Monday, February 6, 2012

Help the President Help the More Fortunate

I was a little late getting to President Obama's weekly radio address. But since the message keeps reverberating in much the same form, vis a vis the desperate plans of his Administration to "settle" with the criminal bankster class over their "mistakes" in defrauding homeowners, I think it's worth a parse. So, in case you still haven't had enough of the droning of Built to Last, here we go:

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been traveling around the country and talking with folks about my blueprint for an economy built to last.  It’s a blueprint that focuses on restoring the things we’ve always done best.  Our strengths.  American manufacturing.  American energy.  The skills and education of American workers.

Built to Last replaced the losing Winning the Future, in case you hadn't noticed. And now it's got the added gimmick of a blueprint, because I just love that idea. I got it from the Republican side of the aisle from friends like Paul Ryan and his Mediscare blueprint. It makes me seem like an architect who builds things. Like a Ford truck..... but really more like a commercial for a Ford truck. Rugged, leaderly, tough, nationalistic. Home Sweet Homeland.

And most importantly, American values like fairness and responsibility. We know what happened when we strayed from those values over the past decade – especially when it comes to our housing market. Lenders sold loans to families who couldn’t afford them.  Banks packaged those mortgages up and traded them for phony profits.  It drove up prices and created an unsustainable bubble that burst – and left millions of families who did everything right in a world of hurt.

Let us never forget the families who did everything wrong. It is important that I not alienate the conservative-leaning voters of the battleground states here. A lot of folks still buy into the canard born in the CNBC rant of Rick Santelli, post meltdown in 2009, that welfare queens and unemployed Mexicans getting liar loans caused the whole crisis. So I am going to compromise, wallow in a little phony centrism,  and mendaciously give that canard just a wee tad of presidential cred. Families who bought houses they couldn't afford are just as venal as the banksters. Families who got regular mortgages they could afford were hurt by irresponsible, subprime poor families. You think only Republicans can create phony wedge issues? Hah!

It was wrong.  The housing crisis has been the single biggest drag on our recovery from the recession.  It has kept millions of families in debt and unable to spend, and it has left hundreds of thousands of construction workers out of a job.

I won't mention the inconvenient truth that unfettered capitalism and unregulated banks caused the housing crisis, and are still a drag on the economy. Reinstating Glass-Steagall is just too hard. Supporting Elizabeth Warren as chief of the Consumer Protection agency she created?  Just too hard.  Construction workers are unemployed because the hoarding banks won't give out construction loans. Even though I keep politely asking. 

But there’s something even more important at stake.  I’ve been saying this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class.  And the housing crisis struck right at the heart of what it means to be middle-class in this country: owning a home.  Raising our kids.  Building our dreams.

I am not bothering with you lesser people who rent their homes, either from choice or from necessity. Or, God forbid, folks who live in their relatives' basements or shelters.Let's define our terms. "Middle class" as defined by my campaign strategists means The Monied Burbs: employed professional people who can actually afford to get married, buy a house, and have 2.3 kids. And a dog. Maybe not a purebred Portuguese Water Dog like Bo, but at least a LabraDoodle or a Golden Retriever.

Right now, there are more than 10 million homeowners in this country who, because of a decline in home prices that is no fault of their own, owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.  Now, it is wrong for anyone to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.  I don’t accept that.  None of us should.

I am not mentioning that 10 million out of a 330 million population is rather a small demographic. And that by relentlessly harping on fault, I am signalling my utter disdain for irresponsible losers. Hardworking Heartland independents pride themselves on the work ethic. Let's face it: I am in campaign mode here. The monied suburbanites saddled with million-dollar homes now worth maybe eight hundred thou are the ones whose votes and donations and phone-banking I am counting on.  Responsible: code for employed professional.

