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The Democrats Who Unleashed Wall Street and Got Away With It

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Posted on Feb 2, 2012
AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais

George W. Bush and his predecessor, Bill Clinton, share a laugh in 2006 at the groundbreaking for the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington.

By Robert Scheer

That Lawrence Summers, a president emeritus of Harvard, is a consummate distorter of fact and logic is not a revelation. That he and Bill Clinton, the president he served as treasury secretary, can still get away with disclaiming responsibility for our financial meltdown is an insult to reason.

Yet, there they go again. Clinton is presented, in a fawning cover story in the current edition of Esquire magazine, as “Someone we can all agree on. ... Even his staunchest enemies now regard his presidency as the good old days.” In a softball interview, Clinton is once again allowed to pass himself off as a job creator without noting the subsequent loss of jobs resulting from the collapse of the housing derivatives bubble that his financial deregulatory policies promoted.

At least Summers, in a testier interview by British journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News, was asked some tough questions about his responsibility as Clinton’s treasury secretary for the financial collapse that occurred some years later. He, like Clinton, still defends the reversal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, a 1999 repeal that destroyed the wall between investment and commercial banking put into place by Franklin Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression.

“I think the evidence is that I am right about that. If you look at the big players, Lehman and Bear Stearns were both standalone investment banks,” Summers replied, referring to two investment banks allowed to fold. Summers is very good at obscuring the obvious truth—that the too-big-to-fail banks, made legal by Clinton-era deregulation, required taxpayer bailouts.

The point of Glass-Steagall was to prevent jeopardizing commercial banks holding the savings of average citizens. Summers knows full well that the passage of the repeal of Glass-Steagall was pushed initially by Citigroup, a mammoth merger of investment and commercial banking that created the largest financial institution in the world, an institution that eventually had to be bailed out with taxpayer funds to avoid economic disaster for millions of ordinary Americans. He also knows that Citigroup—where Robert Rubin, who preceded Summers as Clinton’s treasury secretary, played leading roles during a critical time—specialized in precisely the mortgage and other debt packages and insurance scams that were the source of America’s economic crisis.

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Even Clinton, in a rare moment of honest appraisal of his record, conceded that his signing of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA), legalizing those credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations, was based on bad advice. That advice would have had to come from Summers, his point man pushing the CFMA legislation, which Clinton signed into law during his lame-duck days.

When the British interviewer reminded him of Clinton’s comment, Summers, as is his style, simply bristled: “Again, you make everything so simple, when in fact it’s complicated. Would it have been better if the whole financial reform legislation had passed in 1999, or 1998, or 1992? Yes, of course it would have been better. But … at the time Bill Clinton was president, there essentially were no credit default swaps. So the issue that became a serious problem really wasn’t an issue that was on the horizon.”

That is a lie. Credit default swaps had been sold at least since 1991, and collateralized debt obligations of all sorts quickly became the rage during the Clinton years. Summers surely remembers that Brooksley Born, the legal expert on such matters that Clinton appointed to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), warned about the ballooning danger of those unregulated derivatives. Born, who served with Summers as one of four members of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, tried repeatedly and in vain to get her colleagues to act. When her pleas fell on deaf ears, she issued a “concept release” calling attention to an unregulated derivatives market that was even then spiraling out of control.

The CFMA legislation that Summers pushed and Clinton signed was a specific rebuke to Born’s efforts. As Summers testified at the time before a Senate committee: “As you know, Mr. Chairman, the CFTC’s recent concept release has been a matter of great concern, not merely to Treasury, but to all those with an interest in the OTC [over-the-counter] derivatives market. In our view, the release has cast the shadow of regulatory uncertainty over an otherwise thriving market—raising risks for stability and competitiveness of American derivative trading. We believe it quite important that the doubts be eliminated.”

Those doubts were eliminated by the new law exempting all of that troubling OTC derivatives trading from all existing regulations and regulatory agencies. Summers argued in his congressional testimony that there was no reason for any government regulation of what turned out to be tens of trillions of dollars in toxic assets:

“First, 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 and most of which are already subject to basic safety and soundness regulation under existing banking and securities law.

“Second, given the nature of the underlying assets involved—namely supplies of financial exchange and other financial instruments—there would seem to be little scope for market manipulation of the kind seen in traditional agricultural commodities, the supply of which is inherently limited and changeable.”

Has any economist ever gotten it so wrong?

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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Mark E. Smith's avatar

By Mark E. Smith, February 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

Aquifer, anyone seeking power within a capitalist imperialist system will be bound by that ideology (or eliminated and replaced), as John Perkins so ably explained.

