You are browsing the archive for Rahm Emanuel.

Michelle Obama’s Anti-Obesity Plans Revealed

8:38 pm in Government by fflambeau

Michelle Obama is leading the charge against childhood obesity. Here we outdo WebMD and present the First Lady’s 3 top ideas for keeping kids in shape!

#1: Punch-a-Progressive Program.

Michelle says this about her Punch-a-Progressive Program:

You know how my hubby stays in shape and keeps that cute bottom and also how Rahm keeps the midriff bulge off: they punch progressives. Not just daily, but two or three times a day. Great for the upper arms too (check mine out!).

#2: Help-a-Banker-Cross-the-Street Program.

We all know that bankers require help these days. And, the bigger they are the more help they need. So, here’s a great workout for your cardiovascular system: help bankers cross the streets. Protect them, pamper them. Remember, the more you coddle them, the more calories you will burn up!

Michelle’s hot tip of the day:

My "Help-A-Banker-Cross-the-Street Program" has been endorsed by none other than Robert Rubin. He especially urges you to help bankers from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. They’re easy to spot: they’re truly losers and many of them can be identified by their golden parachutes or because they are sporting job id’s from my husband’s administration.

#3: Cut Entitlements Program.

Here’s a program that’s great for your wrist muscles and for you lower arms. Get out there and cut every entitlement designed to help average Americans that you see. Social security, medicare, medicaid–these are not the kind of programs that Princeton and Harvard Law School grads rely on anyway. Barack’s hero Ronald Reagan didn’t much like them either.

But if you cut these wasteful entitlements and squeeze the life out of them, you’ll not only cut the fat out of our budget but out of your obese body and the body politic. We can then spend the saved dollars where they are really needed: the Defense Department budget (one of my other programs is to assist servicemen and servicewomen); bailing out major corporations; and helping Blue Dogs get reelected.

You should see the wonders this program has done for Alice Rivlin and Anne Fudge since my hubby put them on his deficit reduction commission. They’re earning more money too!

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:


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!


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"


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!

Quixotic Hope that a Better Healthcare Bill will Emerge From the Sand Trap of Final Passage

8:38 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Many people seem to expect, and some politicians including many at the White House, are encouraging the view that a better health care bill will emerge after the Senate bill "moves on" and the process enters final passage. This is a quixotic hope: the White House long ago trumpeted that it would accept any bill and hail it as a "victory". In fact, that was pretty much the White House approach to the Copenhagen results which it hailed as a giant step forward while others saw it as an abysmal failure. To be able to pass both houses and meet the White House’s approval, any health care bill that emerges will likely be watered down even more than the present Senate version.

The attitude was pretty much summed up by a story in the Miami Herald under the headline, "After Senate Action, search will begin for real health care bill":

The Senate began its final, frantic steps toward passage of historic health care legislation on Sunday, as lawmakers and interest groups began turning their attention to the difficult battles over abortion, taxes and the public option that lie ahead.

The Senate early Monday morning is expected to cut off a Republican-led debate on the Democratic-authored $871 billion health care overhaul, a crucial step that will move the package close to final approval in that chamber later this week.

Once that happens, probably Wednesday or Thursday, the bill will have to be reconciled with the version the House of Representatives passed last month.

Lest anyone place too much hope in this process, remember who the participants will be in the conference, or negotiating group. Senior lawmakers from both houses, the Senate and the House, will meet under the close supervision of the White House to hammer out the final bill.

That means hapless Harry Reid and people close to him (likely Max Baucus and Ben Nelson, among others) will sit down with Nancy Pelosi and Stenny Hoyer with Rahm Emanuel coordinating everything. Recall that Rahm and Obama have not been friends to real health care reform and have been talking about insurance reform for months. Recall that Rahm and Obama took single payer off the table months ago, presented the "public option" as a Trojan horse kind of compromise, and then abandoned even that as a "sliver". Recall that Obama campaigned on a promise to "hold all health care meetings in public and televise them live on C-SPAN" a pledge he almost immediately broke. Recall that instead, Obama met behind closed doors in secret meetings (and denied this had happened until the New York Times broke the story) with insurance company moguls.

So the process of final passage will see Obama and Rahm meeting behind closed doors in secret with Harry Reid and Max Baucus and Ben Nelson and Nancy and Stenny and some people are excited about this? Hopeful that somehow the "true" Obama will emerge and bring with him "real health care reform"?

Forget it, it ain’t gonna happen. Obama and this White House have a proven track record of catering to the needs of the insurance-big Pharma industries, as do Max Baucus and Harry. Real health care reform could have easily been achieved by simply extending the popular, successful, and cost effective Medicare system to others, in phases if necessary. The fact that this course of action was never seriously considered by any of these major players should tell us what the outcome will be as the bill takes final shape. Instead, we’ve seen what Bill Moyers described as:

"the sheriff is firing blanks and powerful Democrats in Congress are in cahoots with the gang that’s pulling the heist…Raw money, mounds of it, buying politicians and policy as if they were futures on the hog market.


Why is this happening when almost every poll indicates the majority of the American people favor an extension of Medicare and favor single payer, not only a public option? Why is this happening under a Democratic presidency and a Democratically controlled House and a Democratically controlled Senate? Why is this happening a year after real health care reform, not a sham, was the key issue of the presidential election campaign?

Money and power. Big Pharma and the insurance companies have boatloads of money. Obama and Rahm long ago realized that killing off or even hobbling the insurance industry would kill off the golden goose that gives to Democrats and Republicans alike. As Dennis Kucinich aptly summarized Obama’s address to Congress last September: "it’s the wrong approach. It’s a bailout of the insurance industry."

