Thursday: This is what happens when you don’t have principles

Carla Bruni teaches Nicolas Sarkozy to walk

Carla Bruni teaches Nicolas Sarkozy to walk

What do the following posts have in common?:

The New Masters of the Universe by James Kwak at baselinescenario.com

The Obama Enigma by E.J. Dionne at WaPo

G20 Color Commentary by Adam Posen on Planet Money

What’s Wrong With Washington? by James Wolcott at Vanity Fair

Actually, the Wolcott piece doesn’t belong.  I just liked his description of Fox News gasbags like Karl Rove and Bob Beckel as “plump juicy roasters”.  Wolcott makes it safe for the mixed metaphor.  The piece is hillarious and spot on.

For the other three, the theme throughout is one of trying to make sense of several moves by the Obama administration and the various players in the economic mess.  One gets the sense that what is going on is not that hard to figure out: The finance industry is taking us to the cleaners.  It is going to prolong the recession/depression because it is going to be the last entity called upon to make any sacrifices.  Each piece suggests that the White House is playing a dangerous game and gambling whole industries and our futures by engineering workarounds that won’t upset the bankers and their friends in the private investment clubs who stand to make out like bandits on our dime. Each solution is tailored to extract the least amount of pain from the wealthy and well connected and saddles the rest of us with the most risk. At the heart of this is the fact that each crisis is dealt with individually, as if the other crises were unrelated.  Each is solved in isolation, deal by deal, banker by banker. And it’s ticking off the rest of the world.

Nicolas (pronounced nee-ko-la) Sarkozy may be a petulant prima donna but he’s right about one thing.  The world cannot get on its feet economically if we continue to deal with the finance industry in a piecemeal fashion without regulatory fixes.  If there continues to be separate deals for each problem and no international or domestic law to hold the financials accountable, there can be no trust or faith in the system.  If there is no trust, there is no confidence that once leant, your money will come back to you.  People understand risk.  What they don’t understand is how their governments can allow them to be fleeced.  Confidence needs to be restored to the system to make sure the money flows to where it is needed.  That can’t happen until the big countries involved agree to set standards for financial transactions and regulations.  We are global now.

But this is not something that is in Obama’s blood.  Obama is of the “everything is on the table” variety of president.  Actually, I don’t think we’ve ever had a president who has ever put his principles on such a sliding scale as this one.  George W. Bush was a stickler for details compared to Obama.  And Bill Clinton, that master of triangulation, at least had the perfectly rational excuse that he was faced with an overtly hostile Congress and national press.  But what is Obama’s excuse for throwing away the tenets and principles of the party he comandeered to shmooze his way to the top?  He has every advantage a president could want and still he sides with the bad guys.

Well, we shall see if Sarkozy follows through with his threat and walks out.  Europe may not be doing enough to stimulate the economy but at least they aren’t stupid enough to throw more money at the banking industry and not ask, “And how do you intend to spend this?”  You have to draw the line somewhere.  And after all,  a leader has to have principles.

OT

It occured to me that there are those who would argue that healthcare benefits that the unions demanded are ruining the auto industry.  This is the lame excuse we hear from the plump juicy roasters on cable TV all of the time.  You know, “Healthcare costs add $X to the cost of an automobile, blah, blah, blah.”  It makes you kind of PO’d to buy a car if your mind is on how many gall bladder operations and hemorrhoid treatments those X number of dollars paid for.  But even if the UAW *did* ask for so-called “gold-plated” policies {{snort!, like a working class guy isn’t going to have to run the insurance gauntlet anyway}}, the cost of those policies wouldn’t have increased so damned much if it hadn’t been for Harry and Louise.

Remember them?

If you don’t like the cost of the cars, you can send a thank you note to the GOP.


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56 Responses

  1. I think Carla is the reason Nicolas is walking funny.

    • Ouch!!!

      • A young woman is meeting her boyfriend’s great-grandmother and the old lady is showing the young woman her home and points to an antique sepia-toned portrait photo of a man seated in a chair and a woman standing next to him and says “That’s me with my late husband”

        The young woman says “What a sexist era that must of been, with men sitting down and women standing!”

        “Oh no dear” the old woman says. “That picture was taken on our honeymoon. I was too sore to sit down and he was too weak to stand up!”

  2. Okay, I read the Wolcott piece:

    Only within the Beltway popcorn popper could Gingrich, whose serpent tongue and ogre ego did so much to polarize discourse in the 1990s and abort reform, be considered a foxy catch. Only in Washington, D.C., could Gingrich, a magpie of futurist jargon and a bumptious opportunist, pass himself off as an iconoclastic force and centrifuge of ideas, a cross between Buckminster Fuller and Che Guevara leading a commando raid on the buffet table. And only within the punditocracy could “hyper-bipartisan” be bandied about as an aphrodisiac.

