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“I Need a Freakin Job”: President Obama

8:57 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

A clever group–inafj.org–has put up a huge billboard in Buffalo to attract President Obama’s attention. It reads:

>Dear Mr. President, I need a freakin job. Period.

Sincerely,

INAFJ.org

They have also come out with a short video clip (that can be viewed on the same link as that above) to promote their billboard and plea. The first minute or so are not exciting but when the music kicks in, you can feel their energy.

If you go to their website, you’ll see this message under INAFJ, "The Movement":

*INAFJ is a grass roots American movement, giving voice to the millions affected by the crazy unemployment numbers. As families suffer, our political leadership seems content with their dysfuctional posturing. …

*stupid is believing the problems we have can be solved by the same people that created them. …

*Sick is the billions of dollars that have been spent on bailing out financial institutions, while their own immeasurable greed was responsible for the collapse of America’s future.

*Tired is hearing career politicians saying one thing while doing another, most having never created a job or felt the burden of creating a payroll.

*Inexcusable is the rape of the US Treasury in plain sight and in daylight.

I have no idea who these people are (they say they have no political affiliation) but their message will certainly resonate with the unemployed, the underemployed, progressives and libertarians alike.

They also have a petition up on Facebook that you can sign here. Almost 8,000 people on Facebook alone have already said they like this idea.

What about Barack Obama? Boy does the president have a tin ear on this issue. Unemployment stands officially at 9.9% (up from the month before) and it would be worse if not for the seasonal-short term work provided by the census. Underemployment is almost at 20% and the rates for minorities (like Black Americans; Latinos) are even higher.

I guess Obama didn’t hear "It’s the economy, stupid!" that Clinton used against pappy Bush. Nor did he see the results.

The truth is, the Obama administration has been clueless on job creation. Instead of pushing money into massive public works projects (as favored by several leading economists) the president came up with a timid economic stimulus plan that Joe Stiglitz and other Nobel Prize winners criticized as being too little, too late.

Next week, voters in Pennsylvania and three other states go to the polls. Two incumbent Democratic Senators (if you count Arlen Spectre as a Democrat that is) could soon find themselves on the bread lines. More will follow in November.

I’m predicting that the Democrats will lose the House in November and that the Republicans will begin impeachment proceedings against Obama early next year.

Maybe then Obama will start to listen?

UPDATE:

CNN reports that the man behind the billboard and the message is Jeff Baker and that:

On CNN’s American Morning, the creator of the billboard, Jeff Baker, said he was inspired to help pay for the eye-catching gimmick because he wanted to "refocus the national dialogue" back to "basic job creation."

When the economy went south, Baker and his brother lost their 10-year-old textile business, which employed 25 people. Their family’s woes are reflected throughout the city of Buffalo, which suffers from one of the country’s highest poverty rates, with nearly 30 percent of its population living at or below the poverty line. Buffalo’s unemployment rate is at 8.6 percent, while the national average is 9.7 percent.[…]

Baker is asking for more frank discussion that leads to tangible job creation.

"I would love to sit down and talk about the small-business perspective, a beer-jobs summit with regular knuckleheads like me," he told The Buffalo News.

You can see a video interview on CNN with Baker here.

An Updated List of Goldman Sachs Ties to the Obama Government Including Elena Kagan

9:13 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

I. Introduction.

This essay shows the pervasive influence of Goldman Sachs and its units (like the Goldman-Robert Rubin-funded Hamilton Project embedded in the Brookings Institution) in the Obama government. These names are in addition to those compiled on an older such list and published here at FDL. In the future, I will combine the names here and those on the earlier article but I urge readers to look at the earlier list too (links below). Combined, this is the largest and most comprehensive list of such ties yet published.

For readability and clarity, I have NOT included many of the details and links that are found in the earlier article so as to make this one less repetitive and easier to read. So, if you want more documentation, please look at my earlier diary here at Firedoglake called "A List of Goldman Sachs People in the Obama Government: Names Attached To The Giant Squid’s Tentacles" published on April 27, 2010.

Note too that I have intentionally used the words, "Obama government" rather than "Obama administration" because some of these connections are not technically within his administration. These would include ambassadorial appointments and Supreme Court appointments (like that anticipated for Elena Kagan). This also includes lobbyists like Dick Gephardt who has multiple connections/input to Obama and to Goldman Sachs and the Hamilton Project.

In a similar vein, I use a broader definition than just Goldman Sachs (GS) because GS has funded, along with its ex-leader Robert Rubin, a right-leaning think tank called the Hamilton Project and embedded it within the Brookings Institution. Some of its activities thus also spill over into Brookings Institution projects which doubtlessly was one of the clever reasons Rubin and GS did this, along with providing their essentially neo-con/neo-liberal think tank with camouflage. This has worked beautifully for GS and Rubin as most writers–even critical ones like Matt Taibbi–seem unaware of the important doings of the Hamilton Project. The Hamilton Project has 32 people sitting on its Advisory Council and many have ties to Goldman Sachs, Rubin and the Obama government. Of the first four Directors of the Hamilton Project, three work in the Obama administration. Meanwhile, the most recent Director of the Hamilton Project came from academia and from a position as economic adviser to the Obama administration to Hamilton in the sort of "revolving door" that Washington is famous for.

The Hamilton Project (named after Alexander Hamilton whose most famous dictum was "The People are a Great Beast") is essentially pushing for cuts in entitlements (like social security), outsourcing American jobs, and for more NAFTA-type agreements. This is essentially the game plan for the Obama administration, not surprising since Barack Obama was the inaugural speaker at the Hamilton Project (and Joe Biden spoke there just weeks ago).

NOTE: This diary and its predecessor are the result of a lot of painstaking work. I am sure there are other Goldies out there in the Obama administration who I have missed. If so, PLEASE let me know by dropping their name in a comment below.

II. Additional Names of Goldies serving with Obama.

Enough background information, let’s reveal the Goldies with connections/jobs within the Obama government (or with "revolving door" status). For your convenience, I’ve listed the new names to the list separately and in the first section, led off by Elena Kagan because the buzz is that she is Obama’s pick to the Supreme Court.

NEW GOLDIES REVEALED (with respect to prior article):

KAGAN, ELENA.

Kagan was appointed by Obama to serve as the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General, often called the 10th Supreme Court Justice, is the person who argues the U.S. government side of cases before the court. Buzz has it that she is also Obama’s next pick to the Supreme Court, perhaps as early as this Monday.

At any rate, she’s already in the Obama government as Solicitor General. She also has ties to Goldman Sachs. From 2005 to 2008, according to USA Today and other sources, Kagan served as a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute. Matt Kelley of USA Today wrote in his article, "Possible Supreme Court Pick Had Ties to Goldman Sachs" that Kagan received $10,000 from Goldman Sachs for her services in 2008, per federal disclosure forms. But since she was doing the same thing in 2005, 2006, and 2006, it would appear that she pulled in $40,000 from Goldman Sachs for what appears to be sitting in on one day sessions looking at big issues affecting the global economy. $40,000 grand for so little time is a nice gig if you can get it (and she likely got expenses too) for so little time. It’s not a huge amount but it is enough to affect a player’s mind.

Here are some questions that Senators on the Judiciary Committee might want to ask of Kagan:

1) Can you produce all the paperwork/receipts related to your ties to Goldman Sachs?

2) Did you report the GS payments as income on your income tax returns (lots of people in the Obama administration (like Timothy Geithner) or wanting to be (like Tom Daschle) seem to have trouble filling out proper IRS forms.

3) Will you recuse yourself in any cases brought before you at the Supreme Court (if confirmed) that have any connection, no matter how remote, to Goldman Sachs or its entities?

4) As Solicitor General of the United States, have you handled (defined largely) any cases relating to Goldman Sachs or its entities?
Have you given advice on any such cases?

5) Have you had any dealings with The Hamilton Project? This includes speeches given there, conferences attended, papers published etc.

BERKOWITZ, HOWARD P.

Here is a murky connection (but an important one) between Obama and Goldman Sachs. Berkowitz serves as the Chairman, Board of Directors of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINAP). It is an important Washington think tank that gives input to Obama. It was established by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in 1985, according to Wikipedia. People affiliated with WINAP are a virtual Who’s Who of foreign policy including Henry Kissinger, Warren Christopher, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Richard Perle.

Berkowitz also is Managing Director of BlackRock and sits on the Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs funded Hamilton Project.

BlackRock is a global investmentment management firm with over $3.35 trillion under management. There is a virtual revolving door of hiring and acquisitions between BlackRock and Goldman Sachs as reported here.

DUDLEY, WILLIAM C.

Dudley, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York web site:

became the 10th president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on January 27, 2009. In that capacity, he serves as the vice chairman and a permanent member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the group responsible for formulating the nation’s monetary policy.

Mr. Dudley was a partner and managing director at Goldman, Sachs & Company and was the firm’s chief U.S. economist for a decade. Earlier in his career at Goldman Sachs, he had a variety of roles including a stint when he was responsible for the firm’s foreign exchange forecasts. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 1986, he was a vice president at the former Morgan Guaranty Trust Company. Mr. Dudley was an economist at the Federal Reserve Board from 1981 to 1983.

Dudley seems to have Geithner’s old job, passed from one Goldie to the next.

EFFRON, BLAIR W.

Effron is a money man. As a bundler for the 2008 Obama campaign, he raised more than $100,000. According to this web site he also was a "Mega Donor" to Obama in 2008, giving more than $28,500 though committees supporting Obama. His wife is also a major contributor, giving tens of thousands of dollars.

Effron is a founding partner of Centerview Partners LLC. Their web site indicates he has executed over $400 billion in transactions.

Effron is also on the Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs/Robert Rubin funded Hamilton Project.

FROMAN, Michael.

Froman (born August 20, 1962) is deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, a position to be held jointly at the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. His responsibilities will include serving as the White House liaison to the G7, G8 and G20 summits of economic powers.[

He's on my prior list but his name was misspelled there (as Frohman). Froman's days with Obama go back to Harvard Law School. Froman appears to be the original link between Robert Rubin/Goldman Sachs and Obama.

From Wikipedia:

>Froman received a bachelor's degree in Public and International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University in 1985, a doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University and a law degree from Harvard Law School where he was a classmate of Barack Obama[2][3], and also an associate of Obama’s on the Harvard Law Review.[4]

After Harvard, Froman had lost touch with Barack Obama until Froman heard of Obama’s Senate run. Froman volunteered at that point to help, began raising funds for the candidate, and introduced the candidate to Robert Rubin, whom Froman had followed from the Treasury Department to Citigroup [Froman served as Rubin's Chief of Staff] after the Clinton administration.[4] Before moving to the Obama administration, Froman most recently was a managing director of Citigroup’s Citi Alternative Investments Institutional Clients Group, where he was head of infrastructure and sustainable development [5]. He also served on 12-member advisory board of the Obama campaign’s transition team.[1]

this source provides new information indicating Frohman, who was Mr. Goldman Sach’s former Chief of Staff, as an "informal adviser" to Obama. They spell his name as Froman, Michael.

FUDGE, ANNE.

Obama just appointed Fudge to his budget deficit reduction committee (whose real goal, like that of the Hamilton Project, is to cut entitlements). Fudge has been the public relations craftsman for some of America’s largest corporations. She sits, according to the Washington Post, as a Trustee of the Brookings Institution within which the Hamilton Project is embedded.

GEPHARDT, RICHARD (aka "DICK") A.

Gephardt is one of the movers and shakers in the Democratic party and served as the Democratic Majority Leader of the House from 1989 to 1995. While he doesn’t have an "official position" in the Obama administration his name was floated as a possible VP to Obama in 2008. Like so many ex-politicians, Gephardt has set up a consulting firm that has its fingers in just about every pie in the Obama government. Gephardt, for instance, advised the Obama administration, according to the New York Times, that universal health coverage could not pass in 2009 and urged Obama to "defer that goal." That’s what the people Gephardt takes money from wanted and that’s also what Obama did.

Here’s more from The New York Times:

One old friend links Mr. Gephardt’s assessment to his lucrative new career as a lobbyist. “He’s advising a lot of big corporations,” said Tom Buffenbarger, president of the machinists’ union.

Wikipedia says that:

Dick Gephardt started Gephardt Group in January 2005 and is currently its President and CEO. Gephardt Group is a multi-disciplined consulting firm focused on helping clients improve Labor Relations, develop Political and Public Policy Strategies and enhance Business Results by gaining access to new markets or partners.[15]

According to Wikipedia:

is also an active consultant for Goldman Sachs.

Gephardt also sits on the Advisory Council of the Hamilton Project funded by Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs.

MURPHY, PHILLIP.

Obama appointed Murphy to serve as his Ambassador to Germany. In the 1990′s, Murphy, who worked for decades with Goldman Sachs, served as GS’s head of its German offices. From 1997-1999, Murphy served as President of Goldman Sachs, Asia (during the Asian economic crisis). In all, according to Wikipedia, Murphy spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs including as a Senior Director of the firm in 2003 before retiring from GS in 2006.

GRANOFF, MICHAEL D.

Granoff is a money man, and contributed lots of bucks as a "mega donor" to the Obama campaign. At least $28,500 according to Public Citizen.

Granoff is President, CEO and Founder of Pomona Capital, a venture capital group.

Granoff is also one of the 19 members of the Goldman Sachs-Robert Rubin funded Hamilton Project.

LIDDY, EDWARD MICHAEL.

Liddy was, until recently, the CEO of AIG which, during the Obama administration, was essentially taken over by the government. He served in high positions at Goldman Sachs including : Board Member (Chairman, 1990-94; Director, 2003-2008). He was picked to the Goldman board by none other than Hank Paulson, former head of Goldman Sachs who was Bush’s Treasury Secretary who with Obama’s Treasury Secretary (Geithner) fashioned TARP.

