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Two More Candidates for the McChrystal Treatment

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Posted on Jul 6, 2010
Obama
AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Q & A - Live Chat with Robert Scheer


A live Q & A session related to this column took place on July 09, 2010 at 9:00 am PT.

Click here to view the transcript.


By Robert Scheer

It’s not working. Time for the president to concede that the economy is at best stagnating and at worst about to take another steep nose dive. I don’t know if we are headed for another Great Depression, as Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman dared suggest recently, but it is amply clear that the Obama strategy, inherited from George W. Bush, of bailing out Wall Street in the forlorn hope that it would repair the economic damage the fat cats inflicted on the rest of us has not worked.

The housing market remains in dire shape, and with it the nest eggs of Americans who are responding by squelching their appetite for consumption. The Wall Street hustlers were made whole, but not so the people whose home mortgages the banks are foreclosing, or businesses and their customers looking for the credit that the banks had promised to free up.

The president conceded last week that our economy is 8 million jobs in the hole despite his bailout and stimulus program. With deficits running wild, heartless Republicans get to claim that six months more of unemployment insurance to 1.7 million out-of-work people whose benefits have ended is more than we can afford. 

Of course it’s not. That would be a $34 billion outlay to people who would actually spend the money instead of using it for acquisitions, as the big banks have done with far larger gifts of taxpayer funds. That the Republicans who favor huge military spending and tax breaks for the rich and who launched the Wall Street bailout are being hypocritical scoundrels when they say we don’t have the money to help ordinary folks is obvious. But the problem is that Barack Obama embraced the GOP strategy, and the failures of the bailouts to turn the economy around, along with the cost of two wars, are now his problems to explain.

What we need is for the president’s economic hotshots, Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, to grant damaging interviews to Rolling Stone as Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently did in self-destructing. Perhaps then President Obama would have the gumption to fire the misleaders of his economic team. It was always bizarre that those two, who did so much to wreck the economy, were put in charge of the effort to salvage it. Their previous records should have provided ample warning that their economic outlook begins and ends with the demands of Wall Street.

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It was Geithner who, as head of the New York Fed, presided over the $180 billion bailout of AIG, which, as revealed by the 500-page documented record of that travesty released last week by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, was a scam to pass taxpayer money to Goldman Sachs and the other large banks that had created the problem. And it was Summers who as President Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary pushed through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which guaranteed “legal certainty” for the toxic derivatives packages that Goldman and the others sold. At the time Summers assured Congress that “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. …”

For such not-so-prescient but very convenient insight, Goldman Sachs rewarded Summers with $200,000 for two speeches he gave to its executives while he was an adviser to candidate Obama. Not surprisingly, the new financial regulations proposed by this administration and soon to be signed into law let Goldman and the others so much at fault off the hook.

There is enormous and justifiable populist outrage out there over the antics of a runaway Wall Street that is not being held accountable. Obama could tap into that outrage by taking his cues from a true populist, Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. One of only eight senators to vote against the Clinton-backed 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had done so much to protect the economy, Feingold voted against the Bush bailout too and is now breaking with Obama on his so-called financial reform:

“The bill does not eliminate the risk to our economy posed by ‘too big to fail’ financial firms, nor does it restore the proven safeguards established after the Great Depression, which separated Main Street banks from big Wall Street firms and are essential to preventing another economic meltdown. The recent financial crisis triggered the nation’s worst recession since the Great Depression. The bill should have included reforms to prevent another such crisis. Regrettably, it did not.”

The president’s record on the economy is even worse than his performance in Afghanistan, and a reversal of course is much in order. If he doesn’t get the message now, the voters will give it to him loud and clear come the November midterm elections. 

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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RAE's avatar

By RAE, July 8, 2010 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

I Love it, rolmike: “I have a simple social-democratic suggestion: maximum individual wealth 10 million - that allows sufficient incentive for those who stake their self on wealth and what it can afford, including differentiation…”.

I suggest this amendment - the maximum wealth an individual can OWN or CONTROL. Those whose suffer the compulsion to acquire ever more loot would easily find a way around just “owning” 10 million… they’d figure a way to control a few billion more if we let them. Penalty, BTW, if caught is the 100% confiscation of every penny beyond the $10M.

While we’re at it one other law we desperately need: IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL TO LOBBY ANY ELECTED POLITICIAN. By “lobby” I mean in the professional sense that’s in operation today… millions are spent by corporations to influence our elected representatives. In my world, INDIVIDUALS, on their own behalf ONLY, would be allowed to meet with or write their representatives to “lobby” their issue… ONCE per person per year.

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, July 8, 2010 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

Re:  JDmysticDJ, July 8 at 3:26 am

“.... is it like the fall of the Weimar Republic ... ?”

Very interesting that you should so sarcastically suggest that, since a number
of elderly German clients of mine had suggested that very same thing, .... only
they were serious. And no matter how much of a “mystic” you may believe your
moniker to paint a picture for the rest of us, I doubt you could convince those
elderly folks that their experience was anything but genuine.

