• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    r u reddy on I smell a (plague) rat
    r u reddy on I smell a (plague) rat
    Partition Functions on I smell a (plague) rat
    riverdaughter on Ghost Stories
    riverdaughter on I smell a (plague) rat
    alibe50 on Ghost Stories
    riverdaughter on I smell a (plague) rat
    r u reddy on I smell a (plague) rat
    riverdaughter on Ghost Stories
    katiebird on Ghost Stories
    riverdaughter on I smell a (plague) rat
    r u reddy on I smell a (plague) rat
    riverdaughter on I smell a (plague) rat
    riverdaughter on I smell a (plague) rat
    r u reddy on I smell a (plague) rat
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare occupy wall street OccupyWallStreet Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    October 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Sep    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • Does seeing a shrink make you more suicidal?
      A new study suggests a link. Yet it’s important to recognize that this Danish study has not emerged in isolation. For example, several studies, including one of 100 countries in 2004 and of 191 countries in 2013, have shown links between increasing funding to modern, western-style psychiatric mental health systems and increasing – not decreasing […]
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • What Toronto’s Election Means for Progressive Viability
      As many have heard, John Tory, the mainstream right wing candidate, won convincingly in Toronto and Olivia Chow came in third place, even doing worse than Doug Ford (brother of the famous crack-smoking Rob Ford.)  Much hand wringing has ensued that progressive just can’t win elections in Toronto. While it’s true that Toronto is hard [...]
  • Top Posts

The NYTimes editorial fearmongering women for Obama

Maureen Dowd, one of only two females out of 12 op/ed columnists at the NYTimes

I guess the ladies will have to rescue Obama after all.  Today’s NYTimes editorial is all about those meanie Republicans who want to reinstate the Mexico City Rule and take away all our reproductive rights.

First, it should be noted that if you don’t want to lose your reproductive rights, don’t vote for downticket Republicans.  Oh, sure, there are pain in the ass anti-choice Democrats who should NEVER get another term but there are far, far more Republicans who are adamantly anti-choice.  And anti-labor.  And anti-consumer protections. And pro-neo-feudalism. And pro-war and authoritarianism.  And anti-Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  By the way, did you know that Medicare only got passed in the 60s when the number of Republicans in Congress was decreased to such an extent that they didn’t have the critical mass to obstruct it?  Yep, you can look it up.  Here’s a BBC-4 Witness segment on the birth of medicare and what it took to get it passed.

In short, just about everything Americans like had to be passed when Republicans were down for the count.  Otherwise, their method is obstruct, obstruct, obstruct.  It’s what they do.  So, if you vote for a downticket Republican or a Tea Party Republican, that’s what you’re going to get.  They’re into austerity and redistributing wealth -upwards.

Does that mean you should vote always for the Democrat?  Well, until there are more third party downticket candidates, yeah, probably.  I don’t like it either.  But for sure, voting for a downticket Republican is going to mean more austerity for YOU and not for their rich friends.  You can choose to ignore the evidence and history if you want but them’s the facts.

Second, who is in the White House makes absolutely no difference this year.  I know Democrats say that it does but there’s no evidence of that.  We’ve had 4 years of Obama and he unmasked himself during the first debate.  He doesn’t fight for Americans.  He capitulates to Republicans.  He doesn’t exercise his veto pen enough and he was quite happy to leave the Bush Conscience Rule on the books.  Oh, sure, he tweaked it but he didn’t remove it.  And in my opinion, removing it is significant.  As long as the Bush Conscience Rule is around, women will never be sure that their reproductive decisions can’t be overridden by someone else.

Now, I understand why the NYTimes would be carrying Obama’s water.  It’s not that the Times is particularly liberal.  But the paper of record does tend to put a socially forward face on it’s wealth protection policies.  It doesn’t like to think of itself as backwards like the Republican bible-thumpers and who could blame it?  It’s gauche and stupid and deliberately ignorant to be a Republican supporter these days.  Sorry, Republicans, but that’s the truth.  Of course, none of that matters if you win, right?  Then you can shove your ignorance on everyone else and make them eat it and that will make you feel better.  But it means that you WILL impose austerity on everyone, including yourselves, if you vote for downticket Republicans.