Wikipedia reports:

Liddy garnered national headlines in October 2008 for defending a controversial $440,000 AIG retreat for top-performing insurance salesmen at the luxury St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. The retreat, which was held shortly after the U.S. government rescued AIG from insolvency with $84 billion in loans, included $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for the spa. In testimony before the U.S. House Oversight Committee, Liddy stated that such retreats "are standard practice in our industry."[11] During the U.S. presidential debate on October 7, 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama mentioned the retreat and said, "The Treasury should demand that money back and those executives should be fired."[12]

But that’s not what happened. Instead, Barack Obama as President kept Mr. Liddy on while AIG was essentially in receivership under the Obama administration.

How about this for a conflict of interest, again as reported by Wikipedia:

Liddy owns 27,129 shares in Goldman Sachs, at the time worth just over $3 million.[18] In April 2009 members of Congress called for Liddy to sell these shares, as they create a conflict of interest due to Goldman Sachs’ receipt of bailout money.[19] About two-thirds of Liddy’s holding is restricted and cannot be sold until May 31.[18]

Liddy announced on May 21, 2009 that he would resign as AIG Chairman and CEO when replacements were found, suggesting that the two roles be split.[20] Liddy was not paid for his time at AIG.[21] On August 3, 2009, Robert Benmosche was named President and CEO of AIG.[7]

NIEDERAUER, DUNCAN.

Niederauer is CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. While a private entity, it is heavily regulated by the government and has close government ties. Niederauer, for instance, is a frequent speaker at Federal Reserve events:

New York Stock Exchange Euronext CEO Duncan L. Niederauer delivered the keynote address today at the fourth annual global summit on financial literacy hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Visa Inc.

He has an extensive Goldman Sachs background:

He joined NYSE Group following a 22-year career at Goldman Sachs. He served as a Managing Director of Goldman Sachs since 1997 and was responsible for U.S. cash equities operations, including Institutional and Member Firm Client Group sales and client services for … both the New York Stock Exchange and NYSE Arca. Mr. Niederauer was previously a Partner at The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (United States) ("GS") where he held many positions.

PERRY, RICHARD.

Perry is an Obama supporter, adviser and fund raiser. He worked for Goldman Sachs and is on the Goldman Sachs’funded, Hamilton Project’s Advisory Council. He is also CEO of Perry Capital, a hedge fund. Perry owns the full floor penthouse at 1 Sutton Place in NYC and according to the Washington Examiner is one of 15 " fat cat Wall St. Banker" friends of Obama. These are the same "fat cats" that Obama sometimes flails out at in the press to pretend he’s a populist!

SHAFRAN, STEVEN.

Shafran served as an advisor/aide to Timothy Geithner especially on TARP. All of the advisers on that appear in a very murky fashion. And Shafran, like a lot of other TARP advisers, has extensive ties to Goldman as a executive for years. He’s especially shadowy, however. Here’s a link about him from CBS News.

THAIN, JOHN.

John Thain has served as an adviser to Timothy Geithner. Thain was President and Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs from 1999 to 2003.

TYSON, LAURA D’ANDREA.

An economic adviser to President Obama. Tyson is a Hamilton Project Advisory Council Member. The Hamilton Project as noted above was founded by Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs and has close links to Obama personally.

III. COMBINED LIST OF GOLDIES TIED TO THE OBAMA GOVERNMENT.

This lists compiles the names above and those in the prior diary on this. For more detail on names not annotated in this diary, see the earlier diary linked here):

ALTMAN, ROGER.

BERKOWITZ, HOWARD P.

BIDEN, JOE.

BRAINARD, LAEL.

BUFFETT, WARREN.

CLINTON, HILLARY.

CRAIG, GREGORY. (revolving door)

DONILON, THOMAS.

DUDLEY, WILLIAM C.

EFFRON, BLAIR W.

ELMENDORF, DOUGLAS.

EMANUEL, RAHM.

FARRELL, DIANA.

FRIEDMAN, STEPHEN.

FROMAN, Michael.

FUDGE, ANNE.

FURMAN, JASON.

GALLOGLY, MARK.

GEITHNER, TIMOTHY.

GENSLER, GARY.

GEPHARDT, RICHARD (aka "DICK") A.

GREENSTONE, MICHAEL (revolving door to Hamilton Project)

HAMILTON PROJECT, THE

HORMATS, ROBERT.

KAGAN, ELENA.

KASHKARI, NEEL.

KORNBLUH, KAREN.

LEW, JACOB (AKA "JACK") J.

LIDDY, EDWARD MICHAEL.

LIPTON, DAVID A.

MINDICH, ERIC

MURPHY, PHILLIP.

NIEDERAUER, DUNCAN.

OBAMA, BARACK H.

ORSZAG, PETER.

PATTERSON, MARK.

PERRY, RICHARD.

RATTNER, STEVE.

REISCHAUER, ROBERT D.

RIVLIN, ALICE.

RUBIN, JAMES.

RUBIN, ROBERT.

SHAFRAN, STEVEN.

SPERLING, GENE.

STORCH, ADAM.

SUMMERS, LARRY.

THAIN, JOHN.

TYSON, LAURA D’ANDREA.

RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING:

1. Greg Gordon (McClatchy Newspapers), "Goldman’s White House Connections Raise Eyebrows" April 21, 2010.

2. Fflambeau, "With the Obama Administration Infested With Goldman Sachs People, How Real is the Obama/Democratic Attack on Big Banks" FDL Diary, April 21, 2010.

3. "More Investigations of Goldman Sachs, A Double-Edge Swords for Obama and Democrats"

4. Paul Street’s article showing that Obama held corporatist ideas long before elected and his indebtedness to the interests of big business.

5. Matthew Skomarovsky, "Obama Packs Debt Commission with Social Security Looters", March 28, 2010 at Alternet.

6. Fflambeau, "A List of Goldman Sachs People in the Obama Administration: Names Attached to the Giant Squid’s Tentacles"

ESSENTIAL READING ON THE HAMILTON PROJECT AND ITS TIES TO THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION:

1. Kirk James Murphy, M.D. "The Hamilton Project: Same Corporatist Whine In New DLC Vessels." THE seminal article on the Hamilton Project which also features a video clip of then Senator Barack Obama talking about "my friend, Bob [Rubin]" and espousing cuts in entitlements and the "need" for more free trade pacts like NAFTA.

2. Fflambeau, "Obama’s ‘Smoking Gun’: His Hamilton Project Speech Shows His Links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts, Part 1.

3. Fflambeau, "Obama’s ‘Smoking Gun’: His Hamilton Project Speech Shows His Links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts, Part 2".

4. Another source for Obama’s Hamilton Project speech of April 2006. Contains video clip.

5. James Kirk Murphy, M.D., "Remember the Hamilton Project?" Dr. Murph’s latest look at the Hamilton Project.

6. David Sirota, "Wall Street Democrats Unveil Plan to Undermine Progressives", April 5, 2006.

Barack Obama: “Oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.”

5:14 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

On April 2, 2010, just 18 days before the BP offshore oil spill began and on the day when Obama reversed 27 years of government policy forbidding offshore drilling, Obama made this statement:

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to put out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced. Even during Katrina, the spills didn’t come from the oil rigs, they came from the refineries onshore.

A video clip of Obama making this pitifully incorrect comment upon which his mistaken policy of opening the coasts up to offshore drilling was based, may be seen over at Democracynow. (Please see link above).

"Offshore" Obama’s Bush-like comment was discussed on a recent Democracynow program between the moderators, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracynow, and their guest, Kieran Suckling, Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity. Here’s Suckling’s response to Obama’s boneheaded comment:

KIERAN SUCKLING: Yeah, I mean, I think what the President has said here is actually just very, very critical, because he is repeating, and I suspect without even knowing it, the big lie of offshore oil drilling. For decades, the oil companies and the Minerals Management Services have told us, ‘Oil drilling is safe, it’s fine, that’s not where oil spills come from.’ In fact, that’s the basis of not doing any environmental review is, you simply assert it will never be a problem, therefore, you don’t even have to study it. When it’s true that they don’t leak often, but when they do leak, it’s absolutely catastrophic. It’s very similar to nuclear power plants. They don’t often fail, but when they fail it’s catastrophic. And, therefore, you have to plan for catastrophe. You have to do very intensive environmental analysis, not simply say, ’It’s rare, so we can ignore it.’

AMY GOODMAN: Kieran Suckling, what do think has to happen right now?

KIERAN SUCKLING: Well, first off, I think that the President should announce a complete moratorium on all new offshore oil drilling. This three-week time-out is really too little, too late. And it’s very important to do that now because the president, under the urging of Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, has planned to open up new offshore oil drilling in Alaska, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and on the Atlantic coast. And that just needs to end. It’s not safe anywhere, anytime.

Secondly, the president should immediately revoke existing oil permits and especially in Alaska. Shell Oil, this July, has- is going to start doing offshore oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea of Alaska. And if you think it’s difficult to clean up oil in the relatively warm, calm Gulf of Mexico, imagine trying to do this with icebergs and sea ice, twenty hours of darkness in the Arctic oceans. It just cannot be done. If this spill had happened in Alaska, its magnitude would have been ten times worse than has happened in the Gulf.

Then, thirdly, the President should start an initiation of an investigation of Ken Salazar and his role in allowing this to happen. Salazar has been a major proponent of the offshore oil drilling industry. He passed legislation as a senator in 2006 to open up the Gulf of Mexico in the first place to offshore oil drilling. He gets campaign contributions by British Petroleum. And then he walks into this agency he is supposed to reform, and instead of reforming it, pushes it to do even more offshore oil drilling. So Ken Salazar is part of the problem here, not the solution. He should not be doing the investigation of MMS. He should be under investigation for helping to cause this crisis.

Instead of putting Salazar under investigation, Obama has essentially put him in charge of Obama’s investigation of the offshore oil catastrophe. Obama’s environmental mistakes go back far earlier with Obama’s selection of Salazar to head the federal agency that should be protecting the environment.

Here is some background information (from Wikipedia which is thoroughly documented) on Ken Salazar showing why Obama never should have chosen him to be our steward of the environment as Obama’s Interior Secretary:

He [Salazar} took office [As a U.S. Senator (Democratic) from Colorado] on January 4, 2005.

Soon after arriving in the Senate, Salazar generated controversy within his party by introducing Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales and sitting by his side during Gonzales’ confirmation hearings.

In 2005, Salazar voted against increasing fuel-efficiency standards (CAFE) for cars and trucks, a vote that the League of Conservation Voters notes is anti-environment.

In the same year, Salazar voted against an amendment to repeal tax breaks for ExxonMobil and other major petroleum companies.[6]

In August 2006, Ken Salazar supported fellow Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in his primary race against Ned Lamont in Connecticut.

In 2006, Salazar voted to end protections that limit offshore oil drilling in Florida’s Gulf Coast.[7]

In 2007, Salazar was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote against a bill that would require the United States Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming when planning water projects.[8]

Several prominent environmentalist groups are wary of Salazar, noting his strong ties with the coal and mining industries. Kieran Suckling, executive director of Center for Biological Diversity, which tracks endangered species and habitat issues states "He [Ken Salazar] is a right-of-center Democrat who often favors industry and big agriculture in battles over global warming, fuel efficiency and endangered species."[19]

Salazar was one of several Obama Cabinet appointees confirmed in the Senate by voice vote on January 20, 2009, shortly after Obama’s inauguration. Salazar became the 50th Secretary of the Interior succeeding Dirk Kempthorne,[a Republican] who praised Salazar’s appointment.[22]

On May 9, 2009, Salazar announced the upholding of a Bush-era policy that prevents the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions via the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a policy he pledged to reevaluate when he took office in January. The policy states that, despite the apparent negative impact global warming has on polar bears, an endangered species, greenhouse gasses cannot be regulated with the ESA.

Salazar stated in a conference call announcing the decision that "The single greatest threat to the polar bear is the melting of Arctic Sea ice due to climate change," but the Endangered Species Act "is not the appropriate tool for us to deal with what is a global issue." The decision was met with criticism from environmental groups and praise from energy groups including the American Petroleum Institute...

(emphasis added)

Salazar is Obama’s Brownie.

Obama Drops Immigration Reform Plans: Breaks Another Promise

6:49 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

The AP reports that President Obama has dropped plans for immigration reform this year. The AP’s Suzanne Gamboa reports:

Immigration reform has become the first of President Barack Obama’s major priorities dropped from the agenda of an election-year Congress facing voter disillusionment. Sounding the death knell was Obama himself.

The president noted that lawmakers may lack the "appetite" to take on immigration while many of them are up for re-election and while another big legislative issue – climate change – is already on their plate.

"I don’t want us to do something just for the sake of politics that doesn’t solve the problem," Obama told reporters Wednesday night aboard Air Force One.

(emphasis added)

By doing so, Obama broke yet another of his campaign promises. From the article above:

Immigration reform was an issue Obama promised Latino groups that he would take up in his first year in office. But several hard realities – a tanked economy, a crowded agenda, election-year politics and lack of political will – led to so much foot-dragging in Congress that, ultimately, Obama decided to set the issue aside.

With that move, the president calculated that an immigration bill would not prove as costly to his party two years from now, when he seeks re-election, than it would today, even though some immigration reformers warned that a delay could so discourage Democratic-leaning Latino voters that they would stay home from the polls in November.

