Feel free to start asking your questions. We’ll stagger them when Bob joins us.
11:05 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:05:06 GMT
11:05 Question From Guest
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:05:20 GMT
Comment: Leaving Glass-Steagall behind in 1999 is what began all this underwriting and is what exposes us to speculative risk. Is the new legislation a step toward return to Glass-Steagall?
11:11 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:11:44 GMT
(To Guest) As I indicated in my column on Truthdig this week, the most you can say in favor of this legislation is that it deserves a B, which is the grade [given to it by] Paul Volcker, the former chair of the Fed, who Barack Obama said would be his guide in these matters, the man who had run the Fed under Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, highly respected conservative economist, who had established the Volcker Rule, which was to return the spirit of Glass-Steagall. Volcker last week, after the bill was drafted finally, said the most he could give the bill was a B, and most of what Volcker wanted was on the cutting floor. The bill does not prevent Goldman Sachs from getting the protection of taxpayers which [the company has obtained from its] high-flying investment; the answer is we did not get a restoration of Glass-Steagall.
11:12 Question From Turd Furgeson
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:12:01 GMT
Comment: How much of the “job growth” that the Obama White House speaks of do you think is actually attributed to the continued growth of the U.S. military defense?
11:14 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:14:54 GMT
(To Turd Furgeson) I think that’s a good question; the main stimulus program unfortunately has been the expansion of the military budget with two wars, and this is a sad reminder that the thing that ended the Great Depression was World War II, not much in the way of domestic policy, and Obama has conceded that we have lost 8 million jobs—not his fault, he’s managed to claw back 600,000. That’s a lot of jobs that have gone missing and doesn’t include people that have given up on looking for jobs. Sadly, what we have for poorer kids is the military, be all you can be, go into the military. Sad thing is that the corps that have benefited aren’t spending the money to create jobs. It’s choking that we can’t do what the Chinese do. They are willing to spend money to create jobs, and what we have done with our stimulus package is really quite minor.
11:14 Question From Kawika
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:14:57 GMT
Comment: It’s starting to look hopeless. Do we need to have another crisis to get meaningful reform passed?
11:17 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:17:56 GMT
(To Kawika) Well you know, that is sort of what Volcker said in his interview with The New York Times. He’s afraid that we have this scare and then they do something that isn’t enough. If you really want an insight, we have a good item on our Ear section and it concerns the lobby that gutted this bill. ... How to help people stay in their homes, force the banks to loosen, better to help people stay in their homes—the lobbyists were able to gut that. There’s nothing in the stimulus that protects consumers; what’s outrageous is that Obama is being called anti-business when in fact he has been a proponent in the interest of the Republicans.
Question from Lee Diamond of Arlington: “Wouldn’t it be self-defeating to take our frustration out on President Obama and the Democrats? Don’t we need to re-elect them and push harder with grass-roots organizing?”
If you are looking for Obama to reverse the economy, get you a job, end home foreclosures, etc. ... you’re looking at him incorrectly.
11:20 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:20:37 GMT
(To Lee Diamond) Absolutely. I don’t know why, just because I will vote for the lesser evil, I should suspend my use of the rational mind; we have to look for the truth of the matter, and that is that the American public is hurting and it’s the responsibility of both parties. Obama is in trouble partially because he didn’t create the problem but [although] he didn’t follow the lead of Geithner and Summers, who helped create the problem with the radical deregulation of the Clinton years, he brought them in to help out with economic policy in the face of the recession by making the banks whole while ignoring the needs of those being foreclosed. I think criticism of the president will only strengthen them if it comes from the grass roots and the people around him have to deliver to the people who vote.
11:20 Question From Richard Nixon
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:20:43 GMT
Comment: Is there an easy way to summarize why people like Chris Hedges don’t like NAFTA? I just remember in his columns his saying Democrats should have abandoned the party when this came into place.
11:22 Comment From Turd Furgeson
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:22:35 GMT
Comment: Poll: I don’t agree.
11:22 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:22:41 GMT
(To Richard Nixon) Well, the problem is that NAFTA has been good for multinational corporations at the expense of agricultural workers in Mexico. We can look at that situation to know that NAFTA wasn’t the great gift that it was presented as. Inasmuch as the international legislation, it ignores environmental and labor concerns to facilitate business investments in the old assumption that what’s good for corporations is good for the people, but as we see in the drilling in the Gulf, that is not the case.
