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      Alright, so Germany has now introduced a zero interest bond. That means, given inflation, people will get back less effective money than they started with. At this point, outside the US, the average interest rate is negative. As Stoller pointed out, that means that people with money can’t figure out anything productive to do with […]
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The Occupy Handbook: The Great Recession

This econ dude from Princeton, his econ wife and some other people (including Matt Taibbi), wrote an economic field guide called The Occupy Handbook for the Occupy Movement and published it.  Salon has posted the first chapter called Economy Killers: Inequality and GOP Ignorance.  Go check it out.

The official publication date is tomorrow, April 17.  That it’s also Tax Day is probably no coincidence. I love stuff like this so I’ll spend a bit of my vanishing budget to by a Kindle edition.  My question is, will this book be read by the average Joe Bag O’Donuts?  Aren’t the writers preaching to the choir when they excerpt to Salon?  Does this book have the capacity to cut through the media filter to reach a broader audience?  Let’s hope so.

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Economics Food Fight

Matt Taibbi

Finally we have something fun to talk about. This could save us from wallowing in the horrors of Obama’s health insurance company bailout bill all weekend long. Matt Taibbi’s latest piece came out in Rolling Stone weeks ago, but was only available to subscribers until recently. Suddenly there is a fascinating back and forth going on between Taibbi and Obama apologist Tim Fernholtz at American Prospect. Fernholz nitpicked Taibbi’s article in a much-discussed critique. Then Felix Salmon stepped in to add his two cents to war of words. Then, Taibbi put his own response to Fernholz up on his blog. And finally, the latest: Fernholz has a new response to Taibbi’s response and he includes a couple of digs at Salmon too!

Here are links to all the relevant articles with some highlights:

Taibbi’s original RS story: Obama’s Big Sellout

Taibbi’s main argument is that Bob Rubin and people closely connected with him are running Obama’s economic policy–ensuring that deregulation and free-trade will continue to be the order of the day, rather than efforts to control an out-of-control Wall Street.

It is bad enough that one of Bob Rubin’s former protégés from the Clinton years, the New York Fed chief Geithner, is intimately involved in the negotiations, which unsurprisingly leave the Federal Reserve massively exposed to future Citi losses. But the real stunner comes only hours after the bailout deal is struck, when the Obama transition team makes a cheerful announcement: Timothy Geithner is going to be Barack Obama’s Treasury secretary!

Geithner, in other words, is hired to head the U.S. Treasury by an executive from Citigroup — Michael Froman — before the ink is even dry on a massive government giveaway to Citigroup that Geithner himself was instrumental in delivering. In the annals of brazen political swindles, this one has to go in the all-time Fuck-the-Optics Hall of Fame.

Wall Street loved the Citi bailout and the Geithner nomination so much that the Dow immediately posted its biggest two-day jump since 1987, rising 11.8 percent. Citi shares jumped 58 percent in a single day, and JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley soared more than 20 percent, as Wall Street embraced the news that the government’s bailout generosity would not die with George W. Bush and Hank Paulson.

Fernholz’s critique: The Errors of Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi has done it again — written a nightmare of a story for Rolling Stone on Obama’s economic sell-out of his campaign. The piece is a factual mess, a conspiracy theorist’s dream, doesn’t even indict Obama for his real failures (which I’ll discuss in a post later today) and of course invokes the cold hands of Bob Rubin like a bogeyman at every turn. This is pernicious for a lot of journalistic reasons, but politically it’s bad for progressives beacuse conspiracy theories stand in the way of good policy analysis and good activism, replacing them with apathy and fear.

Salmon’s critique of Fernholtz’s critique: Fernholtz vs. Taibbi

Tim Fernholz’s intemperate attack on Matt Taibbi and his latest article is getting a lot of attention in the Twittersphere. It turns out that a lot of journalists don’t like Taibbi, and love it when he gets taken down a peg.

But Fernholz’s attack is weaker than it looks at first glance; a lot of it is simply a matter of slant and opinion.

Taibbi’s response to Fernholz: On Obama’s Big Sellout

So I fucked up with that line — “a former Clinton diplomat” — and for that I certainly am sorry, among other things because Rolling Stone’s fact-checkers are the most rigorous in the business (much more so than any other newspaper or magazine I’ve worked for) and I think actually this was my error and not theirs, a late-stage mixup near press time.

Now, that said, it was indeed Bob Rubin’s son Jamie who worked with Michael Froman in the Obama transition team. Had it not been Bob Rubin’s son, that would certainly have qualified as a serious error, because then we’d be making an argument based upon a factual error.

But the basic argument of the article was that an enormous number of people with ties to Bob Rubin and/or other Wall Street insiders had assumed positions of responsibility in the Obama transition and White House. And Jamie Rubin is Bob Rubin’s son, and he was a headhunter for Obama’s economic hires from the first days of the transition. So the meaning here is really not significantly different. The fact that this heads the Prospect’s list of complaints says a lot about the substance of this criticism.

