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Living Large and in Charge

Posted on Apr 7, 2009
AP photo / Charles Dharapak

It was Lawrence Summers, as much as anyone, who in the Clinton years prevented the regulation of the hedge funds that are now at the center of the explosion of the derivatives bubble.

By Robert Scheer

Not surprisingly, Lawrence Summers is convinced that he deserved every penny of the $8 million that Wall Street firms paid him last year. And why shouldn’t he be cut in on the loot from the loopholes in the toxic derivatives market that he pushed into law when he was Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary? No one has been more persistently effective in paving the way for the financial swindles that enriched the titans of finance while impoverishing the rest of the world than the man who is now the top economic adviser to President Obama.

It is especially disturbing that Summers got most of the $8 million from a major hedge fund at a time when such totally unregulated rich-guys-only investment clubs stand to make the most off the Obama administration’s plan for saving the banks. The scheme, as announced by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, a Summers protégé, is to clean up the toxic holdings of the banks using taxpayer money and then turn them over to hedge funds that will risk little of their own capital. At least the banks are somewhat government-regulated, which cannot be said of the hedge funds, thanks to Summers. 

It was Summers, as much as anyone, who in the Clinton years prevented the regulation of the hedge funds that are at the center of the explosion of the derivatives bubble, and the fact that D.E. Shaw, a leading hedge fund, paid the Obama adviser $5.2 million last year does suggest a serious conflict of interest. That sum is what Summers raked in for a part-time gig, in addition to the $2.77 million he received for 40 speaking engagements, largely before banks and investment firms, and on top of the $587,000 he was paid as a professor at Harvard. 

Summers was a top adviser to the Democratic presidential candidate last year, and that might have enhanced his speaking fees, which seem to have a base rate of $67,500, the amount he received on each of two occasions when he appeared at Lehman Brothers before that company went bankrupt. Lehman had purchased a 20 percent stake in D.E. Shaw while Summers was employed by the hedge fund, and it would be interesting to know if the subject of the overlapping business came up during Summers’ visit to Lehman. 

Lehman was only one on an impressive list of top financial firms that consulted Summers during a troubled period. Goldman Sachs was so interested in his thoughts that it paid him more than $200,000 for two talks, even though it soon needed $12 billion in taxpayer bailout funds. Citigroup, which has been going through hard times, managed only a $54,000 fee for a Summers rap. Merrill Lynch could pony up only a scant $45,000 for a Summers appearance last Nov. 12, but that was at a point when Merrill was in deep trouble, with the government arranging its sale. Summers, anticipating an appointment in the administration of the newly elected Obama and perhaps wanting to avoid any embarrassment the fee might bring, decided to turn over the $45,000 to a charity.


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Why was someone as compromised as Summers made the White House’s point man overseeing $2.86 trillion in bailout funds to the financial moguls whom he had enabled in creating this mess and many of whom had benefited him financially? Will no congressional panel ever quiz Summers about his grand theory that the derivatives market required no government supervision because, as he testified to a Senate subcommittee in July of 1998: “The parties to these kinds of contracts are largely sophisticated financial institutions that would appear to be eminently capable of protecting themselves from fraud and counterparty insolvencies. … ”

Think of the sophisticates at AIG when you read that sentence, and then ask why Summers is once again at large in the public sector. Or take White House spokesman Ben LaBolt’s word for it that “Dr. Summers has been at the forefront of this administration’s work … to put in place a regulatory framework that will strengthen the financial system and its oversight—all in an effort to help the families across America who have paid a very steep price for risky decisions made by Wall Street executives.”       

The very same executives that Summers had previously assured us could be trusted without any regulation. Why should we now trust Summers any more than we trust them? Couldn’t Summers just take his ill-gotten gains and go hide out in some offshore tax haven? If this was happening in a Republican administration, scores of Democrats in Congress would be all over it, asking tough questions about what exactly did Summers do to earn all that money from the D.E. Shaw hedge fund. As it is, with their silence they are complicit in this emerging scandal of the banking bailout.

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By christian96, April 14, 2009 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

I just re-read my previous post.  My youngest sister
died on May 17, 2002 of lung disease.  The following
year on May 26, 2003 my only other sister died of a
massive heart attack.  I have no brothers.  I was the
eldest child with two younger sisters.  Both sisters
smoked cigarettes all their lives.  In fact, my father, mother, and 2 sisters died from cigareetes.
I never married so my whole immediate family was taken from me by cigareetes.  I heard on the news
the other night that the supreme court ruled in favor
of an individual suing the cigarette companies.  Maybe, I need a good lawyer.  I’m too old for the
money to help me(I’ll be 69 on April 15th, INCOME
TAX DAY.) but I could use the money to help my
nieces, nephews, and chairtable organizations.

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By christian96, April 14, 2009 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

I am one of those people that are always late. I’ve
spent many hours trying to understand “why” but to
no avail.  Anyway, here I sit calculating my income
taxes.  I didn’t make $8 million like Mr. Summers.
My disability for the year is $39,384.44 which includes $4,480 from Social Security.  I’ve been on
the phone trying to reach the IRS for a very long
time trying to find out how much of the $4,480 from
social security I must declare as income on the 1040
form.  Obama said he was going to eliminate social
security taxes for people making less than $50,000
a year.  When I finally reach IRS maybe they will tell me that but somehow I DOUBT IT!  Oh me of little
faith(in politicians that is).  Of the $39,384.44
of income some was distributed as follows:
(1) $1,329.27(Doctors), (2) $4,614.26(hospitals),
(3)$1,987.76(medications) and (4)$3,121(charitable
donations).  My youngest sister grew up poor in
Appalachia in May 2002.  Since then I have given
thousands of dollars each year to her children.  It’s
to bad I can’t write that off somehow but I can’t.
Well, now it’s your turn Mr. Summers.  How did you
spend some of that $8 million?  How much did you give
to the IRS?  I’ll be anxiously awaiting your response!

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By KDelphi, April 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

There was an article on how much Summers SHOULD have to pay in taxes on it…I cant find it!! Anyone??  Thanks

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By Sepharad, April 13, 2009 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

Dwightbaker re April 13 “Leefeller please explain”:

I thought Leefeller’s meaning was pretty clear. Things are shaping up into a witchhunt by mobs bearing pitchforks, and in the end the only profit goes to the guys selling the pitchforks.

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By Ed Harges, April 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

So he thinks he deserves to keep all that loot?

Well, I’m glad he’s being so vocal and arrogant about it: with any luck, this will ensure that he has to spend all that money on extra bodyguards.

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By Leefeller, April 13, 2009 at 4:38 am Link to this comment

For some a necessary need to belong, brings cause bearing crowds to the mouth foaming and pitch fork waving stage. So now, opportunists will make money on pitch forks.

