, unless he's laying the groundwork for a larger future distraction--i mean, just take labor interests, a raging cross-border drug war, illegal immigration, and heavy doses of xenophobia, and you've got a good recipe for some kind of flareup to channel mounting domestic suspicion that our skilled rhetorician is actually just another two-faced pol stalling and blowing hot air while his major financial backers continue looting the federal coffers.

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 24, 2009 4:43:31 PM | 2

Ready to lead. The Chinese should plop a little turd in the punchbowl at the Fed's Monday operation, lighten up on Treasuries a bit. That would shut Obama up. Along with Jamie Dimon, his ventriloquist.

Posted by: ...---... | Mar 24, 2009 6:06:03 PM | 3

Why are those who essentially created the mess believe they are the best capable to solve it?

Oh, brother. Here we go again.

Euro bankers are as much a "cause" as anyone else.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 24, 2009 6:34:22 PM | 4

"Ready to lead. . ."

This must be code language. What have we led in except protecting banks? The Europeans already knew how to do this. What else does he have in mind? What European or Chinese initiative is he afraid of? Is this the response to the Special Drawing Rights announcement yesterday?

Posted by: senecal | Mar 24, 2009 6:48:39 PM | 5

CNBC warning that there will be no "private" in the government's public/private asset plan since congress is reaching back to confiscate profits/bonuses.

Watch for Obama to address this dilemma tonight and forcefully rule out the clawbacks.

Posted by: vachon | Mar 24, 2009 6:49:24 PM | 6

it seems as if the chinese comrades aare prepared to drop a poop or two in the punchbowl, very soon

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 24, 2009 7:01:09 PM | 7

Unless Obama walks the talk on this, and there is no sign that intends to do so, the world will not take him seriously.

No, no, It the world that needs to walk the talk, to walk away and get off the Hopium.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 24, 2009 7:03:22 PM | 8

I knew this dirtbag was a lying, warmongering, AIPAC fellating little bitch before the election, but even I'm surprised at how awful he is since taking office and how lustily he's spit in the face of progressives that fought to elect him.

great words? well-written? looks like the standard issue hypocritical horseshit to me. there's more beauty in one r'giap paragraph than in every document the worthless US government will squeeze out all year.


Posted by: ran | Mar 24, 2009 7:14:10 PM | 9

that our skilled rhetorician is actually just another two-faced pol stalling and blowing hot air while his major financial backers continue looting the federal coffers.

since congress is reaching back to confiscate profits/bonuses.

For a single moment after they announced 90% tax for bonuses I thought that finally something make sense nowadays...But no...it's not going to happen...
Mr Obama will not let it happen.Then again I thought : Why TF I was tricked to believe that Obama is right man who's going to actually CHANGE anything? If he really was that man they (we all know who they are...few owners of USA) wouldn't allow him to be elected...or if he really democratically was elected (were they ever?) and really try to change anything important , they would kill him.While he is alive and well established in White house there is nothing of the CHANGE to be expected...

Posted by: vbo | Mar 24, 2009 7:14:43 PM | 10

With the blogs all aflutter about this latest dose of......Hopium (I love you now, $cam...)... I wonder what story is getting buried?

This seems to me (and I'm a fool, of course) a bit of a distraction, kind of like the cannons in the 1812 overture: the cannons mask the mind numbing repetitiveness of that godawful motif.

Anyway, I hope you're all well.

Posted by: Jeremiah | Mar 24, 2009 8:33:42 PM | 11

http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1887466,00.html

I suggest making bets you know you cannot pay up could be and normally would be persecuted as fraud

in the meantime
al jazeera has found a new topic nobody else reports upon

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/03/200932320291915843.html
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/03/2009324192848169538.html

Posted by: outsider | Mar 24, 2009 9:23:35 PM | 12

Obama is going to end up being worse than Bush the way he is going. He has
surrounded himself with Clinton neoliberals and neocons and he is just letting them run the show. He seems oblivious to the consequences.
I've got to believe most if not all his most loyal supporters are in a
state of shock being betrayed by this con man.

Posted by: ecoli | Mar 24, 2009 10:55:55 PM | 13

ecoli 14) obama is resembling ray nagin more and more every day: "Brown'y! Where is that crackah?"

Posted by: Jeff Leon | Mar 24, 2009 11:15:53 PM | 14

American Notes for General Circulation
by Charles Dickens

Chapter XVIII: Concluding Remarks

[...] THERE are many passages in this book, where I have been at some pains to resist the temptation of troubling my readers with my own deductions and conclusions: preferring that they should judge for themselves, from such premises as I have laid before them.

But I may be pardoned, if on such a theme as the general character of the American people, and the general character of their social system, as presented to a stranger's eyes, I desire to express my own opinions in a few words, before I bring these volumes to a close.

A prominent feature is the love of 'smart' dealing: which gilds over many a swindle and gross breach of trust; many a defalcation, public and private; and enables many a knave to hold his head up with the best, who well deserves a halter; though it has not been without its retributive operation, for this smartness has done more in a few years to impair the public credit, and to cripple the public resources, than dull honesty, however rash, could have effected in a century.

The merits of a broken speculation, or a bankruptcy, or of a successful scoundrel, are not gauged by its or his observance of the golden rule, 'Do as you would be done by,' but are considered with reference to their smartness.

I recollect, on both occasions of our passing that ill- fated Cairo on the Mississippi, remarking on the bad effects such gross deceits must have when they exploded, in generating a want of confidence abroad, and discouraging foreign investment: but I was given to understand that this was a very smart scheme by which a deal of money had been made: and that its smartest feature was, that they forgot these things abroad, in a very short time, and speculated again, as freely as ever.

