Saturday, May 11, 2013

Today's Dog Whistle to the Plutocratic Pitbulls

We have come to expect that President Obama's weekly addresses to the "Nation" will always be cloying exercises in sticky-sweetness. The latest edition, however, takes the cake for being an exercise in pure unadulterated chutzpah and noxious mendacity. The alarm bells at fact-check sites should be ringing hysterically. But since official campaign season is over, those who are safely esconced in office can now campaign and lie with impunity.

If Rip Van Winkle had just awoken from a long coma and tuned in to the weekly blather, he would have gotten the impression that happy days are here again, that the American dream of homeownership is once more within the reach of the average Joe or Jane, that there is no chronic unemployment and wage stagnation, there is no record income disparity,  and that President Obama has always sided with regular people over the unpunished and unregulated predators of the banking industry.

Today's presidential propaganda, actually addressed obliquely to the slavering deregulated greedheads constituting the political donor class, is aptly titled Growing the Housing Market and Supporting Our Homeowners. I say apt, because the ugly reality is that a big chunk of today's home-buyers are Wall Street investors grabbing up distressed property right and left, even as much of the foreclosure inventory is deliberately being kept off the market by complicit realtors. The price of real estate, therefore, is once again being artificially inflated to bubble-icious proportions. The vulture capitalists-turned-landlords are now renting the looted homes back to their own victims, only to re-kick them back to the curb once the resale price is again right.

In case you missed Barack's soothing pat on the head to his property-grubbing pitbull paymasters -- let the parsing begin!

Hi, everybody. Our top priority as a nation is reigniting the true engine of our economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class. And few things define what it is to be middle class in America more than owning your own cornerstone of the American Dream: a home.
Grrrrr! How about a new speechwriter, someone who can come up with a better lead/theme than Reigniting the Middle Class Engine? That metaphor ran out of gas a long time ago. Home ownership as the cornerstone of the American dream? Not so much anymore, given that a record number of people have yet to wake up from the Great American Nightmare. Besides, people will be too busy paying back six-figure student loans while working two or three McJobs to even think about marriage and children, let alone owning a home in their lifetimes. Obama does not mention that this sad state of affairs is seizing up that middle class/family values engine of his.
Today, seven years after the real estate bubble burst, triggering the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and costing millions of responsible Americans their jobs and their homes, our housing market is healing. Sales are up. Foreclosures are down. Construction is expanding. And thanks to rising home prices over the past year, 1.7 million more families have been able to come up for air, because they’re no longer underwater on their mortgages.
That old bubble just magically burst all by itself! Obama gives subprime lenders (including his sugar mama, Moneypenny Pritzker) a huge pass. No mention of fraudulent credit rating agencies and toxic mortgage-backed securities, followed by the double whammy of fraudclosures by too-big-to-exist banks. Our housing market is not healing. It's a festering sore covered up with a private equity bandaid. Prices are rising only because another artificial greed-bubble is inflating. People are being priced right out of the market.

From the the Wall Street Journal,
Currently, cash buyers—largely investors—make up about 32% of sales nationally, according to the National Association of Realtors. In Southern California, a favorite target for investors, absentee buyers accounted for 31.4% of purchases last month, up from an average of less than 17% between 2000 and 2010, according to DataQuick MDA, a real-estate research firm.
And incidentally, those checks being mailed to fraudclosure victims (assuming that they actually clear) are so paltry that they often don't cover a month's rent to the new bankster-landlord.

Obama, meanwhile, continues:
From the day I took office, I’ve made it a priority to help responsible homeowners and prevent the kind of recklessness that helped cause this crisis in the first place.  
Recklessness is Obamian Newspeak for unindicted epic conspiracy, fraud and grand larceny. And since the day he took office, his top priority was to screw the little guy and "foam the runway" for banksters to spread their widespread real estate theft out over time. They were given bailouts with no questions asked and suffered no consequences when they simply pocketed TARP funds instead of using them to recompense victimized borrowers. The Dodd-Frank reform law is still only one-third operative, deliberately underfunded, and rapidly being whittled away to nothingness by armies of lobbyists and complicit federal judges.