(emphasis added)

I laughed when I read the words above indicating Obama promising to take up the issue in his reelection year. No way that’s going to happen because Obama knows it is such a contentious issue. It’s probably dead until a new president takes office.

Yet another instance of Obama dissing his base, in this case Latino voters. This may also strengthen Arizona’s case in any fight with the feds over its punitive immigration law: there appears to be no federal law that preempts Arizona’s.

A List of Goldman Sachs People in the Obama Government: Names Attached to the Giant Squid’s Tentacles

1:03 am in Uncategorized by fflambeau

At a time when Congressional hearings are set to call testimony from some Goldman Sachs employees, it is vital to understand how widespread that institution’s ties are to the Obama administration. This diary shows the pervasive influence of Goldman Sachs and Goldman created institutions (like the Hamilton Project embedded in the Brookings Institution), employees and influence peddlers in the Obama administration.

While many of the people listed below formerly worked for Goldman Sachs or its offshoots (like the Hamilton Project, including all three of that project’s first Directors) influence can be exerted not only through people but through money, awards, sponsored scholarship, and creation of an agenda favorable to Goldman Sachs (which is where Brookings and the Hamilton Project come in and have proved especially useful to Goldman Sachs).

It is further of note that although Goldman Sachs has been the center of attention especially since Matt Taibbi’s insightful investigative journalism, that I have not been able to find a comprehensive list of the influence of Goldman Sachs in this administration. Recently in the New York Post, for instance, Michelle Malkin wrote a good article called "All the President’s Goldman Men" but she only listed the usual suspects like Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, Rahm Emanuel, Gary Gensler and Mark Patterson.

But that’s just the tip of the Goldman Sachs iceberg. Here you will find, I believe, the most comprehensive list of people-groups yet available to show how Obama’s administration has really become the Goldman Sachs administration. But I need your help. I suspect there are far more people out there with such ties that I have missed even though I have spent lots of time researching this issue. If you know of other people who should be on this list, please help out and give the details in a comment to this diary.

One further caveat. The Obama administration is not the first administration that Goldman has infiltrated, although it is perhaps the one that has been most completely co-opted from top to bottom. Recall that former Secretary of the Treasury Paulson in the George W. Bush era came from–Goldman Sachs where he was its chief. Recall too that the brilliant, late economist John K. Galbreath has written an entire chapter of a book devoted to the Great Depression and the economic collapse of Wall St. that accompanied it to the role of Goldman Sachs.

Law professor William Black, who participated in actions against individuals in the Savings and Loan collapses decades ago, recently told Bill Moyers recently that:

"The highest return on assets is always a political contribution."

In this spirit we name the first two links between Goldman entities and the Obama administration: they are out of alphabetical order for obvious reasons. All the others are in alphabetical order.

Let’s look at the Goldman Sachs government that we have in place now, that is masked by Barack Obama. Fittingly, we begin with Obama:

OBAMA, BARACK.

Although to my knowledge he has never directly worked for Goldman, he has taken boatloads of their money (an investment repaid many times) and he calls Robert Rubin, the former head of Goldman Sachs "my friend Bob". (See the video clip of then Senator Barack Obama’s address to the Goldman-Rubin funded Hamilton Project in a link below where he uses these words and calls for cuts in entitlements and more NAFTA-type agreements).

Jesse Unruh, the late California politician and political thinker, once called "money the mother’s milk of politics." Certainly, Obama sucked at the teats of Goldman Sachs more than any other politician in recent times. It began for him as little-known Senator from Illinois with a razor- thin resume whose ambitions outshine his accomplishments. Obama’s eloquent, heavily prepped address to the Democratic National Convention caught not only the eyes of the Democratic top brass, but that of the big bankers. As early as the Spring of 2006, Senator Barack Obama was intimately involved with Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs through his involvement with the Hamilton Project.

Fittingly, Senator Obama was chosen by Rubin and the Hamilton Project to give the inaugural address of the Hamilton Project in April, 2006. An excellent, seminal discussion of the Hamilton Project by Dr. Kirk James Murphy, M.D., can be found here. A video clip of then Senator Barack Obama speaking at the inauguration of the Hamilton Project in April, 2006 can be found here and here (with an excellent discussion) and here. Here Obama heaps lavish praise on Robert Rubin ("my friend Bob") and on the Hamilton Project while setting out its (and his subsequent administration’s agenda) of cuts in entitlements, the need for more NAFTA-type free trade pacts and a pro-big corporation government. In 2006 then, Obama was a Goldie and articulating its desires and policies.

Little wonder then, that Goldman and Rubin heavily funded Obama as a Senator (his biggest campaign contributor) and as a presidential candidate. Goldman Sachs employees (and they were not the floor cleaners) contributed $994,795 to Obama’s presidential bid, almost four times the amount they gave to his Republican opponent, according to OpenSecrets. Over Obama’s entire career, Goldman has been his second biggest contributor, according to OpenSecrets, giving him more than $1,051,000. Goldman not only wanted Obama to win, they paid lots of money to insure that their man would occupy the White House. Again, as William Black noted:

"The highest return on assets is always a political contribution."

Goldman’s 30 pieces of silver investment in Obama reaped them billions of dollars in returns as the TARP bailouts and the subsequent news about Goldman Sachs has shown. So although Obama may never have "worked for" Goldman in the traditional sense, he’s one of Robert Rubin’s boys and on Goldman’s books.

University of Minnesota political scientist Prof. Lawrence Jacobs, described the giant squid’s attachment to the Obama administration:

almost everything that the White House has done has been haunted by the personnel and the money of Goldman . . . as well as the suspicion that the White House, particularly early on, was pulling its punches out of deference to Goldman and its war chest.

BIDEN, JOE.

Is it any wonder that between his service as "Senator Credit Card", his efforts to limit busing for desegregation, and his five draft deferments at the height of the Vietnam War that Joe Biden is attached to one of Goldman’s tentacles? Goldman has been a major campaign contributor to Biden and according to OpenSecrets, Biden in 2007 alone took almost $25,000 from the Robert Rubin related Citigroup (Rubin was its head as well as being a former head of Goldman).

And guess who was the keynote speaker at the Hamilton Project 2010 kickoff event a few days ago (April 20th, 2010) Tuesday morning at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel? That’s right: Vice President Joe Biden spoke at Goldman Sachs/Robert Rubin’s Rosemary’s Baby. You can see some pics of Biden at the Hamilton Project event along with who else–Robert Rubin–here.

As described by the Huffington Post:

Biden was speaking at the relaunch of the Hamilton Project, a think tank founded by ultimate Wall Street Democrat Robert Rubin to publicly despair about the deficit and other things bankers worry about the most.

Note too that in his address Biden paid tribute to Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission, something that the Hamilton Project and Robert Rubin (and Goldman) have been pushing for years because it really means cuts in entitlements (again, have a look at Sen. Obama’s 2006 speech at the Hamilton Project where he calls for entitlement cuts).

ALTMAN, ROGER.

Interestingly, the man who introduced Joe Biden at the Hamilton Project’s relaunch (described above) was none other than Roger Altman, who is connected to the Hamilton Project.

Altman may not hold down a desk job in the Obama administration–he’s too big a fish for that just as is Robert Rubin–but he is one of those power brokers with all encompassing contacts within the Democratic Party. Altman is a Hamilton Project member, according to Dan Frumkin’s excellent article in the Huffington Post, as well as having served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under none other than Mr. Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin. He is now now Chairman of Evercore Partners, which the Hamilton Project program described as "the most active investment banking boutique in the world." (and the Obama administration is trying to sell itself as one that is getting tough on big banks and Goldman?).

Like so many of the Goldman people, Altman has a touch of scandal/criminality about him. According to Wikipedia, Altman was forced from his position as Assistant Treasury Secretary because of a records keeping scandal.

Altman is a co-author, along with Robert Rubin, of the Hamilton Project’s "From Recession to Recovery to Renewal: An Economic Strategy to Achieve Broadly Shared Growth." Some of Altman’s ties to the Goldman-Rubin funded Hamilton Project can be seen here.

BRAINARD, LAEL.

Brainard is the United States Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in the administration of President Barack Obama. She is an associate and protege of Mr. Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin. She has written numerous articles and bookson the joys of outsourcing work overseas.

Brainard also worked at Brookings which has embedded within in Goldman Sachs and Robert Rubin’s Hamilton Project. Goldman was clever in doing this because they hid a conservative thinking, pro business group like a Trojan Horse in what is generally perceived as a liberal think tank.

Like Timothy Geithner, who is her boss, Brainard is a brainy person who had trouble with income tax rules and regulations, thus joining quite a lengthy list of Goldies who ape the law. The Washington Post reported that:

Brainard’s nomination was held up by Republican concerns over allegations that she failed to pay property taxes on time. (What is it with Treasury and tax problems?)

BUFFETT, WARREN.

Speaking of big fish, Warren doesn’t need to work for the US government or for Goldman. But he’s invested billions in Goldman expecting even greater returns. Obama has also admitted in the debates to "pal’in around" with the Sage of Omaha and Buffett is one of Obama’s fundraisers and economic advisers.

For more on Buffett see this written by Michael Winship at Truthout:

On Friday, Susan Pulliam reported on the front page of The Wall Street Journal that, "A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. director tipped off a hedge-fund billionaire about a $5 billion investment in Goldman by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. before a public announcement of the deal at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, a person close to the situation says."

As the Journal notes, the Buffet deal came at a key point in the Wall Street collapse, restoring confidence in the markets and lifting Goldman’s stock from a 40 percent slide to a 45 percent surge. The hedge-fund billionaire in question is Raj Rajaratnam, whose Galleon Group currently is embroiled in one of the biggest insider trading scandals in history: 21, including Rajaratnam, have been charged; 11 already have pled guilty.

(emphasis added)

CLINTON, HILLARY.

Although Barack Obama was the overwhelming favorite of Goldman Sachs to be president in 2008, for he could serve as their Trojan Horse, they were smart enough to hedge their bets, so to speak and back Hillary too. According to the Washington Examiner, Goldman Sachs in 2008 alone gave:

($415,595.63 inflation adjusted), which was itself almost three times as much as Bush received as well.

And of course, it was Hillary’s hubby Bill Clinton who chose ex-Goldman chief Robert Rubin to serve in his White House. Bill, Hillary and Bob Rubin are Washington, D.C. kissing cousins.

CRAIG, GREGORY.

Another example of the revolving door between Goldman Sachs and Obama’s administration. Craig served as Obama’s White House Counsel and after resigning, has taken on a position as Goldman Sach’s chief lawyer in defending against its SEC suit. A former Goldie, Robert Hormats, sits at the top of SEC’s enforcement group too. What a hoot!

Note that Craig is a lawyer and lawyer’s rules of professional responsibility prohibit not only direct conflicts of interest but anything that hints at a conflict of interest.

Here is doubtlessly why Goldman wanted Craig as its top lawyer in the SEC complaint:

Greg Craig, Obama’s first White House counsel, has joined Goldman, we learned this week. He may not have too much pull in the West Wing, which drove him out for hewing too close to Obama’s campaign promises, but as a former insider he will provide valuable intelligence to the world’s largest investment bank.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Is-Goldman-Obamas-Enron-No-its-worse-91613449.html#ixzz0mHKfS3hl

DONILON, THOMAS.

Thomas Donilon is Deputy National Security Adviser to Barack Obama (despite having a career that is mostly involved with domestic politics). Donilon was a lawyer at O’Melveny and Myers and made almost $4 million representing meltdown clients including Penny Pritzker (of Chicago) and Goldman. This from Michelle Malkin’s article RealClearPolitics. More information is available on Donilon over at Whorunsgov.com.

DUDLEY, BILL.

Joined Goldman in 1986; partner and managing director until 2007. Federal Reserve Bank of New York President since January 2009 (replacing none other than Timothy Geithner, his Goldman compadre). This all from the Wall Street Journal.

ELMENDORF, DOUGLAS.

Elmendorf became Obama’s Director of the Congressional Budget Office in January 2009. Elmendorf previously was the Director of the Hamilton Project; it’s third.

Note too that the first 3 Directors of the Hamilton Project ALL serve in the Obama administration. While other journalists/writers have explored the links between Goldman Sachs and Obama, few have looked at the connection between the Hamilton Project and the Obama administration. Note again that the Hamilton Project was funded by Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs. Note too that the current director of the Hamilton Project, its 4th since its founding in 2006, is Michael Greenstone. How long will it be before Greenstone goes to the Obama administration, making it a perfect 4 for 4 for Directors of the Goldman funded Hamilton Project? To show that there is a revolving door between the Obama Administration and Goldman/Rubin/Hamilton Project, Greenstone served as of Obama’s chief economic advisers.

EMANUEL, RAHM.

Rahm, of course, is Obama’s Chief of Staff, the very first person Obama selected to be in his administration. Rahm has lengthy and fruitful ties to Goldman, and vice versa. Rahm took in about $75,000 from Goldman Sachs as a Congressman and was on a $3,000 a month retainer from Goldman while he worked as Bill Clinton’s chief fund raiser.

Timothy Carney has explored some of the links between Emanuel and Goldman Sachs:

…one of Barack Obama’s top sources of funds in this past election, Goldman has always had some particularly strong allies within government. Emanuel is one such ally.

An interesting early chapter in the Goldman-Emanuel relationship took place in the setting of Bill Clinton’s campaign for the White House in 1992. Clinton hired Emanuel as his chief fundraiser.

At the same time, however, Emanuel was on the payroll of Goldman Sachs, receiving $3,000 per month from the firm to “introduce us to people,” in the words of one Goldman partner at the time. This is certainly a noteworthy relationship, but it’s one that has almost entirely escaped scrutiny.