Howard Dean has called out this pig gussied up to look like reform for what it really is:

If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health care reform.

Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.

Dr. Dean explained the reasons that anything that emerges during the end game of the health care bill will likely be worse than the current Senate version:

In Washington, when major bills near final passage, an inside-the-Beltway mentality takes hold. Any bill becomes a victory. Clear thinking is thrown out the window for political calculus. In the heat of battle, decisions are being made that set an irreversible course for how future health reform is done. The result is legislation that has been crafted to get votes, not to reform health care.

That’s pretty much what news reports indicated was the White House position months ago: Obama would accept any bill that emerges, no matter how bad, and declare it a victory (as he has done with climate change at Copenhagen). That’s the Obama modus operandi: pretend that you are in favor of change, trumpet the process with lots of publicity, but in reality undercut any real reform and change from happening while gleefully accepting as "reform" the denouement which most often is the exact opposite of it.

Sad but the "change" President seems to be more the "cosmetic change" President. Public relations seems to have replaced reality. Frank Rich, always perceptive, has written a wonderful column over at the New York Times about how widespread flimflams, successful ruses, myths, con artists, what Rich calls "the hagiography business" have become in current day America. Rich’s starting point is Tiger Woods, who made himself out to be a symbol of efficiency and virtue, and was aided in the process by an incompetent and often collusive press corps. But make no mistake about it, Rich’s real target is bigger even than the Tiger:

As cons go, Woods’s fraudulent image as an immaculate exemplar of superhuman steeliness is benign. His fall will damage his family, closest friends, Accenture and the golf industry much more than the rest of us. But the syndrome it epitomizes is not harmless. We keep being fooled by leaders in all sectors of American life, over and over. A decade that began with the “reality” television craze exemplified by “American Idol” and “Survivor” — both blissfully devoid of any reality whatsoever — spiraled into a wholesale flight from truth.

This can be seen in the increasingly urgent political plight of Barack Obama. Though the American left and right don’t agree on much, they are both now coalescing around the suspicion that Obama’s brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger’s public image — a marketing scam designed to camouflage either his covert anti-American radicalism (as the right sees it) or spineless timidity (as the left sees it). The truth may well be neither, but after a decade of being spun silly, Americans can’t be blamed for being cynical about any leader trying to sell anything. As we say goodbye to the year of Tiger Woods, it is the country, sad to say, that is left mired in a sand trap with no obvious way out.

True health care reform, to borrow Rich’s metaphor, is now in a sand trap, perhaps a sand trap far removed even from the course we originally began play on. Sadly, our leaders see the only way out of the sand trap in illusions, trickery, and lies.

Expect lots of hacking in the next couple of days from them during the final shaping of the bill. Expect headlines and stories from a complicit and mostly bought-out media about progress. But if Frank Rich is right–he often has been–we’ll see less change that we can believe in and more shams, spinning, deception and flimflams.

Howard Dean is perfectly positioned to primary Obama in 2012.

8:49 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Rahm-Obama may have done Howard Dean a huge favor when they froze the good doctor out of the Obama administration. Recall that there was talk of Dean as being head of Health & Human Services or even Surgeon General but this was vetoed by Rahm and Obama. Obama didn’t extend his "team of rivals" concept to one of his biggest rivals and that might turn out to be a historic blunder by Team Obama. Because now, Howard Dean is perfectly positioned to primary Obama in 2012. So what was an initial disappointment to the progressive base might turn out to be a blessing.

Dean can publicly criticize the Obama administration as he did recently when he said the health care bill being advanced in the Senate is not worth voting for. He’s not tied in any way to this administration which is looking more and more like the S.S. Titanic-Obama.

That’s why the Obama administration and its various spin-meisters immediately struck back hard at Howard Dean after his comments on the senate bill. Note that press secretary Gibbs and others in the administration even went so far as to invoke the Dean-is-crazy theme that the mainstream media made up after the so-called "Dean Scream." Dean’s having a "temper tantrum" they have complained (this is discussed below in the paragraph on Jane Hamsher’s diary) in language that calls up the images that were played on in 2004 of an unstable Dean.

Notice too that the Obama administration has been far more critical of Howard Dean, an acknowledged champion of real health care reform, than it has been of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson and Max Baucus–old-line politicians who have never really favored health care reform from the beginning and have been bought off by big Pharma and insurance companies.

Glenn Greenwald made this very point:

Why didn’t they [the White House] do any of that to the "centrists" who were supposedly obstructing what they wanted on health care? Why didn’t they tell Blanche Lincoln — in a desperate fight for her political life — that she would "never hear from them again," and would lose DNC and other Democratic institutional support, if she filibustered the public option? Why haven’t they threatened to remove Joe Lieberman’s cherished Homeland Security Chairmanship if he’s been sabotaging the President’s agenda? Why hasn’t the President been rhetorically pressuring Senators to support the public option and Medicare buy-in, or taking any of the other steps outlined here by Adam Green? There’s no guarantee that it would have worked — Obama is not omnipotent and he can’t always control Congressional outcomes — but the lack of any such efforts is extremely telling about what the White House really wanted here.

