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Kucinich Mistakenly Buys Into Defending the Obama Presidency

9:27 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

There’s a fascinating interview with Dennis Kucinich (and Ralph Nader) up over at Democracynow.org. Please read the entire transcript of it (or watch a video replay) because it shows the key reason why Kucinich flipped his vote to support the White House’s "insurance reform" bill. Obama and Rahm put intense pressure on Kucinich saying that his presidency was under threat: a defeat on the White House measure would completely undermine the presidency.

Shockingly, Kucinich (who should have used one of Oliver Hardy’s favorite lines to Stan: "it’s a pretty pickel you’ve gotten us into, Stanley") gave in to the guys (Obama and Rahm) who have created this fiasco of an administration.

Here are some key parts of the interview between Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now and Congressman Kucinich and Ralph Nader. Kucinich says:

Standing at the sidelines, I think, is not an option right now, because, you know, we have to try to reshape the Obama presidency.

How exactly, Congressman, is supporting this president who has sold out single payer, who sold out the public option, who sold out progressives, "going to reshape the Obama presidency"? What you did is going to enable the Obama presidency, to make it more right-wing than it is already, to make it more corporatist than it is.

Amy Goodman then puts the "crunch question" to Kucinich and he fumbles the ball:

AMY GOODMAN: Congress member Kucinich, if your vote was that important—I think many progressives feel that the White House responds to conservatives who withhold their vote and changes, like on issues of choice, if that’s what it’s going to take to get the bill passed. What about having held out to the end and demanded—you know, put your demand on the table, since this is so critical to the White House?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Yeah, you know, I—I mean, I, frankly, was quite surprised that as we were approaching a moment of decision, people wouldn’t budge on the question of the public option and wouldn’t budge on the question of a ERISA waiver. Remember, I was one of seventy-seven Democrats who said—progressives who said, look, if the public option isn’t in the final bill—this was the bill that we passed last year—you know, I’m not going to vote for it. Well, there are only two members of Congress who actually kept that pledge. I was one of those two. So now—and, you know, the other one was Mr. Massa, who’s no longer in the Congress. So now I’m basically left standing alone with a position that I’ve held consistently.

And, Amy, I’ll tell you that one of the things that surprised me the most is that even though they said everything’s on the line and even though they said it could come down to one vote and pointed at me and said, “That could be your vote,” they still wouldn’t budge on it. So then, I’m—and I mean, I tested and probed and talked to everybody, all the way down the chain of leadership, to see if there’s any way, and frankly, it’s mystifying, except to say that they’re keeping a for-profit system intact. There’s no air in here to try to find a way to get to a not-for-profit system. So I have to make the decision within the context of where we are and to see if, you know, by making that decision, down the road that we can keep the healthcare debate going. But this is about a for-profit system, something I don’t endorse. But the opportunity to stay in the debate about single payer is still there, without anybody using it as an excuse to say, “Well, you took the whole thing over the cliff, and who wants to talk to you about anything anymore?”

Sorry, but I do not think that’s an answer to the question. To believe that the White House and the Democrats will be willing to REVISIT this issue any time soon is to believe in folly.

Here’s another section of the interview (which should be read in its entirety) that shows that Kucinich was brought to believe that the entire Obama presidency hangs on this issue (and his vote):

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask Congress member Kucinich, do you think if President Obama had done the same arm twisting and enormous pressure and paying attention and speaking to legislator after legislator on this, if he had done this at the point where single—where public option was on the table, it would have made a difference, if he had weighed in like this before?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I think that right after the swearing in of President Obama, there was a climate for transformational change. I think it’s still there. And I think the President could really be instrumental in bringing about just about any kind of change that he wants. For whatever reason, he decided to carefully construct a plan that would admit no chance for any real challenge to the market structure of private, for-profit insurance companies. And, you know, and he’s worked very tightly within that system. That’s a choice that he made. And during the campaign, you know, he made it very clear that he wasn’t for single payer. He made it very clear that he was looking at reforms within the context of the for-profit system. I mean, that’s a choice that he made. And, you know, it’s not the choice that I would have made, but he’s the president. And if his presidency is on the line, he made the choice for that. But at the same time, we have to look at the consequences of what happens if it fails.

Excellent question by Amy Goodman and Kucinich again reiterates the view that the Obama presidency hinges on this issue ("we have to look at the consequences of what happens if it fails") and that doomsday would follow an administration defeat on this issue. Dennis K. bought into this dubious argument hook, line, and sinker!

Kucinich makes this clearer at another later point in the interview:

I think that with three years left in the Obama presidency, we have to continue to encourage him, but we’ve got to be careful that we don’t play into those who want to destroy his presidency and say—you know, the birthers and others who say that, you know, he should have never been president to begin with. This is—you know, there is a tension that exists, and I’ve—you know, I’ve been very critical of the administration on the war, on the so-called cap and trade, and on a whole range of other issues. But at the same time, we have to be just very careful about how much we attack this president, even as we disagree with him. We have to be careful about that, because we may play into those who just want to destroy his presidency.p>

And he’s—you know, like it or not, he’s the president, he’s what we have, and I’m going to continue whatever I can do, just as one person, to try to keep trying to influence a different direction. But, you know, it’s not easy. He’s made his position different than, you know, what many of us would go along with.

(emphasis added)

Here in short appears to be the key reason why DK flipped: he was convinced the Obama presidency would be destroyed if he held out and the White House bill fails. That’s a real misreading of the situation, in my opinion, and if there is a failure, it should be placed on the people who have gotten the administration into the mess it’s in now: Obama and Rahm.

Ralph Nader made a telling report to Kucinich:

We cannot give this president courtesy of words, of course, but we cannot give this president a pass.

(emphasis added)

Unfortunately, Congressman Kucinich gave Obama a free pass. It’s clear he got nothing in terms of concessions from the administration in exchange for his critical switch (at least Bernie Sanders got billions in the bill for public clinics; Kucinich got nothing). It’s clear that Kucinich doesn’t know how to play hardball. For starters, you do NOT visit your opponent’s lair (in this case Air Force One) and you do NOT sit beside him in Cleveland nor do you even attend the event because those are the first steps in capitulation.

Kucinich’s foolishness put him in the awkward position of having a plant from the audience say, "Vote yes" and Obama drubbed it when he called for Kucinich to follow the plant’s "advice". How stupid can you get, Congressman? Anyone who has done any negotiating learns this early–don’t put yourself in a position to lose and choose your venues carefully so they are neutral. Kucinich is far too old not to have learned this lesson.

It’s also clear that Kucinich believes in and will support the Democratic party and its leader til the bitter end, no matter how bad the measures are that are advanced by that leader. Kucinich’s argument that to act contrary to the administration would enable its distractors is really an argument against democracy: it means there can be no criticism of the leader. Kucinich put his leader and his party before the good of the people, in the myopic and mistaken view that somehow health care’s ailments will be revisted anytime soon by his own party and that to do otherwise would completely undermine Obama.

The way to work with Obama, Congressman, is not to cave in to him and get nothing in return. Your flip-flop was a sorry day for you and for America.

Make the Democrats Pay for Their Sell-out to Corporate Interests

7:58 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

With Dennis Kucinich’s stunning announcement that he will now support "health insurance" reform, the bill is now completely on the Democratic Party. Obama, their leader, sold the people out years ago to Goldman Sachs. Now Americans should make the Democrats pay for their actions.

Recall that mid-term elections are less than eight months away. Here are some steps that true Progressives can take:

1) acceptance of reality is the first step in making any true change. The reality is that the Democratic Party is little more than another wing of the corporate party and as Obama has shown, not much different from the Republican party except in tone and public relations. Almost nothing has changed for the better under Obama, who ran as an agent of change but who has turned out to be a Trojan Horse for Goldman Sachs, Wall St., and the insurance companies.

Indeed, Obama has shown that his true enemy is progressivism and he will not stop at any measure to undermine its proponents. Under intense pressure from the White House, Kucinich’s shocking capitulation and volte-face was mirrored weeks earlier in the capitulation of Democrats like Russ Feingold.

Feingold:

(A.) was one of only 12 Democratic Senators who voted against Bernie Sanders one-time bailout ($250) to Social Security recipients, a measure of help offered to the elderly since this year will be the first ever in which no COLA adjustment will be given to them. "Liberals" like Levin, Bennett, Feinstein, and Udall joined Feingold in a vote against the poor and the elderly.

(B.) Feingold also did NOTHING when the Patriot Act was extended without debate and without a formal vote on it. He (or others like Al Franken or Bernie Sanders) could have at least asked for a voice vote. Not a single Senator asked for a voice vote or called for debate. Any Senator who really and truly opposed the extension of some of the worst features of the Patriot Act could have pulled a "Jim Bunning" since the bill’s features would have expired in three days time. Precisely no one in the Senate stood up for the Constitution.

2) the Democratic party should not be supported in any form. No money for them, their candidates and their causes. Don’t work for them, don’t walk precincts for them, don’t telephone for them, don’t lick envelopes for them or their allies.

3) vote against BLUE DOGS and vote against people like Harry Reid. Reid should be our number one target in November because he is the head of the monster that the Senate has turned into. If you live in Nevada, vote against him. If you don’t vote in Nevada, donate money to his opponent, even though that opponent might be a Republican. Getting Reid out will send a message to the Democrats and will at least force a change in Senate leadership.