Corporations and partnerships are and were at the time prohibited by law from contributing to federal candidates out of the corporate coffers. So, while Rahm tapped Goldman employees personally for six figures in gifts to Clinton’s candidacy—more than any other firm—Goldman, as a company, was helping keep Clinton’s top fundraiser well-fed.

In his four terms in Congress, Emanuel has raised $74,750 from Goldman, making the firm his number four source of funds. Goldman has helped Emanuel. How has Emanuel helped Goldman?

The most obvious answer, as mentioned in this column two weeks ago, is in Emanuel’s lead role in shepherding the “$700 billion” bailout—first proposed by former a Goldman CEO, Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson—through the skeptical House.

Of course, back in the Clinton days, Goldman benefited from NAFTA and the bailout of the Mexican currency, with Emanuel pushing NAFTA through Congress, and Rubin hammering out the peso bailout.

McClatchey newspaper’s Greg Gordon, in his article entitled, "Goldman’s White House Connections Raise Eyebrows" also noted how Rahm and Goldman worked together to make money:

One White House insider who knows something about how Wall Street does business is chief of staff Emanuel, who earned millions of dollars in investment banking after he left the Clinton White House. His work for the Chicago-based financial services firm Wasserstein Perella & Co. intersected with Goldman in at least one deal.

In 1999, Emanuel was a key player representing Unicom Corp., the parent of Commonwealth Edison, in forging its merger with Peco Energy Co. to create utility giant Exelon Corp. Goldman was also advising Unicom.

The White House declined immediate comment on that connection.

So how real is the Obama/Democratic party’s supposed new toughness on big banks when the administration’s point guard was on the Goldman payroll and become a multi-millionaire through big banks and Wall St. deals?

FARRELL, DIANA.

Diana Farrell is Deputy Director of the National Economic Council (since January, 2009) in the administration of President Barack Obama. She formerly worked for two years at Goldman Sachs in New York according to Whorunsgov.com.

In 2003, Farrell was the author of a paper, "Perspective on Outsourcing" in which she argued that sending American jobs overseas might be "as beneficial to the U.S. as to the destination country, probably more so." In a book titled “The Economists’ Voice: Top Economists Take on Today’s Problems,” Farrell wrote a chapter titled “U.S. Offshoring: Small Steps to make it Win-Win.” Her chapter, published in 2008, centered on offshoring.

In the Obama administration, Farrell works with a coven of Goldies including Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, who is her boss.

FRIEDMAN, STEPHEN.

Chairman of Obama’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

According to Wikipedia, Friedman worked for much of his career with Goldman Sachs, holding numerous executive roles. He served as the company’s co-chief operating officer from 1987 to 1990, was the company’s co-chairman from 1990 to 1992, and the sole chairman from 1992 to 1994; he still serves on the company board.

Friedman was another Goldie involved in controversy, as many of the Goldies have been in government service, involving his former employer. His actions, like other affiliated with Goldman, show scant respect for rules, regulations or laws.

Wikipedia notes:

Wikipedia notes:

On May 7, 2009 Friedman resigned as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in response to criticism of his December 2008 purchase of $3 million of stock in Goldman Sachs. Friedman, who remains a member of Goldman Sachs’ board, came into violation of Federal Reserve policy when Goldman was converted to a bank holding company in September 2008, thereby placing it under the regulatory authority of the New York Fed. Friedman requested a waiver from this violation when the conversion occurred, which was granted roughly two and a half months later.

FROHMAN, MICHAEL.

Robert Rubin’s Chief of Staff while Rubin served as Secretary of the Treasury and an Obama “head hunter” according to “Rubin Proteges Change Their Tune as They Join Obama’s Team” in the New York Times.

FURMAN, JASON.

Furman served as the second Director of the Hamilton Project after Peter Orszag’s departure for the Obama administration and he in turn left the Hamilton Project in June 2008 to direct economic policy for the Obama Presidential Campaign.

FUDGE, ANNE.

Obama just appointed Fudge to his budget deficit reduction committee. Fudge has been the pr craftsman for some of America’s largest corporations. She sits, according to the Washington Post, as a Trustee of the Brookings Institution within which the Hamilton Project is embedded.

GALLOGLY, MARK.

Gallogly sits on the Hamilton Project’s advisory council. He is also, according to Wikipedia, currently a member of President Barack Obama’s President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

GEITHNER, TIMOTHY.

He’s one of the most documented of all people within the Obama administration while serving as Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury. He was named head of the New York Fed by none other George W. Bush, again perhaps underscoring Gore Vidal’s observation that American is run by one corporate party and it has two wings: Republican and Democratic.

While at the head of the New York Fed, Geithner prior to the crisis not only failed to see storm clouds on the horizon, he also in 2008 ordered the bailed out AIG not to disclose its sweetheart payments to big banks including, you guessed it, Goldman Sachs. Geithner also worked with W’s Treasury Secretary Paulson to fashion the TARP agreements whereby billions were handed out to Wall St.

Geithner is a protoge of both Robert Rubin and Larry Summers.

Like other Goldies, Geithner has had trouble with rules, tax regulations and various. Recall that he had trouble at his confirmation hearings over his tax returns. Whorunsgov sums them up:

At the end of the Clinton administration, Geithner moved to the International Monetary Fund, where he was director of policy development. That period led to a blot on his personal record. The IMF, unlike most employers, does not pay the employer match on Social Security and Medicare taxes. Geithner was responsible for paying those taxes himself. He did not to do so until he was audited in 2005, and even then only paid the back taxes for 2003 and 2004. He did not pay the back taxes for 2001 and 2002 until after Obama tapped him to be Treasury secretary at the end of 2008.

Many of Geithner’s actions profited Goldman Sachs directly or indirectly, such as Geithner’s decision to deny Goldman’s competitor the same treatment he gave Goldman. As Time magazine noted:

[Geithner]Would not grant Lehman Brothers the right to become a bank-holding company — a status given to both Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs just days after Lehman filed for bankruptcy

Lehman Brothers collapsed, leaving Goldman Sachs with fewer competitors and a greater market share.

GENSLER, GARY.

Gensler was a Goldman Sachs partner who is Obama’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission head. Gensler is the guy who as a former Treasury official exempted the $58 trillion credit default market from oversight. Those financial instrumentals played a key role in the global economic downturn and led to billions of dollars in profits for banks like Goldman Sachs.

GREENSTONE, MICHAEL.

Greenstone is the 4th Director of the Hamilton Project. Just as attorney Craig went from advising Obama to defending Goldman Sachs against the SEC complaint, Greenstone has used the revolving door to go from went an economic adviser position to Obama to one of the Goldman Sachs outlets, in this case its think tank embedded in the Brookings Institution and funded by Goldman and Robert Rubin. All 3 previous Directors of the Hamilton Project work in the Obama administration.

HAMILTON PROJECT, THE.

The pro-corporatist think group funded by Goldman Sachs and Robert Rubin and cleverly hidden in the Brookings Institution as their Rosemary’s Baby/Trojan Horse. Espouses cutbacks in entitlements, strict budgetary thinking applied to all social programs (but not the defense department); outsourcing of American jobs overseas; more NAFTA-type agreements. Three of the first 4 Directors of the Hamilton Project serve in the Obama Administration. The fourth went from an economic adviser to Obama to the Hamilton Project.

It might also help to recall that the name "Hamilton Project" is significant. Recall that Alexander Hamilton, after whom the institute was named, had as his most famous dictum that "the people are a great beast." Hamilton espoused a powerful state bank and centralized government and presidency.

Note too that Sen. Barack Obama was the inaugural speaker at the Hamilton Project and lavished praise on "my friend Bob [Rubin]" and called for cuts in entitlements (Social Security) and more NAFTA agreements. This is the same guy who lied to the electorate, then, in union states like Ohio and Pennsylvania during the Democratic primaries when he said "NAFTA needs rethinking." He is firmly and totally behind NAFTA and has done no "rethinking" of it while President and with his party in firm control of Congress.

For more information, see the reading listed below on this subject and the Project’s web site.

HORMATS, ROBERT.

The top economics official at Obama’s State Department, Hormats spent the prior 27 years at Goldman Sachs, including as the Vice Chairman of Goldman’s international arm.

Hormat’s appointment to the Obama administration led Glenn Greenwald to this observation:

A Goldman executive as COO of the SEC’s enforcement division. This is all consistent with the observation of Desmond Lachman — previously chief emerging market strategist at Salomon Smith Barney and IMF deputy director — regarding "Goldman Sachs’s seeming lock on high-level U.S. Treasury jobs," which he cited as but one of the many "parallels between U.S. policymaking and what we see in emerging markets."

Imagine how this will play out. The SEC has lodged a complaint against Goldman Sachs. Goldman’s former Vice President in charge of Business Intelligence sits in the SEC’s enforcement division while Obama’s former top lawyer, White House Counsel Gregory Craig, has gone to defend Goldman Sachs!

KASHKARI, NEEL.

Former Vice President of Goldman Sachs in San Francisco where he where he led Goldman’s Information Technology Security Investment Banking practice. Kashkari served under Treasury Secretary Paulson and was kept on by Obama after his inauguration for a limited period to work on TARP oversight.

KORNBLUH, KAREN.

Sometimes called "Obama’s brain", she serves as Obama’s Ambassador to the OECD. Kornbluh was Deputy Chief of Staff to Mr. Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin.

LEW, JACOB (AKA "JACK") J.

Lew is the United States Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. According to Wikipedia, Lew sits on the Brookings-Rubin funded Hamilton Project Advisory Board. He also served with Robert Rubin in Bill Clinton’s cabinet as Director of OMB.

Like many affiliates of the Hamilton Project, along with Barack Obama, Lew believes that fiscal discipline needs to be applied to Social Security (not much talk about runaway costs in the military budget). According to the New York Times, Lew has testified that:

“Fiscal discipline is essential to protect Social Security and strengthen Medicare, so that both will be there in the years ahead. Reducing the accumulated federal debt will help us to protect these important programs.” (Congressional testimony in March 2000.)

Also like Robert Rubin, Lew has worked with Citicorp. The New York Times reported (same link as above) that:

As executive vice president of New York University, he tangled with a union representing graduate students who help teach courses.

LIPTON, DAVID A.

According to Paul Krugman, Lipton is at now at Obama’s National Economic Council and the National Security Council. Lipton worked with Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, again according to Krugman, on the US response to the Asian financial crisis of the 1990′s. MergeFoundations reports that Lipton worked closely with Robert Rubin:

[he] advised and assisted Secretary Rubin on many key aspects of international economic policy.

MINDICH, ERIC.

Eric Mindich, while not officially serving in the Obama administration, is a strong Obama supporter with extensive ties to the President, according to a Ben Smith/Politico article. Mindich is a hedge fund manager and sits on the Advisory Council of the Hamilton Project and has worked at Goldman Sachs. In fact, he was the youngest ever partner with Goldman Sachs at the age of 27.

According to Wikipedia:

Prior to forming Eton Park in 2004, Mindich spent 15 years at Goldman Sachs in two main roles: leading the firm’s equities risk arbitrage business and managing the firm’s equities division. He joined the firm in 1988 in the equities arbitrage department and ran that department from 1992 until 2000.[1] In 1994, at age 27, he became the youngest partner ever in the history of Goldman Sachs.[1] In 2000, he became co-chief operating officer of the equities division and in 2002 became co-head of the equities division and a member of the Goldman Sachs Management Committee. In 2003, Mindich joined the Executive Office as senior strategy officer and chair of the Firmwide Strategy Committee.

Another website, Operational Due Diligence at Checkfundmanager, indicates the following about Mindich:

In March of 2009, Eton Park’s [hedge fund founded by him] assets under management were estimated to be around $13 billion.

An article from April of 2009 lists Mr. Mindich among the “inner circle” of economic advisors to Lawrence H. Summers, who is the current chief economic adviser to President Barack Obama. Mr. Mindich is also listed in another article as being a top level Democrat fundraiser.

…Eric Mindich, founder of Eton Park fund, reportedly supports Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy (2007).

…A February 2005 article rattles off a number of impressive credentials for Eric Mindich, including launching the largest hedge fund in history, graduating summa cum laude from Harvard, becoming the youngest ever partner at Goldman Sachs, and being endorsed by former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin.

ORSZAG, PETER.

Obama’s Budget Director was the founding director of the Hamilton Project, funded by Goldman Sachs and Robert Rubin. Furthermore, Wikipedia indicates that Robert Rubin, Goldman’s ex-head, was one of Orszag’s mentors.

A BBC article notes Orsag’s commitment to Hamilton Project ideals like cutting the budget (mostly by cutting entitlements) and his ties to Goldman Sachs:

Mr Obama has signalled his determination to keep the budget deficit in check by appointing Peter Orszag, the head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

It is the OMB, rather than the Treasury, that allocates government spending and estimates the size of future budget deficits.

His appointment could help ease the new president’s relations with Congress.

Peter Orszag is well-known as a fiscal conservative, who is concerned to keep spending and tax cuts in check.

He was one of the first directors of the Hamilton Project, a Brookings think tank initiative backed by Robert Rubin…

The BBC failed to point out that Goldman Sachs also contributed to funding the Hamilton Project, and he was not "one of the first directors of the Hamilton Project" he was its first Director.

PATTERSON, MARK.

former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs who serves under Timothy Geithner as his top deputy and overseer of TARP bailout funds, $10 billion of which went to Goldman.

RATTNER, STEVE.

Ratner is the shady billionaire financier who Obama appointed as his “car czar” and who resigned after it was revealed that his company, the Quadrangle Group, was apparently involved in “pay to play” for a billion dollars or so of New York State pension funds, and was under possible indictment by the New York AG and the SEC, also sits on the Advisory Council of the Goldman funded Hamilton Project.