My housing plan has already helped more than two million people refinance their mortgages, and they’re saving an average of $3000 per year.
Lies, lies and more lies. His initial HAMP housing plan was never implemented. And wasn't that the whole plan, right from the get-go? To be seen as trying, but passive-aggressively doing the exact opposite. ProPublica investigated:
The program was launched with President Obama’s promise to help three to four million homeowners avoid foreclosure. Three and a half years later, the program is only approaching 1.1 million modifications. It’s spent just $4 billion [6] of its original $50 billion budget.
A recent study found a big reason for the program’s failure was that, despite all its rules, it didn’t change the behavior of the biggest banks [7]. The banks did a poor job of modifying loans before HAMP was launched and weren't much better after.
Oops. But President Obama glides glibly on:
My new consumer watchdog agency is moving forward on protections like a simpler, shorter mortgage form that will help to keep hard-working families from getting ripped off. 
Notice how he arrogantly calls it "his" consumer watchdog agency rather than ours, failing to give credit for its existence to Elizabeth Warren. And if you're unemployed or retired or disabled, forget about it. Obama does not even deign to acknowledge your existence, let alone your rights against ripoffs if you are not a "hard-working family".
But we’ve got more work to do. We’ve got more responsible homeowners to help – folks who have never missed a mortgage payment, but aren’t allowed to refinance; working families who have done everything right, but still owe more on their homes than they’re worth. 
"We've got more work to do" is another overused weasel phrase which translates into "We have done jackshit." And the above paragraph again inserts the typical moralizing against those families (victimized by the likes of mega-donor Penny Pritzker), who were steered into subprime mortages with ballooning payments, or had the poor taste to lose both a job and the roof over their heads. "Working folks" and "responsible homeowners", on the other hand, can be translated into upper middle class professionals in the monied 'burbs who never once missed a payment. Unlike those marginalized wrong-doers, they did everything "right."  Obama's Romneyesque "taker v. maker" libertarianism and subtle racism are glaringly put on display in the paragraph above.

Last week, I nominated a man named Mel Watt to take on these challenges as the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Mel’s represented the people of North Carolina in Congress for 20 years, and in that time, he helped lead efforts to put in place rules of the road that protect consumers from dishonest mortgage lenders, and give responsible Americans the chance to own their own home. He’s the right person for the job, and that’s why Congress should do its job, and confirm him without delay.
Mel Watt? As a congress critter from Wall Street-South and Financial Services committee member, he's raked in more than $5 million in campaign cash  from such stand-up deregulated institutions as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Obama no longer even has to pretend,  because the clock has just about run out on the statute of limitations for bank prosecutions. Maybe he'll recess-appoint Mel Watt. Maybe the GOP will overlook Mel Watt's race in deference to their common allegiances. It's a toss-up.

And they shouldn’t stop there. As I said before, more than two million Americans have already refinanced at today’s low rates, but we can do a lot better than that. I’ve called on Congress to give every responsible homeowner the chance to refinance, and with it, the opportunity to save $3,000 a year. That’s like a $3,000 tax cut. And if you’re one of the millions of Americans who could take advantage of that, you should ask your representative in Congress why they won’t act on it.
All well and good, but this ephemeral tax cut is already more than wiped out by failure to extend the FICA tax holiday for working Americans. And if Obama's chained CPI method of reducing earned benefits goes into affect as part of his Machiavellian Grand Bargain with Republicans, it will constitute yet another stealth tax hike on what's left of his vaunted middle class. He doesn't want to reignite any middle class engine at all. If anything, he's pouring sugar into it and stalling it out.
Our economy and our housing market are poised for progress – but we could do so much more if we work together. More good jobs. Greater security for middle-class families. A sense that your hard work is rewarded. That’s what I’m fighting for – and that’s what I’m going to keep fighting for as long as I hold this office.
Thank you. And have a great weekend.
Poised for progress the way the burnt-out wreckage of the Hindenburg is poised for flight. How many more weekends of this drivel can we stand, until Hillary or Chris Christie come to the rescue, to seamlessly continue in the grand bloviating tradition?


Jay - Ottawa said...

If he deceived us during his campaigns, and prevaricates to listeners every Saturday over the radio, and fabricates cotton candy spin to stuff into his speeches, and distorts the big numbers of the economy, and falsifies what has been accomplished, and tergiversates about who deserves the credit and who the blame, and exaggerates his shadowboxing as “fighting” for good folks, and, despite all that fibbing, struts over the landscape as if he’s superior to weasels, well – just maybe – he’s a LIAR (capitalized out of respect for the office).

Denis Neville said...

A square is in fact a circle.