4) support existing third parties (like the Greens) in preference to the Democrats.

5) court action will be the final place for resistance to ObamaCare. It should be supported by Progressives. Challenges to ObamaCare should be brought in courts: especially the bill’s mandate provisions. I believe there is a high likelihood that ObamaCare will ultimately be found to be unconstitutional.

I’m amending my original diary to add some late-breaking news. The state of Idaho is the first to sign a law requiring the state of Idaho to sue the federal government if residents are forced to buy insurance. Similar measures are pending in 37 other states. While many constitutional law experts will probably say this is a no-go (given the federal preemption doctrine), if there is significant opposition from the states, that will have an influence on the Supreme Court which obviously is also at loggerheads with the Obama administration. What this also does is to further politicize ObamaCare and holds out the opportunity for opponents (from the right AND the left) to use the courts and state governments as a means to counter the increasingly centralized government we see in Washington, D.C. Within 40 minutes of the above story being posted, there are more than 1440 comments on it, most vilifying ObamaCare. People are not going to forget this, ever and the people will vote against ObamaCare.

6) concentrate our actions on the state and local levels. Building alternative parties-structures begins there.

7) long-term thinking should be made to challenge Obama in 2012 by way of primary or other means. If Ron Paul runs as a third party candidate, support him in preference to Obama. If Ralph Nader runs again, support him. Nader is perhaps the only person in America who saw what was coming in America and fought against it. For that, he has been mercilessly vilified, especially by Democrats who without basis in fact, try to pin Gore’s loss to W in 2000 on him.

Obama is an enemy to progressives and progressive causes as he has clearly shown throughout his sellout of single payer and the public option. He cannot be trusted in any fashion. Nor can the party that he leads be trusted. They have sold out the American people.

8) Blue Dogs and their ilk should face primary challenges from progressives. If the progressives lose those challenges, they should then run (as 3rd party candidates) against the Blue Dogs. That the primary route is effective is shown by its embrace by Rahm and the White House as a tool AGAINST progressives (led by, of all groups, Moveon).

9) We need to "out" allies of the Democrats like Kos and Nate Silver and Moveon. These people/groups are little more than fronts for the party (and in Kos’s case, an agency). Don’t support them, don’t visit their websites (you give them money if you do). If you are a fan of polls, give "30 pieces of Silver" up for www.pollster.com which is professional, nonpartisan and nonprofit. Get your news from www.democracynow.org a source that tells it like it is. Read Glenn Greenwald on a daily basis.

10) elections and election law must be changed, especially the way candidates receive money. It is obvious now that almost all of our politicians are corporate whores, bought and paid for by big business. We need public financing for all candidates. Recall that it was Obama who turned down public funding.

11) we need to get people involved in the political process who are currently not. We especially need to change the type of people we have running for office. Out with the professional politicians. In with the likes of Michael Moore and Jane Hamsher. They in turn must show the courage of conviction to step forward and run for office. Otherwise, real change will never occur.

None of the above will be easy. It will take lots of time and effort. There will be many setbacks and losses. But if we continue to look only to the Democrats for change, we will be disappointed as we have been in health care reform.

Line-by-Line analysis of Obama’s Pa. Healthcare Speech: He Lies Repeatedly!

11:13 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

This is a line-by-line analysis of President Obama’s healthcare speech in Pennsylvania of March 8, 2010.

In his speech, Obama lies about the cost savings involved (off by only $.868 trillion–that is $868 billion). He lies when he makes it sound like Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for the costs of the health care mess (in his own words: "how many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid?")thus showing what will soon be at the future of his list of "things to do" (cut entitlements). He also lies when he says his administration considered all possibilities for reform ("Every proposal has been put on the table"). Not so. Obama never entertained single payer at all.

His transcript (from the White House) is followed by my comments:

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Pennsylvania! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. This is a nice crowd. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, what a wonderful crowd.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!

THE PRESIDENT: Love you back. (Applause.) I am — I’m kind of fired up. (Applause.) I’m kind of fired up. (Applause.) So, listen, we — this is just an extraordinary crowd and I –

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!

THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.) I want — there’s some people I want to point out who are here who’ve just been doing great work. First of all, give Leslie a great round of applause for her wonderful introduction. (Applause.)

Looks like Obama is back in campaign mode. Hasn’t even bothered to change his approach.

Somebody who’s been working tirelessly on your behalf, doing a great job — the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius is in the house. (Applause.)

Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy to know that this nit wit, Sebelius, has been working "tirelessly" on our behalf. Doing what, besides pandering to the health care industry?

Your senior senator who has just been doing outstanding work in the Senate, Arlen Specter is in the house. (Applause.)

The guy who spent how many decades as a reliable Republican vote? Who stood behind Richard Nixon? Whose opponent is a progressive?

Somebody who rendered outstanding service to our nation before he was in Congress, Joe Sestak is in the house. (Applause.)

Makes it sound like his work in the House hasn’t been all that good! For somebody who is supposed to be clever with words, he isn’t.

It’s even better to be out of Washington, D.C. (Laughter.) First of all, the people of D.C. are wonderful. They’re nice people, they’re good people; love the city, the monuments, everything. But when you’re in Washington, folks respond to every issue, every decision, every debate, no matter how important it is, with the same question: What does this mean for the next election? (Laughter.) What does it mean for your poll numbers? Is this good for the Democrats or good for the Republicans? Who won the news cycle?

That’s just how Washington is. They can’t help it. They’re obsessed with the sport of politics.

Insider Obama, who has been in Washington, D.C. since what, 2004, plays the outsider card. The Spawn of the Devil, appointed and kept in office by Obama, isn’t obsessed with the "sport of politics"? Not straight talk from the supposed Top Dog.

But out here, and all across America, folks are worried about bigger things.

Maybe the first truthful thing Obama has said. Trouble is, much of it has happened on his watch, and on the watch in which Democrats have controlled the Senate and Congress since 2006.

They’re worried about how to make payroll. They’re worried about how to make ends meet. They’re worried about what the future will hold for their families and for our country. They’re not worrying about the next election. We just had an election. (Applause.)

No mention by Obama about the chief concern of the country: joblessness. Nor any mention about his efforts to create jobs, because he’s fumbled the ball on this for 14 months.

They’re thinking about retirement.

No mention here about the concerns of many Americans that Obama and his Democrats have entitlements in their focus. (See Obama’s remarks at the inauguration of the Hamilton Project in 2006) when he saw "entitlements" as a problem while standing in Bob Rubin’s shadow.

Despite all the challenges we face — two wars, the aftermath of a terrible recession — I want to tell everybody here today I am absolutely confident that America will prevail; that we will shape our destiny as past generations have done. (Applause.)

No mention here that it was Obama himself who expanded the wars, twice escalating in Afghanistan last year. Or that we have troops fighting in 5 different countries. Or that the Defense Department budget he asked for is 8% higher than W’s.

But that only happens when we’re meeting our challenges squarely and honestly. And I have to tell you, that’s why we are fighting so hard to deal with the health care crisis in this country; health care costs that are growing every single day.

Obama’s been fighting "an honest" fight on this? He’s talking about "health insurance reform". He’s the guy who promised to hold all meeting on health care reform in public and televise them live. He’s the guy who broke that pledge. He’s the who met behind locked doors in secret with leaders of the insurance companies and afterwards talked of "insurance reform", not health care reform. He’s the guy who denied those meetings happened until the New York Times broke the story. This is honesty and transparency?

The price of health care is one of the most punishing costs for families and for businesses and for our government. (Applause.) It’s forcing people to cut back or go without health insurance.

Notice his goal: health insurance, not health care reform. But Mr. President, to whom is that more helpful, the insurance companies or the people?

The young people who are here, you’ve heard stories — some of you guys still have health care while you’re in school, some of you may still be on your parents’ plans, but some of the highest uninsurance rates are among young people.

Completely misleading. Most of the young people without health care insurance don’t want it or need it.

And the insurance companies continue to ration health care based on who’s sick and who’s healthy; on who can pay and who can’t pay.

So that’s why Obama’s plan focuses on private insurance? If its rotten, why build on it? Dennis Kuchinich listened to Obama’s health care address to the Joint Houses of Congress several months ago and accurately said: "It’s the wrong approach. It’s a sell-out to the insurance companies." Obama continues his line of b.s. here.

And that’s why we need to pass health care reform — not next year, not five years from now, not 10 years from now, but now. (Applause.)

So what’s the excuse again, Mr. President, for many of the features of your plan not taking effect until well after you leave office?

Now, since we took this issue on a year ago, there have been plenty of folks in Washington who’ve said that the politics is just too hard. They’ve warned us we may not win. They’ve argued now is not the time for reform. It’s going to hurt your poll numbers. How is it going to affect Democrats in November? Don’t do it now.

Obama pretends he’s a fighter and the patsy crowd loves it.

Every year, the problem gets worse. Every year, insurance companies deny more people coverage because they’ve got preexisting conditions. Every year, they drop more people’s coverage when they get sick right when they need it most. Every year, they raise premiums higher and higher and higher.

Just last month, Anthem Blue Cross in California tried to jack up rates by nearly 40 percent — 40 percent. Anybody’s paycheck gone up 40 percent?

Tell us again, then, why you want private insurance as the basis for your plan, and not the simpler and more cost effective extension of Medicare to everyone?