The following dialogue I have held a hundred times:

'Is it not a very disgraceful circumstance that such a man as So-and-so should be acquiring a large property by the most infamous and odious means, and notwithstanding all the crimes of which he has been guilty, should be tolerated and abetted by your Citizens?

He is a public nuisance, is he not?'

'Yes, sir.' 'A convicted liar?' 'Yes, sir.'

'He has been kicked, and cuffed, and caned?'

'Yes, sir.'

'And he is utterly dishonourable, debased, and profligate?'

'Yes, sir.'

'In the name of wonder, then, what is his merit?'

'Well, sir, he is a smart man.'

Posted by: Dolce | Mar 25, 2009 12:27:21 AM | 15


first, both the amounts of funds that the USA has already spent as well as any maximum that the USA is going to be realistically able to spend to bail-out its financial institutions are much smaller than the potential obligations collectively faced by these institutions & the nation if the situation takes a serious wrong turn. And there just are'nt any good options available to the USA. As it is, for the many stakeholders in these CDS's & toxic assets, these instruments constitute the difference between life & death and we're talking a lot of global entities. And if & when things should start to implode, there just is not going to be much that can be done to avoid a massive domino effect on the global economy.

also, theres a common mis-perception that the USA retains the option to employ an aggressive & methodical approach towards solving the crisis. The better option however is that the USA is far better off taking a defensive approach that includes preparing contingencies for rocky days ahead.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 25, 2009 1:37:25 AM | 16

I saw most of Obama's press conference this evening. He handled the press with more consideration and loving kindness than they are used to. But they returned the favor by floating softballs up for him to hit; there was not a single tough question in the lot.

Unless I missed it when I briefly dozed off, he certainly didn't pick Helen Thomas. There wasn't a question offered concerning Geithner's bankster massage plan. The president spoke with gentle persuasion and tenderly tucked the nation into bed.

Posted by: Copeland | Mar 25, 2009 1:43:50 AM | 17

I've got to believe most if not all his most loyal supporters are in a
state of shock being betrayed by this con man.

that realization has not hit home for most, and if it has, they certainly aren't being vocal about it.

for those of us who actually read the writing on the wall, it was pretty obvious the clintonian period was getting reheated and served to the public with a slightly darker crust and enticing aroma, but when it comes to the dark opinions of nihilist hope haters like myself, rebranding the shit pie by injecting that powerful narcotic, hoprium just wasn't enough. (we cynically sustained a forcefield to protect us from the airwaveborn narcotic, and unfortunately, it worked)

now folks are catching up to where we were two months ago and i say: welcome. though you may come here dejected, this place--where Obama the man is just that, and all tied up by powerful interest groups as expected--is not a powerless, depressing place to be. it's an invigorating place on the edge of a staggering precipice where we (yes we) can clearly see how shaky the foundation has become. right now the future global infrastructure is uncertain (the ruling class wish-list is very simple--total control) and the arena of competing ideas is relatively dynamic, but the corporate megaphone always lusts its tentacles toward unspoiled terrain. by design.

that O-man is wrapped up tight isn't surprising, nor should it be the focus of criticism. the dazzle of now needs to be dampened by retrieving history from the national memory hole so we can try rebooting our national character, rendering the empty claims of being a DEMOCRACY or SUPERPOWER or LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD obsolete.

maybe then we can move toward a saner, decentralized, regional existence that respects the finite nature of the resources we require to live. i know, sounds impossibly utopian doesn't it.

because utopian raving is stupid and i'm clearly an O-hating nihilist i would hope that come tax day every little cog in this country understands the fissure in our economic world is indeed a blackhole sucking the marrow from the dollar because that apparently is part of the plan.

of course cogs by design aren't privileged to see the meta-working of the maco-contraption, and the impotent rage of perceived powerlessness will once again be successfully channeled toward whatever target our media-hydra screeches us at.

other realities are possible. what will it take?

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 25, 2009 1:51:56 AM | 18

Copeland: yes, you were caught napping. Obama curtly dismissed speaking of AIG.

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 25, 2009 1:53:59 AM | 19

"Obama curtly dismissed speaking of AIG."

He did indeed, as he did the China talk of a new reserve currency, quipping "I don't believe that there's a need for a global currency." But that new currency thing if/when it comes knocking on the door it will bring with it an official devaluation of the dollar - and thats when the real disillusion will set in. People will simply wake up one morning and be told that the dollar (&their assets) have lost 50% or 70% of it's value. Then they'll be told there's nothing the government can do about it. And thats when the rubes will finally get it, but it will then have been to late for the medicine we're refusing to take.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 25, 2009 2:21:22 AM | 20

Obama told the press that he aims to win through with persistence; he probably believes he is doing good and proceeds like an incrementalist. Alexander Cockburn described him early on, as a "trimmer" not a flattering assessment as a subtle, conservative triangulator. Cockburn also recently described the 3 Obamas who show up in the Oval Office. One Obama being the one in service to the elites, Number2 being the agile politician who frustrates or dazzles the republicans with his adroit political talent. And of course Obama #3 who throws an occasional bone to the progressives. Last week he called off the Federal Drug cops from raiding the legalized medical marijuana dispensaries, of states like California, and said there would be no more raids and the legalization in the states would be respected as a state matter.

As a friend of mine says, "some of the bones Obama will throw to the progressives will be pretty nice bones".

What we don't know yet is how this president will respond to public pressure and outcries, the public has not tested him yet. The coming outcry over the banker bailout will probably be more intense than the storm over AIG.

