By Simon Johnson
In modern American life, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner stands out as amazingly resilient and remarkably lucky – despite presiding over or being deeply involved in a series of political debacles, he has gone from strength to strength. After at least eight improbably bounce backs, he might seem unassailable. But his latest mistake – blocking Elizabeth Warren from heading the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – may well prove politically fatal.
Geithner was a junior but key member of the US Treasury team that badly mishandled the early days of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and received widespread criticism (Life #1). He was promoted as a result and thereafter enjoyed a meteoric rise.
As President of the New York Federal Reserve from 2003, and de facto head of the government’s financial intelligence service, he completely failed to spot the problems developing in and around the country’s financial markets; nothing about this embarrassing track record has since stood in his way (Life #2). He subsequently became Hank Paulson’s Wall Street point person for one of the most comprehensively bungled bailouts of all time – the Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP, which in fall 2008 first appalled Congress with its intentions and then wasn’t used at all as advertised (Life #3).
TARP and related Bush-Paulson-Geithner efforts were so completely and clearly unsuccessful in October/November 2009 that the crisis worsened and Geithner was offered the job of Treasury Secretary by President-elect Obama; the incoming team felt there was no substitute for “experience”. Nevertheless, he almost failed in the confirmation process due to issues related to his taxes (Life #4) and then stumbled badly with his initial public repositioning of the TARP (Life #5), which was going to buy toxic assets again but in a more complicated way (perhaps his most complete and obviously personal political disaster to date).
His next Great Escape was the stress tests in spring 2009 – it turned out, supposedly, that there was really no financial crisis. Most of the big banks really did have enough capital; all that had been missing was the government’s endorsement of this fact (this is the story, honest). If this seems too good to be true, look at the mass unemployment still around you and tell me if the financial sector really looks healthy (Life #6).
Life #7 was expended concurrent with the forceful arrival on the financial reform scene of Paul Volcker. The Geithner-Summers “financial reform” package from summer 2009 was weak to start with and weakened further as it was discussed in the House; the entire effort was rudderless. Volcker’s new proposals helped rescue the reform and restore momentum – but instead of (appropriately) discrediting the Geithner approach in the eyes of the White House, it actually helped the Treasury Secretary climb new pinnacles of influence. Go figure.
Life #8 is the blatant failure of the Geithner strategy to “just raise capital requirements” as the way to deal with distorted incentives and the tendency to take irresponsible risks at the heart of our financial system. Treasury insisted on “capital first and foremost” throughout the Senate debate this year – combined with their argument that these requirements must be set by regulators through international negotiation, i.e., not by legislation. But the big banks are chipping away at this entire philosophy daily through their effective lobbying within the opaque Basel process – as one would expect. The latest indications are that capital requirements will barely be raised in any meaningful sense.
Secretary Geithner likes to say, “Plan beats no plan” and in some positive interpretations this is the secret of his success. But it turns out that he had no plan really – the stress tests were a grand improvisation (ultimately implying scary sized government implicit guarantees), the initial financial reform proposals fizzled (the Volcker rescue was against Geithner’s wishes), and the much vaunted tightening of capital standards is completely illusory (doesn’t anyone in the White House read the newspapers?).
On top of all this, it now appears that Secretary Geithner will oppose Elizabeth Warren becoming the new chief regulator responsible for protecting consumers from defective financial products – despite the fact that she has led the way for this issue, on both intellectual and political fronts, over the past decade. The financial sector has abused many of its customers badly over the past decades. This simply needs to stop.
Throughout the Senate debate on financial reform, Treasury insisted that complex details regarding consumer protected need to be left to regulators – and thus the Geithner team pushed back against many sensible legislative proposals that would have tightened the rules. Treasury also promised – although in a nonbinding way – that the new generation of regulators would be an order of magnitude more effective that those who eviscerated whatever was left of our oversight system during the Bush years.
With his track record of survival, Geithner and his team apparently feel they can push hard against Elizabeth Warren and give the new consumer protection job to someone closer to their philosophy – which is much more sympathetic to the banking industry.
This would be a bad mistake – trying the patience of already exasperated Congressional Democrats. If the Obama administration can’t even complete the deal they implicitly agreed with Senators over the past months, this will set of a firestorm of protest within the party (and with anyone else who is paying attention).
Financial “reform” is already very weak. If Secretary Geithner gets his way on consumers protection, pretty much all of the Democrats efforts vis-à-vis the financial sector’s treatment of customers have been for naught.
Tim Geithner is sometimes compared to Talleyrand, the French statesman who served the Revolution, Napoleon, and the restored Bourbons – opportunistic and distrusted, but often useful and a great survivor with a brilliant personal career. In the end, of course, no one – including Talleyrand – proves indispensible. And everyone of this sort eventually pushes their luck too far.
If the Democratic leadership really wants to win in the November elections, they should think very hard about the further consequences of Mr. Geithner.
180 thoughts on “Tim Geithner’s Ninth Political Life”
Oh, come on. She’s just a school marm, while he’s Timonthy F’ing Geithner. Have you SEEN his JUMP SHOT?
Obama’s whole economic team should never have been chosen, and Geitner is just possibly the worst of its members. The whole thing looks like a complete cave-iun to Wall St.
I am beginning to hope that somebody like Bernie Sanders runs in the primaries against Obama in 2012. We need somebody like Roosevelt, not a wimp.
Can GEICO really save you 15% or more on car insurance? Is Tim Geithner a lying dirt bag?
Tiny Tim Geithner…..”Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”
Honore de Balzac
I patiently await his day of demise.
As they say in Washington … “always back a horse called Self-Interest” … Mr Geithner, what’s your angle on this latest sleight of hand ???
Hey, how come you guys don’t have an “E-mail this” button on posts, so that I could forward this brilliant one to lots of people?
The stench of the corruption that is coming from within the White House is unbearable. It is obvious that Obama is either a tool of the kleptocrats or he is complicit. Either way we have been hoodwinked and we are looking at the distinct possibility of losing what little there is left of the Republic. Now that the SCOTUS has set the hounds loose on our political office holders, nothing stands between the neo-Robber Barrons and our liberty. Wake Up America, before it’s too late. They are so emboldened that, like Geithner, they don’t even bother to hide their true motives anymore.
p.s. Also you seem to have elided AIG. Why skip AIG?
Paulson may be a piece of work (his book actually managed to make Sarah Palin sympathetic), but he had comparatively little to do with that. When the AIG bonus situation blew up, Git. & his team went out and deliberately lied to the media, and — more salient to Congress, I would think — tried to spread the notion that corrupt Congressmen were to blame.
If Ms. Warren is just “an old school marm,” then what does anyone have to fear; just let her do her stuff.
As for Geithner, this is not the “change” I had envisioned for the Obama administration. Doesn’t Obama realize he has hitched his wagon to the Republican (status quo) horse?? He had the opportunity to effect real change, but settled for less, much less. Such a disappointment. Maybe/will history judge him more kindly?
How can the political team that brought Obama to the White House, and are now his ultimate advisors, recognize Elizabeth Warren’s talents? They won’t.
Timmy Geithner is their “man”.
The bonus issue at AIG is just a sideshow relative to the rest of AIG, Actually, maybe that was the point–to focus the paens on bonuses while the real looting was going on.
How much waiting, how much pain, how many taxpayer dollars?
Welcome back, Simon. Seems you’ve been quiet recently. This is a wonderful re-entry and I support your thesis 100%. Thank you for cutting to the quick of these issues.
Wasn’t it Talleyrand who was described by Napoleon as “de la merde dans un bas de soie”?
His decisions and actions often do look more Republican than Democrat.
You seem to have totally neglected Little Timmy’s history at the IMF where he first learned how to blow up entire economies. Please see Paul Blustein’s The Chastening to see how many additional lives this slimy little bureaucrat has had. Here is the link:
I hope it won’t. He had a chance to be one of our greatest presidents but in the end he will be one of the worst. It would be sad if we weren’t all so screwed.
If, as Simon says, the next financial crisis will come sooner and be more severe than the most recent one, then Obama has passed the ball to his successor. Ah, a crisis wasted.
“The stench of the corruption that is coming from within the White House is unbearable. ”
Geithner Aides Reaped Millions Working for Banks, Hedge Funds
October 14, 2009 – excerpts
Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) — “Some of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s closest aides, none of whom faced Senate confirmation, earned millions of dollars a year working for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other Wall Street firms, according to financial disclosure forms.