I mean, why is it that we think this is normal? In my home state of Illinois, rates are going up by as much as 60 percent. You just heard Leslie, who was hit with more than a hundred percent increase — 100 percent. One letter from her insurance company and her premiums doubled. Just like that. And because so many of these markets are so concentrated, it’s not like you can go shopping.

Could the answer be, Mr. President, that the insurance companies know they have you and your administration in their back pocket?

See, these insurance companies have made a calculation. Listen to this. The other day, there was a conference call that was organized by Goldman Sachs. You know Goldman Sachs. You’ve been hearing about them, right? (Laughter.) So they organized a conference call in which an insurance broker was telling Wall Street investors how he expected things to be playing out over the next several years, and this broker said that insurance companies know they will lose customers if they keep on raising premiums, but because there’s so little competition in the insurance industry, they’re okay with people being priced out of the insurance market because, first of all, a lot of folks are going to be stuck, and even if some people drop out, they’ll still make more money by raising premiums on customers that they keep.

Can you explain, Mr. President, why you have so many top advisers in your administration from Goldman Sachs? Or why they were your biggest campaign contributor both as a Senator and for the Presidency? Better check out some of Matt Taibbi’s articles, Mr. President. Here Obama pretends he’s acting independently of Goldman, rather than being owned by them.

How many years — how many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid?

Ahh! Obama perhaps unconsciously, states his REAL concern, and the real concern of Goldman Sachs. He makes it sound like Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for the state of the health care mess, rather than private insurance companies and politicians like himself. This is complete bull shit.

So what should I tell these Americans? That Washington is not sure how it will play in November? That we should walk away from this fight,

Obama pretends he’s actually fighting for average Americans, not for the insurance companies and Goldman Sachs.

We have debated health care in Washington for more than a year. Every proposal has been put on the table.

A blatant lie. Obama himself and his administration took "single payer" off the table from the get go. He also abandoned "the public option" early on. This guy lies.

On one side of the spectrum there were those at the beginning of this process who wanted to scrap our system of private insurance and replace it with a government-run health care system, like they have in some other countries. (Applause.) Look, it works in places like Canada, but I didn’t think it was going to be practical or realistic to do it here.

Obama must have thought: Damned crowd applaued at the wrong time! Again, Obama never seriously considered this option, and doesn’t here either.

So the bottom line is I don’t believe we should give government or insurance companies more control over health care in America. I believe it’s time to give you, the American people, more control over your own health insurance. (Applause.)

So why the mandate? Why the fines and prison terms if you’re giving people "control" over their own health insurance, because you’re not. Lying again, Mr. President.

This year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. (Applause.) This year, they will be banned from dropping your coverage when you get sick. (Applause.) And they will no longer be able to arbitrarily and massively hike your premiums — just like they did to Leslie or Natoma or millions of others Americans. Those practices will end. (Applause.)

If this reform becomes law, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care to their customers starting this year — free check-ups so that we can catch preventable illnesses on the front end. (Applause.) Starting this year, there will be no more lifetime or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care that you can receive from your insurance companies. There’s a lot of fine print in there that can end up costing people hundreds of thousands of dollars because they hit a limit.

The same old campaign boilerplate without any details. But the devils in the details here. Misleading at best.

Number two, second thing that would change about the current system is this: For the first time in their lives — or oftentimes, in a very long time — uninsured individuals and small business owners will have the same kind of choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves. (Applause.)

Note the word "private" Obama uses; in fact, it’s the PUBLIC options that politicians have that are so good. And the Congress critters get lots more money to pay for additional private insurance, something not available to lots of American’s under Obama’s plan.

Now, the idea is very simple here, and it’s one — (audience interruption) — I’m sorry, go ahead. (Applause.) Let me explain how this would work, because it’s an idea that a lot of Republicans have embraced in the past.

Because Obama is essentially a Republican. The politician he revered was not FDR but Reagan, as he himself says in his autobiographical writings.

Because the wealthiest among us, they can already afford to buy the best insurance there is; the least well off are already covered through Medicaid. It’s the middle class that gets squeezed. That’s who we need to help with these tax credits. (Applause.) That’s what we intend to do. (Applause.)

Yup, that’s a Republican idea, about the only thing this guy fights for.

So I’ll give you an example. We’re going to eliminate wasteful taxpayer subsidies that currently go to insurance and pharmaceutical companies. (Applause.) They are getting billions of dollars a year from the government, from taxpayers, when they’re making a big profit. I’d rather see that money going to people who need it. (Applause.)

Very, very misleading. Obama himself took one of the best approaches off the table: importation of cheaper drugs from abroad.

We’ll set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain as millions of Americans are able to buy insurance. They’re going to have 30 million new customers; there’s nothing wrong with them paying a little bit of the freight. And we’ll make sure that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of Medicare, just like everybody else does. (Applause.)

Notice the lack of detail? How much of a fee? Who’s going to oversee its collection and enforcement? Penalty provisions, if any? What’s to guarantee it won’t last longer than a few months, if implemented at all?

So the bottom line is this: Our proposal is paid for.

This remark should be coupled with Obama’s following:

Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next decade because we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely. (Applause.) Those aren’t my numbers. Those aren’t my numbers –they are the savings determined by the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress for what things cost.

A lie, a big one. The Congressional Budget Office estimated savings over the next decade of only $132 billion, not $1 trillion. So, Obama overstates the Congressional Budget office projects by the better part of a trillion dollars, as one analysis of his speech notes:

That part is true. The budget office does keep score of what things cost. More precisely, the budget office projects what things cost or save over a given period of time.

But the budget office did not say the Senate health care bill would save $1 trillion over the next decade. Not even close.

It estimated the bill would save $132 billion from 2010 to 2019, leaving President Obama’s "next decade" estimate $868 billion short.

That’s some rounding error.

Back to Obama and yet more promises.

It would lower prescription drug prices for seniors. (Applause.) It would help train new doctors and nurses to provide care for American families and physicians assistants and therapists. I know there are — got great programs here at Arcadia. (Applause.) I was hearing about the terrific programs you have at Arcadia in the health care field. Well, you know what, we’re going to need more health care professionals of the sorts that are being trained here, and we want to help you get that training. And that’s in this bill. (Applause.)

Where’s the chicken in every pot in this happy, Frank Capra like scenario?

Finally, my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions — families, businesses, and the federal government. (Applause.) As I said, you keep on hearing from critics and some of the Republicans on these Sunday shows say, well, we want to do more about cost. We have now incorporated almost every single serious idea from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising cost of health care — ideas that go after waste and abuse in our system, including in programs like Medicare. But we do this while protecting Medicare benefits, and we extend the financial stability of the program by nearly a decade.

Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next decade because we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely. (Applause.)hose aren’t my numbers. Those aren’t my numbers –they are the savings determined by the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress for what things cost.

Obama’s off by only about $800 billion: so give the Commander in Chief some leeway? They ARE his numbers.

Now, think about it. I think — how many people would like a proposal that holds insurance companies more accountable?

That’s like making pit bull terriers more accountable. How about a proposal that makes them completely superfluous and unnecessary, like single payer?

The United States Congress owes the American people a final, up or down vote on health care. (Applause.) It’s time to make a decision. The time for talk is over. We need to see where people stand. And we need all of you to help us win that vote. So I need you to knock on doors. Talk to your neighbors. Pick up the phone. When you hear an argument by the water cooler and somebody is saying this or that about it, say, no, no, no, no, hold on a second. And we need you to make your voices heard all the way in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

Weak. Obama perhaps hasn’t seen the poll numbers showing the American people already overwhelmingly don’t like his plan. If Congressman in the Democratic party are smart, they’ll vote against it, or be cannon fodder come November.

That’s what Mitch McConnell said this weekend. His main argument was, well, this is going to be really bad for Democrats politically. Now, first of all, I generally wouldn’t take advice about what’s good for Democrats. (Laughter.) But setting aside that, that’s not the issue here. The issue here is not the politics of it.

But the issue IS political, Sir. Obama shows he doesn’t understand the nature of American politics. Political parties are there to express differences, that is their historic purpose. Why pretend their is a bipartisan, nonpolitical middle way? That hasn’t exactly worked for you, has it Barack?

Yes, it’s hard. It is hard. That’s because health care is complicated. Health care is a hard issue. It’s easily misrepresented.

As you, Mr. Obama, misrepresented in your speech on both costs and on the history of how the bill as it is came to be: you did NOT consider all options, contrary to your words above. Please stop pretending you are not a politician.

So let me remind everybody: Those of us in public office were not sent to Washington to do what’s easy. We weren’t sent there because of the big fancy title. We weren’t sent there to — because of a big fancy office. We weren’t sent there just so everybody can say how wonderful we are. We were sent there to do what was hard. (Applause.)

What’s your excuse again, for abandoning most of the plans and policies you ran on again then?

So I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know how passing health care will play politically, but I do know that it’s the right thing to do. (Applause.) It’s right for our families. It’s right for our businesses. It’s right for the United States of America.

When any politician, especially this accomplished liar, tells you he’s "being honest": look out!

What he really means it’s good for insurance companies and it’s good for politicians like him because those insurance companies will then be forced to handover lots of money to political hacks.

Let’s seize reform. It’s within our grasp.