When Obama's Honeymoon ends, his supporters will probably feel more saddened than betrayed. Either they will mitigate his failure, if or when it comes, with the idea that his power as president is circumscribed by the Pentagon, or Wall Street, or whatever elite nudges him to and fro. There will be periodic flickerings of his better angels.

The country is going to have some kind of personal relationship with this president, and maybe in some respect it will be possible to rewrite the nation's myth into a more modest form, and perhaps I hope for too much. If Obama fails as president, if the country is in a worse predicament after four years, the country will not be looking for a rite of self-flagellation or be seeking an exorcist, as in the case of Bush/Cheney; they will instead grieve and feel personal loss and failure as if it were their own.

Posted by: Copeland | Mar 25, 2009 3:38:41 AM | 21

Martin Wolf (FT chief columnist): Successful bank rescue still far away

This is also the background for the “public/private partnership investment programme” announced on Monday by the US Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner.
...
I think of this as the “vulture fund relief scheme”.
...
The danger is that this scheme will, at best, achieve something not particularly important – making past loans more liquid – at the cost of making harder something that is essential – recapitalising banks.
...
The conclusion, alas, is depressing. Nobody can be confident that the US yet has a workable solution to its banking disaster. On the contrary, with the public enraged, Congress on the war-path, the president timid and a policy that depends on the government’s ability to pour public money into undercapitalised institutions, the US is at an impasse.

It is up to Barack Obama to find a way through. When he meets his group of 20 counterparts in London next week, he will be unable to state he has already done so. If this is not frightening, I do not know what is.

Posted by: b | Mar 25, 2009 3:40:00 AM | 22

@22
Nobody can be confident that the US yet has a workable solution to its banking disaster.

its a global disaster. And every serious "workable solution" out there including cancelling or re-writing CDS type instruments also recognizes the critical need for close international cooperation. Well, Good Luck with that.

Its a huge huge mess & if at the end of the day, this administration is able to defend the USA's standing as a responsible & respected "capitalist" leader of the global economy, it would have achieved great success.

personally I think its all going to come down to a bunch of painful trade-offs. And thats what the planners are hopefully focused on. There is no immaculate fix to a problem thats been eating away into the system for over 20 years.


Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 25, 2009 8:22:51 AM | 23

jony_b_cool, I´ve read all the posts on this thread and yours is the only one that makes sense to me. I was going to comment harshly on some of the individual posts but will simply generalize as follows:

1. Obama didn´t cause the mess. It was caused by 28 years of almost uninterrupted Reaganomics (= interrupted only by the 8 years of Clintonomics in which the National Debt actually decreased, the Dollar strengthened by 20 %, the wealth gap decreased and the savings rate grew).

2. All those of you who believe that Obama could conceivably have corrected the combined effects of 28 years of nightmarish Supply-Side economic policies within just 60 days need your heads examined.

3. The truth of the matter is that the scope of the problem seems to differ BY THE WEEK, so measures taken on the basis of information widely available in January are no longer valid and therefore encourage Monday Night quarterbacking by people who should know better.

4. Some have suggested Obama should have let AIG go bankrupt. Others have commented (on other threads) that GM should have been allowed to fail. To these people I can only say: "Hell is answered prayers". Such comments are childish, naive and irresponsible. A combined AIG/GM bankruptcy would have caused literally thousands of other MAJOR bankruptcies world-wide and would have taken us all back to the stone age.

5. How can the U.S.A. ´lead the world´ out of this mess? Simply by sacrificing its own long term economic stability and printing so much money that it will eventually spend the world out of this mess at the risk of long term domestic hyper-inflation and a U.S. Dollar crash sometime between 2010 and 2012. The U.S. has a duty to the rest of the world to destroy its own economy in order to save the other economies it poisoned with its greedy toxic shit. But simply shutting down every weak major bank and corporation would make the recovery infinitely (O.K., let´s say 20 years) lengthier.

I am totally opposed to Obama´s foreign policy, because he could have done a 180-degree about-turn immediately by simply exposing AIPAC and the Neocon-Zionists for the blood-sucking bacteria they are. Instead he employed many of them! But with U.S. unemployment at 25 % (no, this is not a misprint but the true unemployment rate that the Treasury fudges by disingenuously excluding the long-term unemployed and part-time workers who may work for as little as one day per month), this is not the time for economic ´vengeance´ measures that would throw American citizens from the frying pan into the fire.

Jony_b_cool, I´ll requote your cogent one-liner that should have saved me the effort of writing points 1 - 5 above:

"personally I think its all going to come down to a bunch of painful trade-offs"

Bravo. Well stated.

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 25, 2009 9:32:31 AM | 24

b, am having a posting problem. Please check your emails. Thanks.

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 25, 2009 10:02:45 AM | 25

Parviz-

I agree Obama didn't cause this mess, but he sure isn't doing a very good job of leading us through it. I also agree there are a lot of challenges facing him, but the real test of leadership is the illusion it gives the led, and I think more americans are beginning to see though the smoke. But whatever, Parviz you're and I are men of the world (at least I am in my mind) and we know that the american president makes about as many decisions regarding the country as a twelve-year-old boy does regarding what grocery store the family shops at.

The economy during Clinton's eight years was the luck of the draw... The Democrats got lucky, if a republican had won, they'd more than likely have enjoyed the same boomtimes; same could be said for grandma jones being elected. Good times are good times and after the end of the cold war, there were some good times to be had.

I don't know what the absolute answer is to fixing the problem. I agree that it's too big for anyone to fully understand, but I think it would have been a better course of action to have watched goldman and the rest go down in november ( not obama's decision, but bush lesser) and then started pouring government money directly into projects and into the banks that weren't hurt by all the leveraged deals made by the wall street criminals. There are lots of little local banks that didn't play ball with the big boys and are still doing ok. There are still areas of the economy not totally killed by the financial crisis that would be doing better with the ability to borrow money.