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By christian96, April 12, 2009 at 11:11 pm Link to this comment


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By Mark E. Smith, April 12, 2009 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment

The job of the Republicans is to represent the political right. The job of the Democrats is to co-opt the left so that there can’t be any effective opposition to the political right. (See Walter Karp’s class book, “Indispensable Enemies.”)

They are a good cop/bad cop team.

Although they work for the same people, the good cop is actually more dangerous than the bad cop. After the bad cop has knocked them around enough, naive people will do anything to have the good cop take over. Anything. Including giving up freedoms that they would have died rather than sacrifice to the brutality of the bad cop. Because the good cop is on their side and treats them much better. Yay good cop! Boo hiss bad cop!

American voters watch a lot of TV so how come they’re not hip to this scam yet?

Bush was the bad cop. Obama is the good cop. They both got put in office by support from the same political base, the haves and have-mores, and both cater to the same elites. But Bush/Cheney did it with a contemptuous sneer and vulgar words, whereas Obama does it with a smile, a caress, and, like Clinton, he feels your pain. Well, he should—he’s the one inflicting it now.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Same wars, same torture, same Patriot Acts, same bailouts for the rich, same voodoo economics, same wars on nouns, but with a more charismatic spokesperson.

Bush and Cheney expanded GATT, NAFTA, and the free trade agreements that no Republican had been able to push through since WWII. But Clinton, the Democrat, got the ball rolling and all they had to do was pick it up and run with it. The Republicans had become so unpopular that they never could have pushed through the bailouts as Obama has. Had it been a Republican President asking for a bigger defense budget, Democrats would have been outraged, but when Obama does it they say, “Give him a chance—his drones haven’t killed many Pakis yet. Why should Republicans be the only ones to kill innocent babies and have all the fun of genocide? It’s our turn at the crimes against humanity now. Let us have a chance too!”

Isn’t it disgusting that I don’t appreciate how much nicer and finer and more elegant genocide is under Obama than it was under Bush? How much more acceptable to decent people everywhere who like to kill innocent babies? I must be blind to see only the same people funding the same wars and the same bailouts. I must be ignorant not to understand that the good cop really is different from and better than the bad cop. Or maybe I’m just old and I’ve seen this too many times before.

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By Ed Harges, April 12, 2009 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment

The NY Times reports today that there’s a “brain drain” happening on Wall Street, as big firms, especially the ones that got bailout money, lose those banking “superstars” whose “innovations” ruined their companies and our economy.

The “superstars” (=rats) are leaving the sinking ship. Some of them are worried that bonuses will never come back up to previous levels, and they’re worried that ruining and looting companies might not be so easy and fun with all these new restrictions. Many of these people are taking their “talents” to foreign firms.

Goodness! Whatever will America’s banking system do without these good people and their wonderful financial “creativity”?

Hey, I have an idea: if they’re leaving their companies, and in some cases the country, anyway, “retention” of this “talent” is no longer an issue — it’s gone.

There’s no reason to continue to be nice to them.

So now we can be, uh, not nice to them.

I’m sure we can all come up with some “creative” ideas, eh?

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By R. Myers, April 12, 2009 at 8:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

AFriend said:

“This is exactly the type of seed that would have sprouted massive conspiracy theories.”


I always thought conspiracies, by definition, had secrecy as a component . That is just so last century. Hell, PNAC posted their blueprint for the Bush foreign policy on the web and when I would tell people to go and read it, I was told I was a conspiracy nut.

As for economic policy, was there ever a time when deregulation was done without public praise, let alone knowledge?
Milton Friedman did a highly acclaimed series on PBS, which foretold, the desires of the University of Chicago boys ,which have now become so internalized by people, that it is like water , to fish. Don’t believe me? Go read the comments section, anytime the subject of bailouts comes up and see how many times ,this is being blamed on TOO MUCH regulation.

Did the S&L mess, Enron or the excesses, of the Milken’s of the world ,ever dampen the fetishism for our self proclaimed “Masters of the Universe”?

Go find a single member of the get Clinton club, that wasn’t more concerned with his peccadillos, than his coziness with Wall Street and get back to me.

Last year ,what were the fear mongers shilling about an Obama administration? Muslim, terrorist sympathizer and anti business, socialist: in no particular order.

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By Mark E. Smith, April 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

Wiki says that Negroponte “is currently a research fellow and lecturer in international affairs at Yale University.”

The NYTimes says he was in Iraq in January to help dedicate our new permanent mega-embassy:

Here’s some background on him:

Why do you ask, AT? Has Obama shortlisted him for some high level government position? Is he still our go-to man for death squads?

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By AT, April 10, 2009 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

where’s JOHN D. Negroponte?

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By KDelphi, April 10, 2009 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

Outraged—Did you notice his “answer” to one question about unemployment, that “The seven reasons I cant answer is the seven cameras pointed at me” and everyone laughed?! AAAUUUGHHHHHH!

flow—US corporations (the Bush family is to be considered a corporation masquerading as human beings) have been buying up Latin AMERica’s water (and other ) resources for decades (Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”) Sorry about typos—my hands hurt. I see them…

Mark E. Smith—Viva Chavez!

“Realistically, though, I don’t think that many people will change their habits until they’re forced to, and that means AFTER a total economic collapse. I guess most of us are like the substance abusers who have to hit rock bottom before they’ll consider seeking help. In electoral politics, just like in anything else, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but it’s not an easy sell.”

One CAN stop even the most addictive drugs before they “hit bottom”—it just doesnt happen very often. That doesnt mean that we cant do it. I will check out your website. Thanks.

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By flow, April 10, 2009 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

When 90% of a population boycotts an election, the government leaders usually hop on their private jets and fly into exile wherever they have their billions in offshore assets stashed and their third or fourth mansions waiting for them. — Mark E. Smith

Speaking of mansions in remote locations, does anyone know why both the George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush families have been quietly buying large tracks of land in Paraguay? I’m sure most of you know already, both for those that don’t, I’ll give you a hint. All life depends on it, and if you buy it in a bottle you already pay more for it than gas. Its water, or more specifically the Guarani Aquifer.

If you haven’t seen Blue Gold: World Water Wars, I highly recommend it. It is an extraordinary documentary that is running away with viewer and jury’s choice awards at film festivals all around the world. It is an intelligent, well-crafted expose.

UNESCO’s World Water Development Report (WWDR, 2003) from its World Water Assessment Program indicates that, in the next 20 years, the quantity of water available to everyone is predicted to decrease by 30 percent. 40 percent of the world’s inhabitants currently have insufficient fresh water for minimal hygiene. More than 2.2 million people died in 2000 from waterborne diseases (related to the consumption of contaminated water) or drought.—

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By Mark E. Smith, April 10, 2009 at 12:40 am Link to this comment

Thank you, KDelphi.

The 2008 primary was the first election where I didn’t vote. I’d been voting and serving as a pollworker all my adult life and I never thought much about it until Reagan was elected and I started reading about how our CIA has rigged and interfered with elections in other countries. That got me thinking. If they do it elsewhere, why wouldn’t they also do it here? The 2000 election was the kicker and I became an election integrity activist. For seven years I joined with many others in observing elections, doing research, filing Public Records Requests, supporting litigation, and eventually I realized that it’s a rigged game.