This is reform? Recall again what Dennis Kucinich called it: "the wrong approach. A sell-out to the insurance companies." Once again, Obama was given a prime-time shot to explain his health "insurance reform" proposals but failed to provide any compelling reasons or details for anyone to support him. He misled, he obfuscated, and yes, he lied.

Obama’s actions remind me of the delightful movie that was made out of Agatha Christie’s "Witness For the Prosecution". At the movie’s climax, the inimitable Charles Laughton (as the British barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts) accuses the testifying Marlene Dietrich (as Christine Vole):

"The question is whether you were lying then or are you lying now… or whether in fact you are a chronic and habitual L I A R!

Michael Moore Challenges Obama: Replace Rahm with Moore: Why It Won’t Work & What Michael Misses!

8:05 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Michael Moore has a witty, "must read" column up over at his website and at the Huffington Post in which he challenges Barack Obama to replace Rahm Emanuel with–Michael Moore. "President Obama, Replace Rahm With Me: An Open Letter From Michael Moore" is a funny post and gets in digs at both Obama and Rahm.

But at its base, Michael Moore perceives Obama wrongly: Obama isn’t hostage to the right or hostage to Rahm, Obama isn’t some good guy who’s been misled. Rather, Obama’s a willing partner, even leader (he is POTUS, after all), in what his administration has done this past 14 months. Obama sold out long ago to Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs.

First, let’s have a look at Moore’s excellent writing over at the Huffington Post which starts with:

Dear President Obama,

I understand you may be looking to replace Rahm Emanuel as your chief of staff.

I would like to humbly offer myself, yours truly, as his replacement.

I will come to D.C. and clean up the mess that’s been created around you. I will work for $1 a year. I will help the Dems on Capitol Hill find their spines and I will teach them how to nonviolently beat the Republicans to a pulp.

And I will help you get done what the American people sent you there to do. I don’t need much, just a cot in the White House basement will do.

Now, don’t get too giddy with excitement over my offer, because you and I are going to be up at 5 in the morning, seven days a week and I am going to get you pumped up for battle every single day (see photo). Each morning you and I will do 100 jumping jacks and you will repeat after me:

"THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ELECTED ME, NOT THE REPUBLICANS, TO RUN THE COUNTRY! I AM IN CHARGE! I WILL ORDER ALL OBSTRUCTIONISTS OUTTA MY WAY! IF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DON’T LIKE WHAT I’M DOING THEY CAN THROW MY ASS OUT IN 2012. IN THE MEANTIME, I CALL THE SHOTS ON THEIR BEHALF! NOW, CONGRESS, DROP AND GIVE ME 50!!"

That’s funny! I can just see the good Congresspeople dropping and doing 50 push-ups (or Michael, for that matter!).

Later in his article, Moore goes on to say this:

Well, you and the Democrats have been in charge now for over a year and not one banking regulation has been reinstated. We don’t have universal health care. The war in Afghanistan has escalated. And tens of thousands of Americans continue to lose their jobs and be thrown out of their homes. For most of us, it’s just simply no longer good enough that Bush is gone. Woo hoo. Bush is gone. Yippee. That hasn’t created one new friggin’ job.

You’re such a good guy, Mr. President. You came to Washington with your hand extended to the Republicans and they just chopped it off. You wanted to be respectful and they decided that they were going to say "no" to everything you suggested. Yet, you kept on saying you still believed in bipartisanship.

Well, if you really want bipartisanship, just go ahead and let the Republicans win in November. Then you’ll get all the bipartisanship you want.

It’s written well, Michael, and it sounds great. I especially like your P.S.:

P.S. Just to give you an idea of the new style I’ll be bringing with me, when a cornhole like Sen. Ben Nelson tries to hold you up next time, this is what I will tell him in order to get his vote: "You’ve got exactly 30 seconds to rescind your demand or I will personally make sure that Nebraska doesn’t get one more federal dollar for the rest of Obama’s term. And then I will let everyone in your state know that you wear Sooner panties, backwards. NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 50!"

What a hoot that is!

But unfortunately, Michael, you’ve made a mistake(s)[see below where you wrongly credit Rahm with the 50 state strategy]. You haven’t looked at facts. You haven’t looked at Obama’s real background. The scenario that you paint–Obama’s a good guy surrounded by bad advisers like Rahm who have misled him–is wrong. Please have a look at Bill Moyer’s Journal interview with Matt Taibbi and Robert Kuttner (see link below) and Obama’s speech before the Hamilton Project in 2006 (links below) to see the real Obama.

Obama, after all, is the guy who picked Rahm as his Chief of Staff. Just like he let the Republican Robert Gates (who was chosen by W) continue in the most important position in his Cabinet–Secretary of Defense. Just like Obama kept on almost all of W’s generals, and even promoted most of them. Remember too, that Obama wanted that great libertarian and humanist, Judd Gregg, who opposed both Obama’s economic stimulus plan and just recently a one-time $250 payment to Social Security recipients who otherwise get no cost of living increase this year in their benefits, as Obama’s Commerce Secretary.

One must dig into facts, into actions, more–Michael–to understand the real Obama. Pick up just about anything Matt Taibbi has written, or James Street’s excellent, "Obama as Predicted". Have a look at then Senator Barack Obama’s speech in 2006 at the opening ceremony of the Hamilton Project. Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs funded the Hamilton Project and in his speech, Obama thanks "my friend Bob" and calls for more NAFTA-like agreements and cuts in entitlements. It’s not an coincidence that one of Obama’s first acts (Obama’s Geithner coordinated with Bush’s Paulson) was to support TARP 1 and Tarp 2. It’s not a coincidence that so many Goldman Sachs people are working next to Obama. It’s not just a coincidence that Goldman Sachs was one of the primary beneficiaries of Obama’s economic bailouts, either. It’s not a coincidence that Obama lied to the American public as a candidate when he said he wanted to reform NAFTA.

Nor is it a coincidence that one of the chief architects of deregulation, the guy that Harvard fired, Larry Summers, sits as Obama’s chief economic adviser. (NOTE: Both Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot share something: a disdain for coincidences. The super sleuths, though fictional, were right. With Obama, one has to follow the money trail too.).

The Russian people made the same kind of mistake pre-revolution. If one looks back at history during that time, common people all thought the Tsar was a "good guy" (despite his abysmal record) and that he was misled by bad advisers. Same well-intentioned but mistaken thinking in your post, Michael. In reality, the Tsar cared about the Tsar, not "his" people. Ditto with Obama. Obama has his Rasputin only because he, Obama, chose him and continues to support him.

I know you’re a nice guy and I’ve loved your documentaries over the years. I still laugh at the scene in "Sicko" where you use the bullhorn at Gitmo asking for help! Hilarious! Any time I see a bullhorn it reminds me of your good work. And those priceless interviews on the streets with Congressmen in your documentary on "Fahrenheit 9-11". Classic stuff! Better than "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." You outdid Capra with reality and that’s hard to do.

But since you’re a nice guy, one of the true good guys around, maybe you find it easier to believe that Obama is one too. He’s not (I’m not talking about Obama as person or as dad but as a leader). Not at least in the sense of whom he fights for. Obama was bought and paid for by Goldman Sachs and he fights for them, big banks, big insurance companies, and the military industrial complex. His record for the past 14 months makes that clear.

One thing that you got spot on, Michael, was the ending of your otherwise excellent post:

Let me be clear about one thing: The Democrats on Election Day 2010 are going to get an ass-whoopin’ of biblical proportions if things don’t change right now. And after the new Republican majority takes over, they, along with a few conservative Democrats in Congress, will get to bipartisanly impeach you for being a socialist and a citizen of Kenya. How nice to see both sides of the aisle working together again!

And the brief window we had to fix this country will be gone.

The only way to clean up the mess is not for you, Michael Moore, to take Rahm’s position, but to take Obama’s position.

Mike, please, please, for the sake of Flint and the rest of America, primary Obama in 2012. You won’t need a bullhorn then, you’d have the entire Bully Pulpit!

Then we’ll see real, not faux, change!

NOTE:

On the Hamilton Project please see these articles that appeared here at FDL:

1. "The Hamilton Project: Same Corporatist Whine in New DLC Vessels" [includes video clip with Senator Obama's April, 2006, speech: bowing and scrapping to Robert Rubin of Goldman Sachs ("my friend, Bob"); endorsing NAFTA and asking for more such trade pacts; and, asking for cuts to entitlements]

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

Also highly recommended for insights into the REAL Obama:

1) Bill Moyer’s Journal program with interview of Matt Taibbi and Robert Kuttner, 18 December 2009 [where a video clip of the entire show can be seen or you can read the full transcript of the program]

2) "Betrayal"–President Obama–is the Saddest Word"

3) Stanley Kutler, "The System Works, Obama’s Approach Doesn’t" at Truthdig

4) Matt Taibbi, "Obama’s Big Sellout"

5) Paul Street, "Obama, as Predicted"

SPECIAL NOTE TO MICHAEL MOORE:

In your article on your own website and at the Huffington Post, you wrongly credit Rahm with the successful 50-state strategy:

That’s certainly what he [Rahm] did in 2006. After six long, miserable years of the middle-class getting slaughtered and the poor being flushed down the toilet, Rahm Emanuel took on the job of returning Congress to the Democrats. No one believed it could be done.

But he did it. Big time.