David, I never heard anyone suggest that decentralization would require “depopulation back to small society size.” It only requires localized self-governance rather than central governance. But apart from your straw man, you are correct that it “does require a reversal of power flow,” which means, in practice, retaining power in the hands of the people instead of delegating power to representatives.

David writes, “A decentralized government would be one in which decisions would be made from the bottom up… the people deciding what their government will do and what it won’t do.” Exactly. That’s how it used to be done in Green Party meetings back when I was a Green. Everyone had a direct vote on everything and agreement was by consensus, instead of electing representatives to make decisions.

The point isn’t whether the candidates and parties are good or bad, the point is that Greens claim to oppose centralized power, representative “democracy” centralizes power, and that voting to elect representatives to make decisions is the equivalent of declaring yourself incompetent and appointing guardians to manage your affairs. This is understandable if you truly are incompetent, but otherwise it is not.

Even if children and slaves had the power to choose more benevolent parents and masters, they would still be children and slaves. Mature, responsible adults make their own decisions instead of asking those in authority to make more favorable decisions.

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D Hardwick's avatar

By D Hardwick, February 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

As has been noted elsewhere, the chief remaining difference between the Democratic and Republican parties is the Democrats’ somewhat more liberal social agenda and the Republicans’ greater tolerance for irritability, misinformation, and irrationality in their membership. In reverence for and subservience to enormous wealth, the leaders of both parties have found common ground over the past three decades.

Kudos to Brooksley Born and to Robert Scheer for accurately and clearly reporting the truth.

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By lane08, February 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment

Absolutely right.

Clinton, his triangulation, the DLC, Rubin, Rahm were like termites eating the
core out of the Democratic party from within since the early 90’s. All Clinton
got right was a better tax structure than Obama seems able to do.

But I do think Clinton (Bill)  would have been able to tell a a better story about
saving the middle class if he’s been the winner in 2008. Obama seemed unable
to communicate that he had any coherent understanding of how much trouble
the economy was in. The Dems didn’t utter the word “jobs” until 6 months ago
in any consistent, headlining way.

So O repeated all the economic destructions of a Clinton presidency but as well,
lost control of the narrative almost from day one.

The progressive real “third way”—a populist party—is desperately needed.

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By diamond, February 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

I can assure you most Americans do regard Clinton’s term of office as the good old days. The days before they had to feel ashamed to be American, before the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the complete collapse of the American economy under a mountain of debt. No matter how you play with the words you can’t change the story, or the fact that Clinton raised taxes on the rich and balanced the budget and refused to invade Iraq when the neo cons tried to coerce him into doing it. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how different America’s situation would now be if Al Gore had been allowed to occupy the White House instead of George W. Bush. Gore would never have invaded Iraq or Afghanistan but would have launched a criminal investigation into the events surrounding 9/ll (THAT would have been interesting) and he would not have run the American economy into a ditch because he wouldn’t have had two trillion dollar wars to run. The differences are obvious to those with an ounce of sense.

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By Aquifer, February 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

Mark,

“All votes, including protest votes, in elections held by a capitalist imperialist government are wasted votes,”

Not if those votes are for folks who are not bound by that ideology ....

“one of the Green Party’s Ten Key Values is decentralized government.”

Government at the lowest level sufficient to meet the needs of the populace -

peter,

“If it´s one thing I really don´t understand about Obama, it is his choice of Summers and Geithner.”

Well, here’s my take, and it has been since late ‘08, early ‘09:

In return for the copious amounts of $ WS “contributed” to Obama, they had a few simple demands - I think the their first pick for Sec. of Treas. would nave been Rubin, but by then Citi was in so much trouble and Rubin was so entwined with it that they realized this was a non starter. Second pick was Summers - but he had a lot of baggage and probably would have had a difficult and embarrassing time in Sen confirmation hearings, so he got put on the Pres. advisory council which required no confirmation. Third pick was Geitner, Rubin’s protege. He had some baggage as well, with his tax return BS, which should have disqualified him right off the bat (look at how Obama dropped Daschle like a hot potato from consideration of Sec of HHS (?) over his tax issues) but Obama was told “Sorry, has to be one of those 3” .... , so, as embarrassing as it was to have a Sec. of Treasury who hadn’t paid all his taxes, Obama stuck with him ‘cause that was the “deal” ....


c-post

“..and of course, the opening of massive overseas labor markets in Asia and elsewhere—thanks to political and technological changes—...”

