Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chains We Can Believe In

The Beltway media bubble is exploding over Joe Biden's latest supposed gaffe -- that Republicans want to "put y'all back in chains" via their nefarious plot to eviscerate Dodd-Frank financial reform. Which begs the question -- how on earth do you eviscerate watered-down gruel? But be that as it may, the remark is being universally lambasted as a "dog whistle" to his largely African-American audience. If you vote for Romney, black people, expect an imminent return to slavery. There hasn't been this much outrage since Hillary Clinton complained on Martin Luther King Day 2006 that Congress was being run like a plantation. "And you know what I'm talkin' about" she told her black audience in a really bad imitation of 1930s Hollywood slave dialect.

The Dems are defending the Bidenism, claiming he was simply using the Republicans' "we're being shackled by too many regulations!" complaint against them. Even President Obama, who has shied away from anything remotely racial* ever since the "Beergate" debacle, weighed in. In full folksy g-droppin' populist mode during his campaign bus tour through Iowa, Obama told the People (!) gossip rag:
"The truth is that during the course of these campaigns, folks like to get obsessed with how something was phrased even if everybody personally understands that's not how it was meant.That's sort of the nature of modern campaigns and modern coverage of campaigns. But I tell you, when I'm traveling around Iowa, that's not what's on people's minds."
You can say that again, Barry. And while we're on the subject of dog whistles, they've been blowing fast and furious since right before the selection last weekend of Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate. On selection eve, the Obama Administration, purely as a coincidence, announced that Goldman Sachs will not be prosecuted after all, because it's just too hard to punish bankster fraud, especially in an election year when donations are starting to dry up and they are not as flush with cash as they would like. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi grouses that Attorney General Eric Holder has no balls. Actually, he and the rest of Team Obama have balls of ice cold steel. They have the chutzpah to announce they are fully in the tank for Wall Street while simultaneously purporting to empathize with what's on "people's" minds.

And just in case Wall Street still doesn't get the message that they will be absolutely safe during an Obama second term, the Administration today sent out still another dog-whistly signal to its financial overlords. Pay no attention to the Bidenism. There will also likely be no prosecution of MF Global, nor of its CEO,  Obama bundler, former NJ governor and Goldman Sachs chief Jon Corzine. That is indeed chutzpatic, given that Corzine has "lost" the life-savings of many an Iowa farmer for whom the president so smarmily claims to care. As Azam Ahmed and Ben Protess write in today's New York Times:
After 10 months of stitching together evidence on the firm’s demise, criminal investigators are concluding that chaos and porous risk controls at the firm, rather than fraud, allowed the money to disappear, according to people involved in the case.
The hurdles to building a criminal case were always high with MF Global, which filed for bankruptcy in October after a huge bet on European debt unnerved the market. But a lack of charges in the largest Wall Street blowup since 2008 is likely to fuel frustration with the government’s struggle to charge financial executives. Just a few individuals — none of them top Wall Street players — have been prosecuted for the risky acts that led to recent failures and billions of dollars in losses.
Meanwhile, the chutzpatic and chaotic Mr. Corzine is "weighing" whether to start yet another porous hedge fund in which to play with other people's money. Right now he's reduced to playing with his own family's vast fortune, according to The Times. Still, the ignominy has not stopped his listing as a major bundler (raising more than $500,000) on the Obama Victory Fund's website. And in an attempt to boost his cred even further, he may even cooperate with the government in throwing one of his former female minions at MF Global under the bus. Balls of cold, cold steel. Balls and chains. We're being yanked, y'all.

* I stand corrected. Reader Blank Paiges reminds me of President Obama's statement following the Trayvon Martin shooting. The Beergate incident was an example of a political gaffe, or an off the cuff remark that was construed as a political gaffe. His Trayvon statement, of course, was nothing of the sort. On whole, though, the president has shied away from involvement in racial politics. Read Black Agenda Report (on my blogroll) for further insight. 


cat said...

Is there some reason this isn't anywhere in the US news after three days overseas?? This is so huge, could ruin Romney. WTF?

Denis Neville said...