Wrong, wrong, (with a bullhorn) WRONG! That was Howard Dean’s work and it’s also a fact that Rahm (and Obama) hates Dean for this and his other successes. That’s why Dean is not in the Obama administration. Recall also that Rahm was strategy maker for the 1994 Democratic fiasco and was nearly sacked by Bill Clinton for it!

Historian Stanley Kutler Nails the Obama Presidency

6:14 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Historian Stanley Kutler is best known for his role with the Nixon Presidency and Nixon’s infamous tapes and Watergate. But in a recent column, the Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, nails the Obama Presidency.

First off, Kutler contrasts Obama with FDR and concludes (as anyone who’s been watching the performance of Obama) that FDR was in an entirely different league: a real leader who used the force of his character to bring change and who was not afraid of attacking the biggest of vested interest, big business and big banks:

Following Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, the media and political commentators invoked Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “100 Days,” that hoary, simplistic benchmark by which they intended to judge the new president. The true importance of FDR’s 100 Days was not legislative accomplishments — his early successes pale next to his later, more permanent achievements — but rather the power and force of presidential leadership.

Roosevelt came to power denouncing the “money changers in the temple” and the “economic royalists” who had rent the economic and social fabric. FDR followed his excoriation of the “money changers” by noting, “They have no vision and where there is no vision, the people perish.” Curiously, the iconoclast of 1933 stood in sharp contrast to the conservative campaigner of 1932, rooted in glittering generalities as well as the old shibboleths. He proposed a balanced budget and the Economy Act to reduce government spending by 25 percent.

But President Roosevelt embarked on bold, new paths. “Our primary task is to put people to work,” he said, and he introduced both stimulus measures and the dramatic, new concept of government as the employer of last resort. FDR became the rallying force for both restoration and change.

Barack Obama and his advisers fashioned a brilliant campaign, one that defeated the favored Democratic candidate, repudiated the policies and ideas of the incumbent president and gained the improbable election of an African-American president. Obama promised many things and set lofty goals — “change” was his leitmotif, including a new way of doing politics in Washington, a retreat from the adventurous, questionable foreign policies of George W. Bush, and, in general, a constant appeal to our better selves. Obama’s soaring message unquestionably aroused the traditional electorate and also energized a broad array of new, young voters.

The “Obama Moment” should have begun in his first 100 days, however artificial and ahistorical that time frame. FDR was many things, but what stood out clearly was his bold grasp of power and the mantle of leadership. He offered a call to arms and action to inspire the nation’s faith in its “rendezvous with destiny.”

FDR used his moment to offer hope for recovery from the dark abyss into which the United States had fallen. 2009 was not 1933 in either its scope or depth of depression. Yet Barack Obama’s history-shattering election had the mark of a mandate for fueling his oft-expressed calls for change — and hope. Bogged down in two apparently intractable wars, and burdened with staggering and soaring costs for maintaining its empire, the nation suffered its greatest economic calamity in more than 70 years. The paralysis of the credit and banking machinery brought in its wake a devastated stock market, a general economic downturn, unemployment, home foreclosures and the loss of private pensions, among other misfortunes.

Kutler then wields the historian’s scalpel deftly to expose what went wrong with the Obama presidency:

The Obama Moment had come — and was gone with his inauguration. The time was ripe for meaningful action to revitalize a deeply wounded and troubled nation. It was not to be.

The new president and his advisers soon dashed the promise of November with his major appointments, which offered a too-painful reminder of the past. In quick order, he named Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner, both enablers of the disastrous policies of the past three decades, to head his economic and fiscal team. Both men had close, warm ties to Wall Street bankers, precisely those in need of new regulatory actions to curb their excesses, and both had problematic personal issues.

Obama just as quickly signaled his intention to largely continue George W. Bush’s foreign policies and the militarization of foreign policy as he appointed Gen. James Jones as national security adviser and Adm. Dennis Blair as head of the intelligence community.

The president named Hillary Clinton, a strong supporter of the Iraq war and who had mocked his notions of change in foreign policy, to be secretary of state. And he continued Robert Gates’ tenure as defense secretary. When was the last time that a Republican president felt compelled to appease his opposition by naming a Democrat to a key post? Meanwhile, Greg Craig lost his job as White House counsel because of his advocacy for closing Guantánamo.

Alas, candidate Obama, the bold, dynamic advocate for change, has morphed into President Obama, a terribly cautious man, too eager to please and compromise. He displayed an unwillingness to challenge an opposition that wished him only ill and failure, whether for personal or policy reasons. Instead, he ironically allowed the drift of “politics as usual,” and he failed to deliver the message to the country that he had a mandate to change failed, disastrous policies.

Someone remarked that Obama won the pot but left his winnings on the table for Sens. Max Baucus and Charles Grassley. … Both men acted to prevent any testimony in favor of a single-payer health care plan. Should we be shocked? Baucus was the largest recipient of contributions from the health industry. Grassley was not far behind, of course. Meanwhile, Baucus and the administration spent months coddling Grassley, conceding his pet measures despite their being inimical to “reform,” and what did they get? A cranky senator who led that conjured, made-for-media campaign against “death panels” and who finally heard the message from his leaders and cohorts that Obama must not succeed.

The president allowed the likes of Baucus and Grassley to run the debate. Finally, Joe Lieberman, the “senator from the insurance industry,” exercised his one-man veto to kill a “public option,” upon which the president had lavished generous words of vagueness. Lieberman did so with impunity (besides his usual self-righteousness), probably realizing full well there would be no reprisal, no loss of his committee chairmanship. The failure of the president and the Democrats to rid themselves of the strutting Lieberman even after he no longer was needed for a 60th vote speaks volumes. Meanwhile, the mistakes of the president, his advisers and his congressional leaders resulted in increased weakness, an inability to govern and the hardening of political fault lines.

President Obama is at the heart of the problem. He set his own table at the outset and his accommodating ways have only weakened him — and, worse, emboldened his enemies. The president is perceived as timid, floundering and reluctant to act. He is wounded. Can he recover? Can he hold on to congressional majorities and can he govern as the man we elected? Only if he adopts the boldness and cunning of his more effective predecessors.

(emphasis)

Kutler in a nutshell captures the main failings of Obama and his administration. A brilliant analysis by the author of "The Wars of Watergate"; "Abuse of Power"; "Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War"; "Discontented America: The United States in the 1920s" and more.

His entire article, "The System Works, Obama’s Approach Doesn’t", which first appeared at Truthdig.com, deserves to be read.

Kudos to Stanley Kutler!

Obama Signs One Year Extension of Patriot Act (which he used to oppose)

7:13 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

President Obama just signed a one year extension of the Patriot Act. As a Senator, he had criticized the Patriot Act. Had he done nothing–something Obama is supremely gifted at–the provisions of the Patriot Act would have expired this Sunday.

From the AP:

President Barack Obama has signed a one-year extension of several provisions in the nation’s main counterterrorism law, the Patriot Act.

Provisions in the measure would have expired on Sunday without Obama’s signature Saturday.

The act, which was adopted in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, expands the government’s ability to monitor Americans in the name of national security.

Three sections of the Patriot Act that stay in force will:

-Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.

-Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.

-Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.

Obama’s signature comes after the House voted 315 to 97 Thursday to extend the measure.

The Senate also approved the measure, with privacy protections cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government’s authority to spy on Americans and seize their records.

(emphasis added)

The LA Times notes that:

As a senator from Illinois, Barack Obama was a critic of the Patriot Act. Last week, however, the Obama administration asked the House and Senate to extend the three provisions. "The administration is willing to consider . . . ideas [for modifying the law], provided that they do not undermine the effectiveness of these important authorities," Assistant Atty. Gen. Ronald Weich said in a letter to Congress.

One might also recall then Sen. Hillary Clinton’s accusation against Obama (in the New Hampshire primary debate) that he was an unknown, flip-flopper:

"You said you were against the PATRIOT Act–you came to the Senate and voted for it."

It turns out Hillary was right back in January, 2008. Obama is a first-class flip-flopper for in 2005, as a Senator, Obama opposed the core principles of the Patriot Act. In a 2005 speech on the Senate floor Obama himself said:

This is legislation that puts our own Justice Department above the law…When National Security Letters are issued, they allow federal agents to conduct any search on any American, no matter how extensive or wide-ranging, without ever going before a judge to prove that the search is necessary. They simply need sign-off from a local FBI official. That’s all."

…And if someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document – through library books they’ve read and phone calls they’ve made – this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law.

No judge will hear their plea, no jury will hear their case. This is just plain wrong.

Not only is Obama a gold medal winner in flip-flopping, not only does he lack core ideals from the Democratic side of the Democratic party, he also has no leadership skills, at least leadership for progressive values. So once again, as in health care reform and on a score of other issues, the Obama administration had a real chance to propose fundamental changes of its own to the Patriot Act, but failed to do so. Again, as in health care reform, Obama has passed the buck to Congress where, of course, he knows that nothing will happen even though his own party has overwhelming majorities in both the Senate and the House and where his own administration has effectively undercut efforts for change.

Nor were other Democrats in Congress firmly committed to the Constitution and individual rights. The House Committee on the Constitution deliberated on this only since this past Tuesday before it overwhelmingly voted to extend the Patriot Act’s provisions:

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), its chairman, said the law had "aroused a great deal of controversy and concern" but nonetheless "remains a useful tool" in investigating and preventing terrorism.