11:22 Question From dick ginnold
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:22:58 GMT
Comment: Why isn’t Obama more aggressive? Just his nature and conservatism or a tactic that he thinks will work?
11:27 Comment From WSmart
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:27:38 GMT
Comment: Nader says it’s a one-party system, and I agree. As long as people are willing to vote to win rather than vote for the issues, you will get whatever this duopoly says you get and you’ll like it, period. If winning is everything to the voter why shouldn’t it be everything in Washington, the world be damned, for real.
11:27 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:27:45 GMT
(To dick ginnold) That’s a complex question. I think Obama, being the first African-American president, was properly forewarned that he would be savaged for anything he did and he’s been under a lot of pressure to prove that he’s just like any white American male president, that he is capable of governing from an established center. Connected to that is the power of Wall Street to say that “if you don’t play with us, we will pull the rug from under you.” So any American president down in our history has found that he is the subject of blackmail by the big financial corporate interest. And at key moments with presidents, the Roosevelts, Truman, who took on the steel industry, they had to say, “I’m not going to submit to your blackmail and instead I’m going to do what is better for the American people,” and unfortunately Obama, and I think this is the great disappointment of this administration, he turned economic policy over to some bad actors, the aforementioned Geithner and Summers, who both were on the record for their actions in the Clinton administration. Summers while he was advising Obama was getting money from hedge funds, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, saying what’s good for Wall Street is good for mainstream. Why [Obama] would turn to elitist society to deal with a recession that Wall Street created is frankly beyond me.
Question from abikecommuter of Belmont: “So what is the president getting for being Bush As Usual over Guantanamo, Honduras, climate change, etc.? After Nancy Pelosi bailed him out on health care from a Jimmy Carter Tailspin? Isn’t the president compromising the most effective House leader in a number of generations with his commitment to war, bailed-out banks, CEOs like Jamie Dimon (cover of NYT Business) and offshore drilling?”
When Obama promised to create jobs did he really mean for the Chinese and Indians instead of the U.S.?
11:33 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:33:27 GMT
(To abikecommuter of Belmont) Absolutely. Again, the point is he is compromising the spirit that elected him. Remember he was attacked by Palin as being that community organizer, and a socialist, the bleeding-heart liberal; well we need more of that [those qualities in Obama]. We have a lot of people losing their jobs—we need a little of that [those Obama qualities] and we need to hold the scoundrels accountable. I think a lot of us voted for Obama because he had a heart, and instead it’s Vietnam all over again. The really smart, best and brightest are leading us astray. The tip-off on this is not just Pelosi. You have good people like Russ Feingold—no better person in the U.S. government to deal with these issues than Feingold—he dealt with these issues in the past and is incredibly smart about it. He voted against the Clinton reversal and was warning about this problem in the ’90s and announced that he could not vote for this legislation if it did not restore the Volcker Rule on becoming too big to fail, and instead of changing the legislation to obtain Feingold’s vote, they chucked him overboard and went with [senators] like Brown from Massachusetts and weakened the bill in order to get their vote rather than strengthen it and get Feingold’s.
11:33 Comment From Turd Furgeson
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:33:33 GMT
Comment: Most people would agree that the most important thing for people to do when presidential elections roll around is vote. Just get out there and vote. I would disagree, noting that most people don’t do enough research to make educated and rational decisions, they just pick a name. I would rather those people that don’t know what they’re voting about not vote at all. I see those people as dangerous. What do you think? Should people that don’t know about politics be pressured into just picking a name?
11:33 Comment From Kawika
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:33:37 GMT
Comment: Robert, I’ve been thinking about the whole concept of creating change by voting for the lesser of two evils and then pushing that politician towards a more progressive direction. I guess I feel that it won’t work. Voting for who you really feel will institute policies that you believe in might not get them elected, but maybe having the worse of two evils in office will speed up a collapse that might actually create meaningful reform.
11:33 Comment From Turd Furgeson
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:33:41 GMT
Comment:@ abikecommuter of Belmont
11:33 Comment From WSmart
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:33:44 GMT
Comment: He didn’t say, did he!