  3. My take on the Merkel/Sarkozy demands for more International regulations is that ironically enough, I think Obama/Geithner would like nothing more than do it. It perfectly fit in their vision of Transnationalism.

    BUT, what the Europeans means by regulations is the end of the Hedge Funds as we know them now.

    And that’s a big problem for Obama vis-a-vis his financiers. Obama is not powerful enough yet (read not all of his beloved bankers are done yet with reaping the assets of their respective banks, and not all of those empty lemon controls have been taken over by the gov yet ).

    So he has to dance around the issue, playing for time, while Sarko le Nabot (Sarko the short) is thrawing an hissy fit to make sure to be in the limelights.

  4. didn’t the OBama campaign use harry adn louise too? Why look to the GOP to complain about the lack of single payer?

    • Supposedly he did it to appeal to the GOP constituency, if you were to believe the convoluted logic of an obot.

      In short people that are surprised that Obama is acting as he is right now simply were too busy calling everyone racist to pay attention to what he was saying and believe that he just might believe his own rhetoric(rather than just be saying it because he’s an opportunist),

  5. Don’t forget to watch Angela Merkel too-
    she is fighting to get tough on regulating the financial sector.
    Standing up to the bullies-UK and US.
    (I heard she’ll be up for re-election this year and yet is still
    putting principles before politics.)

    And of course there’s our Hillary-Madame Secretary- being greeted
    with pleasure in the Hague and London. Such class, sigh.

    2 women to watch, for sure.

  6. Confidence needs to be restored to the system to make sure the money flows to where it is needed. That can’t happen until the big countries involved agree to set standards for financial transactions and regulations. We are global now.

    I agree, but for me the devil is in the details. If there are a few clear standards upon which we can agree, then by all means let’s do it. I have no problem with making an agreement that the US will abide by certain specific rules.

    But if what is being discussed is setting up some sort of regulatory body that can set standards both now and in the future, and the USA is being asked to submit to that sort of multi-national authority in an ongoing manner, then it’s a resounding NO. Now way no how.

    I am very touchy about sovereignty. I am extremely leery of binding the US to be subject to any external body in a sweeping or blanket way. This is one of the reasons that Hillary did not vote for the Levin amendment to the AUMF – not because of concerns for the current crisis, but for how it might bind us and impinge on sovereignty in the future.

    • I’m all for sovereignty too, otherwise we’ll end up giving up what little rights we have left to the leaders of other countries who may not have our best interests in mind (hey, we can’t even get our own elected officials to act in our best interests right now). I wouldn’t object to global standards that would then have to be voted on by Congress or some type of treaty where future changes would need to be signed off on by the president (but I don’t want to see a global regulatory body dictate to us).

      • Oh, but I totally agree with RD’s statement regarding confidence, it needs to be restored.

    • I completely agree with putting sovereignty first. There is a way to deal with those International matters. It is called International treaties!!

      Bit the real problem I have with the establishment of an International regulation body, is that it would result into the establishment of an enforcing body not answering to the people.

      I completely agree we need to restore order and clean house in the financial sector and that such measures have to be global. But let’s work on an International treaty of regulations enforced at a national level by national enforcement bodies. If a participating pary was misbehaving it would not be that difficult to ban it from trading in or with the respecting countries.

      • Yes. I don’t want to cede power to yet another group (who “of course” will act in “everyone’s best interest”) that is at an even further remove from accountability to the People than the groups we have now.

        If you think we have a mess when various federal regulatory bodies get captured by the monied interests, imagine the hell if a vast international one fell prey to that.

  7. OT: Sorry, I am still boggled by the Ipod gift to the Queen.
    Did you know that aside from videos of her US visit, they also preloaded it with show tunes and, best of all, videos of That One’s speeches and inauguration?

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/04/what-does-one-g.html#comments

    • I’m sure the Queen will love to lesson to O’s speeches (or greatest hits).

      The guy really does think he is the greatest.

    • I also heard that they got her the American version (different power voltage) and did not even offer an adaptor.

      Which is true, means that they still do not know Europe is on different technical standards, even after the gaffe of the DVDs.

      Completely oblivious to what is not about THEM.

  8. Do we have any resident artists here who could give us a rendition of Rove as a “plump juicy roaster’? It fits perfectly!

    • I’ll bet SOD could photoshop one. She’s probably working now though.

