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According to an Associated Press report, the Democrats, worried about their re-election chances in 2010, are preparing to resurrect George Bush as the bogey man and castigate "Republicans as cozy with Wall Street." It's the latter proposition that that leaves no cynical stone unturned, apparently.

To minimize expected losses in next fall’s election, President Barack Obama’s party is testing a line of attack that resurrects George W. Bush as a bogeyman and castigates Republicans as cozy with Wall Street.

Obama has surrounded himself with cozy, Wall Street insiders, and his policies have preserved the Wall Street status quo, while more Americans than ever are relying on food stamps as their only income,
6 million total
. Here in New Orleans we are used to indifference, as we wrestle with 11,000 plus homeless since Katrina, the highest rate in the nation per capita, an indifferent HUD approach that refuses to release any more section 8 vouchers, and demolished the vast majority of public housing units, a policy Obama continues. I wonder though how indifference will taste to the rest of the nation, as states continue to grapple with falling tax revenue and slashed social services.

Two writers from the Asia Times have an interesting take on Wall Street's relevance, that is worth a read:

Even if we were to set aside the fact that Wall Street banks have grabbed a growing and disproportionate share of revenues and profits from the US economy, the concentration of wealth acquired by Wall Street bankers has ominous implications for the US as a cohesive society going forward into the future. The real incomes of middle-class American families have stagnated for the past 25 years, while the income of those in the financial industry have increased as never before. If Wall Street banks continue to amass wealth at this rate, the economic equilibrium of the nation will be at risk. Clearly, Wall Street banks have subtracted from, rather than added to, our economic prosperity and national wellbeing.

The taste of indifference mixed in with cold cynicism just might be a bitter stew that voters choose not to eat. Just look at Obama's campaign contributions, from Open Secrets.org:

University of California $1,591,395
Goldman Sachs $994,795
Harvard University $854,747
Microsoft Corp $833,617
Google Inc $803,436
Citigroup Inc $701,290
JPMorgan Chase & Co $695,132
Time Warner $590,084
Sidley Austin LLP $588,598
Stanford University $586,557
National Amusements Inc $551,683
UBS AG $543,219
Wilmerhale Llp $542,618
Skadden, Arps et al $530,839
IBM Corp $528,822
Columbia University $528,302
Morgan Stanley $514,881
General Electric $499,130
US Government $494,820
Latham & Watkins $493,835

Factor in that the veneer is being peeled away from the so-called financial reform legislation, and what we have is the prospect of more bubbles, more government bailouts, and a possible voter revolt with knowledge of this:

Here are some of the nuggets I gleaned from days spent reading Frank’s handiwork:

-- For all its heft, the bill doesn’t once mention the words "too-big-to-fail," the main issue confronting the financial system. Admitting you have a problem, as any 12- stepper knows, is the crucial first step toward recovery.

-- Instead, it supports the biggest banks. It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for "no-more-bailouts" talk. That is more than twice what the Fed pumped into markets this time around. The size of the fund makes the bribes in the Senate’s health-care bill look minuscule.

-- Oh, hold on, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary can’t authorize these funds unless "there is at least a 99 percent likelihood that all funds and interest will be paid back." Too bad the same models used to foresee the housing meltdown probably will be used to predict this likelihood as well.

More Bailouts

-- The bill also allows the government, in a crisis, to back financial firms’ debts. Bondholders can sleep easy -- there are more bailouts to come.

-- The legislation does create a council of regulators to spot risks to the financial system and big financial firms. Unfortunately this group is made up of folks who missed the problems that led to the current crisis.

-- Don’t worry, this time regulators will have better tools. Six months after being created, the council will report to Congress on "whether setting up an electronic database" would be a help. Maybe they’ll even get to use that Internet thingy.

Given that most voters can't subsist on a diet of eye candy, there's problems ahead. You can either wait for bad legislation to pass, and the disastrous after-effects to take hold to wake up and take action, or you can wake up now, and challenge this president into progressive legislation.

Oh, and, endless war should also be an issue, as the rhetoric for vengeance, uh, I mean, "retribution", is heating up, and the U.S. may be opening another front, at least with unmanned drones, in Yemen. Feel safer yet?

