Obama gives progressives a reach-around


It says so right in the Washington Post:

Obama reaches out to liberal groups to shore up Democratic base after tax deal

n the wake of President Obama’s tax-cut deal with Republicans, the White House is moving quickly to mend its strained relationship with the Democratic base, reassuring liberal groups, black leaders and labor union officials who opposed the tax compromise that Obama has not abandoned them.

On Friday morning, hours before the president signed into law the $858 billion package extending George W. Bush-era tax cuts as well as jobless benefits, White House aides e-mailed leaders of the black community to hail the compromise as a “major victory for African Americans.”

Friday afternoon, Obama hosted a group of union presidents in the Roosevelt Room for what participants described as a cordial meeting in which the two sides agreed to look beyond their differences.

One participant in the 90-minute session said the group asked Obama to help establish a “formalized structure” of communication between the White House staff and the labor movement. The tax deal came up only briefly when Obama explained the benefits of the deal to workers.

“There’s been some uncomfortable moments and some large amount of disagreement about substance and tactics,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, a liberal activist group. “But they know some parts of the base are angry with them, and they’re trying to make the case why this [tax compromise] is the best deal they could get.”

The problem with a reach-around is you only get one when you’re getting f**ked in the ass.



Krugman says the zombie apocalypse is upon us:

When historians look back at 2008-10, what will puzzle them most, I believe, is the strange triumph of failed ideas. Free-market fundamentalists have been wrong about everything — yet they now dominate the political scene more thoroughly than ever.

How did that happen? How, after runaway banks brought the economy to its knees, did we end up with Ron Paul, who says “I don’t think we need regulators,” about to take over a key House panel overseeing the Fed? How, after the experiences of the Clinton and Bush administrations — the first raised taxes and presided over spectacular job growth; the second cut taxes and presided over anemic growth even before the crisis — did we end up with bipartisan agreement on even more tax cuts?

The answer from the right is that the economic failures of the Obama administration show that big-government policies don’t work. But the response should be, what big-government policies?

For the fact is that the Obama stimulus — which itself was almost 40 percent tax cuts — was far too cautious to turn the economy around. And that’s not 20-20 hindsight: many economists, myself included, warned from the beginning that the plan was grossly inadequate. Put it this way: A policy under which government employment actually fell, under which government spending on goods and services grew more slowly than during the Bush years, hardly constitutes a test of Keynesian economics.

Now, maybe it wasn’t possible for President Obama to get more in the face of Congressional skepticism about government. But even if that’s true, it only demonstrates the continuing hold of a failed doctrine over our politics.


O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!


Geithner and Summers: Economic Disaster Deja Vu

g + s

Timothy Geithner’s profanity-laced rant against Sheila Bair and Mary Shapiro for their rational, reality-based concerns about increasing the power of Federal Reserve Bank, as opposed to increasing oversight of the system, should elicit a kind of déjà vu because the scenario has been played before. (Note: Increasing oversight does not mean policy disclosure.)

In 1997-8, Brooksley Born, the head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, tried to open a discussion about introducing oversight measures into the OTC derivatives market by producing a memo because she could see that:

“There was no transparency of these markets at all. No market oversight. No regulator knew what was happening,” Born says. “There was no reporting to anybody.”

Summers, Rubin’s deputy (and now director of the National Economic Council), said the memo had “cast the shadow of regulatory uncertainty over an otherwise thriving market, raising risks for the stability and competitiveness of American derivative trading.”

History, in the form of the role these derivatives played in this economic disaster, has proven that she was right to undertake that initiative. Unfortunately, Greenspan, Leavitt, Rubin, and Summers, to name some major players, were effective in pushing legislation that ended the CFTC’s ability to undertake oversight.

Born assailed the legislation, calling it an unprecedented move to undermine the independence of a federal agency. In eerily prescient testimony, she warned of potentially disastrous and widespread consequences for the public. “Losses resulting from misuse of OTC derivatives instruments or from sales practice abuses in the OTC derivatives market can affect many Americans,” she testified that July. “Many of us have interests in the corporations, mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies, municipalities and other entities trading in these instruments.”