Sensible people don’t play in rigged games and honest people don’t encourage others to play in rigged games. So I became an election boycott advocate. My website is:

Realistically, though, I don’t think that many people will change their habits until they’re forced to, and that means AFTER a total economic collapse. I guess most of us are like the substance abusers who have to hit rock bottom before they’ll consider seeking help. In electoral politics, just like in anything else, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but it’s not an easy sell.

The author Derrick Jensen explained hope by saying that if he is hungry and has food in the refrigerator, he doesn’t hope that he’ll have lunch, he just fixes himself something to eat. But if he is on an airplane, he hopes it won’t crash because it is something that he has no control over. Obama used the slogan “hope we can believe in,” because most Americans are believers, know they have no control over government, and are willing to settle for hope rather than to take over the controls from a suicidal pilot. It really is scary, particularly if you’ve never flown a plane, but there are many stories of people who actually did it and survived as ground control talked them through a safe landing, whereas those who didn’t try had no chance at all and didn’t live to talk about it.

It really is that simple. The Supreme Court, the White House, and Congress have been out of control for decades and we have no way, short of violent revolution, to hold them accountable. We either take over the controls, or they drive us into the ground. Their bubbles and Ponzi schemes looked good for a long time. That’s the nature of bubbles and Ponzi schemes. They always look good at first, until they get too big and they burst or go bust. When Bernake, Geithner, Summers, Obama, and Congress say that something is too big too fail, it means that they don’t know how to chew gum and walk at the same time, at least not bubble gum. Ever see a bubble gum bubble that was too big to fail? Ask any five-year-old if there is such a thing. Or if you want authority and credentials, ask a physicist. There ain’t no such animal—not even the dinosaurs were too big to fail. Does ANYBODY really believe that one?

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By Outraged, April 10, 2009 at 12:26 am Link to this comment

Let’s put this in a nutshell.  Summers…. America is ABSOLUTELY not impressed, with you NOR your “masters”.  Any considerate person would weigh the matter seriously and arrive at the only plausible conclusion.

Shut up.  No one is enamored.  Try Weimar Germany…. additionally Mr. Summers, consider that we ARE NOT Weimar Germany.  And you…. and also Limbaugh ARE NOT Goebbels.  Additionally, this is NOT 1937.

Check out Limbaugh (the scum of the earth) TRASHING a vet who actually DID what Limbaugh apparently CANNOT imagine….. let alone empathize with,  nor even GIVE CREDIBILITY TO!!!  Limbaugh’s DONE…. let’s take him DOWN, once and for ALL.

Mr. Summers, enjoy your dinner.  BTW, that acid “indigestion”..... try alka-selzer.  It’s all I can do to “help”.

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By Mark E. Smith, April 10, 2009 at 12:09 am Link to this comment

Sorry, I did have a typo in that one. The first sentence should read, “the government THAT only 10% approve of…”

I get so tired of political party operatives repeating the same old canards. If we had a democratic form of government, the fifty percent who don’t vote because nobody on the ballot represents their interests or has any chance of being elected, wouldn’t be taxed because they aren’t represented. I have a friend in the U.K. who says he was taught in grade school that you can’t call a government a democracy unless it has proportional representation.

When fifty percent don’t vote, there’s a darned good reason. It isn’t apathy because the only poll that didn’t just hang up on nonvoters and actually asked them why they didn’t vote, commissioned by Paul Lehto, found that they felt that nobody on the ballot represented their interests. Many of the fifty percent who vote feel the same way, but they are voting on the basis of lesser evilism for the person who they hope isn’t more opposed to their interests than the other candidate.

Given a choice between two candidates who do not represent their interests, only an apathetic person would vote for the lesser evil. A person who cared about themself and their country would refuse to vote against their own interests.

If you went to a restaurant and the only choices on the menu were arsenic soup and cyanide soup, would you choose the arsenic soup because it would kill you less quickly, or would you refuse to eat there? Who is apathetic, the person who knowingly accepts something they are fully aware isn’t good for them, because their other choice is even worse, or the person who refuses to let their choices be limited and holds out for healthy food and refuses to ingest poison just because its the only thing on the menu?

Prior to the ‘08 election, a peace activist actually told a meeting of other activists that the only way to bring about peace was to vote for a candidate who was committed to war and then try to persuade that candidate to break their commitment. For real. A person who considers themself sane and involved, said that the only way to bring about peace is to vote for war.

Sometimes I don’t think that I live in a country. Other people live in countries. I live in a lunatic asylum where people believe that the only way to bring about peace is to vote for war.

It gets me so angry that I do sometimes make typos. Maybe, if I live long enough, some day I’ll be able to laugh about it, but right now I’m sick and tired of fools who vote against what they claim to want and call other people “apathetic.” Am I apathetic because I won’t vote for war, or vote in any election where the only possible outcome is continuing war, when what I want is peace? Or am I one of the few sane people in a nuthouse where half the inmates have delusions of democracy?

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By KDelphi, April 9, 2009 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment

Mark E. Smith—Very good points

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By Mark E. Smith, April 9, 2009 at 11:41 pm Link to this comment

Kesey Seven, the problem is that fifty percent of Americans have been voting, so the government than only 10% approve of can still claim the consent of the governed.

If only ten or twenty percent voted, they’d be like Mugabe, sending death squads out to force people to vote so that they could still claim to be a democratically elected government.

Our law enforcement agencies, national guard, and military would happily bash heads if people protest policies, but how willing would they be to force people to vote? Especially if their own homes have been foreclosed, they’ve been watching their jobs being given to private contractors who get paid ten times as much, and their salaries don’t cover their families’ cost of living? Any idea how many military families have to rely on food stamps?

When 90% of a population boycotts an election, the government leaders usually hop on their private jets and fly into exile wherever they have their billions in offshore assets stashed and their third or fourth mansions waiting for them. They’re always prepared. When a corrupt government loots its country’s treasury, they don’t keep their money at home where the people might revolt.

Venezuela had a similar situation, a two-party lock on the electoral system and corporate control of the mass media, but the people saw through it. They were fortunate enough to have honest elections so they were able to elect Hugo Chavez, but we not only have faith-based, unverifiable elections where the votes are counted secretly inside central tabulating computers, but our elections can be overridden by Congress or the Supreme Court. Our only chance at taking back our country is to stop delegating our power to people we cannot hold accountable.

We can’t smash a police state with violence, but we can refuse to vote to authorize the salaries of people who are supposed to represent and serve us and instead are only representing and serving their own interests and those of their wealthy cronies.

The South African government had fended off violent protests against Apartheid for decades. But when they held an election and only 10% of the population voted, suddenly they were no longer a legitimate government and their opposition nothing but subversives and terrorists. Suddenly they were an illegitimate government without the consent of the governed and the opposition were freedom fighters. The whole world recognized it and they had no choice but to step down and hand over power.