How many trillions of dollars have went to pay companies for bad decisions? How much of this money is going to trickle down to mom and pop investors after being filtered though wall street?

And as far as foreign policy goes, I'm afraid it's more of the same old feces, different piles. But on this we agree.

One other argument I have with your post is your statement: A combined AIG/GM bankruptcy would have caused literally thousands of other MAJOR bankruptcies world-wide and would have taken us all back to the stone age.

I suppose you are given to literary exaggeration, as we all are, because where I live we would still be a long ways away from the "stone age" I have the ability to weld and plenty of steel... also we still have the penicillin group of antibiotics, not to mention a pretty good understanding of how to dispose of human waste, ect.

If you were commenting on the economy, then I'll add I'd be willing to go back to a stone age economy based on real goods, real services and to hell with CDSs and leveraged stock deals. We need to send all the voodoo economist back to their deep-woods shacks and begin to imagine different ways to buy and sell; different ways to take care of and honor our older workers; different ways of keeping people healthy and able to have a roof over their head if they so choose.

But these aren't easy problems and the answers aren't going to be easy to find when we continue to look down at our feet rather than to the road ahead.

Posted by: d.13 | Mar 25, 2009 11:07:50 AM | 26

"The democrats got lucky"???

I´m sorry, but unbridled deregulation reared its ugly head under Reagan and Bush Jr.. In fact the Republicans were lambasting Clinton throughout his 2 terms for not spending the budget surpluses to boost growth even further (as if a 240 % increase in the DJIA during Clinton´s 8 years wasn´t already enough!). Bush Jr.´s arrival was the fulfilment of an arch-Capitalist´s wet dream.

Right now there is so much confusion, the picture changes so often, that if any single person on this Blog were given free hand to rectify the U.S. Free Market Capitalist System, everyone else on this Blog would come down on his/her head like a ton of bricks, because the sad truth is thet there is no solution, no magic bullet that will rectify anything without extreme pain all round.

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 25, 2009 11:40:39 AM | 27

I´ve read all the posts on this thread and yours is the only one that makes sense to me. I was going to comment harshly on some of the individual post...

please, parviz, feel free to comment harshly on all the other comments that didn't meet your sense-making criteria. i for one am eager to hear why i make no sense, so please enlighten us.

speaking of making sense, this comment-- The U.S. has a duty to the rest of the world to destroy its own economy in order to save the other economies it poisoned with its greedy toxic shit--certainly doesn't pass the sniff test. in fact most of your numbered comment is crap, except maybe acknowledging how Obomb's foreign policy stinks.

my suggestion, parviz: dial down the arrogance. it might make your comments a bit more palatable.

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 25, 2009 11:40:46 AM | 28

I´m sorry, but unbridled deregulation reared its ugly head under Reagan and Bush Jr.

how about Glass-Steagall and media conglomeration for starters.

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 25, 2009 11:43:47 AM | 29

I find it silly that any of us (me included) still refer to our politicians by meaningless labels: democrat, republican... I'd argue there has been little to no variation in either side's policies for many, many years. There is lots of empty rhetoric and make-believe arguments presented to keep the public interested, but in the end it's all so much entertainment like WWF wrestling, or whatever it's now called.

Yeah, those of use still sucking off the tit aren't gonna complain or even admit the milk taste sour. The worst off are those who are least able to deal with the collapse of the system; the retired and those who will retire in the next ten year. The rest of us will need to start breeding in earnest to create enough new consumer/taxpayers so that we'll have people to pay for our retirements. Or at least something to eat :)

Posted by: d.13 | Mar 25, 2009 12:34:55 PM | 30

[by Parviz but posted by b as Parviz had trouble to get it through]


#4, slothrop:

"Euro bankers are as much a "cause" as anyone else."

Oh really? Which ones? The AIG mess was caused by AIG´s London division. The Dresdner Bank mess was caused by U.S. investment bankers running its London (Kleinwort) division. Even the RBS mess was a case of a Scottish bank trying to imitate the Americans. The horror was created, adopted and/or executed almost exclusively by the Anglo-Saxons, so please choose your words more carefully in future and don´t try to absolve the U.S. of 95 % of the blame simply because one other European nation (if we exclude tiny Iceland) fell lock, stock and barrel for the U.S.-inspired Ponzi-scheme.

Did you know that one of the world´s 10 biggest banks, Spain´s Banco Santander, invested just $ 23 million in U.S. toxic waste? When the Chairman was asked how he almost completely avoided the mess he replied that after numerous Board briefings he still personally couldn´t understand the concept so he vetoed it after the initial $ 23 million ............!?! He even had the decency to reimburse his bank´s clients for $ 1.5 billion of U.S. toxic waste that they had bought via his bank because he felt ´personally responsible´ for not having warned them!!!

Any such decency visible from U.S. institutions?

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 25, 2009 1:38:13 PM | 31

Parviz,

I agree with you that Obama can't, by any stretch, be blamed for wrecking our economy. Most of the blame for this should go to all the neo-liberals working under first Reagan, then Clinton and finally Bush, who pushed hard for shadow banks to be free of regulations and for them to play freely with derivatives. But it strikes me as very odd, if not downright insane, that Obama hired the very same sort of people to repair our economy who are largely responsible for wrecking it in the first place.