Notwithstanding, her concerns were dismissed and her ominous predictions came to pass.

Geithner is a protégé of Summers.

Is it not an ironic twist of fate, and a testament to Geithner’s blind faith against oversight, that he, like his mentor before him, is assailing intelligent, moral, qualified women for pointing out the  folly of his ways.

{Note: I defer all economic inquiries to our resident expert, Dakinikat.  My interest in the situation is the social dynamic.}

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Barack Obama and General Electric: Why MSNBC and NBC Talking Heads Supported Obama So Vociferously

President Barack Obama and GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt

President Barack Obama and GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt

It is starting to look like General Electric is Barack Obama’s Halliburton.

A “Negotiated Settlement” of the Olbermann-O’Reilly Media War

Yesterday Dakinikat wrote a post on the “negotiated settlement” in which Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News were silenced by their respective corporate masters, General Electric and News Corp. Here’s a little refresher. From The New York Times:

At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in mid-May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.

Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the networks and the increasingly personal nature of the barbs. Days later, even though the feud had increased the audience of both programs, their lieutenants arranged a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal.

GE and News Corp were concerned that the long-running feud between Olbermann and O’Reilly was hurting the parent corporations’ business interests.

Over time, G.E. and the News Corporation concluded that the fighting “wasn’t good for either parent,” said an NBC employee with direct knowledge of the situation. But the session hosted by Mr. Rose provided an opportunity for a reconciliation, sealed with a handshake between Mr. Immelt and Mr. Murdoch.

But like any title fight, the final round could not end without an attempted knockout. On June 1, the day after the abortion provider George Tiller was killed in Kansas, Mr. Olbermann took to the air to cite Mr. O’Reilly’s numerous references to “Tiller, the baby killer” and to announce that he would retire his caricature of Mr. O’Reilly.

“The goal here is to get this blindly irresponsible man and his ilk off the air,” he said.

The next day, Mr. O’Reilly made the extraordinary claim that “federal authorities have developed information about General Electric doing business with Iran, deadly business” and published Mr. Immelt’s e-mail address and mailing address, repeating it slowly for emphasis.

Then the attacks mostly stopped.

Shortly afterward, Phil Griffin, the MSNBC president, told producers that he wanted the channel’s other programs to follow Mr. Olbermann’s lead and restrain from criticizing Fox directly, according to two employees. At Fox News, some staff members were told to “be fair” to G.E.

Reaction from Blogger Glenn Greenwald

Dakinikat also quoted from Glenn Greenwald’s piece in Salon in which he points out that the author of the NYT article quoted above, Brian Stelter, apparently didn’t understand or perhaps didn’t care that he was reporting on censorship of news programs by two giant corporations.

So now GE is using its control of NBC and MSNBC to ensure that there is no more reporting by Fox of its business activities in Iran or other embarrassing corporate activities, while News Corp. is ensuring that the lies spewed regularly by its top-rated commodity on Fox News are no longer reported by MSNBC….

This is hardly the first time evidence of corporate control over the content of NBC and MSNBC has surfaced. Last May, CNN’s Jessica Yellin said that when she was at MSNBC, “the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this [the Iraq War] was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation”; “the higher the president’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives … to put on positive stories about the president”; and “they would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive.” Katie Couric said that when she was at NBC, “there was a lot of undercurrent of pressure not to rock the boat for a variety of reasons, where it was corporate reasons or other considerations” not to be too critical of the Bush administration. MSNBC’s rising star, Ashleigh Banfield, was demoted and then fired after she criticized news media organizations generally, and Fox News specifically, for distorting their war coverage to appear more pro-government. And, of course, when MSNBC canceled Phil Donahue’s show in the run-up to the Iraq war despite its being that network’s highest-rated program, a corporate memo surfaced indicating that the company had fears of being associated with an anti-war and anti-government message.

Why did MSNBC Support Obama So Strongly?

What I’m wondering now is why did MSNBC support Barack Obama so strongly during the primaries, and why did they do everything they could to destroy Hillary Clinton’s candidacy? I admit, I bought into the notion that talking heads Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and David Shuster were really huge fans of Obama.