Over at Politico, Jane Hamsher documents how Joe Lieberman’s conduct on the health care bill provides the perfect vehicle to advance the agenda of the White House and Harry Reid. Consistent with that, she independently notes media reports that White House officials are privately expressing extreme irritation with Howard Dean for opposing the Senate bill as insufficient, but have nothing bad to say about Lieberman, who supposedly single-handedly sabotaged what the White House was hoping for in this bill.

an NBC reporter explained how Robert Gibbs used his Press Briefing today to harshly criticize Howard Dean for opposing the health care bill. Why did Gibbs never publicly criticize people like Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and the like if they were supposedly obstructing and impeding the White House’s agenda on health care reform (this is a point Yglesias acknowledges as a "fair" one)? Having a Democratic White House publicly criticize a Democratic Senator can be a much more effective pressure tactic than doing so against a former Governor who no longer holds office.

Jane Hamsher has written a very lucid diary about this: "White House ‘Irritated’ with Howard Dean, Not Joe Lieberman" right here at Firedoglake. From the video clip attached to Jane’s diary:

"A lot of animosity…from the administration (toward) Howard Dean. They’re not pleased with Dr. Dean speaking out about health care reform…They’re irritated…they’re not too angry at Lieberman…the highest insult was to call him (Dean) "irrelevant"…Dean is having, what one official called, a tantrum…

Credit Pat Buchanan (I never thought I’d write that!) for saying on the clip, too, that what Dr. Dean is doing is calling the bill a fraud, a sell-out to insurance companies.

Why has the Obama administration treated Howard Dean so differently than it has Joe Lieberman? Because the Obama-Rahm team has never ever, even remotely had any common cause with progressivism or with progressives. Don’t believe me? Well, just check out who Obama has chosen as his Chief of Staff–Rahm Emanuel–or who he has chosen as his Defense Secretary–Robert Gates, a George W. pick. And look at how few progressives are working in this administration (far fewer than the number of people from Goldman Sachs). Look too at all the progressive positions that Obama successfully ran on but dumped as soon as the election returns came in: FISA, DADT, DOMA, NAFTA renegotiation etc.

Dean, of course, is a progressive. The Obama White House also recognizes that Dean, should he want to, could be a political threat to their sand castle presidency.

Think about it. If Howard Dean wants to (and I don’t know that he does, I have no insider information), he could primary Obama in 2012.

He’d have lots of advantages. Dean has national name recognition. He can crank up a campaign quickly and attract the best people. He’s a Washington, D.C. outsider since Obama-Rahm did him the favor of not letting him in on their gig. He has the backing of most progressives and liberals, the very people who worked hard to win the primaries and the general election for Obama.

If the progressives and liberals bolt from Obama as they surely will if Dean challenges Obama, that leaves Obama with the Blue Dogs in the Democratic primaries in 2012. The progressives and liberals control the path to the Democratic party nomination, that’s why Obama garbed himself in progressive clothing in 2008 but his stealth candidacy has now exposed him for what he is: a DLCer. Obama doesn’t have the warmth of Dean or Clinton to overcome his DLC positions and win the nomination.

Moreover, Dean can use the "change mantra" on Obama in 2012. Wouldn’t it be a pleasure to see Dean taking the 2008 Obama position and Obama taking the W role in 2012?

Far fetched? Not really. Remember that in 1968 an obscure Senator by the name of Gene McCarthy (not RFK) challenged the mighty incumbent, LBJ. In the very first democratic primary, in New Hampshire, LBJ won but McCarthy came close. Just days before the April primary in Wisconsin, with polls showing McCarthy would decisively beat the president, LBJ announced he would not run again for the presidency.

Guess who’d win in 2012? My moneys on Dean and that is precisely why Gibbs and the Obama administration are pummeling him and not Lieberman. Progressives and liberal Democrats are the real enemy of this administration, not the Republicans because Obama is really a Rockefeller-type Republican. Rockefeller-Republicans were/are known for their unabashed support of big business and Wall St. coupled with a virulent and hawkish, expansionist view of American Empire and bread and circuses for the masses. Doesn’t that describe Obama’s agenda perfectly?

Let’s hope that Dean takes advantage of the situation and announces soon that he will primary Obama.

Is Rahm intentionally driving the Democratic Bus Toward the Cliff’s Edge?

8:35 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

What a difference a year makes. In December, 2008, Democrats basked in the glory of a triumphant presidential election campaign that saw their candidate, the first African American in history, take the presidency. Democrats swept to bigger majorities in the Senate and the House. It appeared with Obama in power that the country was on the brink of major, progressive change.

But a year later, the wheels have already come off the Democratic bus and it appears to be swerving toward the edge of a cliff. Here are some poll numbers from a just-released Battleground Poll as reported in the L.A. Times:.

The president’s job-approval rating has slipped to 49%, Republican pollster Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake say. And the percentage of people who strongly disapprove of the president’s performance, 41%, outweighs the 37% who strongly approve.

Disapproval of the job that Congress is doing has risen to 68%, "an all-time high," and 77% among independent voters.

The problem for the president’s party, the pollsters say, is that the most passionate supporters of the Democratic president appear less likely to turn out to vote in congressional elections next year. And the most angry of the independent voters — a swing-voting bloc that supported Obama in 2008 — appear heavily motivated to vote against Democrats.

"There is a potential for this being the 1994 of the angry white male," said Goeas, pointing to the pivotal year during President Clinton’s first term when Republicans gained control of the House.

The reference to 1994, of course, refers to the year the Democrats lost the House to the Republicans a loss that pretty much cut off any chance that the DLC-orientated Clinton White House had for any meaningful reform, not that they had such ideas. One character was pivotal in 1994 and is again pivotal today: Rahm Emanuel. Recall that Emanuel was a close advisor to Bill Clinton in 1994 and in fact was in charge of getting more Democrats elected back then. Today, he’s in an even more elevated position as Obama’s Chief of Staff.