Rattner is yet another Goldie-Hamilton Project person in trouble with the law. He was the main financial supporter of Harold Ford’s aborted New York Senate run and speculation was that Rattner wanted a Senator to help protect him.

REISCHAUER, ROBERT D.

He was a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission from 2000-2009 and was its vice chair from 2001-2008. He too sits on the Hamilton Project’s advisory board.

From this excellent discussion at "Meet Robert Rubin" here’s more information on Reischauer and his extensive links to Robert Rubin:

Robert Reischauer, another policy insider who penned a memo in 2009 with fellow Brookings Institution elites calling for Obama to take "action to stem the growth of Social Security and Medicare," were recently nominated by Obama to be Social Security Trustees. (The Blahous pick he apparently owed to Senator Mitch McConnell.)

Reischauer has close ties to economic wrecking ball Robert Rubin—the Goldman Sachs chairman who became Clinton Treasury Secretary and pushed through radical deregulatory banking laws, then went to Citigroup to score $120 million for driving his company into the ground. Rubin and Reischauer knew each other at both the Harvard Corporation and the Clinton White House, where Reischauer was director of CBO. Reischauer is on the advisory board of Rubin’s Hamilton Project, and the two most recent CBO directors have come straight from Hamilton.

NOTE: since writing this, it appears the above (and the quote below on Alice Rivkin) comes word for word from an Alternet article by Matthew Skomarovsky found here.

RIVLIN, ALICE.

Obama just named in March Alice Rivlin to his so called deficit reduction commission. Have a look at her background and you’ll see why and that Obama has stacked that commission with people who want cuts in entitlements.

Again, an excellent summary of her Goldman-Brookings (read Hamilton Project) Obama connections:

One of Reischauer’s co-signers of the Brookings memo, Alice Rivlin, is another fox Obama has put in charge of the Social Security henhouse. Former Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve under Greenspan at the peak of the tech bubble, and also a Hamilton Project board member, Rivlin will likely make another great Wall Street ally on the commission. In 2004 Rivlin co-authored (with Obama’s current Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, among others) a 138-page Brookings report titled "Restoring Fiscal Sanity" advocating $47 billion in entitlement cuts, including an "increase in the retirement age under Social Security" and "more accurate inflation adjustments to Social Security benefits."

Wikipedia also says of her:

She is currently on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange.

Wikipedia also notes that she has extensive Brookings Institution connections (within which the Hamilton Project is now embedded) including from 1957–66, 1969–75, 1983–93, and 1999 to the present.

Rivlin is a frequent speaker at the Hamilton Project as shown by this page at the Hamilton Project’s web site; you can see videos of her talks and the subjects of her papers here.

RUBIN, JAMES.

Son of Robert Rubin (see next entry). Served as a headhunter for Obama per the New York Times article, "Rubin Proteges Change Their Tune as They Join Obama’s Team".

RUBIN, ROBERT.

Mr. Goldman Sachs and co-funder, along with Goldman, of the Hamilton Project. Served as the 70th U.S. Sect. of the Treasury under Bill Clinton and spent 26 years at Goldman Sachs becoming its Co-Chairman from 1990-1992. He also served as Chairman of Citigroup. Along with Goldman Sachs, Rubin funded the Hamilton Project embedded in the Brookings Institution. In other words, he embedded within what is perceived as a liberal think tank a Trojan Horse that espouses cutbacks in entitlements (but not Defense budgets), more NAFTA like agreements, outsourcing of jobs overseas and strict budget consciousness applied to health care. Rubin used the same tactic with Barack Obama: choosing an essentially ambitious yet cautious conservative and turning him into a Trojan Horse for his causes and those of Goldman’s/the Hamilton Project’s. Rubin is the de facto President of the United States and he and the Hamilton Project tell Obama and his administration what to do. Obama gets to ride on Air Force One.

According to a recent Politico article:

Behind the scenes, Rubin still wields enormous influence in Barack Obama’s Washington, chatting regularly with a legion of former employees who dominate the ranks of the young administration’s policy team. He speaks regularly to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who once worked for Rubin at Treasury.

SPERLING, GENE.

Prior to advising Timothy Geithner on bailouts, Sperling was paid the paltry sum of $887,727 by Goldman Sachs for one year of consulting work. Sperling, another acolyte of Robert Rubin’s raked in even more that year, according to William Grieder at the Nation:

[he was paid in addition] $480,051 as a director of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, plus $250,000 for his quarterly briefings to two hedge funds, plus the speaking gigs [$158,000] (including an appearance before the Stanford Group in Houston subsequently charged with running a Ponzi scheme). Meantime, his day job at the Council on Foreign Relations paid $116,653. A busy, busy wonk.

STORCH, ADAM.

Storch worked for Goldman Sachs for 5 years reaching the position of Vice President in the Business Intelligence Group. He is Obama’s Managing Executive of the Security and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement.

SUMMERS, LARRY.

It didn’t take Larry Summers long to land a big time job after he crashed and burned as Harvard’s President. He sits at Obama’s right hand as Obama’s chief economic adviser and head of the National Economic Counsel. Summers’s boss at Goldman was non other than Robert Rubin, former co-Chairman of Goldman and also former head of Citicorp.

Summers has reaped nearly $2.8 million in speaking fees to banks and institutions he is now supposed to be helping to regulate and oversee.

Goldman Sachs paid him $135,000 for a single speech he gave in April, 2008, a very good investment repaid many times to Goldman.

>CONCLUSION.

Although a lot of work and research was put into this list, I am sure I missed many people. But it gives the most comprehensive look ever published at how extensive the Goldman Sachs ties are in the Obama administration and the revolving door between the two (See attorney Craig’s description above).

It also shines light on a subject that has virtually received no mainstream media attention: the importance of the Hamilton Project (funded by Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs) as the policy voice for their pro-corporate interests. While Matt Taibbi has dissected Goldman, no journalist has looked at the Hamilton Project (Taibbi misses it too) despite the fact that all three of its first directors serve now in the Obama administration. Its current director, its fourth, worked as an economic adviser to Obama Administration and at MIT. It formulate the pro-big business that Goldman wants and spreads it through academia and the Obama administration.

Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs cleverly disguished their Rosemary’s baby, the Hamilton Project, within the essentially liberal Brookings Institution. Lots of journalists (including the BBC) have been misled by this, thinking that if it comes out of Brookings, it must be liberal or even progressive. Discussing Peter Orszag, the BBC made this blunder:

He was one of the first directors of the Hamilton Project, a Brookings think tank initiative backed by Robert Rubin which aimed to combine fiscal responsibility with progressive politics.

(emphasis added)

Not so! The clear message from the Hamilton Project is this:

1) entitlements must be cut, including Social Security;
2) more jobs must be outsourced overseas;
3) more NAFTA-type agreements must be drafted and entered into;
4) strict budgetary policies must be applied to entitlements and especially health care "reform" (whereas the defense department is skirted).

One only has to look at the Hamilton Project, at Obama’s speech to that group in April, 2006, and the numerous articles and books that they have peddled to see that their outlook is overwhelmingly corporatist and pro-big business. It is, then, ant-iprogressive not liberal and certainly not progressive.

RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING:

1. Greg Gordon (McClatchy Newspapers), "Goldman’s White House Connections Raise Eyebrows" April 21, 2010.

2. Fflambeau, "With the Obama Administration Infested With Goldman Sachs People, How Real is the Obama/Democratic Attack on Big Banks" FDL Diary, April 21, 2010.

3. "More Investigations of Goldman Sachs, A Double-Edge Swords for Obama and Democrats"

4. "Meet Robert Rubin" at MyOpera/Personal Finance Blog

5. Paul Street’s article showing that Obama held corporatist ideas long before elected and his indebtedness to the interests of big business.

6. Matthew Skomarovsky, "Obama Packs Debt Commission with Social Security Looters", March 28, 2010 at Alternet.

ESSENTIAL READING ON THE HAMILTON PROJECT AND ITS TIES TO THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION:

1. Kirk James Murphy, M.D. "The Hamilton Project: Same Corporatist Whine In New DLC Vessels." THE seminal article on the Hamilton Project which also features a video clip of then Senator Barack Obama talking about "my friend, Bob [Rubin]" and espousing cuts in entitlements and the "need" for more free trade pacts like NAFTA.

2. Fflambeau, "Obama’s ‘Smoking Gun’: His Hamilton Project Speech Shows His Links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts, Part 1.

3. Fflambeau, "Obama’s ‘Smoking Gun’: His Hamilton Project Speech Shows His Links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts, Part 2".

4. Another source for Obama’s Hamilton Project speech of April 2006. Contains video clip.

5. James Kirk Murphy, M.D., "Remember the Hamilton Project?" Dr. Murph’s latest look at the Hamilton Project.

6. David Sirota, "Wall Street Democrats Unveil Plan to Undermine Progessives", April 5, 2006.

With The Obama Administration Infested with Goldman Sachs People, How Real is the Obama/Democratic Attack on Big Banks?

9:30 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

The Obama administration is infested with people with ties to Goldman Sachs. Goldman was Obama’s biggest campaign contributor ($994,795) in 2008 and before that as a candidate to the Senate. Rahm took in $80,000 from Goldman Sachs as a Congressman and was on a $3,000 a month retainer from Goldman while he worked as Bill Clinton’s chief fund raiser. So how real is the Obama/Democratic party’s supposed new toughness on big banks?

Michelle Malkin in an excellent article at the New York Post writes that Obama’s administration is so infested with Goldies that:

The White House can no more disown Government Sachs than Obama can disown Chicago politics.

Malkin rightly questions the timing of Obama administration’s supposed new toughness on Goldman Sachs (just months before the November elections). It’s clear that not only the Obama administration but the Gordon Brown government in the U.K. realize that average citizens overwhelmingly are disgusted with big, predatory banks and their practices and that both Brown and now Obama want to steal some of that fire to use it in upcoming elections. The Democrats are even trying to raise money off of their new found toughness as Malkin documents:

Obama is headed to Wall Street tomorrow to demand "financial regulatory reform" — just as the US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil suit against Goldman Sachs for mortgage-related fraud.

Question the timing? Darn tootin’.

As the New York Post reported Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee immediately bought sponsored Internet ads on Google that direct Web surfers who type in "Goldman Sachs SEC" to Obama’s fund-raising site.

Malkin also lists some of the top people in the Obama administration with deep ties to Goldman Sachs. They include:

*Gary Gensler, a Goldman Sachs partner who is Obama’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission head. Gensler is the guy who as a former Treasury official exempted the $58 trillion credit default market from oversight. Those financial instrumentals played a key role in the global economic downturn and led to billions of dollars in profits for banks like Goldman Sachs.

*Rahm Emanuel (see above), Mr. Sleeze personified who made millions as an investment banker.

*Mark Patterson, former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs who serves under Timothy Geithner as his top deputy and overseer of TARP bailout funds, $10 billion of which went to Goldman.

*Larry Summers, Obama’s chief economic adviser and head of the National Economic Counsel. Summers’s boss at Goldman was non other than Robert Rubin, former co-Chairman of Goldman and also former head of Citicorp (and I believe, the real POTUS while Obama is merely his spokesman). Summers has reaped nearly $2.8 million in speaking fees to banks and institutions he is now supposed to be regulating. Goldman Sachs paid him $135,000 for a single speech he gave in April, 2008, a very good investment repaid many times to Goldman.

*Timothy Geithner is also a Robert Rubin protoge. Geithner, of course, headed the New York Fed prior to the crisis and not only saw no storm clouds on the horizon, he also in 2008 ordered the bailed out AIG not to disclose its sweetheart payments to big banks including, you guessed it, Goldman Sachs.

But as good as Malkin’s article is, she doesn’t provide the full details of what has been called "Government Sachs". As of June, 2009, for instance, Goldman had more than 30 ex-government officials working as registered lobbyists including former Democratic House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) to represent its interests on issues related to TARP, according to Mother Jones.

Here are some other key Goldies in the Obama administration (you readers can help me fill out this list by providing names of others):

*Stephen Friedman, Chairman of Obama’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. According to Wikipedia, Friedman worked for much of his career with Goldman Sachs, holding numerous executive roles. He served as the company’s co-chief operating officer from 1987 to 1990, was the company’s co-chairman from 1990 to 1992, and the sole chairman from 1992 to 1994; he still serves on the company board.

Friedman was involved in controversy, as many of the Goldies have been in government service, involving his former employer. Wikipedia notes:

On May 7, 2009 Friedman resigned as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in response to criticism of his December 2008 purchase of $3 million of stock in Goldman Sachs.Friedman, who remains a member of Goldman Sachs’ board, came into violation of Federal Reserve policy when Goldman was converted to a bank holding company in September 2008, thereby placing it under the regulatory authority of the New York Fed. Friedman requested a waiver from this violation when the conversion occurred, which was granted roughly two and a half months later.

*Neel Kashkari, former Vice President of Goldman Sachs in San Francisco where he where he led Goldman’s Information Technology Security Investment Banking practice. Kashkari served under Treasury Secretary Paulson and was kept on by Obama after his inauguration for a limited period to work on TARP oversight.

*Diana Farrell, Diana Farrell is a Deputy Director of the National Economic Council in the administration of President Barack Obama. She formerly worked for Goldman Sachs in New York.

*Karen Kornbluh, sometimes called "Obama’s brain" is Obama’s Ambassador to the OECD. Kornbluh was Deputy Chief of Staff to Mr. Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin.