Paul Ryan’s Insider Trading

Yves Smith @Naked Capitalism comments and cross posts AlterNet’s Lynn Parramore’s “Revealed: Romney Campaign’s Attempts to Deny Paul Ryan’s Insider Trading Don't Add Up”

Ryan has no more integrity or character than Mittens. Surprise!

“A man is usually more careful of his money than of his principles.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

A pure “Invisible Hand” hand would need no glove to cover it.

Zee said...

@cat and @Denis--

Paul Ryan's insider trading during the 2008 banking crisis will never become an issue in the campaign.

First, at the time the trades took place, what Ryan did was entirely "ethical" by House and Senate standards, even though they have nominally outlawed such trading now. (I say "nominally," because as I understand it the recent changes to their ethics rules are essentially toothless, though I have not researched it in detail myself.)

Second, there were plenty of other congresscritters who bought or dumped zillions of shares during the 2008 crisis for purposes of self-enrichment. Read (especially) Ch. 3, Crisis for All, Opportunity for Some, from the book titled: Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off of Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals and Cronyism That Would Send the Resk of Us to Prison by Peter Schweizer.

Names like Sens. John Kerry, Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel figure prominently into Ch. 3 as congresscritters who also enriched themselves during the crisis. These guys simply regard the opportunity to "insider-trade"--to coin a phrase--as a perk for all the "hard work" that they do on the public's behalf. (That's sarcasm, there.)

Raising charges of "insider trading during the 2008 crisis" against Ryan will only backfire mightily, raining sh** and scrutiny on prominent Democrats who are every bit as guilty as Ryan. (Not that Republicans aren't mentioned by Schweizer, either.)

So don't expect "insider trading" to be an issue in the presidential campaign.

Please note that you should not interpret my "defense" (for want of a better word) of Ryan as support for Romney/Ryan, though I believe that Obama should be thrown out on his ear along with the entire standing Congress.

I can't stand the presidential/vice-presidential candidates from either major party, and am increasingly considering leaving the "President" box unchecked on my ballot in November, or voting for the Libertarian candidate.

PS--There's a third reason that the issue of insider trading will never become an important issue in the presidential campaign: The public is either asleep or doesn't give a damn.

Zee said...

Apparently, America's first black governor, Douglas Wilder, doesn't think that what Joe Biden said about 'Republicans want[ing] to "put y'all back in chains"' was some innocent "mis-phrasing" of something much more complicated that he was really trying to articulate.

"America’s first black governor in modern times has become the most senior Democrat to break ranks over Joe Biden’s ‘y’all in chains’ comments, telling the Vice President: 'Slavery is nothing to joke about.'

Douglas Wilder, who was governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994 and the first black governor since Reconstruction, told CNN that 'without question' Biden’s remarks in Danville, Virginia (though the veep seemed to think he was in North Carolina) 'were appeals to race'."

And from the same article,

"Artur Davis, a black former congressman who was one of President Barack Obama’s most prominent supporters in 2008 but has since defected to the Republicans, told CNN that Biden was employing 'a divisive tactic that’s insulting to African Americans'.

The comments, he charged, were a deliberate racial tactic. 'I know what Joe Biden was doing. Every black person in that room knew who the "y'all" was. They knew what the chains were. They knew what the metaphor was about.'"

Even as I find myself wondering how many other black Americans are thinking the same thing, I also don't believe that I can stand another two+ months of this campaign.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

"A pure 'Invisible Hand' hand would need no glove to cover it." [Denis Neville]

But a respectable citizen WOULD want to put on a surgical-quality latex glove prior to shaking hands with it.

Atlas squatted --- and out popped Paul Ryan.

On a more serious note, I strongly suggest that everyone read the piece by Mark Ames cross-posted a few days ago at Naked Capitalism and at The eXiled, on the subject of Ayn Rand's adoration of a serial killer:

Beyond the selfishness of her socio-economic advocacies, Ayn Rand sure was one sicko creature to serve as an inspiration for a political candidate for vice-president, as well as countless other Republicans.