We can do it. If the 90% of Americans who oppose the bailouts simply stop voting, the government will no longer have the authority to continue wrecking our economy. It’s our economy, not theirs. We pay for it and we don’t have to keep authorizing them to indebt our grandchildren for their wars based on lies and their voodoo economics. Let them all go to China and India and wherever else they sent our jobs and factories. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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By KDelphi, April 9, 2009 at 9:22 pm Link to this comment

Fadel says:“To be concise and brief, I want to list few descriptions that individually or collectively might describe Summers to us:

1. He is an economic whore;
2. He is a mammon worshiper;
3. He is a Harvard elitist who thinks of himself that he has a God-given right to entitlements and who looks down with scorn at the average citizen.”

Concise, brief and spot on! Now, then, Geithner…

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By Kesey Seven, April 9, 2009 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Dear Mark E. Smith,

I’ve rarely seen a post like yours.  Not a single typo. Beautifully written, even had, as a grand finale and wonderful flourish, an allusion to that famous “mists of mendacity” quote from TR’s time. (Who was that diplomat? Can’t recall the name.) 

Of course your conclusions and advice are dead wrong. Still, you put it so beautifully. It makes me hope you’re right, because over fifty percent of Americans have been following your advice for quite some time, with astounding results, I might add.  Congratulations.

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By Kesey Seven, April 9, 2009 at 7:07 pm Link to this comment

You don’t look for the arsonist while the building is on fire; you put out the fire. If the arsonist happens to be in the fire brigade, so be it. At least he knows where it started and how to put it out. Get his help, then go after him.

I would suspect that after this economic flame out is under control, Summers and his ilk will be gone and Obama will start pushing for a slew of regulations. Let’s hope anyway.

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By Sepharad, April 9, 2009 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

christian96, you’ve got a point. Sometimes I also wonder what the point of all the words here is. What I get out of it is a look at other opinions, maybe someone thinking of something I haven’t thought of yet that might be useful in making a contribution to changing, however small, this godawfulmessofaworld we have staring us in the face. You do realize, don’t you, how lucky we are to have a roof overhead and enough food for our loved ones and enough cash for a laptop and enough freedom (so far anyway) to exchange views on a public forum without waiting for the secret police to burst in. Having all that is a very good reason for looking ways to spread some of that good fortune around a world sorely in need of it. Reading and posting here is one way. Another would be to figure out why our “change” President isn’t trying harder, and why he’s appointing the wrong men for the wrong jobs at the wrong time.

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By california dreamer, April 9, 2009 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

There must be some information not available to the general public that allows for this plan of action—worldwide financial collapse   So Summers in one ear and Geithner in the other are whispering what Obams should do.  He cannot hear anyone else and feels he must act to save world from collapse.  When this fails, however, he will be the first and fastest president to be removed from office for economic malfeasance.  I guess however they are all in on it—Barney Frank, Dodd, Biden, none of them are going to go hungry in the next few years.  Wall Street will get the bailout and homeowners on your street and my street will lose their homes and will then have to ante up taxes for the Wall Street bankers.  This time might be different as the clamor might grow to such a fever pitch that Axelrod will have to start Obama on a course change.  However, it may already be too late.

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By dr wu, April 9, 2009 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

Obama is simply reading the “President’s Play Book.” Wall Street runs the government (therefore Larry Summers is your man and not Dean Baker) and the Pentagon runs foreign policy (that’s why we have Gates and not Kucinich).

We are nearing a throw-a-shoe-at-the President moment as well as a pitchfork-to- the-bankers moment.

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By Sepharad, April 9, 2009 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther, calm yourself. Of course I care about reality (it’s all we’ve got after all) and of course I don’t like Obama selling out the population (if that is what he’s really doing, though as I said there is still time for him to surprise us—but not much). And of course I am not in favor of what you call the “Israel death strategy.” My politics are pretty much the same as they’ve always been from the beginning, since my freedom-riding days—freedom and justice and full stomachs for all, here, in Israel, everywhere—but what has changed is that I’m more pragmatic and know these ideals will probably never be realized because too many people oppose them for any number of complicated unjustified rationales. However this jaded realization in no way lessens my desire to work toward said ideals. I just wish I were more effective. It’s as simple as that. Nothing for you to get a headache over.

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By prole, April 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

“And why shouldn’t [Larry Summers] be cut in on the loot from the loopholes in the toxic derivatives market that he pushed into law when he was Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary?” It might be more apt to be asking why shouldn’t he be cut off from any more looting on a guillotine, along with many of his peers and predecessors. Pitch forks and nooses are too good for them. That’s the only way anything will ever change, unending lamentations of outrage and excoriations will never stop institutional venality. America was founded in revolution and the state has used force and fraud to pursue its predacious ends ever since. It’s the American way and it works for the few it’s designed to work for, and it will go right on doing so until they’re stopped the same way.
  Before making a lucrative career in “toxic derivatives” the caustic Summers was expressing the values that have made him such a popular after-dinner speaker in ruminations about toxics of a more literal sort. Back in ‘91 when Summers was chief economist for the World Bank, he composed a nasty little staff memo that was leaked to outside sources, in which he succinctly outlined his aristocratic philosophy. The memo began: “‘Dirty’ Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]?” Summers went on to suggest, “From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.” He further confided, “I’ve always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City”; and “The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity.”  After the public disclosure of this revealing memo in ‘92, demonstrating the depth of Summer’s renowned intellect, Brazil’s Secretary of the Environment at the time, Jose Lutzenburger wrote publicaly to Summers: “Your reasoning is perfectly logical but totally insane… Your thoughts [provide] a concrete example of the unbelievable alienation, reductionist thinking, social ruthlessness and the arrogant ignorance of many conventional ‘economists’ concerning the nature of the world we live in… If the World Bank keeps you as vice president it will lose all credibility. To me it would confirm what I often said… the best thing that could happen would be for the Bank to disappear.” Everything that Summer’s and many other “conventional ‘economists’” have done since then has only served to underscore the enduring pertinence of Lutzenburger’s remarks and the urgency of his solution. The best thing would be for Summer’s and his ilk to disappear - whether through guillotine or by other means.

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By Amon Drool, April 9, 2009 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

i suggest ya’ll go over to Common Dreams and read ellen brown’s piece “revive lincoln’s monetary policy: an open letter to president obama.”  it’s basically an updated synopsis of her book “the web of debt.”  placing the power of money creation in the hands of a democratically elected gov’t, as opposed to a private banking cartel, has to become a key component of any populist/progressive platform for institutional change.

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By Outraged, April 9, 2009 at 12:33 am Link to this comment

Article quote: “he testified to a Senate subcommittee in July of 1998: “The parties to these kinds of contracts are largely sophisticated financial institutions that would appear to be eminently capable of protecting themselves from fraud and counterparty insolvencies. … ”

Think of the sophisticates at AIG when you read that sentence, and then ask why Summers is once again at large in the public sector.”