Over in the Senate, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy showed that he can outdo hapless Harry Reid in passivity to Republican wishes:

"I would have preferred to add oversight and judicial review improvements to any extension of expiring provisions in the USA Patriot Act," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "But I understand some Republican senators objected."

So the Republicans did not even need to object (according to Glenn Greenwald’s account, the bill was passed in the Senate by voice vote with no debate) on the record, they just had to kinda "be there" for the Democrats to cave in. With this kind of attitude, would it make any difference if there were 90 Democratic Senators? If so, the supermajority number required would certainly be 91.

One of the lone voices against this travesty comes from the only Senator who originally voted against the Patriot Act: Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin. According to the LA Times article above, Feingold served notice that he would join with other Senate liberals to make "fixes" to the Patriot Act. The bill Feingold supports, called the Justice Act, also would allow lawsuits against telecommunications firms that cooperated with the Bush administration and supplied information on their customers.

With Obama in office, fat chance that anything Feingold wants will pass. In fact, Obama and the Obama administration in the past months have actively undermined Feingold’s efforts to reform the Patriot Bill:

…Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) had worked to place language in the bill strengthening civil liberties protections, but in the judiciary committee the Obama administration worked with Republicans to craft seven amendments, effectively watering down Feingold’s work.

Feingold said the bill that emerged from the judiciary committee left him "scratching his head."

"The Patriot Act reauthorization bill passed by the Judiciary Committee falls far short of adequately protecting the rights of innocent Americans," Feingold said in a statement. "Among the most significant problems is the failure to include an improved standard for Section 215 orders (getting personal information through national security letter requests), even though a Republican controlled Judiciary Committee unanimously supported including the same standard in 2005."

Feingold said what was most upsetting to him was the willingness of too many members of the Democratic-controlled committee to defer to behind-the-scenes complaints from the FBI and the Justice Department.

"We should, of course, carefully consider their perspective, but it is our job to write the law and to exercise independent judgment," Feingold said. "After all, it is not the prosecutors’ committee; it is the judiciary committee. And while I am left scratching my head trying to understand how a committee controlled by a wide Democratic margin could support the bill it approved, I will continue to work with my colleagues to try to make improvements to this bill."

(emphasis added)

Dennis Kucinich also spoke out (and voted against) the extension of the Patriot Act’s provisions:

This legislation extends three problematic provisions of the PATRIOT Act and, at the same time, leaves some of the most egregious provisions in place, absent any meaningful reform and debate…As Members of Congress sworn to protect the rights and civil liberties afforded to us by the Constitution, we have a responsibility to exercise our oversight powers fully, and significantly reform the PATRIOT Act, ensuring that the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans are fully protected…

More than eight years after the passage of the Patriot Act, we have failed to do so.

Obama proves once again he’s little more than Bush Lite. The Democrats prove once again they are little more than the second branch of the Corporate Party.

William Jennings Obama: Faux Populist Backs Ben Bernanke

7:06 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Despite sounding like William Jennings Bryan briefly in Ohio, Williams Jennings Obama backs Ben Bernanke. Even the Wall St. Journal saw through William Jennings Obama’s ruse in Ohio; in a recent, story the WSJ published they see Obama’s words as just a campaign rhetoric designed to tap into the populist sentiments of the nation. Aside from one very misguided diarist here at FDL, few people are buying into Obama’s overnight conversion to populism for the following reasons:

1. Despite attacking "fat cat bankers" in a 60 Minutes interview in December, Obama’s administration almost simultaneously was working to weaken financial regulatory legislation. Robert Kuttner pointed this out in a superb interview with Bill Moyers on Bill Moyer’s Journal of December 18th:

ROBERT KUTTNER: I was appalled. I was just appalled because think of the timing. On Thursday and Friday of last week, the same week when the president finally gives this tough talk on "60 Minutes," a very feeble bill is working its way through the House of Representatives and crucial decisions are being made. And where is the President? I mean, there was an amendment to put some teeth back in the provision on credit default swaps and other kinds of derivatives. And that went down by a handful of votes. And to the extent that the Treasury and the White House was working that bill, at all, they were working the wrong side. There was a there was a provision to exempt foreign exchange derivatives from the teeth in the bill. That–

MATT TAIBBI: Foreign exchange derivatives are what caused the Long Term Capital Management crisis–

ROBERT KUTTNER: Sure.

MATT TAIBBI: A tremendous problem.

BILL MOYERS: Ten or 12 years ago, right?

MATT TAIBBI: Right.

ROBERT KUTTNER: Yeah. And, Treasury was lobbying in favor of that. There was a provision in the bill to exempt small corporations, not so small, I believe at $75 million and under, from a lot of the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requiring honest accounting. Rahm Emanuel personally was lobbying in favor of that.

BILL MOYERS: So you had the Treasury and the White House chief of staff arguing on behalf of the banking industry?

ROBERT KUTTNER: Right. Right. And so here’s the president two days later giving a tough speech. Why wasn’t he working the phones to toughen up that bill and, you know, walk the talk?

Obama seldom "walks the talk". With Obama, words are cheap, you have to watch what he does and often that’s 180 degrees different from what he talks about.

2. Obama has surrounded himself with "fat cat bankers". He’s selected and promoted them. Rahm Emanuel made millions as an investment banker with Wasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort), where he worked from 1998 until 2002:

In 1999, he (Rahm) became a managing director at the firm’s Chicago office. Emanuel made $16.2 million in his two-and-a-half-year stint as a banker, according to Congressional disclosures.

Who selected Rahm as his Chief of Staff? Obama.

Who promoted W’s pick as the New York Fed head to Secretary of the Treasury? Obama selected and continues to support Timothy Geithner. Who selected as his chief economic adviser one of the chief architects of financial deregulation? Obama chose and backs Larry Summers.

Whose administration is riddled with Goldman Sachs’ bankers? Obama’s. Which institution was the leading financial supporter of Obama’s senate and presidential campaigns? Goldman Sachs. Which banking institution benefited most from bailouts under Obama? Goldman Sachs. Who does Obama refer to when he says "My friend, Bob". He’s talking about Robert Rubin, ex head of Goldman and Citigroup. Which banker chose then Senator Obama to give the opening speech at the Goldman Sachs funded Hamilton Project? Robert Rubin.

Here’s Matt Taibbi on the Robert Rubin-Goldman Sachs connection:

"[Bob] Rubin probably more than any other person was responsible for the financial crisis by deregulating the economy [while] in the White House. And he had a major role in helping destroy one of the world’s biggest companies in Citigroup. He has one of the worst track records you can find, but he was basically the guy who was the architect of the entire Obama policy. Obama put him in charge of everything."

On the very day he was elected, who brought in a Wall St. friendly team headed by former Citicorps executive Michael Froman? Obama did.

Name another billionaire banker who gave megabucks to Obama and also acts as a trustee of the Hamilton Project? Steven Rattner. Who did Obama pick for as his "Car czar" despite no experience in the automobile sector? Steven Rattner. Who resigned due to an investigation into a corporation he formed that is being investigated for skimming New York state retirement funds? Steven Rattner. Steven Rattner.

3. Who supports Ben Bernanke? Originally, George W. picked Bernanke. But after Sen. Russ Feingold and Sen. Barbara Boxer came out opposing Bernanke’s reappointment as Fed chief, who came out in support of Bernanke? First, Obama’s stalking horse, Harry Reid, next Chris Dodd and Sen. Judd Gregg (remember this is the same cretin Republican that Obama wanted as his Commerce Secretary?). Now, Obama himself and all of the King’s men:

The White House deployed its top guns this weekend to lobby on behalf of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, enlisting Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, National Economic Council Chair Larry Summers and Senior Adviser David Axelrod in a day-long full-court press of calling and contacting Senators and their staffs in an effort to make sure the re-confirmation of the Fed Chairman doesn’t fail.

The latest round of appeals by the administration follow a series of check-in calls by President Obama himself to review the status of the Bernanke re-confirmation. The President has said he is confident the vote is on schedule and will result in re-confirmation of Bernanke.

The Bernanke reconfirmation is being pitched as a vote in favor of Obama’s economic agenda as well as a means by which to give big manufacturers, software companies and retailers a boost of confidence.

If there is a ray of light in this farce of a faux populist Obama, it is this: Obama himself clearly believes the country is far more progressive than he is since he has attempted to portray himself as having MOVED TO THE LEFT just three days following the loss in Massachusetts.

But don’t believe in the words of William Jennings Obama. Words are cheap for this faux populist. Recall Matt Taibi’stelling analysis of Obama:

What’s taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.

Fat cat bankers, far from being a Cross of Gold to Obama, provided him with plenty of greenbacks, and Obama has chosen to surround himself with Fat cat bankers while defending their every interest. On 3, cue in the real president of the United States: one, two, three, here’s Robert Rubin.

RELATED READING:

1. "Faux Populist President Needs to Shake Up His Administration: Fire Geithner & Summers" at FDL;

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

3. "The Hamilton Project: Same Corporatist Whine in New DLC Vessels"

4. "Obama-Dem Party 2010 Strategy: Talk (But NOT Act)Like Populists.

5. April 23, 2009 letter from New York AG Andrew Cuomo to Sen. Dodd indicating role Bernanke played in Bank of America-Merrill merger.