But at the top of the ticket?  Makes not a damn bit of difference.  And the reason it particularly makes no difference to women is because no one has to take women seriously.  They can scream about reproductive rights until their blue in the face.  Without someone taking you seriously, you get nowhere. And in the past four years, no one has been taking women seriously.  And a lot of the blame for that can be attributed to the Democratic leadership.  They allowed a pattern of sexism to develop since 2008 that has been unprecedented.

Let’s just put aside the 2008 primaries where Obama routinely attempted to diminish his opponent by saying things like,” periodically when she’s feeling blue“* Hillary goes negative, it was Obama’s intention when he took office to make sure the jobs programs were tailored for men because he was concerned that they would feel bad if they were encouraged to go into pink professions like nursing (It’s in Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men).  And he also made the White House a “hostile working environment for women” (Anita Dunn said this in Suskind’s book)  He also ignored the advice of Christine Romer, Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren, each one of whom had to go through Tim Geithner to get anything done.  Tim Geithner, if I recall correctly, was one of the guys who piled on Brooksley Born, the head of the CFTC back at the end of the Clinton years who wanted to regulate derivatives.

Obama was the guy who hired Larry Summers who once famously said that women didn’t have the same intellectual capacity in math and science as men. (guys, don’t try to sugar coat this.  I’ve read the transcript and he sure as hell said that and meant exactly what he said.)

The whole atmosphere in the past four years has changed towards women.  Tell me, ladies, am I just imagining that?  Are men more likely to act like you don’t have a brain, treat you dismissively and cut you off in conversations?  I’m talking about just conversations on the phone not in person where they can’t see whether you are too old to pay attention to.  It’s gotten to the point where I’m already prepared to battle when I place a phone call.  I’ve seen it happen to women at work and just casually.  We have lost whatever mojo we fought so hard to get over the past 50 years.  No wonder the Republicans think they can run over our reproductive rights.  We don’t count anymore and there are very few champions in the Democratic party who are powerful or interested enough to stick up for us.  It would be nice if we had more women running for Congress this year as Democrats but even that is hard to find.  The Democratic leadership in Maine decided it would put their money behind a guy who wasn’t even in their party rather than run a woman from their side for the Senate seat that Olympia Snowe is vacating.

We can’t even get above 17% representation in Congress, which is one of the lowest female government representations in the developed world.  It shouldn’t be any wonder why nothing that is important to us gets passed.  We can’t get economic reforms we like, the jobs programs we like, the wars we hate to stop or protection of our social insurance programs.  No one takes anything we want seriously because we don’t have the critical mass in Congress to change anything.

We have fewer women in government than Pakistan

Voting for Obama isn’t going to change that.  In fact, the only thing that will change that is running more women for office and in order to do that, we need to get more authority. And in order to do that we need to have a greater voice in the opinion pages of the countries papers and online news sources.

And if that’s going to happen, maybe it should start with the New York Times, which has a male to female ratio of op/ed writers of 10:2.  That means that men are 5 times more likely to have their concerns represented on the New York Times editorial page every week than women.  And one of those women is Maureen Dowd whose schtick has been to pile on the women that the guys hate.  That seems to be a survival strategy. (And how did that work out, Maureen?)  I can’t think of one unambiguously feminist voice on the pages of the Washington Post or New York Times on a regular basis nor do I see any parity at all when it comes to representation.

So, if the New York Times feels so strongly about the fate of women’s reproductive rights, now would be a good time to add more women to its editorial lineup.  May I suggest dumping Douthat or Brooks?  Or both?  Then, hire someone like Digby. I’m a little tired of the Ezra Kleins, Kevin Drums and Matt Yglesias types getting all the peach positions.  It’s time for the New York Times to practice what it preaches and hire some women.

Otherwise, I can’t take it seriously.