Thank you, Mr. Scheer.  This is the overriding factor that blatantly lays the blame at the doorstep of those who endorsed this melange of corruption.

It follows then that, there HAD to be a “plan” or at least a forethought.  With that in mind (when one has a plan, one has a goal), what was the goal?  Was it simply to get rich, or was a more nefarious goal afoot…., one outside of the realm of obviousness?  It’s difficult to determine, at least on its face.  Things are not always as they appear and hiding in plain sight is a tactic, at times, oddly enough….. a very “accepted”..... means to an end.

The larger or more conceptual premise to address is….. which one IS or was it.  To know, requires ACCOUNTABILITY…. and accountability, REQUIRES valid INVESTIGATIONS.

Strangely enough, one of the accepted suppositions during and in the infancy of Hitler’s regime was the LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY.  Many sources claim this was the “get out of jail” free card for the brutality which ultimately ensued.  Logically, it’s difficult to counter or attempt to argue the hindsight clarity of this assertion.

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By Folktruther, April 8, 2009 at 11:05 pm Link to this comment

Sepharad-  What?  You mean that reality makes a difference to you?  But Obama is a Zionist administrations possibly more so than the Bushites.  You mean that you care that he is selling out the population?  But don’t you identify with the death strategy of Israel?

O I’m so confused!  Inherit identifies with the presuppositions of Alysia Rosenbaum which it never occurred to me that anyone could take seriously. 
And yet they made a disciple Ayn’s, Greenspyn, head of the fed.  This was a Jewish cult that, it turns out, may have well helped initiate the neoliberalism legitimated by Jewish economists, the foremost of whom was Milton Freedman. 

But how could anyone take that drivel seriously.  And now you are expressing doubts about Obama!  Is nothing reasonable?  is nothing stable? Is nothing sacred?  apparently there is a Jewish ideology of neoliberalism that has nothing to do with zionism, but has allied with it. So one could be a Zionist and oppose neo-liberalism, or a neoliberal and oppose Zionism. And that isn’t the end of it.

O its too complicated, my brain is hurting.  In THE BROTHERS KARAMUSOV Dmitri says to his brother, “man is too broad; I would have made him narrower.”  I know what he means.

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By christian96, April 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

I’ve been reading the same comments about these
pathetic business and political leaders for the
last several weeks BUT NOTHING HAS CHANGED!  What’s
the use for all the words?  I guess psychologically
it helps relieve the stress associated with anger,
frustration, anxiety, etc. but other than that
NOTHING HAS CHANGED!  Maybe, we need to start on a
smaller scale.  Instead of changing the world, perhaps we should go to the owners of our local
grocery stores and complain about the candy and
junk being pedeled to children at the checkout
counter.  Then, when there is a reduction in obsesity, diabetes, cardiac problems, etc. the
children might feel better and start taking an interest in working together to improve things in
their communities.  Instead of wearing tee-shirts
that read “save the whales” maybe we should start
wearing tee-shirts that read “SAVE THE CHILDREN!”

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By AFriend, April 8, 2009 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

Max Shields,

I was writing about voter participation and apathy, however, I can tell you now that you waist your time talking to me in a petulant, child-like, manner.

Try a different tone and we may be able discuss democracy - it’s strengths and weaknesses - like adults.

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By Fadel Abdallah, April 8, 2009 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

To be concise and brief, I want to list few descriptions that individually or collectively might describe Summers to us:

1. He is an economic whore;
2. He is a mammon worshiper;
3. He is a Harvard elitist who thinks of himself that he has a God-given right to entitlements and who looks down with scorn at the average citizen.

However, I don’t blame Summers for doing what his thinking, training and value system will always dictate to him what to do and whom to serve. The one to be blamed is the short-sighted Obama, who is also a Harvard elitist, is increasingly showing his elitist attitude and value system.

So my question is, “Is Harvard the place where the current and future leaders of America will come from? And is Harvard going to be the source of the new plague to hit America?!”

I have known and worked with three Harvard graduates whose only merits were that they were puffed up by the Harvard’s name, but they were below average in their work ethics, intellectualism and commonsense!

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By terisel, April 8, 2009 at 5:03 pm Link to this comment

The sooner citizens begin to hold the president accountable for his economic policies, the sooner citizens will be able to begin digging themselves out the ever-deepening economic and corruption hole.

Robert Scheer is apparently not yet ready to hold Obama accountable for the decisions he is making.

Nor does he yet seem ready to accept his own role in bringing about the Obama presidency that put Summers in power and is keeping him there.

The last election was a Confidence Game Extraordinaire-millions of people put their confidence in and gave their dollars to a person who promised them no more than Hope and Change. They now have little access or influence.

Wall Street gave a hunk of money, demanded their payoff, and got it promptly and apparently expect a lot more.

So long as commentators and voters do not hold the president accountable, they should not expect to see the change they hoped for.

The ball is in their court.

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By terisel, April 8, 2009 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

The sooner citizens begin to hold the president accountable for his economic policies, the sooner citizens will be able to begin digging themselves out the ever-deepening economic and corruption hole.

Robert Scheer is apparently not yet ready to hold Obama accountable for the decisions he is making.

Nor does he yet seem ready to accept his own role in bringing about the Obama presidency that put Summers in power and is keeping him there.

The last election was a Confidence Game Extraordinaire-millions of people put their confidence in and gave their dollars to a person who promised them no more than Hope and Change. They now have little access or influence.

Wall Street gave a hunk of money, demanded their payoff, and got it promptly and apparently expect a lot more.

So long as commentators and voters do not hold the president accountable, they should not expect to see the change they hoped for.

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By Skwid, April 8, 2009 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: Afriend

Vote for a bowl of crap or a plate of crap? Those are your choices. Either way you’re gonna end up eating crap.

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By Sepharad, April 8, 2009 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment

AFriend and jackpine, “legions” of TDers screaming “conspiracy” aren’t there because a good portion of the most zealous and frequent TD posters are truebeliever Obamabots who cannot yet bring themselves to believe that they were conned bigtime. In fairness, there’s still time for him to redeem himself. So far on the issues, his actions haven’t been that different from Bush policy. His words, however, are still different enough to alter the world’s perceptions of America for a time, but word pictures don’t hover convincingly in the sky forever. I voted for him because the possibility of a Palin presidency was too horrifying to roll the dice with one of the third party candidates, because I thought perhaps he meant what he said despite his exposure to the Ivy Leaguers and because—though I’m certainly not “politically correct” by anyone’s standards—I thought it was high time we had a non-white leader to dissipate whatever residual racism exists. If Obama turns things around, I’ll happily eat my doubting words. But next time, I’ll take a chance and vote for whoever seems trustworthy and has a platform I support. Maybe it would take a complete disaster like a Palin win to wake up the country ... if the current onrushing disaster doesn’t do it.