As far as getting organized to form any meaningful group out of this bunch, I
would much rather draw from the readers here than have to rely on the body of
voters still taking the Blue Pill, who are still believing that their Republican or
Democratic candidates are somehow going to pull us out of this mess.

“Conspiracy Theories” are how those whose fragile grasp of reality has to label
concepts that they aren’t ready to grapple with. Pessimistic? Perhaps in one
sense. Some might call it that, but I prefer to look at the positive side in that
we all have a tremendous capacity to help each other and become stewards of
this planet .... in spite of the sociopathic misanthropes that have isolated
themselves from the rest of humankind and believe themselves to be elitists.

Take that group, plus all those who are still in a massive state of denial, and
therein lies the problem that the rest of the population has to deal with.

The pressure cooker has been turned up, for reasons maybe only the Maya
might have known, but one thing is for sure; the stress of all this is testing
EVERYONE to see how they are going to choose; light or darkness.

Report this

By bogi666, July 8, 2010 at 1:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Look, Bush/Cheney worked overtime for 8 years to screw up the USG. That was their stated mission, well knowing the American public is gullible, ignorant and like to be lied too. Just as Hermann Goerring said how easy it is to take over a country by relying on patriotism and fear, creating fears. This is a society of the mindlessness, the inability to discern thought from fact. Mindlessness is institutionized by the government, business[ads] and pretend christian churches, and the ‘no child left behind’ is meant to teach mindlessness starting from an early age. This institutionization legitimizes mindlessness. As for President O’BushBombya it was easy to discern from his appointments that he was doomed to fail because he just continued the Bush/Cheney policies which were meant to continue the destruction of the middle class. THIS WAS A NO BRAINER

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JDmysticDJ's avatar

By JDmysticDJ, July 7, 2010 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment

Failed State

Mass hysteria, angry insults, demonizing, conspiracy theories, accusations of treason and treachery; is it like the fall of the Weimar Republic, or the French Revolution?

If the posters here had to form a government, they would want to lop each others heads off in no time.

Those most rational, but lacking the sufficient madness, would be the first to have their heads lopped. They’ll be walking around like Ann Bolin, with their heads in their hands, wondering… what happened?

I agree with Scheer, getting rid of Geithner and Summers would be a positive first step towards economic and political recovery.

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, July 7, 2010 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

Garth,

Actually, Rosa DeLauro’s husband, Stanley Greenberg is an attorney who had
represented Monsanto in the past. As far as I know, he was never an executive
with them, but why does this whole fish always seem to stink even more when we
dig further into the meat?

Report this

By rolmike, July 7, 2010 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment

i continue to be astonished how many folks vested hope in
obama, i didn’t for a second, still 9 out of 10 promises
broke, i imagine unconsciously the addiction to hope
dope, as much of a betrayer as prayer, i have not rid
myself of it. how can one vest hope, unless a
millionaire, in someone who has friends like jamie of
morgan, or has/ had betty pritzker as his chief fund
raiser. there will not be much change, a bit of tweaking
at most. i expect general mcchrystal had it right when he
noticed that obama was intimidated in the presence of
generals, as he no doubt is in the presence of these
hugely wealthy bankers, whose lieutenants are his chief
advisers. i have a simple social-democratic suggestion:
maximum individual wealth 10 million - that allows
sufficient incentive for those who stake their self on
wealth and what it can afford, including
differentiation…. and wouldn’t the distribution of
those billions get ye ole economy cracking!
http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name

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By SteveL, July 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment

Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers cannot bring themselves
to admit anything wrong with their past actions.  How can anyone
expect them to make any corrections?

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By omygodnotagain, July 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

Obama, Bush all of them are front men for bankers and other financial interests. Obama can’t fire Summers and Geitner they are his boss, along with Goldman Sach and Robert Rubin. They distract people with bogus issues, like gay marriage, abortion, prayer in schools, and endless celebrity nonsense.
Bankers make the most money from War, soldiering is a profession, War is a business. They don’t care about what happens to these soldiers anymore than they care about people losing their homes.
We the people are powerless, democracy is a sham kept in place by misinforming and distracting an undereducated, gullible population.

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Peter Knopfler's avatar

By Peter Knopfler, July 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

Tman says get rid of Zionists, Ha Ha Tman stands for Tin Man, “if I only had a brain”.
I guess not,
since a Civilian can fire a 4 star general,
Crystal clear to me the General got out in time, before it reaches a apex of butchery.
The General has seen enough torture mutalations and murder! He has enough money,and to blurp something out between the Tiny Bubbles in the wine, to roll along stones mag, was the fastest way out, He left through the bathroom window! look at it from His wifes perspective, he got out alive, in one piece! Time to buy Blackwater! And put it on wall Street. Americans are a sucker for uniforms and Guns, Gold and G_D!  Wake up folks America is on the Move.