Rahm, whatever his other faults, is no dummy. So he can obviously read the "tea leaves", the polls, and knows the implications for the party in 2010. It’s apparent, as the L.A. Times article points out, that the Democrats will be in major trouble in 2010. From the same article linked above, here are comments and statistics that show that Obama has lost independent voters and that Democrats won’t come out in the numbers needed in 2010:

"Only 28% said their priorities match Obama’s priorities, and 64% said they do not," Goeas said. "There’s a disconnect."

Most voters surveyed, 56%, say the country is on the wrong track, with 34% seeing the nation going in the right direction.

In a "generic" contest between an unnamed Democratic candidate and an unnamed Republican candidate for Congress, 42% of those surveyed said they would support the Republican; 40% opted for the Democrat.

Among those swing-voting independents: 40% said they would select the Republican; 19%, the Democrat.

The voters most likely to support Republican candidates for Congress are more likely to vote next year, according to the survey.

On a related note, one Democrat, Michael Capuano of Massachussets, a failed candidate for Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat, was asked about what he saw on the campaign trail and what the mood of the voters is. Capuano’s reply: "You’re screwed." Surely, both Rahm and Obama know this and doubly so after this failed health "insurance reform" bill comes out. An excellent diary here at Firedoglake by TheCallUp summarizes progresssive discontent with the Obama administration, especially over health care legislation in the last few days.

So then the question is: why? With the Democrats heading toward the cliff, with it obvious that Obama is failing because he has jettisoned the very platform that he ran and won it, the question is why would Rahm-Obama continue this disastrous path? At first, I chalked it up to stupidity. But once again, Rahm may be a thug, but he isn’t stupid, nor is Obama. Coincidence? Neither Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot believed in coincidence for good reasons. What’s instructive is that Rahm engineered pretty much the same results in 1994. So it has to be deliberate, not just coincidence, not just stupidity.

Here’s what I have come to regard as the reason for the disastrous course the Obama administration has taken: Rahm KNOWS that Obama and the Democrats are driving toward the cliff and that is part of the plan. Because after 2010 when the Republicans either take back the House or reduce the Democratic majority in it to such an extent that Blue Dogs (i.e. Republicans in Democratic garb) control it with their allies, Obama can work with the people he is most akin to: the GOP and the Blue Dogs. Note that overall Obama’s world outlook most closely resembles not progressive Democrat’s but that of Rockefeller Republican’s: strong on defense spending and the expansion of the American Empire, strong on help to major corporations and Wall St., bread and circuses for the masses.

The Democrats lost the House on Rahm’s watch in 1994 and it looks likely to happen again. Coincidence? I think not since as I mentioned anyone who has an IQ above 90 should be able to read these polls and see the results. Could it be that Rahm (and the man who hired him) really want to lose in 2010? Why? Because then Obama and Rahm could even more openly deal with the GOP whose values they share much more than they do those of progressive Democrats. That’s why, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, the Obama administration has not hesitated to put massive pressure on progressives but has not done the same thing to Blue Dogs, to Lieberman, to Max Baucus, etc. Writes Greenwald:

That’s what the White House can do when they actually care about pressuring someone to vote the way they want. Why didn’t they do any of that to the "centrists" who were supposedly obstructing what they wanted on health care? Why didn’t they tell Blanche Lincoln — in a desperate fight for her political life — that she would "never hear from them again," and would lose DNC and other Democratic institutional support, if she filibustered the public option? Why haven’t they threatened to remove Joe Lieberman’s cherished Homeland Security Chairmanship if he’s been sabotaging the President’s agenda? Why hasn’t the President been rhetorically pressuring Senators to support the public option and Medicare buy-in, or taking any of the other steps outlined here by Adam Green? There’s no guarantee that it would have worked — Obama is not omnipotent and he can’t always control Congressional outcomes — but the lack of any such efforts is extremely telling about what the White House really wanted here.

…We’ve long heard — from the most blindly loyal cheerleaders and from Emanuel himself — that progressives should place their trust in the Obama White House to get this done the right way, that he’s playing 11-dimensional chess when everyone else is playing checkers, that Obama is the Long Game Master who will always win. Then, when a bad bill is produced, the exact opposite claim is hauled out: it’s not his fault because he’s totally powerless, has nothing to do with this, and couldn’t possibly have altered the outcome. From his defenders, he’s instantaneously transformed from 11-dimensional chess Master to impotent, victimized bystander.

The supreme goal is to shield him from all blame.

Greenwald also notes that Obama and his administration today are harshly criticising Howard Dean, a Progressive, but they never did the same thing to Blue Dogs:

>…an NBC reporter explained how Robert Gibbs used his Press Briefing today to harshly criticize Howard Dean for opposing the health care bill. Why did Gibbs never publicly criticize people like Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and the like if they were supposedly obstructing and impeding the White House’s agenda on health care reform (this is a point Yglesias acknowledges as a "fair" one)? Having a Democratic White House publicly criticize a Democratic Senator can be a much more effective pressure tactic than doing so against a former Governor who no longer holds office.

In truth, Rahm and Obama share much more in common with Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman than they do with Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold. Rahm has famously told the progressives, on at least one occasion, to go "f___ themselves." Moreover, Rahm really represents Goldman Sachs and the banking elite (he’s a millionaire many times over because of his banking work), he represents the power elite and he also represents Israel. His dad is a self-professed Zionist. The power elite would prefer Republicans in office but in 2008 they knew that ANY Republican would lose to just about any Democrat. So they advanced their paid salesman, Barack Obama, who was sold as a progressive to the American people when in fact he was in the employ of the people really running this country. People like Bob Rubin. So Obama was a stealth candidate, or if you prefer, a kind of Trojan horse whose exterior masked the presence of the banking and corporate elite inside.