Yup - that was the point of “opening those markets” - break the back of labor by removing the only leverage they had - the necessity of their labor ....


Michael

how about Stein/Anderson?

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By Doubtom, February 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment

It may be “an insult to reason” but it should be an insult to law!

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By D Hull, February 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

I love it when, some Republican, tries to use the english language, trying to be Intelligent. The longer the word, and if you have to look it up, to see what it means, they get a nut off!! Being a Liberal sycophantic Loyalists, still the GOP, has the same smell, cheap, greedy, selfish, narcissistic, cowardly, and care only for themselves. Now, being realistic, as truth can be, not one I have ever been around, cannot be truthful, lying just goes with the other attributes, I have partly written in this, true statement. I don’t applaud Mr. Scheer’s lie about Mr Clinton. I could write more about the Republicans, but I’m not going to publish a book, of the real truth, of the party of homeland terrorist!! Now I will say the Democrats, are following in a sick way, looking more crooked, all the time, and it is good to put some truth, about the other side, so the Republicans can,remember something about this, IF they have the guts to read some TRUTH!!!

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By Michael Cavlan RN, February 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

Bill Clinton is a Democrat. Barack Obama is a Democrat. Both of these political gangsters were chosen by the Democratic Party.

Worse yet, in Wisconsin there were two candidates attempting to challenge Obama in a primary race. Aldous Tyler, a resident of Wisconsin and Darcy Richardson.

They were both denies the right to run in a primary race against Obama. By
the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

Rocky Anderson for president. Better yet Rocky Anderson/Jill Stein for president.

Can ya truth-dig it?

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By MondoBizarro, February 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Leave it to one of the luminaries of the free-market priesthood to stay on-brand,
even if it reduces his rhetoric to a metaphorical squirm.

Summer’s statement to the effect that because only pure investment banks failed,
therefor the repeal of Glass-Steagall caused no significant harm to the economy is
either a masterpiece of rationalization, or a venomous and condescending attack
on his critics. Either way, it is a painful reminder that when it comes to the
banking fraudsters, we paid off the blackmailers, but we never got the negative.

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By alton grimes, February 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I believe that Robert Scheer’s remarks on this subject
should be viewed as the centerpiece for Occupy Wall
Street lest the “movement” take on the characteristics
of the mob. Afterall,a ship without a “rudder” is
destined to run aground. And as much as I applaud the
insights and courage of the men and women at Truthdig,
I have been wondering at what point - as Eisenhower
once put it - does “honest dissension become disloyal
subversion”?

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By litlpeep, February 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

Excellent!

I hope this article helps those who hold lingering fantasies about Barack “Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush V” Obama somehow being born again with his presidency mysteriously magically all of a sudden seeing the light and doing what Barack Obama says he will do with enlightened and totally spiritually healthy honesty immediately abandon those
wild, baseless, nonsensical fantasies.

Oh, and about Larry Summers: have I been wrongly fixated lately, or is there more than a physical resemblance between Larry and Newt?

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By Carl Olson, February 2, 2012 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sarbanes-Oxley promised big fines and jail time for executives who signed false financial statements.

But so far there have been no prosecutions.

How about Fannie Mae, Freddie Mae, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Countrywide, Merrill Lynch, etc.?  Add Corzine and MF Global.

Attorney General Holder needs to start prosecuting ASAP.

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By munky, February 2, 2012 at 10:51 am Link to this comment

And, let’s put these people back in power via Obama. Duh. I believe Obama is not the “smart” man everybody claims him to be. I think he’s much like Reagan, meaning he’s a lazy figurehead who isn’t very informed. That’s not to say Romney would be better. We need to get money out of political campaigns to save ourselves,

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By ElkoJohn, February 2, 2012 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

The 2-Party Dictatorship represents the 1%.

The 99% of lemming voters keep voting for the
2-Parties of the 1%.

Guess everybody but a small number believe
in the trickle down, predatory capitalist system.

Go figure.

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, February 2, 2012 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

Why blame just the democrats? The same ugly forces that operated clandestinely beneath Reagan’s emerging Parkinsonism easily laid the groundwork for Bush41 to propose his syrupy disgusting speech about the New World Order and his unsuccessful attempt to cram NAFTA down our throats while still on his watch.

While he wasn’t successful, Clinton quite obligingly carried the NWO baton for Bush. Bush41 brought us the realization that depleted uranium (DU) was a deadly menace and the warning that we should never use it around our own troops ..... and yet Clinton managed to be the first to authorize its use in Bosnia. Clinton authorizes wire taps and later renegotiates the US/Paraguayan Extradition Treaty to excludes crimes of a military or political nature and then, not surprisingly, Bush43 buries us with illegal wire taps and then uses his daughter Jenna to acquire a 99,980 acre parcel of land in Paraguay, just in case the SHTF while he was still at the helm.