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By garth, July 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

Thanks BR549, July 7 at 6:23 pm, for the heads up on Feingold and for the link.

I first heard about the Food Safety Act on the Al Franken radio program a couple of years ago.  Rose DeLauro introduced it in the House.  Her husband is guy named Greenberg and he’s an executive at Monsanto.

At the time, the bill had 20 co-signers.  I looked it up and sure enough my Congressman, Capuano, was one of them.  I called his office.  They took my name and didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.  I had just looked it up so I was sure of what I was talking about. 

The bill will make it illegal to grow vegetables in your back yard.  The Vegetable Police will have the power to confiscate the property of the one growing vegetable illegally.  The money will be used to further the efforts of the vegetable police in cracking down on illegal tomatoes, squash, zucchine, and the like.  They can but more surveillance equipment I guesss.

Like all good Government law enforcement and defense programs, it will become a self-licking ice cream cone.

Thanks also for the link.

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By David Moore, July 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with the disenchanted who voted—and gave money and time—to Obama. I don’t know what the others who commented did, but I wrote to the DNC telling them no more money or time from me. Corporate sponsors do not work phone banks and hang signs, so good luck with that Rahm. Rather than talk about a “monster” third party I would rather see nothing but Independents. The Founding Fathers were all opposed to a party system as they saw that as leading to the faction we have today. Furthermore, no caucusing with the Dems like Sanders. Be an Independent, insist on sitting on every committee since you belong to neither party, and vote in the best interests of the country. I really think the only way to break this corrupt party system is not to take part in it. The more Independents in Congress means less power for Liebermans, Delays, and other such ilk.

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By Maxim, July 7, 2010 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By Maxim: Brussels 7.July
Part of the problem with our democratic system(s) is that there is always an election to take place within the two next years: this prevent any president to really enter the inherited problems and face the new ones, to start having clear ideas and how to implement corresponding policies. But in between they are obliged to take short-term measures in order “to please” the voters. This is the virtue but also the real problem of democracy since it early conception.
Maxim

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By tman, July 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

Until we the people get rid of every Zionist Jew in our government and ban AIPAC nothing will change.Wise up America.

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, July 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

G. Anderson,

I agree with everything you said except for Sen. Feingold. I’ll let those more
versed in the argument spell it out, save to say that Feingold’s bill to update
the CWA (Clean Water Act of 1972) is closer to Stalinist Russia’s approach to
water management. By removing the term “navigable” from “navigable waters”,
Feingold has set the next stage for government taking control of the entire US
water supply, regardless of states’ sovereignty.

Already it has allowed Monsanto and it’s corporate minions to knowingly
contaminate the food supply, and through Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s CT HR875 Food
Safety Bill, it would virtually outlaw granny’s backyard heirloom tomato plants.
EIther these people are incredibly inept and not paying attention to what they
are drafting, or they are behind nearly every aspect of the fall of this country.
How f_cking blind could these people be?

SEC. 301. PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT SYSTEM (c)(2)(A) ...... “a comparison of
the safety of commercial processing with the health hazards associated with
food that is harvested for recreational or subsistence purposes and prepared
noncommercially”

Yep, THAT’S your Mr. Feingold. One and the same. He is no friend to the
citizens of America as long as he continues to push for the bill in this form.

See:    http://www.lakelandtimes.com/main.asp?SectionID=9&SubSectionID=9&ArticleID=10215

Report this

By garth, July 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

Instead of getting your shorts all balled up, look at it this way, Senor.  They don’t want us to know the truth about the BP Blowout in the Gulf, and I think they have no idea on how to stop it.

Isn’t it great! 

Just what we’ve lived for: a Beverly Hills Hillbilly gusher in our back yard.  No more peak oil.  I guess that was all bullshit, too, just like the rest of the swill they’ve been feeding us for the past umpty years, both figuratively and literally.

But now it all doesn’t seem to matter, does it?.  The oil slick will cover the Gulf, then the flow up to the North Atlantic with the Gulf Stream and begin to settle off the coast of Africa, killing everything in its path for years to come.

Why won’t these other countries do something?  Why don’t they step in.  Maybe they have holding in BP. 

Make peace with yourself, your wife and family and enjoy the last days of an inhabited Earth. 

Capitalism killed us all. And you can take that to the bank

Report this

By mdgr, July 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

G.Anderson,

We may wish to collaborate with one another in promoting the common “meme” that we each consider to be of ultimate importance (see my earlier post in this thread, and I’ve certainly seen yours).

Anyway, Truthdig does not seem to encourage that sort of thing, as I see no way in which anyone can message me privately through Truthdig.

Suggesting that if you are interested, you may contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), which is an account I just set up for the express purpose of this kind of collaboration. I realize it’s out not a “private” mailbox any longer, but I see it mostly as an access point, nothing long lasting.

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, July 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

To G. Anderson and all other who just love to offer HOPE as the road to a remedy or even “THE ANSWER.”