In the light of this latest turn of events, I have to ask, were the on-air personalities at MSNBC really that biased, or were they acting on orders passed down from GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt? Did Immelt know ahead of time that Obama administration would look favorably on GE after they helped him win the nomination and the general election? Is it possible that Clinton wasn’t as amenable as Obama to making commitments to provide financial benefits to GE ahead of the nomination and election? Because Obama’s policies and appointments clearly have been a big help to GE in their current economic troubles. Continue reading

How Much are We Paying Larry Summers for Insights Like This?

Larry Summers dozes off at White House meeting

Larry Summers dozes off at White House meeting

From Politico:

Of all the statistics pouring into the White House every day, top economic adviser Larry Summers highlighted one Friday to make his case that the economic free-fall has ended.

The number of people searching for the term “economic depression” on Google is down to normal levels, Summers said.

Searches for the term were up four-fold when the recession deepened in the earlier part of the year, and the recent shift goes to show consumer confidence is higher, Summers told the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Gee thanks, Larry. Now I feel so much better about the surging unemployment figures, the skyrocketing rates of home foreclosures, and the increasing numbers of homeless families with children. If a Google search is Summers’ idea of a leading economic indicator, I want to know why my tax money is going to pay his salary.

Summers claims that the economy is “back from the abyss”

A somewhat more important indicator–the unemployment rate–isn’t as upbeat, though and has become a thorn in the administration’s side. (See: “The Job Market’s Grim Picture.”) It hit 9.5% in June, embarrassing the administration’s predictions that if their $787 billion stimulus were passed, the rate would peak a bit above 8%. Economists predict it will soon top 10%, erasing all the jobs created in the U.S. since the beginning of the decade.

“This is obviously a major area of concern,” says Summers, “But contrary to a significant amount of commentary, this does not provide a basis for concluding that the Recovery Act is falling short of its goals.” Summers points to the administration’s own forecast that only 10% of the job impact of the stimulus would take place in 2009.

Really? I guess if one of the administration’s goals was to create more profits for Goldman-Sachs, they are on track. What were the administration’s goals for the stimulus plan anyway? It doesn’t sound like creating jobs was in the top ten.

This is an open thread.

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Thursday Morning News Links (with a little help from my friend Katiebird)

harvard.square

News from the Boston Area

Good morning, Conflucians! It’s another gray day in New England, but at least the Red Sox are still in first place.

Kansas City Royals play Red Sox this weekend.

José Guillen returned to the lineup — but as the designated hitter — and could spend time this weekend battling the Green Monster, the big left-field wall at Boston’s Fenway Park, in an effort to reduce strain on his aching legs.

Good luck with that, old man.

In other provincial news, legendary local gangster Whitey Bulger is still on the run, and his crimes are still being investigated and prosecuted.

Tall ships arrive in Boston (gorgeous photos!)

Mass. becomes the first state to challenge Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

“Our familes, our communities, and even our economy have seen the many important benefits that have come from recognizing equal marriage rights and, frankly, no downside,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said this afternoon at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. “However, we have also seen how many of our married residents and their families are being hurt by a discriminatory, unprecedented, and, we believe, unconstitutional law.”

Texting trolley driver indicted in crash

Governor’s Race Heats Up in Mass. (scroll down for story)

After years of consideration, republican Charlie Baker has decided to quit his lucrative job as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care so he can devote his full time to a 2010 Massachusetts gubernatorial bid.

News from Another Corrupt State

Ex-Blagojevich aide pleads guilty, will testify

A blow for Illinois’s Blagojevich in corruption case

Illinois political floodgates open after Madigan passes on governor, Senate bids.

News from Washington, DC

Democrats say CIA deceived Congress for years.

Obama threatens veto of intelligence bill.

Healthcare overhaul bill stalls in Congress

What’s So Scary About Offering People the Option of a Public Health Plan?

Howard Dean: This is ridiculous. We’re 60 Years Behind the Times” on Fixing Health Care

Your candidate won, Howie. So why are you whining?

Cities Lose Out on Road Funds From Federal Stimulus

For [Marion] Barry, a Familiar Script Takes an Unfamiliar Twist Continue reading

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