“It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.” - Joseph Goebbels

Reigniting the Middle Class Engine…

“The farm was more prosperous now. The truest happiness, Napolean said, lay in working hard and living frugally. Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer – except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs. As for the others, their life, so far as they knew, was as it had always been. The lower animals on Animal Farm did more work and received less food than any animals in the county. And yet the animals never gave up hope. More, they never lost, even for an instant, their sense of honor and privilege in being members of Animal Farm. None of the old dreams had been abandoned. Someday it was coming: it might not be soon, it might not be with in the lifetime of any animal now living, but still it was coming. No animal had ever actually retired. The talk of setting aside a corner of the pasture for superannuated animals had long since been dropped. Between pigs and human beings there was not, and there need not be, any clash of interests whatever. Their struggles and their difficulties were one.”

"If you have your lower animals to contend with," Mr. Pilkington said, "we have our lower classes!" This bon mot set the table in a roar; and Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm…

“An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.

“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” - Erich Fromm

James F Traynor said...

"The talks took place against a background of growing austerity fatigue in Europe, and concern that the region’s focus on reducing deficits and debt risked driving some economies into a downward spiral."

I chiseled the above out of a story on Japanese currency talks in the NYT. Just glom onto "...risked driving some economies into a downward spiral." It shows how much the austerity disease has infected financial journalism. "Risked"? Are they out of their fucking minds!

Denis Neville said...

James said…“risked driving some economies into a downward spiral."

“It's like a boulder rolling down a hill - you can watch it and talk about it and scream and say ‘Shit!’ But you can't stop it. It's just a question of where it's going to go.” - Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Two Minutes Hate: “Recession is a good time to exploit cheap labour,” says Cameron adviser on enterprise and former cabinet minister under the late Baroness Thatcher. What's not to like about that?

“Reason is poor propaganda when opposed by the yammering, unceasing lies of shrewd and evil and self-serving men.” - Robert A. Heinlein, Assignment in Eternity

Kat said...

Here's part of a question from the syndicated column "Real Estate Matters":
Q: We are underwater on our primary home mortgage. Our mortgage has been modified twice, and the loan balance that was once $216,000 is now $285,000.

Heckuva job, Barry!

Even the advice columnist saw fit to say "You have to consider the possibility that your lender is trying to keep you in the home, extracting as much money as possible from you on the higher loan balance."

Zee said...


I do believe that I'm shocked to see you favorably quoting Robert Heinlein, one of my most beloved authors.

I am not familiar with Assignment Eternity, but I shall have to see if I can track down a copy, or, failing that, a synopsis.

My personal favorites are The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers.

It seems to have been forgotten that Heinlein was as much a philosopher as he was the author of some of the best science fiction ever written (at least, in my limited exposure).

Quite some time ago--and in another forum--after Kat had suggested some reading to me, she indicated that she might be open to some reading suggestions from me other than The Road to Serfdom by Hayek.

Heinlein is whom I suggested, though I don't think she ever took me up on that particular suggestion.

Perhaps you could persuade her otherwise.


annenigma said...


Pearl said...

Obama's response to increasing criticism about his handling of the Benghazi case was:

"There's No There There". A perfect description of his presidency and

Karen Garcia said...

Here's my comment on the NYT editorial about Obama's war against freedom of the press:

Besides indicting the six whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, this administration has also imprisoned Bradley Manning under conditions that the United Nations has found to be abusive. The government has also kept WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange trapped in the Equadorian embassy in the UK, due to the very high probability that Eric Holder has a sealed indictment waiting for him somewhere in the dark recesses of our injudicious department of justice.

The A.P. is just the latest prey in the Obama White House's continuing abusive campaign against the dwindling ranks of the truth-tellers and the embarrassment-causers.

Holder has all the time and energy and resources and chutzpah in the world to sweep a dragnet over journalists. But somehow, he thinks it's too hard to prosecute the financial criminals who brought down the whole world economy, destroying the hopes and dreams of millions of people, wiping out trillions of dollars in household wealth in the process.

If the journalists and whistleblowers who expose the war crimes and reveal the presidential Kill List, and afflict the comfortable are now considered enemies of the state, then it must follow that the Obama regime is an enemy of the people. And that goes for any Congress member, government appointee, or talking head who gives the White House a complicit free pass on this, the latest in a whole series of outrages that would be crimes if we still lived in a country whose leaders believed in the Bill of Rights.