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By KDelphi, April 8, 2009 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

Here is a list of Pres. Obama Financial “team” , and their disclosure documents—finanacial.

Here is a sample:Axelrod-

Oddly, they seem to appear “upside down”, but, you can see the numbers!-

Geithner’s “ethics letter”!

Alot of people have them, including Orszag and Napolitano. I was going to post Clinton’s, but her pdf takes so long to load, with so many numbers, I’d be here al night. I’m sure the numbers will be out on the net in an easier way to read, soon. Right.


Theyre all there. I dont see any middle class community organzizers…hmm…

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By KDelphi, April 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

Here is a good website, for “Cracking Down on Corporate Crime—A Dozen reform from Citizen Works”.It includes banning corporate criminals from govt contracts, restoring the rights of defrauded investors, regulating derivatives trading, fixing the pension system,. etc. It doesnt go far enough, to my mind, but, it would be better than what we have now, which is bascially no regulation.That is what the G-20 was disagreement with Obama about. We need regulation. Dont say we need free mkt capitalism, because we dont have it.

I agree that the duopoly should disaappear from exitstence.

There is also the “Securities Speculation Tax”, (HR 1068)Let Wall St Pay for Wall Sts Bailout act of 2009. Hell, even SUMMERS supports it! It was introducde by De Fazio of Oregon. It is co-sponsored by Capuano, DeLauro, Edwards, Stark, Sutton , Welch and Wu.

There is also the Consumer and Shareholder Protection Act, S. 3143, introduced by Wellstone (RIP) in Oct. 2002. It woildve provided for a board of directors, including consumer groups, shareholder groups, labor unions, civil rights groups, neighborhood, groups, elderly groups and organization s representing low income person (I say it should include THE low income person if they can attend)

Same basic link. Thought someone might be interested.

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By felicity, April 8, 2009 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

Summers has been snowing people for years.  Years ago somebody tagged him with the epithet “brilliant” and he’s been rolling with it ever since.

Actually, he’s as dumb as a door knob. Why would former Bear-Stearns employee, John Paulson, short subprime mortgages in ‘07 and early ‘o8, making $3 billion in the process if subprimes were such a good investment? Good to plummet in value, sure, but apparently Larry thought they were just plain good investments?

Still, I can’t give up on Obama yet. Should he, however, ultimately bow to the likes of Summers, I’ll be singing Stop the World ‘cause I want to get off.

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By Max Shields, April 8, 2009 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

AFriend, April 8 at 3:41 pm #

Ah, vote for who? The corporate media and the two party’s which have been bought by the corporate financial sector gives the people 2 choices. The others they say only “interfer” with the process and are not allowed in the debates and are marginalized at every turn.

So Afriend, who in the hell should this greater number vote for? Some did vote for Nader or McKinney, but again, these candidates were left out of any MSM discussion.

I think you need to take those little rose colored glasses you’re wearing off and contemplate reality for a bit. What ya think? Give it a try.

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By KDelphi, April 8, 2009 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

beerdr—thanks. I am saddened and amused to see everyone say, “b-b-but they need 60 votes”. They could do reconciliation.
“B-b-b-ut then, they would overturn it…” Always an excuse.

The Dems are IN CHARGE!~ it is up to them! if you are going to “credit” the GOP with what they do (horrible!) then, the same applies to Dems. They have all the power and , yet, they keep rationalizing. If they wanted universal health care, out of the “wars” now, close GITMO now, regulate Wall St now, they could do it.

The answer is simple—they dont want to. They are paid not to.—-they are bought and paid for.

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By thebeerdoctor, April 8, 2009 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

re: AFriend

Ease up on Purple Girl. She is just pissed off and trying to vent her frustration verbally, the best way she can.

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By AFriend, April 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Mark E. Smith,

Would it not be better if more people voted? Not less? When less than 50% vote, as is normal in the United States, democracy suffers greatly. Wouldn’t more involvement be a better answer?

I have to wonder if you’re confusing widespread apathy with something else? It seems me everyday Americans are not blameless in this fiscal situation.

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By Ribald, April 8, 2009 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If this were happening with a Republican administration, the Democrats would most certainly not be “all over it.” Remember the last 8 years under Bush?

  The blogs would be all over it. Liberals would be all over it. Not the Democrats, though. They couldn’t even get off their duffs to ask tough questions about torturing prisoners (and still don’t!).

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By thebeerdoctor, April 8, 2009 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

As KDelphi has pointed out, the grass roots campaign contributions pales in comparison to the “big mo” being doled out by the wall street crowd. So-called grass roots campaigning turns out to be another awful sham.

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By AFriend, April 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

Purple Girl,

Nobody deserves the noose. Words to that effect actually gets people killed.

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By mill, April 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

The article author is wrong about one thing - the forecast that Democrats would be all over Mr. Summers if he worked for a Republican admin.

The Congressional Democrats are incapable of making tough choices, holding officials to account, pushing away special interests in favor of the American people as a whole.  They are just as bad as the Republicans on this “Wall Street Insiders Get to Loot Public Money” scandal.  They didn’t try to force accountability when they controlled things, they didn’t try when the Republicans controlled things, and now that Dems are running the show again, they can’t get anything done.  Don’t tell me the Republicans would be this hamstrung if they controlled the Presidency, the House and 57 votes in the Senate. 

The Democrats are dropping the ball big time on the TARP program details now, like they did when they supported deregulation in ‘99

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By Max Shields, April 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

While it may have been posted, it bears repeating. It’s important to bring out the work on the revolving door between the bankserts/wall street and the executive branch; it’s even more important to acknowledge their BOSS - one Barack Obama.

If Obama didn’t know the story behind these guys (Summers and Geithner) then he should never have been running let alone elected president.

If he did know but thought they were the ‘brightest’ guys because they understood the ‘system’ that needed to be “fixed”; then he’s not only very naive, but dumb (you know as opposed to smart).

If, on the other hand, he’s simply complicit with the whole neoliberal/bankster agenda then it’s time for impeachment inquiries.


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By KDelphi, April 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

The US govt is a wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs and AIG.

Plenty of people pointed out how much money Sen Obama was taking in from Wall St., especially Goldman Sachs. But, the MSM, and Dems kept saying, “Isnt it amazing how he raised so much in $20 bills fron young people?” Yes! Considerng that he took 100s of millions from Wall St bankers, it is amazing how he fooled people into sending in a part of their puny check each month. I am not sure it was moral..I used to hear people call into and say, “Yeah, I send $20 a mo. out of my social security check of $300 to Obama”, and, I thought, oh, no….thats insane. He should send it back.

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By rolmike, April 8, 2009 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

what is the big surprise, mr. scheer??
wall street banks and the like bank rolled the obama election. indeed, the community organizer goes down easier on the eyes and ears as he re-organizes NATO, what with Global Warming raising the Atlantic so that it now abuts land-locked Afghanistan! a big opportunity was missed to really defang US capitalism, it will be tweaked just a bit, just the way Sec-Def tweaks the Pentagon budget just a tweak or two. onward toward you slaughterhouse, sheeples!