This whole dysfunctional tag-team event has been going on for a long time and the sooner the American voters wake up to the fact that our presidential candidate stream has all had to pass muster with the Bilderberg crowd (except Ron Paul and Rick Santorum), the sooner they can get a handle on why this country will always stay headed in the same direction ...... down. This is why, if everyone voted in November for Ron Paul or whomever was NOT a hand-picked Bilderberg candidate, the votes would still come up for Romney, Perry, Clinton, McCain, Edwards or Gingrich. ALL of them and many more have been to the Bilderberg meetings, while the corporate owned media refuses to let you here the messages of the non-NAFTA candidates.

I’ll paraphrase Andrew Carnegie as best I can when he had stated so well in the 1920s, Americans will just have to get used to a communist lifestyle. Do the math ....... or don’t do the math and sit back with another beer and watch the NFL.

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By MeHere, February 2, 2012 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

A good article by R. Scheer reminding us what the Democratic Party is all about. 

It’s hard to understand why a previous poster here believes that voting Green makes one complicit in perpetuating our corrupt system of government. He makes some good points though and not voting at all may be OK too. The main reasons to vote for the Greens (or some other progressive party) are:

- to withdraw electoral support from the two ruling parties

- to express the frustration and discontent of many citizens

- to hopefully build up a party that promotes important change
  in our corrupt system.       
 
It’s about the future -the present is very much in the grip of the Dem-Rep self-perpetuating venture. The Greens are not aiming at merely becoming another party in the present system.

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By c-post, February 2, 2012 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

Bob, in blaming Glass-Steagall, I believe you’re not thinking big enough.

The dollar has been overvalued long-term relative to other currencies, and poor leadership in industry and government has allowed crucial manufacturing and service jobs to move overseas. For God’s sake, nearly all manufactured commodities in the stores are made overseas. 

WHY is the paper promise of dollars overvalued? Thus devaluing American labor (in effect devaluing American citizens) and American companies that use American workers?

There are 2 factors: Our overwhelming military dominance keeps the dollar TOO HIGH relative to other currencies, and of course, the opening of massive overseas labor markets in Asia and elsewhere—thanks to political and technological changes—both of these factors have caused a “spongeform encephalopathy”, a hollowing out of the real America.

The so-called “financial services industry”—those who hand out nothing more than paper and digital promises—grew like a cancer to fill this void. The Fed’s massive overreach in lowering interest rates so everybody could borrow like crazy against their house was a very misguided attempt to compensate for the loss of real jobs and industries. It was the Fed’s attempt to compensate for very poor Washington leadership for many decades.

The continuing day-to-day, minute-by-minute drumbeat of Wall Street DJIA reports that fills everyone’s ears focuses on the wrong end of the business spectrum. What we really need is a minute-by-minute focus on the health of labor, jobs, and the income of working people in this country, not on paper promises. This is a national security issue.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, February 2, 2012 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

This article is very much like a discussion of what makes a perfect crime. All the
elements are present, from lack of moral conscious, ,certainly greed, and prevarication
the icing on the cake is making the illegal legal.

That’s what we have become a nation led by crooks who lie cheat and steal, then
excuse themselves with a lie or off hand comment.

But what about the millions, who have suffered under their rule, who continue to suffer
under their greed and avarice?

Don’t expect mercy, or forbearance from them, it is just not in their hearts.. All you will
get is more lies, misdirection, excuses, and laughter.

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By E Henry Schoenberger, February 2, 2012 at 9:29 am Link to this comment

Glass-Steagall built the wall between investment banks and bank banks - however, the 1956 Bank Holding Co. Act disallowed the expansion of bank holding companies beyond an urban border without Fed approval, and further did not allow any expansion beyond the state in which the BHC was domiciled in.

And after Lehman and Bear were “allowed to fold” the surviving investment banks were approved by the Fed to become BHCs so the Fed could funnel billions of $ to Goldman etal - as if they were actually part of the lending system of money and banking.

Greenspan was a more prominent culprit than Summers - and both were highly paid consultants to Wall Street - to follow the money which explains their motivation to go back to Social Darwinism economics including Schumpter’s robber-baron favorite - the Maximization of Profit (no matter what).