Recall that in 2006, Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs funded a free trade think tank embedded in the Brookings Institution. Their free trade baby is called the Hamilton Project, after Alexander Hamilton of the "people are a great beast" fame. At the opening of the Hamilton Project in April, 2006, Rubin and Goldman Sachs invited a young senator to speak: Barack Obama. His speech extolled free trade, referred to his "friend Bob" (Rubin), and also included the need for cutbacks in entitlements (read Social Security and Medicare). For more on Obama and the Hamilton project, see this diary.

So, we are seeing the Democrats going from their most popular period in decades in 2008 to driving over the cliff in 2010. Obama as salesman has pushed for: TARP, trillions in bailouts to Wall St. and banks, no policy on job creation, and escalation of an unpopular war in Afghanistan. The real president is Bob Rubin, former head of both Goldman Sachs and Citibank; Obama is Rubin’s hand-selected salesman; Rahm is Obama’s handler and the conduit from Rubin-Goldman Sachs-the power elite to Obama.

Moreover, Obama is expendable as this disastrous path of the Democratic bus shows. Rubin and Rahm know that Obama is pushing programs that will result in defeat for the Democrats: Rahm did the same thing in 1994. What Obama bought for Rubin and Goldman in 2008 was time, and the opportunity to defeat the once in every 70 years chance that progressives have when they control the presidency, the House and the Senate. Mission accomplished by Obama and his Trojan horse campaign. He can now be jettisoned and he will be by the power elite who will shift funding away from him in 2012 to a Republican.

In a sense, Joe Lieberman is also a weather vane for what’s happening. Lieberman has an excellent sense of power (and is completely trusted by the people of the power elite). That’s why Lieberman’s vote was critical on health "insurance reform." Joe is also Israel’s guy (as is Rahm, who according to Bill Clinton in his biography was "in the Israeli army" see p. 542 of Bill Clinton’s My Life (2004)). Note that Joe has been drifting towards the right over the last decade; he’s positioned to sell himself as a Republican in 2012 when he comes up for reelection again. Joe knows already that 2012 will be a Republican year just as 2008 was a Democratic year. He’s one of the men the power elite really trust (Rahm is another) whereas Obama is expendable and probably just happy to have the chance to make some money, satisfy his ambitions, get in the public spotlight, and retire in luxury. As more and more people see through Obama’s lies and deceptive words, his value as a salesman becomes less to the power elite.

The motive here? Power and money. These motives are more powerful than even race for note that Obama has done zilch for people of his own race. The nexus between power and money and race was commented upon by the brilliant Black American crime detective novelist, Walter Mosley:

I could see where money affected both of them [2 characters in his book] more than race. It was the first time I had ever actually witnessed the power of money and class in forming character.

Source: Walter Mosley, Fear Itself (2003).

So in sum, the debacle that is "health insurance" reform has stripped back the curtain to reveal to the American people what is really happening. Our government is not working for the people, it is working to advance the power and interests of those in charge, as the actions on "insurance reform" show. The person in charge of this country is not Obama but his master, Bob Rubin. Rahm Emanuel is Rubin/Goldman Sach’s handler for Obama. Obama is dispensable especially as people see through his "salesman skills", Rahm is not, neither is Lieberman. Obama was chosen as a stop-gap measure in a year in which any Democrat would have won. That is why Rubin chose Obama as long ago as 2006 to be "his man"; someone who could be relied on to sell unpopular policies to an increasingly progressive electorate. With Obama, a Trojan Horse for Rubin and Goldman Sachs in power, the short window for real progressive change was slammed shut. That’s why Obama has dumped every progressive program that he ran on since the election. That’s why Obama froze real progressives (like Howard Dean) out of his administration and worked instead with Clinton retreads and George W. leftovers, like Robert Gates and Gen. McCrystal. All of this shows that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, as Gore Vidal and the historian William Appleman Williams noted long ago, are both wings of the Corporate Party which really runs everything.

Is all lost? Probably. Sorry for the bleak assessment but the forces in charge control not only our government but the police, the army, and most importantly, the media. Note too that the same thing is happening world wide in the "democracies". Berlusconi, a Mafia thug, is in charge of Italy and deserved his up close meeting with the Milan Cathedral (what an irony that instrument was!). Tony Blair-Gordon Brown sold Britain’s Labour Party out just as Clinton and Obama sold out the Democrats. France is ruled by a puppet of the French elites. Germany and Japan are both ruled by huge multi-national corporations like Siemens and Sony. Russia is ruled by the former head of the KGB. Voltaire recognized the human dilemma many years ago in Candide (1759) and came up with this injunction as the most fruitful course of action: look to yourself and your circle of friends and till your own garden.

Here in America, if any change happens, it must be at the local level first and done through populist organizing. Forget the Democratic Party, it’s infested with DLCers. Forget writing letters to Obama, you’re just wasting your time and energy. True change can only come about when the public is first enlightened as to what is really happening in this country. So forums like this are a first step in the right direction. Gardens and good novels are two other escapist opportunities to while away the time until either the police or the army come for us! For after all, lots of people are going to be "in Dutch" after the mandated insurance bill passes. You either sign up for the insurance, pay a fine, or go to jail. And jail is one institution that both parties really believe in and find unlimited funds for.