That’s why we launched a plan a couple years ago that’s helped nearly one million responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages and save an average of $300 on their payments each month.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit it didn’t help as many folks as we’d hoped.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying.
Yeah, it didn't work because our hearts just were not in it at the time. It was not an election year. Plus, it would have been too hard on the Wall Street banks.  Since my Administration never tried to penalize the banks for failing to help folks, they really had no incentive to go along, did they?   
That’s why I’m sending Congress a plan that will give every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgages by refinancing at historically low rates.  No more red tape.  No more endless forms.  And a small fee on the largest financial institutions will make sure it doesn’t add a dime to the deficit.
A small fee on the largest financial institutions... vague, unspecified, but it sounds good in a campaign speech. And I just can't help myself! Even though my handlers told me to curtail it on the austerity theme, I just had to get the D Word (deficit) in here somehow. Please don't forget that my plan will help only a select few mega-homeowners who pay their bills on time. If you own a modest home and have been paying late, you're out of luck. And if you're out on the street, you won't vote anyway. You are so screwed, in too many ways to count. So you don't count.

I want to be clear: this plan will not help folks who bought a house they couldn’t afford and then walked away from it.  It won’t help folks who bought multiple houses just to turn around and sell them. What this plan will do is help millions of responsible homeowners who make their payments every month, but who, until now, couldn’t refinance because their home values kept dropping or they got wrapped up in too much red tape.
Ad nauseum, ad infinitum! I keep repeating myself, just so I can hammer home my point. My campaign is geared toward well-to-do people who are not financially strapped, and never have to rob Peter to pay Paul. I am not interested helping people who chronically have their cable or electricity shut off.  If you don't pay your bills on time, you are just not responsible.  If you're hurting, it's really kind of your fault. But since I'm a Democrat (or so I am told) I just can't be as blatant about it as my friends in the other wing of the Uniparty.
But here’s the catch.  In order to lower mortgage payments for millions of Americans, we need Congress to act.  They’re the ones who have to pass this plan.  And as anyone who has followed the news in the last six months can tell you, getting Congress to do anything these days is not an easy job.
That’s why I’m going to keep up the pressure on Congress to do the right thing.  But I also need your help.  I need your voice.  I need everyone who agrees with this plan to get on the phone, send an email, tweet, pay a visit, and remind your representatives in Washington who they work for.  Tell them to pass this plan.  Tell them to help more families keep their homes, and more neighborhoods stay vibrant and whole. 

In order for me to help this small segment of well-to-do Americans who own a lot of house, I need you to join my campaign even if you merely aspire to homeownership at this particular time. Are you in? Call Congress (Dems or Pubs, they're all alike) and send me your email address. Don't let Falls Church Va or Westchester County go the way of central Florida! Keep the lifestyle liberals and their possessions strong and confident, vibrant and whole.

The truth is, it will take time for our housing market to recover.  It will take time for our economy to fully bounce back.  But there are steps we can take, right now, to move this country forward.  That’s what I promise to do as your President, and I hope Members of Congress will join me.

Pay no attention to what Paul Krugman wrote today in The New York Times, about everything not being o.k. and how it's wrong for governments to keep saying austerity is important. Forget about the cloud of economic depression on the silver lining of a few thousand more minimum wage jobs for which I take total and unabashed credit. Forget that I listened to Tim Geithner and didn't break up the banks and didn't demand adequate stimulus. If you will just call Congress and Tweet your hearts out, we can move forward just like my MSNBC offshoot tells you to. It will give you the illusion of doing something. It will once again suck you into the Cult of My Personality.  



Denis Neville said...

Obama’s “Blueprint”

If Obama wins the 2012 election, that will be the last we hear of his pandering “blueprint” to progressives and liberals. Because he never have to face re-election, Obama will be even worse than he has been.

Contrary to WTF has Obama done so far?

How has Obama (expletive delete) us today?