Fernholz’s response to Taibbi’s response and Salmon’s critique of his critique of Taibbi: Lighting Round

So yesterday’s post on Matt Taibbi’s latest in Rolling Stone got a bit more attention than I had anticipated, including a response from Felix Salmon that I thought was worth addressing. Salmon defends Taibbi — I’d accuse him of some logrolling in our time thanks to his appearance in the piece, but Salmon is better than that — but it’s not a very strong defense….

Here’s my point: Taibbi has written an article arguing that Obama has sold out his campaign-era economic populism by surrounding himself with Bob Rubin’s lackeys and giving away the farm to the bankers — “one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history.” Only it turns out, though, that many of the Rubinites he identifies don’t work on the things he says they work on, or don’t take the positions he applies to them, or aren’t as influential as he thinks they are. The people he says were “banished” from Obama’s inner circle, like Austan Goolsbee, weren’t. He manages not to mention any of the populist decisions Obama has made.

And Andrew Leonard at Salon is threatening to get involved–he sounds like another Obama apologist.

Is it my imagination, or does the attribution “spent 12 years as an executive at Goldman Sachs” now carry with it the stain of the scarlet letter? Nothing more need be said.

I will return to this theme later today when I tackle Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone assault on President Barack Obama but let’s note here for the record that this is yet another case of the White House proposing a sensible piece of regulatory reform — anything that quacks like a financial services banking duck should be regulated like a financial services banking duck — that has been watered down by Congress.

Back and forth–who will be heard from next and will they come to blows?


UPDATE I:

Here is the promised attack on Taibbi by Andrew Leonard: Matt Taibbi goes Obama scalp hunting

And, another voice pipes up from the peanut gallery, Big Media Matt, king of the apologists, Blame Obama First h/t MABlue


UPDATE II:

Salmon returns Leonard’s serve: Don’t Ask Taibbi to be Krugman

But where does Salmon get the idea that we have a “left-leaning government now?” What is he smoking?

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Eric Boehlert Needs to Get a Grip

Eric Boehlert is the guy on the left.

Eric Boehlert is the guy on the left.

I love Eric Boehlert. His book, Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, was terrific. And he even mentioned The Confluence in his recent effort, Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press. But really, this is too much.

A President was killed the last time right-wing hatred ran wild like this

I’ve been thinking a lot of Kennedy and Dallas as I’ve watched the increasingly violent rhetorical attacks on Obama be unfurled….The radical right, aided by a GOP Noise Machine that positively dwarfs what existed in 1963, has turned demonizing Obama–making him into a vile object of disgust–into a crusade. It’s a demented national jihad, the likes of which this country has not seen in modern times.

Here is the link that Boehlert used to back up his claims of violence and racism at Glenn Beck’s September 12 event. It shows a number of tasteless signs that attack President Obama and a couple of wacky videos of Glenn Beck and Orly Taitz.

Eric, are you serious? I have no doubt that some of the right wingers who have attended the tea party events are racists, but that doesn’t make their attacks on Obama worse than the ones previous Presidents have endured. Have you forgotten the incredibly vicious attacks on President Clinton in the ’90s? If you’ve forgotten where the term “right wing noise machine” came from, here is a short reading list to refresh your memory.

Joe Conason and Gene Lyons wrote a whole book about it, remember?

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

Their book was even made into a documentary that was shown in theaters.

Here is a great summary of media attacks on the the Clintons:

eRiposte: THE MEDIA’S GORE-ING OF PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON (AND HILLARY CLINTON)

And to refresh your memory about the vicious attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton by “progressives” during the 2008 primary campaign, here’s another piece by eRiposte at The Left Coaster: Clinton Derangement Syndrome = CDS = Clinton Double-Standard.

Finally, here is a recent blog post by Glenn Greenwald at Salon: Is the Right’s attack on Obama’s legitimacy new or unprecedented?

The attacks on Obama are far from unprecedented, and they are nowhere near as vicious as the ones I can recall lefties using against Richard Nixon or the ones that the right wingers used against the Clintons.

As much as I hate to admit it, even George W. Bush was ridiculed in some pretty nasty ways. The Nation lampooned him as Alfred E. Newman. And he was likened to a chimp all over the internet, here for example I’d say that’s pretty demeaning.

I can’t stand Glenn Beck or the rest of the rabble rousers at Fox “News” Channel. And I certainly have no patience for the nutty folks who believe that Obama was born in Kenya or that he’s a closet muslim. But every President faces public attacks and ridicule and yes–even the risk of assassination attempts. JFK was the last U.S. President to be assassinated, but have you forgotten that Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan were victims of assassination attempts? Both men were Republicans, and their failed assassins weren’t crazed right wingers.