Obama Fails the People on Jobs, Poverty, Education, Peace & Health Care

8:42 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

On election eve last year as the results came in, millions of Americans rejoiced that a new, Democratic administration had been brought into office. Surely, it was thought, Obama will right the wrongs of the terrible 8 years under George W. Bush and he will push a people-oriented agenda as he had outlined in his campaign for the presidency. Obama had spoken thoughtfully and articulately about the need to tackle the economic crisis, to bring transparency to government, to use diplomacy and work together with other nations rather than to just send in the troops abroad, to attack social and economic injustice.

But we have found that as President, Barack Obama began almost immediately to backtrack on his promises. He shifted positions on FISA almost as the election return results came in; he began to appoint lobbyists to his government breaking one of his key campaign promises (and even wanted one of the biggest lobbyists, Tom Daschle, as his head of H&HS); he froze out progressives (like Howard Dean) and favored DLCers like Rahm Emanuel; and, he has continued many of W’s unpopular policies like forced renditions, state secrets in an expansionist American foreign policy that seems to differ little from W’s. Indeed, Obama has failed to replace W’s Republican Defense Secretary with a Democrat and has elevated most of W’s generals including Gen. McCrystal, a man who helped falsify records in the Pat Tillman case and who led human rights abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The election ushering in Obama occurred more than a year ago but if one looks at Obama’s Presidency, little has changed for average Americans. Obama has been a failure especially on the economic front. Rather than usher in immediately a program to create jobs and deal with massive unemployment, Obama’s Timothy Geithner worked with Bush’s Paulson to fashion Tarp: a huge bailout to Wall St. and big banks. Trillions were given to captains of industry and banking without any real oversight and without any detailed study of what should be done (without the need for a summit). Only about a week ago, before leaving on a largely photo-op foreign trip to Asia, did Obama announce that he would hold a White House summit on job creation. It will be held next month so obviously the President feels no urgency to this matter despite the official unemployment rate increasing to 10.2% in October with 17.5% underemployment. Millions of Americans have given up even looking for jobs; countless millions others, rely on part-time jobs to feed their families. No problem–says Obama–I’ll call a meeting on the issue next month. What would the reaction have been in Wall St. and at Goldman Sachs had he dealt with the "financial crisis" in the same way? But Bob Rubin of Goldman Sachs was a big supporter of Obama and the unemployed don’t have Rubin’s bucks to give to Democrats. Hence, no urgency for the jobless while Goldman got and continues to get white glove treatment.

Oh yes, Obama did reappoint Bob Bernake as head of the Fed so I guess that’s some action he took. Bernake on Monday showed how clueless the Obama administration is on the unemployment/jobs situation:

"jobs are likely to remain scarce for some time, keeping households cautious about their spending. As the recovery becomes established, however, payrolls should begin to grow again at a pace that increases over time. Nevertheless, as net gains of roughly 100,000 jobs per month are needed just to absorb new entrants into the labor force, the unemployment rate likely will decline only slowly, if the economic growth remains moderate, as I expect."

Translation: be patient, you deadbeat jobless and job seekers! Obama and his team seems to have forgotten that he was elected by people from the Democratic base, like the unions. Donald Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, and a coalition of other organizations including the NAACP (which has been at war with Obama for most of his administration over his torture policies and "look forward not backward") are calling on the Obama administration to do more to create jobs. According to

The groups argue that the $787 billion stimulus program has not gone far enough to fight unemployment.

A large part of that stimulus, after all, was tax cuts. Leading economists months ago warned that it was insufficient. So it is no surprise that Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman followed up his criticisms of the Obama stimulus earlier this year with recent calls for action from Obama on job creation. But it will be interesting to see if Krugman (or Joe Stiglitz, another Nobel Prize winner and critic of Obama’s half measures) even gets invited to the White House jobs conference.

I suspect not since Obama has a history of freezing people out of summits whose views are more forceful and progressive than his: witness his White House conference on healthcare in February at which Obama failed to invite even one speaker in favor of single payer. As Obama backtracked on health care reform, even talking of "insurance reform", he has done the same thing on the economy. Recent pronouncements coming out of his administration sound Hooveresque with Obama’s own announcement of the jobs summit including a statement to the effect that "there are limitations on what the federal government can or should do". Words that could (and likely were) spoken by Ronald Reagan or Herbert Hoover.

Other statements by administration acolytes warn that the administration must cut fiscal spending on domestic programs to get a better handle on the budget deficit. That again is Hooveresque and exactly the wrong approach to take. But it is the approach that Obama’s hesitant and largely Republican thinking economic team, led by the ousted head of Harvard University Larry Summers and the hapless and ineffective Timothy Geithner favor. That was the same team that was willing to give trillions to Wall St. and huge banking firms without any summit and without any oversight.

The depth that the economy has reached is revealed by new data coming out of Obama’s own Department of Agriculture:

nearly 50 million Americans—including a quarter of all children—struggled to get enough to eat last year. The Department of Agriculture found that nearly 17 million children lived in households in which food at times was scarce last year, four million children more than the year before. The government data has startled even anti-poverty advocates. Vicki Escarra, president of Feeding America, said, "This is unthinkable. It’s like we are living in a Third World country.” The total number of Americans going hungry is likely even higher. The report is based on 2008 data when the unemployment rate maxed out at 7.2 percent. Since then the unemployment rate has jumped to over ten percent.

Source: (link above)

But Obama and his administration have a tin ear for the plight of the jobless, the poor, and hungry. Unlike Goldman Sachs, General Motors and AIG, the unemployed are not too big to fail and the poor don’t write checks to politicians.

A more forceful leader than Obama, Richard Trumka President of the AFL-CIO has lain out a five point jobs plan:

1. Extend the lifeline for jobless workers.
2. Rebuild America’s schools, roads and energy systems.
3. Increase aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services.
4. Fund jobs in our communities.
5. Put TARP funds to work for Main Street.