The advisers include Gene Sperling, who last year took in $887,727 from Goldman Sachs and $158,000 for speeches mostly to financial companies, including the firm run by accused Ponzi scheme mastermind R. Allen Stanford. Another top aide, Lee Sachs, reported more than $3 million in salary and partnership income from Mariner Investment Group, a New York hedge fund.
As part of Geithner’s kitchen cabinet, Sperling and Sachs wield influence behind the scenes at the Treasury Department, where they help oversee the $700 billion banking rescue and craft executive pay rules and the revamp of financial regulations. Yet they haven’t faced the public scrutiny given to Senate-confirmed appointees, nor are they compelled to testify in Congress to defend or explain the Treasury’s policies…
As part of Geithner’s kitchen cabinet, Sperling and Sachs wield influence behind the scenes at the Treasury Department, where they help oversee the $700 billion banking rescue and craft executive pay rules and the revamp of financial regulations.
“These people are incredibly smart, they’re incredibly talented and they bring knowledge,” said Bill Brown, a visiting professor at Duke University School of Law and former managing director at Morgan Stanley. “The risk is they will further exacerbate the problem of our regulators identifying with Wall Street.”
Sperling also drew a $137,500 salary from Bloomberg News for writing a monthly column and appearing on television, according to his disclosure.
Geithner’s predecessor, Henry Paulson, brought on a coterie of non-confirmed advisers from Goldman Sachs at the end of his term. Paulson, who had been the firm’s chief executive officer, defended the arrangement as necessary to quickly bring in top talent when the financial system was on the verge of collapse.”
Although I like to brag that I discovered you first, this piece tears up the only party that this nation can endure. I believe it is a little too easy to look back to those frightening days (as it turned out) at the end of the Bush Administration. Somebody (ies) had to step up and take the winning shots. Geithner and Paulson did it. Whether there was Goldman-self dealing, in my mind, is doubtful. (I inow you do not accuse Geithner-Paulson of this, so perhaps I am going too far afield.)
I too thought Geithner was horrible in his first appearance before Congress, and I don’t like him yet. But somehow I think your piece is misplaced in a way i cannot define.
Some poetic justice here I suspect. Big Sis Elizabeth Warren, the darling of the non-profit brie and Chardonnay set, rolled at the hearings, supportive of the hideous compromise that will put the CFPB under the auspices of the Fed, and vomiting on the rug with enthusiasm for the toothless “financial reform” legislation about to be signed into law, just may have been taught a lesson: You don’t compromise with filth so that you can secure a Federal job you covet, you go down with your ship. Its here that one sees the pitiable Warren eviscerated, and by the Mephistophelean Timmy! Its something like having served in the Red Army during WWII, having been captured and upon repatriation having been shot for cowardice. Bye-bye, Liz.
Wasn’t he also involved in the Bear-Stearns bailout?
And the current unlimited bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
Simon Johnson publishes a nonsencial book that remains #1500 in sales ranking on amazon despite being under-educated. Come on now mr. johnson, the incompetent should be allowed success, just like you!
September 10, 2009
Geithner is the poster-child for a career bureaucrat who has quite literally failed at everything he has ever done but keeps getting raises because he will tell his bosses exactly what they want to hear. He is nothing more than a tool for the banking industry and is in many ways the person most responsible for the financial crisis (in his failure as a regulator) and for its completely screwed-up rescue.
I think you are missing a key point here:
Geithner’s vulnerability and incompetence is precisely what makes him so useful – his puppetmasters are 100% confident he will never turn on them, because with them he knows he is nothing.
BTW, can I buy one of these for you?
Will someone kindly check carefully when she’s interviewed next time by that mouse, Jim Learer? Does Elizabeth Warren really have a moustasche? :-)
People in glass houses should not throw stones. You were utterly clueless before the crisis. Your stint in the IMF was not marked by any insightful thinking. In fact you were engaged in and encouraging of conventional wisdom and groupthink. You never anticipated any significant economic event. But after the crisis and after the fact you have been vitriolic. But we have yet to hear you articulate a coherent pexecutable strategy.
what an ass
what a complete embarrasment
Life, so that is good
Carter – well said! I heartily agree; what would
you think of Hillary Clinton to run against Obama
in the 2012 primaries?
Bravo, Mr. Simon. I just emailed the prez and told him to side with Warren…let’s see what happens. He likes her too, even though he has a man-crush on the Geithner. Maybe FLOTUS can make him choose correctly?
“Competence, like truth, beauty and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder.”
Laurence J. Peter (1919 – 1988)
President Obama is just as guilty as bush as far as lying to the people during the campaign. bush was going to be a center president and ended up an extreme right winger.Obama was going to be the champion of the liberal progressive democratic party but he lied and is in reality is right of center.
That’s why he chose Geithner, summers and rubin to pull the banks out of the crisis with our tax money and has continued to support the banks. He will not select Warren for the position.
I fervently hope that Howard Dean will attempt to run against obama in 2012 possible primary.
@ Jen – if you sign up on (Baseline’s main page) to receive Baseline Scenario in your email INbox, you get the whole posts in your email – which you can then forward.
Sen Bernie Sanders (VT) comes across too angry (listen to his past interview by Tavis Smiley show)…. William Black (previous regulator himself) too dopey (google Newshours Jim Lehr townhall with Mr. Bernanke and listen to William Black’s lame question to the Fed chairman). Robert Kutner almost got it right about the many missed opportunities by President Obama on financial reform, explaining how the president could have turned the corner on the economic crisis and Wall Street but says President Obama squandered it all away; Obama didn’t squander it away because President Obama was never the Progressive he (misleadingly) suggested on the campaign trail and what can be discerned up to now on his policies, supporting evidence to suggest that kind of observation; plus, President was never talking to his base anyway but instead, to his campaign contributors.
Mr. Geithner only reflects what most past presidents have done; relying on men to make the “wiser” decisions regarding finance; President Obama continues to support and defend Mr. Geithner (Summers, Bernanke, nominated budget director Jacob Lew) against their critics because in the end, President Obama shares Geithner’s economic outlook (contrast that with recent news events of Peter Orszag’s real reason for leaving; and General McCrystal’s criticisms). Unfortunately, President Obama is believing in his own lies and lies of others; he promised “diversity” of opinions in his White House but doesn’t realize he is the one being captured; although, the White House would be the first to know about job losses in this economy; the working/middle class are the 2nd ones to know about the loss of jobs not coming back; and economists by profession are the last to know about these economic losses that won’t be returning—last to know because they continue to rely on their academia to interpret reality.
Who else notices the Clinton connection with all these people, and with the policy-making, legislation, and “reforms” ?
Of course Hillary is going to run in 2012…the complete and total take-down of Obama is the prelude to that.
Warrren will be perfect for this position. I just can’t imagine why Geithner would not want her. LOL
“It is obvious that Obama is either a tool of the kleptocrats or he is complicit.”
You are much too kind.
Obama is a banker blowing whore.
His only political priority is protecting the Ivy League mafia’s Wall Street racket.
I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to come across as “too angry.” Virtually every sector of the public is incredibly steamed.
Hillary Clinton gave up on that when she took the Sec. of State job.
Anyway, I don’t think she would have played hardball either. Her hubby was always a compromiser and she would have grabbed the arrogant windbag Larry Summers and gone with almost the exact same game plan as President Obama.
Look at the Mideast, she has Richard Holbrooke doing all the dirty work while she tries to look halfway articulate on the matter. Even she knows she’s a joke, going to to take care of women’s rights issues in Africa while Holbrooke and Gates do the heavy lifting??? Are you kidding me??? Everybody knows what happens down in Africa, they throw a few million/billion into the drain of corruption, things improve just enough to make a photo-op out of it, then they go back to corrupt leaders, starvation, raping of women (sometimes in front of family members), genocide and on and on.
You can’t help people who don’t have enough intelligence to make a water well. It’s just as well. We don’t need any stories about how she was dodging imaginary bullets getting out of Marine One while men are dying in Afghanistan. Just on the Bosnia lie alone she should never have gotten the Sec. of State job.
Perhaps ‘October/November 2008’ is intended, not ‘October/November 2009’.
A few words from William S. Burroughs on leaders such as Bernanke, Geithner, and Summers who will sit, look you straight in the face and try to tell you that giving billions to corrupt European bankers will be beneficial to employment rates for American workers. Giving billions in money to corrupt European bankers (with no prerequisite audit) so it can sit stagnant in bank reserves or they can throw it away on credit default swaps isn’t even good for European workers, much less Americans.
I hope the 3 men can listen to this as they throw taxpayer money at corrupt European bankers and realize shamefully what useless pieces of crap they are. It’s called “Commissioner of Sewers” again by William S. Burroughs.