11:33 Comment From Ryan Blatz
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:33:59 GMT
Comment: Why can’t we get a young new moderate liberal to champion the idea that the old way of doing things has got to change with a platform focused on campaign finance reform, reducing defense spending, and creating some confidence in our leadership system. Republicans won by talking about values ... something every person can understand. The Democrats just talk about issues, and no one understands and no one listens. We need someone to run on the values of common sense and integrity.
Question from Jason Logan from Vancouver, Canada: “Hi Bob. I’m portraying George Soros in the Canadian premiere of David Hare’s play about the financial crash, “The Power of Yes”. What’s your opinion of Soros & what he’s done—his Open Society Institute & funding many left-wing causes? Does he really bankroll a “shadow government” for the U.S.? What do you think of him?”
11:37 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:37:44 GMT
(To Jason Logan) I think Soros has done what an enlightened capitalist has done and should do, which is try to look for long-term interest of the economic system that has benefited himself, and what he represents is an enlightened view of his self-interest that has been absent in Wall Street. So I think both Soros, Buffett, even Gates to some extent, his father certainly, that these people are thinking at least in the future and, interestingly enough, there was just a profile with Malone, the telecommunication mogul, and he mentioned that the whole economy is collapsing and he’s pointed with pride that he has 29 miles of land on the Canadian-U.S. border and he said if the U.S. economy collapses, he will retreat to Canada because they are a more stable system. There’s an example of a corporate mogul who complained about regulation and yet now he is saying that the worst could be happening and he will go off to Canada, which after all has a more enlightened health care policy and so forth, and I thought that was very interesting.
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:38:14 GMT
When Obama promised to create jobs did he really mean for the Chinese and Indians instead of the U.S.?
11:41 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:41:55 GMT
(To Tony) I am totally opposed to the scapegoating of China and India, which is implicit in that question. We the U.S., our stupid policies created this mess for the world. This was not an act of God, it was not an inevitable cycle of the business cycle and was not created by India and China. Yes, there are problems with international trade, but they are being dealt with by people in China, just like in Japan, that you have to share the wealth and can’t base it all on cheap labor. China, which is carrying so much of our debt, responded to this crisis, which we created, by spending a lot of money, building roads, improving conditions in their country to create jobs, not to steal jobs from us, they spent a lot of money on infrastructure and are in a period of robust growth. They have responded to this crisis which we created with what are basically Keynesian solutions from the Great Depression that our own government has failed to follow.
11:42 Question From Guest
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:42:03 GMT
Comment: Bob: Again, big fan from “With Enough Shovels” days. What does it say about Obama that he appoints Liz Fowler to be administering his health care program. I think he’s actually working hard to be a one-term president.
(That’s the last question for Bob, but stick around if you have more to say.)
11:44 Comment From Guest
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:44:09 GMT
Comment: Politico commentary today included that Obama has failed to mesh with D.C. politics—much like Jimmy Carter. I find this analysis less than rigorous. Carter entered office as an anti-politician; Obama entered office as a politician claiming to change the status quo.
11:44 Comment From Richard Nixon
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:44:22 GMT
Comment: I agree with Turd Furgeson that most people don’t know what they’re doing when they vote, especially young people. I think many people thought they were doing the right thing voting for Obama in ’08, because of his speeches and his media image, but the real truth is he got paid more by corporations and won.
U got $10 billion, u can either give it to 2.5 million people who are unemployed as unemployment, or you can turn it into 100,000 jobs...
11:50 Robert Scheer
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:50:56 GMT
(To Guest) I think Obama is falling into the trap that Jimmy Carter fell into, that destroyed him. Both were elected because they seemed to have a populace instinct, they were for the little guy and could feel his pain, and then when they get in, they turn to the big shots that have ignored the little guy to run their government. And it speaks to a basic insecurity of their own values. I cannot understand why Obama, who in Copper Union, ’08, blasted the radical deregulation of the Clinton era, has not been able to reverse that. I don’t understand why Obama, who talked about the suffering of people, has cared more, like the Republicans, about Wall Street than Main Street. There only was second term through opportunism, and they don’t and we’re not in a situation where we can budget. They are hurting people, 3/4ths of Americans want to replace people who speak for them. They don’t trust anyone. We can all talk about the stock market, how it went up or down, but if you take people like Paul Krugman, they are warning about a great depression, they know real income has not improved in a decade, a country talking about life getting better and the Wall Street Journal… Market Watch recently had a good report (which we linked to on Truthdig) which said real wage is not just about this recession, it was happening from Clinton on. We have had growing wealth of the upper 1 percent mostly, a little more for the upper 10 percent, but the rest of the population haven’t been doing well and not, because of the recession aren’t doing well. And the idiocy of not being able to extend unemployment benefits, which is you get the best bang for your buck if you give it to somebody who is out of work, they’re going to spend it to create jobs for other people and instead we give it to Wall Street, who do nothing for the people. We focused on the stimulus program, the bailouts, and so forth but no attention has been paid to the biggest give by Obama, 1.25 trillion dollars of toxic, mostly bad mortgage packages that the Fed, using public funds and public obligation, bought. And the Fed is not holding responsibility for what the banks packaged, sold, knew that they were crummy, would melt and explode, were toxic, but they’re not holding it, that was taken off their books by the Feds. When you look at what they have done to create jobs is basically feather their own nest.