  9. Unbelievable!!! They are narcissists right through.

    And what’s even worse is the outrageous protocol violation of Me-Shelle touching the Queen — touching her on the back like she’s her neighbor or something!! NO NO NO NO NO. I don’t care if you think it’s a stuffy outdated old tradition, maybe it is, that’s not the point, the point is, there is protocol and you are supposed to follow it or look like the great galumphing classless tacky piece of self-important garbage that you are, Michelle. And your tacky-ass husband too.

    • I was listening to Live comments and the anchor stambled in total shock when O shook the Queen’s Hand;

      “Did he just shook her hands?!!!”

      It went downhill from there.

    • I think I just read in Newsweek that the Obama administration didn’t realize there was an office of protocol until recently, so for some things like the gifts for the Browns, they may have been winging it. I do think that they were schooled in protocol prior to visiting with the Queen though.

      • ready on day one….

        Personally I would like to see if on a State Visit to Saudi Arabia or China, he’ll give gifts of DVDs or ipods.
        Maybe they’ll respond with a cigarette lighter, featuring a drawing of the Mecca, or a Pagoda. If he’s lucky he might even get a couple of Chinese speeches on a Chinese mp3 player.

      • If Michelle Obama sees herself as the new Jackie Kennedy, she’d better hire the new Tish Baldwin–stat!

  10. Just wanted to say that Wolcott is ALWAYS worth a read, one of the best. He was a devoted Hillary supporter, too, btw, and always had skepticism about The One (alas, he did end up supporting him after the primary).

    • I like this quote from the Walcott piece:

      “To delve into the editorial pages of The Washington Post is to crack open an even creakier sarcophagus, where the dead paw of consensus maintains a semblance of order, continuity, prudence. Screams of boredom echo through the vault, but the sneer etched on columnist Charles Krauthammer’s face remains unmerciful.”

  11. EJ Dionne’s piece makes no sense. His problem is that he is still trying to convince himself that Obama is a Democrat. His last paragraph:

    That’s the Obama enigma: boldness wrapped in caution rooted in an ambivalent relationship to the status quo. This is why Obama will, by turns, challenge not only his entrenched adversaries but also his natural allies.

    Just say it, E.J. Obama is a waffling coward who sold out to the banks and will never cross them unless he is forced to.

    • EJ is doing that pretzel impression. They just can’t call it the way it is. It would say they were mistaken.

    • EJ is a fantasist. I can’t even bring myself to read one word of his egregious BS. Can’t suffer that fool.

  12. There is so much contradictory information out there–really separate realities of what is going on and what particular motives are. Some are calling O a “superhero” (based on firing Rick Wagoner?), and others think he is the anti-Christ. He wanted to be a Rorschach test–he got it. Same with the economy. Why are there these contradictory indicators if Krugman, Stiglitz et. al. see it as fundamentally precarious and flawed?

    World markets surge as US data boost recovery hope

    HONG KONG (AP) – World stock markets soared Thursday, with Hong Kong’s benchmark vaulting more than 7 percent, as stronger-than-expected U.S. economic figures boosted confidence the world’s largest economy is on the mend.

    A rebound in pending U.S. home sales in February from a record low, as well as improving manufacturing activity, added to a growing belief the most severe global downturn in decades may be moving close to a bottom.

    “We’re starting to see some initial signs of green shoots. The question is whether or not this is a sound foundation for stability in the economy,” said Song Seng Wun, head of research at CIMB-GK in Singapore. “It’s still hard to tell.”

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090402/D97A9NC03.html

    • Guess they haven’t read the jobs reports. Our banking system is being propped up by the printing press at the treasury and assurances that everything is rosy.

    • You mean the economy may be rebounding on its own? snark
      Without the injection of trillions?

    • The best I heard recently was from a old time investor on Wall Street, who wrote that when the Unemployement numbers were very bad, that meant the worse was over (???) because corporations were wainting usually too long to fire their human assets and when they were doing it, that meant the adjustment period was over. And the way was up.

      Uh???!!.

      What I know is that they never have been more busy than in the past month in the Florida Real Estate market because they are selling bank owned and short sale at 50% the price from 3 years ago. And people are investing in properties they thought they could never afford. (a friend of mine had seven contract with 6 differents clients over the WE and 4 the precedent one, but on properties sometimes worth $30,000 which has sold in the low hundrets 3 years ago)

      So the fact the existing home sale figures were on the rise last month has to be taken with a grain of salt. In other markets they are still dead. Very little is moving even at prices unseen for years. But the national average is gooood,

  13. DAMN! Hillary is 44 is on a roll! Everyone should check out their latest article. Whoever writes that blog has an amazing memory and must bookmark everything s/he reads in order to reference back to it months later. Admin at Hillary is 44 is calling out BTD and Jeralyn for acting a fool last year! I TOTALLY forgot that BTD compared Obama to FDR!!!! LOLOLOL. Check it out:

    http://www.hillaryis44.org/2009/04/01/april-fools/

    • She/he is right that we do need tro force Congress to pass an oversight bill for bank and AIG bailout money. We know there is double dipping going on.