I have had little optimism about Financial Reform from the beginning considering the Geithner, Summers connection to Obama but believed in my heart that if at least Eliz Warren ended up as the head of the CFPB it might somehow be worth something. I suspected for some time that this was coming when I saw the increasing pressure Ms. Warren has placed on the Treasury. I suspect that she knows this is her last chance to put her take on the record for all to see, at least until we can convince her to run for office herself.
Obama is the ultimate disappointment. Not rising one iota to the level of his campaign rhetoric. Now we know it was all so hollow. Fake reforms in every instance. No change we can believe in. This band of charlatans is worse for their blatant dishonesty. Instead of standing up to the system of wrongs out of balance they wallow in every perversion of the corrupt culture of Wall St/Washington. The financial oligarchy is desiccating this country and our political culture is nothing more than willing whores to the financial pirates sucking out our marrow.
The unfortunate truth is that anyone who can speak over intrerruptions, regardless the worth of his speech, can impose his will on the American people.
one more possibility; Ms. Warren indicated on On-Point a few weeks ago that even if she was offered the job she would only take it if the charter was suitable to success. Perhaps they need to reject her before she rejects them …
Bingo. It couldn’t be more obvious.
The fact that Obama chose Timmy-the-tax-cheat Geithner and continued/continues to support him says all one needs to know about Obama and his relationship to the bankster gang.
Of course, there are many more pieces of evidence, should one be unconvinced by Geithner alone. Remember Obama’s 2/9/2010 comment re Dimon and Blankfein: “I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.” [“http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-says-he-is-cool-with-jamie-dimon-and-lloyd-blankfeins-bonuses-2010-2#ixzz0tpTtZ6kJ]
What “free-market” system is Obama referring to? The one that pumped trillions of public dollars into the private financial sector black hole of gambling debts? (Aside: I am not a “free-marketeer.” We need COMPETITIVE markets, not “FREE-for-all markets.”)
I have to admit sometimes I wonder if Obama isn’t just a charismatic idiot…oh, yeah, a decent orator, but beyond that – an idiot. Or perhaps he is just another sociopathic personality like his friends Jaime and Lloyd.
Interesting take. I think you’re on the mark. These banksters are effectively financial terrorists. To imagine that any of their actions, words, or promises are straight-forward or well-meaning is a mistake, and reflects gullibility.
I agree. Obama will definitely support Timmy-the-tax-cheat, and thus not support Elizabeth Warren. Obama is clearly aligned with the bankster gang.
Tim is a spud. How about the truth from BP Tim! Read this shocking article!
You folks seriously underestimate Elizabeth Warren. I only hope she decides it’s worth the fight.
If so, in the game of poker politics I see your Timothy Geithner and raise you Michelle Obama.
I agree with this entire thread of comments, though they may appear extreme to many (who are still fooled). When Obama appointed Geithner and Summers in Nov. ’08, the jig was up, and I knew we had elected a stealth neo-liberal corporatist candidate who had campaigned in semi-progressive clothing.
Brooksley Born comes to mind,again.
Geithner and Summers are a good index as to whether Obama “gets it” in terms of economic policy. Their continued presence shows he doesn’t.
Interesting, too, to compare Obama to Jimmy Carter’s one-term presidency, with Carter’s willingness to be dragged down by his reliance on Bert Lance.
I like how Simon Johnson qualifies #6
with unserious nonsense to fill up the space.
With no financial crisis “supposedly”
b/c and “this is the story, honest” the
banks had plenty of money & didn’t need TARP.
This article is dishonest, most of the comments
are garbage throwaways as in *Geithner was
incompetent, economists are stuck in their
ivory towers, all the others were worse,
Obama is a well meaning lying deceiving
disappointment, bla bla bla. I am in favor
Warren & I am not in favor of throwaway
articles like this, after all we’re talking
about Simon Johnson of MIT who writes a
rehashed unserious mixture…of something.
Come on simon. his advancement has nothing to do at all with his work. it has to do with the fact that he isn’t that skilled and always has wall streets back. therefore the street can always get over on him (career at NY FED) and he alwyas advances the streets position. he is like good at politics, bad thinker.
This man is owned lock stock by wall street. he is against warren because wall street doesn’t want him there. warren has been pointing out how treasury and the fed really operate when it comes to wall street. this is something they don’t want to see the light of day.
Since geithner still has a job, not that he should have gotten one to begin with, I can only assume that is because wall street wants him there. Cearly he has not kept his job based on performance.
I give warren little chance at getting the job. why would the white house appoint someone strong when they have been working behind the scenes to weaken legislation.
simon, I like what you write some times but you are very naive (sp). You appear way to aften to make assumptions that Obama and geithner are actually attempting to work in the publics best interest. I think that assumption can be put behind us. I knew what Obama was as soon as I saw summers and geithner get appointed. when the reappointed ben “the faiure” Bernanke he showed it is all about wall street and not about mainstreet.
Look I hated Bush, but Obama is almost the same thing. Because he managed to get put on the democratic platform, gave a message of hope, and is an africn american we think he has our backs. He does not!!!
he has not gotten rid of the partiot act, we still jail people for ever without trial, we still are wasting trillions fighting in outher countries so corporations can get their hands on resources. The list goes on and on. If a republican behaved the way Obama was every democrat would be screaming. It is like he is some kind of deep mole planted by the bilderberg group in the democratic party.
I’m an american and I love this country, but I find myself rooting for the “terrorists” lately. I look at what we have become, the assults on our freedoms, never ending resource wars, financial reform (Joke), what we spend on the military but don’t extend unemployment, etc. I don’t like the country I live in and I don’t believe in the things our country stands for anymore. Obama is par tof that, as was Bush.
Honestly I consider Bernanke, geithner, et al. to be gulity of treason for what they have done to our country. they should get a fair trial and then be locked up for life. What happens to a country when it is run by traitors and crook. You are looking at it. Just the same as under Bush.
geithner is there because he is wall streets tool and they want him there. it isn’t because he as done a good job anywhere. that means his advancement has happened because he can be controlled by those who really have the power. this clearly makes all of his other actions easily understood.
warren should get the Nod, but if Obama can appoint bernanke, geithner, and summers what makes you think he is going to pick someone on our side. since the white house also worked behind the scenes to weaken reform I don’t see them appointing Warren. They also would be afraid warren can’t be controlled and would open the closet door to some secrets. I don’t think it will happen.
She is the anti Geithner. so for all the reasons she won’t get the job you see all the reasons geither and bernanke got theirs
The Successful Criminals in Politics and Religion
QUESTION: You wrote that Henry Kissinger’s memoirs “give the impression of a middle-level manager who has learned to conceal vacuity with pretentious verbiage.” You doubt that he has any subtle “conceptual framework” or global design. Why do such individuals gain such extraordinary reputations, given what you say about his actual abilities? What does this say about how our society operates?
CHOMSKY: Our society is not really based on public participation in decision-making in any significant sense. Rather, it is a system of elite decision and periodic public ratification. Certainly people would like to think there’s somebody up there who knows what he’s doing. Since we don’t participate, we don’t control and we don’t even think about the questions of crucial importance, we hope somebody is paying attention who has some competence. Let’s hope the ship has a captain, in other words, since we’re not taking in deciding what’s going on. I think that’s a factor. But also, it is an important feature of the ideological system to impose on people the feeling that they are incompetent to deal with these complex and important issues; they’d better leave it to the captain. One device is to develop a star system, an array of figures who are often media creations or creations of the academic propaganda establishment, whose deep insights we are supposed to admire and to whom we must happily and confidently assign the right to control our lives and control international affairs. In fact, power is very highly concentrated, decision-making is highly concentrated in small interpenetrating elites, ultimately based on ownership of the private economy in large measure, but also in related ideological and political and managerial elites. Since that’s the way the society effectively functions, it has to have political theology that explains that that’s the way it ought to function, which means that you have to establish the pretense that the participants of that elite know what they are doing, in our interest, and have the kind of understanding and access to information that is denied the rest of us, so that we poor slobs ought to just watch, not interfere. Maybe we can choose one or another of them every few years, but it’s their job to manage things, not ours. It’s in this context that we can understand the Kissinger phenomenon. His ignorance and foolishness really are a phenomenon. I’ve written about this in some detail. But he did have a marvelous talent, namely, of playing the role of the philosopher who understands profound things in ways that are beyond the capacity of the ordinary person. He played that role quite elegantly. That’s one reason why I think he was so attractive to the people who actually have power. That’s just the kind of person they need.
Somebody becomes a President, you never think that he has become a President at your cost (1:33).