I would like to add a 6th point to Trumka’s commendable plan: fire Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner and Rahm Emanuel for these key Obama advisors will pour cold water on such proposals: too people-oriented, not helpful to big business, they will argue.

Obama needs a new team of advisors on the economy just as he needs a new team of advisors on Afghanistan. A year after the election and we still have Robert Gates, a Republican, as our Defense Secretary? Is it any wonder that Obama’s foreign policy looks just like W’s? You yourself said it best, President Obama, when during the election campaign you said that only new few faces can bring about change. Absolutely correct and that’s why lots of people voted for you. What happened to that mentality? Gates is a new face? Rahm Emanuel is a new face? Larry Summers is a new face? Was it only pandering for votes, a promise to be discarded like another Obama lie: "I will hold all healthcare meetings in public and televise them live on C-SPAN". If this was a flip-flop it was a size 18E. No, these transcend flip- flops, they were whopper lies told by Obama to pander for votes. Once elected, it’s been politics as usual with the same old faces, including Gates, Summers, Geithner, and Hillary.

Turning to education, Obama again is giving us Republican-corporate leadership with the likes of Arne Duncan. Is privatization really going to save our public schools? And what, anyway, would Obama know about public schools since he only attended expensive private ones in his lifetime: Punahou (Hawaii’s most expensive school); Columbia; Harvard–all the time taking advantage of government programs (like affirmative action which got him in the door) while extolling the virtues of privatism. Where do Obama’s children go to school now? I’m not sure of the fancy name of the school they attend but I’m 100% sure it isn’t a public one. What kind of message does that send the rest of the country, President Obama? What do YOU really know about public schools?

Well, here’s what your failed economic policies are doing to a once great public university system. The UC Board of Regents is contemplating a 32% tuition hike for undergraduates because funds from the state have been cut and because of the economic situation your government has allowed to continue. Moreover, some of UC’s graduate programs will, under the proposals before the Regents, raise tuition by thousands of dollars.

Lora Nader a Professor at UC Berkeley for 50 years explained to

Now this debate has been with us as far as the beginning of the country, when Thomas Jefferson and some of the founders pointed out that you can’t have a democracy without public education. So some people disagree, and they say public education is too expensive. You have the profit model of education, or you have the public model of education. The public model says it’s a public good. The private model says it’s a private good. And it’s been going on.

So, 1868 our university was founded, and it was founded as a public good. Everybody over the age of fourteen of moral character could come to the University of California. It was meant to be free. They didn’t achieve that completely. But even in 1952, it was only $28 a semester. So we’ve gone a long way towards not achieving a free public education, although poorer countries than ours have free public education, both in Latin America and Europe.

What has happened in America over the years is not only a gap between the rich and poor that has increased but a gap between the governing/ruling class and its average citizens. We see this now in education where I believe that Jimmy Carter is the last President to have been in a public school and the last to have had his children in the public system (at the high school level at least). Obama has no idea of what public education is or means as he and his wife have been in pampered institutions (Princeton, Harvard) all of their careers. The same gap appears in health care where the governing elite have the very kind of public-funded comprehensive health care system for themselves (publicly funded) that they deplore for the result of the population. I recall a recent study showing that 265 of our Congresspeople are millionaires: they are completely unrepresentative of the people they govern.

What America is seeing now is a link between all of these problems: the wars overseas bleed the public treasury for spending on domestic programs. A ruling elite (which Obama and his party also represent) underfund domestic programs and job creation while spending trillions on Wall St., banks and bombs. Money (the "mother’s milk of politics") has become more and more the key ingredient in getting elected (recall that Obama shunned public funding and spent more to get elected than anyone ever has). Campaign reform has largely gone by the wayside since reform would undercut the flow of money to the politicians in power. And America increasingly becomes divided on economic lines with more and more citizens falling below the poverty line. Almost 50 million Americans struggled to find enough to eat last year, on Obama’s watch.

What really has Obama and his Democratic administration changed? Where is the change that he promised (and now shuns)? Liberals and progressives must unite and support programs like Donald Trumka’s and must challenge politicians (especially Democrats who are only that in name) by use of the primary and by use of selective funding. It is long past time for Obama and his administration to start producing on jobs, health care, poverty, peace and education. Those should be our priorities and not new free trade pacts with more countries that send jobs abroad; not more escalation of wars; not more spending on the Defense Department budget. In short, we need a government of and by Democrats from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. We need much more than Obama has been willing to provide; we need a fighter for social and economic causes, not a waffler.

Obama’s “Rhetorical” Fight with The Insurance Industry

7:47 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

When asked whether President Obama has been tough enough in office, White House Advisor David Axelrod gave away more than he thought when he says Obama “took on the insurance industry, at least rhetorically”. (1) That’s right! The Obama administration fights the insurance companies with words, not action, and isn’t that the metaphor for this promise breaking Democratic administration? It fights the same way for gay and lesbian human rights: the “fierce defendor of gay rights” Obama has done “jack” and “squat” in reality but by God Obama was hot and heavy, with words and rhetoric that is, when he rolled out the same old promises and rhetoric (not accompanied by any action) in a recent address to gay activists.

The Obama administration has mostly fought a rhetorical war too against the longest and most severe recession in the nation’s history. Months ago, highly qualified economists including at least two Nobel Prize winners–Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman–declared Obama’s economic stimulus plan “too little”. Months after its implementation, they have been proven right as unemployment continues to climb toward 10% and states and cities nationally flounder. But on numerous occasions, administration spokesman have declared that they have won the economic battle against the recession. Certainly Goldman Sachs has as it has just announced record $3 billion profits for the quarter. For everyone else, it is a rhetorical flourish from Obama.