*You know the level of sexism is bad when Andrea Mitchell notices.

Neil Barofsky’s book is depressing.

Summary: Obama appointed the Mafia to run the Treasury.

You know it’s bad when your Democratic Special Inspector General for TARP who was appointed under Bush says the Obama Treasury appointees are worse.  Not only that but the HAMP program was constructed in such a way as to encourage mortgage foreclosure fraud by the servicers. Tim Geithner is not a nice guy.  Oh, no, he isn’t.  He’s a sociopath.  It’s just bad any way you look at it.  We’ve been had.  The banks own everything.

I don’t know if I can handle Sheila Bair’s book, Bull by the Horns, as well.  It might be too much.

Don’t let anyone fool you.  The good guys have left the administration with a couple of exceptions.  The rest have to go.  Clean them all out.

Tim Geithner and the Orient Express

The suspects arranged themselves on both sides of the aisle

Neil Barofsky who wrote the recently released book, Bailout, wrote a short review/impression of Sheila Bair’s new book, Bull By The Horns.  Both books cover roughly the same time period, during the financial meltdown and its immediate aftermath.  As Barofsky notes, he and Bair come from different sides of the aisle and have different experiences as public officials.  But they are united in one thing- their opinion of Tim Geithner.  Says Barofsky:

her observations and interactions with the Geithner-led Treasury Department and her thoroughly captured fellow regulators are strikingly similar to mine.

She too was cursed out by Geithner and subjected to many of the same dirty political tricks.  She also bore the brunt of misleading media attacks. She came to the same realization that I did that large chunks of the government were far more interested in preserving the status quo of the big banks than serving the broader interests of the American people.  And she similarly recognized that Treasury’s mortgage modification program was never really designed to fulfill the administration’s promise to help millions of homeowners.  Bair looked at the same bailout landscape that I did and saw the same favoritism toward Wall Street and betrayal of Main Street.

The day Bair’s book was released a journalist friend emailed me that she thought that Bailout and Bull by the Horns share “the same utterly surreal quality” and that I would “like it a lot.”  She’s right.  It’s always nice to find out that you were not the only sane person in the asylum.

So, add this latest book to the pile, including Confidence Men by Ron Suskind, that paints Tim Geithner as the guy who refused to flip the switch or throw the big bankers off the bridge in order to save the rest of us.

Speaking of trains, the theme of Geithner being a complete bastard deserving of some nasty fate reminds me of the Murder on the Orient Express.  In it, the body is discovered to have been the victim of not one suspect but all of them.  Each one of the aggrieved attempts to murder the victim by stabbing, unaware that someone else had gotten there first.  In Geithner’s case, he has managed to survive so far, like just another one of the vampires that the Democrats foolishly invited into the house four years ago.

But with each volume that recounts that tale from a different perspective, the personalities and actions of the players become clearer and the motives easier to understand.  Tim Geithner is the hand of the financiers, sent to the malware president they installed to make sure that their interests were protected even if that meant turning the country into a broken banana republic with decaying infrastructure, a ruined technology and industrial sector and a permanent underclass.  It remains to be seen which suspect will deliver the fatal stab but there’s no shortage of remaining suspects.

This is pretty bad, people.  The Obama administration has been worse than we anticipated.

The attempts of the Obama campaign to scare working class women into supporting him over Romney should be seen in the light of what he has failed to accomplish for them in the last four years, largely through the machinations of Tim Geithner.   Those Democratic loyalists who have been carrying the campaign’s water, spreading a steady stream of attacks on Romney, portraying him as indifferent to their plight, have been remarkably silent about what Obama has done for them.  Four years ago, they might have said that the jury was still out on Obama’s performance and there was still a good possibility that he would be their Democratic champion.  But in October 2012, the mystery is gone.  It is a bitter triumph if the campaign’s mouthpieces have managed to convince blue collar women to ignore their lying eyes and accept a manufactured reality.  The money must be really good and, you know, the health insurance premiums must be paid.