Tell what you wrote to Ed Schultz. He still backs President Obama. I don’t back him anymore. It’s too bad since I thought he would do things to help us “small people”.
Of all the questionable decisions that President Obama has made, the appointment of Geithner is right at the top. Since when do you trust a member of the James Gang to keep an eye on Jesse?
We see, then, that modern technology has led to the concentration of economic and political power, and to the development of a society controlled (ruthlessly in the totalitarian states, politely and inconspicuously in the democracies) by Big Business and Big Government. But societies are composed of individuals and are good only insofar as they help individuals to realize their potentialities and to lead a happy and creative life. How have individuals been affected by the technological advances of recent years? Here is the answer to this question given by a philosopher-psychiatrist, Dr. Erich Fromm:
Our contemporary Western society, in spite of its material, intellectual and political progress, is increasingly less conducive to mental health, and tends to undermine the inner security, happiness, reason and the capacity for love in the individual; it tends to turn him into an automaton who pays for his human failure with increasing mental sickness, and with despair hidden under a frantic drive for work and so-called pleasure.
Our “increasing mental sickness” may find expression in neurotic symptoms. These symptoms are conspicuous and extremely distressing. But “let us beware,” says Dr. Fromm, “of defining mental hygiene as the prevention of symptoms. Symptoms as such are not our enemy, but our friend; where there are symptoms there is conflict, and conflict always indicates that the forces of life which strive for integration and happiness are still fighting.” The really hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. “Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.” They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted, still cherish “the illusion of individuality,” but in fact they have been to a great extent deindividualized. Their conformity is developing into something like uniformity. But “uniformity and freedom are incompatible. Uniformity and mental health are incompatible too. . . . Man is not made to be an automaton, and if he becomes one, the basis for mental health is destroyed.”
In the course of evolution nature has gone to endless trouble to see that every individual is unlike every other individual. We reproduce our kind by bringing the father’s genes into contact with the mother’s. These hereditary factors may be combined in an almost infinite number of ways. Physically and mentally, each one of us is unique. Any culture which, in the interests of efficiency or in the name of some political or religious dogma, seeks to standardize the human individual, commits an outrage against man’s biological nature.
hahaha +10 on that comment/joke
The final proof of Mr. Geithner’s mendacity — in addition to the kibosh he put on Ms. Warren — will play out when the revolving door opens and he leaves government to join Wall St for a gazillion dollars per year. Almost everything up to that (future) point will have been a type of unpaid internship.
ah, it appears anon has found the *real cause* of G’s opposition to Warren.
All this conspiracy theorizing by so many here may have been inevitable (in view of Obama vs. reality).
But….as I always say: “Ideology is no substitute for information.”
Occam’s razor, yes?
We don’t need to reach far to comprehend wounded pride.
Elizabeth Warren worked with Barney Franks in the House to protect push financial regulation in a direction to protect consumers. She recently challenged the Treasury Secretary. She has shown concern for poor and middle class citizens. She has non-Wall street credibility and should be appointed to this Consumer position.
A screenshot of Tim’s desktop says it all:
has anybody else been struck by the oddity of geithner’s demeanor? his responses to questions are always very plodding and seem (without art) to miss the point. his facial expressions are consistently vague and have a deer in the headlights quality. even in photos, he looks dopey and unfocussed. finally, as i realized today listening to him on the radio, he doesn’t seem to know how to inflect his speech; it’s as if he’s trying to speak in a foreign language, and has no sense of where to put the emphasis. i think this is a symptom of autism…
c’mon now. everyone knows maobamao is a socialist commie!
I completely agree with you and I could not have said it any better.
Nothing in the news about the seizure of Bank of America in Charlotte. Go to http://www.worldreports.org for info.
Kissinger is a mass murderer.
“simon, I like what you write some times but you are very naive (sp). You appear way to aften to make assumptions that Obama and geithner are actually attempting to work in the publics best interest”
Are we reading the same blog? He has been very critical of Obama and especially of Geithner (the above article: case in point).
HRC’s devotion to empire is obvious. She’s been down in Latin America strong-arming heads of state, trying to get them to recognize the illegitimate coup government of Honduras (as it turns out, said coup was engineered by the CIA. Big surprise there, huh).
“Of all the questionable decisions that President Obama has made, the appointment of Geithner is right at the top. Since when do you trust a member of the James Gang to keep an eye on Jesse?”
Next thing you’re going to tell me is that Obama is putting the former VP of Wellpoint (+35% increase) Healh Insurance Co. in new Administration position charged with implementing America’s health insurance system.
I’m Struck By-
Not only did my mom read 0bama’s book and was deeply moved by it(them)- but Claire Frickin’ McCasgill’s daughter pleaded with her mom to give her last-minute/late season support for Barack over that mean/cold Hillary during the Primary so I really hope that Constitutional Lawyer President Obama will eventually do the right thing-
assassinations be damned!…
I just hope Mr. Geithner is sufficiently worried about The Deficit. Furrow on!
Ron, you are a true free-thinker. You have any talking points you could regurgitate for us?
7/16/10 10:31 AM – The Washington Independent
“The most obvious candidate is Elizabeth Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School and the head of the Congressional Oversight Panel over the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Treasury Department’s signature effort to stem the financial crisis. She devoted her career to studying how the modern financial system ends up giving families and workers bum deals.
The idea for the CFPB is hers. She is, bar none, considered the foremost mind on the topic. As the head of the CFPB, many in Washington hoped, she would act not just as a strong leader, but as a draw for smart minds — a kind of J. Edgar Hoover, sexing up the bureau rather than letting it become just another wan regulatory agency. This might sound a bit strong. But I am serious in saying that most everyone I speak with about this issue — on the Hill, in consumer groups, in think tanks — considers Elizabeth Warren just that good.”
“You can’t help people who don’t have enough intelligence to make a water well.”
Wow, racist much?
“But remember, Cossacks work for the czar.”
PETITION: Let Elizabeth Warren Police Wall Street
That’s so 1990s
Martha Stewart didn’t get away from “lying to the Feds” about insider ImClone something-or-other…
But Madoff? He never “lied” to the Feds.
You just can’t trust a woman, right?
Just another piece of evidence: The 20 PAGE Brown-Kaufman “Safe Banking Act of 2010” went down to defeat in June. All but 3 Repubs voted against it, and 27 Dems voted against it. Where did Obama stand? We’ll let’s just say he wasn’t out there supporting it.
The Federal government has been captured by the bankster gang. Anyone who thinks they can negotiate with this gang are fools – the gang is composed of people who are essentially fiancial terrorists, nothing more, nothing less.
Ran into this at Counterpunch a minute ago, thought you’d appreciate it:
I doubt if anyone could possibly more accurately summarize the disaster that the neo-liberal Obama Administration has become. Cockburn is peerless as an analyst.
Please don’t reply to the first comment just to get yours near the top. Your opinion isn’t that important.
Sounds aligned with Social Anarchism. Would Rajineesh and Emma Goldman be friends and allies? Mmmm.
What a load of hooey :-)
Give him some books about the evolution of CULTURE.
Some “societies” always had a Round Table to checkmate the craven power hunger of sadists and nihilists.
USA’s history is one of a rowdy bunch of idealists. It breaks out into extreme populist violence (Civil War) when it reaches a flash point of competing ideologies – selfishness versus HUMAN progress. Selfish societies are retrogressive to human potential.
Obama needs to remember the one million faces present in D.C. for his inauguration. He knows EXACTLY what the moment of history required. None of us know what he always meant to do with it.
“Gangs of New York” on the movie list this weekend :-) Too many “middle class” VERY close to Wall Street, how delusional can you get?
And for more serious history study, who lead a awakened country successfully in the recent past..?
An awakened country is a law of physics you lead because there is no POWER to stop it.
I like these comments, and especially the “Ivy League Mafia.” I mentioned to a friend recently (one still mesmerized by the Obama charisma) that I have the impression Obama’s already thinking ahead to post-presidency hobnobbing with Jamie Dimon. He won’t push these people too far because he sees them as part of his social circle.
Here is something that really bugs me about the Obama Admin. Rather than take a stand, rather than show leadership, they send out “feelers” or spew deceptive messages before commiting to anything.
Here’s a recent example: “Obama’s Ratings Down As White House Promises to Push for Unemployment Extension Bill.”
Why PROMISE? Why not just push and let THAT be the news? Oh yeah, because he may not actually end up supporting it, and he’ll certainly have to weigh in first with bigCorpa and the bankster boys first.
This is my take on Obama: He wants to please whoever has his ear. “The small people” are clearly the losers in this regard.