Squeaky Fromme made a weak attempt to shoot President Ford in September, 1975. She later claimed she did it to bring attention environmental issues. Later that same month Sara Jane Moore shot a gun at President Ford and was stopped by a bystander. According to the LA Times,

Moore was an FBI informant who was enmeshed in radical politics after moving to the Bay Area. A peripheral player rather than a leader, she volunteered for a group that distributed $2 million in food, as had been demanded by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the extreme leftist band that kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst.

The man who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan was John Hinkley, Jr., a paranoid schizophrenic who was trying to impress actress Jodie Foster. I don’t think there was any right-wing hatred involved with that one either.

There have been people who tried to assassinate every modern President, including Richard Nixon. Wikipedia has a list of recorded assassination attempts here.

The truth is there are nuts on both sides of the political spectrum. I guess it depends on whose ox is being gored. And please don’t accuse me of calling President Obama an ox, okay? No doubt there are plenty of right wing nuts who hate Obama. But that’s politics. It ain’t beanbag, you know. Let’s hope the Secret Service does its job well and keeps President Obama safe.

In the meantime, Eric, please get a grip.

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Why Did Salon Care About a Freshman Senator’s Visit to Saddleback Mountain in 2005-2006?

Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh

Heidi Li linked to this story at Salon by Joan Walsh:

“I tried to keep an open mind when Obama began courting Warren three years ago; Salon sent a reporter to cover the popular young Democrat’s first visit to Saddleback Community Church, to talk about its laudable AIDS work, in 2006.”

This raises some questions for Ms. Walsh:

In 2006 Obama was a freshman Senator from Illinois who was not yet a Presidential candidate.  Rick Warren’s church is in California.  So why did Salon send a reporter?  Were you asked to send one, or were you told?

Either way, who made the request/gave the order?

Three years ago was 2005.  Obama had less than a year in office.  He had accomplished nothing.  2006 was an election year but Obama wasn’t on any ballot.  So why did you care about “keeping an open mind?”  How many other freshman Senators got the same attention? 

C’mon Joan, tell us more! 

Why did Salon give a fuck what Obama was doing back then??

Texas: “White Males are Breaking for Obama” (‘gits)

maneken pis That was heard on Hardball last Thursday.Now, why would “white males” break for Obama? What is it about Obama that is so appealing to “white males”? Weren’t these the same damn “white males” who gave us George W. Bush? Why is it these same guys would consider switching to McCain if Obama doesn’t win? McCain isn’t even in the same party. All those votes in CA, NJ, NY, FL, MI, AZ, MA mean nothing because the party is being held hostage to a bunch of testosterone poisoned “white men” in western states and finally Texas. That’s what this has come down to. They seem comfortable with the ideas that Hillary Clinton represents but they will switch to a dude who doesn’t because she doesn’t have a penis? I thought guys were supposed to be logical so what is driving this overtly emotional desire to vote for a guy- ANY guy- over Hillary Clinton?And I don’t buy this argument that “it’s not all women, just this particular one”. We’ve gone over this before: she’s the one who wins the experience argument, she can run circles around Obama in debates (watch it tonight, she’ll do it again), she is tied to one of the best presidents we’ve had in recent history, there’s literally nothing in her past of any major consequence to trip her up and her policies are the ones that most people say they want.We don’t know much about Obama except that he has been packaged very well. When it comes to authenticity, he ain’t it. His policies are not representative of core Democratic principles and any Change! he brings is likely to be minimal. We don’t know who is really pulling his strings (tho‘ we have some clues). And the media, along with the $250M GOP attack machine, is going to flay him if he wins the nomination.

All the media nipple massaging is a trap to lure Democrats into voting forthe weaker candidate, All those white males are going to abandon him for McCain the instant the GOP creates the right narrative. We all know this is coming. And yet, they can’t vote for her because they think no one will vote for her?Isn’t that a self-fulfilling prophecy and what does it have to do with the good of the country? We know the scenario that is laid out before us and the “white males” of Texas are going to follow their hearts and not their heads and fall madly in love with the one with the Y-chromosome.

What is it about THIS woman that makes men think this way, because I guarantee you that there won’t be another woman like her for a long time. Let’s try to solve this problem before next Tuesday, shall we? Because if “white males” of Texas can’t get past their man-crushes, we’re going to get stuck with a weak and vulnerable dude whose only advantage is that he can pee higher on the wall than she can.

Challenge: I want to hear from the white males from Texas today. Put your cold, hard logic in the comments and tell me why you won’t vote for her. I want to hear a really good argument with all of the deductive reasoning you can muster. And it better be good. Because running a campaign is the easy part. Governing is very difficult.