When Republicans are willing to cite such a person as inspiration, neither Republican candidates nor their current supporters are likely to be the least bit troubled about the propriety of insider stock trading.

As Karen and Zee note, many Democratic politicians similarly find no fault with the crooked finger of contemporary finance, primarily because of their own incestuous relations with the investment banking world. But I hope that at least some Democratic voters will still notice, and object to being on the receiving end of it.

With regard to Zee's voting dilemma, I strongly suggest that he and anyone dissatisfied with both major parties cast a protest vote for a third party, rather than leave the spot blank. Beyond being a more visible protest --- blank votes are seldom prominently reported, and perhaps aren't even officially counted --- the vote for a third party may facilitate that third party getting on the ballot or receiving public funding in the future.

Kat said...

Ah yes, the senator from Mastercard-- always on the side of the little guy.

"Y'all"? really? How authentic.

Mona Williams said...

I have been an Obama supporter in the past, but reading this post has finally convinced me that I should vote for neither major candidate in November.

Fred Drumlevitch, I like your idea of casting a protest vote for a third-party candidate. Unfortunately, it looks as though there will be no third-party candidates on the ballot in my state (Virginia). The Green Party is still collecting signatures and will probably not make the deadline. I wish now that I had known to volunteer earlier for this effort. But there is still the Green Party's campaign to work for better ballot-access laws in the future.

Zee said...


I wasn't able to make the "" link work on my computer--it got to the site, but then wouldn't scroll.

But after a little Googling, I gather that you are reminding us that then-Senator Biden--aka, "Senator Mastercard," supported the so-called Bankruptcy Reform Bill of 2005 that made it impossible for many people to declare bankruptcy when faced with overwhelming credit card debt, even when they really were totally busted?

(Scroll down to "Veep Creep" on this link and recall some other interesting things about Sen. Mastercard, too.)

What a guy!

I'll try to keep that in mind the next time someone--probably at my liberal church--tells me how great Obama/Biden are. I'll mention that, along with a full data dump of all the other interesting things I've learned about them from this forum.

Not, of course, that I will be telling them that they should be supporting Romney/Ryan, either.

I think that @Fred Drumlevitch has about solved my dilemma.

Gary Johnson--if he's on the New Mexico presidential ballot--was a very good two-term (then-Republican) governor of my state, and if I don't agree with him on a lot of things, he's not quite the loon that Ron Paul is.

Denis Neville said...

Well, it's Groundhog Day... again...

Obama portraying himself as the “voice of reason” for us “folks.”

More populist campaign speeches from the O, to help us let go of our troubles and feel good about voting for a more joyful future, and to deliver us to his rentier masters. Just like all political demagogues do. Casino capitalism for the rentiers and neo-feudalism and neo-serfdom for the rest of us.

Will Obama get away with it again?

“The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama's Record…Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him”

Obama was and is a corporate liberal?

A defensive move by progressive forces to hold back the ‘Caligulas’ on the political right?

People like blood sausage, too. People are morons.

“The cant of our political theater, the ridiculous obsessions over vice presidential picks or celebrity gossip that dominate the news industry, effectively masks the march toward corporate totalitarianism. The corporate state has convinced the masses, in essence, to clamor for their own enslavement. There is, in reality, no daylight between Mitt Romney and Obama about the inner workings of the corporate state. They each support this section within the NDAA and the widespread extinguishing of civil liberties. They each will continue to funnel hundreds of billions of wasted dollars to defense contractors, intelligence agencies and the military. They each intend to let Wall Street loot the U.S. Treasury with impunity. Neither will lift a finger to help the long-term unemployed and underemployed, those losing their homes to foreclosures or bank repossessions, those filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills or college students burdened by crippling debt. Listen to the anguished cries of partisans on either side of the election divide and you would think this was a battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. You would think voting in the rigged political theater of the corporate state actually makes a difference. The charade of junk politics is there not to offer a choice but to divert the crowd while our corporate masters move relentlessly forward, unimpeded by either party, to turn all dissent into a crime.” – Chris Hedges,

Kat said...