I want 2 of these people to run as independents in the 2012 Presidential/VP election.
Others to add to the list?
There is absolutely no impulse in the Obama Adminstration to concern itself with working people. Neither was there any during the Bush Regime. Essentially, working people have been unrepresented in the political life of the United States and the European Union for decades now. The head of the Socialist International, Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, announces austerity programs that decimate the incomes of Greek workers! There is and has been absolutely no one there to represent the average worker or consumer, no one. A state of war has been declared on the citizens of Western Nations by the class that rules them. This state of things can only end in strikes and demonstrations. They’re not all that far away.
but being a weiner is so timeless
Wrecking Crew is incapable of creating an eternal moment in history – something GOOD that stands the test of time like the Declaration Of Independence in 1776 and the PROOF of civilization in establishing the kind of superior government that only SELF-governing people are capable of establishing.
A larger group of individuals will always produce a superior manifestation of their highest ideals of truth beauty and goodness than the lone individual can produce. An aggregation of unique expressions of timeless values is the foundation of rule of law.
We have to take away their technocrat power by repealing the Patriot Act that provides them with the data about who to ruin next…”press any key to continue”…
Watch how they freak out when their computers get the baseball bat treatment
in contrast to how vacant of “care” they are when they snuff out millions of lives ala “press any key to continue”
Fri Jul. 16, 2010 – Mother Jones – excerpt
“OK, everyone take a deep breath.
The news that Tim Geithner, joining several other Obama economic advisers, isn’t keen on Elizabeth Warren and might not want her as CFPB head (even though the Bureau was her idea) is hardly breaking news, no matter how big HuffPo’s headline is. Indeed, anyone who’s followed the work of Warren’s Congressional Oversight Panel could tell you that.
After all, Warren’s public grillings of Geithner have taken on an almost ritual quality—not a month goes by, it seems, without the blunt, Oklahoma-raised Warren bashing Geithner for AIG’s backdoor bailouts or the Treasury’s botched homeowner relief programs or the failure of megabanks to resume lending again, despite trillions in government assistance. Little wonder Geithner might not like Warren.”
I’ve been wondering as well who would and could successfully primary him. Perhaps it’s someone not currently in politics? I’m curious how many in the Dem party would like to see a primary opponent for Obama….20% or 50%?
Business Preps for ‘Supreme Court’ Battle Over Consumer Czar
July 16 (Bloomberg) — “The imminent reshaping of U.S. banking regulation creates a new center of gravity in Washington, a consumer czar with thousands of employees, a $400 million budget and power to impose federal rules on mortgages, credit cards and lay-away plans. With the stakes high, business lobbyists who failed to kill the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Congress now hope to influence President Barack Obama’s choice of director and the Senate’s confirmation proceedings.
“This is akin to a Supreme Court nominee for financial services,” Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association in Arlington, Virginia, said in an interview. “We are taking this very seriously.”
“Every bank in America set a goal of killing this agency. We won and they lost,” Mierzwinski said. “Congress created its skeleton. The first director will create its soul. We will not be looking for a caretaker.” – excerpts
Thanks for this Anonymous, as disgusting as it is to watch. I remember watching Judge Stanley Sporkin in the opening comments of the Roosevelt’s Make Markets Be Markets report railing, really angry, wanting to know who allowed AIG to pay 100% on the dollar to Goldman Sachs and others. Poor Mr. Geithner doesn’t know… right.
I wish that Warren had really nailed Geithner to the wall. She asked the right questions but she didn’t follow up on his wordy empty answers. What a slime ball he is.
I loved watching Warren’s presentation at MMBM. Contracts should be 2 pages long in clear legible print. Cut out the crap. Her passionate lucidity is positively arousing. No wonder that at the end of her interview on The Daily Show, Stewart leaned in and said, When you talk like that, even though I know your husband is back stage, I just want to grab you and kiss you. Warren just smiled and laughed..
If she isn’t appointed to head the Consumer Protection Agency, maybe she should just be appointed Secretary of the Treasury. Wow, am I dreaming or what :-((
Typos forgiven, my thought process exactly.
“Change” must have meant faces not policy.
However, when you look at where these folks were educated, you can’t expect anything else. It is amazing that Warren differs so much, being a Harvard alum, also.
Have you seen his curriculum vitae Annie? He wasn’t very welcome in the US, now was he?
More proof that, in Washington, nothing succeeds like abject failure. Just look at Alan Greenspan and all those Iraq War supporters.
Thank you for such a balanced comment.
Another hit-piece on Geithner. [titter]
Funny how all these hit pieces go back to some original false premises about what he was involved in.
Funny in the “we progressives are doomed to rehash the mistakes of the MSM” way that is.
No. All this about Geitner may well be true. But Summers and Romer are WAY, WAY better than Geitner and neither is a tool for Wall Street.
Now that you’ve exposed Geithner for who and what he really is (The Prince Has No Clothes!), I wish that simon and Jim would do an in-depth of the Real Unemployment Rate, not the ridiculouly low rate we get from the Government Reports. I can’t think of anyone with more credibility to expose this propaganda (Gov. Stats) than simon and Jim. I’m keeping my fingers croseed that they will.
Hey Carter, it wasn’t a “cave-in”, it was a “Carrying The Flag”. We’ve all been duped by another self-serving, very sophisticated political operation.
“Hope”….let’s Hope the voting schmucks don’t catch on too soon.
“Change”….let’s change where the money’s going. The Repubs have gotten their share, now it’s our turn.
Great idea, Tom!
Obama Admin Praises Elizabeth Warren But States ‘There Are Other Candidates As Well’ To Lead CFPB
07-16-10 03:30 PM – excerpt
” But a senior adviser to Obama left open the possibility that she would not be chosen while administration officials did not deny a report that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner opposes her nomination.”
* You can’t make this stuff up, Charles Dickens where are you?
Ann, this is so true.
I was one of the middle class moderates who wanted to believe that our system still allowed a good man to come out of nowhere. How utterly naive I was.
I now believe that Obama was a political “manchurian candidate”, managed by big money interests and power hawks within the Democratic party. I now believe that despite his intelligence and inherent decency, he’s in so far over his head that he has no real idea of what’s happening. He relies totally on his advisors, and we’ve seen where they all come from.
I’m sick to say this, but the Tea Party is looking better and better to me and I’m a moderate!!). There just has to be an alternative to the two parties who have grabbed the power, and corrupted our political system.
I guess he now has 10 lives, All these f’ing people fail up. I just read that with the passage of the passage of the FinReg, Wall St. Welfare bail out bill Congress is so happy about putting another turkey feather in Obama’s head dress. I honestly believe Congress doesn’t care what is in the bills as long as they get passed. Words are all they are nothing concrete or substantial or anything that will actually help out the undeserving masses of small, little, lesser people.
“But the bill broadly reflects Geithner’s faith in regulators and his overriding belief that large financial companies can be protected from financial upheaval”
“The legislation passed this week does not specifically set new capital levels for banks but”
“Some Treasury officials sought to play down the influence Geithner will have.”
“One of his aides said the bill merely details the authority that treasuries secretaries could exercise during a crisis”
(Like the one they already had/have but chose not to use>)
“It essentially enshrines(them)
The official added that, “in the near term, Tim has a lot of new powers, but I don’t think he’ll use them.”
(Why would he? it could lead to him not getting gigantic huge big $$$$’s when he leaves the WH for Goldman Sachs?
Geithner’s influence might go beyond what is delineated in the law.
(You can bet on that next time The St. gets in trouble again. We as a nation no longer follow the rule of law anyway)
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who shepherded the financial overhaul package through the Senate, said it wasn’t his preference to put the Treasury secretary in charge of the new council.
(But to do otherwise may jeopardize my getting a lobbying job when I leave congress in the fall)
Good going thanks again duly elected representatives of the American people, Excuse me I meant to say Wall St.
Yes, thank you. You seem like a thoughtful individual.
I would suggest, however, that you learn a little about pathological narcissicm, and how we reasonably decent folks are so taken in by these people. They are rampant in our politics. In fact, the system attracts them because few decent people would have the stomach for what it takes to succeed in American politics today.
Does Tim Geithner have a Future ?
‘THERE IS EVERY possibility that there will be no future as far as life is concerned. We are coming closer to a dead-end street. It is sad to recognize the fact, but it is good to recognize it, because then there is the possibility of taking a different turn. As things are moving today, the logical conclusion is a global suicide.
And the most alarming factor is that the intelligentsia of the world, the scientists of the world, the philosophers of the world, are ignoring all these facts.’