Here is Wikipedia’s take on the above:

In a letter to Congress from New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo dated April 23, 2009, Bernanke was mentioned along with former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in allegations of fraud concerning the acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America. The letter alleged that the extent of the losses at Merrill Lynch were not disclosed to Bank of America by Bernanke and Paulson. When Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis informed Paulson that Bank of America was exiting the merger by invoking the "Materially Adverse Change" clause Paulson immediately called Lewis to a meeting in Washington. At the meeting, which allegedly took place on December 21, 2008, Paulson told Lewis that he and the board would be replaced if they invoked the MAC clause and additionally not to reveal the extent of the losses to shareholders. Paulson stated to Cuomo’s office that he was directed by Bernanke to threaten Lewis in this manner.[30] Congressional hearings into these allegations were conducted on June 25, 2009, with Bernanke testifying that he did not bully Ken Lewis. Under intense questioning by members of Congress, Bernanke said, "I never said anything about firing the board and the management [of Bank of America]." In further testimony, Bernanke said the Fed did nothing illegal or unethical in its efforts to convince Bank of America not to end the merger. Lewis told the panel that authorities expressed "strong views" but said he would not characterize their stance as improper.[31]

Faux Populist President Needs to Shake Up His Administration: Fire Geithner & Summers

7:59 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

While President Barack Obama is campaigning in Ohio today as a faux populist, a real populist would fire Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers.

Here’s the faux populist out on the campaign trail in Ohio, clearly trying to distance himself from both Washington D.C., and the debacle that his own administration has become. From an article entitled, "Populist Obama vows never to quit the fight" by AFP’s Stephen Collinson:

President Barack Obama Friday vowed he would "never stop fighting" for struggling Americans, in a fiery political counter-attack meant to mend Democratic morale and his frayed bond with voters.

Obama sought to recapture the passion of his 2008 campaign, after a wake-up call from voters in liberal Massachusetts who sent a Republican to the Senate, and with his health care plan and wider agenda under assault in Congress.

"I’ll never stop fighting to give every American a fair shake," Obama said, at a town-hall style meeting in the rust-belt state of Ohio, a vital bellwether in mid-term elections in November shaping up as another hit for Democrats.

In a highly populist speech, Obama said he would fight Wall Street to restore home values, for his embattled health reform plan, to stop credit card companies cheating customers and to cut "exploding" deficits.

There’s only one problem with that story’s headline: when did Obama ever START fighting for the people? He wants to reappoint W’s pick of Ben Bernanke as head of the Fed. He has castigated "fat cat bankers" at almost the same time, as noted on Bill Moyer’s Journal, that his administration was weakening banking legislation in congress. He’s surrounded himself with "fat cat bankers" including many of the former staffers of the predatory Goldman Sachs firm. Then, of course, he hired W’s pick as head of the New York Fed, Timothy Geithner, as his own Treasury Secretary and put beside him as his chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, one of the chief architects for financial deregulation.

Getting back to Obama as a word warrior, here’s an account from Ohio native David Graham for Newsweek:

Having spent most of my life in northeast Ohio, I can’t help but scratch my head at President Obama’s speech in Elyria today. Speaking at the Lorain County Community College, Obama struck a populist tone, justifying—or attempting to justify—bank bailouts to an almost certainly skeptical audience, and selling a forthcoming jobs stimulus and beleaguered health reform as policies to help the common man.

But Obama can’t answer the unrealistic hopes they have for job creation. Places like Elyria—a manufacturing town that once had Ford and U.S. Steel factories but has seen joblessness rise nearly 2 percent since Obama’s inauguration—need a strong dose of realism.

…; even as national unemployment shows positive signs, the Buckeye State just weakened to 10.9 percent. Only 11 states have worse figures.

Ohio, like Michigan (with far worse 14.6 percent unemployment), is suffering from a massive outflow of manufacturing jobs and the failure of successive state governments to honestly address the problem. Now voters are reaping that bitter crop, and whatever Obama says to them is unlikely to help.

We need more than a word warrior, more than a faux populist. The Democratic Party and our nation needs a real populist. A real populist would never have hired Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers to begin with. A real populist would not be pushing to reappoint W’s pick for the Fed Chief, Bernanke, as Obama wrongly does.

It’s time both men were sent packing (and Bernanke too). Until Obama does that, he’s just blowing smoke and punking us again.

We want action–not words–Mr. President!

Biggest Winners & Losers Following The Massachusetts Vote

7:29 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Biggest winners and losers following the Senate vote in Massachusetts:

LOSERS:

1. Barack Obama.

Personally campaigned for Martha Coakley and managed to not once talk about health care reform (or is it "health insurance reform"?) in the Bay State. Personally responsible for the Frankenstein monster Senate bill (Sen. Russ Feingold said it’s exactly what Obama wanted all along). Acted like an innocent bystander-observer of the train wreck that his administration has become rather than the errant engineer of it when he remarked, "I can understand and agree with the frustration of the voters."

Now 0-3 in post election 2008 campaigns (following losses in Virginia and New Jersey). Demonstrated he can’t hit a Curt Schilling fastball.

Before the votes were even counted, orchestrated Team Obama’s dissing the Democratic candidate and blaming her for being a poor, uninspired candidate (for among other things, not campaigning on the 5 days surrounding Christmas when Obama himself was golfing and sunning in Hawaii for 2 weeks during the holidays).

2. The New York Times Editorial Board which wrote:

There are many theories about the import of Scott Brown’s upset victory in the race for Edward Kennedy’s former Senate seat. To our minds, it is not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama’s presidency, nor does it amount to a national referendum on health care reform…

Badly wrong on both counts. The NYTimes wants to charge for this kind of piffle in the future? Spare the thought and spare your bucks.

3. Team Obama.

Came out swinging hard at its own Democratic candidate and blamed in addition "communication problems". Nice way to forget Team Obama’s bending over backwards to big banks and Wall St., the highest unemployment numbers since the Great Depression, escalation and spread of wars to five countries, and a Senate health "insurance reform" bill that mandates coverage and bails out big insurers but does little or nothing for average Americans. Yup, it was all on Martha.

4. Sarah Palin.

There’s a new ultra conservative sheriff in town and Brownie’s getting the headlines that this has-been used to get. He’ll also actually hold political office rather than just comment on it as a FOX pundit.

5. Loony Davis.

Whiner Davis deserves top-billing on any losers list but since he’s pretty much a has been, I’ve put him at 5th. Wrote a horrific WSJ article blaming the loss on the Democrat’s health care reform plan. Loony claimed that it was somehow written by the progressives! Here’s Loony’s call for "reform" in the Democratic Party:

Bottom line: We liberals need to reclaim the Democratic Party with the New Democrat positions of Bill Clinton and the New Politics/bipartisan aspirations of Barack Obama—a party that is willing to meet half-way with conservatives and Republicans even if that means only step-by-step reforms on health care and other issues that do not necessarily involve big-government solutions.

That’s right: Loony wants MORE bipartisanship from Obama and seems to have forgotten how that went the past year and who actually wrote the lame "health insurance" reform bill! Loony, the Senate bill you deplore was written by your DLC pals Max Baucus, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman, not by progressives. Cue the music from Loony tunes now!

6. Nate Silver.

Nate had the Mass. Senate race as one of the least likely in the nation to flip (13th on his list of 2010 Senate seats) and wrote just a day or so before the election a ho-hum blog entry pretty much saying the race could go either way even after two reliable polls indicated a big shift for Brown. [Psst, Nate, update your website; you've got the Mass. seat "open" yet.]

Today Nate is opining that the Senate health care bill was "the biggest Progressive achievement in years" and that "it’s easy to forget today that the White House and the Congress had successfully shepherded health care reform to the one-yard." Ouch! Nate was much better at baseball stats than as a political analyst/pollster.

7. Martha Coakley.

She’ll have time to watch the Red Sox play some games and maybe figure out who plays for them and the opposing Yankees. Martha’s better off remaining in the Mass. AG office and is not ready yet for prime time except perhaps in well-heated rooms as Mass’s top lawyer or as a jurist.

8. The Kennedy Family.

It really isn’t their seat anymore and Camelot died with Teddy. R.I.P. Teddy who had his personal faults but was a fighter for the people.

WINNERS:

1. Brownie! He’s the new face for the right wing element of the Republicans and for the tea baggers. He’s got more of a populist appeal than Barack and better buns too (question is: how long will it be before Obama does a nude center fold to get the voyeur vote?). What’s good for Brownie is bad for Sarah Palin as she gets pushed off front pages.

But Brownie’s got a problem. This gig is only for two years so he has to decide if: 1) he wants to be a long-time Senator from Mass. (which will require him to move to the left) or, 2) does he want to spring a Barack Obama and bolt the Senate after just 2 years and run for national office? My bet is on the latter. It’s easier and can pay bigger dividends. Brownie looks like a shoo-in for at least the GOP VP spot, but remember, he’s a politician and therefore crystal balling him is like getting your hands on unobtainium.

2. Pickup truck manufacturers. These will now become de rigueur especially for fake populist politicians. Word is, Obama has a big order in for a fleet of pickup trucks and will soon appoint a pickup truck czar.

3. Mitt Romney.

Mitt is back big time since he enthusiastically supported Brownie. A Romney-Brown ticket might be coming to political rallies near to you soon.