Americans need to be better informed. Which is why I wrote How We Got Swindled by Wall St Godfathers, Greed & Financial Darwinism ~ The 30-Year War Against the American Dream; including a foreword from David Satterfield the former business editor of the Miami Herald and 2 times Pulitzer Prize-winner.

I bet Scheer is one of the few members of the press who is spot on - and Swindled exposes all the culprits and controlling issues in one book for a clear view of all the parts which add up to the whole truth. With 45 years of successful experience within the securities business, as a former owner of an NASD Member Firm specializing in real estate private placements; and as the author of Invest for Success,How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by Real Estate Partnerships, the Stock Market & Diversification which, in 1990, warned that Wall Street had turned from real investments to financial investments and would lead to a tanked service economy based on fast food and lousy jobs - I have lived what I have written about.  Further as an activist my concern for the common good gives me and the book a different perspective.

Today’s “financial capitalism” is the return of Social Darwinism metastasized into Financial Darwinism, but without the robber-baron innovators who did create manufacturing jobs. It illuminates the crucial distinction between financial investments and real investments necessary to the capital formation and job creation process. And provides a brutally candid path composed of all the parts which lead to the whole truth and an enlightened epiphany.

Swindled will add to what Scheer has written about as well. The more voices who share the truth the closer the 99% is to demanding solutions from Congress and to stop electing lying idiots more concerned with lobbyists all day long than the public good. You can also follow me on Huffington—http://www.huffingtonpost.com/henry-schoenberger, which is not as vehement about promoting the truth as Truth Digg!

To be better informed: http://www.howwegotswindled.com

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David J. Cyr's avatar

By David J. Cyr, February 2, 2012 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

QUOTE, Mark E. Smith:

“It is hypocritical of Greens to be a political party and run for office in the US, as one of the Green Party’s Ten Key Values is decentralized government.”
__________________

Decentralization doesn’t require depopulation back to small society size. It does require a reversal of power flow.

A decentralized government would be one in which decisions would be made from the bottom up… the people deciding what their government will do and what it won’t do.

That’s completely opposite of what the corporate party’s conservatives and liberals vote together for, when they cast their (R) & (D) votes for the same corporate person decided neoliberal policies, only differing in whether they wish those top down decided evil policies to be perpetrated hot-bloodedly by Republicans or cold-bloodedly by Democrats.

Jill Stein for President:

http://www.jillstein.org

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=498&Itemid=1

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peterjkraus's avatar

By peterjkraus, February 2, 2012 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

Summers is a consummate liar, a blowhard
fraud and a shitty economist. At least
Alan Greenspan had, at the very end of his
career, the decency to admit his
gullibility and - ahem - stupidity.
Summers? Just more of the same.
If it´s one thing I really don´t
understand about Obama, it is his choice
of Summers and Geithner.

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Paul_GA's avatar

By Paul_GA, February 2, 2012 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

Well, Mark, it doesn’t matter to me who the big politicians get their marching orders from—nothing lasts forever, as I say. I’m a Christian, and I take my cue from James 5:1-7, especially the first part of the last verse (“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord”).

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By balkas, February 2, 2012 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

even if greens would win all elections, they’d have to swear an oath of
allegiance to the One and only Interpretation i talked about in my
previous post
and not only to the ONE INTERPRETATION, but also to those openended
freedoms and the right of a person to own another.
==
I was pleased when i heard that george carlin, of whom i have never
heard, also asserted that “you’re owned”.
this observation is valid also for ron paul. and i venture to say also for
justice party’s rocky anderson. thanks

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, February 2, 2012 at 9:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It takes a strong leader to stand up to the corporate gangsters who want to run the country.  Clinton didn’t have it.  He said he got bad advice but he was supposed to have known something about history, economics, and government, if not finance capitalism.  It makes one appreciate FDR’s toughness in “welcoming their hatered.”
Having a need for everybody, especially the elites, to love you is a quality we ought to look out for in candidates for that office.

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By Troy Davis, February 2, 2012 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

William Jefferson Clinton was NOT a Democrat. Not in the sense of being an FDR Democrat. He was in essence a republicrat.  He was more attuned to the belief and ideology of the GOP [Greed Overwhelming Principle] than to a democratic party devoted to an egalitarian democracy that protected and preserved the rights of ordinary Americans.

Remember when he ran in 1992 on “Universal HealthCare Reform” [and in reality never had any real intention of achieving that noble goal?  His wife, Hillary Clinton [one of the original GOLDWATER GIRLS [as in Barry Goldwater, US Senator from Arizona [father of the conservative movement] [google Goldwater Girls].

In other words, they were both frauds.  They pretended to be democrats while promoting every policy that ultimately led us to where we are today.