• ejection of the rule of law - due process, once the defining feature of American freedom
• ongoing civil liberties assaults
• abolition of due process when assassinating U.S. citizens
• endless wars
• 260 attacks by unmanned Predators or Reapers in Pakistan – averaging one every four days
• holding dozens of terrorism suspects without any charges for years
• full-scale immunity high-ranking government officials who commits war crimes
• expansion of pervasive surveillance state
• signing of NDAA
• prosecution of whistle blowers for espionage
• many of his key officials participated in the orgy of Wall Street de-regulation
• prostrating himself before the financial sector
• the White House revolving door, the lack of accountability
• failure to prosecute bank executives for accounting control fraud
• failure to prosecute mortgage fraud and foreclosure fraud
• retroactive immunity to the telecoms for felonies
• the housing ‘fix;” refusal to push for principal reductions and payment suspensions for homeowners behind in payments;
• etc., etc., etc., etc.,

Suck us into the Cult of My Personality…I don’t think so!

To condone is to be complicit.

Obama/Romney, potato/tomato…

Does it make any sense to keep voting for what we protest against?

Karen Garcia said...

Here is my comment on Krugman's column today:

As long as money rules politics, and politicians put their own grasp on power above the common good, the crisis of unemployment will continue. As long as a complicit corporate media keeps treating jobless statistics as a presidential scorecard rather than a measure of human misery, there will be no alleviation of suffering. As long as the banksters who stole trillions of dollars in household wealth remain unpunished and their fraud continues unregulated, an impoverished population will stay poor. And as long as we are kept alternately dumbed down, entertained, and fearful of some looming outside terror, nothing will change.

So thank you, Prof Krugman, for telling it like it is and refraining from the usual journalistic blather about whether the "numbers" are good for Obama or bad for Romney. Thanks for mentioning the existence of a whole lost generation of young people who got an expensive education they can't pay for or put to use. Were it not for their courage in taking matters into their own hands and starting the Occupy movement, the future for many of them would seem even more unbearably bleak than it already is.

So, besides continuing the fight for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, we should also issue a manifesto declaring "Austerity is hazardous to our collective health." The deficit hawks are really craven weasels. The only thing they have to fear is their irrational fear of a just and equitable society.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Karen (and all):

The explanation for Obama’s nearly-always inadequate and frequently misdirected proposals, beyond him being buddies with the plutocracy, is simple. Obama takes his presidential overtures and campaign strategy from the philosophy expressed by Mick Jagger in a classic Rolling Stones song:


@Jay - Ottawa: re your Jan. 30 comments about my Jan. 29 comments regarding your Jan. 26 “The Right Stuff” Václav Havel post: In my later Jan. 30 comment time-stamped subsequent to your Jan. 30 comment, I wasn’t ignoring the important points you raised; despite its earlier time stamp, your comment wasn’t yet visible to me. When I have the time, I want to make a thoughtful answer that your comment deserves.

@Denis Neville: Thanks for the interesting and relevant Robert Biggs/ Dwight Eisenhower/ Eric Hoffer references that you made subsequent to my final comment on that Havel thread.

barbara madeloni said...

One again, you nail it and uncover the deep cynical lies at the core of Obama's words. How anyone can be misled anymore is astonishing to me. This is the critical reading of a text we need to be teaching in schools. Speaking of schools, pay attention to his new blueprint to make colleges 'accountable' in order to be supported for financial aid. It is all about measuring 'outcomes' as earnings and turning college into vocational education. No one will need to learn to read a text as you have done here. They will be too well schooled in compliance and whatever job they've been trained for.

Denis Neville said...

@ Fred Drumlevitch – Obama’s presidential overtures and campaign strategy

Time may be on his side…

“Time is on my side, yes it is, Now you always say,
That you want to be free, But you'll come running back,
I said so many times before, You'll come running back to me.”


“When I'm drivin' in my car, And that man comes on the radio
He's tellin' me more and more, About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination,
I can't get no satisfaction, I can't get no satisfaction”


“I sit at home looking out the window imagining the world has stopped
Then in flies a guy who's all dressed up like a [American flag] and says…
I was sick and tired, fed up with this…
It was so very quiet and peaceful there was nobody, not a soul around,
I said, Hey! You! Get off of my cloud Hey! You! Get off of my cloud”

My strategy.