All of the lamenting about what Obama will do in his second term obscures the fact that these bloggers did absolutely nothing to challenge the party when they had a chance to make a difference.  Instead, they allowed the party to use their blogs as a means of disseminating manipulative propaganda while ignoring all of the administration’s collaboration with the banks to make those women’s lives harder.  It’s all crocodile tears and prostitution.

Ultimately, it is Obama who is responsible for appointing Geithner and allowing homeowners and businesses to get used by the banks.  Now that we have a better picture of what went on in 2009-2010 when Obama had a political full house and many executive branch tools at his disposal, it’s impossible to deny that he served the financiers.

If you serve Obama, you are serving the banks, just like Romney will.

*******************************

And here is Sheila Bair describing what she would have done to Citibank.  If you were a shareholder, it was a fairly terrifying scenario but given how badly Citi was mismanaged ($800 billion?? How is it possible for an entity not a country to rack up that much money in bad assets?), ultimately necessary.  Tim Geithner cut her off at the pass.

Thursday Morning News and Note to the DSCC

The last time I saw Paris...

The last time I saw Paris...

Before we get to the cafe au lait and croissants, I’d like to relate an encounter with the remnants of what *used* to be my party.  A few days ago, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, the DSCC, called me at home to hit me up for a donation.  Almost immediately, I told them to save their breath.  I had no intention of contributing money to any arm of the Democratic party after what transpired during the primaries last year.  I told the phone guy (and it’s ALWAYS a guy) that I had left the party over the primary debacle.  He sounded confused, like a boyfriend who can’t possibly understand why you are mad at him for acting like a jerk.  He asked me to explain so he could pass the information on.  So, I told him: I voted for Hillary in the NJ primary, a primary she won by more than 10 points, and watched every one of our delegates go to Obama during the convention.  Does my vote count or not?  If it doesn’t count, then why does the party expect me to give it money?  I’m not stupid.

The guy laughed at me.  It was a laugh of both nervousness and contempt.  Contempt, I suspect, because old, uneducated, working class, sino-peruvian lesbians aren’t supposed to really count even when they are not old, not uneducated, and are professional straight, scientific researcher women such as myself.  If you’re not twenty three and impressionable, I guess you might as well apologize for living and forcing people to gaze upon your aging visage.  Your intellect is of no interest to the guys of the Democratic party.

The nervousness was new.  Yep, the guy tried to pull off a mocking laugh, the kind you reserve for losers, but there was something behind that mockery that belied the confidence.  I don’t know how many women had turned this guy down on the phone but maybe I was the first that gave him an actual reason that made sense.  It must suck to find out that you’re no longer the guy you thought you were and women are on to your lies and your secret viagra stash.

Get a clue, guys.  You took our votes and forced Obama down our throats in your primary rape fantasy and we’re not ever going to forget it.  He turned out to be exactly what we said he was: an overly ambitious, shmoozing, political opportunist without a political philosophy, experience and hard earned relationships necessary to get things done.  There’s no 11 dimensional chess going on here.  Just a bunch of jerks who thought they could write off the votes of millions of people, many of them women, and get away with it.  Go ahead and laugh.  You’ll never get a penny from me.  And you may never get my vote again.  You don’t have to be a crazy nutcase birther to know the devils by the look in  their eyes.

Now, onto the news:

Slate’s The Big Money is behind the curve when it comes to Sheila Bair.  I believe we covered this months ago.  (In January, and  July, not to mention Dakinkat‘s stuff from two days ago) But, hey, it’s nice to see other media types are getting with the program and realizing that sexism costs.

The NYTimes reports White House Affirms Deal on Drug Prices.  I’m not sure what that means ultimately.  As I have pointed out before, the pharmaceutical industry has some very legitimate reasons for wanting to work with Congress and the WH on issues concerning the drug industry and health reform.  But it’s really cutting its throat going with a lobbyist like Billy Tauzin and jumping in with the health insurance industry’s public relations team.  Big Pharma’s concerns are not the same as the health insurance company’s concerns.  We actually produce something of value, remember guys?  Ah, Jeez, there are those *guys* again the ones who run the drug industry.  The clueless ones who still think that the most important activities in a pharma company happen in marketing, advertising and acquisitions instead of the lab.  Just forget it.  Lay us all off now and get with dismantling the US research community and moving it overseas.  Just get it over with already.