Get this straight:

HOPE IS NOT A PLAN. Never was. Never will be.

Hope & prayer are just synonyms for WISHFUL THINKING which is what those devoid of any other mental skills do in the face of a challenge. Has never worked and never will.

So… like all the other mindless insanes… keep on doing what you’ve always done (that doesn’t work) and expect a different outcome.

Jeez.

Report this

By glider, July 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Awesome post mdgr, you have captured my feelings exactly. Robert, if Fox and Corporate America can bring us the Tea Party, why can’t TruthDig take a position, and AT LEAST TRY, to bring us a Progressive Party alternative to this insanity.  I will not pin my hopes on the failed corrupt weakling Obama.  Unless you or someone else acts to bring us a real choice I will only be viewing the next election as a form of disgusting entertainment.  Come one Robert, you are in a position to make a change, rather than just reporting on what shit has come down on our poor asses.
Cheers,
Brian

>>Mr. Sheer,
Unfortunately, all this article does is reiterate what most of the people reading Truthdig have already known forever. It’s all true, yes, but it is becoming increasingly irrelevant at this late hour. This isn’t about Geithner or Summers any longer. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s about the survival of the planet.

You have tremendous influence, but on Truthdig, progressives have never been invited to even imagine jettisoning both political parties. They have never been invited to imagine creating the kind of **monster** third party that the times would support right now based on the principle that “nature abhors a vacuum.” Instead, we are led by the nose back into the DNC’s favorite stomping ground, imagining we would get our jollies from a GOP defeat.

It’s really quite shameful. After Obama, there is no way many of us progressives would ever consider voting for another Democrat again. I wouldn’t, and I don’t care any longer who the greater of two evils is.  Anyone progressive Democratic senator/representative would first need to publicly resign from that party in order to get my vote. For political reasons, they could caucus with it like Bernie Sanders from Vermont, but they would not be part of it.

But it doesn’t matter how I vote. My point is that the Dems cannot win in 2012. not with the trajectory of the DNC and its litany of betrayals, incompetence and weakness. Weimar Republic, here we come.

So when is Truthdig going to begin to serve as a focal point for a discussion of a **real** third party, not a 4% party but one that has the gravitas to prevent someone like Palin (or Beck, et al) from getting the access codes to the nuclear football in 2012?

Isn’t that kind of important?

I’m so tired of hearing ridicule and kvetching from the left. I’m tired of pandering to it when it’s framed by DNC constituents. That’s what operators like Rove (and Emanuel) are counting on the day before the election. We can expect to be very deflated the day after, and there will be no reprieve.

Instead of scratching our butts and doing what Democrats do all the time, wouldn’t it be nice to ride the wave in (public anger and disillusionment) and simultaneously create a “monster third party” while yet driving a wooden stake through the DNC’s heart?”

It could be done, but for the fact that progressive internet websites prefer kvetching over action. Where is their imagination?

Am I the only one who is calling on them to host such an event? What about Truthdig, Buzzflash and other progressive websites?

If people really want that sort of thing, they need to ask for it and loudly. Now, before it’s too late.<<

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, July 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

At this point, you don’t have to wonder about what’s going to happen with the economy, or this country. We’re bankrupt.

Progressives need to look in a mirror, and repeat the following words, “I can no longer live on hope”.

Isn’t that what they’ve been doing, hoping, and praying, and lying to themselves?

When is this going to stop?

You waded through B.S. for 8 years of Bush and then, you thought we had been granted a miracle by God Almighty.

But it wasn’t a miracle it was a gigantic psyops, planned by the plutocracy. To preserve their political power. 

Now it’s way past time to take a good look in the mirror. To realize that the public has been left to fend for itself, while our government takes care of other important issues. And the needs of the American people aren’t included in them.

Obama, and the Dems, except maybe for Feingold, are a bunch of gutless wonders, who will sell you out in a second, who have already sold you out. All they offer is the easy way out, the compromise, and more gifts to the plutocracy. 

It’s up to each and everyone of us to stop hoping for change and start demanding it instead.

Report this

By Bat Guano, July 7, 2010 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The McChrystal Treatment !

Way too good for them.

These people need to be in prison instead of being given a Medal of Freedom and lifetime pension.

Report this

By Hammond Eggs, July 7, 2010 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

It was always bizarre that those two (Geithner and Summers) who did so much to wreck the economy, were put in charge of the effort to salvage it.

Bizarre?  It was cold bloodedly intentional.  What’s “bizarre” is that Robert Scheer still has any belief in Obama. It’s not just bizarre, it’s plain ol’ stupid.

Report this

By mdgr, July 7, 2010 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

Mr. Sheer,

Unfortunately, all this article does is reiterate what most of the people reading Truthdig have already known forever. It’s all true, yes, but it is becoming increasingly irrelevant at this late hour. This isn’t about Geithner or Summers any longer. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s about the survival of the planet.