And to the chat, we’ll post your questions and comments shortly.
11:51 Comment From John Simms
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:51:53 GMT
Comment: Ryan Blatz spoke of returning humanitarian values to the top of the messaging of the Democratic Party. My belief is that part of what is keeping us from doing this (as Progressives and Liberals) is moral relativism; we tend to be tolerant of intolerance. Is our solution to call hate “hate” when appropriate?
11:52 Comment From Richard Nixon
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:52:14 GMT
Comment: Kenneth Jones is mad his Republican team isn’t in office because it would be the same results.
11:52 Comment From WSmart
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:52:17 GMT
Comment: You can’t have your cake and eat it too, Robert. Obama is supporting mulch-nationals or he isn’t. The mule-nationals are moving jobs overseas. And yes, India and China are fine examples of dirt cheap labor and human rights—what’s that?
11:52 Comment From Kawika
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:52:22 GMT
Comment: Mr. Nixon and Furgeson, it’s a dangerous path; the contemplation of removing citizens’ right to vote because of one person’s view of the correct political path.
11:52 Comment From Turd Furgeson
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:52:25 GMT
Comment: Many thanks, Bob.
11:52 Comment From Richard Nixon
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:52:33 GMT
Comment: Are there any 3rd party candidates you have gotten behind in the past or would get behind in the future? What is your take on Nader?
11:52 Comment From WSmart
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:52:37 GMT
Comment: Not unless it involves getting Nader into the debates in 2012. The duopoly likes free money. Be real, be sober.
11:52 Comment From mtk
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:52:40 GMT
Comment: Is there likely to be greater oversight of the banks? Does the Obama Plan establish new or strengthen existing oversight of banks’ practices? Does it for example take into consideration the moral outrage of the public at the derivatives market scandal of AIG? Does it respond to public distaste for the liberation of the banks resulting from leaving Glass-Steagall restrictions in any punitive way?
We’re turning off the delay so your chat will soon be live!
11:54 Comment From Turd Furgeson
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:54:31 GMT
Comment: Kawika—I would change nothing about an individual’s right to vote. But I would attempt to dissuade anyone from voting when they know nothing about the politicians up for elections, or politics in general.
11:59 Comment From WSmart
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:59:14 GMT
Comment: In today’s culture, if you don’t vote, you don’t exist, and it doesn’t surprise me that we have small-minded people dissuading others from existing. Live responsibly and please don’t drink and breathe.
11:59 Comment From Turd Furgeson
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 19:59:41 GMT
Comment: Generally speaking, when one knows nothing about the politicians in an elections, they simply go along with who they perceive to be the most popular campaign. Or they will simply go along with what their peers are doing, without any thought.
12:01 Comment From Turd Furgeson
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 20:01:41 GMT
Comment: Instead of corporations simply telling people to vote, wouldn’t you rather see them telling people to get educated on the most important political topics or that time, or on the politicians they’re being pressured into mindlessly voting for?
12:15 Comment From WSmart
Thu, 15 Jul 2010 20:15:45 GMT
Comment: If you don’t vote, you don’t exist, and if you vote for the two-party system, you also pretty much don’t exist because both parties have the same policies. That’s like voting but at the same time you didn’t vote, having your cake and eating it too (We tried! We tried so hard! God knows we tried!). And what’s worse than having Palin as president or losing the election? Ask Michael Moore.