The things that stand out from the “Clinton years” [other than his sexual escapades in the oval office] are the repeal of Glass-Steagall; NAFTA and the WTO.

Bill Clinton was a fraud.  He had no interest in common, ordinary working class Americans and he sold his soul to become President. That is the simple, unvarnished truth.

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By balkas, February 2, 2012 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

as some posters say, one cannot change the system of rule by working from inside of it or if ur labors are systemic; ie, of the kind that system
allows or oks.
let’s note that even ron paul and kucinich do not object to US latest warfare on any principle. [goddevil forbid, it be found illegal because the
war is illegal to any other country]
they condemn US wars solely on rationalization and are or seemed to be concerned about loss of US power and its ability to control the world.
after all is said and done, there is only one USA, one ideology, one bill of rights, one constitution, and ONE INTERPRETATION of all of that.
the fact is that each US war was legal and in accords with ideology, bill of rights, and constitution.

take as an example the assertion that the war against iraq was illegal. but if its illegal then it contradicts the right of americans to pursue their
happiness, defend their interests, etc. in case of iraq, onepercent’s and the 98%‘s pursuit of happiness, safety, interest had been fulfilled by
waging war against iraq. recall, please that the inalienable right to pursue happiness is openended both ways. it is limited and not limited at the
same time. a rich man can do only so much in some aspect of daily living; however, in some aspects, like waging wars, poverty, ignorance he or
the onepercent is not limited at all. even nuking a country is quite legal and in accord with pursuance of happiness, security…
according to US constitution, on US govt [judiciary, congress, w.h] rests the responsibility to note any dangers to US interests, safety/security,
and happiness.
and govt MUST act on that notice; and regardless of actualities; mere perception and/or interpretation of events suffices and validates US to
wage a war or take any military/economic steps to defend US interests.
i could have skipped everything i’ve said this far and stated only that in US exists only ONE INTERPRETATION of whatever event you want to
think of.
and the circle is closed; selfsealed dogma sealed for all time!  up to now, 99% of americans were willing even to die/kill in order to defend the
dogma or the american ISM. is now now down to only 98%? thanks, bozhidar balkas, planet earth

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Mark E. Smith's avatar

By Mark E. Smith, February 2, 2012 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

All votes, including protest votes, in elections held by a capitalist imperialist government are wasted votes, as they serve to legitimize and perpetuate that form of government, David.

It is hypocritical of Greens to be a political party and run for office in the US, as one of the Green Party’s Ten Key Values is decentralized government. The US is not a decentralized government, it is a centralized government. If you can’t even walk your talk when you don’t have power, you don’t need power to corrupt you because you’re already corrupt.

Greens are every bit as much “in a constant state of cognitive dissonance” as progressive Democrats.

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By John Randolph, February 2, 2012 at 8:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Robert Scheer for you never ending fight to get us all educated. 

Will the Occupy Movement awaken the common voters who sadly believe there is a substantial difference between a Barack Obama and a Mitt Romney? 

If not Occupy, then what?  And when?

The stakes can’t get any higher;  our children’s and grand children’s futures are on the line. 

We have shining lights - the Brooksley Born’s, the Ralph Nader’s, the Bernie Sanders’s, the Elizabeth Warren’s, the Bill Moyers’s etc.
 
These fine Americans are here fighting with us and for us, and yet the majority of common voters are like zombies clawing and crawling to the polls to vote for their diabolical 1% leaders.

I used to be one of those.  Just like I used to smoke cigarettes. 

How in God’s name could I or we do something (like smoking or zombie voting) that is so ignorantly harmful to not only us, but our families too?

Support the occupy movement!  We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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By David J. Cyr, February 2, 2012 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

QUOTE, Robert Scheer:

“Summers knows full well that the passage of the repeal of Glass-Steagall was pushed initially by Citigroup, a mammoth merger of investment and commercial banking that create (sic) the largest financial institution in the world, an institution that eventually had to be bailed out with taxpayer funds to avoid economic disaster for millions of ordinary Americans.”
___________________

Scheer should know full well that the banksters were **NOT** bailed out by the corporate party’s (R)s & (D)s “to avoid economic disaster for millions of ordinary Americans.”

The “progressive” Democrats live in a constant state of cognitive dissonance.

Protest votes are the only votes that are not wasted.