4. Curt Schilling.

A great pitcher for the New York…, oops, the Boston Red Sox and the Phillies and will be a shoo-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s also interested in politics and since he’s originally from Alaska maybe there’s an opening there as Moose Hunter in Chief? Or how about Governor of Mass. so he could work with his friend Brownie? Jim Bunning got hit hard as a starting politician but maybe Schilling’s got better stuff?

5. Stand up Comedians.

This whole episode is a gold mine for these guys and gals. Good until November of this year for plenty of yucks.

6. Martha Coakley.

She gets to run again for AG from Mass. and doesn’t have to enter the corrupt institution that the U.S. Senate has become. Might be a good federal judge down the road too but for that same reason, don’t expect Barack (the guy who doesn’t need to wear a cup when facing Curt Schilling because there’s nothing there to damage) to pick her.

7. Pollster.com

If you’re a political junkie into polls and numbers, this is the website for you. Had a nifty graph showing Brown overtaking Coakley before the election. Data for just about every race and state imaginable. Great article today by Margie Omero called "Massachusetts Not Ready for a Woman?":

These figures suggest that Massachusetts sexism did not hold Coakley back, unless that sexism is as prevalent in liberal women as it is with other groups. That seems unlikely. Coakley underperformed consistently, throughout the state, and across the demographic spectrum. Campaign tactics, the mercurial nature of a special election, a volatile national climate, and the mobilization of the Republican base were sufficient to yield a Republican upset.

8. Teddy.

You will not be forgotten. Teddy knew how to give great, uplifting speeches AND how to fight for his aspirations too!

Obama-Dem Party 2010 Strategy: Talk (but NOT act) Like Populists

7:08 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are below 50% (the lowest at this time for any president since Truman) and the Democratic party is in deep trouble as witnessed by its flailing in the bluest of blue states, Massachusetts.

So what’s their strategy going to be in 2010 when all seats in the House of Representatives will be up for stakes and an inordinate number of Senatorial positions too?

Obama’s going to talk like a populist and so will the rest of his administration. It’s actually a variation on Obama’s 2008 election strategy when he made promises (in short, talk) and pretty but vague speeches the central focus of his campaign. Nice speeches, yes! Actual achievements in the past year, real reform, nada.

The Washington Post carried an article by Liz Sidoti of the AP noting this in a story titled, "Analysis: Obama Using Populist Appeals in 2010":

President Barack Obama is using strikingly populist appeals to an angry electorate in Massachusetts’ Senate race, a likely preview of his November strategy to curb steep Democratic Party losses in Congress and the nation’s statehouses.

"When the chips are down, when the tough votes come, on all the fights that matter to middle-class families … who is going to be on your side?," Obama asked Sunday, shedding his executive-like tie as he campaigned for a struggling Democratic candidate – and tested a midterm election message.

His answer: Democrats work for the little guys on Main Street while Republicans do the bidding of Wall Street.

Obama’s press spokesman, Robert Gibbs, fleshed out this Obama administration-as-populists theme in the same article:

"That’s a lot of what 2010 is going to be about," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "People are going to have to decide whether the people they have in Washington are on the side of protecting the big banks, whether they’re on the side of protecting the big oil companies, whether they’re on the side of protecting insurance companies, or whether they’re on the people’s side."

Well let’s see what happens if we grade Obama by press secretary’s test. It’s pretty clear that Obama is on the side of protecting the big banks (especially Goldman Sachs), that Obama’s on the side of the big oil companies, and that Obama (given his mandated "health insurance reforms") is on the side of protecting insurance companies. So under Obama, the score stands at Fat Cats 3, The People 0. But that still will not prevent Obama from cloaking himself in populism which is exactly what he did recently, for instance, in promoting Martha Coakley for the Senate in Massachusetts:

Martha knows the struggles Massachusetts working families face because she’s lived those struggles. She’s fought for the people of Massachusetts every single day…She’s got your back. Her opponent has got Wall Street’s back…Let me be clear: Bankers don’t need another vote in the United States Senate. They’ve got plenty. Where’s yours? That’s the question.

But the mainstream media has this wrong as usual. Actually, Obama began testing his "I’m really a populist" line of bull shit back in mid-December of last year. Remember when Obama was interviewed on 60 minutes and he said he did not run for office to "help out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall St"? That was a remarkable statement for a man who as early as 2006 was a darling of Robert Rubin (former head of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup) and whom Rubin invited to give the opening talk at the Goldman Sachs funded Hamilton Project. That was a remarkable statement from a man who took more money from Goldman Sachs than anyone else in his campaigns. And it was a remarkable statement coming from a man who has put more Goldman Sachs people in his administration than any other president. He indeed DID plan long ago to help out "fat cat bankers" and that’s exactly why they financed him in the Senate and in his presidential election campaign.

What is further remarkable, as Robert Kuttner pointed out to Bill Moyers on the Bill Moyers show on December 18, 2009, is that Obama was talking his populist anti-banker talk at the very same time his administration was working to weaken legislation designed to control the worst excesses of the banking sector. From the Bill Moyers interview with Kuttner and Matt Taibbi:

BILL MOYERS: Then on Monday afternoon, he had this photo opportunity in which he scolded the bankers and then they took it politely and graciously, which they could’ve done because the Hill at that very moment was swarming with banking lobbyists making sure that what the President wants doesn’t happen. I mean, what did you think as you watched him on 60 MINUTES or watched that press conference?

MATT TAIBBI: It seemed to me that it was a response to a lot of negative criticism that he’s been getting in the media lately, that they are probably looking at the President’s poll numbers from the last couple of weeks that have been remarkably low. And a lot of that has to do with some perceptions about his ties to Wall Street. And I think they felt a need to come out and make a strong statement against Wall Street, whether they’re actually do anything is, sort of, a different question. But I think that was my impression.

ROBERT KUTTNER: I was appalled. I was just appalled because think of the timing. On Thursday and Friday of last week, the same week when the president finally gives this tough talk on "60 Minutes," a very feeble bill is working its way through the House of Representatives and crucial decisions are being made. And where is the President? I mean, there was an amendment to put some teeth back in the provision on credit default swaps and other kinds of derivatives. And that went down by a handful of votes. And to the extent that the Treasury and the White House was working that bill, at all, they were working the wrong side. There was a there was a provision to exempt foreign exchange derivatives from the teeth in the bill. That–

MATT TAIBBI: Foreign exchange derivatives are what caused the Long Term Capital Management crisis–

ROBERT KUTTNER: Sure.

MATT TAIBBI: A tremendous problem.

BILL MOYERS: Ten or 12 years ago, right?

MATT TAIBBI: Right.

ROBERT KUTTNER: Yeah. And, Treasury was lobbying in favor of that. There was a provision in the bill to exempt small corporations, not so small, I believe at $75 million and under, from a lot of the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requiring honest accounting. Rahm Emanuel personally was lobbying in favor of that.

BILL MOYERS: So you had the Treasury and the White House chief of staff arguing on behalf of the banking industry?

ROBERT KUTTNER: Right. Right. And so here’s the president two days later giving a tough speech. Why wasn’t he working the phones to toughen up that bill and, you know, walk the talk?

But Obama’s game has never been to "walk the talk"; he’s all talk, all pretty speeches and no real action as we have seen on a spectrum of issues in the first year of his presidency.

So what we will get this coming election year from Obama and his Democrats, is an even heavier dose of "Obama the Populist" which is all smoke and mirrors. One only has to look at who’s in the Obama administration (Rahm Emanuel, Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, Robert Gates); who Obama’s Senate mentor was (Joe Lieberman); and who he looks to spearhead his policy initiatives in the Senate (Max Baucus, Harry Reid) to realize this this populist is all talk and no walk.

UPDATE #1: Dems Likely to Weaken Financial Oversight Bill by dropping Consumer Protection Agency.

Since writing this diary, I’ve read a good article from the Wall St. Journal posted over at Huffington Post (lead story there under "Senate may cave to Wall Street again, Dodd may gut consumer protection agency" ) which indicates Sen. Dodd is considering scrapping the idea of creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, an initiative at the heart of the White House’s proposal to revamp financial-sector regulations. An excellent example of populist huffing and puffing coming from Dodd, Obama and the Democrats, but another cave-in to Wall St. This breaking news at Huffington Post is accompanied by another article with critical remarks made by Elizabeth Warren who says in part that:

Such a move would undermine the integrity of the reform project overall and set up the United States for another cycle of financial predation, crisis and bailout, Warren said.

FURTHER READING/INFORMATION:

On Obama, banks and the Hamilton Project:

>1) Kirk Murphy, "The Hamilton Project: Same Corporatist Whine in New DLC Vessels" at FDL. NOTE: includes video clip of then Senator Obama talking in April, 2006, about "my friend Bob Rubin" and the need for more NAFTA-like trade pacts and the need to cut entitlements.

2) Fflambeau, "Obama’s ‘Smoking Gun’: His Hamilton Project Speech Shows his links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts, Part 1", at FDL;

3) Fflambeau, "Obama’s ‘Smoking Gun‘: His Hamilton Project Speech Shows his links to Goldman, Entitlement Cuts, Part 2" at FDL;

On Understanding Obama:/>/>
1) Paul Street, "Obama: As Predicted" Z-NET.

On Bill Moyers Journal:

Full text of the Bill Moyers Journal program of December 18, 2009 (both transcript and video) (I highly recommend watching the whole show, Moyers is outstanding as are his panelists. This is what journalism should look like.):

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/12182009/profile.html