“…do an in-depth of the Real Unemployment Rate, not the ridiculouly low rate we get from the Government Reports.”
If you are not prepared for the answer, don’t ask the question.
“John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics” is an electronic newsletter service that exposes and analyzes flaws in current U.S. government economic data and reporting, as well as in certain private-sector numbers, and provides an assessment of underlying economic and financial conditions, net of financial-market and political hype…..significant material is provided free of charge to the public on this Web-site, including a Primer Series on key economic reporting…”
Here’s the link to the Washington post article.
Hey, is this you Timmy?? Come on now, ‘fess up.
Are you still smarting over Liz’s take down, and now Simon is rubbing salt in the wound?
Poor boy….such a waste of an expensive haircut.
US’s Geithner: Warren Qualified To Head Consumer Bureau
WASHINGTON | Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:24pm EDT
July 16 (Reuters) – “U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner considers consumer rights advocate Elizabeth Warren well qualified to head a new financial consumer watchdog bureau, a Treasury Department spokesman said on Friday.
“Given her strong leadership on consumer protection, Secretary Geithner believes that Elizabeth Warren is exceptionally well qualified to lead the new bureau, and, ultimately, that’s a decision the president will have to make,” Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams said.”
“The buck stops here” is a phrase that was popularized by U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office.
who is writing about geitner-warren battle over consumer agency and what is their purpose?
“Doesn’t Obama realize he has hitched his wagon to the Republican (status quo) horse??”
Why of course he does. And he’s been conscious of that all along. The whole thing has been quite purposeful, actually, the naivete of his worshipful entourage notwithstanding. And if there has been one characteristic that has become predictible of the man its been his ordinariness, his utter lack of imagination. Being pedestrian Is Obama. Nothing epoch making here particularly.
I’m well prepared for the answer. I think it’s time that the answer become front-page news. Not that even that will shake the middle class out of their lethargy.
Maybe it could be made into a video game !! That ‘id do it!
And thank you for making such an unbalanced comment. :-)
Timothy Geithner is a perfect example of the politically astute yes-man. The problem of any intelligent yes-man is the rare need to say no — the need to judge between competing superior powers.
Mr. Johnson wrote”
“If the Democratic leadership really wants to win in the November elections, they should think very hard about the further consequences of Mr. Geithner.”
Jesus through the bankers of the temple, we know how that story ended.
Cockburn’s article is nonsense. Part of the problem, not the solution. “The reality is that there can be no “good” American president. It’s an impossible hand to play. ” is ridiculous.
Obama WANTS TO BE Buchanan Hoover Obama. (And in addition wanted to appoint himself the assassin-in-chief). If he wanted to be Lincoln or FDR, who faced far greater challenges with far fewer resources, he could be. It’s simple. Play hardball. Use the bully pulpit. Use the constitutional powers of the presidency. Whip Congress in line, get rid of the filibuster farce – (even now, the bills that Obama really wants, like the healthcare scam giveaway do get passed.) Have the right enemies – the banksters, the military industrialists, the healthcare industry scum, call their bluff and tell them you welcome their hatred.
Most capital-D Democrats’ actions look a lot like Republicans’.
As Noam Chomsky once observed our two parties are really just two wings of our Business Party.
And as Howard Dean said in 2003 while campaigning for the Democratic nomination he wanted to represent the democratic wing of the Democratic Party; he had a narrative founded on acknowledging our predicament and an awareness of the corruptions causing it.
James could you incorporate a “Play” button which we could press for some piano-music whilst reading the Baselinescenario?
Play pianissimo >
I’m not so sure that she did give up on the presidency by becoming Secretary of State.
In 2004, I actually hoped that John Kerry would win the presidency because I thought Bush the Younger was meandering down the wrong path and that an elected Kerry would alienate so much of the electorate that the election of 2008 might produce candidates of greater (or even perhaps – and this is probably a bridge too far – great) merit.
Well, that scenario has been deferred at least 4 years, but it’s still, I think, intact.
I wonder if HRC thought in a similar vein. “If Obama proves to be the lightweight Bill and I think he is” she mused one day, “maybe I should consider getting out of the way of politics while this train wreck happens. Where else to be far away from public politics, i.e. legislation, yet be close to the presidency (4th in line) than the State Department? And all those who think Barack has successfully co-opted me by joining his administration will be lulled to sleep. Give Holbrooke, who believes foolishly like so many before him that a Balkans peace can be created from outside, the South Asia portfolio, while I do good works around the world.
Of course, a sitting (or just recent) Secretary of State challenging the President for nomination is unthinkable, so was the housing crash and devastation of the economy beginning 3 years ago. Black swans don’t take place in economics alone.
The real challenge for the other political party, although most of them don’t know it yet, is how to put up a candidate who the American people would vote for in preference, not to Barack Obama, but to her.
This also explains Alan Greenspan perfectly.
You entirely missed the point Cockburn sought to make when he said “there can be no ‘good’ American president”. Is it that you didn’t read past the first paragraph? It would seem so.
Here’s his meaning: That over the last 30 years the ruling class has screwed things up so thoroughly that no one can now extricate us from the horror we face. Here’s Cockburn in his own words:
“The nation’s first black president promised change at the precise moment when no single man, even if endowed with the communicative powers of Franklin Roosevelt, the politic mastery of Lyndon Johnson, the brazen agility of Bill Clinton, could turn the tide that has been carrying America to disaster for 30 years.”
I don’t know how anybody in their right mind could see “nonsense” in that statement. You work for an investment bank or plan on running for Congress, perhaps?
To Beria, you wrote: “Calgucus,
You entirely missed the point Cockburn sought to make when he said “there can be no ‘good’ American president”. Is it that you didn’t read past the first paragraph? It would seem so.
Here’s his meaning:….
I don’t know how anybody in their right mind could see “nonsense” in that statement. You work for an investment bank or plan on running for Congress, perhaps?”
I understood what he was getting at. This isn’t the place for ad hominums. If someone is reading this blog, I’m interested in what they have to say, even if I disagree….particularly if I disagree. I don’t want to see ad hominums discourage people from posting.
2000 years of “anybody but Jesus!” is entertaining, to say the least :-)
Well, she does have a moustache.
The intelligentsia came up with crap like “Nihilism” in Russia as a way to get the rabble into the rubles…
me no likey virtual reality…no cultural touchstones when everything inside everyone’s head is made-up crap…
Sun rises in east, sets in west :-)
And she caved and endorsed the idea that the CFPB would be run under the auspices of the Fed. Today she even raves about this hollowed-out legislation. Think she would have done either if she didn’t have ambitions to run that agency? I don’t. Not for a minute. A person with integrity would have gone down with their ship. But not Big Sis. That would have required that she walk away from any offer to head CFPB.
Here’s another way to look at it…Holloweed has trained the movie/TV viewer how to fall in love with the “star”.
They do this by filming the protagonist of the “story” alone in the house dancing around in underwear, lip-sinking to some powerful rock music blasting out the speakers. We are only nakedly real and adorable when alone with our narcissism, right?
So the Timmy generation probably filmed themselves doing that classic routine and were left horrified at how even they, themselves, had the urge to hurl at the “real me” that they saw…
Hence the modulation of the “real me” to the extreme – the “autistic” presentation.
We should consider a brown-nose Nobel Prize for “politics” in the future :-)
Tom, we certainly need alternatives to the utterly corrupt dems and repubs…take a look at the Greens. They take many good positions. There is something called the Constitutional Party, I believe. Maybe we need an Independent Party (at least a third, if not more, of Americans are Independents). The Tea Party is getting major funding from the far right. Don’t accept it as the only alternative. But man ‘o man, we gotta be done with the repubs and the dems.
What you say is of course correct. Sadly. The people who get ahead are generally the pawns of big business. Here is a relevant quote from Norman Finkelstein extrapolated for the following link:
“Most intellectuals have a self-understanding of themselves as the conscience of humanity,” said the Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein. “They revel in and admire someone like Vaclav Havel. Chomsky is contemptuous of Havel. Chomsky embraces the Julien Benda view of the world. There are two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege it will always be at the expense of truth and justice. Benda says that the credo of any true intellectual has to be, as Christ said, ‘my kingdom is not of this world.’ Chomsky exposes the pretenses of those who claim to be the bearers of truth and justice. He shows that in fact these intellectuals are the bearers of power and privilege and all the evil that attends it.”
pairochucks, that fantasy world of yours sure is well developed. But I’ve yet to hear any evidence that Hillary would have been less of a corporatist tool than Obama has proven to be.