*Adam Storch, who worked for Goldman Sachs for 5 years reaching the position of Vice President in the Business Intelligence Group , is Obama’s Managing Executive of the Security and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement.

*Robert Hormats, the top economics official at Obama’s State Department, who spent the prior 27 years at Goldman Sachs, including as the Vice Chairman of Goldman’s international arm.

*Gene Sperling, prior to advising Timothy Geithner on bailouts, Sperling was paid the paltry sum of $887,727 by Goldman Sachs for one year of consulting work. Sperling, another acolyte of Robert Rubin’s raked in even more that year, according to William Grieder at the Nation:

[he was paid in addition] $480,051 as a director of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, plus $250,000 for his quarterly briefings to two hedge funds, plus the speaking gigs [$158,000] (including an appearance before the Stanford Group in Houston subsequently charged with running a Ponzi scheme). Meantime, his day job at the Council on Foreign Relations paid $116,653. A busy, busy wonk.

*Peter Orszag, Obama’s Budget Director was the founding director of the Hamilton Project, funded by Goldman Sachs and Robert Rubin. Wikipedia indicates that Robert Rubin, Goldman’s ex-head, was one of Orszag’s mentors.

*Jason Furman served as the second Director of the Hamilton Project after Peter Orszag’s departure for the Obama administration and he in turn left the Hamilton Project in June 2008 to direct economic policy for the Obama Presidential Campaign.

*Douglas Elmendorf replaced Furman as Director of the Hamilton Project and he in turn became Obama’s Director of the Congressional Budget Office in January 2009.

Note that the first 3 Directors of the Hamilton Project ALL serve in the Obama administration–while other journalists/writers have explored the links between Goldman Sachs and Obama, few have looked at this connection. Note again that the Hamilton Project was funded by Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs. Note too that the current director of the Hamilton Project, its 4th since its founding in 2006, is Michael Greenstone. How long will it be before Greenstone goes to the Obama administration, making it a perfect 4 for 4 for Directors of the Goldman funded Hamilton Project?

*Barack Obama. Obama really owes his career to Goldman Sachs which was not only his biggest financial contributor when he ran for the presidency but also his biggest contributor when he ran for the Senate. Obama was essentially bought out by Goldman Sachs former head Robert Rubin as early as 2006. You can witness then Senator Obama paying lavish tribute to "my friend Bob [Rubin]" when the Rubin-Goldman Sachs sponsored Hamilton Project opened its doors as an embedded neoliberal think tank within the Brookings Institution. A video clip of Obama’s speech along with an excellent discussion of his ties to Goldman Sachs can be found at this FDL diary.

There is considerable evidence (including the above video clip of Obama himself speaking) to indicate that Rubin-Goldman Sachs hand selected Obama as a kind of spokesman for its unpopular causes and funded him as both a Senatorial and presidential candidate. See, for instance, Paul Street’s brilliant "Obama, As Predicted" essay. And David Sirota’s article on the founding of the Hamilton Project here. Another helpful FDL diary on Obama and the Hamilton Project (and links to Goldman) can be found here.

Obama, then, was a kind of "stealth candidate" or Trojan Horse, if you will: posing as a liberal-progressive, but in reality ready to advance Goldman’s financial and commercial interests which are anything but progressive. For more on Obama’s ties to the Hamilton Project and Robert Rubin/Goldman Sachs see this diary.

With all of these connections between Goldman Sachs and the Obama administration, including Obama himself, is there any doubt that the civil suit (note: the Obama administration has failed to bring a criminal case against the Goldman despite the urgings of Cong. Marcia Kaptur and 17 other Congresspeople) is anything but window dressing before the November election designed to fool the American people once again into thinking that Obama is some kind of populist-progressive?

Once again, Michelle Malkin gets it right in her revealing article, "All the President’s Goldman Men":

As Obama harangues Wall Street to clean up its house, all the president’s Goldman Sachs men have their feet on the coffee table at his.

NOTES:

1. If you know of other Goldies in the Obama adminstration, I would very much apreciate it if you would please provide their names/positions in your comments. Thanks in advance since I’m trying to compile a list! I have not found a complete/thorough one anywhere.

2. Michael Moore reports the following Congressman as behind Cong. Kaptur’s request for a criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs:

The following House Democrats have signed on to Kaptur’s letter: Jim McDermott (Wash.), Diane Watson (Calif.), Chris Carney (Pa.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), John Lewis (Ga.), Charlie Melancon (La.), Tom Perriello (Va.), Betty Sutton (Ohio), Jay Inslee (Wash.), Pete Stark (Calif.), Mike Honda (Calif.), John Salazar (Colo.), Niki Tsongas (Mass.), Alan Grayson (Fla.), David Loebsack (Iowa) and Bob Filner (Calif.).

3. Since this diary was written, McClatchy Newspapers has an excellent article up written by Greg Gordon called "Goldman’s White House Connections Raise Eyebrows". It is the lead story over at the Huffingtonpost.

Gordon writes this on Rahm Emanuel and his lucrative work that included cooperating with Goldman Sachs on one multimillion dollar deal:

One White House insider who knows something about how Wall Street does business is chief of staff Emanuel, who earned millions of dollars in investment banking after he left the Clinton White House. His work for the Chicago-based financial services firm Wasserstein Perella & Co. intersected with Goldman in at least one deal.

In 1999, Emanuel was a key player representing Unicom Corp., the parent of Commonwealth Edison, in forging its merger with Peco Energy Co. to create utility giant Exelon Corp. Goldman was also advising Unicom.

The White House declined immediate comment on that connection.

The same article reports repeated and continuous contact between the head of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, and Obama and key figures in his administration:

According to White House visitor logs, Blankfein was among the business leaders who attended an Obama speech on Feb. 13, 2009, and he also joined more than a dozen bank CEOs in a meeting with Obama on March 27, 2009.

Blankfein also was supposed be among the CEOs who met with Obama in December, but he and two others phoned in from New York, blaming inclement weather.

He and his wife, Laura, were listed on the logs among 438 presidential guests at the Kennedy Center Honors the previous week.

The logs also indicate that Blankfein met twice in 2009, on Feb. 4 and Sept. 30, with Summers, who was undersecretary of the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration when it was headed by Robert Rubin, a former Goldman CEO.

University of Minnesota political scientist Lawrence Jacobs in the same article described the incestuous relationship between Goldman Sachs and the Obama administration:

"almost everything that the White House has done has been haunted by the personnel and the money of Goldman . . . as well as the suspicion that the White House, particularly early on, was pulling its punches out of deference to Goldman and its war chest.

The McClatchy newspaper article is well worth reading in its entirety even though it does not begin to mention all of the people from Goldman Sachs embedded in Obama’s administration.

Governments Worldwide Assail Elderly and Attempt to Cut Their Benefits

8:17 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Many Western, democratic governments face huge budget problems and are attempting to raise the retirement age and to cut benefits to the elderly to balance their books. This is occurring now in Spain (where the government wants to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67), in France where Nicolas Sarkozy has led an assault on all types of government benefits to the French population, and now to the Dutch. Moreover, the Obama administration will not be far behind.

Buried in a story in today’s New York Time’s web site on the collapse of the Dutch government due to differences over staying the course in Afghanistan is this telling comment:

The question of retaining troops in Afghanistan was far from the only issue pulling apart the parties in the governing coalition in the Netherlands; the parties were also divided over a controversial decision to increase the retirement age and the impending need for deep budget cuts. But the dispute over the troops brought relations to the breaking point.

(Emphasis added).

Note too that these governments typically want to spend MORE money in their budgets on bombs, tanks, bullets and fighter planes and that if they cut back in these areas they would have the money to fund retirement programs that would provide dignity and necessary financial support for the elderly and retired. But that means less profits for the military industrial complex which often provide kickbacks to the politicians. The retirement funds earned by workers (which are never put into a "bank" and used just for that purpose) are also "cash cows" for politicians to milk for their less than worthy projects. In this sense, America is no exception and this situation is now occurring in almost all countries because the population is aging and governments worldwide have failed in their core responsibilities of taking care of their citizens needs in health, education, and retirement.

Usually, attempts to cut such social benefits are disguised as "reform". That is what Sarkozy calls it. And that too is what Barack Obama and Rahm called their health "insurance" programs which were anything but reform and were designed to increase profits for insurance and pharmaceutical corporations.

Obama himself in 2006 in a speech he gave at the Hamilton Project inauguration, with Mr. Goldman Sachs (Bob Rubin) who funded that neo-liberal "think tank" warned his approving audience of bankers and the elite, that entitlement cuts were necessary. His speech was also larded with compliments of NAFTA and a call for more such "free trade" pacts.

Unfortunately, Obama and Rahm want more money for the big banks, for fighting in the five countries where we are now at war, for Wall Street. These "Democrats" have less will to spend revenue on true health care reform, education, and retirement systems. When it comes to spending on these items, these people suddenly become "budget hawks". So beware when Obama and any other politician starts talking about "social security reform": what it really means is social security cutbacks.

Here are 2 simple proposals to expand and improve U.S. retirement benefits:

1) extend the social security tax to all taxable income, not the $90,000 or so threshold that now exists (so the rich do not really have to pay a social security tax on most of their income); this single item would make social security solvent forever.

2) put all the money collected from the American people in the name of Social Security in a new bank, the Social Security Bank. It could earn interest there AND no money could be taken out except to pay retirement benefits.

If politicians do not measure up, we can kick them out. That’s exactly what happened to the Dutch government which is in the process of being dissolved and will have to face the voters.

We need to send the same message to our American politicians and getting rid of Harry Reid and some major Blue Dog Democrats is the way to start.

Obama STILL doesn’t get it: Calls Democratic problems “Communication problem”

9:09 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

President Obama STILL doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand why voters in the Bay State and elsewhere are disappointed with his administration. Obama blames it on "communication problems".

In an excellent interview with Big Ed over at MSNBC, Arianna Huffington points out the folly of this. Arianna notes that Obama has been communicating non-stop since his election and that it is the SUBSTANCE of what he is doing that has the voters upset.

Howard Dean also is spot on in his analysis of Obama’s woes. Dean, on the Rachel Maddow show, said:

"If you want to win, you actually can’t sort of move to the middle and become a Republican. You’ve got to stand up and stand for the things that you got elected on and that the Democratic Party believes in and we haven’t seen that in the healthcare bill and I think that’s part of the problem."

Exactly right. Here’s what Obama and the Democrats have to do to, in Arianna’s phrase, "course correct":

1. Get rid of Rahm Emanuel. He was a disaster as a strategist for Dems in 1994 and he’s been a disaster thusfar (remember the move to get Jud Gregg, of all people, as the Commerce Secretary?);

2. Get rid of Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. The two guys who were instrumental in creating the financial-economic meltdown are now Obama’s chief economic advisors. Dump them pronto and hire a combination of Paul Volcker, Joe Stiglitz or James Galbraith instead.

3. Dump the fake "insurance reform" Senate bill. It’s a Frankenstein monster and the voters hate it. Instead, extend medicare to the population in phases. First phase, everyone after age 45 gets medicare. Simple, efficient, easy for voters to understand and YES, economical.

4. Dump the Republican Robert Gates over at the Defense Department and replace him with a Democrat willing to cut back (not escalate) wars abroad and reduce the defense department budget. Someone like former 4-star general Wes Clark.

5. Bring Howard Dean back into the fold in a high capacity job. He’d be an excellent choice to replace Rahm. He understands voters and how to win elections AND he understands health care reform.

6. "It’s the economy, stupid." After firing Geithner and Summers, hit the ground running with massive public works projects to create jobs immediately. It’s the only way to do that, FDR understood that.

7. Instead of coddling the banks and Wall St., attack their excesses. We need real financial reform. Appoint Elizabeth Warren to tackle these problems.

This is not a difficult agenda AND the man who ran as an agent of change should have begun implementing it a year ago.

Unfortunately, I have zero faith that Obama will course correct and carry out the above agenda. Obama looks into mirrors to preen himself, not for introspection. He’s a died-in-the-wool DLCer; a true Rockefeller Republican (handouts to Wall St. and banks, nothing for Main Street; expansionist, American empire abroad with lots of money for the military-industrial complex).

Drew Westen, in a hard-hitting article on Obama, notes that Obama never calls himself a Democrat and has never defined what that means:

The President’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge that we have a two-party system, his insistence on making destructive concessions to the same party voters he had sent packing twice in a row in the name of "bipartisanship," and his refusal ever to utter the words "I am a Democrat" and to articulate what that means, are not among his virtues. We have competing ideas in a democracy — and hence competing parties — for a reason. To paper them over and pretend they do not exist, particularly when the ideology of one of the parties has proven so devastating to the lives of everyday Americans, is not a virtue. It is an abdication of responsibility.

…The White House just couldn’t seem to "get" that the American people could see that they were constantly coming down on the side of the same bankers who were foreclosing people’s homes and shutting off the credit to small business owners, when they should have been helping the people whose homes were being foreclosed and the small businesses that were trying to stay afloat because of the recklessness of banks that were now starving them. Americans were tired of hearing Obama "exhort" bankers and speculators to play nice as they collected their record bonuses for a heckuva job in 2009. It took him a year to float the idea of making them pay for a fraction of the damage they had done, and at this point, few Americans have any faith that a tax on big banks will ever become law or that the costs won’t just be passed on to them in new fees.

The White House has squandered the greatest opportunity to change both the country and the political landscape since Ronald Reagan.

/p>

The heading of Westen’s article is telling: "Obama Finally gets his victory for bipartisanship." Yup, the WH dude who keeps calling for bipartisanship actually got a Republican elected. Nice going, Team Obama.