Jill Stein for President:

http://www.jillstein.org

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=498&Itemid=1

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By Mark E. Smith, February 2, 2012 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

Thanks, Big B. I agree that what we have now in the US, trillions missing and unaccounted for from the Pentagon, trillions spent on unwinnable wars, trillions in bailouts to crooked banks that just spend the money on bonuses, widespread police brutality and the biggest prison labor system in the world, a lack of affordable health care, deteriorating schools and a hugely expensive higher education system preparing people for nonexistent jobs, torture and impunity as formal US policy, etc., etc., cannot accurately be described as anything other than “chaos.”

With direct democracy, an anarchist concept explained by Abe Lincoln as “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” we’d have a lot less “chaos” and a lot more accountability.

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By Big B, February 2, 2012 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

Here here Mark E Smith.

I am not sure if I feel sorrow or contempt for main stream progressives (Oh, how I hate that word) like Scheer and Hartmann and Schultz who still genuinly BELIEVE that the system, corrupt as it is from all sides, can still somehow be changed from within.

Some people will do anything to avoid chaos. But I think we may be way past the point of no “chaos”.

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By Mark E. Smith, February 2, 2012 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

Paul_GA, both Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are DC insiders. Nobody in governnment listens to them because, unlike foolish US voters, people in government know what a shill is. You can’t run a con game as rigged and corrupt as CON-gress without shills, and Paul and Kucinich are two of the best in the business. They inspire trust in people that the system isn’t totally corrupt when they know darned well that it is—that’s the job of a shill.

Believe me, no honest person joins an organized crime syndicate like the Mafia, the KKK, or Congress to reform it from within. If you are part of or aspire to be part of the capitalist imperialist system, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I’m an atheist, but I’m reminded of the Old Testament story of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you can find ten good people within the system, it might be worth saving. If you can only find one, save that one by getting them out of there, and destroy the system, as it cannot be saved. None of the oligarchs in Congress give a damn about the 99%, not even Paul and Kucinich. If you vote, no matter who you vote for, you’re delegating war powers, fiscal powers, and police powers to the US government and authorizing more wars, more bailouts, and more police brutality.

It doesn’t matter who is President. If they don’t obey the corporate owned ruling military junta in the US, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, they get assassinated like JFK and replaced with somebody who will follow orders. Remember it wasn’t too long ago that Obama said that people who are just following orders from their superiors (the Eichmann defense at Nuremberg), shouldn’t be prosecuted, not even for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the case of Clinton, Bush, and Obama, whose orders do you think they were following?

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By rbrooks, February 2, 2012 at 6:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/01/obama-hosts-george-hw-and-jeb-bush-at-white-house-112638.html

WTF?

Ready for President Jeb? Ready for Obama to go swanning off to live happily ever after in global corporate spokesmodel heaven and the Bush crime family to come sliming back out of the Planet Evil gutter to take back the White House at the Republican convention?

How would you like to know the story behind THAT photo op? Looks like the handoff to me. Not that it makes any difference.

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By Mike789, February 2, 2012 at 6:11 am Link to this comment

Bareback Capitalism with Wild West contrivances.

Globalization is a slogan for a veiled grab-ass rape. It has nothing to do with planet Earth as a sustainable entity.

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By Paul_GA, February 2, 2012 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

Proves that something I’ve always believed is right—the two big parties are Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber; two wings of the same Statist party. Too bad no one will listen to Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich, but it may be too late to reform either of the parties from within, the way both have embraced the Status Quo of power for its own sake, aggressive foreign war, empire building and maintaining, and looting the populace while continuing to hoodwink them with pleasant words and false promises.

But nothing lasts forever ...

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By DBM, February 2, 2012 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

“That is a lie.”

Bravo!  Why doesn’t that phrase appear in many more articles about politicians and their advisers followed by the relevant facts as above?

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By Big B, February 2, 2012 at 5:51 am Link to this comment

The DNC sold out american liberals all the way back in 1968 when they let loose mayor Dayley’s dogs of war on the anti-vietnam crowd and then annointed the party’s version of a gray business suit to run for president. That decision cost america 6 years of the beast Nixon and sent the nation hurtling down the path of plutocracy and oligharcy.

Prez Barry still has not learned his lesson (you would have thought that the 2010 elections would have wakened the dim bastard). Liberals need to spend the next 7 months convincing Barry and the DNC that we are indeed willing to stay home again and give the white house to Mittens in lieu of enduring another 4 years of Barry pandering to bankers and the rest of the conservative Cintonian scum running the DNC.