You have tremendous influence, but on Truthdig, progressives have never been invited to even imagine jettisoning both political parties. They have never been invited to imagine creating the kind of **monster** third party that the times would support right now based on the principle that “nature abhors a vacuum.” Instead, we are led by the nose back into the DNC’s favorite stomping ground, imagining we would get our jollies from a GOP defeat.

It’s really quite shameful. After Obama, there is no way many of us progressives would ever consider voting for another Democrat again. I wouldn’t, and I don’t care any longer who the greater of two evils is.  Anyone progressive Democratic senator/representative would first need to publicly resign from that party in order to get my vote. For political reasons, they could caucus with it like Bernie Sanders from Vermont, but they would not be part of it.

But it doesn’t matter how I vote. My point is that the Dems cannot win in 2012. not with the trajectory of the DNC and its litany of betrayals, incompetence and weakness. Weimar Republic, here we come.

So when is Truthdig going to begin to serve as a focal point for a discussion of a **real** third party, not a 4% party but one that has the gravitas to prevent someone like Palin (or Beck, et al) from getting the access codes to the nuclear football in 2012?

Isn’t that kind of important?

I’m so tired of hearing ridicule and kvetching from the left. I’m tired of pandering to it when it’s framed by DNC constituents. That’s what operators like Rove (and Emanuel) are counting on the day before the election. We can expect to be very deflated the day after, and there will be no reprieve.

Instead of scratching our butts and doing what Democrats do all the time, wouldn’t it be nice to ride the wave in (public anger and disillusionment) and simultaneously create a “monster third party” while yet driving a wooden stake through the DNC’s heart?”

It could be done, but for the fact that progressive internet websites prefer kvetching over action. Where is their imagination?

Am I the only one who is calling on them to host such an event? What about Truthdig, Buzzflash and other progressive websites?

If people really want that sort of thing, they need to ask for it and loudly. Now, before it’s too late.

Report this

By garth, July 7, 2010 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

The whole mess: 

The Obama Dream team, the Republicans, the Democrats, the Conservatves, the Libertarians, the Tea Partiers, .....

When are they going to get to help us?

(I think that the oil gusher unleahed in the Mexican Gulf is the end of th line.)

What amazes me most is that other countries haven’t demanded their rights in helping stop this BP disaster.  When this spreads to the Atantic, Bozos and Bozofinas, it’s all over over ‘xcept for the counting. Can you count?

The only blessing is that you’ll go with us. 

If you are thinking about about a trip to Mars, well all I have to say is Good riddance.

Report this

By faith, July 7, 2010 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Well said, Mr. Scheer.  I soooo wish that Geithner and Summers would grant
interviews with Rolling Stone.  But, I suspect that our “populist” president would
stop them in their tracks.  A response was well said by commenter, “Shift” on this
matter above.  I cannot improve on it.

However, I do wish there was a way to get your (include Arianna Huffington
commentaries, too) thoughtful commentaries to more of the general public.  You
write in clear terms and it makes it easy for the reader to understand the point. 
Watching any news on TV is perplexing.  You never know what is fact, or what is
hype or who has your back (public’s best interests).  Thank you again for another
great analysis of America’s current fiscal situs as it relates to we every day citizens.

Report this

By james aquaman, July 7, 2010 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A lot of us fell for the ‘hope thing’, sort of…  because after all ‘hope springs
eternal’.  Either that or the criminality and depravity of the Bush/Cheney cabal was
so hard to stomach that we had to hope or commit mass suicide.  But the moment
that Geithner, and especially Summers, were appointed you knew that the fix was
on, and I must add that I was not much surprised.  The state of American politics
and the collusive arrangement between the political establishment, both Left and
Right, and Big Business and Finance is so corrosive to the soul of this country that
only a paradigm shift will make a real difference.  The Shift will not occur through
violence or mid-term elections, but only through continued and unrelenting airing
of the truth. But it must be done with conviction and steadiness permeated by
heartfelt sincerity and intelligence.

Report this

By gerard, July 7, 2010 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

At this late date the idea of Obama “tapping into the vast amount of populist outrage out there” is a fantasy, I’m afraid. 

The outrage is there alright, but it is frozen solid by fears—I might lose my job/I might not be able to get a job/I might get arrested/it’s useless/
people who get out in the streets and complain are a bunch of “crazies”/I can’t afford the time off/let George do it etc. etc.

But perhaps the main thing is this:  Obama, if he wanted to do so,has had many chances to address the people’s situation helpfully and has failed to take even one of those chances. It took weeks and weeks of bitter haggling just to push through his measley health insurance bill.

Parsing the possible reasons why only adds to the unrest. It appears that both he and the American people are trapped by money and war, war and money.
And by the lure of reactionary policies having to do with American “exceptionalism”.