Posted by: Cynthia | Mar 25, 2009 2:04:43 PM | 32

Cynthia: including Clinton in the roll call of corporate/financial cocksuckers seems very difficult for Parviz, as well as folks here domestically who identify themselves as Democrats, but what do we expect? people in this country have horrible memories, which makes it very easy to manipulate us. ho-hum.

regional economies, local food production, credit unions, energy conservation, trade and barter, that's the kind of stuff i want to see investment in. but no, instead it's bail out the big boats while little skiffs are allowed to drown in the deluge.

Obama is buying his funders time, but the scenario of violent social unrest becomes more realistic with every passing week. people who deny this possibility are just as dangerous as the ruling class selling us down the river. just another average day in clusterfuck USA

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 25, 2009 2:41:23 PM | 33

@Parviz - @24 - How can the U.S.A. ´lead the world´ out of this mess? Simply by sacrificing its own long term economic stability and printing so much money that it will eventually spend the world out of this mess at the risk of long term domestic hyper-inflation and a U.S. Dollar crash sometime between 2010 and 2012. The U.S. has a duty to the rest of the world to destroy its own economy in order to save the other economies it poisoned with its greedy toxic shit. But simply shutting down every weak major bank and corporation would make the recovery infinitely (O.K., let´s say 20 years) lengthier.

I see no reason why the last assertions (bolded) should be true. There are resolutions regimes that allow a quick mop up. Anyway ...

Do net expect the U.S. to sacrifice its own position by inducing real hyperinflation (more than 100% per year). It will rather default (a real possibility by now) and who could hinder it to do so? Will China send the carriers it does not have?

The "markets" are rather forgiving to such defaults will be the argument. See Argentina and others. But if the U.S. defaults a lot of people would be really hurt worldwide and they may well be less forgiving than "markets". Start with 1.3 billion Chinese who would hate it ...

Posted by: b | Mar 25, 2009 3:33:22 PM | 34

O.K., Lizard, you asked for it: Just re-read your post #2, full of platitudinous rhetoric even while condemning Obama´s rhetoric.

As for the "Mexican trade war", I suppose you expect him to solve that nation´s problems as well?

I think he´s doing the best possible in the circumstances to right the economic shipwreck. Come on, let´s have it out: What would YOU do if you were Obama? And I don´t mean you should answer with more platitudes, such as "help the poor, screw the banks, distribute the wealth more evenly and save all the endangered mortgages ....". No, I want and demand real solutions, otherwise it´s YOU who are being arrogant for denigrating everything without offering concrete solutions.

There is an air of arrogance by some on this Blog that has prevented me from posting more frequently. Nothing but collective negativism. All I read is: "Same old
shit, same old shit", even when someone´s trying his best to correct an impossible situsation. R´giap makes more sense than Obama? Jeez! I would just love the U.S.A. to take the Communist route, just so that baby could be put to bed once and for all.

If you want me to I´ll stay away and some of you can continue to wallow in self-pity and condemn anything that moves without having the guts to offer alternatives that place YOU in the firing line. Lizard, if you don´t believe in saving the banks and other financial institutions, what actually IS your proposal? I wait with baited breath.

P.S., I read your post 18 twice, because I didn´t believe it the first time I read it:

" ..... a saner, decentralized, regional existence that respects the finite nature of the resources we require to live. i know, sounds impossibly utopian doesn't it.

because utopian raving is stupid and i'm clearly an O-hating nihilist i would hope that come tax day every little cog in this country understands the fissure in our economic world is indeed a ....." bla bla bla .......

Your solutions/measures/proposals, please.

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 25, 2009 3:53:34 PM | 35

Small moving Co. here has painted its trucks bright red and appended the slogan:

YES WE CAN!

Stuck in the traffic I laugh. France Culture burbles on about Kant and his definition of Beauty. Po-lice swerve by, sirens blaring, I thought they were on strike, like the Docs, today. Make a hand sign, inch out of the jam, get right in back of them, Home soon.

Obama is going to end up being worse than Bush the way he is going.

ecoli posted.

You bet. And you ain’t seen nothing yet. He is window dressing of course, so not an independent actor, but still, given a position of power, simple morality, and narcissicm to uphold, would stipulate that some effort in some positive looking direction must be made. My guess is is he is already pissed at the hours he has to put in and the pressure etc. - he is not receiving the attention he craves, except in front of crowds (but he has been elected now!) ...Let Turbo Tim fix the economy, etc. In any case he understands nothing about it. Enough... /end rant

Posted by: Tangerine | Mar 25, 2009 4:26:01 PM | 36

no one is telling you not to comment, but the manner in which you dismiss an entire thread of comments, save jony's, as not making sense, is a provocation i just couldn't pass commenting on.

the reason i emphasize regional specific "stimulus" programs is because what might work in some regions won't work in others. when a country as big as america needs to totally rethink how it operates its transportation infrastructure and energy grids, it makes sense to approach these huge challenges by region.

i'm not saying Obama isn't preparing to toss some good money at worthy projects like light-rail systems, but propping up the glut of wall street threatens the viability of the whole system, including public support for the big dollar stimulus programs that could actually have dramatic positive effects.

increasing local food production is, i would argue, absolutely essential, so it would be nice to see state funded programs or tax credits to bolster small scale farming/husbandry projects, ideally in accordance with major boosts in public school funding, so kids can start learning what their grandparents knew. there are lots of non-profits dedicated to worthy causes like these, but they are always reduced to scraping and competing for scarce funds. a few billion in the right places could reap dramatic, positive results.

or how about ensuring young adults stay away from credit traps by tying bailout money with some serious strings to force lending institutions to lend responsibly, and to educate young adults about how to use credit versus getting screwed by credit.

along the lines of energy conversation, there needs to be a reassessment of building standards to ensure energy efficiency is maximized. if i wasn't such a suspicious person, smart grid technology could be very useful in conserving energy.