Thanks, Tom for getting what I said and for your kind words. Personally, I am not bothered by and even welcome ad hominems. :)
Lavrenti, I understood and showed I understood perfectly well what Cockburn said, “That over the last 30 years the ruling class has screwed things up so thoroughly that no one can now extricate us from the horror we face.”
I disagreed with it. It is loathsome, ridiculous, pernicious nonsense – A counsel of mindless despair. This essay, supposedly critical of Obama, is in reality shameful apologetics for him. LBJ, Lincoln or FDR wouldn’t have the slightest trouble unscrewing things and extricating us. We don’t need “warning of the political and corporate corruption destroying America and the resistance he would face if he really fought against the prevailing arrangements ..” We need someone to really fight. Obama doesn’t. Period.
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
I admire Alexander Cockburn and his writings and efforts, but to the extent he believes the nonsense in this essay, he has handed the most potent weapon to the oppressor.
@ Calgacus: Amen, brother. Preach it!
Gee Tom, I’ll make sure to consult you before I post next time. How could it be that in my callous disregard I’d allowed myself to tread so incautiously upon your exquisitely tuned sensibilities? And how to make this right, if it can be made right? A formal pledge, perhaps, to be signed by all blog contributors promising to think “What Would Tom Want” before letting those little fingers just tear away at someone’s soul? I know its not enough but its the best I can do at the moment.
You presuppose that the system is reformable, my friend, and if there is any view that is pernicious and hands the oppressor a potent weapon it is that one. We’re long past a time that parliamentary devices will be of any use in bringing to the fore leaders that will “really fight”. This is the naive romanticism of the League of Women Voters and it’s the very thing that brought us Obama in the first place. Headline: There will be no meaningful change short of mass demonstrations and strikes. The system is irretrievably corrupt and unresponsive. To believe otherwise is the stuff of a late and very privileged adolescence.
During the time since the election, I have lost all faith I had that our new President resembled, in any way, the harbinger of change he pretended to be. While his campaign committee spent immense amounts of energy convincing us that he was the “people’s” candidate, we failed (or our media more like it failed) to watch who his big dollar contributors were. Had we done so, we would have very soon caught onto why he hired Summers and Geithner, essentially right off the “Street.” Once that was done, my impressions of Mr. Obama started changing markedly. Then, after he espoused a desire to reform health care, he literally gave the corporate providers, insurers and pharmaceutical companies everything they could have wanted (and actually much more — it will be some time before the flaws in this massive debacle can be unwound, if ever). And, even during financial reform, the administration has done everything in its power to create legislation that consists of mostly political talking points, but, in the end, without adequate funding to the regulators, will probably largely result in change without improvement (known as change we can’t believe in).
If Geithner, with the backing of the rest of the administration, attempts to derail an appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head up one vital part of the largely pathetic reforms, this would surely be not only the deathknell of Tiny Tim’s career, but probably any hope that Obama might have for re-election (they are dimming as I write). This would be the ultimate travesty. Ms. Warren is probably the single most trusted public figure working inside the Beltway in literally decades. The best Tim could do would be to just stand aside and try to run the Treasury. Leave Ms. Warren to Bernanke — he may be able to tame her sanity, but not likely.
“We’re long past a time that parliamentary devices will be of any use in bringing to the fore leaders that will “really fight”.”
Ahh- but that is not what Cockburn is saying. He is not saying that we cannot elect a “good leader”. That would be a piece of crystal ball gazing that I disagree with, but understand. He is saying that a recognized “good /strong leader” like Lincoln, FDR or LBJ would be unable to cope with the present supposedly so horrible mess. That he includes Clinton shows his thinking is defective from the start. It’s not “an impossible hand to play” – but a very easy one.
Sure, strikes and mass demonstrations, the more the better. But how can one keep people from asking, reasoning from the false premise that if the preznit, for all intents and purposes dictator over foreign policy and the military, cannot do anything with his awesome powers, with majorities in both houses, then what good can any individual or popular organization do?
Cockburn contradicts himself. He talks about a “window of opportunity” that has been missed, when Obama could have done things that he began by saying not even magical, mythical culture heroes could do. In the real world Obama could end the wars with the stroke of a pen at any time.
Cockburn avoids the truth. The reason why Obama does nothing good is because he wants to do nothing good. He want to be a tool of depravity, even more than Bush. And the things he does want and does – continue, initiate and expand insane and murderous wars, declare he has the right to assassinate US citizens for exercising their right of free speech – are nauseating.
Finally, better a late and very privileged adolescence than senile counsel of impotence, despair and quietism.
This “economy” is the great depression but with credit cards. The use of credit cards is obscuring the real picture.
What are the differences between now and the Great Depression? Give those people in 1930’s Credit cards and food stamps and you’re in 2010.
Geithner is giving in to the Banks again, it helps him in the short run and screws us citizens. In this 2nd Great Depression the credit card fees will have an enormous impact on the public at large for many years. Geithner is a coward we cannot afford right now.
Obama needs to get out of the rose garden more often and get some advisors with real muscle.
Hey Beria, THANK YOU! I didn’t really expect a self-absorbed, pompous narcissist to actually feel my pain. I mean, it’s so out of character for a damaged ego that needs always to on the attack to apologize. Gosh, I apologize for misunderstanding you. You seem like a fine fellow after all.
By the way, wasn’t there a Beria who was Stalin’s NKVD henchman? If I recall he was a sociopathic proponent of violence. I don’t suppose there’s any relatio …. no, must be coincidence….has to be a coincidence.
Take care fine fellow, and thanks again.
These are good names. We desperately need an Independent slate. How about Senator Ted Kauffman?
@ ivyleaves: You spat: “Wow…..race card much?”
Too often the politically correct culture equates negativity with racism or hate against minorities. And too often the politically correct culture gets a free pass. Got a grip?
Thank you, Ted. I also think that Hillary is over with respect to the presidency. The thought makes me nauseous.
I agree Jennifer.
The real incomes of the middle class have been flat or declining for 30 years. Middle class buying has been fueled by debt, debt that was supported by illusionary assets.
Growing middle class income supported the economy’s growth beginning in the 50’s. When that income growth ceased, debt replaced it. Now we’ve reached the limits of supportable consumer debt. So the bubble has burst.
In the years immediately prior to the Great Depression, wealth became very concentrated in the hands of a few. Now, we have the same concentration of wealth as then. These elites can’t support the economy, nor will they. They seek only more wealth, and now have world markets into which to invest it. In the 30s, even the wealth realized, and for the most part grudging accepted, the changes that need to be made. This current group of weatlh holders has far more options to invest abroad.
I consider the concentration of wealth to be the single biggest threat to our economy. The political shills for the wealthy elite who decry the current threats to “capitalism” are doing their bidding so they can be rewarded with their piece of the pie.
I understand the progessive’s frustration with Obama. I am frustrated myself. but I aslo understand those who aren’t yet ready to throw in the towel.
I believe that Obama is a decent man, though very politically naive. I think that his background suggests a person of compromise, reason, and the expectation that everyone approaches issues from a position of integrity. These are certainly not bad qualities.
What seems to be missing is that, loath as he may be to “wrestle with pigs”, he, and others in his Administration will have to. Perception is everything (e.g. the influence of Beck, Limbaugh, et al; Reagan’s “success”; Carter’s failures).
Clearly, when the perception of the President by his base falters, he’s in serious trouble.
FDR, Truman, and Johnson all knew that politics in this country is hardball. They understood the “rules”, and didn’t hesitate to play the hardball game. Further back in our history, Washingtom, Jackson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt all were willing to “play the game” to see their vision through.
The current crop of right-wing Republican have co-opted the game. Obama is playing by their rules, and seems unable to make it his game.
Even a bad plan?
“Too often the politically correct culture equates negativity with racism or hate against minorities.”
So what you’re saying is that you’re not racist, you’re just “very negative” about black people?
@Jim Demintia: I am not the OP and find the post objectionable for reflecting a common tendency to judge other cultures by values assumed to have universal validity. But that is not the point. The OP made the following statement and it was glibly classified as racist:
“You can’t help people who don’t have enough intelligence to make a water well.”
This is not prima facie evidence of a racist poster. I am sickened with how quick and easy it has become to brand someone an anti-semite, homophobe, racist or whatever, no matter how flimsy the evidence. Ultimately it serves only to trivialize the gravity of the charge.
Yes, Kaufman – another to add to the short list.