Jon Corzine is still behind and Christie’s lead seems to be widening. Cue the schadenfreude. {{snicker}}  Corzine’s campaign is planning to launch a spot featuring Pres Barack Obama himself when he came to NJ to rally for the governor.  Polls indicate Obama’s appearance mattered not a whit.  But this little bit from Obama on Corzine’s accomplishments had me laughing:

“Jon Corzine has not only protected funding for New Jersey schools, he reformed them with tougher standards and now students in New Jersey rank at the top of the country in reading and math because of Jon Corzine.”

Yes, indeedy. If your kid is an average to bright learner in NJ, or if you have a special needs kid, NJ public schools are pretty good. Not the best with clear, concise, non fuzzy standards that over romanticize the child. But not bad.
However, if you have a kid who is very gifted, you enter into a Kafkaesque nightmare of educational ideology exacerbated by almost complete lack of funding from state and local governments. How much non-funding of the state’s gifted and talented program is unclear at this time. There is no information on whether there was any funding for these underserved students for 2009 but recent years indicate that these programs in the state of NJ got zip, zilch, nada. There are also virtually no standards or mandates regarding their education, leaving them at the mercy of teachers who have never been trained in the care and feeding of gifted youth.

Yep, here in NJ, the home of Einstein and Edison, the birthplace of telecom, the home to research laboratories that crank out cures for cancer and schizophrenia, the gifted and talented students are treated as inconveniences. As the mother of one of these kids, who absolutely hates school here, I can attest to the whack-a-mole approach to getting her educated at her developmental level. I and many of my colleagues have had to scramble to meet our gifted kids’ educational needs through a series of summer courses at local prep schools, distance learning through programs for gifted youth at Stanford University and by homeschooling. That’s what my outrageous property taxes in NJ buy me in NJ- a school system and education department that is completely unresponsive to the needs of my kid. And Corzine during his tenure, has done less to improve this situation than many states in the south to service this population of students who could potentially solve the energy crisis, invent a new cure for cancer or be our next political leader. Your gifted kid gets better treatment in Texas and Georgia than in NJ. NJ ranks right down there with Alabama.

Gifted by State

Gifted by State

Thanks for nothing, Jon. It’s just one more reason to skip the election this year.

Well, that and the clueless idiots of the Democratic party.

Please Tweet!!! Dig!!! Share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Timmy’s Tantrum vs. the Mosuo Matriarchy

0,1020,1534447,00mWhile reading Dakinikat’s post on Geithner’s profanity-laced rant against Sheila Bair and Mary Shapiro I could not help but wonder how the dynamic would have been changed had either Bair or Shapiro been in Geithner‘s position and vice versa. This lead me to wonder if their gender might have influenced his performance tactic or if his control issues manifested themselves in a gender-neutral fashion. Then, having recently read a piece in Der Speigel on the Mosuo matriarchy, I wondered how differently the whole episode would be playing out, if the Mosuo matriarchy’s institutional structure was guiding their behavior.

At the outset, it is worth noting that the Mosuo matriarchy is only one of potentially myriad forms of matriarchy. This brief mainstream media-derived post should not be seen as claiming that all matriarchies would carry similar features based upon a specific essentialized version of human femaleness in its socially-dominant context.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is Mosuo society a paradise for feminists?

Coler: I had expected to find an inverse patriarchy. But the life of the Mosuo has absolutely nothing to do with that. Women have a different way of dominating. When women rule, it’s part of their work. They like it when everything functions and the family is doing well. Amassing wealth or earning lots of money doesn’t cross their minds. Capital accumulation seems to be a male thing. It’s not for nothing that popular wisdom says that the difference between a man and a boy is the price of his toys.