Parviz, there's lots of good things to steer billions of our dollars toward, but propping up insolvent behemoths is certainly not one of them. i am incredible disillusioned about the capabilities of the federal govt' and its chief executive, and dubious about the intentions of our elected officials.

i really do think a better world is possible, i just don't believe Obama is capable of standing up to the people who put him in the White House without millions of people in the streets demanding accountability, and we're still a long way from that happening.

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 25, 2009 4:33:27 PM | 37

Lizard, your recommendations are O.K. but come nowhere near to either representing a national strategy or of solving the toxic mess. Regional solutions don´t work. What is needed is a national policy, beginning with a complete and total ´change´ in the exceptionally pernicious Capitalist ethos that caused the mess to begin with. Only the President, supported by Congress/the Senate, can implement such a strategy.

Just as Reagan gave life to Reaganomics, so too can Obama kill Reaganomics and give life to ´sensible economics´. It´s ridiculous to leave it to the regions or states when you have half of them controlled by "the other party" that was principally responsible for deregulation.

What I believe Obama is doing is the following:

1. Treating the economy as if it´s in ´intensive care´, stemming the haemorrhaging and playing the blame game later. Now is NOT the time for him to be condemning the patient while it is on life support. First you have to save the patient´s life, then commence remedial treatment, then wean it off drugs or whatever got it into that state to begin with. Your remedy seems to be to let the patient die by depriving it of all drugs, because it deserves to die for having been so irresponsible.

2. Obama favours caps on salaries and bonuses for major institutions, which I fully support. The top earners in the U.S. earn many times more than their counterparts in other advanced industrialized countries. The gap between the top and bottom earners in the U.S. is nothing short of obscene.

3. He wants to ban many types of economic risk, = regulate the economy, and force corporations to defer management bonuses for many years to reflect the long term effects of its decisions and policies.

4. He´s still trying to fathom the depth of the problem, which nobody knows. He started with $ 500 billion, now suddenly everyone´s talking of $5 trillion and, who knows, next week it may be $ 20 trillion. So he´s doing his best at hitting a moving target.

5. He has promised an immediate $ 2 trillion for infrastructural investment that I agree is the best way of doing something useful AND simultaneously reducing unemployment.

All of the above has occurred in 60 days. Give the poor bugger a chance. He can´t turn the U.S. into Germany overnight!

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 25, 2009 5:35:12 PM | 38

fuck me dead. it is the pure madness of reaganomics which has led us to this mess & the corresponding inequality of opportunity

i have to deal every fucking day & for a very very long time - on three continents with the victims of thatcherism & reagan. they both belong in hell with your beloved mullahs

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 25, 2009 5:46:09 PM | 39

r´giap, do you speak with forked tongue? or have you just confirmed everything I wrote? I have been slamming Reaganomics ever since his OMB chief Stockman admitted it was a trick to make the rich richer.

As for my beloved mullahs, I love them as much as I love the plague and communists.

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 25, 2009 6:24:30 PM | 40

It´s ridiculous to leave it to the regions or states when you have half of them controlled by "the other party" that was principally responsible for deregulation.

WRONG. both parties, at the national level, are complicit. if you don't think that's true, i'm not going to waste any more time trying to convince you.

local and state governments know what their citizens need. they know better than the federal govt where best to spend money. there is of course always a certain level of corruption, i.e. "administrative costs", but politicians at the state level seem to experience the wrath of the electorate far quicker than our national pols, which forces them to listen better than their national counterparts, who listen to BIG $. maybe i'm misguided in this aspect, but watching how the federal govt handled the switch to digital cable, i'm not convinced the fed can do anything effectively.

your medical metaphor @1 buys into the ACT NOW OR ELSE DEATH IS IMMINENT bullshit we've been force fed since Lehman went down. like others have said, nationalize, reasonably value the assets, then sell them off. not too big to fail, but too big to exist. anti-trust laws exist for a reason, and there is plenty of precedent.

as for Obama "favoring" salary caps, i almost spit water on my keyboard when i read that. show me the action (not just the pretty words) and i'll shut up. he's already waffling on getting that bonus money back, which is fine by me, considering the retroactive tax is not the way to do it, i.e., not constitutional, which maybe a constitutional lawyer like Obama should know. geez.

then there's this: He´s still trying to fathom the depth of the problem, which nobody knows. if this is true, which i don't believe it is, then the reason he doesn't know is because of the reluctance to truly nationalize the banks and assess the degree of insolvency. also, if O is still trying to fathom the depth of the problem, or if his economic cabal is still unsure, then throwing a few trillion dollars at the "problem" is psychotic.

the public component of reimagining sustainable growth, something i mentioned earlier, is also vitally important, because a paradigm shift in our national aspirations/attitudes/expectations needs to accompany the paradigm shift that WILL be imposed on all the creatures of this planet from our changing environment.

there is a reason this country has become a lightning rod for global angst, and our bloated lifestyles is a major reason why we are globally detested by so many. if we can't get over the american exceptionalism anna missed has written very intelligently about (one of the commentators you summarily dismissed, Parviz) then we deserve what we get, simple as that.

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 25, 2009 6:39:11 PM | 41

pariz

i am sorry if i read your apologia of late capitalism as reaganomics under another name

& lay off the red baiting - like elemental anti semitism it's a little crude for me to swallow

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 25, 2009 6:57:22 PM | 42

Lizard, when I wrote about "the other party" I was clearly referring to it in an economic sense, as defenders of supply-side economics, which covers virtually all Republicans.

anna_missed writes great stuff, but her short post # 20 briefly alludes to the doomed dollar (which I myself have regularly warned about) and just as briefly to the ´medicine´ (on which we disagree).