I'll leave you with this truly hopeful, encouragement:

Rather than crossing our fingers and hoping President Obama will do the right thing - a losing game if ever there was one - it is high time we regained our critical faculties and started to build popular movements that will compel Obama Administration to deliver the positive changes we all desire.  As the freed slave Frederick Douglass noted, "power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

 

Originally posted to scorpiorising on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 08:46 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)

    "Revolutionary Road" was a brilliant film.

    by scorpiorising on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 08:46:06 AM PST

    •  Repubs cozy with Wall St. ain't gonna wash (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Situational Lefty

      Most of em are cozy with Wall Street.  And 'clear eyed' progressives know it.    

      ...someday - the armies of bitterness will all be going the same way. And they'll all walk together, and there'll be a dead terror from it. The Grapes of Wrath

      by deepsouthdoug on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 08:55:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sunday used to be a day of rest. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    carlos the jackal

    Learn more about second-class U.S. citizenship at http://www.equalitymatters.org/

    by Larry Bailey on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 08:52:30 AM PST

  •  A correction re: TBTF: (0+ / 0-)

    the bill does tackle too-big-to-fail institutions in the section on entities large enough to pose systemic risk (that's what too big to fail means).

    Revolutionary Road was an awful, awful film.

    by burrow owl on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 08:54:44 AM PST

  •  I Am Not Sure How This Is Supposed To Work (0+ / 0-)

    exactly. Didn't Clinton in his War Room have a quote that said, "It's the economy stupid!" Seems to me that could be recycled and used again. I don't see this approach working.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 09:03:27 AM PST

  •  Dems Disappoint (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scorpiorising

    Obama has surrounded himself with cozy, Wall Street insiders, and his policies have preserved the Wall Street status quo, while more Americans than ever are relying on food stamps as their only income, 6 million total.

    Obama and Democrats have been supporting corporate welfare [see Thomas B. Edsall's Barack Obama: King Of Corporate Welfare (April 25, 2009) and Cenk Uygur's Barack Obama, Inc. (Dec 16, 2009)] and enabling regulatory robbery [look at what they've done to/for the tobacco industry, as reported in Many Decisions Remain Over Tobacco Regulation (June 12, 2009) by Greg Allen of National Public Radio: regulation that was supposedly going to be a legislative death sentence for the industry had the fingerprints of Philip Morris’s lobbyists all over it; Allen points out that Philip Morris pushed for passage of the bill, while Reynolds and Lorillard opposed it "because they believe it will prevent them from ever challenging the dominance of Philip Morris and its Marlboro brand."].

    Factor in that the veneer is being peeled away from the so-called financial reform legislation, and what we have is the prospect of more bubbles, more government bailouts.

    Matt Taibbi's The Great American Bubble Machine: From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression – and they’re about to do it again (July 13, 2009) does a great job of peeling away the veneer!

    Gotta love the imagery of Goldman Sachs as a "Giant Vampire Squid Wrapped Around the Face of Humanity."

  •  Cue Dogs of War US & UK Embassies in Yemen Close (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scorpiorising

    U.S., Britain close embassies in Yemen

    Threats by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula against targets in Yemen prompted the closure of the U.S. and British embassies there Sunday, officials said.

    There's a number of interesting tidbits in the CNN story.  Seems like there has already been a lot of background dealing with Yemen's president in addressing internal conflicts with Al Qaeda and sympathezers.

    BBC also has a story on the US & UK embassy closings:

    US shuts embassy as al-Qaeda 'plans attack in Yemen

    When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

    by antirove on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 09:23:54 AM PST

  •  I suggest you watch some Bill Moyers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scorpiorising

    He's had a lot about building popular movements.  I had a diary last night in which I highlighted the most important parts of the most essential interview he did on this subject, and at the end of it the people there gave suggestions about how to take action.  So you can read that here if you'd like.

    •  That was a good diary. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton, rossl

      Speaking as one who falls squarely in the Obama supporter camp, I think we need a more productive conversation on change than this diary we are commenting in appears to be trying to facilitate.

      I don't think that the views of the so called pragmatist vs. idealist factions of the progressive movement are as irreconcilable as they appear.  Many of us in the pragmatist camp see the same forces at work as this diarist.  We get that the entire system is broken.  But for the most part we feel that it is too big a problem to be addressed head on.  Even if we could build the movement to tear down the current toxic system - what would we replace it with?  