  14. OT but fits into the “Lack of Principals” theme.

    Did you read that

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai has just signed a law that forces women to obey their husbands’ sexual demands, keeps women from leaving the house — even for work or school — without a husband’s permission, automatically grants child custody rights to fathers and grandfathers before mothers, and favors men in inheritance disputes and other legal matters. In short, the law again consigns Afghan women to lives of brutal repression.

    Karzai, who we prop up so that he can pretend he’s in charge of something signed this atrocity.

    According to the author of the piece, Marie Cocco,
    “The U.S. State Department has had no immediate comment.”

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/04/silence_meets_despair_of_afgha.html

    • I doubt they’ll say anything. Two steps back for womanhood and I doubt it’ll even get a mention in the media.

      Speaking of womanhood, did Obama ever overturn the “conscientious objector health care provision?” I bet not.

    • This is what is frustrating about Hillary working for O. I’ve been worrying lately that his relentlessly ambivalent style is going to blow back on her. He doesn’t take a stand, and since she is not setting policy, she has to sell and justify his weak, unprincipled approach.

  15. He can’t fool people like the French. It’s really interesting to see who is lining up with who right now. In terms of world leaders. I don’t think they have missed a trick RD.

    If only we had Hillary or McC. They would be putting us first?
    I read yesterday that his interests lie in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
    It shows.

    • Certainly does.

      I look at this guy like if he were a teenager teaching the parents how it’s done NOW. We’ve all been there…

      And then they get into a car accdent or some kind of financial problems and it’s back to Mommy and Daddys for help.

      Except that I am not sure the Old Europe is going to be so forgiving and helping..

  16. Well what you all say is very true but the OB people still can’t see whats happening because he sai CHANGE and HOPe and of course they didn’t pay attention to his other words and how slick he was ,they didn’t pay attention and now we all pay the price .

    I too am worried about hillary ,Obama is setting her up for a fall,her getting the blame for policies he decides …………………..He is all about 2012

  17. Well at least Karl Rove and some of the others actually point out that the One is not always right, wise or even intelligent. Frankly, if it was not for some of the attacks from Gingrich, Rove some of the Republican congress critters, then we would have a dictator supported by a huge slobbering press. Right now O is having his own press conference in Europe as if he is the annointed leader of the world. He is spinning victory out of ignominy. He is making a statement for all the G20 by himself—no others at the press conference. Wonder how Sarkozy, Merkel, Brown, Medvedeev etc feel about the one appointing himself as the spokes person for the G20. That arrogance is ubelieveable. M. Thatcher’s former advisor says that O was very ineffective in the process and actually did not get much that he wanted but had his Rock Star moments. It is interesting that he is stating in his unilateral press conference that he is not imposing his ideas—I think that he is covering for the reality that he did not get what he wanted.

    • I simply think he is delusional. He is operating on the premises “Where are they going to go?” It worked for him so far in US, but he is only overlooking the fact that Europe is larger than the US and soon could stand on its on and go after their own alliances.

      I think we’ll look upon this G20 as the start of the isolation of the US. Arrogance and ignorance are not attractive, see dangerous, on the diplomatic front.

  18. It sounds to me as if Obama is speaking for everyone in the G20. I wonder how the other leaders feel about that? Someone on Fox News said that Obama has been isolated at the meeting. I wonder if people shut him out of things for some reason?

    • The person holding the summit should be giving the Press Conference. Then individual leaders usually give their opinions to their own press.

    • Possibly he was shut out of things because he had not prepared for the issues?

      The Treasury never replied to phone calls because of dire understaffing. There is no London Ambassador, no Nato ambassador, No European Under Secretary on Obama’s staff.
      Even though he managed to bring 500 extras with him.

      I think all he really intended to do was photo-ops and a speech at the end.

  19. [...] at The Confluence, Riverdaughter noticed the same “huh?” quality to some of today’s (what passes for) learned [...]

  20. No one has to teach S.O.S. Clinton how to walk!

    http://www.daylife.com/photo/01Co0o3dPA6w9

    (Love how the guys – Secret Service? – are scrambling to keep up her)

  21. Drat! That’s “keep up with her”.

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