Kat said...

I read his editorial in my paper today ("Barack Obama is president of the United States") and cripes what a load of crap. Even Romney (yes, while pandering down in Florida I concede) stated that banks will have to accept write downs before any real recovery takes place.
I'm glad he said it. I have absolutely no faith that he would follow through if he assumed the presidency however.
Mr. Obama, as someone who "played by the rules" I do not worry about the homeowner who gets a pass. I worry about foreclosures infecting entire neighborhoods. Perhaps it is time to stop playing to those who can't see the big picture. But we know that isn't your true audience. This is just more love sent the banks' way.

Kat said...

What a horrible web site! And really-- increased mental health spending for veterans? I have a better and cheaper way of increasing mental health for veterans! (I think we know what it is).
The use of the word f*** over and over again was really pleasant too. I can see that they're going for the disaffected left rather than anyone on the right.

Kat said...

I do so enjoy your translations of the latest radio speech.

Jay - Ottawa said...

O for the day when detailed and critical explications of text will again be made a regular feature of the MSM with regard to political pronouncements. Never forget I. F. Stone's rule about D.C., which went something like this: "Assume they [elected officials' statements and their bureaucracy's pronouncements] are lying, until you have proof positive to the contrary." That's not cynicism but wisdom gained after a lifetime of filling filing cabinets to bursting with both what "they" said and then what "they" did.

@ Fred

Back under the Havel post, my raft of follow-up questions was meant to draw you into an elaboration of your previous comment, which was too subtle for me the first time around. I couldn’t imagine someone of your balance dismissing Havel's contribution to sanity in politics. Our readings of each other's comments fell out of synch, as you say, and was further hampered by the need to cut off that string so we could all move on to the next post. Here may not be the place to pick up that old string. So, to be continued, maybe, over at your site? On my way . . . .

DreamsAmelia said...

As ever, I love this re-interpretation, and all the comments...
May I also diverge to
thank goodness the readers today gave Nocera a sharp tongue lashing on his poisonous Keystone XL puff piece---how much oil stock does Nocera own? Looks like he needs to re-diversify his portfolio--sheesh--dismissing the "environmental base" as if they were a tiny, whacko "Sierra Club" constituency--not, actually, part of a "thundering herd" of left, right, Republican governors, and NASA scientists who recognize that the tar-sands emissions are so CO2 toxic that pillaging them is "game over" for the ENTIRE PLANET, not to mention the unsavory prospect of a BP-level spill right into the aquifer of America's breadbasket--all those fields in the midwest that are bound to be struck by earthquake and tornado do not need the fat jugular of an oil junkie crossing through with its aptly-named "unrefined crude"--nothing more vulgar than an oil spill to ruin the food and water supply of 1/3 of America's farmers that the pipe would traverse. Yeah, the construction workers would have jobs, but their biscuits would be sopping up crude. Given man's propensity to latch onto the most environmentally damaging extremes in order to meet the short-sighted goal of feeding his one stomach for one day at the expense of all future generations, it would not surprise me in the least to hear some of those construction workers declare that the oil makes their biscuits taste better. Sorry to all the people and all other species of plant and animal who will try to come along for the next 10,000 years after us. Our ancestors 100 years ago made a place for us and you, but once the planet reached 7 billion people in 2012, we stopped making way for you.

But yes, those right-wing Republican farmers who oppose the XL, worried about uncontaminated water for their crops, are just part of the "purist base" of environmental crazies in Nocera's OWS-hating world (see him in the Times video roundtable with Krugman and Dowd discussing OWS). And the readers expose that the whole job-creating thing is a canard to veil the fact that Texas is a convenient port from which to ship the oil to China--we ain't using that oil, we're just suffering all the side effects of pollution, like junkies gone so far they don't notice people raping and stealing from them.