As for your statement:

"your medical metaphor @1 buys into the ACT NOW OR ELSE DEATH IS IMMINENT bullshit we've been force fed since Lehman went down. like others have said, nationalize, reasonably value the assets, then sell them off. not too big to fail, but too big to exist. anti-trust laws exist for a reason, and there is plenty of precedent."

Q.1: How do you ´nationalize´ failed corporations, in practical terms, while simultaneously avoiding a Dow 3000, a total loss of U.S. credibility and even trans-national lawsuits? Even cutting bonuses seems to be causing no end of headaches, so what hope is there for nationalising AIG et al.? I mean, the U.S.A. isn´t a banana republic, yet, but would certainly resemble one if it started officially nationalising everything .....

Q.2: How do you "value the assets"? What makes you think that there is even a market for toxic waste, now or in the future? Why nationalize entire corporations when only some parts of those corporations are poisoned and the other parts relatively healthy? (I can give you many examples).

Q.3: How is "selling them off" after ´official´ nationalization any different from selling them off after the current de ´facto´ nationalization Obama has already implemented?

Q.4: Why should anti-trust laws in future be any more effective than in the past?

Q.5: Who is going to run the ´nationalized´ corporations? The Paulsons and Geithners and other ´qualified´ individuals? Or do you bring in recent economics graduates with fresh faces and dump a $ 15 trillion economy into their laps and hope they´ll just happen to turn out like bunch of Mahathirs or Manmohan Singhs?

I´m sorry, Lizard, but, as they say, "the Devil lies in the details". "Let´s just get rid of everything and start from scratch" isn´t a practical solution.

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 25, 2009 7:07:04 PM | 43

P.S., I´m turning in for the night and will reply to any posts tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your day(s).

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 25, 2009 7:08:16 PM | 44

Parviz-

It's good to see you back and full of biting cometary :)

I think you and Lizard are both right, it just depends on what sort of future one believes we'll be living in at the end of this tunnel.

If the current administration can put the brakes on the crash and stabilize or soften it, then I believe Parviz will stand correct in his assessment of the problem and its solution. But, if things are like I think, then Lizard's idea of localized control would be a nice dream, but I have an even darker view; Balkanization of the U.S.

But I'm the first to admit I don't think I can offer a "real" solution to the problem because I don't think it would ever happen: air all of Wall Street's dirty laundry, find the crooks, take their ill-gotten assets and then decide what the best course would be based on how much money was recovered.

I'm not against the government pouring money into the economy, I just would have preferred it to be spent directly on Main Street rather than Wall Street because the money Wall Street makes is at the expense of the average american. There was a time when the capital Wall Street created funded America, it went into the infrastructure of factories, freeways, weird things like the space race; now Wall Street uses its money to hire attorneys and politicians rather than pay workers and upgrade factories.

I'm hopeful that there will be some sanity found in this craziness; that we'll figure out a better way of doing things that builds communities rather than divisions.

Imagine the boost to employers if the government put 500 billion into public health care? Sick americans are a huge drain on business – even those businesses that don't pay healthcare – and easy access to healthcare would mean an immediate boost to the economy. How about the benefits of good mass transit? I could go on and on.


Posted by: d.13 | Mar 25, 2009 7:33:56 PM | 45

Lizard @18 says "of course cogs by design aren't privileged to see the meta-working of the maco-contraption, and the impotent rage of perceived powerlessness will once again be successfully channeled toward whatever target our media-hydra screeches us at.

other realities are possible. what will it take?" as part of envisioning what's going on.

This envisioning is worthy of being fleshed out by the grandest of operas - e.g. Shostakovitch's Lady Macbeth.

Her "maco-contraption" here seems to be a typo (we're all human!) of "macrocontraption", a new (to me) word brilliantly describing the lifeless, non-self-healing world that seems to be invading us.

Parviz, I appreciate your many intelligent perceptions and look forward to seeing many more!. Could it be that you and Lizard are simply talking here about other parts of the elephant?

Posted by: lambent1 | Mar 25, 2009 9:55:26 PM | 46

oops! I meant different parts of the elephant...

Posted by: lambent1 | Mar 25, 2009 9:57:09 PM | 47

those are very pertinent questions, parviz, and in my own awkward layman way, i will attempt to answer them.

Q.1: How do you ´nationalize´ failed corporations, in practical terms, while simultaneously avoiding a Dow 3000, a total loss of U.S. credibility and even trans-national lawsuits?

first, if i was Obama, i wouldn't call it nationalization, maybe receivership, and i would hope, by being bold and explicit, Obama would actually start restoring some of that credibility we've steadily eroded or in some instances never had in the first place. to avoid knee-capping market plunges, just keep the markets closed for a couple of days. if not handled properly, it could blow up in his face, but the DOW is probably going to head further down anyway. really it's just a matter of time.

Q.2: How do you "value the assets"? What makes you think that there is even a market for toxic waste, now or in the future? Why nationalize entire corporations when only some parts of those corporations are poisoned and the other parts relatively healthy? (I can give you many examples).

I have no idea how to value the rotten grizzle that these fuckers called filet mignon, but at some point the failure of the rating agencies needs to be addressed. and honestly why should i care whether there's a market for this crap or not? if the toxicity is really that bad, how is the solution to back overvalued shit assets with taxpayer assurances? there are plenty of real things these behemoths own, like buildings. well, those are ours now, right? and all Obama has to say is, receivership, bitches, 'cause i got 300 million enraged citizens to back me up.