That Obama sees his problems as communication-based and is unwilling and apparently unable to stand up for core Democratic pary values is telling. Real Democrats have to work around Obama and dump him in 2012. Elders in the Democratic Party will have to start pushing for an agenda like the one above against Obama’s wishes.

Here’s how Howard Dean put it:

People who blame others are losers. If you want to win elections you stop blaming and you get to work. And that’s what’s going to have to be done after this election…. I think the message has been sent that if we plan to do better than this in 2010, we’d better do better for the American people between now and next November.

Who better to lead true Democrats forward than Howard Dean?

That’s necessary because unfortunately, the Obama White House still doesn’t get it and the man sitting in the White House isn’t a Democrat from the Democratic side of the Democratic party.

So, we have to work around the poseur Democrat, implement a true progressive agenda, and dump Obama in 2012. He’s already proven he’s a liability not a leader.

Has President Obama Failed Black Americans Too?

3:44 am in Uncategorized by fflambeau

One of the most memorable images of the presidential election return night which saw Barack Obama victorious showed Jesse Jackson in tears in Chicago’s Grant Park. The grizzled veteran of the civil rights campaign and veteran presidential candidate in his own right wept with joy over the victory of a black American to our top political post. Jackson’s joy was shared by millions of Americans many of whom felt they would never live to see such a day.

But thirteen months have passed since that magical evening and aside from the symbolic victory of a black American attaining the highest office in America, the importance of which cannot be minimized, has Obama’s election victory changed the lives of average black Americans?

The profound economic downturn that has been minimized with the term "recession" has hit minorities, including black America, worse than others. Indeed, the official unemployment rate for African Americans (15.6% in November) is more than half again the overall rate of unemployment (10.%). The unemployment rate for African Americans increased 4.3% in just one year from 11.3% in November of 2008, to 15.6% in November, 2009. Another way to look at is that the unemployment rate for African Americans AT THE BEGINNING of the downturn (11.3%) was higher than the highest rates yet reached for the overall population (10.2%). Latinos have also suffered more than the white population, with unemployment among Latinos rising from 8.6% in November, 2008 to 12.7% in 2009. The L.A. Times has an excellent graphic and story showing these rates.

Here is a table, with information from the above article, showing the unemployment rates among racial groups for the past year:

Overall………………..6.8% (November 2008) 10.0% (Nov. 2009)

Whites…………………6.2% ………… 9.3%

Blacks………………..11.3% ………… 15.6%

Latinos………………. 8.6% ………….12.7%

"Impatience is mounting among black leaders," warned the same L.A. Times article after President Obama began "selling his new job programs" last Tuesday:

Hours after Obama laid out his new jobs plan Tuesday, black lawmakers noted that the first African American president was silent on ways to help minorities hit hardest by the downturn.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, released a statement quoting Obama’s campaign promise not to ignore race. She pointed to the high rate of unemployment and foreclosure in black and Latino areas. More than a quarter of black households reported being "food insecure" last year, she noted.

Lee said the caucus would offer its own proposals, including targeted job training and more direct federal hiring in black communities.

"We believe that tackling systemic inequality requires specific, concrete and targeted action," she said. "We want to make sure unemployment comes down in every part of the country and to do that we have to make sure the communities of color have specific resources."

The White House indicated it would not make special accommodations for blacks.

White House press secretary Gibbs explained that:

"I don’t think the president believes that we should address only one part of the unemployment rate," Gibbs told reporters. "The president believes that the plans that he outlined have the ability to address both the national as well as the black and the Hispanic community."

Civil rights activists said they weren’t surprised.

"I don’t think this administration ran on a promise to deal with specific race issues, and no one should be expecting them to do that now," said the Rev. Al Sharpton. "He’s not a member of the Congressional Black Caucus anymore."

Although Sharpton is correct in that analysis, one must wonder if the overall neglect of the Obama administration towards job creation with its unwillingness to use the federal government to create mass public works projects will not only bring the Democratic Party to its knees come next November but undercut its support among a key group backing Obama: African Americans. Indeed, Obama’s chief economic advisor, the hopelessly inept Larry Summers, dismissed for incompetence as head of Harvard University, today is trumpeting that the economic crisis appears to be over even as the country struggles with double digit unemployment numbers. Sounding much like John McCain in September, 2008, Summers:

Lawrence H. Summers, President Obama’s top economic advisor, told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos today that "Everyone agrees that the recession is over" and predicted good news for jobs based partially on November’s surprisingly low unemployment numbers, saying “Most professional forecasters are looking for a return to job growth by the spring."

Sounding much like John McCain before he lost the presidential election, Summers gleefully told an ABC audience to "look at unemployment statistics they will show job growth." Obviously, neither Summers or Obama have talked to “everyone” and Summers needs to be shown the door. Both seem to miss the obvious point: a rising tide will lift all boats, including those of African Americans and Latinos. Summers and Obama seem to focus only on the yachts of Goldman Sachs, Citibank, and Wall St. and not on the crafts of average Americans and even the more battered ones of its minorities.

Syndicated African American columnist Roland Martin underscored this point last week in an excellent article, "The era of ‘blame Bush’ is over for Obama." Martin notes that Obama was swept in on a tide of "blame Bush" on the war in Iraq and on the economy but that with his escalation in Afghanistan and his stimulus plan, Obama must now "accept full responsibility for the condition of the country." Martin also writes about 10 members of the Congressional Black Caucus withholding their support for an overhaul of the financial services industry (since passed):

"because they feel the administration isn’t being specific in addressing the effect of the economy on African-Americans. …according to Black Caucus members, their constituents have been left out in the cold. They are threatening to join up with Republicans to defeat some of the President’s measures unless they get more."

But such criticism is mild compared to that of people like John Pilger, Adolph Reed, and Paul Street. Pilger, the award-winning documentary maker and journalist, essentially believes that Obama was selected as a tool by the ruling elite of America for the very reason that he is black and seems to transcend race. Writes Pilger:

But it is equally true that the American elite has grown adept at using the black middle and management class. The courageous Martin Luther King recognised this when he linked the human rights of black Americans with the human rights of the Vietnamese, then being slaughtered by a "liberal" Democratic administration. And he was shot. In striking contrast, a young black major serving in Vietnam, Colin Powell, was used to "investigate" and whitewash the infamous My Lai massacre. As Bush’s secretary of state, Powell was often described as a "liberal" and was considered ideal to lie to the United Nations about Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Condaleezza Rice, lauded as a successful black woman, has worked assiduously to deny the Palestinians justice.

Pilger believes that America has shifted toward a "corporate dictatorship, managed by people regardless of ethnicity, with the media as its cliched facade." While this analysis would doubtless shock the majority of Americans, it explains (unlike other theories) Obama’s lack of action towards helping America’s minorities and his eagerness to help Wall St. and big banks.

Meanwhile, African American political scientist Adolph Reed, from the University of Pennsylvania, sees Obama largely as a "vacuous opportunist." Reed has written in The Progressive:

I’ve known him since the very beginning of his political career, which was his campaign for the seat in my state senate district in Chicago. He struck me then as a vacuous opportunist, a good performer with an ear for how to make white liberals like him. I argued at the time that his fundamental political center of gravity, beneath an empty rhetoric of hope and change and new directions, is neoliberal.

Reed even notes that the Obama campaign misled people about Michelle when they portrayed her as victim of poverty on Chicago’s South side. In reality, says Reed, both of Michelle’s parents worked in City of Chicago jobs and her dad was a precinct captain for the Daley machine. Reed even lays waste to the often taughted Obama-as-community-organizer theme noting that Barack Obama served only briefly in this role and what he really did was become involved in a less than inspirational and pretty much conventional youth-oriented voter registration drive. To Reid, the Obama campaign skillfully distorted the backgrounds of the Obamas and played on racial themes with the campaign offering "the chance to become sort of black in that ultra-safe and familiar theme park way." If one accepts Reed’s Obama as opportunist analysis, this too would explain the lack of initiative and fight his administration has shown toward helping both minorities and average middle American whites.

This analysis of Obama as an opportunist is borne out by Ken Silverstein in an article from 2006 called "Barack Obama Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine" over at Harpers. Silverstein looks at Obama at a later date (as a U.S. Senator from Illinois) than Reed and concludes:

Yet it is also startling to see how quickly Obama’s senatorship has been woven into the web of institutionalized influence-trading that afflicts official Washington. He quickly established a political machine funded and run by a standard Beltway group of lobbyists, P.R. consultants, and hangers-on. For the staff post of policy director he hired Karen Kornbluh, a senior aide to Robert Rubin when the latter, as head of the Treasury Department under Bill Clinton, was a chief advocate for NAFTA and other free-trade policies that decimated the nation’s manufacturing sector (and the organized labor wing of the Democratic Party). Obama’s top contributors are corporate law and lobbying firms (Kirkland & Ellis and Skadden, Arps, where four attorneys are fund-raisers for Obama as well as donors), Wall Street financial houses (Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase), and big Chicago interests (Henry Crown and Company, an investment firm that has stakes in industries ranging from telecommunications to defense). Obama immediately established a “leadership PAC,” a vehicle through which a member of Congress can contribute to other politicians’ campaigns—and one that political reform groups generally view as a slush fund through which congressional leaders can evade campaign-finance rules while raising their own political profiles.

But the most comprehensive analysis of Obama building upon the work of Reed and Silverstein comes from Paul Street in a brilliant article that also addresses Obama and the question of raceover at ZNet:

I was not alone in seeing Obama as enjoying more than an outside chance at the White House in the near future. Other Left observers knew about Obama’s longstanding outsized ambition and his related "deeply conservative" [4] ideological orientation and power-accommodating nature.[5] We were aware of his early (late 2003-2004) and close vetting by the national political and financial class[6] and of who really selects viable presidential candidates and winners – the corporate and imperial establishment.[7] And we knew also that, as the brilliant left commentator and author-filmmaker John Pilger noted last June, Obama’s racial identity could be a "very seductive tool of propaganda" working on behalf of the ruling class. "What is so often overlooked and what matters above all," Pilger ads, "is the class one serves. George W. Bush’s inner circle from the State Department to the Supreme Court was perhaps the most multiracial in presidential history. It was PC par excellence. Think Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell. It was also the most reactionary."[8] As left black poet and political essayist Michael Hureaux observed in the comments section of Dissident Voice in February of 2008

…Obama was understood early on to be a distinctly possible if not probable next president – despite or even because of his race. We felt that he offered the U.S. power elite and its authoritarian business and military order and global empire a much needed re-packaging – a symbolic overhaul and "re-branding" – that none of the other serious presidential contenders in the mix could safely provide to the same degree required in the wake of the Cheney-Bush nightmare. For me and a few other lefties I knew/know, there was little all that unlikely or surprising or remarkable about Obama’s rapid climb to the top of the American Empire. It all made perfect sense. The same goes for Obama’s performance as U.S. president so far.

…Obama’s power-elite backing would only increase, I felt, as it became ever more clear to political insiders and investors that Obama possessed five great and interrelated advantages over Hillary Clinton. First, he was a significantly more charismatic public personality than her. The uninspiring Senator Clinton was no match for the dashing young Keynote hero with the "odd name" when it came to wowing a television or convention-hall audience.

Second, the United States’ incredibly powerful corporate media seemed uncommonly spellbound by Obama. The junior senator from Illinois had been riding a remarkable wave of media love since his deeply conservative [14] Keynote Address. I expected that love to deepen and expand in the presidential campaign – an invaluable advantage whose importance could not easily be overstated.

Third, and intimately related to that media approval, Obama was widely and falsely perceived as a strong and dedicated opponent of Bush’s unpopular Iraq War. This was a critical plus in the primaries, where the Democratic Party’s liberal and progressive base held significant sway. It let the in-fact imperial and militarist Obama appropriate "peacenik" consciousness that would have more appropriately worked to the advantage of more genuinely antiwar candidates like Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, and (curiously enough) Ron Paul. With its strong attachment to Obama and its powerful tendency (shared with the broader U.S. political culture it both shapes and reflects) to privilege superficial matters of candidate character and "qualities" over substantive policy issues, dominant U.S. media seemed unlikely to disabuse progressive voters of the "fairy tale" (as Bill Clinton would rightly put it before the New Hampshire primary in mid-January of 2008) that Obama was a "peace candidate."

Fourth, Obama was widely seen as a left-leaning social-justice progressive. This false image was encouraged by his racial identity, his occasionally populist- and progressive-sounding rhetoric, and his short stint (after graduating from Columbia University and before attending Harvard Law during the 1980s) – heavily advertised in his campaign imagery – as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. This would also give him a significant edge among primary voters, who had been pushed to the left by the harshly plutocratic and messianic-militarist Bush administration. It let the in-fact corporate-centrist Obama benefit from social-democratic voter sentiments that would have more appropriately aided Edwards and (more genuinely left) Kucinich. Again, the media could be counted on not to expose the liberal and progressive fantasy.

Street expands on what he calls the "novelty dividend" of Obama which is connected with race:

Fifth, it struck me that Obama was going to garner a big advantage simply from the fact that he was new to the national political scene. An "overnight sensation" who entered the national stage just two and half years ago, he was supremely fortunate not to have been in the U.S. Senate when that body voted to authorize Bush to use military force against Iraq (a vote that Obama candidly admitted he might have supported in the summer of 2004). This "novelty dividend," immeasurably enhanced by his race and by his "exotic" (technically Muslim) nomenclature, would be a great plus in a period when the existing political order fails in spectacular ways. Like toothpaste and automobile brands, U.S. politicians generally benefit from being perceived as "new and improved." But the benefit of seeming "fresh" and new-fangled takes on special importance in times of political and policy breakdown. A political system that had gone sour would prove to be a special plus for the candidate who could most credibly claim to not have been part of it. (Ironically enough, Obama was deeply attached to the American corporate and imperial status quo, something that struck me as clearly indicated by his past record and which has certainly been born out by his subsequent record as president.)