Hmm. I think it fair to suggest the Mosuo’s take on the role of the Federal Reserve Bank, and Wall Street in general, would proceed along a vastly different tack then it did in the aforementioned meeting. Given the downplay of capital accumulation, how does this cash out in terms of social organization?

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What is life like for a man in a matriarchy?

Coler: Men live better where women are in charge: you are responsible for almost nothing, you work much less and you spend the whole day with your friends. You’re with a different woman every night. And on top of that, you can always live at your mother’s house. The woman serves the man and it happens in a society where she leads the way and has control of the money. In a patriarchy, we men work more — and every now and then we do the dishes. In the Mosuo’s pure form of matriarchy, you aren’t allowed to do that. Where a woman’s dominant position is secure, those kinds of archaic gender roles don’t have any meaning.

Continue reading

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.}

Digg!!! Share!!! Tweet!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Bair Under Fire

Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC

Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC

You know, I never thought I would be saying this but I think that Republicans might actually be more respectful of women than Democrats.  I’m probably going to burn in Hell now, if I believed in it.  Maybe it’s just a matter of perception and perspective but I just can’t wrap my brain around how Hillary, Sarah and now Sheila Bair have been treated by the Democrats.  Oh, and let’s not forget Diane Feinstein who wasn’t given a courtesy call about Leon Panetta’s proposed appointment to the CIA.  I don’t care if you love or despise DiFi, she was deliberately cut out of the loop and the call went to a more junior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Ron Wyden.  No matter how you slice it, it just looks bad.

As Clay Risen writes today in The New Republic in Bair Market, Sheila Bair is one of those remarkable Republicans we don’t find too often- a long term thinker.

Bair is one of a dwindling species in Washington: a pragmatic conservative who recognizes that fiscal discipline and small government aren’t always the answer–and who sometimes sounds downright populist as a result. “A lot of people out there are losing their houses,” she told me last month. “I think people draw false choices between bailing out financial institutions and helping homeowners. Well, maybe we need to spend on both.” Indeed, Bair’s views on the current crisis may actually be more liberal than those of Obama’s generally centrist appointees, and already there have been signs of strain between Bair and the incoming administration. Who could have guessed that the high-ranking government official most likely to attack Obama’s economic policies from the left would be–of all things–a Republican?

The rest, of course, is history. Few listened to Bair, and, when the housing bubble burst in late 2007, foreclosures began to pile up. In December 2007, Bair told Congress that some 1.3 million mortgage loans would reset over the next year, which “could result in hundreds of thousands of additional mortgage foreclosures over the next two years.” A few months later, she was pushing a comprehensive mortgage relief program, hardly the bailiwick of past FDIC chairs. Her plan, which drew praise from Capitol Hill liberals and consumer advocates but the ire of Henry Paulson and the White House, would require banks to renegotiate interest rates for troubled mortgages, with the government promising to cover most of the losses if they went into foreclosure later.

Opponents accused her of wanting to bailout negligent homeowners–and thereby violate conservative economic values. But Bair argued repeatedly, with impeccable data, that many of the homeowners had been duped, and that in any case the potential social cost of millions of unoccupied houses outweighed the risk. For Bair, this wasn’t a sign that she’d given up her Republican credentials. Rather, it was a pragmatic solution to an unprecedented problem–a problem that Bush has yet to tackle, a year later. Without action now, “the housing market will continue to deteriorate,” she tells me, adding, “I don’t understand why we can give out billions to the financial sector, but when we talk about the [individual borrower] level, we get out the fine-toothed comb.”