      For a lot of us, thinking that we need to work on this level leaves us either defeated or indulging in actions that have the effect of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

      So we focus on forward movement instead.  We do so in hopes that it will either put our children in position to fix what we could not, or perhaps with th suspicion that the larger problem can never be completely "fixed" in much the same way that terrorism can never be defeated.  The rich will always use their influence.  There will always be rich and poor.  Life will never be fair.

      I personally have come to the conclusion that we need activists to focus on forward movement within the the existing paradigm, and a confluence of activists and artists to simultaneously challenge us to imagine something better.  

      Both are needed.  We should not view each other as enemies.  But all of us are engaged in a long war.  If we could see that much perhaps we'd stop tearing each other's efforts down.    

      Imagine if we focused all this energy on beating the GOP.

      by snout on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 10:14:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree that it's a problem of tactics (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        scorpiorising, snout, Gary Norton

        And personally I'd like to see a social movement complement the work of electoral pragmatists in the progressive movement.  I think one of the root causes of this division is that, at least in the Netroots, too much emphasis is put on electoral politics.  It's an important thing, but it's just not where everyone will thrive (including myself) and it's not the end all be all.  I think a lot of the so-called idealists would do well in a social movement.

        •  I call it "the politics of self expression" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          scorpiorising, Gary Norton, rossl

          Many of the idealists I've encountered view their actions and their vote as an act of self expression.  They won't vote for something that doesn't mirror their world view because it is their vote to express what they want.  They abandon outcomes in favor of making a statement.  In essence, they are making a kind of artistic statement that nobody is really paying attention to.

          Your insight on electoral politics is apt as it fits in with the "more and better dems" mantra that this site has taken as its war cry.  The implication of that being that all we need to do is elect uber dems with enough spine and they'll do the hard work for us.  Our activism is only needed to elect them, then to police them.  This shields us from the harder work of day in/day out movement building.

          Imagine if we focused all this energy on beating the GOP.

          by snout on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 10:45:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  What A Nice Offer And So Nicely Said! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        scorpiorising

        Essentially, instead of progressive activists getting much of what they want to work for, progressive activists will be encouraged to work for what folks calling themselves 'progressive pragmatists' tell us we want to work for instead instead.

        Sorry, 'pragmatists', many of us are not real interested in working our butts off for DLC goals instead of our own.

        I'm still not prepared to join yet another pragmatist parade without it heading at least partially in a direction I want to go.

        Where do I want to go? Well, we could start by putting the progressive stuff back in the HCR bill, take out the stuff the lobbyists and anti-choice poison pill manufacturers put in there and DARE Ben Nelson and the other turncoats to kill it.

        If they kill it, then back to 'Medicare for All' in reconciliation, which would cover people FASTER than the lobbyist-written bill.

        Just sayin...

        ~Ruff

        •  snout wasn't insulting "idealists" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snout, Gary Norton

          Personally, what are you doing to further the things you want?

        •  Ruff (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gary Norton

          I think the bottom line regarding my disagreement with you is that you seem to think larger leaps forward are possible within our current paradigm  -  and that an active, vocal and angry left can bring them about with enough solidarity.

          Fine.  You may be right.  But you are going to have to herd some cats to unify the left enough to matter - if our combined numbers are even enough to get things accomplished should we ever get to the point of agreeing on goals, tactics, etc...    

          I'm of the belief that smaller steps are the only way we'll ever get there.  I've made peace with the fact that this is a lifetime battle.  i don't discount the importance of people like you pushing for a faster timeframe (lest we all become too complacent) - but at some point you are either goign to have to account for process or forever be written off as a crank by those of us actively involved in trying to get things done.

          I submit to you that you could be a lot more effective if you focused on a positive approach towards building the political will to do more faster.  

          Imagine if we focused all this energy on beating the GOP.

          by snout on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 11:24:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Re the Dems' search for GOP bogey men (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scorpiorising

    According to an Associated Press report, the Democrats, worried about their re-election chances in 2010, are preparing to resurrect George Bush as the bogey man and castigate "Republicans as cozy with Wall Street."

    I've written a few diaries on efforts by the DCCC and DSCC to paint right-wingers as the problem in 2009 that they were not:

    John Kerry Fears People Who Hang Tea Bags from Their Rearview Mirrors (Dec 15, 2009)

    The Democratic leadership thinks we’re stupid (Oct 29, 2009)

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