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, July 7, 2010 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

I know this may seem “off-topic” but I believe it speaks directly to the reason why the U.S. will not make it out of this recession and in the not-so-distant-future we will see the final disintegration of our way of life:

When Money Tree has ads on TV touting the fact that “You don’t even have to leave the house to get a loan…..” well my friends, it speaks for itself. When legalized loan-sharks can advertise effortlessly to the millions who are already neck-deep in debt AND people aren’t at all concerned, we’ve got some real big problems in this country.

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mindful's avatar

By mindful, July 7, 2010 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

I could not agree more. The Obama administration is doing cheerleading without a team.

Why are the fat cats still fat? Why are they still playing games and getting fatter?

Mr. Obama is hardly a people’s President and to suggest he is a socialist is laughable.

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By felicity, July 7, 2010 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

Summers didn’t finish his sentence - “Eminently capable of protecting themselves from fraud…” AND eminently capable of committing fraud (which was committed in spades.)

Getting rid of Glass was like giving an inveterate race track goer access to his kid’s piggy bank and his wife’s ‘mad’ money to bet at the window on Friday. His paycheck was his money (arguable) but robbing his kid and his wife without their consent was criminal.

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, July 7, 2010 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

Bob, I like a lot of your articles, but this isn’t one of them.

As Shift stated today at 11:14 am, please stop apologizing for this
misanthrope. There was no misjudgment involved here, thinking that a bailout
would have solved the problem. What the people needed, as Natalie Portman
so eloquently stated in “V for Vendetta”, was HOPE. Well, hope we had plenty
of. We were drowning in it, and yet it was all intended as a smoke screen to
further shift this countries assets out of the middle class. Had there been any
integrity behind the rhetoric of HOPE, we would have already seen Goldmann-
Sachs execs behind bars, the 9/11 investigation would have been done
“professionally”, and Monsanto would have been shut down as a crime against
humanity. Don’t count on any of that happening.

Just yesterday I was listening to NPR. FEMA is now lowering the bar and
declaring many well established business districts and residential communities
in flood zones; areas which have been populated for centuries, off limits. It
would be mandatory to have flood insurance, but no one would be able to buy
insurance. This Catch-22 has only purpose, to cripple communities that have
survived for generations and further destabilize the economy. It has absolutely
NOTHING to do with public safety or proper allocation of taxpayer dollars.

If Obama was set on a path of job creation and fiscal management, we would
have pulled our troops back a long time ago. Instead we have Hilary down in
Ecuador putting in air bases just to keep the locals in S.A. reminded of a U.S.
presence and not to push the envelope too far. Allen Dulles would be proud,
along with that paranoid right-wing idiot brother of his, John Foster.

Sorry Bob, but you missed the ball on this one. The problem here is that too
many people fell for Obama’s line and that he was actually going to change
things.

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By balkas, July 7, 2010 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

Quite a bit of this piece dwells on personalizing an event callled US.

Dwelling solely on US or its iniquitously-structured society, lawlessness/diktats, etc., imposed on such a structure by another ‘higher’ societal structure wld provide some understandings.

Leaving out—oh,so dogmaticly—these and other astounding facts, presents a profusion of confusion on unwary people.
Precisely why every MSM collunnist uses the same dogmatic scheme.
In short, this is yet another story that is odder than any udder.
Watch for next one, and the next one….tnx

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By tedmurphy41, July 7, 2010 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

If America’s finances are in such a precarious state, then it’s time to make severe cut backs in military expeditions and to supplying aid to Countries that really do not need it, even though it’s the only way that America can get any co-operation in it’s many spheres of unhealthy interest.

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By christian96, July 7, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Yesterday, I decided to spend some time in the sun
by our condo assoc. pool.  I took a small radio with
me.  When I turned it on their was a guy named
Shawn talking about the ills of our society.  This
guy didn’t make a lot of sense.  He kept ranting
about our umemployment situation but offered no means
for correcting it.  Never once did he mention the
fact that most people are out of work because their
jobs were shipped overseas so the corporations could
make more money on slave labor.  Shawn kept repeating, “We’ve got to show them bus next November
at the polls.”  This wasn’t the same time I’ve heard
this song and dance lately.  If we switch from
democrats to republicans next November we still have
the same system(show).  Just different puppets(actors).  People have short memories and don’t
remember the miseries previously under the republicians.  After four more years of continued
miseries under the republicians then the cry will
be to switch to the democrats.  The merry-go-round
goes on and on.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 7, 2010 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

In reference to Larry Summers, don’t miss “How Harvard Lost Russia”, http://jboy.chaosnet.org/misc/docs/articles/shleifer.pdf

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By hark, July 7, 2010 at 7:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is nothing Obama can do against the prevailing economic forces in this country.  Corporate America has taken over the government.  The best he can do is maintain is presidency through two terms, before the Republicans take over again and drive the final nails into the middle class coffin.