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By Mark E. Smith, April 8, 2009 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

All yelling does is get us tased.

We acquiesce when we vote. We have to begin to understand that (with a few rare exceptions such as Vermont and Arcata, CA), nobody who can get a major party nomination on any ballot is unbuyable, and nobody else has a chance of winning.

Unless we boycott elections and refuse to vote, we are delegating our power to whoever wins. That’s acquiesence.

The only nonviolent way to discredit a government is to demonstrate that it does not have the consent of the governed by refusing to vote in its elections. It amazed me that when Congress had, according to which poll you looked at, between a 9% and an 11% approval rating, two Members of Congress ran got major party nominations for President and people voted for both of them. That means that at least 80% of voters cast their votes for people they did not approve of.

Whether this was due to lesser evilism, party loyalty, being willing to submit to having limited choices, fear due to various hot-button or emotional issues (guns, God, gays, abortion, etc.), or anything else, it is not the way to establish a democracy where the supreme power over government is vested in the people.

First of all, our Constitution does not allow us to vote directly for President or Vice-President. Those names are on the ballot fraudulently and our votes, when they are counted at all, are counted towards the slate of electors of the party to which the candidates we vote for belong. No U.S. citizen was allowed to vote for McCain, Obama, or any other Presidential candidate. And most people who voted didn’t even know the names of the electors they were actually voting for, since those names did not appear on their ballots.

Secondly, the Constitution ensures that the final say in federal elections goes to Congress or the Supreme Court, so just because we elect somebody it does not necessarily mean that person will take office.

And even if we had clean money elections where there was an even playing field for candidates who weren’t wealthy, the pressures from the political parties and the big corporations they are beholden to would still preclude a democratic form of government. Our Constitution does not allow us to directly remove a President, Vice-President, or Member of Congress, no matter what they may do. All we can do is petition Congress to remove them, and Congress doesn’t have to listen to us because we can’t hold them accountable—they’re the only ones who can hold themselves accountable. That is not democratic.

Protesting a government you have just voted for, just authorized to arrest you for protesting, is self-defeating. The problem is not with particular candidates or elected officials, it is systemic. No matter who wins elections, the military-industrial complex, the big multinational corporations, and the wealthy elites will still call the shots. When the only candidates with a chance of winning are pro-war, no matter how you vote, you are voting for war. If the only candidates with a chance of winning are pro-NAFTA, no matter who you vote for, you are voting for NAFTA.

If you really want a voice in government, stop voting to allow other people to make your decisions for you and explain to everyone you can that you do not intend to vote until you have a democratic form of government where you can vote directly on issues such as war, taxes, budgets, etc. This is not something radical. It is an early American tradition that still exists in the Town Hall Meeting system in some New England states which still have direct participatory democracy and where citizens still do have the right to vote on local budgets and laws. This is what we need on a federal level and we won’t get it if we keep kowtowing to the mendacious mandarins of mercantilism.

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By Eric L. Prentis, April 8, 2009 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

Larry Summers, what a paid-off tool for the bankers, please resign, America needs someone with integrity in your government office. President Obama, do you have a political tin ear on the economy, fire Geithner/Summers/Bernanke, now.

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By adrienrain, April 8, 2009 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

It’s always Bait & Switch with the Democrats. Obama is the first Democrat I’ve voted for since Carter v Reagan I started voting 3rd party that year and the only reason I voted Democratic this year is because if Palin became president, we would be in the hands of a certifiably insane fanatic.

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By AFriend, April 8, 2009 at 10:37 am Link to this comment


Pitch forks are never the answer. Not now not ever. That’s the type of thing that will get innocent people killed.



I am no fan of Mr. Summers, however, his time at Harvard was no picnic for him. He was dismissed by Harvard in a cloud of controversy over statements he made concerning woman having less capacity in the mathematical sciences.

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By peterjkraus, April 8, 2009 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Mr. Summers and Mr. Geithner, both being a very visible part of the problem, may yet ruin Obama’s excellent reputation. And that would be a death knell for American democracy. After Bush, anything’s possible (I remember stating that during Reagan’s reign, but never thought it could go as low as Bush One and Bush Two), so we must be aware, we must speak up loudly, we must point fingers if we would hope for a free, democratic society. Acquiescence is bullshit: we have to start yelling.

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By P. T., April 8, 2009 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

” . . . what exactly did Summers do to earn all that money from the D.E. Shaw hedge fund”

I think that guys like Summers are essentially part of the sales effort for these firms—used to attract customers.  These guys make their names in the government and then trade on that to make the really big money in the private sector.  In other words, they take pay cuts to perform “public service,” enhancing their credentials for big paydays later on in the private world.

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By Purple Girl, April 8, 2009 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

I think Geitner is fully aware of the Gallows outside his office Window should his plan not work. But Summers has proven he is not in this to rectify his past ‘mistakes’, merely to bury the rest of his cat shit he’s left in the kitty litter called wall street.
Summers does not deserve the benefit of the doubt- he deserves the Noose.
Historical Precendence alone should have got some feet Swinging. Trickle Down was blatantly the Economic stratedgy used by the Monarchy when Our founders waged a Revolutionary War against it (when it was called Feudalism).
Further proof of the economic treason was the Great Depression- when no oversight or regulations were in place to rein in Greed and corruption. These Wall Street Liberators knew Exactly what disaster would occur by removing those safeguards.Hell they had small Economic ‘quakes’ foreshadowing the emminent catastrophe over last 25 yrs.And instead of reversing course- they plunged head long into it. Historical evidence= precedence, Well known Precedence= Forethought, Forethought= Malice, Malice= Treason. There was no “Flaw’ in logic!! Ignorance can not be claimed- not only is there clear indisputable historical evidence, there is the fact that these so called ‘Guru’s’ were educated in Economics! And the insideous step by step process used to dismantle the Protective structures by so called ‘Public Servants’ clearly implicates a intentional conspiracy.
It is ridiculous to be bent out of shape about the Wall Streeters when it has been ‘Public Servants’ who have legalized their Criminal activities over the last 3 decades.
It will be of no consquence to merely put CEO’s heads on Pikes up & down Wall Street, if we fail to encircle DC with the heads of the politicians who granted them such liberties!

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By Mark E. Smith, April 8, 2009 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

I think this was a brilliant move by President Barack Obama. By placing the stupidest, most corrupt people he could find in his administration, he will be able to blame his advisors for the catastrophes he is creating.

Already Obama is succeeding where Bush failed. He will be able to destroy Social Security under the guise of providing health care coverage to more uninsured Americans. Never mind that having insurance coverage doesn’t guarantee you can get health care, and that this will be more of a boon to the insurance companies than to the uninsured, it will allow him to depict the low-income elderly as too selfish to care about the young uninsured, and gain public support for eliminating Social Security.