I'm surprised I didn't see your remarks, Karen, and this is yet another prime example of when scathing criticism in its most wrathful vengeance is righteously, and fully warranted. How dare the Times quell our righteous fury by hoping to tame sharp tongues by giving certain ones "Trusted Commenter" status and claiming they can take it away at any time? Never mind, the reader comments rouse such indignant consternation one can safely declare, "Hell hath no fury like an environmentalist scorned!"

Valerie said...


You Go Girl! That last comment was brilliant!

Valerie said...


Went over to the Times to check out Nocera's piece. What a piece of junk - but the reader comments were GREAT!

I think it speaks volumes that the Times replaced Bob Herbert with this clown!

As for Obama and his "blueprint" - the guy is hardly to be trusted. What I don't get is how many people are faithfully toeing the party line. Well, I can't call myself a Democrat anymore - not that party affiliation ever kept me from voting my conscience. I refuse to be associated with that bunch of sell-outs. It speaks volumes that Nocera is a cheerleader for Obama and the new and improved corporate democratic party. Bet he drives a giant SUV!

And to think the Times is still offering me incentives to buy their paper! Ha! fat chance with their line-up of faux journalists! (Gretchen Morgensen and Louse Story, I am not refering to you!)

Valerie said...

Chris Hedges has a very good article on Occupy and the problem of the "black block." Well, worth the read

Just a thought -

@Denis - Truthdig had a cartoon about the exploitation of workers in China and it made me think of some of your links.

Karen invites anyone to do a guest post here on Sardonicky. May I encourage you to write such a post on the issue of exploitation of workers in China around the computer industry? It is a compelling subject and one we liberals really have to grapple with. With your knowledge of this subject area, I think you could put together an excellent piece. The reason I mention it is whenever I have written a post, it is found on the broader Internet. It would be good for all of us to read but more importantly, it would get an important message out there for many more people beyond our readership to read.

James F Traynor said...

Karen, great stuff.

Denis Neville said...

Obama’s Blueprint

Our Constant State of War…Our Homeland

The plot against human consciousness continues with the repeated abuse of language by our government and by our media.

Glenn Greenwald, “The Grave Threat of ‘Homegrown Terrorism’”

“U.S. government officials and their cheerleaders in the community of so-called “Terrorism experts” have spent the last two years justifying Endless War and ever-increasing surveillance, detention and militarism authorities with a steady drumbeat of shrill warnings that the nation faces a new, grave menace: the threat of “Homegrown Terrorism” from radicalized American Muslims…”

“Just consider what the constant hyping of this “miniscule threat” has enabled…

“But these fears are illusory — every bit as manufactured as the long series of other threats hyped by the U.S. Government over the last decade to justify the never-ending War…

“The central linchpin of Endless War and civil liberties erosions is keeping fear levels high. Foreign Al Qaeda villains once served that role, and Homegrown Terrorists have now replaced them. That they are, in fact, a “miniscule threat to public safety” seems to have no force in even slowing down, let alone grinding to a halt, the never-ending war mentality imposed on the citizenry even though we are now more than a full decade away from the last successful Terrorist attack on U.S. soil.”

Former Labour MP Tony Benn clearly elucidated how Americans have forgotten what it means to have a truly representative government:

"Because people in debt become hopeless and hopeless people don't vote.... If the poor in Britain or the United States turned out and voted for people who represented their interests it would be a democratic revolution. So they don't want it to happen. So keeping people hopeless and pessimistic.... See I think there are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all, frighten people. And secondly, demoralize them. An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern, and I think there's an element in the thinking of some people- we don't want people to be educated, healthy and confident because they would get out of control. The top 1 percent of the world's population owns 80 percent of the world's wealth. It's incredible that people put up with it, but they're poor, they're demoralized, they're frightened and they think perhaps the safest thing to do is take orders and hope for the best."

“War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.”

― George Orwell, 1984