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By Shift, July 7, 2010 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

Puleeeeese stop separating Obama from poor decision making.  Obama is a corporatist.  Even public schools are under his privatization attack.  He is a small thinker.  His purposeful policies are failing.  He lacks an open mind.  He is inflexible.  He acts with the boldness of an unborn cat.  He is an arrogant liar.
He has bet the farm on capitalism now on life support.  He is the decider and is leading the parade to the cemetery.  HE will get the McCrystal treatment and the American People will give it to him at the earliest point possible.  He is leading the parade to his own political funeral.  Good riddance.

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By Bill Wolfe, July 7, 2010 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

Juast to be clear, Summers was not just posing rhetorical questions. He knew exactly the implications of his economic theory.

He wrote this too:

“The problem with the arguments against all these proposals for more pollution in LDC’s [is that these arguments] (e.g. intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social conncerns, lack of adequate markets, etc} could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every [World] Bank proposal for liberalization”

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By Bill Wolfe, July 7, 2010 at 6:24 am Link to this comment

oops, hit send too soon and left out the tail end of the killer Summer racist quote:

“I’ve always thought that under populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted.”

[Economist, 1992, p. 66)

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By tycho brahe, July 7, 2010 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Emancipation freed the slaves during a great war which nearly tore this country in half. Ever since then there has been an ongoing, highly successful effort by the Wall Street banks and the mega corporations to enslave not just all of us but every ordinary individual in the world. The IMF and World Bank have carried out a systematic program to insure that impovrished nations remain in that condition so that they can be looted of their natural resources. In this country our personal freedoms have been steadly encroached upon by a police state. We are spied upon by cameras, subjected to covert electronic sursurveillance and threated when we parade in peacefull protest. Now, even the corrupt media is prevented from reporting on the disaster along the Gulf coast. Our Congress behaves like a bunch of syphilitic street walkers. Our President, the most powerful man in the world, is surrounded by advisors who are either lackeys or political thugs. He is a lap dog of the vested interests who paid for his election. His failure to dominate BP or to improve the condition of people overwhelmed by the disaster on the Gulf coast is an impressive demonstration of just how impotent he is. The return of the formaldhyde contaminated trailers is another example of the “let them eat cake” principle.Unless the people of this country actively protest what is going on we are destined to return to the culture of the Middle ages in which the people will have all the benefits of serfdom.

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By Bill Wolfe, July 7, 2010 at 6:13 am Link to this comment

Summers already had his McCrystal moment - and he put it in a memo, not an off the cuff remark:

“Just between you and me shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDC’s [Less Developed Countries]? ...
A given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which would be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic of dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. ...”

Leaked to and printed by The Economist -  February 8, 1992, page 66.

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By EJK, July 7, 2010 at 6:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@ssg13565

When, pray tell, has Uncle O. ever tried to do the “right” or brave thing? This cheeseball hustler—and I say that as one who worked hard for The Hustler’s election throughout ‘07/‘08—has turned out to be the biggest political betrayer in US history. You know the term “quisling”? (If not, look it up.) It’s being replaced in the new Webster-Merriam with the word “obama”.

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By Old Man Turtle, July 7, 2010 at 6:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some here might remember the fable of how the seas became salty.  It involves a “little mill” that would grind any amount of anything its owner told it to.  A ship captain who came into possession of the mill decided his most lucrative cargo would be salt, so he set off for some salt-poor but gold-rich country with the Little Mill grinding away.  A storm came up, the ship sank with all aboard, and the mill has been at the bottom making salt ever since, rendering the seas gradually more and more briny.

The financial system is just like the “little mill,” except it does its ‘thing’ much harder and faster.  It grinds away and produces money from nothing, 24/7/365.  No one dares shut it off, as the first commenter below suggests, even if they knew how. 

Money itself is a lot like salt, too.  Because it is by-nature toxic, corrosive, and habit-forming in its effects on our Living World, a very little bit of it is about all we can stand to enjoy.  Today massive concentrations of money are quite literally poisoning everything they’re allowed to come in contact with.  Money has eaten away the organic sinews of family and community, reducing civilized humanity to a motley collection of competing “individuals” who are effectively helpless to resist the further devastation it is wreaking on their pitiful lives.  There’s no need even to mention how addicting the stuff is, except to note how blessed few of us feel we ever have enough of it, and how damned many are convinced there’s no such thing as “enough.”

Someday the oceans will be too salty for most current Lifeforms to exist in it, according to science, though that time remains supposedly in the far distant future.  One day very soon, however, money’s degenerative consequences will overwhelm even those who think they understand and know how to “manage” it.  In fact, the two subjects of this article, along with their “boss”, show every sign already of being completely at-sea when it comes to really addressing the problem of what my own now mostly doddering generation used to call “the money power.”

So as my nephew “TAO Walker” says sometimes, it really does come down to a choice between “Your money or your life.”  At the moment, it looks like the vast majority of people are going to come down on the fatal side of that ‘question.’  Would it be perhaps too unkind to say of them, and their drug-of-choice, “Good riddance!”?