Barry, here’s how to get my vote. First, end the war in the middle east by this summer. Second, propose a single payer nation health care/ social security system and tax every dollar made in the us to fund it. Sure it won’t get through congress, but sometimes you have to let your opponent know that you are willing to drop the big one to get what you want. And third, and this is the easy one, stand your ground on the Keystone pipline. I know its a little thing compared to wars and healthcare, but you have to start somewhere to show the party’s progressives that behind your sour and aloof exterior there may just be one small liberal bone left. If there isn’t, better we know our fate before november, that a vote for you means death by a thousand cuts as opposed to Mittens death by firing squad.

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By MichaelC, February 2, 2012 at 5:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The public is finally, though more slowly than necessasary, awakening to the fact the both our parties are corporate parties, and “the people” be damned.  Also, the realization for independent political action and mass mobilization is finally arriving.  We need to topple the oligarchy.  The delusion that we are essentially different from the Egypt’s and Tunisia’s of the world is gone.  That, and the illusion that we have a functioning democracy. Both shold be relegated to the dustbin of history.  The Obama apologists?  Please wake up.  It is because of the election of people like this that the work of the neoliberals continues unabated.  Workers of the world unite!

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By thecrow, February 2, 2012 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

“Clinton: ‘I think we’re good friends. I like him very much. I’ve always liked him. When he was vice president, I was still a governor. We worked together on a number of things. He hosted the governors, in 1983…at Kennebunkport.’

When they made an announcement about raising funds for Tsunami relief in Houston former First Lady Barbara Bush ‘announced us. And she said she has started to call me son. I told the Republicans there, I said don’t worry, every family has one, you know, the black sheep. I told them, this just shows you the lengths the Bushes would go to get another president in the family. I wish I could get them to adopt Hillary.’”

- Drudge Report, June 17, 2005

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/valor/

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By allen, February 2, 2012 at 5:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scheer writes the following, in response to Summers’ assertion that “...at the time Bill Clinton was president, there essentially were no credit default swaps”:

“That is a lie. Credit default swaps had been sold at least since 1991, and collateralized debt obligations of all sorts quickly became the rage during the Clinton years.”

This highlights a central problem in our journalism and politics.  Those who report on the day-to-day doings of our institutions—governmental and other—are too often not in a position to contradict the statements of those whom they rely upon for the “facts” that underlie the print or TV story that they’re working on.  Too often, reporters feel they’ve done their jobs if they quote accurately what the politician or expert has said, and balance the assertions or facts of one side with the facts and assertions from the other (as if all problems and policy issues are two-sided and not complex).

While we must concede that in fairness we can’t expect those of the Fourth Estate to be experts in all the subjects that they deal with day-to-day, we suffer in so doing from the degree to which they are unable to counter, during the course of their interviews and fact-collection, statements that are misleading or contrary to fact, or, for that matter, that contradict things that the individual has said or advocated previously.

There may be no solution to this problem: we may have to just accept that the picture of the world that our “truth-guardians” (the print and other media) present is, as often as not, something much less than helpful, or helpful in a rather limited way.

Of course, if a journalist becomes too combative or too willing to confront the interview-subject(s) when untruths have been uttered or facts are being distorted, he may lose access to the “newsmaker,” jeopardizing his prospects for future access and perhaps even jeopardizing his continued employment.

Polite folks that we Americans generally are, we tend to dislike ill-mannered people.  Consequently, we are inclined to sympathize with those who are being “insulted” by our news media professionals through anything approaching what might be characterized as sharp questioning.

Combine the two strains—a journalist’s inability to challenge false or misleading statements because of his lack of knowledge of the subject matter itself, or of the interview-subject’s previous statements or positions on same; and a general desire on the part of the journalist to avoid being seen as a pencil-pushing bully who’s being rude—and you have a recipe for the continued failure of our media to present us with a nuanced, accurate depiction of the world outside our doors.

Rather, we get a “He said, she said” view of events, and our choices with regard to what we believe should be done about this, that, or the other thing often are reduced to a matter of deciding which fellow we’d prefer to have a beer with.

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By gringo45, February 2, 2012 at 4:49 am Link to this comment

They are called over-the-counter derivatives as if they are visible to all, when in fact they are private contracts between two parties.  Mr. Scheer is just presenting the facts in this disaster.  Sadly, now US Treasury Bonds have become like so many mortgage-backed-securities and credit-default-swaps…worthless pieces of paper.  Nice job guys.

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By ardee, February 2, 2012 at 4:10 am Link to this comment

I applaud Mr. Scheer’s current realistic appraisals of the betrayal of all progressives by the Democratic Party. I have long been sickened by the fawning and shallow defenses of that party by our several ( one in particular) sycophantic loyalists.

No solutions are possible without honest and factual diagnosis.

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