“Ahh- but that is not what Cockburn is saying. He is not saying that we cannot elect a “good leader”. That would be a piece of crystal ball gazing that I disagree with, but understand. He is saying that a recognized “good /strong leader” like Lincoln, FDR or LBJ would be unable to cope with the present supposedly so horrible mess. That he includes Clinton shows his thinking is defective from the start. It’s not “an impossible hand to play” – but a very easy one.”
What Cockburn is saying is that forces unleashed 30 years ago have made their reversal today impossible for any elected leader, even someone “endowed with the communicative powers of Franklin Roosevelt, the politic mastery of Lyndon Johnson, the brazen agility of Bill Clinton”, as he puts it. Implicit in such a view is an indictment of the political system itself as it has evolved over that time and it is precisely the elements of this evolution that make any hoped-for reversal simply wishful. It is here that one finds the kernel of Cockburn’s meaning, not in some meaningless contestation over whether we’ve got someone in office who wants to bring change badly enough. Given the economic realities as they have developed and the relationships in our politics that undergird them, we’re quite beyond mere questions of will.
“Sure, strikes and mass demonstrations, the more the better. But how can one keep people from asking, reasoning from the false premise that if the preznit, for all intents and purposes dictator over foreign policy and the military, cannot do anything with his awesome powers, with majorities in both houses, then what good can any individual or popular organization do?”
Well that’s the whole point isn’t it. The system as presently constituted is incapable of addressing the needs of the people and it is utter foolishness to suppose that it can or will. And it is here that one sees the ultimate purpose of strikes and demonstations, not in some Don Quixote-ish effort to change the unchangeable. From the outset one accepts that nothing can be done within present structures, they’re poisoned. Wholly new solutions must be found.
“Cockburn contradicts himself. He talks about a “window of opportunity” that has been missed, when Obama could have done things that he began by saying not even magical, mythical culture heroes could do. In the real world Obama could end the wars with the stroke of a pen at any time.”
Perhaps he does, but that’s entirely peripheral. And I’d just love to see whether The Lobby would permit Obama ever to get his hands on a pen he could use to end the present war. That, sir, is the real world, the world to which Cockburn alludes.
Chomsky is biased. He distorted the history of Kosovo to suit his political position, claiming that the Albanian minority’s gripes were merely a pretext fabricated to justify US intervention. I had been following Kosovo issues for more than a decade before that, and I know for a fact that the Kosovars’ grievances were authentic had existed for a very long time even before the breakup of Yugoslavia, and were consequently not something dreamt up on the spur of the moment to justify a military intervention, as Chomsky claimed.
Bernie Sanders is fantastic, but I don’t think he’d play the political game well enough to win the White House. He’s VERY leftist. I don’t think he’d get the independent vote.
My biggest mistake of the past three years was voting for Obama over Clinton. Not so naive as to think Clinton would be stamping out corruption and plugging oil spills, but surely she would have had more audacity and fight in her than Obama currently displays.
“racist much ?” I don’t know. Your words sound like a woman who can make her way through People magazine to get Oprah’s latest book recommendations but couldn’t make it through the front section of the NYT. Am I a “racist”?? Am I “sexist”??
You can ask these two women what they think, or you can even buy the interviewee’s (Dambisa Moyo) book titled “Dead Aid”.
“This is not prima facie evidence of a racist poster.”
Oh, please. The comment in question is clearly racist. It says, quite openly, that Africans can’t be helped because they are too stupid to dig a water well. How that could be regarded as anything but overtly bigoted beggars the imagination and trying to cover for it with long-since stale accusations of “political correctness” simply won’t wash. Give it up.
“Too often the politically correct culture equates negativity with racism or hate against minorities”
I agree with that wholeheartedly. Matt Taibi’s “vampire squid” comment jumps to mind because of the backlash against his supposed anti-semitism in this remark.
The water-well comment is borderline. There is definitely a scale between overtly racist and completely benign, many things are somewhere in between. It definitely doesn’t warrant an unequivocal “racist” tag..
Baghdad Bob had a purpose too, so I imagine Turbo Timmy will hang around until the spin loses all credibility. I will readily admit I thought that should have been about five lives ago.
You said it “This current group of wealth holders has far more options to invest abroad,” now what is the trade off? That they get everything and we get Geithner being a watch dog/gate keeper against Elizabeth Warren?
Obama can choose a course of action here:
1. The Fearful Way (eroding America by giving elites Geithner to watch over their interests)
2. The Courageous Way (building up America to be the preferred place to do business)
This is the challenge, what is the definition of “business friendly”? To the greedy that means abolishing the EPA, social security, any meaningful regulations and it’s just easier for the time being to go abroad. The countries that will benefit in this kind of environment will be the ones willing to do anything legal, illegal, moral, and immoral. Multinational versus Main Street through “emerging markets” abroad; USAID paints a pretty business friendly picture of the emerging market of Afghanistan via website. http://afghanistan.usaid.gov/en/Article.589.aspx U.S. Agency for International Development -Privatizing State-owned Enterprises
Geithner’s primary talent is to be able to fail upwards. We’ve seen this before – the incompetent are promoted to either A) keep them from screwing up at the level their at or B) to keep quiet to prevent the exposure of the mistake that would hurt other more powerful players. His other talent is the ability to push an agenda, lie through his teeth while keeping a straight face, and take the fire being dished out by angry Congressmen. I think he can do so because he knows that the administration (Goldman Sachs) has his back.
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yes ! yes ! and yes !
Geithner is doing all he can to screw up but Obama stands by him. This is part of the Obama plan folks. Of course, fellow progressives, we just have to be patient. Once Obama kills capitalism, he will throw Geithner overboard.
to catch him someone has to be looking. who’s looking? there all looking at and covering each others’ backs. it’s called collusion. your dea will come before his dem. patience is our enemy with people like this in power.
Obama’s economic program has been a complete failure. First they said that passing the simulus would keep unemployment from going beyond 8%. Unfortunately it went beyond 10%. For 9 months people have been saying job, jobs, jobs, and Obama has not come up with any new plans.
Second Geitner was supposed to come up with a program for home mortgage modification. This has been a pathetic failure that has left millions losing their homes. Obama doesn’t realize that saving the Banks is not something to crow about.
And now as what little stimulus we had peters out America faces a double dip recession threatening to drive more into unemployment.
If Obama wanted to save him administration and his the prospects of many democrats in Congress, he would announce Geitner would be retiring after the election. America needs and wants CHANGE. Obama needs to start with some people in his administration.
Nows the time to also replace Larry Summers. This champion of derivatives. George Bush made the mistake of keeping Rumsfeld around for 2 years too long – by the time the 2006 elections rolled around everyone could see that Iraq was going badly. The smartest move Bush made was putting Gates into Def. Secr. to salvage the situation.
If Obama continues on his current course, I certainly would welcome a real progressive like Feingold or Sanders.
I’m no Obama fan, but it is beyond rich to foist the term naive upon people who have the intellect, and more over, the discipline to write entire papers and books on singular subjects, without resulting to Total theories of everything that reside within a couple paragraphs of one sided tirades.
Unfortunately, it was clear from the start where this administration was going, and not going, shortly after the 2008 election. Yes, financial reform is inadequate and the appointments of Geithner and Summers (because they knew where the “bodies were buried”) was clearly bogus. The foxes were appointed to guard the henhouse and protect their masters on Wall Street. As Dick Durbin said (see page 92 in ’13 Bankers’) referring to the financial industry lobby and Wall Street “…frankly they own the place”…and that fact becomes more obvious, everyday. For those of us who were looking for real reform and many fronts, not just financial, it is difficult to be enthusiastic about the Obama administration at this point, not to mention the mostly spineless Democrats in general, who let the other side set the agenda. It is hard not to feel duped all the talk of change when it looks mostly like more of the same.
So, with Geithner at the helm, a friend of Wall Street blocks true financial reform. And the hawks (including Hillary “We can obliterate Iran” Clinton) remain in charge of foreign policy as Obama ups the ante in Afghanistan, and increases tensions with Iran, and Obama looks ever fearful of being called “soft on terror”. The health insurers are handing a gift with so-called health care reform as Obama negotiates away the public health care option before the debate starts. And as the recent Rolling Stone article on the BP spill has shown, the Department of Interior and Ken Salazar, a friend of Big Oil, still has his job. I can’t help feeling that at some point the only way to move the Democratic Party back to where it belongs, to the left is to sit home and remind the Democratic “Centrists” that they can’t take progressives for granted anymore. Otherwise, we remain stuck with good rhetoric and “Bush Lite”.
President Obama has done nothing to break the big business stranglehold on our country and the oligarchs run the show. In fact, he has perpetuated it. There is no change we can believe in, just more of the same. I await the next financial panic.
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