This is the man who took a good look at public opposition to the bailouts, which was running at more than 90%, BEFORE the election, at a time when most candidates would be concerned about voters, and took the lead in pushing through the bailouts. He knew the election was already rigged in his favor and that the media spin doctors would take care of the problem for him.

And don’t forget that this Democratic President and Democratic Congress didn’t take one dime from the bloated “defense” budget or the bailouts to fund more health insurance for children (SCHIP), but funded it by passing the single most regressive tax in U.S. history, a higher than two thousand percent increase in the federal tax on cigarette rolling tobacco. Not on cigarettes, mind you, which are sometimes purchased by working, middle, and even upper class people, but on rolling tobacco which is purchased only by the poorest of the poor.

And that despite the fact that automobile emissions cause ten times more cancers and in urban areas pump the equivalent of between one and three packs of cigarettes a day into the small, vulnerable lungs of little children. But the oil companies are big donors and the automobile industry needs bailouts, so lets blame the homeless veteran sitting on the sidewalk rolling a cigarette and make sure he/she can’t afford a pack of Bugler any more. The only possible outcome is that it will be cheaper for homeless veterans in many cities to buy a Saturday night special than an ounce of rolling tobacco, so they’ll revert to their prior training.

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By psickmind fraud, April 8, 2009 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

AFriend, there are legions who are near the “up-in-arms” stage.  Even my long time poker buds, a mix of retired blue and white collar guys, are aware of what’s going on and none too happy about it, especially as these thieves steal the future from their grandkids. 

Will a spading fork do in lieu of a pitchfork?  How about a machete? 

Too bad this country won’t mobilize for a national, week-long strike to send the initial messate to the uber-rich oppressors.  Would be nice if us serfs could put them in pillories and give them a taste of turd surfing with wire brushes.

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By RAE, April 8, 2009 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

The anger/depression generated in me by stories of abuse of trust and grand larceny such as this is profound. With each new revelation I become a little more jaded about belonging to our society and a lot more pessimistic that it will survive much longer.

If true as Scheer claims, this kind of “Summers” corruption fuels a rot that eats away at the foundation of the nation. Unless checked and repaired, total collapse is inevitable.

I don’t understand Obama’s association with such ugly, devious, untrustworthy thieves. I’ve always believed we are “known by the company we keep.” Where does this leave me as an Obama supporter?

And what I cannot comprehend at all is how a person of such odious principles (Summers) elicits support from anyone in authority… government, Harvard, etc. Who are those who review the qualifications for such jobs and approve the hiring of such criminals? Whoever they are, they’re MORE responsible for the success of the “Summers” of this world than the “Summers” themselves.

The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach.

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By Yankee, April 8, 2009 at 7:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The government, the corporations, the lobbiests.
The axis of sleaze.

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By lester333, April 8, 2009 at 7:05 am Link to this comment

The bastards!!!!  The Health Care enforcement section is the exact, identical thing.  All elites who are fattening themselves.  No wonder the Europeans call us “balloon” people.  Obama has the nerve to tell us “you need to write your congressmen/women”.  How is that going to fix problems?  They are the problem G** D***  I*.  We are gone.  At least this way, us whites don’t get to keep it all.

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By Paul_GA, April 8, 2009 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Makes no difference if they have a “D” or an “R” after their names—the Demos and the Repubs are both part of the problem, and neither is part of the solution.

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By LostHills, April 8, 2009 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

Portrait of a white collar criminal….

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By RdV, April 8, 2009 at 5:54 am Link to this comment

Agreed BeerDoctor…and he has the same Cheney shifty eyes.
  But I have to wonder, Summers was a disaster at Harvard—eventually forced out due to his crude remarks about the intelligence of women—but especially his treatment of Cornel West—who ultimately left Harvard for Princeton. Obama is a servant to rich white men and even favors racist banks over minorities.
  First a disappointment, then betrayal, now a disaster in less than 100 days.

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By thebeerdoctor, April 8, 2009 at 4:56 am Link to this comment

Hasn’t the Summers As The Boogie Man act go on too long? If anyone observed his answers while participating in economic conferences before being hooked up with the new administration, would notice the dismissive arrogance that permeates the man. His reign as president of Harvard was just one happy picnic, was it not?
No, it is President Obama who seeks the counsel of Summers and Geithner, as it is he alone who must be held responsible for allowing these duplicitous four- flushers to be on to the national stage.

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By Jason!!, April 8, 2009 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

I am really, really sick of the corruption.

Every day a new one and they have no shame.

time to sharpen pitchforks.

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By jackpine savage, April 8, 2009 at 4:39 am Link to this comment

Mr. Scheer still isn’t reading the memos…

Don’t worry, a Democrat was elected so everything’s automatically all better.  Just trust and don’t bother with verification.

The wars are good, the thieves are law enforcement, and the government will only spy on the bad guys.

AFriend, there are plenty of Truthdig posters who are calling Obama out…though it’s true that many of those who were most vocal against all things Bush are content to live with the same things under a different name.

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By Jim C, April 8, 2009 at 4:14 am Link to this comment

Yep , I would like to know the same thing . Summers and little timmy G have no business anywhere near a democratic administration , why aren’t they under fire and investigation ? I’m afraid that the democratic party is so badly compromised with corporate money we now have two versions of the republican party , hard right and lite . The DLC was the foothold and manager of corporate interest , hello Rahm , hello Hoyer , Reid , Pelosi , Summers , timmy and all the test of the republican lites that have taken over the party , and yes Obama too .

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By racetoinfinity, April 8, 2009 at 4:12 am Link to this comment

Spot-on post, Robert!

You wrote: “Why was someone as compromised as Summers made the White House’s point man overseeing $2.86 trillion in bailout funds to the financial moguls whom he had enabled in creating this mess and many of whom had benefited him financially?”

IMO, take a wild guess! (It wasn’t an accident nor was it ignorance or naivite by Obama [if that were true, it would still be another black mark on Obama’s admin. so far.)

IMO, unfortunately, Obama has turned out to be as cozy with the banksters as the two admins. before. The powers that be (big multi-national corpora-plutocrats) did NOT want someone who would re-regulate Wall St., meaning undo the deregulations of the Clinton admin. (which, largely got us into this mess.)

Go to and fight for publicly financed elections.

And go to for accountability from our politicians.

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By AFriend, April 8, 2009 at 3:18 am Link to this comment

Where is Speaker Pelosi on the Democratic culture of corruption? Where’s Keith Olberman with his ranting “Special Comment”? Where are the daily news stories about how the president is enriching his Wall Street buddies? Where are the legions of TruthDig posters? This is exactly the type of seed that would have sprouted massive conspiracy theories.

The president seems like a nice enough guy. And I wish for him great success but, the love affair most in the media have with Mr. Obama is doing everyone a terrible disservice.

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