The value of this "freshness" windfall, I sensed, was well understood at the elite level, in ways that mattered. In the wake of the Bush-Cheney disaster, the American corporate-capitalist system and its intimately related global Empire required a public relations makeover – a "re-branding," in advertising parlance – that Obama was uniquely qualified to provide among the existing field of Democratic candidates. … Obama offered the U.S. ruling class and American System an irresistible advertising and imagery overhaul no other candidate could begin to match.

Obama, it seemed to me, was poised to profit from a killer combination in U.S. politics. He joined widespread popularity and a related illusory progressive identification among the citizenry to strong approval from elite financial, corporate, and military elites who determined his basic safety to existing dominant domestic and global hierarchies and doctrines. Sophisticated corporate and military power brokers, I was sure, calculated that his deceptive (as they knew, after vetting him) progressive imagery and related newness would be useful when it came to "managing [popular] expectations" that were certain to be heightened by the passing of the Cheney-Bush regime and era. "Who better," I thought I could hear members of the political and investor classes saying…. "who better than Obama – with his outwardly progressive credentials, his ‘community organizing’ past, and his non-traditional racial identity – to be the public face for the long-predicted massive taxpayer bailout of high finance? Who better than Obama (with his supposed ‘antiwar’ record and his Islamic-sounding name) to provide cover for the reconfiguration of U.S. military control of strategically hyper-significant Middle Eastern oil resources in the wake of Bush’s Iraq fiasco? Who better to safely channel popular angers and to attach alienated segments of the citizenry to the corporate and imperial state and to refashion America’s image around the world?"

Street also notes that many people thought Obama could not attain the presidency because of his race, but that in fact Obama’s multiracial background helped him:

the nation’s white majority was unwilling to meaningfully confront racial inequality and the institutional racism and living historical white privilege that sustained persistent steep black-white disparity in the U.S. "Post-Civil Rights" "white America" was all-too fiercely attached to the false notion that racism no longer posed significant barriers to black advancement and racial equality in the U.S. It was, however, ready to vote in large numbers for a certain kind of black presidential candidate – one with special qualities who made a point of distancing himself from traditional black concerns, style, and rhetoric and indeed from the issue of race and the problem of racism. It was prepared to significantly back a smart, unthreatening, expertly crafted "black but not like Jesse [Jackson]" and "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner" candidate like Barack Obama. This was particularly the case among the younger sections of the white electorate. At the same time, I knew, the ever rising non-white (primarily black, Latina/o, and Asian-American) percentage of the U.S. voting population (whites’ share of the active U.S. electorate fell from 90 to 74 percent between 1976 and 2008 [16]) meant that Obama would not necessarily require a majority of the white vote to win the presidency.

Just as importantly given my understanding that top U.S. politicians are fundamentally [s]elected by the investor class [17], I also felt that Obama’s color and name enhanced the U.S. power elite’s sense of his suitability for the project of post-Bush II American re-branding. The "first black president" story line would be an irresistible narrative for image-makers eager to restore the nation’s sense and representation of itself as a model democracy where "all things are possible" and no deep or insuperable barriers to equality can be found. Along with Obama’s purported antiwar history, his Muslim name and his brief childhood stay in Indonesia held great value in terms of tamping down "anti-American" (anti-U.S. Empire) feelings in the Middle East, South Asia, and the Islamic world more broadly – sentiments that had further fanned by Washington’s deeply criminal and more than incidentally bipartisan invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

With his distinctive promise to de-fang popular resistance to American Empire and Inequality at home and abroad, a properly elite-vetted Obama struck me as something of a ruling class dream come true in the post-Bush environment. He would make a marvelous vehicle for wrapping core conservative, system-maintaining policy continuities in the deceptive flag of progressive "change."

If one can get over the self-congratulatory nature of Street’s writings which is not mean feat, he does bring together an analysis of Obama that explains both his rapid ascent, his victories against Hillary and McCain, and the way he has governed since the election. Here is Street on Obama after his election victory:

Since the inauguration, Obama as president has governed as predicted – well to the corporate, imperial, and racially neutral center-right. Heralded by Advertising Age for giving "tainted brand America" an "instant overhaul" (as open, progressive, egalitarian, and democratic) Obama has if anything out-done my "cynical" expectations (dating to the origins of the largely media-created "Obama phenomenon"[30]) on the extent to which he would betray his many progressive supporters (some deluded and some not) and his more progressive-sounding campaign promises. Washington under Democratic rule and the Obama administration (since January 20, 2009) provides potent evidence for left-liberal political scientist Sheldon Wolin’s take last year ( before the election) on the chances for progressive change under the United States "corporate-managed democracy" and "one-and-a-half party system." As Wolin predicted with haunting prescience in his chilling book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), "Should Democrats somehow be elected, corporate sponsors [will] make it politically impossible for the new officeholders to alter significantly the direction of society." In the United States’ election-focused political culture, Wolin elaborated:

"the parties set out to mobilize the citizen-as-voter, to define political obligation as fulfilled by the casting of a vote. Afterwards, post-election politics of lobbying, repaying donors, and promoting corporate interests – the real players – takes over The effect is to demobilize the citizenry, to teach them not to be involved or to ponder matters that are either settled or beyond their efficacy….The timidity of a Democratic Party mesmerized by centrist precepts points to the crucial fact that, for the poor, minorities, the working-class, anticorporatists, pro-environmentalists, and anti-imperialists, there is no opposition party working actively on their behalf."

Obama’s predictable (and predicted) betrayals of his more leftish campaign rhetoric and imagery have met only minimal and half-hearted opposition from what’s left of a U.S. left. Unjust wars and occupations, mega-bankers’ bailouts and other regressive policies that were seen as intolerable under the nominal rule of a boorish moron from Texas (George W. Bush) have become acceptable for many "progressives" when carried out by an eloquent and urbane black Democrat from Chicago (Barack Obama). A recent pathetic example – one of many – comes from the so-called liberal-left journal The Nation, whose bourgeois editor Katrina Vanden Huevel proclaims the following in an editorial titled "Obama, One Year On:" "Whatever one thinks of Obama’s policy on any specific issue, he is clearly a reform president committed to improvement of peoples’ lives and the renewal and reconstruction of America… Progressives should focus less on the limits of the Obama agenda and more on the possibilities that his presidency opens up" [34].

Ms. Vanden Heuvel announces here that she has fallen prey to what Chris Hedges, author of the recent book Empire of Illusion, calls "Brand Obama." As Hedges wrote last May:

"Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest."

"… The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008 and edged out runners-up Apple and Zappos.com. Take it from the professionals. Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they can make you feel [or because of crass and calculating motivations related to funding and perceived access to power at the upper ranks of the liberal Establishment - P.S.]." [35]

In the absence of meaningful anger and protest on the left, the dodgy Republican right wing and its still-potent "noise machine" is absurdly left to soak up and express much of the legitimate "populist rage" that ordinary Americans quite naturally feel over Washington’s continuing captivity to concentrated wealth, corporate-direction, and the military-industrial complex in the Age of Obama.

Resentment abhors a vacuum. [36]

This great left failure is, in part, a great, "expectation-managing" accomplishment of the fake-progressive Obama phenomenon and presidency. Obama was seen as a desirable candidate by the establishment partly because of his promise to encourage that failure.

This left malfunction was foreseen. After noting that Obama was "backed by the biggest Wall Street firms," the prolific left commentator and author-filmmaker John Pilger wrote the following at the end of May 2008:

"What is Obama’s attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy’s [in 1968]. By offering a ‘new,’ young and apparently progressive face of Democratic Party – with the bonus of being a member of the black elite – he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell’s role as Bush’s secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US antiwar and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent." [37]

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Street’s analysis, which builds on Pilger, Silverstein and Reed, is a pessimistic one. However, it does explain how a young, inexperienced and unknown Senator could just 4 years after being elected to the Senate attain the highest office in our land. Race and the manipulation of race plays a large role in that event. Street’s analysis also provides a near exact explanation for Obama’s handing out rewards to big banks and Wall St. and his lack of fight and help for average Americans of all races. The coming months and Obama’s actions (NOT his words) will prove whether Pilger-Silverstein-Reed-Street were correct or whether Obama is truly a transcendent figure.

Yes, Michael Moore: Obama Really Does Want to Be the War President

7:18 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Michael Moore, the Academy Award winning documentary film maker who has been generally supportive of the Obama administration despite its stealth opposition to real health care reform (Obama has talked of the public option as a "sliver" and speaks now about "insurance reform"), has an open letter to President Obama up on his website asking if Obama really wants to be the new "war president". The answer, Michael, is: YES HE DOES.

In fact, the Associated Press and other news sources have reported that Obama already began his escalation BEFORE his primetime Tuesday address to the American people (I guess that Dick Cheney’s "dithering" remarks lit a fire under Hamlet’s back side). AP reports that:

Even before explaining his decision, Obama told the military to begin executing the force increases. The commander in chief gave the deployment orders Sunday night, during an Oval Office meeting in which he told key military and White House advisers of his final decision.

The Democratic President talked about his plans with key lawmakers but has not addressed all lawmakers nor has he addressed one of the key problems with the escalation, its cost (estimated to be $350 billion over 10 years if the escalation is for 35,000 troops). From the AP story again:

Gibbs said detailed discussions on costs would be held later with lawmakers.

So, not only does Obama apparently believe the war can somehow be paid for later (he opposes David Obey’s pay-as-you-go war tax on the wealthy), he has not even discussed costs with Congress. How’s that for transparency in government, folks, and did not Obama promise that his administration would be the most transparent in American history?

Michael Moore, no doubt Obama will talk about the firm resolve of our allies on Tuesday night. However, the Obama administration in this buildup to the escalation, as reported in the AP story linked above, only dwells on the Brits and the French and does not talk about Germany. How many more troops will the Brits send? 500, again according to the same AP story. That’s about enough to guard one parking lot in Kabul. Nor will Obama or his hirelings talk about the Germans very much. Germany currently is the number three nation with troops in Afghanistan (behind the U.S.A. and the U.K.). But due to a scandal over the former Defense Minister lying about civilian deaths in an air strike called for by the German army but executed by the American Air Force, German resolve (never strong to begin with) has weakened and the German people and their nation turned against the war. This issue is discussed at length in length at the diary, "Germany’s Top General Quits Over Afghan War Cover-up of Civilian Killings; US Implications" here at Firedoglake.

So Michael, you were late in recognizing that Obama really never was a progressive or a Democrat, as Sen. Paul Wellstone used to say, from the "Democratic side of the Democratic Party." Michael, you know more about health care reform than just about anyone (what a great documentary "Sicko" is), so surely you noticed that Obama shied away from a public option (which he supported as a state senator in Illinois). He called a White House conference on health care in February that failed to include a single speaker for single payer, he broke a campaign pledge to hold "all healthcare meetings in public and televise them live on C-SPAN," instead meeting behind closed doors in secret with insurance companies. He then began talking about "insurance reform" and the public option as but a "sliver" to his real program (never really defined in detail). Now we have the messy bill in Congress that Dennis Kucinich has called "the wrong approach; a bailout for insurance companies."

So too on Afghanistan, Obama has broken campaign promises.* (See note below). Recall that he did campaign on escalating the war in Afghanistan BUT ONLY talked about sending 2 more brigades there: that’s less than 8,000 soldiers. Obama already in February sent 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan (and countless civilian contractors like Blackwater). So he has already escalated once far exceeding his campaign promise. And this is about the only campaign promise Obama has NOT broken. He’s broken pledges on bringing change, on bringing new faces to Washington, on FISA telecom immunity, on renegotiating NAFTA, on DOMA, on DADT, on hiring no lobbyists in his administration, on increasing taxes on those making more than $250,000 per year, on closing GITMO quickly, on doing away with forced renditions, on state secrets, on passing no law until 5 days have elapsed before it has been submitted ("sunshine before signing" legislation) and a host of other issues.

Obama campaigned as a stealth candidate and has broken virtually every campaign pledge he made. Only Goldman Sachs and Wall St. have received their trillions of dollars in largesse from Obama through the bailouts. For workers and the unemployed: they get a White House conference that will doubtlessly feature those progressive, people-oriented Obama economists, Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, in a few days on unemployment. Obama was quick to talk about the cost of true health care reform (and all of his estimates mysteriously projected for 10 years, not one, thus swelling the apparent cost to the people). But with war, Obama has no problems with not even talking or considering the costs even with Congress. That will be done later. So Obama’s escalation fits in perfectly with the rest of his actions in the past year: all public relations and pretty speeches. Expect more lies and more vagueness (especially regarding a pull out date, he will not mention one for sure) on Tuesday.

Sorry, Michael but you need to pick up that patented bull-horn megaphone of yours and trumpet this message: Obama is a fraud, a complete sellout, a nonfighter for the progressive platform he ran and won on.

NOTE: On Obama breaking his campaign pledges on Afghanistan (the linked story has links to the campaign speeches):

In major foreign policy speeches in August 2007 and July 2008, Obama did talk of sending “at least two” more U.S. combat brigades — made up of between three thousand and four thousand troops each — to Afghanistan. However, the 21,000 troops he has already sent far exceed any troop increase he discussed publicly before the election, even before the 30,000 or so more he’s expected to announce he’ll add to that number in Tuesday’s speech.