Yes indeed. That is the point he was making.
The press really fell asleep on that issue (as they are paid to do). I remember wondering where was the outrage. Well I guess we'll have to give them a pass-- it was about reform and "consumer protection".
I think that any legislation from the last 30 or so years that is presented as "reform" is more likely to be "screw you".

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

this is clearly firebaggers' corner - count me in

this is the same 'karen garcia' sometimes appearing in the comments at the ny times, right?

i am in a state which is guaranteed for the dems so i will probably vote for the green party presidential candidate even though it may possibly be true that there is a 'lesser evil' in the race this year

may the creative forces of the universe stand beside us, and guide us, through the night with the light from above - metaphorically speaking

James F Traynor said...

Reminds me a little of the choice the Russian people made between Putin and the oligarchs; the lesser of two evils, Putin, is charging a steep price for saving them from the criminal communists turned criminal capitalists. The funny thing is that we don't even have a real choice - just oligarchs vs. oligarchs.

Karen Garcia said...

@Mistah Charley Ph.D,
Yep, I am the one who occasionally comments in the "liberal" echo chamber of the New York Times. Welcome aboard!

Denis Neville said...

“I told my friends of the cloth that I did not believe Christ was meek and lowly but a real living, vital agitator who went into the temple with a lash and a krout and whipped the oppressors of the poor, routed them out of the doors and spilled their blood and got silver on the floor. He told the robbed and misruled and exploited and driven people to disobey their plunderers, he denounced the profiteers, and it was for this that they nailed his quivering body to the cross and spiked it to the gates of Jerusalem, not because he told them to love one another. That was harmless doctrine. But when he touched their profits and denounced them before their people he was marked for crucifixion.” - Eugene V. Debs, talking to a reporter from his prison cell, while serving time for making anti-war speeches, in 1919

As we approach the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, how will OWS return? Occupy's greatest contribution last fall was putting income inequality and social injustice on the radar. Was OWS an end in itself rather than as a means to an end? The civil rights movement was never an end in itself. The civil rights movement didn't merely seek to put segregation on the radar. It sought to end it. Will OWS seek to end income equality and social injustice? So far Occupy hasn't shown it has a coherent message or the discipline to wage a long campaign. Beyond their initial message, they have failed. Was OWS just a flash moment?

Electoral politics is a necessary field for activism in a democracy, where is OWS? Their goals were not clearly defined and the change they sought was nebulous at best. OWS extolled the benefits of not standing for any one particular policy or law. Their lack of focus stalled their momentum. They didn't like the concept of changing laws through legislation, but what other way is there besides an unlikely revolution? Information and awareness are indispensable, but so are electoral politics and legislation. If OWS doesn't ever come to a consensus on anything what is their point? They created an opening. Are they willing and able to exploit it?

“There are always those who say legislation can’t solve the problem. There is a half-truth involved here. It is true that legislation cannot solve the whole problem, but it can solve some of the problem. It may be true that morality can’t be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that legislation cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sermon at St. Paul’s Church, Cleveland Heights, OH, May 14, 1963

James F Traynor said...

OWS was, is, a symptom. There will be more and the oligarchs and their servitors know this. They will continue to treat the symptoms with parmilitarized police and laws that do away with habeas corpus (NDAA, etc.) but not the disease itself.

Neil Gillespie said...

@Denis and James

Yes, agreed.

Occupy Wall Street began as a protest movement initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters, a not-for-profit, anti-consumerist, pro-environment organization founded in 1989 by Kalle Lasn and Bill Schmalz in Vancouver, British Columbia. Adbusters describes itself as "a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.".

In my view this group of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, etc., does not yet appeal to the mass American public, which is still enamored with consumerism.

OWS has been dismissed by the main stream media, in part because OWS lacks leadership and direction.

Blank Paiges said...

"Even President Obama, who has shied away from anything remotely racial ever since the "Beergate" debacle, weighed in."

Travon Martin had nothing to do with race, then? Obama had a little something to say on that. C'mon Karen, I added you for your badass insights on the NYT's comment boards...And then I get your above comment. Oy.