She seems to be able to put country and principles before party {{gasp!}}. No wonder the Obama economic team despises her.  She’s so not like them. Bair has used her clout at the FDIC to rescue some shaky banks while at the same time, and in some respects, succeeding,  holding some of those bankers accountable for their actions.  Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard prof who specializes in consumer credit and debt and who is now chairing a Congressional Oversight Committee of the Paulsen Bailout Bill, can’t say enough good things about Bair.  She’s smart, assertive, not afraid to challenge her superiors AND she is absolutely loathed by both the outgoing and *incoming* Treasury Secretaries:

By December, an anti-Bair whisper campaign was making the rounds. The Wall Street Journal reported that Geithner had criticized Bair for protecting the FDIC over the broader interests of the economic recovery efforts, while a December 4 Bloomberg account had anonymous sources saying that Geithner didn’t think Bair was a “team player” and that Obama had decided to isolate her, if not ask her to step down as FDIC chair. “They’re just criticizing me for doing my job,” Bair tells me defensively.

Ahhh, yes, the “You’re not a team player, you’re hard to work with” defense.  It is the stock phrase used ’round the world when a woman gets in the way.  There’s nothing worse for a woman in business than to be told she isn’t cooperative.  It’s a code phrase for “bitch” but saying that would contribute to a hostile work environment.  But in this case, it is reminiscent of being called a racist during the primary when any comparison of Obama to his opponents made him look bad.  It doesn’t take much to be called a troublemaker at work.  You just have to be warm, breathing and expressing your best judgment.  Happens all of the time.  Sheila’s not going with the $600,000,000 campaign flow, therefore we will isolate her and not invite her to meetings until she gives up and resigns.  I know!  Let’s say she’s not a team player.

Tim Geithner has decided to cut Bair out of the loop during the transition period and has only brought her in for  perfunctory meetings.  This is a bad sign of things to come and unacceptable in an economic crisis of this magnitude, especially when the person left out is a responsible, competent key player.  Geithner and Summers strike me as the cocky elite types who are so full of themselves that they don’t need to listen to anyone else.  While the country is teetering on the brink of a Depression, we really don’t need that s%^t.  But not to worry, so far, Bair says she’s staying put, which she has the right to do because she still has 2.5 years left in her term.  However, there is something deeply unsavory going on in the treatment of Bair and I don’t think it is limited to the alpha males refusing to get along with her:

Bair, while paying lip service to presidential prerogative–“I assume if they want change, they’ll let me know,” she says–has no incentive to leave and every reason to stay, particularly if she believes that Geithner will continue Paulson’s Wall Street-friendly bailout strategy. And she’ll have her hands full: The number of banks at risk of collapse is growing–171 by the end of September, the latest number and the highest in 13 years–while the foreclosure crisis, once limited to homeowners who had borrowed more than they could pay, is now spreading to homeowners hit by unemployment. By some estimates, at least one million homes will enter foreclosure next year, on top of some 880,000 this year, leaving in their wake gutted neighborhoods, fragile families, and battered local economies. Meanwhile, so far, Obama seems to be putting off homeowner assistance in favor of infrastructure stimulus and industry-specific bailouts.

Like some of Bair’s critics in the Bush administration, the Obama team is right to be wary of the FDIC chair’s sharp elbows. Not only will she continue the very public push for her foreclosure-assistance plan, but–as she did during Bush’s rescue of Citigroup–she is likely to demand that the FDIC once again be awarded a large chunk of assets when its money is used in future bailouts. “She has no interest in going along to get along,” says Tom O’Brien, former dean at the UMass business school and a close friend of Bair.

But it’s not just a question of which direction, tent-wise, Bair should be spitting. When it comes to the nuts and bolts of bank rescues and mortgage relief, no one in Washington knows more than Bair. And while she readily admits that her plan isn’t a panacea–“there are no silver bullets, no perfect solutions,” she says–her agency has been doing loan modifications for decades, using them to clean up the assets of shuttered banks it takes over. “She absolutely knows how the various institutions work, what kind of strategies and proposals have not worked, and what are the immediate steps that need to occur,” says Taylor. “She can hit the ground running. If she had support from a White House that cared about these things, we would have a rapid improvement.”

It’s becoming more and more clear why Obama was in such a hurry to pass the Paulsen Bailout Bill that didn’t provide for enough oversight. Plus ςa change…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 468 other followers