Q.3: How is "selling them off" after ´official´ nationalization any different from selling them off after the current de ´facto´ nationalization Obama has already implemented?

the de facto nationalization has not been already implemented. the only thing being sold is a giant pile of shit to the US taxpayer. i don't care how these monsters get broken up and distributed. if it happens by any means i will be dumbfounded with hope for the future.

Q.4: Why should anti-trust laws in future be any more effective than in the past?

what, you mean like breaking up standard oil? talk about negative, parviz, this question is defeatist bait masquerading as a practical concession. anti-trust laws are like muscles, they atrophy without regular use, so the key is to keep flexing that muscle. like many people have been saying, why are these institutions too big too fail? if we accept that phrase to be true, then we're on the hook, and it's over. the only thing left to do is wriggle around uncomfortably impaled waiting for the trophy fish to snap us up so the good old boys in the big boat above us can reel it in.

Q.5: Who is going to run the ´nationalized´ corporations? The Paulsons and Geithners and other ´qualified´ individuals? Or do you bring in recent economics graduates with fresh faces and dump a $ 15 trillion economy into their laps and hope they´ll just happen to turn out like bunch of Mahathirs or Manmohan Singhs?

i'd like to start by figuring out who is NOT going to run the reckless institutions in temporary receivership, and at the top of the list is ANYONE with ties to Golden Sacks. don't worry, they will be easy to identify by the giant crossed out dollar signs tattooed on their foreheads.

as for those recent economics graduates, of course they're not capable of running giant corporations, because what they learned in their economics classes is currently being rewritten before their eyes, and their text books rendered obsolete. sustainability might be a buzzword now, but unless it becomes our predominant philosophy, the world where you, parviz, can type intelligent questions about the complexity of economics and i can read and answer them an ocean away won't exist.

anyway, that's it. off to sleep myself.

lambent1: yes, i think that perhaps parviz is inspecting the elephant's tusks, while i hang from its tail, staring at its giant asshole.

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 26, 2009 1:15:59 AM | 48

other realities are possible. what will it take?" as part of envisioning what's going on.

And that's the problem, the elites know there are other realities, but will do everything in their arsenal to herd the masses into an cerebral lockbox*. They do, have and are, in the process of controlling us via modalities of an ideokinetic apraxia. In other words, the study of human movement, behavior and psychobiology. These psycholinguistic formulas create reality. In short, language as culture. They are busy turning the whole of of society and even most civilization into a 'total institution'. You'd be surprised at the number of people I know who don't know stuff on TV isn't real, unless explained to them. People don't get that what you see on TV isn't on the box, you put the images together in your head. What's on the box is merely dots and frequency. Your mind put's them together. And it's affect on us is profound. I don't mean the simple things, like Fisher-Price and its war toys, nor subliminal advertising, but political marketing. Brain eno, has said, it's not propaganda anymore, it's propagenda.

The real war, is the war on imagination.

*(with no apologies to Gore);-)

The Most Important Future Military Technologies:

psychobiology is the application of the principles of biology to the study of mental processes and behavior. A psychobiologist, for instance, may compare the imprinting behavior in goslings to the early attachment behavior in human infants and construct theory around these two phenomena.

Strategic Military Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistics... The final frontier, your mind.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 26, 2009 2:13:57 AM | 49

Thanks for this, Lizard:

"lambent1: yes, i think that perhaps parviz is inspecting the elephant's tusks, while i hang from its tail, staring at its giant asshole."

I woke up this morning and laughed my ass off. A great way to start my day!

I think lambent1´s comment sums it up. It´s the glass half full, half empty, syndrome. What you yourself wrote about the economics textbooks being re-written as the graduates study really gets to the heart of the problem. We´re all in No Man´s Land.

My point is the following:

Whether it´s called ´bankruptcy´or ´receivership´ (the latter being your recommendation) is irrelevant. The same amount of money has to be spent by the U.S. Government to correct the mess. "A turd by any other name is still a turd" (My apologies to Shakespeare!). The only difference is psychological, which won´t make the slightest difference to the tax-payer as people are too skeptical to believe that their money is being taken care of either way.

Why do I support Obama´s economic plan? Because I believe a massive infusion of cash will avoid the Hoover disaster or the 15-year Japanese recession, and the U.S. Government (= tax payer) will earn good money as the lender of last resort, and in a much shorter period of time than would be the case if major financial institutions were formally nationalized by a government that isn´t really any good at running anything.

Where the U.S. Government can play a positive role, long term, is in massive re-regulation, the banning of financial instruments that aren´t established as 100 % sound, with draconian fines and prison sentences for both the miscreants and their corporations, with caps on salaries and bonuses, with the awarding of bonuses on a sliding scale over a 5- or even 10-year period to eliminate short-term ´artificial´ asset or revenue pumping, the complete banning of stock options (which have been my pet hate for 30 years as they were till fairly recently kept off the books!), the strict banning of insider share sales within less than 5 years of their being granted, a massive regulatory increase in the capital ratio required for banks (currently at a ridiculous 8 % which means banks can ´risk´ over 12 X their sharehoders´ capital), a requirement that mortgages must be supported by a 30 % cash downpayment and the property valued by approved surveyors, etc.,.

But all of the above has to be implemented AFTER the economy is saved, not before, hence my metaphor of the sick patient whom you can´t place on a dramatic diet while he/she is in trauma, emaciated, haemorrhaging and with a pulse rate of 40.

Obama is literally grabbing the bull by the horns, because the other end is as unpalatable as the elephant´s ass.

I´m beginning to love these metaphors .....

Posted by: Parviz | Mar 26, 2009 4:34:57 AM | 50

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