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THE SNED's avatar

By THE SNED, July 7, 2010 at 5:41 am Link to this comment

In response top Hidflect:
To blame Obama for this mess is hideous and terribly untrue.

If you mean that we can now have a government that can screw up as well as big business (BP, GM,Chrysler,Banks,Investment firms) you might be right.

What you don’t get is that the rich “the uber wealthy” as you call them are already socialized with government sponsored tax breaks galore that the average citizen doesn’t understand. Like the 15% tax on interest and dividends that Bush created for the wealthy…lowering the rate by half…and leaving the ordinary citizen to pay twice as much.

It is also the “uber rich” who have given up our manufacturing base to the orient. It is the “uber rich” who sit on the boards of corporations and pay their CEO’s hundreds of millions of dollars to create not one product you can touch and feel here.(Bank of America- Mobil) They and others created either a system or products that stole from the poor and middle class. Either their jobs or their money or both.

And when you see a defense budget of 700 Billion dollars you are looking at a country that makes war. And businesses, supported by the government, need to make war. These companies are socialized already. Paid by the government.We are already a socialized country.

One Billion dollars could fund 10,000 new businesses with $100,000 each. Now look at Iraq; look at Afghanistan and look at that 700 billion dollar budget….a then dream what it could do if a fraction of that budget supported new non- war businesses and new products..including products to protect our ports,rail and energy systems etc…. and then weep.

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By ssg13565, July 7, 2010 at 5:32 am Link to this comment

Let’s elect more Republicans to Congress so Obama won’t have to make “grovelling payoffs to the uber-wealthy”

That makes a lot of sense in some perverse parallel universe.

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By StormeeATL, July 7, 2010 at 5:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Feingold needs to run against Obama in the 2012 primary, he is really the only
one in the Senate democrat or republican that is calling the others out on
financial “reform” - we need more leaders in this country that say to hell with the
party leadership and the lobbiests, I am here for the people!

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By madisolation, July 7, 2010 at 5:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I completely blame Obama. I’ve come to the conclusion that Obama doesn’t even care if he has a second term in office—as long as he can finish what Bush started. That, I think, is Obama’s goal, and he’ll be handsomely rewarded for it in the years to come.
No one who cares about this country would keep Bush appointees in any position of power, nor would he put Geithner and Summers in to run our economy. Obama has no conscience, and he must get a kick out of the peons who defend his obvious callousness toward this country and what it stands for. He’s not only “not your boyfirend,” he doesn’t even want to get his hands dirty helping you.
Obama is a neocon wolf in Democratic clothing, he’s taking the Democratic Party and the country down with him, and he’s enjoying every minute of it.

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By hidflect, July 7, 2010 at 5:01 am Link to this comment

We’re beyond pleading now. Obama’s grovelling payoffs to the uber-wealthy have cast the die. The course is set. America is bound for socialism. A drastic but unavoidable step.

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By MaxShields, July 7, 2010 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

I think the real issue is whether the so-called economy is an economy. I would submit that it is just one big financial system that has taken over what the whole purpose of an economy is suppose to be for: Human (which includes all life) Welfare.

The GNP moves in the opposite direction of any sort of human welfare. Except during the lala post WWII (and even during that war) there has been no correlation.

So, a Great Depression or whatever we wish to call it is not at issue. The US Economy is needs a total transformation; otherwise it will simply be more and more concentration of wealth and a complete collapse of every form of infrastructure that has been built over the last 70 years - in this heat it means there will be no more airconditioning (except for the few) and you can figure how the rest of that plays out.

To use an over used term: this is simply unsustainable and getting “out from under” means moving far away from what it, not simply trying to pump more meaningless jobs so people can buy meaningless stuff and have an extremely unattached meaningless life - that describes the US Economy and what it produces in the best of times.

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By ssg13565, July 7, 2010 at 4:49 am Link to this comment

Yes, if the blocking tactics of the 41 minority Republican Senators manage to dump this economy into a second recession, the voters will reward them by increasing their numbers.

Nothing like making it even harder for Obama to do the right thing.  That’ll sure show him the futility of trying.

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By ssg13565, July 7, 2010 at 4:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is interesting how we focus on the failures of President Obama while completely ignoring the 41 minority Republican Senators who are blocking the additional steps Obama wants to take to further stimulate the economy.

The steps Obama has taken so far have been proven to work. They just need to be continued for a while longer.  If the steps were the abject failures this author claims them to be, the Republicans would let them go forward so as to sink Obama’s future prospects.

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, July 7, 2010 at 4:12 am Link to this comment

May I suggest that President Obama has reviewed the results when past presidents have tried to tinker with the real levers of power and has concluded, on that basis, that his own life expectancy would be significantly shortened if he tried it in any seriously effective way. I agree with him.

You can’t blame the poor state of economic affairs on the President. The blame rests squarely on those who, with hands over their hearts (where men used to keep their wallets), support the “American Way… not “In God We Trust” but “In GREED We Trust.”

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