Or take the related area of excessive executive compensation. Recall the outrage from the Obama Administration months ago at huge bonuses being paid out by mostly bankrupt or near bankrupt Wall St. firms? But did the Obama administration actually do anything in terms of oversight or regulations? Nope. Again just words not deeds. Here’s a new wrinkle on this problem from an article in today’s Wall St. Journal. It seems the same duo involved in the rhetorical fight against insurers is taking the lead with the rhetorical fight against executive compensation packages: Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod:

Administration officials on Sunday criticized Wall Street banks over their high compensation packages and their lobbying against plans to tighten financial regulations. But the administration’s tone appeared muted compared with attacks made earlier in this year, as Democrats — with an eye toward the 2010 midterm elections — seek to put a positive spin on recent economic developments.

Large financial firms “ought to think through what they’re doing,” White House political adviser David Axelrod said on ABC News’s “This Week.” “They have responsibilities… …White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said it was “very frustrating” that some Wall Street firms continued to pay out rich compensation packages, even after turning to Washington for help.


Sounds good so far, doesn’t it? Yes, but the problem is it’s all rhetoric not accompanied by any programs or regulations as shown by the same Wall St. Journal article:

Neither official [Emanuel or Axelrod] suggested any new, concrete measures to clamp down on compensation packages.

The rhetoric was more heated in March, when the administration joined in the outrage in Washington over $165 million in bonuses to AIG executives.

Only five financial firms are still subject to oversight by the Obama administration’s pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg — American International Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., GMAC Inc. and Chrysler Financial.

Goldman Sachs’s 31,700 employees are on track to earn an average of about $700,000 each in 2009, a record for the firm. In an apparent effort to soften any controversy over its $16.71 billion bonus pool for 2009, the firm announced last week that it was making a $200 million charitable contribution to the Goldman Sachs Foundation.

Democrats also may not want to shine the spotlight too brightly on high Wall Street salaries when so many people remain out of work… .”

That’s right: most favored corporate treatment by the Obama administration for Goldman Sachs (again) which has an executive compensation bonus pool of $16.71 billion (remember this company would have gone under without a huge Obama bailout) which will give a tiny fraction of that, $200 million, away to its own foundation! That folks, is the Obama administration’s program for execessive executive compensation: rhetoric, words, and hope that companies that have profited off the current economic debacle and government bailouts will reign in their own corrupt practices. Under Obama, rhetoric trumps action anytime.

But it is in the area of “health insurance reform” that the Obama administration has been exposed for what it is–the rhetorical administration fighting rhetorical wars without much substance. Recall that Obama and Rahm themselves were the ones who backed away from single payer months ago. Obama had called a White House conference on health care reform back in February and failed to invite a single speaker in favor of single payer. Instead, Obama began to talk about the “public option” as an alternative. Then, Max Baucus, his spearcarrier in the Senate had doctors and nurses arrested who dared to speak about single payer before his Senate Committee. Soon Obama abandoned “health care reform” for “health insurance reform.” That was shortly after the President broke his campaign promise to hold all healthcare meetings in public and televise them live on C-SPAN! Instead, he met in secret with insurance companies behind locked doors. Secret deals were reached that gave the farm away to the insurers. Obama spoke in Colorado of the public option as nothing more than a “sliver”. When he spoke to Congress about healthcare a little over a month ago, he even had kind words for the insurance companies. They were not bad people, he assured the nation, which knew better because they have suffered for decades from the onerous practices of the insurers. After Obama’s rhetorical address, Dennis Kucinich called the Obama plan built around mandated insurance “the wrong approach” and a “sell-out” to the insurance industry.

So Axelrod was right. Obama has taken on the insurance industry “at least rhetorically”. But even this toothless approach is blowing up in Obama’s face as insurers mount a fierce attack on any change in their privileged position. The administration seems surprised that these black hats, whom the Obama himself assured us were not “bad people”, would be prepared to challenge even their waffling, mostly rhetorical idea of change. Says Axelrod today in the Washington Post:

“The insurance industry has decided now at the eleventh hour that they don’t want to go along with this. One of the problems we have is we have a health-care system now that functions very well for the insurance industry but not well for the customers.”

Source same as (1) above:

But if that is the case, Mr. Axelrod and Mr. Obama, why build your entire health care reform plan on the rotten foundation of the insurance industry? If the current health care system doesn’t function well for the people but functions “well for the insurance industry” why are you hell-bent on retaining this system and not extending Medicare to everyone? Why the faux outrage at the insurers when everyone else knew what they were really like except the Obama Administration?

What has been the administration’s counterplan to this “11th hour attack” by the insurers which seems to have taken the adminstration by surprise? It’s Obama’s method of governing: words but not action. Again, mostly rhetorical flourishes. Rahm Emanuel, in the same Washington Post article, is quoted as saying the “public option is not the defining piece of health care.” In other words, when under attack by the insurers, the Obama administration’s response is to further weaken its position, to further water down or completely sell-out on the public option which is the only way to keep insurance costs in line. It’s the rhetorical war that the rhetorical President thrives on. And who can blame him when 5 star-struck Norwegian politicians reward his rhetoric–not his warlike actions and escalation of wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan–with the Nobel Peace Prize? Who needs peace when you can have the image of peace painted with pie-in-the-sky speeches? Who needs a public option when you have rhetoric?